Saturday, May 22, 2021

Zoom Boom


I recently wrote about how my internal editor kicks in when I'm wandering around my garden. Some of it looks grand, and some of it don't. But I know just where to not look. I can ignore entire sites of mayhem and botanical rebellion just by skipping through to the parts that look good. It works better that way. Otherwise I will go to dark places in my mind. I will think: I see you, common vetch. I can solve your ass with a nice dose of Roundup. These are not thoughts that should take root in a liberal's brain. It's a gateway thought to carrying a sidearm into the hardware store.

There is too much common vetch around in general, and lemon mint, and Himalayan blackberry, and conspiracy theorists, and wanton bullshit meme-sharers, and although one is tempted to take a nuke to the whole lot of them, the wisest approach involves a lot of ignoring.

And this is the exact same approach I take with my face.

There's nothing especially wrong with my face, although I could reel off a few dozen things. But really, it'll do. The best approach to it, if you are the proprietor, is to fail to examine it in a mirror. On those occasions you do have to check the mirror, you can control some aspects of lighting and angles. Go in with your chin tilted up. Go oblique.


And definitely do not look in the mirror in the early morning light. Sure, it sounds romantic, but that low angle of light fails to illuminate the deeper arroyos in the mature facial structure, so that your personal topography is fully revealed as the barren canyonland it is. The theme music from The Good, the Bad, and the Oh My God floats into your head. It may seem counterintuitive, but we don't want that slanty light on the face. We want high noon. We want sunshine in all the gullies. Catch yourself in the early morning light and you will find your upper lip pleated up like the Devil's Tower.

I have solved this particular beauty issue by rolling out of bed several hours after sunrise.

The rest of the day it's just a matter of not looking in the mirror at all. I find this surprisingly easy, as a person several decades past being on the make. Everything was going along great in this regard until Zoom. Last year we all found ourselves involved in Zoom meetings. If you care to, you can even brush your hair and check yourself out in a mirror and feel passably put-together from the waist up in advance of a Zoom meeting, but then there's that moment when you're waiting for it to begin and staring at the screen and then all of a sudden boom there's your entire face, looking completely different from what you would ever have authorized if it was under your jurisdiction, which, technically, it is. There isn't a mirror in your house as mean as that screen. Your first reaction is that of a four-year-old. Not me! I didn't do it! But it is you and you totally did it, or sat around idly while it was being done at you. You immediately fart around with the camera angle and pitch some books under your laptop to raise it up but nothing's going to solve this except tape over the camera. 
 

I think there's a whole thing about Zoom meetings that people who are not me have already looked into. Originally I thought it was just a matter of setting up an attractive bookcase behind yourself and possibly an objet-d'art that illustrates your quirky but lovable nature, but clearly lighting is involved too. I don't have much of a bookcase. I don't collect books. I am considering collecting burqas.

But then the meeting starts and my face retreats into a little bitty square at the top. It doesn't matter that when I speak, which I am rarely prevented from doing, my face will be full-screen to everyone else. It's still itty bitty to me. And that's good enough. That's good enough. If I get too much into the weeds with this stuff, I'm going to start packing heat in the hardware store while I'm picking up the Roundup. And that won't do.

45 comments:

  1. Occasionally I hit the Photo Booth button by accident and I am truly shocked at what I see. I know some people who spend hours looking into mirrors.

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    1. I know people who post selfies every day. I don't get it.

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    2. And they have beauty enhancing software...

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  2. When I was in high school, Maybelline or some such entity introduced a product called Erace. It was maybe the first drugstore “concealer.” Recently, a woman I’d reconnected with from school told me—astonished at adolescent self—that she used to Erace her whole face. She was chosen Best Looking by the Annual staff senior year, which may or may not have been what she was shooting for. Reading this post, I realize that Erace was Round-Up for the face.

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  3. I treat Zoom and mirrors in much the same way. I do them as little as possible. And possible is very small in both instances for me.

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  4. Oh this is so true! And I can't watch the screen without focusing on my own face the whole time. Recently my laptop started aiming the camera at the ceiling and I couldn't figure out how to fix it so I've been represented in recent Zoom get-togethers by a nice photo of myself in a restaurant in San Francisco from 2009. I look good.

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    1. If you had the mirror on the ceiling we ALL KNOW YOU HAVE, it would work out just fine.

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    2. Everyone on Zoom is focusing on themselves. Everyone you come across in "real life" is focusing on themselves. There is no reason to feel inadequate because we all have the same feelings but assume that everyone else is SO confident. Nah, not so much. I personally wear makeup and color my hair BECAUSE it gives me confidence. I am a much different person without it. God/Nature does not know best. I DO! This is what I should look like, so fuck you, Mother Nature!

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  5. There is a sign at my house.”I’m sure glad wrinkles don’t hurt.” True.

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    1. But a person shouldn't have to floss her face.

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  6. I absolutely agree about the first thing in the morning.

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  7. Sometimes I leave the house and realise I haven't looked in a mirror all day. I don't wear make-up and my hair is brushed and I'm aiming for 'clean and decent.'
    My face isn't usually a shock because I have an identical twin sister and knowing that there'a a clone of this face is somehow validating.
    Recently my sister had to buy new frames for her glasses and instead of looking in the mirror she made me try them on. Worked very well, and she could see how they looked from different angles.

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    1. Oh now that's an advantage I hadn't thought of. I don't know what my glasses look like until the prescription is filled. Wait...could use the phone...

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  8. I ignore my face as much as I possibly can too. I'll check to make sure the moisturiser is evenly spread and there are no long hairs sprouting from my chin, then I comb the hair back into its ponytail and don't look at myself for the rest of the day. I've never done zoom or even skype. I do have a small strip of black gaffer tape over the camera after once accidentally seeing my face looking back at me.

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    1. I don't know what that tape is used for besides that and taping over the Check Engine light.

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    2. I use it for taping down electrical extension cords so I don't trip over them. I don't have enough power outlets here so extensions are necessary and the ones that go across doorways get taped down.

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  9. As someone who is still working and therefore needs to appear mentally competent on Zoom meetings, my big secret is lighting. I have several different arrangements of angles and color temperatures to use depending on what time of day it is. I even have a special configuration for use on days when my wattle is looking particularly Mitch-McConnell-esque.
    Aside from that, I'll say that IMHO most men on Zoom would look a lot better with some subtle eyeliner.

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    1. Ed, I read an article in the Sunday New York Times about how men are starting to wear makeup now. It's not about drag, or emo, or punk. Just regular guys who started using a bit of makeup for Zoom meetings and realized how much better they look, so they started wearing it in much the same manner as women do. Even my husband has been using a bit of subtle eye makeup for years now, as well as coloring his hair. It started with my doing his face for Halloween, and he realized how much younger he looked. He works in the restaurant industry, where it's generally a younger person's game. Sometimes looking younger isn't so much about "being on the make." It's about economic survival. (And yes, a big dollop of vanity, too.)

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    2. Weird to think we finally achieve gender equality by persuading the men to do the dumb, time-wasting stuff too.

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    3. Makeup is no more time wasting than constant scrolling of FaceBook or watching TV. We don't have TV and we don't have FaceBook. Plus, it doesn't take all that much time once you are used to it. I had DECADES to practice. I think it is a small investment of time considering how great I feel afterwards.

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    4. I still recall when my dad started to dye his greying temples for reasons of not-wanting-to-look-too-old-to-work-here. That was 60 years ago.

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    5. I will certainly cop to plenty of time-wasting practices. I think I quit makeup (when I was 17) for two reasons: I don't look much better with it, and I kind of sensed it would become a requirement--that without it, I wouldn't be able to leave the house. So, for me, best to start the day the same way I end it.

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    6. I dunno....maybe the best solution would be for men to get a subtle touch of black eyeliner *tatooed* on? Truth be told, my daily toilette is kind of a 'wash-and-wear' sort of thing, so permanent eyeliner would either solve the problem, or if the trend did't catch on, make a lot of men look peculiar when seen in harsh daylight?

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  10. We remodeled our daylight basement last summer into an apartment without stairs. So far, aside from the bathroom, there are no mirrors. And on Zoom, I try for the best angle, but there usually isn't one.

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    1. I think Ed's right about the lighting. Must experiment.

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  11. Roundup as a gateway thought. I concur.

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  12. I only had to do Zoom Meetings with the Granddaughter's High School Staff for her IEP and I didn't appear fit to Parent... or not be in an Asylum setting. I even took the Meeting outside, around the distraction of Beautiful Mother Nature as a Backdrop, hopefully they were so fascinated by the Ducks floating by on my Irrigated Pasture that they didn't even look at me?

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    1. Bohemian, I don't do Zoom, but the people that i talk to that DO do it seem to be more focused on how they look on camera than what the actual meeting is about. At the heart of it, people are basically self-involved, and very few of us have had the experience of seeing ourselves LIVE ON CAMERA. I haven't, and will dig my heels in as far as I can. I remember the first time hearing my voice on a tape recorder. "THAT'S not how I sound!" I lamented. "Um... Yes it is," I was told. Our skull bones keep us from hearing what we actually sound like. I'm sure that there is something similar for how we see ourselves.

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  13. The secret to videoconferencing is to turn off your computer's camera and say earnestly, "Video eats up too much bandwidth. I'll just do audio."

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    1. I find I'm not really looking at other people as much as I'm looking at what's behind them.

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  14. “Everything was going along great...until Zoom.” ūü§£. I broke up laughing. Who has not suffered that shock! Tell yourself the camera is poor and distorts the image somewhat. But it is a good exercise in thinking about how one presents to others, listening or distracted? I’m often amazed at how some folks are physically inattentive. I don’t mean posing, but rather willing to practice some polite conventions.

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    1. I have noticed that I seem to be itchier than other people.

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  15. To see a couple of employees who have no problem at all with how they look at a Zoom company meeting, check out how Olive and Mabel present themselves at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFVHaus_pjI

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  16. I searched ut the best angles of light for Zoom (or GoogleDuo) before using! Light from directly above is harsh. Light coming from an angle from even or slightly lower than the head is pretty good. I am thinking that maybe using pink scarves over the lights could possibly help. Better yet, Vaseline over the lens may obscure all flaws and aging! Mirrors are the enemy...they lie. Who needs them anyway. I want a carnival house mirror which would make me look slender and younger!!

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    1. I have a pink ice cream cone light behind me. Not turned on. I think I'll try putting it in front and turning it on. I usually zoom next to a south window and that is CLEARLY too harsh.

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    2. Here's a total Brain Fart...About using pink lights.....in the 1970s I once went into a gay bar that had soft pink recessed floodlights covering the ceiling. As well, they were dimmed down to a flattering level. After I got my bearings, I realized that the lighting was designed to be flattering to its aging clientele. "Oh golly", I thought to myself, "This is a friggin' 'wrinkle-room' and everyone here is *at least 60 years old*." So I got my skinny self outta there tout de suite. So these days (at the far end of my 60s) whenever I see pink lighting, it is a humbling reminder of my cruelly-ageist gay youth. I guess this is my roundabout way of saying that yes, try out that pink ice cream light!

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  17. Supposedly there's a "Zoom boom" in plastic surgery, too.

    -- Judith

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    1. That's one of my favorite party questions: if someone else paid for it, what single cosmetic surgery would you go for?

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