SuperWoman Flies the Coop

 

SuperWoman isn’t just fighting her existential crises in America anymore. She’s taking to the high seas, or the high air, flying through the clouds in 2019 so she can live the writer’s life for several weeks at a time.

Where is she going? you might ask.

Oh, please do.

SuperWoman’s going to tell her stories from a Parisian cafe, where she eats chocolate croissants. Where she drinks chocolat chaud. Where she rips apart a hearty hunk of baguette and a fresh chunk of brie on the way to her little apartment after a day of discussing literature in writing workshops a mere few blocks from Notre Dame Cathedral. She’s going to pour glass after glass of vin rouge in bistros with mahogany wood and walls adorned with little white lights, and meet other kinds of superheroes and shaman: storytellers from across the globe.

SuperWoman has been accepted (she’s over the moon!) and is off to Paris for NYU’s Low Residency Writer’s Workshop, on the road to getting her MFA in Creative Writing. She’ll be spending ten whole days, two times a year, in the City of Light! The City of Love! Perhaps the Most Beautiful, Wonderful City on Earth! (SuperWoman would like to be a bit more well-traveled before she can make such an extraordinary claim, but she has been to Paris twice before, and can attest to its awesomeness.)

Come January, bon voyage!

Or, maybe more apropos, “Bon appetit!”

P.S. Anyone want to teach SuperWoman a bit of French? She’s going to need it.

 

Image: Eiffel by Alberto Ruiz via Flickr

SuperWoman Gets People to Do Things

It had been a long week, as most weeks are. A week of days sitting at a cubicle, finding excuses to stand up and drink tea. Days spending lunch breaks trying to exercise and deal with frizzy hair after coming in from the gym’s shower. Nights cooking eggs or spaghetti and meatballs for her progeny, which she always has to fight them to eat, even though they kind of like those things. And then, to top it all off, SuperWoman was having a new bed delivered for TalkMonster and needed to get off her ass to take apart the old one. The old one was a monster, one of those too-high loft thingies that seemed great in theory until her child had to climb up and practically kiss all the cracks in the ceiling while sleeping. He didn’t like it. The new bed would be low to the ground, civilized.

Except. Here’s the thing. SuperWoman wouldn’t know her way around a drill if it was laced with buttercream icing. She wouldn’t know it if it were hot pink and glittery. You should have seen her trying to put curtain rods in two years ago. Sometimes—and by this she means sometimes—she can use a screw driver, but don’t hold your breath. So she pretty much tries to avoid any incidence of putting things together or taking them apart. She pays people in cash or beer. (She avoids housework, too, though laundry and dishes and emptying the litter box kind of have to be done. Just don’t look at her bathroom floor. And thank God she doesn’t have a lawn to worry about.)

However, SuperWoman does have ingenuity. So what did she do?

She bought cheese, hummus, tomato crackers, and sparkling rose, and she asked her friends, Susa-Power and Davie-oh-oh-oh to come over and take down the bed for her.

She did not phrase it this way, of course. The request to Susa-Power and Davie-oh-oh-oh went like this: “Would you help me? I’ll buy you food.” And then she just got lucky when they pretty much did the whole thing.

First, there was divine cheese. A nice sharp cheddar, a triple cream brie, some Italian brick soaked in Syrah which was very good. There were pink bubbles in champagne glasses. And then SuperWoman led her friends to TalkMonster’s room to begin disassembling the monster metal bed like pros from HGTV. Susa-Power assessed the situation and said they needed a special kind of screw driver or none of this was going to work. SuperWoman almost despaired, because all she had was a trusty twenty-dollar basic tool bag from Lowe’s. But she found the L-shaped metal bar—several, in fact! where did they come from?—and they all went to work.

Well, all is not quite honest. SuperWoman’s progeny WonderMess and BeautyQueen called to Facetime while the event was going on, and SuperWoman ended up just watching these  svelte creatures pull apart the bed before her very eyes.

It was a beautiful thing. Not only the disassembling action, but the people, straight out of Trading Spaces or some show like that.

And now, days later, the happy ending. TalkMonster has his new bed, one that’s low on the floor. He has organized the bedroom so that it looks monkish, with nothing on the floor and all his clothes neatly put away, which will probably last for the whole 8 hours that he sleeps, until he starts frantically opening drawers when he tries to find something to wear for school in the morning.

And SuperWoman? SuperWoman feels blessed to know she has such good friends, and that they expect so little of her, and she will surely try the wine and cheese trick next time challenges arise.

Do villains eat cheese? She hopes so.

 

Image: “Princess Bed” by THOR via Flickr Creative Commons

SuperWoman Feels Old

Now that SuperWoman is the ripe old age of 39, she’s been noticing some things about what it feels like to have a body that grows older, even at the same time as the inside of her feels young and lithe.

(Yes, she just used the word lithe. Ha.)

What’s SuperWoman’s age, on the inside? It’s like, 20, or something. (Or maybe she should make that 21, so that her inner self can still partake of wine.) Maybe it’s even 15–innocent and wide-eyed–as long as she doesn’t have to go back to high school again.

Still, on the outside there are these changes. Waking up in the morning, for one. Remember when SuperWoman made a vow that she was going to get up early and do yoga for 30 days? She failed miserably, which is why she didn’t talk about it afterward. She got up for two days in a row, and then she was back to the old routine, hitting snooze until the last possible minute, popping up and deciding whether a shower was really necessary before work. This reduction of energy, she assumes, is due to age.

And there are some other things she attributes to her aging body. The gray hairs on her head grow in faster, giving her hair this delightful yet muddied multi-colored tone. (She had once thought she’d go all gray in her 60s, but now she thinks that could happen much sooner.) There’s the ache in her thighs from walking up too many stairs. Her slower stride. The fact that her hair sticks up when she wakes up in the morning, and that she is content to look like a hobo with mismatching sweaters and wide-leg pants and socks on a Sunday morning while children play video games and she sits at her computer, sipping coffee. (Perhaps all she needs is a good pair of pajamas?) Also, even more disturbing, is that an extra pumpkin muffin or slice of pizza stays around her middle and makes her pants tight, and she has to eat next to nothing to remove those food items from production in her metabolism. She falls asleep at 8:30 pm while watching a teeny-bopper movie and gets yelled at by her son who wants her to stop sleeping. She can’t help it. It’s like a fog comes over her, like the air is filled with Benadryl.

But with age is wisdom, right? So as her body changes and deteriorates and starts to decay, the inverse—apparently—happens with her inner self. SuperWoman grows more established and esteemed and knowledgeable about the world and the ways of women and men.

Fat chance. She’s still just as confused as ever. And poor. And without any special titles.

Nope. What happens on the inside, SuperWoman has learned as she gets older, is that she gets more humble. That ego of hers gets smaller and she keeps learning to roll with the punches. This is a good thing, all the spiritual teachers will say. Maybe wisdom and grace don’t come from knowing so much, but in realizing how much you don’t know.

That sounds deep, but she’d still like her hair to stop frizzing and her muscles to feel strong and her appetite to match what helps her fit into her pants. So in the meantime, what will she do?

Make-up. Hair dye. Elastic pants. Meals with good friends where they talk about all they don’t know, but the experiences that have made life interesting. And dancing in her living room with her kids, because despite all the other bodily changes, dancing always feels good.

 

Image: “Dancing” by Moody Fotografi via Flickr. 

The SuperWoman Community: Artist Beth Castiglione

As you know, The SuperWoman Chronicles is a witty series about one woman’s misadventures on the path to enlightenment, but there are so many superwomen in our midst. Enjoy this first interview of one superwoman who makes up part of The SuperWoman Community.

Introducing painter, mother, and good friend Beth Castiglione.

Seroquel

You have a gallery showing coming up in October. What would you say it’s primarily about?

I’ve been painting sunflowers, growing and decaying, in oil on canvas. The sunflowers reference Van Gogh, his creativity and his mental illness. I live with severe mental illness by relying upon psychiatric medications that enable me to maintain a solid work ethic in my studio practice. I do not rely upon flashes of creativity or sparks of genius.

Can you say something about your creative process?

Although a strong conceptual base underpins my paintings, my creative process does not begin with an abstract idea. Rather, it begins with me looking around and noticing what is interesting to me in what I am seeing. Then, the process begins to evolve as a back-and-forth dynamic between my observations and my thoughts.

Latuda

Why did you name this newest series, “Media vita in morte sumus,” and what does it mean?

This series of paintings began in the fall of 2016.  At that time, I was experiencing a period of artistic and personal transition.  I had finished up a body of work in which I had been enmeshed for about four years and I’d just transferred my painting practice into a new studio in an artists’ building in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. I had no idea what I was going to make in my new and wonderful studio.

Somewhere around this time, my friend’s father-in-law died.  He had reminded me a lot of my grandfather: they were both old, Italian-American men, sons of immigrants from the rural south of Italy. They both loved their gardens and growing tomatoes, especially.

I can’t remember if the following words were spoken at the funeral, but on my drive home afterwards, what kept cycling through my head were the words, “In the midst of life, we are in death.” I googled this phrase when I got home, and saw that it was originally from the eighth century or so Latin Mass. In Latin, it reads, Media vita in morte sumus.

This completely resonated with me in terms of how I see my sunflower paintings, with the dead and dying parts integrated and intertwined with the living parts. And it also reminded me of how I am when I am deeply depressed, in that I cannot see any life without being painfully aware of its imminent death.  I cannot see any light without its component shadow. That is how this series got its name.

Prozac

What inspired you to choose sunflowers as the focus of your recent paintings?

One day while eating lunch with a friend, I was bemoaning my lack of focus. She happens to be a gardener at the school where my husband teaches, and she suggested I wander around the school’s garden taking photographs, just to get my imagination moving.

So, over the next few months, while also showing up for my obligatory four days a week in my studio, I would take my iPhone and wander around the garden. I shot a lot of pictures looking down at the dirt. I also took pictures of the odd contraptions the students had made to support their tomato plants and bean plants and sunflowers. I shot close-ups of leaves and vegetables, and then, in late October, got engrossed in photographing some of the dead sunflower stalks that had been pulled up.

After returning home from each of my garden visits, I would upload my images to my laptop and print out photos on 4” x 6” photo paper on my cheapie HP office printer.  The next day when I went to the studio, I’d bring the latest photos and tack them to one wall.  The collection of posted photos grew larger and larger. I started arranging and re-arranging the photos on the wall.

This series of canvases, hung together, surround people in an immense sunflower field that explodes with life, death, hope and despair.  I want to demonstrate that it may be possible for an artist to take medication for mental illness without it destroying their creativity. Fear of losing creativity should not deter anyone from asking for help.

Celexa

Did you always intend to be a painter?

A teacher who helped and inspired me when I was in college was a man named Robert Reed, who understood my struggle to pay for my paints and canvasses. The message that I took from him was that he believed in me as a painter, and his faith in me gave me courage to believe in myself. I had been exposed to art for years by my grandmother, who was an art teacher, but I was told very directly by my grandfather that “art is an avocation, not a vocation,” and that I better study to be a lawyer or a teacher. Ever since Robert Reed’s class, I have had the utmost clarity that who I am is a painter. I have often doubted that this was a wise path to follow, and I frequently wonder how it is possible that I am somehow getting away with this utterly impractical notion of spending hours each day making paintings. But somehow, decades have gone by and I am still doing this work.

Can you say more about how mental illness is a theme in your work?

In the winter of 2018, I was talking with a friend who also has bipolar disorder, whose diagnosis came quite recently. Her first experiences with medication were deeply troubling to her because she is a writer, and she experienced some aspect of her medication regimen as stifling her creativity.  She asked me if this was a necessary part of being medically treated for mental illness.

I realized then that the reason my paintings look the way they do, bright instead of dark, but with the death interwoven into the life, is because I take medication for my illness, and it allows me to live well and to have a family and friends and to maintain a stable studio practice.

In one of his letters to his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh wrote, “I am so angry with myself because I cannot do what I should like to do, and at such a moment one feels as if one were lying bound hand and foot at the bottom of a deep, dark well, utterly helpless.”

This is how I felt before I found a medication cocktail that worked for me. And I am constantly in process with this. Sometimes something changes, either with the medication effectiveness and my bio-chemistry, or in my life, and I have to work with my psychiatrist and therapist to get back to neutral ground.

But this roller-coaster ride of medical treatment for mental illness is worth it to me because it works. I am no longer “lying bound hand and foot at the bottom of a deep, dark well, utterly helpless.”

I hold fast to another part of a sentence from one of Van Gogh’s letters. “Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle….”

Let us keep courage. Let us ask for help. And let us keep taking our meds.

 

Adderrall

 

Beth’s work will be showcased on October 7th from 12pm to 6 pm in the Germantown area as part of The Center for Emerging Visual Artist’s Philadelphia Open Studio Tours.

Have a superwoman you think should be interviewed for The SuperWoman Community? Email thesuperwomanchronicles@gmail.com.

SuperWoman and the Perils of Public Transit

It was a Monday, which always makes life doubly hard. SuperWoman had enjoyed a weekend with her progeny, eating delicious brick-oven pizza, sipping a delicious strawberry daiquiri, watching football, allowing her kids to rustle up the duvets in the showroom at Ikea (against her better judgment). Despite its bad reputation, however,  SuperWoman was handling this Monday very, very well. She made a decision to exercise on her lunch break for the first time ever, and she was very proud of herself for the ingenuity of packing her bag and watching Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce while working the intermediate level of the elliptical in her somewhat new sneakers. Then she changed and got back to work, like a…well, SuperWoman. She handled TalkMonster’s frantic phone call when he got home from school with ease (middle school math is very, very stressful), and then she left work, opened her magnificent book (Ordinary People by Diana Evans), read voraciously, got off the subway, waited impatiently for the bus, and read voraciously again until it was time for her stop.

She began walking home. Her apartment windows were in sight, the little jade plant, the air conditioner sticking out, the ivory curtains cascading to the side. A man was ingloriously mowing the lawn of her apartment building with a weedwacker. She hates weedwackers. And leaf blowers. She hates those things, too.

And it was then, suddenly, she realized.

Her car was not, as she had thought, parked in the lot at home. In fact, it was several miles away at another train stop, the one she had parked at that morning after dropping her kids at school.

SuperWoman’s transportation regimen is a little complicated. So complicated that when she started at her current job two-and-a-half years ago, she had dreams that trains kept coming and going, that she was missing them all.

Here’s what her public transit mornings look like. On the days SuperWoman has her kids, she drops BeautyQueen at preschool, then TalkMonster on the street near his middle school so he can walk part of the way, then WonderMess at her elementary school. Then she high tails it to the high speed line, where she parks two blocks away and walks to catch the train.

On the days she doesn’t have kids, she takes a bus directly outside her apartment—oh, the luxury!—to the subway and ends up only two blocks from the doors at work.

On this particular Monday, for some reason—perhaps because she was still in summer camp schedule zone, perhaps because she forgot what day it was, perhaps because she was so immersed in her very, very good book—she forgot where she had parked her car and ended up in quite a tickle.

The second tickle? She couldn’t even get Uber working on her phone to call for a ride, because there was not enough storage left to download the app. (SuperWoman often thinks she needs a techy boyfriend to help her with these things.)

How was she going to get those kids?

In walked Kerri Superior. Well, she didn’t walk in. SuperWoman called her, frantically, cursing about the lawnmower guy who kept weedwacking even though SuperWoman was in a bind and needed to explain the situation with relative silence so Kerri Superior would understand.

The reason you may not have heard of Kerri Superior is because she’s not flashy and doesn’t need a lot of fanfare. Without sitting in a room and saying “Om,” all day with a golden halo around her short brown hair, she projects an air as though she has sat in a room saying “Om” all day. (Maybe it’s her special secret? Maybe she does? Heck, SuperWoman doesn’t know what people do in the privacy of their homes.) In addition to being a fabulous dresser, a loyal, honest, and trustworthy friend who always knows what to do, one of the things SuperWoman likes most about Kerri Superior is she doesn’t have kids, which makes her able to get dinner on a whim, take the time to cook nice meals, go to yoga, plan book clubs. She is simply marvelous, and on this Monday, Kerri Superior dropped what she was doing so she could pick up SuperWoman and take her to her car.

SuperWoman felt regal, to be chauffeured by such a special woman, a fellow super woman who doesn’t need to write a blog about how special she is, but spreads love and wisdom to her many admirers—colleagues, students, friends, even neighbors, surely.

Once SuperWoman got her car her, however, her job was not done. She still needed to pick up her progeny and head home, listening to horrendous tales of math homework in middle school and head-banging in preschool. Going to the grocery store as SuperWoman had planned was off the table—the afternoon had become too stressful already. So she improvised. She used whatever little bit of food she had left—bagels and cream cheese, bagels and American cheese, macaroni-and-cheese (notice a theme?), chicken nuggets, to put together some sort of a meal to keep the sidekicks healthy or at least full. And then she helped TalkMonster with his homework (although “help” is a generous word), bathed the girls, and read with WonderMess until it was time for bed. To top it off? She wrote a bit and meditated in her bed.

Take that, Monday! Take that, public transit! You may have delayed SuperWoman, but you will not stop her.

Because…

Why?…

She’s, well, super.

 

 

Image: "train" by Yuya Tamai via Flickr

SuperWoman Ages

Yes, it’s true. Superheroes get older just like everybody else. Each year, in fact. (I know, crazy.)

This month, SuperWoman reaches the last year of her third decade on the planet. (Or is it technically her fourth decade? She doesn’t know. Math isn’t her thing.)

Turning 40, there’s a rough one. But turning 39? Sexy. She has one more year to do all the fun things thirty-something’s do that you can’t do anymore when you turn 40. Serve your kids grilled cheese and fries and pizza more nights than not. Visit an array of happy hour bars with Susa-Power and Cat-Eye. Get MotherBear to call someone to fix things when something isn’t going her way, like getting a non-refundable thing refunded. (MotherBear has a knack for that.)

Oh, but really, who’s SuperWoman kidding? Being 39 is not much different than being 40. She’ll do all the same things at 40 that she’s done at 39, that she’s done at 38, that she did at 24. Her eyes just hang a little lower now in her skin. Her hair just comes in a little more gray, and faster.

The problem is, there were certain things SuperWoman hoped to achieve by this point in her life, things she sees the other 39-almost-40-year-olds and even younger-year-olds doing and having. Getting promotions. That would be nice at some point. Or having a house, like she used to have. (Even though she has to admit, she likes the low-stakes living of an apartment. If only she had a dishwasher. Which brings her to…) Dishwashers.  Nicer cars with seat-warmers. (Okay, she really doesn’t care about those, but even the option to go into a car dealership and even consider them would be cool.) Nice hefty savings accounts. An office with a view.

She certainly didn’t expect to have endured near poverty, living in a second-floor walk-up on the outskirts of her nearby town, spending half of her days without her kids. She didn’t expect to be low on the totem pole at her cubicle job. What did she imagine?

Oh, you know. Oprah. J.K. Rowling. Being one of those sorts of women.

Was that shooting too high?

The thing is, despite all this sad-sacking SuperWoman is doing (she’ll admit, she was the kid who used to cry when family sang “Happy Birthday” at parties) she’s truly optimistic about her future. She knows she’ll live until at least 80, barring some fluke tragedy. She has an entire half of her life left to lead, her second act. And it’s going to be a good one. A big one. Positive and beautiful, filled with travel and adventure and warm-hearted conversations over tea and wine, or holding her children’s hands as they face a glowing sunset and travel to Venice. Truly, this is what she feels in her bones. There is so much goodness to come, so much to appreciate about the life she has already lived.

So it’s on, Birthday Blues. Come at her, Mortality. Wrinkles, you don’t scare SuperWoman. Age is just a number. And SuperWoman, despite all her flaws, has become a wizard at counting her blessings.

 

Image: "Birthday Cake Candles" by Nick Amoscato via Flickr. 

SuperWoman’s Not Super for Nothin’

It was a humid, rainy Sunday. There were places to go, people to see. WonderMess with her Girl Scounts. BeautyQueen with her favorite babysitter. And SuperWoman, with TalkMonster and his compadre, at the movies to see one of those action-packed thriller-type pieces, Mission Impossible.

A movie like this is not SuperWoman’s top choice. She likes to see those little indie flicks, sometimes with a dash of romance, a woman finding her way, people dancing at midnight in their pajamas. But on this Sunday, audience was the priority, and she had two eleven-year-olds to entertain. Despite its PG-13 rating, SuperWoman assumed her male sidekicks could handle a bunch of cool stunts a’la James Bond or The Bourne Ultimatum or Spiderman, where men leap from one building to another, and stuff like that.

SuperWoman doesn’t mind indulging in the battles and victories of other superheroes, although she’d prefer to see more women doing the ass-kicking on the big screen.

TalkMonster had his popcorn behavior all planned, which is the plastic straw method of getting butter all through the kernels, not just on top. And SuperWoman brought Twizzlers (gotta love those Twizzlers), and juice boxes in her large boxy purse. She wasn’t going to pay 18 dollars for candy and a soft drink. They found seats close to the front and sat down, ready for 2+ hours to escape and be inspired.

Here’s the thing about SuperWoman, though. As you may have already noticed, she’s not the type of superhero who believes in blood and gore. She’s more like a karate sensei, willing to battle only when battle finds her. And the kinds of battles that find her are more the existential kind, in which she stares down self-doubt or sluggishness or the temptation to eat an entire lemon cake. So when the men on screen started shooting their guns, she began to grit her teeth. She looked frequently to her compadres to debate whether this outing was actually a good idea.

“How is it going, guys? This is kind of violent. Are you okay?” she whispered. The boys nodded, as boys do. She looked around the movie theater, where there were other parents, other boys the same age. Were they okay with this, too?

She sat back in her seat. She’d give the movie a couple more minutes, see if it got any better.

But there were more guns, a woman being held at knife-point. Not better. Things were intense, and they’d only been there 15 minutes.

Another crash happened on screen. People were being killed. This was not something SuperWoman took lightly. She knew what happened to impressionable young minds when they saw violence, and she did not condone it.

The popcorn was mostly gone, anyway.

“Okay, boys,” she said. “We’re leaving. This is too much.”

The boys didn’t argue. They are a sensitive set, prone to peace and calm. They’d spent the earlier part of that Sunday morning in the silent worship of a Quaker meeting, after all.

The next conquest? Figuring out to do for two hours before she had to pick up WonderMess and BeautyQueen. The boys had already eaten, and they didn’t want dessert. (SuperWoman could have gone for dessert, a brownie sundae perhaps. Or a Tres Leches cake. Those were good.) The boys didn’t want to go to the bookstore, either, because books reminded them too much of school. So as rain dripped on their foreheads, SuperWoman took action. They’d paint pottery. That store wasn’t next to the movie theater for nothing. How many other people had spent a day watching a bad movie and then painting quietly in a studio? Probably plenty.

“Alright, move it, pick some pottery, here we go.”

She ushered the boys in. One picked a mug, the other a Lego-box-thing. SuperWoman let them fill their palates with warm shades of red and gray, and she got a latte next door at the coffee shop and a couple of cookies to share. The boys set to work, talking, nodding their heads to soft music by bands like The Head and the Heart and The Lumineers as they worked.

What a better way to spend an afternoon.

For SuperWoman believes in peace. And so do these boys.

SuperWoman Writes

This is what it looks like when SuperWoman sits down to write fun stories she makes up in her head using nothing but her beautiful imagination.

The room is quiet. The lamps are lit. The sidekicks are off with their dad, so no one is home to distract her. The setting is perfect.

(Well, not actually perfect. Sometimes the people living on the floor below her blast their hip hop and it’s a little warmer than she’d like in the apartment and there are dishes in the sink that haunt her and some odds and ends that need to be picked up, like the blanket that’s in a crumpled heap on the floor behind the couch. So not perfect, but good enough. perfect is relative.)

First, she goes for a walk. Because SuperWoman needs exercise and to work off the cheese she ate at happy hour with her friend, Susa-Power. (Read more about Susa-Power on the “Cast of Characters” page.) SuperWoman ate a lot of cheese. There was a creamy one and a cow’s milk one and something nutty. But there was also honey and grapes and apricot jam, so fruit items assuaged the guilt of all the cheese. At least she didn’t get French fries! (But she did have a glass of champagne.)

Anyway, before writing, SuperWoman decides to go for a walk. She listens to Florence + the Machine because that woman kicks ass and SuperWoman loves when women kick ass.

Then she checks MFA programs and applications. (Yes, SuperWoman is applying to MFA programs! Isn’t that exciting?)

Then she checks Facebook. Want to know something about Facebook, kids? There’s nothing to see. There’s always nothing to see.

Then she gets up to eat a chocolate chip cookie because she needs a little something sweet to start her work. It’s a small one so she doesn’t feel very guilty.

She sits down. She checks Facebook again. Now she needs to refill her water because she doesn’t want to start writing and get thirsty and need water.

She gets water. She sits back down. But she needs another chocolate chip cookie because the first one was so good.

She eats it. Mm. Yum. Now, writing time.

But there are also Twizzlers in the cabinet, and those sound good. She’ll just have two. She’ll eat two Twizzlers while she works and no more, then she will sit down and write already.

While she’s getting the Twizzlers, she sees the dishes in the sink from when the kids ate their cotton candy ice cream the night before and there’s even some tomato sauce on a plate. Yuck. SuperWoman doesn’t have a dishwasher. This is what she dreams of in her next abode. Should she do some dishes instead of write? Maybe she’ll feel better if the dishes are done first.

No, the insistent voice inside her says. She will write this story from her imagination that she’s been waiting all night to write. She sits down with the Twizzlers and decides she doesn’t need the extra sugar. She gets up to throw the Twizzlers in the trash. She sits back down.

Now, she is ready to go. Woohoo! A half hour. That’s all it takes. Look at the clock, SuperWoman, count down the minutes. A half hour in the chair, and then she’s free. Then she can do whatever she wants, like watch TV or read a book or meditate and stuff.

All she has to do is pull up one of the stories she’s been working on (which one? And should she spend some time submitting to literary magazines?) and start reading and typing.

But first? First she’s going to write this blog post.

 

Image: “searching….question mark?” by Leo Leung via Flickr.

How Many Lattes Should SuperWoman Have in a Week?

latte pic

What is it that calls SuperWoman to the cafe, over and over again? It’s a force of TEMPTATION, fiercer than many villains she’s known. Her love of caffeine. The mix of espresso and milk. Lately, she can’t hold back.

Here is something that really happened.

SuperWoman wanted a latte. It was a rainy Tuesday. She left work at lunch time and decided she’d get one and go back to her desk to finish some work.

She approached the cafe, eyeing it up. Was it safe to go in? And she decided, No, No, she would just drink Yerba Mate and save the money and be all clean and stuff internally. Shouldn’t a nice walk around the city suffice to make her day special? Why did she need to add a four-dollar (!!!) drink to feel good? No, no, she wasn’t doing it.

She walked. She let her arms feel the sun. She passed people on their lunch breaks and occasionally felt a warm breeze rustle her flowery skirt. Then she returned to her desk and listened to music (Sylvan Esso, if you must know) while she did a very mundane task.

In the afternoon, she was in a meeting. The rain came in like a Seattle summer storm— because Philadelphia, SuperWoman’s home city, has turned into Seattle—and the latte craving started again. Only this time, the craving whispered, Cappuccino. Cappa–cappa–cappa–ccino. Wouldn’t that be tasty, lovebug?

cappuccino

This is the voice of TEMPTATION, of INDULGENCE. SuperWoman must stand strong when this devil comes knocking.

The meeting ended. The rain petered to a low drizzle. (See? Seattle.) And then, as though driven by some unknown force, SuperWoman grabbed her measly umbrella and made a slow trek to the cafe.

She got just outside the door. She was going to touch her lips to that paper cup and put two Splenda in and mix it around and take it back and let it rest in front of her while she finished her afternoon tasks. It was going to be so good.

TEMPTATION was pulling her something fierce.

It wasn’t until she almost opened the cafe’s door that she stopped and fought back.

What am I doing? SuperWoman asked herself. No, SuperWoman said. No. I don’t have to do this. I can fight this TEMPTATION. I can find joy some other way. I do not need to buy a four-dollar hot drink that adds calories and caffeine to my delicate system. I am strong. 

A-ha!

TEMPTATION didn’t get her! See?

So what did she do when Wednesday came? She got off her morning train and went to the cafe and got a large latte and a scone.

Because SUPERWOMAN doesn’t need to fight temptation every day. Jeez. You think she’s perfect or something?

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Last image: “urth caffe – mmm” by Tiarescott via Flickr

SuperWoman Battles Her Best Intentions. And Pasta.

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You know how in superhero movies, the superhero does not kill the evil villain on the first try? Or sometimes, even the second? And then, finally, when one evil villain is zapped into outer space, another one shows up in the sequel?

That’s a little big what SuperWoman’s life is like post-cleanse.

She did well. She did swimmingly, in fact. No bread, sugar, coffee, gluten, dairy, soy or alcohol for 21 days. She felt clean inside. Her mind was calm and peaceful—maybe even too calm and peaceful. And then, when the cleanse was over, she decided she’d mainly stick to her diet. She’d still have that apple with almond butter in the morning rather than rushing back to her one true love, peanut butter (which, to be honest, seems like a cheap date now after all those almonds). She’d eat the hummus and carrots for lunch rather than sinking her teeth into French fries or a slice of pizza. She was going to stay good.

Until a weekend without her kids hit, when she went to the beach to visit with her Italian side of the family. There were martinis and red wine. There was bread doused in olive oil. There were meatballs. Oh, were there meatballs. (With clumps of ricotta.) And there was lots of Fra Diavolo getting thrown around. Fra Diavolo with all kinds of fish and long, succulent pasta noodles. And desserts, like Key Lime Pie. She didn’t even know she liked Key Lime Pie.

It was a disgrace to her poor cleansed body, she has to say.

And if that weren’t bad enough, SuperWoman is, in the last week and a half, becoming addicted to lattes. She is not so enamored with coffee anymore. No, she wants a daily latte. Which is enough to break the bank, anyone knows.

Was this cleanse a good idea, she wonders, if she’s now going to zig-zag in the opposite direction? For some reason, her mind is telling her now that since she doesn’t have to adhere to such a strict diet, she can eat whatever she wants every day. And that’s a bad road to go down.

(Oh, and by the way, that yoga for 30 days thing? Also not going so well. She’s missed four days already. Four.) 

SuperWoman might need to call in back-up to get herself back into tip-top shape. Her best intentions about being a superhero who eats well, exercises daily, and makes all good decisions keeps getting knocked to the wayside.

But here’s the upside, the positive thing, the way that SuperWoman has grown: she’s not going to get all judgmental and critical about all of this. She is going to take deep breaths and be compassionate with herself. She is going to remind herself that backslides happen, that one needs to live her life, that perfection is not possible, that she has to mix in a little fun here and there.

She is going to remind herself of all of that, and then she is going to stand up again. And again, and again, and again, and fight those evil suckers as they come at her with more and more delicacies and desires.

Because SuperWoman doesn’t bow before evil villains, and tomorrow is another day.

 

 

Image: “mmm…shrimp fra diavolo” by jeffreyw via Flickr