[Photo credit: courtesy of Alexi Venice 2020]
(Filed under the “Champagne Problems” category)
Panel Prep Checklist
Four talented panelists and one moderator in agreement on a date and time to record “More Than Tragic: Happy Endings, Adventure and Fantasy for All” chat?
#TWWBF2020 logo backdrop hanging on the moderator's wall?
Strong WiFi signal, functioning 100% charged tablet, and legible discussion notes?
Check—at least until an hour before start time, when the moderator's home Internet connection suddenly disappeared. Totally gone; wouldn't reboot. (Some people's nightmares are about falling. Mine are about dropped tech connectivity.)
Cry. Curse. (Are you kidding me with this right now, Divine Cosmic Forces of the Universe?!) Run to a nearby generous neighbor's house. Which friendly neighbor? The ones with the pack of adorable spoiled rotten yappy fur babies or the ones with the adorable rambunctious kids? Wait. COVID-19 social distancing mandates. So no to imposing on any kind neighbors.
[“Nothing,” says my gloating Inner Hermit. “Embrace defeat. Engaging with other people is too risky! It requires lots of effort and expands vulnerability to rejection and failure. Who wants more of that?” My Inner Hermit is such a downer sometimes.]
Other possibilities whirled through my chaotic thoughts.
Use my cell phone?
Not optimal for moderating a Zoom panel.
A local public WiFi access spot!
Not indoors. (Again, social distancing mandates and other reasonable precautions, #@÷×%*!)
Parking lot at the public library! (Another of the many reasons to appreciate public libraries)
[Dash around the house like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep gathering up pages of notes, a tripod, tablet, earbuds with mic (2 sets), cell phone, mask, handbag, and keys before sprinting out the door to the car and zipping over to the local public library branch, then setting up everything in the back seat. All situated thirty-five minutes before the Zoom meeting start time!]
Way to improvise. [Patting myself on the back]
*Until it becomes obvious as panelists join the meeting that there's something wrong with my audio, probably my earbuds (neither set works, even though both pairs worked perfectly as recently as the previous night!)! -two exclamation points instead of swear words (Evidently, premature celebration is a problem. Too bad there's no little blue pill to cure it.)
Fortunately, all of the panelists are confident and personable. They get to know each other as my frantic troubleshooting fails to fix the problem. A breathless roundtrip one-person footrace to a nearby store to buy new earbuds (brand name and purple(!), which seems like a positive sign from the Universe, but isn't because it…) doesn't fix my audio issues either.
Panicked feelings of being unprepared and unprofessional short-circuit my problem-solving synapses until Alexi Venice catches my spastic attention to remind me that calling in is an option.
Add embarrassed, clueless, and forgetful to the list of panicked feelings.
Then finally, twenty-five minutes after the scheduled start time I'm dialed in (which is why my image includes my phone—as inadequate deep cleavage camouflage bonus, too late for tablet angle adjustment; plus, boobage is preferable to multiple chins), “More Than Tragic: Happy Endings, Adventure and Fantasy for All” began. Finally.
Pamela Beverly, Alexi Venice, Kamari Talley, and Gay G. Gunn mingled with each other and encouraged me as I stumbled toward a work-around solution for my tech issues. They didn't complain or bail. They were proactive, generous, and gracious professionals. They saved the featured panel discussion and rescued me with the integrity of their humanity and the power of their collaborative energies.
Please enjoy the lively exchange of ideas, opinions, and experiences in the conversation that followed.
And here's a coherent list of all the people and organizations I should have thanked at the end of the panel when encroaching darkness made it difficult to read my notes, and relief at having succeeded sent me into an adrenalin crash:
Heather Brooks, founder and Chief Wrangler-in-Charge of The Write Women Book Fest
Stacey at Marietta House Museum
Prince George's County Parks and Planning
Prince George's County Historical Society
The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (NOT Munici-whatever came tumbling from my lips at the end of the panel recording!)
P.S. Zoom anxiety. Is there a support group for that? If not, starting one might be in my immediate future. Glass half-full thoughts: so thankful for being able to send and reply to emails related to the panel earlier that day, and for sticking to my habit of logging on at least an hour or more before a Zoom meeting when I'm the host.