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black swans

On Saturday my nanny Beth came into my bedroom/study with a strange look on her face. "Justine?"

I looked up from my laptop.

"Did you know that [insert name of famous show] called? Twice."


"They left two messages on the answering machine. They really like your article*. Suzy [the other nanny] is jumping up and down."

I went downstairs to the kitchen. Beth played the messages for me.

I felt a little shaky and had to sit down on the floor.

A thought occurred to me and I said, "How did they get this number?"

"It's [insert name of famous person]," said one of the nannies. She waved her hands around. "[Famous person] knows all."

I returned the call and talked to a woman named Jackie who was friendly in a crisp, efficient way. "We're always looking for stories where lessons are learned, where the person acquires wisdom after coming through the storm," she said, "and we feel you definitely did that.** So what I'd like to do is give your contact info to our booking producers, who might want to call you in coming weeks to see if there's something they can work on with you. So this is the initial call."

"Thank you, Jackie," I said.

And now I put it out of my head.

* I wrote a piece for the October issue of the magazine Marie Claire. To see images of yourself sandwiched in between glamorous twiggy beauties is, shall we say, a bizarre and humbling experience. It makes you remember how awkward you felt in front of the camera because you didn't know how to move or what to do. I like the photographs -- taken by one of my favorite photographers, Lauren Greenfeld -- but it's like I can hear the voices of the judges in America's Next Top Model berating me because I "lost my neck":

"You must elongate the neck!" Tyra lengthens her own neck to demonstrate, looking like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Nigel nods wisely.

"It's very important. You must always be conscious of your neck!"

"And she needs to relax her mouth," says Janice. "I'd rather look at the dog than at her."

"To be fair," says Tyra, "it's a very charismatic dog."

"I don't like those dogs," says Nigel, "they're way too yappy-yappy. Kind of like Janice."

"At least the dog knows how to pose," says Janice. "I mean, seriously, who told this twit she should be in a magazine?"

I have no idea why my mind works like this. Clearly I've seen too many episodes of that show. (Elise, the candid and intelligent model/med student from the first season, is my favorite reality TV character ever. She's the black swan, the freakish phenomenon, of reality TV women, who seem chosen to perpetuate some of the worst beliefs about our kind.)

** This could be debatable, of course, but it's not like I'm going to argue with the woman.
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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 20th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Sep. 20th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)

That is all. Just enjoying the glimpses into your life.
Sep. 20th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
Marie Clair
The pain I felt after reading the marie clair article left me with such an angry feeling. I have so much admiration for you. You are a strong and independent woman. Men are freaks! Once they get a taste of power and success they lose all values, their like dogs in heat. I feel for your ex-husband, he is a true refelction that money can't buy happiness. People do grow apart but he needs to take care of your lifestyle because you are what helped him to become who he is today. Can't be mad at his new fiance, just be there one day to give her advise, when he leaves her for the next. The time you spent with him was untarnished, it was a organic relationship. Untouched by money, power and greed. You truly knew him before his soul died and was reincarnated to a douche bag conglomerate ass hole. :) You are smart and attractive, I think you should be with someone in high power politcs, just for payback. Then marry somone who made money in a start up green comapny who has adopted the simple way of life. The two of you loving life together and yes forever! live happily ever after!
Sep. 21st, 2010 11:46 am (UTC)
I believe the med student from Season 1 was actually Elise Sewell -- who has an LJ, did you know?

Nov. 5th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
If I were your mother, your best friend, or even your lawyer, I'd caution you to put aside the thrill of being sought out by the television show producer, and to consider the importance of maintaining a little privacy. Though they may blather and fawn and proffer instant sympathy, journalists and producers just want to sell your life, and this often means distorting the reality, prodding you to indulge in self-pity in front of millions of viewers, and reducing your balanced, subtle views to soul-less soundbites.
Nov. 9th, 2010 09:31 am (UTC)
Oh, no worries. I would only do an interview on this particular topic under certain circumstances (so far I've turned them all down; this is my story and I am the one who tells it). But in this case, the person involved is a hero of mine, and the show would do something constructive with the story.
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:23 am (UTC)
Relieved to hear this. If I can add just one more bit of unsolicited advice, I would urge a parent to consider how his/her children, once grown, would react to the content and presentation of the parent's story on television. Let me point out that my cautious attitude is based entirely on my own life experiences, and in no way reflects a judgment upon you.
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC)
Again, no worries. I completely understand. I will always maintain respect for the father of my children.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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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