Chapter 20: Men Are Like Shoes 

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

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

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

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

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

She looked puzzled. “No…”

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

We drained the last of our wine.

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

 

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

Chapter 7: My Photography – Here, There, Her.

A birth certificate shows that you were born.

A death certificate shows that you died.

But pictures show that you LIVED.

Photography:  Definition – Writing with light.

My other love… photos. Being on both sides of the camera is amazing.  

If I could figure out a way to have writing and photos pay the bills I WOULD.  The only way I’ve seen that work is with adult sites. 

Here are a few of my favorites…

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I was supposed to do maternity photos for this girl, but she had her baby while I was on the road. She hired me to do her baby pictures instead.

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England. Clearly. Lived there for a while, fell in love with it.

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Speaking of British, Miss Rachel. I love shooting all kinds of people and Rachel is really comfortable in her own skin. That’s the most fun kind of person to shoot.

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Pregnancy pictures are something I truly enjoy capturing.

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Philly by day…

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Philly by night.

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Homesick Luchadora. She’d been in a hardcore match the night before and her forehead was still cut open.

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This girl was also the worst roommate I’ve ever had in any foreign country and the most self-centered person I’ve had the displeasure of sharing any part of my life with.  She was a Mexican-American luchadora with a substance abuse issue…it was pretty common for her to lurch into our tiny, shared studio apartment around 5 am, step ON  my mattress (yeah, I was on the floor), flip on the lights and wake everyone up. All 4 of us.  She brought suitcases that her cat peed on to our  non air-conditioned studio apartment in Mexico…we all had to suffer the ammonia stench of cat piss that punched us in the face every time we walked in the casa du jour.

And then there was working with her. She was utterly dangerous in the ring, because she couldn’t remember anything past the lock up.  She hurt my knee in the USA and then hurt me again in Mexico when I was nursing an injury, didn’t want to cancel the booking last minute and had asked her to be careful. But that’s her…full of adrenaline and only out for herself.  I’d imagine there’s a lot of ‘her’ in entertainment  but I suppose I should consider myself lucky to only have one roommate like this.

Centerfold model Leslie Wells. We were in Vegas for a shoot where everyone took turns with the camera that day out in the middle of desert. A large chunk of the photo shoots I’ve done have happened in the middle of the Nevada deserts. When I retire, I can help the mafia find all the good burial spots.

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Pro Wrestler & Actor JD Maverick/Jordan Danyluk.

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Salzburg, Austria. You know…where Mozart lived.  In German, the “burg” in a town or city name means “castle”.  So, if you’re in Marburg, there’s definitely a castle there.

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Miss Olivia then…and Miss Olivia a bit later, discovering how delicious a table really can be.

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Boston. I lived right here, in Kenmore Square, for quite a while while putting myself through both Killer Kowalski’s Pro Wrestling Institute and NESOP – New England School of Photography – at the same time. It was brutally expensive, but worth it… if not just for the experience alone. I loved that you could take any class at all there, at any time, because tutors and random workshops were plentiful. Boston is one kick ass city and my second home, after Philly.

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Speaking of the legend, Walter “Killer” Kowalski… this is him with student Matt who goes by the name Tensai in WWE.

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More former classmates…my first tag partner “Arch Kincaid” and Chris “Harvard” Nowinski, who is currently doing great things in conjunction with Boston University on concussion research. Watch his documentary “Head Games”.  It’s on Netflix.

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Niigata, Japan. A fishing village that was brutally cold when our wrestling tour came through. I could be wrong (and I did try to look this up just now) but I believe we were told this was Japanese point closest to Russia. Hence, the cold. We stayed in a traditional Japanese hotel; (surprisingly comfortable) sleeping mats on the floor, several of us in one room and a communal hot spring bath everyone used.  You can’t really freak out in Japan…it’s considered very poor behavior, so we sacked down with everyone else and took baths in front of strangers. Hey…when in Japan, do as the Japanese do.

I actually came home and changed my entire sleeping after ‘living’ in Japan. I now only sleep on futons or platforms and when visiting others who own soft or crappy beds, I’ll chose the floor.

…But I’ll bathe in a private shower, thank you.

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Sumie Sakai, a professional MMA fighter, wrestler and judo expert. All cleaned up and purdy  for me.

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I think her name was Jade. Stunning girl.

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Snagged a quick shot as we hit our hotel of the French Alps. This was in Grenoble, the town Andre’ the Giant was from…and EVERYONE from there made sure we knew that. It WAS an absolutely stunning village. The photo is nothing special, but the mountains sure were.

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Nikki Roxx. While a hot topic of debate was Mexicans sneaking into America, we gringas were sneaking across the Mexican border for work.

(There was just as much hostility from the Mexicans, too. They did NOT like that Americans were coming in and taking their spots, so it was a very tough work environment )  Lucha Libre Feminil (and CMLL) had us staying/living  in Monterrey Mexico and we decided to shoot on a day off.

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Another of our American roommates, Christie Ricci.  Did you know the “OK” thumb to forefinger sign means “you’re an asshole” in Mexico? Well, you do now.

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Alberta, Canada.  It’s not a special shot, but it IS an especially pretty rainbow. Alberta has a lower tax rate (just %5) than most of the of USA and some of the largest oil reserves in North America. AB residents don’t pay for healthcare, are in a housing boom and have a fuckton of natural resources, keeping their economy in the green —and we will probably attempt to go to war with them over it all in the near future.  Canada is also famous for Tim Horton’s.  Oh, and Pam Anderson.

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Edmonton, Canada at Christmas.

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A shoot with Annie Social in Toronto, Canada. We were up there to do the Carmen Elektra show and has some down time. When I broke my nose in the ring on the walk-through before the PPV (thank you, dear opponent), Annie was the first one there with tampons to shove up my gushing nose. That’s a friend for ya.  Oh, and my wait in the Canadian hospital emergency room? About 18 minutes.  Straightened, cauterized, packed with gauze. They also did an x-ray for my ankle at no extra bother, which was acting up since Mexico. In and out in less than an hour. Take that, US healthcare believers.

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Toronto. A girl who went by the name Ninja.

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Another Canadian photo…pro wrestler & actor JD Maverick.

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Tampa Bay. Clearwater, to be exact.

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The calm before the storm.

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Backstage at the NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago.  Jessica Jimerson and I both qualified in the tall class, were at the same gym in Louisville KY at the time and didn’t really like each other that much until that trip. Boy, she was a blast

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J’adore France! I’ve been in and around France so much in the last 8 years that I feel like I live there part-time…yet, still passionately detest the CDG airport. (Which, incidentally, is the airport with the most lost bags in the world.)

France is a beautiful, amazing, damning, frustrating, delicious country. The people are strong spirited and have a lot of pride, which often gets completely mistaken for snobbishness by foreigners who usually don’t bother to learn the customs. (For example: how it’s extremely rude not to say hello upon entering any shop or place of business.  Fail to do that and you WILL get a cold shoulder.)

Here are a few of my favorite shots from all over the country:

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Paris.

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Clermont Ferrand.

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Marseilles…back when it was still part of France. It’s been hijacked by Muslims now. It’s run down and all the French culture and food are gone in lieu of call to prayer alerts and begging children sent out by their parents.

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Paris.

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Notre Dame.

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On a glass ‘baton’ cruising the Seine in Paris.

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Toulouse.

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La Tour Eiffel…with ‘Peace’ written in every language.

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Josie, a professional wrestler.

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I used to shoot my friend Talia (now ‘Velvet Sky’) all the time. She was my main “guinea pig” for model practice.  This particular photo was ripped off dozens of times, so of all the pictures I have of her, I figured this was the one to share.

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Gym shoots. I’d get the guys to pose for me. This one is pro wrestler “Dirty Money”.  He’s super easy to shoot, because he’s another who is entirely comfortable in his own skin. During the shoot he was traipsing through the gym in nothing but a pair of wrestling trunks…mind you, this was Kentucky…and he didn’t give a crap if anyone stared.

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More unusual photo tidbits: In some cultures, having a photo taken is considered very bad, because they believe it steals their soul.  The Amish are not allowed to pose for photos,  but non-posed pictures are permissible if one is polite about doing it.

Thanks for looking and thank you for posing!

April 087

Chapter 4: 30 Days of Might. As In…Heaving Bags.

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(Continued From Part 1:  https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/06/chapter-3-the-calm-before-the-wrestling-tour-storm/)

Day 3 – Paris: There I was, trying to negotiate the bazillion floors of Charles De Gaulle. I had to collect all my stuff in International, take it to Domestic, re-check in and fly to Strasbourg. Easy, right? NO. I barely made the flight, got lost, couldn’t find anyone who was willing to speak English (and my French is very limited), got bad directions (and a multitude of shrugs), had a wonky three-wheeled cart that kept tipping over, was sweating profusely and was nearly convinced I was going to miss yet another flight.

So far, this trip had taken me three days to get to France…and I still wasn’t caught up with my tour. A flight attendant got me checked in at Domestic (thankfully) and pointed me down the hall to International. As I redoubled back towards the elevator at the bottom floor of CDL after hitting another dead end, I started to cry from frustration. This was now the current winner for Single Worst Travel Experience in my book. A kind French woman took pity on me and pointed to the right shuttle. The shuttle driver came down and helped me with my 8764 bags. I just made my flight. One nice thing about Europe is that if you’re already checked in, they will usually hold the flight for you figuring you’re either lost or held up in the airport somewhere. They don’t do that in at home…but then again, a bottle of water isn’t $5.50 either.

Another thing I like about the French…they aren’t afraid of emotion or to show it. I saw a fed-up flight attendant go off on an idiot customer…it was refreshing! It’s not uncommon to see exasperation or emotional outbursts from professionals in this country, which is socially acceptable. I like that.

Day 3.5 – Strasbourg: Made it. Barely. Got straight off the plane from an all night and day flight and went right to the venue where I faced Portia Perez…and I got pyro! Bad ass!

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Portia was short and stocky, like a Japanese wrestler, I found out very quickly that she was as safe as one, too. I started feeling much better about putting my back in her hands and we began to have some pretty decent matches on the tour along with the help of her charming manager, Justin Shape.

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She would also be my roommate for much of the tour and had just gotten over a wicked case of swine flu. “When someone tells you it’s the sickest they’ve ever been, it’s no joke. I was getting blown up just eating. A meal. Had to stop because I was out of breath.” We were quite opposite on our schedules. I’d get up early and go find a gym with the Irish or hike the streets and she’d stay out late drinking with the Irish. As the tour bus left a city one day, Paddy said, “Well, will ya look at dat. There’s an entire city there beyond dat Irish pub!” I was wondering if the Irish ever slept…and I was starting to get jealous if they didn’t.

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Day 4 – Caen: A nine-hour bus trip, each day. In the morning we would meet in the lobby bright and early, drop off 689,000 pounds of luggage, have breakfast and board the bus for a long ass ride to the next city. France and its food to me were like a Vegas orgy to a recovering sex addict. After months of strict dieting, this was a terrible temptation to be dropped into. Warm, crusty bread…soft, oozing Camembert…smooth, creamy chocolate…flaky, buttery pastry with sweet, soft fruit inside…arrgghh. The hotel breakfasts were ridiculously, stupidly, balls-out amazing.

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And I did my best to avoid them. I got coffee. And shitty, mushy eggs, ham and any other protein I could find. But the routine of stealing “bus lunch” was that I’d grab as much fruit, yogurt, applesauce and hard cooked eggs as I could fit into my oversized purse for the days’ travel. The reason for this was that we were told once we got to Europe that our meals would only be provided on show days. On travel days, we’d have to fend for ourselves. We had almost as many travel days as show days and Europe ain’t cheap. This was Unexpected Financial Setback #1. I had been told that two meals would be provided each day of the tour. Also, Europe was in a recession, so many weren’t spending much on post-show autograph sessions. Our show pay was directly deposited into the bank at home so we were living on whatever we made in autograph sales. Some days it was nil. I often grabbed food for Portia (who was heel; heels never sell as well as babyfaces) or others and shared protein bars.
Joe E Legend, being the angel that he is, lent me his DVD player until I could get a replacement.

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The guys kept pissing up the toilet seat on the bus. I understand that even when toilets are NOT attached to lurching vehicles being driven by a crazy ‘chauffaud’ Frenchman their aim ain’t so great…so this was exceptionally awful for the token females on the tour to maneuver around. The “water closet” was full of …erm, “water”. All over. At one point, I thought I had it sorted…go out, close the narrow door to the tiny cabin…pull pants down and crouch/hover above seat while stabilizing by placing hand as far up on walls as possible…then we lurched around a roundabout and I fell backward into the seat…as did the rim of my pants. Disgusting.
By law, every French commercial driver must stop after a 3-4 hours for an hour. Long drives became even longer. I started to hate that stinky, wet, toilet with a passion. And the mood this day was sour because it was Ireland vs. France in soccer finals and the drive was taking so long we were missing the game. We’d left at 10 am and hit the hotel around 10 pm.

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I’m not sure the route of this tour was very well thought out. We started out on Strasbourg, which is on the German border, and proceeded into France from there. We ended our France tour on Nantes, literally the furthest west point FROM Germany…and then headed to Germany. Indyriffic.

What made things a bit better was that the bus was packed with bottles of Kronenbourg beer and water. We also had sandwiches waiting for us in the bus at the end of the night.

When we got in, Portia was feeling ‘swiney’ and went right to bed. Sid Vicious decided he was officially done with the tour, since the (not air conditioned) hotels were too hot for him. (They really were ballsac hot.) And, I adore X Pac, but he smelled kinda interesting. He was bring the party to the bus pretty hard. I solely blame him for all the pee I was subjected to in the tour toilet.

He owned it. Like a manly mantastic man.

To be continued…

Photos – Emon Kazem Photography

Read Part 1: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2012/12/06/chapter-3-the-calm-before-the-wrestling-tour-storm/