Tag Archives: april hunter

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

18 Nov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

And COOKIES.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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FACT: A broad-sweeping comment like “We need Jesus to fix this country” can be wholly offensive. It insinuates that one needs a book to have morals, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Considering we are already a Christian nation (as over 75% of America profess to be affiliated), that solution does not be the answer to our problems. Personally, I don’t need a book or the threat of a hell to not murder someone. There’s a substantial group of wonderful human beings who have never read the Bible, or did but have zero fucks to give, and generally do the right thing. Religion does not equal ethics, as we’ve seen with the thousands of scandals in the Catholic Church alone.

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

Look away.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Don’t shoot your eye out.

 

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PLEASE NOTE:

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Netflix Gets GLOW Right: A Female Wrestler’s Perspective

21 Aug

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

Author: April Hunter / Editor: Bobby Mathews

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Want to see moreApril Hunter in A to Z Japan

April in ROH and on the indies

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Oh, God.

 

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

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

What you do isn’t who you are.

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

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

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

Shit.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

But the largest spot went to Kia Stevens, known as Awesome Kong (or Kharma), who played Tamme the “Welfare Queen,” a term President Ronald Reagan used to describe women who bilked the system. Kia was the only legitimate female professional wrestler and helped train the actresses through some basic moves. I thought it peculiar they didn’t choose more trained females to fill the roles, especially since they went with a cast of women who seemed to be less recognized.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Photo credits: SlamminLadies, Netflix, WWE.com

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Chapter 30: A Tale of Two Aprils

28 Mar

-By Matt M. (April’s cousin/roommate)

Edited (lightly and sarcastically) – April Hunter

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What is April Hunter really like?

 

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The Character of April Hunter.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

(Photo: random hot cosplay girl.)

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

 

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

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

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

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Humanizing April:

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

                                                      Editor’s Note: 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Update:  I did move down in December.

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

But there are some days when that bitch is cray.

 

Editor’s Note: (Eat dicks.)

 

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Photo: Modern Myth Photography

 

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

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, bright blue almond-shaped 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 at this point in time. 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.

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

 

NOTE: A couple of moons later, we still see each other. I’ve met his kids, and his parents know about me. It turns out neither of us was like the other had harshly assumed. While no one is running to any altar, (Ha. I think it’s safe to assume practice doesn’t always make perfect?) I reluctantly gave up all the other dick I’d been getting. KIDDING! Well, about the reluctant part, not the all-the-dick part. 😉 For the record, I was rather cheerful about narrowing down to just Officer. He treats me very well, is ridiculously spontaneous and fun. Now that’s he’s been around my business more, he understands it. Oddly enough, being with someone so Christian and forgiving is exceptionally helpful with bipolar disorder.

That’ll learn ya. 

If you get nothing else out of this story, bear in mind two small things: Often it takes more than 90 minutes and 2 drinks to decide if you like someone. Especially if they’re introverted.

And, don’t shun someone simply because they don’t see the world exactly as you do. If one is open-minded, it can lead to deep conversations. 

us

 

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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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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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Expensive Lessons – Pt 1. Restraining Order

21 Sep

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15 -20 minute read

*This blog is dedicated to Dr. Wendy Potts, who committed suicide after she was suspended from her practice because a patient of hers complained about a blog in which she openly chronicled her struggle with bipolar disorder. For those who battle this challenging illness and try to make sense of it by publicly exposing ourselves and our issues, while hopefully helping others in the process, her death won’t be in vain because some self-serving asshole used her disorder against her. It’s difficult enough to deal with this. Having it used against you in life, court, work; to destroy everything you’ve built and worked for is criminal, inhuman and immoral.

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The highway asphalt gave way to bridges flanked by sun-soaked palms and colorful beach motels. The Florida heat, oppressive for June, beat through my windshield while my air conditioning struggled to keep up. I turned onto a street where everything looked the same; block after block of Spanish tiled houses, pink, yellow and blue pubs boasting live music, Cuban restaurants. I slowed to “Florida driver status” looking for the turn that would deliver me to my new home.

Thoughts pinged around my head like mad on the drive from Valrico to Redington Shores. One resounded above all others. Fuck me. How did I get here? How could a man who claimed he loved me file a restraining order against me when I hadn’t done anything to harm him? Why did I have to hire a criminal attorney?

Someone I barely knew from a dating site offered me a place to stay. I swallowed my pride and accepted, since the (fantastic) friend I’d been staying with was expecting company and needed her spare room.  

Oh, this is where I casually mention that this was the same man I’d basically declined for the one who’d just had me removed from our home.

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I opened my car door and the humid, sea air enveloped me. Bob Barker ambled over to my car with his tail wagging. I hugged his big, blond Labrador head and kissed his pink nose, waving at Scooter (not a dog) who was stretched out barefoot, sitting in a lime Adirondack chair on the deck. He came over for a hug and proceeded to help me haul my belongings into his tiny beach bungalow.

“Women,” he muttered. “None of ya can pack light.”

I put my fat, gray cat down, and opened the pre-filled disposable kitty litter box I’d picked up from the store. Whoever created the portable cat poop tray is brilliant – and hopefully a millionaire. Bob shoved his face into the pet carrier, hoping for a playmate or a treat. Finding neither, he decided his water bowl was more interesting.

After loading the little tiki-style bungalow to capacity, Scooter and I sat opposite each other on patterned blue futons serving as couches. The hard surface bit into my tired body and I shifted around; trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable. My health had been an issue lately. I hadn’t slept right in weeks, hadn’t had a period in months and was doing all I could to keep the painful Lupus joint flare-ups and rash to minimum. I felt nauseous and weak. Trouble jumped up and laid next to me, purring, satisfied with this new living arrangement.

Scooter spoke directly, skipping the small talk as usual. 

“So,” he said. “What happened?”

I handed him the injunction, which removed me from my own home on a false domestic violence charge for thirty days. My boyfriend – pardon, ex-boyfriend – listed bogus claims alleging I was a drug user, had a violent criminal record, was non-compliant with my bipolar medications, and previously had a restraining order issued against me. Of course, he knew all of this was untrue. That did not stop him from stating lies under oath in order to (successfully) achieve his goal of having me removed from our house. This, after a weekend of arguing.

 

Untitled-6To prove to the judge what a threat I was, he’d even listed my “intimidating” wrestling height and weight that I use for gigs, instead of my real size and actual measurements. How could this man lay next to me every night and not know how tall I am, or what I weighed? I wondered if he knew my eye color when he filled out the “description” for the police. Or did he have to Google that too?  He also marked down that I was armed… with toys. Costume props to be precise.

 

He blatantly used my career and illness against me to achieve his goal. Of course, anything can be considered a weapon, even a pen. This meant that an Airsoft bb gun and plastic sword can potentially kill someone, as could my coffee cup and hair dryer. Jackie Chan could prove this theory, but with five magic words he got his wish. “I fear for my life.”

Done. Signed, sealed and delivered. I was evicted.

Scooter shook his head. “What’s his deal?”

“Wish I knew. Never saw this coming. He said all his exes were crazy. Giant red flag, right?”

“Well, all my exes are crazy,” Scooter said.

“Here’s a thought: maybe you guys are the ones that drive us crazy?”

Unlike most ex-girlfriends who were (allegedly) crazy, I am legitimately crazy. Bipolar 1, with a side order of anxiety, ADD and OCD, which I’ve gotten under control with stabilization medications, diet, exercise and regular therapy. I get mandated blood tests every couple months to verify all my medication levels are on target and I’ve never once (ever!) not taken my meds. I love them. Being a control freak, I like that I finally have power over of my emotions and temper.  I’m happy to have the choice to decide whether or not to get upset or just let something go and walk away. I have an extreme dislike for the saying “I’m in good place” but that’s exactly where I’d been before all the bad stuff with C (that’s what I’ll call my ex – C. It’s an initial, not a grade) started happening. (Note: I am the one with bipolar disorder, although C has a couple of his serious mental diagnosis’ I can’t disclose. Because of what I went through when living with my father, who had bipolar disorder, then getting myself on the right stabilizing medications, I honestly thought I could help him. Who better to understand it all than me? Ha.)

 

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However, for the sake of safety to others, I should mention that his name is Christopher Leonard Harris, born May 23, 1971, he is also known as BlueEyedPrince71. Hopefully, this never happens to anyone else…but it will, over and over again.

With luck, the next woman Googles him and reads this. By the way, dear future ex-girlfriend, keep reading. It gets better. While you may think I *could* be making things up out of spite or bitterness, there are quite a few of us, and you’ll hear tragic and heartbreaking stories from all. It’s a damn Ex Wives Club. Actually, the “Nearly The Ex Wife” Club is more like it.  The devil doesn’t come to you with a red face and sharpened horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wanted. The reason Chris seems so into you and asks so many questions is because he’s trying to find an “in” to work.

He will be so damn perfect – the most perfect man you’ll have ever met. And, we, his exes,  will be “crazy”. Or, he’ll read this and change his tune a bit, but it’ll be the same ending for you. It never lasts more than about two-ish years and you’ll be broke and broken, because he’ll have taken everything from you. He’s a sociopath who can’t feel, and he preys upon women he finds online who are independent and doing well in life. Therein lies the challenge. Sooner than later, he’ll be pushing to move in with you. After passing six weeks of church pre-marital counseling with flying colors, he left one of us at the alter two days before the wedding. He packed up and walked away from another while she was at work without any reason or goodbye – and she’d paid for him to go back to school, supporting him while he got his degree. He threatened to have a pet dog put down by animal control for “attacking him” if one woman didn’t shut her mouth when she started to come forth with the use and abuse she’d dealt with. And me? Well, this is my story. Read on to see a little of the details from when he demanded a five-figure payout on a house he didn’t buy after leaving me in debt while in school. The best part? He filed a completely bullshit restraining order against me for ‘domestic violence’ (I never laid a hand on him) which had me kicked out of my home for thirty days until court, where I had to hire a defense attorney. Charming, huh? And the threats? Lies? Back stabbing? Head games? It’s still going on to this very day.

Another lesser thing to be aware of: his flag only flies at half-mast and the guy was never interested in sex. None of us could figure out what was up with that. (Or, wasn’t up with that.) Not much of a conversationalist after a while, either. Anyway, no matter how “perfect” he is right now, you are simply a means to an end. Not the wonderful, beautiful soul his empty heart has yearned for like he’s likely telling you. Even if you are all that. And chances are, you are. Because he tends to go after women who are amazing, smart, talented and beautiful. Which is why I am warning you!

Once this blog was published, other’s surfaced with similar stories. These women let me know that what he did had nothing to do with a head injury. It’s just how he is, and that it’s part of his Borderline Personality Disorder. He is what’s called a Narcissistic Sociopath, which I didn’t realize…until I did. 

There are two sides to every story…and then there are screen shots. Please scroll to the bottom for more information.

 

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The Event…

A few days after Memorial Day, two deputies knocked on my door and served me papers. I was sitting on the back porch in my nightshirt, with a coffee. I was told I had twenty minutes to pack and leave the house. I was also instructed that I could not come within five hundred feet of my property, and when I looked down at the phone in my hand, I was warned not to contact C and ask him what in the blue hell he was thinking, or they’d arrest me on the spot. He already had the courts issue a no contact order.

We’d have to go before a judge to find out when – and if – I could return.

To my house.

Which I paid for.

Where I lived, worked, and went to school. With my pets. Where I planted fruit trees and veggies. (The majority of which didn’t survive my absence. I waited two years for those damn pineapples and almost managed to save them. But “almost” only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.)

I put in for an emergency withdraw from the university I was attending. Since most of my “day job” work was done on my desktop computer, size and circumstance forced me to leave it behind. I also left my shoot clothing, school books, wrestling gear, chickens, dog and the life that C and I made for ourselves.

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In a roundabout way this sudden “forced vacation” was probably for the best. But that was not my mindset at the time.

After being served the order, my head was spinning. I grabbed as much as I could make sense of in those few precious minutes I had: clothes to sleep in, gym stuff, makeup, an overnight bag, medications, important papers, cash, laptop, protein powder, the cat, and very little everyday wear. Oddly enough, I packed my travel coffee pot first. Priorities? Foreseeing how long I’d be gone? I put the chickens in their coop, refilled their water and food, fed Bella, grabbed my stuff, locked the door, and not-so-silently cried every step of the way. I figured it was all some kind of huge mistake and I’d be back later that night. I was advised to go straight to the courthouse and file an appeal.

My ex-husband, Jordan, whom I remain on good terms with, went over later with a police escort to get Bella. At that point, the neighbors were sitting at the end of their driveways, unabashedly eating popcorn and refilling their Cokes. To his credit, he kept his “told-ya-so’s” to a minimum that day.

 

This also happened:

Cute Deputy: “So, I guess that relationship’s over.”

Me (standing in front of my car, wiping tears): “Ya think? I can’t believe he would do this.”

Deputy: “Well, when it all calms down, do you want to go to the beach or something?”

Me: “Um…too soon?”

But, let’s be honest… it’s only sexual harassment when they’re ugly. Or someone is trying to make a quick buck. Everything else is flirting.

 

 

On the way to the courthouse, I called an ex-boyfriend, who was an attorney.

“Holy shit. Are you serious? OK, wait. Don’t fill anything out yet. Let me make some calls. We know the right words and most of the judges,” he said. (See a pattern here? I generally get along with people after we split up. This one had been particularly sweet to me with the many legal issues I’d encountered this year.) He referred me to his close friend, who quickly filed the appeal paperwork.

Several hours later, the phone rang and the thick New York accent told me what I didn’t want to hear.

“It’s Friday. No one at the courthouse does jack on a Friday. C. fucked you. He fucked you good. Judges don’t consider injunctions a high priority, so prepare to sit this one out. I’ll do the best I can.” My phone rang again and it was his office collecting their (discounted) fee. I’d been sitting in the courthouse cafeteria all day, waiting, with a soggy sandwich in front of me, too nauseous to eat. Surrendering, I walked out to my car. I opened the GPS app to enter an address and realized that I didn’t have one. That’s when the weight of the situation I was in hit me and I fell apart in the parking lot, in tears.

My lovely friend, Matt, used points to get me a hotel room for the night, which was highly appreciated. After unceremoniously appearing on my best friend’s doorstep in the form of a snotty mess while she was making dinner for her kids, I headed over to my new current residence. Despite copious amounts of Xanax, there was no sleep. I still couldn’t believe what happened that day. The next morning, I gathered what little I had with me and drove the hour out to Valrico to stay with my friend Lexie and her family for a while.

I experienced a lot of feelings at that time, but the most prevalent was utter disbelief and betrayal. I would have preferred him to cheat on me. He’d never so much as broached the subject of splitting up. It was insane.

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Let me give you some back-story for context. Seven months’ prior, C had fallen at an ice rink and hit his head so hard that he’d suffered some brain damage. This was only four short months after we bought a fixer-upper house and renovated it together.

Living together was awful from the start. We powered through a series of not-so-comedic tragedies which included contractor rip-offs, a nasty stalker for a neighbor, pet deaths and learning that our HOA was intent on taking us all the way to court over a shed, our pet chickens or both. As you know, I’m a fighter, so we kept moving forward.

Unable to drive or work, he wound up on disability. The rational, patient, fun man I knew and adored was replaced with someone who was unpredictable, hostile, violent, emotional, and depressed to the point of being suicidal. He reminded me of me before I was on meds, and I wondered if this was some karma coming back to me for all the bullshit I’d put my exes through. (Dear Jordan, Paul and Rick… the words “I’m sorry” don’t nearly convey what I feel now that I’ve been on the other side. I’ve since learned to deeply appreciate and understand all you did and gave for me. I’m grateful to still have you in my life, as you three are amazing – and forgiving – human beings.) There were countless days I skipped the gym, or blew off work, because I was afraid to leave C home alone.

At one point, he spelled out to his niece and me exactly how he was going to hang himself from a tree out back, so I called his doctor on a Sunday in a panic asking what to do. She told me to Baker Act (institutionalize) him.

“I can’t. I can’t do that to him. I wouldn’t want that done to me.”

“Then reduce his Depakote by half and let me know how he does in a week.”

My friends and therapist said I should have Baker Acted him. They were right. He continued to put us both through hell.

That Memorial Day weekend, we argued.

I was on edge from end of semester school overload, and he was dismal from having officially been let go from his job. We found out we were about to lose our health insurance and had spent the week cramming in doctor’s appointments and med refills. For once, I didn’t back down when we bickered, and I should have. After arguing all evening, it culminated in him trying to leave the house intoxicated on sleeping pills and xanax. I asked for his keys and he refused. I then tried holding him back by the waist, to stop him from leaving and driving while under the influence, insisting he sleep it off in the spare room. He said he wanted to sleep in our bed instead. I said OK, and the issue was put to rest for the evening.

The next morning, we decided to take a break. He agreed that he would go stay with a friend. He stood in the doorway with his duffle bag in hand and told me he loved me. Little did I know that when he left, he contacted his friends, family and police. C claimed that he thought I wanted to ‘murder him’ and single-handedly blew our entire life up. He was advised to get a restraining order.

He even contacted my own brother. I wasn’t raised with my brother past the age of 13, and my brother was barely 10 years old then. After our parents split, I was sent to live with our father because my mother felt he could ‘handle’ me better. My brother has never known me since I’ve gotten medicated, which has turned me into an entirely different person. (C has never known me as anything but medicated.) Brother has mostly only ever known me through stories and my mother’s rants about what I’d done this time, often inserting himself into situations that had he little to do with, which made them much worse. Gas on fire. To this day, he has no idea what bipolar disorder is or how someone acts with it. He doesn’t know that things he had done were exactly what someone should never do when dealing with someone with bp. Lack of education destroys. Lack of understanding keeps wounds open. Lack of forgiveness makes it hard to move onward. Despite these things, we had managed to put issues behind us and move ahead to the point of being acquaintances. For Mom. Honestly, I was happy about it. I have almost no family left and lots of fun, shared memories with him from when we were kids.

C was quite aware my brother and I had a tremulous relationship at best, which was based upon our mother’s dying wish for us to get along, yet he managed to drive a wedge into it. Why he would contact someone whom he’s never met, who has never been to our house, never invited us to visit, never even sent a Christmas card, was beyond me, but he seemed to think the advice held validity and later blamed the entire thing on my brother. My brother blamed me, even though he used the opportunity to twist the knife to scare someone whom he knew to have brain damage by plying him full of stories about irrational behavior during manic episodes and urged him to get the restraining order.

C, who doesn’t have strongest of spines on his stellar days, decided this was the best possible advice, despite there being no threat, no violence and having never seen any of that behavior. Ever.

C never experienced anything more violent than me raising my voice and the rare smashed plate on the floor. I handled him with kid gloves. Apparently, worst thing I ever called him was when I told him he was acting like his brother by ignoring issues when he needed to be there.”FUCK YOU, YOU CUNT,” was his response. I think my reply was, “Well, thanks for finally getting back to me.” I was told saying that was “unforgivable”. (He wasn’t a huge fan of his brother’s. He viewed him as an eternal fuckup who did nothing but complain, was ungrateful, entitled, didn’t raise his kids, hurt everyone around him and completely self-centered. Then, C moved the guy into our house a few months later, while I was gone.)

Anyway, just like that, my brother and C  had me removed from home. I was unaware any of this was going on until C later told me, pointing the finger at my brother for all of it. He even named him on the court document. But, at the end of the day, it was C’s writing on the paper. 

Brothers, huh? I knew I should have let the end of the see-saw drop a little harder when we were at the playground.

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I’ll never know what happened, so if I use Occam’s razor, with the simplest answer usually being the correct one, here’s my gut feeling (which has a very high success rate when I bother to listen to it): I think C didn’t like or respect me as a person any longer (that, he told me), especially when I asserted myself a little and explained that I needed care and help, too. I’d recently been diagnosed with Lupus and the stress was wreaking havoc. Before that, it had been all about him. I think he got overwhelmed with everything we’d been through since buying the house and was looking for validation to do what he wanted to do, which was leave in any way possible. My brother simply gave him enough information to make him feel OK about doing something shitty. This is the only explanation that adds up.

(When confronted with this theory, he shut down. The court dismissed all charges in a matter of minutes on “no sufficient evidence” and the judge reminded us that injunctions shouldn’t be used as revenge. Only 30% of restraining orders are actually legitimate. 70% that are complete bullshit. That is a serious system failure.) 

I never understood any of this insanity with C. This man, who had been in the military, was freakishly strong. At almost four inches taller, and at least fifty pounds heavier than I, was suddenly “afraid of me” (on paper at least), even though I never threatened, let alone harmed him. I’d never done anything but look out for him, even when he pissed me off. It just didn’t make any sense.

Remembering back, his ex-girlfriend emailed me through my blog with a warning back in 2014. She said that he was a “sociopath”, the most vindictive person she’s ever known, would ruin my life, and I “wouldn’t even see it coming.” (She also said some other stuff I won’t print here that was a little, ah…revealing.) I did not presume that she was clinically trained to make any kind of medical diagnosis and figured she was simply being spiteful. After rereading her words post-eviction, I wondered if his irrational behavior was not part of his head injury at all. I recently remembered that C told me he had contacted her ex-husband on Facebook (who had nothing nice to say about her, thus giving C the words he needed to hear), which seemed to be a pattern for him. He contacted my first ex-husband as well. Rick chose to ignore him and alerted me. 

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There’s more to this. And it was either true or came true. I’ll share on Part 2. Look at the date. Almost 2 years before any of this happened.

Normally, I have caused the majority of the problems in my relationships. As most bipolar people who aren’t on (any/the right) meds will (delusionally) tell you, “it’s always them, it’s never me!” But guess what? That’s a load of fucking horseshit. If the constant in the equation is you; if you have done this to everyone, then it’s you.

It was always me. I’m fortunate to have forgiving people in my life and the opportunity to be stabilized.

However, this time it was not me. And I am no longer delusional. Even our therapist took me aside and said he didn’t understand what was going on with C.

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Before the accident, if things were going smoothly, C would find a way to create conflict. He could never just be. He always had to be doing something; playing a game, on Facebook, checking email, cleaning, or rattling around. Sitting still, reading a book, or enjoying the patio just wasn’t possible. He had untreated anxiety issues and started spats over cleaning, how I folded towels, or how much room my varied coffee creamers took up in the fridge. For a guy who’d nearly died from a heart problem a couple years earlier, he didn’t seem to treat his second chance in life the way most people would. C was the world champion of causing death by paper cuts.

Our values and morals weren’t aligned and I didn’t realize this until we lived together. I came from a household that managed on one military paycheck and a stay-at-home mom. We had a garden, used a wood stove, and if we ever went out to dinner, it was an event. We got what we needed, not what we wanted. He came from privilege. I conserve (read: am cheap as fuck), don’t believe in debt, am environmentally conscious and think taking care of yourself is important. He viewed me as “narcissistic” (and later posted about it publicly), abhorred exercise, spent time looking up articles that stated recycling is a waste of time, put everything on credit cards while making minimum payments and had no issues running water full force for two minutes while brushing his teeth.

Dr. John Gottman wrote that when people argue, it’s not really over money or chores. It’s rooted deeper. Their values are different and that is the problem. So, despite trying to resolve things, arguments keep happening. One of the main factors in relationship success is finding someone whose values match yours, or getting on the same page as far as understanding and respecting each other in this department. I felt C misrepresented who he was to me, but we were in a thirty-year mortgage together and I loved him, so I wanted to try and make the best of it.

To be fair, he tried. We both tried. I posted a rant or three on Facebook myself, before hastily deleting them. I am most certainly not saying I’m wonderful and he’s evil. That’s not the case. C had a lot of really amazing qualities about him (which I’ve also written about), and that’s why I wanted to share a home with him in the first place. But this is the story of how it all ended… abruptly and without any rhyme, reason or remorse on his part.

Perhaps with the injury, C wasn’t able to hide who he was any longer. Or, with a head injury that scary, it consumed him (us) and thinking about others just didn’t matter to him anymore. All I knew for sure was that I didn’t know this person who had me put out of our home with absolutely no regret. I’d never touched him in any harmful or physically violent way. My best friend, who used to adore the ground he walked on and often defended him when I complained, said: “He’s just a fucking asshole and liar! No real man does that. He’s a pussy!”

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Over winter, he became violent. He first snapped when I reminded him the doctor told him to stay off device screens for brain rest, which he found impossible, and threw his iPad across the room. He ran over and stomped it repeatedly, breaking it and the heel of his foot in the process. In a rage, he went out to the garage to throw the iPad away and when he came back through the laundry room, he looked at me like he might kill me. I don’t rattle easily, but he scared the shit out of me right then. It was the first time I was afraid of him, and it wouldn’t be the last. He smashed picture frames, threw his eyeglasses at me and broke them, threatened to put me through a wall, called me every name in the book and punched a hole through our pantry closet. He screamed, “I hope you rot in hell, just like your father.” (My father was a firefighter pilot and died in a plane crash putting out wildfires in California when he hit a mountain.) I was told I should put my sixteen-year-old cat to sleep (several times) simply because Trouble didn’t care for his young Siamese kittens and would go to the bathroom outside the litter box as his way of acting out. (He later apologized for both comments. C, not Trouble. Trouble doesn’t do apologies. Trouble also starting using the litter box again as soon as all the strife disappeared from home.) C didn’t understand that what I did for work was actually work because I did it from home. “Just get a real job.” My dog, Bella, was afraid of him. I often sent her to stay with my ex-husband, Jordan, who shook his head. “You can’t date a civilian. Let alone a mentally unstable one.”

In calmer and less hurtful moments, C asked if he could get me anything on the way home, offered to proofread my writing, helped cook dinner, slaved over keeping the up the pool or fixing things around the house, and was as sweet and affectionate as one can be. I thought I could help him. If anyone could understand his erratic behavior, it was me. In other words, despite his regular psychiatrist, neurologist and neuro-psych visits, I was living with an unstable psychotic who often told me I was the unstable one who “needed to have my meds fixed.” It was always “my fault”. I “pushed buttons”. It was never him.

It was extremely rare that I lost my proverbial shit and yelled back because my stabilizing medications kept me calm. He once screamed at me, “I can’t push your buttons. You’re like a fucking stone wall.”

However, C managed to drive me close to the edge a few times, and after smashing a jar of my favorite jam in the kitchen out of frustration (which I instantly regretted, because it was Bonne Maman’s Four Fruits and not that easy to find, dammit), I realized living with him was not healthy for me.

I spent Christmas Eve in Starbucks. He’d started in on me because I left the laundry in the dryer and it escalated. I turned away from him, shattered my lunch plate on the kitchen floor (a month after the jelly incident), grabbed my purse and left. We had gone to the beach the day before with my friend Joe, who drove down from Louisville to visit (which is why I didn’t finish the laundry) and my debit card was in another purse, so all I had in my wallet was my Starbucks gift card. I camped out with a breakfast sandwich and a cappuccino. He texted, repeatedly: “Please come home.”

When things were good with C, they were really good. I honestly thought he’d get better. But, they didn’t, and I felt trapped in a mortgage and a school commitment with a half-lunatic, hanging by a thread of hope that was stretched to its limit.

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“I’ve heard of this happening from some of my buddies, but never a female,” said Scooter.

“Yeah, well… I guess I’m just lucky,” I said.

“Yeah, well… you’re also kind of like a dude. How many women do you actually hang out with? Women are fucking crazy,” he said. He was wearing glasses and looked good in them. I like glasses on men. I think it’s the whole sapiosexuality (Google it) fetish I have.  I prefer the men I date to be intelligent, curious and witty. Most people aren’t.

“I know. I’m in a locker room full of men and hear about it all the time. I just never thought it could happen to me.”

I had to leave for an appointment back in Clearwater. Despite his hospitality, it gave me an uneasy feeling leaving my cat, makeup, clothes, cash, passport, medication, mortgage papers, and laptop with Scooter. Trust was now an issue. It took everything I had not to completely lose my mind after what had just happened. All he had to do was lock his door and what little I had in my possession would be gone. I’d be fucked. My stomach churned with uneasiness until I pulled back into beach bungalow a half day later, where he was still barefoot on the same green chair as before.

I felt foolish for being so paranoid and angry at C for making me think that way.

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The night, 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 beaches than the endless broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, cans and plastic wrappers humans leave.

We were in a parallel situation with our significant others, but his was without a deputy eviction or lawyers. He was mostly angry; I was mostly beaten down.

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

 “I know.”

“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…

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Continue to Part 2: “Frating”  and Harsh Realizations – https://aprilhunterblog.com/2016/10/18/expensive-lessons-pt-2-frating-harsh-realizations/

 

Note: I’m writing 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.

 

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

 

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

 

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.

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Instagram: @realaprilhunter

Faceboook: realaprilhunter 

Twitter: @aprilhunter

Website: AprilHunter.com

Thank you to Pam Ella Lee for the photos around my home. Thank you for Steven Griffey Photography for the cosplay photo of Thundra (not Flash!)

 

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I don’t own an iPad. Nor do I live in Michigan. Guess who does to both?

 

 

 

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A different woman…there are many.

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

Flash Fiction: A Cross to Bear

27 May

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

GTO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jeez, Ma. I’m not a baby anymore.”

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

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

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

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

“Oh, God. Shit. Shit!”

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

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

Power.

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

By April Hunter

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

 

The Moonlit Road & Other Stuff

14 Apr

I haven’t updated my blog in a while. The main two reasons for this are that I started school full time in autumn, pursuing a 4-year degree in 2 at an accelerated (and expensive!) art school for Creative Writing in Entertainment (TV, Film, Games). I’ve also been taking care of my significant other, who is out of work on disability at the moment. He had a horrific ice skating accident and managed to bounce his head off ice so hard, he got a concussion, brain bleed, brain contusion, rear lobe cyst and frontal lobe blood clot. Go big or go home, right?

We went to three hospitals before someone got it right. The first (Trinity) said he needed surgery immediately or he’d die. The second wouldn’t even give him the MRI he’d been sent over in an ambulance to receive, since they said he simply had a migraine. They gave him a migraine ‘cocktail’ he had an allergic reaction to and sent him home. (Don’t ever send anyone you love to Tampa Community Hospital.) Tampa General was a long wait, but worth it. Then came The Concussion Institute and various neurologist appointments. A second stay in the hospital to administer IV drugs round-the-clock to shrink brain swelling and address the migraines.

Brain injuries can hard to properly diagnose and take a long time to heal. Additionally, there are a lot of things to deal with. He can’t drive and has brutal head pain. There are issues walking around, speaking, vertigo, light and noise sensitivity. Then there are the personality swings. Emotional, hostile, anxiety, tantrums. Kind of like the worst bipolar behavioral mood swings you can imagine. He’s been wound up like a spring and the slightest thing makes him explode.  He has been irrational, unpredictable and violent to live with and it’s been trying most days. He picks fights over laundry or how the refrigerator is organized. I’m on great stabilizing medications for my bipolar disorder, but there’s a cap. Things around here have been able to push me to over the edge and that calm, cool reserve I now have dissipates as fast as the blink of an eye,  which has been alarming. I raised my medication a few months ago, but there’s only so much one can take at times. I am stretched to the breaking point and trying to do the best I can to take care of him.

There’s concern (read: he’s anxious as fuck) about being able to go back to work. He put himself through school as an adult and his career as an app developer isn’t possible at the moment. Screens and monitors make him worse. Money has been a challenge with lack of funds and medical bills. I’ve had to take on much more around here. There are a ton of appointments to drive him each week. It’s been really, really hard. A (very sweet) friend set up a GoFundMe for us back in February. If you want to donate or share, it’s certainly appreciated. Link:  GoFundMeMedicalBills

Being a wrestler with pre-existing conditions, I’ve never been able to afford insurance and always opted to pay in cash when things got bad. (Or I’ve gone to other countries for treatment in cash.) I’ve also gotten my prescriptions overseas to save money. Now I’m insured and have had a brutal and up close look at this messy bullshit we call a healthcare system. What a joke. After using healthcare in Japan, England, Canada, Germany and various other countries, where the aim is to a.) get your diagnosed quickly and b.) tell you how to prevent coming back, I can only surmise that the reason Americans put up with this is ignorance. We don’t travel and have no idea what other countries have, so we  have no clue how shitty our system truly is. With zero preventative care, several appointments just to pinpoint an issue, lack of addressing other issues (environmental, food), medical willingness to write a designer brand script for all ailments, referrals needed for specialists and insurance company denials to battle. Let’s not forget that we get to fork out lots of hard earned paycheck money for our health insurance and hand over even more in person for high deductibles on each office visit. The ever pervasive a-pill-for-everything mentality couple with the For Profit inflated costs, and it’s no wonder we have the highest priced heath at the lowest quality care. It’s frustrating. I wish others could see things for what they ARE. There’s a valid reason no other country has a healthcare system like ours.

Anyway, I’ve started writing more fiction and this is a Flash Fiction assignment I had recently. I’m new at this, so I’m living and learning!

The Moonlit Road

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The cold air cut into my bones every time a car passed. I’d been walking this densely wooded road for nearly two hours.

Jesus H., I thought. What else can go wrong? The few who were out that night didn’t so much as tap their brakes. Maybe a bear can put me out of my misery.

A black pickup truck rolled to a stop.

“Where you headed?” The man had dark hair and a solid, muscular build.

“Town,” I replied. “Thanks. I’m Dave.”

“Tom.” He shook my hand. “That’s where I’m going after I make a quick stop. Did you break down?” His face and faded jeans reminded me of James Dean.

“No,” I said, shifting uncomfortably. “I…uh, had a fight with my wife. We were out this way, but she got pissed and took the car.”

He snorted. “Been there, friend. Been there.” He cracked the window and lit a cigarette.

“I haven’t. She just started acting…I don’t know. Weird. Different. I think she’s cheating on me. When I confronted her, she went crazy and accused me of cheating on her…and then she took the car.”

“Are you?” he asked.

“What? Cheating on her? No. I’m not.”

“Well, why do you think she’s cheating on you?’ Tom asked.

“Standard issue stuff. She’s suddenly working late, not returning texts or answering my calls, and she’s going out with supposed friends I’ve never met. Seems like bullshit.”

I’d also found new lingerie in her dresser. And in her car, ashes and a licorice gum wrapper. She hates licorice.

We drove in silence while the moonlit highway stretched before us. The occasional car passed, dampening the steady chirping of crickets that filled the air. Tom’s cigarette glowed in the shadowy cab. There was a Yankee Candle air freshener swaying from the rear-view mirror. Tahitian Breeze. It was slightly overpowering. Everything was at the moment. My stomach roiled and I was damp with feverish sweat.

“What are you going to do?” asked Tom.

“I don’t know,” I admitted, staring at the empty road. “We’ve been married fourteen years. I really don’t know how to be anything else. I’m just praying I’m wrong.” I could see Tom nod out of the corner of my eye. He took a final drag on his cigarette, flicked the stub and rolled his window up. The crisp breeze had been refreshing.

“Maybe you’re wrong.”

The lights from town became visible through the windshield. We passed McDonald’s. The greasy smell of fries which normally made me salivate now made me queasy. I needed to talk to her. I had to know what was going on.

“Here’s my quick stop,” Tom said. He turned onto a local road.

“Oh. I live down this way, too,” I said.

If we drive by the house, I can see if she actually went home.

Tom folded a piece of gum into his mouth. With a jolt I realized that the crumpled wrapper was Black Jack gum.

Licorice.

Before I could say anything, Tom pulled into 58 Teaberry Lane. My house.

“Be just a minute,” he said, leaving the truck running.

My heart felt as if it was going to pound out of my chest. She ran out to him. He kissed her. He gave her something and she threw her arms around his neck. She couldn’t see me behind the blinding headlights.

I’m going to be sick.

“Who’s with you?” She asked, squinting through the bright headlights.

“Nobody. Just giving a guy a ride. Gotta go, but I’ll call you later,” he said as he watched her go inside and shut the door.

Nobody. Should I throw this thing into reverse and drive off? Let him take me to a motel? Beat the shit out of him? Did he even know she was married? Did he know I existed? That I am not ‘NOBODY’?

I stared at the dashboard and tried to make sense of my racing thoughts.

“Okay,” Tom asked, as he opened the door. “Where should I drop you off?”

“Here.” I pulled out my keys.

“Are you going to walk the rest of the way?”

“Yep.”

I took a deep breath and tried to steady my shaking hands and lurching abdomen. What the fuck. It’s over. Everything. Making dinner together. Sharing the bathroom in the morning.  TV series marathons. Cuddling in bed. Our future. Without looking at Tom, I got out of the truck, stood tall, crossed the final agonizing yards of my driveway, and entered my house.

 

Owned by April Hunter.

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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.