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Yeah, after reading that, Olen is guilty of staring into her own navel and falling into the black hole. Nevermind that there was a person right there who needed a salary and who - judging from what I read on her blog and Olen's story - did everything she was supposed to do as a nanny.

And the nanny let Olen read the blog. What did Olen expect? (I'm not sure letting her boss read the blog was the best idea, though.)

Americans are so weird about their servants. I even feel weird using the word "servant." Perhaps if Olen saw the nanny in a more British light, the whole problem wouldn't have happened in the first place.

blue girl

Pepper, I think you nailed it:

"I'm not sure letting her boss read the blog was the best idea, though."

Whenever you find out someone's talking behind your back -- let alone to the entire world -- and you've given them the *password* to listen in --
especially if that someone's got the power to get a 1/2 page essay in the Sunday NYTs -- well, it's a hard lesson to learn. Really hard.

And Olen had to have shown her vindictiveness in the boss/employee relationship anyway, don't you think? Just in their everyday dealings?

Didn't Tessy (?) observe any of her characteristics? I think she got too comfortable on her site.

Who knows? Maybe Tessy will get a book deal out of it --
you know that *traditional* media is still trying to figure out how bloggers fit into the bigger picture.

I think this whole story today proves that all of life is just like 8th grade.

So sad.



You're right about Americans and servants---although people who work in service industries meet too many Americans who are way too comfortable with having other people at their beck and call.

But I wonder if Americans who hire nannies do see them in a British light---they see them and they think Mary Poppins and judge their own nannies accordingly.


Good point! Although the whole idea of Mary gettin' down with the chimneysweeps is too much fun ... and there's that show 'Nanny 911!' What do you bet those ladies sneak a tipple every now and then?

bluegirl, I smell a book deal, too.

Scott Lemieux

You're much more fair-minded than I, but I found Olen's article just atrocious. It's bad enough to fire your nanny because of your prissy hangups, but even worse to discuss it in transparent bad faith.


you're right. the nanny is a far better writer.

Chana M

The nanny is probably a better person, and she certainly has a good case to make for herself, but I don't think she's a better writer. She might also find that graduate faculty in English will expect her to use apostrophes, and to avoid randomly capitalizing words.

Anne Laurie

One of my favorite quotes, from Joan Didion: "This is the first thing to remember: Writers are always selling someone out."

Olen's snitty little piece is vulgar & frankly atrocious, but it's only a variation of a theme I've run across too often recently, the Middle-Class-Middle-Aged-Literary-Person-with-the-Why-Don't-the-World-Revolve-Around-ME-Anymore-Blues. ( has not only posted a bunch of these whiney screeds -- not all by women; Neal Pollack had one that actually raised my blood pressure -- it's actually given a column to a particularly egregious offender.) Olen's nanny does seem to be a better writer, although for a graduate student in English she doesn't seem to have a really strong grasp of basic grammar. (If I weren't so lazy, I'd go look up Jane Austen's nasty quip in PRIDE & PREJUDICE about the relative gifts of male & female letter-writers.) An experienced employee wouldn't have given her URL to an employer, especially one she had reason not to trust. A halfway intelligent employer wouldn't have read the employee's blog, because if you're experienced enough to be writing about your personal life for the New York Times you should have a better grasp of the distinction between "employee" and "friend". Because Olen is older, and therefore should have been more self-aware, she comes off worst in this encounter. But I doubt either individual will ever view this as a high point in their separate careers.

One of the disadvantages of blogging is that everyone now has the chance to make an idiot of themselves in a very, VERY public forum. Back in the dark ages, when people still communicated on paper, I was given the opportunity to make an idiot of myself in print in a much more limited circle. The repercussions of those early epistolary battles convinced me that I should never write anything down that I wouldn't be willing to defend to my worst enemy -- or any future partner, employer, or public prosecutor. This is the second biggest reason why I am a commenter instead of a blogger in my own right (the biggest being that I am lazy, and getting lazier as I get older).

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