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.

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

There really are no words….

…even though there are so many.

I haven’t even been able to collect my feelings during/after reading the book I just finished a couple of days ago, then the shooting in Cali happened, and the broken part of my heart opened a little bit wider to just accept the sadness.

If I could paint a picture: it would be of a broken heart with roses and flowers laying around the edges, on the outside, below the heart with blood just dripping and tears would be the rain that would fall down in the painting that would cause the blood/rain to get mixed up and become such a sad, artistically representation of a mess.

Is it a dangerous time or a brave time to choose to be a Jew at this moment? I’m seeing so much fear. Yes, there are a million reasons to fear (just like fear anything else we fear in our lives), but we need to be brave. You can’t live life fearing every single corner you walk down. That’s just not even right… and that’s giving power to the enemy, and that’s exactly what they want. What happened in the past and what is happening now does not scare me away from wanting to be a Jew. I want this so badly. A Jewish song has always been in my soul and I am finally singing to the tune of it. I am finally embracing a world that has been missing for a really long time. I am feeling passion where I’ve lacked before. I see G-d and G-d is in that light within all of us and all over the world prompting us to do good, be good, and to carry on day to day.

There’s a really sad representation of something or another with the shooting happening on the last day of Passover: a shot to our freedom. Another (unnecessary and terrible) life lesson that freedom isn’t exactly free, and what do we have to give up in order to have? It is yet another reminder that we need to keep fighting. It was just yesterday that the Holocaust happened, #NeverForget? We live in a totally different time where–for some reason–we are marching backwards: women/lgbtq rights are being singled out once again where rights are being stripped away, and minority groups (Jews, immigrants of any kind) are being targeted for all kinds of antisemitism. It will never really go away, as there will always be people in the world that spews out so much hate that even the brightest yellow stars in the night sky will turn black, but we can do something about limiting how much is out there…give everyone a wake up call, make those who have earmuffs on–take them off–and listen before it’s too late. And if we keep doing the same thing over and over again and things still continue to sour, how about lets try something different and see what happens? We really need to start acting fast.

How have these acts effected me as a future Jew? It has made me more emotionally aware and in-tune with the terrible situations. It makes me want to proudly express my star of David anywhere I go. Speaking of which, I have not taken off my star of David necklace since I got it in December and my chai necklace hasn’t come off since April of last year. Every day I fall deeply into my faith, and I value living life…representation of why I never take them off. As far as everything else goes, I am not scared to go to any of my Jewish locations, they’re part of my favorite places to be. I want to be a part of the Jewish future, it will be my pledge, to help change the world and make it a little less anti-s. That’s why I am here. All in due time.

Going back to the book that I read “Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler” – the true story of Trudi Kanter. What a book, what an experience to just read the book. It was so visual and heart breaking that you could visualize exactly what they were going through… which was fear. Fear of walking down the street and being caught, fear of having their belongings taken away, fear of their own life being at stake. Trudi was one brave woman as she did everything to find her way through the system to rescue herself, husband, her family and her hat business that kept them to being able have the money to make deals to keep their life going. There were so many risks involved.

I can’t believe that book was once out of print for a really long time until someone found it and decided to republish it again. I was so lucky to have gone to the bookstore in the mall–that I haven’t been to in ages–to find this book… (once again, my intuition told me go, that I would find something there) and, I did.

This book inspired me to create a play: I wrote the overall synopsis, beginning and ending planned out. It may take me a while to work on it, but the story is there.

This is how we’re going to keep our past alive to teach the future….by telling stories.

Love Always
Karen Maeby

PS – there might be another tinyletter letter coming later, so if you have access to it, check it and read once I’ve posted.

Finished.

I finished the book I was reading last night. “Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler.” Nearly 300 pages done in a few hours between two days. I can’t write about it at the moment because I am still so heartbroken, in awe, and so many emotions bursting out of me. I can barely see through my tears as I write this. 

Notes: Trudi still kept the hope—by working on designing her hats, and not giving up on something that made her happy. Trudi still did everything she could to save her family even if it meant risking everything. Moments of relevance: suitcases, name change(s), letters. 

Trudi inspired me right down to my core, and what will come out that? You’ll have to wait to see. I would not want her spirit to be disappointed. I shall not spill any secrets a moment too soon. 

Always, Karen Maeby 

The philosophy of my journey, writing and TV shows.

I have an idea. Yes, you should be scared when I say that, because it’s almost like when Lucille Ball said she had an idea. We’ll get to my idea momentarily though.

This weekend, I binge watched almost every single episode of all three seasons of Kim’s Convenience Store which follows a Korean-Canadian family who owns the store and deals with the day to day life. I love it. It shows character, culture, and is superbly relatable (in situations / relationships) and yet again, is one of those shows that the world needs.

Now point the focus back to Jewish-based shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Mrs. Maisel and–shows that I haven’t seen but read about–Broad City and Shtisel. I’m sure there’s more to be had. From where I stand, as a future Jew, I really sincerely felt like we needed more Jewish soul in television. Now, before my journey, I hadn’t paid attention to any of this but now that I’m on my journey, experiencing and embracing Jewish life, I’m falling so hard and I want to watch tv shows that embrace Judaism or have Jewish characters to relate to. Again, I think the timing is kind of perfect, because the Universe needs to call out to those hidden Jewish souls and allow them to find themselves being drawn to (like I was), and then, for those who were born into Jewish families but no longer practice… they should be revived. This should be Judaism’s revolution–and we should stand tall to antisemitism–be brave to stomp the hate out. It’s more than important that we remember our history–traditions from way back when all the way to forever teaching the Holocaust even when there are no more survivors left. We have to be ready for that.

Last night when I was trying to go to sleep I was recalling the moments I’ve had the past six months or so….and here’s my idea….as I am writing the book about the beginning of my journey, I should also write my story into a TV show. With 50% fiction/non-fiction….and why not let it be Anna’s Serendipity that I continue writing on? I already have story lines, true to life characters, and I’ve been writing down ideas for the future of that, even when I didn’t really know where I was going to take it. (Thinking it’d be a full length play then movie, but why not a continuing series for a while?) I could write some of the more important characters in remembrance to a few close friends/family members who have passed on. It would be in dedication to my grandma and aunt who were both G-dly people and of whom I had a strong bond….. And I would get to share my vision from a future convert’s point of view. How beautiful would that be? I could fill up an entire notebook right now just for the holiday episodes.

Watching the ending of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was partially the inspiration for my idea. The ending was amazing, even though, it was kind of predictable (but in a more of a life lessony sort of way, if you were truly into studying the characters and story line) the way that she found herself after all that time and came face to face what she really wanted to do. It was a beautiful ending, really, and for those of us who are tethering on the edge of something or another: it gives us hope.

Rachel Bloom, the writer and one who played Rebecca in this show, said she saw her series as 4 seasons. I admire that. She wrote it, her story, and made it happen.

Now, I am going to do that with mine… and hope that Rachel Bloom and her team will one day see the scripts of my TV show and want to do something with it. One can only hope. Here’s to sending my dream out to the Universe.

Always,
Karen Maeby

I don’t know what to say.

These last few days have been a serious struggle to even get up out of bed, as I have been swallowed up by the big black darkness of depression once again. I guess it’s not like it’s anything new. It’s something I’ve been trying to hide for a bit…thinking just one more day and I’ll be okay…I realized something was wrong yesterday when I had plans to go to a meeting, I cancelled, then went to bed at 5:30pm. Granted I watched a movie, but still, in bed? Before the sunset? I was so numb that by the time the movie was over, it was still early, and I told myself I had to get up and take a walk. If anything, take a walk–smell the Florida water and see the sunset. It fed me some sort of energy, but still, instead of staying up and doing something I went to bed.

Once again, I’ve withdrawn out of all of my worlds almost. My friends. My friends turned family. The places I’ve considered my homes. I’ve dropped off the social media planet. The once Queen Bee of Social Media has died, disappeared, something. I haven’t answered anyone back in emails, social media, barely any texts and no calls. I have a long to-do list of plans and goals and they go untouched because as soon as I leave whatever I absolutely have to do for the day, I go home and crawl into bed. I made promises that have yet to be fulfilled. And all I want to do is go to the person of whom I considered to be my most fave person on this planet and tell her how much I want to fix things and make them right so that we can really talk again….but I have absolutely no energy to do any of that, because I’m just so broken… I am just so sad inside. My soul has been wanting to cry for days, but my body just won’t let it. Or vice versa. Not sure which. I just feel so trapped by something and I just can’t crawl out of it. I am just so full of sadness… I don’t want to be. It just happened that way. I miss the days where I was super woman, and did 450,000 things and got them all done. I survived off barely any sleep…working until midnight, waking at 4am…sleeping only when I needed to or got a chance…I miss when my every minute was scheduled and I couldn’t waste time. Where has that part of my life gone? I want that back.

I’m not sure what the solution is… I guess getting myself together enough to participate in all things holy will work. Keep following the light through G-d, and think of this as some sort of life lesson as it is around the time of looking for freedom. Maybe I’ll get mine. Maybe this is what I need to write about, a story, or something. Personal narrative for myself for next year. I need to do more Mitzvahs. At least in end of May – end of July I know my evenings will be pre-determined… so I’ll be focused on something. Maybe it’s because my schedule isn’t jammed packed. Maybe it was a huge mistake to drop everything. I always feel like this when I drop everything. But do you continue until everything snowballs and you explode? Or do you step away and feel for a little bit? I’m so confused.

I’m also having a moment with this writing thing. Second guessing myself. Am I a writer? Am I even good at writing? Am I right when I think I am? Am I eventually going to get somewhere? Have I produced good work thus far? Will I ever finish anything I’ve written that hasn’t ended yet? Am I going to get it together enough to produce a fantastic show sometime before the year ends?

So many thoughts. I’m lost in so many thoughts. I just can’t. I just want to cry but can’t. Thank goodness Passover is Friday. There’s this thing I used to say last year… just another month if I can get through this, then it turned into a habit of if I can just get thru x and x and x…. then it’s like, I said that last time. What is happening here? I don’t know, but I really hope I can make it through the next few days, weeks, month. I don’t even know which way to go at this point.

PS. Started reading this article from Forward after posting this. It somewhat declares what I’m feeling. Just somewhat.