Stop The World, Brangelina Is Getting Off

Oh no! Brangelina. I'll be honest with you, I was rooting for them. Sure, he broke Jennifer's heart, and sure she knew she was messing around with a married man, but Jennifer has that adorable Justin Theroux now. She's okay, just as most women are when they push their way through the pain of adultery and continue on with their lives. So, why not hope that two beautiful people, each at one time voted the most magnificent of their gender, can keep it together? Plus, I love looking at photos of them shlepping those kids all over the place, Brad typically leading the pack while Angie brings up the rear, usually wearing some kind of cool poncho and carrying a big tote bag. Actually I was in awe of them because, I see them leading their pack through the
streets of France and New York City, Madagascar, wherever, everyone smiling, the big ones helping to herd the little ones, all for one and one for all. And I remember just taking my four to Target for back to school stuff and losing my little one in a rack of pajama pants. During that same outing my older two got into a fist fight over the last Nike trapper keeper. We left there looking like a family of war torn refugees, all carrying big slurpees. So I admired them for their perfection.

What happened? There are many theories and reports out there. Some say there was a difference of opinion on how to parent the children. Hmmm. Can't we go to therapy for that? Can't we read books about how to parent together and manage to stay married? What about a compromise, like Brad will stop smoking pot in front of the kids, if Angelina stops acting like they are all friends hanging out at Woodstock as opposed to parents and children.  And STOP DRESSING SHILOH LIKE A BOY! whose ever idea that was. Seems doable.

Now, the other report is that Brad is having an affair with his new costar Marion Cotillard, and Angelina is just not having it. Personally, I'm going with this theory and I will tell you why. It validates me. Me me me. Yes, the Pitt Jolie divorce is really all about Amy Koko. Okay, not really, but here's the thing— now I know that my husband didn't cheat because I was not pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, weighed too much, or wore flats. (What? I had a bone spur on my foot.) I wish I would have known this prior to the mini facelift I got which hurts like a mother f----r btw. It wasn't because of the 5 pounds of baby fat that had made a permanent home on my middle after 4 babies. It was a selfish act by a person living only for himself only in that moment, with no thought to the devastation his act would leave in it's wake. Because if it can happen to THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD (according to the 2009 readers of Vanity Fair) it has nothing to do with beauty, style, physical attributes. So, there!

If you are a woman who has dealt with or is dealing with infidelity, listen to me. You know when your husband said, "It's not you, it's me?" HE'S RIGHT! Don't ask yourself, "What is it that finally pushed him over the edge?" Was I wrong not to jump on the Brazilian wax bandwagon? Would someone ripping the hair off of my vagina have kept him at home? Maybe I shouldn't have dismissed the whole anal bleaching thing so quickly? What could I have done? Anal beads? Lap dances? (ugh I am a terrible dancer, the thought of it...) That jewelry that women poke through their vaginas?

 It's not your hair, it's not your weight, it's not your jewel-less vagina. It's not your fault.

Now, I know the whole Karma is a bitch thing. Still, having gone through it, I really can't say that I wish it on anyone else. Because I can tell you that even for the most beautiful woman in the world, the pain is real it is deep and it is something she will never forget.

In the meantime, let's hope someone steps up and takes charge of the children and most importantly, getting beautiful Shiloh into a something other than black jeans. Maybe something good can come from this after all.

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FACE IT. Times Are Changing





Last week, tropical storm Hermine swept through Florida and devastated the homes and lives of thousands. The two people running for the highest political office in the world, were fighting about who is more corrupt, you know, who has lied, cheated and hid the most stuff from the American people.  (One of these people is going to be the leader of the free world folks!) The world lost a great comedic talent in Gene Wilder, the best Willy Wonka ever, not to mention a very nice human being.  And front page news: Alicia Keys did not wear makeup to the VMA's. Now THAT is something we really need to get to the bottom of.

Okay yes, this is what I want to expand on in this post and I know it is vapid and small of me. But if you want world news, political commentary and sober sends offs, you're in the wrong place. Those things are beyond my understanding, I cannot make sense of what happens in the world. I cannot bear to think of the human suffering. I cannot believe that a few months ago I turned on the news to see there had been another mass shooting and when learning there were two victims dead, said to myself, "Phew! Only two this time." So, if I think too much, delve too deep or try to make sense of today's news, it may result in me doing something weird like binge watching Rugrats for days, trying to remember happy times when my kids were little, or drinking wine and eating cookie dough, and not the ice cream,  I mean just plain cookie dough. So please, please, let's just focus on Alicia Keys for now.

Why the big to-do? Some people felt it was disrespectful to the industry.  Isn't the industry Kim and Kanye? Is it even possible to disrespect Kanye? And how is not wearing make up disrespectful? Come on, I doubt she was lying in her bed playing Solitaire on her iPad, and looked at the time and said, "Oh shit! I'm supposed to be at the VMA's!" and raced over changing into her dress in the car, arriving just in time to hit the stage. No. She also made sure to tweet that though she doesn't like to wear it, she is NOT anti-makeup. As Alicia says, "DO YOU." To each their own.

In her defense, her face is unlined, glowing, screams health and youth. Why cover it up? And frankly, if she is starting a #nomakeuprevolution, SIGN ME UP. I too am thinking of of joining the cause. I have just now arrived at the point where I will take my sunglasses off in Publix when I am makeup free. Sure, it's because I am trying to see the calorie count on the Skinny Cows but still...it takes bravery. I'm SO getting there!

I remember one day when I was 30. I had just had a baby and my mother and I were taking her to the pediatrician for a check up. I combed my hair, stuck two breast pads to my boobs and headed towards the car. Looking at me my mother said, "I guess that's the difference between 30 and 50. You don't have to wear make up when you go out." Yeah mom. THAT'S the difference. Good one. But now, I see her point.

I want to tell my daughters, FLAUNT YOUR YOUTH! Revel in it. Bask in it. Because, here is Victoria's real secret: what she is screaming to us from the halls of shopping malls all over the world, 'Wear it now! Don't put it off until we run the 3 for 1 thong panties sale. Don't wait for the lacy push up bras to be BOGO." By the time that happens you may be needing the giant bras that hang on the back wall of Macy's lingerie department, with the extra wide panel for back fat. Now is the time!

I admit,  I invested in several pairs of thong panties years ago when I was trying to woo back my then husband from the arms of another. Not only did it not work, but for all I know I may still be wearing them. You know, like that tampon you forgot you inserted, JUST IN CASE? I pulled a pair out the other day and thought, "What the hell? Let's give it a try." So, I put them on and ask M, "How do these panties look?" He looks confused as he asks, "What panties?"

So, okay, not a good look.

Anyway, back to Alicia and the whole no make up thing. I think she killed it. I respect her decision. Maybe the hours we spend drawing on eyebrows, lining lips, layering foundation, applying fake eyelashes, contouring, plumping, and air brushing are coming to an end with this next generation? Maybe they will use the time for writing amazing songs,  breaking the glass ceiling in the STEM arena, coming up with new cures, medicines, treatment plans to combat dreaded disease, designing amazing homes with green technology to save our planet, running for president. You know, stuff like that.

Yes, Alicia Keys is ON FIRE and I hope she ignites a whole generation.

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Anthony and Huma-A Photo Finish!

Here's what I would do if I was Huma Abadein: I would make myself a nice cup of espresso and sit down in my kitchen with the New York Times Style Section, or maybe the Book Review.  As I read it cover to cover, I may have a biscotti or something. An almond one, maybe drizzled with a little dark chocolate? I love those.

When I was finished I would rinse my cup in the sink but I wouldn't put it in the dishwasher. Let HIM do it. Let him do SOMETHING around here as he will now have plenty of time to dick around, (excuse the pun) now that the New York Daily News (among others) has given him the heave ho.

Then I would go upstairs to my bedroom and pull down my Louis Vuitton duffel. (She probably has a Louis Vuitton right? I mean I doubt she travels with a ripped Samsonite that she bought at Burlington Coat Factory) I would peruse my closet, pick out a few key pieces, some work clothes and some weekend things, you know, a good pair of jeans and a few t shirts. Definitely need a sweater to throw over the shoulders in the evening.  I would place them in the duffel, leaving plenty of room at the top for my skincare products, hair products, and other necessary beautifying paraphernalia.


Then I would go into my little boy's room. From the top of his closet I would take down his little Kids Pottery Barn rolling back pack and fill it with his clothes, his favorite stuffed animals, and of course his blankie. Then, I would pick my little man up from the floor where he is sitting and playing with some educational toy, Baby Einstein or something, kiss his cheek and hold him close to me. And then, clutching him to my chest... I WOULD RUN LIKE A MOTHER FU***R!

Yes, someone once again snitched on Weiner and THIS time, we've really had it. (And by WE, I mean Huma and his various employers. I certainly don't know the man.) Sure we are all thinking, "Huma! What took you so long?" I guess, she figured, you know, a few dick pics, just harmless fun. But throw, your kid in there? GAME OVER.

Now I can't begin to imagine what was going through HIS mind. I mean this is a smart, educated man! How does he NOT know that this shit is going to hit the fan, especially now that the whole Ryan Lochte thing is dying down. More importantly, why does he think we all want to see his penis? I can't speak for everyone but...you know...dude. EW.

Now, obviously, I don't know Huma. I don't get out much. I have had the same two friends since junior high, and by that I mean I have two friends. I'm good with that. I mean, I love the SOUND of meeting new people. I love the SOUND of going to parties where I picture myself holding court, with excitement buzzing through the room, (OMG Who IS that delightful, thin, gorgeous woman over there?) The reality is, when I enter a party I grab a glass of wine and head to a corner. If someone approaches me, I'm like a deer in the headlights. I see them coming closer and I begin to sweat as I prepare to wow them with a stimulating conversation opener. "Hi," I say. "Can you believe they are taking Everybody Loves Raymond off of Netflix?" This usually does the trick as they continue past me to the hummus.

Anyway, back to Huma. Why did she put up with it for so long? I have a theory and again, I am only speaking for  myself so don't get all "I am woman hear me roar," on me. She put up with it because 1. She had made a plan for her life and it included being married to and having children with Anthony Weiner and 2. She thought she could change him. Sometimes, we just don't want to see what is right there in front of us, whether it is a big red star on your husband's Day-Timer marking another woman's birthday or, in Huma's case,  pictures of his penis on the Internet, that HE PUT THERE. (Not like Jon Hamm who due to no fault of his own has a whole website devoted to his penis, but that's another story.)

First, you try to make sense of it. She's just a friend. Don't we all try to remember our friend's birthdays? Isn't it a nice and thoughtful thing he's doing?

So, Huma thinks, "It's his penis, yes, but there must be a reason for it." A perfectly good reason for your husband to send these pics out into the internet and to young girl's cell phones. There HAS to be a reason other than he is one sick puppy.

And then, there are apologies, there are " I will stop it, I will never do it again," and you work so hard to make sure your life is back on track. Sure, you still check the cell phone now and then, you still try and crack the password on the laptop, and there are days when it's hard, SO hard to keep believing that you have fixed it.

Finally, something happens and you realize, it's done. It's over. ENOUGH. And, my guess is this is where Huma finds herself now. But isn't she like besties with Hillary? I am sure she will have plenty to keep her busy in the upcoming years, plus she's super smart and now has a beautiful little boy. She will be fine. He, I'm guessing, will never live this down. Remember what happened to Pee Wee's Playhouse after Pee Wee was caught doing you know what in that gross movie theater? And that was without viral videos! I'm sure Weiner will regret showing his...well... weiner, for the rest of his life.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that.

So...can you believe they are taking Everybody Loves Raymond, off Netflix??













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Age Is SO Not Appropriate



As of last week, I am officially closer to 60 than I am to 50. This is different from when I turned 36, looking at 40, and had a serious discussion with my friend as to whether or not we should still be wearing mini skirts. We now had daughters and certainly didn't want to look as though we were trying to compete with them. (Really? They were 10 at the time, so unless we were planning on rocking some jeans from Limited Too...) Yes, this is different from when I turned 46, looking at 50, and came to realize that my every six weeks hair cut would now have to include a color. This is different because I am 56 looking at 60 and 60 is SERIOUS BUSINESS. 60 is grown up time. 60 is if you want to do it, stop talking about it and move your ass time.

The problem is there are days I can't remember what it was I said I wanted to do. Was it watercolors? No, it couldn't be based on what I brought home from the Paint While You Drink Wine party place. Is it an ocean with clouds above or a blue sky with snow capped mountains below? Who the hell knows or gives a shit? Horseback riding! That was it! Ahh, but these knees. Along with skiing, fencing, and salsa dancing, it ain't gonna happen. Those are what I call my Christopher Columbus dreams, in other words, that ship has sailed.

I went for a physical. For those who haven't tried it lately, finding a primary doctor is sort of like getting a private visit with the pope. You have to apply, you have to have the right insurance, you then have to wait 6 months. That is so they can run the background check on you and see what kind of shenanigans you are up to on Facebook. Then, when the 12 year old nurse filling out your intake form asks you how many alcoholic drinks you have per week and you answer "4," because wine is good for your heart and doesn't count, she may look at you and say "Really? I don't think so. According to Facebook, you had 7 Saturday night alone, at Bonefish." 

When I finally made it into the inner sanctum, my doctor took one look at me and said, "Your thryoid looks full, let me feel it," and after she pokes around says, "Oh no, you just have a very full neck, it's just your anatomy." So...thanks. When I was younger my doctors all looked old and wise, able to protect me from the hideous diseases that may try to penetrate my young glowing skin. This doctor looks like Miley Cyrus. How can this child have PATIENTS? I think I saw her mother in the lobby waiting to drive her to a playdate when she was done with appointments. Also, she's pregnant. She radiates health and new life as she tells me she is starting me on a cholesterol drug and by the way, was I doing any kind of exercise? I may want to incorporate exercise into my daily routine, she says. Does riding a spin bike every day for 45 minutes count? Because that is what I do and I am thrilled that my efforts are paying off.

So off I go with my prescription for Lipitor, a BMI formula and a goal weight. And I feel OLD. Because as I'm driving to CVS I realize I am never going to be a young intern at a New York City publishing company. I am never going to law school to become a ruthless, albeit fair, Tory Burch briefcase carrying, divorce attorney. I'm probably never going to be the owner of my own woman's magazine. I'm never again going to wear a bikini, or my Steve Madden black stilettos with a dress that hits me mid thigh, which I rocked just a few short years ago. I'm entering a new phase of life and frankly, physically it sucks.

PHYSICALLY. What can I tell you, I don't see an upside, BUT...Mentally? There is some good news. Mentally, for me, it's a whole new ball game. Because though I do feel slightly panicked when I look in the mirror and see one more wrinkle and one less eyebrow hair, I look at the rest of my life and feel a sense of contentment.

This hit home for me on a recent vacation to Canada. (Super nice place but they have yet to discover grapefruit vodka. They have blueberry vodka? I would love to know if you or someone you know actually drinks blueberry vodka!) Anyway, when I was younger and I went on vacation I always wanted to stay.  “Wouldn’t it be great, “ I would think, “To live here on Wai Kiki Beach,” or “Here in the mountains,” or  “In this little Italian village,” you get the idea. And yes, it probably would. But now, though I enjoy seeing new places and eating the food and trying local wines (because who drinks blueberry vodka?) I am always ready to go home.

It’s not because my stuff is here, though I do miss my Wilfa coffeemaker immensely. It’s because, finally, I have found my peaceful place. I am happy here. I no longer look ahead to where do I want to live next, how much more of a house can I buy, how much more stuff can I get? I no longer worry about keeping up with the Joneses, and yes I’m sorry and embarrassed to say I was one of those people.  I don’t worry about finding a new, better place because to me, there is no better place. I am happy with what I have, where I am and who I’m with.


I enjoy my children immensely. When I’m with them I think, “These are good people.” The kind of people I would want to be around, even if they weren’t mine. I enjoy my writing, and look forward to the characters who have yet to introduce themselves to me. Sure, I wish I looked younger. Sure I wish I could stop the clock ticking away on my face and body, but would I trade that for the peace and contentment I now have come to cherish?

Uhm...I know you want me to say “Of course not," but give me a minute...I’m thinking…




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WHAT I'M UP TO

Hi All,
BIG NEWS!!! 
I got myself a WEBSITE!  www.amykoko.com Come visit me there and you'll see all that I've been up to, including:


1) MY MEMOIR!
"There's Been A Change of Plans - A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Mid-Life" is now available on Amazon, in paperback or kindle. Getting 5-starred reviews!  Just one click away!




2) MY RETREAT!  
WRITING YOUR WAY THROUGH DIVORCE ~ A WEEKEND RETREAT


September 23 – 25, St. Petersburg, Florida 
ocean writing
“Writing Your Way Through Divorce” is a weekend writing workshop for women dealing with divorce at any stage of the process. This retreat will not only teach you writing techniques to get your feelings unstuck, but in sharing your experiences with a community of sensitive individuals who have similar emotional struggles, you will gain the confidence and tools to express yourself through the written word.
Whether your goal is to create a blog, write a memoir, a short story or essay, or simply get your feelings on paper,Writing Your Way Through Divorce will start you on the write path. We’ve been there, we’ve done it. And we can provide the support and structure to help you gain clarity and confidence and end up with a piece of writing you will be proud of.
The weekend takes place in a beautiful waterfront residence in St. Petersburg, Florida, just 25 minutes from Tampa International Airport. Friday night session, and all day Saturday and Sunday, with healthy gourmet breakfasts and lunches included, you will leave the weekend feeling refreshed and confident to write this new chapter in your life.

Visit my website for more details and to register! 


3) MY ONLINE CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS!
I am also teaching a series of writing workshops (via email or skype) and offering manuscript critique services. You can read more about them on my website, or click here:

Email workshops and Critique Services 



4) MY eBOOK!
My latest book:  “How To Write It Funny ~ A Step-by-Step Guide for Bloggers and Others” is available on Amazon Kindle today!


Writing funny is no joke. While there is no easy formula to writing humor, there is an art to being funny, and more importantly, WRITING FUNNY. And that’s where author and humor blogger Amy Koko can help! She takes you step by step though the process of creating a humorous piece of writing and shows you the tips and tricks to writing a funny blog post or book, including dialogue and character development. A must have guide for writers of all genres!



And finally....  I am publishing a monthly newsletter, where I review humorous books and tv shows, give writing tips and exercises, and keep you all up to to date on What's So Funny.


So email me why don't you to KEEP IN TOUCH! 

See you all on the other side!



ABOUT ME




Born August of 1960. That makes me...old. I can tell you that defining moment that got me where I am today. I was a junior at the University of North Texas, on my way to take a Spanish exam that I had not studied for. Suddenly I  had a flash of brilliance. Why waste time taking an exam I will never pass, when I have a perfectly good boyfriend that I can marry and have babies with and who will eventually be able to support me in a style of my choosing? It makes good sense, doesn’t it? I turned around, went to the bursars’ office, withdrew from school and was an Army wife within three weeks.

Fast forward 27 years of marriage and four children later. I am sitting on my patio in Florida, with my new chaise lounges, of which I was immensely proud, listening to my husband tell me he has been having an affair. If you want the details, read my blog (and my memoir!) but suffice it to say, it is not a pretty story. It involves a Swiss blonde pastry chef and the end of life as I knew it. Here’s the kicker though: Life Went On.

One door closes, another one opens.  My blog is about moving forward, getting through the anger and finding happiness while finding humor even in tough times.

And now I can say pretty much say that I'm on the other side. I'm still blogging away for my sanity, and have published my memoir "There's Been A Change of Plans ~ A Memoir about Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Mid-Life." My passion now is to help other women who are going through this gut wrenching experience, so along with a colleague of mine, I am facilitating a writing retreat titled "Writing Your Way Through Divorce" to show how writing can help gain clarity and confidence throughout the process. Writing saved my life, and maybe it can help you in yours, too.

Read about my new books and workshops/retreats on my website www.amykoko.com.



 





YOU GOT GAME...JUST GOTTA FIND IT



When I was interviewing divorce attorneys, I actually had one say to me, "No matter who you hire, the divorce game is a tough one." "Wow," I thought. "Divorce GAME. That doesn't sound too bad. Maybe this won't be as horrible as I think." Because, when I think of game, I think of Candy Crush and Scrabble on my iPad, both activities that I enjoy immensely and spend an inordinate amount of time on. So sure, BRING IT.

I hired an attorney and the "game" began. Looking back at it now, I don't think I would call it a game exactly, more like a gut blowing, agonizing, pain filled torture that makes childbirth look like a 30 minute Zumba session. (Which btw I did once and nearly broke my ankle, but given the choice between the two I will take Zumba every time.) I would sometimes speak in tongues, or find myself on the floor of my closet giggling to myself while cutting old photos of us into little pieces. I cried in the grocery store, at my kid's school conferences and once at the table at Esca, a fabulous restaurant in NYC, where the waiter insisted on getting me a new plate of linguini with clams as he thought THAT was the reason for my misery.

"Madam, your food is not as you like?"

SNIFF SNIFF "No it's fine, really.

"Chef has been adding way too much pepper, I will get you a new plate immediately!"

Happily, I was able to eat each delicious clam wrapped in a forkful of linguini with just the right amount of pepper, between sobs. In fact, that meal is the one bright spot I remember from that time.

So no, game is not really how I would describe it. There is one good thing about divorce however, and that is...it ends. Finally, mercifully, thankfully, it is over. And guess what—life goes on.

So, here we are five years later— it has been five years since my ex and I sat in the judges chambers and each answered "YES" when he asked "Have you done all you can to save your marriage?" before he signed the decree making us an ex-couple. Yes, we did all we could do, meaning I begged, I pleaded, I bought new underwear, I got a facelift. After all of that, my ex looked at me one day and said, "After what I did, how could I ever really come home?" And so he didn't. I didn't really go into all of that with the judge, who totally freaked me out because as you know I have a huge phobia about going to jail ever since I saw Midnight Express in college. I was just waiting for him to look at me and say, "Hmmm...maybe a little jail time will straighten you out." So, I felt great relief but also unbearable sadness when he signed the decree, looked at us and said "Good luck to you both."

Now, here's what I need you to know: From that point on my life has been more than I ever thought it could be, because once you go through divorce and you are no longer one half of a couple, you become a WHOLE person. And that person will start to reveal to you who she is and what she wants, and it will come through loud and clear if you are ready to listen. And you can't be ready if you are holding on to regrets, anger, what ifs, how could hes. So let it go...and listen.

For me, I listened and found myself taking college courses in creative writing. Was I the oldest one in the class? Sure. Did anyone want to be my partner for the group writing exercise? No. But I loved it and I poured my whole experience out in words. I took a memoir class. Most kids turned in a 5 page essay about their high school years, mine was more like  a War and Peace size "THE STORY OF AMY KOKO." I think the kids found it riveting.

The point is, I found writing and I truly believe it saved me from becoming one of those divorcees who five years later when you run into them in Publix and ask "How are you?" replies "My ex husband is a dick." Uhm...DONT BE THAT PERSON! Dig deep and see what's in there. You know what came out of me? A blog, a book and now another book on the way.  I host retreats for women who want to write their way through divorce because I know there is light at the end of the tunnel! The words don't stop! I highly recommend sitting down at your computer, at your desk with a paper and pen, or even with the notes section on your smart phone and putting down words. You will be amazed at what appears.

If it's not words perhaps its drawing. Maybe it's cooking. Maybe it's going back to school to follow the dream you put on hold when your first child was born. Remember? You meant to get back to it, now is your time. Maybe it's painting, playing an instrument, becoming a nuclear physicist (that was my second choice.) Whatever it is, do it. Yes, divorce is sad, its heart breaking, it's an ending. It is also a beginning. Dig deep. Listen. Get whole.










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Writing Your Way Through Divorce




Ever since my book came out, I have had many women (okay, 3) ask me, “When did you know you were ready to change your life, you know, go in a whole new direction?” What? I had NO IDEA.  That decision was made for me when my husband told me he had decided to make other plans for the rest of his life. At 48 I thought things were pretty much set, we would become empty nesters, do a big vacation once a year and then maybe buy a condo with pool access.

Not so fast.

When I first began my journey through divorce, I kept to a very tight schedule. I would wake up and wonder how I was going to make it through the day without breaking down in front of my kids, my lawn guy, the checkout girl at Publix who for some reason always insists on asking me if I have exciting plans for the weekend, my neighbors, my Pilates instructor…well, you get the idea. Once I got that out of the way, I would get my kids off to school, do my errands, pick kids up from school, serve them dinner and wait for night to fall and for them to say goodnight because then it was MY time.

This was the time I would open a bottle of Pinot, pour myself a nice big glass, and sit in front of my lap top, where I would write my nightly letter to my STBX formatted as below

TO: email address
FROM: YOUR WIFE
SUBJ: You mother fu---r I HATE YOU
Date: Today

And I would write, and write and write, the anger and venom flying from my fingers. Once I was spent, I would hit SEND. I did this for a few months until his attorney spoke to my attorney, who spoke to me (even being reprimanded cost me money) and told me to stop it asap, because it was bordering on harassment, it would not cast me in a good light with the judge and it was really freaking weird.

I continued the letters, but I stopped hitting send. After a time, I looked forward to this nightly ritual and the letters became less and less hateful and more and more cleansing. In fact, some of them brought happy tears to my eyes as I recalled moments from the past where we had been a couple, a family, whole. I found writing these letters that would never be sent left me feeling lighter, and if not happier, then at least accepting and hopeful for my future as I ventured into it as a single woman.

These letters led me to my blogs on Huffington Post Divorce, First Wives Social Network, BlogHer, and More.com, among others, which then led me to writing my book: There’s Been A Change Of Plans – A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents In Midlife” which then led me to where I am now…

It’s time for me to give back. That is, to connect with other women going through this gut wrenching, life changing experience and help them get their experience down in their own words. Whether the plan is to share it with others (NOT your ex), shoot for publication (like I did) or just get thoughts, feelings and emotions down on paper, writing can be a way of working through your divorce by organizing your thoughts, putting them down on paper, and then moving on!  

This past year my colleague and I have designed a series of online workshops and a weekend retreat we call Writing Your Way Through Divorce.  The goal is to not only teach you how to use writing as a tool to get your feelings unstuck, but also provide the support and structure to help you write with clarity and confidence and end up with a piece of writing you will be proud of.  

We’ve been there, we’ve done it. You can, too.
And, if you come to the weekend retreat, there WILL be bagels. So keep that in mind.


To find out more about my Writing Your Way Through Divorce online workshop and the next weekend retreat coming up in September, please visit my website www.amykoko.com   



Ex-Wife New Life: living life newly single at 50 while overcoming the pain of divorce and moving on. Visit us @ http://facebook.com/ex.wife.new.life

Oh, The Places I've BIN



A few years ago, when M and I moved into our house, we rented (and by WE, I mean M) a storage unit for the things we (and by WE, I mean ME) just could not part with, but weren't sure we had room for. This included an arts and crafts table in case I DID ever get the urge to glue a bunch of tile shards onto plates again, a Mt. Everest sized pile of fake rattan patio furniture, and bins and bins of photos and momentos from the last 40 years of our lives. M was able to pile it all into the storage unit and I was able to rest comfortably knowing these prized possessions were safe in an air conditioned environment not far from my home. Mission accomplished.

It turns out, M and I had different ideas about how to use a storage unit. M's idea is to rent it for a short amount of time, until I can figure out what to do with the wall of plastic bins filled with my kids drawings from kindergarten. My idea is to keep it as a shrine, a monument to my life as a mother where my kids and their kids after them can come to visit after I'm gone, pay their respects and look through photographs of me at different points of my life, each generation passing the bill down to the next, the goal being me not having to deal with those bins ever again. Ever.

Unfortunately, this weekend, our two different perspectives collided when M brought home roughly 23 bins for me to you know, "just go through and get rid of stuff but keep the things you want." Okay, these ARE the things I want, hence the saving of them in bins. Am I the only one who gets this concept? But fine, I thought, it will be fun to look at all those hand turkeys and little milk carton log cabins made every year in honor of Lincoln's birthday.

So, I began and became completely engrossed in my children's past. I found adorable things including a book made by my youngest daughter entitled "ALL ABOUT MOMMY" What do YOU make of this found on page one?

MY MOMMY LIKES quiet
MY MOMMY DOESN'T LIKE darkness

Uhm...( I kept that out for her next therapy session.)

Anyway I was plowing through having a great time, shedding an occasional tear when I came upon my high school yearbook or what I THOUGHT was my high school yearbook. When I opened it I saw it was  my ex's, easy mistake since we attended the same school. And I began to leaf through it and a note written on the cover page caught my eye and stopped me dead in my tracks...

              It's been nice getting to know you. Best of luck and have a great summer!
                                                                        Amy

OMG, the sheer and utter innocence of those words that I had written after we had flirted with each other in the halls for just those last few weeks before school ended. They took my breath away. Who would have imagined that 30 years after I wrote those words, we would be signing a divorce decree, ending our marriage, though our lives will be ever entwined with the four children we brought into the world together. What young and innocent pleasure we took in each other and Oh what anguish and pain we brought into each other's lives at the end.

From "have a great summer" to "I do." From a tiny apartment on Ft. Bragg to a first home with a new baby girl. To the next home bursting at the seams with four children and a 150 pound dog, friends coming and going, parties in the basement that I am only NOW hearing about. From "have a great summer" to, "I'm leaving" and then to the ambushing delivery of papers with  KOKO vs. KOKO. emblazoned across the top. From "have a great summer" to The End.

All is well now. My ex and I have healed and are in a good place, watching our children turn into adults. We are proud, they are good people. People I would like even if they weren't mine. To think it all started in a high school hallway, he leaning against a locker as I walked by in a shirt with a big poodle on it that for some reason caught his eye.

We had a good run, that's for sure. Now back to the bins and a big number 8 made of cheerios. Yup, that goes into the keep pile. I certainly can't be expected to part with that now, can I?

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YOGAtta Be Kidding Me

I love you guys, I know you are trying to help, but if you want to help, bring me an almond brioche from Cassis bakery. Treat me to a month of unlimited Netflix, or better yet Amazon Prime with unlimited video streaming. Take me to get a crunchy tuna bowl at Fresh Kitchen, but...when I tell you I am stressed out, STOP TELLING ME TO DO YOGA!

Now, I was born stressed out. I was on a tranquilizer at the age of two because of the fact that I had to stay up all night trying to solve the world's problems. My poor young parents were like, "Please GOd just let her shut the fuck up and go to sleep, PLEASE!" When that didn't work, they took me to the pediatrician and back then, before there was an FDA I guess, pediatricians were allowed to prescribe little baby ambiens for infants. So, I was okay for a few years until Kindergarten hit, but that's another story...one that I haven't quite gotten to the bottom of yet, though my therapist thinks we are getting really close. Really, really close. So...that's good.

Anyway,  when I say I'm stressed out, it can be for a myriad of reasons, anything from they are out of Belgian Endive at Publix, to my 24 year old daughter is holding open houses by herself in domiciles that look like the Breaking Bad motor home, or I just noticed a weird mole on my back that looks like a Skittle. In other words, I am always stressed about something.

When I was REALLY stressed, during my divorce, I read book after book on how to deal with it and you know, take it down a notch. "Try Yoga," they said. "It really works," they said. Okay, I tried it. I put on some yoga pants and one of those braless mini tops and went to my first yoga class. No one told me you had to bring your own mat, so I ended up using one that someone had left behind weeks ago, after they came to the realization that a Cosmo and a sushi roll would be a lot more calming then sitting on the floor next to a bunch of people with sweaty feet.

So, we begin. We begin by breathing in, breathing out. Okay, I think...I can do this. And then we do our first pose, which I don't remember the name of it but I do remember trying to put my foot up by my ear. It was then I noticed my toenail cuticles looked like old, peeling bathroom caulk. I thought back to when I last had a pedicure. It was before the whole divorce thing began. I then thought about my alimony, and wondered how much money I would have to put aside each month to afford the pedicure with the hot wax treatment and what could I do without, in order to afford this luxury. Generic coffee beans? Frozen mini chicken pot pies? Has it come to this now?

Then I thought, maybe I could get my daughter to paint my toenails since no one is really touching my feet anyway, but this is Florida and they still need to  look nice in my Target flip flops and it's really hard for me to reach them. And then I thought, my poor children. It will be up to them to care for me, take me out for ice cream once a week, reset my iPad password every other day when I forget it. The years will pass and eventually I will fall getting out of the bathtub...it's bound to happen, these Florida tile floors are so slippery.

And then, before I knew it the class was over and I was so worked up and panic stricken, I left the mat on the floor with my big sweaty butt print on it and nearly ran to my car, so anxious was I to get home and see what could be done with my toenails after I stopped at Walmart for a big rubber bathmat.

So, please, yoga may work for you but for me? I will take puff pastry filled with marizpan and powdered sugar during a House of Cards binge every time. Now THAT is Zen.



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Surviving the Pomp Under These Circumstances

This past weekend, my youngest son graduated from college. The youngest of four, he is the only one who took the traditional college route of a four year degree complete with the cap, the gown, the diploma and the 3 hour ceremony in the blinding Florida sun. Luckily for us this was the FIRST year that his small private school decided to hold the event OUTDOORS and I have to say, what a great idea! Florida is lovely this time of year and who doesn't love sitting in the middle of a field, on metal bleachers in your new Kenneth Cole outlet dress as the sun gets ever higher in the sky, the temperature steadily rises, and the possibility of melanoma gets greater with each passing moment.

Seriously, for me this made all the worry, the angst,  and even that one late night phone call from the sheriff's office, worth it. My boy graduated college and I was beyond proud. At one point son said to me, "I don't know if I want to walk mom, I can just have them send me the diploma" to which I replied, "Oh, you're walking. YOU ARE WALKING, and if I have to fucking crawl there on my hands and knees I will be there to see it, " so...you know, I set the stage for a fun day.

As excited as I was for this glorious experience, I was concerned about two major issues that the weekend involved. One was the full body Spanx. My ex was hosting a dinner the Friday night before the event at a lovely 5 star restaurant and FINALLY I had the chance to wear that black dress I bought in NYC 3 years ago along with the full body spanx I bought to go with it. Things should be okay,  as long as the 3 tiny snaps that hold the thing together at my crotch didn't come apart causing the whole apparatus to fly up and hit me in the face during the soup course. If I walked very slowly, and sat down very gently....should be okay.

Second? This would be the first time since my divorce that my ex, my children and my in-laws whom I miss dearly would all be together in one room, at one table in fact. Add in M and my ex's partner, an elegant, lovely woman with great hair and it could be somewhat awkward. Yet, I was not about to miss it— could we come together as a family to celebrate a moment of complete and utter joy? Could we sit together at a table and enjoy each other's company while celebrating the success of the son we brought into this world? Was there any way I could wear the dress without the full body Spanx? (No, there wasn't.) This was what was going through my mind as we began the three hour drive on Friday afternoon.

After a longer trip than we anticipated due to traffic and a stop at Burger King where I really wanted to try their new grilled hot dogs, (a decision I lived to regret later that evening) M, myself, my two daughters and one boyfriend that I love, arrived at the hotel where we were all staying. We walked in and there they were...my family. There was my mother in law who has known  me since I was 16. Who came and stayed with me when my 5 year old daughter had 3rd degree burns on her legs and feet after I dropped a pot of hot chicken soup as she was passing by the stove. Every day she accompanied me to the doctor where she would hold her as they scraped off the burned skin and bandaged her up, as I cried on a chair nearby. We have shared ups, downs and a thousand cups of coffee.

My father in law who taught my kids how to fish and patiently baited hooks for hours as they sat next to him swinging their little feet back and forth. My sister in law, who I grew up with, both of us 16 when we met. Now we are both mothers and have shared the joy and heartbreak that comes with that job. And of course, there was my ex. I haven't seen him in over a year and didn't know what to expect, how I would feel. Our eyes met and I felt happy. I felt proud. We looked at each other and both said, "WE DID IT!" as we high fived each other. It was a moment I will always remember.

That night M and I arrived a few moments late to the dinner as we had to park a few blocks away and I had to walk like a geisha in order to keep the spanx intact. When I arrived, there were two seats left and I took the one next to my ex. I had him on one side and M on the other! You know the weird part? It felt RIGHT. I had the man I now loved on my left, and the man whom I had shared a life with and brought 4 children into the world with on my right. My kids were scattered around the table, talking, laughing, so proud of their little brother, enjoying the moment of seeing their parents together in happy times. There was a time I thought that it would never be possible, but here we were. We all shared stories about the graduate, and though I did get a bit melancholy, I felt truly happy and really blessed.

Not to mention, the Spanx stayed where it was supposed to at least until we got back to the room, where I sat down on the bed and it let loose with a sudden fury as if to say, "PLEASE, NO MAS! NO MAS!"  All the worry had been for nothing. The night had been a success and as I drifted off to sleep, I let these words wash over me...WE DID IT.


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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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Remember 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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You Made Your Bed



M and I have been together for a few years now and this year we have a lot to celebrate. My son is graduating college, his daughter is getting her Master's and we finally got new patio furniture. Also, this year M celebrated a very big birthday and I wanted to make it special. Even more special than when I invited everyone to the Melting Pot for fondue, which I thought would be a hoot, and found out that most people do not consider sitting around a table sticking raw meat into recycled corn oil a hoot. As M's mother so elegantly put it, "What? We go to a restaurant and have to cook our OWN food?" Luckily for me, the Melting Pot has a full bar and I found that dirty martinis complement raw chicken chunks doused in hot cheese very well. So, there's that.

Anyway, this year I decided I wanted to really go all out, and remembered that years ago he had mentioned that he has always wanted to stay at the Delano Hotel in South Beach. This was it! I would take him to the Delano for a weekend and make it a birthday he would always remember. Though his birthday is in March, I actually had this great idea in December, so for Christmas I presented him with a certificate that said Delano Hotel Birthday Weekend March 4-6!!. Then I called to make reservations. Then I called my bank to take out a loan. Then I told M this was his Christmas/Birthday present for the years 2016-2020. The Delano folks are pretty, pretty proud of their hotel.

The weekend finally arrived and we packed our bags and took the 35 minute flight to Ft. Lauderdale and then the 40 minute Uber ride to South Beach. We stood outside the airport watching people get picked up by town cars and limos. Finally Javier' rolled up in his Silver Elantra, salsa music blaring from the windows. "I can't stop here!" he yelled and pointed to a sign that said "Cabs only" so we had to sort of run to keep up with him til he got to the area where pick ups in Elantras were allowed.

40 minutes later we rolled up in front of the Delano and it was all that you would imagine. White billowy curtains hang from the ceiling, the sea breeze rustling them gently. Odd pieces of furniture are strewn about, chairs made out of clear plastic and one out of gold, a see through grand piano, a giant chartreuse chair that looks like it came from the PeeWee Herman show. It all works though, like being in a weird dream with cocktail service. And everywhere, beautiful people. BEAUTIFUL. YOUNG. PEOPLE.

We get up to our room and quickly get ready for the pool. You'd think living in Florida, we would not be too excited about a pool but the thing about Floridians is we LOVE our pools from inside. We don't actually GO in them. Like we go about our days, I don't come home from the grocery store and think "Okay time for a swim." I may glance outside and think."Ew someone needs to get that dead lizard out of the pool," but go in it? No.

So when we go to a hotel we cannot wait to get to the pool and this is mainly because there is bottle service and you can order food and to me there's something about eating and drinking poolside that is a vacay in itself. So I put on my new tropical print one piece with an appropriate cover up and we get to the pool where we are greeted by a young girl in short white shorts with a belt and a white tshirt. "Can I help you"? she asks sort of eyeing us suspiciously. "Oh yes, M answers, "We are staying at the hotel and we would like 2 chairs." "Wait here please, Soledad will be with you in a moment." And I'm thinking I just want a freaking lounge chair, not a front seat at the Oscars. WTF?

The beautiful Soledad approaches us with a clipboard. She is perfectly tanned, long brown hair brushing her back, in a little white shift with lots of sideboob, but the good kind, not the kind where you are afraid one wrong move and you may see something you will never be able to forget. She is kind and friendly, "M and Amy, isn't it beautiful today? We find you a perfect spot. In fact the people who were supposed to have this cabana have not showed up, and we have a nice bed here that you can use. Would you be happy with a bed?"

Would I be happy with a bed? I would be happy if I could conduct my whole life from my bed. I live for my bed, so yes I would be happy with a bed. "Carlos!" she yells to a beautiful young man standing a few feet away, "Please make up the bed for Amy and M." "Of course, " he says, his white chiclets catching the sun. And he makes up this bed with pillows, and towels and sheets and I climb on and he says "Diego is your server and I will send him right over," and I close my eyes and think "I never want to leave this bed by this pool."

Diego takes our order of bloody mary's and something called a bento box which has chinese dumplings and 2 sushi rolls and edamame and I settle in mouth watering, and take a look around. There is a group of people in the pool each drinking from a tall glass of champagne. The woman is surrounded by several Channing Tatums and  has stylish short blonde hair and a blue cut out one piece that shows off her perfect bod and even though her hair is wet you can't see any bald spots, so I hate her. In front of me two young women are floating on a raft drinking rose', their massive heads of hair up in touseled buns. I want to stand up take my cover up off and pull my bathing suit out of my butt crack a little but I do not want to call attention to myself. I am in the land of beautiful people and I am afraid someone will come up to me and say "There's been a mistake, the white trash pool is over there," and I will end up sitting on a plastic dining chair." Definitely keeping a low profile.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I see a line of young women heading our way, the leader wearing a tiny bikini and a wedding veil. I close my eyes and try to ignore them, but of course, I know. This is THEIR cabana! They decided to show up after all. Bachleorette Bitches. So they gather round whispering behind us, and poor Soledad comes running and I can't totally make out what is being said, but I do hear, "Well are you going to change the towels on it because THEY'VE been laying on them." and I assume she means our old wrinkly bodies have been laying on HER CABANA BED.

Then Soledad leans down to us and says "M and Amy I'm so very sorry but we are going to have to ask you to get up but don't worry, Carlos is bringing 2 lounge chairs from the beach for you." And we stand up just as Diego arrives with our drinks and bento box. So we are standing there like 2 idiots holding our bento box while Soledad asks people to please move over and make room as Carlos places 2 canvas lounge chairs covered in sand next to the bed of my dreams.

And the girls all pile on to the bed after giving us dirty looks while Carlos tries to brush the sand off our chairs, and I keep the bento box covered so as not to find my California roll grainy with it. And EVERYONE is staring at us thinking, "In a place like this, I can't believe there are people who would actually try to steal someone's cabana." So much for keeping a low profile.

We finally got settled on our chaises, downed our bloody's and devoured the bento box. You haven't lived until you have eaten sushi with chopsticks poolside, whether on a cabana bed or a plastic chaise, with a spoiled brat in a wedding veil next to you. Anyway, it's not whether you're on a cabana bed or a chaise lounge, it's whose ass is next to yours on it. It was an amazing weekend. Happy birthday M!

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It Takes A Village, And 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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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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Doesn't Play Well With Others


Today I was privy to a phone conversation that has left me in a complete state of amazement, I mean talk about shock and awe. You tell me what YOU think...Much to my dismay at 7:30 M's phone rings. Yes 7:30. This Morning. On my day off. Apparently it was his friend confirming that there was a foursome ready to go for a 9 am tee time. This is what I heard:

M: Yes we are meeting at 9. B and H are playing with us, you've never met them, but they're great guys, it will be fun.

See? I am still in total disbelief. Is this guy really committing to a 4 hour golf game, plus lunch and a scotch or 2 with two guys he's never met? Ladies, correct me if I'm wrong but crazy right?

If this was me, and I called my friend to see if we were still on for a day of, let's say shopping as opposed to a physical activity, because she works out like a fiend but I only do Pilates twice a week, and by Pilates, I mean I lay on the reformer and move my legs around in between sips from my coffee cup, and she said "Oh, my friend Lisa will be joining us, you will love her she's really fun," intense panic would ensue.

Thought process:  What? Lisa? Who is Lisa? How did you meet her? Do you like her better than me? Is she fatter than me? OMG Is she skinnier than me? What kind of hair does she have, long, short, thick, thinning? (please thinning, please thinning) Is she going to wear makeup? Does that mean I have to wear makeup now? OMG, will she be wearing skinny jeans and  boots with heels? You know my arches have been killing me and I am only wearing flats right now. Does she accessorize? Will she be carrying a Louis Vuitton purse or a Kate Spade while I shlep through the mall with my fake leather FOSSIL? Necklaces? Bracelets? Those trendy double rings that the cool kids wear? What about an infinity scarf casually tossed around her neck looking like it belongs there? (Last time I wore an infinity scarf I chose an unfortunate beige gauze one and apparently I had it a little too tightly wrapped because a woman  I hadn't seen in a while ran up to me and said, "Oh  my God, what happened to you?" thinking I had either been in a car wreck, or had my thyroid operated on.)

Is she married? What does her husband do? How long have they been married? Are they happy? Do they do stuff together and take romantic anniversary trips that she's going to tell us about and I have to appear interested in? Do I HAVE to pretend to be interested in the wineries they visited in Napa?Do they hold hands in public? How did they meet, UGH don't tell me they're high school sweethearts.
Where do they live? Does she have one of those homes where everything looks effortlessly in place? Vases with LIVE flowers? Photos artistically framed and actually HUNG on the wall as opposed to buried under takeout menus in the kitchen junk drawer?

Does she have kids? Where are they? Girls, boys? Are they in MENSA? Training for the Olympics? Working in fabulous jobs in huge exciting cities? Harvard grads?

Why, why? Why does SHE have to come?

I know it sounds like I'm a little insecure, and in reality I did have an experience in 7th grade that left a mark on me. See I had a best friend from school, Rachel and a best friend from Temple Sunday School, Susie, and one time I made the drastic mistake of introducing the two at my birthday party at Shakey's Pizza. Before I knew it, neither one was answering my phone calls and Susie was taking summer vacations with Rachel's family, while I spent MY summer watching the Mike Douglas show in the morning and eating Now and Laters all day long. That's why I try not to introduce my friends to each other as I know they will end up spending the day eating Cobb salads and browsing through Nordstrom's together while I'm at home playing Candy Crush and wondering where the hell IS everyone?

Anyway, I just wanted to share this phone call with you because I know we're all on the same page here. I guess it just boils down to the fact that men are so weird, right?






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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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Brand New Boyfriend, 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 that...so 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 need...as 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...