Tears, Sweat and Blood

At the Lebanese border

At 8 years old, I rammed the shopping cart into a pyramid of cans at Hungarian Kosher Market and spent the next half-hour with an ice pack, tilting my head back in the parking lot. During basketball practice in seventh grade, I remember a friend set a pick on me, missed, hit my nose, and covered her own face in shock. I laughed with lines of crimson dribbling down my chin and said, “Now I’m bleeding from two places.” At 14, I broke my nose in a swimming pool, 16 a soccer ball, and by 18, my bedroom really just needed a humidifier.

For three years, all was quite on the nose-in-front, until about six weeks ago, when I cried so hard I couldn’t tell whether my nose or neck was bleeding.

But to understand, we need to backtrack over a year ago, to November 4, 2014, the day I made contact with the first of many in the long chain of Israeli reporters.

How to get a bloody nose:

1. Find a friend who knows an Israeli reporter so you can network. Make a good first impression. Ask about Summer internships in Fall: ” I know that it may seem a bit early to be thinking about this, but for someone who’s always been passionate about writing, news, and Israel, I would say I’m being only moderately proactive.” Click “Send.” Wait and nail bite.

2. Click “Compose” on December 16th: “Just reconnecting after a few busy weeks and holiday season here. I was wondering if we could set up a time to chat.”

3. ……………………………… Taste Cuticle.

4. Finally, get a human response. Get the “okay” to give them a call. Reach for the phone and notice they don’t have an American line…

5. Stay confident when you’re told that your Hebrew isn’t t good enough for breaking news coverage. Read to line two: “You may be able to intern with our culture/lifestyle editor….” Do the stir-the-pot dance also know as, the cabbage patch.

6. Apply for the university’s international travel grant in the hopes you get the internship. On the funds requesting sheet, put down price figures to an El-Al standard. Ask for $2,500 total, because your bubbie taught you how to negotiate.

6. It’s bitter cold outside, but your head’s still on summer, especially after the Lifestyles editor responds mid-March asking for writing samples. Jump on your bed at school. Bounce for approximately 25 seconds before realizing that if the bed breaks you’d probably have to sell a kidney to replace it. Desist jumping and call Mom instead.

7. Mom says you need a Plan B. Apply to a Jewish leader fellowship that night and power off for the day. Find out you are accepted. Feel like a cheesestick being pulled in many directions, yet, strung.

8. Be told by fellowship you must accept by date X. Email reporter S.O.S. calls. Shout that this Titanic dream is sinking not on holiday! Accept fellowship at 11:59 p.m on X.

9. Contact reporter. TRULY “regret to inform” them.

10. Love fellowship. Ask multi-billion dollar donors to support the Holocaust Museum. Realize you ain’t shabby either. Befriend fellows. They know you’re weird immediately. How? Ask, “Howdy Doody?” Mystery solved.

11. Plot Twist: “Dear Eliana, I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism to receive the Gene Roberts Award……This award provides travel reimbursement to undergraduate or graduate journalism students at Maryland to travel outside the US on particular journalistic or research projects with a specific itinerary.” COME FREAKIN’ ON!

12. Convince school to let you use the grant for Winter instead.  Do you have a reporting internship in the Winter? Yes, mmhm, of course. Get the “okay” now pull your face into The Scream.

13. Get hit my wall of silence from Newspaper. Use fellowship clout to get email of someone at the Israeli paper. Receive email hours later, saying she heard from David and the position is all mine. Wonder who the hell the fellowship led you to. Discover it’s the guy who started the paper.

14. Buy ticket to satisfy parent’s restrictions. No AirFrance, Lufthansa, Korean Air, Qatar, Turkish Airways… Anything not El-Al. How about $686 on Air Canda? kk.

15. Your editor skypes you while she makes dinner. Chill. You’ll be traveling all over Israel — from Tel Aviv to Eilat, Jerusalem to Mount Hermon — going to concerts, plays, local events and more covering whatever’s happening. Get pumped.

16. Locate a place to stay within a 10-minute walk. Check. Unlock phone/buy SIM card. Check. Call BlueCross for health insurance info. Learn what a deductible is for 30 minutes. Don’t actually get what it is. Check?

17. Over the next few weeks, watch as your Facebook timeline becomes a morgue. Palestinians wield knives, cars plow people down, rocks in windshields aimed at 8 year olds, 18 year olds, 80 year olds. Feel things changing.

18. Do what any seminary girl at heart does — whip out your Tehillim, empty your wallet into a tzedeka can, turn to the words of Rav Kook and Rav Soloveitchik. Bob your head to the tempo of scholars who say Am Yisrael is incomplete without Eretz Yisrael and “The Way of Hashem is…to evaluate each situation and determine if it warrants a battle cry or a peace negotiation.”

19. Prepare yourself by watching boxing videos and practicing your jabs and cuts. Again, again, until blisters on your raw knuckles pop peach. Buy a personal alarm. Purchase pepper spray. Have your boyfriend ask you what pepper spray’s going to do when a terrorist stabs you from behind. Ignore the question and say you’ve been ramping up your push-ups. So, if you’re mortally in danger and the attacker asks you to drop and give him 40, you’ll be prepared.

20. Parents forbid you to go. They tell you reporting in a “war zone” is a suicide mission. They tell you they don’t want to lose another daughter. Feel icy. Explain you can’t live in someone else’s shadow — because she no longer lives will not prevent you from living.

21. Cry until your nose bleeds.

Everyday, I am bombarded with mixed messages. The FBI just issued a warning not to travel outside the country, but my friends are taking the bus to school, my boss is meeting up with friends at the mall, at the movies. My boyfriend is swimming with dolphins in Eilat.

It feels like everything I worked towards was just a sandcastle made too close, too close to the shore, never really made to last. But more than my failure, there’s this ineffable desire to return to Israel. Three years ago, almost to the day, I sat in my seminary bed with a Bar Ilan application in my lap. But I listened to my parents, the good girl that I am, and told them I’ll go to an American college on the condition that they wouldn’t stop me from making aliyah after graduation. Their response: we’ll help you pack your bags.

Now, I get this ash-in-my-mouth feeling that it was all lie. That no matter what, it’s never going to be a good time to go to Israel. But that’s the geo-political nature of Israel being sandwiched between enemies and the sea.

And you may think this is all stupid, that I’m making such a big deal about a 28-day internship to go to concerts and plays, but I see this as more than that.

It’s about a girl who shows resistance not with a gun, but with a pen. A girl who’s not about surviving, but living. A girl who is so passionate she cries blood.

It’s the struggle of parents who love too much and a girl whose trying to love herself.

Drama Queen

About the Author
Two truths and a lie: Eliana Block is a Zionist. She learned sex-ed really for the first time in college. She aspires to write her first novel while skateboarding around the world and sampling different peanut butter recipes. Lie: roller-blading*