Climate Anxiety Counseling: 7/15/15

Weather: steamy hot, then clouding and cooling off.

Number of people: 11 stoppers

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

Alternate Histories: 0

Pictures taken without permission: 1

Dogs seen: 1 (same dog as last time)

Dogs pet: 1 (same dog as last time)

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.60


The entire market packed up early (about 6:20) under the threat of rain.

I had a long conversation that I didn’t get full permission to write down, so you won’t see it here, but it made me so angry and exhausted about the giant, violent, bad logic of the world we’ve made, seen through the inhospitability it created for a particular person.

Some conversations:

My weight. It’s harder for me to play sports. I’m fast, but I could be faster. I play football–I play fullback and linebacker.

Does your coach give you a hard time?

One of them does. He tells me to lose ten pounds, so I did it, then he tells me to lose another ten pounds. But I like the sport.

How about your teammates, are they good?

Some of them. The captains are like the second coach. They say it like they’re perfect, but they’re not.


Family. We have a lot of issues–financial issues, space issues. My sister and her five kids moved into my house. Before that I was on the second floor and my mom and my brother were on the first floor. When they first moved in, different kids were living on different floors, but now it’s me, my mom and my brother on the second floor and my sister and the five kids downstairs. Before, it was more chaotic.

What kinds of things are you guys doing to make sure everybody has some space and time to themselves?

Well, on my floor we’re living large, there’s a bedroom for each person. Downstairs, the two oldest have their own room, their mom and the youngest who has autism have a room, and the two little girls are in the living room as their bedroom, so the only room that’s no one’s bedroom is the kitchen. As far as time, they pretty much have their own personal birthdays, they go to the lake, the two little girls go to summer camp and the older two have jobs, they’re 16, 17.

What about noise? Is it loud?

It’s loud. The oldest has headphones. She helps mow the lawn, I pay her, and she has her headphones on even when she’s doing that, so maybe that’s how she gets privacy for herself. For me, I’ve been staying a lot at my boyfriend’s house. Because it’s summer, with the kids being outside so much, the noise factor has dropped, but during the winter I couldn’t breathe, I was having chest pains. It was major. It was every day. I just started yoga again, I’m trying to take care of myself. The mom and the oldest daughter’s relationship is pretty bad, like police got involved bad.

I’m wondering if there’s some kind of free counseling they could get, separately. Maybe the daughter could get it through school?

I think it needs to be outside of school because some things that happened with that weren’t good. Also the youngest one has autism and she, the oldest, is like the one who takes care him the second most. It’s hard. People will say, kick ’em out, but–It was supposed to be temporary, and then after two years I was like, this is what’s happening. I didn’t talk to my brother from February till two weeks ago.


Do people have that, climate anxiety?

Yeah, some people do.

I don’t have that. I grew up in the Caribbean and we have hurricanes every year, natural disasters all the time, so I don’t have anxiety about that. One thing I do have anxiety about is we have had some tremors here, we have had severe tremors, so I worry about that. So you believe in global warming?

Well, it’s not really a “believe” thing–I know that it’s happening.

I didn’t know what to think about it, but my son, I have a younger son, and he said, “Mom, it is for real–if you look at the Arctic, all those animals, the ice they live on is melting.” Sometimes when you say what you worry about people will look at you like you’re dumb, but everybody has their anxiety.


Mom: The weather doesn’t bother me, so I’m not worried about climate change.

I think people are worried more about what changes in weather patterns are gonna do in the long run.

Daughter: I have five kids, and when it rains, I can’t take them to the park.

What do you do to keep everybody from going nuts?

I put ’em in front of the computer and put something on. Sometimes we can go to the library or the children’s museum, depending on what time of day it is. Sometimes we just have to power through it.


I love Lincoln Woods. I love to run there if I have time, I love to sit by the water. If I have lots of time, I sit in the field and read.  … I don’t think I have climate anxiety but I think that’s because I don’t understand climate change as well. In New England, when the weather changes, they say, That’s just New England, that’s the way the weather is, but is it? Or is the weather changing along with the climate? … I have a fear of ants–they skeeve me out the most–and in my house every year there’s carpenter ants, and every year my dad has to spray them. And the other day I killed 33 ants, and someone said it was because of mild winters, the bugs don’t sleep well, so they’re out and about more. I was lying on the couch crying. I was gonna do some work, I was gonna clean, and I just couldn’t.


Honeybees. The wild honeybee population this year is really small. We lost a couple hives at City Farm. And without bees, without pollinators–

Are there things people can do to preserve their hives? I know some people say it’s a pesticide and some people say its like a mite, a parasite.

Yeah, I’ve heard both of those things too, but no one really knows. The beekeepers’ association in RI is really strong, and they’re always trying to educate people. We could all be planting happy pollinator things. But–


I’ve been living with anxiety for 12 years. I let my mind control my whole body. I feel this turning in my stomach, and then it could be 100 degrees and I’m sweating because I’m cold, and then I’m in the bathroom for 2-3 hours until there’s nothing to come out. Then I’m dizzy, I’m dehydrated, and it takes me 2-3 days to recuperate.

Do you know what some things are that set it off, that make you start feeling the anxiety?

They say I have OCD? I know everything has to be clean, everything has to be straight. My family doesn’t always clean, they’ll be like, I want my room this way, and I’m like, No, it has to be clean, organized, in place. I can’t go outside because I take the risk that I’m gonna need the bathroom–I’m afraid of the bathroom because when I’m sick I have to be there, so when I take a shower, I’m like, Get out quick, I don’t even look in the mirror.


I don’t have it about RI, I’m not from here, but worldwide, yeah–because of humanity and what the people in the world are doing. We’re growing at a rate that’s gonna supersede our potential to grow, that is not in the manner that God wanted us to achieve. I guess I think that most people, when they come to the realization that their life will come to an end, they think, Well, my life’s gonna end, I don’t care what destruction I create–whatever they do to harm the world, they’re not gonna be there to see it.

Today’s poem:

“The Girl from Ipanema” is playing

the girl from Connecticut is telling

me the story of not wanting to go home

what the world has done there

is not simple but tangled and no one person knows

it all but if we put ourselves together exhaustively

the people with intimate knowledge

the people with many names

could we see lit up the rootbound

rock and dirt of history decisions and being

two women walk by carrying bursts of sunflowers

plastic bags of vegetables as the song gives way

something fast and hoarse in Spanish a style

whose name I don’t know the smallest thing

about and acting like I know is nothing

that I can do clearly but I do make one

good suggestion: see if you can stay

with your sister one night a week I said

maybe you can cook dinner or something

I’m a good cook too she said, Puerto Rican

food is good if you know how to cook it

6 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: 7/15/15

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