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Shuttle-Mir Stories - Linenger's Letters to his Son

January 25, 1997
"Propulsion and suction

Dear John:

I now understand why I can carry you out of your car seat and you stay sound asleep. Your life must be a huge struggle!

You see, I've reverted back to my childhood. I have to learn how to clean myself, how to brush my teeth, how to eat without making a mess; and yes, even how to use a toilet. And by the end of the day, my eyes can barely stay open.

Everything floats up here. And I do mean everything. Propulsion and suction are the keys to daily tasks of living.

For example: you can brush your teeth pretty well, as long as you keep your mouth closed. Open your mouth and breathe out just a bit: and you have foam floating away. I keep a small 2 by 2 gauze pad nearby, and carefully capture the stuff in it. Then, to a plastic ziplock, and remember to seal.

Eating can be fun. I think I look a lot like you do: constantly playing with my food. I can gulp peanuts like a fish would: they float, I open my mouth and pull 'em in! I know, I'm setting a bad example for you, always playing with my food. I guess that God made us all-purpose beings because once the food goes down the pipe, it stays down. Peristalsis: who would have thought of it.

Love you, John. Goodnight my good boy.


PS: I almost forgot to tell you how I sleep. Strapped to a wall with bungy cords (because I like the earth sensation of feeling some pressure on my body, like lying in a bed). And the best part of all: standing on my head, upside down. No, I'm sure Mommy won't let you try it!

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