If I was one of those people who allowed introspection to disturb my preferred state of placidity, which I’m not, because I have better things to do, like eating cereal three meals a day, I would probably say that this will probably turn out to be one of the most formative years of my life.
I just used the word formative in reference to my own life. I feel old all of a sudden.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that a lot has happened to me in the past year, a year that has taken me, somewhat unintentionally, from the blighted wastelands of the Midwest to the sunny, occasionally incendiary Middle East by way of a massively destructive hurricane. A year ago, I was watching New Orleans disintegrate under the onslaught of Katrina, on the very day I was supposed to return to my life there. Not long after that, I was in Israel, sick, gimpy, sans luggage and miserable in the only way I know how to be, which is to say to everyone else’s great amusement. The breathless delight of my friends at my many misfortunes I’ll revisit later.
Through either serendipity or inertia (history will decide), a semester at the Hebrew University before a triumphant return to the ruins of New Orleans ever so slowly transformed into full-on immigration to Israel. Some will say it was the hummus what did it. Others will say full-on immigration was my plan all along. I don’t really remember at this point. It’s been a very long, yet very short year – when I consider all that’s happened to me, it seems like it’s too much to squeeze within the bookends of a year, but in another sense, time seems to be racing ever faster towards an inevitable destination, no longer beyond the horizon but increasingly in plain sight.
I’m sorry, I’ll stop abusing metaphor and get the point: I’m getting drafted in a couple of months.
This is something of a surprising development when considered objectively. I’m a lover, not a fighter. Well, I’m not really a lover. I’m neither mod nor rocker, I’m a mocker. And yet, here I am, on the brink of signing away a good chunk of my life to the military of the country I’ve rather recently adopted.
I could make an attempt to explain my motivations and feelings toward service in the IDF, but honestly, I’ve never been very good at sincerity (it always strikes me as insincere), and I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, so take five seconds and look at that charming “Hagen Al Moledetkha” poster in Laya’s recent post and I’m sure we’ll all be on the same page. And being one of those old-fashioned “Whoo-hoo, let’s make the desert bloom!” Zionists, Blue Train to Post-Zionism’s Ascensions, let’s say, I’m taking “Kravi zeh hakhi, achi,” to heart and shooting for combat infantry, or as my ever-encouraging mother calls it, “cannon fodder”.
I admit to a moderate amount of nervousness, which tends to be exacerbated rather than alleviated by everyone around me. My mother, beset by conflicting impulses to guilt me into changing my mind about the army in general, convince me to shoot for a non-combat role, or accept what I’ve decided, has become somewhat incoherent. (And before I get the indignant phonecall, she still is my favorite mother). My American friends are at best puzzled, given that my interests in high school were chiefly playing the drums and completing my collection of Prince albums on vinyl (this is not to say that these are no longer my interests, mind you). My Israeli army veteran friends mostly like to tell me somewhat alarming anecdotes that are apparently, in retrospect, the Most Fun Things Ever, such as, “The best part is when, during your tironut, for gas mask training, they make you go into a tent filled with tear gas, and then they make you take off your gas mask and make you work out until you’re crying and snot is pouring out of your nose and every cell in your body is crying out for the sweet release of death! It’s fuckin’ awesome!” Not that I’ll name names or anything.
But by far the most generally discouraging of my friends and supporters are my very own Jewlicious co-bloggers. ck and laya, with minimal input, will gladly launch on a half-hour spiel about how my death in combat would be the best possible thing that could ever happen to Jewlicious: “Just think of the traffic! The publicity! It would be blogging gold! We could make a post about your funeral and write you an awesome eulogy! The first blogger killed in action! Ooh, even better! You could marry (female friend of mine) first, and then you could leave behind a grieving widow! Or, EVEN BETTER, you could knock her up first! That’s even more tragic! And then we could establish charities in your name! The Michael Foundation – bringing together Israeli and Palestinian children and teaching them to play the drums. It’s gold!”
I love my friends so much.
And now, as November draws nearer and nearer, I’m hoping that the Blues La-Chofesh Ha-Gadol doesn’t set in. Although I guess I have plenty to occupy me – meetings, medical examinations, Hebrew tests, sure-to-be stressful dealings with the Misrad ha-Panim and all kinds of fun at the Lishkat ha-Giyus. And then a nice long period of being state property and firing M-16s. It’s going to be so formative I could just scream.