Posts Tagged ‘Masa’

I don’t know what to say… I haven’t written a post in over two months. A LOT has happened, and I feel a little bad about not writing about it. I still constantly update my Facebook page, so be sure to check that out – The Lone Soldier Facebook Page.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write the blog, it’s more that when I do come home from base (which is less frequently now) I’m so overly exhausted that all I want to do is lay in bed. If I somehow pull the energy out of myself to get up and out, I want to go out and do normal people things. Go to a bar, go to a movie, hang out at the beach etc. Since I have my iPhone it’s much easier for me to write quick updates and send in a few pictures here and there to Facebook. Writing takes thought and time – neither of which I want to use on weekends off.

Since we left last time, here’s a general run down of what’s happened so you can all catch up:

  • We finished tironut (basic training) and have moved onto imun mitkadem (advanced training)
  • my commander that I told you about? The batshit crazy one? yea, he got kicked out. I have many different feeling about it, some good, some bad. I think he was a great commander in that he knows his stuff and is insane in the way that you want someone that’s gotta protect you during a war. He also was WAY too hard on us, considering we were just in basic training. I personally think he would be an amazing commander in the gdud (battalion – referring to working on the line, not at a training base). He is someone I want to command me during war, someone that isn’t going to lose his cool and isn’t going to be scared – he was just a little too tough for training, that’s all.
  • I got a new commander, great guy. After guarding with him at the front gate recently I found out that he speaks nearly perfect English. It’s not that I want to be speaking English with him all the time, but it’s a great relief from my previous commander who hardly understood English at all. I’ve been here 10-11 months, sorry but my Hebrew still isn’t fluent. Sometimes I just HAVE to say something in English, especially when I’m frustrated and can’t remember Hebrew for the life of me. He’s not as “balls to the wall” as my previous commander, but I think he’s a much better (more caring) commander for training. He legitimately cares if we learn our lessons, and what our problems are. He doesn’t mind having a laugh with us either, which helps reduce the constant stress I’ve been feeling.
  • We guarded in STIFLING heat near Ein Gedi (around the Dead Sea). The army treated us and we got to go to the pool at Kibbutz Ein Gedi for an hour!
  • We went to some other base for a week and had “team building” exercises and lots of interesting lessons. It was a nice break from our usual run till you drop schedule. I learned a lot, and think it was great for our machlakah (platoon) to learn more about each other.
  • Our pluga (company) completed one of our first very long masaot (hike/journey). 25+5KM 30% (in layman’s terms: 25 KM, another 5KM with stretchers loaded with sandbags, all while carrying 30% of body weight). This was one of the hardest masaot for me yet. 3 people passed out on the way from any combination of dehydration/overheating/lack of energy. My boot over the past couple weeks has developed a whole in the lining near my heel.  I did my usual of putting on two pairs of socks, and didn’t think twice about it – bad idea. After the first 10KM or so I started getting a blister, another couple KM’s and I had a hole in my foot, and little after that I just kept telling myself my foot was on fire and everything was fine. Needless to say, for a week or so after I had to put gauze and tape on my foot until it healed up. I’ve now learned about a great product: Leukotape! It’s expensive stuff, but it really works to protect your feet in the spots you know you’re going to get blisters… It’s like a second skin.
  • We took a ride on a Black Hawk helicopter!!! Out of all the infantry units, ours is the only one to get to do this, so it was an amazing experience. I can hardly explain to you the weightless feeling when you take off: it’s like when you’re at the very top of a roller-coaster…but not exactly? With swirling clouds of dust and pebbles flying around you, the chopper’s loud and powerful engines launch you off the ground in a matter of seconds. Half a minute later you don’t even recognize where you are, several hundred feet up and far enough away from where you took off that the surroundings are new and mysterious. We only flew for around 5 minutes, but they were some of the most memorable 5 minutes from the whole army so far…After the helicopter ride we did a 5+5KM 40% Masa – I didn’t think it was as hard as our previous Masa, but it still wasn’t easy.

Not the one we went on, but the same make and model...

  •  This past week all we had been doing was guarding and working in the kitchen. It sounds like a break, but it’s really not. It was only our machlakah (platoon) on base, so we had to cover everything ourselves. We were guarding 2-4 (2 hours of guarding, 4 hours off in-between) and alternating working in the kitchen all day. Four hours off isn’t really four hours off… 2 of those hours you’re kita konenut (I’m not positive about this one, but it’s basically a squad of people who are always ready to respond to an emergency on base) which means you can’t take off your uniform (including knee pads and boots). In addition, if you hear the words to respond, you have to be ready with ALL your gear in 1 and a 1/2 minutes. Let me tell you, that’s tons of fun being woken up to for a drill… The other two hours you technically have off, but you’re always going to be sleeping so you never get undressed in the first place. I didn’t shower or take off my clothes for 4 days. I smelled TERRIBLE. You have to be back to guard 20 minutes before the hour and it takes 5 minutes to walk there, so basically it works out that you guard 2 hours, sleep/rest 3 hours – and that’s if there isn’t something planned for you to do in between.

In conclusion, the past two months have been very smelly, very tiring, I’ve learned a lot and experienced a lot of cool things. Since I don’t know when I’ll be updating next, stick to Facebook for the real up-to-date posts. The next 2 months is going to be even harder, so I don’t know what I’ll be able to post about – but just know I’ll be hiking further than most people think is possible, sleeping half as much as a normal person and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane numerous times…

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5 months

Posted: June 3, 2011 in Basic Training, Tzanchanim
Tags: , , , ,

Disclaimer!!! I wrote the following a couple weeks ago and never finished the blog. I’m not as angry and annoyed as I was then, but things do still tend to irk me from time to time. I’ve begun to try to accept that this is just the way the army is… Plus I have a working iPhone again which makes me happy, and a great girlfriend to massage my nervous wreck of a self. Without further ado, I present to you all an outdated, unfinished blog entry! Enjoy!

Wow, tomorrow will be 5 months since I started this crazy ride called the Israeli Defense Forces. That means only another 34,186,670 seconds left till I’m out. The reason I’m counting the seconds is because 13 months or a year and a month seems like such a short amount of time. When I started this adventure I didn’t realize that I would be checking every second that goes by. Whether I’m in the army timing EVERYTHING I do because the commander says to, or because it’s on the weekends and I don’t want to waste a second – I’m always checking the tick-tock of the clock.

It’s come to that point in my service where I’ve realized that not everything is perfect in the IDF, very far from it in fact. I won’t go into far reaching details with you now, but I’ve started to become a little cynical due to the broken promises that I’ve grown accustomed to.

Some of the promises are from the IDF, some are from companies, and others are just from people in general. The army promises that Lone Soldiers get out at 6am on Friday’s, I can’t remember the last time I got out before 9am. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but when you have less than 48 hours to get everything you need to get done for the week, it really makes a difference. It especially makes a difference because most of those 48 hours are “shabbat hours”, meaning NOTHING is open or working. When the phone company charges you a ridiculous $183 in a month, and they’re closed on the weekend… it doesn’t really help that you can’t call them to straighten it out. I’m starting to hate shabbat, it’s more of a time of being annoyed that I can’t get anything done, rather than a restful time.

OK, so now that I got my bitching out of the way, I can also say that I just completed one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life this week. The day before we left base we had an 8km masa (Journey/hike). The last kilometer we ran with a stretcher full of sandbags, and for the entire 8kms I went with the pakal mayim (water bag). This bag has 15 liters of water in it and so all together weighs around 40 pounds. Add this 40 pounds to the 25-30 pounds of equipment I already carry (1.5 liters of water, 6 loaded magazines, combat vest, dummy grenade, M16 and other small assorted items) and I’m carrying around 70 pounds of stuff. I’ve lost around 15 pounds in the army so far bringing me down to a skinny (semi-anorexic, as my girlfriend says) 150 pounds (68 kilo’s for you non-poundage people). I was carrying 46% of my body weight!!! what?!?!?!

It’s been two weeks on base. It’s Saturday night at 9pm. I have to wake up at 6am tomorrow. I don’t want to write this blog.

That being said, here goes an extremely quick recount of the past two weeks that hopefully I will be able to elaborate upon next week. If I don’t have time… sorry, it’s just one of those things that will be stuck in my memory for me to enjoy reminiscing about.

Again, that being said, my headphones are lost and/or stolen. I annoyed everyone for the whole week about it. Sorry tzevet chamesh (unit 5), I just really don’t like losing things. We did shmeera (guard duty) for the first time, it’s not half bad. If you do it with someone else you get to talk to them for 2 hours, if you do it by yourself, you get to talk to yourself for 2 hours…

We’ve all, especially me, begun to get fed up with our mefakdot (commanders). They’re 18-19 year old little girls. They seriously don’t know how to do their jobs half the time, plus we’ve realized that they have very little power over us unless we do something really bad. If we do something dumb, it’s just pushups or running – which at this point I need to do anyway (dad, if  you’re reading this, I just fixed “anyways” to “anyway” – thanks for always yelling at me for that!) to workout for my gibbush (tryout) for tzanchaneem (paratroopers). Gibbush Tzanchaneem is 8 days away and I’m excited and a little nervous about it. Until then I’m working out and continuing the stupidity that Mikveh Alon has turned into.

Buffoons

Since we’ve gotten bored of everything we tediously do throughout the day we find little things to jazz up the place. Two weeks ago it was us leading up to “ehser shniot” (10 seconds) by yelling “eeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHSER shneeoht”. Now this past week I made up “EXTREME SHNEEOHT!”. Twenty Seconds in Hebrew is “Esreem sneeoht”, so it was obviously the next logical step of buffoonery for us to take. We got yelled at by our Somelet (platoon leader) for both of them… onto find out the next thing to annoy them with…

We went to Jerusalem – it was cool. I could write a lot about it, but I’m not going to now. We went on two “Masoht” (journeys/hikes). I’m also not going to write about those.

The Kotel

Top of Mount Arbel... Our second Masa

We have a test coming up this week to determine our level of Hebrew. Great idea for the army to test us after we haven’t had classes for about a week right? I thought so. Dumbasses. Everyone I spoke to about Mikveh said this time would come, and I’m saying it now, I’m not very happy with Mikveh Alon at this point. It’s like second semester senior year, I just want out and I don’t care how I act anymore.

It’s not all bad though, Mikveh Alon is almost over. Soon I’ll be in the “real” army getting my ass beat by my real commanders. Oddly enough that isn’t supposed to be sarcastic, I really am looking forward to the real army. I’ve got a girl by my side, a great adopted family and everything in Israel is at it’s greenest. Life is good, but nevertheless, fuck you Mikveh Alon.

There are a TON of new pics from the past two weeks, so check them out on the Lone Soldier Flickr Page. Pictures will have to tell the thousands of words I didn’t feel like typing this week. The Lone Soldier Facebook Page always tells the quick anecdotes I don’t have time for here, so become a fan over there!

p.s. Hebrew word of the day: מדהים – Madheem – (Awesome!)

p.s.s. I just looked back at my Flickr pictures and realized how much I did in the past two weeks…