It’s probably no surprise to every one that more and more stuff is shutting down: doctor’s surgery, shul (synagogue), depression group… Shiur is potentially continuing, but online via video conference software. It makes me realise that I wasn’t quite as socially isolated as I assumed I was. I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t emailed one of my American email friends for a couple of months and wanted to check how her baby is getting on. I’m struggling to stop touching my face, though, as that’s the main form of autistic ‘stimming’ that I do to keep calm.
It seems weirdly like the world is slowing down to my pace. Now almost everyone is stuck at home all the time. No schools, no religious services, no public recreation, shopping for essentials only. No inessential medical care. It’s just occurred to me that I have no idea if the blood test I’m supposed to have next week is still going ahead. It’s not immediately essential, but if I delay and my lithium level has shifted, that’s potentially life-threatening. I wish I’d thought to ask my doctor yesterday. I will have to try to phone tomorrow.
It’s scary how things can collapse so quickly… although it’s also remembering that in Western countries at least, it’s unlikely that law and order, government etc. will collapse, which is a good thing. A recession is pretty much certain, but hopefully the economy won’t completely collapse in a Venezualan way. It’s still scary though, especially as The Spectator‘s daily politics email is suggesting some kind of compulsory lockdown looms for London. I don’t know if we would be too far out in the suburbs for that to affect us.
I should probably stop reading the news (again), as it’s too scary and makes me anxious about getting through the next few weeks/months. (Apparently Chinese newspapers are suggesting limiting coronavirus news to 40% of the information one receives, which still seems like a lot, although I’m not sure if reading old Doctor Who novels and Snoopy comics counts as “information” in this context.)
Back in what passes for the real world, I’m still struggling with mornings; today even managing to get up, eat and drink coffee didn’t fully lifted my mood or given me energy. I’m trying not to beat myself up about all of this, as it doesn’t achieve anything, and if I had a physical illness that made it hard to get up and get going I wouldn’t beat myself up, but somehow even after so many years of this, I still think I ought to be able to force myself to get up earlier, or to get dressed faster, or just to be more efficient even when I feel lousy. After that, I’m OK during most of the day, but I’ll get ambushed by sadness or worry at points. Or guilt, for doing something dangerous, reckless and immoral like rubbing my nose.
In terms of achievements, I spent half an hour researching ideas to bring to the table for the seder at Pesach (the Pesach (Passover) seder is the meal where we retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. There is a set text, but I like to add some new ideas each time). I did think of doing more, but I felt it was better to mix seder preparation with ordinary Torah study over a couple of weeks. I’ve earmarked some stuff as I came across it during the year anyway, so it’s mostly a case of writing summaries of longer ideas and perhaps finding a few ideas in a haggadah (seder book) at some point. I also spent twenty minutes on general Torah study; I hope to take that up to half an hour before bedtime.
I also went for a run. My stamina was not great, but it’s good to keep active. I had a Skype chat with E., which was good, although we both feel frustrated that we won’t be in the same country for months. I explained to E. about the Three Day Week in the seventies, which made me feel older than I actually am (I wasn’t around in the seventies!).
My Doctor Who book is now available for sale on Amazon UK and US! There’s even a look inside preview. I sent off an application to have my Goodreads page registered as a Goodreads author, which I can do now my Doctor Who book is up on Goodreads and Amazon. I also ordered a copy of my book to send to Doctor Who Magazine as a review copy. It’s unlikely much will come of that as, in a crowded marketplace, pretty much no non-official merchandise gets reviewed there any more, but I felt it was worth gambling about £10 on.
On a related note, apparently Amazon are not restocking books due to COVID-19. I don’t know how that will affect me, as my book is essentially print on demand. If anything, it might push people direct to the publisher at Lulu.com, where I get to keep a bigger profit as Lulu take a tiny slice compared with Amazon’s chunk.
I’ve complained about the reception staff at my doctor’s surgery before, but today they impressed me. They phoned to ask if they should post me my medical certificate as I can’t pick it up (I hadn’t told them about the problem printing it, so either lots of people have problems or the doctor made a mistake in saying I wouldn’t need to come in to get it). They also informed me of the new system for collecting prescriptions, whereby I have to go directly to the chemist, who will request the prescription from the surgery, who then send it back. I nominated a new chemist that is much more local than Boots, who I was using previously.
In terms of distractions, I’m enjoying Life on Mars rather more than Star Trek Voyager and rationing the former in regard to the latter. Life on Mars is really my type of thing: clever, funny, slightly scary, and weird. I’m trying not to beat myself up for not watching it on first airing; at any rate, if I had watched it then, it wouldn’t cheer me up to discover it now. There’s a moral there, somewhere. Voyager is OK, but I remember almost none of the episodes, even though I must have seen most of them at least once in the past, which is telling – I’ve remembered much more of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine when revisiting them on DVD.
That said, I haven’t watched any TV today and do not intend to, due to my “no TV after 11pm” rule (which I’ve failed at again, as it’s 11.30pm already, but I’m trying to minimise late night TV).
I’m also re-reading The Also People, a Doctor Who spin-off novel from the 90s. I used to read loads of these as a teenager and was never entirely happy with them. I remembered this one as being fun and light, which it is in comparison with some of The New Adventures (the umbrella name for one of the ranges of Doctor Who novels), but I’d forgotten how confusing the books’ internal continuity could get if you weren’t reading all the novels, in order, and also how annoying I found their conception of the Doctor, presenting him as a ruthless, manipulative quasi-superbeing. This was not without precedent in the television series, but at the time I did feel as if many of the novels were an exercise in missing the point of the programme, not unlike my feelings about this year’s Doctor Who TV episodes, albeit for slightly different reasons. Of course, as with this year’s episodes, for a large chunk of the audience, this was not a mistake at all, but genuine quality. Fandom sometimes feels like a conglomeration of people who all like the same TV series, but for wildly different and sometimes contradictory reasons. At least this novel isn’t too depressing, and is well-written (I recently showed E. the latest chapter of my novel and she praised a few bits; it occurred to me afterwards that they were really in the style of the better New Adventures). For some reason my copy is falling to pieces physically, which upsets me a bit, as I didn’t think I’d treated it badly.