January is over. That means that a quarter of the first third of 2017 is over. And I am completely fine with that.
2017 for me, is set to be a full – and rather stagnant – year of serving the nation. So I have been trying to set little milestones and create things to look forward to, to get through the year. And so far it has been working.
Somehow I have at least one ‘key’ event to look forward to over the next three months: Jamie’s play, An Absolute Turkey in February, All In! Young Writers Festival and Shaf’s play, The Illusionist in March and last but certainly not the least, Fifth Harmony’s 7/27 Tour concert in April. Add to this the plans yet to be made and I think the first third of 2017 is looking pretty good.
And not to forget all the TV shows and movies to look forward to each month. There are already five reality shows premiering in February and the Power Rangers movie is coming up in March. Having a new episode of Celebrity Big Brother UK to watch every day in January definitely had an impact on how I felt like the month flew by. So having all this daily entertainment will definitely help too.
Of course, all these plans are only for the weekends. On the weekdays, I am still stuck in camp. I have been at my post-vocational training unit for over two months now. After two weeks undergoing a type of orientation programme in November and a laid-back time with not much to do in December, I was worried about how intense things would get starting from 2017. The people around me gave me the impression that things were going to get a lot busier so that fed my paranoia. And I guess the paranoia was justified because the first week of 2017 felt like a really long one.
But first, before the work week officially started, I had a reunion with my Poly friends. It is no secret that the new groups of people that I have encountered and met since enlisting only made me miss the comforting presence of the people around me during my three-year diploma course. So I missed them dearly and wanted to catch up with them.
The plan for a reunion originally surfaced back in November during a dinner with Jamie, Chels and Shaf. I was wondering if there should even be one since it seemed like everyone with the exception of myself has been able to see each other every now and then or have at least crossed paths since graduation. So my doubt was whether the reunion would be as special for everyone as it would be for me. But with a little encouragement from the girls, I decided to go ahead with attempting to plan the reunion.
Finding a day that accommodated everyone was the first obstacle. I was hoping to meet before 2016 ended so that it would be a Christmas gathering just like the last one (this might have also been me trying to get a Christmas tradition started.) However, we could not find a date that suited everyone so it got pushed to the first week of 2017, on the 2nd of January. Vera being able to host us at her place solved the problem of finding a suitable location. And for food we turned to Domino’s. So I guess everything sort of fell into place eventually.
When the day finally came, we met up in two groups. After exchanging hugs, the first group of us (Hus, Alicia, Chels, Jamie, Shantel, Vera, Sam and myself) headed to Vera’s house where we took turns playing Exploding Kittens and another card game with poker cards (that I don’t remember the name of) while music was playing in the background. And later when the second group (Minyi, Nica, Dalene, Jes and Shaf) arrived, (and after exchanging hugs) I rushed us to take a picture because Jamie had to leave. We then introduced Exploding Kittens to the new arrivals until the pizza arrived (late). (I should also mention that I really missed these hugs)
We all sat around the table, eating for a couple of minutes until I started with a recount of the highlights (mention-worthy moments, people, complaints and complaints about people) in my life since graduation. And then we all went in a circle sharing the juicy moments from over the past seven months. Even if someone thought that they did not have anything juicy to share, we squeezed the juice out of them and I thought that was really nice. I felt like we were all genuinely interested and present, listening to each other without being on our phones and laughing not only at each other but together too. What more could I ask for from a reunion, right?
I left slightly earlier because I had to book in to camp that night and I did feel emotional – though I didn’t quite show it. It was probably the uncertainty as to when we were all going to be together again. It is only going to get harder for us to stick together, isn’t it? I hope we do though. It might not be a Christmas tradition but could a year-end reunion be a ‘thing’ for this group of friends? Only time will tell.
Now, back to serving the nation. On the Wednesday and Friday of the first week of January, I went ‘outfield’. ‘Outfield’ basically means doing what we do in camp or using our knowledge and skills out in the real world as a form of exercise. So this ‘outfield’ was a simulation exercise for an overseas exercise that was coming up – which I am not involved in but was brought along anyway for exposure and experience, I guess.
We travelled to the site on Tuesday night and had to sleep there overnight. And I was so unprepared for what was in store for me that night. The plan was to sleep in the OUV that we travelled there in but because of ‘technical difficulties’, we were left to sleep on safari beds… Until strong currents of wind made that difficult. It was so cold that night, we moved into one of those large tents where there were some extra benches for us to sleep on… Until it started raining really heavily. And since our benches were close to the opening of the tent, it was impossible to lay flat on the bench without getting wet. So, I sat on the end of the bench that was further away from the opening of the tent, trying to keep myself warm. It was pretty bad and I barely got any sleep.
During the day, I helped out when needed. Due to the nature of my job scope, my ‘outfield’ experiences are not as physically exhausting as what others might experience. But I guess you could say it was mentally exhausting waiting around when not needed and keeping track of all our equipment. I was literally counting down the minutes to the end of the day.
We travelled back to camp on Wednesday night and then left for the outfield site again on Thursday night. This time, we were able to sleep in the OUV so that was better. When we returned to camp on Friday at midnight, I was able to go home.
One of my Sergeants (who was also on site with me) told me that this would probably be the most tiring ‘outfield’ I would have to go through. So I am glad that it is out of the way.
And it was not all that bad. I met some new people and got to know others better. When it comes to the people around me at this unit, I would say that the dynamics are not exactly in my favour. Sure, the people are nice, for the most part but there are some subtle and understandable divisions. Maybe, I just have not gotten used to how things work here – the usual office politics that will come with almost every job.
However, almost everyone will be leaving the unit before I do. That means that I will be seeing a lot of people coming and leaving – many changes in the supporting cast, if you will. So there is the chance that the dynamics could shift in my favour or stay against me.
As for the work load back at camp, I would say it has been manageable thus far. My practical way of doings things might come across as me being lazy. So whenever that happens, I find myself having to do some damage control.
Since I will be spending the rest of my National Service at this unit, I have plenty of time to get used to how things work here. Whatever happens, I am taking it one day at a time.
Until next time,