85558e23-57eb-4cda-ae3e-f23ac9b37a31Locked in, I face the routine with gritted teeth. I’m tired; not enough sleep. I’m drained; the long, cold commute and the morning exercise are eating at my energy. Credits are getting low. There are ten days left to the end of the month.

But I’m not alone. The first month of the year is always the hardest. The festive season, designed with brutal consumerist precision, is focussed solely on the exercise of separating us from our credits in every way possible. It is a horribly efficient machine, and by this point in the following month, many have no choice but to live frugally.

In the break area at work, queues form as people bring in home-made rations for lunch, each taking a few minutes to blast their dish with heat. The takeouts are few and far between, a notable difference to the same time two months back. In part, down to well-meaning resolutions that may or may not stick, in part, though, it is through necessity. It is cheap and healthy food all-round. Well, nearly. One person walks through with a take-out picked up locally, grease-laden carbs steaming gently from cheap packaging. A dozen longing eyes stare from starved faces, tracking the progress of such fulfilment though the room. The attention given to such wonderfully unhealthy rations gives lie to the promises they have all made to themselves.

I smile to myself at my nondescript table as I blow on on too-hot meal and spoon it to my mouth. I do not smile out of condescension, but out of a feeling of quiet camaraderie. I understand you, fellow work-units.

There are only ten days left in the month. Eight working days. Two rest days. I checked the cryo back home, and I have enough rations left to make it. I have enough credits to pick up some fresh bits, too. The plan I made at the beginning of the month is paying off.

The budget is, too. Sure, credits are low, but I’m tracking them tightly and if I stay disciplined, then I’ll coast home just fine. And the health plan is working out, too. Even with a cheat day over the weekend, I’m still tracking down on the body fat, while generally maintaining overall weight. Scanner read 17.8% today.

It would be easy to think I’m struggling, or that I am unhappy. Truth be told, I’m enjoying this. The enforced frugality, the decision to make myself stick to deliberately tight and hard targets, and then meeting them, is pleasantly rewarding. I feel like I am proving my own ability to myself, my own control. Its for the first time in a long time, and it does feel good.

I pushed myself on the ride home, tonight, facing the steepest part of the journey with determination, needing to prove to myself that this routine is paying off. I came in two seconds behind my fastest time, set three months ago. I’m counting that as a good sign – that I can be exercising much more and still get close. I had five days rest behind me, on that fastest day.

And it wasn’t as cold. Did I mention that it’s cold?

I debate putting the heater on, as my fingers feel too cold to be comfortable. The hab’s windows are closed but I can still feel a breeze. A seal, somewhere, must have faded.

Another thing to fix. And the grind coming from the bike is getting worse, that’s number one priority, now. Just got to get to payday, first.


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