All the great land mammals are dying. There were once birds the size of sheep. Pinnipeds used to be huge; walruses had tusks six feet long. Jackrabbits had feet like two-by-fours. Armadillos were as big as minivans. Now, they are all dying off. African elephants are going thirsty, having to dig wells in the dirt with their trunks to find water. Bengal tigers are shot and skinned. Polar bears are drowning. Imagine! The world’s largest carnivorous land mammal drowning, an entire species drowned to extinction. You know what’ll be the largest land carnivore after we’ve shot all the tigers and drowned all the polar bears? The grizzly bear. Which is to say, some mornings I wake up before the alarm and just lie there and think how I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the largest carnivorous land mammal is the goddamn grizzly bear. My boyfriend Peter tells me I have a sweet misunderstanding of the theory of natural selection. But then, he has also said that he finds my cartoon science very sexy.
My sister Gwen says it’s not so bad, living in a world where the largest land mammal is the grizzly bear. Largest carnivorous land mammal, I say. Okay, she says. She says since our mother killed herself—six months ago—I should start letting myself be comforted by the natural world. She says when I feel anxious I should ride my bicycle down to Ocean Beach and stand on the ruins of the Sutro Baths and look out at the water and imagine the dark silhouettes of blue and grey whales moving like submarines through the sea. She says I should be more like Peter, on his little research vessel out on the Bay dipping his measurement tools into the water, listening. She says if I let myself, I’ll be comforted by my smallness. But then, she has always been braver than I.
And as if that weren't enough to convince you of Claire's awesomeness, check out this shit on Granta. Claire also has a story forthcoming in The Hopkins Review and a nonfiction piece in Ploughshares. Also, she's a really nice person. Keep her name in your head. Trust me. Just do it.