It’s my birthday on Monday. I’m grateful to those who are part of my life and you who make it better. You know who you are. 🙂As I’ve gotten older (and I am older than I look, I think), I’ve realized that relationships matter more than money. That’s probably the primary lesson I’ve learned and I used to choose work over everything else. Here are some more valuable lessons I wish I’d known if you want to benefit from my plethora of mistakes:
(Then again, I don’t know if I would’ve listened had someone told me. I dunno. Hindsight…)
1. Listen to all sides. There are always more sides than yours.
2. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you’ll get.
3. People over politics. Always. Never lose someone over how they vote. It’s fucking stupid. Dump them over being a negative asshole, a liar, or a shitty person. But not for how they vote.
4. Speaking of, sometimes people act strangely because they’re dealing with something or have a mental disorder – diagnosed or not. Patience and finding out where they’re coming from and HOW to talk with them can help.
5. Skincare! Satin pillowcase, always moisturize and use sunscreen.
6. Showering before bed saves time in the morning.
7. Don’t work out or wrestle if you’re hurt or sick. There’s nothing to prove.
8. ZINC and Vit D! Not Vit C for colds. It’s ZINC, D and sovereign silver.
9. It’s all about pets & plants.
10. Not having kids works out fine. We’ll see about in the end. The jury’s out on that one.
11. You’ll never have a healthy relationship if you’re not a healthy, whole person. No one “completes you” and you will not complete anyone. Worst fucking line in cinematic history. Best line: “May The Force Be With You.”
12. There’s no crying in baseball. Or, wrestling.
13. Free speech includes the word “fuck”. Get over it. No one is slapping your baby.
14. You CAN choose your family. In modern times, traditional ideas of marriage and family are somewhat outdated. Partners are actually partners and friends can be family. The true meaning of “Blood is thicker than water”: those who spill blood & battle together are tighter than anyone, including family. It was meant for warriors and soldiers, but hell…life is a battle.
15. Dirty laundry belongs in the wash, not on Facebook. (Oh, and when you publicly post how much you love your significant other, we all know exactly how badly that relationship is going. We also know that if you post about nothing other than politics, you kinda have no life.)
16. Complaining is far easier than changing. Most people are fine with being average. The majority of us don’t LIVE, we exist.
17. Happiness is a choice, not a right. It’s how we choose to see things.
18. You are not too old, and it is not too late.
19. Don’t listen to what others say. Listen to your gut.
20. You get ONE SHOT at life. Do things, go places. Travel is the best education you can give yourself. Every little choice you make today will affect tomorrow…your future…from what you’re eating for lunch, to how you treat your mom, to choosing a job you don’t love because you have money fears…to karma if you steal music or model’s photos from her site. (Yeah…that might be why your car was broken into.)
22. WALK. Every day. Even if you don’t feel like it.
23. WWYD. What Would You Do? Treat people the way you want them to treat YOU. When in doubt, default to that.
24. Respect is earned, not given. And if someone wastes 10 minutes of your time, 7 minutes is YOUR fault. Stand up for your damn self.
25. Make decisions based on love, not fear. If you chose fear, you’ll pay for it with a shitty life.
26. Be honest. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s horrible. Say what you mean, mean what you say.
27. Manners and courtesy go a LONG WAY. (People are afraid of anger. Took me a while to learn the anger one. Still learning about it.)
28. Do not drive slow (or the speed limit) in the passing lane. Which is the left lane in the USA. Many of you do not know this is a law. MANY OF YOU. And for fucks sake, use your turn signal. (Also a law.) We don’t have ESP and you are not on the roads all by yourself. (This isn’t a lesson I learned on my own. It’s one my dad taught me.)
29. Tell people you love them (if you do.) They die suddenly, and you may never have the chance.
30. Forgive assholes. You don’t have to forget…just forgive. Most of the time, it’s for you, not for them.
31. There’s a massive difference between reacting and responding. ALSO: No one can make you FEEL anything. Your feelings are your own. If you DECIDE not to get upset, angry, care or bothered by it…you won’t. BOOM. Just like that.
Ps. Expectation is premeditated disappointment. Want something? ASK FOR IT.
32. Best advice I ever got: Never keep your meds on the counter. Put them into a box and keep them in the cabinet. Seeing your pills all the time is a mental cockblock. You are not A Sick Person, you are a PERSON who just happens to also be sick. Don’t let it affect your aspirations.
33. a. God helps those who help themselves. Thoughts and prayers are nice (if useless for the most part) but DOING something is BETTER. If you don’t believe in God, same thing applies. Verbs make life move forward.
b. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Yeah…I dunno about that one. Might be bullshit. But you can handle more than you think. Sometimes, you just have to tell everyone around you “no” until you get where you need to be.
34. No matter how stunning someone is on the outside, they can get ugly and unattractive REAL fast. It happens the other way around, too. Less physically attractive people can become very beautiful.
35. Sometimes the line between bravery and stupidity is gossamer thin.
36. Sex is natural. Nudity is natural. Having emotions is natural. Wanting to be loved is natural. These aren’t things to ever feel shame or embarrassment for.
37. I know I’ll continue to learn something new every day.
Got advice? Let’s hear it.
“There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse
If you want to spoil me for my birthday, here is a link to my Amazon Wishlist. Xo! #SpoilYourGinger!
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
Thanks 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 NOTgoing 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!”
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 didbut 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.
Once again: Religion doesn’t equate to morals, morals don’t equate to religion. They can be synonymous, but not always.
FACT: For the past century, Christmas has been traditionally accepted as a celebration of the birth of Jesus or for the exchange ofgifts. 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.
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.
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.
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.
**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.
Like this blog? Wanna donate? I absolutely accept tips and LOVE Amazon gift cards. My Wishlist: http://a.co/4AUJWBt
April K. Hunteris 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.
“So,” the server asked disinterestedly while smashing avocados. “How did you two meet?” We both laughed.
“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.
If 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 blowschoolwork 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?”
“Yes. Why?” I asked, as Bella practically went into convulsions trying to get the infidel to pet her.
“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.
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.
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?”
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.)
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.
“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?”
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.
“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 peopledon’t know they’re crazy.”
“Good answer. See you at eight.”
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.
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.”
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.
The date commenced. It was a combination of interesting pierced with some truly awkwardmoments, 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/
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.
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.
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.
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 isdefinitely a little freaky,I knew it.)
As he turned to leave, he pointed at me and said, “Thank you for having chickens.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-doveycrap. 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.
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!
They say the way to stop time is kissing. She stood under the shower, warm water streaming down her face, and she imagined their wedding. A Hollywood themed wedding, with R.S.V.P. cards that looked like theater tickets, guests arriving on a red carpet and metal film reels for centerpieces. He loved movies, she thought.
She tried his last name on. Could work.
No, maybe not.
Of course, there would be no wedding. She had no interest in getting married again. But she imagined it, just because. Because she’s a woman. She did this with everyone she dated; tried on their last name. She just did.
Not with the redhead. There wouldn’t be any wedding, real or imagined. Because he was already married. She knew she should feel bad about dating a man who was committed, but she didn’t. She just didn’t.
She’d known him fifteen years. He was barely twenty-one years old when he arrived from a small farm town in another country. They sat across from each other on the frigid concrete floor in a dim locker room in snowy Pennsylvania, and he averted his eyes, polite, but intimidated. They faced each other around the ring, meeting the first time as fighters, and later as lovers.
He remembered what she’d worn that night.
She walked through the entrance and the host pointed to his table without asking who she was meeting. He embraced and kissed her, then she slid into a seat, once again sitting across from him. Now he was a man, with the confidence of someone who had been through the rigors of life and ended up on top.
She studied his face, which was no longer familiar. He looked like the professional athlete and fighter he’d become. His thick, muscular physique was covered in tattoos and his nose looked like it had been broken more than once. His unruly auburn hair was shaved into a punk style and he was attractive in an unconventional way. He looked like he stepped off the set of Vikings. They had common views and values, yet he knew little about her. None of the deep stuff. None of the illness. None of the things she struggled with. And that was fine. He was a fun distraction. It was genuinely light. After the heavy mess she’d gone through the year before, something sweet was welcome.
She rarely connected with people, but something felt right about him and she didn’t know what it was. They were cut from the same cloth – that’s how the host knew. He was familiar. They knew all the same people, they traveled all the same paths. He felt a little like home.
He made her feel things she hadn’t felt in a long time. Elated, euphoric. When he texted, which was frequently, she smiled. He was there as much as the other wasn’t. He was warm, sensual and animalistic. It wasn’t mental with him, it was physical.
She wanted to rip his clothes off and bite him, feel him pressed against her. He told her his dreams of her, how he couldn’t wait to see her in a few days, he wished he could fast forward.
She had never been attracted to vapid or stupid, no matter how pretty a package it was wrapped in. He was bright, not afraid to say exactly what was on his mind or ask for what he wanted. They never ran out of things to talk about, but there were no profoundly deep conversations. An avid reader, he asked about her writing, which fascinated him. He didn’t probe for more about her life, and she was grateful. He texted to say he was thinking of her, morning, noon and night.
She liked him.
I’m into you, he said. I like being with you, around you. You’re easy to talk to. I want this to keep going…if you’re OK with it. I knew we’d be right. I haven’t been wrong yet.
And they were, but in a different way than she was right with the other. She wondered if the redhead was like her, crazy. Game recognizes game. He laughed when she suggested it. She appreciated crazy. She appreciated redheads. She appreciated tattoos. She appreciated kissing.
Anticipation. Waiting to do things they weren’t supposed to be doing. It was utterly intoxicating. He brought out the best in her. He brought out the worst in her. He brought out her, the person she knew for a lifetime, before the bipolar diagnosis and stabilizing medications.
He will never be mine, nor me his. It’s fleeting. Safe. I know exactly where I stand with him. He was honest; never afraid to say how he felt, never holding back. They agreed to that from the start, brutal honesty. He traveled distance to be with her, driving several hours after a day rife with flights, appearances and filming.
It was temporary. Dangerous. Was it the illicit element? Living in the moment?
When he stopped on the street lit sidewalk on that first chilly night and pulled her into him, people stepped around them or stared as he wrapped his hands in her hair, his lips on hers, and neither of them cared.
Maybe eight minutes passed. Maybe thirty. He pressed her against the brick building, and with his hand still wrapped in her hair, he pulled her head back and his full lips were on her jaw bone, down her neck…he came back up, parted her lips with his, and bit one, holding it gently with his teeth. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he grinned devilishly down at her. It was an audition. An invitation. He never once touched her anywhere else. He didn’t have to. This is what I can do for you…if you let me. The glow of the street lamps glinted off his dark ginger beard as they sized each other up. He brought her hand to his warm lips and kissed it softly, then tucked her arm under his for the remainder of the stroll. He wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was. She already knew the answer, and so did he.
Time stood still.
She rarely felt the child-like excitement about things she used to when she was off her medications. No matter how much effort she put into Christmas, vacations, food, it wasn’t there. It bothered her. She was so goddamn sane and rational. Here was a deadly taste of that hypomania she missed so much…that drug…her drug of choice.
The drug, that ever pervasive drug, from which she managed for so long to stay clean.
There it was, seeping its way into her life again.
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.
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.
He positioned the large crucifix in his fist, fingers wrapped around the cross.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“We both love food. For another, we both get super excited when we poop.”
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.)
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.)
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 NarcissisticSociopath
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.
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.
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.
No part of this blog may be copied or used without permission.