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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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Sawhorses

 

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.

 

BeNice

 

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. 

Chapter 29: Chicks And a Dick

11 Mar

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“So,” the server asked disinterestedly while smashing avocados. “How did you two meet?” We both laughed.

“You wanna…?”

“Nope,” I shook my head. “You go right ahead.”

He summed it up nicely in about a minute. The kid hastily shoved the bowl of guacamole at us and backed up a step. “You’re a cop?”

I understood. That’s kind of how I met him, too.

17103826_1025983450868460_45445494244363085_nIf you’ve read my blogs, then you know about some unbelievably weird dating stuff that goes on in my world.

The time a deputy served me a (falsely filed) restraining order for domestic violence and asked me out in my driveway while I was holding my bags. Or, how my defense lawyer from that same injunction…nevermind. Yeah.

Well, I’ve got a new one that might top those. I could not make this shit up.

For the record, I originally wrote this on February 15th.

Valentine’s Day was just Taco Tuesday to me. I’d planned on a titillating evening full of blow schoolwork and sexy gym time. Being a student is hard. Being an adult student with a career, mortgage, traveling for shoots, a homestead and small soy candle business can really suck unwashed, hairy balls. Most weeks, I feel like I’m gasping for air, nearly drowning in deadlines, assignments, past due orders, owed work and lost emails. I haven’t had much of a life in the past year other than occasionally seeing my friends and some random dating. 

Yesterday morning, the doorbell rang while I was still in my pajamas, drinking coffee. Usually, it’s mail delivery. But as I passed the window, I saw a city truck outside.

Shit, I thought. That’s never a good sign. I have an extreme dislike for people showing up on my doorstep. There’s a pleasant sign telling them to piss off unless they have an Amazon package or Girl Scout cookies. Clearly, this guy couldn’t read.

I yanked Bella back and opened the door. “Yes?”

A youngish-looking guy in an official shirt greeted me and said, “Do you have chickens?”

SHIT.

“Yes. Why?” I asked, as Bella practically went into convulsions trying to get the infidel to pet her.

FB_IMG_1488991133763“Well, we received a complaint from one of your neighbors about this property and another a few streets over.”

“Uh, OK. You’re welcome to look but I’ve already been through this last year with the other guy. We went all the way to mediation and won, plus everything is up to code. I don’t have a rooster. They go to bed at sunset. The coop is cleaned daily,” I wasn’t sure I did a good job containing my hostility, but I tried. “I’m not sure what the issue is?” I visualized hopping the fence and stabbing my whiny neighbor in the face with a metal spoon, simply because it would hurt more. This gave me enough momentary pleasure, I was able to calm down and hear him out.

“Look, I just took over for the last guy,” he said. He was cool and polite. “If there’s a complaint, I have to follow up. It’s my job.”  Excessively polite. But he didn’t seem like he was playing around. If he could tell I was upset, there was no acknowledgment.

He later told me I should never have let him in. But if I hadn’t, the story would end right here.

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I’d only been awake for an hour and was wearing a short, charcoal colored chemise slip with a clingy, light gray “Hollister” tee-shirt over it. My long, red hair was twisted up and clipped into an unflattering bun and my face was bare. So was my spirit, since I hadn’t yet caffeinated to completion.

I stepped aside and let him in, walking him through the main room. He paused and looked around.

“Wow, this is really nice. How long have you lived here?” Thank God I filed all my permits.

“Thanks. I bought it as a fixer-upper and did it about a year and a half ago. I don’t know anyone from the area yet. I work and go to school from home.”

The New Guy was a former deputy with a sturdy physique who looked like he’d been in more than a few brawls. He was a remarkable blend of badass and unwaveringly respectful.

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I called, and the chickens came running, which amused him. He’d never pet a chicken before, so Ginger took one for the team. He determined that he probably wasn’t going to ask me to get rid of them. I waited to inform him that they’re registered ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) and he can’t. I politely let him know I’m versed in the laws of the county and city and would fight him on it. He politely acknowledged that I wasn’t incorrect. The conversation was done. Yet, he didn’t leave.

“Oh, a yoga trapeze,” he said as we slowly headed back inside the house. I just had it installed a few weeks earlier and love it.

“You know what that is? I’m impressed.”

“Yeah, I have one. I got a lot of injuries when I was on the force. You ever try the Smiling Mind meditation app?”

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I’d been blinded by irritation, but at this point, I actually looked and saw him. Officer was a tallish, broad shouldered guy with dark hair, olive green eyes, neatly trimmed facial hair and great teeth. He had a healthy build, a boxer’s flattened nose and looked like he could kick my ass with one arm tied behind his back. I don’t have a type, but if I did, he’d fall into one of my preferred categories. He seemed the kind of guy who would be content in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a fishing pole and a beer. Country boy-meets-Parrothead. (<–Jimmy Buffet reference for those of you who aren’t caught up on all things tropical.)

 

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I became painfully aware I wasn’t wearing any makeup and was still in my pajamas. Shit, shit, shit. I self-consciously pulled the clip from my hair and let it tumble down around my shoulders and back. It was all I had to work with. Mid-sentence he trailed off and just stared.

“Great hair,” he said after a seconds’ pause.

“Thanks,” I said. We both stood there.

“So, uh…what are we listening to?” He asked.

“Robbie Williams.”

“Never heard of him. Great song.”

“I lived in England for a while. He’s kind of big deal everywhere else but here.”

“I’m going to add him to my Pandora.”

He strode across the house and bid me and “my husband” a good day.

“Him?” I gestured to Matt in the kitchen with a wave of my hand as if to say that old thing? I was just about to toss it in the trash. “That’s my cousin and roommate.”

“Oh? Really?” He lingered at the door. “Would you maybe want to continue this conversation later?” When the officer grinned, his eyes smiled, too. Something about those devilishly bright eyes grabbed me. “I know its short notice, but do you want to go out for a drink tonight?”

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Right. I can hear you thinking, “Oh, April…so soon? You met him and went out that night? Have you no game?”

Here’s the thing: Some of us think people come into our lives for a reason. (Ahem.) It could rather simple. Maybe it’s a lesson or a blessing. I rarely meet anyone (ever) since I work and attend university from home. When the universe delivers a good-looking dude on your doorstep – on Valentine’s Day, no less – you should probably say yes.

“Sure.”

“Pick you up at eight?” I hadn’t been picked up since high school. But it’s not like he didn’t know where I live.

“So, I guess you’re single?”

“Yeah. Guess you are, too?”

“Have been since summer. Wait. Are you crazy?” I asked.

He laughed. “No. But most crazy people don’t know they’re crazy.”

“Good answer. See you at eight.”

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Chickens? What chickens?

It dawned on me I haven’t met a person in real life in years. When I date, I meet people through OKCupid or Match. The great thing about online dating is that all the important information, like politics, height, age, religion, and kids, is out in the open.

The bad thing about online dating is all that information is out in the open. We filter and dismiss people quickly and harshly. Or, maybe that’s just me. No smokers, no one under five-foot-eleven, age range 35-45, middle of the road for politics, kids ok, social drinking only, prefer atheists. That last part is simply because atheists tend to be educated and/or foreign. I can relate well to these types. Sexually, I’m equally (if not more) stimulated by the intellectual as well as the physical. Little is hotter to me than a deep, meaningful conversation. (Sometimes a good kisser can cut to the front of the line.) However, I’ve met people in real life, like my short ex-husband-turned-good friend, whom I would never have given a chance had I seen his stats on a screen. With age comes wisdom, so my mind remains open.

I knew nothing about Officer. I didn’t even know how old he was. He looked young. What if he was too young? Granted, age is just a number, but with going on dates between the ages of 27 and 59 lately (don’t judge me), I was hoping to narrow it down to one generation instead of three. So, I Googled him. Nada. Cops and prosecutors are ghosts; they have to be for safety. However, university journalism class taught me how to stalk search for anything. In short time, I was able to ascertain he was younger, but only by three years. Also, a Trump voter. Oh, no. There are two types of Trump voters: the observable (douche types) and those who simply want change from a non-corporate president. I can deal with the latter group.

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This is a law I can fully support.

The post Officer vs. Chicken conversation with my roommate: “I dunno. I just don’t think we have much in common.”

Matt: “You both have the same amount of letters in your last names.”

“Spoken like a psycho.”

Matt continued as if I hadn’t said anything. “You both have two hands and ten toes. Injuries from fighting. You both like Robbie Williams. You both have good manners. See? There’s plenty if you look.”

“I’m not sure that’s the stuff you build on,” I said as I brushed my hair.

“I’m just saying you can find common ground if you really look.”

“Right. Like, oh hey – how are all ten of your toes doing today?” I rummaged through my closet looking for something to wear that wasn’t in the pajama category. “We are assuming he has all ten toes?”

“Exactly.” He poked his head through my bedroom doorway. “Don’t forget that he met you like you look right now. You don’t have to bother doing that much.”

“Fair point.”

Yet, I did. I spent an absurd amount of time doing my face and hair, as if I had something to prove. It dawned on me there could be a murky future. I thought forward: my hair in a bun, no makeup, ripped sweat pants. Upon failing to make him a sammich due to marathoning my favorite shitty reality show, he’d comment snidely over his eleventh beer: “Wow, April. You have really let yourself go.” Me, jabbing my finger in his face and screaming at the top of my lungs: “Fuck you! YOU MET ME THIS WAY!”

Such a fatalist. Let’s just erase that. I’m not the “fall to shit” type, anyway. We all know there’s no such thing as an ugly woman, just a lazy one.

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The date commenced. It was a combination of interesting pierced with some truly awkward moments, as many first dates typically are. Occasional silences stretched for seconds while he gazed at me with his light eyes, like he was memorizing my face. It was unnerving. I felt like I was in an unwinnable staring contest with a cat. I am almost always the alpha at any given table, so it threw me out of my comfort zone.

The best part about going on date with someone not in the business is attempting to explain the business. Pure sarcasm. This is especially discomfiting when they are trained to fight.

Him: “So, uh…I googled you. And there was this arm wrestling video–“

Me: “Oh, God. Please don’t watch that. It was a custom match. There’s a bunch of bullshit on the internet fans put up from customs.”

Him: “From what? Customs?”

Me: “Yeah. Customers order them and book it, right down to the grip and what color nail polish we wear. They’re fetish videos.”

Him: “That’s someone’s fetish? Really? Well, I really didn’t want to be disrespectful, but you weren’t doing it right.”

Me: “I know. You are correct. We were just following the script.”

Him: “They write scripts? Are they there while you film?”

Me: “Yes to scripts. No on filming. We generally don’t know who orders them.”

Him: “So, how much does something like that pay?”

I told him.

Him: “Are you shittin’ me? I’m in the wrong business. I shoulda been a hot chick.”

I wish he hadn’t seen that as his first impression after telling him I was a pro wrestler. I scrambled to pull up some matches with credibility.

Him: “Holy shit, you’re a bad ass. I like it! Wanna spar?”

“No. Maybe.” I should have left it at that, but my dumb ass sparred with him and he took me down in .03 seconds. Maybe less.

I won’t lie – it hurt. And it was pretty cool.

However, he genuinely seemed to be a decent guy, and not in a friend zone way. I’ve always been partial to the ‘nice guy’ and I think women who dismiss this type are missing out. True alpha males are quieter, confident, reluctant to fight unless they have to, and play well with others. The term ‘alpha male’ originates from wolves. If wolf alphas acted like our human version, their pack would die. What we mistakenly call ‘alpha males’ are usually just loud fucktards with big egos.  Read more on that here: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2016/04/24/how-to-really-be-alpha-like-the-wolf/

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As a rule, I’ll only date alphas now – the real version. I cannot do a weak personality. Nor can I deal with men who play a victim, complain, aren’t pro-active, take my shit, are indecisive or let me walk all over them. I lose respect. #Truth. I’ve learned how to discern this in order to not waste time. 

Alphas: It’s how a man carries himself, with confidence. He’s comfortable in his own skin,(even if that skin has flaws.) He maintains eye contact, allows himself to be vulnerable enough to admit personal things without apology, and he owns his mistakes or has learned from them. Alphas don’t put other men down. They know they don’t know everything and constantly seek to educate themselves. They are accommodating and willing to compromise, but not willing to sacrifice who they are in the process. An alpha doesn’t seek compliments but appreciates being appreciated. He does his own thing and doesn’t follow trends. He respects others. He respects women and appreciates their beauty. He is supportive and views them as equals. He has both male and female friendships. He gets along with his exes. Others seek him out for advice. He is calm, thinks before speaking and generous in the right moments.

Dear nice guys finishing last: Read and learn more of what women want https://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/09/06/chapter-22-pull-my-fcking-hair/

I wondered if Officer was a little too nice. I’m kind of an asshole. I don’t want to feel like a massive dickhead because the person across from me is a saint. I’ll own my heathen ways. I know I have to be with someone who thinks outside the box, is a little dirty, curious in life, not jealous, not the least bit politically correct, a nonconformist and who thinks nothing can’t be made into a joke. I’m just a “fuck the establishment” antihero to the core. Annnnnd, he was part of the establishment.

 

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Speaking of being laissez-faire, despite the Trump thing (I’m non-party affiliated, but have shloads of Mexican, Muslim and foreign friends whom I adore) and him being pretty damn religious…like very religious (“I believe Christ is my savior. What’s your stance on faith?” “Oh, uh…I don’t believe in Jesus. None of that ever made sense to me.” “Well, how do you think we got here?” “Evolution?”), I still planned on kissing him. Why not? Life is short and some of these Christian conservative types are total freaks! Kidding. Or, am I? But for reals, I have no issue respecting someone’s beliefs, even if they’re vastly different from mine. Not only does it make for interesting conversations, but regarding spirituality, the only thing I know is that I don’t know. I don’t care what someone believes, as long as they’re a damn good person, and they like a finger up their–

Kidding! Or, am I? 

If someone respects me in return, there’s no problem. My bigger issue would be if he wasn’t fluent in sarcasm and didn’t swear. Those are fucking deal breakers.

 

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Despite the inauspicious beginning, we were on the same page with end-of-date opportunities. He walked me to my door and kissed me goodnight several times …and bit me once… (he is definitely a little freaky, I knew it.)

As he turned to leave, he pointed at me and said, “Thank you for having chickens.”

“Allegedly.”

“Right. Allegedly.”

To recap the untied ends: I HAVE had conversations with him other than “How are all ten of your toes?” He did add Robbie Williams to his Pandora, was in the “drastic change” Trump voter category and we did have a second date.  He has all his toes. I counted them.

He’s also not as nice as I originally thought.

……….…..Thank fuck. 

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There’s no sappy, romantic end to this story. Nor would I share if there was because I tell more than enough. He’s been up front about not wanting anything serious, which works for me, too. He confessed he isn’t a fan of my career path, and that was one of the major hesitations I had with dating someone devout. Admittedly, it bothered me because what I do isn’t who I am, and I like him as a human being. (“Any man who cares about you would have a problem with what you do.” Me: “That hasn’t been my experience at all. They understand one side is a business and the other is me. I’ve never run into problems.” Him: “Well, I’ve tried to imagine introducing you to my parents and I’m not sure how I’d explain it.” Me *feeling slapped*: “So, don’t. To any of it. That’s obviously how you see me. It doesn’t mean others do. If you see me as what I do, that’s your issue.”) And this is one of the many reasons religion (its perceived ideals and dogma) can be harmful and keep people from living. If you’re not doing anything to hurt others, I’m guessing you’re probably still a good person. How ironic that religion can be what hurts people or holds them back the most.

In all fairness, he had no idea what I did until I told him. I was just “the hot chicken lady”. But the start of this story was too cute not to share.

 

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My own two bucks (because two cents, really? At least you can buy gum with a couple dollars):

Some women aren’t meant to be tamed. They just need an equal to keep up, laugh at life and experience this crazy world along with them.

After much introspection, writing, screwing up, therapy and learning, I’ve come to the conclusion that I fall into this category. Any other stab at normalcy will likely be met with the same previous (ill-fated) results. The definition of insanity is…right. That. Doing it over and over again and expecting a different result. I think it’s time to embrace my weird, colorful inner flamenco dancer. If someone can keep up, fine. If not, also fine. I’m not sure I go dates, per se – it’s more like holding auditions. Some get call backs. Most don’t. I’ve learned the hard way not to shove square pegs through round holes.

I’ve also learned to own it. Everything dire that’s happened to me in some way, shape or form, is my own responsibility. Therefore, it’s my duty to be alert and not let it happen again.

Perhaps more of us need to examine ourselves closely and see what works and what doesn’t. Societal opinion be damned. (This is called being Self Aware, which is so rare for most human beings it’s considered a super power.) If things are meant to be, they’ll flow. And it won’t cost a chunk of your heart and soul.


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That said, on the topic of dating in general, I may not have a string of successful relationships behind me, but I am extraordinarily good at love. Love is when you want the best for someone, even if it’s not in your best interest. Love is when someone makes you want to be a better person. Love is autonomous; accepting and respecting that they are free to do as they please without restrictions. It’s wanting someone, not needing them. Love is when you never fail to appreciate that there are seven billion people on this Earth, and someone chooses to spend their time with you. Love is always learning, so you don’t sit across from each other at the table with nothing to talk about. Love is always compromising. Love is respecting boundaries. Love is choosing your battles and knowing when to sincerely apologize, even if you feel it’s not your fault. Love is communicating, waiting to respond instead of having a knee-jerk reaction and always remembering you are a team. Love gives, it doesn’t withhold. Lasting love is when you truly like someone as well as love them. Lasting love is WE, not I or me. 

If you take a plate and throw it on the floor, it’ll shatter into little pieces. You can tell those pieces you’re sorry. You might feel better, but the plate is still broken. Even if you manage to glue it all back together, it cannot be unbroken; ever. 

Well, that’s not one hundred percent true. The Japanese tradition of Kintsugi uses melted gold to repair broken pottery and dishes, which makes them even more beautiful than before. Maybe when it matters, we have to use precious metals instead of glue.

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That’s all I know. The rest is a work in progress, an open experiment in life.

Do not read into any of this, dearest friends and fans. I don’t like it when you do. You should know my writing well enough by now to know I pull no punches. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I’m simply sharing some insight with you from years of fuckups so perhaps you can avoid some of my costly mistakes or melt some gold for your own.  

Free tip #56798: Don’t ever complain about your partner publicly on social media. Ever. Just don’t do it.

Same goes for posting lovely-dovey crap. You have text. Use it. Nothing says “we have some serious issues” like endless status updates about how in love you guys are. No. We are all watching, knowing the other shoe is about to drop and betting cash on the date papers are gonna be filed. We love Schadenfreude. Makes us feel better about our own lives. So, stop that shit. You’re welcome.

 

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

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

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

Special thanks to Hubert O’Hearn and Matt McDermott for editing! Time is valuable and I appreciate yours!

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Sanity v. Irrational Thoughts: WT(M)F?

17 Jan

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I’ve spent most of my adult life in a relationship. I’ve always put someone first, even at the cost of myself, my career or both. This is the very first time I don’t have to answer to anyone. I’ll admit, I kinda enjoy it.

There was an adjustment period after a tragic breakup with someone who had undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder. He was also bipolar.
Well, shit. If anyone could help him, it would be me, right? As a card-carrying member of Club Van Gogh, I understand crazy. I know what to expect. 

What in the muther-of-fuck was I thinking?

The difficult part for me to swallow is that before I saw all the mental issues, I actually *thought* I was in my first healthy relationship. Yeah. Then I stuck around out of hope and loyalty. That really fucked my head up.

It didn’t help that of the two of us, I was the calm, nonviolent one (yeah…me!) and with his disorder, he had the ability to twist things around, convince me I was the problem and everything was my fault. 

I spent a lot of time on therapist’s couches and having coffee with friends working on rewiring myself since. Luckily, these are also the same couches he sat on and friends who knew him, so these people had insight as to what was really going on. 

 

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My own bipolar medication doses have been spot-on the past few years. I get regular blood tests and the aforementioned therapy. I’d been better than ever. And yet, that happened. The lack of judgment and constant second-guessing made me unable to figure out what was up from down. Now that I’m dating again, I’m very cautious and wish I could rely on my instinct and judgment. You know, like normal people don’t. I over-think and get confused at times. Living alone has been challenging, too. There’s no one to reign me in when I go a little too far outside the lines. I think that’s one of the things you need to find in both your closest friend(s) and a partner when you’re bipolar, or it won’t work.

My Fucktarded Brain: 

“Is this what’s going on in reality, or is it just my mind seeing things in the worst possible light?

Wait.

What if I’m simply being paranoid that it’s my bipolar mind, but it IS really going on and I’m talking myself into staying calm and letting things go while I’m actually getting completely fucked over?”

That’s what it’s like to be crazy. Even on stabilizing medication, it never completely goes away. I’m just able to keep it hidden better. 

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Steven Griffey Photography

It’s like a little MMA/Lucha Libre match going on in my head:

e956cfe24c9fa0b9916f4165dcd088ed“In this corner, Irrational Thoughts! Coming in from Parts Unknown at 6’5” and 385 pounds!
His opponent, the high-flying Lucha Libre sensation known simply as SANITY! Sanity hails from Doctor’s Orders and weighs in at a sleek but deceptively quick 135 pounds!
Ring the bell!

Oh, wow. WOW! Sanity is just taking a BEATING from Irrational Thoughts! It’s going exactly as we’d thought. Irrationality is all over, just cleaning freakin’ house. It got real ugly, real RAPIDO, folks. He’s got Sanity locked in the WTF-Are-You-Thinking submission and is not letting go…oh, ouch!…but Sanity refuses to tap! He goes for the pin! 1…2…no! Shoulder raised!

Irrational has just put Sanity on top of the cage…he’s backing up…he charges at him… OH MY GOD…Sanity has KICKED Irrational Thoughts IN THE FACE! IN.THE.FACE! And here comes Sanity OFF THE CAGE with a flying triple Functionally Balanced! HO-LY SHIT! Sure didn’t see that coming! Ay, Dios mio! 1… 2…3! Sanity! Sanity! Sanity WINS!”

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But Sanity doesn’t always prevail, does he? Sometimes Irrational Thoughts hits the ring and it’s a travesty of a squash match. There have been several times where I have connected the dots to something and let someone have it. Friends, lovers. Over something that wasn’t there. This, while stabilized. Meanwhile, those dots connected clear as anything to me. For me, it was a calm, rational connecting of dots. THE FUCKING DOTS CONNECTED. Not only did they connect, but they fit together like Legos.

But, the other person couldn’t have been more shocked at how in the blue hell I came with my dots OR connections. Oh, and my Legos? They can just piss the fuck off, mate.  After that, my dot connecting ability was severely questioned. I lost a lot of my dot connecting credit. I was put on dot connection suspension.

Now, what kind of defense does one have in this case? “Well…you knew I was bipolar!”

Sure. OK. They can say, “I know. You were straight up about it.” (Or in my case, “I read your blogs.” Nothing like having it all out there.)

But does that actually work with someone who really has no clue what it’s like to be something they cannot possibly imagine? Maybe they can look past it, but are fissures not created, tiny hairline cracks?

Meanwhile, they’ve put you in dot connection Time Out.

(Note: There have been a few times where I thought I was crazy because I was told I was wrong – but I found out later I wasn’t. This has happened when I’ve been seeing someone and they simply weren’t comfortable with me calling something so accurately or being brutally truthful. I’m not one for games or bullshit.)

 

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It makes me crawl inside myself. I apologize, back away. Far away. It makes me not want to interact with anyone. Because, clearly, I can’t. I can’t sustain a normal fucking…whatever you call it. Just when I think maybe I’m OK – surprise, mutherfucker! -Nope.

And this, on medication.

Previously, I hurt everyone around me and walked away unfazed. Now, I just hurt myself trying to make sure others are okay. I suppose it’s an improvement.

Let’s skip the n-word (normal), in lieu of aiming for “functionally balanced”.  One day. Not just out of debt, paying my bills, healthy and responsible. I’m already there. But I’d like to be completely balanced. I’d like my mind to quit fucking with me – and I’d like to retain the quick wit and creativity bonuses that come with being crazy, por favor. 

I want it all.

Functionally balanced. So much prettier of a phrase than the n-word.

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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.

Time Stood Still

31 Dec

 d48348ca6cddeeef5803ac11c0b46dc0They say the way to stop time is kissing. She stood under the shower, warm water streaming down her face, and she imagined their wedding. A Hollywood themed wedding, with R.S.V.P. cards that looked like theater tickets, guests arriving on a red carpet and metal film reels for centerpieces. He loved movies, she thought.

She tried his last name on. Could work. 

No, maybe not.

Of course, there would be no wedding. She had no interest in getting married again. But she imagined it, just because. Because she’s a woman. She did this with everyone she dated; tried on their last name. She just did.

Not with the redhead. There wouldn’t be any wedding, real or imagined. Because he was already married. She knew she should feel bad about dating a man who was committed, but she didn’t. She just didn’t.

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She’d known him fifteen years. He was barely twenty-one years old when he arrived from a small farm town in another country. They sat across from each other on the frigid concrete floor in a dim locker room in snowy Pennsylvania, and he averted his eyes, polite, but intimidated. They faced each other around the ring, meeting the first time as fighters, and later as lovers.

He remembered what she’d worn that night. 

She walked through the entrance and the host pointed to his table without asking who she was meeting. He embraced and kissed her, then she slid into a seat, once again sitting across from him. Now he was a man, with the confidence of someone who had been through the rigors of life and ended up on top.

She studied his face, which was no longer familiar. He looked like the professional athlete and fighter he’d become. His thick, muscular physique was covered in tattoos and his nose looked like it had been broken more than once. His unruly auburn hair was shaved into a punk style and he was attractive in an unconventional way. He looked like he stepped off the set of Vikings. They had common views and values, yet he knew little about her. None of the deep stuff. None of the illness. None of the things she struggled with. And that was fine. He was a fun distraction. It was genuinely light. After the heavy mess she’d gone through the year before, something sweet was welcome. 

She rarely connected with people, but something felt right about him and she didn’t know what it was. They were cut from the same cloth – that’s how the host knew. He was familiar. They knew all the same people, they traveled all the same paths. He felt a little like home. 

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He made her feel things she hadn’t felt in a long time. Elated, euphoric. When he texted, which was frequently, she smiled. He was there as much as the other wasn’t. He was warm, sensual and animalistic. It wasn’t mental with him, it was physical.

She wanted to rip his clothes off and bite him, feel him pressed against her. He told her his dreams of her, how he couldn’t wait to see her in a few days, he wished he could fast forward. 

She had never been attracted to vapid or stupid, no matter how pretty a package it was wrapped in.  He was bright, not afraid to say exactly what was on his mind or ask for what he wanted. They never ran out of things to talk about, but there were no profoundly deep conversations. An avid reader, he asked about her writing, which fascinated him. He didn’t probe for more about her life, and she was grateful. He texted to say he was thinking of her, morning, noon and night.

She liked him.

I’m into you, he said. I like being with you, around you. You’re easy to talk to. I want this to keep going…if you’re OK with it. I knew we’d be right. I haven’t been wrong yet.

And they were, but in a different way than she was right with the other. She wondered if the redhead was like her, crazy. Game recognizes game. He laughed when she suggested it. She appreciated crazy. She appreciated redheads. She appreciated tattoos. She appreciated kissing.

Anticipation. Waiting to do things they weren’t supposed to be doing. It was utterly intoxicating. He brought out the best in her. He brought out the worst in her. He brought out her, the person she knew for a lifetime, before the bipolar diagnosis and stabilizing medications.

He will never be mine, nor me his. It’s fleeting. Safe. I know exactly where I stand with him. He was honest; never afraid to say how he felt, never holding back. They agreed to that from the start, brutal honesty. He traveled distance to be with her, driving several hours after a day rife with flights, appearances and filming.

It was temporary. Dangerous. Was it the illicit element? Living in the moment?

When he stopped on the street lit sidewalk on that first chilly night and pulled her into him, people stepped around them or stared as he wrapped his hands in her hair, his lips on hers, and neither of them cared. 

Maybe eight minutes passed. Maybe thirty. He pressed her against the brick building, and with his hand still wrapped in her hair, he pulled her head back and his full lips were on her jaw bone, down her neck…he came back up, parted her lips with his, and bit one, holding it gently with his teeth. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he grinned devilishly down at her. It was an audition. An invitation. He never once touched her anywhere else.  He didn’t have to. This is what I can do for you…if you let me. The glow of the street lamps glinted off his dark ginger beard as they sized each other up.  He brought her hand to his warm lips and kissed it softly, then tucked her arm under his for the remainder of the stroll. He wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was. She already knew the answer, and so did he.

Time stood still.

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She rarely felt the child-like excitement about things she used to when she was off her medications. No matter how much effort she put into Christmas, vacations, food, it wasn’t there. It bothered her. She was so goddamn sane and rational. Here was a deadly taste of that hypomania she missed so much…that drug…her drug of choice.

The drug, that ever pervasive drug, from which she managed for so long to stay clean. 

There it was, seeping its way into her life again.

A Cross to Bear

13 Dec

April Hunter is currently a student at Full Sail University for her degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment and a comic book character. She is a former professional wrestler and model.

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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 rearview 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

Published 11/16 in Page & Spine Literary Journal

http://www.pagespineficshowcase.com/april-hunter.html

 

 

Expensive Lessons Pt 2 – “Frating” & Harsh Realizations

18 Oct

(15  minute read)

Read Part 1 – The Restraining Order

HERE:  https://aprilhunterblog.com/2016/09/21/expensive-lessons-part-1/

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Right Turn – Alice in Chains

“Inside…always trying to get back inside.

But it’s so hard to penetrate pig-thick skin.

I’m ‘bout as low as I can get, I’d leave but I can’t forget.

Still wonder why it ain’t right. It ain’t right.

Now we’re as low as we can get. Can’t leave and can’t forget.

We ain’t right. Not right.

Well, it’s hard to believe that somebody tricked you.

When you can see you were only high.

It’s all up to you, so you gamble.

Flat on your face and into the fire.”

Written July-September 2016

The moonlight shimmered off the ocean as the waves broke and lapped at the sand. Walking along the beach, puddles of sea water felt warm and cold at the same time. Bob pranced alongside us, a glowing ball in his mouth. Scooter said this was the only time Bob could play in the water since The Powers That Be decided dogs weren’t allowed on the beach. Makes sense. Dogs digging holes or pooping is far more devastating to the beautiful beaches than the endless broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, cans and plastic wrappers we humans leave.

Scooter and I were in a parallel situation with our significant others, but mine came with a deputy eviction and lawyers. He was mostly angry; I was mostly beaten down.

We commiserated. Words of frustration and hurt tumbled from our mouths, often crossing over each other at the same time. Taken advantage of, damaged, misunderstood, unappreciated. Incensed.

“Oh, your neighbors are definitely talking about you,” he said.

 “I know.” The endless parade of police cars and drama in our driveway was mortifying. 

“The minute you guys leave, they are SO turning that place into an age 65+ community.”

 “Probably,” I said.

“What I want to know is how this happens,” he said, gesturing around with his hand. “This. How two people, who mean the world to one another, get to the point not being able to stand each other?”

“How it goes from that person consuming your every waking thought to just get the fuck away from me?”

“Yeah. Exactly.” He threw the ball out to the waves and Bob scampered off into the darkness to find it.

“If we could figure that out, we could write a book called “Break the Pattern”. Which would obviously hit the bestseller list and we’d rich,” I said.

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I felt fortunate to have landed softly at the beach after falling hard. There was something about the water and waves that calmed, and I spent my days holed up in that secluded location walking along the sand until I couldn’t remember which inlet led me back.

The fact that Scooter allowed me to stay at his rental getaway by myself was the proverbial last straw between him and his girlfriend, who, despite being incredibly friendly towards me, hadn’t been happy. Unfortunately, I’ve lost a lot of male friends due to their significant others not being comfortable around me. I never understood this. I’d known them for years before these women came into their lives. If anything were to have happened, it already would have.

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To be fair, unlike most of my male friends, I briefly met Scooter on an online dating site, before my profile was yanked down for being “fake”. He looked (stalked) me up on Facebook and said he was surprised I wasn’t some bored guy with stolen photos.  We chatted for a while and then got caught up in traveling for work. However, we made a date for the following month. Meanwhile, things with C got more serious. Upon finding that C left his dating profile up, I decided to keep my plans with Scooter. I was up-front and told him that I was seeing someone and thought it was going somewhere, so he probably wouldn’t want to keep the meeting. He said he’d take his chances, thankyouverymuch. I reluctantly met the man and his dog that would go on to be part of my life in the future.

After a glass of wine and witty conversation, I liked him. It was nearing my birthday and he arrived with gourmet dog cookies for Bella and a bullet for me (we share a similar fucked up sense of humor), which I still have. His dog, Bob, sat at my feet, tail gently wagging every time I looked at him.

“Your partner in crime?” I asked.

“Well, we get along well. We’re very similar.”

“How’s that?”

“We both love food. For another, we both get super excited when we poop.”

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He was tall and lanky with sandy-colored facial stubble. He could have used a few pounds and didn’t always seem comfortable in his own skin, but he had a bold, blue-eyed gaze that dared you to look away first. As my friend Heather would say, “Guuuuurl, he is hot!” Though he’d been in Tampa for a while, he hadn’t quite lost that California surfer laissez faire personality. He was confident, humble, independent, and I would eventually learn, self-aware. This is a rare superpower most people don’t possess. Too many choose to place emphasis on their looks or acquiring material possessions rather than take the time to learn about themselves. While it’s great to keep yourself up, looks eventually fade. Who you are will not, and an education of any kind is always a solid investment.

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The evening ended with a bro-hug in the parking lot and him saying that if anything changed to let him know. Had Christopher not solidly been in the picture, I’d have seen him again. He had a vintage German car habit, was more broken down from various sports than I am (which is no easy feat) and his dog was quite literally his best friend, but that’s who he was.

We routinely text sarcastic jabs back and forth.

Him: “Many unanswered questions in life. What if Rosa Parks had a car?”

Me: “Well, December first and February fourth would be way different for many of us, that’s for sure. I think cars ruined the Civil Rights movement. Had more people sat their asses in the front of the bus, shit would be further along now. I blame cars for these bullshit shootings and retaliation riots. One hundred percent. Are you putting baby in a corner tonight or do you want to grab something for dinner?”

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Him: “So, what do you think the handicapped parking situation is at the Special Olympics?”

Me: “I just want you to know you ruined my night. I’ll be thinking about this for the next several hours. Thanks, Fucker. ”

“Anytime. Do you know what fastest car in the world is?

Me: “Uh…something Italian?”

“A rental car.” He usually wins.

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A couple weeks ago he asked, “Level up. Are you ok?”

A pause. “Why are you asking?”

“Because you seem off.” I stared at his text and exhaled as tears welled up. It had been a long time since anyone had noticed how I was doing or cared. Fuck. I thought I was hiding the cycling mania/depression hitting from all angles. I cover it well and don’t talk about it. A key thing with bipolar disorder is awareness. I was aware that I was currently fucked in the head from all the crap going on around me in the aftermath of C. Most people close to me can’t tell. This person, whom I see once I week, could tell how I was doing through text?

“Nope. Not really ok.” And I told him the brutal truth, like I always do, figuring it’ll freak him out and scare him off – for his own good.

“So, where do you want to go for your birthday?” Guess it’s gonna take a little more time.

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Photo: Getty Images/Doug Benc

We had a lot in common, so it hadn’t been tough to move into a friendship after we first met. He traveled a lot and once lived in that elusive limelight, signing autographs and trying to catch sleep on planes while winning trophies in professional sports car racing. (We probably share more than a few of the same fans.) I didn’t have to explain my life to him. After that first meeting, every once in a while he’d email to say hello and ask if C had suddenly died in a fiery automobile crash. He found a girlfriend not long after our date, one whose muscular thighs and gym dedication put mine to shame. I followed their escapades on Facebook, often wishing C was the adventurous just-get-in-the-car-and-go type. Or even a workout-without-complaining type. The couple of times we vacationed, it because I arranged and paid for everything. Scooter had once told me, “I have no doubt that we would be an amazing duo. Partners in crime and traveling companions.” I occasionally wondered if I had chosen wrong.

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Photo: Dustin McClease

Bob bounded back with the ball, wiggling his entire behind.

“Here’s something entertaining,” I said. “One of the deputies who evicted me asked me to hang out.”

“Guess he didn’t think you were guilty.”

“Guess not.”

“Yeah, well, dates aren’t going to be a problem for you.”

“Ha. Dating. I can’t even fathom that right now.  I think I just need to do my own thing for a while. School, work, get back to making candles. Be alone for a while. This one is probably going to mess me up pretty good. My douche bag radar is clearly wrecked. I don’t know if I can trust myself to make a good decision anytime soon.”

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Looking back now, my stomach was in knots from the first day C and I stepped into the house as owners. Once we got inside, we saw it needed far more work than we’d first realized. Our previous walk-through had been while the former owners were living there, clutter piled high against walls and windows; walls that had water damage and windows that didn’t open. He flipped out. I love a challenge and told him not to worry, I’d done this before and it would be fine. He stalked off to the garage and I continued to take inventory of the house. When I found him, he said he went out to the garage to find rope and was seriously contemplating killing himself. That day. The first day.

Oh… my… fuck.

What had I just gotten myself in to? We signed a thirty-year mortgage together. I never saw any of this until that day. He’d always come off as calm, stable and logical. I spent the next year that we lived together trying not to let boiling water spill over. My own life, career and hobbies suffered. I gave up candle making, barely had time to read a book, blew off bookings and didn’t have energy for anything other than putting out fires.

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To recap: Between the house renovations and the first contractor ripping us off, then the neighbor’s incessant complaining about everything we did (along with surprise inspections by city and county) which brought the HOA coming down on us about the shed and chickens. (It’s a big yard surrounded by woods, no rooster. No one else had an issue except the guy who shared a property line.) Meanwhile, two of our three chickens mysteriously died, and then I was diagnosed with Lupus. All the while, the aforementioned neighbor went house-to-house around our (elderly) neighborhood with topless photos of me, telling people I was a “porn star, who will bring the property values down”. We had to go to court to get a harassment & stalking restraining order against him to make him stop. Court again to get the HOA to leave us alone. Once we were on their radar, the letters and threats kept coming. We won that mediation as well, but it was stressful as fuck. As soon as it calmed down, C got injured. I’d just started Full Sail University and had been unsuccessfully trying to balance work, travel, school and learning to be a full-time student in an accelerated degree program. His niece moved in. While it was a great help at first, it became a game of pitting us against each other while trying to take care of him. I often felt unwelcome in my own house.

(Note: Despite my big ass titties, I’m not a porn star. I am a centerfold/fetish/pin-up model, pro wrestler, comic book model and professional cosplayer. I’m also an entrepreneur, freelance ad writer & blogger, student, own a small soy candle business called AprilsScentSations and run two websites. Sometimes things are busy, sometimes they’re not. It depends on the market, exposure, and time of year. As far as I can tell, my big ass titties haven’t ruined the property values. However, it’s always entertaining to come home from a convention dressed as Poison Ivy or Jessica Rabbit to get the mail and wave hello to someone walking by. Never gets old.)

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Photo: Steven Griffey

In the end, shortly before he evicted me, I’d started to emotionally pull away. At one point, after he broke or punched something in rage, I told him a friend said I should file a restraining order – but I was doing my best to handle everything. I told him I needed more from him. Shortly after that, he filed for a restraining order, claiming he “feared for his life”.

While I was out on my thirty-day eviction, C reported me several times for violating the protection order. First, over some magnetic letters on the fridge I’d had up since the day he left, which he perceived to be a threatening message. (The letters: break-up song titles. Pantera’s This Love and I Will Survive aren’t usually frightening to read.) Another was when I sent him a brief email* after not being able to get in touch with my lawyer all day, asking him to please contact USAA because our mortgage company was about to put us into collections because he hadn’t paid the due payment and they didn’t have his new phone number. Instead of handling the situation, he opted to call the police and file a violation against me. He never did pay it until after our final day in court, where I was forced to split it with him because he had to pay attorney fees. I hadn’t even lived there in June. He also filed a complaint against one of the deputies he knew I used to be neighbors with for “being partial and unprofessional.”

 (*Note: I paid the entire down payment for the house and the renovations. C was to handle the mortgage/electric/water/insurance so I could cut back on work and go back to school for my degree. That’s why it was his responsibility to take care of it.)

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We went to court after fourteen days, and he and his lawyer pushed for a one-year permanent injunction. Had it been granted, I wouldn’t have been allowed back into my home. C played his head injury to the hilt, claiming total disablement and that he needed “exclusive use of the home.” (Incidentally, Bipolar Disorder has been listed on the Americans with Disabilities Act since 2008.) The judge waived their motion but allowed the original order to stay in place for two more weeks until we could figure out a living arrangement regarding the house. After court, he got into his car and drove away, but not before posting on Facebook, “Time to celebrate! Who’s up for drinks?”

I’d been granted a one-time visit to the house to collect more things. C changed the door locks, which under a temporary restraining order, he wasn’t supposed to do. I couldn’t get in. He let my houseplants and garden die, too. He made me wait four hours, presumably to enjoy his celebratory drinks first.

It’s never just one cop car, there are always two. A deputy escorted me into my own house, checking my ID and paperwork with his left hand, right hand resting lightly near his gun. There’s just something about that that made me feel guilty, no matter what. For this latest episode of That Nice Looking Man vs. The Weird Chicken Lady Who Looks like a Porn Star, the neighbors hid behind their shades.

When I finally got in, I went straight into the bedroom and started packing underwear and dresses.  

“Can I talk to her?” C asked the deputy.

“No,” I said.

“Sure, as long as you two don’t fight.”

He followed me around like a puppy, talking about normal household stuff as if he hadn’t just tried to take everything away from me that morning.

I then asked what the hell he was thinking. He told me he filed the order because he ‘just needed a break.’ The deputy looked at him incredulously.

“Sir, that is not why you file an injunction. They’re used because you need someone to stay away long enough so you can move out. Not for a relationship break.”

“Pull the order, C. You said you would.”

“I can do that?”

“Yes,” the deputy said. “You can.”

“Ok, I’ll see about it.”

“Ma’am,” the deputy said to me, while looking directly at C. “No matter what he says right now, there is a chance he is not telling you the truth.”

He wasn’t.

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Driving back from a frenetic weekend of taping customs for SlamminLadies after that, the thought of facing the secluded bungalow became overwhelming. I just felt as if there was no point. If the one person whom I would put first and trust would turn on me for no reason; if everything I’d worked for could be taken away by the county without a single shred of proof – even my ability to earn a living and my pets, it all seemed futile. I started to calculate exactly how much sleep medication I had, and if it was enough to do the trick.

Then…FUCK. His asshat lawyer (“Your Honor, I have the privilege of representing Mr. C…and we request a one-year restraining order, as my client is disabled and needs sole occupancy of the home”) stated we were “tenants in common”. Should one of us kick the bucket, the house would automatically go to the other. Suicide would be a fucking Christmas gift to this guy. Hell, he was probably hoping to drive me to that point in order make things easier for him. No. I’ll die one day, but it wasn’t going to be that day. Plus, it would’ve been extremely impolite to leave a body in a place that someone had so kindly lent me, especially in brutal Florida summer heat. Can you imagine the smell? Scooter would have to burn my soy candles twenty-four-seven. There’s also the fact that my fat cat would’ve eaten my face off within a scant few hours if his kibble wasn’t replenished.

Two days later, C’s sister in law was dead. She’d killed herself, leaving behind two great sons whom she loved very much. There had been a huge betrayal by C’s brother, and C moved him into our home the day I was taken out. She had a very public meltdown in our driveway, where she hysterically dumped his brother’s stuff all over the yard while screaming and crying, and then overdosed the day after.

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While we were married, Jordan had given me crap for wearing old tee shirts around the house. “Your fans see you looking hot, so I should, too.” Not an unreasonable request. I bought a bunch of cute little chemise slips that were comfy and perfect for the hot Florida climate.

Pre restraining order: Chris said I was showing too much and he was getting impervious to my “constant nudity”. He stood in the living room, vein bulging in his neck and yelled at me. “Did you know my niece [whom we took in because her father/his brother wouldn’t take care of her, which turned into an excellent six months full of C pitting one against another] saw your VAGINA??”

“Uh, she’s 19, female, it’s just us and she’s living in our house. Vag happens. It was an accident. It’s not like I’m running around naked or anything. I’m not sure the issue here?” He was so irritated, like he was looking for anything to berate me about.

“You need to cover up more. I’m becoming immune to everything.”

“Oh, Jesus. It’s always something with you and your reason to not have sex. Now it’s too much sudden vagina. Fantastic.” I finally caved and went back to shorts and tee shirts to keep the peace.

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With a lot of time alone to think while couch-surfing, I eventually realized that a large part of C’s appeal was his complete “normalcy” compared to my life. In society, he was average, safe. Normal. That dreaded N-word. I wanted to avoid the crazy, a circus, and the insane. When my Gram and Mom died back-to-back in 2012 from battling dementia and cancer respectively, then I got divorced, it was gutting. I was neck deep in the entertainment and fitness businesses and walked away from nearly everything for almost two years while coping with depression and nonstop respiratory issues. As awful as that time was, it wasn’t half as traumatic as this past year has been with C.

Epiphany #1:

I think that I believed if I was with normal, then I would be normal. Clearly, it didn’t exactly work out that way.

“Sometimes, when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.” – Unknown 

What I didn’t know then is that ultimately, I’d be grateful to C for filing that order, even though he put me through hell and so much embarrassment I still avoid walking my dog during daylight hours so I don’t run into neighbors. As brutal as it was to go through at the time, it worked out for the best. He severed everything clean. Had he not, we’d still be limping along. I would never have left him, not with his head injury. I still don’t know what happened. One moment, we were cuddling in bed in the morning. In the next, he drove himself to the courthouse and filed a domestic violence report. Those around me said he probably set it up ages ago. I’ll never understand it. The only thing I’m certain of, if I go by actions and not words, is that C only cared about his own interests.

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Epiphany #2:

You shouldn’t always put someone first, because that teaches them you come second. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this story, he said, “All my exes are crazy.” I have no doubt I’ll be labeled as yet another crazy ex, despite the common thread in the constant insane equation being him. If someone calls you a horse, tell them to go fuck themselves. When four or five people call you a horse, you might want to think about buying a saddle.

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I think Scooter and I needed each other during this bleak time. No one understood the frustration, grieving and dashed dreams better than we did. And besides, our friends were sick of listening to our shit. We also talked about some fairly deep life-politics-religion-thoughts stuff. It had felt like forever since I’d really talked with anyone. My dad used to quote: “Great minds talk ideas. Good minds talk events. Small minds talk people.” After nothing but tears and frustration I’d been starving for real conversation and laughter.

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“So, wait. He filed a bullshit restraining order and had you taken out of your house,” mused Scooter. “Then you had to pay him to get him to leave, and he’s tried to contact your exes. You do realize you were the man in that relationship, right?”

“Seems to be a role I play too often.”

“That’s not a role anyone should play.” He shook his head. “OK, let’s get this out of the way right now. Exactly how big is your dick?”

“Not big enough.”

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I talk to him about some no-holds-barred shit. Through all of this, he’s pretty much seen worst of me and is still there. He’s going through his own realizations/mid life crisis/epiphanies as well. Our conversations run the gamut from the works of Hunter S. Thompson to Hunger Games, obscure documentaries to obscure dog breeds, Trump to tranny porn.

Him: “You really need a fuck buddy.” I *may* have mentioned missing human contact.

Me: “Think so? I imagine being solo for a while might be smarter. I’m a mess. Plus I don’t wanna confuse sex for something it’s not.”

Him: “That’s why it’s necessary to have more than one fuck buddy. Keeps it from getting serious.”

Me: “Player teaching me how to be a playa? Hmmmm, no. I don’t think that’s a great idea. Don’t need any more complications. You bitches be crazy. Or haven’t you noticed?”

He’s right, of course. Both therapists have encouraged me to ‘get back on the horse again’ to some degree. I refuse to let Chris break me, even if I feel broken. 

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Not sure what you’d call what we have. Companionship. Going places and doing things. It’s more than friendship, but less than dating. Why isn’t there a word for this? Frating? Diendship? It’s kind of dating without actually dating. I’ve had this before, mostly while traveling. I tend to connect with people more easily on the road than home. With frating, there aren’t any expectations, no physical entanglements, nothing owed or promised, but we’re there for each other. Middle finger to the world, he is opinionated, quickly helps those in need, honest, unapologetic, open minded, introverted, moody, loyal, kind, and considers himself a bit of an asshole.

He’s a whole lot like me and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing yet. However, the sheer irony of turning away this guy for C only to have C inadvertently reintroduce us was not lost. While I felt exceptionally connected to him mentally, we stayed far away from each other physically. There was a constant polite awkwardness present, likely from the overall situation and how we originally met.

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Epiphany #3:

Learning to be alone – and not angry. “You always keep what you give away.” For many men, anger is the first response that comes hard and fast. Being “kind of a dude” (as Scooter had called me in Part 1), it always had been for me, too. It gnawed at me. I carried it over into everything else in life. With years of reprogramming, I try not to let it rule me any longer, and I forgive easier. I’ve been allowing myself to mourn. Feel it. Be alone. Not bury my sadness under another person or in a shot glass. American culture tells us that “grief is bad”. We try to distract ourselves from sad feelings rather than embrace them. “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone new.” Maybe, if we are the type who doesn’t mind repeating mistakes over and over again and hoping for a different result. But then, that’s the textbook definition of insanity, isn’t it? 

There was no unfaithfulness from me during our relationship, or even after the incident. It never even crossed my mind. I didn’t feel that need to go looking for what was missing elsewhere, even though a lot was missing from our relationship. I think I just wanted it to be fixed. Or, the meds worked in keeping me sane enough to realize that infidelity wasn’t an answer to that problem.

But I’ll tell you this; being angry is a great deal easier than being sad and gutted.

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However, at that moment in Scooter’s tiny luggage-laden bungalow, all I needed was a place to stay and an ear to bend. And, that was all he offered. After dinner, the beach walk, a Wi-Fi password and an awkward hug goodbye, he and Bob Barker stepped toward the car.

He opened the door to let the gentle blond dog climb in, then he turned and said, “Don’t waste your days. You don’t get them back.”

When the vintage Porsche drove away, I washed Bob’s slimy, rubber ball and placed it on the windowsill to recharge for his next illicit beach adventure.

Coming soon, Part 3:  Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn – An Ex-Wives Club of Sorts & Predatory Habits of a Narcissistic Sociopath

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As I’ve written before, I’ve almost no family left, and none of whom are here in Florida, so my friends are my support network. They mean a lot to me. My sanity is a direct result of being able to lean on them some days. Scooter has been a good friend (not a boyfriend…he seems perfectly satisfied with his free-range single status, and I am happy with remaining that way myself for now) who stepped in to help with wise insight and ridiculous humor during a critical time. History has proven I’m lousy at picking people to date, but frating… got that down to a fucking art.

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Getting back on my feet (or in my high heels) again and grateful to this guy, his dog and my friends for all their incredible help. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Read Part 1-The Restraining Order: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2016/09/21/expensive-lessons-part-1/

Thank you to Danielle Dadamo, Hubert O’Hearn, Jeff Ritter, Brian Hairbottle, Nick Wilkinson, Carroll Grant, Matt McDermott and Mick Foley for their valuable time editing.

I am deeply grateful to my psychotherapist, Amy. She goes above and beyond, keeping me grounded in times of upheaval despite having her own battles to fight.

Thank you to those who have reached out to help. So many of you were good to me during this time and I feel incredibly fortunate. You know who you are, and so do I.

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Note: I wrote about this because I withdrew from nearly everything from this time until the present with little explanation other than “lots going on right now.” Work, customers, friends. I blew a lot off and let people down. It was too much to talk about and explain. I’ve always been better at writing than speaking.

Disclaimer:  This is my recollection of events and I’ve related them to the best of my knowledge. Some names have been changed or omitted.

Instagram: @realaprilhunter

Faceboook: realaprilhunter 

Twitter: @aprilhunter

Website: AprilHunter.com

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

 

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Bipolar Disorder and the Risk of Alcoholism

29 Jul

This is a guest blog by Jennifer Scott. You can find more about her after her article below. 

About 56% of people with bipolar disorder will suffer from addiction at one point or another. Though addiction to drugs is common at 41%, the biggest risk is alcoholism at 46%. Though researchers haven’t pinpointed a definitive causal relationship, the rate of addiction is clearly higher in people suffering from bipolar disorder compared to the population as a whole. There are several theories on why this correlation exists. 

Bipolar causes physical discomfort such as an inability to sleep and mental discomfort such as anxiety, leading a person to self-medicate. Here are a few reasons someone with bipolar disorder might self-medicate, how to recognize addiction, and the consequences of substance abuse in those living with the disorder.

Self-Medication is Often Used for Sleep and Relaxation

People with all kinds of mental illness turn to alcohol in an attempt to silence racing thoughts, numb emotional turmoil, and jump start sleep. For Self-medication is more common in people who are are not receiving treatment, as they believe they have no other way to stabilize themselves.

Preventing self-medication is a matter of ensuring that the person is receiving proper treatment. A person suffering from bipolar disorder needs a regimen of medications, talk therapy, and a set daily schedule to avoid stress. A consistent schedule can resolve many of the problems a person with mental illness might use alcohol to treat including insomnia and anxiety.

Addiction in People Living with Bipolar Disorder Should Be Recognized and Treated

Common signs of addiction can include visible, repetitive use of a substance, shirking of responsibilities in favor of the substance, and an inability to function without the substance. With bipolar disorder, it can be a little confusing whether or not the person is showing symptoms of addiction or is having an episode. If you are concerned, confront them gently.

To treat alcoholism, therapy programs and replacement treatments for bipolar are necessary. If a prescribed medication is given to replace the alcohol, the person is likely to have more success kicking the addiction as they will no longer feel the need to use alcohol.

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Abuse of Alcohol Has Detrimental Effects on People with Bipolar Disorder

Though alcohol can dull some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it actually causes more serious episodes in the long run. The actual drinking can cause negative thoughts and impaired thoughts which can easily lead to poor decisions. A night of drinking can set months of therapy back even if it may seem like it will offer temporary relief.

If you have a person struggling with bipolar disorder in your life, it is best to avoid drinking around them. Keeping detrimental substances away is the best thing you can do for them.

Spending time around someone with bipolar disorder can be worrisome for those who have not experienced spending time with someone struggling with this disorder or another mental illness, as they may be unsure what to expect or how to help. Certainly, people who are untreated may lash out, experience suicidal thoughts, and take unnecessary risks. If your loved one is behaving in these concerning ways, it is important that you convince them to get help.

However, if they are already receiving treatment, a person who suffers from bipolar can live a very successful life with healthy, solid relationships. All you need to do is be understanding, be aware of the risk of substance abuse, and be courteous.

Jennifer Scott has been experiencing anxiety and depression since she was a teen. She shares her journey toward improved mental health on her website, SpiritFinder.org. When she isn’t blogging, Jennifer loves to travel, volunteers at her local animal shelter, and rock climbs.

Image via Pixabay by markusspiske

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. 

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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.

 

The Man In The Box-Won’t You Save Me?

28 Jan

David Bowie. Glen Frey. Lemmy. Scott Weiland. The sudden deaths of some of the most beloved musicians hit pretty hard and I wonder if these artists knew how much they’d impacted our lives.

For me, this last month has been a bittersweet reminder of a brilliant musician who received virtually zero mention at the time of his death.

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Most people have no idea that Alice In Chains’ front man, Layne Staley, died around the same time Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes did. The press covered her passing extensively. Every channel, paper and radio station mentioned Lopes, while running TLC video clips and songs 24/7.  Of course, Lisa died from a sudden auto accident while Layne died the typical rock star death at age 34 from a mixture of heroin and cocaine.

I’m not sure how many are aware that Layne Staley was dead for two weeks before anyone realized it.

Two weeks.

When I learned of this, my heart broke. How is it possible that someone who touched so many could have gone unnoticed for so long?

 

I wish I could just hug you all, but I’m not gonna.” –Layne Staley

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Alice In Chains has been a profound and unique grunge rock band, instantly recognizable largely due to Staley’s voice more than their overall sound. When you hear a song by Tool, it’s obvious it’s Tool by their uniquely defined musical style. With AIC, it was more about Staley’s lilting vocals. 

ebd7d75c4c1a975caa0123700cd73151Alice In Chains (and Layne himself) was the true leader of the Seattle Sound grunge movement. They were Sleze in 1984, which morphed into AIC and later became the super-group Mad Season. They influenced and opened doors for Nirvana, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees and Pearl Jam.

Unlike much of what came out of Seattle, AIC was inclined towards rock in addition to alternative in genre. Their heavier sound, array of styles and soulful lyrics struck a chord within me, and I’ve never wavered in my love for them.

 

“Man In The Box”

I’m the man in the box
Buried in my shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me

Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut?
Jesus Christ, deny your maker
He who tries, will be wasted
Feed my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut

I’m the dog who gets beat
Shove my nose in shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me…

 

What I know about Layne’s death is two things: Layne had two families; his blood ties and his band members. He was also a drug user and recluse with a mental disorder.

Anyone who has had to deal with a person struggling with any or all of these issues knows the tendency for that person to alienate everyone who loves them, which is often a harsh reality. We are hard to love.

I am speaking from experience, as an entertainer and someone who has experience in living with mental disorders. My father had one. I’ve inherited it. I’ve seen both sides of this kind of damage.

f4bda0790eaf737aa29ede9017b743cbThe fact that not one single person from his life noticed he was gone for two weeks shatters me.

Even if he’d told everyone to fuck off, just die, leave him alone – did no one love him enough to swing by and check on him? Bring him a meal? Pick up some groceries?

Nothing? Nothing at all?

 

“We started this band as kids, and as time has gone on, we’ve grown and are learning to accommodate each others’ differences.” – Layne Staley

 

There are lessons to be gleaned from losing Layne Staley. Instead of sitting back and judging the situation; blaming drugs, calling him a fuck-up, writing it off to “just another classic rock star death” or practicing Schadenfreude, we should view it as an opportunity to save someone else.

 

“When everyone goes home, you’re stuck with yourself. People have a right to ask questions and dig deep when you’re hurting them and things around you.” – Layne Staley

 

288050e9f560257bcdc70d7ae5ad397fDying alone and forgotten are valid human fears. Alice In Chains sold over eleven MILLION albums. Layne Staley touched an innumerable mass of people from all over the world. If this can happen to someone as known and beloved as Layne, it could happen to anyone.

 

“There are lasting consequences for using drugs. I’ll still be paying for my prior use.” – Layne Staley

 

Layne was introduced to what would ultimately be his cause of death by his own father at the age of twenty.  His father was an opiate addict and used with his son. This is a harsh lesson to wrap one’s head around.

But my main reason for writing this is to make people aware.

Bandmate and best friend Mike Starr bore the brunt of the guilt regarding Layne’s death before he passed in 2011 from a prescription drug overdose. He was the last person to see Staley alive and the two had argued, with Starr storming out and Layne calling after him, “Not like this. Don’t leave like this.”

Reportedly, they argued over Starr insisting on calling 911for help and Layne threatening to sever their friendship if he did. 

 

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When someone we love pushes us away, perhaps there’s more to it and we’re unable to see what’s really going on. Maybe we shouldn’t LET them have their space.

People often push away as a test – to see if you’ll push back, to see if you care. It’s common for many to feel unworthy of love. It’s especially common for those with a mental disorder, since we tend to hurt those around us the most. We simply don’t feel deserving. We need you to push back.

Talk is cheap.  Anyone can say, “I love you, you mean the world to me.” But can you show it? Will you do what needs to be done?

6558bdd586384b723d48edb309a40391In Layne’s case, no one pushed back. He is dead now because of this fact.

It’s pretty fucking simple. If someone had physically removed drugs and needles from his living area, watched over him, fed him – he would be alive. He clearly wasn’t able to take care of himself. It was no surprise how sick he was to those around him. Mike Starr tried. But in these situations, effort doesn’t mean shit. Only results count. If he’d had cancer, there would have been help. But he had a mental illness where he turned to “self-medicating”, which is why Layne was cast away.  

Kurt Cobain, who admitted he was manic-depressive (which is now called bipolar disorder), died in a not dissimilar way. His suicide note stated that his baby daughter would be better off without him in her life. “For her life will be so much happier without me.”

“God Am”
Dear God, how have you been then?
I’m not fine, fuck pretending
All of this death your sending
Best throw some free heart mending
Invite you in my heart, then
When done, my sins forgiven?
This God of mine relaxes
World dies I still pay taxes.

A lot of things aren’t understood about mental illness and suicide, but I can tell you one thing for certain; No one wants to die. They simply don’t want to live in the state they are in any longer. There is a vast difference between wanting to die and not wanting to live. When someone is suffering from something that goes with them no matter where they are and affects everyone around them badly, sometimes they hold on to a belief that the only way out is death.

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Layne’s death is extremely sad on so many levels. Wasted talent, wasted youth, but mostly it’s a constant reminder that our society doesn’t seem to care about the mentally ill. It’s felt we are disposable, to be shamed and anything that happens to us, it’s likely deserved. I’ve seen this attitude in everything from drug overdoses to police beatings.

No matter what we give to the world, it really doesn’t matter.

Or does it?

Push back. Prove me wrong.

 

“Every article I see (about myself) is dope this, junkie that, whiskey this – that ain’t my title. I don’t do much else but stay in my hotel room. Music is the doorway that has led me to drawing, photography, and writing. Music is the career I’m lucky enough to get paid for, but I have other desires and passions.” –Layne Staley

 

 

My hope for whoever is reading this is to have you recognize signs. When someone we care for is ‘acting out’ or being reclusive, maybe we shouldn’t take it so personally, get so angry or give up so quickly.  Think of the bigger picture; that you love this person. Despite what they’re doing, saying or how they’re acting, they need you.

Staley’s last interview: http://www.mtv.com/news/1470138/late-alice-in-chains-singer-layne-staleys-last-interview-revealed-in-new-book/

 

Thank you to Hubert O’Hearn, Brett Schwan & Joe Mays for taking the time to edit. Time is valuable.

 

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Layne Staley: August 22, 1967 – April 5, 2002. NOT FORGOTTEN. 

 

 

                                                    

 

The REAL Gym Rules

16 Jan


rerackWhen most people join a gym, they’re told a towel is mandatory and then sent on their merry, clueless way to screw things up for the rest of us.

I think I can safely speak for everyone when I tell you that there’s nothing worse for gym regulars than sharing with newbie’s in January. Not because you’re new; aside from fighting for a parking spot, most of us are happy to have more like-minded individuals around who share our passion for fitness. (If you have a good recipe for chicken and rice we can use, we’ll probably love you even more.)

Where you make our gyms a living hell is your utter lack of etiquette. Hopefully, many of you get educated and decide to stick around.  Personally, I quite enjoy seeing people achieve success.

But you won’t make any friends without knowing the REAL rules. Do you really want to be the person known as, “Oh, God…here 61913248comes that asshat again” ?

Gym etiquette is NOT just wiping shit down. That’s way down on the list. Here are the top 10 cardinal rules your fitness center probably won’t tell you.

Gym etiquette #1:  If you use the free weights, PUT THEM BACK. Your mom doesn’t work here.

Gym etiquette #2:  ASK to work in. Do not just jump on equipment, especially if a there’s a water bottle, bag, phone, towel, keys or person anywhere near the item you wish to use.  Someone could be super-setting. It’s RUDE to do so without asking first.

funny-annoying-gymGym etiquette #3: Do not SIT on equipment between sets. Do not sit on equipment while on your phone. Get the fuck outta here with that crap. It’s not your personal office chair.

Gym etiquette #4: Do not lift dumbbells AT THE RACK, thus blocking everyone else. Common fucking sense. Step back. Way back.  #Hog

Gym etiquette #5: Try to avoid working out directly in front of someone who is already using the mirror.  It’s called checking form. Form mirinis more important than weight when working out. (It’s not what you lift/do, it’s HOW you lift/do it.)

Gym etiquette #6: Did I mention re-racking your weights? Oh, I did. Well, fucking DO IT. This means YOU, Leg Press Guy Who Leaves Plates Fully Loaded And Then Just Walks Away. #Cunt

Gym etiquette #7: Too much cologne, perfume…cigarettes…just don’t fucking STINK. Being on a packed treadmill section near you is absolutely nauseating. It can also be quite dangerous for those who have breathing issues and trigger asthma attacks.

82280560483206283c0c77cd363e116aecae974d4443bda39d59d31b68cbbb71Gym etiquette #8: Wipe down equipment consciously. WOMEN DO NOT WANT TO SIT ON WET FUCKING SEATS FULL OF CHEMICALS! #YeastInfections!

Stick to wiping handles and sweaty backs. I’ve been working out a long, long time…back when no one wiped anything down in gyms. In those days, we never heard of anyone catching anything – and I’m an admitted germ-phobic (with several auto immune diseases) who eschews shaking hands in lieu of a fist bump in a business where that is a no-no. No one is catching the flu from sitting on the ass-end of a gym seat cushion unless they’re licking it right after someone else has already licked it. Don’t wipe it and leave it wet for the next person to sit on. Fucking ick. #fungus #CrotchRot #AthletesCrotch #JockItch

Gym etiquette #9: Do not judge others’ workouts. They could be working around an injury, disability or simply doing the best they can. #SomeDaysItTakeALotOfCaffeine #LikeAWHOLELOT

1966924_10153898133460297_1605383182_nGym etiquette #10: Do not judge fit people as vain – or heavy people as lazy. We are all in there for the same reason. Everyone wants to get healthier, better ourselves and have a nice, hard stomach and ass. Probably not in that order. #AbsAndBootyForDays

I’m not going to touch upon socializing during workouts, hitting on others, grunting/yelling, dropping weights or wearing almost nothing in gyms. This kind of stuff has been going on forever and always will. It’s a gym. If you want silence, conservative clothing and no sexual undercurrent, go to church or find a place to jog alone. Otherwise, you’ll need to accept, adapt and wear a “fuck off, leave me alone” face with music blasting in your ears. Complaining about these issues is akin to bitching about the amount fur and dander at the local pet store where you pick up your feed. Animals are allowed in pet stores. Tiny shorts, weight clanging and grunting are allowed in gyms. Just because you are now there doesn’t mean you get f4d9b9a8d3e0b36ba1fba10950803261to change the rules.

If you don’t understand any of the above-mentioned terms (super-setting, form, RE-RACK YOUR FUCKING WEIGHTS, etc), Google it. The more you learn, the better.

Despite what your facility may tell you in order to keep profiting each month, gym etiquette is not just about wiping down equipment.  It’s about paying attention to what/who is around you (even with ear-buds in), being considerate and cleaning up after yourself.

These rules are fairly ‘common sense’, but common sense is so rare lately, it’s now classed as a super power. Don’t take offense. This is for your own good. These 10 Gym Commandments are meant to help you on your quest to be successful. After all, people are keen to complain about anything and everything these days and you’re not above having your membership revoked without refund if someone decides they don’t care for how you conduct yourself.

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If this offends you, then you’re probably the exact person who doesn’t belong in the gym, doesn’t play well with others and you weren’t raised…you just grew up.

Let’s not be ignorant douche bags. We all have to share space. 

Thank you,

Everyone.

Ps. Think about that chicken and rice meal. Seriously. We could use some new options over here.

 

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April Hunter is a national level NPC Fitness & Figure competitor, professional wrestler, former Met-RX & Extreme Nutrition spokes-model, Playboy & comic book model, full-time student, coffee snob, road rage enthusiast 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 biscuits are useless, crappy (deliciously evil) carbs. But the butter is just fine.

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

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