Climate change keeps me from writing some days, more like the news about global warming makes me feel so hopeless about the future—crippled, unable to spark change—that some days I don’t think I’ll get back to writing ever again.
Why not just listen to great music, read the classics, have a lot more sex, and get drunk? I mean, if there’s no hope…
The IPCC and the Pentagon have been weaving horror stories about a half-uninhabitable planet in the next fifty years. Hell on Earth. Coming Soon! Unless we stop our civilization cold, reverse course! Pardigm shift on the count of three!
Meanwhile, the conspiratorial people still insist the whole thing is a massive plot, a scam to grab government funding. Everyone’s in on it, they tell me. Trust no one. They always have links to shady websites, videos and articles, shaky proof. Good guys. Bad guys. It’s a small small Hollywood world after all.
My rich landlord hired a construction team to build a huge concrete planter to house a row of decorative shrubbery—half a city block long, three feet high.
Meanwhile, most of the bridges and roads in New Jersey are crumbling.
All day, every day, on Facebook, on Twitter, people say poor people choose to be poor, homeless people deserve to be homeless, all women secretly want to be raped, and people who threaten the interests of American corporations must die. They say these things in thousands of original and creative ways. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s getting worse.
I mentioned to an acquaintance, a few weeks back, that I wanted to write more about the homeless people of New Jersey. She said she had no sympathy for the homeless because a few homeless men used to harass her and her girlfriends on campus during college. When I called her out on that absolute bullshit stance, she said:
“That’s a very white male thing of you to say.”
In every context, in every situation, there’s always the danger that I will say exactly what’s on my mind. Since my best friend died, and my grandma followed one month after, I have a very low tolerance for meaningless bullshit. The climate is about to flood out huge portions of the planet, creating millions of displaced refugees with no food, no shelter, no fresh water. We’re a few degrees away from a literal Hell on Earth, and rising, while almost every scientist is saying it might be, it’s already too late to avoid the worst of it. And yet people still ask me what TV shows I like to watch, or what I think about two famous strangers getting married? Seriously? Other people actually tell me they don’t believe in science. What? How dare you cling to such stark raving ignorance when there’s so much at stake for all of us.
I spend a huge portion of my time paying attention to both climate scientists and social activists. So, sometimes, often, just for fun, I mash the two up.
First, I watch a YouTube interview or lecture from some leading climate scientist.
“We must stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow!” he or she insists. “This is urgent! Everybody, please listen! We need radical change right now!”
And I follow that with a leading scholar of social change, or the latest professor activist on the television.
“Try to understand,” he or she says, with gentle, somewhat detached compassion. “The kinds of radical changes required come slowly, with struggle, over time. We must be patient.”
Then back to the climate scientists:
“We are almost out of time!”
“A deluge of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere just last year!”
“And if these are methane explosions, we’re fucked. We’re so fucked.”
CAUTION: This game will end a dinner party fast.
My current assignment is to draft, revise, and try to publish new poetry pulled from my old journals, while I also brainstorm and write articles to submit to Truthout.org—because I love @TruthOut.
“And stop thinking you have to be an expert before you start writing,” Luz said, during this morning’s hour long meeting about my writing goals.
And while I work on all of that—including the above-mentioned attitude adjustment—she wants me to write paragraph length blog posts about current events, kinda like notes from the belly of the industrial war beast I was born into by no choice of my own.
Come to think of it, this should be fun. Heh.
If I suddenly had the resources, or a shark-like activist lawyer offered to work for free—just to make a point—I would aggressively sue every single one of the bottom-feeding debt collectors who have called my phone, my wife’s phone, my mother’s and my aunt’s phone, since I lost my steady adjunct professor job in 2009.
I would gladly spend my entire waking day, for as long as it took, writing about the veiled threats, always made with a smile, and the deep and lasting emotional trauma this grinning-voiced aggression has caused me and my family over the past few years.
Just one of many examples: my heart nearly pounds out my chest with panic and anxiety whenever my phone rings. That’s a conditioned emotional response. My debt collectors did that to me, and that’s a fact. Am I supposed to just let that go? Really?
No. No. No. I think I need a few judges to explain this one to me.
Ever since my physicist friend and neighbor suddenly died last month, I’ve felt like I have a brick lodged inside my chest. I have trouble breathing, feeling like I need to yawn or take a deep breath, but I just can’t.
Anxiety and stress make the smooth muscles deep in the chest contract, say the doctors, already scribbling in their prescription pads with their complimentary pens from Big Pharma. Because the pills must keep moving, or else.
And because my grief must be irrational, feeling such loss over a man I spoke to on my porch a few nights a week, just a little over a year of casual friendship.
The kindhearted call me oversensitive, instead of irrational, and worry about my ability to survive in this hectic world. How will I ever make it when every personal loss hits me so hard? Will every dead friend make me sick?
Because the way of the world can’t possibly be the problem. Because our emotions must always already be yielding to someone’s hyper-rational business model, or else.
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Most often, almost every night, I dream I’m still living in California, either alone or with fantasy family—an imagined aunt and uncle. Either way, I live in a big house with a private library that I, of course, collected myself. There’s always some crisis back in New Jersey as the dream unfolds. The crisis is always vaguely family related—my mother or one of the babies—and I’m always filled with a deep sense of dread and urgency as I spend hours of perceived dream time anxiously trying to pack 10,000 books into a small rental car for an emergency cross country road trip. Leaving the books is never an option. In fact, for some reason that is unspoken but perfectly logical in this dream world, I can’t go anywhere without my entire private library in tow. It almost feels like a physical handicap, or a mental disability to my dream self. And, so, I spend the whole dream standing in a book cluttered driveway, sweating in the hot sun, trying to plan the impossible. I keep getting more and more anxious. Frightened. Desperate. I know that every minute I fail to do something is another minute I won’t be there for my family, but I don’t even know where to start. How do I even begin to do this? Sometimes I wake up crying, clutching my chest and coughing, my mouth cotton ball dry. But only sometimes.
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