Climate Anxiety Counseling, 5/19/15

Weather: Gray and damp. Actually rained for a short while about 3:30.

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 6

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1 really good one

Picture-takers WITHOUT permission: 1

Ducks seen: 1 American black duck

Dogs seen: 1

Cats seen: 1, being carried along with a computer monitor

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.35


First umbrella day! It protected the booth and me, partly because the rain was not that heavy and there wasn’t much wind.

A white-appearing woman walked toward 2 police cars parked near the Greyhound stop, yelling (not at them, I don’t think). One of them said through a megaphone, “Take it somewhere else.” She yelled something (at them), and the same person responded, “Have a good day.” She walked back the other way, still yelling.

Smells of today: wet sycamore, cigarette smoke, flowery perfume, mud, sandalwood cologne.

A few people I know stopped to chat with me but didn’t tell me their anxieties.

Today was the ONLY booth day this week. I will be back on Tuesday, May 26th. 

Some conversations:

My future husband’s in the hospital having surgery for his legs, the back of his butt cheek and his stomach to see if they can get him to walk again. He hasn’t been able to walk for about a year. I was just over there visiting him–he’s out of surgery, he had it yesterday, and they’re taking him back down tomorrow. I’m asking people if they can pray for him.


[These three were three of six friends who came up together.]

Person 1: Plane rides. I’m terrified of flying. I’m worried the plane is just gonna drop out of the sky, and if that happens, if anything goes wrong with a plane, you’re just dead. There’s no possibility of survival. … I can talk about it, but I get scared when I start thinking about it and mentally transporting myself.

Person 2: The future. Basically growing up. You’re supposed to do all this stuff and I don’t want to.

Who says you’re supposed to?

The world. Society.

What happens if you don’t do it?

Nothing. You don’t get money, I guess.

If you could live a grownup life that you would actually like, what would it be? How do you see yourself?

Living on a farm in New Zealand, with horses. We’re just hanging out, I do what I want. They’re old little guys–maybe I’ll take one and explore. …But there’s other stuff I want to do first. I want to explore neuroscience and educate my mind first.

Person 3: Reading. I have dyslexia, so I can’t read well. Sentences switch around, words switch around and sometimes I jump lines and have to go back. I have to be able to read long texts, and I want to–well, I want to be able to read street signs but I can’t. Sometimes slowing down helps, but it makes the process of reading slower … Usually I get people to read things to me, which isn’t that bad.


I believe in that kind of thing. Fortunately for the environment, I stopped smoking because Jesus wanted me to, so I’m not polluting the environment. I don’t care much for all this litter lying around. They should have a bottle bill in this state. Plastic bags in the trees–then all that stuff falls into the ocean and then it’s bad news. The Great Pumpkin will have more to say when he shows up.


If people don’t prepare for it, they’re gonna starve. I think it’s Mother Nature trying to set things right again. It’s gonna be one extreme or the other–really cold or really hot, it’ll work its way back. It’ll mess with the world financially. The severe heat and cold will screw with different areas of the world–make people more apt to fight, more depression.

What can you imagine doing to help other people in the tough times you described?

You know the thing about you give someone a fish, they have dinner that night, you teach them how to fish, they can eat forever? Same thing–show people how to make small gardens, inside the house. It’ll help them because of the changes, not knowing how the food supply is gonna be, and growing things helps people survive and maybe a little more. If you live in a high-rise, you get enough people together and make a little window garden or something like that, for herbs and stuff, also you can find tomatoes, work off the afternoon sunshine. It does two things, it refreshes the oxygen inside the house and it gives you food.

I think taking care of something can also help you, like you have to keep the plant alive–if you have a dog, you have to stick around, because you have to feed it, you have to take it out–

Taking responsibility for an animal doesn’t mean just feeding it and bathing it. If it’s a female and it has babies, you have to take care of the babies, and if the babies are sickly you have to put them down. I had to do that with a kitten–it had two spines and I had to put it down myself. I’m used to bringing life into the world, not taking it away. I cried all the way there and all the way back. The other one was stillborn, and it had no spine, the other one had its spine.

[I give her the pickerel weed card.]

Can you eat this?

I think you can eat, not the flower or the leaves, but the pod. I’d check with someone though who knows the plants around here.*

I drive my friends crazy picking wild mushrooms.

How did you learn which ones you could eat?

I’m a midwife. My grandmother taught me some, I learned some from my ex’s aunt–but she was more about mountain climates than marshy ones like we’ve got here in RI. And I read a lot. The best way is to pick one and look up what it looks like. If it looks similar to something that you can eat, experiment with it a little bit–just try a little bit.** You know the dandelions that grow all around? You can eat those. They’re probably a little juicier in the spring, but the big ones are more substantial–you can try ’em in a salad, but if you don’t like that, you can cook them like other greens. A lot of nuts that fall from trees, if you roast them, you can eat most of them. The best thing to do is find out about this area–what used to grow, what still grows and what variations there are on it.

*Doctor’s note: You can eat the pods.

**Doctor’s note: There are bold mushroom hunters and there are old mushroom hunters, but there are no bold old mushroom hunters. If you want to try this, it’s probably better to go out with someone who knows, like these guys.

Today’s poem:

Don’t get your hopes up

my voice will protect you

from your strange self

it’s your sound

that I wish to hear over

the pigeon traffic

and liquid courage, bus kneels

like a camel and rises

emergency burdens

heaved up from the knees

if the rain should curtain me

look where you last saw

the worst information avialable

that won’t come from me

that won’t be what I’m here for

that I who have been gone

will have gotten underway

will be filled with all your air

all you should’ve had

don’t hold out hope like

a gift at a shrine if you give

the right amount of the right kind

you will live a long time

and never shuffle slowly

during all that time

with you like a sentence

you wrote till it lost

its birthright meaning becoming

just the sentence you were writing

watch the puddle surface

for impacts and the paper

surface for blisters

a set of whispers

the rain you can see   through

when it falls and can’t

at all when it rises


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