This past week I gave a talk to a Facebook group. I wasn't sure how it was going to be since I was supposed to talk to a screen for an hour. Unlike Zoom where you can see the other people attending, all I could see was me.
It's lucky that I never had any aspirations to be a performer because I have never been comfortable in front of a camera. Even a still one. We had a family friend who was a professional photographer who took photos of me in his studio when I was a kid. If you look at the proof sheet, my eyes were closed in a lot of the shots. This was one of the good ones. I was also a model for him for some publicity shots. I did better at that since it didn't feel like the focus was on me. But that's a whole other story.
Times have sure changed. Kids now are so used to having their photos taken, they all know how to pose.
I had to do a test for the Facebook talk to make sure I could go live. There was a count down from three to one, but no noise or change when I was actually live. It turned into a deer in the headlight moment for me as I stared at my image on my phone and my mind went blank. I finally babbled something and ended it quickly.
Part of the issue was using my phone. No matter how I placed it on a stand, the view was looking up. I don't think it's just me, but it's not a good angle on your face. Think double chin even if you don't have one. The view behind me wasn't great either. I was sitting in front of bookcase where I had strategically placed some copies of my books and my Sherlock Holmes doll along with the lion I crocheted and the worry doll from one of my books. You couldn't see any of it with my phone. What you could see was the top of the bookcase. I considered putting an elf that sits on the edge of shelves up there to at least add something amusing. The other option was holding it the whole time so there was a better angle. But I knew that would be a disaster. I tend to talk with my hands and I knew that I'd forget I was holding the phone and end up waving it around.
The day of my appearance, I tried switching to my laptop, but the ancient (10 years old) Macbook was a problem. Safari didn't support the camera and when I tried to add Chrome, I ended up going in circles. It was getting closer and closer to the time for me to go live for the talk. My desktop has no camera. I tried an old PC laptop, but it was so slow and I was running out of time.
Finally, my son offered his Macbook which already had Chrome. It worked perfectly and I thought I was home free except. The screen went off and when I got it back on, it asked for a password. It was literally a few minutes before I was supposed to go live and he wasn't here. I tried calling him with no answer. I had an idea what the password might be, but the thing with Apple stuff is that you have a limited amount of tries before they lock your device.
It looked like it was going to be back to using my phone with the bad view. There wasn't even enough time to haul out a ladder to add the elf.
I tried calling him again and this time he answered and I got the password. I found my way to the group and the live button, but before I pushed it, I saw that I needed to rearrange the stuff on the bookshelf behind me. I did a little juggling and tried to compose myself, worried anew that my mind would go blank. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to talk that long if I got past having a blank mind.
And then it was showtime and I hit the live button, hoping for the best. Miracle of miracles, I was okay. Except the minute I went live, one of my cats jumped on the table and swirled around the computer and I expected that any second she would walk across the keyboard with who knows what kind of consequence. But then with a flick of her tail, she lost interest and jumped off the table.
After that, all went well. I'm sure I said way too many ums and uhs, but when I looked at the clock on the computer I was at 58 minutes.
The cool thing was that once I finished, I was home sitting at my dining room table. I celebrated with a cup of espresso.