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!

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.

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

Today I Am Done With

An animated gif video clip from

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.

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

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.

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:
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!

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

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.

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

Getting Defensive

It makes so much sense! If I think to the times I have engaged with (sometimes very stupid) cover-ups or denials for wrongdoing, I think they were often connected to people with whom I felt uncertain about my standing.

What's interesting is that this research shows that people will feel the implicit guilt over whatever they have done either way, but only those who have had reassurance will admit to their guilt explicitly.

This applies to making your wrong right as well. Unsurprisingly, those who are unwilling to admit their guilt are also less likely to take steps to repair the harm they caused.

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

Should You Tell Your Friend That Their Innocuous Action Made You Think of Sex? A Guide

Here's something that is CASE IN POINT for PART OF THE PROBLEM when it comes to women being sexualized at every turn, no matter what we do:
A friend of mine posted a photo the other day. It's a classic "pensive" shot, where you see the back of her head and her shoulders as she looks out at the ocean. In the caption, she shared about some of the challenges she's been facing. It was personal and vulnerable and the photo reflected the thoughtful nature of her post.

The first comment?

A male friend (or "friend," I don't know) of hers comments on how hot her shoulders look and says "I've always been a shoulders guy... also kneecaps."

I'm sorry, WHAT? Is that really a thought you needed to share? With someone who is being vulnerable about their emotionally challenging week? Do you think it will make her feel better to suddenly find herself being sexualized right now? "Sorry you're sad but I thought you should know that your shoulders make me think of sex." READ THE ROOM, BRAD.

Here's the thing: I don't care what your thoughts are doing. If you look at my shoulders and think of sex, whatever. That's a "you" thing. Unless we are in a sex-related situation, you definitely don't need to share that thought. (Also, just because you had a sexual thought doesn't mean a situation is sexual!!!!)
Excuse me, I need to go primal scream.

An animated gif video clip from the TV show Broad City. Twho young woman down a sidewalk and one of them stops and starts primal screaming in a crouch. The other turns to see what is going on and we zoom in on the screaming face.
Broad City

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

The Most Delightful Animal Portraits

Is it just me, or are Helga Stentzel's clothesline animals pure delight?

A photo of some clothes on a clothesline in a field on a sunny, blue-sky day. The clothes are arranged to look like a horse standing in profile, with clothespins along the top of the head and neck to look like the hair.

A photo of clothes on a clothesline, out in a field on a sunny day, arranged to look like the profile of a cow.

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

Can You Really Climb the Wrong Mountain?

An image of a man standing on a cliff overlooking a valley. The man is wearing a suit, looking out over the vast valley from an outcropping that is mostly rock with a few plants on it. He has a speech bubble that says, "Oh no. I climbed the wrong mountain."
Vintage Postcard via Brad Montague

When I first saw this image on Brad Montague's Instagram feed, I actually laughed. Not because the joke is sooooo funny (I guess it's pretty clever?) but because I was looking at it as a hiker and thinking how funny it would be to worry that you had a beautiful hike and a beautiful view from the... wrong.... mountain? Like how can you really go wrong there? You went on a hike! Hikes are beautiful!

But of course, this was shared to spark a discussion about the metaphorical mountains of success we climb, and how terrible it would be to devote your life to climbing one mountain, only to realize you made the wrong choice.
In his Instagram caption, Mr. Montague says,

"Climbing the wrong mountain .... and not realizing until you’re already there. Aaaa! Yikes. I don’t want it to happen to me. I don’t want it to happen to anybody! But surely it happens all the time. In fact, it’s a major fear of mine: being successful at all the wrong things... Just such a sad and scary thought — succeeding at the wrong things."

Actually, I would like to return to my initial assessment of the image. You lived life, you faced challenges, you gained experiences and enough perspective to get to the top of the mountain, and you're worried you did all that... wrong? Is there a wrong way to go on the journey of life?

Yes, some people realize after they work really hard to achieve success in one way that the success they sought is hollow or that they actually made the world a worse place because they invented social media and now we're all doomed and oh dear they can't undo it. It's hard to suddenly realize that your dream job isn't a dream or the accomplishment you thought would make you happy is actually hollow.
It's hard and also, so what? Did you think you would climb one mountain in life? That you would pick the perfect mountain, get to the top, and then sit there, enjoying the view until you died? Sit somewhere long enough and it becomes the wrong place because we are ultimately wired to move. We try new things, pursue new goals, and pick new mountains (or hills or outcroppings or paths that follow a crest from one mountaintop to another or valley lake strolls).
You picked that mountain based on what you knew when you were standing a sea level. You now have the perspective, from the top of this mountain, of what the other mountains might really look like at their tops and pick another one. You weren't just going to sit there anyways. You keep living, you keep moving.

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:

Getting to see some friends IN PERSON thanks to relaxed COVID restrictions--as I was watching my friends and their kids walk through the park towards me, my smile was so freaking big and uncontainable!

A few more walks with great friends because the conversation and movement and presence makes me feel like myself.

Some really, really productive and engaging meetings working on a strategic plan with a board member, because it feels great to make productive plans.

Getting some really high quality yoga mats from my neighbour who was moving because mine were falling apart.

Got out of a board meeting on time because it didn't look like I was going to!
My cat finally has medication for her hyperthyroidism because now maybe she'll EAT HER FOOD and NOT DIE.

This week's delight:
- Biking home from work, there was a horse and buggy on the street and I had to bike around it and it delighted me so much! I also felt bad for the people who were travelling the other direction at the nearest intersection because they were SO CLOSE but would never see it! Then I realized that maybe this horse and buggy goes by every day but at a slightly different time and so I'm usually the tragic person who just misses it and has no idea. What a world!
- A woman jogging wearing one of those parody t-shirts that had the Starter logo but the word "satan" underneath and I actually laughed out loud when I saw it.

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

Ana Santos' Portrait Compilations Are Actually Everything

I went to Ana Santos' Instagram page because I had come across some stunning portraits she did where faces were blending with flowers in magical ways, but then I fell in love with these little image compilations she shared instead. Her captions are in Spanish, but Google translate indicates these are simply compilation images she made while playing around. I am seeing them as portraits of characters, with elements that all represent that person, and honestly, I would love one of these.

A sort of collage image, with a number of independent elements all present but not directly related. The central image is a person who appears to be female sitting cross-legged holding a book open in front of their face, wearing a red sweater. There is a black cat near them. Other images include flowers, moths, a bird, a whale, and a moon.

An image compilation or collage-style image. There is a person who appears to be a young woman with short, straight black hair facing away in the top right, as if she is walking out of the illustration. Below her is a line drawing of a young woman's face with an open book, as if she is reading. There is a tall, skinny dog looking at us. Other images include a few more faces, a hand raching down, flowers, a bird, red leaves, and a cat's head.

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

Everything is Present, And Maybe it Shouldn't Be

This quote is a very good explanation of why it actually matters to put disclaimers before streaming content with content that is now considered offensive.

Years ago I interviewed Brian Eno and he was amazing. But one thing he said about streaming music has always stayed with me: that his daughters listened to stuff from all sorts of eras without any idea of genre or timeline or context because it was all equally available to them. As he put it, everything was present.
And I think that’s the big difference in the last decade or so of pop culture: we now accumulate stuff rather than replace it. Instead of The Office being a sitcom people remember from a decade ago, it’s a show they’re watching now. There’s new pop culture, but it has to elbow for room amongst humanity’s vast back catalogue.
And because everything is present, everything is necessarily judged against the standards of the present. So where once you’d only see, for example, an episode of the Muppets if you knew what it was and sought it out, now it’s just something popular on Disney+ that anyone can stumble over and go “um, why is Johnny Cash flanked by Confederate flags? I didn’t know he was a white supremacist!”
And, friends, THAT is why we’re getting disclaimers on shows or letting old children’s books go out of print: not because people are oversensitive or hysterical or stupid, but because society changes and pop culture used to keep pace with that, but now that everything remains accessible we interact with our cultural past differently.
This is a monologue which I would once have delivered with verve and panache in a pub after many beers but is now being typed on a phone in my loungeroom at 10pm on a Friday night THANKS A BUNCH PARENTHOOD.
-Andrew P Street

(Also, in case you're wondering, Andrew P Street seems to be an Australian music writer and Brian Eno is a British musician.)
As an aside, I also think it's hilarious that people are so concerned about people being "too sensitive" to need warnings for overtly racist content, but demand warnings before being shown human bodies or hearing certain words or even being exposed to "mature themes" where people talk about the fact that people sometimes die.
We have had content warnings for at least as long as I've been alive, we have simply added something to the pile of things that we should be warned about.

An animated gif showing a glitchy video screen. It has a red background and white text that says "Warning: This video contains sexually explicit material. You must be 18 years or older to view."

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

This Week Last Year: So Confusing

A lot of the conversations about lockdown starting March 13th make it sound like it was really straightforward, but it wasn't. We were still guessing what would or would not be safe or allowed, betting on how long this would take and how bad it would get, and unclear on what "stay home" really meant.

Case in point, in my calendar from this week last year:
Sunday: Hike with a friend and talk a lot about this new social distancing and whether we should really be in a car together. Go to Superstore and stock up on some dry goods.
Monday: Tell the staff that we will work from home.
Tuesday: Artist flight back to Vancouver. They were supposed to go straight to Mexico (for a co-production we were doing down there) from a gig they had elsewhere, but weren't comfortable with that anymore. The rest of the artistic team, however, wanted to keep their flights and do the work in Mexico. (Ha!)
Wednesday: Go for a walk with a friend where we try to keep distance but are still unfamiliar with the concept and I tell her that I'm still planning on having the whole staff come in one day a week so we can "stay connected" and she says, "ummmmm, I wouldn't."

Thursday: Liquor store run. (An actual calendar event because I heard liquor stores were closing elsewhere. Let me tell you, the shelves were emmmmmmmptyyyyyyyyyyy.)

Friday: Nothing

Saturday: Do taxes.

This was when I started tuning in for daily Prime Minister updates at 8am and provincial health updates at 3pm watching and waiting, unsure even then if at the theatre we would be cancelling all our remaining shows that season or just the upcoming show.

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

Please Be Safe

My friends have been posting recommendations for apps intended to help women be out in the world safely. Ones that share your location with set people or make noise and send an emergency message when you tap the screen a certain way.

Every time I see these posts, I get really mad.

Not that someone saw a need and created an app that filled it. That's how both business and generosity work.

I do, however, hate that they exist. I hate that they exist and that my friends feel the need to share them because we have been recently reminded to feel unsafe in the world.

I hate that I recently shared some photos I'd taken at dusk and the first response I got was a friend asking me to please stay safe.

Stay safe.

Walking around at dusk in my own neighbourhood.

I got so mad at that message. Not at the friend who sent it. At the world that made her even think that in the first place.
What kind of stupid world is this where it's reasonable to tell a grown-ass woman to "please be safe" walking around just after the sun has set? Sunset should not be scary. There are no vampires here. Just other humans, some of whom might see a grown-ass woman walking around with her camera at dusk and think, "hey, there's a target," making my friend smart and caring for sending that message and me potentially reckless for being outside and slightly distracted.

I often forget to "be safe."

I forget to text my friends when I get home or look for theirs.

I forget that I'm supposed to be afraid to walk at night.

It does not even occur to me to ask someone to walk me home.

If anything, being told to do these things brings out my defiant energy. Do you expect me to not do something because I'm a girl? No way. Doing it.

I get defiant, until I get scared.
Until I am walking to the club in the sketchy part of town and the guy who asked me for change keeps walking alongside me and I don't know how to get rid of him without potentially flipping the switch from "chatty man" to "angry man."
Until I realize that, oh dang, there is a reason people say not to walk through parks at night. It really is isolated. There is no one nearby, or if there is, I can't see them. There are trees and structures and no lights and I could easily be taken by surprise here.
Until I work evenings and have to secure and lock up the building by myself.

Until I am in my own damn home, getting ready for bed, and I cannot go to sleep until I walk around my apartment and check all the places where a person could potentially hide (I know all of them) and double-check that the doors are definitely locked.

Until I am getting into a car and try to simultaneously check the backseat and also get in quickly, lest someone be under the car or suddenly appear from behind a pillar.

Until I am walking home from the bus and already have my keys in my hand so I don't linger for even a second outside my door.
Until I am looking for a new place to live and the realtor says she doesn't want me in a ground-floor suite because it's not safe for a single woman and I realize that yeah, she's right. I would never be able to sleep with the window open.

Until I walk tall so I look like less of a target. (Read: make him decide to attack someone else.)

Until I hear that a woman was knocked off her bike by an attacker and here I thought that cycling gave me a measure of security by making me "harder to catch."

Until I venture out to the beach and look at the water in the moonlight and suddenly feel incredibly vulnerable.

Until a group of drunk men are walking towards me from the other direction and I try to make my face as deadpan as possible, to put a wall between me and them.

Usually, nothing happens. I have yet to discover a predator hiding in my bathtub, waiting for me to go to sleep.

And yet.


And yet, I know people who were followed home, who had to hide or fight back.

And yet, the possibility of something happening teeters between "if" and "when."

And yet, I think I might download one of those stupid apps, as much as I hate them. Because then at least it's there. Because while I don't know that they would stop anyone, it does mean that if (or when?) something happens, it will be slightly harder for people to say it was my fault.

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

Recommended Read: Mom, Dad, Other

This is a VERY GOOD READ: Mom, Dad, Other by Andrea Bennett.

It so beautifully lays out the impact of gender roles on parenthood, in general, and in specific what that does to trans, queer, or non-binary parents who don't even have a spot on their child's school intake form where they can put their name down because they are not the mother nor the father.

"It feels surreal to be comfortable tackling the gendered expectations of parenthood but to have no warm, loving way to voice who you are to your own child... While feminism has tried to move the needle on gendered divisions of labour in parenting, we are still culturally stuck in 101-level conversations about mothering and fathering."
It's a multi-layered experience. There's the side benefit to queer families that the labour can't be shunted by default onto mom and oh dang, other criteria than assumed gender roles must be used to decide who will leave work to deal with their child who is throwing up at daycare. But that tasty side plate is sitting next to a heaping entree of having your core identity constantly undermined or rendered invisible.

All of this is articulated with warmth and precision by Bennett and I suggest everyone read it.

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: 

A call with a friend I haven't spoken with for a while because it felt so good to reconnect!

I got to see my soulmate-bestie IN PERSON for the first time in ages and wow just sitting on opposite sides of a bench with her is amazing because we are truly meant to be.

A week of almost entirely sunny weather because it made me feel light and free and I was able to go for walks, sit outside, take photos, and otherwise enjoy myself.

My dad got his vaccine!!! Because now most of my immediate family is protected from COVID and that feels like such a relief and I also know that we are that much closer to eliminating this stupid virus with every single vaccine given.

I had a day where I thought I looked super-duper cute all dang day because it's nice to feel like you look nice.

This week's delights:
- I found a glass with palm trees on it at the thrift store and yowza, I'm in love.
- Is it weird that I delighted myself? I made some TikToks and almost no one watched them but I found them delightful, including doing reviews of clouds and also singing about the covid vaccine.
- A gif of a dolphin playing the piano.

An animated gif with a white dolphin floating in space, playing a miniature piano that is in its "lap"

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

The Most Regretful People

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
    — Mary Oliver

If you feel a push to make something, make it. Not to make money or be famous or get accolades, but because your soul has something it needs to say and maybe--just maybe--someone else needs to hear it.

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

How Do You Stay So Thin?

I came across this on Instagram recently (click the image or caption credit to see the whole post):

This image has a photo of a woman, smiling, with short and slightly curly hair in the bottom right and the rest of the background is white with the text "Q: How do you stay so thin. [unexpected questions from this week's question box]. Me: I have an answer, but it's probably not what you're expecting..."
Kids Eat in Colour
And oooooo baby! What a welcome addition to my ongoing quest to change my attitude towards my body!

If you don't want to click through, she answers the question "how do you stay so thin" with some science, and not the "calories in/calories out" version. It's 1) genetics, 2) growing up with food security (which is shown to change people's eating patterns), 3) less exposure to food advertising (less healthy foods are advertised at way higher rates to BIPOC communities), 4) listening to her body's hunger cues (aided by having access to food when she needs it), 5) not having a health condition or extreme economic stress (which impact eating patterns and how your body metabolizes food).

Her point? She has little to no control over any of these things, that are demonstrated by research to be the biggest contributing factors to body size.
From her caption:

Why is it so novel to think that our body size isn't entirely up to us? We've been fed the message that we individuals are responsible for our We've swallowed those ideas whole, despite plenty of research to the contrary... I do have some control over my body. I'm fortunate to be able to have access and afford a variety of foods, and fortunate to have the capacity to make food and eat it (usually). And to move my body some too. Those things all affect my health.⁠ But my body size is largely the result of many factors outside of my control.⁠

I realize that for some people, hearing you don't have much control over your body size is disheartening. I think this ties back to the post from a few days ago, allowing the possibility that the *thing* we've been waiting for in our lives never happens, and nothing changes.
What if you knew your body would never change? What would you do then? Perhaps dress in clothes that fit well? Focus on movement and diet changes that feel good? Learn how to trust and listen to your body instead of desperately trying to restrict it? Stop pinning your happiness on your body changing? Why not do those things?

The most important thing here for me to remind myself is that recognizing I don't have a lot of control over the size of my body doesn't mean I give up on feeling good or taking care of myself. Just the opposite. It means I do things that actually feel good and that actually take care of myself, instead of things that I tell myself feel good but are really designed to keep my body a certain size.

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

Defending Capitol Hill

This is belated as heck, but a recommended read/listen nonetheless: what it was like for the Black police officers defending Capitol Hill during the insurrection attempt. There's an article and a podcast episode hosted by the same writer, Emmanuel Felton.

The words of one Black officer, from the podcast:

They looked at me. They yelled at me. They were yelling at me. And I would not let them go past. They all want to go past me? I’m going to beat all your asses. One by one, I’m going to deck all of y’all. Come on. And that’s when one of the guys that was a cop said, “Hey, man, we’re going to stand here with you.” I was like, “No, get the fuck out of my building.” He was like, “This is our building.” And I was like, “This is my goddamn building. I’m in charge here. Get the fuck out.” And that’s when I started losing my temper even more. I mean, I got tears streaming down my face.

A quote from the article about what it was like for a Black officer (I don't know if it was the same one as they are unidentified for their protection) after seeing the footage of the insurrection attempt:

He said that what upset him the most was when he later saw images of a white colleague taking a selfie with the attackers, seeming to enjoy his time with the insurrectionists who were roaming the US Capitol with Confederate flags and other symbols of white supremacy. “That one hurt me the most because I was on the other side of the Capitol getting my ass kicked,” he said.

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

What if Nothing Changes?

We've talked about approaching our self-improvement as if we aren't broken (because we're not!). Here's another self-improvement paradigm shift that complements that concept:
What if nothing changed?
So often we wait for circumstances to align before we take control of our lives, pursue a goal, or simply let ourselves be happy. We all spend a lot of time thinking, "when this ends then I'll be able to accept myself/pursue my dreams/start taking care of myself/be happy."
Or, as Janet reminds us, via this No Context The Good Place Twitter account:

So what if whatever you're waiting for never comes? What if the pandemic never ends, you don't find a relationship, your body stays the same, the political leader you hate stays in charge? What then?
How would you accept yourself, pursue your dreams, or learn to be happy then?
Bonus: what if you started doing some of those things now?
(I have encountered this concept a few places, but most recently from The Sunday Soother.)

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

Learning! Roundup: Kids Know Animals Are Better Than People and Cheese is Healthy

An animated gif video clip of a man sitting on a couch saying, with great intensity, "I eat all the cheese!"

+ Children don't prioritize human lives over animals. Most people, aside, perhaps, from many vegans, would probably say that a human life was ultimately more valuable/worth saving than an animal. Even when you stack up 100 doggy lives over one human life, most adults would opt to save the human. Not kids, though! With kids, even if it's one human vs. one dog, most pick the dog.

What do those kids know????

+ I have never accepted the notion that cheese is not good for me to eat. And now some new studies says that cheese is a benign, and maybe even helpful, element in a diet! Of course, these studies are purely looking at the impact of cheese on weight gain which is not necessarily a measure of health, so it probably doesn't matter anyways. Eat that cheese!!!

+ If you're trying to increase equity in your workplace, a new method has emerged: simply make your "shortlist" of potential candidates longer. In these studies, they had people shortlist three candidates for a CEO position (or three to star in a new action film) and then asked some of them to double it and give three more. The group with more candidates had more diversity.

What this reveals to me is that we start with our default assumptions and biases, and then, with the teensiest amount of effort, will look beyond that scope. We just need an itty-bitty push.

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