Archive | December, 2012

Chapter 4: 30 Days of Might. As In…Heaving Bags.

15 Dec

13420070paris

(Continued From Part 1:  https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/06/chapter-3-the-calm-before-the-wrestling-tour-storm/)

Day 3 – Paris: There I was, trying to negotiate the bazillion floors of Charles De Gaulle. I had to collect all my stuff in International, take it to Domestic, re-check in and fly to Strasbourg. Easy, right? NO. I barely made the flight, got lost, couldn’t find anyone who was willing to speak English (and my French is very limited), got bad directions (and a multitude of shrugs), had a wonky three-wheeled cart that kept tipping over, was sweating profusely and was nearly convinced I was going to miss yet another flight.

So far, this trip had taken me three days to get to France…and I still wasn’t caught up with my tour. A flight attendant got me checked in at Domestic (thankfully) and pointed me down the hall to International. As I redoubled back towards the elevator at the bottom floor of CDL after hitting another dead end, I started to cry from frustration. This was now the current winner for Single Worst Travel Experience in my book. A kind French woman took pity on me and pointed to the right shuttle. The shuttle driver came down and helped me with my 8764 bags. I just made my flight. One nice thing about Europe is that if you’re already checked in, they will usually hold the flight for you figuring you’re either lost or held up in the airport somewhere. They don’t do that in at home…but then again, a bottle of water isn’t $5.50 either.

Another thing I like about the French…they aren’t afraid of emotion or to show it. I saw a fed-up flight attendant go off on an idiot customer…it was refreshing! It’s not uncommon to see exasperation or emotional outbursts from professionals in this country, which is socially acceptable. I like that.

Day 3.5 – Strasbourg: Made it. Barely. Got straight off the plane from an all night and day flight and went right to the venue where I faced Portia Perez…and I got pyro! Bad ass!

DSC_0139
Portia was short and stocky, like a Japanese wrestler, I found out very quickly that she was as safe as one, too. I started feeling much better about putting my back in her hands and we began to have some pretty decent matches on the tour along with the help of her charming manager, Justin Shape.

DSC_0148
She would also be my roommate for much of the tour and had just gotten over a wicked case of swine flu. “When someone tells you it’s the sickest they’ve ever been, it’s no joke. I was getting blown up just eating. A meal. Had to stop because I was out of breath.” We were quite opposite on our schedules. I’d get up early and go find a gym with the Irish or hike the streets and she’d stay out late drinking with the Irish. As the tour bus left a city one day, Paddy said, “Well, will ya look at dat. There’s an entire city there beyond dat Irish pub!” I was wondering if the Irish ever slept…and I was starting to get jealous if they didn’t.

gear 001

Day 4 – Caen: A nine-hour bus trip, each day. In the morning we would meet in the lobby bright and early, drop off 689,000 pounds of luggage, have breakfast and board the bus for a long ass ride to the next city. France and its food to me were like a Vegas orgy to a recovering sex addict. After months of strict dieting, this was a terrible temptation to be dropped into. Warm, crusty bread…soft, oozing Camembert…smooth, creamy chocolate…flaky, buttery pastry with sweet, soft fruit inside…arrgghh. The hotel breakfasts were ridiculously, stupidly, balls-out amazing.

gear 011

And I did my best to avoid them. I got coffee. And shitty, mushy eggs, ham and any other protein I could find. But the routine of stealing “bus lunch” was that I’d grab as much fruit, yogurt, applesauce and hard cooked eggs as I could fit into my oversized purse for the days’ travel. The reason for this was that we were told once we got to Europe that our meals would only be provided on show days. On travel days, we’d have to fend for ourselves. We had almost as many travel days as show days and Europe ain’t cheap. This was Unexpected Financial Setback #1. I had been told that two meals would be provided each day of the tour. Also, Europe was in a recession, so many weren’t spending much on post-show autograph sessions. Our show pay was directly deposited into the bank at home so we were living on whatever we made in autograph sales. Some days it was nil. I often grabbed food for Portia (who was heel; heels never sell as well as babyfaces) or others and shared protein bars.
Joe E Legend, being the angel that he is, lent me his DVD player until I could get a replacement.

gear 032
The guys kept pissing up the toilet seat on the bus. I understand that even when toilets are NOT attached to lurching vehicles being driven by a crazy ‘chauffaud’ Frenchman their aim ain’t so great…so this was exceptionally awful for the token females on the tour to maneuver around. The “water closet” was full of …erm, “water”. All over. At one point, I thought I had it sorted…go out, close the narrow door to the tiny cabin…pull pants down and crouch/hover above seat while stabilizing by placing hand as far up on walls as possible…then we lurched around a roundabout and I fell backward into the seat…as did the rim of my pants. Disgusting.
By law, every French commercial driver must stop after a 3-4 hours for an hour. Long drives became even longer. I started to hate that stinky, wet, toilet with a passion. And the mood this day was sour because it was Ireland vs. France in soccer finals and the drive was taking so long we were missing the game. We’d left at 10 am and hit the hotel around 10 pm.

map_of_france

I’m not sure the route of this tour was very well thought out. We started out on Strasbourg, which is on the German border, and proceeded into France from there. We ended our France tour on Nantes, literally the furthest west point FROM Germany…and then headed to Germany. Indyriffic.

What made things a bit better was that the bus was packed with bottles of Kronenbourg beer and water. We also had sandwiches waiting for us in the bus at the end of the night.

When we got in, Portia was feeling ‘swiney’ and went right to bed. Sid Vicious decided he was officially done with the tour, since the (not air conditioned) hotels were too hot for him. (They really were ballsac hot.) And, I adore X Pac, but he smelled kinda interesting. He was bring the party to the bus pretty hard. I solely blame him for all the pee I was subjected to in the tour toilet.

He owned it. Like a manly mantastic man.

To be continued…

Photos – Emon Kazem Photography

Read Part 1: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/06/chapter-3-the-calm-before-the-wrestling-tour-storm/

 

Advertisements

Chapter 3: The Calm Before The Wrestling Tour Storm

6 Dec

fitDSC_2634

Getting Ready To Compete and Wrestle on a European Tour…

2009. There I was, in Canada on Christmas, so tired I kept falling asleep in front of the fireplace despite chain drinking cups of coffee. France, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, England, America, Canada. I’d done seven countries in one month (coming home to hop right back onto a plane to do TV for  TNA Wrestling’s New Years Eve special, land and hit the road for western Canada an hour later)…and I came to an understanding with myself that I am never, EVER again doing a fitness competition and a world tour back-to-back. Never.

Louisville KY: I suppose this blog would technically start with my Figure competition.  The planning for contest day was intense. Counting down the months, weeks, days, hours of nothing but plain, clean food, no socializing, cardio several times a day. Taking weekly photos and watching your body evolve was rewarding…then suddenly, I couldn’t wait for it to be over.  

On contest day, I’d gotten up at 7 am after not much sleep due to being woken up five or six times the night before by crippling leg, calf and groin cramps due to the necessary diuretic to rid whatever water was left. I hadn’t showered in two damn days because I had five layers of spray tan on me, was so thirsty from dehydration that I’d happily stab someone for a cold, crisp apple. You stop drinking water the afternoon before to assure that every muscle will stand out on your dieted down physique…it’s miserable. And I was so very tired. The kind of tired that is bone tired. All I wanted to do was sleep and be left alone. Yet, I had to get on stage, pumped up, smile and radiate energy. And finish packing to catch a flight in a few hours. Oh, I was also definitely beginning to smell myself. No water means no coffee allowed…just kill me.

fitgear 165

But I placed third in the tall category (accepting a lovely sword as my trophy, how apropos?), which qualifies me for the NPC Junior Nationals if I’d like to go through this again, so we shall see.

Months ago, I didn’t think I’d step on stage for this contest. I’d almost quit several times. Shortly after starting the diet and training, my mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and my longtime relationship decided he needed ‘space’. He also announce that he planned keep our dog, Cosmo, too. I was completely gutted. I was losing all around me that I loved. It took all I had just to do the bare minimum each day. “I could never see myself having children with her because of certain personality issues and her website, the kind of pictures she’s done,” is what he’d written to a female friend about me. That truly hurt to read. I am as flawed as anyone else. I wasn’t even sure I wanted children. But to see words like that, in cold hard print, cut me like a knife. I’ve never lied about what I do. Maybe I should start. I don’t know if I could take any more men who said my site/career was an issue when they were perfectly ok with it when they met me. I felt like a failure, like I was losing everyone I cared about. My entire life was pretty much turned upside down between traveling to Philly and back pretty often. All I could count on was the gym twice a day. It kept me sane at one of the most unstable times of my life. I learned to live for the little things. Every time I took Cosmo to the dog park for some cardio, I realized it could be my last time with him.

cosmo528635_4711412186597_423567085_corgi

I took a road trip to Michigan and bought another Corgi pup from a breeder, a tri-colored female, because I didn’t want one to look like the one I was losing…Cosmo, whom I loved so very, very much. This hurt more than anything. It was horrible timing for a puppy, but she was a purely emotional purchase. I didn’t want to be Corgi-less in life. (Yep, still have her. She’s a terrorist and the best mistake I ever made in life. So far.)

DOGS
Traveling is not advised pre contest because it screws up your diet and workout patterns, yet I’d done it nearly every week. I know for a fact I didn’t put in as much work as most of the others due to this, but traveling was necessary.

Five Weeks Out:


So, after 3 months of grueling diet and contest prep leaving no time for anything thanks to double and triple gym training sessions (and a tiny puppy to take care of), I took the stage on Nov 14.  9:30 a.m. I left my house. 11:30 p.m. I returned with a third place trophy for the Figure-Tall category and qualified to compete in the Nationals. (Pretty cool for my first time out.) I stuck my sword in the corner of the living room, dumped my wash in the washer and started rolling up last-minute items for my suitcase. It was 3 am before I’d finished packing.

fitgear 155

Day 1: The morning of Nov 15th: overtired, still dehydrated, and having had to pack and repack my oversized bags to make weight at the Delta counter, I just barely made my flight to Paris. (Louisville TSA told me one of the girls had to leave her sword trophy behind–suckage!) Or rather, my flight to Atlanta, where my Paris portion would be unceremoniously cancelled after sitting four hours on the runway. Dammit.

I knew it was too good to be true. I had a window seat with no one next to me. Best of all: no screaming babies. I’d just gotten about halfway through “Julie and Julia” – a movie I highly doubted anyone would watch with me – when Air France ended up “deplaning” everyone sending all of us to a hotel with a scheduled flight for 26 hours later. I was almost happy, since it meant I could sleep for 23 of those 26 hours. And that was the last time I did. Sleep, that is. I emailed Anne from American Wrestling Rampage and she purchased me a flight to the town they’d be in by the time I got to France.

Odd fact: I’d had my contest bikini bottoms glued to my butt with Bikini Bite. When I ripped my suit off that night, my tan came with it, in the form of two ultra white striped on my cheeks. It looked ridiculous.

Day 2 – Atlanta Airport: I had to completely checked in all over again, but this time I got hit with a bullshit bag fee, thanks to getting rerouted through Delta instead of Air France…and no TV screens on this flight, either. From over-exhaustion, I realized 4 subway stops later that TSA hadn’t given me back my DVD player…FUCK. I felt so stupid. And mad at myself…finding something that played USA region 1 movies wouldn’t be easy. This SUCKED massive donkey balls.

I had to catch yet a third last-minute flight in Paris to Strasbourg once I’d landed since I’d missed the AWR tour bus. This would prove to be very, very stressful, since I had to find the ‘domestic’ area of the insanely big French airport without the benefit of anyone who seemed to work there or speak English and too many heavy bags to once again collect and recheck in. At one point, I started to cry from frustration and the realization that I was going to miss this flight, no one was helping me, I’d packed too much and was tipping the cart over going around corners and my phone didn’t work, so I couldn’t call Anne to let her know anything. I was stranded.

OK…so let me explain my luggage situation to you. I’d seriously tried to bring just one huge bag. It wasn’t happening. Clothing for a month in 4 countries with various temperatures and no home base, shoes, workout stuff, protein powders and food, books in English, full-sized toiletries, and then wrestling gear…I ended up with two fifty pound bags, a fifty pound carry on, a twenty pound purse and another small wheelie duffle bag with supplements and my coat stuffed in which I bought for the run over at the ATL airport. Honestly, I DID try to keep it down. And clearly I failed. Miserably.

bag

What was really pushing the weight over the limit were protein supplements (protein is a side dish in Europe) and full-sized bottles of toiletries. My penance would be to a) drag 180 plus lbs of luggage with me everywhere…and b) some places didn’t have carts. This is where I really paid for it. Or relied on chivalrous men who thought I was cute. But I had all I needed with me. Small comfort when you’re tearing your shoulder out, and tipping wonky carts trying to keep up.

Which is exactly what happened in Paris.

Continued – https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/15/30-days-of-might-as-in-heaving-bags-2/

invasion

Photos – Dan Ray & Joe Mays