Listless Zooming?

Have I  ever declared to you that I am a list person?  Well I am, big time.  I write lists all over the place to keep my menopausal brain limbered up and so that I can go to bed feeling  I have achieved something.  Pathetic I know. I even write things on a list that I have already done just for the pleasure of striking them off again, but I do have an unwritten rule  – a Mama J code to control my list mania – that any item not completed on a list by the end of the day, has to appear at the top of next day’s list. Cheating is for listless slackers.

I don’t actually know why I feel the need to account for myself – at work, yes, but chatting to a friend or going for a run, both of which I will do readily, don’t need justification.  I have an even more irritating habit of suggesting I write lists for the special people in my life, but have the scars to prove that this is a total waste of time and inevitably leads to conflict.

Being a list person and living by myself during lock down (#justsaying, I prefer ‘by myself’ to ‘living alone’) I decide to ramp my listing up a notch. When national play time gets cancelled, in addition to my regular ‘to do list(s), I start a list to record anything new that I discover/learn/do/taste* as a result of ‘Stay Home’.  This list is a work in progress and is divided into ‘New Things’ (things that I may never have got round to without Corona focus), and ‘Things I Could Still Try’ (I remain optimistic about baking sour dough before the end of Lock Down if I can just track down some flour).  Although I see no immediate end to this lock down,  as I am certain we are nearer the end than the beginning,  I have chosen this weekend to review my ‘achievements’ to date.

On reviewing this list I am left conflicted: I am either a super achiever who has used her time wisely to break through barriers to happiness, or I am a sad loser who has relied upon Zoom to pretend that I have morphed into a master of tech. My review has left me feeling a little listless.

When I look at the list of hours I have spent on Zoom over the past weeks (naturally there was a separate list for this (and a Gant chart), I wonder if I now need another list to justify the benefits that all this Zooming has harvested.

For the record, to date, my Zoom list includes:

  • Chatting regularly to my 93 year old mum (who tells me she prefers Zoom to FaceTime and is not a fan of Skype). ‘Pilates is so much better on Zoom, dear and the teacher can’t tell if I have a little snooze during the floor exercises’.
  • Yoga classes – both as participant and then as teacher (hard teaching a class when you can only see your zogis when they stand in tree or mountain pose). As the class are all muted, I have learnt that when you can’t hear the groans, giggling and snoring that I usually take as class feedback, it can leave you a little wobbly on your mat.
  • Attending a 500-strong Body Balance session, a Breathing webinar and a conference on blog writing all run by my lovely yoga studio. (Ok, I will ask for a refund on the blog workshop, thank you for raising this; crikey there are some fierce critics among you).
  • School meetings –  so interesting to see what my colleagues are wearing during lockdown and to see into their front rooms/home office/youngest child’s bedroom/garage. Am I the only nosy parker to be totally transfixed by my colleagues’ paintings, mirrors and bookshelves?  Is that a freshly baked sour dough I see behind you in the kitchen? These meetings are a double win, for we get lots of work done and I don’t feel I am missing out on my usual lock down TV diet of  ‘Through the Keyhole’ or ‘Homes under the Hammer’.
  • Hosting my first Zoom to catch up with my band of brothers.  In truth, I wasn’t the best of hosts for once I discovered  that I could switch my back drop, I forgot to tend to my guests’ needs –  Mama J in her own galaxy, Mama J in front of her own rainbow and unicorn… I am ashamed that I never even passed around the nibbles or topped up a glass. At least on Zoom there is no need for an introduction – unless of course, people insist on signing in on their other half’s device. (no euphemism intended)
  • Attending Be Military Fit classes (life savers, really.  Try them).  My neighbours in the flat below are not as positive as myself about the zoomifcation of these classes, but I stand by my assertion that they already had a crack in their lounge ceiling before my indoor burpees commenced.
  • Attempting a Linkee Quiz with Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter (and their Favourite Others) who are both isolated in different parts of the UK (which should be against the law in my opinion).  I was publicly humiliated by my poor ranking at the end of the quiz, and the only prize I received was the gift of tears when I logged off and found myself missing both the Quiz Master and all the competitors who trounced me.
  • Attending a friend’s 60th birthday drinks.  (So impressive to see her on her fourth pint of real ale at the start of the Zoom, which she was slugging from a bottle I have since discovered is called a ‘growler’ (Fun Fact).  She should have been retiring from the NHS, but once they gifted her a pimped up zimmer – complete with fairy lights and a basket for her growler – her heard was turned and she agreed to stay on. Cheers to that.

Clearly all of the above are things I would not have achieved without the help of Zoom; unfortunately there remains a long list of things I still have to conquer:

  • A Zoom detox – will I be able to do this post-Corona?
  • Zoom Break Out ‘Rooms’ – didn’t even know this was a possibility until today so on the list they go.  I may be confusing this with Escape Rooms which had to stop trending when social distancing reared its head.  Perhaps I could work with Zoom to see if they can produce a Zoom Escape Room  – 60 minutes to solve the challenge of detoxing from Zoom post-Corona (see above)?
  • Finish my novel  – working title, ‘Love in the age of Zoom’
  • Research whether consulting a chiropractor about ‘Tech Neck’ through the medium of  Zoom will be counter-productive.
  • Consult a sleep specialist after reading that too much Zoom is fatiguing because it requires us to be more vigilant about people’s facial expressions/movements than if we were meeting them in real life.  (Guilty as charged, in a coffee shop meeting, I would be the person looking furtively over your shoulder and wondering if the man behind you will finish his BLT and stop picking his nose).
  • Discovering whether the game of Task Master actually will translate from Channel 4 to Zoom or whether this is just my children trying to humiliate me again.   I will let you know how my talks with Greg Davies go; he may just be too tall for Zoom.

Talking about Zoom exhaustion, on the larger Zooms I have to agree. I have signed off from some presentations totally exhausted from people watching – not of the presenter on whom I should be focused, but of the other participants – their fidgeting, choice of mug/beer bottle, pets, children, screen photograph (I didn’t even know you could do this! I am now looking for a soft lens shot of me pre-Corona the I won’t have to bother with all one item on my list below).

To date I haven’t witnessed anyone’s other half walking stark naked behind them on the screen during a Zoom session, but I did hear of one quiz night participant who  – as a cat hater (sorry) – felt compelled to privately message another anti – feline fellow quizzer to moan about the number of moggies walking across the other screens and the subsequent cat love that was becoming a distraction from their quiz. He sadly discovered he had not privately messaged his chum, but instead had vented to a cat owner with the same Christian name as his friend.  The quiz zoomed to an  abrupt halt.

So, I leave you with my latest, two item ‘To Do’  list for this current Zoom bubble (only two items, but don’t be fooled, there is micro detail in each item.

  • Take a Zoom presentation master class to discover how best to present myself on line.
    So many questions to research – camera angles, lamps or overhead lights, position of my screen, best beauty tips? What was I thinking doing so much virgin zooming?

    Luckily I have already started on some of this research, so in case you are interested:

    Hair –  you just need to zhoosh up the front or sport a pony tail apparently. Don’t bother with the back, and a tight pony tail will make your face look younger by pulling all that surplus flesh back behind your ears.

    Make-up – Tidings of great joy, foundation is probably not needed because conference video isn’t high res.  Caution:  Zoom can make your face look shiny (who knew?) so you may want some powder apparently. Yes:  Mascara and blusher. No:  lipstick will make you look like you are trying too hard.

    Thank me later.

    Men – feel free to use my above research, but in reality apparently you just need to moisturise your face and put a bit of coconut oil on your beard to get it under control .

    Flip, just looked into beards  more closely and realise this is a whole blog in itself – beardsmen out there, hold fire until I get a Corona handle on top beard styles that I didn’t even know existed (a ‘yeard’ , a ‘scruff’ a ‘corporate’ beard – really?? (Ladies, we may need to approach our Corona beards and moustaches in the same way). I will be back.

  • Zoom Etiquette: As a teacher is it ok for me to see my friend in the private sector deliver all her English lessons on line and just record them in case I am asked to do the same for my students at some point in the future?

    I will need to research:

    Does this count as plagiarasation/zoomerisation?
    Will she hate me forever?
    Could I pass off her material as a course of master classes and become her Zoom agent?
    Should I just do an English TikTok instead?
    Does, ‘I’ll decide when the lesson ends,’ thank you; take your coat off,’ work when a student has already logged out?

Now, after a particularly long blog (apologies) I will abruptly sign off for this is what we Zoomers do.  I leave to tick, ‘write blog’ off today’s list.


*tried some tofu I found lurking in the fridge.  Discovered I am not a fan.


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