“More loneliness than any man could bear/Rescue me before I fall into despair.” – Message in a Bottle by The Police
A new issue of The Tides of Time, the fanzine of the Oxford University Doctor Who Society is out online. It looks interesting, but I’m not sure how much I’ll read, as it has already provoked mixed feelings. Partly this is from feeling that my time in the society has long gone. The new issue, although containing many articles from people who have left or were never even there has little from people who were there when I was there. Even the nickname of the society has changed from the Doc Soc (my generation) to Who Soc. I’m very much out of the fandom loop, which is why (I assume) I missed the call for articles on Twitter. Fandom today, as far as I can tell, largely takes place on Twitter and big, multi-fandom super-conventions like Comic-Con, neither of which are good environments for me, for different reasons. Plus, modern fandom is so political, and these days I keep my politics to myself to keep myself safe, but it’s often different from (stereotypical) fan politics. Add in that I didn’t much like the last series of Doctor Who, unlike the reviewers in the fanzine, and it’s hard to find common ground, and when I fail to find common ground with people, I read that, perhaps wrongly, as implicit criticism of my positions, and run off before people can attack me. I feel like if I could have stayed in the loop, I could have promoted my book more (not in the fanzine, but online or in person), or would have had more friends to promote it to, but it’s rather pointless to go down that route now. But there is a feeling of loneliness from having lost (or never had) these kinds of friendship networks.
Speaking of which, after I posted on Thursday, before Yom Tov, I realised what the nagging sense of melancholy was that I was experiencing: loneliness. I feel that today, the feeling that I can’t connect with people. That the attempt to live two lives, one religious (Orthodox Judaism) and one secular (Doctor Who fandom, and secular life in general) has failed, and that neither appreciates or respects the other. E. has remarked that Orthodox society is often uncultured, which I can’t deny is true, to some extent at least. It can be rather bourgeois. I try to put up with it, but I worry that she won’t be able to. I worry that I will just drive myself crazy trying to find people I can connect with, then running away from them when I find them because I think they must hate me really. Hiding parts of my personality all the time. This is basically what I have done for the last twenty years or so, since I went to university. Kafka writes somewhere about someone chained with one chain to Heaven and with another to earth, so that he can’t move in either direction. I feel a bit like that.
All that said, I have opted to renew the subscription on my Doctor Who blog for another year. Just in case. Now I need to find something to write on it, and the time to write it.
I am feeling lonely today though, ill at ease with myself and the world(s) around me, the one world I see on the news and in the papers and the other world I see on Jewish blogs. I also feel depressed, which I suppose ties in with the loneliness and also with the world I see around me. It’s scary to think that I could potentially be living in the USA in a few years time, looking at the stuff on the news.
I’m trying to practice “radical acceptance” of my parents’ quirks and foibles, accepting things that I can’t change. It’s difficult. It’s even harder to apply it to my neighbours’ behaviour. The latter is very hard, because, as well as lockdown-breaching minyanim (prayer meetings), they had a noisy garden party with I think more than six guests (possibly six adult guests, but a load of children too), and not at all socially distanced. From the conversation that drifted up, it sounded like one of the guests was trying to convince our neighbour to keep his minyan going after lockdown. If they did that, I think I would alert the council to an unauthorised change of house use. This has happened before with shtiebels (tiny synagogues in houses or above shops) that have been started without the necessary permissions.
I applied for a job a while back that was rather rashly advertised in lockdown. They have now cancelled or possibly just postponed the interview stage, but have sent me a cataloguing exercise to complete. I’ve glanced at it and gone into panic mode. I have rather lost confidence in my cataloguing abilities, although they used to be good. I feel like the gunslinger who has lost his nerve and with it his ability to sling guns quicker than other gunslingers, or at all. I suppose failing at this at least avoids the face-to-face nature of the interview fail.
Other than that, it was a fairly ordinary locked-down day. I spent about two hours working on my novel, writing just over 1,000 words and struggling against the noise from next door. I went for a half hour walk and had my Skype Torah study session with E.
Mum cut my hair. Most of it, anyway; I trimmed the sideburns. I don’t think it had been cut since February (February 6, according to my private journal posts). Mum did a good job, but I had to trim my sideburns, which I’d left long when I shaved off my omer beard, as they looked silly with shorter hair. This is a shame, as I like having longish sideburns.
Towards evening, depression set in, and guilt. I felt bad that I ate dinner separately to my parents so that I could watch TV. I felt bad over something I had done repeatedly in the past, something forbidden by Judaism and sometimes seen negatively more widely. Although maybe this guilt is a good thing, as I’ve been going back and forth in my mind about including this in my novel. It probably is an issue worth bringing up (in the secular world, even more so the religious one), but I’m scared of how people will respond, whether they will judge me, boycott my book or ignore the other messages in it, about autism, mental health and abuse.