Day Two, Life As We Knew It, Chapters 4-6

May 12, 2008 at 12:38 am | Posted in Life As We Knew It | 8 Comments

I know it’s hard to stop (at times). If the majority wants to vote to speed up the pace, then let me know. I don’t want to rush anyone along though. Let me know what you think…

Life As We Knew It
Day 2
Chapters 4 – 6

Chapter 4

Horton. The cat. Just had to laugh.
Brandon. The famous ice skater she’s obsessed with. While I find this in part slightly annoying, it’s not that different than a teen girl being obsessed with an actor or musician. Everyone has their interests. Jonny has baseball. Miranda has swimming and ice skating.

Gas prices and politics. Changing lifestyles and habits.

McDonalds. McDonalds pops up a lot in this chapter. The absence of it and other fast food chains is one of the things that emphasizes just how much life has changed. You take things for granted. You take a lot of things for granted.

“I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s would still be open.” (46)

Here’s something to think about. This big catastrophe has put a lot of people out of business. While some jobs will remain in demand, others–most maybe–are not important at all. Which means that many people will not be getting a paycheck…which means that they won’t have money to buy what they need–food and gas and whatnot. Here’s something else to think about…would you want to go to work if it was the end-of-the-world-as-you-knew-it. Would you welcome the distraction?

Rumors in the pizza line. Cookies. Cakes. Bread. Mrs. Nesbitt.

I love Mrs. Nesbitt

National Day of Mourning. Memorial services on the radio. Scary how people are still dying, still drowning because they couldn’t get out of the path of the Ocean.

Cafeteria lunches. It’s funny how these strange urges can hit you.

Another shopping trip. This time for clothes and winter items.

This mom sure is smart. I don’t know that in the month of May I’d have the foresight or intuition to think of how cold it could be or might be later on. Most people are thinking no electricity means no air conditioning means hot, hot, hot. Mom’s thinking, hmm, better prepare to bundle up

This actually reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode. Two end-time scenarios. One where the earth’s orbit shifts (I think) bringing it a few degrees closer to the sun so that it becomes too hot for humans to survive…and the other scenario where the earth’s orbit shifts bringing it a few degrees further from the sun so that it is too cold for humans to survive. Death by ice or fire. It was on a few weeks ago–and it was just really interesting. The episode is “The Midnight Sun.” (part one, part two, part three)

This chapter is all about the small changes that make a big difference in everyones lives. No sports. No prom. No class trip. No fast food. No hot lunches at the cafeteria. No buses. No shopping. No TV. Limited electricity.

Her relationship with Megan. Her conversations. Scary? Reverend Marshall. “God is doing a wonderful thing.”

The highlight of Miranda’s life is that her older brother Matt does make it home, home to stay.

The laundry. Just think of it. Trying to keep clothes and bedding clean without the convenience of a washing machine and dryer. It’s one thing to have it go out for a few days because it’s broken or needs repairs. But to never know if and when you’ll be able to get a load done. No wonder Miranda’s mom is forced into becoming “a hero of the all-night laundry.”

The list of the dead posted on the internet. Scary.

“She [Miranda’s mom] found the names of most of the editors she worked with, and her agent, and a lot of writers she’d met over the years . . . .In less than ten minutes, she found over 30 names [of people she knew]. . . .Jonny looked up baseball players. A lot of them were listed as known dead and a lot more were listed as missing/presumed dead. Matt looked up kids from his high school class. Only three were listed as dead, but a bunch were listed as missing/presumed dead. As a test, he looked us up, but none of our names were on any of the lists. And that’s how we know we’re alive this Memorial Day.” (58-59)

Chapter 5

No final exams. A mixed blessing. Happy because who’s not happy about NOT having a test. Of course most students are thrilled that things like homework and tests are being done way in light of the catastrophe. Upsetting because it is just one more sign that things are so not normal. That things that once mattered are now trivial in light of the important things like surviving.

School lunches. Peanut butter and jelly on (increasingly) stale bread. Nothing to look forward to. But something to be thankful for in some respects. Megan not eating. It freaks out Miranda, and it’s definitely freak-worthy. Megan is definitely getting weirder by the day.

Hard conversations about food and survival. Miranda is beginning to wake up to the seriousness of it. To realize in a very small way just how much of a burden it is for her mom and to some extent her older brother, Matt, to worry about how they’re going to survive, how they’re going to manage in the upcoming weeks and months.

Eggs. Mrs. Nesbitt. I love Mrs. Nesbitt. She’s a great neighbor, a great friend. And this is a small glimpse into their lives. Being excited to split two eggs–scrambled–between five people–it’s a sign that things have changed.

Nightmares. Who wouldn’t have nightmares?

“Lately I’ve been trying not to know what’s going on. At least that’s the excuse I’ve been giving myself for not caring about all the stuff that’s happening outside of my little section of Pennsylvania. Who cares about earthquakes in India or Peru or even Alaska?

Okay that’s not fair. I know who cares. Matt cares and Mom cares and if there were any baseball involved, Jonny would care, too. Knowing Dad, he cares. Mrs. Nesbitt, too.

I’m the one not caring. I’m the one pretending the earth isn’t shattering all around me because I don’t want it to be. I don’t want to know there was an earthquake in Missouri. I don’t want to know the Midwest can die, also, that what’s going on isn’t just tides and tsunamis. I don’t want to have anything more to be afraid of.

I didn’t start this diary for it to be a record of death.” (70-71)

A very telling passage, a very honest passage. Life As We Knew It is a coming-of age novel. Miranda is “coming-to-age” at a time when the world is falling apart. Nothing is stable. Nothing is secure. Everything is in flux. Everything is in chaos. Surviving those teen years can be a struggle enough for some teens without taking into consideration the fate of the entire world, the whole human race. Will mankind survive is not the kind of questions that teens should have to deal with.

Fear is real. Miranda might come across as whiny and selfish. I say might. But really who could blame her? Would you be “alright” with everything that’s gone on? Wouldn’t you have your moments of complaining, your moments of despair, your moments where you just can’t take it anymore?

Survival. Changing Personalities and Changing Philosophies.

Maybe Miranda was wrong about her mom caring. At least it seems that way. Charity. Generosity. Goodwill towards all? Family comes first. Even the adults–especially the adults–are having a hard time not putting themselves, their families first. If it’s survival of the strongest, then it’s no time to be nice and compassionate.

Chapter 6

Summer. Jonny is still planning to go to baseball camp. Miranda starts swimming in Miller’s pond in this chapter. She makes a new friend. Dan. They swim. They kiss. They talk about what they wish could happen. Miranda dreams about what it would be like to date in a “normal” world. To be able to date, to shop, to learn to drive, to have fun. Miranda has some pretty happy days in the summer. Her few days or weeks of happiness with Dan are something to treasure.

Peter. The doctor. The mother’s boyfriend. His words of advice about how to stay safe, how to stay healthy. Scary. Mosquitoes have surely benefited from all the catastrophe. Malaria. West Nile. Other diseases that are spread by unsanitary conditions. Scary. And the thing about people with food allergies having the choice of starving to death or risking their lives eating the food they’re allergic too. Scary.

Here is how Miranda describes one of those good days. A day with a good bit of electricity. And after her mother recently tried baking her own bread.

“We have clean sheets to sleep on, a clean house, clean clothes, clean dishes. We spent the evening laughing. It wasn’t 90 degrees in the house when we went to bed. We weren’t hungry. We’re not worried about Dad. I know what it feels like to be kissed by a boy. If I could, I would relive this day over and over. I can’t imagine a more perfect one.” (95-96)

Food lines.
Fights.
Reconciling with family.

So what is everyone thinking??? Are you hooked??? Are you liking it??? Are you wanting to read more, more, more???? Share your thoughts!

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  1. I’m definitely hooked and liking it and wanting to read more, more, more! In fact, I only have about 50 pages left :p I think (and I can only say think) that I’d want to try to have some type of normalcy during all this. But I think back to 9/11 and know that none of those people could have wanted to work after that disaster…and I know that after Katrina I didn’t want to work right after that…but eventually I did want to go back to work. I needed something normal to cling onto and when I got to go back to grad school it was the best thing in the world to see everyone, so I can relate to Miranda in a way. It certainly felt like the end of the world down here in New Orleans after Katrina. You can see this in Life as we Knew it not just in school and work but also in their wanting mcdonalds and swimming and baseball…they just want a little bit of normalcy. Who wouldn’t? You need to cling to something for hope…

    Their mom really is incredible. I’m loving her and even as a future potential father I’m taking tips, lol! I was very annoyed by Miranda’s complaining and “selfishness” sometimes but then I started thinking…who wouldn’t feel those things during something like this? It must just feel to her as if she’s being cheated of everything and she must question everything. You must live in a constant state of shock thinking things really can’t be that bad. I also know that when I was her age, I didn’t think things could ever be that bad as long as mom was around, so I’m sure that’s going on in her head too…she can’t realize the extent of it all yet and that’s a compliment to her mother. Her mother is really sacrificing so much of herself for her children. And I was thrilled to see Matt make it home in these chapters!…Oh, and Megan drives me nuts!

  2. I was reminded of 9/11 too in some ways. Not that it *truly* effected all Americans the same way it did New Yorkers, etc. but, I think psychologically, the effects were widespread. It’s hard to truly separate the two in my mind because my grandfather was dying of cancer at the time, but I remember going through a sluggish depression where I didn’t want to work, didn’t want to leave the house, didn’t even really want to get out of bed. I was in night classes, and I just remember the fear of being vulnerable. I felt the same way when I did manage to go into work. Rationally, I knew that there wasn’t much danger of terrorists attacking me then and there, but I felt fear just the same. The fear of the unknown. I remember several months after Oprah had a show where she had guests that were feeling depression and anxiety even though they weren’t actually effected (their loved ones) on 9/11. I think the fear of the unknown, of not knowing what tomorrow will bring is very much alive in the world, in the mindset of Life As We Knew It. Miranda doesn’t have to live on the coast in the immediate danger zone to feel the threat that her life could end any day now. Also the fact that that catastrophe naturally led to a day of mourning. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more glued to a television set than I was for all the 9/11 drama. It was horrible to watch, disturbing, but yet the need to know was there as well. It was too important not to watch, you could watch history unfold. It was shocking and awful and life changing.

    Miranda is human–all too human–but when I think about it, I don’t know that I could do any better, be any stronger, any braver, less selfish, more responsible. I think what we think we’d do and what we’d actually do would likely be very different. I tell myself that every time she starts to annoy me.

  3. I feel so bad. I have no self-control. I finished reading it all yesterday. I tired to pace myself, but couldn’t seem to stop.

    Even though I am finished, I like keeping the schedule. It gives me time to digest what I have read and to reflect. Does that make sense?

    Now about Miranda…

    I like the fact she is self-aware of her actions. It makes her more loveable.

  4. I am loving it and completely freaked out by it. I think I might have to speed up my reading, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
    It all seems very realistic the gas and the food and the electricity. I can really imagine all those things happening and just how lost I would feel. I think I would miss noise the most I nearly always have the TV or radio on as background noise. Where we used to live we had power cuts quite often and it was so frustrating, I thought she captured that really well.

    I love the Mom, she thinks of everything and I thought the scene where she freaked out about Miranda telling Dan rather than getting straight in line was really powerful. Society is starting to fracture and people are doing things they’d never normally do.
    I like Miranda I think her reactions are pretty normal. I liked how she when she was talking to Jonny she realised how good Matt is at talking to her.
    Megan is very scary with the sandwich business!

    BTW I thin I posted as Marmite and Tea last time as this is in wordpress but just so you know I am one and the same!

  5. “One thing Matt did say to me was that no matter what the future is, we’re living through a very special time in history. He said that history makes us who we are, but we can make history, also, and that anyone can be a hero, if they just choose to be” (57). I really liked this thought that anyone could be a hero. Certainly Mom is a hero for her family.

    Megan not eating. Do you think she has food at home and feel bad or is it really a religious thing? I think it has more to do than with just religion.

    Eggs- can you imagine not having eggs? I LOVE to bake and I think it would be very difficult not to have eggs. I think I need to add the powdered eggs to my mental list of End-of-the-World supplies. Would you have used the 2 eggs Mrs. Nesbitt brought over for scrambled eggs? Not me! I would make Chocolate Chip Cookies or brownies or something – not scrambled eggs.

    Would you send your child to baseball camp if an asteroid just hit the moon? (87) What about if they can have fresh food? I know that Mom wants things to be as normal as possible, but I don’t think I would want my child so far away.

    Only 4 books from the library? Yikes!! I feel very spoiled! I have TONS of books checked out from the library.

    With the Gas situation how are they going to get to Dad’s? It will be 8 hours of driving and 8 hours of getting a full take of gas. Would you pay $25 a gallon for gas? Wow! I think I would be in very good shape!

    Would you go to get your best friend to stand in line for food. I think I would especially if I had the endurance to run the whole way! Would you be upset if your child did this? Do you feel niceness is a luxury like Mom feels (101? I think it is a luxury, but a luxury that we can always take part in. But I wonder if I would feel different if it was the end of the world and I was trying to save my family. Then I think I would look out for my family first. What do you think about the contradiction from Mom? She will go the extra mile for her friends (Mrs. Nesbitt and Peter), but won’t let Miranda do the same. I think it’s ironic since Miranda probably learned her generosity from her Mother.

    I look at the variety of food I get to eat and electricity and feel SO blessed! It’s amazing what we take for granted and don’t even give a second thought to.

    Do you find it odd that Dan’s neighbor gave up their food when they moved to the South? With the scarcity of food I would have thought they would have taken it with them. Do you think they have a lot of food and he is trying to find an excuse to justify it?

    I also think it’s odd that the sitcoms are running on TV and not 24 hours of news on every station. Our news breaks into programming for thunderstorms – an asteroid hitting the moon?? They would never go off the air!!

    Would I welcome working? I probably would – not like the end of the world is stressful enough, but with prices so high money would completely stress me out! Although I would have a very hard time leaving my family and I would not be able to work without electricity since I work with computers. Well actually since I drive over an hour to work I would have to find another job unless they were going to pay for gas, which I doubt.

    I would hate not having a washing machine – the dryer you can get by without but not the washing machine. I really have a desire to get one of those windmill things that create energy! I would be trying to buy one real quick – you could probably make money off selling the electricity back to the electric company – or eve the neighbors!

    Do you think Megan has a lot of food at home and that is why she doesn’t eat at school? I know she is following a freaky preacher, but I can’t imagine her starving herself!

    I am COMPLETELY hooked!! This is a book that I would love to read during the 48 hour marathon because you can’t put it down!! But I love the fact that I get to discuss it with you guys because this is a book I MUST discuss! I am wanting to read more and more, but I am going to keep up with the group because I am afraid that I will say too much and give away the plot! I wouldn’t want to do that

  6. By the way – My vote is to speed up! I have a feeling come Friday I am not going to be able to put the book down!! This is one of those books that you can’t read anything else because nothing else compares so I think everything else sucks! I am listening to 4 audio books and they don’t compare. I am telling you every young adult that I know is getting this book this year! And some adults too! I may get our book club to read it and read it again!! This is definatly going to my top 10 of all time favorite books at this point – I hope the end doesn’t disappoint!

  7. By the way – My vote is to speed up! I have a feeling come Friday I am not going to be able to put the book down!! This is one of those books that you can’t read anything else because nothing else compares so I think everything else sucks! I am listening to 4 audio books and they don’t compare. I am telling you every young adult that I know is getting this book this year! And some adults too! I may get our book club to read it and read it again!! This is definatly going to my top 10 of all time favorite books at this point – I hope the end doesn’t disappoint!

  8. Darcie and Alix, I will probably speed it up. That doesn’t mean you can’t finish up with the posted schedule. But I’ll probably go a post every day or every other day.

    I’m glad everyone is liking it! It was hard to put down. I read it in two or three days (before this discussion began) and typed up my thoughts as I went. So I’ve got them all ready to post just whenever you want them. 🙂 I KNOW I couldn’t read it just a little snippet at a time!

    You asked some great questions, Darcie. I don’t know if I can address all of them or not, my brain is a bit scattered. But know that I appreciate the discussion just the same 😉

    I know that I wouldn’t be able to live without eggs.Seriously. Eggs and cheese are two of my primary foods. That and pasta. Pasta, I think, would have still been available…but of course without butter/margarine. And it would probably be meatless and cheeseless. I would miss bread as well.

    The library, I’m happy that the library is still an option. 🙂


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