It’s time again to introduce you to one of my favorite Super (Silly) Moms. I met Andrea Goto at the Savannah, Georgia YMCA in a Spin class. She is a mother, a writer, an athlete and a terrible cook (so she says.) Andrea writes a column for Paula Deen.com, called The Culinary Coward where she documents her haphazard kitchen experiences and is also accompanied by a comic strip her uber talented, artist husband illustrates and writes, along with a blog that never fails to make me laugh out loud. Chicks, meet my friend Andrea.
Tell us a little about your writing background.
I taught first-year composition classes at Georgia Southern University until I became pregnant. After my daughter’s birth, I stayed home for about 11 months. Once my brain began to atrophy, I decided to go back to school. I just finished up my coursework for the MFA in writing program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Now I have 10 weeks to write a thesis. Piece of cake. *sigh*
How did you get hooked up with Paula Deen?
The Culinary Coward is a monthly column I write for PaulaDeen.com. It details my usually failed attempts to cook an otherwise awesome Paula recipe. My friend and neighbor, Libbie Summers, is an uber-talented stylist/chef/girl-you-love-to-hate, who also happens to be the food editor for Paula’s website. Libbie asked me to pitch her some ideas for the site. I can write, but I can’t cook. So I took my proverbial lemons and made lemonade. Because, how do you write for a woman like Paula Deen if you don’t know what cheese grits are? Humorously.
Why do you blog?
Because it forces me to write. Instead of just keeping a mental list of things I’d like to write one day—and never get around to doing—I blog. I’ve never been good at journaling, because no one holds me accountable. If I know people will read my writing, then I’m going to do it. It’s also an opportunity to be mostly candid, though my husband says that he’ll divorce me if I divulge anything too personal. I have no shame, so it’s good to have a censor.
What is the worst meal you’ve ever prepared?
I once served a very raw pork loin to dinner guests. And in case you don’t know, rare pork loin is just another word for trichinellosis. As a rule, I avoid meat reformed into shapes—bricks, balls or logs—but I was trying to impress a foodie friend. She wasn’t.
What are your aspirations for your writing?
I’m really enjoying the freedom that writing online gives me and I’m curious to see where the technology is headed. I’m gearing up to get on the Twitter wagon. But I have a big place in my heart for print media. I want to write a memoir, hold it in my hands, and dog-ear the pages.
If Paula asked you to cook with her, would you do it?
Who wouldn’t? The thing some people don’t realize about Paula is that she’s very irreverent and funny—which I appreciate. They could never put us together on Paula’s Home Cookin’ because they’d be bleeping every other word.
What would be your biggest fear about cooking with her?
Setting her on fire.
What would you like to learn how to make?
A soufflé. If I could figure that out, I’d be set. You want breakfast? Spinach and bacon soufflé. Dessert? Chocolate soufflé. Anything with a Frenchy name impresses and paralyzes me.
How do you feel that twitter and social media have affected you as a mom?
As a writer?
As a mom, I have this network of people who get what I’m experiencing and want to share in it. You’re not as isolated. And reading about the misadventures of other parents makes me feel like I suck less.
As a writer, social media provides a number of platforms to get my voice “out there.” If you write well, you’ll find an audience and opportunities will follow. Before, you had to have someone to believe in you, like an editor or agent, and then you’d have to prove your worth by building an audience. Social media has significantly revised the process for writers and publishers.
If you had one week childfree with no responsibilities, what would you do?
I would do the AIDS Lifecycle, a seven-day, 600-mile bike ride from San Francisco to L.A. The first time I did it I was about three weeks pregnant (I thought the Gatorade was making me sick). After my daughter was born, I flew out and did it a second time with my sister-in-law. Next to parenting, it’s the hardest yet most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Cruising along the coast in the sun, it’s just you, your pain, and your thoughts. It’s very centering. (I told you she was an athlete, no mere mortal could do that!)
Who are your favorite writers?
I can’t get enough of creative nonfiction writers, especially memoirists. Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, Rick Bragg and Adrienne Rich are among my favorites. If they write it, I read it.
Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” is my all-time favorite. I also keep a copy of Dillard’s “The Writing Life” next to me when I write. When I get discouraged, I read a few sentences to remember that writing isn’t easy for anyone.
What surprised you most about motherhood?
How patient I am—when it comes to my daughter. I curse at red lights and bite my tongue in line at the grocery store. But when I’m dragging my daughter to the gym and she has to change her socks four times, go to the bathroom twice more and grab an army of superheroes to entertain her on the way, I channel Buddha.
If your in-laws called and were going to be at your house in 5 minutes to eat dinner, how would you spend those 5 minutes?
On hold with Papa John’s delivery.
Visit Andrea on her blog, Mom without Makeup,(for the record, this picture is the only time I’ve ever seen Andrea WITH makeup and she’s just as cute without it!) and at The Culinary Coward, on PaulaDeen.com.
Photograph courtesy of Blu Owl Photography, Savannah, Ga.