Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/15/16

Weather: Cool and gray with spots of sun, but unusually not windy downtown even though the rest of town was windy (usually it’s the reverse). I forgot my hat.

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 6 walkbys.

Number of hecklers: 2, together

Pages of notes: 7

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 4

Number of dogs seen: 1

Number of dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.58



It’s much quieter/less active in Kennedy Plaza on Sunday, in terms of both car traffic and foot traffic. No one came up to me for almost a half hour.

A youngish guy who spoke to me briefly last time asked if I wanted him to get me something to eat from the food pantry that was set up in the park.

A cop SUV drove through the park at 4:50 pm.

I foolishly allowed myself to get caught up in a (mild) power struggle with the hecklers, who were also, themselves, in a very bad way. Their anxieties are the first ones below; I’ll address the heckling, the power struggle, and meeting the needs of jerks in my next reflection post.

Relatedly: it’s stupid to say “have a good day” to people who have just told you about their schizoaffective disorder and their prison time, yet that is what came out of my mouth.


Some conversations:

[These two came up together.]

Person 1: I’m fresh out of prison , no idea what I’m gonna do. I’ve been busted by the DEA so many times, I’m sick of selling drugs.

Person 2: Do you know what to do about thought broadcasting? Voices telling me I should commit suicide?

Is there stuff that makes it worse, that sets it off?

Being around people.

Can you find ways to be by yourself?

No, ’cause I’m homeless.


Finding happiness. I’ve never experienced it that I can remember. It definitely isn’t happening right now–I know it could be better…. I’m not aware of how to do it by myself … I imagine my greatest level of happiness would be affection and acceptance, among family, or peers–people aren’t showing the level of affection and acceptance that I would like. I don’t have a social environment for meeting new people–I moved here fairly recently and at first it was okay, but after a certain time I was like, I should start meeting new people. I’d like support–not only financial but also emotional support. I’m trying to find new ways to cope and perhaps solve the issue. I’d like to build better relationships with my family, they’re not great right now. … Besides linguistics, the other subject I’m interested in is perception and how it can be used to benefit people. I’ve been conducting experiments on how people’s outward perception of me can affect my experience. I was walking through campus, the Brown area, and I noticed some common traits: designer clothes, very good hygiene–everybody’s well groomed–and not may people wear socks. For colors [of clothing], it’s bright for women, and for men it’s not dark but more mellow. I was thinking, these students, this is the image of potential success. How can I change [how I’m perceived] so I can appear similar to what they do? I did go to college, I’m trying to get back in, but you have to pay to do everything.


I just wish the weather stays 70 degrees every day for eternity. The world would be a better place. People would have energy, to work out, to do whatever they needed to do in that type of temperature.

Do you know if anyplace has that?

Maybe Missouri?

You ever been to Missouri?

No, I been to Florida, Atlanta, North Carolina, Brooklyn, New York New York of course. Oh, I been to Puerto Rico. I was there for a concert.

How was that? Was that 70 degrees?

The energy made it feel like it was 70 degrees.


I was born in Puerto Rico, I grew up in the Bronx, and I came here [to Providence] in the 1970s. I was the first Puerto Rican working in the Federal Building, and all the white guys hated me. I found out about the elevator that goes underground that’s where they take the prisoners. You see that statue over there, they’ve moved that statue five times. The cops used to dress in brown–Emilio, Pokey–we called him Pokey–and Al, but he died. That was the train station over there too. You see that boat over there in the park? A boat came years ago from Massachusetts or somewhere to Rhode Island, and it sank down. I love this city, I do.

What do you love about it?

That building right there [points]. That’s the Superman building, ’cause that building–this old man, before, he died, he told me the story, how they didn’t build it by machine but by hand. They wanted to tear it down, but what’s the first thing you see when you come here from New York, from Massachusetts? I said no, I will sign for it, like, no, this isn’t coming down …


The winters are not winters anymore, and the summers are too short. We expect certain things out of life, summer’s gonna be summer … I think it’s changing the world. What’s it gonna be like in 20 years? Is the East Coast gonna be cold or warm, and is the West Coast gonna be cold? It’s kinda scary because you don’t know what’s gonna happen. I’m not gonna be around–well in 30, 40 years I might be, but let’s say in 50 years–but my kids are gonna be here, and what are they gonna have down the line?


I’m anxious about who we’re gonna have for president. I think Donald Trump thinks everything’s a joke. He’s in it for the spotlight. What’s real, what’s real? There’s a lot of people who see it. He’s too concerned with knocking people down.

Do you talk about this with people?

No, ’cause I feel like just like with voting, everybody has to make their own decision. I feel that the American people–there’s things that happen that the American people have to deal with, no matter what.


[Reads the map of places that people want to protect] India Point Park, yes. I grew up near there, Fox Point, that area. You gotta protect something!



Climate change definitely. Yesterday to today there’s a 20-degree difference, there’s 30-mile-an-hour winds. I’m just anxious ’cause I haven’t slept. I could go to a shelter, but there’s only 112 beds. I have insomnia, and it’s harder to sleep when there are people around. If I can’t get a rack I’ll sleep in the street. I got two blankets and a sheet, but it gets cold, you wake up at 3am… [Looks at the map, marks it.] Mackerel Cove. The big fish chase ’em in and you can snag ’em with a hook.





I had a little anxiety today from potentially losing my family. My girl doesn’t want me to smoke weed anymore, so I’m gonna take the steps to do that. I started buggin’ out when I was in my old apartment–I was jittery, I couldn’t calm down, I had trouble breathing, like I was having an anxiety attack. I had to get out of the house, so I came down here to try to kill some of that energy. I’m staying in Olneyville so I came all the way down here, and I’m gonna go back and just go to sleep.


You don’t have to answer this because it’s none of my business, but why do you smoke weed?


To try not to think about bad situations. When I was younger it was more of a social thing, but now it’s more of a dependency. I’ll wake up and I’m like, I’m not gonna smoke, but then something will happen and I have to. I’m thinking about a residential treatment program. I didn’t wanna do it because I didn’t want to be labeled as crazy, but I wanna get sober and I don’t believe I can do it out here. I was in Butler once before and it was good, because nobody knew where I was. They asked me, “Do you feel safe here?” and I was like, “Yeah.” … I used to work for [a waste management company], then they got bought by [another waste management company], and it took me an hour and a half, two hours to walk in to work, and I was late five or six times and they laid me off. I was doing good, I was working, I was thinking about school, and then I lost it. I just feel like giving up. Before that, before I had my car accident, I had a house, I was married, and then I woke up and it was all gone.





Today’s poem:



So you fix simple problems or

you let complicated problems pin you

every time pointed away

ashen at every gate

marking your own face with fake ink lashes

wiring your own arm to receive

the melting rate of glaciers trickling up

from far far away in new new time

worry about the here and now

the next bad bed in the next night

when being around people makes it worse

but you have to be around people

when you’re unpleasant and no one can help you

we are unpleasant and no one can help us









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