Today has been a rather better day than recently (actually, although yesterday was hard, the evening was good: my sister and brother-in-law came over and I told everyone about my New York trip and showed them my photos).
The bad news first (to get it out of the way): I spent three hours filling in an online application only for me to lose the whole thing when the internet crashed, as it periodically does on my laptop for reasons unknown. I was actually trying to save it at the time, because I got worried that the internet would crash and I would lose it. Which it promptly did. I don’t know whether to apply again, as it was a long-shot application and I’m not convinced I would be any good at it, or enjoy it, if I somehow got the job.
Also, today was a bad day to chose to set up a Twitter account to promote my new Doctor Who blog as there was a big argument in the Doctor Who online community about racism. Doctor Who fans can be very ‘right on’ and also very argumentative and dogmatic, weirdly, for fans of a programme that is supposed to be about tolerance and open-mindedness. In the context of the ongoing argument about antisemitism in the Labour Party, this made me wonder why people who are (rightly) so aware of most types of prejudice can be so blind about antisemitism in their ranks. The fact that argument had spiralled out of something in the latest Doctor Who Magazine and rapidly turned into people telling two half-Chinese journalists who edit it that they should be offended by, and not enjoy, a particular episode from the seventies that treated the Chinese in a way which now seems racist, even though these journalists enjoyed anyway just reminded me of the way Jews get told by certain non-Jews to be offended by some things and not offended by others, which doesn’t necessarily correlate with what I actually find offensive and antisemitic.
This all reignited the thoughts about whether I should do a PhD in the history of antisemitism and then move into some kind of career involving researching antisemitism to fight it, an idea I have been toying with (in a “someone should do that” sort of way) for years without ever thinking I would seriously act on it… more on this later.
I didn’t realise how aggressively Twitter markets other people to you, though. I haven’t been on Facebook for years, so I wasn’t expecting to see every single thing that the people I follow do turn up on my timeline. And I’m only following four people at the moment! (Strictly speaking only one is a person, the others are groups or organisations.) I’m going to have to be careful with this, it’s going to be easy to get sucked in, both into procrastination and into arguments. Bear in mind my political views in particular can be idiosyncratic so no one agrees with me.
With all that out of the way, the good news: I managed to get an appointment with a doctor this morning. My usual doctor is away, but I saw another one. He was very understanding, increased the dosage of my antidepressants and referred me to an NHS psychiatrist. He also booked me in with an appointment with my usual doctor later in the week to keep him in the loop. He booked me in directly, so I didn’t need to go back to the receptionists. It also looks like the larger dosage tablets of clomipramine are back in stock at the pharmacists, so I should be able to reduce the number of tablets I take while increasing the dosage I take.
I also got a job interview! The Jewish careers advice service where I saw the careers advisor last week had sent my CV out to some places and one is interested. It’s only short-term (eight to sixteen weeks, depending on whether they decide to employ one person or two) with the possibility of being flexible with hours. It’s billed as research, but it looks mainly like searching names and contact details on company websites and inputting them into a database. At least it’s a start. The date of the interview hasn’t been set yet.
That said, I was feeling strongly today that I need to do something academic-ish. I felt in the past that academic librarianship would be that thing, but I’m increasingly unsure. The CBT therapist I saw for the OCD was not convinced that it was intellectually-stimulating enough for me and she may have been right. Certainly cataloguing doesn’t involve as much reading as I’d hoped! And working in libraries for the last couple of years has made me itch a bit to something that involves more abstract thought and writing.
So, I’ve been kicking around thesis ideas again. To summarise my thinking so far, I looked at all the areas I’m interested in and tried to see what might work. A cultural studies thesis on Doctor Who or science fiction? Not sure it’s really considered rigorous enough to open the doors I want and certainly I would feel a bit silly spending years on end writing about Doctor Who, much as I would probably enjoy it. Plus, I’m not into the jargon and postmodernist theory that accompanies so much of the field. Jewish stuff? My language skills aren’t good enough for Tanakh (Bible) or the teachings of the Kotzker Rebbe and I don’t have the grounding in general philosophy for a PhD on Jewish philosophy. I’m not sure that I feel any great affinity for any general historical topic at the moment and my gut tells me that the main topic in Jewish history that I feel I could write about is antisemitism. I think I have some things I could say here, but it’s hard to know if I’ve got anything substantial and new to say or anything that could be said at thesis length or how I would go about researching it or if I have the right language skills, or, or, or, or… I don’t know. It’s scary and I don’t know who to talk to about it and I still don’t know if I’m willing/able to do a thesis. But I do think something about antisemitism, either historical or contemporary, and probably focusing on antisemitism, perhaps on Israel and the political left or maybe a more general thesis on the image of the Jew in wider culture and how this informs political and philosophical debate on Israel and Judaism in Western society… despite decades of secularism, I think a lot of Westerners, even militantly secular ones, view Jews through the spectacles of Christianity, which is hugely problematic (the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, once called Richard Dawkins a “Christian atheist” in a debate; Dawkins was apparently not amused, but his view of Judaism does seem to be unconsciously filtered through centuries of Christian anti-Jewish polemic).
So unfortunately I spent a lot of the day thinking about antisemitism, and about the ongoing hooha in Doctor Who fandom, and how the two are linked, conceptually, if not directly.
In other news, more evidence of my being tuned to a different wavelength to other people: I suddenly stopped dead in the street while walking home to watch some ants (but there were a lot of them, probably a whole nest), which maybe isn’t so normal. Then when I got home watched Dad unloading the dishwasher and it was genuinely not until he had about three plates left that what he was doing registered in my head and I realised I should help (to be fair, I had just put the washing on the line, so I did some housework). Then I couldn’t concentrate on job hunting because I was really pleased with a joke I came up with and kept replaying it in my head (someone on Twitter was posting about portraits of American Presidents and I wanted to say that you can tell that Nixon’s a portrait is good because of the way the lies follow you around the room). I need to find some kind of way to live in this world like a normal person. (I’m normal, it’s everyone else who is weird.)
One last good thing: I put up posters of Doctors one through twelve (plus the Valeyard and the War Doctor) in my room a few weeks ago and now, thanks to the latest Doctor Who Magazine I’ve got the incoming thirteenth Doctor up too. It’s silly, but having her picture on the back of my door makes me feel more optimistic about the thirteenth Doctor and the upcoming episodes. (I was worried I wouldn’t like the new series. Doctor Who fans do this a lot. I have hardly ever gone into a new series without at least a bit of worry that it wouldn’t be as good as it used to be.)