ENG 350 – “I’m With The Bears”

While I plan to finish the entirety of I’m With the Bears shortly, I am still on a deadline because this is for a class.

I spent yesterday at a relative’s house for a family reunion, in the 94°F (34.4C) heat (“feels like: 100°F” (37.7C) says the Weather Channel) when outside, in something significantly cooler but still warm indoors. Air conditioners that once made the interiors of houses comfortable can only manage “better than outside” in the summers now. Living in a house without central air has gotten me used to sitting in a room that runs around 80°F (26.6C) as the tiny, single-room AC unit in the window struggles to counter the increasing summer temps.

It was James’s side of the family, so the reminiscing was not for me. I hung around with those that married in and we discussed things. The conversation was usually about jobs, status of vehicles, the temperature outside. We talked about how hot it is, how it used to not be that hot, but there was no discussion deeper than that. This wasn’t the time or place for it. It was too hot.

My job as an energy engineer/analyst/manager for retail corporations fits snugly into this changing climate. My goal is to save them money by running the AC efficiently. Making stores comfortable so people buy things. On the surface we can tell people that we’re trying to be more environmentally friendly, but it’s all about money.

Reading global warming related literature for the last six weeks has got me questioning a few things about myself and my career. Am I helping (by cutting electric/gas/water usage for corporations)? Am I hurting (by making these corporations have a sustainable business that ultimately harms the world)? Should I care about the bigger picture or am I just trying to get by? So many of these novels address and pity those just trying to survive. We’re just one of the masses, dependent on the corporations and the government to keep the world safe for us. We treat them all as too big to fail. And then they do.

The perfect ending to this book was Atwood’s contribution, Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet, in which all the problems of the world are simplified to their core. All nuance of the questions I ask myself are lost the death of the world. What is the point of even questioning what I’m doing if the world is to end? But of course, the point of this collection of stories, as with all dystopic literature, is to hopefully scare people away from the inevitable. “If you don’t care now, here is what will happen!” is sometimes the hamfisted message beat into us from environmentally conscious media. I still remember the shows I was inundated with as a child that desired to make the new generation aware of what was going on. We noticed, but everything else got in the way.

The small scale of the story in The Tamarisk Hunter is a great counter to The Water Knife‘s epic adventure. Everything Lolo did to keep himself where he was mattered so little – he thought he’d be caught and killed for his water related crimes, but in the end they just told him he’s not needed anymore. Those in power don’t need those not, and they can end you in ways you didn’t think possible.

Diary of an Interesting Year is a bit like Future Home of the Living God in that it’s written from a single point of view, and one that is of a normal person being affected by the collapsing, panicked government. Unlike Future Home it doesn’t bank on some dodgy sci-fi to explain why they’re running or why pregnancy is horrible. For Cedar, pregnancy becomes a duty, for the author of the Diary, it’s a terrible burden that could lead to death she’s quickly done with. Women become commodities to the strong men.

It’s 83°F (28.3C) in this room.

  1. avatar
    • Lucy Biederman
    • July 1st, 2018

    This is so beautifully written, Amanda!

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