A rather long and varied post today, as it’s been a long day. Here goes…
I had a phone interview with someone from a recruitment agency that specialises in library and information roles. It seemed to go OK, apart from her suggesting I change something on my CV that she found inadvertently misleading, which made me feel foolish. I don’t know why I feel such an idiot when people point out my mistakes, especially as in this case I don’t think what I wrote really was misleading. I always feel inadequate when talking about my work experience and I fear that people will ask about the gaps on my CV or somehow intuit that I’m wondering if I’m in the right career. And of course any personal interaction brings fears that because of my autism I’m saying too much or too little or saying the wrong thing, things that neurotypical people would manage more intuitively than I can do. To my relief she was actually positive when I said I was ideally looking for part-time work for health reasons, as she said that those roles can be hard to fill, as most people are looking for full-time work. The jobs she wants to put me up for now are full-time, though.
The woman who interviewed me was nice, but I always find interviews stressful and I couldn’t do any real work immediately afterwards, just processed some emails and went for lunch to recover. Even after lunch I was procrastinating and found it hard to get down to job hunting. It doesn’t help that looking at job specs for corporate law librarian work doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm. I’m really just applying for these on the off chance, without relevant experience or much interest. I just want to feel like I’m doing something, and if I waited only for jobs that I was enthusiastic about, I feel I would be waiting a long time.
Filling in job applications is almost impossible. I did fill in a couple of simple forms, but I should have done more. (I know people say I use ‘should’ too much and should (ha ha) be more compassionate on my self, but it’s hard when I achieve so little.) I wasn’t feeling so depressed today, but something about these applications makes me feel depressed and I procrastinate or feel like crying. It doesn’t help that the application I’m currently filling in (for a job at the library of a major public sector organisation) is, realistically, for a job that is far above me (the salary is about £10,000 more than I’ve been earning), so I don’t have the experience and skills they are asking for, but having told myself to fill it in, it seems wrong to back out, so I stick with it, trying to find examples of my relevant professional skills. (It doesn’t help that I don’t always have great recall for things that don’t interest me, like work. If ever there’s a job application that requires knowing a lot of trivia about Doctor Who, I’ll cope much better.) But I keep getting distracted by aimless internet browsing or reading Alex or Cul de Sac comics. Maybe I should just accept that this isn’t the job for me and give up? But I hate giving up on things.
I stopped working on my Doctor Who book for a couple of weeks because of Pesach, but I’ve returned to it now. I redrafted two chapters this week. It’s frustrating that somehow the prose doesn’t flow as I would like, although I’ve never liked reading my own writing. I’m always surprised that so many people have said they like my writing. Of course, it isn’t the kind of book one would buy for the style.
I worry that it’s overlong too. I’ve cut it down, but it’s still slightly too long, at least according to this site (which admittedly is about novels, not this particularly niche brand of non-fiction). I’m about halfway through the third draft and ideally I would like to send out chapters to a couple of friends to look at before I try the fourth draft (somehow I’ve got the idea in my head that four drafts is about right. I think Terry Pratchett and Steven Moffat have both said something about doing four drafts). However, I’m wary of asking people. Partly it’s that I don’t always take criticism well (I tend to catastrophise and assume that my work is unbearably rubbish if someone makes even a constructive suggestion), but mostly it’s that I know everyone is busy and doesn’t have time to do unpaid consultancy work, especially as the friends who I think would be most willing to help have serious real-world concerns at the moment and I don’t want to bother them with this. So I’m not sure what to do about that.
Nevertheless, I am generally pleased at how well it’s going and that I think I’ve managed to say some new things about classic Doctor Who, which is not easy given its age and the sheer volume of stuff that has been written about it over the years.
As well as procrastinating, I find it harder and harder to be organised. At school I always had the right books, did my homework on time, went to the right lessons and so on, but since leaving the more rigid environment of school and having more control over my schedule and planning it, things have gradually got harder. I think I’ve mentioned before that my Dad says I’m a terrible planner: I draw up detailed plans, but find it impossible to stick to them. Similarly, I keep my desk and floor tidy, but I suspect this is often at a cost of just piling things in drawers or shoving papers in folders without necessarily knowing exactly where things are going; financial papers in particular are a struggle for me to organise and I’m often vague and uninterested about my finances and need advice and help from my father to deal with them.
I used to think there was nothing wrong with my planning ability per se, I just got distracted and procrastinated because of depression while depressive exhaustion made everything take longer than I expected, but I increasingly wonder if it’s an autistic executive function issue, that I just lack something in my brain that would help me stick to my plans or fully understand my finances. Again, it would probably help if my day was spent largely on something I enjoyed or found meaningful, instead of applying for jobs I feel equivocal about. I wonder if autistic rigid thinking and difficulty thinking laterally or creatively about problems is a factor too, if there might be a better way of organising my time/room that I can’t see because I’m too stuck in “This is how I’ve always done it, this is how I always have to do it.”
What is the half-life of a blog? This is something I’ve been wondering lately. I used to read a lot of Jewish blogs. I think they had a positive role in teaching me Jewish social norms and frum (religious) language, something that, as someone with autism, I struggle to learn through observation and imitation as done by most children or ba’alei teshuva (people who are ethnically Jewish, but raised non-religious and who become frum in adulthood). Nowadays I seem to come across fewer of them and many I used to follow are updated rarely or not at all. I thought this blog would attract mainly Jewish readers and even used Jewish terms as metadata (‘tags’ to non-librarians) to try to attract them, but most of my readers, so far as I can tell, are not Jewish. Have all the Jews left what used to be called the J-blogosphere (the Jewish blogosphere)?
I did an experiment and went to a blog I used to follow. It’s long defunct, but had a very long and comprehensive blogroll (remember those?) of other Jewish blogs. I picked a dozen or so at random and clicked the links. Only two or three have been updated in the last five years or so and many were not accessible at all, although it’s not clear for how long they have been inaccessible. A different blogroll shows more active blogs, but often specifically Jewish food blogs (although that may simply reflect the interests of the blogroll compiler). I know E. is very involved in Jewish food blogging, so that’s obviously still an active area.
Has everyone else migrated to Facebook and Twitter? There seem to still be lots of general blogs out there, so where did all the Jewish blogs go? I know some forms of social media are more popular in some communities than others (e.g. I believe Twitter took off in the UK long before it reached the USA), so maybe that applies here too and people have just left Blogger (which was where most Jewish blogs were hosted) for Facebook or Twitter. It’s a shame as I don’t like Twitter and Facebook and feel out of the loop. There is a similar issue with online Doctor Who fandom being increasingly based on Facebook and Twitter, but I do at least still follow a couple of Doctor Who blogs and there are more out there that I know about that I don’t like/follow for one reason or another.
Most Jewish festivals and fasts are very old, but at this time of year, there are four days that have been created within living memory and which are therefore somewhat controversial, with many Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews not observing and other Jews debating the best way of observing them. These are Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, Yom Ha’Atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim (Holocaust Day, Memorial Day, commemorating those who died as a result of war and terrorism in Israel, Israeli Independence Day and Jerusalem Day, celebrating the reunification of the city of Jerusalem). My personal involvement in these days has varied over time. My shul (synagogue) does not observe any of these days, but sometimes I go to events at my parents’ shul, which does observe them.
Tonight was the start of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day – distinct from International Holocaust Memorial Day in January, which is not a Jewish creation). I went to my parents’ shul. I was apprehensive about how I would cope, worried about being around a lot of people and having to listen to speakers for a prolonged period as much as with the subject matter, but I was mostly OK. I did cry, but I stayed for the whole thing. I did notice that I disassociated a bit inasmuch as I would sort of switch off from engaging directly with the speakers and start viewing the event as a historian or sociologist, thinking about how the Holocaust has been commemorated in different times and places and where the emphasis is placed or thinking about theological responses to the Holocaust and things like that. I think I do that sometimes, particularly with large events like this where I feel uncomfortable.
Part of the event was a short talk about the Holocaust in Libya by a man who was there (albeit as a baby). Libya was controlled by the Germans’ ally, Italy, during the early part of the war. I’d always been led to believe that Italy’s involvement in the Holocaust was muted and half-hearted until the Nazis took control of the north of the country in about 1943, but I learnt there was a concentration camp in the Sahara desert for some Libyan Jews and others were sent to European death camps. This was all news to me and I found it interesting.