Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/26/15

Weather: Warm, sunny, muggy, cooling off a little later.

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 9 walkbys, 2 bike-bys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7, but I forgot my normal pen and had to use a fat green pen

Alternate Histories: 0

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 3, including 1 teenager

Inquiries as to whether I’m a real doctor: 1

Dogs spotted: 2, both from afar

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.35


It seems like the more people see on the map of worries and beloved places, the more they want to add to it. Three or four people added to the map today. One wrote, “Winters are going to get shorter–my favorite season.”

Lots of sign-readers-out-loud today, too.

There were people demonstrating with signs on the steps of city hall while I was talking to Kevin, a booth acquaintance of long standing.

Me: They’re exercising their freedom of speech.

Him: More like freedom of too much time on their hands.

Me: Well, I’m here. You’re here.

While the demonstrators were demonstrating, I saw two police cars and an SUV pulled up by the Greyhound/Peter Pan stop; after the demonstrators disperse, so did the two cars, while the SUV remained.

Saw three very nice warm open smiles and got a thumbs-up from a person on a bike.

Some conversations:

I just came out of court. I gotta get a certain treatment–if not, I’m gonna have bad results.

Is it gonna be hard to do?

A little bit. It’s gonna be a challenge.

Do you have some ideas about what will help you get through it?

Counseling, I have counseling.

What about people and places that make you feel better?

Yeah, I have my friend’s house I can stay at.

Are there things that might make it harder for you to do the program?

If I fail, I’m looking at possible jail time.

Oh, I meant more like things that might happen while you’re doing it that might make it harder to finish doing it.

No. No.


Anxiety. I got a lotta that.

What’s the biggest source of it right now?

This. [Points to big wheelie-suitcase with a blanket in a plastic bag on top of it.] Just luggin’ it around. I was homeless, but I had an apartment for seven years. Then the landlord lost the house, and all the tenants were the victims. My girlfriend’s on oxygen and she has to go back to our friend’s house every few hours to refill our tanks. It’s just stressful.


College. Growing up kills me! My whole life I’ve lived with my mom, I’ve depended on her. I’m scared.


Is this with the census?

[I explain what it is.]

You gotta pay for that?

You gotta pay a nickel for it.

[Puts nickel in jar] The treatment of aboriginal and indigenous people.


[Person 2 came up while I was in the middle of a long, non-climate-related conversation with Person 1.]

Person 2: There’s not that much that I can do about it, except the stuff that I do. As scary as they might be, these climate denier people are not gonna change their tune because it’s based on greed. They don’t care about the future.

Person 1: They won’t have to, because the flow of hot and cold water in the ocean is stopping.

Person 2: Did you ever see AI? They’re going to desalinate the oceans and they’ll freeze. The whole planet will turn into a cue ball.

Person 1: The planet’s gonna enter an ice age to try and cool itself. The earth has the ability to rebalance itself.

Person 2: I think the earth’s ability to rebalance itself can be balanced out with enough carbon dioxide. I’m not ready to hand the planet over to the cockroaches just yet.

*Doctor’s note: He was probably talking about this.

Today’s poem:

It’s a challenge

it’s a sign you can’t read

inimical out there

you’re careful with your wording

worlds come with you

from the high halls out

into the red and green street

the dominant light

admitting no failure

but the last failure

no way but the last station

I can do nothing for anyone

who says there’ll be

more days like this

my resting face resistant

but not torrential

after you leave

should I have been more

should I have said should

or you will or you can

in the court of personal

recognizance only

all ranged against

your just release

if you don’t move

it might be perfect

the options are total

stillness and total destruction

you think and feel

animal of both

when it’s exactly inverse

a funnel of darkness

from sameness to absence

or endurance only

in your deadest form

where horror is proud

to tower the future

opening into elsewhere

the world-split, the wind

the crevasse you know better

than to look into and grow

monstrously unreachable

swollen and alone

we are on your water

we can’t say floating

we can say surrounded

we can say succumb

can we say besieged

who would give us permission

here in the wave we expect

daily hourly never at all

how could it be possible

such a wave here

on dry land under

the still fresh sun

how could we be possible

ever at all


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