Monday, April 25, 2011

Let the Rain Remind Me to Hydrate

It's cool and rainy out tonight. My favorite nighttime weather.

Friday to Sunday was spent groaning in various curled positions on couches, beds and La-Z-Boy recliners due to extreme dehydration and fatigue. Turns out, my body needs lots of water or it turns against me.

The best team of writer-bowlers you'll ever meet.
The Caper / Pear Noir / Weave Reading was a success. I'm so sad to have missed it. Like, getting misty right now kind of sad. I have so much gratitude to Joel and Frank for taking over the reading in my absence. I hear that the readings were inspiring and copies of Weave issue 05 left the building in the hands of many new readers.

Somehow I finished grad school this week. I technically still have one class left online this summer, so it doesn't feel real still. But all the free time I have feels pretty awesome.

My boyfriend was in town just long enough to cuddle me while I wept and wailed in pain all weekend. He took me to urgent care and held me while I got an IV hooked up. I know he really really loves me because he saw me in various states of misery and grossness this weekend, including full-on age-regression and near fainting whilst I had my IV inserted. To say I don't deal well with needles is an understatement of ridiculous proportions. He fought with United Airlines to get his flight bumped so he could be my own Florence Nightingale. I'm in love.

I got an encouraging rejection from an editor this week. A "form personal rejection" is what I like to call it. I assume they don't ask everyone to send more work. That's what I choose to believe so don't ruin my fantasy la la la la. And the email was addressed to "Laura" and not "Writer," so that's a plus. It's all about lowering the standards...

My poem "On Rainy Nights I Dream I Am Pregnant" is up on Whale Sound. It was originally published on Radioactive Moat last year. Nic Sebastian does an amazing reading. When I read this poem publicly I will now bring a recording of her instead, because she brings a level of sadness to this poem that I cannot. This poem has so much wetness - it will be my mantra to avoid the dehydration-plague again.

While I am (mostly) finished with grad school, I still have so so so many things going on. Lots of the projects are stemming from Weave and I'm super excited to announce them all. One thing at a time though.

I must remember to stay hydrated.

It was raining when I started. Now it's just dripping from the tree branches. I'm going to go drink some water.

Support Fleeting Pages Today!

If you have $1 to spare, please donate to Fleeting Pages. It's such an important project and I'm so excited to be a supporter. There will be so many great events, readings, workshops, etc. plus the widest selection of current indie books you're going to find anywhere. So dig around in your couch, find some change and donate!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Open Letter to Google RE: Doodle Honorees

The following letter and list will be emailed to the Google Doodle team. Please consider sending your own. 


Dear Google,

I want to start off by saying my name is Laura and I’m a fan. I have been using Google products for years. Blogger, Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Picassa, Pages, Reader, Checkout, and of course Search. I have always been pleased with your software and your focus on making it free to all users.

I know that Google is a very forward-thinking company. Google’s unique office culture shows that you value creativity and innovation and seek to foster that in your employees. I applaud you for providing same-sex partner benefits to your employees. Your business philosophy includes things like "focusing on the user" and "doing business without being evil." You are making strides to lower your environmental impact with your green standards on office buildings and data centers. Google’s technology improves the world with your work in education, health and other projects, like the Flu Trends software. Google’s influence is measured on a global scale.

With so many big projects, it is easy to forget the small ways a company like Google can make a difference.

Since 1998, Google Doodle has livened up the Google homepage with colorful logos that celebrate all aspects of human experience and culture; holidays, seasons, events, discoveries have all happily influenced the Google Search experience. On November 14, 2011, Google honored the first “notable” person by featuring a Claude Monet inspired logo. Since then, Google has created Doodles that honor individuals from all disciplines such as Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray Charles, Jules Verne and John Lennon. These Doodles made me happy!

This past Thursday, you honored silent film actor Charlie Chaplin with short film. That Doodle was great, but it made me angry. Let me explain.

Last July, I found this article on Feministe, accusing Google of sexism, demonstrating how you have honored far fewer women than men. This made me angry. I emailed the article to a friend of mine who worked at Google. I trusted that such a forward-thinking company would take the issue seriously.

The reason the film made me angry is because with all the resources you spent to honor Mr. Chaplin, why had I not seen more Doodles honoring women? I was outraged and I complained to my Googler friend. He recommended that I blog about it, but that I back up my passion with numbers.

When I searched through years of Doodles and counted, Google has honored 160 “notable” people. Only 16 of those people were women.


I analyzed further, focusing on Global and US Doodles. There were 49 notable men and 3 notable women.

Really? Only THREE? That’s not even 6% of all US and Global Doodles.

This pattern simply can’t continue.

Let me be clear: I am not accusing Google of intentionally excluding women. I don’t think the Doodle team is sitting around thinking of all the women they won’t honor.

However, I do think that the team of people deciding who is “notable” enough to get a Doodle is biased. Probably because the world is biased. Women in America make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. The causes of this issue are complex.

Google has other biases too. The team has honored a lot of visual artists (16/52 US & Global). This makes sense. Artists are creative, innovative, plus they make great Doodles. You also recognize many scientists and inventors (16/52) for their innovations. As a creative technology company, these biases are in line with your company's values and the purpose of having a Google Doodle.

Let me be clear again: I am accusing you of being negligent. Since the Feministe article came out, Google has honored 22 men and 1 woman.

Allow me to repeat something: it is sometimes easy to forget the small ways a company like Google can make a difference.

Here is how you can make a difference, Google. Honor more women on your homepage. It's really that simple. I can even help you with some suggestions I’ve made, based on criteria I developed after seeing the kinds of people you’ve previously honored. Google Doodle Honorees must:

1. Demonstrate “innovation and creativity.” Your website states that you “select doodles that show creativity and innovation.”
2. Not be political figures or associated with a political issue. Doodles also avoid political figures or people associated with a political issue, unless they have fought for civil and social justice, like JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.
3. Be deceased. Almost all the people Google Doodle features are deceased (the only exception I found was Queen Elizabeth’s Doodle when she visited the London offices. Because of your one exception, I made one on my list too: Jane Goodall, because she's really freakin' awesome).

With these requirements in mind, please consider my list of suggestions for notable women. I have listed the names below, but I also created a detailed list with their birthdays and professions. I tried to reach beyond my own biases as a white, American, poet (thought you’ll still find quite a few writers on this list). This is by no means exhaustive, but it is diverse. Though it could be improved by adding more accomplished women from countries other than my own.

I welcome people reading this letter to post more suggestions in the comments. I will continue to add names to my spreadsheet. You can also consider emailing the Doodle Team yourself with suggestions.

This list was not easy to create. The information of the world is against us. Women’s accomplishments have been overlooked throughout history. It is my hope that Google will shine light on the accomplishments of ALL creative and innovative people, including women.

Most Sincerely,


Doodle-Worthy Women

Ada Lovelace
Alice Paul
Amelia Earhart
Anne Frank
Anne Sullivan
Audrey Hepburn
Bette Davis
Billie Holiday
Coretta Scott King
Dorothy Height
Eartha Kitt
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Ella Fitzgerald
Emily Dickinson
Eva Peron
Gabriela Mistral
Georgia O’Keeffe
Grace Hopper
Gwendolyn Brooks
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Tubman
Helen Keller
Indira Gandhi
Irene Jolio-Curie
Isadora Duncan
Jane Addams
Jane Goodall
Juana Inés de la Cruz
Judy Garland
Julia Ward Howe
Juliette Gordon Low
Kathryn Hepburn
Lucille Ball
Lucille Clifton
Madeleine L'Engle
Maria Montessori
Marie Curie
Mary Wollstonecraft
Miriam Makeba
Mother Jones
Murasaki Shikibu
Nadine Gordimer
Nina Simone
Patsy Cline
Phillis Wheatley
Rachel Carson
Rosalind Franklin
Savitribai Jotiba Phule
Sojourner Truth
Susan B. Anthony
Sybil Ludington
Virginia Woolf
Zora Neale Hurston

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

506 Days of Living Like a Writer

On November 29, 2009 I wrote about my new adventures as a writer, teacher and graduate student.

I began a new adventure. At 28 I started a new job, began my MFA in Creative Writing and moved into a new apartment.

I had a lot of questions:

What does my life look like as a writer? More specifically, a poet? How can I present myself as a writer to the world?

Apparently, I was also worried a lot about being "normal" or "mainstream" back then.

Poets can't pass as mainstream. Automatically you are thrown into a category where assumptions are made (and some of them are true) and those assumptions may make us unrelateable to mainstream society.

I also had to muster up some courage to even admit to myself that I was an artist:

So here I am, a writer, a poet, an artist of words, of language (yes, I said it) and I'm trying to figure out what that means.

I also really loved watching TV. Good thing that hasn't changed. But what has changed is that I don't feel like shit for wanting to watch TV, because I'm also really committed to writing.

After my boyfriend had to take a job in California, I was left to my own devices the following weekend. I wasted away (not just hours but) days of my week watching television, surfing Facebook and Twitter, sleeping and talking on the phone. I finally had the chance to delve into my writing, yet I found myself avoiding writing at all costs. 

I made my boyfriend block websites like Facebook and Hulu. Then I had even more questions!

Many questions came to mind. What was I doing with my life? What did being a writer mean? How should my life change? How should my day be organized? How should my writing and space and home be organized? How does one live like a writer? These questions only spawned more questions. 

That seemed to do the trick. I wrote like a mother fucker:

I've been writing rather prolifically this past week too, beginning a number of new poems and voraciously editing many as well.

Then I decided I needed to a blog to sort through and share my experiences of becoming a writer:

So here is where I will be discovering what it means to live like a writer, a poet, an artist. 

Well it's been 506 days and here are the most important things I have learned about living like a writer:  fall asleep each night and dream about writing. Wake up everyday thinking about writing.

But, most importantly, write.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Waves of Uneventful Days

Most days I have very little to share.

I have things to do. They are on my to-do lists. I have seven lists of things to-do. I have only done three to-do items today.

I got some things accomplished. Submissions - electronic and postal. Poems and chapbook manuscript. Sent withdrawal emails. My poem "The Ordination of Woman" was accepted by Whistling Fire.

I'm counting my calories again. Mostly so I make sure I don't overeat. I won't share that with you.

I have not written my poem for Poem-a-Day yet. I should do that before date night begins in about 20 minutes. But I still need to shower.

I have lost some energy. I've spent a lot of time talking about the repercussions of being a public poet. That is, being the kind of poet who makes her private life public. Now I need to spend time thinking about why I feel compelled to make waves. Where does this instinct begin? What are my motivations? After the waves are crashing, how do I react? What is my role? Do I have the right to be upset if people don't accept/like/agree with my public self? If not upset, then what?

This is what happens when I have free time. Most people just watch TV.

I also reached a new high score on the Text Twist game on my phone. Over 900,000. I'm winning. Perhaps even more winning than Charlie Sheen.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Big Poetry Giveaway 2011!

I just found out about The Big Poetry Giveaway 2011 and I'm stoked to participate. Thanks to Marie for posting about it on her blog AND for giving away such cool subscriptions.

For those of you who are new to the project, you can check out the details at Kelli Russel Agodon's blog Book of Kells. I will be giving away two subscriptions and two books.

If you want a chance to win, simply comment on this post anytime during the month of April. During the first week of May, I will use a Random Number Generator to pick the winners.

I love doing this kind of thing; it reminds me of when Bitch had their call for subscriptions and I gave away three. It's great to put a book or magazine in the hands of someone who might not have found it otherwise.

In other National Poetry Month news, I'm participating in the Poem-A-Day Challenge and you should too! Today's prompt: what got you here - now go write a poem!