Mum had tests today to see if the cancer has spread, which rather casts everything you’re about to read below into sharp relief, but I need to vent here to avoid going on about it to my parents. We hope to get the results on Wednesday. I’m suddenly feeling very worried. Cancer in one place is scary enough, but now I’m worried that it’s already spread without any obvious signs so far. I know this is just worrying, but it’s still scary and hard to dismiss as “hypothetical, therefore not worth worrying about.”
Today has been disappointing. I sent an email about work last Thursday, trying to see if my contract at the place where I was working in January would be extended, but so far answer came there none.
I played Bureaucracy! again and lost. I went to my meeting at the Jobcentre about benefits, only to discover that I have to have been in work continuously for two years and to have paid National Insurance (NI) during them. I had received mixed messages about this. Also, my doctor’s letter was not an official “fit note.” The person I was speaking to insisted on sending the form in, saying I could post the fit note later in the week, but as I’ll have to pay £25, I’m not sure I’ll bother. It’s frustrating that I fall between the gaps of different benefits, but that’s how it is at the moment.
I nearly burst into tears on the way home from the Jobcentre. I just felt frustrated about benefits and worried about Mum. I procrastinated for much of the day. The positive things I did were half an hour of Torah study, a long Skype call with E. and a longish conversation with my parents about Mum’s tests and my benefits. I also cooked dinner (macaroni cheese, one of my standby easy recipes). That’s not nothing (if you’ll pardon the double negative), they were successes on a difficult day, but as always I am left with the feeling that I should do more. E. is super-supportive of me and says not to beat myself up about what I can or can’t do and that the right job is out there for me, but I am aware that the biggest obstacle to our being together at the moment is my inability to get even a part-time job.
I spent an hour and a quarter this evening working on my Doctor Who book’s bibliography, confusing myself where the bibliographical referencing rules diverge from the similar, but not identical, library cataloguing ones. The About Time books about Doctor Who have given me a lot of frustration over the years, so it’s probably not surprising that they continued to frustrate here, with publishing information hidden at the back rather than on the title or copyright page and much confusion as to Lawrence Miles’ contribution to the revised edition of volume 3 as well as Lars Pearson on volume 6 and Dorothy Ail on volume 7 (I tentatively put them all down as authors). It did at least remind me that I haven’t produced a copyright page for my own book.
To be fair, the About Time books at their peak were very good, despite their flaws and despite the fact that they later became too frustrating for me to read (I gave up after volume 8; I don’t think my friends lasted that long). Along with the Doctor Who Magazine articles by the likes of Philip MacDonald, Alan Barnes and Gareth Roberts, they made me want to write seriously about Doctor Who and television science fiction in general, so it feels appropriate to reference them.
The fact remains that I have about eighty-five more references to write up, so I’m going to be doing this for a while. Some of the references are basically already written in my notes and just need checking or slight alterations. For other references, I was clearly writing rely on my own memory of the vast amount of non-fiction Doctor Who material that I’ve read over the years (autistic special interest!) and just wrote a brief note to remind me that I needed to reference “DVD Remembrance of the Daleks cut scene” or “Marc Platt interview – Light as a recording angel”. Occasionally I’ve set myself fact-checking tasks too (“DWM archive Space Museum Spooner remove humour?”). An analogy: I’m generally a tidy person, but I achieve this partly by tidying as I go, but also by shoving stuff that I’m too busy/depressed to deal with into drawers or cupboards and leaving it for Another Time. This is the equivalent of what I’ve done with the references, and Another Time has now become Right Now.
In better news, this anthology of books by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan arrived today, second-hand and slightly battered, but readable. I actually already own one of the books, but it was easiest to buy it again to get the two books I did want (The Infinite Light and If You Were God). Rabbi Kaplan is an interesting figure. He came from a non-religious background and according to Wikipedia was expelled from school as a teenager for bad behaviour. He then became a research physicist and later an Orthodox rabbi. He wrote or translated a ton of books, mostly aimed at non-religious Jews and bringing them to observance, at a time when few people in the Orthodox world was writing for non-religious Jews or involved in kiruv (outreach to get non-religious Jews to become religious). Then he died suddenly at the age of forty, leaving a widow and ten children, which was very sad.
I usually do retail therapy by buying books or DVDs, usually cheap from charity shops. However, monster anxiety ends up with a monster purchase… Last night I was thinking about how I’m going to get through the coming weeks. I’m worried about Mum, I’m worried about being unemployed and I’m already dreading the Jewish festival of Purim, where people wear fancy dress and there is a general carnival atmosphere, difficult with depression and social anxiety (there are religious OCD issues with the festival too). I thought of dressing as the fourth Doctor again, doubly so when I’m not always clear on what is acceptable in my community. I have a proper fourth Doctor scarf, knitted for me by another fan friend. I don’t really have any more of the costume, but with my big coat and borrowing my Dad’s hat, it creates the right silhouette, a kind of impressionistic “What I Would Wear If I Was the Fourth Doctor” effect. Tom Baker’s costume changed regularly anyway while keeping the same basic idea of big coat and long scarf.
And then I thought, why not, to make it more fun this year, buy a replica sonic screwdriver, the Doctor’s favourite
plot device space tool? I knew they were commercially available, but I didn’t know how much they cost. I discovered that a fourth Doctor sonic screwdriver would set me back nearly £30, but for another £10, I could get a set of six old and new series replica sonics. And, yes, I gave in and bought it. I can’t even say it will have resale value if I’m buying them to use, given that merchandise loses value the moment you open the box.
This does at least mean that if I want to change costumes and spend part or all of Purim in a less conspicuous costume, I can wear my purple pinstripe suit, which doesn’t look a million miles from the tenth Doctor’s brown pinstripe suit, along with my Converse trainers (which I hate; I have no idea how David Tennant wore them for days on end) and be an impressionistic “What I Would Wear If I Was the Tenth Doctor” complete with the (different) correct sonic, but look to outsiders much the same as any frum person in a suit. This could be useful if I get invited to a Purim seudah (meal). There is also, I suppose, a kind of symmetry in dressing up as my most and least favourite Doctors, although it does worryingly suggest that I might end up trying to cosplay all thirteen (or fourteen. Or fifteen. Or sixteen. Or…) Doctors over time. Which means eventually having to deal with That Coat.
I threw in a yoyo too for £1, because if you’re going to do a thing, you have to do it properly (jelly babies, or kosher equivalents, won’t be allowed in the shul though).
This is the craziest fanboy thing I’ve done in a long while, unless you count writing a 100,000 word non-fiction book about Doctor Who.
Anyway, I hope not to be spending more money on retail therapy in the near future.