Mondays: Cope's Rule



I humiliated myself recently by asking my women's health practitioner to check my thyroid. I told her it seemed like the only thing my body knew how to do lately -- aside from the basics of staying alive -- was gain weight. "Could there be something wrong with my thyroid?" I asked.


She said it's possible, took my blood, and then told me to consider cutting out alcohol, starches, and "white carbs".


One of the hosts of a podcast I like (Natalie Roy of the c.r.e.a.t.e series) is currently pregnant. She talks about how she's had to adjust her thought habits around body size, and what a wonderful gift that is. She speaks eloquently about her body's need to "expand" as her life expands. The word "expansion" makes me think of clouds -- wispy and lovely and good.


I squeeze myself into ever-increasingly larger pants every morning and say helpful things like, "Oh, look at you... expanding," and then try to identify all the ways my life itself is trying to expand, and won't I let it, Honey? Because isn't it nice to expand, Sweetheart? Stop resisting!


Anyway, I hate that I'm writing about this, truly. Post-menopausal (I went through it three years ago, i.e., early.) woman bemoans weight gain: It's so unoriginal. Aren't I smarter than this? Is this really how I'm going to spend my energy? Have I forgotten what matters?


I know all of the feminist theory by heart -- why is there so much pressure for a woman to stay small? To not take up too much space? To look so adorable and snap-able that you could put her in your back pocket and carry her around?


But my knees hurt, and I feel like I'm aging faster than I was 5 years ago.


Dogs do that, don't they? Age faster with time? We always multiply by 7 and think we've captured "Dog Years", but I think it's more complicated than that.


Fisher and I went to the park a few weeks ago. He wanted to know why I don't swing. I told him that swinging makes me feel like barfing, but it didn't always. That happens with age. I don't remember why -- something about equilibrium or radius of rotation or ear infections.


I think it's vulnerability -- that as we age, we're more aware of being slung around in space. We watch the world fall apart and people we assumed were immortal die and time explodes and cancer bubbles and everyone on the internet argues and our own clocks tick in our ears.


Maybe it's not expansion. Maybe it's insulation while everything spins out of control.


Cope's Rule (Edward Cope, paleontologist) says that, generally speaking, most species get larger as they evolve. Maybe that's it. I'm a step forward in evolution. There are benefits: better defense against predators; improved thermal efficiency; broader range of food choices.


But there are also drawbacks. Namely: susceptibility to extinction. So.








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