I’m such a book nerd!

So, I’m apparently returning to my teen years where I get lost in book after book after book after book. That’s okay, right? Better to be a lit addict than anything else. I have definitely found out that reading and exploring word is such a huge thing in Judaism. That’s why I love it so much.

I did a thing today. I ordered more books. Yes, yes; I just bought 10 books while out of town but I ordered like 400 more. Okay. Maybe not that many, but….quite a few. I accidentally found thriftbooks.com and then I was a goner. That’s what happened. Oops. And, to top it all off…. I did get the cheaper of each book, but I wanted to smell that old book smell and see if there’s any writing in the books. Do you guys ever do that? I like a nice and clean book just like the next person, but there’s something about having markings from the previous owner.

I bought 5 more of Leslea Newman’s books (yes, for goodness sakes, I will never stop talking about her). One of them is really, really important: her Write From the Heart book. Since I love her style and I write almost like her in some forms, I know reading that will give me some inspiration.

I went ahead and got Goodbye Columbus, because I couldn’t wait. A Jewish history book, Joys of Yiddish, In the Catskills (OMG… MRS MAISEL!), The Modern Jewish Girls Guide to Guilt, Best Contemp Jewish Writing & The Woman Who Lost Her Names. The last book is Twice Blessed, which was discussed at CBI’s Pride Shabbat last year.

My entire library is going to consist of nothing but Jewish books one day and I will be quite okay with that. I’ve also decided that even though I’ll be writing about just about anything because I am the president of a writer’s group that does film / theatre scripts, poetry, monologues, etc. I definitely want to cover my insane love for becoming / being a Jewish soul / my journey / everything to do with Judaism. I had someone to reply to me on Instagram last week where I reached out and said I wanted to be one of those who brings Jewishness into film and books for the world to see and I’m a future convert. A few of them said – GO AND DO THE THINGS + they are 100% behind me. Yay, hashtag support from strangers!

I gotta start walking the walk. Or running the walk way.

PS – Super duper excited and up so very late hyper-like because I have 10 scripts in my hand for the SOAs. I am doing the same thing as last year: organizing the whole shebang (props/stage). I can’t wait.

[The Shabbat Edition 011]

Shabbat Shalom! My favorite day is here, thank goodness, these non-Friday-days are killing me!

A small synopsis

I’ve been on vacay, but now it’s beginning to hardly feel like it. I haven’t been allowed to borrow the car (nor do we have Uber or Lyft here) and everything that is reasonably good to do is more than 30 minutes away… I’m really upset about that, and because I haven’t been able to visit with any of my friends (minus one who lives in town–Momma–who actually came and picked me up), talked to another on the phone, and ran into a friend I used to work with at her current work. For everyone else: I haven’t been able to see anyone for a few years now. The whole point of a trip home is to see everyone and catch up.

The highlight of my trip: bleaching my hair, finding the books that I found as per mentioned in previous entry, and eating at the few restaurants we don’t have in FL.

Lessons Learned

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.

Gossip is very bad. (NO NO NO, it was not me who participated in this. I hate gossip.)

Awkward is awkward for a reason.

Some things are meant to be. Everything happens for a reason.

I should take a real vacation… to somewhere educational and exciting next time.

Being absolutely smothered to death and controlled by manipulation is a really horrible thing, and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.

Event/Special Moments

This is NOT a special moment, because it’s actually pretty horrible….our next door neighbor died on Wednesday….. So I will be attending a funeral before I go home.

I did get to see a few friends….my parents’ friends and older neighbors.

What am I looking forward to this week?

Getting home late Saturday. Sunday: work + auditions for SOA. Monday: work + meeting + audition day 2. Tuesday: work + film society meeting? Wednesday: work + final final Jewish class review. And… anything else that may happen.

I’m looking forward to making some changes that may surprise everyone. We’ll see. I need to make big, big, big changes.

Always,
Karen Maeby

Tallit (poem)

by Karen Maeby © 2019

You–my darling–hid the love in your eyes,
the lingering stare, that smile,
I can still see it in my dreams.
It’s really not fair you walked away.
Why’d you leave without saying goodbye?
You’ve been with me in my mind
since the day G-d should bless the world with our births
and
he split us up, so we’d learn how to love again
the way we should and deserve.

It seems, you stepped off the train….
thru this life-long journey that’s about to end
with the night stars on Shabbat Havadah.
You left memories behind:
your Jewish star,
the tallit you wrapped around my soul
as we thanked G-d over and over and over
that we came into each other’s lives
even though it was the wrong time, it was the right time
but you must’ve not thought so.
Why’d you have to go?

The songs you sang to me as we lit the candles
and we watched together–holding hands–
as the wax falls down and the candle shrinks
on Shabbat, why? You already forgot?
You lit me on fire, and you left my heart
to write poetry out of desire.
Your hugs left me very complete,
as did every given Jewish holiday we celebrated.
That was enough….for then.

Jewish Journey essay for Intro to Judaism class review.

Okay. This was extremely hard to write without tears forming in my eyes. It means that much. The first assignment of our packet was to write a spiritual autobiography. It would be appropriate I’d find my answers as my vacay is coming to an end. Here goes….

Going on an extended vacay to my hometown—to revisit where I was born and spent my first 21 years growing up—has really helped me clarify that I am exactly where I need to be on my Jewish journey: to embrace fully—to learn, to live and breathe Judaism—for the rest of my life. 

While on my flight, I read Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” where he wrote of his experience of being in the Holocaust. After landing, I went to my favorite sandwich shop near the mall, then I ran over to the used bookstore. The first time I went in there with no agenda and just looked around. I accidentally found two books by Harold Kushner and two books by Elie Wiesel. The following week I went back to the bookstore with a list and found a book by Philip Roth, a Holocaust book, and two books by Leslea Newman. All of my life I have read so much of everything but only had a few favorite authors….and now—thankful to this journey—that list is growing.

There have been a few very uncomfortable moments on this trip to do with my choices of food and toward my newly found religion and lifestyle. There seemed to be a slight interest in my journey, then twice the slight rude remark. After mentioning several times that I stopped eating pork since December 2018, ribs were put on my plate and bacon was cooked. I refused both. I stood my ground—for faith and health reasons. I know I made the right decision, considering I had a flash back to my childhood where I was pushed to eat some of the most unhealthiest foods that still remain valid in that hometown life. For the umpteenth time, I was forced to go to a church for a faith in which I have never believed, and was told “no” when I wanted to go to the local synagogue to honor Shabbat. Even though I have a long ways to go with Hebrew, I missed hearing the prayers and songs. I missed the way it feels walking into a synagogue vs a church. I miss how happy and full of life everyone seems to be in a synagogue. 

Even though I’ve have to deal with those issues, I have not let them get to me too much. I have been able to relax, gain strength of my mind once again, and have time to think. 

Every aspect of my life has become richer since following, studying and living Judaism. I can’t explain it. 2018 was the best year of my life: the people that I met last year are the best people I’ve ever met in my entire life and they’re no longer “friends” —they’re all family. The activities I either started or continued has made such an important impact on my life that I’m trying to figure out how to make it all tie in with Judaism. The art I’ve created, the Instagram account and blog where I write have been outlets for me to not only document my journey but to express major love towards my new life and share it with the world. 

There have been several surprises along the way: such as finding out my favorite song from high school choir “Go Down, Moses” plays an important role in Jewish life at Passover, or finding out that my favorite cartoon in the entire world that I watched obsessive as a child—Rugrats—has a Hanukkah and Passover episode. I often felt like the new year should start in the fall, and I have always had a horrible feeling around March or April (which happened again this year—and once Passover was over—I felt better). I have always had a connection with the Holocaust, and my feelings for wanting to preserve the memory get stronger as the days go by. There’s been a connection with me and trees, little symbolism in daily life, feelings that are exposed after reading Jewish books (ones I hadn’t thought about in a long time or saying to myself ‘well, now that makes sense as to why I felt that’), and so on. I have always loved Fridays more than any day of the week. I say “oy vey” more than I probably should. And, to top it all off, I used to really strongly dislike “chicken soup” until I discovered matzo ball soup…and game on. 

Not only have I found favorite authors, books, magazines and subscribed to a million of newsletters around the US, but I have discovered some of the best TV shows, and they’re chocked full of Jewishness… and guess what? I actually get the references or jokes, and I am so giddy inside when they mention something I know. I’ve also become that person who wants to download music to a specific holiday, or go absolutely nuts over the snacks that are served around that time. Over the past year, I have participated in a lot of the holidays, but my favorite was Purim – due to being in the Purim Spiel. I really embraced that with everything I had, and I didn’t stop talking about it for days. Also, Mitzvah Day, should be a holiday because that’s how special it was for me. 

Building a relationship with G-d on the basis that G-d is the light within all of us, and in everything that we do, is something that I believe in. In the last year, I have tried to build my choices around that fact: doing good deeds, saying no at times, trying to become a better person, becoming healthier in the heart/mind/soul, and so on. As someone who is converting, I feel that I should walk the walk and not not just talk. I have to be that good example, and help others follow. 

My journey—for the most part—has been about experience. The holidays or moments I experienced were the best, because I could: see, feel, hear, touch, smell…. then document about it later in some form. It is a very emotional connection for me. Everything about it. 

While I don’t know where I’m going at this point—other than forward, all the way—with this journey, I am excited in seeing what’s in store for me because I am completely open at this point. I know there are things I want to improve on, such as attending more services, being able to fully read Hebrew, continuing making way in my schedule to attend more Jewish functions and keeping Kosher. There’s also wanting to learn just about anything and everything that I can by experiences, reading and traveling around to Jewish places and sharing it in some form. Since the Holocaust has been so important in my life, I would like to be that future of Judaism that helps keep the memory of those who we lost. And one day, I hope to publish the several Jewish-type stories that I am writing, including my own journey. 

We all have a story in us, and we need to share it before it’s too late. Being a writer myself—I believe that is one of my purposes, and I hope that I can achieve that goal not only for me, but help others do the same….all by that light that stays lit within the soul.  

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Poetry (untitled for now)

i wish i could find her face in the snow
wipe the surface like a steamed mirror
call upon the midnight prayer to make her answer
the telephone that coincidentally
never shows her name or number
she’s listed under unknown. i wish i could find her.
maybe i can travel to the next city
and hire a gypsy lady with the glass ball
and she can tell me my future, my fortune
will i be lucky enough to steal her heart and soul?

i was born to two nearly in the wilderness
that couldn’t be the furthest from my life itself.
i can’t breathe thinking, wishing, for the jewish creation
that i so desire, that want so badly.
my heart cries a song into the river that
pours downstream, and into someone else’s home.
this isn’t home, not mine, no:
my heart isn’t filled with anything.
my heart is empty as a kiddush cup but
i fill it right back up with tears, and it flows over.

i study deep into each jewish book that i read:
the characters, the message
and i wish to find it all, to embrace it all, to have it
but looking for it and creating it is the challenge.
to change my entire life, to uproot everything,
it is the only way. my jewish journey way.
i close my eyes wishing she’d be the one to hug me
into infinity like my favorite blanket, or sweater.
could she be a little or all of the characters i read about?
esther, ruth, lilith, vashti, sarah, rebecca, etc. etc. etc. ?

i do not know her name, or recall it.
i see her soul, feel her emotions, too
as they run wild into the forest of a day’s life
if i found her–i would instantly make her my wife.
where’s my destiny? should i light the shabbat candles,
and fulfill my evening’s wishes of watching the sunset?
with my eyes closed, i see a table of food and
family, something which is wholeheartedly missing
i am missing the whole point of judaism
a generation passed down from person to person, blood type.

the skies are cloudy today, and it’s been raining ever since
i got here. my flight kept my mind at ease
as i was flying away from the pain only to end up
the pain is just as bad in my present as it is in the past
where i had to remain hidden, where i couldn’t speak,
where i couldn’t express, where i couldn’t dream,
where i couldn’t love, where my heart hurt the worst
because i was trapped by every single emotion
and i couldn’t escape, i couldn’t escape, towards freedom
until i finally did by writing out my plans.

by the grace of everything holy i only wish, one hug
and it’ll all go away. i wish she’d find me, but not this way.
i wish we could speak in our dreams
and through the time we’ve spent apart all of these years.
where is she? do i need to write her down?
is she truly here, within me, or in over in the next town?
do i rely on fate? on time? on giving in? throwing in the towel?
i want to express to G-d i really want her to see me,
but i just don’t know how… and, if so, will he allow
it to be the time? because i’m not the patient kind.

[The Shabbat Edition 010]

Shabbat Shalom all! Happy Friday! Happy Weekend!

A small synopsis

Last weekend, I was just so exhausted that I did nothing what so ever. I had a few places and errands to run but I shut it all down. A good percentage of that was because my face wasn’t healed up. It was scabbed over, but by middle of the week, it looks like nothing happened. Thank G-d. Now I can wear make up again.

Monday we spent our writer’s group time talking to a (sort of) new member from our film society. We’ve been asked to help with an upcoming film production, so whoever is interested will be involved in that. We’re also thinking about working on more film as the group. This means I really need to revamp our entire mission statement because there are so many avenues we are going down. Our name (I haven’t announced this to anyone yet) will purposely cover everything and not be specific to writing. I’m glad I made that decision early on, otherwise we’d have issues.

I spent the rest of the week just getting stuff together at work for me to go on vacation. I don’t remember anything else.

Lessons Learned

Over the weekend, I started watching the crime docu-series via Hulu about Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and I watched some of the “making of” videos. I learned some new techniques having to do with colors with transition over episodes from light to dark and beside good vs evil and aging. That’s kind of a cool thing, I had never thought about that. Boy is theatre and film two different things. I guess I need to start paying attention to both if I’m going to write both…. Little signs or symbolism like placing their house in area where everyone could watch them and then them having absolutely no idea once the big news of what the mother did to Gypsy all those years. That was insane.

Patience: my flight on Thursday was delayed by an hour. I was already ready to leave so badly on Wednesday, that adding that extra hour nearly killed me. (I’m not a very patient person, if you didn’t already know.)

Event/Special Moments

So it’s kind of comforting sitting in my old room at my parents: lavender walls with dark purple and lime green curtains, purple flowery quilt, my Great Gatsby poster still on the wall, grandma’s sunset painting, my 2018 Rosh Hashanah drawing on the bulletin board. Not to mention turning out the lights last night to see several glow in the dark stars lighting up the room. I had forgotten about those. That was a happy little moment before bed last night.

It was good to get on a plane. I miss traveling. It didn’t even bother me when we went through some bumpy moments. It used to bother me so badly.

I started reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel while waiting at the airport, read on the plane, and finished last night. Wow. There’s going to be an entry dedicated to that, because there are things I learned that I didn’t know previously.

As soon as my parents picked me up from the airport, we went to our favorite sandwich shop close by the mall…and I DID get to go to the bookstore! Some magic happened there.

I went looking for some Jewish books, because that’s literally all I want to read these days. They have all religions mixed up which makes it so hard to find. However, by some sheer miracle I found two of Kushner’s books. I already had to read one of his books for my class, and one of the books I found were recommended readings (When Bad Things Happen to Good People). Checkmark.

Before I even went into the bookstore, after getting halfway through Wiesel’s book–I said to myself, “It would be cool to find the other two books of his that match this.” Guess what? I found Dawn & Twilight by him in the history section. I also bought The Pink Triangle. I can’t believe during my journey I’ve found three favorite authors: Leslea Newman, Elie Wiesel and Harold Kushner. I’ve always been a reader but I rarely favorited any authors besides the author of Nancy Drew, RL Stine of Goosebumps/Fear Street, and Sweet Valley High that I followed.

I’ve done so much reading already, and I’ve only been gone two days. Like I said, I want to talk more about Wiesel’s book in another entry. I’ve caught up with some of my Jewish magazines and there’s things there to discuss. Plus the emails I haven’t even read yet.

Last night mom and I went to the grocery and we were passing an aisle and she screamed, “THAT AISLE SAYS KOSHER! I really don’t know what that means, but it’s Kosher! Isn’t that your word?” Ha. So I bought some matzo so that I can eat it with my traditional “welcome-back” beer cheese. (It’s a KY and good part of my past thing.)

After finishing “Night” last night, my brain/heart/mind/soul was just… yeah. I happened to look left of where I was sitting and there was a word search book. I told mom “I’m going to do one of these puzzles.” When I opened it up I found where mom wrote down about what my aunt (her sister) said to my cousin when I told her about my Jewish journey. I can’t believe I found that. She wrote it down word for word. Mom’s like, “What’d you find?” and I barely got my words out.

My parents have been asking bits by bits about my new Jewish life. I think they’re getting used to it, now that they realize it’s a permanent thing with me changing my life to fit. Tonight we prayed before eating then my dad asked what the Jewish prayer was for that. Mom and I actually had a good conversation about beliefs and such, and so I got a chance to explain my side of things to her. I’m not sure they understand my choices for cutting out certain foods, but it’s for health, religion and cultural lifestyle.

We took my dad to exercise rehab today and someone we sat with (that knows my parents pretty well) asked about my decision to become Jewish. I told her the very short story, then mentioned I’ve been reading a lot more about the Holocaust lately, it’s calling me… I feel like need to be part of the future to help keep remembrance happening. My mom said to the lady that I had always had a connection with that, ever since reading Anne Frank….. Once again, I think that maybe that’s the sign that…I really…need…to..write..my…book!

After leaving there, we went to Gordmans (my favorite store here that we don’t have in FL) and I kept saying this trip I need new shoes…. I came to find two pairs of glittery sneakers: one slip on pair, another with shoe laces. One is pink/orange into gold color and the other is multi sparkle. I can’t believe I got lucky. Now I own 4 pairs of glitter shoes (and one of them lights up).

What am I looking forward to this week?

-More shopping! I haven’t been shopping in so long for clothes, shoes, etc.

-Soaking up a whole lot more vacay.

-Maybe going to the farm house. (hopefully)

-More reading, writing, sleeping.

-Eating at or visiting all the places I don’t have in FL.

-More clarity, signs, and such from G-d. (Feeling hopeful here.)

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Dear G-d,

I wished on 11.11 tonight.

Please give me a sign. Or 5. Or 10.

I just need answers, and clarity.

-Karen Maeby

NOTES

Sign #1: I am a mess. Thank you G-d for clarifying that. How did I come to this conclusion? Packing at the last minute (two hours before having to leave) and everything’s just a mess. Oy vey.

Things: I *think* I want to get my nails done for the first time in my life. Maybe French tips with my ring finger glitter and Jewish star. I don’t really want fake nails tho. Also, after yesterday, I decided I really need to do something with my mess of hair. I am so thankful this person spoke up and said something to me. Very, very grateful actually. Hair has a lot to do with my moods, so if I do my hair, I feel better. No wonder I’ve felt shitty for months. Haven’t done my hair.

I have Elie Wiesel’s Night book and I will be reading on the plane. It might be a bad idea to read this sort of thing in public because I ugly cry.

Bye. Until my plane lands….

A little emotional here.

All of a sudden I have this terrible emotional gut wrenching pang of sadness and deep, deep, deep longing for my family at TBI and I’m pouring over memories of the Purim Spiel inside my mind. Holy cow do I ever get overly emotional about certain things. If you’re reading this, you probably think I’m a little craycray, but I can’t help what my heart feels when it feels something….hence the whole writer’s mind/heart/soul part. It’s as much a curse as it is a blessing…to have feelings and to feel as deeply about certain things. Anyway, I have our Purim show bookmarked somewhere, and I’m going to be showing it to my parents. It’ll be nice to see it again, and to see everyone again, since I haven’t been much in touch since then. I also had to download “One” from A Chorus Line and “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life” from Spamalot.

To life, to life, l’chaim to life… is still my favorite line.

My emails have been filled with all kinds of news from what to do about Israel / Gaza issue to counting the Omer to Shavuot to everything else in between…..

I read about London’s “Reubens” which was the only Kosher restaurant on the West End closed after 46 years of business. My heart hurts entirely too much when I read that another Kosher Deli bites the dust. This one was due to family bereavement. But any loss of a Kosher Deli is sad. I’ve read in the past 6 months about some closing their doors due to lack of or money or something of that nature. It just makes me very, very sad.

Joe Berlinger–a film director–was inspired to do two different series about Ted Bundy after reading about the Holocaust. As a person who watches non-fiction crime shows way too much (I’m one of those addicted to Investigation Discovery channel), I can’t wait to see what he’s done with those two film series.

I got an email from the ladies of The Jewish Planner giving an update that the planner is in the process of being printed and we’ll get the physical copies around July or August. I’m so excited! I finally have a planner that I’ll be able to follow since I can’t seem to follow the normal ones anymore. My life has literally been on the offset of sunrise to sunset and finally embracing why… love this Jewish life! Just wish the rest of the world could live on that time!

I keep seeing a thousand more articles every day about the newest Instagram story on the girl in the middle of the Holocaust. I’m still upset by it. I haven’t been on Instagram in a few days, so I don’t know what’s going on with that account… but…. I’m reading so many different opinions about it. The truth of the matter is, we really need to figure out how to talk and share about the Holocaust (but maybe in a different educational form) because this article’s statistics are horrifying.

Locally, I just read that one of our Sisterhoods has folded up / suspended operations. It’s not my synagogues Sisterhood, thank goodness, but all the same–sadness.

There’s emails breaking down “Why do people hate the Jews?” It lists reasons for why we are still being targeted and killed today. It’s incredibly sad, and the reasons are complete bullshit…enough that they only make sense to the ones doing the harm. Anti-semitism is on the rise. Worse than ever. And I still want to convert and become a Jew more than anything so that I can be a part of the solution and a positive future to help the world in the name of Judaism.

Aish.com still continues to bring me lots of email resourcefulness of every day counting the Omer (which I look at every few days!) and daily insight/advice.

I read about a Yiddish Typewriter... and still, my desire to learn Yiddish is strong. I need to finish that book that I started about the guy who saved all of the Yiddish books and opened the book center in Massachusetts. I would love to shake his hand or hug him. He’s one of my heroes. Yet another thing that makes me super emotional…. saving books, saving Yiddish books, saving the history for our future and made something very beautiful to carry on. My heart explodes!

These are just some of the stories I’ve been reading, and while reading, trying to figure out my placement in this Jewish life. Where can I be most helpful? What can I do to help? There’s so many signs everywhere that I’m seeing “stories, stories, stories” – everyone has a story – stories need to be shared to continue to the future and etc. That’s where it lies, but how can I make that happen? Tikkun olam.

Something that’s been greatly on my mind lately is the history of my own family. I never really cared until I started my journey. I lost my last grandparent at age 16, I lost my great aunt who was 101 a few years ago and then last year in 2018, I lost my last blood-related aunt who had great tie-ins with G-d, and daughter of my best grandma. I have absolutely no one in my family to talk to about what they witnessed from the Holocaust or learning about the past from years ago. Everyone is gone. Everyone’s been basically gone for more than half of my age now. I will never be able to talk to them about my journey or what happened or will happen. I’m really sad by that fact. My mom has my grandma’s diaries and about 100ish poems of hers, when I go home, I’m going to go through them and see if I can find any hints of light in those letters or words of hers. I need to inspect her sunset picture that she painted–to see if I can find answers in the colors.

I have letters to write tonight and hand deliver tomorrow before I leave.

This is enough writing for today. I’m all written out even though after I set this to publish I’m going to have five thousand more things to say. Until… a next time… there’s tacos for me to find, since it’s Taco Tuesday.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Oy Vey, Shtisel

It’s 1am and I can’t sleep, so what’s a girl to do when that happens? She shall sit in her bedclothes and write by candlelight about the 3 million things taking over her mind….and then later regretting that she can’t sleep when she has to wake in a few hours to do a full days work. Oy. 

I finally started watching Shtisel on Netflix. [We] were reminded of the show by our Rabbi on the last day of class where he gave a description of the characters and situations. I’m only on episode 3 and have noticed so much. It’s a lot to take in at one time. 

There’s a deep recognization of putting on hold ones dreams in order to please the parents to fulfill their wishes. That’s the part that’s really hard to watch. This is for both romantic relationships (almost like pre-arranged marriages) as well as jobs. 

The expectation of everyone needing to be married and women needing to have kids by say teenage years. Oy vey. 

Another is hiding secrets within a family in order to protect them from or within the community. That’s even harder to watch given the situation in one of the storylines. 

Oy vey – all three of those reasons are why things are so screwed up these days. You think you’re doing the right thing when it’s completely more damaging than anything else. Emotionally. Set up expectations to turn into failures and disappointment. Lack of true happiness. 

I love and appreciate the prayer before food or drink. I hope to get to that point. Maybe not so as much, but a simple reminder a few times a day… Thank you G-d for the excessive amount of tacos I eat or the Coca Cola I really shouldn’t be drinking. (But said in Hebrew!)

When I was being raised into the Christian world, I really never understood why we prayed before food, but now that I’ve found what I’ve found and studied to understand… I do appreciate that and the reason why. I just wish I could have those exchanges with both my grandma and aunt who have passed on. 

I also wish I understood Hebrew so that I could close my eyes and just listen to the show, but I only understand the subtitles in English right now. But watching and paying attention is probably more important at this point, because the expressions on their faces speak louder than the words they say. 

As a (sort of) film person, I also really love the darkened quality of the way the film is shot, and each of the scenes.  

One thing I don’t really want to be tainted is… the level of religious like I was with the Christian world. I want to take in every denomination for what it is and appreciate from all of the worlds. For instance, I could never be as strict as Orthodox, Hasidic, Chabad but not as lax as say some Reform and Reconstructionist. I want to live and learn as a Conservative Jew (prayers in Hebrew!)—play and do in the Reform world (I mean, hello, Purim Spiels…)—all while appreciating the heck out of the ones who can keep to the Torah, Shabbat and the 613 commandments more than a lot of others (Orthodox, Hasidic, Chabad). 

All I know is that I sincerely love my Jewish life. Do you know how much finding that light within me has done? It’s changed everything. My world has changed. I’m still a mess, but there’s no darkened skies that hold me under the covers for long or no rainstorm that keeps me down. Who in the world would’ve ever thought that I was on my journey to finding my Jewish soul? It’s crazy. All of my life it’s been around me, but I never took that moment, now I’m finding all of these symbols and little hints and just everything. I get it all. 

one light and that’s all she took it 

it took one night 

to fill her soul with so much fire, 

so much desire 

so much… so much.. so much… 

who would’ve guessed the journey 

began there to get her here 

and that she’d dream and wish by 

seeing 11.11, 12:34 and the stars 

at night, all it took was one night 

and that one light that lit her entire soul 

and when she hugs and embraces 

her love, her destiny, she’ll know 

they’ll both know and their hearts will cry 

and sing a song of hope 

and the light would stay lit for all eternity

When I go home, I hope my parents raise their ban against me going in a bookstore because I want to find more Jewish-based books and bring them back with me. (I’m banned because I have told them a million times in the past: I’ll be 5 minutes, and there they are hours later nearly having to drag me out of there by my coat tail. I’ve always been such a bookworm. Ha.) 

Love Always, 

Karen Maeby 

Ready to go bye-bye.

I’m alive, and that weird mysterious chemical burn on my face is almost healed…which is a complete miracle because from Thursday to yesterday it looked like Edward Scissorhands got a hold of me and then I was a song on Skid Row and nearly being attacked by Audrey II the evil eating plant. Thank G-d I caught it when I did. I can’t help but think how weird it was that the skin on my face was literally burnt off on Yom HaShoah, though, with no good reason or explanation. So messed up. I almost think it was a reminder for me of what our ancestors went through and to be thankful to be alive and in good health…where it would heal as quickly as it did.

I’m so checked out of everything. I don’t want to do anything but go on vacation. Two more days. Two more days. Two more days. I’m doing bare minimum until then, and even at that point, I’m literally FORCING myself uuugggh! I think this is a lesson to myself to not let it get this way again. I should use Shabbat wisely, and take time off throughout the year instead of working 100s of days straight in a row until the stress kills me and only taking time off once a year. Even taking a day off every few months to do something fun I really need to do. More changes coming soon. Oy. I can’t live a happy Jewish life if I am miserable.

I’ve been looking at the Jewish Fed calendar from back home but there’s nothing really going on when I’m there. I might be able to attend Shabbat but that’s probably it, if anything. I would love to go and talk to the professors at UK to see what I can find out about their Jewish Studies program just to see what’s up. There’s also a pizza joint that’s in an old synagogue and I want to try to go to that. Oh and maybe go through the local graveyard and put rocks on Jewish people’s graves to remember them by.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot the last few days about where my journey should take me once I’ve converted and since my class is over. There’s an entire world out there but I really don’t know. I need some help from my trusted family. Maybe I can talk to them soonish about this or when I get back…to see if they have any suggestions of a path for me. I’m not sure if I have a continued path here past next year, but anything could happen. I’m open for anything….and open to try things again if so should be it.

There’s still only two things I want in my life: everything Jewish + writing / performance world.

Either way, I have a lot of Jewish magazines to take with me and catching up on reading to do. I am hoping to have several posts drafted out for here or at least to update about the fun stuff from vacay, and work on my book! That’s the most important thing now… getting my book done and out there!

Love always,
Karen Maeby