Sex and the Ivy

When I Was 20

Filed under: All About Elle, Blogging, Dating/Relationships, Depression, Harvard, Mental Health — Elle January 11, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

My friends have a tendency to categorize my college experience as pre- and post-Patrick (or pre- and post-domestication-of-formerly-unruly-sex-blogger), but I think the split really occurs not when I met the current roomie, but two Christmases ago. I’m referring to those infamous nude photos, whose surfacing and aftermath have been neatly summarized in a recent piece in a Canadian paper. It felt strange to comment on the incident for the article, given how much time has passed and how young I was then (not that I’m much older now). But though many things have changed since, I don’t know if I’d handle it any differently today, which is probably why I seemed “remarkably blase” in the interview. I think I did the best I could at the time.

In the winter of 2007, I was single and living alone in Currier House, still blogging primarily on Sex and the Ivy, and seriously considering writing a memoir (which has long been shelved in favor of my senior thesis). At 20 years old, I was completely unprepared to deal with such a deep invasion of privacy, though I wonder if that’s the sort of thing one is ever prepared to handle gracefully. It wasn’t about the fact that I was naked on the Internet nor was it about the sociopathic ex who I’d long written off. I was never ashamed of my body or of people seeing it, but rather, I felt victimized because I had been exposed without consent and doubly victimized by those who wrote salaciously about the incident. The initial IvyGate post was how most of my classmates found out about the photos, and the subsequent coverage on Fleshbot, Bostonist, who knows where else, informed the world beyond Cambridge.

In the weeks after, I encountered little sympathy and plenty of mockery. It was easy for strangers online to say that I was “asking for it” when they weren’t in my shoes, freaking the fuck out (quite literally, in the form of panic attacks), and very much certain that I didn’t ask for this shit. However, I was mostly appalled by the way I was treated by other Harvard students, who had no moral qualms about Googling the photos and sending them to one another. It wasn’t the first or last time I felt totally alienated, isolated, and violated by the campus at large, but it was easily the worst time because I was going at it alone. Unlike romantic troubles or an uncalled-for rude encounter, this was a situation that literally no one in my life could understand or empathize with.

So how did I get over it? By leaving Harvard. I made the best of finals and submitted multiple late papers thanks to a note from my therapist. I got a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication I never ended up taking. I went to Switzerland for nine days with two girlfriends, hiked uphill in snow to reach the peak of the world’s longest sled run, and had a lot of sex with someone who was not a sociopath. Thankfully, I emerged from my depressive haze without the least bit of generalized hatred toward men, since I met Patrick, a.k.a. “the Guy”, shortly thereafter. In the subsequent months of my junior year, I transitioned slowly away from my old blog and into this one. Mid-semester, sleuthing e-stalkers unmasked and defamed “the Guy”, pretty much cementing my belief that I could never return to writing openly about my own sex life. I also moved, for all intents and purposes, into Patrick’s then-apartment and never once looked back at the option of living on campus. By the time I got Ad Boarded for not turning in two final papers, I was just completely done with Harvard. Everyone was telling me to finish the damn papers — which were completely doable — and I was thinking, “What’s so bad about having to take a year off, anyway? I freaking hate this place.” When I left Harvard at the end of May, I had already long checked out emotionally. I hadn’t even slept in Currier for months and only showed up to move-out in order to shove things into boxes. Two months later, I turned 21 halfway around the world from Cambridge. I went back to Boston a few weeks later and moved in with Patrick, with whom I lived during my year off. Harvard has never felt like home again, not even after I returned as a student this fall.

This is all to say that even if I appeared “remarkably blase about the incident” in my interview for the aforementioned article, it was hardly an insignificant event in my life. I’ve said most, though not all, of the above before, and often, it feels like I’m repeating myself when I discuss this topic. Maybe that’s because I’m still grappling with what happened. The reaction to those photos simultaneously defined and epitomized my college experience, which often felt like a circus act performed before sadistic spectators. Someday, I’ll have to post the “reflective” essay I submitted to get readmitted to Harvard. It was more a condemnation of my classmates than it was an expression of remorse, and if the administration ever had doubts about how cruel Ivy League students can be … well, now they know. Back then, I was also very much of the mindset that the bloggers and reporters who wrote about the photos were simply doing their job: writing about the news. Only in the year afterward did I realize that having a sex blog hardly makes one newsworthy and that furthermore, gossip is not news. It would have saved my sanity had a few individuals simply thought twice about clicking “Post Entry”. In retrospect, I regret that I wasn’t more critical of the writers who exploited the source of my personal anguish for page views.

In a few short months, I’ll have a Harvard degree in addition to hundreds of unfavorable Google search results to show for all this trouble, yet I’ve never quite forgiven or forgotten the on- and off-line masses who judged, dissected, and mocked my younger self. In a coming-of-age film, the above drama might be characterized as the experience necessary for eventual personal growth or finding Mr. Right or whatever. Winding up with a bulldog-owning Yalie is kind of the perfect happy ending to the Ivy League version of Sex And The City. But outside of HBO world, no one needs to nearly get their life ruined in order to emerge triumphant. The reality is that people are often mean without justification, you may or may not learn from this stuff, and the guy you end up with in the aftermath is not necessarily the pay-off for putting up with bullshit. Though I survived my ordeal more or less intact, with a boyfriend and a puppy dog to boot, I have never regained my former faith in others’ inherent goodness. Which is good, because I was really just being naive. The crazy ex who posted those photos could have easily been written off as a psychotic exception to the generally sane population at large, but what happened in the aftermath demonstrated to me how thoughtless, judgmental, and unkind normal individuals can be and that this tends to be the rule, not the exception, and that Harvard kids with all their privilege are not exempt from moral failings despite being in a position where they should theoretically “know better”.

And that realization, not Patrick, is what really prompted some rather radical changes in my life. Harvard has a knack for fooling its students into becoming incredibly invested in their peers. The cult of the Ivy and all that. The belief that your success is mine and vice versa. Even at its rawest, my blog up until that point reflected a painful desire to be liked. I was well-aware that my subject matter was slightly edgy and my reputation slightly soiled, but hardly unsalvageable, nothing a book deal couldn’t fix. It wasn’t until the ugly aftermath of the photos that I started to question what I was trying to prove and who I was trying to prove it to. It was then that I stopped participating in superficial social interactions, ceased going to anonymous parties, and completely disengaged from communal college life. In other words, I no longer viewed my classmates as flawless individuals who I should be grateful to know.

Up until then, my go-to future plan had always been Move To New York, Write A Memoir, Become Carrie 2.0. Now that graduation is actually on the horizon, I don’t find any of the above particularly appealing. I will almost certainly stay in Boston, at least in the short-term, and perhaps I will still publish a book, but not because I feel the need to apologize for my sordid past by seeking redemption via commercial literary success. As for Carrie 2.0, I’d rather aspire to be Jessica Valenti. But the truth is that I don’t even have New Year’s resolutions, not to speak of a multi-year life plan. I don’t have any idea how 2010 will turn out, since I didn’t do corporate recruiting in the fall, haven’t looked for a job, failed to apply to grad schools or take the GRE, and have no real intention to think about post-graduation life until I actually graduate (or at least until I finish my thesis). Two years ago, this would’ve struck me as terribly complacent, perhaps even boring, but right now,it just feels liberating.


Filed under: All About Elle, Blogging, Depression, Harvard, Mental Health, Uncategorized — Elle July 17, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am.

- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Right now, I want to disappear. I haven’t felt this in a long time, perhaps because in the past year, I more or less succeeded in doing precisely that. I traded in Sex and the Ivy for a far less personal tumblelog. I left school and then the country. When I returned, I moved to Beacon Hill and avoided campus, final clubs, and the Class of 2009. My already shrunken circle of friends shrank even more. Agents asked me if I still wanted to write a book, and I would say this really isn’t the right time, but it’s on my mind and I’ll get in touch on my own, thank you. I guess it was reassuring to know that I was, in fact, still relevant. But for once, that mattered less than the sliver of privacy I’d found. Public and private life finally seemed distinguishable, and I was happy. I am happy.

When Harvard kicked me out of school last spring, I felt like the Ad Board didn’t believe or care about my story. Sure, I never did well in college, and hell, I admit that I was a pretty mediocre honors student in high school, but there’s a reason why I went from getting abysmal grades to simply not passing a class. That doesn’t just happen on its own. The problem is, I don’t know how I could have expected anyone at the time to believe me when even I thought my story was unbelievable. It was so unbelievable, in fact, that I called it a “story”. I thought of it as a book, perhaps because I was trying to write one, but also because there wasn’t any possible way that it was actually happening in real life. Yet it was.

I started Sex and the Ivy in the beginning of my sophomore year. At first, it was exhilarating to feel inspired enough to write everyday. It was the biggest high I’d ever felt and I still sometimes fear I’ll never replicate it again. But what I initially considered an incredible creative phase soon turned into the worst period of my life up to that point. Because I believed in the best in people, I wrote naively and with abandon. I wrote about my fears and my uncertainties and my insecurities. I always wrote the truth. Most of the feedback was positive but some people were critical, not in a constructive way, but in a purposely hurtful, malicious way. Judgments were made about my character based on the presumed number of sexual partners I’d had. Strangers felt justified in calling me a “slut”. Their IP addresses suggested they were posting from a computer connected to the campus network. For a period of about six months, I went through a series of highs and lows. Most of my blogging was done when I was in a slightly manic state. The rest of the time, I slept a lot, missed class frequently, and tried to extricate myself from most social activities. Someone, a professional, suggested I might be struggling with a high-functioning form of bipolar disorder. I met with a psychiatrist, decided I wasn’t that crazy (at least not yet), and promptly went back into hibernation mode until the spring. By then, I was doing better and just wanted to finish the school year so I could spend summer in New York. None of what I’m writing here is new. I’ve said it all before, so many times before that it doesn’t feel real now to look back on it.

Sometimes when I spoke to my junior year therapist about this, I felt like she didn’t believe me either. I felt like no one believed me, or at least they couldn’t feel what I felt. Back then, I thought I was going crazy, not crazy enough to take pills, but enough to question whether this constant feeling of being watched and judged was merely a mental affliction. I almost wanted to ask Sara if she thought I was actually making this all up in my head. In retrospect, what I considered unconfirmed paranoia at the time was pretty much confirmed by my junior year. I just didn’t want to believe it. But then you hear enough people whisper your name (or something that vaguely sounds like it) whenever you’re in the vicinity. You catch enough people looking at you. You catch pointing. And sometimes, you overhear something that no one intended for you to hear. What you used to wonder about, you come to expect. But I never learned the full extent of it and I never will, which is why I thought for so long that I was crazy in a very literal sense.

I want to point out that I have never, ever been harassed in person. None of these people who gossip and say or think or write terrible things about me would ever have the courage to publicly stand by their words. Every time anyone has approached me, they’ve been gracious and kind and polite; and though I am grateful for this, it also terrifies me, because I can’t put an identifiable face on my attackers. And yes, I do feel attacked.

It may have been an unhinged ex-boyfriend who put nude photos of me online two Christmases ago, but their dissemination was a collaborative effort between IvyGate and my peers. I know for a fact that people who personally knew me — as well as others who didn’t –  were sending those photos around while I was in hysterics at the end of fall term and struggling to finish papers just so I could finish them, just so I could leave the school and the country and all this inexplicable malice behind. When Patrick and I started dating last spring, I didn’t tell anyone but my closest friends about him. I actually kept my relationship a secret from the majority of my acquaintances. And yet, someone who knew the both of us, someone who must’ve seen us in public together or something, outed him on JuicyCampus. When it got picked up on AutoAdmit, online vigilantes decided to take matters into their own hands and send indignant emails to Harvard professors and administrators demanding that Patrick be kicked out of his Ph.D program for a breach of ethics that never occurred. Thank god he was in a five-year relationship during the entire time he taught me or people might’ve actually not believed us.

I suppose the fact that I’m still blogging is a testament to my emotional strength or to my stupidity. To be honest, I’m terrified of returning to school this fall because I’m running out of the former. I’m tired of being strong and I’m tired of having to just put up with it and I’m worried that what’s happened thus far is the beginning, not the end. In retrospect, I’m surprised my 19-year-old self lasted as long as she did. I’m turning 22 next month and I’m getting too old for this. I used to get so many sexist or downright misogynistic comments that I became numb to them. I hit delete, delete, delete and moved on to the next entry. And now? When I read something terrible that a stranger has to say about me,  I stop and think about it. I think about them and the person they might be. I think about myself and what I’ve done to deserve this kind of scrutiny. I think about how a website could provoke concerted efforts by other human beings to make my life miserable.

Maybe blogging about my personal life means I’m “asking for it” but if my only crime is writing openly and honestly about sex and not having the decency to feel ashamed of myself, then yes, I suppose I asked for it. I realize now, two years late, that I was incredibly naive for expecting better out of people, out of humanity, as dramatic as that sounds. When I was 19, I didn’t think anyone understood me. Not my mother, who didn’t know about my blog. Not my therapist, who nodded at the right times and knew my secret resentments. Not my friends, who were often the ones I resented. And now I know there’s at least one person in the world who understands me, pretty completely, and I’m still miserable, just because a stranger decided to be shockingly inhumane tonight. How did I do it at 19? How can I ever write that candidly again if even a mere comment (or in this case, 15 of them in a span of minutes) conjures up all the unpleasant memories I’ve pushed to the recesses of my mind? I have never once regretted writing Sex and the Ivy, but it’s not until now that I’ve acknowledged the full extent of what I lost because of it. I spent most of college disassociating myself from my peers, physically running away (to New York, to Philadelphia, abroad), and questioning my own sanity. And sure, I was defiant, and more importantly, I was in the right. But what good is being right when you’re an unhappy, suspicious person? Now that I know the alternative, I could care less about my writing or what others see in it or what they see in me. I’d rather be happy than defiant on principle.

None of these people who have done me wrong will get their comeuppance. There’s no such thing as god or karma and even if there were, I’m not looking for justice. I’m looking for happiness, and thus far, I’ve only found it in a private life. I could wait endlessly for divine retribution, or I could try to be happy knowing what I know about human nature and what people are capable of. I could try to be happy the one way I know how. I could try to disappear.

A Retrospect

Filed under: Blogging, Life — Elle January 10, 2009 @ 6:27 am

I’m starting out 2009 the way I started out 2008: in the beautiful Alps, minus one sex scandal, plus one gorgeous man and his cute pup.

If you asked me last January how I felt about the upcoming year, I probably would’ve kicked you in the face. I was naked on the Internet (literally and figuratively), lying to my mother, and dating out of spite. I spent the holidays calling police departments in three different cities and crying hysterically in airports. In what can only be accurately described as a “total breakdown”, I killed Sex and the Ivy, retreated from campus, and ran off to Switzerland with two of my best girlfriends to have recuperative sex and ponder my lack of future career options.

Then for six spectacular months, I lived in constant elation (because I was falling in love with Patrick) and constant fear (because I thought my best friend was going to off herself).

Now, I’m cohabitating in a Beacon Hill one-bedroom with less closet space than my previous dorm. I’ve shed the 20 pounds I gained in freshman year, but not my freshman year friends, who have long outlasted the fairweather acquaintances from my partying days. My flakiness as a student has me on academic probation until fall, but my mom is — against all odds — not freaking out, since I’ve finally come clean about the last two years of my life. And now that Wall St. has been virtually wiped out, my friends are actually jealous that I have an entire extra 12 months to figure out my life, since it’s not like going corporate is an option for anyone anymore — sex bloggers or not. But though I might seem incredibly unemployable according to my Google search results, I still managed to land a completely legitimate non-profit job that I happen to love. Who would’ve thought that graduating later would actually be a sanity-saving move? Who would’ve thought that I actually developed marketable skills from my blogging experience?

Like I wrote back in March, about a month after Patrick and I started dating, “I’ve moved on.” I grew up and grew out of the blog that defined so much of my time at Harvard. In some ways, I’ve grown out of Harvard. When I return, I think I’ll feel much less like a student and much more like a person who studies (and hopefully there will be lots of studying, since I do need to graduate). Despite the occasionally traumatizing consequences, I’ll never regret my decision to write this blog, because now I have undeniable proof that writing is worth it. I wanted my experiences, fuck-ups and all, to resonate with people. I wanted to not feel so alone despite being the only Harvard kid I knew to admit that I sometimes hated this place we were supposed to be so proud of. I wanted to be sure again, the way I was at 8, at 12, at 16, of what I wanted to do in life.

Freshman year, I was a small fish from a small pond, too naive to be anything but impressed by the money and prestige of my Ivy League peers. I drank straight from vodka bottles and forgot myself in a riot-proof dorm in the Yard. Every day since then has been about remembering. Thanks to the two years I devoted to this blog and the year I spent not writing it, not only do I finally recall the girl I used to be, but I think I now know who I want to become.

Where The Hell I’ve Been

Filed under: Blogging, Dating/Relationships, Hooking Up, Men, Sex — Elle December 11, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

I just got done reading old Facebook messages/emails for a fun new project involving my best friend (more on this later). So! I recalled some cool things about my formerly slutty existence. Initially, I thought I stopped updating this damn thing because an ex-lover posted my naked photos to the Internet, but then I remembered that I discovered monogamy shortly after that incident and promptly stopped having sex of the promiscuous variety, thereby eliminating 80 percent of my material.

But apparently, I used to have sex with lots of different people. And since my conquests are so numerous that I inevitably never get around to writing up all of them, I thought I should share some items from a year ago.

In late 2007, I was flirting/going out with six men simultaneously and getting laid by (almost) none of them. I think I only had sex four times last winter. #1 took place on my friend Zac’s 21st birthday after I brought some dude along and we mutually got obliterated at the Kong. Classy. #2 took place in a fraternity house of all places, but it was MIT so I think I can safely say that I’ve managed to avoid becoming a total college cliche. #3 took place post-nudie-pic scandal in Los Angeles with some dude I barely knew, while my girlfriend sat in his living room watching, um, cartoons (I think?) with his friend. AWKWARD. And I met/fucked #4 approximately five days before I went on my first date with Patrick. Little did I know then that it would be my last gasp of promiscuity for many many many months (and counting … yippee).

There might’ve been a fifth guy at some point, but I obviously don’t remember. If you’re him: it’s not that you’re insignificant; you just didn’t leave any traces in my Gmail/Facebook inbox. Sorry, dude.

This list, of course, does not count September or early fall which was a shitshow of recycled ex-hookups. Old lovers get much of the credit for keeping my sex life sustainable (pun alert!) over the years. After my sex-deprived summer in New York, I was determined to get laid as quickly as possible. Former flings are terribly effective solutions. And in general, I went out and went down almost every weekend so my abstinent streak ended pretty immediately.

Junior fall/winter was also the first time I rejoiced in singledom. I usually hated dating and hooking up because I was constantly attaching, detaching, reattaching myself to men. Last year, I was so cynical about the prospect of a long-term relationship that I spent the majority of my non-fucking time making condescending remarks about the guys I was fucking. (To be clear, these were not remarks said to their faces, but rather, to my friends or uh, blog readers.) This says a lot more about me than the guys, and to be fair to my friends, they were becoming increasingly alarmed at my utter pessimism, which I framed then as “realism”. (But even today, post-monogamy, I would still say that I am, for the most part, undateable. Or at least, my blog is understandably a huge red flag for potential suitors. So there you go, I am still a realist.)

Now I am months-deep in a relationship — free doggie included! — and routinely turn down date/sex offers from the boys who used to make my blog/life so interesting. In exchange, I get walks along the Charles, unsolicited career advice, solicited foot massages, and the assurance that I won’t contract herpes even if we forgo condoms. On the downside, this means I can’t throw him out of my dorm room every time we have a fight. Mostly because I live in his apartment and not a dorm room.

I feel like a younger, more Asian version of Jessica Cutler, the sex-blogging D.C. staffer turned housewife. It’s kind of like I spent the last year in a cocoon. I entered as a filthy, whorish caterpillar and now I’ve exited as a butterfly with remarkably domestic tendencies and a desire to mate for life.

In conclusion, this is why I don’t update my sex blog anymore.

Enough, now. Here is the truth.

Filed under: Blogging — Elle June 10, 2008 @ 8:42 pm

I didn’t expect anyone with any modicum of common sense to disseminate these rumors further than they’ve already been disseminated, but clearly I was wrong. It’s bad that completely anonymous strangers with no stake in my life have chosen to so thoroughly gut it and put it on display on my behalf. It’s worse that perfectly intelligent people believe what they say and encourage this rumor-mongering by reposting the defamatory content. You guys work for thisrecording. Don’t you have to fact-check or something before you just post something to the Internet? Anyway, that’s enough, now. I’ve been ignoring this mess for two months and it’s time for an explanation. A long one.

Even Julia Allison, who epitomizes the trials and triumphs of blogebrity, said after a tumultuous Tumblr run that “none of this has been worth it.” I don’t know what I’ll eventually get out of Sex and the Ivy, or out of The Chicktionary for that matter, but I’m also reaching the point where I can no longer see any benefit to doing what I have been doing for the past 22 months. A book deal? A reality TV show? A job at some “edgy” new media company too self-congratulatory to actually be edgy? None of these options — and all of them have been offered — are terribly interesting to me, perhaps because they require that I sacrifice my independence and creative control. What I’d really like to do is to graduate and to become a nomad, to read what I want to read and to write what I want to write, and (most of all) to just be left alone, at least as far as my personal life is concerned.

That last thing has always been the problem from the beginning: people misunderstand my choice to reveal certain elements of my life. It does not entitle them to dig for the parts I do not share or to actively interfere in events that have nothing to do with them. That’s why it’s not worth it anymore, or at least, that’s why I’m approaching a point where things are no longer worth it. I used to get irritated by the harassing emails that ruined my day; I used to get angry when other people — be they Gawker or my classmates — just didn’t understand me. But those things I eventually got used to. Something far more sinister is happening now, a line I didn’t even know existed is being crossed, and it makes everything that has preceded it seem awfully trivial in comparison. I wrote in a letter to Kennedy recently:

I wonder, of course, if this is all worth it. I wonder this all the time, from the beginning really, since the stakes rose with every month and it seemed like any given moment in time was a huge risk, that that moment was really it, really as bad as it was going to get for me and was I in or was I out?

Well, nearly two years later, I’m pretty sure that that moment is, in fact, this one.

I started blogging publicly two years ago in August 2006. I had just been dumped by a Republican investment banker, was living at home in LA with my mother and then-14-year-old sister, and worked 40 hours a week at marketing and PR internships. Freshman year at Harvard sucked. I considered that summer recuperation. I was certain sophomore year would get better. I had, after all, just gotten out of my first adult relationship. Did I really need further preparation than that for my 19th year?

The answer was a resounding yes. I had no idea what my blog would turn into. People ask, “But you had to know. With a name like Sex and the Ivy, what did you expect?” Not this. I’m on the verge of 21 and this is not at all what I had in mind. Actually, I couldn’t have predicted Year 2 of the Blogging Life even after Year 1. Because the first 12 months, bipolar and destabilizing as they were, were still exciting and educational once you subtracted the agonizing heartbreak and emotional dysregulation that came with dead-end boys and public scrutiny. The second 12 months? Pretty smooth sailing except for the nagging feeling that my world could crumble at any second. And it did. Once, twice, and again.

Two of those apocalypses have been blog-induced. The first was the naked photo debacle. The second has been the systematic deconstruction of my most recent relationship in online forums. Actually, “systematic deconstruction” sounds much too fair for the circumstances. It sounds like some of the commentary might even have merit. In reality, trolls on my blogs are accusing the guy I’m dating of sexual harassment, assault, and general unethical behavior despite having nothing to go on but a blog entry with a disclaimer. Patrick’s identity (as in, pertinent information like his full name, address, and occupation) wasn’t even public until someone conducted a witchhunt and posted that information on Juicy Campus. Up until then, the most I showed of him on my blog had been the back of his head. And then various gossip blogs were emailed about our supposedly illicit affair (luckily, they had the good sense to ignore these “tips”). The rumor mill continued churning. Posters on the notoriously defamatory AutoAdmit decided to dismantle his entire life, our entire relationship. They took my blog posts about aggressive, consensual sex to mean that I was being coerced or assaulted when I’ve never so much as fought with Patrick or heard him raise his voice. The funny thing is, no one is actually concerned about my well-being, even if they pretend as if this “investigation” into my relationship is for my own good. How do I know their intentions? Well, for one, Patrick has received multiple emails telling him what an awful person he is. I’ve received nothing, and I’m supposed to be the grateful victim of this rescue effort. I ignored it all and assumed that anyone remotely relevant would never read the trash being written. Then the trolls began emailing people in Harvard’s sociology department, people in the administration, people Patrick works with. Strangers I only knew through names on course catalogs and official announcements read skewed accounts that portrayed Patrick like a predator. I can deal with criticism. This is complete invasion of privacy. This is defamation.

Why the hoopla? He is a graduate student and he used to be my teaching assistant, which makes our relationship about as scandalous as a senior dating a freshman. Nonetheless, it’s a fact that the Internet ate up, distorted, and spat back out. Google the mess. There are more pages than I care to read about this matter. This is the first time I’ve blogged about how we met or how we know each other. I assumed that doing so would just encourage rumors and inaccuracies, but now that things have escalated, there’s no reason to protect an open secret. So these are the facts: He’s 28, a Ph.D candidate in my department (sociology), and German by birth and citizenship. He owns a bulldog. He went to Yale. He used to lead my discussion sections and grade my papers. By the time we went out on our first date, it’d been months since he last did either. Far from punishing him, all university sources consulted in the ugly PR aftermath are on his side, have confirmed that he has broken no rules, and believe he probably has a case for libel. Contrary to internet speculation, he was not removed from the Graduate Student Council but resigned after a two-year term. His name is Patrick and the only error in judgment he’s made in this entire ordeal is dating a girl who writes a blog with detractors vile enough to not just interfere in her life but also in his.

Is that enough? Here’s more: We met in 2006 during my sophomore fall. My best friend and I whispered about the cute TF in between taking lecture notes, but Patrick was just a distraction from my 10-11am on Mondays and Wednesdays, not an actual fixation. He never made a move on me when I was his student. He had a girlfriend and was, after all, my TF. It wasn’t a possibility either of us considered. Our only personal interaction was office hours, where I first met his dog Hamlet. A year and a half later, neither ethical barrier remained. He found out about my crush by coincidence through a Q&A in The Crimson. Our first date was at The Beehive in Boston’s South End. I saw him again the next night. That first week, I spent four nights with him. And so on until we got to where we are now. What else? He makes me soy lattes in the morning. Half my life is currently stored in his basement. The only photos of us together are on Polaroids. We do grocery shopping at Deluca’s on Charles Street. We give each other books to read. He met Kennedy when he visited Germany last month and held me the numerous times I cried about her this spring. He is an atheist. What more do you want to know? He takes photos of me with a Leica M6. His sister is an artist. Enough? Or more? How much am I supposed to give to prove there is nothing to hide?

I have a blog where I write more of the truth than most people are ever willing to admit, but whatever I keep private is construed as controversy and scandal. I can’t date someone without being worried that his name will be published, and Patrick is not even the first to get “outed”. For all of the above reasons and many others, I see suicide on the horizon. Sex and the Ivy is not dead, but it’s on its way there. Two weeks ago, Bluehost shut down Sex and the Ivy because my scripts were running inefficiently (whatever that means). Patrick twiddled on my control panel, upgraded my Wordpress, called customer service for me, and convinced them to put it back up again. The guy whose reputation I’m ruining helped me fix the website that’s made him infamous by association. Think about that for a second.

I don’t know how many Patricks there are in the world, but I’m going to guess not many. And my friends? It might not seem too difficult to be buds with the local sex blogger, but acquaintances dropped like flies after I started blogging. Nowadays, I have a pretty good idea of who my real friends are, and their job is not easy. So I’m tired of making their lives even harder. I’m tired of making my own life harder. I’m tired of the word “libel” in bed, of forwarding each other defamatory emails and links, of discussing “legal options” over dinner. I’m tired of having to check Google alerts on his name. I’m not a masochist, and I’m certainly not a sadist. I can’t give anything anymore because people then expect everything. I’ll always write but I doubt Lena the Sex Blogger will survive the year, and as far as suicides go, this is one that will hardly be mourned.

I told him in the very beginning that I didn’t want to make his life complicated. I tried to explain about my blog, about the drama that had already ensued. He didn’t believe that it could get so bad. “What are you,” he teased. “Like E-list celebrity?” I laughed. I agreed it was ludicrous. But I’d been in the game long enough to know that people fixate on the most asinine things. I prepared him for the worst case scenario, but no amount of preparation could ready someone for the type of fallout that occurred here. If he left, it would be easy for me to be sad or bitter and to blame my blog for ruining my life. But he hasn’t left and if he does, it won’t be because of this. And so I find myself with an odd kind of burden. I can’t simply be sad or bitter. I have to do everything I can to make things as right as possible. Because caring about me is far harder than it should be, and yet still, he makes me soy lattes in the morning.

Next Page >>>