Tuesday, July 1, 2014



Over the past year or so, I've be reading more and more reports about how science is now examining how our thoughts and behavior may be dictated by our gut flora (read here and here). To clarify: We always thought stress caused our intestinal problems, but it might be the opposite. This news is truly fascinating to me, and also creepy, if you consider the implications. In fact, if I were a journalist I would sensationalize these findings more. I just can see the titles: "Evil bacteria: At last, scientific proof for demonic possession" or "We found the human soul, and it's made of yogurt".


Last week the Invertebrates Exhibit at the National Zoo was closed for good after 27 years. That was incredibly sad news for all of us who count octopi and cuttlefish among their favorite animals. The reason for the closure, detailed here, is that the exhibit was too expensive at $1 million per year plus $5 million for a necessary renovation. Which raises the question: Are they really saying they could not find a DC millionaire willing to save the Invertebrates Exhibit? If I had the means, I would LOVE to put my name on the entrance (in fact, I have great ideas for my plaque). Still, I was relieved to hear that the animals will be freed into their habitat. The blue crabs will be released to the Chesapeake Bay, the spiny lobster along the coast of California, and the cockroaches to an alley in Adams Morgan.


For the past 6 weeks, my mother stayed with us to help me cope with the fact I now have two boys in the house, and her visit was a great reminder of cultural differences between Italy and the United States. I think the main difference is that Italian mothers view ironing as one of life's necessities. My mother in particular spent at least one hour every morning ironing all the ironable. I mean, she ironed my yoga pants, and I don't even do yoga anymore. Of course, just two days after my mother left for Italy, all of her efforts were nullified again by my laziness. I have to say, though, it felt great to lounge exhausted around the house in perfectly crisp, ironed pajamas while my boys cleaned their food-filled hands on their perfectly crisp, ironed t-shirts. 


I keep thinking about the article on Vice a few weeks ago, lamenting how everybody from their 20s onwards complains about how they are "officially old". I agree with the author, but I have to admit there are behaviors that betray my age and that make me depressed. To start, I often hear myself sighing, "They don't make movies like this anymore," and I have found myself toying with the idea of purchasing "elegant" sweatpants to wear outside my house. More disturbingly, though, I realized that when asked about what era in time I'd like to travel to if given a chance, I always choose the future because there's no way I can live in a time with inferior medical treatments. And that has to be the most depressing answer to that question ever.


Of course I am exhausted being at home with a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old. However, I had to admit to myself that my exhaustion has now reached its zenith (although nadir would probably be more accurate here). The thing is, I think I have put all my parental energies into my first son's first years. The nursing, the pumping, the discipline, the routines, the cloth diapers, the homemade yogurt, the early potty training, the home-cooked meals, the no-TV policy... Now I look at my youngest and the only thing I can think of is, "Oh god, don't tell me I have to teach you the fucking animal sounds. Go ask your brother. Or watch a documentary. Or go to a farm. I'm done."