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no angel

What I thought was interesting about the blog post my ex-husband published in the Huffington Post was how he, unwittingly or not, invoked the age-old "madonna/whore" complex even as he (by implication) warns against the danger of thinking in "cliches" (in this case, the cliche of the successful middle-aged man who dumps his first and aging wife for a younger woman). Which speaks to some things that have always frustrated me about how this culture views women.

He says:

It is worth mentioning that [his fiance], as anyone who knows her would attest, is one of the most kind hearted and gentle people in the world. The cliché that has been propagated, of me abandoning a devoted wife to "run off" with a young actress, could not have been more falsely applied.

I've met his fiance and I think she is very cool (and smart and witty and a talented actress besides). But my ex seems to be suggesting that the nature of a woman's character is somehow directly responsible for actions that he himself either did or did not take. Which falls in line with the idea that it's "the other woman" who is always "the homewrecker", that she is the one to be blamed for "stealing" the man (no matter that the man allowed himself to be "stolen").

(No one is responsible for the end of my marriage except my ex-husband and me, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here.)

Of course, what my ex is really saying is I did not have sexual relations with that woman before I was officially separated, and no one can fault him for that, or for defending the woman he soon plans to marry. But he does this through a rejiggering of certain female stereotypes. His fiance, he is assuring us, is not and was never "the other woman" or "the homewrecker". Both of these stereotypes carry the connotations of whore, which is the "ultimate" degradation of reducing a person to her sexuality (what's more, that evil female sexuality that kicked us all out of Paradise and continues to plague and victimize helpless men). She is instead "one of the most kind-hearted and gentle people in the world". She is an angel.

Because he's also (wittingly or not) juxtaposing her against me, pulling me into the 'cliche' as the 'devoted wife' even as he states that this cliche could not have been more 'false'...

...because he then, a couple of paragraphs down, goes to some length to assure the reader that Dude (whom he makes a point to identify in full, and also to claim that Dude was a "friend" of ours throughout the marriage) did not play a role in our divorce. By saying this, he is implying -- "framing" -- that, in fact, Dude might have done just that. (This is a rhetorical device called 'apophasis', where you communicate one thing by stating its opposite.) He also refers to Dude as my "long-term" boyfriend, which might make a reader wonder, How "long-term" could he be if they just got divorced?

(We started dating nine months after my separation, but that's not my point either.)

Of course, what my ex is really saying is, Justine is no angel. Which is fine; I will admit that I am infinitely more complicated than that (and so, for that matter, is his fiance).

But if I'm no angel, then what am I? What are the options? You're a good girl or a bad girl. You're a madonna or a whore. And if his fiance is the good girl, then I must be...?

And then he swings into the rest of it, including his interpretation of the events surrounding our divorce. Which I won't get into here, but needless to say it puts me in a less than flattering light. One might even use the word (and say it with me, boys and girls): golddigger. And what is a golddigger but a glorified....[fill in the blank]?

So by saying that he is "correcting the record" about our divorce, by putting himself forward as the final and real authority on the situation, he is also defining a certain kind of reality in which his fiance and I get slotted into our "proper" places.

And I must roll my eyes.

I agree whole-heartedly with my ex about "the danger of cliches". People cannot and should not be reduced to cartoon characters. And women should have the freedom and dignity to exist in a space that does not involve pedestals of any kind (whether you're still on it, or you've been knocked off it). That is not truth. It's distortion, and it hurts.
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( 72 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 10th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
You give such clarity to the reality of this situation that I just want to hug you. I've seen friends go through similar situations and am constantly frustrated by how badly perceptions and personal definitions can become distorted. So my hat goes off to you, I think you've just about hit the nail on the head.
Jul. 11th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
No Angel?
If your not a gold digger, why are you appealing? Why not just agree to the premarital terms you agreed on?
Jul. 11th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
Sorry to post this as anonymous...
but i can't remember the openID url.

when i saw the blog post by elon musk in the huffingtonpost, the first thing i thought was "good for him!" i followed it by googling you and found your blog. after reading it, i still think "good for him." i think that he has the right, as you do, to speak to this issue. true, you have made it all very public. this is what writers, do, you have said. so, i think he deserves to do the same - not to be painted as a bad person who left his wife and 5 kids and ran off with an actress, since both of you agree that that is not the case.

after reading this post, i can appreciate it for it's analysis of his essay, but i would have to assume based on reading this, that his post was not inaccurate. is that the case?

you are a brilliant writer and thinker (who doesn't need me to say it) and i wish you the very best. as someone who will never see a million dollars (let alone 80), though, i find it hard to relate to your struggle. i'm truly asking these questions that follow, not being flippant: in a divorce, what is fair? why is spousal support fair, as opposed to child support? why is it fair to have a percentage of stock in a company that you didn't build? i don't understand the divorces of the super wealthy. they just don't make sense to me. it would seem to me that if a husband supported his wife and she did not have to work, but she is capable of it, spousal support wouldn't be necessary, right? I would think that child support, a home, and whatever you built TOGETHER along with whatever you had before you entered the marriage would be fair. but i am just a common person. i wouldn't have anything much to split if this happened to me.

anyway, good luck! i wish you and your ex the very best. i hope and pray that you get what you perceive to be fair and that you find the peace that you're seeking. sounds like you both deserve it. thanks. Tiffany T.
Jul. 11th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
Re: Sorry to post this as anonymous...
I didn't make it public -- Venturebeat did, and I reacted to that, and then the whole thing just snowballed.

Oh, I consider Elon's version of things to be about as accurate as he considers *my* version of things. Our case is not as simple and straight-forward as he makes it out to be, for one thing, and his victory wasn't quite so clear-cut. He takes some liberties with certain numbers. Trust me, if he had offered me a genuine 80 million dollar deal, I would have jumped at it. Also, Elon tends to assume that things revolve around him (ie: I'm writing about the divorce, thus I must be writing about it in order to pressure him to do something in some way). He has a kill or be killed mentality which means he's quick to assume the very worst about my own motives. But it's my "story" just as much as it is his, and my viewpoint is worth just as much.

And -- what is fair? -- it's a good question, and I've been wrestling with that from the beginning. What's fair is to be treated with respect, and not to be pressured or bullied or dictated to or treated like a second-class citizen or derided or dismissed or manipulated. Just saying. Also, now that I'm no longer so angry at him -- for a while there I was dealing with some genuine outrage and fury -- and now that I'm happy and in love and moving on, how I'd answer the question is different from how I would have answered the question two years ago.

The whole issue of "maintaining living standards" has to do with the kids -- the idea being that they shouldn't be "induced" into preferring one parent over the other but should have similar lifestyles at both residences. In our case, that's unrealistic, and I don't expect that -- I will never be flying my kids around in a private jet, for example (I know, I know, boo hoo for me...:)

Spousal support is to give the less-powerful spouse enough time to "get on her feet" and get her own income going. It's not meant to be forever.

And community property has to do with the idea that marriage is a partnership and the two of you built a *life* together that goes beyond paychecks (ie: maybe the woman didn't "work", but she contributed in other ways and that she herself in the role of 'wife' has a value that should be acknowledged and recognized, and made a very real investment of a very real chunk of her life that could have been dedicated to other things). The legal question has to do with the responsibility the more powerful person has toward the less powerful person.

To be perfectly candid: when this whole process started, Elon was still considerably cash-wealthy by anyone's standards (I know this because when you're getting divorced the law requires that you have access to this information). He refused -- and refused -- to negotiate, and by the time mediation rolled around a year and a half later, he was cash-poor and living on "borrowed funds" (he blames the legal fees for this, but trust me, the legal fees weren't nearly enough to be the sole cause, nor our combined living expenses). The reason why my side requested stock in the first place was because we couldn't ask for cash (because he no longer had it). So the idea behind the request for the stock was supposed to be along the lines of: I'll take the risk with you, and if it doesn't pan out, fine, you're still off the hook, and if does, well, then it's no skin off your nose anyway. It wasn't because I felt I "deserved" it (but I do feel I deserve something, yes), it was meant as a kind of compromise. I would rather take cash than stock. But when the man has already become conveniently cash-poor, and there are five kids involved, you can maybe understand why I wouldn't want that cash to be spread out over twenty five years. The problem with the deal Elon offered me was that there was relatively very little offered upfront (even the house wouldn't be in my name for two years, so I wouldn't be able to sell it and downsize immediately) but would keep me tethered to him for an extremely long time with no guarantee of security (and again, because of the kids, this is something I think a lot about). I would rather have one bird in the hand than five in the bush.

Edited at 2010-07-11 06:15 am (UTC)
Re: Sorry to post this as anonymous... - (Anonymous) - Jul. 11th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 11th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
That wording sounds very very familiar except in my case the younger woman was around before, well before. And there is no Dude.
But yeah.
Good luck!
Jul. 11th, 2010 08:13 am (UTC)
Hi Justine,

I started reading your blog a month ago and find you quite fascinating. You remind me somewhat of my best friend, a self-proclaimed aloof, a rebel, a ballbuster. However even a cactus has a soft interior, so it must have been flooring when the person you've been married to for almost 10 years cuts off your credit card as if he were making an executive business decision.

I read Elon's article in HuffPo. He made some valid points, though didn't exactly take the high road, bringing Dude into the matter (now we know his real name!), and suggesting that you potentially may have married him for money.

I was a little confused when I read: "I even had to endure her attempt to enjoin my companies, which would have required her participation and permission in every significant corporate decision."

You clearly stated (http://moschus.livejournal.com/140610.html) you wanted him to retain all voting rights when you requested 10% of his stock in Tesla and 5% of his stock in SpaceX, so I'm perplexed why he was trying to portray you as a vindictive media-hound trying to prevent him from running his business when you stood by his side for so long.

Even if you have no voting rights, the fact that you would have stock, could muddle things, I guess? My unsolicited opinion: Let him have SpaceX. The fact that you barely had a husband because he micromanaged the shit out of building spacecraft as well as running another company definitely is unfortunate, but let him have it - you have enough going for you.

You have never failed to acknowledge his accomplishments, yet it doesn't seem like you have received appreciation from your ex on how you made his dreams your dreams while sacrificing your own dreams for many years of your life. I don't mean your dreams in mere regards to your career aspirations (do vampire novels really compare to Space travel), I meant in the sense that it probably would have been nice to have a husband who was there to change a diaper and spend Christmas together without a Blackberry. I think you need an apology more than you need 5% of SpaceX.

Now, I know this all sounds rather corny, but the same I believe is true for Israel and Palestine. Read this great article. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/opinion/25atran.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

You don't believe that Elon has a capacity to think beyond numbers, so by asking for these tangible things (which you admit you don't really need), it seems to me more like you're probably just trying to reach him on his level.

What jumped out at me in your itemized request wasn't the 6 million in cash, or the alimony, but the fact that you wanted that fucking car (which he evidently invested more TLC into than his marriage). Is that what you really want (despite it's coolness)?

- Y
Jul. 11th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
The car? Not anymore.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jul. 11th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Word Girl! - (Anonymous) - Jul. 11th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 11th, 2010 10:41 am (UTC)
The whole issue of "maintaining living standards" has to do with the kids -- the idea being that they shouldn't be "induced" into preferring one parent over the other but should have similar lifestyles at both residences.

Is that the legal take on it really? I never knew that. How utterly bizarre. I don't really think kids get venial till they hit their teens. And frankly when they're teens you wish they'd live somewhere else. They're horrible.

I feel a great compulsion to say something pithy and interesting (less for the sake of saying something pithy and interesting than so that people reading this will think, Who is that pithy, interesting person? and read my blog) but really, there's nothing pithy and interesting to say.

Please go back to writing about writing and making witty observations about LA parties. You're a delight to read when you write about that.
Jul. 24th, 2010 09:22 am (UTC)
Standard of Living
Perhaps another way of explaining it is that the standard of living between the two households is to be equalized at the time of the divorce so that the children do not see a swing in their lifestyle from pre-divorce to post. The kids aren't supposed to suffer a severe loss in their standard of living because their parents split up.

It's not a guarantee that things will always remain equal - just a semblance of it. This protects both parents. After all, if the child support award leaves the mother in a large house with a pool, and dad in a two-bedroom apartment in a poor neighborhood, dad is disadvantaged in where the children prefer to spend their time. That principle applies whether we're talking support of $100 a week, or $1000.
Jul. 11th, 2010 10:53 am (UTC)
I am a regular reader of your blog, and I checked out the Huffington Post to read what your ex-husband wrote. I have to say that I didn't get the impression that your ex-husband was trying to incriminate you in any way. I thought his post was quite dignified (and I know something about dignity from reading this blog), and I don't think people will call you a golddigger because of it. People will call you a golddigger out of envy or prejudice or irrational feeling, and there is not much you can do about it. Both you and your ex-husband come across as remarkable individuals, who deserve the best.
Jul. 11th, 2010 11:20 am (UTC)
I read the article he wrote, and I found the whole thing written with a very contemptuous tone. Very patronizing. While I know that it is good that even he feels free enough to write out his thoughts on a public forum, as you do here, I have yet to see the same disdainful tone from you about him as he wrote about you.

I don't understand the money nuances, being pretty poor myself (my yearly income, school loans included, come to 12,000), but I do know that the more money there is, the more confusing and complicated it is. And there's a lot of money here, so it's very complicated.

Divorce is not easy on anyone, and for that and for the fact that you have to deal with a very public divorce, you get my respect, no matter how it goes down.
Jul. 11th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
An Excellent Post
Justine I have the utmost empathy for you. I have suffered a marriage failure that left me single for 18 years and alienated two of my children forever and broke my heart. I had to go through many relationship failures for 18 years before I found Elena; who has been wonderful! You are a great lady. Be strong and let this hard experience make you even stronger and better. Anton Myrer wrote my favorite book "Once An Eagle." Please read it. The central theme of the book was: "Sadness can either deaden the soul or enrich it!"

A big hug for you and stay strong and positive! You have lost nothing. Quite the opposite, a new door has opened for you.

-Jack Waldbewohner
Jul. 11th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
I know this runs the risk of tapping into another "cliche", but:

Jul. 11th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Also, his mansplaining is COMICAL in its ineptitude.
Jul. 11th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
Well, here is my 2 cents
I had never heard of either of you prior to my finding his blog today in the HP. The first thing I thought is "Why is such an accomplished, succesful millionaire airing his personal, dirty laundry in public?".

It soon became obvious that he cares greatly what others think of him (insecure) and he is filled with resentment towards you (Angry) and wishes to be percieved as a victim, not an agressor. (people pleaser).

Based on the fact that he travel 200 days per year tells me he chooses to care more for his business than likely his 5 children and was more than likely a crappy husband.

So, my closing thoughts are.....fuck him and get all the money you can. :)
Jul. 12th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
Hi Justine,

I stumbled on your blog a couple of week ago via HuffPo and had an entertaining few days reading your previous posts - you're a talented and insightful writer. As a fellow Canadian, mother-of-multiples, and previous resident of LA, I found a lot to relate to.

I read Elon's post and found it cringeworthy, particularly the inference around the timing of your marriage. I've never met the man, but I have met men of a similar ilk, and my guess is that he's a very 'black and white' thinker: people are good or bad, you are either wrong, or right, etc. However life, particularly marriages, don't work that way - real life is made of shades of gray.

Unfortunately, the success that he has encountered in his life (at least in his business life) will only strengthen this type of thinking. After all, he probably has people tell him every day how brilliant and, well, RIGHT, he is, right? ;-) The only thing that will change him, and perhaps make him a more realistic and a sympathetic person, will be a spectactular failure. As for any future relationships he might have (including his current one) - well, as soon as the rose-coloured glasses come off (as they will, and should) and white turns to black, good luck to her.

I wish you well in this. I don't find what you are asking is at all exorbitant.

Joy (don't have a user ID)
(Deleted comment)
in awe - (Anonymous) - Jul. 12th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: in awe - (Anonymous) - Jul. 12th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: in awe - moschus - Jul. 12th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: in awe - (Anonymous) - Jul. 12th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
I've followed you for several years now, and I'm sorry you're going through all this. You two are the only ones who know what's "fair" in this case, and it's my hope it's settled soon in a way you'll both be able to live with.

I just hope you are okay. I understand that writing is cathartic, and it's healthy to respond on the page when responding to your ex is not an option. However, publishing that catharsis creates its own problems. Don't get me wrong: I'd be hard pressed to hold back when I felt attacked, and I get wrapped up in that which I cannot control as much as the next guy. On the other hand, I'd hope I had people in my life to pull me back from the ledge before that albatross pulled me down. You're paying your lawyers to protect you emotionally as well as legally and economically--let them wear themselves out and save yourself for the important stuff.

Like... the beach, maybe? Sending you positive vibes,
Jul. 13th, 2010 04:00 am (UTC)
My Take - A male's perspective
First off, I am a male. I personally have lived through a few failed relashionships, so I know how manipulative women can be.

Although I do not know Elon personally, I have indeed observed his rise to greatness over the last 10 years. After encountering your blog, I have attempted to read through as many posts as I can to try to get your side of the story. I admit to at first being biased, but now I have a better picture of things.

Here is my take:
1. Elon married you thinking you would play the role of "trophy wife" in his quest to change the world. However, he forgot to ask if you were willing to participate in this endevour....You had no intention of just being the "hot wife", and Elon totally underestimated your intelligence from the get-go.

2. After the PayPal IPO, you figured you were set for life, and wanted a more relaxed lifestyle for yourself and your husband. You did not realize that from Elon's perspective, he was just getting started....

3. Your anger towards Elon is almost entirely due to that girl he left you for. As evidence, I refer you to one of your own blog posts, where you admit that you have always been used to being "the hot one".
Now, Let's not pull any punches here, this chick Elon got is a super hottie, with a capital "H"....no question about it. If you ask me, she's got a serious shot at being a hollywood A-lister, and Elon knows that. It burns you up inside that Elon chose her over you, because it threatans your belief that you are the "hottest babe on the block". Lets face facts. If Elon dumped you for Rosie O'donnel, you would have taken the $20 Million and walked into the sunset....by picking a hot chick like that, you took it personally, and now he's gonna pay for it.

Justine, I have a lot of respect for you, but you gotta cut this guy some slack. He's trying to make this world a better place. The guy probably doesn't get more than a couple hours sleep a day, and the last thing he needs is a distraction like this messy divorce to ruin the success of Tesla Motors.

Just calling it the way I see it.
Jul. 13th, 2010 06:42 am (UTC)
Re: My Take - A male's perspective
Who is this guy?

I'm pretty sure they met their freshman year in college and married for love, not because she was trophy wife material. Trophy wife implies you sit on a shelf looking pretty, and it's evident that Justine is razor sharp, edgy, and no "trophy." This isn't to say she isn't bangin.

From a woman's perspective TR is insult to injury, but not the root cause of hurt, whatsoever. You're having trouble in your marriage, you go to a counselor, it's the third meeting, the counselor probably agrees with you since you make a damn good case - this pisses off your single-minded husband, and he cuts off your credit card and it's over in 1 day. Your entire life together. gone. Your identity was significantly shaped by this guy, and now you're at rock bottom and don't have any cards to play because the game is fucking over. So you have to pick up the pieces, and everyone sees you knocked down - the victim - even though you rather people see you as strong. So you fight.

The fact that both have been hurt from eachother most likely enables them both to be nicer to the people they are with, and to appreciate the things that they had taken for granted from each other when they were lost. Elon must have dreaded being deemed inadequate in Justines eyes (even if her resentment was deserved), but god damn it, she had his kids, toasted his fucking english muffins, hosted his parties, listened to him vent about work drama, and put her own ambitions on hold because she believed in him. And she deserves a fair settlement, and to be treated with more care. I think they both need to make compromises (she needs to accept non-cash stuff and try the course of least interference and E should try to pull strings to give her liquid assets, noting he seems to be able to pull of miracles in his entrepreneurial endeavors- may as well use that scrappiness to find a peaceful end to your divorce.) Neither is starving or lacking. Justine didn't even mention in her blog that Elon pays $50,000 rent for his place with TR. Justine seems to be doing fine, too. Being that every night I worry/panic how I am going to pay for rent at the end of the month ($900), I think both forgot their modest roots. But then again this fight isn't about money at all (money in their case is just a weapon / power play).

Yeah, I'm not going to lie it's got to be annoying that someone you see as your equal is with a 23 (now 25) year old model slash actress with her alleged wit and sincere interest in quantum physics. She's lovely, yes. But Justine has what they call "soul power." And she's still got it going on.
Re: My Take - A male's perspective - (Anonymous) - Jul. 13th, 2010 10:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: My Take - A male's perspective - (Anonymous) - Jul. 24th, 2010 09:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 13th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
This person is a little crazy. Last names aren't a big deal. In spanish cultures they use both, but it's more misogynistic. But I like the point about accepting second place. I would imagine thought it would be impossible to ever be first place with E. Really!
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
College Term Papers
You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

College Term Papers (http://www.ghostpapers.com/)
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
Re: College Term Papers
Google needs to stop giving search points to link backs.
Jul. 15th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
20,000 a month
What I find most interesting in your ex-husband's blog post is that he makes you look foolish by suggesting that you spend nearly a quarter million dollars a year on clothing and shoes. Surely, "discretionary spending" includes a lot more than shoes, but even so,that's still a considerable amount of clubbing, manicures and movies (you must be paying your personal trainer A LOT).

Considering that the amount is 2, 3, 4 times the yearly salaries of his employees (who are working insane hours building his companies and his wealth), the idea of the man paying out that kind of cash for his ex-wife's wardrobe was surely meant to shock and awe (which it succeeded in doing).

Is life in the Hills really that demanding and expensive? Ouch.
Jul. 15th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Re: 20,000 a month
It's interesting how "pain and suffering" clause doesn't come to play in divorce trials.

You go to jail for punching someone, but nothing happens to you when you under appreciate and ignore them, quit on them, rip their heart out, and six weeks later text them that you are engaged to someone else.

They built their life together, and she invested a lot into him. It seems like she wants a part of his company because she was there by his side as him and his team built it. She has no malice towards it, whatsoever. When you invest a large part of your life in someone and defer to them as the breadwinner, you should get alimony when you split based on the assumption that you were equal partners in the marriage. Justine is not however asking for half his wealth. I do agree that simplification is good: going without Starbucks, personal trainers, and $300 pairs of shoes.

I think his fear that if she had a stake in the company she would block things from happening is assuming she's vindictive; which she is absolutely not. I think in her case, she might not be fully grasping that having stock in a company does mean you are involved (lets say the company has another funding round). Do I think Justine would not go along with the pack and make things difficult - absolutely not. She'd be completely cool.

I wish Elon could see what is so clear to me and many of the other readers, that you do want to work things out, would never do anything to hurt him or his company, are proud of him, and want the best for yourself, for him, and for your sons. However, you're not going to settle for anything less than you deserve, because that's not your style.
Re: 20,000 a month - (Anonymous) - Jul. 15th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 20,000 a month - moschus - Jul. 15th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 20,000 a month - moschus - Jul. 15th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 20,000 a month - progon0716 - Jul. 16th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 20,000 a month - moschus - Jul. 15th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 20,000 a month - no_bull_steve - Jul. 15th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 20,000 a month - no_bull_steve - Jul. 15th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 21st, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
"then I must be...?" In the words of Momma Boucher (from The Waterboy) you're The Devil! (just kidding..)

None of what he says/you say matters as long as it's put in the public eye, it's all going to be interpreted in different ways depending on who reads it and how they read it.

Both of you need to keep it out of the public, and move on (IMHO).
Jul. 21st, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)
To be fair, he *is* a public figure, larger than life & controversial & dating an actress who is famous overseas (she's in Inception, which I haven't seen yet). I'm impressed we kept it private for as long as we did (two years). :)

And I don't agree -- I think what you say matters. It's not supposed to be able to convince everyone. But personal stories are important.

But yeah, the above blog post might have been a mistake on my part, although I genuinely *was* trying to make a larger point.

(and...The Devil! I kind of like that. It cracks me up.)

Edited at 2010-07-21 01:04 pm (UTC)
If I was the judge: - (Anonymous) - Jul. 23rd, 2010 03:42 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: If I was the judge: - (Anonymous) - Jul. 25th, 2010 03:48 am (UTC) - Expand
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Inception - (Anonymous) - Jul. 26th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 27th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
on self-reliance?
Having read both your version of things and your ex-husbands, I still wouldn't presume to make any judgments about how much you do or don't deserve of your ex's estate, or what is or isn't fair. However, it does seem to me that persisting in this legal battle undermines the idea of women as independent and self-empowered beings. Granted that fantasy novelists hardly earn as much as high-tech entrepreneurs, it seems like you're a competent, intelligent, well-connected author with several published books. Simply put, why do you need your husband's money--so much of it--when you seem perfectly capable of succeeding on your own, not to mention the fact that by most standards you are financially secure, to say the least.

Furthermore, I'm curious, if things had turned out differently, and your ex-husband's enterprise had failed whereas you had launched a wildly successful fantasy series--along the lines of Twilight or Harry Potter, say--would you be willing to give him the house, $80 million, a stake in your work? Would you be willing to give him everything you're asking for now?
Jul. 27th, 2010 06:26 am (UTC)
Re: on self-reliance?
He never offered me 80 million or anywhere near. I find it ludicrous that people believe that, but whatever. He offered me child support, alimony, the house, and 2 million, and then instead of negotiating terms with me to find a win-win situation in this he kept reducing the deal and giving me ultimatums. Those tactics alone meant I couldn't accept the deal.

I'm completely happy and willing and "prepared" to settle for much less. What I asked for -- which was never a "demand" -- was meant to be a jumping off point. You know, bargaining. Negotiations. (And the only reason why stock was involved was because he was cash-poor.) Because you're right -- I don't need "so much" of my husband's money. There is, however, the issue of what that money stands for. Namely, respect. He's the one who made it clear that there are to be "no negotiations"; he's the one who would rather pay lawyers astronomical fees than sit down with me to negotiate an end to this; he's the one who has framed this an an all-or-nothing, capitulate-or-else situation. Let me be very clear on that, because I want this to be over. I've always wanted this to be over.

This is about women refusing to let men define what they're worth in ways that are convenient to the *men*. (When is a woman a golddigger? When she asks for more than what the man -- and other men -- decide she's "worth". And who gets to decide what she's worth? And how does that get to be decided?)

Edited at 2010-07-27 06:33 am (UTC)
Re: on self-reliance? - (Anonymous) - Jul. 29th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: on self-reliance? - (Anonymous) - Jul. 29th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: on self-reliance? - (Anonymous) - Jul. 30th, 2010 08:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
Bells and Whistles
This rang a loud bell. Soon to be ex husband recently described his 23 year old girlfriend in exactly the same glowing terms. The fact that she left her 9 month old baby and husband doesn't bother him at all. It bothers me greatly. It didn't bother her that my husband was 48 and married with 3 kids. But why would it when he's in the entertainment industry and she was living with her in-laws and wants to be a stand up comedian. I don't particularly want her around my kids but who knows they are so close in age they'll probably get on.
Yes I know I sound bitter. I am which is why cannibals never eat divorced women.
Aug. 1st, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
What happened to ethics and fair play?
Yup - Justine you are definitely no angel. What you are is an embarrassment to women. People like you, with your materialistic and greedy entitlement mentality, are the reason American men have lost respect for females in general. It's a sad phenomenon.
Aug. 1st, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
Hard times
Divorce is a terrible thing to go through. You have my sympathies, you really do. More than that, I'm sorry for your children. Divorce, or at least some of its nastier aspects, to paraphrase Larkin, f*cks them up.

Kids are strong, resilient - but they never forget this sort of warfare. Like all forms of bloody, internecine conflict, it leaves a lasting mark.

My parents divorced after forty years of marriage, and both of them, hardworking and barely holding on to their place in the fast disappearing middle class of America, are now bitterly separated and slowly sliding into poverty in their old age.

I'm scrambling, trying to become a jobbing author while taking care of two wonderful kids - in no small part not just to make their and my life better, but because I know I'll need to look after both my parents now, and much sooner than I would have if they'd stayed together. It's not easy, and it gets me down sometimes when I'm up typing through the night on not enough sleep and the bills aren't getting any smaller.

Aug. 1st, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
Hard times too
Fortunately, I have a great wife. She has worked incredibly hard to land a good job for herself and to provide for her family and her would-be-writer husband. She's not had it easy. It's touch and go and we've known real difficulties, real hunger, real despair - choosing between ourselves and what our children need even more on a regular basis.

I don't regret a bit of it, and together - or even if we were ever to go our separate ways, I know my partner and I have our children's best interests at heart. We're not likely to be rich but what we have, we've got because we've worked for it with everything thing that we have. We've never let hardship stand in our way or to stop us from helping our family out - unfortunately on both sides of the marital divide they're no strangers to poverty and fourteen hour working days with the endless suck of health care expenses for those few who have it and the crippling worry of those who don't.

We don't have a car. We live modestly. We value cheap train tickets, books, and our small but close family unit. We don't own a house, though one parent does, a modest affair in an out of the way place - and if we're lucky and the taxes don't take it or something else, such as our own mounting debt, we might eventually inherit it. Or we might not. Hopefully, before that, we'll be able to afford a place of our own. It would be nice and we both dream of it - in no small part because we've yet to be able to live someplace for more than two years at a stretch, and our kids are starting to get wind of the fact that where we live, often isn't going to be "ours" in a real sense, at some point in the future. It makes them worry sometimes. They've met homeless kids in the park and you see the wheels turning even at their young age.

Now, what's all this got to do with you? My tale after all, is not particularly rare or likely even interesting to anyone outside of myself. All over the country and across the wider Western industrial world, there are people just like us. In fact, there are millions and millions whose plight is much worse - the numbers rise the farther down the chain of worlds you sink. But we needn't even cross the oceanic waters or drive down through the poverty and drug-warfare riddled isthmus that separates north from south. The recent display of corporate-greed, fueled by a nation hungry for petrol burning cars, air-conditioning, suburban sprawl, cheap travel, and glittering swimming pools slapped down in the hot L.A. sun, just to use a topical example, has released a torrent of poisonous petrochemicals into the Gulf. It's not just killing life in the sea and along the shore, but throwing whole communities into penury and long term financial despair.

Perhaps the stalled economy is just gathering its breath before it rallies. Perhaps the coming global tide caused by anthropological warming - due in no small part to some of those same nasty petrochemicals going into our gas tanks instead of the Gulf - will lift someone's boat, though it's unlikely to be those of people like me - and even less likely to be those of the world's poor.

Oil however, is just the scum on the top. Greed, now that's the real killer. It's the one that says you never have enough, no matter how much you have and even if having more, means someone else, somewhere, is gonna have even less.

It hurts us all of course, even those who benefit, oddly enough. Greed fuels not just cars and oil spills, spiking temperatures, and corporate profits, it fuels acrimony, bitterness, and divorce. It blights lives, as surely as any environmental disaster, and in both cases, it's often the children who suffer the worst.

Aug. 1st, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
Hard times still
This brings us in a wobbly full circle back to the start of my post. I feel for you, but I feel even worse for your children. Why go through this? I'm sure you have your reasons but they're going to be, when you break them down, when you strip away the fictions you've spun around them - and which I'm sure your ex-husband has paid people to spin for him - to good old fashioned greed.

How much do you need? I understand people get angry, but they get greedy as well. You may not be a rocket scientist, I'm sure you didn't work on many of the designs for your husband's next generation of electric cars, though I know we sure could use some - just as he didn't write any of your novels. You had five children, and contributed a lot to their future and their family life. I respect you for that, being a full time, stay at home dad. I've had a lot of jobs but none so demanding as looking after my children. I'm sure you have done well by your own. Take comfort. They're liable to be much richer than you - no matter how the ax falls in the court of appeals, unless the divorce tosses all of it into the bottomless pit that is the legal profession. That's unlikely though, as your ex-spouse has a very great deal of real wealth and so do you, even if you lose. Your children will very likely live lives of great privilege and will enjoy more money that my entire family will ever see even if we combined every member, living and dead, for three generations. What more does a parent want, than to see that? Not the lawyers of course, but the thing about your kids being better off than you.

But that's going to happen either way. Isn't it?

Aug. 1st, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
Hard times end...?
So then it's not about providing for your family, or even keeping the wolf from your door. You live in Bel-Air, so I don't think there are many left outside of the fossilized ones in the tar pits down in Le Brea. You have a profession - a livelihood even, and have achieved a laudable level of success with it. Oh - and the millions. There may be some disagreement about the particulars but you were never, ever going to be poor. You won't be, and that's a good thing. Let me tell you, it's not fun. Nothing like it looks on TV. I hope that my kids and I make it out, because when you're hanging on just on the edge, you can see how much farther down you still have to fall. It keeps me up nights - in the most literal sense.

Greed then, whether you're a good person, whether you think your pre-nuptial agreement wasn't playing fair, whether you've been left or set aside by someone who swore he'd be there until the end, isn't just an innocent bystander in the affair. Greed is making you ask for more. Go on, get offended, I'm sorry. That's not my intent. But I feel that you're lying to yourself, well telling a good story anyway to put it in more kinder terms, if you think you're not under its spell.

How much do you need? How much can you possibly consume? Do you really need even ten percent of several billion possible dollars? Can you remember what it was like to have so much less - and is it that fear, lurking there, or something else, that keeps you reaching to place more in the pockets of your hardworking legal team?

I'm sure they're all great folks and they have kids they need to send to Yale, so in a way, you're just spreading your ex-husband's considerable wealth across the wider community. Shame though, that it's a community which is already doing rather nicely for itself without your generous help.

As for standing up for what's fair, for demanding what you think is just... If you really were in this for moral principle you'd fire your legal team and spend the same amount helping shrimp farmers in Louisiana afford the counseling that might keep them from blowing their brains out. They'd thank you, and so would their kids. Losing a parent not to mention all those who'll just slide further into poverty, is a terrible thing. Like divorce, like greed, it can really f*ck you up.

I don't know why you're working so hard to have more when you have so much to be thankful of - justice isn't ever going to be enough to explain it, not when you think about how much this is costing your children. Not just in money they'll lose out on as this war between a rich person and a very, very, very rich person sputters on. They'll pay in a currency you don't get monthly itemized bills for - not now anyway, not for years to come.

We've ruled out principle - you're not going to help out any causes except among a very small class of already rather rich divorcees. It's not a strike in favour of all those who stay home raising the kids - like me.

But it's the kids, yours not the lawyers in this case, that I'm most saddened to think about. They didn't want more. They didn't need it, that's for sure. The greed hasn't likely had the time to fully set in. The paint's fresh and the rot hasn't crept past the seal of innocence. But they're quick studies I find, and they always, always want to be just like mom and dad.

I wish you the best, but I wish even more that you'll pass up on that - and think of the children instead.
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About Me

I'm the author of three published novels: the dark fantasies BLOODANGEL and LORD OF BONES (Roc/Penguin) and the YA supernatural thriller UNINVITED (MTV/Simon&Schuster). I also have stories in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE 2 and ZOMBIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE HUNGRY DEAD. I'm working on a psychological thriller called THE DECADENTS. I am divorced, with sons, and live in Bel Air.

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