I can barely contain my excitement as I sit down to write another blog, whereas normally I write my blogs on a Saturday night, knowing that I need to wake up the next day at a ridiculous hour in order to go back to the army, today it's a whole different story. As of this morning, I am on my 'regila', a five day holiday that a combat soldier gets twice a year. While everyone else in my battalion had their holiday two weeks ago, mine is this week, since my parents are coming to Israel to see me and spend Pesach here. Thus, I not only am relieved to just get some time off from the army, but obviously delighted that I will be with my parents for the whole of Pesach, after not seeing them for four long months.
I have just been in the army for more than two weeks straight, since I stayed on base 'guarding' while nearly everyone else was on holiday. I say 'guarding' because, in fact, what I was doing was standing in front of an empty 'neshekia' (gun storage place) for most of the week, since everyone had taken their guns home. There were six of us guarding last week, which meant we did guarding hours of 2:10 (i.e. two hours guarding, ten hours not guarding). Usually, the second number of hours is filled with scheduled activities, like P.E. or cleaning, however, since most of the commanders weren't there either last week, we had free time for 20 hours of every day for a whole week, something truly unheard of in the army. So, last week I did a lot of sleeping, speaking on the phone and watching movies in the common room. Last week was also weird because some of our old commanders were on base, including mine, doing preparation for officer's course. Now, since there is no 'distance', it was bizarre to sit down at dinner and joke around with the guys who used to make me run to a tree and back fifteen times in a row. You come to realise how your commanders are just nineteen year old boys who put on a face, as part of the discipline that was basic training. I even managed to play football with my old commander last week; and felt guilty when I beat him in 'Wembley singles'!!
Me with my dad and ex-mefaked after my swearing-in ceremony four months ago.
Talking of football and Wembley, I am also in a great mood because, like I requested in a blog recently, Spurs have started winning again and now are going to Wembley for the FA Cup Semi-Final. I do find it slightly fustrating how I owned a season-ticket at Tottenham for 12 years and never saw big European teams at White Hart Lane, but the year that I go and leave England to make aliyah is the same year that we (hopefully) might finish fourth and make it to the Champions League. On that note, there are two stray dogs that like to come and sit near our battalion building, which I have named Defoe and Crouch (Spurs' two strikers)! Also, as I've said before, everyone in the battalion seems to know of and all about me, partly because I'm English and have a funny accent, however, now it seems that every Sunday morning even the commanders are coming up to me and jeering me if Spurs lost or congratualting me if we won!!!
Dressing up in a kippa and 'madei aleph' (smart uniform) for Shabbat last week.
I don't think I have ever mentioned it before but it's defiinitely a big part of army life; 'galhatz'. Galhatz like most phrases in the army is mix of two words to make one word, this one being 'gilooah' and 'tzatzaooah' (shaving and brushing - polishing boots). Galhatz is something that every kravi soldier has to do in the morning as part of the disciplined routine; but also to look like a presentable solider, even on base. Polishing the shoes is something I actually enjoy and is somewhat kind of therapeutic, however, shaving my face is so annoying. Luckily, since I have a babyface, I only need to shave about two times a week (always on a Thursday night before you leave, in order not to get caught by the military police at the bus stations)! I'm also finding it very annoying how all the guys who have girlfriends in my class keep on complaining about how they never get to see them because of being in the army, I wish I could have those sorts of terrible complaints but I'm still waiting to find a nice Israeli girlfriend out here!
There is so much more that I still want to write about in this blog, like how the new March 2010 draft have arrived and how that makes us, Nov '09, not the youngest and inexperienced soldiers in the Tzanchanim brigade. I would want to tell you how I worked in the kitchen all week this week, which is the most horrible week of the year since we were there from 5am to 11pm every day cleaning for Pesach. Also, my weekend in Ein Gedi (!), where we guarded on the beach and spoke to and had our pictures taken by Christian tourists from around the world. What about the depression that I went into at some point last week where I started worrying about if people would leave my Garin and the Kibbutz and where that would leave me, and how I miss all the little things from civilisation that I don't have time or the opportunity to do here. I also wanted to mention how my Hebrew has imporved, mainly in terms of knowledge of rude slang!!
Me at Ein Gedi this weekend, you can just make out Jordan in the back-
However, I want to end this blog by saying how I just can't wait to relax for Pesach with my parents in Tel Aviv and will try not to think about the difficult times of advanced trainng that awaits me afterwards. Hag Samaech to everyone.