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Ex-Wife New Life
by:  Amy Koko
After 27 years of marriage my husband announces he is leaving me for a beautiful Swiss pastry chef. NOW WHAT?
January 22, 2016

The Lowdown On The Download

The first book I ever felt the need to hide while reading was Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks. Now this is going back over 40 years, but if I remember correctly it was about a girl who smokes a joint and then becomes a raging slut and heroine addict, which as we know, is what happens to people after they take a hit of pot. (Side note, 20 odd years later I sat down with my daughter, then 13 and gave her the book hoping for a deep mother and daughter discussion. She took one look at it started laughing, and went back to watching Intervention, where I believe a crack addict mother of 4 was preparing to go to rehab.) Anyway, we passed that book around in 7th grade each of us taking a turn reading it at night away from our parents prying eyes. I of course took it to heart and assumed there were drug "pushers" on every corner just waiting to get me hooked on marijuana. Who knew the first drug connect I would have would be a Jewish psychiatrist in her mid fifties, my hook up for Ambien. But, that's another story...

The next book I felt that I needed to read in secret was called Coffee, Tea or Me, a book about stewardesses and pilots and though I didn't TOTALLY get what was going on, I knew I wanted IN! I also knew my mother probably didn't want me reading about people having sex on planes so, that was read at night, with doors shut, and the sound of the TV droning on from my parent's bedroom.

Through the years there were others read in secret such as: The G Spot, Good Vibrations, Living With An EMO Kid, The Emotional Eater's Repair Manual and finally, Deep Breathing Through Divorce. Yes, we've come full circle. Now, however, my reading life has changed drastically. With the advent of the kindle I can be sitting on the beach with friends reading about the benefits of liposuction vs. exercise and no one will be the wiser!

My point is, you can now read whatever you want and no one needs to know. You don't even NEED a kindle, you can download books onto your PC if you want. Which brings me to my book, "There's Been A Change Of Plans." A friend of mine bought it as a kindness to me, and her son got quite concerned seeing mom reading a book on divorce. Dude, KINDLE! I can totally understand that some people don't want to ride the subway, sit at little league games, or wait for the dye to cover the gray at the salon, holding a book about divorce which they feel is another way of yelling "MY LIFE IS IMPLODING!"

I personally don't see it like that. I see reading a book on divorce as telling the world, "I am trying to understand the process by which some woman half my age is going to get all my stuff and I am going to be living in a one bedroom condo with a cat named Mr. Meow." I think it is very proactive. Still, if you are not totally comfortable with it...DOWNLOAD!

Not to mention, downloading a Kindle book is usually a third of the price of the hard copy. Then when you are done, it disappears into your cloud, which, I have no idea what that is, (does ANYBODY really understand the cloud?) but I know it's better than stacking them up on your nightstand until your bedroom resembles a Hoarders episode minus the rat carcasses.

Anyway, do yourself a favor and learn to download books. Right now I am going back and forth on my iPad between Eat Yourself Skinny, Complete Idiot's Guide to Menopause and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, titles all telling you how full my life is right now. Thanks to my Kindle, I will soon be a skinny menopausal woman with a very clean house.

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December 15, 2015

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Well I did it. I wrote a book. I sold a book. I am a published author. The day my book came out was one of the highlights of my life. My facebook blew up! I had like 22 comments. WOOT! WOOT! I realized this was the beginning of a new life. I knew that by the end of the next week, I would probably have to give my boss the very sad news that I will be resigning. For one thing, it's not fair to be needing so much time off for book tours and television appearances. I mean I suppose I could try and work remotely, but I will be in so many different time zones, LA, New York, Europe (what time zone are they on over there?) that it only seems prudent to begin thinking about who could replace me.

I began to think of what I could do with all the income I would now have coming in. Probably time to put in that pool I've been wanting, but wait, do I really want to go through that messy process, when most likely I will probably have to sell my house soon anyway, when I move to California after I am offered my own talk show? Gosh, so much to figure out and plan, woe is me, the life of a successful and highly in demand author.

By the end of the week, I think I sold 43 books. To put this in perspective my parents bought 24 and I bought 10. I kept checking my phone to see if I had missed any calls with Los Angeles or NYC area codes. I did once but it was GoDaddy wanting me to renew my domain name. Ellen, Tyra, The View...they were not contacting me as I had anticipated. (And anyone who knows me knows that one of my goals in life is to be on the Ellen show...ugh SO CLOSE!)

My publisher kept pushing, "You have to sell, you have to market, you have to PUSH!" I contacted a literary publicist, who wanted 12K to get me into an online magazine. I wrote a blog post and put a link to my book in it. I got comments like "Shameless book promoting, nothing else." Ack! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, they made me do it!

Finally, finally, I was asked to talk on an online radio show. Now we're cookin! I thought. The morning I called in I had my whole speech prepared. I would talk about the devastation of divorce, how debilitating it can be, how to pull yourself up from the depths and reinvent yourself, how good your next phase of life can be. The radio host introduces me and as I get ready to launch into my inspirational monologue she says, "We're gonna play a game! I'm going to read lines from your old blog posts and you complete the sentence!" WHAT? I stumbled, and faux pas'ed my way through it
with a lot of dead air. I could tell she couldn't wait to get rid of me as she introduced her next guest whose subject was "finding cheap flights." Ugh. Never again.

I decided that was it. I wrote a book and had it published. So? My publisher had all but disappeared now. My parents had my book on every shelf and coffee table in the house, it was almost creepy. "You did it" I told myself. Now focus on your REAL job and maybe you will be the recipient of the 5$ Starbucks card for a job well done this week. THIS is your future, your safety net, your income BTW. Move on.

And I did, night I woke up with the best was actually an idea for a fiction novel (my first go at fiction!) and within moments I was at my computer putting it together, watching my protagonist come to life, laughing at all the predicaments she was going to find herself in. That's when I realized, like I'm sure you have many times, I can't stop writing. It's not a job, it's a way of breathing, it's as much a part of me as my thinning hair and my size 9 AAA feet.

Why do we do it? It's not to become rich and famous and have our books made into movies so that we can meet Meryl Streep, my idol. Yes, I know Cheryl Strayed did it, but I'm really beginning to think, you know, it's not the norm. We do it because it's in us and we have to let it out. Recently I had a session with my beloved writing coach and I said "I am 55, and petrified. The time is slipping away and I have so much I want to write and say, I'm afraid I won't get it done." "Use the panic" she said "And write!"

So I have set a new goal for myself, to have my fiction novel done by my birthday this year, which is August 9th. That means writing on weekends on evenings, in the wee hours of the morning to get it done. I'm very proud of my book "There's Been A Change Of Plans" insert shameless book promotion here, and I wonder can I love my new baby as much? Time will tell.

Why do we do it? Because we have to, because we are not whole without it. And because, maybe, just maybe, you know Ellen will friend us on Facebook and see that we wrote a book, and then...

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December 9, 2015

A New Boyfriend and Same Old Family Means Holiday Fun

Ahh, the holidays. The festivities, the pine tinged air, the twinkling lights, the carol singing, (Please do not knock on my door after 5 PM and start singing carols I will either open the door and laugh my ass off, or depending on how it went at work that day and how many glasses of wine I have downed since returning home, I may start crying and ask you all to come in and explain Google Analytics to me, because I have been at my job for a year now and I STILL DON'T GET IT and it's getting very tiring pretending I do.) Trust me, you don't want any part of move along please. Anyway, the holidays... Fun right?

When my kids were little I LOVED the holidays, Hannukah, Christmas...BRING IT! Now, if you've read my book, There's Been A Change Of Plans, you know that we are Jewish but that we also loved Christmas. How can you not? It's fun! It's Santa! It's happy songs! Of course when my kids were in school, the school was politically correct in doing a "Holiday Show" as opposed to a "Christmas Pageant", but really isn't it all about Rudolph? Am I the only one who tears up when singing Frosty The Snowman? Yes I know "He'll be back again someday," but when? I need reassurance damn it!

Also, I'm going to come clean here and say I love gifts. When M asks "What do you want for Hannukah this year?" I don't reply "Oh I can't think of a thing." Everything! I want everything! Remember that mug with the cats all over it I saw last Spring in the local gift store? I want it! Remember that bracelet with the little wine glass charm hanging from it? I WANT IT! I want it wrapped. I want bows. I can't help it. I love gifts. You will never see the words "NO GIFTS PLEASE" on an invitation I send out, more like "YES BRING ME STUFF!" Sorry, but there it is.

Anyway, I can tell you that as much as I love this time of year, divorce can throw a wet blanket on it, and if you are divorced then you know what I'm talking about. The first divorced Christmas/Hannukah is killer, it may be all you can do to go through the motions, putting up the tree, with the same beloved ornaments you've had since before the kids were born. You may remember your first little tree as a married couple, before there were little people around made from the two of you. How proud you were of it when your family came over and you all sat on your little apartment floor drinking eggnog from dixie cups. Now, the decorations cause you to break into spontaneous tears, the strands of lights are a pain in the ass that you don't want to deal with instead of a happy beginning to a season of love and laughter.

The next year is a little easier and then perhaps the next year, you are not alone in facing it. Maybe you have started seeing a special someone, and maybe this is when the family will gather to give him a good going over. As excited as you are to have a new person to share your family and children with, it may not be all smooth sailing. You cannot control the way your family will act and you cannot control the things your new partner may say or do.

For instance, the first time I brought M to a holiday dinner, it was at my house for Thanksgiving. It was going pretty well, the kids were keeping their distance but my sisters and parents were being cordial. My dad and I removed the turkey from the oven and then from the huge roasting pan that I had used for Thanksgiving turkeys for the last 20 years or so. My mother took her rightful place at the grease filled roasting pan, where she would create the gravy that the whole family dreams of all year long. Suddenly M was there standing next to her and before I could get to him, as if in slow motion, I saw him open his mouth and heard him say, "Oh let me do this, I'm a gravy aficianado!"

Well, time stopped. The room went silent. My father stopped carving. In that instant I was not sure how we could go on from there. My mother, all class and tact as always, stepped away and said "Oh please, have at it!" But we knew, this was bad. Very bad.

Guess what? By the end of the dinner all was well and since then my mother has returned to her rightly position as gravy goddess and we laugh about it now.

There will be moments. It is not easy bringing a new person into family traditions. My big tip for you is DON'T PUSH IT. You can't make everyone accept your new person YET. He has to earn it and if he is the right person he will. Sending your kids to their rooms because they ignore him or choose to keep their distance will only make them resent him. Having him jump in and participate in family traditions may make your family wary. Time is on your side, and use as much of it as you THEY need.

M and I have been together for years now. Our families come together now for the holidays, my parents, his mother, our siblings, our 7 kids. It will happen if you let it— naturally.

Now, I need to get back to my Xmas list. I must try and remember... which gift store was it that I saw the cat mug...

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November 13, 2015

Marriage, Divorce And A Good Gastro Doc

Sunday morning I woke up and as I lay there feigning sleep so that M would get up and make the coffee, I knew something was special about the day, but I couldn't figure out what. Typically, this happens after I allow myself an Ambien the night before. For those of you who may actually be able go to sleep like a normal person, Ambien has the tendency to make you do weird things that you won't discover until the morning. I have walked into my kitchen the morning after an Ambien, to a scene that looks like the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity had a rager on the counter next to my fridge. There may be an open tub of garlic hummus, a melted frozen chocolate covered banana, a ripped open box of Special K cereal and Trader Joe's mango slices smeared all over the counter. It makes me eat a lot of weird things before I fall asleep, and when you combine that with my Netflix subscription, well, I don't think anything else needs to be said. Total devastation.

The point is, I woke up and knew something was different about the day. I immediately ruled out the worst possibilities, was I late for work? No it's Sunday. Is it mammogram day? Nope, it's Sunday. Then it came to me...the day was what would have been my 35th wedding anniversary. There we go, that's it.

To think 35 years ago, at the age of 20 I thought I had it all figured out. I would get married, be a wife, wipe down my kitchen cabinets with Murphy's oil soap on Monday mornings, learn to cook, eventually have kids and drive carpool. Nothing to it. But as I came to find out, there's A LOT to it, more than you can realize as you are walking down the aisle, looking forward to the sushi appetizers you insisted upon, even though your dad hates sushi and he's paying for it. It's YOUR day, you only get married once right? RIGHT?

Um, maybe not so right. My marriage would have been 35 years old, my divorce is about four. When you are getting married you tend to see only the good in your soon to be spouse. He has good teeth. His table manners are impeccable. He's funny. He's super nice to my mom. When you get divorced, you see only the bad. You remember the arguments, the slammed doors, the days of angry silence, the almost impossible task of dealing with the kids without crying at the dinner table. You remember the total unraveling and you think "It's his fault" "It's her fault" "If only" etc.

Just as I wasn't prepared for the reality of being a wife, I was definitely not prepared for the reality of being an EX WIFE. The anger sits below the surface of your gut, you will think it's heartburn and you will go to a gastro doc (It's not just me right?) and you will tell him your dad has Barret's Esophagus and you think you have it to and after some tests he will say no, you don't have it YET. Get a grip. But it's there, gnawing, burning, until one day...blissfully, it's not. And that's the day you are no longer just an ex, you are a person with a whole new life ahead of them. It may not be what you expected, but it will be fabulous because you will make it so.

Eventually, you may see that thinking of your ex no longer makes you want to fall into a chair and cry your eyes out. It may even bring a smile to your face. And you may think of him fondly, and you may hope he is well, that he is happy even. And then life goes on, and you will fill it with wonderful people, and happy times.

In the meantime, if you want the sushi appetizer, insist on it. I mean it is your day after all...

My first book "There's Been A Change of Plans" available on Amazon.
Come on! It's only 3.99 to download!

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August 19, 2015

This Was Not In The "Script"

So today was my yearly visit with my psychiatrist and yes I have one and please stop judging. OMG, like YOU don't lie awake at night and worry that the email you sent to your sister about how upset you are that Bethenny is back on Real Housewives, accidentally went to your client in LA who has never met you but thinks you're cool because you use the words "In retrospect" a lot and pretend to know what a meme is. Like YOU don't get up to check your computer and once you see that the email did indeed go to your sister, you feel a lot better, but then you see a story about how women who gain weight during menopause should have their thyroid checked and then you have to go to the mirror to drink a glass of water and look for lumps like the article says. Please, like YOU don't go back to bed two hours later bloated from all the water and sure you have a goiter, and finally, FINALLY give in and take your Ambien, which, by the way, you need a prescription for.

Anyway, today I was looking forward to my visit because, A. I get to leave work for an hour and was planning on getting a Chic Filet sandwich with extra pickles, and B. because I notice lately I have been really focusing on health issues, and probably more than normal people do. In my mind every ache or pain is most likely malignant, at the very least will require some type of surgery and recovery period and I'm not really sure how much time off I have accrued in my six months of employment. So it causes me great stress.

So I was all set to delve into it with Dr. today and have her tell me, "Oh you're being silly, you look healthy as a horse," and give me my script and send me on my way. She called me back to her office, as she always does, and I headed for my usual spot, took a seat on the couch where I have lost my shit more than once and looked at the doctor and noticed she was bald. And she was skinny. And she was wrapped in a shawl and it's August in Florida. "Fuck" I thought, "She's sick."

And I wanted to cry. I wanted to lay down on that couch like I did years ago when I went to her because my husband had left me and I wasn't sure I could move, and just cry. And she said, "So how are you?" and I said, "Fine, I have a job now, and I have a book coming out, I'm really fine." And even while I was saying it I was thinking, I don't think I will go into the whole "What if I need surgery" thing.

She began writing out the script and saying how exciting it was about my job and how she couldn't wait to read the book and finally I interrupted her and said, "Doc, what's going on with you?" and she said, "I have cancer, which isn't so bad, but the chemo and radiation are killing me."

"Crap," I answered because what could I say?

Could I say that I know the words coming out of my mouth sound selfish and inane? That she and her colorful long skirts and birkenstocks make several appearances in my next book? That I want her to look at me with that squint she always does and then throw that long frizzy hair of hers behind her neck while she writes out my script? That I love her for caring that I have a stupid job as she pulls the shawl tighter around her shoulders?

We ended the session, eight minutes maybe, and she walked me to the check out desk and handed me my prescriptions. "Look at you," she said, "A book and a job? It's glorious, isn't it?" and I said "Doc, I want you to be well," and she said, "I know, but just in case," and she handed me a list of psychiatrists in the area.

And I left. And I cried all the way to Chic Filet. And then I went back to work, where I wanted to yell at my co-workers who are all under 30, "It won't last forever! You better enjoy every minute! And WTF is a meme!!?"

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A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Amy Koko is the author of the popular blog Ex-Wife New Life and a blogger for Huffington Post in the Divorce, Women and Comedy sections. Her memoir "There's Been A Change Of Plans" is available on Amazon.