Feeling depressed and anxious today.  I felt tired and didn’t really want to do anything.  I was worried about my Mum, who has tests tomorrow, and about my benefits interview which is also tomorrow and whether my doctor’s not from nearly two months ago is still valid.  I’m also worried about my writing.  E. is enjoying my novel, but says one of the narrators is a lot more fleshed out than the other.  I was worried about this, as one is basically me and the other has elements of me, but also elements I’m trying to create.  Naturally the former is a lot more realistic.  I’ve already written about my surprise at being a more intuitive “let the characters/situation take over” writer than a detailed planner; now I suspect I am also a serious redrafter.  I had an English teacher at school who would say that the first draft is 99% of the work and I always believed that (former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has said something similar), but I’m sure the first draft of this book is just going to be the basic skeleton; if it’s ever any good, that’s going to come together in the redrafting.

My main achievements today: dusting my room and completing another five references for my bibliography.  I went to the theatre in the evening with my parents, sister and brother-in-law to see Eric and Little Ern, essentially a tribute act to Morecambe and Wise (note to non-UK readers: extremely popular British comedians in the sixties and seventies, still repeated a lot on TV).  I found the first half very funny despite the slightly restricted view from where I was sitting.  I struggled through the second half as my anxieties had come back.  My parents, sister and BIL went for coffee afterwards and part of me wanted to go with, but I just felt too drained and in need of alone time and unable to be in an environment with other people any more.  I think we were all glad to have a good laugh before my Mum’s treatment really begins tomorrow, and I think my parents would have liked it if I could have gone to coffee for that reason, but I just couldn’t face it.

***

“I’m still quite socially awkward.”  I did quite enjoy Doctor Who tonight, despite the cancer stuff (it didn’t upset me, but I’m worried about my parents watching it, probably in several weeks time knowing them), although I felt a bit that I was enjoying it out of a feeling of obligation because there were a lot of tropes I usually like, rather than because I was actually enjoying it.  Possibly I was over-thinking it.  The mental health stuff did make me feel that if that police officer had bet me that my life would be better in three years time in any time from 2003 until 2017, she would have lost the bet (and don’t police officers always patrol in pairs?).

***

Now, post-Doctor Who and post-everything else today I just feel exhausted and depressed and a bit anxious.  I feel that E. is so much better to me than I deserve.  I worry that we’ll never be able to work out the practical problems in our relationship.  Just feeling hugely worried about tomorrow, and all the scary things in the weeks and months ahead (Mum, benefits, work, writing, community, PurimPesach…).  There is more to say, but I can’t find the words, and I need to go to bed to be up in nine hours.

***

Written earlier:

I’m trying to crack my Twitter habit (not really enough to say “addiction,” especially as I only lurk and don’t post or comment).  It’s easy to fall into the habit of procrastinating on there, and there is some rewarding content, but too much that is depressing or just trying to get me angry about things that aren’t worth getting angry about.

Speaking of Twitter, I’ve been thinking today about TV presenter Philip Schofield coming out as gay.  I wonder what would happen if a TV presenter or celebrity announced they were converting to Orthodox Judaism, and not to get married to a Jew, but simply out of genuine belief in God and Torah, and that this was going to have a massive impact on the work they did, the days they would be available for work, the food they ate and so on.  I don’t think there would be abuse as such (unless they mentioned Israel or the Labour Party), but I think there would be a lot of confusion and bewilderment on Twitter and in the newspapers and maybe some mild mockery in the way that Gwyneth Paltrow’s eccentric New Age beliefs and practises are mocked.  I can’t imagine anyone saying it was something to “celebrate.”  Not just with Judaism, but with traditional religion in general.  It does indicate where the boundaries of ‘normal’ are in our culture these days.

The only person I can think of like this is The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik, who is an Orthodox Jew, although not a convert, but she isn’t really famous outside of a narrow section of the internet where she admittedly has a strong following among Modern Orthodox Jews, particularly geeky MO women (Bialik was a research scientist before going into acting and is an Orthodox feminist so is a role model to a wide range of people).

In fact, just think of the number of traditionally religious characters you see on TV or film, and how many of those are positive and how many negative.  Those of you who see me engage online in Doctor Who fandom will realise this is something that bothers me increasingly and is part of the reason I’ve started writing fiction again, to create the characters who are like me and who don’t get seen anywhere else.

There is more to be said here that I may pick up in a post I’ve been struggling with conflicted thoughts about writing lately…

6 thoughts on “Anxiety and Peopling; and Judaism as Counter-Culture

  1. You’re right that there are very few religious types in any mainstream TV shows, although church is sometimes mentioned. I think for many that religion is a personal and touchy topic, and no one wants to offend. I can be a terrible worrier too and have had to find strategies to fight it. Reading, running, walking, and funny, mindless TV or word games on my phone help me a bit. It’s so very easy to get overwhelmed with all the uncertainties and the fear about what’s happening in our world. It sounds like you are trying to keep busy, but also set boundaries for yourself and your comfort zone, which I think is extremely important. And I absolutely hate to dust–so I admire you a lot for that!

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  2. I think if someone converted to Orthodox Judaism and it massively changed how they do their job, people who knew them in the context of that job probably wouldn’t be impressed, regardless of how they feel about Judaism.

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  3. I’ve wondered how Mayim does and if she gets much flak for the things she has to do as an actress. She’s so talented. She’s related the surprise people have expressed when she’s mentioned she’s a neuroscientist.

    Frankly, after speaking with other converts, I’ve come to believe that those of us who DID convert on our own and not for marriage are often having a harder time than the others who did it for marriage. We don’t have a spouse or kids to help us bind us to the rest of the community. And the inequalities in conversions are frustrating. What I mean is seeing other converts fast-tracked to conversion because they’re marrying a Jew or they’re famous and marrying another celebrity. Dr. Laura Schlessinger (sp?), Ivanka Trump, Marilyn Monroe, etc. all had fast Orthodox conversions. Meanwhile, I quit my job and went to work for a Jewish Community Center for $13/hr so I wouldn’t have to work on Shabbat, kashered my kitchen, read dozens of books, took a class, etc. and it took much longer than theirs did. (rant over)

    I haven’t seen the comedy you mention, but have enjoyed other British comedies like Keeping Up Appearances. Probably would have enjoyed your The Office better than ours if I had seen yours first.

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    1. It must be hard to convert on your own. In the Orthodox community I think the expectation is that converts will start dating soon after conversion, but it isn’t always easy to find someone.

      I haven’t seen The Office, either UK or US versions. I did used to watch Keeping Up Appearances when I was growing up. It was funny, but I wouldn’t have thought it was something that would travel well. Then again, Americans do often like British TV precisely because it’s British and slightly exotic.

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