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MAF 2009

Once again, yesterday at MAF, I was reminded where home really is.

I love the school that holds so many memories and the most bittersweet associations that I had for six years. For some reason, college seemed to pack the most intense memories, which were after four of the happiest years I had in school.

Homecoming in every sense of the word, when you come back to what you know is familiar, smells looks and feels just like home. I had dinner with my classmates, had a whole lot of frolicking fun with the Huang Cheng folks and met the teachers. But I can't distill what made it all feel right, so I guess it's just the entire school thing.

Only Hwa Chong will ever feel like that.
Yet another one disappears off now, to the remote corners of Germany. It's getting a bit overwhelming but we'll all learn to deal with it soon, won't we all?

I hate how the weeks are just spent with a lot of activity and things for Army Open House but nothing really significant happens. It's tiring but it has zero relevance to what we're supposed to be doing at all. Plus I generally hate drudge work, my brain just doesn't operate when I'm donning that green uniform.

Then again, I'm not entirely sure how I manage to balance the whole cynicism about the Army and the feelings of pride for my country. It's...twisty and probably very gently balanced on a point, but I do get the feeling it's going to pivot towards the cynic that doesn't really care anyway.

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I was reading Miyagi.sg when I discovered what he wrote about an Army Open House (probably 2007):

I’ve never been to an Army Open House because I don’t have kids to bring them to, and my family would scream if I asked them “hey you wanna go to the Army Open House and see Army gear and stuff?” and they’d scream, “We wash your Army gear every time you come back from reservist”, and they’d scream, “if that’s your idea of a joke, it’s not funny”.

So I’ve never been to an Army Open House.


PLEASE, ADOPT THAT ATTITUDE EVERYONE! So I can sleep at one corner for the entire blasted five days!

Running After You

cheryl says: bet u never mount kerb
__yingjie :: [unCubed.org] still alive but I'm barely breathing says: hmmm
__yingjie :: [unCubed.org] still alive but I'm barely breathing says: GOT
cheryl says: but i bet you were FAST AND FURIOUS
__yingjie :: [unCubed.org] still alive but I'm barely breathing says: I MOUNTED IN CIRCUIT :D
cheryl says: not slow and...dangerous

I laughed my butt off on that one.

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Army Half Marathon today was a hodge podge of fun walkers and competitive runners. I had to squeeze all the way at the start (and I really do hope that it's not going to be like that for Standard Chartered at the end of the year).

I clocked a timing that I'm not too happy about, but it's not horrible, so I shall just accept that I'm slow and need more training. Ran into a lot of people though, it's pretty much a general gathering of everyone in the army so that was somewhat expected.

My knees are hurting now though, and it's not the first time it's hurt after I run in my grey New Balance pair, so I will just assume that the cushioning for that pair is pretty much shot up already. It is 1.5 years old after all. I don't get that problem with my SAF-issued New Balance shoes since they're new, but I get arch issues. I guess it's time to get a new pair that fits well. I don't want my knees to get shot so early!

Camels Up On Hills

I splurged on books last weekend. Again.

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On running.Collapse )

This post has been rather long in brewing; I originally intended for it to be written on the 1st of July, but I left it to stew and simmer for a couple of weeks.

I first took my Oath of Allegiance to the SAF on the 8th of January, enlistment day. It seemed monumentous, for the bright and cheery optimism I had about serving the nation I love so dear.

Six months later, I renewed my commitment on SAF Day. Somehow things were different yet the same. The weather was gloomy, it threatened to rain and push the parade forward. And it seemed apt that I was standing in a contingent where half the men were ill-disciplined and couldn't care less for the solemnity of the event. It seemed such a far cry from the discipline and regimentation back in Tekong and 39 SCE; it was a side of the army I'd never expected or imagined. I wouldn't want to depend on the ragtag bunch of men who served only because they had no choice and yet couldn't be bothered to at least try.

But that is the reality of it, the fact that few of us would be serving if we weren't obligated. With a conscript army, one must ask if the Oath taken really was meant from the heart, or just shouted out because the order was given to recite it. I felt disillusioned, in a way.

Yet it struck me that I do not serve for mere obligation, I serve to pay the price of male citizenship in my nation. I still believe in it, as an essential institution. I may not enjoy what I do, nor always put in my very best all the time. But I recognize the pride I have to serve and why I must discharge my duty.

I would very much want to be in university now, enjoying the various Freshmen Orientation Camps instead of donning my No. 4 and falling in at some unholy hour. It's harder to serve now, when all the girls are flying off, or enjoying their camps. I didn't feel my loss so strongly when I first enlisted, when it seemed like everyone else just had an extended holiday that I didn't. But it is still an unchangeable reality that I have to serve.

I serve not because I enjoy it, nor because I truly want to fight. I serve because it is my obligation and duty. But duty is a strange thing, because it sinks in and pushes you past all the envy, if that is the word. I am bound by my nation to bear arms in its defence and for that I give my two years. I might groan and moan about the inefficiencies of the SAF, but I am still proud to serve.

As I prepare to finish off this entry, a bunch of NDU divers are running past in a cadence run, singing together the same tune we sang while doubling into the parade square at the end of BMT. I see a column of men in Skeletal Battle Order on a route march around the camp, it's probably one of their first few of the many to come. The divers are in high spirits, eagerly anticipating the book out that comes tomorrow. They shout it to each other in between stanzas of "Training To Be Soldiers". The men are tired and it reflects in their forlorn faces. I think it captures what National Service is in Singapore: a balance between the duty that calls and the cry for our freedom.

We are citizen-soldiers of the Singapore Armed Forces. We serve to defend our land, our families and friends; whose pictures and photos reside in our iPods, our wallets, our notebooks or the insides of our lockers. They are snapshots of another life, another time, serving to motivate us, each mass of pixels helping to dull the feelings of loneliness each night we spend in bunk, away from our civilian lives. But we serve nonetheless, because we must. Even if defending Singapore in any war is futile, we still must try, as have the generations before us for the 44 years of our nation's existence.

And so we serve.

Tags:

Take a walk in the park;

Not.

Okay it wasn't all that bad, but restarting trail running for the first time in the year is a very painful thing to do when you immediately kickstart it with 10km of trail. My ankles feel terribly taxed now and I'm pretty much tired.

As per normal though, it was a crazy run with Ben and the old rule that something weird will act up whenever I run with Ben decided to appear. This time however, it was Ben the Devious Slavedriver.

After about 4km of trail (and really tiring painful bits), up and down and up and down really steep slopes with a lot of blasted rocks and potholes you have to play Jumper around, Ben turns to me and grins. He politely informs me that now, we have two options (I originally requested to do 8km). Either we run back 4km the way we came (bad bad idea with crazy trail), or we go ahead and forge 10km, which was what he wanted me to do anyway. And then he casually added that he thought that the 6km extra would probably be easier.

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Driving's pretty interesting to be honest, I'm learning stuff that's useful at least. Though I must admit that I really hate the clutch and biting point stuff, because I'm not great shakes at it (though I'm improving yes) and I can park properly now! Though after driving I can be like omgomgomg my left leg is tired from holding the darned clutch.

Courtesy of really intense lessons, where in one week we cover about 500 minutes of pure circuit driving, 6 hours of parking lessons and practice, then a mindboggling 25 hours of pure theory. Oh well, I'll be out on the roads on Monday anyway, with my Provisional Driving License and passing my Circuit Assessment with 6 demerit points! The main attraction that the instructors pitch to us though, for passing and going to the roads is so that "we can all drive pass Temasek Polytechnic or Tampines JC and look at pretty girls. Circuit only got one fat auntie, then you drive all day around and see her super jia lat!".

Right, off to the roads then!

Tags:

Jump!

Today, I was dancing up and down when I checked my email. I booked out at about noon, then spent half an hour trekking around Kaki Bukit in the rain because the bus stop is so horribly far from the driving centre and it was raining!

So when I checked the mail, I got my happy newsCollapse ).

I was jumping up and down because I finally got it! Plus quite a few other people I know are are heading there (provided they still go NUS after all, like Wee Lic). So yes, while a lot of people are flying overseas, uni won't be so lonely after all! :D

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In other news, driving is turning out to be a bitch in terms of the environment. And my aptitude for driving is...questionable. I'm finding it a bit of an information overload.

Untitled Titled Post

I wasn't really able to fully maximise my block leave as much as I hoped I would, because I spent quite a few hours just slacking and relaxing at home. When there's so much to do, I shouldn't, really :(.

My phone and SIM card have happily decided to commit suicide anyway, just at this critical juncture before I embark on the weekend, which does leave me highly irritated and annoyed. It's odd though, how National Service seems to be both something which I serve proudly, yet can't wait to get out of.

It was this feeling of relief on Tuesday really, to pass out from the CBRD Pioneers Course and get the blasted confidence badge, plus all the other things that you get after vocational training. But the activation on Monday night just served as a reminder that yes, whatever it is, there's a chance I'll be called to duty even if Singapore never fights a war. Perhaps it was rather timely, the night before we graduate.

USP interview's in an hour and I'm actually a little nervous, since it's been something I've quite wanted ever since I heard about it at the end of C1 doing SRP in NUS. Eugene (a Masters student in the Computation Chemistry Lab) was an alumnus and he brought me down to their club room to take a look. The moment I stepped in, I could just feel the exact same buzz that was so "GEP". The whole feel of learning and asking questions just for the sake of curiosity; the freedom and intellectual curiosity; I could just feel it around. God knows how much I've missed that feel.

I could do with it again, yes.

I don't care if Monday's blue;

Friday was pretty good for me, I completed my 10km run (in ^#$^#$^ 34 degrees heat) under an hour for the first time ever. While Ben may tell me it's terribly slow, I'm okay with it because it's an improvement of 17 minutes from my previous serious attempt. Which uh, was somewhere after prelims last year I think.

And I should aim to cut it down, but I'll work on trying to NOT walk and run the last 2.5km of the blasted route. I need to get good socks and better running shoes though, the army ones are drenching my feet at the end of long runs.

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I'm pretty much looking forward to Tuesday and POP. It's a pretty seminal event that has been dominating my mind for the past 3 months really, so I'm glad to be done with it, especially after summary exercise last week. Passing out of the CBRD Pioneers Course is significant in that it marks the start of privileges that I took for granted in BMT, like the right to bring in devices and all.

I want my nights out and all the little things that make army life easier to get by. That might make these two years pass just a wee bit faster.

A sympathy, where have you gone?

Hello LiveJournal, you old dame. Happy 10th birthday, of which I've been around for 5 of them. I still am very content here five years on, so I'll be around for a while more yes.

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I was pretty excited last Sunday to figure out where I'd heard The Cure's Friday I'm In Love from finally. I used to think I heard it in Nick and Norah's Infinite Soundtrack but it suddenly struck me that it was from the movie He's Just Not That Into You, so I happily went to grab the OST. There's a certain odd excitement when everything clicks into place.

NUS Science Open House today, I'm probably heading down to take a gander at things. The weekends stretches ahead but I'd better enjoy it, what with summary exercise starting Monday. It's going to be a happy blitz that will be helluva tiring. I just hope I'll last through it fine and then POP happily on 2nd June.

I've got a few thoughts but I want to let them percolate and float around for a while.