My room and growing garden.
Now I have a blender and a toaster oven. I got a gift of about 200 dollars to an electric store. I just wanted a toaster oven, I got Dora CD and speakers and there was still money left so I got a heater and a blender. I have had a lot of fun with the blender already.
Its looking more lived in now.
View from the window of the bus, near Megido junction.
Window of an egged bus.
window from 35th floor of Azraeli Towers.
Rainy day in Tel Aviv
Me And the girls.
Me and cantor Judy before I left to go home. Free bus ride in uniform! She and Shlalomo were like proud parents!
Just the thought of starting this blog entry, makes me want to not write. It’s been two months or more since I published anything more than: I’m fine, I’ll write soon. And I’ll write soon turned into 2 months and so much to tell.
Where do I start?
I don’t think this will be in any sort of time line because I just can’t. Just whatever pops into my mind to say.
Lets start with something in the army that was really surprising and could have changed a lot of things. I’m in the course, it’s going OK, I say this because I really didn’t receive the kind of help I needed with my language barrier. Think about it, there were girls that went twice a week all day to physical therapy, but I never had a day, half a day, a 1/4 day were I sat down with someone who helped me understand the material. They have a physical barrier but I have a mental/learning barrier.
But, alas it’s going OK. Now mind you in the 3rd week I went to another base with my security papers to have the interrogation. I didn’t get it because they had to ask for a waver because I didn’t comply with the length of time a person in intelligence has to be in the country for clearance. I was just thinking (week 7): huh, that’s funny. I never heard an answer about the clearance. Well, maybe they just lost the paperwork and its all good.
No. My officer came to me. Polish your shoes and put on your beret and come with me. OK. We are walking and she says: We are going to a big cheese officer of the base because your request didn’t go through and he will see what he can do to keep you in the course. So we had a little interview. He was a sweetheart and said I really want you to stay, I’ll write a letter and you will come back tomorrow to sign.
OK so it’s all good right? Wrong. The next day my officer says Elizabeth get all your clips and empty the bullets. OK I don’t understand why, but you don’t really ask why. So I do it. Then, not even an officer comes to me. I don’t know what you would call her job in English but she is something like an extra, she does the more social aspects for the platoon. Anyway she comes and takes me to the gun warehouse. So I ask why. And she says: they didn’t tell you?!? You are not staying in the course. I was in shock. How did we go in 24 hours from, “I’ll write a letter, don’t worry, to your kicked out?”
As I’m dipping the M-16 in gasoline I ask: so where will I go what will I do? “Well”, she says, “when this kind of thing happens girls become clerks on the this base. But you should as for a field intelligence base closer to your house.” I’m just standing there in shock. Clerk?! No that is something I specifically didn’t want in the army. I would rather work in the kitchen, scrub toilets, I don’t know what. But not clerk. Clerk jobs are for girls that don’t want to do anything in the army. That’s where the army puts all the girls because well there are not enough good jobs for girls and also there are not enough good girls willing to do good jobs.
I spent the rest of the day going here for an interview, there for an interview and finally just sitting waiting for an answer of where I would go in the army for about 2 hours. I gave back all my equipment, everything. Finally one of the clerks said we don’t have an answer today so go home and come back tomorrow. None of my lower officers came and said, “We are sorry. We wish you could have stayed. Good luck.” Nothing. Only my high officer came and talked to me while I was waiting for the bus. She was such a sweetheart. She was so excited to tell me that she had lived in LA also as a very small child.
I stayed over at Lerone’s house in Tel Aviv that night because it was just to far to go home. In the morning I called and asked if it was really necessary that I come back (I lied and said I was all the way home) because all I would be doing is sitting waiting for an answer. No they said come in. So I left as late as possible. Got to the bus station at Ber Sheva and called to find out what bus to take to the base. No answer. Five minutes later my officer called:
Where are you?
Elizabeth you are staying in the course.
Do you understand me?
I said you are staying in the course.
Talk about weird. So the story I finally heard was this: that the top officer of the base found out and he said: She stays. And I guess that was that.
I was happy to come back. In that 24-hour period I thought about everything. What would I do? If I was a clerk should I quit? Everything.
But it was weird also to come back. All the girls were so happy that I came back to stay. But I really had that feeling like the officers didn’t care. And they don’t. And maybe that’s OK and something I have to not take so personally.
We had 3 more weeks of the course. It was really like pulling teeth. It was so dragged out. I think it could have been a 7-week course. I got sick in the 9th week. I think the flu shot really did me bad. And that shot on top of months of no sleep, bad food, and stress. What do you expect?
And in the end getting our real beret (dark green) and finishing was great. We broke distance with the officers on the last day. But it just wasn’t so pleasurable as the first time. Maybe because it was the second time. Maybe because I don’t think the officers were very good. Maybe because of my problems with leaving and coming back. I don’t know why but it wasn’t such a thrill to me.
My mem-mem telling a story after we broke the distance ont eh last day.
The tents we lived in.
Rotem, Ruth, and me the morning before we left the course.
Some of the 120 girls from my course.
The bathrooms in the distance!
This is a view from inside my tent. I loved here for 10 weeks!
That's my main commander Moran , center (yes, Moran is an Israeli name) The two girls on the left of Moran are with me now in the north.
Another commander, Shiran. Yeah after 10 weeks of distance and no smiles, everyone is all smiles.
One of the dinning rooms.
This is my great mem-mem (The officer of the officers in my company) She was the only one who was kind to me when I was dropped from the course.
Rotem, Ruth, and me the morning before we left the course.
In this time period. I spend very little time at home. When I had the opportunity to get out of the army I was visiting friends. It was like something every weekend. Iris, my friend from Holland came for a month and I spend as much time with her as I could. She is such an amazing person.
You know when you know a person for a very short period of time, and then you see them again after a long time all you can do is reminisce. You can’t make new memories or all you have is that old connect. Well it is no like this with her. She really is a gem.
I went one weekend to Ma’Agan Michael to visit her and my friend Roie. We went to this restaurant with Roué’s parents that was so good. It was up in the Gilboa Mountains and when my mom comes back I have to take her there. The food was so good and wholesome. They grow a lot of the food there on the grounds of the restaurant.
Also, one of my godfather’s sons was here. But unfortunately I didn’t get to see him because of scheduling problems. The army is a bitch in that sense. It consumes you and takes and takes.
So, now back to the army! What else do I have to talk about?
I have been for a month on the base that I will stay at for the rest of my service. It is in a place called Mitzpe Yadi. Basically you can’t get any closer to Lebanon. The army base is in the mountains on a cliff. We are at such an angle that I feel vertigo when I go to edge and look out. I see Mount Hermon covered in snow everyday and the most beautiful view out over Israel. It’s really amazing. I am with 4 other girls from my course. We live in a very tiny room all together.
All this past week we have been studying and learning like I have never learned before. It’s really funny because I have a friend from my first Ulpan who lives me and we met almost every week at the pub on my kibbutz. Anyway his brother just finished the army and was doing what I am doing, just out in the field. So he is always giving me tips and telling me what things will be like. It is really good because I have a rough idea of what is to come, but on the other hand he doesn’t sugar coat it at all. He tells me, “girls will cry. At the end as part of your final test you will be given a screen and a map and 100 points and you have to be able to point out at least 80.”
And I think he is right. So far I am the only one out of the 5 who has not cried. But I am sure I will. And we are learning so much and so fast. Right now we are in a middle period. Basically it’s advanced training. This will last anywhere between 1 1/2 to 3 months depending on us and how fast we individually learn.
We already had a huge test and on Thursday before I left we where given 5 pages of “secret” codes; words, numbers the works, to memorize! Augh! Difficult. But all the girls that are in the line are very pleased with the work and speak very highly of it.
My officers seem very good and very caring. They are really taking the time with me to help me understand. And the highest officer is such a nice guy in the first impression. He asked me if I have a nickname to call me by. That’s the first time in the army. And he wants to call me Lizzy. Lizzy is back!!!
The food is horrible. It just keeps getting worse and worse. What can I say? Nothing really. I am bringing instant soup, tuna, cereal, and crackers to help. And on almost every base there is a little store to by junk food. There is no such thing on this base and even worse, I can’t get packages! They send them to another base that is 40 minutes away and no one ever goes there to pick them up.
So there are 4 openings for using the cameras and scanning the boarders. And one opening for the radar. They have not told us who will go where yet, but I think I will be in the radar because my Hebrew isn’t so good. In the radar you are giving orders to the camera girls. The camera girls are giving orders to the soldiers. And you have to have great Hebrew for that. It is life or death. Not to say that the radar isn’t important. My friend Dora said that if the radar girls miss something and the next day the soldiers in the field find something they missed (like material or foot prints of Hezbollah) the radar girl will be put on trial for sloppiness. All the jobs in this field are very important.
BTW a cool thing/fact in Israel: To send a package within Israel to someone in the army costs you 7 shekels (about 2 dollars). Any package. It could have bricks in it. It could be 6 feet by 8 feet. Doesn’t matter 7 shekels. I think that is so cool, so basically everyone can afford to send a package, rich or poor.
Oh I forgot, on the last day of the course I finally got the interrogation!! OMG. It lasted from 8:30am to 2:30pm. It was crazy. Everything. Everything about me what I think, what I do. What my family does, who my friends are. Wow. I had to sign waivers for everything. Lie detector tests. Drugs. Even a waiver saying that if I joined the “new age” movement I would inform the army!!! (I think they are worried about cults and Satan).
I have put in a request to have my army time lowered to a year. But I am kind of torn on it. I talked to my officer about it. On the one hand I am 23 1/2. If I serve out the full term I will finish at 25. Which isn’t grandma age, but it is old. On the other hand when I finish all this training I will literally have 6-8 months in the line. What is the point of training me for something important if I am just going to leave? But my officer said it was a good idea to get it lowered and if I want to stay for more the army will never say no to that.
My neighbor and very good friend Dora will be moving this month! I am very sad but she is only moving to the center of the country so it’s not so bad. But I don’t want a new neighbor and I don’t want to be alone here. I do have friends in the kibbutz, but not like her.
Forgot another thing, I saw the cantor and her husband from Pasadena Temple. Wow, I had so much fun. Judy and Shalomo are so great. Shalomo is so funny. He reminds me a lot of Hugh. And he knows so many interesting things about Israel. He is Israeli and he and Judy met in Israel. I met all his siblings and mom and extended family. They know how to cook. And were very welcoming and invited me back. Shalomo told me about all his army experience and about life in the army in the old days.
It’s really funny because now that I have my beret and pins and tag for observer, everywhere I go people are asking me: are you an observer? Where are you in the country? Were you here, there?
And I left the army base for the first time with my M-16. Kind of crazy. Little Lizzy with a weapon. I’m a killing machine….just kidding!! I’m scared to kill spiders!
And that’s about it for now. I hope I will get into a more normal rhythm of writing again. Until my advanced training is over I will be 11 days in the army 3 days out. Once that is over I will have 9 days in the army and 5 days out, which is amazing. I could even get a job!
I think I’m done for now. Just a final thought: Go see the Borat movie. It is so funny and he is speaking in Hebrew!!