The Launch of Love

Love Is a Four-Letter Word To celebrate the release of Love is a Four-Letter Word, Michael Taeckens, our esteemed anthology editor, is the Guest Blogger over at the Penguin Blog this week, and today I was the Guest Blogger Guest with my post about the bizarre side effects of writing about past boyfriends. Go ye forth and read as I do Michael’s bloggy bidding.*

And then read D.E. Rasso’s post from yesterday (yes HER, from here! and now she’s back!) and then for the rest of the week read the posts that Said Sayrafiezadeh and Dave White and Maud Newton are going to write! And then buy the book and read the book but I already told you that, right? Or come to one of the reading, like the one I already told you about on Wednesday night, or this one on Thursday or one of the other eight or nine readings. See how we are trying to make it as easy as possible for you to comply, just like with the digital TV conversion?

*Doing stuff for Michael Taeckens is just like when he and I were in college in Iowa City and he worked at the Haunted Bookshop and he was CONSTANTLY asking me to go get him food from the  New Pioneer Co-Op deli next door because he was too lazy to ever make his own lunch. The guy can get Kate Christensen and Junot Diaz and Gary Shteyngart and Linda Barry and my girl Jami to be in his book,  but he could not get his shit together to bring a sandwich EVER and in fact I’m pretty sure the only reason why I got to be in this book is because I never said bitch, get your own turkey avocado with extra sprouts. Not to his face at least. But of course the moral of the story is to just do what he says.

Okay, heading out to NYC in the morning, and then on Friday making a trip upstate to see La Casa de Farmer Boy.  I’ll try to save you some pancakes!!!!

Too much (AWESOME) information

Window of the Loftus Store

Hey, remember when I used to write about other things besides sunbonnets?  This week Nerve is running an excerpt from my Love Is A Four-Letter Word essay and you can read it here. 100% Laura-free content hot and fresh.

Also, if you must know, the other day I went to the lady-doctor (yes, I’m being euphemistic; I strongly support euphemasia under certain circumstances, particularly anything involving the old whatchamahoo), and I was sitting and waiting in a little room right across from the Pill Closet. You know, the place where they keep all the free samples of birth control, so your doctor can give you three or four packs to help offset the stupidly extravagant cost of your prescription. (Sometimes it almost makes me want to birth something huge and expensive just to spite my health insurance. Hey, Blue Cross, I’m all pregnant with conjoined octuplet baby pandas! Cover this, jackasses! )

Anyway, I was eyeing the Pill Closet and staring sort of longingly at the boxes of my pills, my brand, and wondering if there was a security camera anywhere. And then, as if on cue, this woman comes down the hall carrying a giant tote bag. A bag printed with the logo of my pills, and it was filled with even more boxes of pills. She was one of those perky cute twenty-something pharmaceutical reps, and as I watched, she went up to the Pill Closet and started stocking the shelf. With my pills! She was Birth Control Santa! I started talking to her.

“Do your friends always try to hit you up for pills?” I asked her. I was trying to sound sympathetic but was also secretly hoping that she was perhaps a spontanenous, free-spirited kind of pharmaceutical rep, the kind who tosses boxes of Loestrin to strangers like candy in a parade.

“Oh my God, it’s like my friends think I’m an OB-GYN,” she said. “They’re always telling me this stuff that’s wrong with them. And I’m like, ‘uh, I do not know what to do, okay?'”

“But then you just give them the pills, right?” I asked.

Actually I didn’t ask her that. I just nodded and tried to be an understanding listener, for all the good it did me.

The reason I was at the doctor in the first place was to get my annual ultrasound, which is one of the things I have to do now that my family history includes ovarian cancer.  Plus it seems my insides are an exciting treasure trove of small fibroids and benign cysts and pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, all of which are harmless as long as you keep an eye on them. Usually the doctors just look at the ovaries, but this time they wanted to see some of my other stuff on ultrasound, which apparently is a more complicated affair.

So as they were trying to explain what they had to do, the ultrasound tech said, “Basically, the uterus is like a cheese sandwich.”  Did you know that?!  Most of the time it just lies there in flat layers! It’s only round when there’s a baby inside it, like ham in a calzone, or else when your doctor does something goofy that allows it to be seen on ultrasound. It turns out I had to have the goofy thing done, and it wasn’t fun at all, but it didn’t take long and I didn’t even really mind all that much because I was still amazed and stuck on the uterus is like a cheese sandwich. Anyway, the whole upshot is that now I have a clean bill of lady-health, and we all know what kind of sandwich the uterus is like.

In other news, Chris and I are going a date to see this movie tomorrow at the Siskel. Because he and I have a deal in which he’ll go with me to see Laura Ingalls Wilder pageants, and I’ll go with him to see terrifying documentaries about Norwegian black metal. And if that’s not a Love Is… cartoon right there, I don’t know what is.

Of wheatfields and four-letter words


We made it home from the Great American Prairie Odyssey Extravaganza on Tuesday night. I think I’m still recovering from all the car time, road food, and prolonged exposure to the random whims of Midwestern “oldies” stations (like playing Russian Roulette, where the bullet is something like “St. Elmos’s Fire”), but here is a brief compendium of our travels:

  • Miles driven: about 1400
  • Covered wagons viewed, replica or otherwise: 7
  • One-room schoolhouses: 6
  • Replica sod dugouts: 4
  • Haysticks used for purely decorative purposes: 3
  • Number of times an exhibit guide or sign purported to explain the origins of the phrase “sleep tight”: 3
  • Number of times an exhibit sign refuted commonly explained origins of the phrase “sleep tight”: 1
  • Sunbonnets purchased: 4 (YES I KNOW)
  • Old iron stoves: at least 12
  • Outhouses: 4
  • Nineteenth-century parlor organs: 6
  • Live pageants: 2
  • Live cows: 3
  • Girls in sunbonnets: 600 (estimate)
  • Miniature horses: 2
  • Leeches encountered in Plum Creek: 0
  • Times we heard “Afternoon Delight” on the radio: 2

I’ve been putting up pictures and more are forthcoming. Remind me also to tell you about the night we thought lightning would zap us and our covered wagon/camper thing into oblivion.  Oh right, I guess I’ll just put that in the book. Anyway, it was an amazing trip.  Sometimes it was grueling, but sometimes the stars were singing.

I’ll be making one more trip this month, to NYC, where I’ll be reading at the launch party for Love is a Four-Letter Word on July 29th at 7pm, along with Maud Newton, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Amanda Stern, and Dan Kennedy. If you’re in town, come by and say hello, and if you’re elsewhere, check out the book. Even though I have forsaken the glamorous big-city publishing world to roam the prairie and collect commemorative plates, it is still totally exciting to read Susan Toepfer’s piece about it in True/Slant and the reviews in WSJ and the Paper Cuts blog at The New York Times. It has been a weird, occasionally isolating summer, with all this writing and long drives through cornfields, and so it’s nice to experience a little taste of that jumpy happy post-publication stuff.

If you are reading this on and not through one of those fancy newfangled feed-reader thingies, you will notice that things look different today.  That is because I finally updated my WordPress software and the new version rejected my old customized theme like a bad kidney.  I just installed the same theme that I have on my other site and slapped up a new banner today. It’s a quickie resdesign and I’m still tweaking things, but I actually sort of like it. My plan is to eventually incorporate into—just move the rss feed and all the archives over and have the URL refer to the newer site (which can be done, right? I don’t always know how these things work!)—but for now this is just a step in that direction.

In some ways, that’s been the most exasperating thing about working on this book: having to take so many small steps, whether it’s writing a couple hundred words in a night, or doing just enough laundry, and keeping it all going, wherein “all” is several dozen tiny wheels that squeak along and take forever.  But I’m getting somewhere, yes?  When will it feel that way? 200 pages?  You’d think that since we drove over a thousand miles last week that I’d have a sense of how it all adds up in time, but no, I don’t.  Well, never mind, I’ll get there somehow.

Where I am and where I’m not

Just a quick update before I set out west tomorrow to various destinations in Laura Ingalls Wilder Land (and you bet your Old Dan Tucker I am SO EXCITED). Anyway, I have author profiles on Red Room and SheWrites, two new lit-related networks. I haven’t really had a chance to look around much yet at either place, but now there’s a couple more places where you can find me.

Here’s where you won’t find me, even though Google Maps totally told me to go there:


The other night while checking over my maps for this trip I figured out that sometimes Google thinks Burr Oak, Iowa is an hour and half west of where it actually is, as well as in the middle of an open field. (Though, to be fair, most small Iowa towns technically are in the middle of open fields.) You can see for yourself. Oops.

Thanks to those of you who have written so far and been willing to share your geekiest, most sunbonnetty Laura thoughts. I’m still happy to listen if you haven’t written yet!

Finally, does anyone know where I can stay in a really, really, really rustic cabin in the Midwest? (Hint: by “rustic” I don’t mean “basic cable.”) I’m almost actually sort of serious. Let me know! Email me, leave a comment, or send a telegraph. Thanks!

Country party! Country party!

Tomorrow Almanzo Chris and I are heading out to hang out on the banks of Plum Creek and by the shores of Silver Lake (which, sadly, is no longer a lake) and in the little town on the prairie! We will bring back some horehound candy for you if you’re good. Oh, oh, I am so very excited to be going.

In other news, that book I’m in has a website now. And I updated my other website, too.

No, I’m not going to BlogHer this year, even though it’s in Chicago. I would probably consider going to something called BlogHa! though, given my paltry online output these days. Someone else just needs to organize it and I will be there!  Panel topics could include What To Write When We’re Trying Not to Talk About Working On Our Books and so on. And instead of exchanging business cards and weeping about stretch marks, we’ll just drink wine. Does that sound like a plan? Okay then!

See you on the other side of the Big Slough!