You’re probably thinking, Who is EVA KOWALSKI?
Well…it started in the womb in Central Europe. A college town in Poland to be exact – Wrocław. My parents were University students. They dated for a bit before my father knocked my mother up. There were tears involved as there often are when it comes to unplanned pregnancies, but despite rumors of the “accidental stair falls” they decided to keep me following a shotgun wedding.
I was born at the height of communism in 1980, the same year that the Solidarity Trade Union formed in Poland and shipyard workers went on strike (I totally just extracted that from google because I was trying to find a pop culture reference for 1980 and that’s what popped up. I was thinking more along the lines of…same year as high-waisted jeans and Cindy Lauper). Anyway, it was kind of crappy living in Poland at that time – lots of opposition, martial law – so my parents did what many wise Polishmen (and/or women) were doing at that time to free themselves from the oppression – they fled.
And that’s how my mom and I ended up as refugees in Sydney, Australia. We eventually became citizens. So tracing back — when the Second World War was happening along with the Holocaust and all that awful stuff, my grandmother’s brothers were put in labor camps. When the war ended they were given an immigration option – U.S., Canada or Australia. My great uncle headed for Canada, but according to my understanding, he hopped on the wrong boat and ended up in Australia. Years later my grandmother (my mom’s mom) followed. And then my parents and I followed to escape Communism (I was three years old at the time).
I was raised in Australia. I learned bush slang and how to hunt. I became quite skilled at the boomerang. Ok. Fine. I learned none of those things, it just sounded cool. Anyway, Australia was a great place to grow up, but I never truly felt at home. Not to mention my parents were desperate to impose Polishness on me via really lame activities such as Polish dancing, church choir and church. It was like leading a double life. Hiding all these foreign rituals from my Australian compadres.
After college, I traveled to America on a student visa. During my travels, I met my ex-husband on the Amtrak. I thought it was romantic, ok?! I didn’t realize the long-distance train in the U.S. was more of a transportation alternative for the underclass and people who can’t afford airfare. Anyway, we dated long-distance for two years, then we eloped in Vegas and I moved to Chicago where I worked as a journalist, mostly for the military (the Navy to be exact).
My marriage didn’t work out (mostly because my husband enjoyed having sex with other women and I was more into the belief that marriage should be monogamous) so after four years, I left Chicago for Los Angeles. Plus I desperately needed to get the hell away from the cold because I was not accustomed to existing in below zero freezing temperatures. So I moved to Los Angeles where I was immediately escorted into immigration hell – upon my arrival in Sunny California I received paperwork which accused me of entering into a fraudulent marriage. To put it mildly I was f&*ed. To set the record straight – I married a “bad boy” playa because I was a naive idiot (everyone knows you have fun with the bad boy, you don’t marry the bad boy. I learn the hard way). I married my first orgasm, but I never married someone for a greencard.
I was on the verge of being deported when I met my writing partner of three or four years. He was a still photographer for the movies who lived on a mountaintop in Lake Arrowhead, California. He was from New Zealand and ironically had gone through similar immigration struggles. Karma, maybe? Who knows. He volunteered to help me if I would write with him. So I moved to a mountain where I lived for close to three years, writing scripts and appealing my immigration case.
Following my existence as a mountaineer and after resolving my immigration issues and successfully appealing my case, I moved to L.A. and thought, “Wait! There are not enough dramatic turning points in my life thus far. I guess it’s time to convert to Judaism.” Just kidding. Clearly, because there are way TOO many dramatic turning points in my life to the point where it just sounds like I’m lying all the time.
It was more of a gradual progression. First, I noticed I was constantly surrounded by the Jews (or talk of the Jews). L.A. wasn’t my first encounter with the Jewish peoples as I had interviewed a Rabbi in Chicago for a couple of stories where my fascination with Judaism had begun. I, myself, was raised very Catholic (which means I have terrible guilt levels), then I tried being Christian in Chicago and in Lake Arrowhead my religion became nature and tai chi. I was surrounded by tall trees and wildlife. I felt embraced by God for the most part when I wasn’t struggling with my own questions about life. But then I moved to L.A. and felt lost and displaced (particularly amongst all the people without souls, aka. the majority of the population) — until the discovery of Judaism.
My need to explore the faith further really stemmed from my current boyfriend who exposed me to Jewish practices like Shabbat. Not to mention I was slipping into an existential crisis and I needed guidelines, rules, a foundation, something to believe in God Dammit! Insert Judaism. So that’s where I’m at now — living in L.A., still writing spec scripts that no one reads, and learning about Judaism. I’m also trying to learn more about my Polish history and trace any Jewish ancestry.
So that’s me – a Polish, Australian, American Shiksa (or maybe not entirely. I’ll find out more with research, but I have this theory that one of my Jewish ancestors messed with a Shiksa and watered down the Jewishness of my family tree, which would mean I’m not the original shiksa, just a shiksa by default). So I’m currently studying Judaism and applying the various practices and traditions into my own life. I hope you join me on my journey into Judaism. Shalom!