Thoughts & Things: Some Jewish & Some Not

This is going to be a very random bloggy post considering my brain is so full I need to dump it somewhere and I haven’t really been able to write in ages.

First things first: I need some jazz in my life. Like, pronto. Like, live jazz… like jazz that can be processed in through my ears/mind and immediately take over the core of my body all the way down that I can feel it deep within my soul… I need that. Story: When I was working Next Fall, they were playing all kinds of music backstage, and I asked them to play jazz (they chose blues, really), and the first song that came on was the song that belongs to Momma (h/s teacher friend) and I — Frank Sinatra’s My Way. That’s our song. How fitting it came on first. Of course, I had to text her and tell her. But anyway, wish I could find more Jewish Jazz. I know about Paul Shapiro – I love his “To Life” song and I’ve posted about it before. It’s just not enough.

My life is solely revolving around the Summer One Acts right now. I only have a few final things to tend to for finalization of props, then I get to work on moving props/furniture and sit on book for the remainder of rehearsals….Once I know we’re settled on show order, then I need to assign jobs for the CH. A few more weeks, then it’s over. Must remember to stay in the moment and enjoy all of the new people I have met. Next week we have 3 rehearsals at our home, then we move that weekend, do two weekend performances (7/11 – 7/21), then the whole theater will take a break until September (with the exception of our private awards ceremony sometime in August). Needless to say, I’m looking forward to a break after shoving so much into the past couple of weeks.

I have so much to celebrate (mostly my new life / conversion), and I haven’t been able to do it yet…I purposely put it off because I didn’t want to get too involved/distracted in celebrating when I still have lots of work to do. I have to balance myself and stay humble. I was thinking about birthday plans how I might start celebrating Christmas in July Eve / Day (July 24) – maybe a private thing in remembrance of another father-figure of mine from the boating industry–Joe–who died a few years ago on Christmas in July (and I have a story/poem that came out of literally feeling his death at the moment it happened)... and continuing a celebration until the weekend after my birthday (8/1). I have to celebrate: my conversion, all the new things already, the plays, 3 years with GCP (4th SOA), a toast to the future, and so much more… !!! I have a few places picked out of where I’d like go meet up with friends: definitely a repeat of the same 3 things I did last year, go to John’s Pass, sunsets every night, get my ears pierced twice or nose repierced, kiss an alligator again (and possibly adopt one), adopt more hermit crabs, bar meetup, get a Cafe con Leche (since I haven’t had my favorite coffee in over a year), attend Shabbat, do more than one thing Jewish (OY!), catch up with friends I haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, do a few good deeds, live out my favorite Katy song (#iwish), and I would really like to go and see a Burlesque show (don’t judge).

I sat down last night to write a little on my conversion story. I’m wanting to write an overall summary of the bits & pieces up until then, something I can turn into the Jewish paper here….but I am having a hard time sitting down and doing it though… just thinking about how all of the signs were clearly there the whole time, then I get really emotional, distracted on having to tame those feelings, and then it’s already time for bed. I need to do this while it’s still fresh. I would really like to share my story. It’s also hard to write an outline when it’s going to be an entire novel. That’s next.

After getting on Facebook and seeing all of the Pride pictures from friends, I’m actually really sad about not having attended. That heat, though. It’s really affecting me worse this year than it ever has.. heat used to be my friend. I know there’s a “Come Out” St Pete Pride in October along with a film festival in Tampa, so I will be very ready to do that.

Another funny thing that happened… I went on a whim and got my hair cut on 6/24. I woke up like, “I hate my hair. I need a change. I’m so very bored. Let’s just go cut everything off.” (Cool side note: found out (accidentally) that my hairdresser is Jewish. He asked, “You plan on coloring your hair tonight, right?” UGH NO. You mean I have to color it again? I just did it weeks ago! 3 boxes of bleach! I told him before I colored it, I was trying to grow out the natural color for my conversion but didn’t work out that way. That’s when he mentioned he’s Jewish, and he asked me what made me convert.etc.) Anyway, so yesterday I hop on Facebook memories for a minute, and I see that on 6/25/18 one of our directors for the SOAs last year had cancelled the last rehearsal… and I went to get my hair chopped off. Seriously self? I had to laugh. I don’t do things in patterns. I try NOT to! I do things on whims, on random. BUT ALMOST THE SAME EXACT DAY A YEAR LATER I JUST WOKE UP LIKE I HATE MY HAIR, NEED TO CHOP IT OFF? I had no idea, I don’t keep up with things like that! I just find it crazy. I’m supposed to do things randomly, not in sync! OY VEY. Maybe I need to write a song about this. Seems crazy.

I tried nova for the first time yesterday… and on nachos for Taco Tuesday. It’s my new favorite thing. I can’t believe I broke tradition after 1.5 years. What happened?

I’ve been thinking more and more about my goals and I have a few I really want to accomplish before the end of the year. Of course, I have some private goals of stuff I need to take care of that I won’t be mentioning here, but here’s some other plans…

-Working on my Jewish art + turning profit. I want to be able to test out the market, so that I could maybe set up a tent at the Jewish food festival next year.
-Publish short version of conversion story to Jewish magazines.
-Finish the full novel about my journey thus far to conversion and publish it.
-Have next year’s schedule planned out. If I’m following the Jewish New Year, then that won’t be so bad….but I’m committing to so many things, I need to know ahead of time when to say no to new projects.
-I’ve been discussing some ideas with close friends on a “Jewish-based group” that I started making plans for in December, but it wasn’t the the perfect opportunity to do it at that point. I feel like now (very soon) is the time, or maybe starting in late summer, so now I need to go back to the old proposal and revamp it.
-Figure out what’s going on with my other group.
-Fix my websites.
-Update everything that needs updated. (Which is so very much.)
-Start my own biz again to make extra money.
-Start making a difference.
-& so maaaaannnnnnny moreeeeee!

I’m not quite sure what’s happening
but the tides are changing
and the wind has captured the sail
pushing it in a different direction.
What is in a name, Ahava?
Love, unconditional love?
Did I fall in line with my journey
to find and embrace my beshert?

I’m not sure that I want to question it.
Some things are better left unsaid.
Actions speak louder than words,
but what I would give for an embrace, a hug.
Gleaming with happiness last Shabbat
I wore my Pride kippah for the first time
Proud to be Jewish, and one day, a coming out.
I lead a colorful & glittery life.

I am Proud of everything
I am becoming in the name of Ahava.
I found the light, and now: the love
in the ultimate wholeness of life.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby (Ahava)

[The Shabbat Edition 001]

Hallelujah it’s Shabbat: my favorite day, ever, in this Universe. I can’t even remember what happened this week, I just know it was a long and almost boring one….so commence the weekend activities. 

I want to do my Shabbat entries in a very special formatting with the following: 

  1. A small synopsis of my week (most will be in relation to trying to live a Jewish life). 
  2. Life lessons-ish or from my Intro to Judaism class.  
  3. Any special moments or events that I got to attend. 
  4. What I’m looking forward to in the upcoming weeks. 

A Small Synopsis 

-Last Saturday/Sunday was spent with the CL cast. We opened our show at TBI. Sunday after strike we all went out to dinner together and had a blast. We have 2 more full show weekends at different locations, then it’s over. 

-While there on Sunday, I learned that the Temple is doing a Purim Spiel and so I talked to the cantor involved and I will be soon doing something with that. In the meantime, I googled “Purim Spiel” and came across two amazing shows. One being a Billy Joel tribute and the other Hamilton the Musical. 

-At Hanukkah (my one year) I privately declared that I was no longer going to eat pork or ham. Thank G-d that I have a legit reason to turn bacon down without getting “that look” because I really truly don’t like it… Anyway, I asked the market that’s close by my work to make a Cuban with turkey for me. My goodness… it is so delicious. Made my week just about! 

-I downloaded some Jewish music: songs for the holidays, songs for Shabbat (you better believe I’ll be listening to this all day!) and some violin music. One day I will post what I wrote about listening to “If I Were a Rich Man” ~ otherwise you can go read it on my Instagram a few posts ago. 

-Wholly Guacamole! I have a website now. Legendary. Not really, just felt like saying that. 

Lessons Learned 

I don’t know if this counts as a lessons learned, but it is something from my Intro class. 

I love how in Judaism you can continue to comment on just about everything and make stances, when in Christianity it had always seemed to be so cut and dry and you can’t question things, or else. I’m not writing this as an insult or slur, I’m just simply stating… I know I found the right religion to follow because I question everything… even my own question’s question I question. 

Events / Special Moments 

I am so excited that I finally have a space to share my moments with you… like—for instance—Art Shabbat from two weeks ago. I am bringing that up now, because I just went to another show at The Poetry Bar in the A/E building last night (Thursday). It was yet another moment to wander around in a spectacularly inspirational place. Arrival led us to pinning on a heart shape to our clothing, walking through the doors to hear laughter of friends, and then, listening to some speak about love-love-love, sing of fate, and how our DNA can become a part of The Poetry Bar. 

Now, Art Shabbat (service run by TB-E) was the most fabulous thing. I think it should be required at least once a month. You are connecting with something so real and tangible (objects of meaning) and the prayer / song (is the poetry) and this place was just so perfect for it. We sang Sanctuary—which instantly became my favorite song after discovering it from Central Synagogue in New York—nearly over a year ago. The way that one forms words… have meaning. The need to express through art without words…has meaning. It’s how you interpret, read and analyze everything. Perfect for Judaism, eh? 

We moved about the two rooms and the Rabbi spoke about certain moments, sang certain prayers then the owners would talk if it was something specific to their art. The only thing [we] missed the mark on was singing the L’chah Dodi.

I was drawn to their “dreamers corner” like a magnet pulling me in….I had no idea that that is where the plans were born until the owners spoke about it. It was almost like a permanent sukkah too. 

There were open suitcases and trunks every where. That excited the gypsy in me, but it also meant something else: I had already decided before walking in there that “suitcase” was going to be a part of my new writer’s group name (and also a symbol).…so, as you can imagine—the me who reads into everything—believed this to be a sign. 

Art Shabbat was literally the same week that everything I had worked so hard to obtain in 2018 was pretty much….poof, gone… doors slammed. It was the worst week on top of an already worst week. Seeing the word “surrender” written on their wall meant something to me… that I had to surrender my dreams. Maybe not permanently, but for then/now, it was the time to do so. 

And last night (Thursday), two of my writers joined me and they had their personal moments too while in there… one was thinking about improv because he hadn’t done it a while and came upon someone from his old improv class, the other was to paint angel wings and she mentioned it before walking in there and on the wall was angel wings. I—again—had my own moment. I mean, something is definitely happening within that place. I don’t know what, but I can feel the poet in me becoming inspired after being put to rest for so long. My words may actually have song in them again… day….  

What am I looking forward to this week? 

-I’ll be working at the CH this weekend with CL. I cannot wait, I have missed being there, and it has a proper stage—of which—I have missed greatly. 

-Also, after we strike on Sunday: hopefully I will get to catch about 30 mins to an hour worth of Gulfport’s first ever Pride Celebration. I want all the color. And glitter. Ah! I hope there’s glitter! 

-Getting back together with my writer’s group after about week off…..although I have no earthly idea where we are going to host our regular meetings yet. 

-Going to the first rehearsal with Purim Spiel at TBI. 

-I bought myself a Valentine’s Gift: a very beautiful purple/pink hamsa necklace from my favorite jewelry company that I found through Instagram. I can’t wait until it arrives and I get to show you all! 

-Going to see Leslea Newman on V-Day at Temple Beth-El. In preparation I was googling “Letter to Harvey Milk” and came across the musical, so—of course, as a musical nerd—I downloaded it. Big mistake. I was blasting it in my car during my lunch errand run and the words…the depth of the songs…the meaning… hits a part of my heart and soul that doesn’t really come out any more due to being hurt. I’m not sure why all of these things are happening, I just know they are, and you know what… maybe it’s time I stop questioning it and embrace it. Another time, another entry for this subject, though… maybe after I see her on V-Day. 

Much love, Karen Maeby 

Starting (nearly) at the Beginning.

My story of finding Judaism at Hanukkah 2017 is so close to my heart, but I don’t want to share it just yet. I want this particular post to be my first.

It was the weekend of January 19-21st, 2018. I was finishing up some projects at the theatre when my mom called and said my aunt was in the hospital, wasn’t doing well, and I should probably call her. I called my aunt and was only able to speak to her for two seconds before the nurses had to come in and give her more oxygen to her already maxed out tank. It wasn’t looking good, and my strong intuition told me so. I texted with my cousin and asked if I wrote a note for my aunt could she read said note to her “just in case” I don’t get to tell her myself. This is what it said (note written 1/20/18):

Dear Aunt Patsy, 

I wanted to tell you a secret that only a few of my close family-friends in FL know. I want you to know that I am on the beginning journey of the soulfulness of Judaism and finding God through that religion. While it isn’t Christianity or where the rest of you–my family–have stemmed from, this is my journey and since finding it… I’ve never felt so alive, and I have reconnected with the soulfulness that I used to have. I’ve always been opinionated about such, and have studied and tried so many religions, and that fits me well with what I believe in and the way I measure my soulfulness all of these years that I have lived. I went to a Jewish restaurant and they go to the synagogue that I am wanting to go to, so I’m super stoked they will be introducing me to their people. If you have ever worried about me and my soul, don’t, I believe I am in good hands now right where I belong. I wish you could come down here and meet all my theatre family– I’ve found such a good group and they take care of me, I them, and we have so much fun. They are my people. They’re all saying prayers and positive thoughts for you. I need to go now because I have to start setting up for the second production today. I love and miss you, Aunt Patsy. 

By the grace of something, I had the chance to help out with a theatre production that I was not scheduled to work. It kept my mind busy. Thankfully. It was the very next day when I was hosting my writer’s group that I received the text that my aunt passed away.

A few months later, I texted my cousin (my aunt was her mom) to ask her what she told her after reading my note. This is her reply:

When I read her your message she sat there quietly, looking upwards and she got big tears in her eyes and she was smiling. I will paraphrase what she said, “Please let Karen know that i am proud of her and she has always been so artistic and I love that about her. I love how she goes for her various passions. A good place to start her spiritual journey is Judaism. Jesus was Jewish so she can’t go wrong starting there.” She said to follow your heart and look to God and he will answer all of life’s questions.

My writer’s group hosted our first event in April 2018, and my aunt’s death inspired me to write a play called “Anna’s Serendipity” that had to do with Anna finding a way to tell her grandma about her path of Judaism–but there’s a whole lot more that happens in that journey: death, possible love, etc. I have plans on eventually turning this into a full length play & movie script.

I don’t know why I was keeping my new found faith a secret at that time, I think I was more afraid of putting it out there and it not be able to happen. But then again, I had researched so many religions and nothing ever fit… except for this one.

One year later: I remember this letter and how much has changed since then. One year since losing my aunt who loved God so much, and–like my grandma–she wanted me to find him too. One year since looking into Judaism. A few weeks ago was my one year anniversary since I had been going to the restaurant as mentioned, and nearly more than six months since I started going to the synagogue with three months into my Intro to Judaism class.

I have had a lot of awesome experiences thus far, and they’re still continuing. I can’t wait to share my past and future with all of you.

Until next time,
Karen Maeby <3