estrellas are gettin’ estranged

0423jones_2 The man had it coming. I mean, come on. Who marries a woman known not only to say things like, "I am the author of the only dictionary that defines me," but who actually added italics and pinned it up as her web site tag line? Of course none of us know what goes on behind closed doors, or separate apartments, but when it comes to the filing of divorce papers, we all tend to impulsively choose a side.

Sides are always taken, and blame is handed out like napkins, despite the fact that it’s never clean. Even the most amicable of divorces leave someone questioning where they went wrong–how they’d come to this, this ending. Because the sad truth is we always look at the parting of ways between two people as an ending instead of a beginning, "it’s over" instead of "it’s all about to start." And we dwell. We go shopping to cheer ourselves, then we panic about money. And as friends, we apologize for their loss instead of celebrating their gain–a chance at a whole new life that can be so frightening and delicious all at once.

I am neither pro- nor anti-Jones, but when I heard that Star Jones Reynolds was unwrapping things with her husband of three years, I made an audible gasp. Normally, I’d have rolled my eyes all the way back to 2004, back to the elaborate details she splashed about on "The View." Over. And over. And so, so over. But I couldn’t help but be alarmed, saddened really, by the news. "Oh, no!" I thought about her book cover, how an entire line spread across it, with  only his surname. "You never should have changed your name." How ridiculously cynical, some might say of my hindsight advice, but I believe we compromise enough in our marriages and relationships, lose things, gain things, but the thing we should keep is who we’ve been our whole lives, the name we were given when we began it.

The fact is, I’m not cynical at all. I need to believe in love. To know somewhere deep down that it will work out for all of us, that we’ll get our playground love. The kind we sorta wished for on summer nights. Everyone should get that, find that, be able to sustain that. To grow up and do things the way grownups "should."

They’re the words and wishes of a little girl, estranged from reality, still casting a wish on a star. I think I’m both of them, the unguarded, wide-eyed girl and the insightful woman who thinks I spent too much time wishing for the wrong things.

I haven’t followed their story closely, but just hearing that anyone is splitting up makes me feel empty and sad for them. And then I want to smack myself because, uh, hello… all the best things in life begin with a breakup! Or rather, they’re beginnings, not endings. Hmmm. I wonder how that’ll look in italics under my name. there are no happy endings here. Nah, people will think it’s a site about massage.



  1. Seriously?? You're posting about Star F*cking Jones?? and her split from Big Gay Al? and you're actually getting teary and claiming that there's something genuinely tragic about the life of this lying, stupid famewhore??? Are you really that hard up for interesting topics to write about?
    WAY too many posts lately about boring tv/media sh*t.

  2. I don't know that necessarily a bad thing that she changed her last name. I think her book was about how her life changed. I think he was greatly involved in the changing, how she lost the weight, found happiness blah blah. If that's the case, even if they are divorced, it may be a positive thing, not all memories of a marriage are necessarily bad. At least I'd like to hope so, for her sake. Even yours, for that matter. You may have kept your last name, I don't remember, I think you were Stephanie "Rosen" for awhile, but had you written your book under that name, there has to be some positive connection to that name, at least somewhere. You wouldn't have been there otherwise. She wouldn't have been there otherwise. The two of you were in love with your exes, and the fact that there was love there is nearly enough to justify those relationships.

    But I'm 19, what do I know?

  3. This may come back to bite me, but three years? Why get married? Hardly seems like she gave it a chance. But maybe that's me being naive.

  4. I don't say this often to people but Elle you're an idiot. Can't you recognize when a writer uses a vehicle to discuss a topic? The post isn't about Star Jones but marriage, believing in love, etc. She actually write "I'm not fo or against Star Jones". Reading comprehension is not your strong point, huh?

  5. Any change sparks a new beginning, yes, but denying that divorce is an end to something can't be very healthy either–no need to devalue what was there in the first place, which I hope for every marriage, is love.

    ~ Written by a child of divorce who has lived with her fiancé for three years and on Saturday said to him as a line of cars drove by honking to celebrate a wedding, "Another two lives ruined!"

    My mom would be so proud ;)

  6. Your take on divorce in STRAIGHT UP AND DIRTY got me thinking about my life and decisions. Thank you for that.

  7. "all the best things in life begin with a breakup!"

    Thinking about it this way is what gets me through the hard days. I'm wishing like hell and dating like a maniac. People say slow down, it will happen when you least expect it. Is that because I am not supposed to ever expect it? Or do they mean to stop looking so hard? because how do you ever really stop looking when you've wanted it since you were a wide-eyed little girl?
    I wish they taught dating in college, I could use a course! I have NO idea what I'm doing!

  8. Why does it have to be either/or? As in, either you're either cynical about love, or you're a believer in starry-eyed "playground love?" Real adult love actually contains elements of respect, communication, compromise, joy, resentment, bliss, anger, fierce attraction, exhaustion, etc etc etc.

    For me, your comments about love and your own position (I'm not talking about the Star Jones lead in stuff) seem rather simplistic and unexamined. That's just the feeling I get from the post.

  9. " there are no happy endings here. Nah, people will think it's a site about massage."
    Hahahaha… I get it!!! I know it's not much, nor is it the message of your post, but I GET it!!! And you have no idea how much that means to me these days being completely absorbed by all that is my life. It's like I came up for air and connected for a minute.
    I was so annoyed when I first got married that the phone company would NOT change my maiden name to my married name. You know, caught up in the new-name/new-life/new-beginning thing. They wanted more information and proof to change my name then the government so I said, 'fine. leave it.'
    Ten years later, I'm so grateful because my maiden name comes up on all caller-id… and no one knows who I am. I AM that name on the caller id! I am, I am, I am!!
    OK, back to laundry. :)

  10. You're right in so many ways, Stephanie. Although when I was young, (going through my first divorce) all I saw was the ending. It was the saddest, most low point in my life; all I saw was all that I lost. Although it was a "have to" divorce (domestic violence) still all I could see is what might have been.

    Second divorce; all I could see was all the possibilities. (Does it get easier with each one?)

    I still haven't take my husband of five years, last name. Although after 5 years, we discussed making the name change legal now. (My cynicism?)

    When you grow up with parents who have been married 45 years, still taking trips together, still in love; you start to wonder why you can't pull it off. So for me, it's not so much an ending or new beginning, but comes down to failure of success. (I'm working on not looking at it that way) Unlike career choices, I know that marriage takes two, and we don't control the other person. As far as marriage goes, yours is the healthier attitude. Thanks I'm going to work on it. Taking the words failure and success out of my marriages. Besides, the past is the past.


  11. I always planned to change my name when I got married. Never a second thought about it. I even got annoyed at the people who exclaimed "but that's like throwing away your whole life!" or "won't your parents be insulted?" (I must work with a bunch of very liberal/liberated folks, I know). I mean, it's just a name, it's not WHO I AM, it's just a word. And then when it came time to fill out the paperwork, I had all these feelings I didn't expect.

    I still did it, and I don't regret it. I think some day my children will be glad I did. But still, it is strange (I think particularly giving up my very non-ethnic americanized last name for my husbands clearly-hispanic one has caused quite a few giggles around my office). Sometimes when I see my old name on outdated junk mail I feel a little tug down somewhere that I never thought I would.

  12. I love this post, Stephanie! It got me thinking about so many things…

    When I first got married, I hestitated to change my name. I had always known that name, gone to school with that name, secured a diploma with that name, got admitted to law school with that name, lived life on my own with that name. Changing my name felt like giving up my true identity. So, I compromised and added his last name to mine and then quickly ended up confused about what name I was under at the doctor's office or at the car dealership or at the vet. It was almost as if I were having an identity crisis. One place that I didn't have that confusion – work – because even though I signed pleadings with both his name and my name, the surrounding legal community knew me only by his name.

    Then I got divorced. A horrible, rotten divorce that I never saw coming and wouldn't have been able to predict. And he wanted me to change my name back to my maiden name – even tried to make it part of the divorce decree, possibly thinking that in the midst of dividing debt and property, I wouldn't catch the part about beng forced to change my name back to the way it was before I tried to join him with my former, independent life. I crossed out his attempt to force me to change, knowing that his name was the one under which I established my professional identity – an identity and reputation that took me eight years to develop, and a name under which I published an article, was listed under in published opinions, announced every morning in court, and prominently displayed on my office door. People thought that keeping his name was my attempt at "getting back" at him – his wicked mother had to live with the knowledge that I'd forever have her name and he thought we'd be forever linked – but really, it was me trying to keep the identity and reputation that I had worked hard at establishing.

    And, as far as divorce, or the ending of any relationship is concerned, it should be looked at as a new beginning rather than as an ending. At first I was absolutely devasted by my ex-husband's deception and our resulting divorce, but then I re-examined the situation and realized, although I never dared to tell him, that he gave me the most amazing gift – the opportunity to live a happy life – because if he hadn't, then I would have stayed stuck in an unhappy relationship for the rest of my life.

    I have taken this gift and looked for the grand beginnings, the love that we all seek, and I've found a truly wonderful man. We've discussed marriage and I think it will happen, but every so often, knowing that he wants me to change my name completely, be part of him, I wonder how I am going to make that change. It's a name that is utterly foreign to me, that doesn't show up on my diplomas, that people don't know me as, that can be simply confusing in this modern age when women establish themselves as independent people, not linked to a man or his name. And then I think of the children that I so desperately want and I wonder if, as a family unit, it might be easier to take on his name and create a new identity as a happy wife and mother…

  13. The whole changing-the-name thing is so curious to me. I was 29 when I got married, had no interest in changing my name (which is ethnic, and my husband's is not.) My husband didn't care, and I'm so glad I kept my name. Your kids really don't get confused. My 11-year-old son thinks it's very cool that I have my father's name, just like he has his.

  14. I am recently married and changed my name right away, to hopefully lessen the confusion at work. I actually never considered not changing my name. Of course, I'm not in a career where you need to establish yourself. And of course my parents wouldn't be insulted by my changing my name – they did it when they got married. I guess I fall into the category of, you do it, because that's what you do.

    But I do also think it's a wonderful way to bind ourselves together. To make us this one unit. Mr. and Mrs.

  15. I gave my last name to my daughter as her middle name. my mother's mother did the same. i kept my last night for many reasons, one being work related. yet, truly, i kept it to keep a small part of my pre-marriage identity. lately, since i've had the baby, i've thought of taking my husband's last name, but really…what IS in a name? i do know that my father is sad that his last name may not "go on", per lack of kids from my brother. all in all, i kept it because i could. and i did. my husband understands, but i know he would rather that i had taken his. c'est la vie. :)

  16. Did you know that 90% of American women still take their husband's name when they get married? I find that astonishing. I never had second thoughts about keeping my name. This is who I am, why should I change? It seems to me that it is often the man who has issues when the woman wants to keep her own name. I've never understood that. It's as if in some bizarro way it threatens his masculinity. To those men, I say, take your wife's name then, if it's so important that you share the same last name. Of course, those are not the type of men that would ever consider that for a moment.

    Anyway, I'm happy I kept my name. It is part of my identity, AND it has made my life so much easier.

  17. Taking a man's name to me is archaic. I can be romantic and partnered in a close way and keep my own name, thank you very much! and have.

  18. I changed my name when I married – and I wish I hadn't. And I'd change back now, but it's too late. I'm established with this name. This year, I've lived with it longer than without it (god, that's weird to write down, I've never thought of it before!) – 20 years without – 21 with.

    Now to change would mean re-establishing myself professionally, academically – but most importantly, it would rock the darlings' worlds in a non-good way (I've had long discussions with them about it). They like the fact that we all have the same last name – it's a bonding thing – we present a united front out there in the world.

    But I wish I'd kept my maiden name anyway.

  19. yeah, I was shocked at the negative response I got when I told people I was changing my name. I don't think my parents would care either way (they are rather traditional, so they might actually prefer me changing it). I'm in academia, so it is important that I pick a name and stick with it if I'm going to publish, but since I've just started out and not published anything yet, I figure it's not a big deal. The whole "won't your parents be insulted" comment really threw me. It seemed so archaic to think they would even care, and even still, they have a son to "carry on the family name" or whatever.

    I think it's just that anything that has even a whiff of femininity/(god forbid)domesticity is shunned in the world of academics. I think single women are seen as more professional and forget having children. (you can't even wear much makeup around here – try not to look too pretty) Nobody throws you a party when you announce you're expecting in this profession… It's a shame really, because I understand about keeping your personal life out of your professional life, but it's quite a different story when somebody's WIFE is having a baby. Any other academics out there feel my pain or is it just my university?

    Sorry for the rant, the crazy double standard just really burns my ass.

  20. No one ever seems to get at the root of the name change debate: Why is it up to the wife to change to the husband's name? The answer: We live in a patriarchal, patrilineal society.

    If you are okay with that, and with technically leaving your own kin behind in order for you and your children to become members of your husband's lineage, then go ahead and change your name. Just call it what it really is — the formalization of women's second-class status. It's not about "togetherness" or "we need to be united under one name." If that was the case, then couples would pick a completely new name to share, or both the wife and husband would hyphenate their names.

  21. It is a tremendous compliment to SJR that you would compare anything relative to her marriage to BGA to you. She will probably highlight your post
    on her website to legitimize herself. Hello, she knowingly married a non-heterosexual.
    And as for the name thing, I've been straddling the issue for 24 years and in different situations I am known by my maiden name (professionally), married name socially and both names sometimes. It actually works fine.

  22. Of the six paragraphs here, only two half-paragraphs specifically talk about the annoying and overexposed Star Jones.

    As annoying and overexposed as she is, it still sucks to see someone's marriage break up. It's not THE END, but it's AN end – the death of the dreams you had of growing old with this one person. It goes a lot deeper than just talking about Star Jones, if you bother to read for the whole message presented.

  23. "I believe we compromise enough in our marriages and relationships, lose things, gain things, but the thing we should keep is who we've been our whole lives, the name we were given when we began it."

    Forgot to comment on this.. I totally agree and I'm glad to hear someone else say this. Even though I have a horrible tongue-twisting Italian/Hispanic last name, I can't imagine changing it. It's ME, who I've always been. What identifies me as me doesn't change because I have a husband. I've never really "gotten" that.

  24. After five yrs of marriage I am thinking that I should change my name. I am tired of being greeted by diff last names on vacation, in restaurants etc. But I like my name. I love my folks. And I adore my husband. So I am never sure what to do

  25. wait, hang on. This can't be right. You are using the completely insane and faux Star and Big Gay Al marriage as a SERIOUS MARRIAGE? And using it for your metaphor and essay on marriages and divorces? Not Stephanie! Come on, where's your head?
    there are hundreds of other more serious celebs who seemed to have legitamite marriages you could use for the post. Sub-par babe.

  26. Tara:
    Star Jones made the mistake of marrying someone who was not who she thought he was (i.e. a straight man.) It was an extreme misjudgment that few women could imagine making, but, in her case, was obvious to many from the beginning. It is, in fact, a perfect example because it shows how severely in denial women can be about their husbands – whether they are "on the down low" or having affairs with women. And, as Stephanie says, the divorce is a new beginning for her and one, where she can educate herself and other women about the signs that they are being cheated on – with another man or woman.

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