And Data didn’t know what a housewife is.

robot-2507980_1920

I remember a Star Trek second generation scene when the android Data can’t understand what a housewife is. In the scene, he asks Deanna Troi if housewives build houses as a kind of comic relief for the episode. In the future, it seems, housewives won’t exist anymore, being outdated like pyramids builders are nowadays.

 

So, if I would be in Deanna’s place, what would I answer Data? That the work of a housewife is boring, unending and most the same every day? And that society sees it as no ‘real’ work because it doesn’t get paid and a lot of people consider it obvious and perhaps even nonexistent?

 

When I meet other women in parties they now and then ask me what I do with my time because I am ‘only’ a stay-at-home mother, so I must have loads of available time with nothing to do at all. I just look at them and wonder if they are living in the same reality I live or if they just pretend to belong to another where housework and child raising doesn’t fill up so many hours of the day. I could tell them this but I don’t want to be seen as a lazy whiner and be the target of their despise, so I tell them that I write too. (Which on second thought isn’t much better at impressing them because writing is often also not considered a ‘real’ job that gets ‘really’ paid in their minds.)

 

So when I manage I write. I’m not writing though to have what to say at my next party, I kind of gave up on impressing people long ago. I’m conscious though that this is my second job and that most of us have two or more jobs, even if all unpaid work is dismissed as not ‘real’ work on the way how our system seems to be now.

 

I hope that one day an Android like Data will understand how many times work was done by invisible (to recorded history) human beings that helped humankind evolve enough to create beings who looked like them. Human beings that could have been doing work they would be perhaps more remembered for, even if not necessarily more important than others, and not work that would later be forgotten, dismissed and be considered an extinct occupation.
And then my mind goes further and I think of this strong network of humans that keeps the world moving the way it does. I think that a lot has to be changed on how we think about work, value, and money. On how people work to keep a system functioning, but unfortunately, the answers elude me so far. Perhaps we’ll indeed one day have this utopic Star Trek-like society where things are so well adjusted that everybody can become either a scientist or a soldier and travel to where they have never been the day before. And I wonder how we will look back to our past. With understanding? With nostalgic feelings? With despise?

 

So if one day AI becomes similar to humans and a fictitious character like Data really exists, I would answer its question this way:

 

Housewives don’t build houses. They take care of homes, they help to raise humans so they grow better than they would without their love and care. Their job is like any other occupation, where a person can make all the difference by being there and doing their best when no one else was there.

And perhaps it won’t matter how much money was gained at the end.

 

The day we go to the stars.

How will we be when we get old?

wood-1406895_1920

My neighborhood is one with mostly old people. I’m not saying this to complain. In the end we, a family with two young children, are probably the outsiders who shouldn’t have rented a house here. Some neighbors look at us in an upset way, knowing we’ll probably won’t stay around for long because this area has almost no children. They are right too. It’s sad to live in a street without other children than your own, and sooner than later people move on, looking for a place they fit in better.

But I digress. Now and then I look around me and think about the people. I always said hello to the woman in her nineties who was almost always walking on the sidewalk of her house. She often complained of the cold weather, I never saw her using trousers, though. Once she invited me to visit her. I entered her white small house inside a quite big garden for this part of the city. She told me her husband had bought the house many decades ago. She failed to understand me sometimes, and I wondered if it was due to my weak German. She made me tea and we sat in a really nice winter garden. Her house smelled of mold, and I wondered if she had any help at all with the household. For around six months I would still meet her quickly walking around her house. But then she disappeared. A couple of months later I met her son and he told me he had sent her to a rest home because she was often leaving her house and being found in another part of the city without remembering how to come back. Now no one lives in her house.
I told this story because it represents to me how people from my grandmother generation are getting old. My now deceased grandmother also forgot almost everything in the end. She at least had always people around her, her mind long gone into the fog of her oldest memories, she who had once remembered the date of all her relatives birthdays until her physical body failed too. My other grandmother had more luck and could remember everything almost until the end.
Some people shine brightly almost until the end, some fade quicker. So I wonder, how will we be? Will we have advancements in medicine who will help us to remember our lives? Some science fiction books talk about old people transferring their wise, experienced minds into clone bodies, or about rejuvenation procedures where your current body could be made young again. It’s all very far fetched anyway. And even if we would have such amazing technology would we really want to be transferred? Would we want to start anew in a young body, or would we be tired and only wishing to rest? What would have our grandmothers wished? How would it feel to have an old spirit in a young body?

I go to close the roller blinds of my upper floor window. My old neighbor sits and reads his newspaper with his back to the garden. He’s married to a younger looking woman who likes painting. In summer they sit all the time in the garden and in winter in the living room. The only time I saw them on the street was on an uneventful New Year’s Eve we went to the corner of our house to see the fireworks. They seem to be happy in a contemplative kind of way. Perhaps you can find peace by dividing your time between taking care of your garden, reading, and painting. Perhaps they also spend time on the internet.

Will it all get old when you are ninety or can you still have the same joy with the things you did in the last nine decades? Will you still read new books or only want to reread the ones you read a long time ago? Will you still have friends and relatives who care about you or will you be lonely? Will you be bitter or happy for every day? I have many questions, but only the future will answer them.

If I live enough to be really old.

Five things I learned while packing

girl-584388_1920

 

One of the most, in a good way, thought-provoking thing a person can do is packing for traveling. At least for me, that involves a rethinking of your lifestyle. You must pick only your most needed items, bam! It’s a philosophical and minimalistic experience, especially for people who never think too much about what they wear.

 

So this is what I learned while I happily packed:

 

1.Those dresses you loved to wear last summer now look exactly like that.
They look sadly worn out. Time to search for new favorites.

 

2. Cheap clothes and crime don’t pay.
I was happy to buy those pieces in the supermarket without trying. But then at home, I see that they don’t really fit.
Note to self: Think twice before going for dirty cheap.

 

3. I’ll never manage to pack as light as my husband
A woman needs enough pieces so she doesn’t have to wear orange with purple, or two pieces of unmatched muster. And she must have the freedom to choose, always. So I’ll never just pick five items of each type as my hubby so easily does.

 

4. People think I’m thinner than I feel comfortable with. 
I often get skin tight clothes as presents. But I rarely use them. I go for comfort because life is tight enough.

 

5. On the other hand, getting out of your comfort zone is important too.
It’s important to try pieces you left forgotten and lonely on your locker because you have the everyday favorites you always pick when you dress in five minutes. The virtually unused piece becomes a comfortable favorite soon enough, and you’ll get a fresh new look for your vacations.

 

I started writing long ago…

Watching my two-year-old running away with my favorite pen and using it to express his art everywhere; the sofa, floor, walls and table included, makes me laugh and reminds me of the child I was. My dream as a child was to be a painter and when I learned to write, to be a writer. I started doing it when I was eleven years old, writing a short story about a lonely owl. With thirteen, I won an oil painting box in a short story contest. My story talked about a future where children behaved like small adults and the ones who remained children were put paralyzed in a living statues museum. Quite dystopian for a teenager. Perhaps one day I rewrite that story. At the time I had a literature teacher who encouraged me a lot, but she warned me that traditional publishing was a difficult goal. She told me that a friend of hers had only managed to publish her books when she was forty years old. At the time I considered this an extremely long time. Nowadays I’m forty-two and I smile every time I remember that.
As a teenager, I fell in love with poetry and still have many unpublished poems of that emotional time. Later I went on writing short stories about star-crossed lovers in my homeland Brazil. One day I plan to make an anthology when I have enough short stories, but this, together with a children’s story book, is still a project for the far away future.
So far I have had success in publishing four of my science-fiction short stories in the Far Horizons digital magazine. These stories are also part of another future project, a science-fiction, and fantasy anthology. Apart from that, I’m also learning to cross the bridge between a short story and a novel turning a four thousand words dark fantasy story into a sixty thousand word science fantasy novel. As I rewrite I see that there is a lot missing and my novel is getting longer every day.
I also reserve some time every week to study writing craft, since you can always get better at writing. The fact that I don’t have a deadline to finish writing my novel allows me to have time to think and make it better for as long as I find that necessary. As a painter I never exhibited a painting with a quality I wasn’t satisfied with, and as a writer, I’ll follow the same principles. In the end, I’m doing what I like to do and this makes not only the adult but also my inner child happy.

My thoughts on the film Before Midnight. (This post contains spoilers)

I saw Before Sunrise and Before Sunset many years ago and I liked both films. Of course, in reality, most love couples don’t talk so much. Part of being a couple is to be part of the silent liaison a couple consists of, but again, the dialogues are what make both films so interesting.

And now, at the start of my forties and the mother of two small children, I saw Before Midnight. I couldn’t help, but to sympathize and also sometimes to commiserate with Céline.

Céline wants to leave Jesse. And I can completely understand her. How it happens that the guy doesn’t know the name of their child’s pediatrician? A father has to be present. My husband often takes the children to the doctor, takes care of them regularly, is a great father and even though my life is filled up with work all the time. I understand when Céline says that she thought about ending her life sometimes because taking care of the twins was too much for her. I understand when she says she cried when she didn’t know what to do as a mother and that made her feel guilty. Mothers sometimes feel this way. The important thing is that sometimes a husband is there to support you and sometimes he isn’t.

She then asks Jesse if he cheated on her with a fan while on a book tour and he just admits to it. Did I understand this wrong? In the film, this seems to be quickly forgotten and forgiven. Usually, a betrayal is a big deal in a couple, so I didn’t understand the idea that this isn’t more than a detail in the film.

And finally, should Céline exchange Paris for Chicago? Should she just give up her old job and give up a new better paying job in order to accommodate Jesse? Sorry, but how can she even consider such a thing? Jesse just confessed to having cheated on her.

What Céline needs is to think of herself more often. She should look for her happiness, remind Jesse of his duties as a father, get the best paying job if this is what she wants. She should not sacrifice her happiness. She has done her share of taking care of Jesse, his son, and their daughters without asking for anything in return. In the film, Jesse comes to her table and promises her that things will be better for them for now on. Let him prove her he’s being honest.