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Exwife New Life
by:  Amy Koko, 14117389
e-mail:  KOKOAMY2@GMAIL.COM
web:  http://www.exwifenewlife.com
twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/exwifenewlife
Getting over it and on with it
June 5, 2018

Writing Like A Pro

Finally. Finally, I have graduated college and can now settle down and really focus on my work. You know, my writing. My novel which has been in the works for roughly fifteen years and is now half way done, that work. All the short stories that I started and stopped because I got busy with other things, like playing Barbies, and then going to frat parties, and then raising children, you know, that work. Oh—about those stories…so far the best one seems to be the one I started when I was eight about fish having a Halloween party— I definitely see some promise in that one. The others need some major reworking, but that’s okay because I am now a trained professional! I have a bachelor’s degree in writing! I am officially a Professional Writer.

And what’s the first thing a Professional Writer needs? A home office. I mean a real home office not one that consists of a murphy bed that is always in the down position even though the room has not hosted a guest in about three years but the cats really like it and I mean I may get a guest one day right? Plus it’s has a really convenient shelf behind it where I can set my solo cups full of Doritos, (I totally believe in portion control) while I lay there playing Candy Crush.

No, a professional writer needs a professional office and I spent my first week after graduation fixing mine up. First I treated myself to a beautiful rug in various shades of pink made of thousands of pieces of torn silk sewed into a handwoven mat. I got a cool white lacquer desk and faced it out towards the water knowing the gulf’s creative energy would flow towards me. Of course I cannot just sit at a desk all day, I need to take reading breaks. As a Professional Writer, I need to read what is on the NYT best sellers list every week, like those books are so great compared to what I’M going to put out there now that I am a Professional Writer. Anyway, as a graduation gift M bought me a great easy chair that lies back with lumbar support and everything. Perfect for reading. I got a wireless printer so that I can print out book contracts and sign and scan them back once the brilliant Professional Writer’s lawyer that I will hire checks it out and gives me the okay. Everything in place and ready.

Still, believe it or not, after all that, something was missing. It still felt empty, not quite professional enough. I sat at my desk to contemplate it and then I sat in my easy chair and pondered and finally, I knew what it needed—a dog. I need a big floppy dog sitting at my feet while I write my best seller. Maybe I will even dedicate the book to him! People love that right? To My Faithful Companion Who Always Believed— My best friend at my feet as I construct my masterpiece. He will walk the red carpet with me at the movie premiere as that skinny Giuliana Rancic asks me where I got the idea for such a great story and thanks me on behalf of the literary world for bringing such joy to readers everywhere. I so need a dog!

I could see it very clearly, our daily routine. We rise early and take a brisk walk, stopping to look at all the exotic Florida birds as they flutter above and call to us. Then we return and I make myself a big cup of steaming coffee and together we head into my office where doggie lays down in his bed and I get to work. We take a lunch break out back and toss the ball a few times before settling back down for our afternoon of writing. Before we know it the day is over and doggie settles down in his crate for the night. He’s the ying to my yang. We’re soul mates.

So, I got a puppy.

Reuben is an Australian Labradoodle with a dark red silky coat and brown eyes like chocolate pudding. He is sweet as can be. We got him when he was eight weeks old. He is now eleven weeks old and just as I had anticipated, we have established a routine. It does, however, vary slightly from the one I had outlined above.

We do rise early, about 5:42 most mornings, after a good solid three hours of sleep. Since it is still dark out, we usually forgo the brisk walk. I stand in the yard in old shorts and a t-shirt (once due to crippling fatigue, I forgot the shorts so now I just sleep in them. Okay, and spend most of the next day in them, so?) trying to see if Reuben is pooping and hoping that what I’m feeling on my foot is not a snake or water rat. Then we head inside and play fetch with a $1.59 plastic cat toy that he has chosen to love over the hundreds of dollars of organically made dog toys we purchased at the all natural- everything made of plants- no child labor-pet store.

At around 7 am, Reuben starts showing signs of fatigue by lying on my feet and biting my ankles and calves. At that point I make my steaming cup of coffee and we head into my office. Reuben runs in first because he knows his Kong stuffed with peanut butter from like two weeks ago is in there somewhere. He is hot on the trail though neither one of us has found it yet. I close the door and run to the bathroom as I haven’t had a chance to do that yet, what with all the pooping and fetching and everything. Once I return, I pick up all the shredded pieces of silk that he has torn from my rug during my two minute absence and put them in the trash can. I was thinking of saving them and having them resewed but…fuck it.

Then I sit down and turn on my computer just as Reuben remembers he has to tinkle but forgets where the back door is, even though he knows he is supposed to go to that door and ring the poochie bells to let us know he needs to relieve himself. Unfortunately, as my soul mate he too thinks, “fuck it” and pisses on a now bald patch of rug. I try to clean that up and we make a game of it! I spray disinfectant and he bites my hand and takes the rag and runs around and around with it! Hysterical!

At 9 am we both fall into a fitful sleep me half on my bed with my hand hanging down towards the floor clutching a deer antler that people swore would keep him busy for hours, and Reuben not in his crate but next to it as he seems to find the crate a bit too confining, even though we got the really good one with the metal bars so he can see us at all times with the padded bottom and even bought extra padding to make it nice and comfy. It’s okay, I get it. He just wants to be near me, his soul mate. The ying, the yang, blah blah blah.

I will say that this morning we veered off our usual routine as we were lucky enough to witness a very rare occurrence. Reuben and I were sitting outside just as the sun was beginning to peek up through the palm trees when I heard a sort of loud rustling crash. And I looked up and saw a beautiful pelican sitting on the grass. I will tell you its not often one of these majestic birds ever lands on grass, they usually swoop and dive and land on a dock post. I thought “Well this is magical!” And there is no one I’d rather share the experience with than my faithful companion Reuben.
I slowly approached the magnificent bird. “Hi pretty bird, such a pretty bird, “ I uttered softly. “Have you come to say hello to Reuben?” “Reuben!” I called. “Come see the pretty bird!”

And as Reuben approached I noticed a rather glassy film across the bird’s eyes. And then I noticed flies buzzing around it’s head and just as Reuben got close I realized THE BIRD IS DEAD! “Reuben look away!” I yelled. “Get back! Get back!” I screamed and then began yelling all the commands we learned in our 30 minute free introductory puppy class:” Leave it! Down! Sit, Reuben Sit! No! No! Reuben Watch me! Watch mommy! Off! Off!” and this went on until Reuben noticed we had laid new mulch under the hibiscus trees and went to deal with that.

So.

This Professional Writer stuff is way harder than it looks. But I will persevere and if it is the last thing I do, I will make sure those fish have a Halloween party that will definitely go down in the books.

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May 14, 2018

POST MOTHER'S DAY THOUGHTS

Mother’s Day is so very different when you yourself are a mother, isn’t it? It was special when I was a child and it is even more special now that I am a mother. I remember one year when I was around ten years old, I saved my allowance all year to buy my mother a pair of owl salt and pepper shakers. I walked forever to the little store where I had seen them, even crossing a big major highway! Don’t worry, dad said it was okay. I remember that year my sister and I made mom breakfast in bed, with permission from my dad of course because we really weren’t supposed to use the stove. We weren’t supposed to use the stove but crossing a major highway in a state where most drivers are over 80 and blind was okay. How happy my mother was when she saw that tray with scrambled eggs and toast and juice just for her. I’m sure she wasn’t thinking about the gooey stream of egg drying on the stove burners that she would have to chip away at later, as this was way before we had Soft Scrub. I’m sure she was only thinking how lucky, how very lucky she was to have children like us on her own special day.

Yesterday I celebrated Mother’s Day with my own children and how happy I was to have my own special day! I had decided to have a brunch at my house and was looking forward to seeing all of my kids together around the table. Well, actually, it was sort of a last minute plan because getting a reservation at a restaurant around here on Mother’s Day is like trying to get a ticket to a concert where Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Elton John are performing their greatest hits and having open mike night and they are only selling ten tickets. Especially when you try to get a reservation on the Friday before Mother’s Day. My poor kids! They goofed! For some reason Mother’s Day didn’t come up on their Icalendar! “No problem,” I said. I will put a little something together for my special day!

I got up extra early and began the preparations for my special day. First I went to our favorite bagel store and was shocked to find I was not the only one who had this great idea, though I have to say most of the other customers were men wearing baseball caps backwards with their little kids in tow. And they were all talking about t-ball and coaching strategies, pretending like they were just doing it just to spend time with their kids but I know what they were thinking. I wanted to scream Your kid is never going to play major league ball! This is MY special day! Cut the chit chat and PLACE YOUR ORDER! Some were holding little babies wearing no shoes because obviously mom was still asleep in bed and dad had snuck out with the all the kids and was bringing mom home an everything bagel with ham and melted cheddar which caused the order taker to have to step away from her post to fix the toaster which was clogged with a wet blob of cheese. Where are all the millenials who are gluten intolerant? Since when do millenials eat carbs? I began sweating because I was wearing my ex’s Army sweat pants over my pajama shorts and because I knew that time was ticking and I still had just a few more errands to do before my kids arrived for my special day.

Bagels in tow, I headed to the grocery store where I was picking up the items I needed to make a quiche. All night I tossed and turned wondering what else to serve in case one of my little darlings is not in the mood for a big hunk of dough covered in sesame seeds. Broccoli and cheddar quiche! Vegetable and protein in one dish. They will love that!

I raced home and prepared the quiche. Cut up the fruit. Made the special tuna salad dry with a tiny bit of celery just like they like it. Put everything out on pretty plates and felt proud and happy as I went into shower after setting out my new white Bermuda shorts. I wanted to look extra nice on my special day!

I came into the kitchen to find the kids standing around the kitchen island staring at the quiche. Eyeing it my son asked “What kind of pie is that?” and when I explained what it was he replied, “We can’t eat that. Didn’t you hear about the recall on eggs?”

Finally everyone sat down to enjoy the food made in honor of my special day. “How come you’re not eating mom?” my daughter asked and I replied, “I will in a bit, mother is just a little worn out from all the prep work this morning,” My son looked up from his plate with a concerned furrow and asked, “Did you forget orange juice?”

No, I hadn’t.

We had a lovely time and I opened cards and gifts and whether it’s Mother’s Day or any other day, I love those kids more than life and I know they love me without question.

And I guess you’re probably thinking I am going to wrap this up with I don’t need a special day to celebrate being a mother, every day with them has been special. But I’m not going to say that because let’s face it some days were a raging hell. Some days it was all I could do to put them in front of the TV eating Cheezits off the floor while I counted to ten, took deep breaths, snapped a rubber band on my wrist and did all the other things you are supposed to do when you feel life is just getting away from you.

And one day my daughters will have children and they will have their own special day. And I hope to be there to enjoy it with them. I will show up with love in my heart and open arms for my grandchildren and probably a broccoli and cheese quiche. I hear they freeze well.

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April 28, 2018

A Matter of Degrees

It is actually going to happen. This May, I am graduating college! I tried to extend my journey by applying to graduate school, but was turned down, in a very nice way though. I think the letter said “Uhm, no thanks, you seem like an awesome person but…no. Feel free to check out our website for other schools where you might have better luck. Have you considered DeVry Institute?

So the dream ends here. I have been talking with some of my fellow graduating seniors to see what they are doing now that they have degrees. One guy is taking a year off to play lacrosse in Australia, but many are already applying for jobs. I certainly don’t want to be left behind. Yes, I took 40 years to get through college but no more procrastinating! I have already done some research and here are some possibilities that might be worth looking into.

Jobs I May Be Able To Get Now That I Will Have a Degree

1. Participant in rosacea study. This would be perfect if I had rosacea. Why could I not have been blessed with this ailment instead of occasional bouts of adult acne and thinning hair? Could this be considered discrimination? May spend some time looking into discrimination suits today.

2. Jewish egg donors needed. I am Jewish however, my eggs and I are sort of tired. We don’t really want to commit to anything right now, other than season two of Handmaids Tale, which we are living for.

3. Webcam fetish model. Hmm. I love to eat dry cereal in bed while watching reruns of Breaking Bad, and simultaneously playing Candy Crush on my Ipad. Does this count as a fetish? Would someone want to actually watch that? I know M doesn’t really enjoy it and says he can hear me crunching through his noise canceling headphones. I don’t want to waste my time applying for jobs I’m not qualified for. Really bad for my self-esteem. Still, can’t hurt to shoot them a resume.

4. Remote Editing Fellow. Finally! Something in my field. But I don’t get the “fellow” part? This is totally discrimination. Get with the times dude. Women can do anything men can and usually better. Adding this to my discrimination investigation today.

5. Disney Princesses. What? Have I died and gone to heaven? I can dress up like Belle or Cinderella and just walk around Disney World freaking kids the f out? I can walk up to little girls and say “It’s a myth! Do yourself a favor and learn how to write code.” Yes! But wait, this is Florida and it’s so hot. Ugh. Not to go into detail but let’s just say a heat rash on your inner thighs makes for a very long summer. I will have to pass.

6. Jimmy Johns Brand Marketer. There are times I actually find myself dreaming about their number 5 with extra peppers. This is something I could really throw myself into as I have a real passion for the product. But wait, they are looking for “outgoing and fun individuals?” Fun is subjective. Some people think parties where you walk around, talking, laughing and meeting new people is fun. Others find sitting quietly alone with a glass of wine, watching the sunset and pondering things like, what if I got a puppy and it got eaten by a hawk, or what if I take the plunge and get my eyebrows tattooed on and end up looking like The Joker the rest of my life. I mean, that’s fun, right? Will have to think on this one a bit more.

7. Mock Jurors Needed. I like this. I’m pretty much up for mocking anything. Will definitely shoot them my resume.

8. Auto Repair Manager, Service Writer. Well this sounds perfect. I will be in a management position as I should be with my new degree and also a writer. I guess I could get a few pages in here and there between tire alignments and oil changes? And as a manager, I get to boss people around as well. Win-Win. Resume number three, sent.

Well, I am psyched. It appears the opportunities are endless with someone of my caliber with a bachelor’s degree in writing. Already have three great prospects out in the professional world of degreed smart people. Oops! Make that two. Just googled fetish…

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April 17, 2018

Going Old School

A few months ago, I made a monumental decision, even bigger than when I decided to subscribe to HULU, although I already have Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Now I can watch creepy, weird detective shows on BBC from 32 years ago, if I so desire. NOTHING gets past me. Well... this decision is much bigger than that—I have decided to go back to college. Yes, AGAIN.

This time is different though, because this time I am determined to get my degree. It's going to happen. Last time I had too much going on. I was in the midst of a divorce after a 27 year marriage and was getting text messages from my lawyer during my World Religion Class: lifetime alimony a no go but you DO get to keep the wine fridge and half of the Tumi luggage. See bill for 10k below.

I was getting text messages from my 15 year old daughter during Tecninical Editing class: hi mom, just letting you know that my friend Topaz is coming over to hang out. She's bringing her new pit bull puppy! Which I learned was code for We are going to smoke pot in the garage while her puppy shits all over our pool deck.

So, it was too much. I dropped out.

And then life happened. I dabbled in real estate. I found a new love. I had a book published! I had a job that challenged me, where I excelled. And then that job went by the wayside and I thought, "Okay, perfect. Now I can do nothing all day but write my new book."

And for awhile it was perfect. I would sit amongst the quiet. My house was clean. No laundry to do. I sat on my bed with my laptop and wrote away. 20 pages. 40 pages. 60 pages. The hours passed. The days passed. Tick. Tock. I soon found myself drifting and turning more and more to Facebook for stimulation. Can I name all these sitcoms from the 70's? I must find out. (And yes I could as well as hum the theme songs) What color IS my inner creative genius? I had to know! (yellow) Can I answer these 5th grade science questions? (No) You see what was happening? My writing stopped. I was stuck and when a writer becomes stuck, it can be terrifying. I began playing more and more solitaire on my iPad. Yes, I set new records. Yes, I earned lots of tokens and free lives, and yet, I felt I needed more. I needed stimulation. I needed, you know, A LIFE. And that's when it came to me...now is the time.

So, I applied to University of Tampa and was accepted. Only 3 semesters needed to graduate. They have a fabulous writing program. It's so perfect. I am so ready to take it all in. Everything is great and then I got the email asking for my medical information. And of course this is ridiculous. So I emailed the Bursar's office and was like, "Hi! I am in my mid 50's (and by mid I mean late) and not living on campus. I assume I do not need to send my medical information." And basically got back, "Yes you do. All students are required to."

And now I am rethinking. Because first of all, I don't think they have enough free space in their computer system to hold all my medical information. I mean I am a 56 year old hypochondriac who has had 4 children. I can see it now, the 17 year old office assistant looking over my stuff: Hey does anybody know what Fosomax is? Or, What is Effexor? Is it like that Ecstasy drug? Hey, isn't osteoporosis that disease where you keep falling asleep?

Still, I think my strong desire to succeed will overpower my embarrassment that everyone in the main office knows I am on lipitor. SO WHAT? IT'S A LOW DOSE!

Yes. I want this bad. And I'm not letting anything stop me. In fact, this week I am doubling up on my Calcium and Glucosamine Chondroitin. I don't want to break a hip when I try out for cheerleading.

Rah.

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March 31, 2018

Rolling With The Tide

Three times a week, I enter my college classrooms and look around at young, really really young, shining faces. These kids are smart. They have read the classics. The know about past participles. They can diagram sentences in seconds while I'm still looking for the "action words." They smell nice—like oranges, like youth. I look at them, envious of the time they still have, their whole lives ahead of them and think, "Okay which of you idiots are eating Tide pods?"

And why? Apparently it is some kind of challenge, and I hate challenges. I turned off my computer and didn't leave my house for a week during the whole ice bucket challenge, petrified someone would tag me and I would have to dump a bucket of water on my head and video it. Do I need all 52 of my Facebook friends knowing I look like a wet ferret without my root lifter? Isn't life hard enough?

Obviously this ridiculous new challenge led me to do some deep contemplation. I have never eaten a Tide pod, but I started thinking about weird things I have eaten. It took me an entire lecture on alliteration but when class was over, I had a pretty good list. Here it is:

Weird Things I Have Eaten:

1. Dried Elmer's glue from fingers

2. Coffee grounds off someone's plate that I mistook for chocolate crispies from Carvel cake

3. An elk burger at the 2002 Kentucky State Fair which I am still burping from

4. A Volcano Roll in a Miami strip plaza that should have been called the Colon Blow

5. Chewed an Advil I mistook for orange M and M found on floor

6. Something at a temple dinner called kishka. I thought it was a roll of stuffing but it was actually beef intestines in a tube. Good with gravy though.

7. Stuffed cabbage from a take-out Chinese restaurant. Haunts me to this day.

8. Fennel. It's not weird...I just hate it.

9. Avocado. See fennel.

10. Fat Free Half and Half. Someone's idea of a cruel joke.

As I said, I have never eaten a Tide pod and I can't figure out why the kids are doing it. Is it the new cleanse? I know it can really clean out the stomach according to all the Emergency Room reports. Are we not doing lemon water with cayenne pepper anymore? I mean, I think it is a good thing to clean out your system, empty out all the old food fragments and start clean and fresh but there are certainly much more safe and better tasting ways of doing it. One time in a New England seafood restaurant I had a bowl of creamy clam chowder, followed by a blue cheese wedge salad and a bowl of cheesy shrimp alfredo. That did the trick. For days.

Sure, my generation did some weird things, including inhaling the heady smell of ink when teachers passed out mimeographed papers hot off the printing press or whatever they used back then. We ate Zots, a candy that exploded with some kind of toxic acid when you bit into it.

Is anyone besides me worried about all the orange dye we ingested with our pitchers full of Tang?

Wasn't it my generation who started the rumor if you emptied out a Contac cold capsule and ate all the red pieces you could get high? And then did it and pretended we were?

I guess all generations have their things. There will always be challenges to face, no matter where you are in life. One day you're emptying out Contacs the next day your trying to find a Spanx camisole that doesn't role up and settle under your boobs when you're out to dinner. Talk about a challenge. Tide pods? Stupid, dangerous, but a challenge? Kids...you ain't seen nothing yet.

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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 humorous memoir, There’s Been A Change of Plans, A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Midlife, published in October, 2015 as well as the creator of the blog, Exwifenewlife.com, which deals with life after divorce and how great it can be! She is also a contributor to Huffington Post, Bravo Personal Space and SheSavvy. Currently she is finishing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tampa, and is planning to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing in the fall of 2018. Amy lives in St. Petersburg, Florida and is the mother of four, mostly well-adjusted kids and is currently working on her first fiction novel.