When my alarm went off at 9.00am (I usually set an alarm, even though I often turn it off in my sleep when it goes off), I actually thought I would get up. My mind felt reasonably alert, but my body was just too drained and burnt out after yesterday and I couldn’t get up and I fell asleep again after a few minutes. I didn’t end up getting up for another two hours, which was not good. The vaguely ill feeling I had yesterday has gone, fortunately, but I do feel drained. I’ve become better at seeing this as a symptom of autism (social burnout) rather than a sign of weakness, even before my assessment, but it is frustrating.

I think I had a dream about my novel and suddenly getting an idea for a much better novel that I had all planned out in my head and not knowing whether to switch to work on it. It’s sort of reflective of where I am at the moment, inasmuch as I worry that my mainstream novel is not working and I should switch to an idea I’ve had for a series of Jewish fantasy novels. I’m not actually going to switch at the moment as I don’t like leaving things half-finished and I want to see this project through. I also know that many authors have doubts when sitting down to extensive redrafting, so I shouldn’t set too much store by them at this stage. Nevertheless, I do wonder if the mainstream novel is going to be readable, let alone sellable.

Since writing the above, I read something, a blog post about sexual harassment. Although this is not the same as my novel (which is about domestic abuse in the Orthodox community, culminating in marital rape), it was similar enough that it made me think that I have a mission to write this book to the best of my ability and try to get it published.


I bought the new trainers I’ve been meaning to buy for a while. Hopefully these will support my arches better when running. My Dad took me to a big retail park with a number of warehouse-sized shops, including a sportswear shop. I wouldn’t have been able to get there easily on public transport, so I was grateful for the lift. On the other hand, when I shopping with my parents, I tend to let them take over. I guess it’s lack of confidence and social anxiety as well as a sense that I don’t know what I’m doing. Dad felt that in the past I had been sold over-priced and unsuitable running shoes by asking the shop assistants what shoes they would recommend for running. Dad said instead to go for a well-known brand (he said Nike), find some I like and then ask the assistant if they’re suitable for running. I’m not sure this is necessarily a better strategy, but I tried it and have black Nike trainers now. Hopefully they will be better for running than the previous ones.


My other real achievement (aside from scanning my autism assessment from 2006 to send to the psychiatrist doing my current assessment) was writing my devar Torah for this week. I am reasonably, but not completely, happy with it. It has more of a moral or even slightly polemical point than usual.

I also attended (on Zoom) a shiur (religious class) at my shul (synagogue). I was attracted by the fact that it was based on the teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, the early twentieth century Hasidic rebbe and Holocaust martyr. I read his book Sacred Fire a few months ago and was very moved; I quoted a few times here ideas about suffering and God’s empathy.

A few points I took from the shiur were that hinukh (education) should be about revealing the potential of the student; that we should aim for nothing less than spiritual greatness in our lives and not accept mediocrity; that we should daven (pray) as much as we are able, which sometimes might be less than other times (this was important to me as I can’t always daven properly due to depression and burnout) and to focus in prayer on consciousness of standing before God; and that we should be human and eat, drink and rejoice with our friends. The element that I struggled with was the injunctions to avoid sadness and worry; it is hard to tell what to do when these become pathological depression and anxiety.

35 thoughts on “3 Shopping Days to Lockdown

  1. I looked up Rabbi Shapira. His educational views sound wise and it sounds like I would like his nontriumphalist look at suffering. Sacred Fire is really expensive on amazon so I will have to wait on that. Were you and your family Orthodox (is that the same as frum?)? What I love about the Old Testament (Tanakh) is that it’s so honest. It doesn’t sugar coat people’s sins or present the people of Israel as blameless and holy. It tells the ugly and beautiful truth all at once. I hope you keep on with your novel. There are a bazillion books out there but God knows how to get a book into the hands of people who need it.

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      1. Unfortunately some people might use it to criticize the Jewish people but it’s only showing what is true of all people and why we need to actively choose the light and resist darkness.

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      1. there a nuanced differences between frum and Orthodox, I think, but they can be used the same way. Orthodox is a denomination. Frum is not. So – for example – you might hear somebody being described as a “frum Conservative Jew” (Conservative is NOT Orthodox), but you wouldn’t here of someone being described as an “Orthodox Conservative Jew” – I could write quite a lot about the difference between these two words.

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        1. Agreed about frum Conservative Jews. Also, in this country and some others there are people who are members of Orthodox synagogues for various reasons, but who are “traditional” or “culturally” Jewish rather than mitzvah-observant. They would be Orthodox, but not frum.

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              1. Oh. That’s really interesting. I can actually see how someone could he described as a frum conservative jew. For in that context frum is religious. Whereas orthodox and conservative are 2 different things. Whatever the word is. Oh. Which explains the difference between frum and orthodox. Orthodox doesn’t necessarily mean as particular whereas frum does.


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    1. Unfortunately, Jewish books, particularly scholarly ones like that, are often very expensive, because translation is expensive and the market for books like that is very small.

      Yes, we are Orthodox, and that is broadly the same as frum, although perhaps not 100% the same.

      Thanks for the good wishes about the novel.

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      1. You’re welcome. I think I sort of understand. I’m sure “it’s complicated”. We have so many different groups of Mennonites here that only Mennonites seem to understand who is what – Amish, Old Colony, General Conference, and Mennonite Brethren are the main groups but there are numerous subgroups within this recognizable by things like what type of head covering the women wear.

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    2. there a nuanced differences between frum and Orthodox, I think, but they can be used the same way. Orthodox is a denomination. Frum is not. So – for example – you might hear somebody being described as a “frum Conservative Jew” (Conservative is NOT Orthodox), but you wouldn’t here of someone being described as an “Orthodox Conservative Jew” – I could write quite a lot about the difference between these two words.

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        1. Yes, Conservative is more modern than Orthodox, which I know sounds like a paradox, but it’s because the Conservative broke away from the Reform Movement (which is MUCH more modern than either Conservative or Orthodox). They were the conservative side of the Reform Movement.

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          1. well… I think that’s an oversimplification. Because, really, the precursors to Modern Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy came into existence at about the time that the precursors to Reform and Conservative came about, which is after the Jewish Emancipation.

            I think we need to be careful to equate modernity with movements that are more religiously liberal.

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  2. Sadness is like grief in that we all have to visit there, but we don’t want to pack a suitcase and move in. It’s a natural and inevitable emotion, nothing to feel guilty about in my opinion. Nikes are too narrow for me; I wear Brooks Ghost and love them. They aren’t cheap but it’s better than sore feet! (and Keens for walking)

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  3. I hope your new trainers are good! And yes, keep at your novel. I love that you’re accepting yourself more…
    Sadness and worry are normal. When they say to avoid it they mean unnecessary. Like don’t choose sadness intentionally.
    Sending sunshine and sparkles

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