Really important "what if"s

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if a giant banana was circling the earth at the distance of the international space station? Me neither. But someone did, because people's brains are amazing.

Other completely unimportant but wonderful questions answered: what if the moon was a disco ball? What if the planets were as close as the moon?

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This Week's Gratitude & Delight

An animated gif illustration. There is a black background and a white speech bubble with the text "thank you" inside it that blinks on and off. Around the speech bubble are two white stars that wiggle back and forth.
Ivo Adventures
This week I have been grateful for:
We had opening night for a new play (online only of course, sigh) and it went really really well! We tried some new technical stuff that worked well (minus one glitch, but whatevs) and the artists did a great job!

Justin McElroy's Twitter feed, because it has the perfect combination of information and snarky jokes that could have come from my bitter soul.

My team at work who are honestly killing it.

Gertie is on meds for her hyperthyroidism now and she is doing SO GOOD and now I'm remembering how she used to demand food all the time and it's a totally different vibe than desperately hoping I can feed her enough to keep her alive.

A friend who is moving (which I am not grateful for) made a video for me to let me know before she shared it broadly, which made me feel special and also the video was pretty funny.

It was a loooooong weekend!
Contractors were doing water work in my building and I was able to help them because they needed someone to open their water taps to get air out of the pipes and it felt kind of nice to be useful.

- Strangers who dress up like the Easter Bunny and drive around on Easter Sunday in the back of a pickup truck to visit children.
A photo of a person in a bunny suit sitting in the back of a black pickup truck, waving at the camera. It's a sunny day on a residential street.

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Recommended Read: Yaa Gyasi's Guardian Article

Please, read this article by Yaa Gyasi: White people, Black authors are not your medicine. It's a potent discussion of her experience as a Black novelist who has long been held in the "anti-racist reading list" space. It's also, obviously, speaking to white people, and as I fit that category, I want to amplify it (which, on its face is kind of hilarious that I'll use my lil' blog to "amplify" the megaphone of an article in THE GUARDIAN, but we work with what we've got).
Gyasi, on her experience touring her book and encountering racism before 2020:
"I was exhausted, not just by the travel but by something that is more difficult to articulate – the dissonance of the black spotlight, of being revered in one way and reviled in another, a revulsion that makes clear the hollowness of the reverence."

On seeing her book on anti-racism reading lists in 2020:

"To see my book on any list with [Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye] should have, in a better world, filled me with uncomplicated pride, but instead I felt deflated. While I do devoutly believe in the power of literature to challenge, to deepen, to change, I also know that buying books by black authors is but a theoretical, grievously belated and utterly impoverished response to centuries of physical and emotional harm. The Bluest Eye was published 51 years ago. As Lauren Michelle Jackson wrote in her excellent Vulture essay 'What is an anti-racist reading list for', someone at some point has to get down to the business of reading." (Emphasis original.)

I have long believed that an vital part of everyone's work as a human is to expose themselves to the creative work of people from different, historically silenced groups. It's important because the art and entertainment we bathe in has endless, subtle impacts on how we see the world, who we identify with, what we think is "normal", and what perspectives we are able to empathize with. If some voices have been given less of a chance, we would do well to seek them out.
It's also a pretty joyous thing to do: you take something you already like doing (reading, watching TV, listening to podcasts or music), and find some new sources. It's really just finding more things to love.
But. BUT! There is a but. It is: but this is not all there is to do. Not by a long shot. And, as Gyasi says, it is a somewhat impoverished response to centuries of oppression. It's not medicine. It's not medicine in the "hold your nose and swallow it down" way (what author wants you to approach their book that way?), nor is it medicine in the "this will fix you" way.
It may be heart-opening. It may be exciting or challenging or something that rocks the foundations of who you thought you were (as art can be gloriously wont to do). But doesn't do the work of breaking down oppressive systems, internally and externally. And it's reductive as heck to approach Black authors that way.

"A summer of reading cannot fix this. Some may want to call the events of June 2020 a 'racial reckoning', but in a country in which there was a civil war and a civil rights movement 100 years apart, at some point it would be useful to ask how long a reckoning need take. When, if ever, will we have reckoned?"

PS: If you are white and feel, in any way, bothered by the fact that Gyasi (and many other Black commentators) have expressed skepticism at how our anti-racist reading lists are going, at what concrete steps we are taking to make change after reading those books, at our genuineness when we say the words "Black Lives Matter," take a pause. Have we, as a group, earned any benefit of the doubt?

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Smart as a Sperm Whale

Photo by BioDivLibrary on

New reality show: are you smarter than a sperm whale?
I don't know that I am. While I'm over here swiping on Tinder, which is the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results), these glorious creatures very quickly learned to change their defensive strategy after humans started hunting them.
You see, sperm whales are hunted by orcas and would group into tight circles to defend themselves. But once humans decided to get in our boats and kill the ocean, that grouping just made them easier to catch. Instead, they would simply swim upwind, making it nearly impossible for the wind-powered ships to catch them.
Friends, every time we learn something new about animals it becomes more clear that they are way smarter than we've ever given them credit for. 

(I also just learned that plants scream when we cut them, just at a frequency we can't hear. I am horrified.)

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Paris Hilton is Trans Rights Barbie

I have zero idea what was going on with Paris Hilton since 2012, and if you ask me, this is the ideal way for her to return into my (and maybe your?) consciousness:

There are several things to appreciate here:

First of all, Paris is making a statement for trans rights! Hooray!

Second, she clearly decided to do so by becoming Trans Rights Barbie. She even cribbed the Barbie font. I want to know everything about that decision-making process. Were there meetings?

Third, obviously staged a photoshoot just for this. While I'm sure staging a photoshoot comes as naturally to her as eating breakfast, it's still impressive. Did they try other concepts or just the Barbie thing?
Fourth, as one of the comments said, the theme is, "human rights, but make it about ME." 
Fifth, another comment: "Paris, whoever you're paying to do these images for you, you're not paying them enough. These photos are like a well written B movie."
Sixth, have a look at her profile pic where she's got glowing red eyes. What IS that??? Is this part of the B movie? Does Trans Rights Barbie start off as a super villain with laser eyes who then sees the error of their ways? Or maybe it's like the Bible story where Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus and then stopped trying to kill Christians? But with laser eyes? Or is she putting in a bid to get cast as a female Cyclops in the next X Men reboot?

A photo of Paris Hilton, a rich, blonde, thin, white woman. It looks like a glamour shot, except that her eyes are glowing red

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What's Your Panderamadingdong Trauma?

An animated gif illustration. It shows a woman wearing red pajamas with an astronaut bubble over her head, sitting facing us with her knees up to her chest. She is rotating around in a circle like the face of a clock. The background is plain blue.
La Chica Conejo

Are you traumatized by the pandemic?
My friend and I were talking about this recently, how the trauma of the pandemic is now in our bones and will likely manifest--in one way or another--through our lives, the way a lot of grandmas who lived through the depression always made sure to have cheap canned meat in the back of the cupboard.

The question is, how? We mused about hoarding toilet paper or obsessively disinfecting things, but the fact is that I never really did those things. (Don't worry, I wash my hands and I disinfect more than I used to, but more as a "this is what we need to do now" thing, not out of a deeply-encoded trauma or fear of germs.)

So what's it going to be? Are we going to cling (or be deeply averse) to Zoom as a conversation platform? Will we develop weird compulsion/aversion practices around large crowds? Desperately wanting to attend events with large crowds and then freaking out at the last minute and backing off? Spend more time alone in our homes? Keep track of the number of people we've seen in the past two weeks? Distrust people based on what we think they would have been like during this time?

Here's one things that I've already seen in myself: I cannot emotionally take any piece of media that actually refers to the early days of the pandemic. In the last few months I have watched two documentaries that wound up ending during the pandemic. Both were totally unexpected--to me and to the filmmakers.
They documented the long grocery store lineups, the uncertainty about what was and wasn't safe (can you cook for your elderly neighbour, or might you kill her by accident?), the cancelled trips. Both featured footage of a younger person standing outside the living room window of an older person, who is sitting inside.

Just thinking about it again is making me cry. This will never not be a trigger for me and I can see myself, 70 years old, marching out of the living room refusing to watch a show that dares to be set during this time. (Seriously, I will never watch anything set in the pandemic. I don't care what it does to timelines.) (Except, of course, by then we'll either have stories projected directly into our brains or will be living in a post-climate change wasteland where travelling bards tell us stories of our past, in which case I'll probably have an inappropriate outburst at the bard.)

What about you? How is the panagananopolis trauma going to manifest in you for the rest of time? I suspect there will be some shared themes but very different specifics, because we all know that we weren't actually "all in this together." The frontline workers had a very different experience from the vulnerable communities or the rich people who retreated to cabins.

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Let's Just Get the Men to Debut Their Looks Too and We're All Good

I just started (and then stopped) reading a Vice article about things you can do that aren't "get hot" during the theoretically-waning days of pandemic isolation, and one of them suggested coming up with a new hairstyle and then "rolling it out slowly" over social media "so your friends have time to adjust."

How do you "slowly roll out" a look over Instagram? You post a photo of it. Bam. It's there. People see the whole thing all at once. So far there's no slow-reveal filter. (Which is actually surprising.)

Are we... worried?... about seeing our friends in-person with new hair for the first time? Will they not recognize us? Will it traumatize them to see their friend with a new hair colour or braids? What exactly do they need to "get used to" before they see us in person? (Assuming we ever get to see one another in person anyways.)
Honestly, this is just making me think of how we discuss famous ladies and their style choices, which is always in terms of an intentional impact on others.
Katie Holmes "shows off her legs" in tight pants instead of just wearing skinny jeans. Adele "debuts" her new body instead of just living inside it and posting a photo because it's her birthday.
Yes, we do sometimes dress for others or "debut" a new look with an in-person or online "ta-da!" moment. But COME ON. All we're really doing with this language is reinforcing the idea that women's bodies are for public display and consumption.
Y'know why? Because I have never seen a caption that says, "Matt Damon shows off his arms in t-shirt," or "Idris Alba debuts his new body in Instagram photo." No one suggests that men "slowly roll out" a new look online so their friends "get used to it." IT'S NOT A THING.

A video gif of Steve Harvey in a suit. He awkwardly opens his arms up in a "ta-da" motion, as if he's showing something off, with the words "ta-da" on the bottom of the screen.
Steve Harvey TV

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Bad Slogan

"'Figure it out' is not a good slogan."
- Annie Lamott
Feels relevant these days.

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Johanna Goodman's Collages Are Swell

Johanna Goodman's collages! All the whimsy we look for in collage with something to say. Love. It.

Collage art. It is a person, the head is an older statue with headphones on it. The body is an old fashioned, courtly dress with giant skirts made up of different colours and textures collaged together. The bottom is white legs wearing sneakers. It is like a woman from an earlier time came here, changed her shoes, and popped on some headphones.

A collage image that is meant to depict a nurse. The face is the photo of a Black woman wearing full PPE (hair covering, face shield, mask). The body is an oversized collage of various blue PPE items as well as a few COVID molecules. She is in a hospital.

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Today I Am Done With

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Keeping my face passive while people talk at me about things that we have discussed several times over and I actually just asked you to confirm one piece of information with me not rehash your side of our previous conversation(s) thanks.
Paying attention to what time it is before I drink more caffeine.
Keeping my face passive on Zoom meetings while a people wax poetic about how people are dying to get back into the theatre and everything will be okay and everyone shouldn't worry and sure everything will be okay, eventually, in one way or another but guess what? We still have to make 15 contingency plans in the meantime for all the unknown variables and that's still a lot of work.

Getting pangs of fear whenever I find out a routine expense is increasing.

Conservative politicians claiming that a carbon tax takes away people's right to put food on their tables while Bill Gates wants to save us from climate change by filling the sky with chalk to dim the sun.

Watching COVID restrictions expand and contract with very little rhyme or reason while my age group gets blamed for things going wrong.
Watching people snipe online about things that I think are inconsequential and yes I realize one could argue that I'm doing that right now, snipe snip snipe.

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Have You Ever Heard of an FLR?

Have you ever heard of an FLR?
I hadn't until recently, and if I have to know about this, so do you.

FLR stands for Female-Led Relationship. But it's not what you think. (Or it's exactly what you think. It depends on what you think.)

According to a dude on Hinge (that's a dating app, for those of you who are lucky enough to be ignorant about these things), and then confirmed by my google searches, FLRs can be a lot of things.
Some FLRs are exactly what they sound like: a heterosexual relationship where the woman is in charge. She makes the decisions, earns the money, and tells the man what to do. (Or is "exactly what it sounds like" a lesbian relationship, because that's led by two females? Except I feel like only straight culture comes up with this kind of nonsense.)
However, FLRs can also be relationships that are egalitarian.

That's right. A relationship where both parties have a say in decisions, have jobs, and participate in the housework and generally do life together is considered female-led. Even if it was actually perfectly equal, it would be an FLR.

That's because FLRs are defined, actually, by what they're not: male-led relationships. Apparently, these are standard. Normal. And while I'll be the first to agree that the patriarchy still exists and that almost all hetero relationships include a man who doesn't do his share of housework or childcare or emotional labour, these folks think that the strictest "traditional" gender roles in a relationship have always been that way (nope) and are still the norm (nooooo) and that doing anything slightly different from that suddenly means the woman is in charge, even when she's not (?????).
Can we sit with the wrongness of this for a second?
Sit with it some more.
Keep sitting with it.
Okay, now let's make some observations and ask some questions.
First of all, how dare you?
Second, why the heck does a relationship have to have a leader? And if it is equal whyyyyyyyyy would you label that as being led by one person???? This is false advertising.
The insistence on gender roles so strict they are almost a parody of the real thing and unnecessary labelling of relationships makes me think that this whole thing is mostly populated by the men who, if they weren't getting relationships, would become incels.

To be fair, a lot of the stuff I read about FLRs online is actually really positive about women's empowerment and even recognized the truth that patriarchal relationships also kind of suck for men because being in charge and emotionally cut-off is not great for, you know, feeling loved.
BUT it's all set up in this way that is so backwards and so obsessed with "innate differences" between men and women! The guy I spoke with on Hinge actually told me he was SURPRISED to find that he enjoyed doing things for his partners when he tried an FLR.
Surprised. That doing things, for his partner, was enjoyable.

I don't know. I guess if this is a part of a dude's journey away from rampant sexism that's great. But I don't want anything to do with it.

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This Week's Gratitude & Delight

An animated gif illustration. There is a black background and a white speech bubble with the text "thank you" inside it that blinks on and off. Around the speech bubble are two white stars that wiggle back and forth.
Ivo Adventures
This week I have been grateful for:
A short story I wrote is getting published! This is a prettttttty big deal because while I have had my nonfiction writing published by other people, I have yet to have anyone accept my fiction writing and hoooooooo boy it's a dream! There is nothing like seeing the word "pleased" in an email response from a publisher!!!

I made croissants for the first time and they TOTALLY WORKED!!!!

The wondrous joy of in-person friendship because it's still so rare and hard to make happen!
Past Andrea prepped some financial documentation for current Andrea and made her life WAY easier.
I got a new (to me) sleeping bag that will keep me much warmer when I go backpacking and camping this summer!!!
I bought some fancy chocolate and it wasn't ringing up properly at the cashier so the guy just offered to make the price way lower than it really was! Discount chocolate!
- The random guy on the bike who recognized my based on the poncho I wear cycling in the rain and asked where I got it.
- My neighbour's dog is totally getting to know me!

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There's Something About Tulle

There is something about tulle. Ana Maria Hernando really captures it.

A photo of what appears to be the side of a castle wall somewhere in Europe. Through two windows, giant streams of blue and green tulle fabric flow out to the ground, like waterfalls

A photo of the side of another castle or old stone building with tulle coming out the windows. The tulle is red and pink and some pieces fall straight out the window, while others are tied up in each other or stuck in another window. It is beautiful disorder.

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