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Flash Fiction: A Cross to Bear

27 May

Fun Flash Fiction that was one of my school assignments. I’m learning about snow globes and MacGuffins this month at Full Sail University and it’s been enlightening! Here’s yet another attempt at fiction, which is something completely new for me. If you follow this blog, you know I’m all about essays, journals and help topics. If you’re looking for those, scroll through the months for fit tips, mental health stuff, fan stalking and wrestling road stories…the gamut. If you want to read a story that may or may not be decent (it’s like photos for us models…we can never tell what is a good one, so other people have to pick our stuff because we just look for the one where we look thinnest), here ya go. It’s short. 

GTO

The GTO came to life with a roar and idled as Nick sat, unmoving. The loud rumbling comforted him. He pulled the cross out of a box that sat on the seat next to him. Its silver chain draped through his fingers and felt cool, its platinum catching the sunlight and creating dappled patterns on the dark interior. He traced his finger along the inscription that read, For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. -Timothy 1:7

The crucifix looked too bulky for the rear-view, but he draped it over the mirror and watched it dance with the vibrating engine. His mother had kept it on the post of her bed, religiously kneeling before it every evening. The entire situation brought out feelings he didn’t have a label for. Regret? Remorse? They’re often confused as one in the same, but they’re not. He pulled away from the house, slammed the clutch from first gear to second and ripped around a corner to the tune of screeching tires and scent of burnt rubber.

Regret is when you did something you wish you hadn’t. Remorse is when you didn’t do something you wish you had. He’d hastily purchased the flight after putting it off until he was six hours and a lifetime late, which had earned him a middle seat in the back of the plane and a missed connection. By the time he got home, Mom had passed. Remorse.

Maybe she’d played down just how bad it really was. Maybe he’d chosen his career over his mother. Or maybe he just couldn’t stand the thought of seeing her in such a deteriorated state; his treasured memories marred by sunken cheeks, bald patches and shaky hands. After Mom had gotten sick, she’d asked him to come home so many times, and Nick told her his work was too hectic at the moment. Every time he lied to her, saying he’d be home as soon as it slowed down, he felt the gutting ache in the pit of his stomach growing stronger. Regret.

The evening wake had passed in a blur. A smoky pub, his friends and endless cheers for his dead Mom. “To Mrs. Kelly…Brenda…for her ridiculously fantastic brownies and for never ratting us out for smokin’ a dube behind your garage. Salut!”

His father had treasured that classic car even though he kidded about it.

“You know what GTO stands for? Gas, tools and oil.” When he died from a heart attack, Mom kept it partly out of nostalgia and hid the keys from Nick partly because she worried.

“You’re too reckless. I don’t want to get a phone call in the middle of the night,” she said.

“That’s how you drive a car like that, Mom. You have to go balls out. It’s not meant for the speed limit,” Nick said.

“That is exactly why you’re not getting it until you’re more mature,” she’d said. “I’m your mother. It’s my job to protect you, which includes keeping you safe from yourself. You can’t escape me. I’ve got eyes in the back of my head. I’ll always be looking out for you.”

“Jeez, Ma. I’m not a baby anymore.”

“Sorry, kiddo. You’re always gonna be my baby.” She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead and he squirmed, pretending to push her away while laughing.

She left it for him when she died. Dad’s car, Mom’s cross. Nick had never felt more alone. There was no one else. It had always been just the three of them. The house was going to be sold. They say that the one thing that never changes in life is that you can always go home, but what if there’s no home to go to? Who is going to take care of me now? 

Nick pressed the pedal of the GTO to the floor. The deep rumble soothed him on the dark, empty, country road. Miles flew by with nothing but woods and the narrow beams of the car’s headlights on blackened asphalt. Nick caught a glint of something. What is that? Nick slowed, but it was too late. A giant buck stood stock-still in the middle of the one-lane road. Jerking the wheel, Nick swerved hard and lost control.

The cold, dark water started to fill the GTO, creeping up to his ankles. He couldn’t get the car door to open. Gritting his teeth, Nick pushed his shoulder into the door, shoving hard, but it wouldn’t budge. The water had created too much pressure. The power windows, state of the art for the car’s era, shorted out along with the rest of the electrical system leaving him in complete darkness. Water was creeping up to his belt buckle, moving upward rapidly. Nick turned sideways and tried to push the door open with his legs. When that didn’t work, he tried kicking the frame. The door bent slightly, and more water rushed in.

“Oh, God. Shit. Shit!”

As icy liquid reached the bottom of the steering wheel, his heart pounded with the realization that Gas Tools and Oil was about to be his metal grave.

Nick squatted on the seat, keeping his head up for air and grabbed the crucifix off the rear-view mirror. Not knowing what else to do, he read Mom’s scripture out loud. For God gave us spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control…spirit not of fear, but of power…self-control. Power.

Power.

He positioned the large crucifix in his fist, fingers wrapped around the cross. Self control. Rearing back, Nick took a deep breath and hit the window as hard as he could with the base of the cross. Sounding a dull thud, it shattered inward, releasing a whoosh of glass-filled water over his face. Clutching the crucifix, he grabbed the roof with his other hand, pulled himself through the opening, and swam upwards.

By April Hunter

*No part of this story may be copied or used without permission.

 

Do or Do Not. Just Stop Bitching.

6 May

blesses

“The World Is Blessed Most By Men Who Do Things and Not By Those Who Merely Talk About Them.”

This is from my Grams daily word cards and very appropriate, considering what’s going on today around us. Many people complain about the world on Facebook and every other social network. I think we can all agree that bitching doesn’t do shit.

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Talk isn’t just cheap-it’s free.

Here’s my question to you: what are YOU doing to make your country or this world a better place? For real. This is a legit question. If you were to die tomorrow, how many people would think that you made the world a better place? No one? Just your family? Can you say that you help or inspire others, give back, will leave this earth a slightly better place than before you were on it? Because complaining on Facebook and reposting sordid news doesn’t do any of that. I think it would be amazing if those who complained put some of that energy into improving things. Or making someone smile. Or, just shut the fuck up and go to the gym. Put all that anger into cardio and you’ll be svelte in three months. 

You don’t need to comment or write me back. Just think about it. I’ve hit my limit with complaining and I’m betting that you have, too. Perhaps right now is a perfect time to reevaluate and ask what it is that WE do to make things BETTER for others.

“Do or Do Not. There Is No TRY.” -Yoda

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Part 2. My Match.com Experiment – The Good, The Bad, The Dating and The Ryan’s.

4 Nov

Read Part 1: A Year of Being Single-ish and Dating Bipolarhttps://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/10/23/my-match-com-experiment-a-year-of-being-singleish-dating-bipolar/

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The smell of coffee is consistent.  I wake up, feed the cat, plug in the percolator and return to the bathroom wash my face and brush my teeth. The strong, Columbian aroma wafts through the small house, reminding me that the day could very well be fresh and beautiful. That’s what I can count on each day.

It’s funny what stands out when you lose everyone around you. My mother and grandmother died within six months of each other. My father died in a plane crash. My husband and I separated and he took Cosmo the Corgi. I did still have Bella and Fat Kitty.10410776_532955400171270_6262248663261944341_n

This is the longest time I’ve spent alone by choice. The bed is all mine. Food has to be thrown out now and then because it goes bad with no one else here to eat it. There is no chance of the hot water running out in the shower. No one finishes the last of the ice cream without replacing it. The temperature is set to what I prefer.

And, there is silence. Lots of silence.

There is also my phone, to which I seem to have grown addicted. It’s as if it’s my lifeline and my only contact with the outside world. I loathe this.

I’ve learned things while on this monk-like sabbatical: how to do things for myself, my own company is pretty good, the $3.99 that it costs to upgrade to Pandora One is worth every penny, electronics are causing a form of ADHD for me, I should probably unplug more often, I don’t have to be in a full-time relationship, and I’m ok with that. With the availablity of foot massagers, riding mowers, power tools and vibrators, women can chose want over need when it comes to having a man in their lives.

However, my cooking has been heavily downgraded. Cooking for one sucks ass. I get by on bacon, eggs, Evos organic frozen meals and protein drinks. Plus, wanting a man is a completely different thing than needing.

I decided to date and put a profile on Match.com after a marital separation and a six-month break from seeing anyone. Read part one here: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/10/23/my-match-com-experiment-a-year-of-being-singleish-dating-bipolar/

I’ve had relationships with mostly Virgo’s during my lifetime. I’m a Libra and as much as I’d love to think astrology is nonsense, there are far too many coincidences to completely dismiss it. I’ve been told that one of my worst matches is a Virgo. Historically, I’d have to agree. Two of my best matches are Gemini’s and Leo’s, and Match.com kept sending me Gemini’s and Leo’s.

When I broached the subject (after much hesitation) of going on a date with someone else to my husband (Virgo), he was not happy. We were separated (for our second time) and I’d bought a house alone. My psychologist suggested I learn to be alone before I even considered dating, so I took her advice. Jordan and I were still close and I was supposed to be thinking things over, but in truth, as much as I loved him as a person, I wasn’t in love with him. There was no pull to get back under the same roof again, I felt we were irreparably broken and he knew that.

“You’re going to ruin everything if you start dating other people!” He said. “What happens later? If something comes of it? We won’t even be allowed to be friends! No man is going to put up with that!”523051_385318521498652_1263586097_n

Me: “When have you ever known me to have a man tell me what I can do or who I can or can’t be friends with? You never managed.”

I work from home as a writer, editor and webmaster when I’m not on the road. Other than the gym and the grocery store, I don’t get out much. Meeting people my age is nearly impossible due to living in an older community and working in a younger profession.

After Jesus & Babies, I’d decided that it would be smarter to play the proverbial field and date several people at once while keeping them all at a distance. If I were a man, I’d have been labeled, “emotionally unavailable”.  Half the time I’d force myself out on a date whether I’d felt like it or not just to get out of the house.

I was unsure about sex with potential dates. I’d been married for nearly nine years. How exactly did dating work these days? I was a solid decade past the game-playing years. I’d decided to play it by ear.

InternetDating

“I have a lot of boyfriends; I want you to write that. Every country I visit, I have a different boyfriend. And I kiss them all.”
— Anna Kournikova

dogjokes2Date #2 was the Mexican guy who didn’t look a thing like his profile picture…so much so that I walked right past him in the restaurant. He was a lovely man, but the owner of “sommer teeth”. Sommer here and sommer there. That’s a deal-breaker for me. Additionally, he was about 35 pounds past the “athletic and toned” body type he claimed. He seemed like an amazing person but as someone who keeps herself up, I just could not see that working. Yeah, I’m shallow. I’ll own it.

A woman appeared in my daily dating matches and ‘she’ ended up being a he in very convincing drag. I briefly wondered if I should be dating women instead. After all, look at some of the facts: Women are all a little crazy. You fall for how a person is, not their gender. And, head is head, no matter who is giving. But I love being treated like a lady, having the doors held, and I love men. I sighed. Maybe I needed to rethink that statement. Perhaps I should be having meaningless sex with women.

“The only thing we have in common is that we’re both wrong for each other.” –Nick Nolte, Cannery Row

After date #2, there were the Ryans. I went on dates with three guys I rotated for drinks, lunches and coffees – all named Ryan.  I had them in my phone according to their profession. Lawyer Ryan, Doctor Ryan, App Genius Ryan.

IMG_20140416_122842I saw App Genius Ryan (Gemini) for a while. He was rather spot on with his photo-to-real life ratio. This was a good thing, considering his picture was strikingly handsome…even if he did resemble a Ken Doll. When we first met at a place that had the NCAA tournament on their big screens, he said, “Let me sit with my back to the TV, so I can talk with you and not watch the game.” Two points for that one. His father had been a famous newscaster, so he’d grown up in the entertainment business. He created apps for corporations like Panera and Home Depot and worked from the gated mansion he called home.  Ryan was a single dad with two kids, black Irish with dark hair, blue eyes, a pale complexion and ridiculously positive. He seemed overly positive to the point where it was quite strange or like he was hiding the fact that he could be the aforementioned ax murderer. I like upbeat people, but uber positive can be annoying.  It got boring, fast. My sarcasm and jokes didn’t just go over his head; they hit a 90-degree angle going over. He would send me puppy memes. PUPPY MEMES.

I’d caved and told him I was bipolar about 5-6 weeks into our dating. He didn’t say anything at first, and then he looked at me and said, “Thanks for sharing!” in a chirpy voice. I almost blurted out, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Instead of his normal texting morning, noon and night, I didn’t hear from him for several days, and then he texted like nothing had been said. That was my cue to shut off.

 

Up until that point, Mr. ThanksForSharing was spontaneous and fun, treated me extremely well (opened car doors, pulled out chairs, took me to great places, wanted me to text when I’d gotten home to make sure I

ltnlfz (1)was okay, called when he said he would) and I’d avoided any real conversation because I didn’t want anything other than fun. I’d gone without it for so long, fun suited me just fine. I was shocked at how little I cared or thought about him, however.  He was the first guy I’d had any physical relations with and I think I chose him because I felt he would be safe, he was sweet and he was very, very pretty. He supposedly had a dog. I never saw it or any evidence of a dog. Maybe he killed and ate it.

Dating Bonus: I discovered Osho at this time and a couple of kick ass restaurants.

 

“My philosophy of dating is to just fart right away.”— Jenny McCarthy

No-Profile-Photo-Spanish/Jewish-Lawyer-Ryan (Leo) from New York stuck around until he didn’t. He’d been a prosecutor in the area with many upset families sitting behind him as he put their loved ones away, so he’d elected to keep himself off the Internet and had no profile photo at all. He was nearly 40 and “never been married”. He sent me a very interesting email, so I broke the no-photo/never been married rule.

I figured as long as he didn’t have leprosy, I’d see the date through since he was one of the few who got my dry, sarcastic humor and gave it back just as hard.  He did not have leprosy. He was nearly four years 1315638892854_7541266younger than I, but looked four years older and worn out. He was the least pretty of the men I’d dated and this was the one who would become a boyfriend for a little bit because of his personality. (The word “boyfriend” was his idea. The first time he referred to me as his girlfriend, I went into panic mode for about 5 days, thinking, “How in the fuck did I get here? We were just meeting for drinks in St. Pete. I am not ready for a boyfriend…”)

Ryan was razor sharp and a former wrestling fan. He was able to put the little that I’d told him about myself together and figure out who I was. On date two he nonchalantly mentioned he’d “seen me on the internet” and added, “Personally, I thought the pictures were hot.” I stared at him like he had two heads. (I was not used to this attitude. Quite the opposite, actually.) “No, really. They are. If someone I worked with saw them, I’d be like, yep, that’s her…hot, right?”  He’d also read some of my bipolar blogs and was aware of my condition. He told me his mother was bipolar and his grandmother had committed suicide. Instead of running far, far away, he asked to see me again. This was after verifying I was medicated.

10730918_698105876952597_867081696540635750_nHe was sarcastically hilarious and a brutally honest gentleman. “I really like you. You’re like a dude in a pretty girl’s body. It’s like…perfect.” Despite currently being a corporate attorney, he had a ton of ink, including a full sleeve tattoo hidden under his suit and tie and a sizeable Black Flag tat on his forearm – plus a fetish for horror and indie movies, and he had as many books as I did, or more. He had no kids and absolutely didn’t want them, which suited me just fine, but I got the impression that he went through life very independently and wasn’t a caretaker. I wasn’t sure that could work. I’m independent as well, but there are times when I need a lot of attention. It’s a lot to handle and not having a nurturing personality or being willing to deal with it or adapt would not work. He was also somewhat delusional about being “athletic and toned” but he asked me to help him out, so he cleaned up his diet, hit the gym and changed pretty fast in 2 months.

I never knew what was up with him. He would go AWOL (“People just wear me out…”), yet would make a real effort to see me or say goodnight.  Additionally, he had an irrational fear of anything real in life at times. “I don’t want to know if a girl farts or bleeds or…no. I don’t want to see any evidence of any of that. It all needs to be spotless.” Yet he was insistent upon dating an athletic female who spends part of her day sweating. For someone near 40, periods freaked him out as if he were a teenager.

Because of his irrational pussy-phobia, I became completely paranoid and sex was always “unfinished” on my end.

5825379855_e997cd937c_mDating bonus: He was a former Marine captain and taught me to load magazines, shoot and lock a .40 caliber Beretta, and then barked at me while timing how fast I could do it. “C’mon! Lets go! I thought you were a bad ass?” Secondary bonus: I also learned to paddle-board.

He later admitted to being more and more agoraphobic and dealing with issues that included depression, yet he didn’t want to take medication or go to therapy.  He also had serious abandonment issues. There’s only so much you can do for someone who isn’t willing to help themself.vLLv9

We parted ways in what must be the most chivalrous ‘dumping’ I had ever received. “You deserve better and this is all I have. I thought I was ok. That’s why I was on Match. I thought if anyone could do this for me, you could… and I like you, a lot. I really do. I just can’t do it.” Despite the abundance of flaming red flags, I’d stuck around like an idiot because I myself have mental issues and understand being abandoned.

In hindsight, I was an idiot, but he was a decent person and funny as hell. At least he understood that “thanks for sharing” is always meant as sarcasm.

Don’t date lawyers. They’re not happy people. Also, don’t date someone nearly 40 who has never been married. There are problems if a man makes it to that age and not one single person in the entire world wanted to marry him.

My friend was pissed. “What a douche bag! He should have told you how bad his issues were from the start!”

Fair point. I certainly try to do that.

Two people with mental issues don’t mix well. Chances are this can happen, with 25% of the USA having a mental disorder, and he was date #4.

I was also seeing someone else on the side the entire time because I wasn’t ready for the whole boyfriend gimmick. Ryan lived over an hour away in Sarasota and was AWOL just enough not to notice. Or care.

I have a bit of a commitment issue/phobia and abandonment issues myself. I love the idea of stability and a partner in crime. I hate the idea of boredom, monotony and sex getting mundane, especially the latter. It’s taken me until just last year to finally commit to buying a house. I could always pack up and leave when I rented and it wasn’t my issue if something broke at 11 pm on Friday night. I am not sure if this is just the way I am or if it’s from being raised by my father, having so many male friends and being one of the very few females in a male business. I may have turned into “a dude in a pretty girl’s body”. Now if only I could have an orgasm every single time I had sex and pee outside while standing up.

My friends tell me it’s not me, it’s just that I’m not with the right person, so that’s what makes me want to bolt.  My therapist confirms this.

 

“I want someone who gets me.  I feel like I deserve that.” – Rae Dawn Chong in Jeff Who Lives At Home

 

mban1006lBodybuilder Dr. Ryan didn’t make it past meeting for coffee. He was a nice person with a super impressive physique, but he was not for me. He worked specifically with…….wait for it……..schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. During the course of our cappuccinos, he casually mentioned how many people he’d Baker Acted (involuntarily committed). I said nothing, but I was uncomfortable. He went in for the kiss after and I deftly ducked it. Plus, despite what I look like, I generally don’t date bodybuilders. I have respect for their hard work and discipline, but it’s not my thing. I prefer smaller, leaner and fit/toned.  He kept asking me out again afterwards and I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him how fucked up I thought his comments were until a while later. The lesson in there: Be careful how you say things. You never know who to whom you’re talking or what they might have. He was a nice guy and better suited as a friend.

 

“It’s not who you want to spend Friday night with. It’s who you want to spend all day Saturday with.” Woody Harrelson, Friends With Benefits

 

My third date’s name: Ryan. My fourth date’s name: Ryan. My fifth date’s name: Ryan. This was a possible advantage for my concussion-addled pro wrestler brain.Sept14

I joke. I’m not that forgetful.

Yet.

Being part Scotch/Irish, I’ve always loved the name Ryan. My first dates name wasn’t far off: Brian. It’s enough to make you appreciate…Joe. It became a huge rib with my friends. “So, how are the Ryans?” Ha fucking ha.

(Fun fact: The name translates to “little king” in both Gaelic and English.)

 

“Most people are together just so they are not alone.  Some people want magic.  I think you are one of these people.” –Broken English

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Date #6: Then there was TOM! Whoot! Broke the Ryan Cycle. Tom (Gemini) worked for the NSA. Yeah. I dated the enemy. He pulled up to the restaurant in a sleek BMW, had a handsome face, and was exceptionally fit (an Orange Theory addict, which is kind of like CrossFit) with a way of thinking outside of the box.

He was dark a Cuban stunner and single father who was sweet and smart with some interesting stories – the ones he could tell me. (Our government can truly be fucked up.)

Him: “Are you free on Thursday?”

Me: “I think so.”

Him: “Not anymore.” (Guys, take note. This is the way you should talk to a woman.)

He warned that my husband could easily track me with my phone or purse if he got upset. “Trust me, it’s easy. I see it all the time.” Hmmmm. I believed him. This wasn’t the guy to piss off, and if I’ve learned anything in life, I’m not good at not pissing people off.536863_534650899898746_2059641054_n

He treated me very well, had me meet all his crazy friends who were as loud as I am…and he adored his mother. His ex had had a mental health issue, so he was well versed in the variations. When I told him I was bipolar, his response was a long pause and then: “I would never have guessed that if you hadn’t told me. You seem so stable. Bipolar is a chemical imbalance, right? There are medications for that.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. There truly aren’t many people who understand this, or just how physically BP affects you. It’s not just mental. I told him I’m more stable than probably 90% of the world thanks to the meds. Tom was as warm as No-Profile–Photo Ryan was reserved. He was gorgeous, smart and sweet. He was a caretaker and problem solver. He had money, was attentive, listened, paid attention to me and took me to some great places in Tampa Bay.

I got a daily gentle reminder from him: “I definitely want to steal more of your time.”

Me: “Persistent, aren’t you?”

Him: “Well, considering the target…”

10665367_10152451668553931_1533682502272673198_n (1)And yet…I couldn’t get into him. One day, I was looking through my joke collection to send him something fun (because I probably had nothing to say) and realized they were all too sarcastic or edgy. We didn’t share the same humor. He’d raved about his favorite film and I rented it just so we’d have something-anything-to talk about. I found it mildly interesting at best and overly drawn out. Part of the reason I’d kept seeing Tom was because of Ryan. I was afraid of jumping in too fast and this allowed me to keep emotional distance from both. It was half-hearted at best and oddly enough, I never looked forward to seeing him – it always felt like an obligation.  Tom and I never got past meeting at the halfway point for dinner or drinks. It’s the longest I ever dated someone without getting past second base.

Dating bonus: My Spanish got better. La practica es buena.  He was also one helluva kisser.

I cut him loose when it got more serious with Lawyer Ryan and half regretted it about a week later when it all no longer was. Tom didn’t seem to take it well. My house is probably bugged now. I’m typing this very quietly.

He also took a lot of selfies. I kind of hate that. And he sometimes worked out twice a day. I don’t even do that. Overkill.

My therapist’s verdict on Ryan/Tom/Ryan thing: “This is good. You’re making better, smarter choices in men.”

“Huh? I am?”

“Yes. You’re learning.”

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“In a relationship there’s always one who kisses and one who is kissed.” – Parting Glances

 

There was a brief long distance non-thing with a man who was looking for a slave. In my newly formed “Fuck it, I’ll just enjoy life and say yes to things I don’t normally say yes to” state of mind, I went with it. As someone with an active imagination and an appreciation for being submissive, I learned things. For example, who knew there were vibrating nipple clips available out there? (Non-dating bonus: I *may* own some now.) Nothing physical happened with that, but the conversations were interesting – to say the least. They’ll make for fantastic writing material in the future.

I took a month and a half off from dating to reevaluate. Loosely translated: No one even remotely interesting came along.

Let the learning experiences and dating bonuses keep coming!

TO BE CONTINUED…Part 3: Prince, or Ax Murderer? https://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/11/15/my-match-com-experiment-prince-or-ax-murderer-dating-bipolar-part-3/

 

Read Part 1: A Year of Being Single-ish and Dating Bipolarhttps://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/10/23/my-match-com-experiment-a-year-of-being-singleish-dating-bipolar/

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COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS WRITING/BLOG MAY BE COPIED OR USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

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Ps. To everyone I dated who reads this blog – which I think is nearly all of you – you know my policy on being honest on here, so please realize I’m doing only that and there are no personal jabs.

My Match.com Experiment – A Year of Being Single-ish and Dating Bipolar. Pt.1

23 Oct

Dating Bipolar: Don’t Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies – Part 1

“Don’t you worry…you’ll find yourself. Follow your heart and nothing else.” –Lynard Skynard

I was putting together a complicated desk lamp that came in pieces and had an unusual bulb. Realistically, the bulb was supposed to simply click into the piece, but it wasn’t. Each time I slid the pieces together, it wouldn’t fit. I tried another way. Nothing. This kept happening, despite me trying to force it. About to give up, I flipped it over and thought I’d give it one more shot. With a click, it all came together beautifully. I thought to myself, this is how dating should be.

10659363_558137154319761_573970518791320977_n My hand hovered over the keyboard. Click. I’d just joined Match.com. I certainly hadn’t planned it an hour ago. It just happened.

“You are going to end up old and alone!”

Yes. Yes, I know. I’ve been told that by everyone I’ve ever dated as I walked out the door.

I decided to date after a long, roller coaster marriage that was in a freeze with a separation. I thought I owed it to myself to try it out. In my lifetime I’ve never had a relationship while stabilized. I’ve never dated as diagnosed.

Actually, I’ve never dated.

Every relationship I’ve ever had was one borne from convenience and because I had no one else. My family life was nearly nonexistent for most of my life, and rocky on its best days. I would try to make a relationship that worked…a “create my own family, so fuck you” sort of thing. When it failed, I jumped right into another one. The only relationship that was not that way was my marriage to Jordan. Being that I was from New England at the time and he from across the continent in Alberta, Canada, there was nothing local, convenient or inexpensive about it. A visa, green card, waiting periods, dealing with the immigration nightmare and not being allowed to work in this country put a huge strain on us, but we weathered it. The wrestling and entertainment business was another huge strain. We managed that, too. Moving often, not having family around, no steady paychecks, sharing an office and deciding not to have kids for some of those reasons caused more strain. We actually had to work hard to be together, which is why we lasted so long. Much of our strain united us tighter but some didn’t. I don’t regret a minute of it. However, being undiagnosed with bipolar disorder had its effect on our marriage and everything got blamed on my disorder. This translates to the whole of the failure being solely on me. I’ll readily admit I was no picnic to live with without the meds, but not all that went wrong was the fault of a genetic disease.

By the way, it is never okay to ask a couple when they plan on having babies or why they don’t have kids. That’s akin to asking, “So, how much money do you make? Oh, and how big is your dick?” Just don’t do it. It puts people on the spot and usually one of the two is not completely at ease with the idea of being childless. After a while, I just started to respond, “Oh, gosh…no plans on kids. I like my vagina just the way it is. How’s yours, by the way? Still blown out pretty badly?” 

August 2014 marked the one year point since I bought my house. I ventured out into the dating world with major trepidation after waiting six months. How could I explain to people what I do? What I had? When exactly do you bring up the fact that you’re bipolar in a dating situation? After the appetizers so your date can run away screaming before the main course? After sex? Maybe you never mention it and surreptitiously swallow your pills on the side?

What do you do about the fact that the medications that stabilize your emotions make you somewhat emotionless? After a lifetime of making (often irrational) emotional decisions, I was all of a sudden a level-headed, logical being…and I had no idea who the fuck this person was.

Among other things to control my bipolar disorder, I see a therapist, who makes me feel normal. She said as far as relationships go, I should be a delicious cake all on my own, and my partner should only be the icing. He would be complimentary, but not necessary. Wanted, but not needed.

My husband was amazing. He is one of the kindest, funniest, smartest people I’ve ever met. He is handsome, in great shape, smart, driven and has always been there for me no matter what or how awful I’ve been. mime-attachmentYet I felt something was missing, although I don’t know what. He was negative with his personality and it tended to trigger me in a badly. We would bring out the worst in each other. Half the time I’d acquiesce to avoid another fight and hate myself later. I’d come out swinging the other half of the time. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store or gym would degenerate into an argument nearly every time. With my immediate family dead and his in another country, we were all we had and we stayed together and fought every day.

It was a rather unhealthy co-dependency. We were not a good team, or the icing to each others cake. If we were on The Amazing Race, we wouldn’t have made it out of the first airport.

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My (our) therapist’s verdict: “I like both you and Jordan…but I don’t like you together.”

I found I enjoyed living alone once we split. We originally agreed we wouldn’t date others, but I was confused as to what I wanted. I felt stuck in gridlock. I wanted to move ahead but was afraid to let go of him. He accepted me as me, entirely. He was also a good friend. However, we did a lot of damage to each other and wasn’t sure moving past it was possible, or that I even wanted to try.

I’d never felt more alone than in September while packing by myself while he worked a wrestling show the weekend before we moved. I had spent Christmas by myself, got blamed for an accident with one of our dogs (who tore his knee out on my watch because I’d taken him to the dog park) and dealt with a case of pneumonia alone so strong I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. At the six month mark, I didn’t know if I wanted to be solo full-time any longer.

I’ve toyed with the idea of avoiding relationships and becoming a nomad with a string of guys in various cities (Texas boyfriend. Saskatchewan boyfriend. Irish Tour Bus boyfriend) like some of my male entertainer friends. Being that I’m a destructive person-or rather, that I have a destructive disorder-I wondered if it was even fair to try dating again. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was hurt another person.

However, I missed romance. I missed conversation. I missed the “partner in crime” aspect of being with someone I connected with in some way. I felt life was passing me by…one ComicCon at a time.

“I think I’ll get saddled up and go looking for a woman. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days. I’m not picky. As long as she’s smart and pretty, sweet and gentle and tender and refined and lovely and carefree.” –Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

I watched the movie The Wolverine while at a hotel in Connecticut. Mariko sat across from Logan, who’d stuck his chopsticks upright in the rice. “Don’t do that. It’s a bad omen. It reminds us of incense at funerals.” Later, Logan does it again. Mariko removes the chopsticks and shakes her head sadly. “I don’t expect you to understand. You’re not Japanese.”

How can I expect a man who isn’t in the entertainment business to understand what I deal with every day?
When I talked to a couple of my male wrestler friends about this, they suggested that dating outside the business is a good thing – to keep the mystery. Just deal with the aches and pains and let them stay in the dark. It gives you more to talk about when you’re not in the same business.

I’d written this excerpt an earlier blog: “I am so fucking fucked, it’s fucked up.
There. That’s about my entire story in a nutshell. I am broken. Completely broken, and like shattered shards of glass, anyone who comes near me walks away bleeding. So, I have become more and more of a recluse, afraid to have friends or relationships, because I know I’ll just end up destroying the people I care about, which kills me inside and makes me—once again—want to kill myself. It’s a fantastic pattern, isn’t it? And that’s what being bipolar is.”

Feeling shattered for so long and like I had nothing to offer, I think I just wanted to see where I stood in the real world-the one without spandex, 28-year-olds hitting on me, and camera lenses. 

My first kiss outside of my marriage was with one of the You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out kids who was now about my age. We’d done a convention appearance together and I went out with him after. Then I went on a date with a young marine who had PTSD so bad that he said he couldn’t sleep…instead, he drank. Nothing came of either of those situations other than friendship. 

So, on a Sunday night, I clicked JOIN on Match.com. As I was filling out my profile, I decided not to tell people what I do, limiting my career to a vague “writer, comic book model and former athlete”.

This is where a girl goes when she doesn’t frequent bars, doesn’t want to date co-workers, doesn’t want to date out of her age group and doesn’t want people to know who she is until she decides to tell them. For the first time in my life, I’d like to have someone know me before they Google my boobs.

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My problem has always been that I’m not attracted to many people. Sure there are a lot of good-looking people around, especially in the Tampa Bay area, but I lean 60/40 towards wit and intelligence. (Sapiosexual. Google it.) If that’s not there, it doesn’t matter how pretty someone is…I can’t get into them. Once I walked around a 3-day comic convention looking to see if there was anyone I’d sleep with if we were the last two people on Earth. Out of all the celebrities, fans, rock legends…not one. That’s not a knock on anyone – it’s just a deficit on my end.

“That’s the trouble with falling in love with a dream girl. They have a habit of becoming real.”  -Nicholas Cage, Lord of War

162922890QI put up a handful of “me being normal” photos and I was off and running.1920575_446830105450467_372946613_n

Within a few minutes of joining the site, my inbox was flooded with emails. 151 more the next morning. I soon realized I’d have to quit my job if I wanted to go through them all or date.

Most were crap. I felt obligated to write back to most until it got too tiresome and I realized it was screwing up my odds. If you write to people you don’t like, they send you more of that exact type.

Match.com puts all the stuff no one likes to talk about front and center. For me: Wants kids? Probably not. Spiritual not religious. Politics: Middle of the road. Looking for tall, gainfully employed in a real career, witty, loves pets, no smoking, no drugs, athletic and toned. Race? Whatever. Hair color? No preference.

As it were, “athletic and toned” has a broad definition on Match.com. It ranges from bodybuilder to “I played football for a semester in high school”, but it mostly means they worked out twice a week and weren’t serious about it. I realize fitness isn’t the highest priority when you’re dealing with CEO’s, app developers and doctors, so I had to be more open-minded. As with everything, there’s a trade. For this, less fit meant educated, intelligent, traveled and financially stable.

I was still getting emails from 27-year olds, too.
Half the men my age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before. The other half looked like shit. It was a shame. There were some really witty, interesting people who just didn’t keep themselves up.

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“Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion.”
— Scott Adams

I created a system for narrowing down all the replies. Any spelling or grammatical errors I crossed them off my list (unless English was their second language). I don’t care how hot someone is. If he can’t figure out ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, no deal. I also crossed people off who took themselves too seriously on their profile, wrote that their spare time was filled watching sports or who wrote an entire profile dedicated to any female reading it. (“My favorite thing? Coming home to YOU.”) Seriously? He wrote that? Piss off. I can’t even imagine the type of woman who would fall for that kind of crap. Wait, yes I can.
Additional cuts: Guys who had no profile photo, guys who only had photos with sunglasses on, guys who only had one photo up and guys who had 11 photos of the same exact selfie in a different shirt. There were also guys who were extremely religious and wrote all about Jesus and church on their profiles. No can do.

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Then there were the bad profiles: the ones who were negative, bitter, railed about women who were looking for free dinners or the one guy who insisted he and his date would “go Dutch” so no one got their feelings hurt and to keep it fair. In other words, he didn’t have a job.

I’m the furthest thing from a gold digger, but if I’m taking the time to know someone, get dressed up and meet him, he is damn well paying for dinner or drinks. Call me old school.

Two out of three guys listed “Long walks on the beach” as something they enjoy. Holy cliché. “I enjoy long walks on the beach…after anal.” At least that is honest.

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Then there were the…interesting…ones. One guy was a Latino painter with the screen name PassionatePainter and a photo of him reclining on his side – naked – with just his bits covered and a gayer than gay look on his face. His byline: “Do you have passion? Real passion?” He kept emailing me to ask why I didn’t want to meet him and then stated that clearly I was missing out and not ready to experience…Wait for it…passion.

LowSelfEsteemGentleman. (Names have been changed to protect the delusional.) “You probably won’t write back, but maybe you will.” Yeah. I need that headache. I can see the future already: Me constantly reassuring him that my tour schedule won’t include other penises. No thanks.
ChubbyAndCan’tTakeAHint: “I like you. I hope to hear back soon.” (I didn’t write back. Ever.) Day 2-46 a new email each day came through along the lines of this: “I was wondering why I didn’t hear back from you? I think your (SIC) pretty. I hope to hear from you soon.”
ImMuchOlderThanISayIAm: “I read your profile and think we have a lot in common. Here’s my number. We should meet up.” This person usually looked like my grandfather.
IHaveNoShirtOnAndWillBoreYouToDeath: “Sup? We should meet.” That’s all. Nothing else. This guy usually was shirtless, jacked and/or shredded and boring as fuck. I’m sorry. That’s rude. I meant that he was wit-and-charm-challenged.
IHaveNoIdeaHowToTalkToGirls: “How is your day going?” I’ve never met you. Why are you asking me that? I am not lying when I tell you that this type of reply is the majority of what came to me. Eloquence at its best. Guys, there is an entire profile there and most women LOVE to talk about themselves. Try reading it and picking 1-3 things to hone in on and talk about in your intro email. Other than her tits/ass/feet/WhateverItIsYouHopeSheIsWillingToUseOnYou.
You’re welcome.

HeyArentYouAprilHunter: Shit. Yeah, I got some of those, too. “Why are you even on here??” Um…the same reason you are? In my nearly fifteen years in the wrestling business, I’ve dated a grand total of three wrestlers. Before that, I was still in the entertainment business with fitness and modeling and dated mostly “civilians”. One of the wrestlers I dated was also an actor; the attention we got just walking through an airport or standing in line for a coffee was ridiculous. We couldn’t go anywhere without people stopping to talk or snap photos. He seemed unfazed by the attention. I hated it. When I’m not April Hunter, I am not April Hunter.

I even got an email from a guy who went to the same college as I in Pennsylvania. Small world.

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“I’ve always liked smart women but it’s been an expensive hobby.” Javier Bardem in The Counselor


Chemistry isn’t compatibility. Chemistry is when you physically click together, regardless of how good or bad you are for one another. Compatibility is generally sharing the same values and balancing each other out. That can occur without chemistry.

That said, if you fill out your Match.com questions honestly, half of that will be taken out of the equation, since you’ll be matched up according to compatibility. So, 50% of the work is pretty much done for you.

“It doesn’t hurt to ask. Sometimes the most beautiful girls are the loneliest.” – Jaws 2

I selected some men in the age range of 37-45 and began talking with them, based first upon their profile photos and what they’d written. Everyone I met, other than two, should have listed “average” as their body type instead of “athletic and toned”.
This is where online dating worked in my favor. I got to know their minds first. They had to write something witty or intelligent enough to make me want to write back.

“The biggest aphrodisiac in the world is someone who likes you and isn’t afraid to show it.” –Mark Manson

First there was a guy I call Jesus & Babies. More on that in a moment. He was my first Internet date and I was fairly concerned he’d be an ax murderer. He wasn’t an ax murderer. He sent a very sweet, bright email about how he was about to quit Match.com, but it sent him my profile and his heart skipped a beat when he read my profile, etc, etc, etc. (I suggest you use this line in the future, guys. It’s a solid one.)
Before we met, he asked, “Do you really look like your pictures?”

“Uh…yeah. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Ha. You wouldn’t believe how many don’t.”

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I was surprised when I saw him. He resembled the adult version of a pretty boy band singer (or the twin brother to actor Michael Vartan). Tall, blond hair, blue eyed and extremely fit. He was actually much better looking in person than in his photos, thus ruining it for a good portion of my dates after him, and a ridiculously profound kisser. He looked like the beach volleyball player he was on the side, not someone who spent his days in Tampa General Hospital. Apparently I was okay too, because he hugged me, kissed my cheek and exclaimed in his Louisville, Kentucky southern accent, “My word, you are beautiful!”

I asked who he usually dated, and he rattled off a tirade of frustrations. Most of them were 20-30 pounds heavier in person or who looked a decade older. I would find this to be a common theme for many men. Ladies, don’t lie or put up out-of-date photos. You’re eventually going to meet someone in person, so there’s no point. Plus you never know who is going to like you for you. Some guys are intimated by someone too pretty and prefer a few flaws here and there.

He also said he only dated Latinas. I’m always taken as Spanish. I told him I was Latin, not Latina…he said “Well, you look like you are and that’s what I am attracted to.” He was a wine expert and somewhat of a chef, with a talent for throwing together anything and making it taste incredible. He ate like I did; low carb, high protein and red wine. He also used paper towels torn in half as napkins, something that was just a touch “white trash” and reminded me of home.

However, he was legitimately fucking insane.

After our meeting, I hadn’t even pulled out of the parking lot when he texted me.
Him: “Oh, my. I want to see you again. Like sooner than later. You’re brilliant and insanely beautiful. I’m overwhelmed with my thoughts right now. No one has ever grabbed my attention like this before…you are different. When can I see you? Tonight?” I pretended I was busy for the next day or two and set a time in the future.

My friend Kyle (who met his fiancé on the same site) texted afterward: “How did it go?”
Me: “Better than I expected. Good looking, smart as hell…has a career…he’s probably an ax murderer.” Kyle: “Sounds like he might be ok, but don’t buy the first car you drive.”

Sage advice, my friend.

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Jesus and Babies: “I’m yours until you break my heart. I’m pulling my online dating profile.”
Me: “Um…are you sure? That’s really sweet, but we just met…everything is new…” I thought he was rushing everything. And I had no plans to pull MY profile.
Jesus and Babies: “Yes.”

His hot streak was a nice change after a marriage that was lacking in heat and compliments. (My husband rarely (never) said anything nice because he felt my fans said it, so I didn’t need to hear it.) He thought nothing of picking me up and throwing me onto a bar stool or against a wall somewhere for a make out session. However, you know how game recognizes game? Well, I’m pretty sure he was undiagnosed with bipolar disorder, amongst other things. He was sharp as a tack, but in a way that seemed to be looking for weaknesses. He would also flash between happy and outgoing to moody and withdrawn.

He earned his nickname because despite reading “Spiritual, not religious” and “Kids: probably not” on my profile, he insisted on contacting me and then spending our time trying to convince me we should have children who believed in Jesus. (#KentuckyProblems.) During dinner, he had the annoying habit of staying glued to the basketball game, yelling at the TV for Louisville. I couldn’t help but think, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, scream at TV’s.” One day he’d be all over me nonstop, the next two would be silent. I can’t do hot and cold. It’s too much like the household I grew up in. He flipped out on me when I told him.

1613924_10201776557790783_1761733339_nMe: “Well, maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore.”
Him: “Really? REALLY? Oh, that’s great. Not again.” Of course it was my fault. Did I mention that he had Mommy Issues and at 39-years old, had never been married?

One day after blowing me off for basketball (“Can’t. Two words for you: NCAA Tournament.”), I’d had enough. I just shut it all off. I have a weird ability to shut down after enough disappointment. When he texted a few days later and asked me to dinner, I no longer cared, had started dating others and had decided to push him as to why he ran cold. “Seriously, just tell me. I want to know. You won’t (can’t) hurt my feelings.” He denied it at first, and then told me he’d decided because I didn’t accept Jesus into my life and didn’t seem to want to have babies (with him), he was not okay with our situation. “I’ve waited long enough for a child. I don’t want to be a 70-year old dad.” He also didn’t like that I wasn’t “low key.” He seemed horribly uncomfortable with women whom he thought would get attention in any way. (The irony is, when I’m not being paid to get people’s attention, I don’t crave any attention.)

I wouldn’t contact a flame-haired comic book model with huge boobs if I had a problem with that. Would you? Thing is, he’s not the first baby crazy guy I’ve gotten. Not even the third. Something happens to guys when they hit a certain age…or I bring out the crazy-for-babies types.

At one of our dinners, I had casually mentioned something about mental health and his response: “Those people get addicted to their meds and really don’t need it. It’s all psychological.” Considering he was in the medical field, I was kind of floored by his comment.

My therapist’s verdict: “Do NOT date this guy. Sleep with him if you want, but don’t date him.” I didn’t end up doing either.

This was my very first online dating experience. Or maybe I should refer to it as my first online learning experience. I felt it was too soon to sleep with anyone after my husband and I wonder if that’s why he was so odd towards me. After Jesus & Babies, I decided it would be smarter to date several men at the same time, not get sexually involved with any of them and keep all at a distance. Just have fun and be straight up about everything. 

“I have a lot of boyfriends; I want you to write that. Every country I visit, I have a different boyfriend. And I kiss them all.”
— Anna Kournikova

Onward with the learning experiences!

To Be Continued…Part Two. The Good, The Bad, The Dating, The Ryans. https://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/11/04/my-match-com-experiment-the-good-the-bad-the-dating-the-ryans-part-2/

COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS WRITING/BLOG MAY BE COPIED OR USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

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AC/DC – A Long Wait For The Day That Never Comes

17 Jul

I will occasionally edit for other writers.

This is something I edited for someone who had a story, but is not a writer. I chose it as part of my resume’ and collection here for that exact reason. That, and the content. Hopefully, you’ll be as entertained as I was.

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A Long Wait for the Day That Never Comes

     “You fucking cunt!” 

The hostile words screamed from my mouth still echoed the walls as we were escorted out of Madison Square Garden by six large men and one fat, angry little woman into the dark, rainy New York streets. 

     AC/DC, arguably the greatest hard rock band on earth was finally on tour again after an eight-year hiatus. They were playing two sold-out nights in New York City. Years of waiting and planning – and I managed to procure floor seats. That’s right; the mighty AC/DC LIVE IN NEW YORK – AT THE HISTORIC GARDEN! Unfortunately, I was never going to see this show.

Acdc_backinblack_cover     From an early age, I’ve been involved in a passionate love affair with rock and roll. When my aunt died of a drug overdose, I was the beneficiary of her record collection. Among these was an AC/DC Back In Black album. While flipping through my newly acquired collection, I was immediately intrigued by the simple black cover and the spiky, violent lettering of the famous AC/DC logo that said so much by showing so little. (Looking back, it was a fitting follow-up to Highway to Hell and the untimely death of the great Bon Scott.)

     When I placed the album onto the turntable and laid the needle down, I was greeted with the ominous tone to the opening of Hell’s Bells. The bells of death slowly rang and Angus Young’s guitar riffs filled the speakers. I was enthralled. As AC/DC rocked out, I held the album in my lap and poured over the artwork and lyrics. I had never heard anything so overpowering and beautiful. I had never seen anything so bizarre as this crazy long-haired man in a schoolboy uniform sporting a guitar with horns running around stage. I was hooked. 

     Many alcoholics and drug addicts often go back to the first time they tasted liquor or their first shot of junk; a vivid memory because it was a profound moment that ultimately affected the rest of their lives. In addition, they say the first high is always the best and you spend the rest of your life trying to duplicate it. To me, this moment was profound because my life has never been the same since that day. My vice isn’t the bottle or dope; it’s rock music – and I will never get enough.

     If rock and roll can be deemed a religion, then I was officially baptized at eight years old by AC/DC. I’m now thirty-nine and still listen to the same music that I did when I was in the fifth grade.

     When I hold a record in my hands, I worship it the way the priest does his bible. From the print on the spine to the smell of the sleeve, I cherish every part of the album and savor every note of the music. This is primarily why I detest CDs so much; they have no soul. Listening to an album is an experience. Only people who truly love music can understand what I am saying. Music just seems more alive on vinyl and the album sleeve is a real piece of artwork in your hands.acdcscan0039

     There are two types of people in this world; people who like music and people who live and die by it. I am the latter. I’m one of those guys that could be in a bar surrounded by willing, beautiful women, but spending all of my time going nuts over the excellent jukebox instead.  Whenever I’ve had extra cash on hand, I spent it on an album. I once lost a job in college because I HAD to see Fugazi when they came to New Orleans. They rarely made it to the area and it was not going to happen again in the near future. I had skipped work and gone to the show. Of course, I got fired and almost couldn’t feed myself, but it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I don’t think they made it down to New Orleans ever again.

     With that said, I will now tell you about the worst night of my life. I had been waiting years to see AC/DC live. I’d missed their tours in both high school and college. Military deployments kept me away as well. After years of sifting through web sites, magazines and chat rooms, rumors of their long-awaited new album had begun to circulate. My time had finally come.  AC/DC was going on tour again after eight long years and there was no way in a highway to hell I was going to miss it. 

     Because I am an anal retentive music fanatic, I strongly believe that there are only a few places that a rock show may be seen. These locations (in order) are New York, Donnington, Los Angeles and London. Additionally, wherever the band is from will suffice as well since hometown crowd enthusiasm is usually unparalleled. I am from New York and have had the pleasure of seeing most of my favorite bands there. Compared to other places around the U.S. that I’ve been, bands just don’t put out the same way they do when in the Big Apple – it’s a fact.  New York crowds also are the most responsive and fun, therefore making the concert experience a memorable one. If one of my favorite bands is playing, I will always fly to NY from wherever I am to see them.

    AC/DC rocks Madison Square Garden It’s literally impossible to get a good ticket from the Nazis at Ticketmaster, so I was forced to deal with a group of dirty pirates known as ticket brokers. AC/DC would be in NYC in November; by September my plans were in motion. After getting raped for almost $600, I had acquired floor seats. I originally wanted to spend $500 per ticket to get closer to the stage, but my brother, who was my faithful concert companion, would not go for it. We were still on the floor, which was fine by me.

     After waiting roughly eight years and two months, November thirteenth arrived and it was time to rock. I flew up to Long Island on the morning of the 13th from Orlando, Florida and met up with my brother. We had a great day planned; we were going to take the train into the city, catch up with our younger sister, who was a senior at Fordham University, and get properly smashed with other AC/DC fans at the bars surrounding the Garden. 

     Our first stop was the Blarney Rock on 34th Street. The Blarney is a carpenters’ union bar that has outstanding food. My brother and I downed four beers, a basket of wings and watched a bar fight between two irate carpenters while we waited for our younger sibling to show up. So far, the day was coming along famously.

     When my sister arrived we hit up a few bars around the Garden looking for trouble. Being that it was only three o’clock and the show didn’t start until eight, everything was still fairly quiet. We stumbled upon Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, where we heard AC/DC tunes being played full blast on the restaurant speaker system. Derrick, our bartender, was a great guy and seemed highly entertained by our rambunctious state due to the family reunion and of course, AC/DC.  We proceeded to drink several Pabst Blue Ribbon tall-boys while singing along to AC/DC tunes. 

     My brother was the first of the group to display his drunken state when he got up on his bar stool and screamed, “AC/DC…HIGHWAY TO HELL…WOOOOOOO!!!!!!” After being told to calm down a bit, Derrick gave us a round of shots on the house and asked us to please stay a while. My last clear memory of the BBQ establishment was the three of us slamming our hands down on the bar in synch to the bass drum opening of Hells Bells. The bar had gotten packed full of AC/DC fans and had become very festive. At 7:30 we parted ways with our sister and hauled ass over to the Garden.

     As we entered the front of Madison Square Garden, we immediately stopped at the bar and I ordered two vodka cranberries. In hindsight, I should have known better. My brother was a beer guy and has never handled booze very well. Despite this well-known fact, my brother, being the good Jew that he was, had never turned down anything that was free and eagerly took the cocktail.

     Our seats were great – right on the floor towards the back of the fourth section. We quickly made friends with everyone around us and settled in. Within minutes my brother was convinced that we could get better seats. He was a city cop and knew a lot of officers who moonlighted at the Garden. To my surprise and delight, he knew the ushers working the first section in front of the stage. His friend told us that if we came back after the first band was done, she would get us to the front without any problems. This night had officially gone from damn good to quite possibly the greatest time of my life. Or so I thought. This is where the story gets better for the reader and goes horribly wrong for the narrator.

 

******

 

   ACDC_edit  One of my pre-concert rituals is to take everything in around me; the stage, the lighting, the sound booth and of course, the impressive size of the arena. After all, if rock is my religion, then the concert venue is my church. As the lights dimmed, the first band made its way onto the stage.  They were called The Answer and also hailed from Australia. As I looked around the dark arena, little red lights began to illuminate the Garden. AC/DC sold these devil horn headbands that lit up and flashed red. It was awesome to see glowing devil horns floating in the dark all around me. My excitement suddenly kicked and the realization that I was finally there hit me hard. The Answer started playing and sounded a bit like a Led Zeppelin cover band.

     Halfway through the first song, I felt a tugging at my shirt. I looked down and my brother was sitting with his head between his legs, spitting onto the floor. Being the man of the world that I am, I immediately recognized his actions as the universal sign for “I’m gonna puke.” I grabbed him by the back of his shirt and dragged him into the nearest restroom.

     The floor seat restrooms are definitely the best kept secret in New York. Squeaky clean, never a line. No puke or some douche bag pissing in the sink. Furthermore, there’s a liquor bar right outside.  Instead of taking a twenty-five minute trip for a shitty, lukewarm beer, you can have vodka!

     Anyway, I dragged my brother into a stall and he immediately started letting the chunks fly. Up came the wings, beer, vodka cranberries and even a bagel we had at the train station.

     After about ten minutes, I asked, “Are you done yet?”  I heard a faint whisper emanate from the stall: “I have to shit.”

     My brother is a father of two and owns two properties. Recreational drinking is and has been a thing of the past for quite some time. When he gets a chance to go out, he blows the wheels off. Additionally, when he is really sick, he always has to defecate. One time he slipped on ice and hurt his back. At the hospital when he came to, they had to carry him to the bathroom to evacuate his bowels. I guess it’s some weird reaction his body has to pain. I think it’s totally fucking gross. I’ll just leave it at that. 

     So, at that point, my brother was crapping in a stall while spitting on the floor. The Answer had just finished their set and I began to get antsy. I got up on the adjoining toilet and looked into his stall, shouting, “Get your shit together, it’s almost GO TIME!” No response. I opened the door and slapped him in the face. “What the fuck!”  He was up. After a few moments of motivating words and cheers, he cleaned up and emerged from the stall. 

     He appeared okay and it was apparent that we were going to make it. My brother looked at me with sleepy eyes and asked where the sink was. As I turned to point to the row of sinks, vomit sprayed past the tip of my index finger. Jesus Christ. My brother coated two sinks in puke.  Luckily, there was no one in the bathroom. I felt so bad; I tried to conceal the mess by wiping off the sinks with a wad of paper towels.

     Finally, in a strong and confident voice, my brother bellowed, “I’m ready, let’s rock.”  He took two steps and did a header straight into the tile wall and slid to the ground. I put one arm around his waist and made him put his arm around my shoulder. As we entered the floor area of MSG, we looked like a couple of soldiers fresh out of a shit-storm firefight in Da Nang. 

     I walked him quietly by a group of ushers back to our seats. “Stop right there!” Fuck. A small, fat woman ran over.  “He’s too drunk.  He’s gotta go.” 

     I assured the woman that he was fine and there would not be any problems.  She wasn’t hearing any of it. I began to beg. Like a little bitch I stood over her and pleaded with everything I had.  “Please ma’am, these tickets were very expensive and I’ve been waiting years for this show.” Nothing.

     She said there was no way my brother could stay. At this point, I started to hurl every curse word I’d ever learned at her. In short time, we were surrounded by six very large, very black security guards. The guards escorted my brother and me to an elevator and boarded with us. As the elevator began to move, my brother came to and cocked his head up. It wobbled like a baby who had not yet developed the proper muscles to hold its head up straight. “I bet you all voted for Obama…fuck you!”  He then passed out. I looked up at the six large men. “I’m sorry; he doesn’t know what he’s saying.” Thank God they worked for the Garden because if we had been on the street, I’d be dead.

     I couldn’t believe this was happening.

We had floor seats and were about to have FRONT ROW seats. Now we had nothing.

     At this point, some readers might ask, “If it was so important to you, why didn’t you just leave him be and see AC/DC by yourself?”  Well, to this fair question I have a two-part reply. First, you never leave family behind. Second, the puke-spewing poop machine next to me was a New York cop. I couldn’t allow him to tarnish his record with a drunk and disorderly charge. 

     As the guards escorted us out, fans were making their way in. They were happy, rambunctious and walking into us because they were drunk. Drunk. I started getting mad and began pushing people away from me like I was in a mosh pit. We were surrounded by huge guards in red jackets so nobody messed with us. Before I knew it, we were standing in the cold rain staring at the entrance of Madison Square Garden.

     I dragged my brother down to Penn Station to catch the train back to Long Island. When I asked him which train we needed to take, he just laughed at me. I dropped him on the dirty floor. While my brother slept like a drunken snow angel on the station’s concrete, I searched for the information. Our train left in four minutes with the next one in two hours. I picked him up military style and we made our way for the track like we were trying to catch a chopper out of a hot zone. People stared and laughed. I was not drunk. I did have a headache and was sweating. It all fucking sucked. We made the train.

     The moment we passed through the doors, my brother informed me that he was going to get sick again. If we got kicked off the train, the next two stops we’d likely be dropped off were really bad areas to be stranded at night if you happen to be a couple of white Jewish guys. I wasn’t in the mood to end my stellar day by having my teeth knocked out, so I hustled him through five cars before finding the bathroom. Ripping the door open, I chucked him in. As the latch closed, I could already hear him wretching. “Whhhooooaaaaauuuugh!” 

     About ten minutes later, Old Jew Lady was complaining that the bathroom was still locked. I opened the door for her and of course, my brother is on the toilet shitting again with his head between the legs. “You can go ahead and use it. I’m sure he won’t mind.” She gasped and stalked off to another car. I held onto the railing as the car swayed. We would not be home for another forty-five minutes.

     Staring out the window, I wondered how the concert was going. I began to cry into my arm and choked back a sob. Really – I did. People were understandably staring at me. Here was a guy with steel-toed boots, ripped jeans and a full-sleeve tattoo, weeping like a little girl. I don’t even cry at relatives’ funerals. I had officially hit a new low.

     About thirty minutes later, my brother popped out of the bathroom like a goddamn jack-in-the-box. He was smiling, lucid and looked like a million bucks. “What’s up bro,” he said grinning ear to ear. My only response was a whispered, “Get the fuck away from me.” 

  acdccustom_1234388747870_forged_acdc_ticket_2008_front  When we got to his stop, my brother bolted off of the train and down to the parking lot. When I got down there, I could see his truck rounding the corner. Did that motherfucker just leave me stranded at a train station? Yes, he did. It began to rain again. I put my hands into the front pockets of my jeans and found my concert ticket stub. Taking it out, I held it up to my face for a few seconds and let it drop to the ground. I stood there and watched for a few minutes as the falling rain slowly seeped into it. 

     I was completely gutted because I was so excited to add that stub to my framed wall of concert tickets. This was THE prize; more important than my Stones ticket and more meaningful than the stub that proved I was lucky enough to be grossly underwhelmed at a Nirvana concert. I wanted to be hit by a car.

     I’m in my brother’s neighborhood once or twice a year, tops.  If you’re in Nassau County, you know everything looks the same. Every street has a pizza parlor, nail shop and deli. It’s the same type of house style, too – one after another. It took me over an hour to find my way back.

     I won’t go into the aftermath of this event, but I will say it was the single biggest let down of my adult life.

     I can only hope and pray that the lovely woman who threw us out got a raging case of herpes.

     To this day, I am still deeply scarred.

– Ryan S. Nichols

 

He Said

10 Jul

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He said, “I’ll be there tomorrow.”

Excitement. My heart beats. I smile.

Then panic. I did not like the fact that someone had the ability to make me feel this way.

If he can make me feel happy, he can make me feel sad.

That scares me.

A lot scares me.

Having control is key. Key to focus. Key to life. Key to sanity.

Someone else making me happy is not having control.

 

When I was safe inside a relationship, there was control. There was the comfortable glide. There was security.

This is none of that. It’s up, it’s down. It’s long distance. It’s uncertainty.

It’s gut wrenching solitude.

It’s a hole in my heart.

It’s wanting. And not being able to have.

It’s being attached to the phone.

He exists in there when he’s not here.

His face, his words, our moments.

I had wanted unplug more.

 love-quotes-breaking-down-walls

How did this happen?

I’m usually so careful. Removed. Warm, yet cold. It’s hard for me to really care.

I’ve gotten it down to an art.

Smile. Converse. Drink wine. Ask them questions about themselves.

Even if it’s boring, act interested.

Eye contact. That’s what you have to do.

Sure, sure. Let’s do this again soon.

Let me check my schedule.

Oh, damn. I’m away. Maybe another time?

 

I’ve become more and more like a man in so many ways. I was raised by a man, I work with men, I have turned into one.

I’m not selfish. It’s self preservation.

Truth be told, most people aren’t worth it.

There exists a carefully cultivated fuck-you shell around me.

It intimidates.

Purposefully.

“You’re nothing at all like I’d thought you’d be. You’re smart…sweet.”

I know.

It’s a common comment I hear from people who make it past the muscle. The blunt truths. The loudness. The vibrancy.

I have a lot to give. I can’t afford someone who takes.

I only want real in my life. Not so easy to find.

 

He was different. His words alone were atypical.

He saw things differently.

He was strong. He was used to being the one to do the intimidating.

He had his own uniquely cultivated shell.

He got into my head. I couldn’t get him out.

I tried. I gave up.

Gave in.

 

We were a lot alike. 

Maybe too much alike.

 

He said, “You’re so different than I’m used to.”

How?

“Well…you’re like a guy in a pretty girl’s body. That’s what I like, though.”

Really? Someone who views sex as sex? Someone who swears far too much? Someone who lives on steak and bacon? Someone who takes no shit, will shove people out of the way and not think twice about punching another in the throat if there’s cause for it? Someone who would rather go to a shooting range than a romantic comedy? Someone whose dog holds more value than all the jewelry she owns? Someone who watches Das Boot and knows who Yngwie Malmsteen is? Someone who hates malls? Someone who doesn’t give a shit about designer labels? Someone who doesn’t cook very often?  Someone who believes “Great mind talk ideas, good minds talk events and small minds talk people”? Someone who “gets to know herself”…often? Someone who believes the word ‘cunt’ should be used as a noun, adjective and verb? Someone who only half-heartedly cleans behind the toilet?

 

He said, “How bad are you? I’m asking because I really like you and want to know.”

Extreme. Rapid cycling. Out of my mind. Crazy. Bipolar.

Medicated.

He said, “Okay.”

And it was.

 

He said, “I’m being recruited. The job is across the state. I have my second interview this week.”

My gut twisted.

I wanted to run. But I didn’t.

But I wanted to.

 

He said, “I’m not sure if I’m taking it yet.”

I allowed myself to breathe.

For the moment.

 

He said, “I’m on my way.”

And I smiled.

 

Then one day he said, “I can’t do this right now.”

Why?

He said, “I can’t give you any more than this. I can’t give you what you deserve.

There are issues about myself I’ve always had. I’ve been working on them and thought I was all right. Mentally…I’m not.”

 

I suddenly realized that I’ve been him before.

I’ve done this to others.

 

I hated how it felt.

I felt raw and ripped open.

 

I’d hated how I felt when I did it to others.

It’s taken this to make me realize what I’ve done.

What I’ve done to those around me.

 

I wanted to help him. But I can’t. 

I know from being me that only he can help himself.

 

He said, “I’m sorry.”

And I was right.

He made me sad.

10533847_1442993665968920_9151163915382310193_n

 

Chapter 21: A Southwest Air Stalking

19 Jun

The Tampa airport was frenetically busy at what I considered to be an ungodly hour of the morning. For many writers, 7 a.m. is still the middle of the night. I am one of those writers. The alluring smell of fresh brewed coffee from Starbucks was almost enough to make me brave the line that stretched around the kiosk and halfwaydown the terminal…almost.If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get the two and a half hours of sleep on the flight I still so desperately need. I love my Starbucks…and not just because there are (so-called) rumors of it being laced with methamphetamines.

Starbucks-Schiphol

I’ve always wanted to be three things in life: a morning person, a black coffee drinker, and someone who can function perfectly on four hours sleep. I will never be any of these.

If I don’t get enough sleep, I literally feel hung over; nauseous, weak, foggy, and my head pounds. I’ve been on crazy wrestling tours where we didn’t catch more than a few hours sleep between a show the night before and getting on the tour busthe next morning to travel seven hours to another city. I was always deathly afraid I was going to drop someone on their head if I was sleep deprived.

It only happened once in my fifteen year career, but it DID happen – and it was bad. I was in Japan and jet lagged as hell. It was my first show on the tour. My opponent jumped off the top rope and I barely caught her in time; then I fell on top of her, snapping her ankle in several places. She needed surgery with metal rods and pins to put everything back together again. It is something I’ve always felt reallyhorrible about. I’ve also given myself several concussions by landing stupidly because I’m not all there while in the ring. Due to these things, I’ve managed to train myself to sleep anywhere in any situation. I know I have to when traveling in order to function.

I walked past the airport gates to find a water fountain for my refillable bottle. I’d love to say I’m environmental – and most days I am – but in this case, I’m just cheap. I refuse to pay $3.50 for water. Remember when water was free and you paid for porn?

An exhausted mother, herding three small children wearing Dora the Explorer backpacks and faces full of crumbs ran into me, her arms overloaded with diaper bags and…stuff. She apologized and I waved it away, asking her if she needed help. Her voice said “no, thank you”, but her sagging posture suggested otherwise. My heart went out to her. Then I secretly prayed if they were on my flight that they would be located far, far away from my row.

As I made my way back to my gate, a giant Mr. Olympia sized bodybuilder openly stared at me. Shaved head, shirt that was too tight and jeans that barely made it around his Hulk legs. He wasn’t bad looking, but he made me uncomfortable. He looked at me as if I was a steak and he hadn’t eaten in a week – and he didn’t stop staring. So, I kept walking.
I’m generally used to stares. But this guy started to follow me.
Sure, we are the same breed of alien gym rat. I’ll admit: our kind is rare. This does not mean I’d like to share my genetics with him to create miniature gym rats.

seriousFuck. I realize that he’s on the same flight I am. Southwest Air’s open seating policy makes people rush to board instead of clogging aisles trying to figure out what side A or D is on like aimless idiots. Most days I’m a huge fan of this concept…not today.

Naturally, Mr. Olympia was in “A” boarding as well and with nothing but open seats, he headed straight for my row. He and his much smaller friend squashed in, with him taking the middle seat.
Even the most petite human being will not willingly take a middle seat with other rows open. I was definitely being stalked.

He graciously allowed me half my window seat since his 300 pound frame and one leg took up the other half.

As if on cue: “You’re really vascular,” he stated. Vampires, athletes and Homeland Security agents looking for people carrying drugs love vascularity. I’ve learned to suffer the long sleeves in summer when returning through North American customs and immigration to avoid being “randomly selected”. 

“Um…yep.” I made a big show of opening my book wider and turning towards the window.

“You look great. I’m a personal trainer, so if you ever want help with your diet or anything, that’s what I do,” he volunteered.

“Ah.”

Him: “We travel to see Rush. Been to all their concerts. They’re playing in Philly tomorrow night. Do you like Rush?” I fucking love Rush. Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer and Limelight got me through endless I-95 drives lasting twenty-two hours, between parental visits from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Enterprise, Alabama.so-i-see-you-do-gym-tell-me-more-about-how-u-lift-things-up-and-put-them-down1

“They’re okay,” I replied.

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m…an accountant.” I deliberately picked the least interesting career I could think of on the spur of the moment.

“Oh? That’s interesting,” he said.

“Really, it’s not.”

“I love your hair. Can I touch it?”

“What?”

My copper red hair hit the back of my jeans in length. At the moment, much of it was on the armrest. He picked up a handful, rubbed it thoughtfully and then – SMELLED IT.

I snatched my hair back. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m just going to read and sleep.” I dramatically put earplugs in and made my 5’8”, 150 pound frame curl up as small as possible against the window.
I could tell I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep. Hell hath no fury like a bodybuilder scorned. He fidgeted around and continued a loud running commentary which included something about A playlists versus B playlists for Rush concerts for the duration of the two hour and thirty-eight minute flight. I wanted to ask him if he minded shutting the fuck up, but had a feeling it wouldn’t matter. I began to wish for the mother and her backpacked toddlers. At least they tend to fall asleep at some point after the seat kicking wears them down.windowseat

Damn. I had to pee, but would face the sticky issue of getting out of my row.Do I turn my ass or front to pass the guys? Forget it. I’ll just hold it.

“So, do you want to meet us for the concert in Reading Thursday night? I can probably get another ticket for that show.”

I looked at him and said, “Sorry, I think I have to return some videotapes.” He looked confused, thus confirming that the only thing we had in common were dumbbells.

“Uh, no. Not my thing. I’m not much of a concert goer.” Unless you count Kid Rock, Reverend Run, Greg Allman, Def Leppard, Coldplay, Madonna, Blue Oyster Cult, Whitesnake, Great White, Guns n Roses,an awesomely absinthed night at the Stone Temple Pilots, The Trailer Park Boys live, nearly every Cirque du Soleil show…I pushed my earplugs in deeper, turned into the window and tried to ignore his jostling leg up my rear. My throbbing forehead pressed against the cold window and I desperately wished for a pair of those expensive noise cancelling headphones and sleep.
When you don’t sleep on a flight, it seems long. Really, really long. This was clearly one of those flights.

_U6C0001 copyx

Eventually, it was time to get off the plane. Or as the airlines call it in their made-up word, “deplane”.
Mr. O eyed me as I stood up, looking like he may make one last desperate attempt. With a big smile and a warm tone in my voice I told him, “Touch anything on me and my fist will ‘Rush’ into your face, sweetheart.” He went silent for the first time in hours.

I stepped past him and shook out my hair. He took a step back and made room for me to pass. Victory. Exhausted victory.
Pee or Starbucks? I desperately needed the bathroom, but Starbucks was………Closer To The Heart.

 

COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

Truth or Lies?

3 Jun

lie

The problem with being around a writer is that you never know how much they’re taking from you. I steal – or am “inspired” – from many around me.

I take from people’s stories, personalities, problems and conversations.

Anything and everything can be material; I’m always observing. Nothing is off limits.

Bad decisions make the best stories.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with friends who have begged: “Please do not write about this, April. Okay?”

Or someone will hover over my shoulder as I’m writing. “What are you…?”

“Nothing.”

“Yeah, right. Let me see…”

“You smell like drama and a headache. Get away from me.”

So, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.    

 

April 054

 

There is a fine and sometimes blurry line between fake fiction and real non fiction.

 

“She kissed him and tasted cigarettes and disappointment.”

“Are you taking your medicine?”

“No.”

“But you’re depressed.”

“Good. That means I’ll be inspired.”

—-

Being single at fifty-two was confusing. She sipped her wine. Looking at the online dating sites seemed unreal. Half the men her age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before.

The other half looked like shit.

—-

“Mom died. You need to come home.”

That’s how he had ended up back in the tiny house, in a tiny Nebraska town full of tiny minds.

—–

Florian was only culturally Hispanic, because she found she’d had to translate a menu for him in the restaurant Paella. It was a culture Abby had quickly learned to appreciate after a small town, white bread upbringing chock full of aprons and meatloaf. His was one of café Bustelo and cigar factories.

She felt the heat emanating from his body as his full lips bit hers and brushed softly against her ear. He wrapped his hands in her hair and pulled her roughly into him in full view of whoever cared to watch in the busy parking garage. He pressed her against the car, burying his face in her neck. She liked the way he felt. She liked his dark eyes and aquiline nose. She liked his passion for life.

The next day Abby returned his text in Spanish and said, “I’ll make you learn this.”

“I know…I’m a bad Latino. I’m sure there are many things you can teach me. That’s why I’m keeping you.”

“Oh, are you? We shall see about that.”

“See we shall.”  

“Mind the gap.” The tube doors slid open and people rushed in as we shoved our way out, surfing along with the teeming throng of black and grey clad bodies pushing up the stairs. The grey-white tiled walls dripped with dampness…

She’s  late. Again.

Not because she’s high maintenance. Because she doesn’t want to go.

Procrastination. Stomach churning. She hates this.

Self revolving, self serving, selfish. Me, me, me. That is what she sees when she looks at them.

Far too stupid to be whores. They’d rather give it away like sluts. For attention.

“Look at me! How fabulous I am, right?”

Stupid, stupid girls.

Narcissism. Borderline personality disorder. Mommy and daddy issues. Undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  All rolled into one room multiplied by 35.

This is the entertainment business.

It won’t make you crazy. Crazy makes it.

He wrapped his arm around her from behind and in the filtered twilight, she could make out several skulls and the Virgin Mary on the colorful tattoo that ran from his shoulder to his wrist. One of many he hid under his crisp suit and tie during the week. He wasn’t one for words or sentiment. When he did speak, it was matter-of-fact, blunt and stoic. 

His was a character of contradictions. Punk rock and golf. Independent art and million dollar contracts. Athletism and exhaustion. Chaste and carnal. Impatience and biding. Supercilious and open minded. A love of food and an empty refrigerator.

She found him brutally direct and completely unreadable.

He dumped the Big Gulp cup with change out on his tatty blue blanket and counted. Thirty-eight dollars. Not bad for the day, but not good either. Most of it had been earned on his last trick, a coup des gras magic levitation combo. He’d waited until the New Orleans streets were packed with happy drunks. Timing was everything.

“I wish we could make more money,” he said to the scruffy brown mutt lying at his side. Sam was never far from his side. Her bushy tail wagged easily despite the conditions they lived in.

“Do you?” 

Rodney looked up. An old black man with a milky eye that stared off to the left stood before him. He wore a starched white uniform and had a Creole accent. Sam didn’t growl, which surprised Rodney. “I’m Claude. I work at La Richelieu and I enjoyed your act.” He reached down and scratched Sam behind the ear. “Tell me…have you ever thought about voodoo?”

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and a large medieval contraption was before her. Leather straps, metal, cuffs. A sign read “Please tip your attendants. These rooms are not self cleaning.” In the corner, a blond was kneeling in front of a middle aged man sitting on a dark purple vinyl couch with khaki pants around his ankles and his hands on the back of her head.

She worked with the church, spending her nights taking calls and heading into the cold to pick up strays and search for lost pups. On this night, she’d found a little white dog with big, brown eyes and took him back to her place. He didn’t stop trembling until she wrapped him in a blanket and fed him.  He ate like there was no tomorrow and wriggled into her ankle afterwards in happiness. He wasn’t in bad shape, really. He couldn’t have been out there long because he was still groomed. She pet his soft white face, cradling him as he kissed her cheek and nose. Walking outside, she crossed the dusky yard to a sizable wooden pen. As she neared, the barking and snarling coming from it hit a fever pitch.

She kissed the little mutt on the head and then dropped him into the pit bull den as bait.

The left side showed me immediately why she’d survived and I hadn’t. A truck carrying long metal tubes had lost several.  One went through my windshield. The glass was a crumbled spider web splattered with blood and bits of skin. The metal was perfectly intact.

And it could be found pierced straight through my chest.

Mark Twain’s advice is to “write what you know” – which can be taken or mistaken in many ways.

 

 

Chapter 20: Men Are Like Shoes 

9 May

marche-bacchus-french-bistro-wine-shop-marche-bacchus_28_550x370

She sighed. We were sitting outside a cafe near the beach on a chilly winter day with our coats buttoned up tight and steaming cappuccinos in our hands. There were also two glasses of Cabernet…as chasers.

“I don’t get it. Some days I really think I’m over this and can do it all myself. Who needs him? He doesn’t do the things I ask him to. It’s almost like he doesn’t do them on purpose because I’m asking! Then just when I’m ready to end it he’ll do something amazing and I love him again. But next week…it’s the same thing all over.”

I looked at her. “Men are like shoes.”

“Shoes? I don’t get it.”a49b18f13a404bc3b77136b967e988a3

I pointed to her black stiletto boots. “Do you expect your shoes to change to fit your feet?”

She looked puzzled. “No…”

“Then why do you expect men to change to fit your needs? Those boots are hot, but I’m sure after a while they hurt. What happens then? Do you try to lower the heel and reshape them, do you kick them off and go barefoot…or do you slip on a more comfortable pair?”

She laughed. “You can’t be serious. Men and shoes?”

all-men-are-shoes

“Oh, sweetheart, of course I am! Think about it…the relationship and love between women and shoes can be as complicated and inexplicable as it is between any woman and man. If you don’t expect your shoes to change, don’t expect a man to change. Some are pretty and uncomfortable. Others fit great but lack flair. Some women can only love shoes that hurt their feet. However, sometimes you love shoes that don’t change, but loosen up. They become your favorite. So comfortable, that even when they start falling apart, you’ll never want to get rid of them. “

 

“Oh, wow. That makes so much sense. Where did you come up with that?”

“I didn’t. For a couple of years, while I was living in France I found that the French have a vastly different and much more honest way of looking at things. It was there that I heard the saying ‘men are like shoes.’ The more I thought about it, the saying clicked with me. I had a much better outlook of relationships afterwards. Namely, not being disappointed or bitter. It simply was what it was and I brought this saying back to America to amuse my friends.

Some shoes fit better than others. Sometimes you go shopping and there’s nothing you like. And then, as luck would have it, the next week you find two pairs that are perfect, but you don’t have the money for both.”

We drained the last of our wine.

Gathering our bags to leave, I looked at her and smiled. “Your time and energy is valuable. Don’t waste too much of it expecting your shoes to change. Shoes that pinch don’t have to be part of your life, you know. Sometimes you have to try on a few pairs to find something that is the perfect fit for you. C’est la vie.”

 

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COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

Chapter 19: Shooting for Playboy and fantasy artists Boris Vallejo/Julie Bell

25 Apr

playboy4When you were in school, did you ever just tune the teacher out, gaze out the window and lose yourself in some dream? Like the day you pass the bar exam-how proud your parents would be to know that their money really wasn’t wasted? Maybe getting that record deal? Or making a pro sports team? Hitting the lottery for big bucks and buying Mom that house she deserves?
Right there with you. My fantasies included being an Olympic gymnast, that I was a direct descendant of Brian of Boru and Gormlaith, to be a veterinarian, travel the world, and do Playboy magazine. Well, I’d grown too tall to compete seriously as a gymnast… am still hoping to be Boru’s descendant… would later be fortunate to not only visit many countries but live in some…may possibly finish med school in a bit after I’ve gotten modeling out of my system… and had I just found out I’d gotten into Playboy.
wkend1I grew up a skinny, gawky, bookworm with tangled hair, a flat chest and thick glasses. To me, I’m still her. I don’t always see what everyone else sees. To actually have a shot at Playboy was a big deal to me. After about nine years of submitting every six months and getting rejection letters (“While you’re certainly an attractive young lady, you’re just not what we’re looking for at this time…”) my friend, Devon Michaels, was at the Playboy office in Chicago and showed them my pictures. They called and wanted to know if I could come in person. I wasn’t going to be in Chicago, but would be closer to NYC. The next day I was set up to do an audition in New York. From my own experiences and from those of my co-workers, it’s very hard to get into this magazine. I was pretty much overjoyed and shitting my pants simultaneously.
Naturally, I got this call the day after Thanksgiving. This holiday for everyone else is a fatty fat fat feast. But when you have a little Italian grandma at home in Philly, who gets super insulted if you don’t take seconds and thirds of the meal she slaved all day over a hot stove to cook you…fatty fat fat takes on a whole new meaning.
Translation: Absolutely ab-less for a Playboy shoot. I went… they took Polaroid’s and promised to call the next day. I was like, “Yeah, OK.” But, they did. I had to go back to NYC the next night for a shoot the following day.

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As I checked into the beautiful hotel that was arranged for me the night before the shoot with my hair up, no makeup on, in baggy sweats, the front desk girl loudly announced that Playboy would be covering all expenses and incidentals. 789 business men turned around to stare…in disappointment.
I was ecstatic. I can’t sleep when something’s coming up. I’m like a little kid at Christmas, and this was a fantasy dream come true. I surrendered to the night and opened my 14th story window overlooking Manhattan, twinkling full of Christmas lights for about an hour. I love this city. I’ve spent so much time here lately, I feel like an honorary New Yorker. Almost as rude at times, too… I love the rudeness, but I prefer the term directness. Saves time.
I had to be up at 7 a.m. without ever falling asleep, which worked in my favor because the hotel forgot my wakeup call. Around 6:30am, I just gave up and got in the shower. Did I ever feel like complete shit. With all the traveling, I was now on day 3 of no sleep.

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OK. So, the makeup artist Jay arrives – and he had his work cut out for him. I’m going to call him Really Gay Jay…because he was Jay and really gay. He primped and pampered and blended away. I’m usually wary of makeup people. I started doing my own makeup for photo shoots pretty often after dealing with a slew of bad ones. One woman actually made MY lips look thin. My lips. I have big Latin lips (and ass). It’s damn near impossible to make them look thin, but that girl managed. Jay had lots of great stories about super models and celebs he’d done for Playboy… and some great makeup tips that I stole. Loved the way he cooed in his Southern lilt: “Ooh, just look at all that hair! Fab-u-lous! And that color! Who DOES your color?” All the while he just kept brushing my hair and telling me gossip.

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This was already fun. I decided I was a big Really Gay Jay fan. We grabbed a cab and headed to the studio. It was set up like a gym. There were lots of people around and half were Japanese. It felt a bit odd because I wasn’t used to this many people around on shoots. Most of the time, it’s just the photographer and me out in a desert somewhere.

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Playboy had:
– the makeup guy,
-the art director,
-the photographer,
-the guy who owned the property,
-his wife,
-their maid,
-and the girl who did castings.
There was even a Nivea lotion guy. Hate to ruin the myth, but Playboy isn’t as airbrushed as you might think. It’s a lot of Nivea. This is a shiny lotion that bounces the light back to the camera and makes your skin appear smooth and flawless on film. I think they’re still hiring for this job, so hurry now boys.

-Oh yeah, there was also the lighting guy.
A hair light. A face light. A boob light. A thigh light. And a butt light. All of this was very, VERY important.
Playboy puts a lot of effort into their shoots…via a lot of people.

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What do you think a butt lighting guy gets paid? Imagine that conversation at the bar after work with his friends…they probably think his life is awesome. Meanwhile, he’s truly a stifled artist dying a slow death under butt lighting and developing a deep resentment for Playboy models. He begins dating chubby girls out of defiance…and keeps the lights off. Just my guess.
Then we went to it. Gen Nishino, (who reminded me of a younger version of Mr. Miyagi) clicked away while I hung naked from the equipment in a way that I’m sure it had never been used before. For my main shoot, I wore a Crunch Fitness bright yellow sports bra that was too small so my breasts were mostly falling out of it while doing back and shoulders. The next set was a naked treadmill session for a special edition of Hardbodies, because we models ALWAYS do our cardio in the nude while bending over the handlebars naked to stretch. And finally a Playboy Lingerie shoot in tight black lace and red strappy high heels by the stairs. Gen shoots in a ‘voyeur’ style that took getting used to and also made the almost unforgivable comment, “Wow-you’re massive!” I suppose I am next to the bitty things he usually shoots. Plus the fact that he’s Japanese. Probably not the best comment to make to a model while you’re trying to get the best out of her.
It was forgivable, because this shoot would later lead to a ton of other opportunities, including an open door straight into the wrestling business.
After the shoot, Really Gay Jay looked out for me very protectively; made sure the cab driver didn’t rip me off and told me the easiest way to get home. Incidentally, the parking garage at the hotel “lost” my car for about an hour, and no one spoke English. I was so tired and sore (long contorting shoot) and didn’t have the energy to freak out on them….which is universally understood, I believe.

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I got back to Philadelphia and fell into bed just to get up in the morning and head north again to shoot with fantasy artists Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell.
This was supposed to be my week off between nonstop national burlesque tours , but there’s no way I’d miss these opportunities. I’ve always wanted to work with Boris and Julie. I’ve loved their work since an old boyfriend turned me onto a calendar when I was about 19. I can’t believe both these calls came the same week.
Boris is from Peru and we chatted about the popular book, The Celestine Prophecy. He told me it was completely made up, because the Inca’s had no written language, and therefore couldn’t write the prophecies. Bummer. Guess there’s no Santa Claus either?

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I shot with Julie first. This woman was just incredible looking. She looked 10 years younger than she really was, and has one of the best fitness bodies I’d ever seen – and 2 kids. Not to mention, she’s really beautiful. She attributed it to twice-daily workouts with Boris, organic foods and veganism. I couldn’t believe she could have that much muscle mass as a vegan.large
She had me get undressed completely, stand on a pedestal and pose with lots of barbaric-looking cool weapons. I was a lone female, wearing nothing but buckskin and a shield, battling off Norse invaders to my village with their own battle axes to protect my King, who had been critically injured while fighting a fierce dragon. He’d saved me, a sacrificial, ginger virgin left on an alter, from the beast… I had a little movie running in my head the whole time, and was having fun losing myself.
Boris shot me next, and was quick. He knew exactly what he wanted.
I especially enjoy my job when I get to do fitness-related shoots and play with weapons. I was told for so long to “soften up and stop scaring people”, that it’s nice that my fit look is not only accepted but sought after now. Plus, it beats a desk job, right? Two major dreams fulfilled in one week. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d be dancing around the living room. But after all the fantasy shooting that week, I think it was perfectly acceptable to fantasize about dancing around my living room instead.

 

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COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.