Mum has a treatment plan, a mixture of two types of chemotherapy plus antibodies, then surgery and then radiotherapy starting 3 March.  There isn’t really a lot I can do at this stage.  I’m not sure what I feel about this.  I probably need time to process it.

***

I’m still struggling with job applications, submitting in another one today.  I wonder lately whether I’m aiming for jobs that are just beyond my level, because of my depression, social anxiety and high functioning autism.  I keep seeing library assistant jobs being advertised (one agency keeps trying to put me up for them and I was even interviewed for one) and wonder if it was a mistake to get my MA and train as a librarian.  It was certainly a difficult process with depression that took three times longer than it should have done.  Part of me thinks I should just have become a library assistant.  The work would be less challenging and I would doubtless be bored and there would still be social interactions to deal with and the salary would be a lot lower (although any salary is greater than being unemployed and ineligible for benefits).  But maybe I would have been able to work three or four days a week or even full-time.  Once I go down that route, though, it will be hard to go back to where I am now.  Maybe I’m beating myself up again.  Someone with my education and intellect should be able to do something more skilled and intellectual, but somehow I can’t find the right work or keep it.

Sometimes I just feel like I want some omniscient being to come and tell me what I Should be doing with my life, because I don’t have a clue.

I once joked to one of my friends (who comments here sometimes) that we were born too late and in the wrong class; we really have the mindset for financially-independent Victorian gentlemen scholars, pursuing research in obscure topics without having to worry about funding or teaching or anything modern scholars have to worry about.  Certainly retreat to an ivory tower seems more tempting, but more distant, than ever, looking at the world and politics as well as my life.

As I said, I did fill in another job application today, for a library and research position at a charity, but I think I don’t have the skills in statistical research and summarising complex information that they require.  I have applied for two jobs at this charity in the past; for one I was rejected outright, for the other I got called to interview, but did not get through it; in particular, I don’t think I did well on the summarising test, which is a more technical skill than it seems on the surface.  Looking at the job specification, there are jargon-ey phrases which, if phrased differently, might prompt memories of similar work in my employment history, but faced with such general terms (“Proven ability to deliver and contribute to the development of high quality user-focused information services”) my autistic brain draws a blank as the statement is too vague and abstract to prompt any “I’ve done that!” thoughts.  This happens to me a lot with job applications.  In the end I met eight of the ten criteria on the person specification, but I’m not sure that I demonstrated that I met the criteria well, and the two I was missing were very important.

***

I’m nervous about my devar Torah (Torah thought) for this week.  First I thought I wouldn’t be able to write it, or that it would be incoherent.  Now I’m more confident I can write it (I have nearly 500 words written and a bit to add later or tomorrow), but I worry that I’ve got a chiddush, a new argument.  This sounds good, but I told myself I would not write new ideas any more, because in the Orthodox community people don’t seem to like them unless you’re an important, well-known rabbi, and even then innovative readings of halakhic (legal) debates are preferred to narrative interpretations or philosophical ideas.  My idea sits on the intersection between halakhah and philosophy.  And now I have a number of new people reading it who I worry might reject me on some level.  Or just tell me I’m being stupid.  OK, my family and friends are unlikely to tell me I’m being stupid, but they might tell me my argument is weak or confused.

***

Calling anyone who has used Lulu.com for self-publishing!

Aside from the job application, devar Torah and procrastinating, my main achievement today was working on my non-fiction Doctor Who book.  I uploaded the file as a pdf, but I couldn’t check if the fonts were embedded properly without Adobe Acrobat, which I don’t have.  Lulu.com was said it wouldn’t print fonts 6 pt or smaller; I had a few footnotes at 8 pt which for some reason Lulu thought were at 6 pt, but I decided to take a chance and keep them in, given that they really are above 6 pt and given that I didn’t want to have to sort the pagination out yet again.

I struggled with Lulu’s cover wizard for a bit.  I’m not sure I really have the right software to use it.  For some reason, it is pushing the last letters of the title off the cover.  Change the font or move the text box are the obvious solutions, but I can’t work out how to do either.  So far as I can tell, font is fixed, but different colour covers use different fonts and/or different font sizes.  Weird, but true.  Now I can get a font size that fits, but it’s with an ugly beige colour cover.  I think this may be step 1 and the next step will allow me to change font size or text location?  OK, I’m giving up for tonight now.

***

I watched a not-so-good episode of Star Trek Voyager today, notable for the fact that while it was ostensibly about Commander Chakotay’s desire to leave behind the Native American traditions of his family and then to return to them later in life, it seemed to me a lot like a familiar story of a young Jew who finds Judaism stifling, obscurantist and particularistic, but finds his way back to it, to some extent, in middle age, particularly after the death of a parent.  So, I found author Michael Piller on Wikipedia and, lo!, he was Jewish.  Of course, it’s a familiar pattern from many cultures intersecting with modernity, but it hit Jews harder than many, for a variety of reasons.  It’s sad though that you can tell stories about Jews on TV… provided they aren’t actually Jews.  As Cynthia Ozick said, “Jews are not metaphors”.  (The full quote is, “Jews are not metaphors – not for poets, not for novelists, not for theologians, not for murderers, and never for anti-Semites…”)

***

I gave in and ate ice cream.  It’s hard not to eat junk at all when I feel so depressed and anxious.  When I feel bad, it’s hard to tell myself that I shouldn’t do something that will make me feel a bit better even if just for a few minutes.  This is especially true as I don’t binge, but clomipramine means everything goes straight to my waistline.

9 thoughts on “Born Too Late

  1. Why don’t you download Adobe Acrobat reader — it’s free? Not sure how you can view the text without it — or am I missing something? Have you got anyone who will look over the text for you before you submit it?

    Re: LA jobs — I do know that some libraries — in particular academic libraries — seek qualified librarians for library assistant posts; sometimes described as senior library assistants. I had one such post once. But it’s annoying as it does not look as good on your CV as Assistant Librarian.

    Try not to be put off by the jargon in some job advertisements. Many nowadays use terms like “dynamic”, “good communicator”, and “self-starter.” You might think you are none of these things but in fact all the work you are doing now on your books (and in previous special library) suggests you can be all of these! And if you see a job that suits which is full time, have you ever thought of asking them if they are open to job sharing or reduced hours? I think you are wise to accept that part time work is what you can cope with for now.
    I think the right job will come along but will take time as there are not many of them. In the meantime you are not idle; you are being quite productive — and will now have a bigger role to play at home supporting your parents.

    And why not go back to the special library you were working in to remind them you are still waiting to hear from them — they have probably just not got round to making a decision. They owe you a response at the very least.

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    1. I didn’t know it was free! I can open pdfs in my web browser, so that’s where I was looking at it.

      I have tried asking if employers are open to job sharing or reduced hours. So far I have not been successful with that, although one job I applied to recently actually had an option on the application form for that.

      I did go back to the synagogue library to say I was waiting to hear from them, but they didn’t get back to me, which I thought was a bit rude.

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      1. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is free. The charged versions are the ones where you have the facilities to edit/ manipulate the files. Most people have the free reader installed and you can download it easily here:
        https://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/
        Here’s the difference explained:
        http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-adobe-reader-and-adobe-acrobat/
        As you can see you can get the pro version free for a trial period. I have never felt the need for this as I do all my editing in word and then export to pdf. And just in case it’s ever useful to you, you can get free pdf to word converters online — but with the pro version I believe you can do all this.

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  2. AshleyLeia has excellent advice. If there are appropriate jobs as a LA and they would be less stressful and more interesting to you, why not? I know the pay is less, but the hours might be more flexible which would work better for you. Glad that your mom has a treatment plan and that it’s starting up soon.

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    1. I think library assistant jobs would be less interesting rather than more. I’m not sure if they would be less stressful – there would still be a lot of interactions with library users that I’m not good at.

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  3. Glad to hear your mom now has a treatment plan. That’s probably less stress for her now since she knows she’s doing something. Sometimes I think it’s harder on the family of the person going through cancer than it is the patient because the family just feels helpless and sad to watch someone they love deal with cancer.

    I’m sorry that I don’t know a thing about lulu. However, if things get too hairy, it might be worth it to just pay someone on a site like fiverr or upwork to do it for you.

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  4. Yes, I think it’s a bit easier now she knows what’s going to happen, although I think we’re all waiting nervously to see how she reacts to chemo. She’s been doing research on wigs lately.

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