Do you still do fun Zoom, aka virtual events? I had embraced them at the beginning of all of this, but I’d kind of given up on them. Recently, I’ve taken up fun Zoom again, and here are a few I’ve enjoyed, including regular events like tours of Paris and political chats, as well as literary events like the one I’m attending tonight.

So. Many. Zooms.

Zoom fills my workdays. Even on our “meeting-free days,” I have at least five calls. As I tend to work with people in different offices, my workdays have been like this for years, but, with the pandemic, suddenly everyone started using video. So. Many. Zooms. It’s not surprising that I burned out, even on the fun ones.

Pandemic fun with virtual events

When all this started, I threw myself into the fun Zooms. I attended a lot of book events, including an excellent one with Emily St John Mandel talking about her novel Glass Hotel (though everyone asked questions about Station Eleven, given the subject matter). If you haven’t read Glass Hotel, hop to it. Outstanding—seriously, I never thought that I would love a novel about a pyramid scheme. Mandel shared her thoughts on the pandemic, but also talked about protecting her time as a writer.

I also watched some music events, round tables, and lectures, and I participated in some trivia events for charity put on by my friends. Museum events, including a tour of the Louvre, helped with the isolation.

PowerPoint Shared on Zoom

Zoom burnout

Eventually, though, I just didn’t feel like Zooming anymore. I kept my therapy appointments and a regular call with a group I belong to, but, otherwise, evenings and weekend remained free of people in rectangles for a while.

Of late, though, perhaps because isolation started getting to me, or because I can finally envision a time when I may return to “real events,” I have given virtual events another go. 

Shop in Paris
"Strolling" around Les Batignolles with France with Véro

Giving virtual events another go

It started with Heather Cox Richardson, whose cogent political analysis and historical chats a couple of times a week on Facebook injected some rational thought and calm into a troubled time.

France with Véro (formerly known as French Girl in Seattle), features these delightful, unvarnished tours of Paris and beyond. As someone who loves nothing more than to set out for a walk on city streets, I find Véro’s strolls a tonic, so much so that I recently became a supporting member. I am looking forward to trying to improve my French, too.

Finally, I’ve started attending book events again. Last week I attended another Harvard Book Store event with Julia Turshen discussing her new cookbook, Simply Julia, with Claire Saffitz. Discussing comfort food, learning to love one’s body, resistance, and volunteering, I found this conversation invigorating and comforting at the same time.

Tonight, a literary event

Tonight I’m attending a virtual event with Rebecca Solnit, who will be discussing her memoir Recollections of My Nonexistence, which just came out in paperback. I read that book earlier this summer, and right now I’m reading her Hope in the Dark, which somehow I missed when it came out in the mid-2000s.

Solnit’s assertion that we not only need hope to move forward from setbacks, but also that history supports that we have reason to find it, resonates for me right now. Hope in the Dark focuses on challenging political circumstances rather than a plague, but the pandemic has certainly had a political component. Indeed, I think the organizing that helped to bring in new leadership sprang from hope that we could create change.

Looking forward

I’m looking forward to a literary Friday evening, even if it is on Zoom. And I’m really looking forward to getting back to attending events in person.

What about you? Are you doing fun Zooms? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments! The event with Rebecca Solnit I believe still have tickets available—fancy an event?

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