Be Kind

Thankful for being able to help

This Thanksgiving and Black Friday, I am reminded consistently of how fortunate that I am in the position to help people with time and money and that I have the ability to do as much as I can.

In fact, sometimes I think this back injury and being forced to NOT be on the ambulance was a blessing because I was able to help more people and have a better attitude when doing so.  During the worst of Covid, I was working 24 hour shifts back-to-back for four months, while getting my MS degree might I add, then took a small break to work part time for two years which meant so much of my other parts of my life just… died.  Now with the sabbatical from EMS, I could work on the others while still using the ethic of hard work and my non-pandemic standard 12-48 hour shifts that I learned from EMS (and ok even 14+ hour shifts from theater) to do a lot of good.

Since the injury a year and a half ago, I’ve donated thousands of dollars from everything from arts education (mostly high school theater and stage management stuff) to things for the refugees from the war in Ukraine (mostly the organization my cousin Tirza was working with).  I have another $3K earmarked for the World War II Museum in New Orleans.  Most of that were my tzedakah payments that every Jew is required to make.  That’s an obligation.  I don’t know how many people I’ve helped but I am grateful that they allowed me to perform a mitzvah.

I also donated anywhere from 15 to 60 hours every week as a volunteer.  Mostly in either theater related or healthcare, but other things as they came up.  I certified almost 400 students in bleeding control, offered free acting classes and stage management courses.  If anyone needed anything, I tried to help. A few months ago I ended up with a dog who is in really bad shape and needs so much work (Sophie).  I also did so much crisis counseling.  Even on holidays.  Last night (yes Thanksgiving) and the night before, I was dealing with an autistic with self-esteem issues whose therapist was taking advantage of him.  He got several hours of free therapy and I think he had a breakthrough (well given he just dropped me a note when I was writing this confirming a huge breakthrough.)  I was NOT supposed to be doing counseling last night because I have so much stuff I have to do this week.  But I’m happy I could help him.

Of course, there are always people who like pretending I don’t do anything or have never heard of me, but surprisingly that only happens in Augusta.  Like I was just harassed by someone who works at Le Chat Noir (Maddy) which is the theater that is always on the verge of shutting down.  It’s the only one I haven’t worked for in any capacity because all they promote is burlesque which I am uncomfortable with as a respectful Jew as was my Augusta BFF Caitlin who was religious.  Instead they decided to say they don’t recognize my name (um… which one?  Facebook name?  Maiden name, married name, Hebrew name, nickname, initials, callsign, or stage name?  No one calls me by my Facebook first name but Adrian) and that I don’t know what I am talking about writing wise because my public posts are all kosher recipes.  People actually follow me for them, one day I want to assemble my own book to include them.

The harassment is because I said I had never heard of some writing competition that was formerly only open to local writers but now is open to internationally.  Please note, it says first annual in one place and 10th year somewhere else.  It’s either one or the other.  If you can’t advertise or market in such a way that the local writers groups know, that the local theaters know, that the media knows, and that the creative writing professors know, then you can’t blame the person.  They are complaining that my autobiographical accounts are fictional… could have fooled me since I have documentation on everything I’ve ever done and I am primarily a non-fiction writer.  As I find the documentation, I list into the correct section specifically so people can’t make wild claims about the things I do and do not do.  The amount of slander/libel that goes on in Augusta is the reason that people in general hate this town and the amount of hostility just makes people leave this area which I am really trying to do.

I’ve been very selective of my fiction attempts since I am a non-fiction writer and nearly everything I have written fiction wise was based on something I did when I was doing research.  I have a monologue, which I stole and shamelessly adapted from my time in the field learning about paranormal investigators (the paranormal tourism project from 2018), that will be published in a few weeks.  Two more that didn’t get picked up, but I might polish them and submit for next year.  The monologue is going to be performed in a few weeks in the UK somewhere.  So I am also thankful for that too.

One might ask why I focused on helping others as being thankful for despite no one believing what I do?  It’s not about what other people believe or don’t believe.  If you remember the MASH episode where Charles Winchester donates a fair amount of chocolate anonymously, that’s the meaning of charity.  Not to announce it on social media every time one can.

I also find it hard to be thankful for family when your child is a missing person and Augusta PD (well really Richmond County Sheriff since we don’t have a PD anymore) or that you’ve lost 11 people in 14 months including all three dogs, which is basically all the family you have.  The people I help are my surrogate family.

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You can’t please everyone I guess

Yesterday, I did my first public… well… anything in several years.  Between Covid and the back injury, I just don’t get around much anymore.

But a few weeks ago, I was invited to come up and do the Shabbat candle blessing at my synagogue because I published the book.  Given my injury, I had to make sure it was ok to even leave the town.  (I live in a relatively small city/large town with very little around so I have to tell my lawyer about almost every trip I make in the car and get approval.  It’s bonkers.)

I saw some old friends who I adore.  I found out one of my best shul friends, Gene, was promoted to the Board of Trustees.  I saw my favourite member of my beit din, Rabbi Brad.  (Mysterious Beit Din Member Number 3 for those of you who have read the book.)

Several people laughed at the title when it was announced.

Now one person was kind enough to say he was going to buy it for his… I think it was brother in law who was going to convert.  Which I really appreciated.  I didn’t get his name.  This was certainly the first time I knew it was going to go to a member of the target audience.  He will probably go Reform I am assuming so some of the book might not apply.

For every person who was interested in talking to me about the book, there was someone who criticized.

One of the people at the Oneg asked if I wrote a book about bacon (which she said with a sneer).  I told her it was about conversion, and then she said “We all EAT bacon or at least the majority of us.”  I had to remind her that she and whoever she thinks exists are hardly a majority and that I don’t.  Then snarkally said “Converts think they are better than us.”  I told her, “I get it… no one likes a convert.”  Her reply… “Welcome to the damn tribe.” I said I converted 11 years ago but thanks anyway and she stormed off.    People can be so mean.

She probably doesn’t even realize that Rabbi Brad doesn’t eat pork (he does eat shellfish but not pork).  And in Israel, even the secular Israelis don’t tend to eat it as you may not farm pigs on the land of Israel which makes pork challenging to come by.   So no, the majority of Jews do not eat pork.

Conversion, at least mine, took over 16 years to complete.  And my dear friend Gene was even longer, though I can’t remember how long, he finished two years after I did if I remember right.  Then it took the book 10 years to find a home.   I worked hard, and the least someone could do was say “Good Job.”

I’m sure she has not written a book, much less one which has been nominated for three awards so far in it’s one month of existence.  (Edit : And 2 hours after the post went live I found out I am on the best sellers list.  Jewish Life… kindle.)

I won’t let her bother me anymore I suppose.  However, I think this does prove my point for some of the mentions I make in the book about the discrimination from other Jews.  It is rough.

***

In tangentially related news, a handful of reviews have finally started to roll themselves in for the book.  So far all 5 stars, but the sample size is 2.  Either way, I really feel bad that I am celebrating the book while there is an Israel-Hamas war which started just after it finally was published.  I am, even here in Augusta, feeling the effects as my neighbour has already made multiple threats against me.

***

There is still no news as to the kid.

No news as to if my back will ever be repaired.  There is so much I could do if it was and my upcoming events is basically zero.  The author copies of the book weighed about 12 lbs for 20 books so if I bought 40 books it would be over my weight limit.  Very challenging.

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