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the movie-star thing


There needs to be a Hallmark card that certain friends can give you when your ex-husband is getting married to a very young woman in the very near future (say, next weekend) in a country far away (say, in Scotland), and they are planning to attend and don't know how to tell you. As it is, no one mentions the event at all: it's the elephant in the living room that people pretend not to see even as it sprays water on the walls and stands on the couch.

I gave my consent for him to take the boys, and aside from the general surreality of the ongoing situation, it is strange to think that my kids will be at the event, many ex- and remaining friends will be there (including people who were at my own wedding to the man), my famous neighbor will be there, and I will not. The point isn't that I want to be; it has more to do with the feeling of being cut from your old life, as if by a child with scissors, with the image of a new person pasted over that empty space the size and shape of you.

I would be dishonest if I said this wasn't bringing up some difficult emotions, but then again, this is what Alanis Morrisette songs are for.


I am in New York, with Dude, for the Clinton Global Initiative. Because of his nonprofit work, Dude has a complimentary membership (they run about $20,000 a pop). I scored press credentials, am eager to attend the sessions on human trafficking, the empowerment of girls and women. In the hotel lobby last night I met a lovely young woman named Sarah from an organization called Free the Slaves (she was wearing a snug black t-shirt that said SLAVERY SUCKS). The org is headed by Kevin Bales, who wrote the books I devoured just before my trip to Thailand: Ending Slavery and Disposable People. I'm hoping to meet him while I'm here.

Last night, at a dinner held in the Museum of Natural History, Dude introduced me to the actor Edward Norton. It was late, and Ed was tired. I got to tell him how much I liked The 25th Hour. He brightened and said "Oh good!" and talked about Spike Lee's general brilliance. I mentioned that I also liked the novel (by David Benioff) that the movie is based on. In person, Norton is neither tall nor studly. But then he hits you with the full force of his grin, his personality: the movie-star thing. Some people just have it.

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Oct. 16th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
Part 1 of your post
Up front, I am an engineering PhD student, and I am extremely inspired by what your ex has done to make the world a better place. So perhaps I arrive at this blog with a slightly biased perspective.

I recognize that my opinion as an outsider is totally inconsequential.

But I have a couple honest questions for you:

1. How could you possibly "brush off" such a glaring warning sign as your groom telling you he is the alpha of the relationship at your g.d. wedding dance?

2. You do realize that in the above post, the life you were cut out of was almost entirely his, and not yours?

Lets be frank: You are obviously an intelligent woman. Graduating college with "writing books" as your career plan may be fulfilling, but it is usually not the safest bet. On the one hand, who would pass up the lifestyle you enjoyed as a "trophy" on Elon's arm? We only get to live once, after all! But the decision to follow that path was a long-term risk, you must have realized.

Of course, you were in love, but truthfully - did you really think you were an equal partner with the role you had in your married life? The situation you describe in your post illustrates this imbalance perfectly. This might have worked fine for some women, but clearly you are not a housewife by nature. Did you seriously get blindsided by this or did part of you see it coming, but ignore it for convenience?

Bottom line - it didn't last. How many Hollywood marriages do? My advice would be to stop dwelling on this so publicly. The more you write publicly about your ex, the more you reinforce the stereotype that your life, relevance, and importance is predicated on his. As you have said, he is in the public eye. YOU ARE NOT! Or if you are, it is really your own doing. I can't imagine how weird this is for your boyfriend that you can't go two blog posts without mentioning your ex.

I am sure that whatever settlement you reach, you will be astronomically better off than the average American, and the money will be yours only by virtue of your ex's accomplishments. Do you really think that if you had stayed single you'd have come close to earning the amounts you stand to receive in your divorce settlement? Be sad about the breakup if you want, but be grateful for the money you have come by, because an awful lot of people around the world work their ass off (doing things a lot less fun than writing novels) for a fraction of the money you have. Claiming naivety (who is to fault for your failure to understand legal documents which you consent to sign???) and seeking to exploit a technicality in court to void a postnup that you signed of your own free will doesn't paint you in a very good light to the outside observer. Especially when the person you are embroiling in public legal battles is trying to focus on sending a man to Mars and developing cheap electric cars. Live your life. It is none of my business! If it is therapeutic for you to write about this stuff, then maybe you should try talking about it with friends or a counselor rather than the general public.
Oct. 16th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1 of your post

Thanks for the perspective. You go your way, I'll go mine.
Liz Carlson
Nov. 6th, 2010 08:00 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1 of your post
1) It's clear they were in love when they married, and it was not a "hollywood marriage" -- he was a nerdy guy she fell in love with -- and some Alpha comment didn't mean anything at the moment.

2) I think personal blogs are refreshing. There are so many guys (particularly in Silicon Valley) who write self-important blogs asserting their expertise in a particular area, I wonder how they take themselves seriously. Then there are people who write about their meaningless sex life. This blog contains matters of the heart as well as biting social commentary, and I like it.

3) I think a lot of the points you make a valid. But this is not about the average American. It's about equality in their marriage, and the fact that she dedicated herself to it for many years and took care of things when he went off and built the spaceship and was not home most of the time. Don't think it's about the money -- it's about her idea of fairness. Hope they agree to a reasonable settlement.

4) After dating a string of douchebags, met a great guy. My *Dude* has a PhD from the best engineering school, does the gnarliest shit in machine learning + robotics, works crazy hours, but is all about us -- not himself. In fact, he brags about me all the time, and is totally obsessed with my success. The notion that the woman must knowingly sacrifice if she is with a successful man, is crap.

5) I definitely think the hard work Elon Musk has done is inspiring, and believe what he's been through as an entrepreneur is a grueling and jading experience. I still think no matter how much you are progressing science, you should put the people who love you first.

6) If it's none of your business why did you write 5 paragraphs about what's not your business ;)!
Nov. 11th, 2010 07:46 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1 of your post
Speaking in very general terms, and not necessarily about my ex in particular, just because someone is doing great things in public life doesn't mean he is not or has not been an asshole to people in private life. Let's be real about that. One has nothing to do with the other, even if you might want to think otherwise.

And I am well aware that I did not accept my place, and that I was supposed to be nothing but 'grateful'.

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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