Today was another day where I was too depressed to get up until late. Then I had to rush to get dressed, daven (pray) and make my lunch before the cleaner came, because my parents wanted her to start in the kitchen, so I needed to be out of there. After that I went to get my repeat prescription and do some other shopping and errands. These were only moderately successful, partly due to panic buying, although some of what I had been sent for arguably counted as “panic buying” too. (I think panic buying is a Prisoner’s Dilemma-type game where it’s in everyone’s interests for no one to panic buy, but once someone starts then everyone has to do it to keep up.) At the doctor’s surgery to collect my prescription and blood test form, I did query whether the blood test was a fasting one after the confusion last time. This may not sound like much, but it took a big struggle with social anxiety. I was told to wait twenty to thirty minutes at Boots for my prescription to be made up. It actually took about forty-five minutes. I filled in most of the time with those other chores, but I came home exhausted at five o’clock, having been out for two hours, nearly twice as long as expected. This put me in a bad, stressed, mood and I was rather terse with everyone even though I was trying to be helpful.
I did go to shiur (religious class) despite feeling stressed and rushed. The pre-shiur conversation was largely on coronovirus as one of the attendees is a doctor. I found it quite a distressing conversation, given that Mum has reduced immunity and appears to be coming down with a cold, but was too shy to say anything. I couldn’t find a polite way to say, “My Mum has cancer and this conversation is freaking me out.”
One thing that did occur to me is to wonder whether said doctor attendee is a Creationist, as per most Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, and various people at the shul (synagogue), including former rabbis. He seems pretty religious and is very into kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). Yet on some level as a doctor he is dealing with evolution in a practical way, in terms of things we were discussing about immunity, resistance and so on.
In my experience, on the whole, Orthodox Jews do not have the negativity towards science that has, I think, historically been found in some fundamentalist Christian communities. Although many Haredi Jews do not go to university at all, those who do generally study science subjects because, with the exception of a few topics, sciences are seen as “safer” than humanities subjects that can involve things like “dangerous” philosophical ideas, the relativising of religious experiences in different communities or frank discussions of sexuality. Developments in medical technology are seen as positive. Developments in communications technology are seen more ambiguously; some Haredi rabbis have tried banning TV as well non-business internet use and I think a few have tried to ban the internet completely (good luck with that), but others have embraced it as a something that at least has some positives. Haredi organisations like Chabad and Aish have a strong online presence. And yet, Haredi communities as a matter of dogma have to dispute evolutionary biology and parts of geology and cosmology. Rabbi Natan Slifkin (whose books were banned in the Haredi world for advocating a non-literal reading of the opening of Genesis and for saying that the Talmud is not always scientifically accurate) has pointed out that Christian fundamentalists have created a whole pseudoscience, “Creation Science” to justify their ideas (saying that dinosaurs co-existed with humans until they were wiped out in Noah’s flood etc.), whereas Jewish Creationists just get embarrassed if you bring the matter up and try to change the subject. I find this fascinating, on a sociological level and not always easy to relate to.
E. sent me some helpful comments on my latest novel chapter. It’s hard to stay upbeat about it, though, as I doubt myself a lot. I can see that bits are good, but other bits… not so good at all. This article made me feel that just as I can’t run very well, certainly not enough to run a marathon, I’m not going to get a novel published either, which probably wasn’t what the article writer intended. When I saw the post title, I was hoping more for some practical tips on writing (or running).
E. and I Skyped again, for an hour. We both think we should Skype more often. We have been doing it about once a week, and we think it should be two or three times a week. It’s just a question of finding time given the time difference and different commitments we have.
I can see that I did quite a bit today, but I get frustrated that days that do not actually involve very much on paper can just completely knock me for six, whether as a result of depression, social anxiety or autism. The boundaries between those things (depression, social anxiety and autism) are not always clear, at least in practice, and they do interact with each other. Despite knowing that I get affected like this, I feel bad that I only managed a few hours of productive activity today and that I didn’t manage any novel-writing or job applications, although it is questionable whether there are even any jobs suitable for me out there at the moment.