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Chapter 30: A Tale of Two Aprils

28 Mar

-By Matt M. (April’s cousin/roommate)

Edited (lightly and sarcastically) – April Hunter

What is April Hunter really like?

 

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The Character of April Hunter.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

(Photo: random hot cosplay girl.)

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

 

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

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

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

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Humanizing April:

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

                                                      Editor’s Note: 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Update:  I did move down in December.

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

But there are some days when that bitch is cray.

 

Editor’s Note: (Eat dicks.)

 

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Photo: Modern Myth Photography

 

 

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

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

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

No part of this blog may be used without permission. 

Do or Do Not. Just Stop Bitching.

6 May

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“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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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.

With or Without You…

22 Apr

(Written spring of 2013)

It’s such a cliché. When did we become a cliché?

We never did conform to anyone else’s rules.

We always colored outside of the line…but now we’re THAT.

I told you…I never wanted to be that couple sitting across from each other at the restaurant,

Not talking. Not looking at each other.

We became THAT.

 

Loyal. Kind. Negative. Criticizing. Witty. Smart. Nitpick. Divide…and Conquer.

My mind races and I can’t sleep.

I never could. Thoughts come faster than I can get them down.

Being this way…It’s a curse. It’s a blessing.

I know.

I know people don’t get me. They can’t. 

I know I may die young.

I know I’m smarter than most.

I know I do dumb things.

I know my father was this way, too.

I got this from him.

He said, “I will never be happy.”

Well…I have trained, read and learned.

It’s simple. You decide how you will see things.

I know I can be happy.

I don’t think you can.

When you are already past the age of where you could be dead, every day is a gift.

What should I do?

I don’t want to live like this. But I can’t imagine life without you in it.

We are two good people who bring out the worst in each other.

You look at me, but you don’t see me. You see an illness. That’s all I am to you now.

 

I don’t want that.

The constant reminders…

I don’t want to be looked at like that.

 

A dog loses his leg and learns to walk again.

Right away.

No one is in his ear, all day and night, telling him what’s wrong…how he’s a poor thing…there’s something wrong with him.

He just gets up and walks. 

Before this, I was just me. I’m still me.

And I’ll be fine.

Without you…I think maybe I can walk again.

 

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Chapter 18: What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing on a Site Like That?

10 Apr

In The Beginning…

There is a reason and a story for EVERYTHING. Where did that antique chair come from? How did you get your cat? Where did your grandparents meet? When did you realize you were bisexual? I love stories.

Well, this one is about an adult web site. I didn’t create it because I’m a typical lazy, pretty girl who doesn’t want to work. It wasn’t because I was in debt. I’m not the classic single mom. It wasn’t to put myself through school; although I did exercise THAT cliché on my second go-round with college, working doubles and triples, all day and night at the strip club on Fridays and Saturdays, then doubling up on courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I had to drop my German class Tuesday morning. It just started way too early. Organic Chemistry, Abnormal Psych, Macroeconomics…yeah, as much as I’d have loved to see Das Boot without subtitles for once, German had to go. Auf Weidersehen.

I did not end up in the intended veterinarian school. However, I kick ass in Jeopardy.

With all that stated, I created an adult website to get off the road.

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I was traveling full time as a burlesque feature dancer and had been for seven years, while towing a camper to sleep in, eventually living full time in an RV tour bus. It was a fun time that was rarely boring, but I’d had enough. It wasn’t uncommon to drive 20 miles out of the way in the middle of nowhere, only to pull into an RV park at three a.m. that hadn’t been listed as closed for the season. Back-to-back weeks in Oregon, North Dakota, Nebraska, and then Christmas week in West Virginia without seeing anything other than the venues and local gyms. I missed birthdays, holidays, weddings…even a funeral. My agent didn’t allow me to say no, and I was a pretty decent act, so the offers kept coming. It was why I had to literally live out of a bus.

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(Yes…Pantera – and others you’d probably know – used to come to my shows.) 

Wanting to slow down, I declared my retirement while I was still hot but kept a few bookings from the better clubs where I’d done well and who had been good to me. (Unlike in pro wrestling, my retirement was for real.) I was performing in Staten Island and the club manager was a friend. The stage was set back from the patrons, so there was no possibility of any misbehaving. It was a packed venue and I usually made a lot of money. I always got a ton of press in that area. Photographers would come in from all over to shoot me, cover the week of my shows for the local papers or magazines, or I’d simply do Howard Stern ahead of time. However, I remember this most of all: asking for a double shot of vodka at the bar… and then another…

That’s what it took to get on stage. When I should have felt accomplished, I felt anxious. Coming from a long line of alcoholics, I’d always avoided liquor. That was not me…and that was when I knew I had to get the fuck out.

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Featured burlesque paid very well but the expenses were horrific. We were paid several hundred dollars per show and were booked for 12 to 24 shows a week. In addition, tips and sales after each show usually matched or exceeded our pay rate. A travel allotment was also provided. You can do the math: to be willing to give up that kind of a paycheck – it had to be a difficult life. I made significantly less on my website, but I also wasn’t fueling an RV, tipping everyone out in the club, spending $1200-1600 on Swarovski crystal themed costumes and having props made, like a huge see-through champagne glass shaped bathtub for my Little Mermaid show, buying posters in bulk to give away, and paying $20 a day to go to a gym on the road. Eating out just added to the costs.

If you’ve read my tour diaries on my website, then you already know some of the crazy things that used to happen on the road. I traveled with two dogs; an adopted pitbull mix and an American Bulldog. They were mostly for companionship but having them for safety was an added bonus. On three different occasions, they attacked someone trying to push their way into my hotel room or the RV. One was a drunken lady in shitty Flint, MI who just couldn’t figure out that my room wasn’t hers even though there was NO other room in that area.

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The economy had bottomed out in Flint long before everywhere else and the girls at that club were hooking for $5, so I’m guessing that’s what my room had been used for when I wasn’t in it. (I can’t call Flint just “Flint”. It’s always been “Shitty Flint”.) Another was a drunken soldier on a Georgia military base who’d followed me. Unfortunately, the club and my hotel shared a parking lot and I had to walk back and forth. He tried to break my door down after a show. I was actually on the road alone for that particular incident and it was the deciding factor to get a camper and permanently bring the dogs along with me.

A third was a weird middle-aged stalker in northern Indiana. He had parked outside my room and keep walking back and forth, not realizing I had dogs inside. Both animals could tell how freaked out I was and were pacing. I was contractually booked for another show within the hour and had to leave. When he got to the door, I tried to pull both back (which was about 170 lbs of dog total) but my larger male lunged and nipped him in the thigh. There was no blood, but his pants ripped. It became a fiasco and he had my dog taken from me by animal control. Thank God the owner of the nightclub was in tight with the local politicians. I got Chance back late that night between shows, but not before crying a lot of tears and one hysterical panic attack. They’d talked about putting him down. There I was, having to smile, get on stage and do shows like nothing was wrong. When you’re on the road, you don’t always have a lot of friends. For me, my dogs meant everything.

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(Photographer Paul B. Goode caught this photo backstage right before my show and then the second shot during my show. The first picture is very telling.)

This “smile, get on stage and perform like nothing is wrong” is something that happened a lot: Through fights with my mom, a divorce, my husband emptying out our bank account (which was pretty much all mine), car accidents, missing my brother’s wedding and my nephew being born, being deathly sick with bronchitis, and my father dying in a plane crash. (Yes, I did go to his memorial. Both of them. He lived in California but was from Philadelphia. But I had to work in between.) When you sign a contract and have accepted the deposit, the show must go on. This path is like a football career; you can only do it for so long, so you must work hard, be in demand, put as much away as you can, try not to get injured or addicted, and then get out. It’s difficult to build solid relationships when it appears that your main priority is always work.

I never felt safe. I never felt like I could sleep. It was rare that I didn’t feel like a target. This, of course, made me feel easily shattered. There are many, many other crazy road stories I could share but I’d run out of room here. It was time to hang up the sequined g-string and do something a little less crazy. I’ve often been asked why I never did porn. Simply put, it was not for me. There is a massive difference between being a nude fantasy and exchanging bodily fluids via insertion with another human being. Some are not able to grasp this, but I do. Through my website, people get to see enough. I share what’s under my clothes and now, what’s in my head. Only my chosen partner should know what sex is like with me. I have absolutely nothing against those who are in porn industry, which is a legitimate business with many nice people. Agents and fans have always attempted to push me into this direction; that answer has and always will be no.

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I had a very smart and business savy porn star friend, Lisa Lipps, whose heart was actually bigger than her massive breasts. She opened up her home and office to me in Las Vegas, and that’s where I crashed for a little while to get on my feet. She taught me how to run a website. Her, Asia Carrera, Minka…I learned from the best. They are all smart businesswomen and should be respected as such.

My website was never intended as your classic adult site. It’s always been a fan club. Of course I have all my photos and videos on there. However, from Day 1, it’s been an extreme variety of entertainment: it’s had all the behind the scenes on wrestling tours, photo shoots, daily life and conventions, my wrestling matches, fitness and diet tips, all my writing, dirty jokes. I’ve tried to keep it different and fun. It’s been a source of stability, and I truly appreciate when fans become members.

Aside from fetish shoots and larger name magazines, for most of our photo shoots, centerfold modeling doesn’t pay much (if at all!). Generally it’s a trade; time for promo. Meaning, I’ll give you my time (and name as a reference) and you’ll give me the promo photos you’ve shot to use as I please. The only way to earn is to have a site or do some kind of sales with what we get from the shoots. It’s also been a source of creativity as well. Whatever it says about me, I enjoy dressing up and writing my tour travails down; sprucing them up with all the snapshots backstage and video clips. I like CREATING something out of nothing. It’s gratifying. I also know that as much as I’ve enjoyed this, it’s got a shelf life and this is a source of great angst for me. Working for myself, having had the freedom to fly home to visit and take care of my sick mom every other week…

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Speaking of freedom, that means a lot to me. Freedom is exactly why I started AprilHunter.com. Freedom is why I still have it. Freedom has always meant more to me than anything. Some of you know I have bipolar disorder. Many people with this disease are disabled and can’t work at all. I believe being self employed has helped me greatly in this department, even though the self employed get no benefits, sick days or retirement. Having my site has allowed me the freedom to work around how good or bad I feel. Some days I will work until 4 a.m. while other days, not at all. Retouching photos, writing Behind-the-Scenes diaries, updates, editing videos, sending out newsletters, emails, social networking, promoting…I do all of this. I’m not complaining, but it does take up a tremendous amount of time and energy. There’s not a lot left over to deal with for bookings, travel, shoots, writing and thinking of what’s next in life. Oh, right…I have to get to the gym most days, too.

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While this career path can be easy at times, it’s a very difficult lifestyle – and we who are in it, PAY for it every day. TRUST ME. I dress really comfortably in my downtime. I mean, really comfortably. Because the last thing I want to wear is an underwire bra, itchy lace, fishnets or any type of lingerie. I wear that stuff for shoots and wrestling…at home or for my partner, no dice. It’s cotton, all the way. Now stop and think about how messed up that is. I’ll dress sexy to earn a paycheck. But if he wants to see sexy, it feels like work to me. What am I supposed to say? Go to my site?

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I’ve had female friends not feel comfortable with me around their husbands…and lost very good long-time male friends when they wife-up with someone new who has perceived me to be the way my photos depict. Honestly, this kills me. I’m a tomboy and love my guy friends. Losing them has sucked. Truth be told, I can halfway understand this. I’m a very good actress in my photos. I have playing a fantasy down to an art. In real life, as just plain April with no makeup and my hair wrapped up with a clip and my boxer shorts on…that’s me. But on film…I’m the convincing sex goddess who would have you believe I’m the ultimate woman into everything…hence, it brings the insecurities out in women. We ladies aren’t always the most secure creatures anyway and I give my solid female friends who have looked past this to the real me huge props. I love you.

However, it’s been a double edged sword. I’ve hit a point in my life where relationships have become a priority to me and having this site has been an issue. Unless someone is open-minded or a business oriented thinker, they can’t really get past judgments upon it. There’s a lot more to me than just big tits. If you’re on this blog, you already know that. I’m sure that limiting myself to nothing more than a topless or nude model has done a lot of harm in the way of career possibilities. Nothing irritates me like the question, “What do you do?” I don’t really know how to answer it. But I know this: What you do isn’t always who you are.

IMG_8399smallI’ll post photos with friends from the beach and, inevitably, some random fan will make a comment like this: “You have sexy feet.” I have nothing against foot fans, but time and place. It just gets creep-tastic at certain times and it’s gotten old. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to shield my mom or family from fan comments. Yes, they all know what I do. I’m honest. You can’t hide with the Internet anyway. I just prefer not to rub it in their faces.

“I’d love to date you.” Really? No. You think you’d be dating April Hunter. Truth is, you wouldn’t. If you want to date April Hunter, go join my site. That’s where she exists…and that’s the ONLY place she exists. I love some of my fans dearly and I’m super grateful to those who are there for me. While I’ve always tried to give the fans everything I could, including access to me through email and social networking (in addition to seeing me naked every which way), I could never figure out why some fans’ demands were so high that if they didn’t get their way, they went from loving to destroying me. Having my YouTube videos pulled down, my Facebook reported as fake, my PayPal suspended, and so on. I’ve had spiteful people send or show nude photos to my trainer, my brother, and even my grandfather.

It’s also heartbreaking that fans steal from model’s sites so much. This is a never-ending battle for me and it kills memberships. I don’t understand why a so-called fan would deliberately put their favorite models out of business and take food off their tables, but that’s exactly what they are doing by stealing, trading passwords and reposting content. It ruins us. We are the epitome of small business in America and stealing from us truly hurts in ways you wouldn’t believe. 

I’ve shot a lot of content and it’s enough to keep updating AprilHunter.com for quite a while after I’m done with this. I also keep adding a lot of In The Dressing Room stuff and Behind-The-Scenes Diaries that are current.

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Truth is, I haven’t shot anything nude in ages. I quit years ago. However, people think I still do it because they see updates that still have nudes included. I just hit a point where it was “been there, done that” and felt time to move on…so I’ve been working towards life after the site, all while maintaining it. I’m deeply thankful for it and my fans…it’s really turned into a multifaceted website that’s way more than just simple centerfold photos and videos. I’ve outgrown being one dimensional. It’s worked for a long time and I’m grateful. Now I wonder if I wouldn’t be much further ahead in life had I not chosen this path. However, I don’t want to live in the past, analyzing past decisions, and I’m committed to moving forward. It is what it is, and it was what it was.

My website and my life experiences have made me who I am today.

…It won’t be around forever boys, so enjoy it while you can. And don’t steal. 😉

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

Chapter 17: The Restless Muse

7 Mar

DSC_1846 PD-X3xThere is a gnawing, unsatisfied feeling within.

It comes back to visit her often, and its voice can be heard whispering, “Is this all there is to life?”

Restlessness.

Very little makes her feel complete. Even then, it’s only temporary.

It’s said that the meaning of life is to discover your gift…

Then, in turn, give it away to others.

Frustrated, because she has yet to discover her yearning. 0M6A5623x

Fulfillment escapes her as she travels in circles over and over, and over again.

She is tired and uninspired.

Each time, her battery, running lower and lower, as she expends more and more energy without a way of recharging; doing what she no longer cares to do, but must in order to survive and nourish herself.

Grateful for opportunities, she fears many of them she has outgrown.

Even the little things have become tedious.

No longer challenging.

Conquered.

Bored.

Routine.

A paycheck.

Nothing more.

Putting the clothes on, taking the gloves off?

It’s time.

Doing what you do not like robs ten times more the energy.

Yet, she keeps on. It’s what she knows. It’s food on the table.

It leaves nothing left over to figure out the next move in the journey of life.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Maybe the definition of insanity should simply be doing the same thing over and over.

Phone rings. Repeat offer. She says yes.

Why?

She does things in life she doesn’t want to do because they’re familiar. Because they’re easy.  Because they provide. Because she is afraid to do more.

The hatred comes for time lost doing things she doesn’t want to do. Hating herself for doing them.

Time off to think, and starve? Work, and die inside?

The restlessness grows as she stands still, stunted.

Four way stop, nothing is moving, trapped in gridlock.

MOVE, GODDAMMIT.

The minutes tick by, turning into days…weeks…months…

Time melting, like a Salvatore Dali clock.
Every day, slipping away.
She stays the same.

Gothic_Butterfly_largeEver frustrating, She is  a muse for others. 

A goddamn muse.

She inspires creativity all around her.

Music. Art. Writing. Self improvement. Business.

Because of her, they go after their dreams and goals.

Bragging?

Proud. She loves helping others and lifting them up.

It makes her happy when they succeed, lose weight, write, inspire others, create something beautiful, feel accomplished and grow.

She inspires ideas and success in others. And yet, she cannot do this for herself.

She is jealous…of her.

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A butterfly makes people pause in wonder.

To admire her beauty. To wish for freedom and flight. To ponder the possibilities.

We realize what is a grounded fuzzy caterpillar today could be colorfully flitting around in the air tomorrow. You cannot chase a butterfly. You can only stand still and hope that it chooses you. 

Where is HER butterfly?

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She sits there, knowing what she should do. Knowing what has to be done. Doing none of it. She turns away from the truth and hides. But she has never been very good at lying to herself.

She doesn’t want this anymore.

It’s not fun anymore.

She wants more.

There has to be more.

Ready to move forward, afraid to let go…desperate for the energy and drive to navigate her life up over the sidewalk, across the empty playground, and down that side street to get away from the frozen solid traffic jam.

Which do you use to make decisions? Love…or fear?

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It’s not whether or not you have problems. It’s whether or not you have the same problems as last year.

She has the same problems as last year.

She must grow.

She longs for the creativity that she KNOWS is ready to spill out and flow, if just unlocked.

She can feel it as surely as the sunshine upon her face while she stands still and scans the world for those colorful wings flitting about.

Mariposa. Schmetterling. Vlinder. Papillion.

 

I know you must be out there… somewhere.

 

-April Hunter

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“Success does to the living what sunshine does to stained glass.”

Chapter 16: Bipolar For Life. Alone.

30 Jan

 

aafsnet“Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you.”

I am alone.

It’s liberating really. For the first time in a long time, I can do what I want, when I want. I don’t have to wait around for anyone. I can say what I think without risk of hurting anyone’s feelings. For the first time…it really IS all about me.

IMG_20140129_083118_resizedHowever, every time I’m in line at the grocery store, I feel like it’s screamingly obvious, with my frozen gluten-free pizza and two bananas that I am living solo and going home to watch an entire season of Sherlock in one shot. When my new car insurance binder came, it hit me in plain black and white English: “Female, Single”. I thought maybe it should just say “Separated, Confused”.

My last bipolar blog left off with a bit of  a question mark, since I was in an open ended experiment: Marital separation, working on fixing a place up to live and dealing with issues related to medications.

Newly solo and avoiding pretty much all aspects of the opposite sex in anything other than friendship has been an adjustment for me but it’s a conscious choice. I didn’t want to repeat the same patterns in my life. You know…taking up with another relationship before the first was over. I wanted to have time to just be me and not have anyone else thrown into that mix.  

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I’ve been living alone now for 4 months and am finding many things about this new status lovely. I bought a little villa and made it my own this autumn. You may recall me lamenting about the disastrous state the former owner left the yard in and how much it cost to fix overgrown bougainvillea full of thorns (yanked and replaced with palms), sand with fleas (sodded), a rotting blue-grey deck with no shade and a sagging fence. It’s now beautiful and there’s an outdoor room I call My Sanctuary. All the plants, rocks, solar lights and water-and-dog proofing of furniture were well worth it. Plus the garden saves me money and tastes better than anything I could buy. I am so grateful to the fans who sent things off my Amazon wish list or Lowes gift cards. It was well spent on a special mix of peace and sanity (whatever that might be) and I thank you deeply.

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Other activities have helped; I started fiction writing classes in December and love it. I’ve discovered that I have a rather twisted mind and penchant for bloody deaths. I don’t exactly feel creative like I did before being on medications, but when pushed by others or inspired, I can still pull it out of my ass. My writings run the gamut from futuristic science fiction, politics, poetry, children’s stories, memoirs, to fitness & nutrition. tumblr_me0mb9M9YK1rj11who1_500_largeSpanish lessons are now on my agenda again. Esto me hasto feliz. I even tried a new recipe, coconut chicken. It turned out fabulous. Normally, I survive on coffee, protein shakes, bacon and eggs, liquid pasteurized egg whites, rice chips, unsweetened applesauce and whatever is around that can be eaten raw, like bananas, almonds and dates. These are kind of big things for me as compared to the past year.

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I’m also in quite a few comic books coming out soon.  THAT is truly living the dream. 

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However, most of all, in my quest for feeling normal (notice that I don’t say BEING normal), I may have finally hit on a mix of chemicals that makes my own mix of chemicals stabilize correctly. I was diagnosed bipolar (which USED to be called Manic-Depressive, but they changed the name because people were confusing it with “Depression”) over two and a half years ago and it’s taken me THIS LONG to get sorted out.

Here’s a glimpse into the ordeal. A small glimpse… The good Doctor W: “Lithium. This will fix you. No change? You’re still a lunatic, huh? A sleepy lunatic? Ok. I’ll add in the mood stabilizer Lamictal. Feeling better? Yes? Good. Oh, after a while that sometimes happens…you get used to it and a depression hits. Let’s go back to some Welbutrin for your anti-depressant in there too. I know you don’t want to gain weight…Welbutrin is the only one that doesn’t cause weight gain or loss of sex drive, so relax. Migraines that make you puke as a side effect? Let’s do Topamax. I think you’re not sleeping. Let’s try a bunch of shit that makes you a zombie all day long and then settle on Xanax which you won’t really use because you hate drugs and you’re just going to find that GABA, magnesium & 20 mg of melatonin work better  anyway. OK, let’s stop the Lithium. Crap, it messed up your thyroid. I didn’t say “ruined”, I said “sluggish”. Well, technically, yes…that means it’s ruined. I’m putting you on Cytomel. Still sluggish? Let’s lower the Lamictal and raise the Welbutrin. No? All right…you might need Abilify ($$$) or Nuvigil ($$$$$$$$$$$$) but let me try something first. I have a feeling this will work and it’ll be a whole lot less expensive if it does. Let’s double your thyroid meds and see how you feel.” Bingo. It was the Cytomel thyroid medication that did the trick, of all things. After playing around with all the psyche drugs, simply doubling my thyroid med that is what woke me up. I lost 15 pounds, which is probably a few too many since people keep asking me if I’m getting ready to do a fitness competition, but it’s a side effect. Another side effect: nothing fits. After buying a house and Lamictal, I can’t afford clothes!

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The chemical journey is not over; my doctor said medications will be an ongoing experiment for life. The human body gets used to something and then it’s time to mix it up again, especially when it’s a neurological something. To make matters so much worse, bipolar drugs are far from an exact science or even close to accurate. It’s not like diabetes where you monitor, use the correct medicine, live life. It’s as fucking crazy as we are. Perhaps, one day, they’ll get it down to more of a science like they have with diabetics? (Comparatively speaking, of course. I am not in any way saying that living with diabetes is easy at all.  I’m saying that if most of us could control our disorder by diet and exercise, life would be good….and much cheaper. Even daily blood testing and shots would be an upgrade. A lot of cardio issues come along with bp that most don’t know about in the forms of heart and lung issues. We tend to die young.) I can only hope…

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I’m a rapid cycling manic. I have been my entire life, which means I am on the crazy, daredevil, ass kicking, outspoken, stay up all night, workaholic, “yes-I-can-fly-to-a-foreign-country-that-speaks-no-English-alone-tomorrow” end of bipolar disorder. Trust me…it’s the better end. Being through a year and a half on the other side of that spectrum was terrible. I’ve never dragged so much in my life. Fog Brain: you feel like you’re in a tunnel full of thick, endless fog and you can’t see anything in front of, or around you. There is no future. It’s exhausting to merely survive without actually living. No creativity. No memory. My Bipolar Gift, gone. I’ve never just NOT given a crap…apathy isn’t me. This shit is unreal, and anyone who tells someone with depression to “just get over it” should be kicked in the junk, hard, and repeatedly.  Trust me, if they could, they WOULD. Sadness is not the same as depression. This is completely chemical. I’ll take manic any day of the week over depressed. At least you can get things done.

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During this time, I realized that I could pull myself together for a few hours or even an entire weekend if I had to do a show, shoot or work a Comic Con and no one knew. It was the ever-present work ethic…no matter how bad it gets, I simply will not cancel. Sometimes I’d lie in bed until it was time to go and cry, then I’d pull my shoes on, swipe on lip gloss, caffeinate until smiling, and get on with it. I’d usually feel better once I was out anyway. The energy from fans and artists picked me up. There was plenty of time to fall apart when I got home on Monday.

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This part of the journey has been an eye opener too. I’ve never been one to be depressed much, let alone a year and a half, so that was really hard. Most of my closer friends don’t bother with me any longer. I was always up front about having this, but when my disorder became a reality or I got emotional, they were there for me less and less and that’s when I needed them the most. It was a truly heartbreaking learning experience. I’d like to say if I were in their shoes, I’d have done the same thing…but I wouldn’t have. Loyalty means a lot to me.

Never-make-someone-a-priority-who-only-makes-you-an-option.

“Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs. False friends only appear at difficult times, with their sad, supportive faces, when, in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their miserable lives.” -Paulo Coelho

Other than having Bella and Fat Kitty as my main companions (they’re not too good at Jeopardy), random things going wrong in the house and wandering aimlessly through life at the moment, I suppose I’m OK. Through my blog, people have come out like crazy to me about either being or living with the disorder and I have made a handful of new bp friends. Most are completely opposite of me, falling on the more depressed side. I’ll be honest; I was afraid to be around bipolar people. I didn’t want someone bringing out the worst in me. I’ve seen some drama in the locker rooms with the undiagnosed.  I can see it now, like an ex addict knows a coke head. Most recently I was on a wrestling show where a girl had a misunderstanding with a special needs fan who wanted to buy an autographed photo that escalated so loudly and so quickly that it grew violent. Tables were dumped. The fan ended up crying for a long time afterward. The promoter and she were nose to nose, promoter was a hair away from hitting her just to shut her down, and I was ready to back the boss up if needed, as she is a close friend. I did NOT want to be in that position and I did not like how I felt about it; how it changed the energy in the entire room. But this new group has not been like that at all. We check in on each other and talk about things you just can’t talk about with others…a little Crazy Crew. Those who aren’t afflicted can be sympathetic and well meaning, but it’s hard to get it unless you ARE it. I find comfort in that.

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To those who have quietly emailed or approached me with your own bipolar admissions, thank you. I want you to know that you’ve helped me as much as I’ve helped you. I feel there’s something normalizing about knowing that you’re not in this alone and that what you do and feel, others do too. There are nearly 6 million with bipolar disorder in the USA. Sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of the population, it’s really not since in comparison, 26 million have diabetes.

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I will always be in transition. I absolutely love doing the comics and cons; being around all that creative energy is amazing. Artists, writers, fans and meeting interesting people in entertainment is a wicked cool fringe benefit. On the other hand, I’d love to move away from everything else soon. I’d like to start the next chapter of my life career-wise, but I’m not quite sure what that is yet. I’m feeling restless and would like to start transitioning sooner. Writing…nutritional healing…motivational speaking…any of these could suit me plus a host of other things. Add in lawyer, veterinarian, mediator, PR and acupuncturist.

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“A man can endure anything except for a succession of ordinary days.” -Faust

This is part of being bipolar. We have a lot of interests that suit various needs. My biggest fear: having to choose just one and choosing wrong. I’ve done it before and it’s why I have four careers now that include pro wrestler, model, writer, webmaster, sprinkled with some acting, nutritional healing and fitness competitions. I get bored. What I love doing today, I may abhor tomorrow.  My fickle mind is only like this with careers, thankfully. Maybe because being self employed, I’m immersed in what I do twenty-four hours a day at times, so burnout is easy.

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As for a personal life, there is a difference between alone and lonely. I’ve always loved my own company especially with the pets here. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss things sometimes, too: Companionship. Conversation. Someone to eat with. Romance.  Romance is kind of a big one.

The mantra that plays over and over in my head is “Today is as young as you’ll ever be.” Admittedly, this is not the greatest mantra when you’re a female in a looks-based business.

I’ve been getting hit on a fair bit out of nowhere lately (mostly by men who are far too young) when I’m not scaring the opposite sex. Apparently I intimidate people, which is why I’ve sat home so many weekends in my life. While I’ve generally brushed off the attention, it’s made me ponder what the future might be for me.

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If I’m truly honest, other than an open mind, no kids and a worldly education, I feel like I don’t have much to offer someone else; I still feel a bit shattered. I went through a period after being diagnosed of utter relief  – to finally know I wasn’t just a hot tempered, redheaded Italian-Scottish Philly girl – to utter despair when I realized it was a mutherfucking DISEASE with no cure, a lot more to it than just wild mood swings…and I’d be on bank-breaking meds for life.

For LIFE.

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I became obsessed with getting educated on bipolar disorder which sometimes made me even more miserable in addition to an expert on the subject. I literally became Bipolar April. My husband seemed to blame everything on that. It seemed that I wasn’t his wife any longer. He saw me as a person with a disorder and all that went wrong with us was my fault… due to me. I also became an obligation. I felt he was there because he was a good person and wouldn’t abandon me..but didn’t want to be.  It all really messed with my psyche. I must have heard the bp word thrown around the house ten times a day. Was I THAT toxic? I thought about killing myself…many times, in truth. Not because I wanted to die, but because I didn’t want to live like this. If you’re not able to sustain the most basic of relationships without being a poison, what chance do you have? Why bother? Why be alive if all you’re going to do is ruin people around you? My psychologist, who had been seeing both of us (and now just me) assured that the pendulum swung both ways. I’m not sure I totally believed her. If the bp person is causing the most damage, isn’t it ultimately their responsibility to keep the relationship healthy? As hard as I tried to push him away, he wouldn’t leave, so… 

So.

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Having been trained to never take praise or criticism personally, the entire situation threw me. That’s easy to do when it comes to your profession or people who don’t know you. They don’t matter and are often either trying to kiss your ass or bury it. When it’s someone close whom you care about, it hits harder. During this educational period, I stumbled upon two things that changed my entire outlook. The documentary “Of Two Minds”, which focuses a lot on “the bipolar gift” and a graphic novel called Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me. I saw EVERYTHING differently after these two things, which portrayed the disorder in the rare positive light while remaining realistic. The cloud lifted and I realized that there are real benefits to being bipolar at times, like being a card carrying member of Club Van Gogh.

But when it comes to dealing with others, it still makes me feel like damaged goods. I’ve told a few people what’s up and they truly scare me when they say, “Oh, its ok.” No. No it’s not. Between losing ‘tolerant’ friends who say (to others of course, I have to find out second hand) “She’s a great person with a good heart, but sometimes really hard to be around” to partners who say, “You’re not who I thought you were….you’re a completely different person than who I met,” it makes me gun shy to be around anyone. I put up walls. I want to love you, but if I care about you, I will push you away. It’s for your own sake. Trust me. Because I’ll hurt you and I won’t mean to…and you’ll hate me for it, turn from sweet to bitter and abandon me. Rinse. Repeat.

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Someone recently asked me if I change when I live with someone. It made me think. No? Yes? I don’t think I do, but I suppose that’s not true. However, when you’re manic-depressive, there are always changes and they don’t always show themselves until a certain level of comfort is achieved. It’s weird being a generally positive person with a negative disorder. I wonder if that made the swings even more significant when they happened. 

If the fact that half the people I’ve dated still talk to me and think I’m a lovely person and the other half wouldn’t piss on me if I were on fire, that’s probably a safe indication that yes, I have changed inside relationships just a tad.

I’ve never had a relationship while on meds. I don’t know how I would be now, stabilized. Probably…stable.

Speaking of the manic-depressive thing, I wonder if I’ve picked the wrong men my entire life because I was choosing people that suited my needs on one end or the other of a wide spectrum cycle. Then when I swung the other way, I realized…it wasn’t what I thought it was? It certainly makes sense. Now that I’m balanced, I wonder how different relationships would be.

I ponder these questions and find myself more and more isolated at home. Which isn’t good, I know. But I don’t know how to get out of it. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know much.

batman62I do know that I don’t want life to pass me by. I love romance, love kissing, love love. I miss all of it. While I’m in no rush, I don’t want to get old and go without it. I don’t want to be in a relationship where neither person has anything to say to the other at a restaurant. I have been there. It wasn’t fun.

I got a staggering response to my bipolar blog…and a big chunk of it was from those who have lived with bipolar people. We ain’t easy.

Let me clarify that: We are hellish and amazing. When things are on, they’re ON. We are the life of the party, more fun than you thought possible, smart, witty and charming, the best sex you’ve ever had. When they’re bad, it’s horrific. It’s a fucking impossible nightmare that can cost you sleep, your job, your credit and sanity to live with. Being bipolar isn’t a choice. It’s genetic and incurable. Despite that, we want what others have; to love and be loved. We want what everyone else wants. Should we be denied relationships?

Not only does bipolar disorder have a wide spectrum, like Autism, it varies wildly between people who are medicated, unmedicated and holistically medicated (which I don’t believe actually works for 99.9%, but can help). A person could have bp, be balanced on meds and generally fine and productive. Someone else could be a reckless gambler, serial cheater, abusive or a drug addict. (Or really special and all of the above.)

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It takes a special kind of person to stay on that emotional roller coaster that it is to be with someone who has bipolar disorder.  A saint, to be exact.

So this brings me to three questions:

-Should you break up with someone who has it?

-If you have it, when should you tell someone?

-What about children? With a solid chance of passing it on genetically, that’s a rather meditative conversation to have. I suppose there’s a possibility in the future that the chemical choices could be more exact, or even a cure. OK…probably not a cure. Not with all the cash they’re making in this country on meds that are $200-$500 a month EACH and you need 3-5 of them.

It really, really hurts to be alone when it’s not your choice. It really hurts to be abandoned. It really hurts when you’re going through something and there is no one there for you. This is when the dark thoughts usually come.

That said, I cannot judge what a person must do to save themselves or their children from a bipolar partner. All too often, pain and abuse becomes “normal” and it’s hard to walk away.  Relationships have plenty of ups and downs on their own without adding in a mental disorder. You have to do what’s best for you and yours. Bipolar doesn’t go away. It never leaves. It will be that way FOREVER. Too many of us refuse their diagnosis or medications, which puts others through living hell and is completely irresponsible and selfish. I was harsh before when I said leaving someone with bp was the wrong thing to do. Perhaps it’s not. But giving them an ultimatum to get sorted out or else might not be a bad suggestion. That’s how I ended up sorted…and now, I’m grateful.

When do you tell someone? Blurt it out right away over the quesadillas and give them a fair chance to run before the main course arrives? Wait until they get to know you and casually mention it after sex? Never? Swallowing pills surreptiously when no one is looking or claim a heart condition?

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What if you do and they’re just like the hoards of ignorant out there who think bipolar means something along the lines of radical weather changes or being moody? Do you go through all the trouble explaining cardio afflictions, early death, serotonin/melatonin chemical imbalances, sleep disorders, medications, costs and side effects…or just let them be ignorant?

What if you tell them…and they are bipolar too? Do YOU leave?

These are questions I have no answer too. Maybe you do.

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As I write this, am I doing great? Some days no. Some days I certainly am. Do I feel better? Yes. Are my meds and therapy breaking me financially? Yes. Are they worth it? Fuck yes.

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…….…..Do I have abs? Yup.

Silver linings, my friends. Silver linings.

I am bipolar, and I always will be.

 

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

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Thank you for reading. Let me know your thoughts on my questions.

Get caught up on Part 1 & 2 of this story on the links below.

Read Bipolar Blues & Manic Depressive Madness (The Intro): https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/08/28/chapter-14-bipolar-blues-and-manic-depressive-madness-the-intro/

Bipolar 2-The Dark Side:https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/11/05/chapter-15-bipolar-2-the-dark-side/

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Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me. A Graphic Memoir. http://www.amazon.com/Marbles-Depression-Michelangelo-Graphic-Memoir/dp/1592407323

“Of Two Minds”. (Amazon & iTunes). http://www.amazon.com/Two-Minds-Terri-Cheney/dp/B00CMUXO54/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1388886195&sr=1-1&keywords=of+two+minds

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Will You Help Me Fix Cosmo the Corgi?

5 Jan

Will you help me fix Cosmo the Corgi’s knees? Or please spread the word? 

IndieGoGo: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/634406/wdgi/3773727

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The day after Christmas, I took the dogs to the dog park. They’d been cooped up on the holiday and I know they wanted to get out and run. No sooner had I gotten inside the gate and was still removing Bella’s leash when I saw Cosmo -who had bolted straight down the fence with a pack of Greyhounds on the other side – sit down suddenly, look stunned and he couldn’t get back up. 

Cosmo’s always been prone to issues. He was a puppy mill rescue and with that came a lot of vet bills. A LOT. Within 48 hours of having him he had developed pneumonia and giardia and had to be hospitalized in an oxygen tent.  He almost died, twice. After a little over a week, he was finally allowed to come home (with the $3000 bill), but it was a while to get him recovered and he’s always been susceptible to anything that comes along, especially kennel cough. 

Here’s the thing, though:  my pets are my family. I know that sounds weird to some and it’s not how my family raised me – dogs generally stayed outside and never saw the vet, and cats could be given away like they were only a plate of cookies – but it’s how I am now. I have a genetic disorder that will require medication for the rest of my life and have chosen not to have children as not to pass it on, so my dogs (and cat) are my children. They are also service dogs.  I understand being “defective”, so giving up on Cosmo was never an option.  

He is a living teddy bear and very happy to be hugging and kissing you for the better part of the day. 

………..And night.

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So, when this suddenly happened, I had a bad feeling. I thought maybe he’d walk it off, but no. I packed the dogs up, dropped Bella at home and went right to the emergency vet hospital.  Not my vet, but the one that’s is open 24 hours. With certain things, I go there instead because I know when it comes to accidents with him, I might be back in sooner than later.  He was in a lot of pain and couldn’t move. They thought it was his back after x-raying him. $376, a pain injection and some meds later, I took him home, worried as hell he would be paralyzed. That evening he didn’t pee. That night, nothing. He couldn’t move and he couldn’t hold himself up to go, so he wouldn’t. He’s not the type to mess in the house. I slept with a light on and just got up every hour to check on him. A few times in the middle of the night, I took him out. Nada. 

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By 4:30 am, I called them and said that he hadn’t wee’d in nearly a full day, but was drinking a lot of water. “Bring him back in. It sounds like he’s regressed.” Shit.

(That’s why I chose the 24 hour emergency vet hospital. Experience. Unfortunately.)

I packed him back up and drove over. They did more x-rays and told me the surgeon was due in at 8 am, why don’t I just leave him to be looked at.  I asked if they could do something to relieve his bladder.  He was catheterized and apparently he REALLY had to wee.

I went back in around 11 am and the surgeon told me it was his ACL in BOTH knees.. This was good, since it meant his paralysis would not be permanent. Then he said it would be about $1500 per knee to fix. Not so good. “Doc, I could get my OWN knees fixed for less than that.”  Plus a stifle brace, meds and rehab…and a 4-6 month recovery time.

That bill was another $301. And Cosmo still didn’t pee until 24 hours later. I thought I was going to have to take him in again!

My aunt, who is a vet from the University of Pennsylvania, backed the surgeon up.  We’d been thinking about a holistic approach, and she likes that option for many dogs, but not this case. Because he is only 7 years old and has a long life to life…because of the Corgi breed being a chest heavy one with short legs, and because he is not a 15 lb dog, she advised against skipping the surgery.  She warned that if we did, it might set him up for a tough life later as he ages with a lot of pain, arthritis and loss of use of the leg, anyway. 

Surgery, it is. Friday January 10th.

The surgery uses nylon, and the reason it’s such a long recovery is that unlike with a human’s torn ACL, where they use a cadaver ligament to repair it, they don’t repair dogs. They drill right under and allow another ligament to take over–which takes time. 

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A few others who have had this issue and some indy film people suggested I do something on IndieGoGo and see if I can raise a few dollars that way to offset some costs.  

Personally, I didn’t like the idea. I’ve been broke as hell before and never went on any government assistance or asked for any loans. I’ve always found a way or been exceedingly lucky. But in this particular case with Cosmo in so much pain and the costs so high…I think crowdfunding is the option here. 

This is the link if you’d like to see more of the story: IndieGoGo-

 http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/634406/wdgi/3773727

If you can help, I am extremely grateful. I know that sometimes what the heart wants the wallet simply cannot do, so if you can please share my story or link, that’s appreciated too. 

Thank you.  Xo

-April…and Cosmo

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Breathing Isn’t LIVING.

24 Dec

I wanted to take this blog to say a very heartfelt THANK YOU. I feel very fortunate to have such amazing fans and friends. My gratitude is more than you’ll realize. So many of you have gone above and beyond what a fan or friend typically is, it has floored me at times.

Just…thank you.

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In winter, an abundance of potential lies beneath the ground. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. If you were to unearth the seeds and bulbs that have been planted, you would sabotage the emergence of grass, flowers and food in spring. So, you wait and allow them to be nourished by an unseen source.

This is not any different than YOU, as a person. At this time of year, we do too much. We wear ourselves down and forget to stop, breathe and enjoy.

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We also reflect back on the year before…often with dissatisfaction.

Don’t. Guilt is a wasted emotion.

You’re like the ground, always. You have within you untapped potential.  With commitment and work, amazing things can emerge whenever you want them to.

Regardless of age, you can always grow, understand and live life more fully.  The day you stop learning something new every day is the day you die. Just because you are breathing does not mean you are alive. Every single minute means a fresh start can be right NOW.

No matter how shit your day is going, never forget that there are several dozen people somewhere in the world who would trade everything to have your life.

Live in the moment. Be happy in what is around you.  “There are flowers everywhere if one chooses to see them. – Henri Matisse”

Merry Christmas, Lovely Kwanzaa & Happy Solstice!

Paul Walker vs. Anger : The Flip Side

3 Dec

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“I’m so fed up with hearing about the death of an actor no one knew! There are children and soldiers who die every day and no one says anything about it!”

I saw this post on Facebook and it made me think.

I’d agree.

On the flip side, I think it’s a ‘connection’ situation that some aren’t able to fathom. Actors come into people’s living rooms. We occasionally connect with their characters and relate. In this country, we don’t have a Prince or a Queen. Hollywood is our royalty.

Psychologically, this is why people are upset. They feel they know Paul Walker (naturally, we get more upset when prettier people die) and he is on display for us; to a degree, we have access to him and his life.  The USA won’t even so much as release names or faces of the many dead soldiers who have come home each day. Stories on children’s hospitals are few, far between, heartbreaking and gloomy.

Walker represented glamour and an American dream…not death and depression. As a country, we are in an emotional melancholia. Anti-depressant use is up 400% from last year. When this happens, fantasy TV shows like True Blood, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones do very well in ratings because people want escapism.

So, when someone dies whom fans have admired for doing things they’ve always wanted, but never had the balls to (because most people don’t follow their dreams) it affects them on a personal level.

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Is it messed up that people are mourning an actor they don’t know more than a soldier who is being held hostage? Yes. But it’s completely understandable if you think about it.

We don’t comprehend how others see things or feel at times – even if it’s not right. We don’t try to put ourselves in their shoes. We lash out instead of being intelligent and using the “WHY” question we were originally taught as children, but forgot somewhere along the way when many of us became sheeple herded along by TV and corporate owned mass media. “I wonder WHY she feels that way or WHY he did that?”

Shit could be so much more positive and calm if we could just learn to understand all sides. That’s what tolerance really is. Not being nice to people who are different because you have to. It’s empathy. I doubt my little blog is going to cause world peace or anything, but perhaps it can help one or two of you grasp things a little better. That’s my hope, as I sit here late at night, typing away. (However, I’m a hopeless idealist.)

Ask WHY. Question everything.

…And have a kick ass week.  Life is short.