Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/29/17

Weather: Cloudy, very windy, lowering heat at first, then cool

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 6 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0! Except 1 sort of by proxy? I didn’t get permission to post that conversation, so suffice it to say that it was weird.

Pages of notes: 10

Peanuts references: 2

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.11

 

Observations:

To the kids I didn’t get to talk with, but who wrote “The big tree to the left” on the map of places in RI they’d like to protect: You rule.

I need to fix the part of the booth where my signs fit together—the wind kept blowing it over and I had to use one hand to hold it the whole time.

I’ve changed my spiel slightly: “Climate anxiety is short for the anxieties people might feel about climate change,” I begin. It seems to work a little better to give context.

Two cop cars drove through with flashers and sirens at 3:37. Two cops walked through the park, one leading a man in handcuffs, at 4. Two (different) cops walked through the park at about 5:45.

 

Some conversations:

Climate. Yeah. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, global warming.

How does it feel, to know that?

It doesn’t affect me. Glaciers, rising sea levels, more tornadoes, polar bears, species losing habitats because everything is shifting and animals can’t adapt, plants and animals can’t adapt.

I think I asked the question badly. I mean, you have all this knowledge of what’s happening, how does it feel to live with this knowledge?

When I see more and more cars on the road and not enough people taking mass transit. And cities and states not making that a high priority.* Physically, for me, getting caught in traffic every day. I look out the bus window and I see cars filled with one person. There’s no incentive for people to carpool. I can’t say everybody’s gotta take the bus, because people’s needs are different.

*Doctor’s note: Rhode Island is currently preparing its Long-Term Transportation Plan, dealing with every aspect of transportation in the state for the next 20 years. If you want to let the Division of Planning know that good public transportation, carpool incentives, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are important to you, you can leave a comment here. (Get in touch with me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, if you want some talking points.)

*

People worry: are we going to war? Everybody’s worried about war and terrorists. And inequality, capitalism going on—this new gig economy, start[up] economy, everybody has to adapt to survive.

It’s also like: who is it who wants us to adapt.

The elite! “Adapt. We’re all set, we made our money.” I don’t have anything against capitalism, but there’s a difference between capitalism and just—heartless. Draconian. “Get out of my way our I’ll step on you like a bug.” You can’t afford to go and buy local because you’re on a fixed income. … I’m from Brazil and Brazil is a mess right now. People are very rebellious, they’re not taking capitalism anymore.* People are fighting all over the world for their rights to exist and live a good life. … I don’t hate rich people, they do good things, we need no poor hating rich, no rich hating poor. We gotta come up with something to help each other, because that’s all we got.

*Doctor’s note: I haven’t checked these statements.

*

[This person was one of the first people to speak to me at the booth on my very first day in 2014. He’s the second person down.]

How many people have anxieties about the climate? I think I was more hopeful before. But a lot of people have gone beyond the “it’s a hoax” thing and recognized that this isn’t something we’ve seen in our lifetime. It’s just gonna make things harder, the whole human experience in general.

*

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot of animals that are gonna be extinct soon. Maybe one day we won’t have any animals. I hope not. But it’s like a ripple effect. I don’t know how it would be—it would be weird. We don’t even know all the animals that were here.

But I think change can be good. One you know how change is, how you don’t have control—well, you have some control, but you can’t be mad if things don’t work out your way. Don’t be stressed. Try and keep looking at something else you might wanna save. In life you lose and you get. You shouldn’t be messed up about it, you shouldn’t dwell on it ’cause then you’ll be sad all the time.

*

I’m here with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I meet many people with many anxieties. And I agree. I love the Earth. Climate change is dreadful. But Jehovah’s gonna stop it very soon and get rid of the people who are harming the Earth. There’s a scripture, I don’t have my Bible with me, but it says, “He will bring to ruin those who are harming the Earth.” I look at the ice caps and what’s happening to the oceans and I can’t stand it. I think the difference between you and me is that I have a hope for the future, because I know God’s gonna fix it … I know it’s gonna be soon, because it’s getting so bad. We will ruin the Earth to such an extent that it will be unlivable.

… I feel bad for people with children, and its’s one of the reasons I haven’t had them. It was a conscious decision. I couldn’t bring them into this world. In the new world, when it’s Paradise, I’ll have a football team. They can climb trees, they can roll in the grass. Take a look in the Bible. He made the earth and He’s gonna fix it. And then maybe you and I can climb trees together.

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Out of the Woods On Climate/Borders/Survival/Care/Struggle

This conversation with Out of the Woods, a collective investigating capitalism and climate change, gets at the heart of a lot of what I’ve been trying to do with the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, the alternate histories, and the Interdependence Day gatherings (now on hold, but these writings may help us reinvent them).

“To say ‘yes’ to what we want,” they say, “and what is already created in cramped spaces – necessitates saying ‘no’ to the world that dominates save for those cracks or openings.”

I knew about Out of the Woods, but hadn’t spent a lot of time with their ideas and questions. I’m going to do so now.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/28/17

Weather: Warm, bright, breezy

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 1 walkby

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 10

Peanuts references: 1

People who recognized me, and I them, from previous years: 2

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.25

 

Observations:

I need to be more mindful of and purposeful about power dynamics in the questions I ask and the possibilities I raise—both between me and the person I’m talking with, and between the person I’m talking with and other people in the situation. I had a conversation today about a bad situation where I don’t think I made anything worse, but I missed the chance to point out a power dynamic that—if the person I was talking to recognized it—could’ve made things less worse for someone who wasn’t there. (I know that’s vague—I didn’t get permission to post this one. But I think making it vague is also good because it can help me to remember to apply it to other situations.)

Today was really busy, especially toward the beginning. I don’t know why, except that it was beautiful out. Because of the busy-ness, I didn’t notice much in the way of police activity, other than seeing two police cards parked at the Dorrance St. end of the park as I was leaving.

One person who spoke to me was really happy about the restoration of free bus passes for elderly and disabled people, and gave me detailed instructions for how to get one if you’re eligible and don’t have one. I want to check these and make sure they don’t leave anything out before posting them here, but I will post them in case any of you knows someone who could use one.

 

Some conversations:

I’m not anxious about climate change because I feel like it’s pretty inevitable. There’s nothing we can—well, there’s some things we can do, but there are so many people contributing to it, you can’t change everyone’s mind. I don’t get anxious about death. I’ve come to grips with the idea that everybody dies. If you’re just worrying about death all the time it’ll prevent you from living. But what I am anxious about is the everyday struggle of getting through life, working your life away in order to get somewhere.

Where is that somewhere, for you?

To live in a home and know that my work fully covers my expenses. Not living paycheck-to-paycheck in order to support myself. I’m not talking about a luxury home, I’m talking about a one-bedroom apartment and being able to eat, what everybody has—well, not everybody.

What everybody needs, anyway, and some people don’t have that, and some people have way more than that.

My own father is an example. He makes over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, and he wouldn’t let his own son live with him. He was scared that my mom would start coming around to his house.

Do you take care of her?

No. If she needs food, I’ll buy my mom and my siblings food, I’m not gonna let them go hungry. But I don’t support her. But my dad still didn’t allow me to stay in the house because I have contact with her. I even offered to pay my own rent … He works very hard, sixty hours a week. So I got the hardworking side from him, but other than that, I haven’t really gotten anything from having him as a dad. All he does is work and money’s more important to him than family. He takes one day off a week, and I maybe talk to him once a month. He asks how I’m doing, and I tell him I’m able to get by and that’s about it.The funny thing is, he’s in counseling for that stuff—to be able to connect with people, especially people dealing with drug abuse. My older brother’s an addict. [My father] took classes to try to change himself, but it did nothing. He looks like a stone brick all the time, he always acts the same. My grandfather was an alcoholic, and he didn’t give my father any love or any attention, so he doesn’t know how to give it himself.

Do you feel like you’ve been able to give love to the people in your life?

Yes. I have the example of my mom. She doesn’t have much but she’s always able to give with her heart. Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum with my dad. I think I’ve learned a happy medium.

*

I work in the [REDACTED] library, and there’s a guy who comes in who’s majoring in something to try to make [climate change] better. Sometimes he comes in and we look at each other, and we don’t really speak but we know each other’s thoughts. A lot of people don’t even really want to talk about it, because what are you gonna do? I mean, there’s a lot to do but there’s so much, it’s overwhelming. We need specific ideas for specific things to do… And there’s another issue I have, well, there’s so many issues, but some people don’t have hope for their own life. So what are we doing asking them to have hope for the future? You need some hope, some connection to family—they need to associate some kind of hope for the future, for the earth, because a lot of people don’t even have hope for today. How do you get somebody out of where they’re at right now?

…And then like, let’s say I have something to recycle, and it’s dirty. Do I waste the water to clean this can, or what do I do? It’s a lot, man. I think people do want to work for a better world…the way we’re living, it’s just not a sustainable thing. We will die if something doesn’t change. That’s a fact, and we know, and we look at the [can’t read it]. You go down here and try to breathe, it’s not good air. I didn’t want to breathe down here! Do I bring my daughter down here? And I think about how life expectancy in my family isn’t that high. What is it in the water, in the air, that’s making us die so soon?

*

I’m worried about my hip.

Are you gonna get surgery on it?

I’m debating on that, but I think I’m too old. I’m 68. And I can get along, but if I do that surgery, a whole hip replacement, I might not be able to get around at all. I don’t want to be confined.

Does it give you a lot of pain?

No, no. Only in the bad weather, you know when it’s bad weather—I can tell when a storm’s coming. I got my cane, but I never shoulda picked up this cane, now I can’t get along without it. I don’t wanna get stuck down here with no way to get home.

*

My family’s in the construction business. And I have a problem, because the company is an asphalt company and asphalt is a petroleum product, there’s gonna be runoff, it does damage. But it’s money, and you gotta live. And I love trucks, I wanna buy them and drive them. But I feel guilty. When I charge my phone, I feel guilty. But you need it, it’s a necessity, but when I charge my phone I’m like, I’m fucking it up. I’m actually thinking about changing my career, being an electrician and doing solar panels. It’d be easier on me, but you can’t make as much as fast… But everything always has some type of negative outcomes.

I think a lot of the time that’s true, the way things are set up it’s hard to do anything without doing some damage. So sometimes I ask people: what could you to do sustain and help the natural world and the natural systems that you depend on?

Swallow your pride. It’s demeaning to be a guy ’cause you’re brought up—you don’t just have to pay for dinner, you have to pick her up in a truck. I take the bus ’cause the bus is easy, but [can’t read my own writing] for a guy in a Prius, compared to a lifted Chevy. If you play video games, it’s not enough to just get the Xbox, you have to buy all the new things that come with the games. We have too many accessories … Nobody wants to live in a big apartment building, they want the white picket fence, the two-car garage, I know ’cause I want it too.

*

I basically talked to you [last year] during the peak of my veganism. I’ve calmed down quite a bit. There’s definitely a lot of things about climate change that aren’t being addressed and need to be talked about. I’ve traveled the world this year. I went to Albania for a school project … on the Vjosa River, the last undammed river in Europe. There’s like four thousand species of plants that grow along this river and 250 of them are found nowhere else. The natural beauty was healing.

Do the people there feel proud of it?

They do, but they also take it for granted. We took a ferry ride through a gorge, and all the tourists were outside taking pictures, and all the Albanians were inside, they were commuting to go to work. The government wanted to put a dam on the river and this organization, Eco Albania, was like, People’s lives depend on this river in its natural free-flowing state. They fought against it and they won.* There are no dams on the river. They work harder than anyone I’ve ever encountered. I’m studying biomedical engineering and after I pay off an enormous amount of loans I want to go into nonprofit work and feel like my work matters.

*They may have another fight on their hands.

*

 

[These two came up together.]

Person 1: Yesterday there was supposed to be a hailstorm. Last night there was this dark cloud, the sky went from pink to black. There was all this thunder and lightning. There’s mudslides and tornadoes–

Person 2: Those gaping holes, sinkholes–

Person 1: It gives me anxieties. And the water in Pawtucket is disgusting. My friend drank the water and he threw up for 45 minutes. The air quality, if the water is like that, what’s the air like? Kids, asthma. … In 10-20 years our weather’s gonna be like Florida. There’s gonna be a lot more water everywhere. It’s gonna rise up. It is scary.

What do you do when you feel that scared feeling?

I just act like it’s not gonna happen to me. That’s the only way I can get out of it. My safety is at risk, but it’s not gonna happen to me. Oh, it’s gonna happen somewhere else.

Climate Anxiety Counseling in Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park this week!

I’ll be downtown with the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, in Burnside Park across from Kennedy Plaza, today through Saturday, 2-6pm.

This week will be my final week of the summer in Kennedy Plaza. Starting on July 12th, I’ll be at the Sankofa World Market on Wednesdays, and I’ll show up a couple of other places that I’ll let you know about here. But if you’ve been waiting to see me in KP, this is a good week to come down. I’ll listen to your anxieties–climate-change-related or otherwise, and give you a little piece of art to keep, featuring a Rhode Island organism.

Today I drew a warbling vireo. Last week, I gave a flying squirrel drawing to a kid, about five or six years old. Another kid about the same age saw me do it, did some quick mental calculations, and came up to the booth with an expectant look on his face. If there were animal drawings being given out, he wanted in. I gave him a drawing of a chipping sparrow.

Come and visit me.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/24/17

Weather: Hot and bright

Number of people: 4 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 3

Peanuts references: 1

People who recognized me, and I them, from previous years: 1, a very special one

Photos taken with permission: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.25

 

Observations:

Occasionally, I got sprinkled or plopped on by leftover raindrops from the sycamore whose shade I sit in.

In the park, this season, it’s mainly masculine-presenting people who’ve come up to me.

This was the first Saturday stint this season, and the Kennedy Plaza crowds are definitely thinner.

Because it came up today, I might as well say unequivocally that I think Burnside Park should be for everyone, and that people who are homeless temporarily or more-or-less permanently should be able to be there.

 

Some conversations:

My biggest fear is a dead ocean. I understand that the ocean is vital to life, it’s the womb of life, and a lot of important things happen there that affect life on the surface. I do imagine it, but I don’t really do anything [when I think about it] other than try to think about something else. … To me that’s a nightmare, every living thing in the oceans, dead. I try to inform as many people as possible, because sitting around and doing nothing is something I can’t do. I adore fish … I believe that it is best for humans and sharks to not have interactions,but they’re very important to their ecosystems, just like grizzly bears are important to their ecosystems. I believe that God put us in the world to be caretakers of the Earth, not dominators.

*

Whatever you think about it, whether it’s cyclical or whether it’s man-made, and in my opinion it’s a mix of both–I was talking to a guy down on Narragansett Beach, he’s Native American and he’s lived here his whole life, he’s 72 years old. And he was telling me that on all the way on the right side of the beach, past Chair 1, that used to be sunbathing territory. Now it’s one and a half feet deep at high tide. It hits the seawall. Even at high tide there used to be 50 feet of beach there.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Providence Energy Fair, 6/24/17

Weather: POURING outside. The fair was inside, with big fans.

Number of people: 6 stoppers, no walkbys.

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5.5

Peanuts references: 1

People who recognized me, and I them, from previous years: 1

Photos taken without permission: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 1 (this is the correct ratio, if anyone was wondering)

Number of people who asked some version of “Are you a real doctor?”: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.00

 

Observations:

This was an event specifically for people who work in energy efficiency, land conservation, and environmental justice, and for people interested in those things. I unsurprisingly get a higher incidence of stoppers whose anxieties are climate anxieties at such events, and that’s how today was.

There were people playing music, and they played “Moonlight Midnight”, a song I love.

I picked up a People’s Power and Light flyer.

Sometimes I try to get people from “weather” or “seasons” to “climate”, when they mistake the second for one of the first two, and sometimes I don’t. This was a time I tried but it didn’t really take.

All places are vulnerable places.

 

Some conversations:

I was woken this morning by notifications for an app that’s not on my phone, and it seems to be propaganda, a fake news website. I’m concerned who that’s going to who may not follow trusted sources. How did this get on my phone? I consider myself a moderate, but I think I know propaganda when I see it. When I think of the reduction of authority of the EPA, another four years of negative environmental activity—whether you believe in [climate change] or not, it’s pollution. I had to wear a surgical mask on my way here.

What do you do when you feel this anxiety?

Working with sustainability means it just adds to the things to worry about. I’m already worrying about my family and my kids. I thought we were going in a great direction, with [the city committed to sustainability measures], and all of a sudden—I resent the commmander-in-chief assigning people who want to take those regulations down to nothing …

In your job, does it give you energy, or does it take away your energy?

It’s definitely a morale killer. I would say it’s more anger than anxiety. A big WTF.

*

I’m anxious that I feel powerless. Whatever I do with my individual behavior, this is so monumental. It’s gonna take everyone. And my other anxiety is that I understand that it’s not everyone’s priority, and accepting that. People have a vast amount of other things that they have to worry about. I’ve seen that conflict between more militant environmentalists and people who maybe don’t care or have other things to worry about … I’m in school for environmental studies, and the determinants for environmental concern are like [socioeconomic status], exposure to nature as a child, certain demographic things.

So is your concern that there’s not enough listening going on between these two clumps of people?

Yes. I don’t even know if I would start that conversation. Who am I to impose this on you? Who am I to shape what they care about? I can give people my time, but I can’t give everyone everything.

*

You know what does make me anxious? The wintertime. I hate it, it makes me stiff, it makes me tired, it makes me anxious. I want to run into a safe warm place. I could be burning and I’m so happy—I’d rather that 50 times than my face being cut open from the cold. Winter’s abusive, it’s abusive, that’s what it is … For my son, I always wanna make sure he’s warm, because for me warm is safe, I wanna make sure he’s safe … I’m from the Dominican Republic, on the borderline of Haiti, and when the hurricane came through it knocked down all these trees so there was no shade, and I still prefer that. I let myself go in the winter—in the summer I wanna vibrate, I wanna shine. When you fly [to the Dominican Republic] everybody’s welcoming, everybody’s so nice, but when you fly into Boston or New York it’s so rigid, everybody’s like go here, do this. Everyone becomes cold. The sun gives you the whole vitamin D of happiness.

*

It’s been so long since I thought about climate change. I’ve just been buried in my work. When Trump was elected I had to focus, so I focused on immigrants, refugees, health care—and climate change was on there but it wasn’t at the top. I did make a list. There’s only so much energy that we all have.

So I guess a question with that for me is, how do we move it up people’s list without saying that the other stuff on their list doesn’t matter?

Finding the examples that are relevant—like the LNG plant … There’s a big learning curve.

*

I think everybody should be anxious. The way this country’s direction is going, denying that there is climate change—I’m just scared about this [political] climate. And the glaciers are melting, and people are ignoring science—not people, but the government. People like us are the people that care. I think it’s gonna take organizations and private citizens, nonprofits, to step up and take over what government has done in the past.

 

*

This company…just contracted to scout national parks, national monuments, protected lands that [the President] would be able to open up for resource excavation. There’s a national monument off the Northeast coast—those sites that people worked so hard to protect were so vulnerable, so much effort made just for those areas, so if they can be attacked, no place is safe no matter how much effort people make. It’ll do irrevocable damage, but it’s also what it means in terms of precedent.

How does it feel to think about this, and what do you do when you think about it?

I feel relieved to share just verbally. What I do is a good question, because I feel very helpless. The main thing I do is posting on social media, which is not effectual. It’s the same, but sort of remote, but maybe further-reaching? I don’t have any steps toward [doing something]. The conversation to have is possibly opening up to more conversations … Where I’m living now, there’s puddling in the yard from the rain and that is a first. With climate change, there’s more moisture in the atmosphere that falls at once. It’s unheard of that the place where I am is affected. It’s not even a vulnerable place.

Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Providence Energy Fair AND in Burnside Park!

I’m doing double shifts with the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth today.

The first one is 10-1 at the Providence Energy Fair, where you can also sign up for energy audits of your living quarters (I think renters can do this, not just property owners?), learn about renewable energy options in Rhode Island, help keep unnecessary and dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure out of the state with the Burrillville Land Trust and No LNG in PVD, and eat things from trucks. (My feelings about food trucks are mixed, but I’ll probably get a sandwich.) There’s childcare available for the talks and workshops.

The second one is my ordinary shift downtown in Burnside Park, across from Kennedy Plaza, 2-6pm. If anyone feels like coming and being an audience plant–that is, standing and talking to me to demonstrate that other people can do that, too–I’d be very grateful.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park 6/23/17

Weather: Hot, thick air, windy; heavily clouding up later

Number of people: 3 stoppers, 1 walkby

Pages of notes: 5

People who recognized me, and I them, from previous years: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.35

 

Observations:

I left at 5pm because it was clouding up heavily and looked like it was going to pour, and I didn’t have my umbrella because it’s busted from the last time it poured. It did not, in fact, pour.

When I walked up to start my shift, three white or white-appearing cops were arresting a Black man. Another cop car pulled up around where the Greyhound and Peter Pan buses come, around 3:30, but didn’t stay long. Yet another cop walked by at 4:17.

The downtown Providence “safety” team takes the tables and chairs—which are set up in the shade—away at around 2:30pm, when the food trucks leave. If you can’t or don’t want to sit on the grass, the benches are left, but they’re mostly in the hot sun.

This was the second time I chickened out and didn’t tell an interlocutor the real reason why I won’t be having kids. I’m not sure why, but I want to tell the truth next time.

 

A conversation:

I get sick sometimes, I have no money, there’s drama with my girlfriend. I’m thinking of going down to the compassion center [for medical marijuana], but sometimes I think I have to go through the anxiety, putting what’s inside in front of me in order to overcome it. It’s hard to even have heavier conversations. People ask me about money, how they can help out—it’s hard to have time to spend with my son … There’s been good things recently, but I’m so used to negative things.

What are the good things?

I’m getting money from the government every month, so I have income. I’ve been good, clean, but– Things have never been good with [my son’s] mom, we started on mistrust, so even though it’s been good, I can’t talk to her. I feel like I should be with them but at the same time I shouldn’t. If I get a manic episode—you know about that? People recognize it too late. At first it doesn’t look like anything’s different. Everyone’s on my case to get help. [When I’m in that state] I’m so innocent, I’m so naïve, that I get in trouble, I accidentally do something.

What do you know about what sets it off for you?

I tried doing everything, meditating, exercising, doing everything good, and it still happens. It’s like you have control, you don’t have control. I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I run from the place where I stay. I don’t want to have to go to the hospital every time I’m changing. Every time I think I’m doing the right thing, it’s not working. It’s been ten years.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/22/17

Weather: Hot and bright

Number of people: 10 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Pages of notes: 7

Peanuts references: 2

People who recognized me, and I them, from previous years: 3

Photos taken without permission: 1

Dogs seen: 2

Rabbits seen: 1, a well-known rabbit-about-town

Total number of animals pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $6.15

 

Observations:

A cop SUV pulled up into the middle of Kennedy Plaza at 3:24. When I next looked over there were seven cops standing near it, talking with a short man who walked with crutches. An ambulance came up, sat for a while, and left with no sirens; I couldn’t see who was in it or how they got there. The cops left around 4:15.

As with yesterday, I had a few conversations that I didn’t get permission (for various reasons) to publish here.

Two young women carrying a sign that said “Free Water” offered me a bottle of water.

People getting on my case, either seriously or teasingly, about not being a real doctor seems to be happening more lately. On the other hand, a friendly woman having a cigarette by the fence told me I should raise my prices: “You know how they keep raising the taxes.”

Someone who’s walked by and noticed the booth twice already stopped on this day and talked to me a bit, which makes me feel like being in the same place for many days in a row is worth it because it gives people time to get used to me.

 

Some conversations:

I think it’s stability. Humans feel like when you get a certain age, you’re gonna have a certain stability, things are gonna happen in a certain way. Climate change affects that. Hurricanes could come—Hurricane Katrina, that was about climate change, and people had to leave their homes, they were spread out all across America. And their lives were changed long after that. I was living in Hawai’i when the Japan earthquake happened, and on the island I was living on, people from the island were not worried. They were relaxed. Everybody else was panicking, running to the stores, leaving their beach houses and moving inland. The locals went down to the beach and had a celebration. It affects different people [different ways]. Maybe older, local people, they accept it, maybe it’s religion, like God wants this to happen.

*

I don’t feel like I’m caring for myself, anxiety-wise. I’m always in people’s faces, always talking to and diagnosing people—it’s probably codependent. I’m bipolar, so I always get the shit end of the stick. But I can’t stop helping people … I’m not a fucking doctor. I’ve had doctors distrust me, misdiagnose me, call me a hypochondriac. There should be a league of doctors with ailments similar to ours, who know where we come from. I already know what [my illness] is. I have trouble getting people to listen. And the meds they gave me made me flip out. I was diagnosed in 2009, and the last five years I screwed myself up with charges, but in the last three years I’ve gotten better at managing it. I do breathing exercises, I talk myself out of situations I know the answer to. I know the consequences from last time, I’m in full control of the result. I don’t think [bipolar disorder] is a bad thing. There’s a lot to be learned.

*

What’s up with the climate? I’m new to it. I saw—before Wonder Woman I saw a movie on climate change coming up, a preview, they had Al Gore, Donald Trump—he thinks it’s a hoax. It’s real?

*

I got a niece but I don’t have kids. I’m gonna die, they’re gonna die, I don’t care. But you know what? Them that came before me, they fought for civil rights and shit. They didn’t do that for us to–

What worries me is, we’re going down. We were down for so long, then Obama, I didn’t like everything he did, but we were starting to go up, and we just went back. I tried to give [Donald Trump] the benefit of the doubt, but this first six months, it’s not looking good … If he says, Go to war right now, I’m gonna go—I’m not fighting for Donald Trump, I’m fighting for America. But even with Obama, they say, Oh, it’s gonna trickle down, but it never trickled down to me like that. It trickles down to people making 40 Gs, 50 Gs, not the people making 15 Gs, not the people in the housing project. He’s not starting a war with North Korea, he’s starting a war with Iraq, Afghanistan–’cause they’re poor! … I don’t like to talk politics with nobody, but I get frustrated. What’s it gonna take for me to prosper? I never prosper.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/21/17

Weather: Muggy, breezy, clouds and sun, humidity lifting as it got sunnier

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Pages of notes: 6.5

People who recognized the Peanuts reference: 2

People who recognized me, and I them, from previous years: 4

Number of dogs seen: 4

Number of dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.80

 

Observations:

While I had a few conversations today, for a few different reasons I only ended up getting permission to post one, which is below.

I responded very disproportionately to someone today. I’ll reflect on it at greater length later, but what I’m taking from it at the moment is that the more responses I have prepared, the less likely I am to be a reactive dickhead whose mental habits lead me to use my power badly.

Beginning of shift, cop car parked at the Dorrance St. end of Kennedy Plaza. 3:03, bike cop ran through the park carrying a sandwich. 3:17, three cops in uniform walked through the park. 4:34, cop SUV drove down Washington St.

I saw 20+ skateboards today, some people riding them, some people carrying them.

Speaking of overcoming mental habits: C., if you’re reading this, I think my suggestions to you were okay and I stand by them, but I forgot another thing you could do and that we can all do: start learning about efforts and methods to abolish the police.

 

A conversation:

Probably I have five years to live. And I know my life doesn’t mean that much in the span of the Earth’s existence, but I just feel bad for all the families who are having children now. I totally get it, but it’s kind of selfish to have kids. I really wanna travel, but I don’t have enough money, because I live in this capitalist society where I have to make money to sustain a dying life. … Even if I started living eco-friendly in my regular life, it wouldn’t matter because the permafrost is just gonna come and kill everyone. I’ve grown so nihilistic. Human beings are just a cancer on the Earth. I just want to smoke as many cigarettes as possible and then die slowly and horribly, I’m sure Mother Earth will really enjoy that. I just put it really dramatically because … I coud be like, Oh, we’re all gonna do just fine, but no one’s gonna do just fine. I picked five [years] because I don’t know a ton of scientific evidence so I picked a low expectational number. I set my bar low so I can try to force myself to do the things I want.

… The way I was raised was super hedonistic, just monstrously gaining things. I live with my parents, and when I’m just living in my home it’s like, Enjoy this polished exterior that life has to offer—I’m really privileged but I live with people who [couldn’t] give less of a shit about the Earth. … But I’m not gonna run into my parents’ living room screaming, “We all have to kill ourselves. Hey, mom, wanna go out and get some cigarettes and smoke until we die?”

I love my family, they’re great, I wanna protect them. …Imagine trying to love someone to your fullest ability in the shortest amount of time. You can do it by communicating, expressing your love, and you can even do it by silence, but the people I’m dealing with don’t know silence. I just don’t want to have to do it. I don’t want to have to do it all now. I can do it, but I realize how much love I was gonna have to give when I was older—and I hate it that I’m not gonna get to do that—