After Life on Netflix

Review by April Hunter

After Life is a comedy about depression and suicide that’s surprisingly relatable. Comedians have always tried to push the “how deep can I go into rabbit hole and still be funny” bar. Ricky Gervais, who wrote, directed and stars in the show, pulls it off brilliantly as he gives us the darkest of British black comedies about Plan B. One can almost envision Gervais sitting across from a Netflix executive with a toothy grin and a dare in his voice. “I’ll bet you six exclusive episodes that I can make suicide funny, mate.” 

What’s Plan B, you ask? Well, let’s rewind. 

Tony, a local journalist in a small town, is an angry, sad widower because the wonderful life he’d had with his wife of twenty-five years, Lisa, was completely shattered when she died from cancer. 

Each episode starts off with Tony viewing one of Lisa’s video messages recorded from her hospital room advising him how to live after her death. “You’re useless,” she says. “Don’t forget to program the alarm so the dog won’t set it off and do the washing up.” Tony plods into the kitchen where he ignores a heaping stack of food-encrusted dishes to search a near-empty cupboard for something to feed the dog. A tin of beans suffices.

After Life is brutally candid, but not offensive. His unending portrayal of pain and misery might be depressing if his irritation were not so funny. Tony says and does all the things we want to but can’t. His excuse: “Well, there’s always Plan B. I do and say whatever the f*ck I want and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just kill myself.” And we believe it. He shops for one can of dog food at a time. There are multiple botched attempts. At no point do you ever feel he’s not morbidly serious about taking his own life. “Oh, no, what will he do now?” is the pervasive mood. 

Tony leaves his house and refuses to take mail handed to him by the Pat the postman, insisting the worker walk the last few steps to his door and deliver it properly. When two kids with a weapon attempt a mugging, he doesn’t hesitate to punch one of them in the mouth, because who cares if they stab him? Yet, despite Tony being a jerk, he’s not unlikeable. He speaks harsh truths, which are in fact, truths. He loyally visits his father with advanced Alzheimer’s in the nursing home even though “Where’s Lisa?” is repeatedly (and painfully) enquired. No matter how down and out he is, Tony puts the needs of his dog above himself. He meets a prostitute on the streets (“Sex worker!”) who offers to do anything he wants for fifty quid. He agrees…and has her clean his house. Then, he offers her tea.

The local newspaper Tony works for covers a new feature story in each episode that borders on the ridiculous and lends endless humor to the series along with an appreciation for the banal in life. Tony’s coworkers debate deep subjects not usually touched on in comedies such as religion, life and love.

While visiting his wife’s plot, he befriends a cheerful widow (played by Penelope Wilton, best known as Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey) who becomes a mentor, full of wise advice on how to keep going and not squander life away. 

We see valid consequences for Tony’s harsh actions several times, including his brother-in-law threatening to never let him see his nephew again. After Life can also be lesson in loyalty and friendship when dealing with a depressed loved one, as Tony’s friends patiently tolerate his moods and lashing out, never turning their backs on him. However, after a particularly harrowing event, Tony realizes he’s gone too far and might lose them too, which is his turning point.

Among other topics, the short series explores heroin use and assisted suicide, but underneath the gloom and doom is a steady current of sweetness and charm. Our anti-hero learns how to cope and makes a comeback with more than a little help from his friends and Plan B never comes to fruition. Yes, Tony – hope really is everything.

Fans of other Gervais’ other works will enjoy seeing quite a few familiar faces. Ashley Jensen (Maggie on Extras) was a stellar addition to the show. Unlike films, which he’s come under fire for in recent years, Gervais is at his best at the helm of a TV series, which gives him the time to expand character development, and this is quite possibly his best show to date. 

From desolate to revived, we’re given an authentic portrayal of the struggle to recover after devastating loss. After Life confidently walks the fine line of pushing new boundaries and dark comedy like no one has successfully done before. 

Thank you, Ricky Gervais, for giving us something real we can relate to.

Watch After Life exclusively on Netflix.

**Right after I posted, Ricky Gervais responded. I won’t lie………SO COOL.

Random Nuggets of Wisdom I’ve Learned Along the Way

Recently, I wrote a letter to my younger self in one of my blogs. Now, here’s one for you.

I’ve lived many lifetimes and screwed up a lot. Oh…a whole lot. This is just a tiny bit of what I’ve learned. Hopefully, some of this resonates with you – or perhaps can even help in some way.

1. With so much to do, read, watch, learn and create, it is literally impossible to get bored. Only boring people get bored. 

2. If someone is stupid & ignorant, it’s because they choose to be. 

3. Time is worth more than money. 

4. Being a good person won’t protect you from bad people. 

5. Talk is so cheap, it’s free. Only effort & results matter. Effort is HOT.  

6. Jalapeno salt improves almost everything. 

7. Mediocre people tend to get deeply offended at advice from more successful people. 

8. Barring race and some politics, the reason people who react (flip out) on social media (instead of responding) is because some of what’s said is truthful. 

9. There are a lot of undiagnosed mental disorders and mental illness out there.  (Game recognizes game.) I give a ton of credit to the people who get treated. Those who are working on themselves and fighting the good fight should be highly commended. I’m not just saying that because I’m one of them. It’s a struggle and it affects everyone around you. https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/08/28/chapter-14-bipolar-blues-and-manic-depressive-madness-the-intro/ 

10. Doing > complaining. Hashtag campaigns < doing. DOING MATTERS.

11. People over politics. If someone cares about us, who gives a fuck how they vote? Seriously. Having a variety of friends with different opinions makes life richer. 

12. If politics are your whole life…you have no life. Unless you’re an elected official. Then, carry on, mate. Make the world a better place. 

13. “Running for a cure” won’t do shit. Run/walk to stay HEALTHY. Illnesses make America way too much profit to cure them. 

14. Here’s one no one talks about – you know how they tell you to put money away for retirement? Guess what? You need another savings account to save in order to not LOOK and FEEL like you’re headed towards retirement. With us a.) living longer and b.) on photos and videos all the time, looks and having energy does matter.  Fighting it is gonna cost you. A fucking lot, too. From botox, filler, peels, medication, T therapy (for men & menopause), laser for face (and weird hair…this is aimed at the guys), more (gray) hair coloring, fighting balding (a balding friend had a transplant, which worked wonderfully, you’d never know), growth hormone, eyelid drooping surgery (I know several who have had to have them pulled back due to losing some vision in one or both eyes), CBD oil for all the aches and pains, random injuries that need rehab and cost us work, vision or dental issues…all of it. Unless you plan to just surrender…look like shit, feel like shit…or you have stellar genetics and incredible luck…it will cost you. Save NOW. Insurance doesn’t cover most of that. I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff, too.

15. Life isn’t fair. Deal with it. It’s up to us to make it a better place for everyone.

16. Helping people/a cause/animals and not talking about it makes you even more of a hero, albeit a karmic hero. 🙂

17. Young women; develop a healthy attitude about your body while simultaneously developing your wit, manners, and brain. You cannot get by on your looks alone (nor should you), especially with more and more females running the world.  Additionally, if you have any doubts, I can assure you that you probably look much better than you think. You’re young. Enjoy it. Because you’re gonna get tired and fat one day. So fat. 

18. Time destroys everything. Nothing stays the same. Know this, accept it. Savor the moments. Learn to adapt and change with the times. The waves will come. As some smart person stated long before I wrote this: You can either drown when the waves come crashing in or you can learn to surf.

19. True intimacy comes from vulnerability; Letting your guard down, dropping your defenses and sharing what makes you, YOU. Whether it’s a deeper friendship or real romantic love, you can’t get there without it. 

20. People can be fucked up. There’s nothing you can do about it, some just are. While you can’t control certain situations, you CAN control how you choose to react/respond.

21. Apologizing (heartfelt) and/or saying thank you can fix a world of hurt and some major issues. Never be too proud ortoo ignorant to do either. 

22. “Your ego is not your amigo.” When you start to react instead of respond, step back and think for a minute first: “Is this my ego?  Is this going to hurt someone for no reason? Is this necessary? In the big picture, will this help or hurt things?” Sit for 24 hours before you send that angry email or text. Wait. Trust Auntie April on this. I’ve had to repair a lot of flaming bridges in my lifetime over stupid stuff like…an email.

23. Your gut feeling is always right. ALWAYS.

24. Overthinking leads to anxiety and misery. Keep it simple. This takes willful practice. 

25. We are all equal in that we each get 24 hours a day. How we choose to spend that time is what sets us ahead, apart or behind.

26. Happiness is not a right. It’s a point of view. It’s the way we chose to see things. Example: an NFL game. After the game, half the stadium leaves happy, half leaves upset. The game was just a game. Such is life. “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

27 Books are sexy – and they don’t get destroyed when you drop them or some brat cannonballs next to you at the pool.

28. Honesty is brave and requires huge balls. While others may not like what you have to say, you’ll usually earn respect for saying it (if you say it the right way.) Use a velvet gloved fist. Say it without doing more damage.

29. Don’t send that email until you’ve looked it over twice and made sure it’s ready to send. Ditto for texts. 90% of court cases are won solely on emails and texts. 

30. Speaking of email, texts and emails are easily misconstrued due to lack of tone. Key & Peele moments happen. If you are confused, simply call the person. Yes. Dial your phone. It can save relationships and friendships. 

31. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice. 

32.  Put your fucking phone down. Wait – finish reading this, of course, but for real…put it down, walk away and leave it alone. Get an alarm clock and keep your phone in another room at night. Addiction of any kind is unattractive and you’re missing out on real life. Being owned by an electronic device is so lame. It’s a dog’s leash, a baby’s pacifier.  #LOOKUP  
*There’s no long-term testing for smartphone damage. We are the guinea pigs. Doctors once prescribed cigarettes for digestion, claiming they were healthy. 

33. The only two things guaranteed in life are death and taxes. Your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles…they’re only here for a certain amount of time. Be good to them.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone. I say this as an orphan who wishes I could have my parents and grandparents back for just one more dinner together. I pissed that time away all too often instead of being completely present, sitting with my Gram in the evening, calling my dad or spending time with my Poppy when he was confined to bed. When I was 16, my social life mattered more than my grandparents. This is something I deeply regret, because my Poppy died likely thinking I was a self-absorbed asshole, and my Gram (who was my everything) lost her husband without me there to lean on. What was I doing? Trying to find the next party, chatting with my boyfriend and keeping up with the school gossip. Such important stuff that matters not one single bit now. If I could go back in time, I would fix that.

Call your mom, dad or grandparents. For me.

34. It’s never okay to crap on someone’s beliefs or lack of. What works for one person might not for another.  If we were all the same, conversations would get stale in record time.

35. Having an open mind doesn’t mean you’re simply willing to hear another person’s point of view. It means you’re open to changing your mind based on the facts/story/evidence given. But being willing to listen to all points of view is a great start.

36. The word “thank you” changes your negative energy into positive. If you’re fed up or stressed, just say “thank you” over and over again until you get rid of that yuck.

37.  People who don’t socialize aren’t usually being antisocial. They just don’t have the energy or tolerance to deal with drama, fake people and/or crowds. 

38. Choose your friends like you do your lovers. Stay away from the needy, the vampires, and the desperate.

39. Floss. Listerine for 2 minutes twice a day. Take care of your teeth.

40. Live below your means. Debt will make you miserable. If you’re in debt, make it a priority to pay it down. Work to live, don’t live to work. #moderndayslavery #fuckthatshit

41. Pro wrestling is more real than you could ever imagine. Yes, many of the endings are scripted for storyline continuation purposes, but the training, the injuries, the chops, the accidents, the mental bullshit, and the politics are PAINFUL, take a toll on you in every way and are valuable learning experiences that can leave you broke and broken if you’re not vigilant and careful. Every hard chop to the chest shocks the heart. Every time you’re slammed to the mat, it’s the equivalent of a fender bender. Throw your body into a turnbuckle slightly off, and you’ll have bruises and whiplash. There are the misses and accidents, working sick and jet lag. The flights alone can beat you up, as the majority of wrestlers fly coach until they acquire a name or miles. Name any other sport that goes year round without an off-season. Name anything else that’s drug tested like a sport, called entertainment, yet doesn’t get acknowledged by or receive any benefits from the Screen Actors Guild, such as like union & minimum pay requirements. Wrestlers are drug tested on Olympic standards. We can’t even take cold or allergy medication. I’m pretty certain NFL players can. Name any other sport where they have to pay their own travel – and get themselves there after a long day, working and fighting their way out of a crowded arena. No team bus in wrestling. There’s no team anything in wrestling. The cherry on the sundae: Wrestlers are terribly exposed through the internet. Anyone can find, harass, and stalk them since everyone knows their schedules. If they’re good at playing the bad guy, the chances of that happening increase exponentially. Some wrestlers have been stabbed by “fans.” Others have been in a bar having a few drinks and accosted by idiots challenging them. Even their children have been contacted, called names, harassed and abused. To defend oneself is tricky these days with an ethics code and expectations. We can grow to distrust and hate the very people who support us, as a few can ruin it for all.

Unlike other sports, if you’re injured and take time off, you can endanger your position. The show must go on. If you’re a champion or in a major storyline and something is torn/broken, you’re in that ring the next night and it’s written into the storyline. There’s always someone right behind you waiting for the opportunity to shine. “If you can walk, you can wrestle!” – Killer Kowalski. That’s why we work hurt and end up damaged long term. It’s why so many become addicted to pain pills. It’s also why there are so many early deaths in wrestling. It’s not the illegal drugs killing us, it’s the legal ones. You can only handle so many pain pills, sleep meds, and running yourself into the ground on a 4-5 day a week in a different city each night travel schedule before something shuts down. Steroids and growth hormone were created to enhance, speed up recovery, strengthen, mimic youth and turn humans into superhumans. That’s not the stuff that’s going to kill you…which why all the Mr. and Ms. Olympias are still alive and kicking. WWE has been working diligently to fix this, and they’re making great strides, but we still have a ways to go on this journey.

42. Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.

43. No matter how big & badass you are, when a toddler hands you a toy phone, you answer it.  

Live long and prosper. – Mr. Spock

Thanks for reading. Visit me on www.Patreon.com/aprilhunter 

*Got anything good to add? Let’s hear it.*

If you feel the sudden urge to to spoil me, here is a link to my Amazon Wishlist. Xo! #SpoilYourGinger!

http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw … … via @amazon

A Letter to My Younger Self…Or, to You.

It’s my birthday on Monday. I’m grateful to those who are part of my life and you who make it better. You know who you are. 🙂As I’ve gotten older (and I am older than I look, I think), I’ve realized that relationships matter more than money. That’s probably the primary lesson I’ve learned and I used to choose work over everything else. Here are some more valuable lessons I wish I’d known if you want to benefit from my plethora of mistakes: 

(Then again, I don’t know if I would’ve listened had someone told me. I dunno. Hindsight…)

1. Listen to all sides. There are always more sides than yours. 

2. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you’ll get. 

3. People over politics. Always. Never lose someone over how they vote. It’s fucking stupid. Dump them over being a negative asshole, a liar, or a shitty person. But not for how they vote. 

4. Speaking of, sometimes people act strangely because they’re dealing with something or have a mental disorder – diagnosed or not. Patience and finding out where they’re coming from and HOW to talk with them can help. 

5. Skincare! Satin pillowcase, always moisturize and use sunscreen. 

 

6. Showering before bed saves time in the morning. 

7. Don’t work out or wrestle if you’re hurt or sick. There’s nothing to prove. 

8. ZINC and Vit D! Not Vit C for colds. It’s ZINC, D and sovereign silver.

9. It’s all about pets & plants. 

10. Not having kids works out fine. We’ll see about in the end. The jury’s out on that one. 

11. You’ll never have a healthy relationship if you’re not a healthy, whole person. No one “completes you” and you will not complete anyone. Worst fucking line in cinematic history. Best line: “May The Force Be With You.”  

12. There’s no crying in baseball. Or, wrestling. 

13. Free speech includes the word “fuck”. Get over it. No one is slapping your baby. 

 

14. You CAN choose your family. In modern times, traditional ideas of marriage and family are somewhat outdated. Partners are actually partners and friends can be family. The true meaning of “Blood is thicker than water”: those who spill blood & battle together are tighter than anyone, including family. It was meant for warriors and soldiers, but hell…life is a battle.

15. Dirty laundry belongs in the wash, not on Facebook. (Oh, and when you publicly post how much you love your significant other, we all know exactly how badly that relationship is going. We also know that if you post about nothing other than politics, you kinda have no life.) 

16. Complaining is far easier than changing. Most people are fine with being average. The majority of us don’t LIVE, we exist. 

17. Happiness is a choice, not a right. It’s how we choose to see things. 

 

18. You are not too old, and it is not too late. 

19. Don’t listen to what others say. Listen to your gut. 

20. You get ONE SHOT at life. Do things, go places. Travel is the best education you can give yourself. Every little choice you make today will affect tomorrow…your future…from what you’re eating for lunch, to how you treat your mom, to choosing a job you don’t love because you have money fears…to karma if you steal music or model’s photos from her site. (Yeah…that might be why your car was broken into.)

22. WALK. Every day. Even if you don’t feel like it. 

23. WWYD. What Would You Do? Treat people the way you want them to treat YOU. When in doubt, default to that. 

 

24. Respect is earned, not given. And if someone wastes 10 minutes of your time, 7 minutes is YOUR fault. Stand up for your damn self. 

25. Make decisions based on love, not fear. If you chose fear, you’ll pay for it with a shitty life. 

26. Be honest. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s horrible. Say what you mean, mean what you say. 

27. Manners and courtesy go a LONG WAY. (People are afraid of anger. Took me a while to learn the anger one. Still learning about it.) 

 

28. Do not drive slow (or the speed limit) in the passing lane. Which is the left lane in the USA. Many of you do not know this is a law. MANY OF YOU. And for fucks sake, use your turn signal. (Also a law.) We don’t have ESP and you are not on the roads all by yourself.  (This isn’t a lesson I learned on my own. It’s one my dad taught me.)

 

29. Tell people you love them (if you do.) They die suddenly, and you may never have the chance. 

30. Forgive assholes. You don’t have to forget…just forgive. Most of the time, it’s for you, not for them. 

31. There’s a massive difference between reacting and responding. ALSO: No one can make you FEEL anything. Your feelings are your own. If you DECIDE not to get upset, angry, care or bothered by it…you won’t. BOOM. Just like that.  

Ps. Expectation is premeditated disappointment. Want something? ASK FOR IT. 

32. Best advice I ever got: Never keep your meds on the counter. Put them into a box and keep them in the cabinet. Seeing your pills all the time is a mental cockblock. You are not A Sick Person, you are a PERSON who just happens to also be sick. Don’t let it affect your aspirations.

33. a. God helps those who help themselves. Thoughts and prayers are nice (if useless for the most part) but DOING something is BETTER. If you don’t believe in God, same thing applies. Verbs make life move forward. 

b. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Yeah…I dunno about that one. Might be bullshit. But you can handle more than you think. Sometimes, you just have to tell everyone around you “no” until you get where you need to be.

34. No matter how stunning someone is on the outside, they can get ugly and unattractive REAL fast.  It happens the other way around, too. Less physically attractive people can become very beautiful. 

35. Sometimes the line between bravery and stupidity is gossamer thin.

36. Sex is natural. Nudity is natural. Having emotions is natural. Wanting to be loved is natural. These aren’t things to ever feel shame or embarrassment for. 

37. I know I’ll continue to learn something new every day.  

Got advice? Let’s hear it.

Xo. 

-Me

“There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

 

 

 

If you want to spoil me for my birthday, here is a link to my Amazon Wishlist. Xo! #SpoilYourGinger!

http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw … … via @amazon

 

 

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To Christ or NOT Christ for Christmas? That is the Question.

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Christmas is a magical time of year. Excitement thickens the air with each passing day. Bells jingling, towns twinkling, vibrant hues of red, silver and gold, and the warm, buttery aroma of cookies fresh from the oven heighten our senses. Glistening snow drifts silently in the dark of night and creates a fresh vision of what we disregard every other day.

But, there’s an undercurrent of discontent during the holiday season as well. (I use the word ‘discontent’ because ‘content’ is the goal for most of us.) Every year, we are subjected to the same tired news story about the (alleged) War On Christmas. Unfortunately, if it’s delivered by the almighty TV screen, Americans accept it as gospel truth.

Then there’s the grumbling. “Holiday Trees! What? They’re Christmas trees! I’m saying MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is exactly what’s wrong with America. They need to put Christ back into Christmas. This country needs Jesus.”

For a small class of federal employees, it’s illegal to say “Merry Christmas”, and many companies have been quick to follow in discouraging the saying lest they offend.

I agree the term “holiday tree” is tragic. I’m perfectly fine with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Not so much on the rest. This may piss some of y’all off, but the origin of Jesus Christ has little to do with December 25th, Christmas, or its traditions. More on that in a moment.

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I think politically correct = boring as fuck. A writer’s job is to talk about the things you think, but cannot say. Americans LOVE telling others how they should think. We live for it.  For all the hypocritical prattling we do about free speech and the Constitution, telling others what to do and how they should think is almost a national pastime. “Don’t be stupid. You need to do it how I would. If you don’t, I’ll complain vehemently about you on social media, which will surely fix everything. If anyone disagrees, FUCK THEM. Unfriended.”

Do me a favor and read this entire essay before dashing off a knee-jerk reaction email. A crazy thing to ask, I realize.

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The holidays are a mixed bag for my friends and colleagues, which usually stems from emotional and financial burdens rather than religious reasons. The majority of my atheist friends love Christmas with no issues regarding festivities. They don’t give a rat’s fat ass if it makes people happy to have nativity scenes front and center. Some may snicker off to the side about The Extremists, but most just do their own thing. My “other” friends (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Dudeists…) may celebrate it for fun or enjoy the day off to check out the latest in theaters.

On the flip side, Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the holiday altogether because of its ties to Paganism and their sentiment that it fails to worship the son of God properly. They feel the holiday ritualizes sinful behavior (can’t argue that logic) and their belief is that Jesus wasn’t born in December.

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The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear.” -Elf

Not always. Some loathe the holiday. It can be a painful reminder of estranged relatives, lost loved ones, anxiety due to impending travel or family (we all love the terribly significant National Lampoons Christmas Vacation movie for a reason), or the heavy feeling of obligation regarding time, energy, and spending. Xanax-Prozac-vodka gingerbread martini, anyone?

There’s the opinion that Christmas has lost its meaning, or there’s too much forced/expected materialism. But mostly, it’s just not their gig. They haven’t declared War On Christmas. They just wish it over so they can move on.

Family lies within the spirit, not the blood. It’s whom we love, which isn’t always those who we’re related to.

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I adore Christmas. (Admittedly, I don’t go near shopping centers. This is why Amazon exists. For those who say “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”, you’ve clearly never worked retail during the holidays.) I’m that merry asshole who Griswolds the ever-loving crap out of my yard the minute Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday? Nonsense. It’s red, white and green Friday!

I adore the symbolism of Christmas; peppermint everything, Santa, cookies, anticipation in children, ridiculous pet costumes, “Letters to Santa” mailboxes, cookies, neighbors lighting up their homes (C’mon, put something out, fuckers. They make solar Christmas lights now. No electric bills, no excuses!), sparkling trees in windows, cookies, babies in mangers, snow (if we should be so lucky), pumpkin pie, candlelight service, cookies, and the music, with or without “holy” in the lyrics. I need Elf, In Bruges, A Christmas Story, Love Actually, Joyeaux Noel, Rudolph and the Abominable in my house. 

And COOKIES.

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I’m not religious these days but grew up in a church. (Today, my stance is the only thing I know is that we don’t know. No one has come back and told us anything for sure, so I remain open-minded.) I was raised in a pretty narrow vortex; Reagan was god. Everyone reads. Hunting, crabbing and having a garden was the norm. The only language you needed to know was English; it’s universal. Dogs were never allowed inside the house. It was never acceptable to talk about politics, sex or religion. Whatever we are surrounded with is ‘normal’. If we grow up with Mom screaming at us all the time or our fathers eating their young, then we’ll probably scream at our partners and think eating children is customary unless exposed to another way. ***

“If you are the smartest person in a room, it’s time to change rooms.”

XmasPunisher - CopyThanks to modeling and professional wrestling, I was given more options. In Europe, I discovered you’re considered uninteresting if you don’t talk politics, sex or religion, and being dull is the surest way not to get invited back to a dinner party. I’ve since found Americans enjoy talking about these topics, but aren’t always good at it. The trick: be willing to (truly) listen without pushing your own agenda. For real. Shut the fuck up and listen. Don’t try to convert, conversate. If you can be respectful and open to other points of view, you can have meaningful banter instead of lame surface talk. You’ll also become a gold medal champ at navigating through hot-button issues at family dinners. People like to be heard and have their opinion valued. It’s an art. Know that most chats are NOT going to end with the person across from you sharing your beliefs, and that’s exactly what makes it interesting – to see why they feel the way they do. If you surround yourself with people who are just like you, you won’t grow.

If all else fails, these words, followed by a change of topic, save lives: “I can understand/appreciate where you’re coming from. It’s good to see it from your perspective. Hey, by the way, did you see that Spice Girl reunion thing on YouTube? They still look great!”

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Once I started traveling, my eyes opened. Few in Germany spoke English, as I’d been assured. Mein Gott. Was für eine Scheiße ist das? Not everyone dreams of coming to America. Our healthcare mostly sucks and it’s devastatingly expensive, but if you need to be put back together quickly, this is where we medically excel. Pets are not only allowed in houses but they sleep on beds. Some people don’t hunt or eat meat, despite evolving with teeth to do so. My parents hadn’t exactly prepared me for doing global business in the world we live in.

With a world education at my fingertips, I began to Question Authority and Think for Myself. With the click of a mouse, any query I had could be researched.  Traveling is also the greatest education one can get. I highly advise everyone to do so, and not the resort-type. Get out and see the world. It’s a solid investment in yourself.

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I learned fascinating things regarding America, religion, and Christmas which I’ll share with you.

Fact: “In God We Trust” appeared on our money fairly recently and had everything to do with fighting a cold war against the Soviets (used as propaganda), not our collective American beliefs. Many of our forefathers were agnostic or Puritan, which is reflected in the way our Constitution was written. They understood that a country embedded in forced religion was not morally ideal, since they (and theirs) left a world rife with religion dissention, and felt Americans should have free choice in the matter. We’ve seen many ongoing religious massacres somehow perversely justified in the name of someone’s god in just the past few years: Ireland, Bosnia, Armenia, Rwanda, and Myanmar to name a few.

We should absolutely respect one another’s beliefs – or lack thereof – because we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country which vehemently protects this right by constitutional law.

Fact: The celebration of Christmas was adopted from Pagan traditions and has been around far longer than the manger birth. The Catholics, eager to convert as many as possible, compromised with Pagans and allowed them to keep some of their traditions. Easter is another one, from Eostre, the goddess of spring and fertility.

Yes. That makes two major Christian holidays named by Anglo Saxons after Pagan Deities.

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Zealots have never let a few facts get in the way of preaching an agenda, but for those who like to be grounded in reality, here are some more interesting historical nuggets:

FACT: Our Christmas tree (call it a holiday tree and I’ll cut ya) originated from old Pagan ceremonies. The Vikings thought Evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder. Some counties believed that hanging evergreens on doors (wreaths) kept evil spirits and illness at bay. Germany is credited with making the tree “a thing”. Queen Victoria, eager to please her German husband, Prince Albert, honored his traditions and the Royals were shown in newspapers posing next to their tree. Martin Luther (started the Protestant religion) was said to be awed by the beauty of a lighted tree and widely encouraged it. Pennsylvania, with its dense German population, brought the tree to America. (Another fun fact: The USA has no official language, but we were only a few short votes from making it German before they decide to nix the whole process.)

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FACT: December 25th refers to the Winter Solstice dating back to Egyptian times. It’s to celebrate the birth of the sun, not the “son”.  In ancient times, people lived and died by the sun, which brought the light, heat, and crops. The sun was regarded as a god and worshipped appropriately. Without being able to explain how this all worked, they created stories. Light battled Darkness and rose again to save the day – and alternately, mankind.

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FACT: On the Julius calendar, if Christ was born, his birth would fall on January 6th, which is a date many Orthodox religions use.

So, why is the birth of Jesus celebrated on Christmas? Because it may have been. While our modern holiday traditions aren’t overly religious in actual origin, there IS this: The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of Roman Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor. A very early Christian tradition said the day Mary was told that she’d give birth to a very special infant (called the Annunciation) was March 25th. Nine months from that date is what we know as Christmas, so it was chosen as his birth date. A few years after Emperor Constantine started the tradition, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December, and history was made.

Many agnostics and atheists believe Jesus of Nazareth existed, but that he was a historical person, not a god.

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FACT: A broad-sweeping comment like “We need Jesus to fix this country” can be wholly offensive. It insinuates that one needs a book to have morals, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Considering we are already a Christian nation (as over 75% of America profess to be affiliated), that solution does not seem be the answer to our problems.

Personally, I don’t need a book or the threat of a hell to not murder someone. There’s a substantial group of wonderful human beings who have never read the Bible, or did, but have zero fucks to give, and they generally do the right thing. Religion does not equal ethics, as we’ve seen with the thousands of scandals in the Catholic Church alone.

But, people are inherently good, with or without the guidance of the Bible, and despite what we are inundated with on the news (and then subjected to via regurgitation on social networks), we are safer today than we’ve ever been in United States history. We may not FEEL safe because we’re constantly barraged with negative shit, but remember: Unlike the not-so-distant past, our news is now 24-hours a day and they have to fill that time with something…anything. Preferably trainwrecks, because we can’t look away. Crying moms = ratings.  Ratings = $$$$$$$$. The goal? Yeah. Feature crying moms, front and center.

Look away.

Once again: Religion doesn’t equate to morals, morals don’t equate to religion. They can be synonymous, but not always.

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FACT: For the past century, Christmas has been traditionally accepted as a celebration of the birth of Jesus or for the exchange of gifts. This shouldn’t offend anyone. It’s kind of like the abortion argument: if you don’t agree with it, you certainly don’t have to get one should you find yourself up Shits Creek in the family way. But, you have absolutely no right telling others how to live their lives.

Any other reaction shows a blatant lack of respect and suggests you feel your beliefs are superior to others. Live and let live.

Christian scriptures tell us Jesus was at odds with the cultural and political powers in which he found himself. He was not born to be a son of the Emperor in the palaces of Rome. He was born to be the son of a carpenter in a small village called Bethlehem. He fled a war zone as a refugee to escape death and later returned to do his work, which was speaking candidly (and rather radically for those times) about God’s love for all of humanity, and especially for those the privileged had rejected. This was so threatening to those in power, they silenced him by killing him. Jesus, for all accounts, was a defiant rebel. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and reckon that He would be okay with us a.) saying whatever at Christmas and b.) celebrating however we want, as long as we’re treating others the way we want to be treated.

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With so many ways to celebrate this spectacular holiday, Christmas is whatever we want it to be, just like a wedding. Perhaps you’ll opt for the giant white dress and a full Catholic mass? Or elope in a private ceremony at the courthouse? (Note: neither version will protect you from divorce statistics.)

As you’ve probably figured out, I take no stance because there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate what makes you happy, as long as you’re not murdering puppies.**** I have no political or religious affiliation, which benefits me in seeing all sides. Even if I did, I feel I’m mature enough to put my own personal feelings aside, not be selfish and understand what works for me might not work for others. My stance is strictly respecting people’s freedom of choice. I understand that science is a beautiful thing, but it’s not always a comfort.

Some will always prefer to be critical. Unfortunately, it’s illegal to shake ‘em like a baby.** Whether it’s those who refuse to accept historical facts – and aggressively yell “MERRY CHRISTMAS”, or the vocal minority who thrive on getting offended and just cannot seem to respect other’s beliefs, perhaps a little less judgment about “how Christmas is SUPPOSED to be” and more sharing of cookies is a nicer option. After all, if you can’t change your situation, change your perspective and reaction. (That’s how you Choose Happiness.)  Like it or not, Winter Is Coming.

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My real opinion is that there is no war on Christmas, and there never has been. It’s simply another attempt by ratings-driven media (anger porn) to keep the “divide and conquer” agenda in this country going. Don’t fall for the bullshit. My only war on Christmas is when they bring that stuff out in stores before we’ve even had a chance to get our Halloween candy. What. The. Fuck.

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Someone sent me this video: “God Is In Everything, Every Molecule That Holds Us Together” by Pastor Louie Giglio. 8 minutes and quite interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuDtlHtWR64

Whatever you celebrate, with or without the dear lord baby Jesus, I hope you have a very merry one.

Peace, love, and peppermint to you and yours. Happy HolliChristHanuKwanza.

Don’t shoot your eye out.

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PLEASE NOTE:

**I absolutely do not ever advise shaking babies. It’s pure sarcasm. Unless they’re really, really annoying. Then make your own adult decision.

***With the plethora of grocery stores widely available, I don’t advocate eating your children. While it may be cost-effective right now (toy shopping can really add up), think about the bigger picture. Eventually, you’ll get old and they might take care of your diapered ass if you raise them right.

****Like bacon, puppies prove there’s a God.

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Like this blog? Wanna donate? I absolutely accept tips and LOVE Amazon gift cards. My Wishlist:  http://a.co/4AUJWBt

April K. Hunter is a television writer, short story author, and blogger. She primarily writes thrillers and memoirs. April attends Full Sail University for her bachelor’s degree in creative writing for entertainment. Her work appears in a variety of publications, including RxMuscle, Page & Spine, Medium and European Journal FONT. She is a model and former pro wrestler. 

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Visit me on my website www.AprilHunter.com and Instagram: @realAprilHunter

Thank you to Hubert O’Hearn and Gregg Silliman for ideas and editing.

Resources:

http://time.com/4179685/in-god-we-trust-currency-history/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/in-god-we-trust-doesnt-mean-what-you-think-it-does

http://amazingdiscoveries.org/S-deception_end-time_paganism_Catholic_Mithraism

http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/pagan-symbols.html

http://www.history.com/topics/winter-solstice/print

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees

https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-23/world-actually-safer-ever-and-heres-data-prove

http://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/top-news/divide-conquer-101-america-destabilized-within/

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/

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Netflix Gets GLOW Right: A Female Wrestler’s Perspective

Originally published by ProWrestlingStories.com and geared towards the pro wrestling community.

Author: April Hunter / Editor: Bobby Mathews

Like this? Please donate! Amazon Wishlist Link: http://a.co/4AUJWBt

[Editor’s Note: With all of the attention that Netflix’s take on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling has generated, we approached independent wrestler/manager April Hunter to give us some perspective on what the series looks like to someone who’s spent time between the ropes. Her reaction is–as one might expect–intensely personal, and well worth reading.]

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I didn’t watch the original GLOW growing up because I was more of a Kung Fu Theatre kind of girl–and my parents wouldn’t allow me to stay up that late – but I was certainly aware of its existence, thus disproving the theory that everyone was kung fu fighting. GLOW became a household name with their sexy women in skimpy costumes and campy, controversial storylines despite running only four short years.

If you only watch WWEyou may not be familiar with me unless you’ve caught a glimpse on the WWE Network. I’ma bring you up to speed on 16 years of history in a single super lengthy, run-on paragraph. Ready? Here we go.

I started in WCW as eye candy in 1999 after a Playboy pictorial hit newsstands, and was offered a spot in the fascinating world of wrestling, where I did important things like hang on Scott Steiner’s arm and made Kevin Nash look even taller. As I was on a pay-per-show basis with WCW, Jim Ross (a true gentleman) requested a meeting. I was sent to Boston to become a Bruins fan and attend the famous Killer Kowalski Institute of Pro Wrestling. I was the only girl, and Walter, whom I adored, treated me exceptionally well. About a year later, WWF bought WCW and ECWand I became lost in the shuffle while they dealt with the mass influx of contracts. Have spandex, will travel! I set off for Japan and England, wrestling badasses like Mima Shimoda and Sweet Saraya Knight all over their respective islands. (Reality: I was having my rear-end handed to me nightly while being polished. ThankYouMa’amMayIHaveAnother?) I enjoyed working overseas, so Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, France, Romania, Ireland and anywhere else willing to pay for ample cleavage and stiff forearm became my way of life. I bounced back to the USA and continued to train at Kowalski’s while working for JAPW, WEW, Ring of Honor, TNA Wrestling/Impact Live, 3PW and various other promotions in between tours. (All my friends were having babies and I was like, “Hey, I’m just trying to keep my abs, build my personal brand and see the world.) At the same time (and still) I also model, take the occasional acting role, compete on a national level in fitness and figure, appear on comic cons, cosplay, work for comic book artists like George Perez and Boris Vallejo, run my own websites (Yo! Cheap plug: April Hunter Blogand write. Last year, I sort of became an adult and started Full Sail University for my degree in creative writing for entertainment (TV, film, and games). Boom. Ridiculously long paragraph done.

Oh, and I have a Corgi. She’s super cute.

 

Want to see moreApril Hunter in A to Z Japan

April in ROH and on the indies

 

Now that my street cred is established: when pro wrestling goes into the mainstream, I cringe. The sport has long been considered the redheaded stepchild of entertainment–and I know all about the treatment of redheaded stepchildren. Hollywood caricatures this; fun gets ridiculous and the tragic becomes brutal.

The 2008 film The Wrestler hit me so hard, I felt like I’d just watched a documentary. Convinced she needed to see all the nominated movies, shielding my mother from the film wasn’t easy. At that time, she was dying from cancer and I was taking care of her, so my standard reply after running errands was,Redbox was sold out. One day on the way home from chemotherapy, she made me stop at the store. Lo and behold, The Wrestler was in stock. Unenthusiastically, I purchased the rental, removing the disc from the slot as if it were rat poison. That evening, we realized we’d gotten a version that was scratched so bad, it simply wouldn’t play. Shame.

Mom feared the wrestling business was too dangerous for her only daughter. For me, it was exhilarating. For her, it was stressful. She’d panic every time I’d jet off alone to some city in Mexico (after watching the country’s awful news coverage), or I’d visit her wrapped tightly in an ice pack and an Ace bandage. (To be fair, I was a burlesque act and gymnast before wrestling, so I’ve spent a solid portion of my life married to Ace bandages.) I wasn’t about to allow an Oscar-winning film to confirm her fears. She and I watched a plethora of movies before she passed and not one of them was The Wrestler.

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Once Netflix announced GLOW, I found myself both excited about the showcasing of women’s wrestling and concerned how it would be portrayed. date someone who knows very little about the wrestling business whom I shall refer to as The Love Machine (TLM) solely because it entertains me.

TLM is in law enforcement and a solidly trained fighter in his own right. He arrived on the scene with no experience in the entertainment industry and some alarming preconceived notions about my flashy career. I felt the need to break him in gently, so WrestleCon in Orlando was his first exposure. Throwing him into the middle of a vibrant convention celebrating everything wrestling was far easier than attempting to explain the crazy world I’m part of to someone who hadn’t yet peeked at the man behind Oz’s curtain.

 

“That was nothing like I thought. It was really fun and professional,” he said with a grin. He’d just asked a guy wearing nothing but hot pink spandex and a championship belt for a photo.

“How did you think it was going to be?”

“Well, I thought it would be more … sleazy.”

Oh, God.

 

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Porn is easily accessed and widely accepted in many other countries. If someone pays good money to see women’s wrestling, they actually want to see women wrestle. On the other hand, America is a prudish nation. Our acceptable porn is thinly veiled as fitness modeling, women’s wrestling, Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, yoga pants on Instagram and Hooters girls. Our society says these things don’t make us a “dirty pervert,” even if we are.

A prude, I am not. Bikini, fitness, art and nude modeling have thankfully put food on my table longer than … well, let’s just say I’m extremely fortunate and grateful to my Grandma for her fantastic genetics. However, I stand by two things when it comes to a career path on the less dressed side of the entertainment industry:

What you do isn’t who you are.

What we do is a business. It’s not personal. There’s valid reason we qualify for OurName, LLC.

Would GLOW have all the hard work, bumps and falls, training, broken bones, blood, bulging discs, torn ligaments, and dedication thrown out the window and turned into some titillating fluff for public perception? Would they have women’s wrestling seen as nothing more than big hair and tight little asses in scant bikinis? Thinly veiled “acceptable porn?”

With school, I don’t have time for much, let alone TV. But nine words moved the show to the top of my priority list. “I’m going to watch it with or without you.” 

Shit.

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GLOW started out slowly and at first, the characters weren’t likable. Set in the mid-1980s, Alison Brie (CommunityMad Men) is nearly unrecognizable as Ruth “Zoya the Destroya Wilder, a plain-Jane desperate actress willing to do (almost) anything for work.

 

If you’re expecting a wrestling show, you’ll be sorely disappointed. GLOW is as much about wrestling moves as The Walking Dead is a show about zombies, rather than survivalists. Inspired by the documentary Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling: The True Story, wrestling fans Liz Flahive (Homeland, Nurse Jackie) and CarlyMensch (Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie) created the comedy for Netflix, which is more character driven and bears a slight resemblance to its sister series, Orange Is the New Black. While many of the wrestling characters are based on those from the original series, the fictionalized version of the story differs dramatically.

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GLOW depicts 14 actresses-turned-wrestlers, relying heavily upon dialog, and pushes thought-provoking stereotypes in hot-button storylines which worked for that era. The series culminates with a nearlymissed television time slot after a succession of anything-that-can-go-wrong-will ups and downs along the way.

“Are you hiring actors to play wrestlers, or are we the wrestlers?” Ruth asks Sam (Marc Maron). ‘Yes,” he replies. Admittedly, I didn’t care for the casting of Ruth but grew to appreciate her as the storyline progressed. No matter how many times she stumbled (or was shoved), she kept getting back up, showing the dedication and drive it takes to succeed.

I was amiably surprised to see some of my coworkers on the show. John Hennigan played Hollywood, and stuntman Mando Guerrero (Eddie Guerrero’s brother), who was the official trainer for the original GLOW.

Carlito and Brodus Clay were cast as Carmen’s brothers. Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Marty Elias are featured at a wrestling event in the backgroundAn uncredited Brooke Hogan (and her incredibly backcombed hair) was the woman who showed Ruth and Sam the wrestling venue. Steel Horse, played by Alex Riley (who had been wrestling Joey Ryan with Laura James earlier in his match), gave Debbie a memorable and accurate speech about what the business is.

But the largest spot went to Kia Stevens, known as Awesome Kong (or Kharma), who played Tamme the “Welfare Queen,” a term President Ronald Reagan used to describe women who bilked the system. Kia was the only legitimate female professional wrestler and helped train the actresses through some of their basic moves.

Having known and worked with her for many years, it thrilled me to see her on TV, yet not having to take (many? any?) bumps.

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I thought it peculiar they didn’t choose more trained females to fill the roles, especially since they went with a cast of women who seemed to be less recognized.

Betty Gilpin, mostly known for playing Dr. Carrie Roman oNurse Jackie, was an excellent choice of main character opposite Alison Brie. As Debbie, she was a broken Barbie Doll in a failing marriage; a former soap star who gave it up to be a wife and mother with something to prove and an ax to grind. The writers won me with this line: “I actually like wrestling—it’s like I’m back in my body. It doesn’t belong to Randy or Mark,” Debbie says, referring to her infant son and husband. “I’m like … using it for me, and I feel like a goddamn superhero.”

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In truth, what little wrestling is sprinkled through the show is basic and redundant, especially if you compare it to the real GLOW. I’m not knocking the trainers. Professional wrestling is very foreign and unnatural to learn, with its own pace, language and way of doing things such as allowing yourself to fall and working a certain side of the body. Additionally, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game when dealing with Hollywood and what’s physically permitted. There’s SAG (Screen Actors Guild)liability insurance and more to consider. If an actor is injured and unable to complete the series, it puts millions of dollars at risk for loss. There’s no “card subject to change” in film and television.

 

For those who may not be aware, Lisa Moretti started in the original GLOW as Tina Ferrari and went on to have a successful career in WWE as Ivory.

Take a look at what the real-life GLOW was like HERE and HERE.

 

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Most of the show’s credit is given to the women, but Sam Sylvia (stand-up comic and writer Maron) carries a significant portion the momentum. He’s a lovable chauvinistic rogue, the whore with a heart of gold. A former B-horror film director, he hopes to capitalize on the success of GLOW in order to finance his Next Big Film. The producer, an avid wrestling fan, assured him financing upon completion of the show. Bash, (or, as we’d call him, “the money guy,” played by Chris Lowell) states“I am a patron of the arts, and wrestling is an art, despite my mother’s opinion …which is wrong.”

We got an inside glimpse of the development of gimmicks and characters, how wrestlers work together–even how prevalent nepotism is when it came down to one girl hired over another simply because her family was famous in wrestling. I found myself popping huge over the accuracy of some scenes to TLM, such as Cherry Bang telling her referee husband good news while selling a beat down in the corner during a taping.

I leaned back after finishing an episode and said, “This show HAD to be done by someone who is in the business. Or very close to it.” I was correct; Chavo Guerrero Jr. had been hired as the show’s consultant.Well done, Netflix!

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In the end, my initial concerns proved groundless. GLOW had a feel-good, strong woman, we-can-do-it vibe. Watching smartened TLM to how the business worked, both then and now.

It was interesting to go back to 1985, which is when the original pilot was taped for its 1986-1990 run. GLOW was ahead of its time in figuring out what to do with women in the ring. Sadly, 30 years later, they still are. Other than hair styles and ring gear, things haven’t evolved much. Netflix didn’t shy away from harsh truths about our business, which includes dingy motels, parents who think wrestling is stupid, drug use and abuse, people who confuse female wrestlers for prostitutes, and the never-ending objectification of women. Honesty is refreshing.

In an ironic twist of fate, GLOW is an all-female show with just three men on the series. With only one male match on the entire card, I’m betting the guys were battling it out backstage to maintain their spots. #castingcouch? #kidding #mostly

Touching on real-life subjects like adultery and abortion, this series may be more suited for the big kids rather than the little onesGLOW respectfully showcased fake fights with real risks, hard work, the tough lifestyle, and our blood-is-thicker-than-water aspect of ‘wrestling family which still encompasses the business today.

Viewers may finish the series with a better opinion of professional wrestling than when they first went in.

 

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Like this? Please donate! Amazon Wishlist Link: http://a.co/4AUJWBt

 

April K. Hunter is a television writer, short story author, and blogger. She primarily writes thrillers and memoirs. April attends Full Sail University for her bachelor’s degree in creative writing for entertainment. Her work appears in a variety of publications, including RxMusclePage & SpineMedium and European Journal FONT. She is a model and former pro wrestler.

 

Photo credits: SlamminLadies, Netflix, WWE.com

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Chapter 30: A Tale of Two Aprils

-By Matt M. (April’s cousin/roommate)

Edited (lightly and sarcastically) – April Hunter

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What is April Hunter really like?

 

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The Character of April Hunter.

 

During October I had the privilege of staying with my friend and cousin, April. I was not going to visit “the amazing, always stunningly gorgeous, virtually invulnerable April Hunter’” that the public may see.

I wanted to catch up with my highly intelligent, big-hearted friend. If you’ve read her blogs, you know she’s been going through some rough stuff this past year. With her having no family in Florida and me needing a breather from home, I started my drive south. I arrived around 9 pm on a Saturday night and I unloaded far too much stuff for a short visit. Must run in the family.

 

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The real April. (On the right. Not the one who looks like Yoda.)

 

April-the-person is vastly different from her April Hunter character. Our conversations are without pretense; they are honest, direct, vulnerable, and raw. She is well-read and has a great sense of humor, which are things you can’t tell from looking at photos. We discussed some of the sentimental books that were passed down to her from her mother’s side of the family, including an original copy of Sherlock Holmes and her eclectic book collection.  Dostoyevsky, Henry Rollins, Hunter S. Thompson, Osho, Steven King, Roald Dahl, Ernest Cline…and Sh*t My Dad Says. April also has some incredible stories about her global travels and diverse choices in wall art. An artistic Batman and Catwoman print, a nudes-in-Paris postcard display in the guest bathroom, her mother’s pen and ink artwork, an array of metal art and vintage signs. (Her mom had briefly been a commercial artist.)

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My trip had several purposes. Selfishly, I was dealing with some stuff and needed to get away; to have someone to talk to, clear my head and get a change of scenery.  As crazy as April claims to be on her blogs, it must seem like I’m pretty desperate if that’s where I go for help!  Perhaps, our own degrees of crazy are in line and that’s why our friendship works. April is smart, introspective and as much as she talks about being one of the guys, she’s still very much a girl.

Usually, when you go to people with a problem, there are four common responses: 1.) They try to solve the problem or offer advice 2.) let you vent and offer the supporting “yeah” or “uh-huh” in the appropriate spots, 3.) distance themselves, or  4.) ask questions and make you solve your own shit. Males generally just do #1, unless they’re a really good friend or trying to get laid.  April excels at #4, with the right mix of #1 and #2, which is why I drove for two days to commandeer her time to help me sort out my own drama.

 

 

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April’s former roommate Dustin, her, Amy and me.

 

 

We had a lazy start on Sunday, sitting on the lanai (porch) catching up while watching Bella-the-Corgi and the chickens. Another reason for my visit was to help with her To-Do list during April’s school break. The back story: Over the summer, she went through a rough time. A split from her fiancé, almost losing her home, unnecessary legal issues, lost work and financial loss. When that happened, the strain brought on illness and she basically fell apart. Her psychiatrist wrote a note explaining she was dealing with serious traumatic stress and withdrew her from school for a month to recover. The 32 days she’d been evicted from her home (Expensive Lessons: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2016/09/21/expensive-lessons-part-1/ ) left April overwhelmed. There were things her ex dealt with which she needed to learn how to do.

She was unhappily looking for a roommate. Evaluating each other was another consideration. My rent had been raised and I was ready for a change (possible 1/3 life crisis). When April bought her ex out of the home, she depleted her reserves in the process and was stuck with higher monthly expenses than originally budgeted for. In order to remain in school as a full-time student, she had to cut back on work, so this seemed like a potential win-win.

 

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The trip wasn’t a vacation. Having said that, we did make it to the beach one night, strolled around Safety Harbor for an afternoon and hung out at MegaCon. Well, she was working. I was enjoying the views.

(Photo: random hot cosplay girl.)

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Mostly we stayed close to Casa de April. She had deadlines with ads and blogs to write, business to take care of, and that ever-growing To-Do list. I work remotely, so I had day job hours to keep. When we were able to do scrape up free time to do things, we focused on what was needed, not wanted.  We also logged in daily four-mile walks along a trail and getting in an episode or two of Game of Thrones or Animal Kingdom each day.

 

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I did experience that April before coffee and April after coffee are two different people.

Among other things, we got some work done in the yard, reinforced the chicken coop to block thieving food rodents, revived her candle business stuff, and got some of her own food planted.

My two weeks with her confirmed what I already knew – she’s a great person. She’s not as crazy as she lets on, but the ADHD is her biggest issue – SQUIRREL!

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Humanizing April:

  • Once she’s up and had her morning coffee, she eats every 2-3 hours, if she remembers to eat. She mostly just drinks protein.
  • She says fuck a fucking lot. I once heard her string an entire sentence together with almost nothing but the word “fuck”, and it made sense.

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  • April Hunter gets her picture taken a lot. Real April generally hides from cameras and avoids selfies.
  • Make-up is part of the April Hunter uniform. On off days, there is no makeup, or it’s very minimal especially when staying home for the day.
  • Florida people think below 80 is cold. Below 70 is “freezing”.
  • April cooks very well, with lots of spice and flavor. And cheese. Ridiculous amounts of cheese…may-you-never-poop-again quantities.  
  • (Editors Note: There’s NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH CHEESE.)cheeseWorkouts happen when time allows. 20 minutes for weights here, a walk there, “I’ve got time for the gym if I leave now”, etc. By default, I figured I’d draft off her fitness thing and get in better shape myself.
  • When she writes about being OCD and ADHD she isn’t exaggerating. She might actually be under-emphasizing it, especially the ADHD. She isn’t a fan of clutter, either.
  • When she blogs about her degree of crazy, there’s significant embellishment. Her meds keep her more stable than almost any woman I’ve ever dealt with. (Editor’s note: Um…I have good days – and the occasional not-so-good days.)
  • She is open-minded and doesn’t judge. She has friends of all types, from everywhere. People trust and confide in her. She knows a lot of secrets and doesn’t repeat or write about them. 

 

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  • She has the seemingly rare ability to set her phone down and ignore it for hours. It’s a super power.
  • Her phone even sleeps in a different room than she does.
  • Sometimes her phone rings and she simply doesn’t answer it, claiming she doesn’t feel like talking to anyone.
  • April Hunter is an extrovert. Real April is an introvert.

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  • April avoids talking on the phone unless it’s absolutely necessary. She prefers to communicate in person, by email or texting. Reason: she is mostly deaf in one ear and partly hearing-impaired in the other due to standing too close to a stage during a pyrotechnics explosion. She’s decent at lip reading and can hear certain tones if there’s no background noise. However, working around her lack of hearing can be both a challenge and hilarious.   — Me: “Did you get butter at the store?”  –The Deaf One: “Wait, what? Who butt banged a whore? ” Note to self: Learn ASL. (American Sign Language) She also has to watch everything with subtitles on.9e47352484d3779de7cf36ba1b6b2ca0
  • Her Pandora stations have the potential to give you pause — or drive you crazy. 100 stations shuffle through everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. 80’s Alternative, Glen Miller, Classical, Public Enemy/N.W.A., Megadeth, Enya, Brazilian Chill, French Café, 90’s Grunge, Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Flamenco Guitar, Linsey Stirling, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Gary Hoey & Yngwie Malmsteen, Contemporary Bollywood, Kid Rock, Billy Joel, German Metal, House of Pain, Artic Monkeys, Type O Negative, Cubanismo, Hank Williams Jr, Fatboy Slim, Eminem, Tool, Rihanna, John Coltrane, Korn…get it? Hell, she even has a Taylor Swift song in there. You never know what’s coming up next. Drinking game: Guess The Next Genre. (Latin is usually a sure thing.)  —“Why don’t you listen to one station?” –Her: “Because. When you listen to one thing too long, you stop hearing it. You tune it out. This makes you notice every song, live in the moment. Plus, I like too many to pick just one.”

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  • There really is a menagerie. One dog, a cat, 4 chickens, plus assorted Florida wildlife passing through which includes but isn’t limited to: armadillos, turkeys, ravens, frogs, lizards, sea birds, deer, snakes, gators, and turtles.16195211_10210499485714801_3201323565700268425_n
  • If you’re conversing, you have her entire attention unless there’s a wasp or a squirrel. One can kill her; the other steals the chicken feed.
  • Make the decisions; she’ll let you know if she objects.
  • Motivation, like time, is fleeting. Her energy levels can be limited. She hasn’t fully recovered from being ill.
  • Plans change often. Sometimes it’s her, sometimes it’s other people. She is very adaptable.
  • She moves slowly in the morning and tends to be apologetically late or behind. She often runs on “April Time”, which is similar to “Island Time”, but much later.

 

                                                      Editor’s Note: 

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  • She has the frustrating ability patience to watch one or two episodes of a show, and then walk away until the next time, instead of binge watching an entire season in one sitting.
  • When she is “on”, you cannot tell if she’s got a headache, sore feet, hangry issues or if she hurts. She is a true professional.
  • She is injured and beat up from wrestling. Torn knee, torn ankle, bulging/herniated discs, broken back, separated shoulder, broken fingers and toes, dislocated wrist…the list goes on. She hurts all the time. You’d never know. She doesn’t complain. “What’s the point? Bitching doesn’t change anything. It just makes you boring.”
  • Know when to be a gentleman and when not to. (“I didn’t get enough boobs in the picture” was a real complaint.)
  • A walk is a brisk pace, designed to raise the heart rate. Not a leisurely stroll
  • Do not travel in the passing lane or refuse to move over and let someone pass you. She will lose her shit.
  • She’s a fan of many shows/movies and still marks out. She is also a nerd. A real one.

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Aaaaaaaaaayyyy!

 

  • If she’s up before 8 AM for you and you aren’t paying her – appreciate it, because it IMG_20170315_104525_401means you matter to her.
  • A lot of people are trying to get her attention. If you have it, you matter to her.
  • She doesn’t expect anything from people, and when she gets something, her appreciation is authentic.
  • She says what she means and means what she says.
  • She is real and positive. She’ll tell those she likes and loves how she feels and expects nothing back.
  • Her dating life is as entertaining as she blogs about. Maybe more so.
  • She constantly feels overwhelmed and guilty about not ever getting enough done. She struggles to find balance between school, work, home, gym, downtime and having a social life. She usually doesn’t succeed. Something always gives.
  • She’s a real person, with feelings – so be nice if you interact with her.

 

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April has a beautiful smile (especially if you earn a genuine one) and a great laugh. Her sense of humor is as varied as her taste in music.  She makes a lot of things funny. I’m fortunate to call her a friend.

Disclaimer: as we were both potentially going to be roommates, we were both on good behavior.

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Editor’s Note: Matt is being very nice, but he is a genuine person as a whole. He’s also bitingly sarcastic in real life. Since right out of high school, I’ve always preferred male roommates and have nearly always lived this way when forced to cohabit with strangers. Aside from the mess (they are usually slobs…sorry), males are easier to share a roof with. No drama, stolen clothes, they pay what they owe and since my house is a split floorplan, we each have our own side.  They DO eat your food sometimes, but I’m always trying to lean down, so…

Some judge and think a male/female home sharing dynamic isn’t possible without complications, but I haven’t experienced it to be an issue. 

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Update:  I did move down in December.

Now that I’ve been here for a while I can confirm that most of what I wrote in October is absolutely true.

But there are some days when that bitch is cray.

 

Editor’s Note: (Eat dicks.)

 

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Photo: Modern Myth Photography

 

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April Hunter is a writer, professional wrestler, full-time student at Full Sail University, professional cosplayer and pin-up, Playboy and fetish model.

She’s also a fitness competitor, former Met-RX & Extreme Nutrition spokes-model, the subject of several comic book characters, an admitted coffee snob, road rage enthusiast, Mother of Chickens and world renowned potty mouth. She uses the C-word as liberally as you use butter on your biscuits. Which you shouldn’t be eating, since you know…carbs and gluten. She struggles with bipolar disorder and Lupus and chooses to view challenges as opportunities.

See more of April on Instagram @realAprilHunter,  www.AprilHunter.com and Twitter @AprilHunter. She’s also on Facebook.com/AprilHunterOfficial and owns AprilsScentSations Soy Candles.

No part of this blog may be used without permission. 

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