Decisions, decisions — what if I’m wrong?!

Crayfish Brain May Offer Rare Insight into Hum...
Crayfish Brain May Offer Rare Insight into Human Decision Making (Photo credit: University of Maryland Press Releases)

A dear friend recently told me she’s having headaches and stomachaches as she contemplates a huge, life-changing decision, one that’s increasingly facing people in my industry, journalism — to stay or go. Should she accept a buyout (worth a year or more’s salary), or stay working? (She’s 62, and married.)

We’ve faced the same question a few times here as well, as my husband has also worked decades for a major newspaper shedding staff. But journalism doesn’t pay well. Not to mention, there are very few employers in my industry who’ll take on someone older than 40, so taking a buyout probably means your career is over.

I’ve made a few life-changing decisions, from accepting a fellowship in Paris for eight months, (leaving behind friends, family, career, dog, boyfriend, apartment) to leaving Canada to follow a then-beau to the U.S., a man I hoped I’d marry, (he bailed after two years of marriage.)

The problem with decisions is…every one you make, (and the ones you avoid), have consequences. And we simply can’t know, in advance, what those will be.

So how to make them and not freak out?

Decision Making Chart
Decision Making Chart (Photo credit: West Virginia Blue)

Mitigate your risks

If you’re moving “for love” (risky as hell for many people), certainly leaving behind a great job, family, friends and a place you like a lot — what else is there besides your sweetie? What if it doesn’t work out romantically? Can you afford the rent? Can you easily find work? Can you re-locate again, and how soon and where to?

Consult those affected

If you have children old enough to participate in the decision intelligently, include them. But some moves are going to be stressful and disruptive, even if they’re necessary. The times I’ve felt most betrayed, and it’s happened repeatedly, was when my life has been up-ended by others with no notice or discussion of how it would affect me as well.

Do your due diligence

If you’re thinking of working for X, do your homework! Check out to read others’ opinions of what it’s really like to work there. If you’re considering a college or course, ask others what they think. There is a lot of data out there and ignoring it is silly.

What’s the absolute worst that might happen if you’re wrong?

If you choose the wrong partner/job/city/university, getting out will have a cost, financial, emotional, intellectual. It’s usually better to get out quickly (or not get in) than stick to something not at all what you hoped for or expected.

Strengthen your safety net

Good friends, good health and some cash in the bank are all smart ways to give yourself back-up if something doesn’t work out as planned.

Make a list of pro’s and con’s

If one side is a lot longer than the other, that’s a clue. If you’re still stymied, put every item in order of priority. I wouldn’t ever want to live, for example, in a place with very little racial or economic diversity, or one that is relentlessly religious and/or politically conservative. Nor one with high heat/humidity, tornadoes or hurricanes. (That cuts out entire portions of the U.S.)

Have Plans B-K

Smart people always have a Plan B, just in case. I try to have Plans B-E, at least. Give yourself multiple options or escape routes and you’ll find decision-making less terrifying. How quickly or easily can you put the next plan into action? What obstacles would slow or prevent it?

No decision is perfect or risk-free!

The perfect is the enemy of the good; i.e. at some point, you simply have to get on with it! No decision is perfect and every choice means not choosing something else, whether the style of your wedding dress, your college or grad school or deciding to have children. Don’t make yourself insane asking everyone else for their opinions. You probably really know what makes you happiest, (or most miserable.) Go with that.

If a bunch of other people line up to second-guess your decision, whose life is it anyway?

Here are a few major decisions I’ve made and how they turned out:

Accept eight-month Paris fellowship, age 25.

Paris Sunset from the Louvre window
Paris Sunset from the Louvre window (Photo credit: Dimitry B)

Upside: best year of my life, great new job when I got back.

Downside: Broke up with boyfriend (secretly relieved.)

Move to Montreal at 28 to work for the Gazette, leaving friends, family, city I know well.

Montreal Old Port
Montreal Old Port (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upside: fantastic, cheap, huge apartment; great new boyfriend who later becomes my husband; some adventures in Quebec reporting, big-ass salary and low cost of living.

Downside: miserable, long, bitter winter; horrible newspaper with nutty management; taxes through the wazoo eat up most of my big raise. High crime rate, crappy public services.

Move to New York suburbs with fiance.

Upside: score a gorgeous apartment, he gets a good job fast.

Downside: don’t know a soul, people hard to meet or make friends with, cost of living is high, he bails on the marriage and finding work in New York journalism is, initially, really hard.

Marry him, despite doubts

Upside: fun wedding, honeymoon in France, decent alimony post-divorce.

Downside: humiliation and stress of brief, miserable marriage. Having to re-invent alone in a place with few friends and no job.

The greatest challenge of decision-making is forgiving yourself when things go south, as they sometimes just will. We can only use our very best intelligence and all the facts at hand. We are who we are!

Here’s a poignant post from C. at Small Dog Syndrome about many of the decisions she’s made in her early 20s.

This is an extraordinary radio interview with a 91-year-old man, Sid Rittenberg, who is the only American to join the Chinese Communist party — a decision that cost him 16 years in solitary confinement.

An amazing account, from Vanity Fair, of Malala, the rural Pakistani girl shot in the head for speaking out in favor of girls’ education there — and the journalists who later deeply regretted having pushed her into the spotlight. Their decisions clearly put her life in danger.

Here’s a sad/funny tale of a man who bought and renovated a house in L.A. — despite the dire warning not to from a tarot card reader. His house is gorgeous, but his wife left him.

English: An original card from the tarot deck ...
English: An original card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, a classic “Marseilles” deck. The deck dates from 1701-1715. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you make decisions?

Do you find it difficult?

Wallowing is never a good idea

Death (Photo credit: tanakawho)

Here’s a recent post chosen for Freshly Pressed that really hit a nerve:

And why does it still have to hurt so much?

When will it stop hurting?

Without question, I am over him. I no longer love him. I haven’t for a long time. I do not hate him. It would not bother me in the least if I never spoke to or saw him again. (Of course, this can’t happen (and I won’t allow it to happen), because we have Z and M.)

What I am not over is how much he hurt me. He’s not only hurt me, he’s hurt me in such a way as to have a long-term impact on any and all relationships I may have. He’s hurt me in such a way as to have a long-term impact on any and all relationships I already have.

When I need to talk to or just be in the presence of someone the most, I can’t bear the thought of it. I can’t bear the thought of confiding in someone else.

The depth of the pain is too much to bear.

The writer is a Canadian, a mother of two small children, whose husband cheated on her.

Keening  for seven years? Maybe she’s “ultra sensitive”, as this blogger describes herself.

And here’s a married, white, employed writer complaining in The New York Times that she is living in a friend’s ratty old house, at no cost:

I remind myself to have faith in something larger than the petty irritations of an old house. It’s been, as Dan has said, an “unconventional” way to take over a house.

That would be rent and mortage free, an opportunity millions of Americans would be happy to tackle.

In contrast, here’s an extraordinary story about a family whose 20-year-old son, Declan Sullivan, was killed at Notre Dame University in an accident. Their gracious response is inspiring, not tiring.

My impatience with whining is colored by my own experiences, and those of friends and family, who have coped from early childhood with serious illness, partners’ or parents’ premature death, mental illness, alcoholism, sexual abuse, repeated job loss, natural disasters.

Coping is a learned skill, as is resilience.

Canadian writer Paul Tough wrote a smart book on this subject:

Character is created by encountering and overcoming failure. In this absorbing and important book, Tough explains why American children from both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum are missing out on these essential experiences. The offspring of affluent parents are insulated from adversity, beginning with their baby-proofed nurseries and continuing well into their parentally financed young adulthoods. And while poor children face no end of challenges — from inadequate nutrition and medical care to dysfunctional schools and neighborhoods — there is often little support to help them turn these omnipresent obstacles into character-enhancing triumphs.

Jose and I, in our professional work as journalists, have witnessed horrific violence, death, war and fear for our own lives. People who choose our field know that working to tight deadlines against ferocious competitors means no one has time to coddle you, and insisting on it is a career-damaging choice.

When New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died of an asthma attack while covering a story in Syria, his accompanying photographer Tyler Hicks carried his dead body into Turkey. Jose spent Christmas of 1995 in bitterly cold Bosnia, sleeping in an unheated metal cargo container, his holiday meal a packet of chicken soup, all he could find in the post-war madness there while working as a news photographer. He couldn’t shower for five weeks.

I faced my mother’s manic breakdown when I was 14, in Mexico, with very little help, and had to take care of a visiting friend, a girl my age who spoke no Spanish, while we figured it all out.

No one trains or prepares you for such moments. 

I recently had a long conversation with a new friend, a woman whose life has handed her a tremendous amount of personal stress, fear and worry, some of which is out of her control and ongoing. Yet she is chic, funny, smart, tough and resolutely un-whiny.

Clutching and sobbing tends to make me sigh and withdraw.

When the shit hits the fan, do you crumble?

Or deal?

Why I’m Not Married — Right Now

Bride and groom, California
Image via Wikipedia

Why get married? Some people have decided it’s just not worth it, prompting a national frenzy of hand-wringing.

This very long, statistics-laden piece from Time examines who still marries and who, increasingly, does not.

The conclusion, for those in a hurry, are that those with higher educations and incomes stand a better chance of marrying and staying married, partly because they’ve learned how to compromise and negotiate.

I was married for two miserable years, ages 35 to 37. I didn’t even get to my second anniversary because my ex-husband walked out and re-married a colleague from his office within a year. But, to be factual — and which echoes the statistics on who initiates most divorces — it was my unwillingness to limp along inside a dead shell of  a relationship that also propelled him out the door and into her waiting arms.

I’ve been living with my fiance for 11 years, engaged for — can’t remember! — six or seven of those years. He is more eager to marry than I, partly because his first marriage ended a decade before mine started. I’m getting there, slowly.

How, if at all, would a legally recognized union change us? Not clear. We own a home together, have signed all our assets over to one another in case of death and have no kids.

Just because someone takes vows with you wearing fancy clothes in front of a lot of people doesn’t mean they will live them.

I think many people are hungry for love, for attention, for some sort of financial and emotional security. And marriage holds out that tantalizing promise.

But promises are broken every day, as the divorce rate makes clear. I wonder, truly, how well many couples know one another before booking a hall and cooing over dresses and cakes. After eleven years, I am still learning about my sweetie, and vice versa.

Despite our pretty clear and long-standing commitments to one another, we’re often asked: ” So, when are you getting married?”

Which I find odd and, however well-meant, intrusive.

Are you married?

Do you wish you were?

Do you think everyone should marry?

Divorcing? There's An App For That — But Are Guys Now Oversharing?

Un divorce heureux
A happy divorce? Must be a movie...Image via Wikipedia

Getting divorced? Beware of overshare!

Here’s a Village Voice post on the issue:

The fact remains that regardless of scale (Time vs. Tumblr), it’s peculiar and makes a splash when adult men play this game. Maybe it comes from our own generational or technological biases. Our fathers didn’t grow up with feelings to be shared, let alone computers. Men shouldn’t whine or feel pain and they certainly shouldn’t fucking cry, according to left-over cultural expectations lodged in the heads of even social progressives, feminists, children of the liberal arts. And there’s a certain self-consciousness that comes with being a male online. Where have all the cowboys gone? What would our grandfathers think of us, pining for a partner or “Why me-ing?” about health concerns to strangers? And who do we look to for proper example? There are only so many words written by Dan Savage, and we’ve been told to avoid Tucker Max. I don’t have the answers.

“We’re learning how to draw the line” between extremes when it comes to oversharing, Johnson concluded in Time, “and it’s a line that each of us will draw in different ways.” For adult males, the line seems extra shaky, probably drawn lightly, in pencil. Examples are spare, critics come from every angle. Maybe it’s the job of boys then, growing up online, to become men in public, feelings and all, examples on the internet. It’s cheaper than therapy, but maybe we need both.”

And from True/Slant writer Elie Mystal at, about the new app to help you calculate the potential cost of ditching your spouse:

You can see where this is going. There will always be the high-level, contentious divorces between wealthy individuals that will require the expert advice of counsel. But a lot of divorces just involve two people who didn’t take “until death do we part” very seriously. Why should they have to hire expensive lawyers? Just upload your tax returns and pictures of the homewrecking hussy onto your phone, and bang, you’ve got yourself an iDivorce.

It could happen, which makes you wonder: What kind of person would start the lawyer haterade flowing? An attorney, of course.

I got divorced in 1995 and the only reason it was affordable was having a pre-nuptial agreement in place that laid it all out in advance. My lawyer, then, charged $350/hour and $50 for a phone call. I finally told him I couldn’t even afford to talk to him (fairly crucial) and he capped his fee.

I think an app giving you some idea how much it will cost to end a marriage is fair. Talk about sticker shock! I only had some idea because I’d hired the same lawyer to do my pre-nup and build right into it a few grand for his divorce fees. Most people spend  lot more time, energy and attention to cupcakes versus wedding cake — and have no clue what undoing the marital duo can cost. A little knowledge is worth a lot down the road.

Besides, who exactly is going to have the information you now need? Your divorced friends likely fall into a few typical categories:

1) burned, bitter, don’t want to talk about it (male version) 2) female version 3) starting the process and still hopeful for “victory” however they envision it 4) halfway through an embattled divorce and bleeding money and wondering if it would have been cheaper to just gut it out and stay together 5) freshly done and wounded 6) freshly done and on the market, baby! They know, or soon learn, that *any* discussion of “that greedy bitch” or “that lying SOB” is likely to ensure that a first date is a last date.

Someone calm, lucid and knowedgable? That would be….a divorce attorney.

If you think a wedding is expensive….

A Woman's Toughest Relationship? The One With Her Dad

Dad and daughter
Image by Peter Werkman via Flickr

Interesting piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about how adult women stumble when trying to communicate with their fathers:

When Jennifer Wallace realized her marriage was over, the very first person she called was her mother. During that initial conversation—and each morning for weeks afterward as she drove to work—she poured her heart out about her anger, embarrassment and despair.

But it wasn’t until four years later (long after she had divorced, changed jobs and remarried) that she talked about the experience with her father.

In a lifetime of difficult male-female conversations, some of the toughest, surprisingly, can be the ones between fathers and adult daughters—especially when there is a problem in the daughter’s life.

Ms. Wallace, 29, an executive and personal assistant in Los Angeles, says she always knew her father loved her dearly. When she was growing up, he praised her often, ate dinner with her each night and attended every track meet, play and debate team event she participated in. These days, he is her go-to person for career advice.

Yet at the time of her divorce, she and her dad had never discussed personal problems—hers or his—and she found it impossible to bring up such a sensitive topic with him. “I felt that he would have been deeply, deeply sad,” says Ms. Wallace. “And I felt that he wouldn’t know what to do with me.”

Her dad says she is right: “I needed to protect my princess, but I failed,” says Bruce Wray, 58, a marketing manager for a bar-code company in St. Paul, Minn. “I wasn’t there being Prince Valiant, preventing her mistake.”

Why is it so hard for a grown woman to bare herself emotionally to a man she’s loved all her life? And why would a man have trouble discussing something sensitive with a woman he helped raise?

I often post on stories, and issues, that hit a chord for me personally — and this one did. It was too funny, the phone ringing with an unfamiliar number as I was reading that article.

It was my Dad calling from London, where he’s on vacation, to and from Spain. No big deal for many people, but my Dad and I went many years not talking at all, angry and bitter and frustrated. We’re both stubborn, determined and have a complicated enough family as it is, with 3 step-siblings and my late step-mother, with whom my dealings were often very strained.

So it was great to hear from him and to get the emailed photo of him with a candle-lit cupcake — he celebrated his 81st. birthday in London with his new partner.

I was hit hard by the lede of the Journal story, as I went to Ireland to visit my Dad about two months after my husband walked out of our very brief marriage, and Dad said some things I won’t ever forget and had to work hard to forgive, but I think it’s also because he has always had high hopes, if not expectations, for me and what I will accomplish and achieve. I like that he sets the bar high, for himself and others, but am also really glad it’s come down a few notches over the years. It had to!

I also know that my Dad’s Dad (who I never met) was pretty tough and frosty, and he comes from a generation of men (maybe all generations?) that wasn’t big on expressing feelings, let alone tender, private or emotional ones. So I’ve grown up in this style as well. We rarely, if ever, say “I love you” — but our actions show it, and that’s how I prefer it. At his 80th. birthday celebration last year I made a short speech and thanked him publicly for what he’d taught me: to embrace the world as a place full of adventure and possibility, to be confident, and to want to tell stories, as he did through his films.

Better to say it aloud now than at a funeral or memorial service.

How is your relationship with your adult daughter? Or with your Dad?

Divorce Porn — When All The Gory Details Aren't (Thank God) About You

Cover of "Eat, Pray, Love"
Cover of Eat, Pray, Love

Interesting essay by Amy Sohn in June Elle:

While the single-gal chick lit of the late ’90s, with its brand names and glitzy nightlife, can be seen as the fictional flowering of the Clinton-era economic boom, one way to look at divorce porn is as a product of the recent financial downturn. Bridget Jones’s Diary may have flown off the shelves when the Dow was up, and we thought nothing of dropping $400 on Christian Louboutins. These days, we consign the mules, bake casseroles, and read about loss. Recent months have seen a parallel trend of “layoff lit,” books about people who lost money, jobs, or both: The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penney, a Bernie Madoff victim; Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness, by former House & Garden editor Dominique Browning; and Janelle Brown’s novel This Is Where We Live, about an L.A. couple about to lose their home. (Divorce porn is for people who like their loss narratives served hot.)

Divorce porn’s Citizen Kane was Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, which hung out on the New York Times paperback nonfiction bestseller list for 57 weeks. Gilbert’s literal and metaphorical “journey”—embarked upon after a crippling divorce in her early thirties—provided endless fodder for book group discussions and set publishers on a tear to find Elizabeth Gilbert 2.0, a bright female voice who could tell a difficult, personal, and ultimately uplifting true tale.

They found several. Four divorce pornoirs have hit the Times hardcover bestseller list in the past year: Julie Metz’s Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal, Isabel Gillies’ Happens Every Day: An All- Too-True Story, Elizabeth Edwards’ Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities, and Jenny Sanford’s Staying True. Morrison’s Falling Apart in One Piece was published in March to a big publicity push and so far is selling briskly, by Simon & Schuster and Redbook, of which she is editor- in-chief.

Who among us, married or engaged, hasn’t fantasized about being single once more? But most of us won’t pull the trigger, so we can peek between our fingers, in horrified fascination, at the implosion of others’ marriages and the aftermath.

I wrote an essay after my marriage ended, which won me a National Magazine Award in Canada; the night I won, I told the audience, truthfully, I wanted to thank my ex-husband, “without whom it would not have been possible.” I meant it.

The one decent thing about being a writer, and going through awful experiences is that you know it’s going to make a terrific story later, and preferably one with a decent check attached. We get good at retailing our demons.

When things get really bad, and they have, I repeat my mantra: “It’s all material!”

I didn’t write about my divorce because I was so ashamed that my husband of barely two years (seven together) had so coolly walked out on me for — oh, yeah — his “best friend”, a woman he worked with (and is still married to.) I had left behind a country, career, friends and family in Canada to follow him to his native United States, so I was pretty deeply invested in the ongoing success of that union. (Sometimes writing about my life really is too painful and personal.)

I think one of the reasons divorce porn is so attractive is also that marriage is often so private. We never really know all the accommodations our friends are making with/for their spouse and/or kids, what insanity or inanity or cheapness or infidelity they are swallowing to keep it all together. Or , when we whine, or listen to others, we simply don’t believe it’s really that bad or, as the saying goes, can’t handle the truth. My ex was a doctor, and no one could believe that this smart, handsome, gentle guy was…different…at home with me.

And reading about someone else’s divorce is so much simpler than the real thing. Unless you’re loaded and had a great pre-nup, ending a marriage is often expensive and filled with drama. Sort of like going to the opera, without the sur-titles or intermission.

I’m not rushing out to read these books because, having lived through one divorce, I don’t have a huge appetite to read about theirs.

How about you?

What Sandra Bullock And I Have In Common — 'Runaway Husbands'

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 07:  Sandra Bullock...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It sure isn’t an Oscar!

The challenge is, when hubby bolts, you’re supposed to feel humiliated. Well, you do. That’s true. But he made the choice.

We both faced the nasty reality of a “runaway husband”, the subject of a new book by marriage therapist Vikki Stark, whose own husband ran out on her after 21 years.

I was with my ex for five years before we married, and our marriage barely made it past our second anniversary. He was re-married to his second wife (whom he’s still with) within the year. She’s even in my wedding pictures, his “best friend” (cue Psycho music here) from work.

I’ll spare you the grim details, but it was hell. He was gone a lot — a doctor, officially overnight “on call” at the hospital or, helping her with her young baby as a single mother, at her home. I relied on his income 100 percent, which left me unwilling to push back as hard as I needed to, let alone move out or kick him out.

For those of you whose hubbies have strayed, or you fear they might:

1) Do your due diligence before you marry. Seriously. I had plenty of reason to worry about my ex-husband when I met his family. His mother was so miserable in her marriage she told me all about it. His older brother had already bailed on two wives, each with a young child. Not a good sign! I loved my ex deeply, felt sure we’d figure it all out — and still demanded a pre-nup to seal the deal, just in case.

2) Pre-nup. If you are entering a marriage, like Bullock and many other women with assets, protect yourself. Make sure your finances, if entwined, won’t drag you into court for decades. Know his FICO score. Know what he earns, saves and invests. I was sufficiently alarmed by my ex’es family misery I wanted a pre-nuptial agreement to protect myself, having left my country, family, friends and a thriving career to marry him. As a nosy, mistrustful reporter, I went and interviewed a divorce attorney — $350/hour in 1992 — to find out my legal rights should my marriage end, especially if it ended quickly. I would, he said, have gotten nothing — after putting my career on hold and marrying someone making a lot of dough. My ex had to write me a five-figure check once he’d left, and that was before alimony kicked in. Divorce is expensive, so I calculated in: moving costs, lawyers’ fees, therapy fees and a month or two to get back on my feet.

3) Protect your assets. These include your professional skills, the one thing many women let atrophy if they stay home and mother their kids exclusively.

4) Keep your friendships strong. I was extremely isolated when my husband walked out, June 15, 1994,  a Wednesday night. Yes, I remember. I had very few friends, had quit my job and my family of origin was far away in Canada. I didn’t eat for a week (looked great, though!) and only the kindness of a compassionate, elderly neighbor I barely knew put food in my mouth after she took me into her apartment and made me a sandwich and made me eat it.

5) Keep your professional network, even sporadically, alive. There’s no excuse now. Between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can, and must, maintain some professional networks, even if you’re convinced your marriage is made in heaven and can’t possibly (hello, Titanic?) fail. Should you suddenly need income, and you will if your husband bails, a few colleagues or clients who’ll come through for you quickly is essential.

I knew my marriage faced challenges — I begged my maid-of-honor, just as we walked up the stairs to the church, “Just be my friend if this doesn’t work out.” She did and she is, celebrating her own 20th. wedding anniversary this year. Every marriage faces challenges, whether you’re clutching an Oscar or struggling with infertility or unemployment or illness or you hate his mother or he hates your sister.

The brave, loving husbands are honest enough to say, clearly and without screaming — and before bedding a skank, or a whole bunch of them — “This isn’t working for me. We need to talk.”

And we need to listen.

Need A New Toaster Post-Divorce? British Store Creates Ex's Registry

A Debenhams department store is pictured in ce...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

After the wedding china’s been chipped — or perhaps tossed across a few rooms —  the toaster and microwave and flat-screen fought over, what better solution to re-stocking a sad and lonely home than a post-divorce registry, created by the British department store chain Debenhams.

Right after the holidays is when marital misery most often looks acute and it’s time to, literally, clean house. Out damn spouse!

Reports the Belfast Telegraph:

Peter Moore, head of retail services at Debenhams said: “With so many couples now living together before they marry, the Wedding Gift List concept is now regarded as more of an upgrade service, rather than stocking up the first home with the basics.

“However, a divorce means that one partner will be leaving the marital home and therefore be left without any essentials in their new house.”

The retailer said items expected to be popular included: cookware, cutlery, crockery, glasses, bed linen, towels, small lectrical goods such as toasters and microwaves.

Mr Moore added: “Divorcing can be an expensive time and registering for a Divorce Gift List means that family and friends can help the newly separated begin their new life.”

$9,000 A Day? Nice Work, Babe!

Stephanie Seymour for Valentino.jpg
Madame Seymour...Image by Tammy Manet via Flickr

Here’s a story for you — $9,000 a day from your soon-to-be ex.

In a profile of billionaire businessman Peter Brant, today’s New York Times suggests the guy still had a large, costly soft spot for his second wife, soon to be ex, Stephanie Seymour, a former Victoria’s Secret model:

That’s still enough to underwrite not just his own extravagant lifestyle, but his soon-to-be former wife’s, too. The court ordered him to pay her $270,000 a month in temporary alimony and child support — or about $9,000 a day. Mr. Brant has appealed that decision but he may have only himself to blame. Breaking the cardinal second-marriage rule in the multimillionaire’s handbook, he wed without a prenuptial agreement.

“He was basically head over heels in love with her,” said a person close to Mr. Brant, who requested anonymity because he didn’t want to be publicly linked to the divorce case. “He’s more of a romantic than one would give him credit for at first glance, and it was very much a function of that. There was no discussion of a prenup. He thought this would last forever.”

It might be the most costly error of Mr. Brant’s life. And it has at least one close friend scratching his head in consternation.

“It’s called sign on the dotted line,” says Donald Trump, a classmate and childhood buddy of Peter Brant, having grown up with him in the Jamaica Estates section of Queens. “Being the king of prenups, I’m pretty good at that stuff. You have to have it. You’re dealing with huge finances and you need some certainty in your life and a prenup will hold up 100 percent if it’s properly drawn.”

All of which leaves Mr. Trump a tad puzzled about his old pal. “I’m surprised at Peter. But women can do things to men that are very unusual.”

Porn For 50-something Women, Nancy Meyers' Film 'It's Complicated'

A picture taken on January 16, 2009 shows US a...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

If you take the broadest view of porn, as that which stimulates desire, have I got a movie for you.

I know, films are meant to be fantasies, but this one — so deliciously lubricious in its parade of the pleasures older white women arguably crave — takes the cake. It even merited a New York Times Magazine cover story, written with a distinct wistfulness by its mid-life author, Daphne Merkin.

In it, the central character, Jane, played by Meryl Streep, lives in a house that’s about 3,000+ square feet, with a red-tiled roof, exquisite landscaping, a huge, immaculate jardin potager and a kitchen bigger than my living room. But (no recession here!), she wants an even bigger kitchen, the kitchen of her dreams. Oy.

She’s been divorced for a decade from her lawyer husband, Jake, who left her for a hard-bodied young’un (that part I believe) with whom he is now unhappy, (not quite clear why), who suddenly, ardently and insistently begins declaring he never lost his love for Jane (distinctly not clear why.)

It’s the ultimate revenge fantasy that the rejecting hubby comes crawling back. Gloss this with eyeball-rolling sex with him (good for her) and her memory of how to make his favorite meal (good for him) and the scene where they smoke a joint together; I guess this passes for deeply transgressive mid-life behavior somewhere since it won the movie an R rating.

Jane hires Adam, an architect, to design and create an addition (?!) to her gazillion-dollar home — the money coming from…?

Jane runs a bakery.

I wonder how many women: 1) snag and hang onto such a great house post-divorce, especially after their lawyer husband bails; 2) start and run a business so effectively they can afford such pricey real estate, let alone an addition; this film is set in Santa Barbara, home to such mega-celebs as Oprah herself; 3) raise three apparently solid kids, now 20, 22 and 27 alone yet 4) who still pronounce themselves shattered, a decade later, by their parents’ divorce.

It’s a pretty gauzy, Vaseline-on-the-lens vision of late middle age. Jane’s wardrobe is nothing but silk, linen and cashmere, the sort that’s always hard to find outside of pricey boutiques and fab gold jewelry; I admit it, I really want the necklace she wears in almost every scene and those yummy Pomellato amethyst earrings. No Target for her!

Now she’s fending off two guys at once, one of whom — sorry, I spluttered at this one — says “Your age is one of the things I find attractive about you.” If she’s so tough a businesswoman it wrecked her marriage, as Jake tells us it did, surely she might ask, “Really, why?” Instead, she melts with relief and gratitude that a guy with white hair and a fancy job is paying attention to her.

The sadder reality is that so many divorced women Jane’s age don’t run their own thriving business but instead are are scrapping out there in a crappy job market, also fighting age discrimination, can’t find a guy who isn’t looking at women 20 years their junior and usually plunge post-divorce into a much-reduced lifestyle (lawyer husbands tend to fight hard and well in this respect.) Many kids do actually find their feet young and quickly, as they must, when Dad splits for the much-younger woman, not pouting about it even after graduating college.

The movie has many terrific laugh-out-loud moments, but its central premise is as sweet and thin on sustenance as one of Jane’s chocolate croissants. She frets about never having sex, as though taking care of things herself wasn’t an option. And hasn’t she heard of or EHarmony?

Her girlfriends in the film, all in their 50s, it appears, would have come of age in the 1970s at the height of feminism. They’ve somehow gotten all the material goodies.

But empowerment?  Not so much.