Writing in short bites

Working over the Holidays

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Day 120, December 25, Christmas Day.
From the Log of Engineer Thomas Indra-de Leon, The Aureus Orbital

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

I can now officially announce that this is my first Christmas in space.

I’ve already tried to fix things inside the Aureus to make it appear more festive. Unfortunately, I don’t have too much in terms of colored paper and my Christmas lights consist of the on-board monitor’s flashing LEDs.

The Company’s budget cuts also mean I can’t make my usual orbital-distance call back to Earth to my family and my parents. Fucking cheapskates. I can see the whole planet below my observation port but I can’t greet them ‘Merry Christmas.’ The absurdity of my life.

I miss Jennifer and Taji. Taji would be – what? 10? 11 years old today? The last time I saw her before I went into shuttle training was when she was five. Jenn told me the last time we talked that our daughter only knows me as Daddy-in-the-sky. And when our little girl prays, Jenn said, Taji mixes me up with God.

I ended laughing and crying the whole day after that.

So here’s to everyone down below: Merry Christmas, and I hope you people are spending time with your loved ones.

Day 485, December 25, Christmas Day.
From the Log of Engineer Thomas Indra-de Leon, The Aureus Orbital

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

I checked out my previous entry last Christmas so I thought I’d make it a tradition here in Chez Aureus to keep a yearly Christmas update. It’s not like I have anything better to do.

This year the Company gave us a holiday bonus. They also gave us the option of spending the bonus on the really expensive orbital-Earth long distance call, which I gladly took. What choice do I have?

If it weren’t the fact that the Company pays us well for this orbital duty and that jobs are so hard to come by back on Earth, I would have found a better way to support my family.

Anyway, I managed to talk to Jenn, Taji, and my parents. My mom and dad aren’t technically spending Christmas since my mom’s Indian. However, she doesn’t really have a choice since my dad is a Christmas-freak who starts putting up Christmas decorations by September. He says it’s a tradition in his home country and that Filipinos really love Christmas.

Maybe that’s why I have a hard time being alone during Christmas day. When I was younger, my parents and my siblings always spent Christmas Eve with the traditional feast, and exchanging gifts once midnight struck.

When I got married, I brought that tradition into my family. It’s a good thing though: Jenn is a non-practicing Muslim and we’ve promised to respect each other’s cultures, she’s given me leeway on this thing.

It’s hard to break childhood traditions so… Merry Christmas, everyone. Whatever denomination you belong to, I hope you’re having a better year than I am.

Day 850, December 25, Christmas Day.
From the Log of Engineer Thomas Indra-de Leon, The Aureus Orbital

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Calling Major Tom, where are you now?

I’ve been so busy these past couple of weeks, I’ve almost forgotten it’s Christmas.

Here’s the low-down: the orbital electronic payload I’ve been laying out in space for the past two years is almost finished. A couple of more months and I’ll be home again.

Unfortunately, the Company has just told me that some of the cargo I’ve just dropped over the Asian hemisphere has stopped working. No amount of software hacking is getting the data flowing.

So here’s the trick question: the Company said I have the option of going back and checking each malfunctioning satellite, which means an additional year up in space. They also said that they’d give me extra space duty hazard pay for it, plus the usual incentives, blah-blah-blah.

If I refuse that option, I can go home – but unspoken is the fact that they’ll never give me another job again as long as I long. Alas, the Company has a memory of an elephant and holds a grudge like a Japanese horror movie.

As they say, the data must flow, dammit.

So here’s a Merry Christmas to one and all, and give us poor stiffs working over the holidays a pint of good cheer, wherever you may be.

(First published in allmusicjunkies here.)

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