I wrote the following paragraph in a private blog post yesterday:

I realised that my desire not to tell friends about E and my engagement is perhaps partly to try to make a sudden change (‘not engaged’ to ‘engaged’) more manageable by slowing it down, but mostly I’m just avoiding difficult conversations, particularly with my shul rabbi. I think I need to grasp the nettle and tell him we don’t want him to marry us. And that if people in my shul think it’s weird that we’re taking longer than three months to organise a wedding — well, it’s really not my problem either (easier said than done though).

E and I spoke a bit about this today. I hope to start telling some friends, J at work, and my community, about my engagement next week. I intend to do it slowly, not all of them in one go. Telling people is scary, but I need to do it, otherwise I’ll just turn up one day with a wife they weren’t expecting.

***

Now I’m engaged, I feel I should try to earn more money to contribute to the family income. E doesn’t care that she will be the main breadwinner, but I want to do more than I currently am doing, even though at times I feel extended to my maximum. This is frustrating, as I’m not always sure why I’m so exhausted all the time. I need to send my novel manuscript to more agents, but it’s hard to get the time or the relationship between fatigue, autism and residual depression.

I get job search emails, but can’t find anything suitable, especially as I have lost confidence in my identity as a librarian. I do want to brainstorm article ideas for the Jewish site I wrote for (about Asperger’s in the frum (religious Jewish) community) and to look at old divrei Torah and see if any can be repurposed.

I did get permission for the site to republish an article I wrote for Den of Geek on religious OCD, but, aside from needing to wait for some paperwork, I’m unsure whether to go through with it. It’s from the past, for one thing. My religious OCD is mostly under control, and I don’t want to dwell on it or make people think that it’s still a major issue. Beyond that, I think the Jewish site would want to publish under my real name and they would have to credit Den of Geek too, which means that, theoretically, someone with good Google skills could find the Den of Geek article, which uses my Luftmentsch pseudonym and match it up with my real name. Then again, maybe I don’t have much to hide; after all the article about being autistic in the frum community was published under my real name and got positive feedback. I worry about putting off potential employers if I associate myself with too much mental health and autism material online, but maybe I should be more concerned with building up a portfolio of powerful articles under my real name. However, I’m not sure whether I’d want people (especially from the Jewish site) to find the Hevria articles I wrote with the Luftmentsch pseudonym, especially the one about being scared of sex. I don’t actually remember much of what I said in that article, but I suspect it wasn’t entirely frum world-friendly.

I still feel as if I’ve been struggling to get on top of things since the autumn festivals a couple of months ago. Maybe the struggle is more perceived than real, I’m not sure. I think I am catching up on the chores I was behind, but I haven’t sent out my manuscript to many agents, nor have I made much progress with research for my next novel, let alone with writing. I’m not sure whether to dive in with writing while researching. I feel like research might influence my writing in a big way, which indicates waiting until more research is done, but I worry about my writing skills atrophying. If I could get up earlier on my non-work days, it would be a big help, just in terms of helping me to do more things in a day. At the moment I feel like I’m constantly focusing on the most urgent things and not necessarily the most important.

***

Face masks are mandatory in lots of places again, including shul (synagogue). I think there’s going to be a winter lockdown. I’m just feeling pessimistic about ever getting out of COVID (which in my case also includes being able to hug see my fiancée again and ultimately be able to get married). I had a whole long thing here about when do we decide to live with COVID, like flu and pneumonia, but I cut it because it seems callous. I’m not callous, or a COVID-denier, I just want to know what the exit strategy is. It’s hard to think that there is one sometimes. It was supposed to be vaccines, but here we are, with antivaxxers in the West and much of the developing world unvaccinated (because of lack of vaccines) and generating new variants.

***

I’m still reading Gaudy Night. I said previously that it’s a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, but I’m over halfway through and he’s barely appeared. I’m not complaining, as Harriet Vane is an interesting substitute.

It’s set in Oxford. I’ve been away for so long that I can only half-remember the geography. There was a bit I read today with with an overworking student who doesn’t take any time off and ends up attempting suicide. This was horribly like how I was in my time there, although unlike the student in the book, I wasn’t being sent anonymous letters telling me I was useless and should kill myself. I did that all by myself. Even so, the scene seemed only familiar in a vague sense. I think the negative associations I once had with Oxford have subsided somewhat. It all seems a very long time ago now, almost another life.

8 thoughts on “Trying to Engage With the World

  1. I’ve wondered about exit strategy too. It seems like the shift from pandemic to endemic response won’t happen until we get point the past where there’s risk of overwhelming ICU capacity. I wonder if anyone will crunch the numbers and see how much the anti-vaxxers have cost society and how much sooner we could have gotten through the pandemic had they been more reasonable…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed about anti-vaxxers. Re: ICU, winter flu crises with the NHS being overwhelmed used to be very common in the UK and I do wonder if things would really be that much different now without another semi-lockdown.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Ashley. I’m boosted and mask wearing and careful and am VERY tired of the unvaxxed stretching our ICUs to breaking point. I would hesitate to put my real name out there although my commenters know my name the minute I respond to them by email. But I’m retired and not looking for a job.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think some of these conversations may be less awkward and difficult than you’re anticipating. Re: Mesader Kiddushin, it is completely reasonable and not insulting to want to be married by a Rabbi who better reflects you as a couple, or who knows your fiancé better, or whom you’re closer to (your rabbi-mentor, for example?). And there are plenty of other honors to give out during a wedding ceremony if you want to honor your congregational rabbi (you also do not have to do this). Honestly, you might not even need to have this conversation, but it’s up to you. Similarly, re: engagement time, even the most religious Haredi community in the universe has to recognize that realities like immigration law and COVID are going to create delays, no matter how strongly one believes in marriage ASAP. I really do not think people are going to judge you for this. It is completely valid to hold off on telling people, but also, telling people and having a >3 month engagement in this instance is not ridiculous.

    A suggestion re: republishing your Den of Geek article – Revise the article for pitching to the Jewish website such that the messaging is more “OCD/’religious OCD exists in the frum world / here’s what helped me get it under control (if applicable)” as opposed to “this is my current struggle”. This means restructuring the article so the religious aspects are more prominent, and more relevant for the Jewish website readership. By revising the article, it’ll be harder to find the original on Den of Geek and you can publish it under your real name.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you’re right about the awkward conversations.

      I should probably say that getting my rabbi mentor to marry us is a non-starter, for reasons I can’t go into here. Otherwise he would be ideal.

      You are right about immigration and COVID being valid reasons for a longer engagement,

      You are right about the article too. I was vaguely thinking about rewriting the OCD piece to bring it up to date, although I’m not sure that the effort I would want to put into it is proportionate to what I would get out of it. I need to re-read the article properly (which I haven’t done for a long time) and see how much of it I would want to put up.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been wondering about the exit strategy, too. In talking with a very intelligent friend, he just said it’s simply this: Keep vaccinating the people who will get vaccinated, and the antivaxxers who refuse will probably get COVID and die out eventually until the virus is eliminated. (gulp) It could last for years, but we will all keep adapting. I have no doubt that you can marry, move, and do everything necessary, though it may be met with challenges. The long engagement will help you ease into all of this and sort out what needs to be done.

    Others should understand the long engagement as these are difficult times, and they must be aware that moving takes a lot of planning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a pretty brutal response from your friend! I don’t think it will work either, as the disease is relatively rarely fatal for non-elderly people without pre-existing health conditions. Even then, many people survive through hospitalisation, so we as a society would have to decide to stop treating antivaxxers and I can’t see that happening. I don’t even think it would be legal in this country to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

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