Thursday, March 10, 2005


Well, I am humbled by Rosie O'Donnell's blog, featured in the NY Times
today. I only read the most recent entry, but it was actually touching.
I love that she loves her shrink, and I really like the image of being
in the therapist's office while she takes calls from her kids, and
instead of being annoyed Rosie feels priveleged to watch her mothering
her child.

I have been mulling over this genre, this blog thing, and struggling
with its odd sense of audience. Who am I writing to? Only one official
comment, one additional one came directly to me, yet I'd guess at least
three other people are reading. But for once the question of who is
listening is not the one gnawing me. Instead, it's why am I writing. And
I confess I have treated these entries like a chore. Dare I say it: an
assignment. I was assigned. I like the idea of having a forum to talk
about a journal and having the authors pitch in. Journals are such dead
entities, often, and it's a wonderful gesture to make it more alive. I
like the idea a lot. But I'm not sure the blog genre can withstand
assignments. The writer has to really want to express, like Rosie does.
It's "just another totally artistic thing," she is quoted as saying.

I have been trying hard to stay "on topic" when what's really been on my
mind this week is my nanny. I continue to struggle with how to be in a
role I hate--an employer of someone in my home, a participant in an
employer/employee relationship that cannot gloss over America's (and my
own) classed condition. I am an employer of an immigrant resident who
wants more money after only two months, even though we both
acknowledge she is getting market rate. And we both know market rate
is unfair, inadequate. She wants to be taken care of by me, her
employer whom she wants to see as "family," from whom she wants an
emotional, financial, paternalistic caretaking. I want boundaries and a
businesslike relationship. This all surfaced when I handed her a written
document of our agreement--a crisis triggered by a literacy "event."
The very act of writing our relationship, which I saw as a stabilizing
relief, made her shiver with discomfort.

As a member of our profession committed to promoting literacy and social
justice, and as someone who writes about and teaches people like her
daughter, how do I deal with her requests, her desires? How do I treat
her equitably but not submit to manipulation? How do I treat her
equitably and hear what she has to say but not feed a class system I
abhor and roles that make me enormously uncomfortable? I've wandered far
afield in order to place this back in the center of my thoughts.



At 4:04 PM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

I haven't had much time to write today, but I've been thinking over what you've written. I can offer only literature (as it is all I know of life, apparently) --- my students and I are studying "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and discussing among other things our failure to communicate with other human beings --- the failure to reach across the vast expanse that sometimes separates us (in such ways as you have described, for instance). Despite our best efforts (the sweating, fasting, striving, desperate touching, etc.)to reach each other, to understand each other, the respondent sometimes settles a pillow by his/her head and says, "That is not what I meant at all."

My students have taken a break, but they are now returning, and we are moving on to "The Yellow Wallpaper." I'm looking forward to reading tomorrow's blog.

Good luck with your dilemma.

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