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Ex-Wife New Life
by:  Amy Koko
e-mail:  kokoamy2@gmail.com
twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/female50freaked
After 27 years of marriage my husband announces he is leaving me for a beautiful Swiss pastry chef. NOW WHAT?
April 27, 2016

Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie and Why Am I In The Kitchen?

Okay, here is the question: Why is it I can remember every episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show from 1963 but cannot for the life of me remember why I walked into my kitchen? I can still remember the tune to "Hazel," (Major crush on Mr. B, by the way.) Yet, I am literally standing in here, staring at my coffeemaker as it stares back at me like, "Dude. What the hell?" I go down my mental list, am I thirsty? No. Am I hungry? Nooo, but as long as I'm in the kitchen...As I walk away with a handful of pita chips it occurs to me...this is why women gain weight after menopause. We don't remember why we are in the kitchen, but what the hell, as long as we walked all the way in here...just a little nosh.

All this has nothing to do with what I am writing about today. What I wanted to talk about today is a fun experience I recently had. I went to a major league baseball game and it was awesome...plus I gained somewhere in the neighborhood of five pounds. They have tacos now. Tacos. At a baseball game.

So, my son calls me and says "Would you and M like to go to the game, dad gave me his tickets and he can't go," and I'm like "Sure." The day arrives and son and girlfriend pick us up. As we drive away, I think, "Shoot I meant to bring binoculars," because I think baseball players have the cutest butts of all the athletes and I wanted to get a good look. Also, I wore tennis shoes because I knew that the walk from the parking lot to the stadium, puts the 3 day breast cancer walk to shame. But wait, what? My son is turning into a parking lot that is about six inches away from the front door of the stadium. He takes out a pass and the guard waves him through as if we are the Presidential Motorcade. WTF?

Then we walk up to the gate, show our tickets and make our way into the stadium. We begin to make our way to the seats and we are not walking up into the stands, we are walking DOWN towards the field. We keep going further and further down until finally my son waves us into a row. A row that is like six feet from home plate. As I go to sit down I notice that my ex's name is on the seats! There is a little silver plaque with this name on it! Plus, not only did I not need binoculars, I had to ask several players, "Do you mind? You're standing on my foot," as they took a few practice swings before getting up to bat.

Okay, what am I getting at, you are probably asking. Three things: 1. Menopause sucks, but I can't remember why 2. Hazel put up with a lot of stuff from Mr. B. when she should have just quit and filed for unemployment, and 3. Eating tacos while staring at baseball players butts makes for a pretty nice afternoon.

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March 30, 2016

How To Be Friends With A Writer

I am a writer. Therefore I always have a movie worthy best seller book in progress. (My last book sold over 200 copies...SO CLOSE!) Up until last week, I also had a full time job which of course gave me the perfect excuse for why I could not work on my book. You know, "I am so excited about my new book, I just wish I actually had time to work on it" thing we tell people when they ask how it's going...I would sit at my job, and think I SHOULD be home writing, practicing my craft. You would not believe all the brilliant ideas that came to me as I was doing my daily reports and checking Google Analytics. Such a shame that my Pulitzer Prize masterpiece has to sit on the back burner for so long.

Then, changes at the office led me to an important decision. It's time to devote myself to THE BOOK. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth, the, "You know, I think it's time for me to devote myself to my writing and thank you so much for the opportunity you have given me here," my heart was beating faster and faster. The book the book! I kept thinking. The book! I will have this thing banged out in a few months now!

I woke up that first morning, job free and energized. I made my coffee, sat down in my office and took a deep breath. I opened my computer and felt like a real writer! THIS is what I was meant to do. I pulled up my MS, re-read the few chapters I had already written. Read them again. Moved my cursor to a new empty spot on the page and....
NOTHING. I GOT NOTHING.

Instantly panic sets in. Not only am I out a paycheck, I don't even have an excuse as to why the BOOK is taking me longer than it took Salk to perfect the polio vaccine. I had to talk myself into sitting there and out of taking a Xanax. And then I began. And the words are coming. Slowly, but surely I am writing a book.

The upside? I'm happy. I'm fulfilled. I'm excited. The downside? People asking me, "So, how's the book coming?" So here is my guide for us writers who are fighting the fight and don't want to answer any questions right now about our baby. Feel free to send it to friends, family and anybody else who thinks they are doing you a big favor by pretending to be interested in your answer to that question.

5 THINGS NOT TO ASK A WRITER

1. How are book sales?
Before you ask me this, check the New York Times Bestseller list. If you do NOT see my name on there, then do not ask me this question. Trust me, if I actually earn back my advance you and everybody else who I have ever met will be the first to hear about it.

2. How's the book coming?
Did I call you while you were in labor and say, "Hey! How's that baby thing coming? Is it almost out?" Here's the thing, it's a role of the dice. If I had a good writing day I will talk to you for hours about how great it's coming. If I had a bad writing day I may burst into tears and lay my head down on the table while you try and drink your Mocha Soy Latte as if nothing is happening. You will find either scenario quite painful.

3. What's the new book about?
Only ask me this question if you are prepared to answer "That sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it!" If you are going to look at me, and say, "Huh? I don't get it.." or just stare at me open mouthed, eyes squinted as if I have just told you "I think I want to shave my head and dye my head yellow," don't ask me. You have no idea how far this may set me back.

4. Am I in it?
Yes. I have quit my job and devoted my life to writing a book ABOUT YOU. Nora Ephron said, "Writers are cannibals." I love this. You may be in it, you may not. It's something you have to live with if you are in my sphere of existence.

5. Can I read it?
Sure you can. As soon as it comes out on Amazon. Because if you read it now and don't send me back a comment saying this is the best thing I have ever read, or this is a for sure best seller, I may scrap the whole thing, and go back to freelance writing home descriptions for the real estate magazine
that told me I needed to use a Thesaurus. In my defense how many ways can you say, "A true tropical paradise awaits you in this home on the Gulf of Mexico?"

Other than this, feel free to ask me about my work any time.

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March 28, 2016

Above All...DIGNITY!

The other day I was reading People Magazine about how great Jen and Ben Affleck are getting along these days after the whole gambling, alleged sex with the nanny and all around dickiness that Ben engaged in. (He was great in Argo,I have to give him that) And I started thinking about my situation because as a writer I’m very narcissistic. I think all writers are because we write things thinking OMG I am so interesting EVERYONE is going to want to read THIS. Then when people DON’T want to read it, we retire to our beds, start looking on Craigslist for openings at Starbucks, and think to ourselves, “I suck and I’m never writing again.” Then we wake up the next day and start a blog, a story, a poem, a book because the words are floating around in our heads and we just know, people are really going to want to read THIS.

Anyway, as I was reading the article I realized it’s been almost 5 years since my divorce was final. That doesn’t include the two years leading up to it when I was dealing with the fact that my husband had fallen in love with someone else. FALLEN IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE. MY HUSBAND. Easy to say now, but then? The pain of it, Good God. The absolute searing agony of it. The “I cannot go on but I have to make dinner for my kids and how am I going to get from my bedroom into the kitchen” of it. I was out of my mind with the pain.

I have to admit to you that I acted like one crazy bitch during that time in my life. In fact, I have very few regrets about the life I have led up til now, but my biggest regret, what I wish I could go back and change is how I conducted myself during those years. (Other regrets include not wearing a slip under the black net mini dress I wore this past New Years Eve. An unfortunate choice that ruined not only my night but that of those around me as well. I also regret not finishing college. Pretty much good with everything else) Now, I am going to say something here about someone and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with politics. NOTHING. Hilary Clinton’s husband made a HUGE ass out of himself in front of the entire world, and she conducted herself with dignity through that whole farce. Jennifer Garner is also a class act with how she has handled herself through this whole thing. Now I know you’re thinking “Sure, it’s easy to be calm and classy when you can just throw yourself back into your multi million dollar acting career,” but it still had to be hard. I mean people were sitting down with their morning coffee reading about these women’s lives and still these gals were going about their business, apparently showering, getting themselves dressed etc. Me? Not so much.

So, I want women going through it now, to learn from my mistakes. I want those women to know that I KNOW the pain is unbearable, you feel you may die from it but YOU WON’T. And maybe this is the one instance where the passing of time is your friend, because time WILL pass, you WILL heal, and you WILL be okay. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that I learned the hard way:

DON’T

1. Sit at your friend’s kitchen table, drink a bottle of Pinot Noir by yourself and start sending your husband emails with the word MOTHER FUCKER in the subject line. I know, it seems like a great idea at that moment. This'll show him! Please. Don’t put anything out on the internet because it will come back to haunt you when you decide to run for county commissioner or something.
2. Drive up to the other woman’s home, park in her driveway, leave the car running and bang on her door screaming “I know you’re in there open this door!” She will open the door looking calm cool and collected and you look like a raving lunatic, plus your car is running.
3. Listen when people tell you while looking at you as if you’re a child who just fell down and got a boo boo, “I saw them out last night…I mean it’s just awful, can’t believe he is doing this to you.” These are not your friends, they are people who are thinking “Better you than me.” Don’t ask what did she look like, what was she wearing because they WILL tell you and it WILL hurt.
4. Tell the kids, “Your father has left us for a fucking whore.” Please, the kids will be going through enough. I know for a moment you want them to hate him for what he’s done to YOU, but he is their father and they need to believe he’s a good guy and let’s hope he IS a good father.
5. Make yourself a victim, dig deep and find the strength that is in you. People will begin avoiding you after a while if you don’t start pulling yourself out of the depths of your misery. Don’t surround yourself with others who act as victims either. Choose your support groups very carefully. You don’t want to sit around and commiserate, you want to heal and move on.

DO:

1. Take back your bed! You know that flowered quilt you have always loved from Anthropologie but couldn’t have because your husband hates yellow? Go get it. And sleep in the middle of the bed. It’s all yours, enjoy every inch of it.
2. Find a role model. When I was dealing with my break up Christie Brinkley was also going through a hideous divorce and hers was REALLY out there, what with her husband sending penis pics all over the place. There was a photo in a magazine of her dressed in a pink cardigan and gray pencil skirt walking into court that caught my eye. How elegant, I thought. How classy. I cut it out and put it on my mirror and every day would tell myself, act like a lady, just like Christie.
3. Seek out a trusted therapist, counselor, support group who will give you strength and support while helping you move forward. Your friends will want to help you but in my case they were all happily married and I actually resented their help. They may say, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” and guess what, they REALLY can’t.
4. Focus on your children. Focus on your children Focus on your children. Can I say that enough? No, I don’t think I can. Your children need you right now.
5. Above all and if you take nothing else from this post, remember this: Act with dignity. DIGNITY. Oh how I wish I could go back and erase the screaming fits I had when my husband would come home to get a piece of clothing he had forgotten. The horror and sadness in my kid’s eyes. How I wish I could erase the way I behaved at my mediation sessions when I was literally told if I didn’t calm down, the police would be called. And the emails? OMG. Somewhere out there is an Icloud full of “fucking liar” “I hope you die” ”I hope she dies” etc. Horrible and now so very embarrassing.

In closing, I know how you feel. I DO. But trust me, you want to look back at this time as a period when you put your children before yourself, and dug deep inside to find your inner strength. Because it’s there, ready for you to tap into it.

Remember, above all… your children and your DIGNITY. No regrets! To that end you may want to invest in a short black slip…just saying…

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February 24, 2016

It Takes A Village, And Also Maybe My Ex's Girlfriend

There are two kinds of people in this world: up people and down people. Up people wake up and think "Yay! Another day for me to forge new horizons, try new things, meet new people!" Down people wake up and say, "Oh MY GOD, it can't possibly be another day already." Up people go to the grocery store and upon finding an empty spot where their favorite cereal is supposed to be say, "Oh that's okay. Now is the perfect time for me to try this new gluten free granola!" because up people also tend to eat healthy. Down people react differently to this situation, "What? What kind of store runs out of Cap'n Crunch? Why ME? What have I done to deserve THIS?"

Guess which one I am. Ordinarily I wake up and ask myself why. Why did I have to eat those buffalo pretzel nubs at 10:30 pm? WHY? Why can't I be one of those skinny midlife women who can exist on arugula salads sprinkled with lemon juice and can tuck their shirts in and wear a belt? ORDINARILY. But these days I wake up happy, energetic, thrilled even. Something wonderful is about to happen in my life and I don't mean Season 2 of Better Call Saul, (although that certainly is another high point.) My youngest son is graduating college in May. Graduating college! The cap, the gown, the degree!! The whole thing.

He is my youngest of four and the only one to take the route of traditional college. I don't need to tell you that this is going to be a big day for him and for me. Beyond that, I haven't really thought it out. My ex said, "We should probably get rooms," as the graduation is several hours away. "Oh yeah, we probably should," I said, which as he knows, means..."You better take care of that."

"I'll book a block," he answered.

One hour later I get an email addressed to the entire extended family from my ex's girlfriend:

SUBJECT: WOO HOO!! J's Graduation

Hi all, I have booked a block of rooms for the graduation and can't wait to see everyone! All are suites! H, I have made arrangements for your dog, they will be expecting him. J, I have made sure that they have the special lemongrass water you like stocked up in the mini fridge. B, don't worry about bringing your special body pillow, I have requested one for you. D, I told them about your eczema and they will have 100% Egyptian cotton sheets washed in hypo allergenic, hypersensitive detergent on the bed. Can't wait to see everyone! If you have any other requests let me know,

Love, GIRLFRIEND

Um...??

After reading this I had to think for a moment: "Wait, I thought I was J's mother. Did I dream that?" I mean I remember pushing and everything...

For a moment I was outraged, angry, aghast! Who is SHE to take over my son's graduation? And then I was like, wait, what is the date of that again? and went to find the announcement I had received in the mail, which I know I had laid on my office desk that is now covered with Weight Watchers crock pot recipes. After searching for an hour, I found it in my bill pile. Then it hit me—Thank Goodness for girlfriend. Because if it wasn't for girlfriend, we would all be sleeping in our cars after graduation as there now is not a room to be had within a 50 mile radius.

When I first was divorced, the idea of my kids spending ANY TIME with another woman literally made my stomach seize up. They are mine! mine! mine! More importantly, what if they like HER better? What if they truly connect with her, I mean what if she, you know, "gets" them? This woman, GIRLFRIEND, is beautiful, thin, blonde, hip, a lovely woman, but she is not their mother. I AM and you know what? My kids know it.

I am no longer threatened by another woman spending time with my kids, nor should you be. As they get older your bond becomes deeper, the love you have for each other steady, strong, true and unbreakable and most of all constant. There is nothing my kids could do that would make me love them less, and nothing I could do that would cause them to turn away from me. (Even that time I got tipsy at M's birthday party and started singing Flo Rida's "Apple Bottom Jeans" while dancing alone by my chair.)

So, I look forward to sitting with my children as we watch our J graduate college, all of us so proud of his accomplishment, remembering him as that tow headed little kid who use to race our car up the block, his little feet pumping away. Also, you will be glad to know I now have the graduation date firmly on my calendar. Just waiting to hear back from Girlfriend on attire.

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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, until...one night I woke up with the best idea...it 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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A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

This Was Not In The "Script"
originally posted: August 19, 2015

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.