Where I Zoom From: Slice of Life 29/31 #sol20

Chipotle in a Zoom meeting

For me, as for many teachers, this has been the week of Zoom.

It was a tool I used sparingly before. But now, suddenly, it’s the cornerstone of my work life. I have had dozens of Zoom meetings, webinars, get-togethers, and conferences this week. By Friday, it felt like I no longer teach: I Zoom.

I Zoom seated on the chaise in my home office where I write and read every morning. It feels rather Victorian to work from a chaise. If you’re working on a chaise, are you even working? But when you have six cats vying for lap time, the lap size needs to increase. With outstretched legs, I can easily hold three or four cats, and there is ample room on either side for two or three more.

Zoom meeting hidden for privacy

I Zoom with my cat co-workers. It turns out that they LOVE Zoom meetings. They crawl in my lap, swirl in front of the screen, block my view, bathe themselves, sneeze, look out the window, nap–in short, they live their best cat lives for all to see. And of course they are the stars of every meeting. Once the cat is on the screen, I don’t think anyone can hear a word I’m saying anymore because, to quote the Vice President of my college in our Zoom meeting, “Oh look! We have a little visitor!” Pet show-and-tell is already an accepted part of every professional meeting I’ve had this week.

Oliver blocks the screen before deciding to nap
Oliver napping through another Zoom meeting

I am missing people watching with all this staying at home, but Zoom meetings offer an interesting substitute. There are the kids and the cats and the dogs and the parents and the spouses who invariably wander into meetings. And then there is the home space that we catch intriguing glimpses of.

My colleagues and teacher friends Zoom in front of bookshelves, some organized by color (beautiful but, I’ve discovered through personal experience, fairly impractical for finding the book you’re seeking), some by genre, and some not organized at all. In every case, I find books incredibly distracting as a background. Not quite as distracting as a cat, but I lose track of the discussion as I try to read book titles and browse shelves.

My students Zoom from their cars, their living room couches, their bedrooms, their grandparents’ houses. They Zoom sitting on the floor. More than one has Zoomed this week in front of a pile of boxes, the contents of their hastily packed-up dorm rooms.

A few leaders of professional webinars this week have Zoomed in front of a plain beige wall, which confuses me. Do people really have rooms in their houses with institutional beige walls? Where is the color? Where is the stuff?

Fellow Zoomers who love to spy on bookshelves would be disappointed in my house. My chaise is positioned in a corner so that I can see all of my bookshelves myself. On a Zoom call with me, you will see the greenish gray back of my chaise, a red wall, a turquoise striped curtain. And some small mounted antlers hanging on the wall, which I imagine confuses people who are expecting nerdy teacher decor. Antlers found at a flea market and treasured now for the beauty of their shape and the mystery of their story. Antlers on the wall are the one decoration I have discovered I share with many of my rural students, though they and their families certainly hunted for their antlers themselves. No flea market finds there.

What has your week in Zoom been like, and where do you Zoom from?






18 responses to “Where I Zoom From: Slice of Life 29/31 #sol20”

  1. Susan Kennedy Avatar

    I am fatigued from zooming but am in the midst of creating my zoom backdrop in my basement library. It’s a little messy which I’m going to work on today as I am looking toward a very full week of online presence.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, seriously fatigued from zooming here too. I felt like I lost two entire days last week Zooming and will be trying to make different decisions about how I spend my time this week. Most spaces in my house are definitely too messy for Zooming too! Hope you find a good space and also some breaks from incessant online presence.

  2. arjeha Avatar

    I actually had a zoom meeting yesterday with our PCTELA council. I sat in my recliner. Each cat had his or her own chair so they didn’t disturb me. All anyone watching me would see would be the fur covered chair protector I had thrown back so that I could sit. I love our helpers.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Our helpers are the best!! And it’s best to be comfy during a Zoom meeting, I think.

  3. carwilc Avatar

    You have the best topics every day. Figuring out a good zooming place has occupied me this week. If I zoom from the main floor, where most of my bookshelves are, then my sons walk in and out of the meeting, talk to me, play music and video games, etc. I usually work in the family room, but the couch is low, and it looks like I am zooming from a plain tannish wall. And everyone always asks where Rooney is! He wanders in and out of meetings, but mostly he harasses Star and barks at her.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Haha, yes I tried last week to Zoom from the living room and my son kept talking to me like I wasn’t actually on a Zoom meeting. I was able to mute myself, but he was so worried the people on my meeting could see him. Didn’t matter how many times I explained that they could only see him if he popped in front of my computer screen. I can just imagine how much everyone wants to see Rooney!

  4. edifiedlistener Avatar

    Such a fun to read slice. I, too, am curious about people’s home spaces and am often asked about the picture on the wall behind me. I’m usually sitting at the kitchen table and there’s a large calendar satellite picture of the sun’s surface which, it appears, is quite eye-catching. On another note, your cats must love having you at home all day!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, they are definitely living their best lives right now. Laps on demand!

  5. Amanda Potts Avatar

    I love this post and, of course, I love the cats attending your meetings. I, too, have found that “Pet show-and-tell is already an accepted part of every professional meeting I’ve had this week.” We’re gearing up slowly around here, so I haven’t had too many professional meetings on zoom, but one of the best was with department heads and our VP. I was in my fancy new kitchen, which my husband just organized, and the VP was completely distracted by the beans and grains in labeled mason jars in the background. She commented on it several times. Good thing she couldn’t see the rest of our unpacked house!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, I do appreciate how very little of my home I can choose to show via Zoom! Just this one little corner! Your fancy new kitchen and those beautifully organized mason jars make me feel a little jealous!!

  6. mschiubookawrites Avatar

    A delight to read as we can all relate with the plethora of virtual meetings these days and being able to spy into another’s space. Zooming from a chaise sounds way more divine than my dining room table, though there is art in the background. Thank you again for another topic to explore.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I very much need fewer virtual meetings this week! And yes, I do recommend the chaise for all work. It makes everything feel just a bit fancy!

  7. margaretsmn Avatar

    I haven’t been too bombarded by Zoom meetings. I’ve done a few with my students and my yoga teacher is doing them. I have figured out how to mute and not show video, so my other yoga people can’t watch me. My cat loves yoga time. You seem to have such a great group of cuddly cats. Comforting.

  8. jennieb Avatar

    I had my first zoom team meeting this week and I spent a lot of time deciding where I should sit. I ended up at the kitchen table with the curtain and a piece of kid art in the background. I loved seeing where everyone else choose to sit in front of, especially since this is my first year at this school and I don’t know anyone that well. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Melanie White Avatar

    I share your joy of Zoom meetings or Google Hangouts with my dog participating in yoga or sending sniffs to my students who agree to join and be seen. I have zoomed from a window seat in my bedroom (too uncomfortable) the dog’s bed (also too uncomfortable), the island in the kitchen (window produces too much light) and the basement (I nearly froze…) so I am still working on my perfect location with the dropback that speaks to the warmth that I hope my messages bring. Thanks for such wonderful posts and questions that draw the community together.

  10. Tim Gels Avatar

    Your cat co-workers are pretty awesome. My dog chimes in on occasion, but she’s not one to stay in my lap when I’m sitting on an uncomfortable (for her) kitchen chair. My background is simply a corner cabinet in the kitchen. Maybe some antlers would make things more interesting!

  11. karpenglish Avatar

    I have no idea from where I shall Zoom. I have my first Zoom meeting on Tuesday, as we get the directives for how we will now proceed with online education. No matter where I am in my house right this minute, everything is a mess. My son has covered my desk and nearly everything else with stuff. Sitting down with cats on my lap sounds like it would be a good way to Zoom, but mine disapprove of my laptop making noise at them, and bolt away when I talk to the computer, only to glare at me from a safe distance. Wish me luck!

  12. Trina Avatar

    Zoom wasn’t new to me during this distance learning time, but Google Meet has been. Using these digital tools are helpful, but I confess that I would rather see people in person.

    Again, you make me jealous that you have so many cat co-workers!

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