Posts Tagged ‘Army’

My time in the army, although short in the grand scheme of my service as a whole, has taught me enormous amounts already. I appreciate everything outside the army as if I were a baby taking his first lick of an ice-cream. Life is sweet, and far too few people are tasting it!

Listening to music has become a privilege, not a necessity, as it seemed to become throughout my time in university. If music wasn’t playing while out of class, and sometimes even in class, life seemed quite and boring. With that thought in mind, I realize now that everyone listening to music 24/7 is missing out on all the beautiful auditory nuances of everyday life. I’ve also become aware that on top of what everyone’s missing out on, listening to music ALL the time also dilutes the meaning behind the very music we care so dearly about.

Looking at the mountains and all of nature when getting off for a weekend is like discovering a new continent. I feel like Columbus (or was it Leif Ericsson?) taking his first step onto the Americas. I am Neil Armstrong on the moon, I am Buzz Lightyear taking first flight. Seeing the same surroundings all week long (even though the base has a gorgeous view) lets me savor and enjoy every sight I see on my brief weekends off.

Smells bring back vivid memories of sweet experiences, wonderful times in the past and the inevitable awkwardness of growing up. Being a child, being a student, being a dirty backpacker. All great things to reminisce about when one has the time to think their own thoughts.

Tasting the crazy foods of the Middle East is a totally new experience in and of it’s own. Most people know me as a garbage disposal eater so I love shoveling down all these new flavors! I eat avocado nearly every day, somewhat of a “delicacy” in the states, where as here it’s just a casual food to throw on a piece of toast…

And who can forget about the sense of touch. Even with my extremely callused hands from countless pushups on gravel, touching something soft is a pleasure unrivaled. A plush blanket, a furry dog, or the gentle caress of a woman…

Change has occurred, which I normally don’t like. I usually like things to stay the same, to be comfortable, but I guess that has changed as well. Life is all about moderation, something I’ve realized in the past, but even more so now. Mix it up and enjoy the good things in life. Appreciate the things you have, because it could be much, much different.

the sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour!
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The Then.

So I haven’t updated for 2 weeks again… and it’s due to two factors, one I won’t discuss because I’m not jinxing shit at this point – the other is Jersey Shore. I’m watching it right now while I’m writing, and if there is one way to feel at home and hate home at the same time – it’s watching Jersey Shore. There’s no better way to spend a weekend than to culture bash Guido’s.

Last weekend I watched about 10 episodes of Jersey Shore with Adam and Steph, fittingly this week in the Army was full of Adam making stupid references to the Shoooore. I’ve now acquired Mike from the show’s nickname… “The Situation“. What can I say, I’m sorry I don’t have the body of a 12 year old like you Adam. If this entry has a lot of cursing and terrible grammar, don’t blame me, blame the Shore.

I try to take notes throughout the week to  remember what to write about, but most of that usually get’s mixed up with my other Hebrew notes. In the  end I get a mixture of important Hebrew words I should know and dumb anecdote’s about things that most people just won’t understand. Being in the army is a combination of an N.R.A. sleep away camp, a fraternity and a club for masochists. We’ve got guns, make stupid immature jokes, and enjoy the pain of wind sprints and push ups.

Most of us have come to the realization that while in “Course Evrit” (Hebrew class’) we get to do one fun thing a week. Last week it was Krav Maga, and this week it was watching some guy drive around in an Armored Personnel Carrier. While seeing the A.P.C. in action was cool, Krav Maga totally kicked it’s balls. We learned a couple moves, and practiced on our makeshift punching bags made out of our army bag filled with our sleeping bag. Fun times,  I hope we’ll have another class this week – probably not though, they tend to keep the fun down and the learning up.

Armored Personal Carrier... I forgot the name in Hebrew...

The past two weeks tons of fighter jets and helicopters have been flying over head, pretty crazy stuff. I always ask my Hebrew teacher “Efshar, Ani tzareech lelechet leshuruteem” (If possible, I need to go to the bathroom), which for me actually means “Can I go outside and giddily watch the jets flying over head?”  I couldn’t get a picture of the helicopters, but here’s a decent shot of one of the jets:

F-16 flying overhead... This photo does it no justice...

How I wish I was born with perfect eyes and could fly a jet. Speaking of which, this week I had the pleasure of having some disgusting infection in my “eyein” – seriously, that’s how you say eye in Hebrew. Basically I had “zombie eye sickness” for half the week and had to wear my glasses. I probably got it from constantly dutch ovening my self at night. What can I say, the food doesn’t agree with me and I sleep in a sleeping bag. I refuse to provide a link for “dutch oven”, you can google at your own risk. After a combination of conventional medicine (the kind that works) and my adopted mother’s crazy herbal remedies (the kind that maybe work), I now have perfectly normal, functioning “eyeineem” again…Normal in that I’m still blind without glasses or contacts.

The Now.

Time has been flying by and instead of counting our days till our weekends off we’ve been counting meals. Our schedule is very predictable and very much the same every day (once in a while we’ll have something different – rare and very appreciated). Wake up at 5. Waste time cleaning and making Chet’s (a simple formation) until breakfast at 7:30ish. Learn Hebrew till lunch time at 12:30. Learn more Hebrew and/or some random stuff about Israel until Dinner at 6:30ish. Learn some more, run, and do push ups because we messed something up. Have an hour to an hour and a half of Shetash (break). Go to sleep around 10-11. Rinse, Reuse and Repeat.

One thing I look forward to every Friday is the Mefakedetohts (women commanders) in Aleph (dress) uniform. When the only women you see all week long are wearing gross, baggy Bet (secondary) uniforms, it sure is nice to see a tight uniform at the end of the week. My standards in women have dropped significantly since I’ve gotten into the army, but thankfully I don’t need to worry about that right now. As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, I’m not mentioning that because I’m not jinxing shit at this point. Maybe next week/entry I’ll mention it. That’s supposed to be confusing, so just say “huh?” and continue reading.

This coming week I get off on Wednesday! what what!! I can’t wait to have more than a day and a half off! I need to go to the bank to see if the lazy army has paid me yet and take care of some other errands so I’m really looking forwards to Yom Siddureem (our extra day off). I’m officially off the US Dollar and I sure hope I have some Schmeckels in my Israeli piggy bank to spend on some Goldstar for the weekend.

Today I went for a random trip with my adopted family up to the Golan Heights. We stopped at Kibbutz Naot Mordechai, home of my adopted mom’s brother’s family (my uncle?) and the Naot factory. It was weird winding up there since I had been there 2 1/2 years ago with Birthright/Taglit… not much has changed, they still make shoes. After that we continued up, and up, and up into the mountains and stopped at a couple places along the way. As I feel like I’ve done every week, It’s time to cut this blog awkwardly short. I gotta finish up watching Jersey Shore now so I’m  just gonna leave you with some pretty pictures… remember you can always see more pictures on my Flickr Page.

P.S. I do feel bad about cutting this blog short, I’ll make it up. Pinky swear! hopefully next weekend I’ll have some shenanigans to write about…

It’s two days before I have to report to the bus station that will eventually take me to Bakum. Now obviously unless you have some sort of odd knowledge of the Israeli army system, or you’ve done this before – you have no idea what Bakum is. So let’s start with a quick rundown of how my army paperwork has gone so far:

  1. I spoke with a man who helps Lone Soldiers – his name is Tzvika. He gave me some pointers on what I should be doing to get into the army.
  2. I got a letter from my Rabbi proving I’m Jewish, I got a letter from my doctor at home saying I’m in good general health and I got a hold of my original birth certificate.
  3. Had a meeting with a guy at the MoD (Ministry of Defense) named Yuval. He gave me a few more pointers which were generally the same as what Tzvika told me.
  4. I took my letter from my Rabbi, my passport and my birth certificate and brought it to the Jewish Agency. There they copied everything and said I should hear back in a few days. As is the case with most offices in Israel, when they say they’ll call – they won’t. I went into the office a week later and asked what was going on, I told them I wasn’t leaving until they fixed it. They had winded up losing all my paperwork and I had to recopy everything. I sat and watched them until they finished my paperwork – with all the signatures and stamps it needed. That’s how you get work done, make them do it.
  5. From the Jewish Agency I took my proof of “Jewishness” and went to the Ministry of Immigration and got myself a fancy sticker in my passport. Isn’t it pretty?

    not sure If I'm supposed to post this? EDIT: removed image (decided it wasn't the best idea...)

  6. Now that I had proof that I’m allowed to stay in the country for two years I headed back to Yuval at the MoD and gave him EVERYTHING I had gathered, including my letter from my doctor saying I’m nice and healthy.
  7. From here Yuval was great, he worked behind the scenes and got everything ready.
  8. I went into the Lishkat Gius (Enlistment Office) in Haifa and had a medical examination, Hebrew test and IQ test. This is called “Tzav Rishon” or “First Order”.
  9. A week after my tests I went into the Lishkat Gius one more time to essentially wait in line three hours just to sign one piece of paper. I’m not even sure why I had to go, but anyway that was a “fun” waste of a day.
  10. From here I went home for 2 weeks and proceeded to miss a few phone calls from the army (oops?). Also while I was away I received a letter in the mail telling me my enlistment date. Eventually when I got back, I got in contact with the army and made another appointment (which I went to today). And so, without further ado this is where I am:

    rain at kfar masaryk

    flooding at kfar masaryk

It’s been raining for days and it’s disgustingly cold, for Israel that is. Everyone here loves it, not sure when the last time they saw rain was, so I guess it’s understandable. Through all of it I trudged through the rain puddles, pushed myself through the blistering wind and eventually, soaked, I made it back to the Lishkat Gius.

Instead of waiting for hours like last time I was here, I only waiting five minutes or so. On top of that I got to sit and talk with a very cute Israeli girl. She took me through some basic info and had me sign a few more papers as well as talk to her about where I’d like to live on my time off. I’m trying to stay on a kibbutz that some of my friends are on, and so hopefully they can make that happen. While waiting for a phone call to come in to confirm some info for me we wrote notes to each other, I wrote her one in Hebrew, and she wrote me one in English:

note

I think we're a match made in heaven.

And so today was a pretty good day. I made it to my friends kibbutz safe and sound. After napping, relaxing, eating and watching a movie I feel good and back in the groove of things. I still need to get a cell phone at some point, but that will be taken care of soon hopefully. And so now when you thought I forgot about it, onto Bakum.

I’ll tell you about Bakum tomorrow. BAZINGA!

The Letter in the Mail

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Before Deployment
Tags: , , , ,

My deployment letter came in the mail today as confirmed by my friends at the hostel (HaYarkon 48) in Tel Aviv. When I get back to Israel December 6th I will be sure to post a copy of the letter in it’s entirety.

This letter makes the process official, all the paperwork and time I’ve spent has been finalized. December 15th I will be a soldier in the Israeli Army. More on this later, for now I’m spending as much time as possible with friends and family in the good ol’ US of A.