This Week's Gratitude

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:

The return of park hangs season! It's sunny! It's sort of warm and definitely warm enough to be outside!

My friend's son (who is my heart-nephew) who, when I saw him, immediately wanted to share the story of a scary thing that happened that day, but he doesn't really have words yet, so he pantomimes it and makes little signal noises and it's so adorable.

For the first time, I was grateful there were not new health restrictions, because even though I think we need them I also just really wanted the artists currently working at the theatre to be able to do their show and they ARE!

I had a moment for casual conversation and bouncing ideas around with a coworker I don't often get to do that with, and it was really nice and helpful.

I got the answer to a question that's been bouncing around in my head for a while, and it may not have been the answer I was hoping for but it was the second best scenario, which may actually wind up being the best scenario. Either way, I don't have to wonder anymore!
I got stood up for a Tinder date I didn't really want to go on and got to sit in a park in the sun and read a book instead. WIN. 

This Week's Delight:
- Having a staff meeting IN-PERSON and OUTDOORS in the SUN instead of over Zoom. It was the most delighted land acknowledgement I have ever given.

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

Joanne Swirska Makes Me Want So Many Tattoos

I may need to get another tattoo, now that I've seen Joanne Swirska's work. Not only is the artistry up to chef's kiss level, but she does animals in adorable and whimsical situations!

A photo of an arm with a tattoo on it. The tattoo is of two cats lying together playfully, surrounded by cute little mushrooms and pine branches.

A photo of a tattoo that shows a kangaroo wearing a bright blue backpack, surrounded by flowers

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

It's My Parents' Fault, They Raised Me This Way

Do you have any consistent and dramatic COVID fatigue triggers? Something that, when it happens, completely throws you into a pit of done-ness?
Thing that instantly gets me is when I have to cancel a plan. For example, I was supposed to go for a walk with a friend the other day and then she told me she has allergies and even though she's certain it's not COVID, she does have some symptoms.

We probably could have gone for our walk and been just fine, but instead I opted, as I usually do, for the abundance of caution. You know, variants of concern, people thinking they have allergies and then having COVID, how stupid I would feel if I did get it from this...

I was instantly resentful. I whined to one of my group chats and sat on the kitchen floor staring into the middle distance with my cat on my lap for a hilarious amount of time.

Eventually, I broke the funk and started doing something with my day again. (Which is usually the answer, by the way, is to just do something else that I enjoy--a simple solution that takes me quite some time to get to.)
COVID is really making me resent being a responsible person, y'all. I blame my parents, who raised me to consider the consequences of my actions.
How about you? What smaller COVID thing destroys your day? And how do you deal with it?

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

I'm Issuing a Retraction of My Love for the Royal Family

I have always loved the royal family.
I'm not sure exactly why. Was it the fairy tale aspect? The dream of somehow getting scooped up and becoming a princess? Some misplaced nostalgia for a glamorously powerful past that never really existed?

I remember my mom telling me that she felt connected to Diana, being pregnant with my sister and I at the same time as she was pregnant with William and Harry. This made me feel connected with them as well. Harry and I were basically siblings, right?
I watched William and Harry's weddings and cried. When William and Kate came to Vancouver, I lined up to shake their hands. I have argued many times for keeping Canada under the rule of the Queen and even that we should return to an empowered monarchy. (That was partially a joke. But only partially.)

As I got started to really learn about decolonization and anti-racism, I my affection for them transformed slightly. They became, I suppose, my problematic faves. I knew they were figureheads of one of the worst parts of human history but... I liked them. 
And then everything that happened with Meghan happened and I realized just how toxic this family really is. Turns out, the dream of becoming a princess is actually a nightmare.

And then Prince Phillip died.
Not only did I come across some of the incredibly racist things he has said throughout his life--casual and cruel humour that went entirely unchecked--but I learned that India and the African colonies became independent during Elizabeth's life.

She's not just the inheritor of a terrible legacy. She is the legacy.

I know these realizations are coming so, so late. Especially considering all the other work I've done on anti-racism up until now. I should have more deeply interrogated my affection for the royal family a long time ago. I guess it seemed harmless and comforting.

But the fact is that, sure, Elizabeth can't help having been born into that family. And maybe she even wanted to give those colonies their independence because she didn't like colonialism. But as far as I can tell she's never taken any responsibility for it. She's never apologized*. She's never sent reparations. She has clung to traditional roles and structures, sometimes above basic compassion. She is literally the boss of her family and couldn't make it safe for a Black woman to marry into.
I mean, how is Prince Harry, the one who wore a Nazi costume and had to apologize for using a racial slur the most progressive among them???

I think my love for them has died.

To be clear: I am not mourning the loss. I just figure I should be pretty public about my VERY BELATED acceptance of the terribleness of this family, given how public I have been about my appreciation for them in the past.

*I looked it up. She apologized once to a Maori tribe in New Zealand (on behalf of Queen Victoria). Prince Charles issued an apology in 2018 for the transatlantic slave trade. So... these two apologies make up for it??? Nothing further needed, right?

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

I Don't Know Who Needs to Hear This, But...

... if you "spiritually open yourself up" to COVID and then contract the virus, you are not actually engaging in a selfless act that will help humanity nor are you protecting anyone else from it. There is not a finite amount of COVIDs in the world and you used one of them up. In fact, you are hurting us all by further transmitting the dang virus and giving it more opportunities to kill people and mutate. So maybe just close that spiritual door, thank you.
(Yes, this was inspired by an actual conversation I had with an actual human person who thought he "did his part" by getting COVID. I was a little too taken aback in the moment to respond properly. Luckily, that's what blogs are for.)

An animated gif video montage of people facepalming

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

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?

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

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.

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

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?

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

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.)

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

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

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

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.

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

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

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!

Bad Slogan

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

The Receptionist Delivers!
Sign up for my email newsletter for a bi-weekly digest and bonus content!