Tisha B’av

The night before Tisha B’av, I received an email newsletter from the Nevada Jewish Federation that a 23 year old male was arrested. He had a huge amount of guns, ammunition and bomb making materials. He also had a target hit list. Who was on that list? A gay nightclub, a synagogue, and the ADL Nevada office, all in Las Vegas. Luckily, they caught him before he did anything, and they are keeping an eye on everything there now with more security.

When I read it… my heart sank all the way down. Those would definitely be three places I’d frequent if I were already living there. I wholeheartedly accepted my fate when I became Jewish. I chose this life. (Sometimes I still wonder if didn’t choose me.) Becoming a higher target through antisemitism and how I was personally going to deal with it was one of the areas of concern from the beit din. Putting myself at risk. This is my fate.

Does it make me question whether I want to go there or not? Things can happen anywhere. People are evil just about anywhere, just like people are good just about anywhere. I’ve seen enough true crime shows that 99% of the ones are targeting someone they knew over anger/revenge, or if it’s a high profile mass shooting, then it’s an act of hate towards a certain group of people. I don’t know how to make it stop. I don’t like guns or weapons of any kind. I don’t think we should completely ban them (due to security for those who actually use them for the better good for protection) but take a look at some of the countries that don’t have this problem… hardly any unnecessary and crazy murders there. But, I digress. As long as there’s hate in the world (and people of power who expel it), we will have to deal with it in unfortunate manners. I wish people would understand one thing: it has always been “this bad” as far as crime goes…there were plenty of opportunities to cover things up or never hearing about it because of lack of communication, but now that we have constant media…..and the copy cats are learning where to copy from. Sadly. Anyway, I digress.

Tisha B’av. I did fast, but ended up having to eat during the last like 3 hours… I got extremely dizzy and shaking really bad. I read some. I didn’t really do anything enjoyable. I did chores I hated. Those things.

I started looking at the dates of Tisha B’av when the terrible events occurred and the dates always fell from middle of July to middle of August. One event happened on my birthday (Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914 (Av 9–10, AM 5674), which caused massive upheaval in European Jewry and whose aftermath led to the Holocaust.) No wonder July and August are hard for me emotionally.

With the exception of the last 3 years, I have always had a hard time with my birthday (other than the part of never getting to celebrate while in school with friends or classmates because I was a summer baby). I get so excited to celebrate, then kind of back off, because I feel so guilty for celebrating. Well, at least I now understand why. My people were being destroyed… and not just once, but over and over again, during this time. How can you feel good about celebrating when something like that happened?

Always,
Karen Maeby (Ahava)

Pride Shabbat Weekend

I didn’t do a specific Shabbat entry on Friday due to coming right off 3 weeks of nothing but working performances of Next Fall (there’s already an entire entry dedicated to that), then going straight into working rehearsals for Summer One Acts. That means: I have not been able to do anything else. Can’t report on something that didn’t happen!

Friday I went to our Pride Shabbat. I was decked out in color and glitter, sat with my friend from my Jewish class to support to him as he read “Blessing for Pride” out loud in front of everyone. I wore last year’s kippah in celebration for both ONE YEAR at CBI and being able to wearing the first kippah I’ve received after becoming a Jew. This was also the first service I attended after my conversion. My friend (who also celebrated his one year at Pride Shabbat) asked, “Why are you wearing last years???” Ha. I told him the above, but I did grab a new one. I guess next year I’ll be caught up with the times and wear the one they’ll provide. It was just extra special for me to wear my first this year!

What a beautiful Shabbat service. We had both our Rabbi, some others that recited work, and then a Rabbi from Bradenton that spoke. His speech was beautiful and deep, and he spoke the actual true meaning of Pride (Stonewall). One thing I admire about him and would like to talk to him more is that he worked with Keshet, and I love that LGBTQ-Jewish specific organization so much… and would love to work with them one day. We read a prayer that was originally from Los Angeles Pride Parade. We recited every other paragraph and it was very emotional for me, especially when it came time to read “Prayer for the End of Hiding” with the speaker who led us to read. Both of those prayers can be found on my Instagram. I suggest you print them out or something, and tuck them closely to your heart.

One day–and I hope soon–that I can be well on my way to help those that a) are Jewish but haven’t practiced it in a while or dropped it–find it again, b) find those Jewish souls who haven’t converted yet, and c) help those who are hiding come out and be proud…I just want to make a difference in the world, and in others lives.

I talked to a friend on the phone last night and she said, “You have already gone through so many changes this year…. and it’s not even half way through.. changes for like 20-something people!” Ha. I live a fast life. I love it. Wouldn’t trade the fast for anything. Even though, I wish my memory wasn’t getting so bad… but alas, I guess when: every day feels like one week and every week feels like one month… it’s bound to happen?

Now that I am about a week and half away from the day I converted….there are a few things I have considerably thought of the last few days of stuff that is changing, something I didn’t really have an answer to last week:

-the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that… I have had no problem blurting out what I think and without apologies. I used to sugar coat everything, but the last week and half, I haven’t been.

-decisions are being made more wholly (it that even the right spelling????), and I don’t spend that much time making up my mind anymore (on some things, still working on this a bit!)

-if it isn’t somewhat Jewish-related, bringing some sort of light, or happiness to my life… it’s going going gone. I’m working on that one day at a time. That’s the best I can do right now!

-I’m asking myself more questions like: what is truly close to your heart that you want to do–not because you feel you have to, but want to–and what is the right thing for you to do at this moment? (That has to do with extra activities.)

-Is this healthy for you and your future? (This goes for absolutely everything, including what I read, listen to, and do.)

As Ahava, I feel so much more whole that I have ever had in my entire life. It has always been my policy to believe that there is everything to a name, and boy is that true, I feel it within every letter… even in Hebrew. In the next few weeks, maybe next month (since my time is sold to the SOAs right now), there will be a thousand more changes coming to my life. I am excited!

By the way, I’m not writing about how amazing Pride was… because I didn’t end up going. After Pride Shabbat, I went downtown, and that heat (even at 10pm to midnight) just about killed me. Saturday I walked outside, and right back in, and Sunday the same thing… so I did miss everything even though I wanted to go so badly… I just didn’t want to have another heat stroke again. I had a pretty bad one last year. And that was really scary. But alas, I literally slept all weekend… and caught up on not having slept but more than 4 hours every night for the last month. It was one of those Jewish questions I asked myself: do I go play and risk my health, or do I stay in and catch up on sleep knowing that I will not be able to get extended sleep for the next month once again? Sleep it is! I also put all of my new Jewish books on my bookshelf, cleaned some trash up, prepped some stuff for the upcoming yard sale, and so on. I think it was a decent weekend.

Until next time, much love,
Karen Maeby (Ahava)

PS – In 2003 & 2008, I went to Philadelphia. Both times I fell in love with the “LOVE” statue that is in Love Park, and it instantly became my favorite thing from there. Who knew years later, it’d have even more meaning to me and my life.

[Next Fall] Everything happens for a reason.

….I will always believe in that.….Especially after these last 3 weeks.

HI MY DEAREST READERS! I am finally back (sort of) to tell why I went missing for almost a whole 3 weeks.

The play “Next Fall” that I wasn’t supposed to work–but ended up working–ended today, Sunday 6/16. I am actually home BEFORE 11p/midnight for the first time in 3 weeks. What an exhausting (in a good way) and intense show this was, but the most memorable and overall spiritually the best of all the many shows I’ve worked in the last 3 years. I’m going to try my best to recount my steps. I wrote down notes at the beginning but then life took over and haven’t written anything since.

In the beginning, the Universe works out in mysterious ways….

Ever since BNC ended last year in March, I was asked by the same director if I was going to work his next show. (No, I was doing too much at that time.) He left for a while, then I took a break, then he came back, and I was still gone… but I was available to help with auditions. He asked again, and no was still the answer, because I was organizing the SOAs, and rehearsals coincided with the performances. Well, guess what? It just so happens that the Universe threw a wrench into the whole plan and I ended up ASMing “Next Fall” with him after all, and it was okay that I miss SOAs first week’s readings.

The first week of three: Since I joined very late to the game, the first week was spent trying to gather/study notes, watch the play and figure out all my responsibilities. That first week’s weekend we moved the set to the CH. The second week we went into “hell week” where we practiced all week until Wednesday and had 6 performances in 5 days. (After the first performance, our director made some major changes to the order of the play, and it ended up working out for the better.) The third week was our final week, with the first 3 days we usually have off, I was at the other location in rehearsals for the SOAs.

In case you’re wondering…. “Next Fall” is an lgbtq-related play that talks a lot about religion and the couple’s relationship in line with that over 5 years. (I found two good synopsis online: synopsis and synopsis2). We had a pretty big ad in the local Jewish paper here, too. This was also the very first play we’ve put on for Pride, and probably in this area… so cheers to a lot of firsts we’re doing! So very proud of my group for doing this.

So, let’s get Jewish, maybe? There’s a lot of Jewish-related lines and moments in this play. Part of the play takes place in a Jewish hospital. One of the characters is Jewish. We had screens in the back of wall for each scene: in the church scene, we had a beautiful Star of David showing. We also had a few kippahs as props… and today as we were loading everything up to take it back to our home, our prez said, “what are we going to do with all of these? Someone needs to write a Jewish play!” ON IT!

The moment I’ve been waiting for a really long time.

So, here I am in the middle of working a semi-religious play with so much depth straight into the Universe, and on that Friday of the 2nd week, the first week of performances, I get a text message from my Rabbi and also another classmate…. with the question of “do you want to do your conversion next week?”

UH YES! YES! YES! YES!

“Well, when?”

“You guys pick the date. I’ll be there.”

June 12th.

Now, when I’m this deeply involved in a play (especially one at this intensity), I go severely missing. You don’t hear from me or see me until it’s over. I even dropped off the face of the social media planet. So that is what happened. However, I was seeing: work, Next Fall and SOA family… and those were the only folks I was talking to, ONLY because I saw them daily.

I was at work when I got those text messages. When they texted me back the date, I started crying so hard. The guys at work turned around and stared. I could barely get out the words that I was going to have my conversion ceremony the following week. They were super supportive and started singing Hava Nagila. (Side note: they haven’t stopped singing this yet.)

Something else that happened: I took a look at the date, June 12th, and I felt something about that date. Something inside told me to look it up. I did. It was Anne Frank’s 90th birthday. HOLY SMOKES. Was I really going to be converted on Anne Frank’s Birthday? Was that some sort of sign? I found out about the Holocaust from reading her diary, it had always had an impact on me, and I felt such a connection with her. Even today, I feel the need to help keep the Holocaust stories alive. I just couldn’t believe it when I saw the date, her birthday, and my connection with writing and the Holocaust. Not only that, but I don’t know how I didn’t notice this before… my birthday was her very last diary entry and my parent’s anniversary was the date that they went into hiding. That’s some spooky meant to be stuff right there, don’t you think?!

Also, my classmate was texting me “You have to find a Hebrew name!” I’m texting the Rabbi saying, “WHAT? I HAVE TO FIND A HEBREW NAME?” Then he’s like, “Don’t worry, we’ll find one together. Let’s talk.” Soooooo… I ended up going through the entire Jewish baby name dictionary and since there’s NOT a name for “GLITTER” … I chose Ahava. It means love. I love too much sometimes, I do think love is the best gift in the world, and I always write “love always, Karen Maeby” on almost everything… sooo.. in retrospect, my Hebrew name has practically been there the whole time, just in English. So that’s how I picked my name.

On Friday: I left work for NF performance and I told a few people there… and that turned into telling more than I liked to, but I just couldn’t hold it inside. It was too much of exciting news, but I also didn’t want to jinx it.

That same weekend was Shavuot, so I brought cheesecake, and we ate it during our second Saturday show’s intermission. I left a note there of why I had brought it, and they really appreciated it, and started asking me questions about my journey.

Sunday was NF performance, then Monday & Tuesday I was in rehearsal for SOAs.

Wednesday 6/12 was the big day.

I get to CBI, and there my Rabbi was… filling out papers with my Hebrew name, Ahava. Let me tell you something, it wasn’t even close to being time to immerse in the water yet, and I was already tearing up with just seeing my name on the papers. Soon after, my classmate arrived, and then we went before the Beit Din (separately, of course) and asked questions. Then it was time to go to nature’s mikvah out in Ft Desoto.

It was time. I was already emotional as I got into the water, had a little bit of an almost panic attack (considering I can’t swim) but I made it to the water being reasonably high. We dunked 3 times each. Spent a moment collecting ourselves in the water. (I have something written out from what I felt in those maybe less than 10 minutes in the water, but it’s almost too personal for me to put on here. I’m not sure if I’m ready to share that part of my soul yet.) Then we walked back to shore to do our prayers.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t believe it.

I still can’t believe it as I am writing this out a few days later.

I am still so emotional over my chance at becoming Jewish, and becoming Jewish a few weeks earlier than planned. I am just over the moon. (Side note: I was in painting mode last year around June. I remember painting a bunch of “love” pictures with rainbows and saying to myself “I wish I had a June birthday”…and in my Jewish life, I do now.)

After we left Ft Desoto, we left to eat at Meze119. (This was already planned by my classmate, otherwise, I would’ve been at my third home in a heartbeat. That’s where I felt my celebration should’ve been…but I digress….)

I went to rehearsal that evening, and everyone congratulated me.

On Thursday, I was back at the other place for Next Fall’s final week of performances… and everyone was giving me hugs and congratulating me and just so much support. They even gave me a card with “Ahava” on it … and I cried. Yep. Buckets. I cry so much when I see my Jewish name. It has more meaning to me than my real name or the second half of my stage name that I came up with. It’s just… crazy. It’s like my heart is taken to another planet or something when I see “Ahava” and they’re talking about me.

Over the rest of the week of performances, there were still many more congrats and etc. We had our cast party in between both of our shows on Saturday 6/15 (wow, what a long day that was, maybe 14 hours or something). We had Chinese food, so much wine, cake. They gave us backstage people gifts or cards like they always do… my card’s envelope had “Karen / Ahava” and I didn’t even want to open it because I was very emotional from just seeing… Ahava once again.

AT THE CAST PARTY….. I did a thing. I had notecards of about 15 different questions to ask the cast about the play. Since we were a group that was already discussing some points in depth, I decided to make it a game, and I was not disappointed. I am just so happy I got to do this! I’ve waited 3 years and a ton of plays to do something like this! The questions are kind of spoilers so I can’t write them here, but basically, there’s a whole lot of philosophical thoughts, metaphors and the like where everything ties in together for the whole story and I wanted to hear everyone’s answers.

My favorite line of the whole thing is the most poetic, one of the characters says something along the lines of, “….my body may not be fat, but my soul is….”

I get that. So very much do I get that! And, just a few words… can speak volumes.

What an emotional rollercoaster these last 3 weeks have been. I cannot believe that I was working a play that discussed religion–one I wasn’t really supposed to even be working–during Pride month (also while working the SOAs–my favorite show) and close to celebrating 3 years with my theatre group….and becoming Jewish. Wow. Wow. Wow. I am so speechless. Theatre. Writing. And Jewishness…. THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS….!!!!!!!

Fun Facts … about working Next Fall:

-This was my first time working a show with this many scene changes, getting to practically be a part of the play (even while being backstage) AND we even got to take a bow like the rest of the cast!

-This was the first time we ever played loud music in the greenroom as everyones getting ready. Usually, everyone wants silence.

-This is the first time we did shots of Cinnamon Whiskey. Three.. nights..in a .. row… now I’m addicted!

-This is the first play of 3 years worth of plays that I was able to sit down and have a true discussion with the cast about the depth of the play.

-We have a new backstage person, and she is wonderful. She’s practically my new backstage bfffff, and we connected since day one. I really hope I get to work with her again. Even if not, we’ve got plans to hang out in the future.

-On the set bookcases they had a Jewish book that I have at home. My eyes lit up when I saw that. They later added a book about Harvey Milk… and I actually got to take that home with me! Yay!

I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting…. but this has practically been my last 3 weeks. It has been the best last 3 weeks I’ve had in such a long time.

Now that I’m Jewish….I really need to start helping change the world a little bit more than what I had been before. (I have to be a mensch not a grinch!) I have plans, and ideas… but mostly, I need to start where I’m passionate at and that’s writing… and like my director wrote back to me in an email: trust yourself and keep writing.

I need to listen to him.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby (Ahava)

This one’s for Shavuot.

I have only five seconds to write this. I’ve been in rehearsal working the most intense show I’ve ever worked in the history of my last 3 years of doing theatre…and I wasn’t even originally scheduled to work this show. I have zero time for anything else, and I have been using my lunch break to run errands or catch up on personal things. I haven’t even been getting home until close to midnight for the last week…. only really giving me about less than 5 hours of sleep per night the last week as well.

Happy Shavuot (I know I’m a few days early) but I am not going to be able to write about it until a couple weeks after it’s over. I’m bringing cheesecake on Saturday for the cast/crew, so I can (sort of) celebrate since we have two shows and we’ll be there from 11a-11pm. I hope I get a few moments on Sunday to read Ruth. I wish I could go to CBI for the service, but I have a show during the time of.

I’m making a thousand notes (all over my 70 page script that I’m following along backstage) of updates for here when I get a chance to make a daily appearance again. I’ve already thought of a brand new play, a new monologue and we haven’t even started performances yet.

with the tip of my pen
and the signature within, i kiss you
when the ink flows
on the paper and my words
from my heart to yours
filling stories of truth–that we together–
feel within
and on this day of Shavuot
we stay up learning of our people

while eating ice-cream and cheesecake
and our souls speak to one another
carrying out the truest of love
as we reflect upon one another
and all the things that scare us the most
bringing out the fear in us,
bringing out all the things we need to fix
leaving us amidst the world of confusion
of what to do, and always making us wonder
do we belong to one another?
and if so….will things change?
or will we keep them the same?
time doesn’t last forever,
but destiny does… as we look in one another’s eyes.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Intro to Judaism class takes a field trip. The end.

Ever since last year in Sept or Oct, we have met (almost) every Wednesday, and today was…the…very…last…anything…for Intro to Judaism. Holy moly. It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t even seem right. I am so, so, so thankful that I took the opportunity to take the class when I did, because our Rabbi will not be teaching it again next year. It has been very much a commitment, but one worth doing. And hey… everything happens for a reason (my saying yes & taking the class this year).

We met at the Holocaust Museum for part I. Our Rabbi took us around and gave us a guided tour from beginning to end. I still feel the same way as I did last year when I got to go by myself right before the ceremony started. I thought of a story idea while looking at some of the items that were saved from the Holocaust. The idea matches the missing parts of some earlier ideas I had but couldn’t move forward on….because it didn’t start out being Jewish-based, but now it will be. The answer is always… Jewish.

Part II was eating at Meze119. OMG. That place is delicious. I think I want to go back this weekend, honestly. Our Rabbi ordered a bunch of things and we all shared: Israeli salad, grilled haloumi, hummus (garlic, eggplant, chicpeas), falafel, spinach cakes and one or two more things that had chicpeas in it. I’ve never had any of that food except hummus and my goodness it was so delicious! I hate spinach but I tried the cakes, and they were actually very yummy. I just can’t believe I’ve never tried any of this food before. I feel like I’ve definitely missed out. With the veggies and stuff I do get, I could make some of this on my own.

Anyway, we talked about our journeys, our almost year together, what we’ve learned and so on. It was a good ending conversation that merited as a celebration.

But, get this: End. Of. June. You know what is? That’s when–if we choose to do so–we can convert. (Meaning we’ve had our going further chat with our Rabbi and if everyone can get together to convert together.)

END

OF

JUNE

???!!!!?????!!!!

THIS SOON? THAT SOON?

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. When he mentioned it, I felt like he was talking “very soon” but I really didn’t realize…. how so was very soon.

Now comes the panicking part: am I ready? WELL YES. I mean, I shouted it in the Purim Spiel “ARE YOU PROUD TO BE A JEW? YES! ARE YOU PROUD TO BE A JEW? YES WE ARE!” (and I really did tear up every time) or…the Jews Won song set to One from the Chorus Line…. or L’Chaim… to life… l’chaim to life… or any of it. And living as much as I could this year and last….and just to sit back and think on how much my life has changed because of my moment at Hanukkah December 2017.

Then comes the other part… WHAT DO I NEED TO DO? I feel like I need to wholeheartedly become myself before I can take an acceptance in the Mikvah and be born again….which means…opening up and becoming vulnerable in which was something I had to do the other day by accident and it was so scary. First time admitting it out loud, but it was in a room full of the same people as I’m discovering myself to be, so it was a little bit safer.

Still, what do I need to do? There’s so much. I need to have a plan. I’m freaking out that I have a plan but it’s not a plan until I start planning… I have dreams and goals, where am I taking myself on this journey? Vegas is calling me home; NOLA is flirting with me like the day I fell in love with Jazz music; Seattle and Massachusetts keeps writing to me; Philly, NY, and DC are like old friends and saying “When are you ever going to come visit me again? I’ve got new things to share with you.” And, ow, my brain. Like fire. In a few days, hopefully, I will have a scheduled meeting with my Rabbi to discuss my future. I’m so torn as to what to do, where to go, what to be…. this is not something to take lightly. I literally get a new life: I get to be reborn again, back into the arms of the stars in the galaxy that hold me to my destined life, and after being away from my tribe for so long… I will find my place to fit in, right where I belong… It’ll be home. So surreal to even think about…. and another dream of mine that gets to come true. All I want to do, though, is truly make a difference in the world (starting off with a couple people to a community to a state and all over), and create something beautiful for everyone to enjoy. I just don’t know what yet. I think my answers might be in writing.

I found out that most of the programs (classes & the like) will be shutting down over the summer… which I guess is okay because it leaves me time to do SOAs, write, focus on cleaning and planning…and studying on my own.

I am in so much trouble since I found thriftbooks.com. After I bought round 1 of books, I bought round 2. I was only able to do that because they were so cheap, I got another discount on that, and I get 2 free books out of my next deal. I found several books of true and fictional Jewish essays / short stories / fairytales, a few more Holocaust books (fiction & non-fiction), Art thru Judaism, proper books for Sabbath / Death&Mourning, poetry, Jewish holidays collection, being Jewish, Jewish convert stories, and a few books about Matzo ball soup traditions & etc. I think my summer is going to be well spent reading, and lucky you, you’ll get to read about what I’m reading! (I still need to catch up on a few reviews. Oops.)

Soon I’ll be talking about Shavuot, ice-cream and cheesecake!!

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

A bittersweet symphony.

Note: This is not about the 80s/90s song that I can’t stand.

Tonight at 6pm-830ish: I will have my very last Intro to Judaism class.

It’s bittersweet, sad, all the words that describe some kind of a loss…one that I’ll be feeling for quite some time.

I remember last year around July, August, September I was sitting down having matzo ball soup and talking to my favorite friend and I was mentioning all the things I was involved in and doing at the time, and she asked me if I was going to take the class, even though I was that busy. There was no answer but YES…becausetherewasnowayIwouldwaituntilthenexttimetheydhavetheclass and I’m so glad I didn’t wait.

With the exception of missing a couple of classes for performance nights (in the beginning), I managed to attend every single class. What a journey it’s been.

(not in order) I’ve attended: Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover holiday events. Several Shabbat Friday evenings, one Saturday. Got to start at my synagogue with the best Rabbi ever, and attended his installment. I went sort-of Kosher with giving up all things pork/ham/etc and cheeseburgers (and discovered that a cuban turkey is the best thing ever). Partook in several fasts. I started this JewishMaeby account first on Instagram then started blogging. Realized my moods matched around the Jewish New Year and Passover. Was in a Purim Spiel. Attended my first Jewish Food Festival. Went to an Art Shabbat. Attended a really cool Sunday of learning. Experienced my first Mitzvah Day. Taking other classes elsewhere to continue my journey. Found my new favorite author, Leslea Newman. Discovered so much beautiful music. Fell even harder for “themed” things (Purim Spiels, Passover music). My writing and poetry and art style has changed greatly.

That little paragraph doesn’t even begin to tell everything in my journey. Just a snippet.

I have learned so much… and probably forgotten so much in between as well. I have learned that my heart still has a huge connection to the Holocaust, and I have a very big longing for enjoyment of learning about all of the holidays and traditions. One of the biggest challenges has been to keep to Shabbat, even though I’m getting a little bit better. I just have to do what’s right for me for Shabbat rules. I really need to work on the prayers. I also need to sit down and learn Hebrew.

I know the question is going to be coming up pretty soon about where is my journey going to take me? Obviously the main goal is to convert. If there are classes or seminars or events, I will attend as many as I can, so I can continue learning. I will try to keep to Shabbat and fix my schedule around that…eventually, hopefully, I’ll be at a place where delegation for taking off for all Jewish holidays will be okay. I would love to grow my brand, write my journey and publish my book, travel around visiting and writing about attending Jewish events or places. I would love to learn Yiddish (on top of Hebrew). And learn how to make all the fantastic snacks that’s made around specific holidays.

There’s so much to still learn and do.

But for tonight, I’ll be mourning this evening….as my first true step into becoming Jewish will be over. (Minus a later class where we’ll meet to follow up wrap up everything sort of class.)

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

TOMORROW IS Yom HaShoah, PLEASE GO TO https://www.illuminatethepast.org to light a candle to remember one of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. I lit a candle for Mose Boiangiu – born in 1925 in Jas, Romania, he died in the Holocaust at age 18.

Day 3&4 Counting the Omer

Today is still day 3 of Counting the Omer and tonight will be day 4. I decided to look up Counting the Omer and the reason I point this out is because I’m getting really freaked out now about how closely Judaism is representing every aspect of my life. Not just…. Rosh Hashanah and Passover and things in between…but Counting the Omer too? (I’m posting direct content from aish.com.)

I was looking on aish.com again: day 3–say it out loud.

Take a moment and think: “What am I living for?”
Now try saying out loud: “I am living for…”

Why is “Saying It Out Loud” a Way to Wisdom?

  • “Saying it out loud” helps you clarify fuzzy ideas.
  • Articulation is objectivity.
  • The more senses you involve, the more of an impression it leaves on you.
  • What you speak is an expression of who you are.
  • Everyone needs a sounding board, a feedback system. Do it yourself!
  • Never say, “I can’t.” Because then you won’t, even if you could.
  • Language is the bridge where body meets the soul.
  • Talking aloud keeps you from falling asleep and day-dreaming.
  • Words are reality. “To say is to be!”

Day 4 from aish.com- understanding of the heart / introduce yourself to yourself

Did you ever get on a train going somewhere, only to find that you’re headed in the wrong direction?

The same thing happens in life. We set goals and make plans – and sometimes discover that we’re on “the wrong train.”

Often a crisis hits at midlife when people ask: “What’s my life about? Is this all worth it?” We’ve heard stories of people who suddenly change direction, quitting their job and getting divorced. You know, like the successful doctor who decides he never wanted to go into medicine in the first place – so he drops it and becomes an artist.

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my goal in life?
  • Why did I choose this career?
  • How do I spend my spare time?
  • What is my motivation for doing what I do?
  • What really makes me happy?
  • Am I as happy as I want to be?
  • Is it more important to be rich or to be happy?
  • What are my future plans? Why?
  • What are my secret dreams and ambitions?

Last night, I had two separate conversations with two different friends and they both literally said the same thing regarding my life and they way they see me: I’m not doing what I love anymore, and I’m just not living up to my true potential. Life is too short to be unhappy and settling for less than I deserve. There’s too much out there. Opportunities that one would never thought to exist. They’re both right… you never know where an opportunity will take someone. By the 49th day, I sure hope to have my answer. I will be letting the Omer guide me the next 49 days to my own revolution, and hopefully by Shavout, there will be a new light.

Oh and the stuff from aish.com? Those were questions that kept popping up during my conversations. Looks like I have work to do.

One last thing before I go… when I was talking to one of my friends last night, I mentioned about my connection with feeling the way I do over Passover months and Sept/Oct being brand new start. She said that’s really strange because most people get really happy when spring is near because of the blooms and everything comes to life and then get sad and depressed in the fall. It’s the opposite for me. I struggle in the spring, I want the new year in the fall. It’s been that way my entire life. Now I have an explanation, I’m still a little freaked out how real this is becoming…. and now with these individual life lessons per day counting the Omer. Why is this happening?

I have really been a lost Jewish soul all this time, and I am really coming home.

I actually want to cry right now.

Love Always, Karen Maeby

Journaling thoughts through the school of something plus poetry.

I have taken Shabbat for what it is this weekend..… I literally didn’t move from the bed or couch the last two days (well except run a few errands). I guess that’s what happens when you’re so mentally drained and don’t know which way to go…but now I have to shove everything that I put off into this upcoming week which will not be fun. I was supposed to go to one of the weekend Yom Tov morning services which I guess that means I absolutely have to do it next weekend. I reread my previous post: I seemed pretty fun that night. It was a good night. As far as my diet while no bread this week, I went and bought a lot of veggies and fruits (and yes, pickles, which is already almost gone…oops), so I am literally doing a diet this week from all things not that. I am taking my first Passover (food requirements) seriously. 

Since I did miss Yom Tov services, I am watching/listening to Central Synagogue’s services online right now as I’m working on this blog entry. I’ve missed watching them, I need to put them back into my weekly tradition of things I must do or I’ll go insane. I love them very much. I haven’t been able to find another synagogue to watch online that’s as amazing as them.

On a more serious level—besides playing by the rules of what foods we’re not supposed to eat for the next week—I have been thinking about what I wrote a couple of blog posts back about writing personal enslavement and writing it down so that I can work towards freeing myself. But I’ll tell you something, this is so weird, I felt a wave of freedom when I got home from our Seder. Is this how it’s supposed to feel? Is that what’s supposed to happen? It’s so strange, and I am new to all of this. 

While thinking about what I want… I’ve been thinking of Vegas again: city lights, the desert, mountain sunsets, there’s a serious growth of a Jewish community and several Kosher places. Maybe the tracks to the train? Maybe a bridge? Maybe the future? I feel like I’m having my 3rd midlife crisis. I had one at 27, 30, and now 32. Is this ever going to end? I want to change everything. I need to map out my Jewish Journey along side of what I want in my creative world and do as a job. Helping clean up after our Seder really made me think about how much I want to get into the food/catering/event business. Not sure where to start, but I need to start somewhere before I go absolutely (more) insane with what I’m doing currently. I love all things to do with events. There’s a satisfying part to setting events up and then tearing everything down, the prep and hard work that goes into it (shows). (For 6 years, I was always the set up / tear down team at school events. I completely forgot until this moment.) There are things I’m really good at, things I need to improve on, and things I have never done. I should put my focus on that list and go after my new dream…Working as a stage manager in the theatre, I have learned so much that helps with the real world. It’s amazing. I’ve been doing computer and admin work for 17 years, I feel like it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. I probably wouldn’t even be having these thoughts if it weren’t for my Jewish journey… CHEERS to that. 

On another note… as soon as I woke on Saturday, I watched the Rugrats Passover. I swear it is the best cartoon we’ll ever have on this planet. There’s so many lessons, it’s completely pure, and with it being the first cartoon to really introduce Judaism to the world, who wouldn’t think it’s the best? I will love it until I am no longer on this Earth, and when it’s time, it will be so embedded into my life that it’ll live within my soul wherever it’ll go. Oh and while we’re taking about TV, I finished My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I’ll talk about this again some other time, but wow, what an ending. This show is definitely very Jewish, and all kinds of life lesson-y sort of things that the world absolutely needs.

Random thing: I opened up my super sacred Jewish drawer nightstand to pull out a book that I wanted to read the Passover portion out of and came across a gem that I found at a yard sale. I was extremely drawn to it – an Egyptian clutch purse. It only has a very small opening almost like a larger wallet with browns and golds with images from Egypt and Pharaohs and such. I should’ve remembered to use that for the Passover service. There’s always next year. I have a Passover and Hanukkah bag now. What is it with me and themes?! 

An Ode to Yesterday 
2019 © Karen Maeby 

Part I. 

Easter bunnies and baskets, hiding plastic eggs 
with treats inside for the younger soul to find. 
Family time dedicated to decorate boiled eggs. 
with glitter and lots of color… 
only to be devoured moments later. 
An instant thought goes back to when Ralphie 
unwrapped a pink bunny suit at Christmas.  
I smile, but this was yesterday. 

Part II. 

I’m already beginning to feel like a minority, 
as I see Easter everything lined in the stores 
and absolutely nothing related to Passover. 
“Happy Easter” they say, 
and I nod saying, same to you, 
but it made me uncomfortable…. 
I wish everyone understood that not everyone 
celebrates the same thing as their neighbor. 

Part III. 

There’s a part of reverie in free: a bitterness and sweetness. 
A blank map can’t lead you to the treasure, 
you can’t find the treasure without a key. 
Is your destiny already written,  
or do you continue write it every single day? 
Like a stack of cards in the Casino: 
you play by fate, press your luck, and gamble on your journey, 
and win: it was written in the stars to be this lucky!

Part IV. 

Will I be completely free when I kiss the lips of she? 
We embrace in front of a sunset that pours out poetry, 
and we toast with wine glasses to the city lights,
and our lips—together—sing songs of honesty 
that rips the chains off, the ones that hid our identities for so long,
and we’re feeling free..free…free.. on this Passover. 
Free from our past, free from our now, and free to live our future. 
and our silhouettes become one in the name of Judaism. 

Almost midnight thoughts after my first Passover Seder.

Forgive me G-d for I am breaking two distinct rules of Shabbat: writing and being on technology but there’s no way I’m going to remember this once I wake up because of my almost awful memory these days. And, wine. Much. Much. Wine. 

Wow. What a first Passover Seder. I don’t have any idea when it actually started nor ended. So I have that going for me. I got lost in time! Too busy making memories! And laughing for the first time in a while.

The food was so freaking delicious and there was so much foooooood. Soooo much fooooooood. I’m trying to sustain my weight here (a year or two after a major weight loss) and the food just kept coming out! My normal food schedule is eating a meal once a day! (Or very small things all day if I need to eat that way.) Oy vey. At one point, I told the guy who was handing out food “NO MORE!” and he’s like “Are youuuuu tapping out?! THERE ARE NO QUITTERS HERE!” Haaaah.  My entire table was laughing so hard. Yes. I had whine. Much wine. Bwahha. 

But anyway, on a more serious note. My 3rd family sure serves up some super duper delicious food. I can’t believe this entire time I’ve only had soup there (and turkey sandwich at the beginning)…but it’s my tradition to have *my* soup, conversation and do a little writing! But some traditions were made to be broken, right?! Well, Maeby. (But I did have the matzah ball soup and oh yummmy…..! That was so good and hit the spot just right that I wanted to cry. Yeah. Weird. Maybe wine?)

I have been craving pickles so badly and I got them! OH AND THAT EGG I WAS TALKING ABOUT? It didn’t come with glitter or colour, but I got it! I got my one egg. My entire month is made. I’m very satisfied. See? That didn’t take much to make me happy. Pickles and one egg. And soup! 

So, the wine. I am not much a wine drinker and by the end, I was toast. I ended up staying after and helping the helpers clean up. Met some amazing people that I didn’t know and had amazing conversations.

Overall, what did I think? 

What an awesome experience. I sat with my intro class. We told the story, sang a bit, ate and went back at it in the Haggadah. We all shared a lot of laughs, had great conversations and I can’t wait to do it all again next year. 

I even tried gefilte fish for the first time!!

This won’t be the last of my Passover blog entries, we’ve got an entire week left to talk about it. Oh and on the same topic….no bread all week. This’ll be interesting of what kind of menu I’ll be coming up with….Stay tuned. I might live off pickles for a while! 

Always, Karen Maeby 

PS – I might also have to sober up this post.