Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/12/15

Weather: Sun & clouds, warm, humid, blustery

Number of people: 9 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 3

Conversations between people who didn’t previously know each other: 2

Dogs seen: 4

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.10


I still can’t figure out how to get people who don’t know me to write an alternate history. Maybe this is just not the optimal structure for it, but I’m not giving up yet.

Dorinda Fong helped me again by recording conversations. Thanks, Dorinda!

A very tiny caterpillar–possibly an early instar of an ultimately larger caterpillar–crawled on my page of notes. Was it cute? Gross? A potential beautiful moth (probably a moth, it was hairy) or a voracious defoliator? WHO CAN SAY?

Smell of today: Egyptian Goddess perfume oil (which I wore myself, all through high school and college, and still wear occasionally, but it wasn’t me this time)

Some conversations:

The future. Parenting my son for a better America. How do I live off my job, with a child, and still do things? My relationship–I hope it lasts.

Just to go back for a second, how old is your son?

He’s one. And he’s such a smart kid, he doesn’t even need me, but I’m there, so–

What would be the ideal circumstances to raise him in, what would make it easy for you to be a good parent?

Running water. Smart people, a good crowd–the people that I hang out with, I don’t know what kind of influence they are. You never know about anyone else, what they’re thinking. People are scared to approach each other–they’re so evasive. Like if you didn’t have this sign, I wouldn’t have come up to you … If we trust each other we’ll be fine.

Who do you trust?

My mother. My mom and me are still talking, to this day. If I say to her, Mom, I’m gonna be the President, she’ll say okay. If I’m in trouble, in any situation, she’ll support me. And I’ll support her–she’s always trying new things. We laugh together, we cry together, we watch the world get older together. We live in this world, we have to evaluate this world. And the climate too–this calendar is utter bullshit, they need to make a new calendar. Maybe 20 years ago the calendar was right [to describe the seasons], but not anymore. This is like a ministry, what you’re doing, but for the earth?


My brother’s anxious. Usually ’cause of stress at work. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, I think that stresses him out. He starts getting panic attacks, he’s on medication for that but he still has them every now and then. He acts really nervous–it happens when he’s on the street a lot, if there’s traffic, a lot of cars. It has to do with climate in a way–heat and stuff, he’ll take off his shirt sometimes. He went to a doctor, he talked to the doctor, and that calmed him down a little. And he’s looking for another job. Also our dad isn’t feeling well, he’s got pain in his leg, and that stresses my brother out a lot.

It sounds like your family really has each other in mind, like you guys look out for each other.

Yeah, of course.


I have a lot of anxieties about existential destiny. I’m overly empathetic and that can sometimes lead to not understanding how I feel–I’m always responding to other people’s feelings, always part of something, even when I’m by myself. I’ve learned how to meditate through it–I’m very sensitive to other people’s energy and I’ve learned some visualizations that help, even though I know they don’t work for everyone–giving people back their energy in a loving way.


[Reads map] “Is there a place in Rhode Island you love?” Yes there is. Galilee. It’s a little tiny cove, and you can see all the way to the bottom. I didn’t go in the ocean for 20 years after I watched Jaws, but I went here and the water was so clean, I stayed in until my lips were blue. I wanna go tomorrow, all alone. It makes me feel good for a long time–well, about a week. My kids had to pull me out–you know, like when they’re little, you’re the one who has to pull them out. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had with my grown children. All I did was laugh, I was exhausted when I got home. I should really put the whole South Coast on [the map]–it’s a different world down there. You should do this down there–I don’t think people feel like that up here. … But some of [the beaches] are so polluted, it’s so sad. Down at the open beach, the water was brown, it was like seaweed soup, like escarole soup, and there were all these signs, “Water is not habitable to swim or fish.” And people throwing stuff everywhere–adults are the worst, kids’ll go throw it away.


At first I wasn’t gonna see An Inconvenient Truth because I thought it’ll just be preaching to the choir. When I saw it, I thought I got it before, but it was borderline terrifying. Huge swathes of Greenland, Antarctica, those places, where there were these thick deposits of ice 10 years ago–now they’re like this [points at the ground], like dirt, literally dirt. If that doesn’t make people act, I don’t think anything will. They’re talking about a tipping point, if we don’t do anything right now–and the California drought, we’ll be beyond the point of no return by the time people get the complacency shaken out of them. Not that I’m one of those apocalyptic doomsayers–I think it’s too easy to propagate and too easy to be taken in. But there’s institutional resistance to recognizing this. On 60 Minutes there was the guy that was studying climate change before it was cool, I think he was the world authority, studying since 1975, and he submitted an analysis of all the data to the White House, 3-5 years ago, and they literally doctored the report to water it down. There’s a concerted campaign to minimize this. … I’m sick of all this NASA crap. I hate NASA. They should put all of those resources, the research and development, the infrastructure toward the environment. Make it the central focus. “Oh, we sent a robot to the farthest reaches of the Milky Way–” who cares! It’s all too clear to me that we’re living in something that resembles a dictatorship more than a democracy. I heard someone say that the office of the presidency is for sale to the highest bidder. We need to put more power in the hands of the people.


I’m emotionally codependent. Very clingy. I don’t deal with loneliness well, especially at night–the sun goes down, so does my mood.

When you start to feel that way, what do you do?

My girlfriend comes over on occasion. Or I go on Facebook, on Messenger–I call my friend Charlie, he’ll talk to me. Or I’ll call a bunch of people, “I got food at my house, come over and I’ll cook for you. … I need touch all the time. “Oh, you’re a man, you shouldn’t need that.” Bullshit.

This might sound weird, but does being close to a non-human animal help, like a dog or a cat?

Yeah! I love dogs, I’ve had dogs all my life. One dog I had from 9 to 19. He’d just sit on the couch with me, I’d feed him small treats to keep him there. I’d get a dog, a golden–two goldens, for when I have to go to work, they won’t get lonely, and they could sleep in the bed with me, all around me. But it’s more money on the rent for dogs, per dog… I can’t even watch ASPCA commercials without crying. I like birds, too–sometimes I come down here and look at the birds. Have you heard of a king crested cockatoo? They get hooked on you–if you leave them alone too long they tear their feathers out, they’ll be totally naked. I don’t like cats, they’re snooty. I like an animal that’ll give me a hero’s welcome.


Today’s poem:

What are you thinking about in that brain

of yours ’cause I know you have one

meat nugget of nothing but connection

impulse succeeding impulse we’ve named

after the energy that can destroy it

gathering then flying up all at once

all the way in us shorting outward

deep nugget of charcoal we know

when someone’s died because we gather

around them and then we leave

it’s as simple as that

we’re proud to say we always

know which animal would do

what we do when we dodge

like a face caught in light

heaving without true motion


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