Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Blogiversary Night: The Final Chapter of Instructions to the Double

Three years ago today, on August 5, 2005, I became inspired by another blog, Instructions to the Double, and launched Roxiticus Desperate Housewives. For the past couple of weeks, we've been counting down with excerpts from Tess' original Instructions to the Double blog archives, and on this third blogiversary night, I'd like to present the final chapter.

"Now, another key to Ms. Olen's essay is the post where I supposedly ridicule all of her life choices. You can read it here:

I Consider The Book A Gift (Tuesday, November 30, 2004):

What does it mean to be so angry that you cannot sit and listen to poetry?

I saw a girl pinch her dark stocking and I smiled.

its not the lights, its the sound

I heard a couple fighting within the confines of couples therapy-spaek. I wanted to suggest they hit each other, its true. I wanted to say, smack him, bite her, pinch, pull, and wince. make each other believe you really care.

all day I seethed and then. i. seethed.

its funny, another memory another hard and then not hard dick. another regret. another nothing. so inconsequential that its sting afterwards, a comment unmuttered, mattered more. and all day, inner ramblings of its cornfields or bust at this point, readers. and then i was fine. excited. it was the (book.) and there would be (words) and (look) at (how) hard (i try!) She is good. her (goodness) the exhaustion of a day. she is so write. how its blue and translucent. how each smile is married to its doped up deceit. how each filament is a stalagmite in someone's sickness. how each worm is a sticky pearl. how bee keeper's and whore's daughter's (know,) no.

Really, the Wife and the Husband, beat it out. whelp and welts! twist a sinew of a joint. hear a snap and know intimacy. purple green bruise so ugly with love on a cheek bone, on all bones. i see them, i do. don't forget the instruments...bludgeon with care. its such an orchestra.

somewhere, there are ribs with my name chiseled! oh, what small child will you be? where did you go and roost? whose hotel soap soul did you lift in your nickers? can i see?

pages and fires. its a witch burning. i am looking forward to the stench. the stew.

Husband and wife, make it burn. its just like making love-making. What can we understand but physical contact? Stop bickering and kneel; a lash, a torch, sweet singed skin. you will know (biblically) each other by your stink.

I thought about a bat but would prefer my hands. i thought about paper thin, thin. just paper thin I thought. about. it.

Yes, Ms. Olen and her spouse did fight in front of me once. It was awful and I couldn't believe they had so little concern for my comfort. But no, this post isn't about her. Sorry, Ms. Olen. It's not. I had in fact, attended a poetry reading at CUNY that evening. It was a star-studded reading of Sylvia Plath's Ariel. (You can double check the CUNY event calendar to compare the date). Which for those of you not familiar with her work, deals with the dissolution of her marriage to poet Ted Hughes. The poems are brilliant though depressing. And during that event, a person who I care for, who had actually loaned me a book that evening (thus the title) walked out on me. I was shocked and angry. That coupled with the poetry and some other disappointments in my life (actually, my own parents' violent relationship which Ms. Olen is unaware of) produced a piece of writing that was difficult but personally necessary for me to write. If you look at the longest paragraph, you will see that I have actually alluded to five Plath Poems (Bee Keeper's Daughter and Lady Lazarus, to name two). Frankly, her attributing this piece of writing to her own life suggests she is both paranoid and narcissistic. A lethal combination. I am sorry Ms. Olen lives in a world where every hard emotion must be about her life. That must be a very painful way to live.

Also, I knew that the situation was no good. I had told a former employer over the winter holidays that I felt misused. The non-child related chores were only growing. I felt the emotional stresses of their unsettled household. I had even begun to ask former employers to prepare references, because I needed another job. I found one within a week, and started the same week I stopped working for Ms. Olen. Coincidence? No.

I think it might be interesting to note the title of her essay, "The New Nanny Diaries are Online." So, I did a little analysis of my blog. And I found that I wrote less than 500 words about being a nanny. And in fact, less than half of those words are about Ms. Olen and her family. In total, I have written over 20,000 words on this blog. Less than 1 percent of this blog is about being a nanny for the Olen family. The New Nanny Diaries? Not at all. Making characters out of my employers? I challenge you to find it. Ms. Olen has chosen to write a malicious and selectively edited essay because writing about bad nannies and blogs is trendy. Its a sad commentary on her self-described moniker as "journalist."

Now, I have refuted the essay and directed you to posts that contradict her claims. There are even more posts than those, but you can look through the archives if you want. But I also want to make something clear. I am refuting the claims about my "promiscuity" simply because it really doesn't represent the life I am leading. However, I will defend any woman's right to sleep with whomever, whenever she wants. Ms. Olen is shocked by a single woman who has and talks about sex. She shouldn't be. Her outrage only suggests her own prejudices. If you are in a polyamorous relationship and that works for you? Great. If you prefer the thrill of sport f***ing? Wonderful. If you are a queer and gender f***ing turns you on? Go Forth and F***. I think one of the most disappointing things about this essay is they way it suggests that a woman who thinks about sex, writes about it, has it, chooses an academic career that asks questions about its social relevance (my blog clearly states that my intellectual interests have to do with the intersection of sex and violence in Victorian novels) is not fit to care for children. Ridiculous. I think most women have a lot to say about sex. And I choose to say it. Also, I am more and more outraged that she interjects my queer sexuality as a way to make the article more salacious. I do have a boyfriend but I am still, Proudly, bisexual. I am not ashamed of being attracted to women. And for her to throw it in her essay as a means to make it more *sensational* is a sad commentary on her own prejudices.

This Blog! It has caused me some problems. The Boyfriend HATES IT. He has been patient through this whole NYTIMES debacle. But he has repeatedly said, some things don't need to be in print. Maybe he was right.

I love blogging though. I have found it so so helpful this year as I prepared to head back to school. I love the blogs I read and the sense of community and the great dialogue that is going on in the blogosphere.

So, this little blog, I will make it a gallery of posts that I especially like. However, my daily blogging will now happen elsewhere. Partly because of this whole incident, partly because I like the idea that this blog represents a transitional year, partly because the idea that Ms. Olen is so interested in my life and reads this blog, CREEPS ME OUT.

Feel free to comment, or better yet, write the NYTIMES about their lack of standards even in the Style Section. And I retain the right to delete anything malicious or inappropriate.

Again, if you came looking for "nannies gone wild," sorry to disappoint you.

Final Post: Monday, July 18, 2005

I want to thank everyone for his or her support. Certainly, there have been some dissenting opinions. But the majority of people who bothered to read my response have been positive, generous, and kind. Thank You.

But there are a few remaining issues to address.

It was very naive and foolish of me to show Ms. Olen my blog. If you return to her essay, you will see that I did it in good faith. Taking care of sick children all day is very exhausting, even more exhausting because the labor is compounded by your sympathy for the child. I did dedicate a poem to them, to this effect. I thought it was a commiserating gesture between employer and employee. It was an act made in good faith. But nonetheless, foolish. Dumb. All kinds of Stupid. And people who know I feel completely ill by all of this know how I wholeheartedly admit my stupidity without any caveat.

However, I want to reiterate that what I think Ms. Olen did was unethical and inappropriate. I told Ms. Olen specifically what I thought was remiss with her piece and her perspective on the relationship. And I told an editor at the NYTIMES how her piece misrepresented my blog. I provided much the same analysis in the rebuttal post. Except, I provided even more links and more detail. He did not waiver. However, at this point in the conversation, there needs to be a radical shift. Instead of talking about the details of my really, silly and well, oddly boring weblog, and instead of continuing to deride the choice Ms. Olen made (that point is clear) we need to discuss the more important issues this debacle should make apparent. We need to discuss: Public Utility and Discourse about Female Sexuality, Intergenerational Sexism, Ethical Standards for National Newspapers, Prudent yet Honest writing, New Spaces of Discourse and their Impact on Privacy. I would have a lot to learn from those conversations. Because, as I read the web and her piece and the massive responses and discussion this has all generated, it is made clear to me that my blog isn't really the issue at hand at all.

I promise to always blog anonymously from now on. I swear.

I am going to try and end this part of the conversation. Later this evening, I will take the comments option off my blog. I think enough has been said. Repeatedly, I have impored for all concerned parties to write the NYTIMES. It's a national newspaper that is supposed to facilitate the flow of information and ideas. If you feel it has done a poor job, they need to know that. I do appreciate everyone's support. Truly. I really didn't know what to expect when this story hit the Internet. I am pleased that there are at least some, well, many, who have come to understand that I am a very different person than the article portrayed me to be.

I know there has been some discussion about "opportunities" and "tell all book" or even a piece of fiction. But, I never wanted this attention. I never wanted what was really just a job situation that was not compatible with either party to become a big public mess. I have no intention of perpetuating the mess. There will be no interviews, no books, and no deals. Nothing. I am actually, headed to graduate school in three weeks (my spell check feature is ready to work really really hard). I am looking forward to a small southern city, far too much reading, and the opportunity to pursue a career I have worked for for many years. I want THIS to be over.

I will blog again. I have saved links and email addresses and as promised will send my URL to interested readers. Again, don't expect anything prurient. There may be frank talk about my life, but no salacious details. I didn't do that here. And I won't do that there. There will be discussion about my relationship, which is going to be long distance for at least 6 months (many academics know that drill). There will be discussions of what I read, watch, hear and the occasional poem. There will be tales of nights out and nights in. I really seriously doubt it could ever drum up this much interest.

In the future, this site will contain favorite entries. But it will be edited and selected based on my tastes. So, if there is stuff you need in the archives, get it now. The full archives will not be available for much longer.

Again, thanks for all the support and well wishes. Here is to better blogging and better journalism.

Looking back over my past three years of blogging, I realize that I may never have written a single post as eloquent as Tess' two final posts. In fact, in the early going, I didn't write much at all (my loyal Roxiticus Desperate Housewives readers who see three or more posts on many days might have trouble believing that, but go ahead, check the RDH archives!)...a combination of a perfectionist nature and comparing my own blog to Tess' blog gave me writer's block.

My second post, four days after the launch of Roxiticus Desperate Housewives, was entitled To Blog Or Not to Blog, and I'd like to share it with you:

Bloggers seem surprised when, after they reveal intimate personal information in their blogs and send out mass e-mails inviting others to view their blogs, that their potential love interests, employers, etc. discover their blogs and learn all of that intimate personal information.

I know for sure that I'm not young or naive enough to use my blog to replace my personal journal, and then it seems like to much work to split my personality between a private, real self (who thinks/writes things about other people that they shouldn't be reading online) and a public, blog persona who probably has a stronger writing style but far less interesting thoughts.

Other 2005 posts (there were only 20 from August-December) included:

As Tess said as she ended one chapter in her blogging life and real life and started a new one, "I love blogging...I love the blogs I read and the sense of community and the great dialogue that is going on in the blogosphere." Since I started up in earnest in February 2008, blogging and reading Other People's Blogs (OPB) has become an important part of my life. In closing, I'd like to thank you all for your warm wishes on this blogiversary celebration, but more importanly, for reading over the past few months. I hope you'll raise a glass, then come back and continue to enjoy the ride with me...



Henson Ray said...

I will gladly raise a glass to your success, and the inspiration that got you to this momentous occasion. Congrats. And good luck on your next three years.

Ferd said...

Wow. I can see how Tess might have intimidated you a bit at the start, but you are very eloquent yourself, Ms. Roxy! And, to be honest, her posts that you quoted are so serious and heavy, that I much prefer yours. You have a fun, real-life style that is easy to like. YOU are easy to like. Even if you're not a bisexual! ; )