I was woken by a phone call from one of the job agencies I wrote to yesterday.  I had left the date I finished my last job off my CV, initially because I was hoping the job would be extended, but later because I forgot that I had not added it in.  For someone who wants to work in a job requiring high attention to detail, I can be worryingly absentminded.  And,  yes, I know it’s probably at least partially due to the depression, but still, it worries me.

I have found a couple of different jobs to apply for today, one reasonably local, although it looks from the job description that the statement that the job is “part-time” actually means that it’s “full-time, but term time only” which I’ve almost done before (four days a week, term time only), but which was very draining and not what I’m looking for ideally.  I would like to work fourteen to twenty-one hours a week.  There is quite a bit of interaction with staff and students in that job too, and the delivery of information literacy programmes, which is somewhat scary, although I could probably manage it.  I still hope there’s a better job for me out there, but I feel that if there is, I’m not able to find it.

Regardless, I fought procrastination to try to complete the application for that job.  It required thirteen separate supporting mini-statements to demonstrate my knowledge and skills.  I think what it really demonstrated is that I don’t have all the knowledge and skills they want, but I tried to complete the application, pausing when my post-exercise migraine got too bad.  I did manage to come back to it later, but it didn’t help that the first question was about CPD (professional development) which I’m very bad at – if I can’t work full-time, I certainly can’t work and do CPD as well.  I completed the application, so have at least achieved that, but doubt I will even get an interview.

It’s hard to find jobs where I fit, where I have the right level of skills and experience and not too little (or, occasionally, too much); where I can work the hours my health needs and can take time off for Jewish festivals; and where the environment is right for all my “issues.”  On paper I can think of library environments that would be right for me, but somehow there are few of them in practice.

Some of my problem in finding work is probably autistic black and white thinking: I struggle to think around the questions at interview or in an online application about my knowledge and skills, to find creative ways of showing that I do in fact possess the required knowledge and skills.  I think I present very narrow and literal answers that make my skillset seem smaller.  Similarly, I suffer from autistic difficulties with open questions: my tendency is to respond in short summary sentences rather than to elaborate, because I struggle to work out what the reader would want to know and to find relative material out of an entire life’s worth of experiences.

***

I made a couple of small edits to my non-fiction book, hopefully the last major change to the body of the work.  I also added a copyright page and adjusted the contents page to deal with the changes.  I got confused about putting a publisher’s address.  I don’t really want my personal address in the public domain, but I still dream of a real publisher wanting to publish my book if it’s some kind of self-published success (it occasionally happens).  Plus at the moment I think I have an ISBN through Lulu (the self-publishing site I’m using) and I’m not sure how that affects publication.  Possibly this is all naive of me and ignorant of how (self-)publishing works.  At the moment there is no publisher’s address and I don’t know how anyone who read the book could get hold of me.  Anyway, I’m nearly at the stage of uploading the document and moving from the content of the book to the cover.  I hope to get it finished in the next few weeks.

***

I feel I didn’t do as much today as I would have liked, although I did quite a bit: I went for a run and filled in that application despite an exercise migraine and I made those changes to my book.  I just feel that I could have done more if I hadn’t had a migraine and (if I’m being honest) if I hadn’t procrastinated so much.  I also managed half an hour of Torah study, mostly Talmud, which I think I even got a basic grasp of, which was good.

***

I read some blog posts today about a controversy in the Orthodox Jewish world (the posts are here, here and – much older – here, but I doubt they are easily comprehensible without knowledge of Jewish theology and recent controversies).  They are pushing me towards a realisation of something I’ve sort-of known for a while, that the gap between Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews on the one hand and secular and Progressive Jews on the other is a gap between pre-modern and modern ways of understanding the world, in terms not just of science, but scholarship in general.  Modern scholarship is dispassionate, evidence-based, without preconceptions (at least in theory, although the postmoderns would disagree), sceptical and unwilling to accord automatic respect to people or ideas whereas the traditional world view is faith-based, ideally based on love and awe for the material studied and earlier scholars, credulous (at least to certain types of material and certain types of authors) and supposed to give certain answers.  And somewhere in between are the Modern Orthodox Jews (of whom I count myself one) who are trying to use modern scholarship, but also hold on to the core (at least) of traditional belief and practice. Like the duck-billed platypus, we are not quite one thing or another, no wonder the rest of the Jewish world doesn’t know what to do with us.  It’s hard to study Torah in both traditional and modern ways even alternately; it’s probably impossible to study both ways simultaneously.  Prayer on the other hand, probably requires throwing oneself entirely into a pre-modern mindset; you can’t acknowledge God as one possible hypothesis out of several.  So in the Modern Orthodox world we have to oscillate between mindsets, which perhaps leads to a certain jaded cynicism about Judaism and a lack of the passion found in the Haredi world.

This is my struggle at shul (synagogue): that most people there seem to have a pre-modern mindset about Torah (even if they have degrees and jobs in the secular world) and I don’t.  Actually, it could be that others are also more modern, but, like me, too scared to admit it (I learnt from Ashley Leia the idea of pluralistic ignorance).

There is probably more to say about this, but it’s late.

***

I had a dream about E., although she wasn’t actually in it.  In the dream I was feeling angry that my sister, who is younger than me, was already married and I was not.  I wouldn’t say that I feel angry about that in real life, but I am aware of it.  I had a crush on E. in the dream, but I hadn’t told her how I felt (actually, in reality it was more like she told me) and I was just feeling frustrated that I had this crush that I couldn’t resolve.  There was more to the dream than that, but I can’t remember the details.  I woke up feeling slightly distressed by the dream, but also glad that, despite all the practical difficulties surrounding my relationship with E., at least we’ve moved it on further than that.

Perhaps as a result of this, I was thinking today how much my life has changed in the last two years or so.  At the start of 2018 I was working in further education, was living away from home and was single.  I’ve had another three jobs since then, have moved back in with my parents and have had a long-distance relationship twice (with E. both times).  And now I’m learning to deal with Mum’s cancer, which is difficult to adjust to, both as a sign of my parents’ mortality and because the family dynamic for so many years has been based on the idea that I’m the “sick” family member; now I’m going to have to adopt some care-giving attitudes and activities.  I have also, in this period, more or less finished putting together a non-fiction book for self-publication and am working on a novel.  Oh, and my sister got married just before the period in question.  I get on well with my brother-in-law and his family, which is a relief.

Some of this is good, some bad and some indifferent, but I guess it shows how unpredictable life is.  On 1 January 2018, I could have predicted very little of this (except my sister’s marriage, which had happened a month previously).  So, I’m trying to be hopeful that things can turn around in unexpected ways in the next two or three years, hopefully good things like Mum recovering, my building some kind of a career and E. and I managing to find a way to make our relationship work in-person.

6 thoughts on “The Duck-Billed Platypus

  1. You could include an email address in the book, either on the copyright page or the about the author page if you have one. Or you could use the URL of your Doctor Who blog if it has a contact form.

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  2. Life is very unpredictable. I would never have seen myself where I am now a few years ago. I’m hoping that my daughter can find a new path since she’s disillusioned with higher ed and wants to go in a different direction. But what? Change is always scary short term, even though long term it can be positive. I think applying for jobs is good practice, even if you don’t want them.

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  3. I would recommend registering a domain name or dedicating an email address to the public who would like to contact you. It sounds like you have several novels in you and nonfiction books as well. I’d go for a domain name if you feel it’s in your budget as well as putting an email address on the inside of the book. That way if you end up dumping the domain name for some reason or other, later people will still be able to reach you.

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  4. Interesting idea. I actually have a gmail email address that I don’t usually use that I set up related to my (neglected) Doctor Who blog, so I could use that. (It just bounces email straight to my main account.) I’m trying to keep the novel and the non-fiction book separate at the moment, though (writing the novel under my full name and the non-fiction book as initials and surname).

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