Tag Archives: pro wrestling

Netflix Gets GLOW Right: A Female Wrestler’s Perspective

21 Aug

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

Author: April Hunter / Editor: Bobby Mathews

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

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

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

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

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

 

Want to see moreApril Hunter in A to Z Japan

April in ROH and on the indies

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Oh, God.

 

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

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

What you do isn’t who you are.

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

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

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

Shit.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Photo credits: SlamminLadies, Netflix, WWE.com

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Chapter 21: A Southwest Air Stalking

19 Jun

The Tampa airport was frenetically busy at what I considered to be an ungodly hour of the morning. For many writers, 7 a.m. is still the middle of the night. I am one of those writers. The alluring smell of fresh brewed coffee from Starbucks was almost enough to make me brave the line that stretched around the kiosk and halfwaydown the terminal…almost.If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get the two and a half hours of sleep on the flight I still so desperately need. I love my Starbucks…and not just because there are (so-called) rumors of it being laced with methamphetamines.

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I’ve always wanted to be three things in life: a morning person, a black coffee drinker, and someone who can function perfectly on four hours sleep. I will never be any of these.

If I don’t get enough sleep, I literally feel hung over; nauseous, weak, foggy, and my head pounds. I’ve been on crazy wrestling tours where we didn’t catch more than a few hours sleep between a show the night before and getting on the tour busthe next morning to travel seven hours to another city. I was always deathly afraid I was going to drop someone on their head if I was sleep deprived.

It only happened once in my fifteen year career, but it DID happen – and it was bad. I was in Japan and jet lagged as hell. It was my first show on the tour. My opponent jumped off the top rope and I barely caught her in time; then I fell on top of her, snapping her ankle in several places. She needed surgery with metal rods and pins to put everything back together again. It is something I’ve always felt reallyhorrible about. I’ve also given myself several concussions by landing stupidly because I’m not all there while in the ring. Due to these things, I’ve managed to train myself to sleep anywhere in any situation. I know I have to when traveling in order to function.

I walked past the airport gates to find a water fountain for my refillable bottle. I’d love to say I’m environmental – and most days I am – but in this case, I’m just cheap. I refuse to pay $3.50 for water. Remember when water was free and you paid for porn?

An exhausted mother, herding three small children wearing Dora the Explorer backpacks and faces full of crumbs ran into me, her arms overloaded with diaper bags and…stuff. She apologized and I waved it away, asking her if she needed help. Her voice said “no, thank you”, but her sagging posture suggested otherwise. My heart went out to her. Then I secretly prayed if they were on my flight that they would be located far, far away from my row.

As I made my way back to my gate, a giant Mr. Olympia sized bodybuilder openly stared at me. Shaved head, shirt that was too tight and jeans that barely made it around his Hulk legs. He wasn’t bad looking, but he made me uncomfortable. He looked at me as if I was a steak and he hadn’t eaten in a week – and he didn’t stop staring. So, I kept walking.
I’m generally used to stares. But this guy started to follow me.
Sure, we are the same breed of alien gym rat. I’ll admit: our kind is rare. This does not mean I’d like to share my genetics with him to create miniature gym rats.

seriousFuck. I realize that he’s on the same flight I am. Southwest Air’s open seating policy makes people rush to board instead of clogging aisles trying to figure out what side A or D is on like aimless idiots. Most days I’m a huge fan of this concept…not today.

Naturally, Mr. Olympia was in “A” boarding as well and with nothing but open seats, he headed straight for my row. He and his much smaller friend squashed in, with him taking the middle seat.
Even the most petite human being will not willingly take a middle seat with other rows open. I was definitely being stalked.

He graciously allowed me half my window seat since his 300 pound frame and one leg took up the other half.

As if on cue: “You’re really vascular,” he stated. Vampires, athletes and Homeland Security agents looking for people carrying drugs love vascularity. I’ve learned to suffer the long sleeves in summer when returning through North American customs and immigration to avoid being “randomly selected”. 

“Um…yep.” I made a big show of opening my book wider and turning towards the window.

“You look great. I’m a personal trainer, so if you ever want help with your diet or anything, that’s what I do,” he volunteered.

“Ah.”

Him: “We travel to see Rush. Been to all their concerts. They’re playing in Philly tomorrow night. Do you like Rush?” I fucking love Rush. Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer and Limelight got me through endless I-95 drives lasting twenty-two hours, between parental visits from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Enterprise, Alabama.so-i-see-you-do-gym-tell-me-more-about-how-u-lift-things-up-and-put-them-down1

“They’re okay,” I replied.

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m…an accountant.” I deliberately picked the least interesting career I could think of on the spur of the moment.

“Oh? That’s interesting,” he said.

“Really, it’s not.”

“I love your hair. Can I touch it?”

“What?”

My copper red hair hit the back of my jeans in length. At the moment, much of it was on the armrest. He picked up a handful, rubbed it thoughtfully and then – SMELLED IT.

I snatched my hair back. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m just going to read and sleep.” I dramatically put earplugs in and made my 5’8”, 150 pound frame curl up as small as possible against the window.
I could tell I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep. Hell hath no fury like a bodybuilder scorned. He fidgeted around and continued a loud running commentary which included something about A playlists versus B playlists for Rush concerts for the duration of the two hour and thirty-eight minute flight. I wanted to ask him if he minded shutting the fuck up, but had a feeling it wouldn’t matter. I began to wish for the mother and her backpacked toddlers. At least they tend to fall asleep at some point after the seat kicking wears them down.windowseat

Damn. I had to pee, but would face the sticky issue of getting out of my row.Do I turn my ass or front to pass the guys? Forget it. I’ll just hold it.

“So, do you want to meet us for the concert in Reading Thursday night? I can probably get another ticket for that show.”

I looked at him and said, “Sorry, I think I have to return some videotapes.” He looked confused, thus confirming that the only thing we had in common were dumbbells.

“Uh, no. Not my thing. I’m not much of a concert goer.” Unless you count Kid Rock, Reverend Run, Greg Allman, Def Leppard, Coldplay, Madonna, Blue Oyster Cult, Whitesnake, Great White, Guns n Roses,an awesomely absinthed night at the Stone Temple Pilots, The Trailer Park Boys live, nearly every Cirque du Soleil show…I pushed my earplugs in deeper, turned into the window and tried to ignore his jostling leg up my rear. My throbbing forehead pressed against the cold window and I desperately wished for a pair of those expensive noise cancelling headphones and sleep.
When you don’t sleep on a flight, it seems long. Really, really long. This was clearly one of those flights.

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Eventually, it was time to get off the plane. Or as the airlines call it in their made-up word, “deplane”.
Mr. O eyed me as I stood up, looking like he may make one last desperate attempt. With a big smile and a warm tone in my voice I told him, “Touch anything on me and my fist will ‘Rush’ into your face, sweetheart.” He went silent for the first time in hours.

I stepped past him and shook out my hair. He took a step back and made room for me to pass. Victory. Exhausted victory.
Pee or Starbucks? I desperately needed the bathroom, but Starbucks was………Closer To The Heart.

 

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

Truth or Lies?

3 Jun

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The problem with being around a writer is that you never know how much they’re taking from you. I steal – or am “inspired” – from many around me.

I take from people’s stories, personalities, problems and conversations.

Anything and everything can be material; I’m always observing. Nothing is off limits.

Bad decisions make the best stories.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with friends who have begged: “Please do not write about this, April. Okay?”

Or someone will hover over my shoulder as I’m writing. “What are you…?”

“Nothing.”

“Yeah, right. Let me see…”

“You smell like drama and a headache. Get away from me.”

So, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.    

 

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There is a fine and sometimes blurry line between fake fiction and real non fiction.

 

“She kissed him and tasted cigarettes and disappointment.”

“Are you taking your medicine?”

“No.”

“But you’re depressed.”

“Good. That means I’ll be inspired.”

—-

Being single at fifty-two was confusing. She sipped her wine. Looking at the online dating sites seemed unreal. Half the men her age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before.

The other half looked like shit.

—-

“Mom died. You need to come home.”

That’s how he had ended up back in the tiny house, in a tiny Nebraska town full of tiny minds.

—–

Florian was only culturally Hispanic, because she found she’d had to translate a menu for him in the restaurant Paella. It was a culture Abby had quickly learned to appreciate after a small town, white bread upbringing chock full of aprons and meatloaf. His was one of café Bustelo and cigar factories.

She felt the heat emanating from his body as his full lips bit hers and brushed softly against her ear. He wrapped his hands in her hair and pulled her roughly into him in full view of whoever cared to watch in the busy parking garage. He pressed her against the car, burying his face in her neck. She liked the way he felt. She liked his dark eyes and aquiline nose. She liked his passion for life.

The next day Abby returned his text in Spanish and said, “I’ll make you learn this.”

“I know…I’m a bad Latino. I’m sure there are many things you can teach me. That’s why I’m keeping you.”

“Oh, are you? We shall see about that.”

“See we shall.”  

“Mind the gap.” The tube doors slid open and people rushed in as we shoved our way out, surfing along with the teeming throng of black and grey clad bodies pushing up the stairs. The grey-white tiled walls dripped with dampness…

She’s  late. Again.

Not because she’s high maintenance. Because she doesn’t want to go.

Procrastination. Stomach churning. She hates this.

Self revolving, self serving, selfish. Me, me, me. That is what she sees when she looks at them.

Far too stupid to be whores. They’d rather give it away like sluts. For attention.

“Look at me! How fabulous I am, right?”

Stupid, stupid girls.

Narcissism. Borderline personality disorder. Mommy and daddy issues. Undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  All rolled into one room multiplied by 35.

This is the entertainment business.

It won’t make you crazy. Crazy makes it.

He wrapped his arm around her from behind and in the filtered twilight, she could make out several skulls and the Virgin Mary on the colorful tattoo that ran from his shoulder to his wrist. One of many he hid under his crisp suit and tie during the week. He wasn’t one for words or sentiment. When he did speak, it was matter-of-fact, blunt and stoic. 

His was a character of contradictions. Punk rock and golf. Independent art and million dollar contracts. Athletism and exhaustion. Chaste and carnal. Impatience and biding. Supercilious and open minded. A love of food and an empty refrigerator.

She found him brutally direct and completely unreadable.

He dumped the Big Gulp cup with change out on his tatty blue blanket and counted. Thirty-eight dollars. Not bad for the day, but not good either. Most of it had been earned on his last trick, a coup des gras magic levitation combo. He’d waited until the New Orleans streets were packed with happy drunks. Timing was everything.

“I wish we could make more money,” he said to the scruffy brown mutt lying at his side. Sam was never far from his side. Her bushy tail wagged easily despite the conditions they lived in.

“Do you?” 

Rodney looked up. An old black man with a milky eye that stared off to the left stood before him. He wore a starched white uniform and had a Creole accent. Sam didn’t growl, which surprised Rodney. “I’m Claude. I work at La Richelieu and I enjoyed your act.” He reached down and scratched Sam behind the ear. “Tell me…have you ever thought about voodoo?”

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and a large medieval contraption was before her. Leather straps, metal, cuffs. A sign read “Please tip your attendants. These rooms are not self cleaning.” In the corner, a blond was kneeling in front of a middle aged man sitting on a dark purple vinyl couch with khaki pants around his ankles and his hands on the back of her head.

She worked with the church, spending her nights taking calls and heading into the cold to pick up strays and search for lost pups. On this night, she’d found a little white dog with big, brown eyes and took him back to her place. He didn’t stop trembling until she wrapped him in a blanket and fed him.  He ate like there was no tomorrow and wriggled into her ankle afterwards in happiness. He wasn’t in bad shape, really. He couldn’t have been out there long because he was still groomed. She pet his soft white face, cradling him as he kissed her cheek and nose. Walking outside, she crossed the dusky yard to a sizable wooden pen. As she neared, the barking and snarling coming from it hit a fever pitch.

She kissed the little mutt on the head and then dropped him into the pit bull den as bait.

The left side showed me immediately why she’d survived and I hadn’t. A truck carrying long metal tubes had lost several.  One went through my windshield. The glass was a crumbled spider web splattered with blood and bits of skin. The metal was perfectly intact.

And it could be found pierced straight through my chest.

Mark Twain’s advice is to “write what you know” – which can be taken or mistaken in many ways.

 

 

Chapter 15 : Bipolar 2 – The Dark Side.

5 Nov

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” — Robin Williams

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Please note: This blog in itself will be bipolar. Meaning you’ll see both sides of truth. A pendulum swinging back and forth between two extremes. The writing is as much a conflict as the subject is. Don’t try to dissect it…there’s no point. It is what it is. Please don’t feel sorry for me or comment sympathetically. I honestly hate that. This is a blog about something a lot of people aren’t aware of, with stories as examples. Nothing more.

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“Some things are better left unsaid. That’s the stuff I usually like to blurt out right away.”

The response I had to my first bipolar blog was interesting, to say the least. A lot of you are bipolar too. Sweet. Let’s be crazy together.

I feel that I’m in a unique, self employed position to tell my story and that I have a responsibility to do so for a reason. Bipolar Disorder is portrayed pretty badly to the public, usually as mental patients in hospitals who can’t function in society.

As difficult as some periods are for me, I’ve never missed a booking and I’ve been one of the most reliable entertainers in my professions even before I was on stabilizers. (Actually, I missed my first booking last month in September for Shine Wrestling because it was my moving weekend – and if you keep reading, you’ll see why.) As hard as relationships have been, I have plenty of people I call friends.

(Interestingly, I lost two “friends” over the first part of this blog. Better now than when I need them.)

Read Part 1 here:  Chapter 14: Bipolar Blues and Manic-Depressive Madness. The Intro. http://wp.me/p2O0oj-8V )

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I’ve never been in a mental hospital. (Yet!)  I work hard, I get things done and I’m extremely smart, resourceful and reliable. I’m the polar (ahem…polar, get it?) opposite of the stereotypical “lazy centerfold model” which is why I’m still around after all these years. It’s purely a business to me, one that I’m grateful to be a part of and enjoy most days. I hide my ups and downs well. I put on my makeup, stand up straight, affix a radiant smile and no one notices anything. At best, on a rough day, they just think I’m a hot tempered redhead who won’t put up with not being paid or fucked over. People think I’m strong. And I guess I am, but it gets to the point where everyone starts leaning on me – and I’m not infallible. It can be exhausting.

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There are lots more people just like me out there, too. Well, there aren’t that many hard working models or wrestlers, admittedly, but there ARE people in the world just like me; ones you likely interact with every day.

I have a therapist, I’m on meds that have shitty side effects and I certainly have my moments. But I function.

And I am what bipolar looks like.

I promised you stories, didn’t I? More salt in the wounds? Well, I do try to keep my promises. In order for me to keep my word, this is a very lengthy blog. There was just no way to keep it short. If you read the entire story, HIGH FIVE.

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Wondering…

If you’re wondering what it feels like to have Bipolar Disorder, have you ever done Ecstasy? There you go. The mania is the high; the depletion and exhaustion from the low afterwards is the depression. Ironically enough, it’s caused by the half of the same exact chemical swing; serotonin. Bipolar Disorder is just a chemical imbalance of serotonin and melatonin, which pretty much affects everything we are.

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Bipolar Disorder is technically classed as a disease, as it’s a chronic illness and controlled by daily medicines in order to function. It also attacks your respiratory and circulatory system. Most people with BP tend to die young (before age 50), either naturally or unnaturally.

Despite this, with other disabilities, when you’re having a bad day, you’re just having a bad day. With Bipolar Disorder the first thing out of people’s mouths is the insultingly ridiculous comment, “Did you take your meds today?”

My advice: Never ask that question. Never. It’s equal to asking an angry female, “Are you on your period?” If you get something thrown at you, it won’t be mania. It will be YOU.

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The Bleeding…

I almost killed my dog Bella once, not that long ago. By accident. You might remember a few years ago when I talked about her emergency surgery, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention how it happened.

Let me prelude this story by saying that you should understand that my pets aren’t just animals. With not having children, they are furry family members. Bella follows me around, sleeps in bed with me and is my constant companion.

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In a fit of rage, I dumped Jordan’s desk. He’s a costume designer. I never realized that the puppy would think the pin-cushion was a toy. The next morning, Jordan found the cushion under my desk with chewed up pins all over. I opened her mouth and found some bruising around her tongue. I fed her bread and peanut butter to coat her stomach and immediately took her to the vet. An x-ray showed there was a pin lodged sideways in her stomach and could pierce through at any moment. A very costly emergency surgery ensued.

I remember the nurse asking, “Do you want pain meds for her? They’re extra, but…”

“Give her whatever she needs.” Her brown eyes looked up at me as if to ask what was going on.

I was devastated.  Still – I didn’t fix anything.

That’s not the only time I’ve hurt her. When I was trying to housetrain her, she would take forever to go and every little noise scared her. She preferred to pee on the carpet in the warm comfort of the apartment. One time – I think I was late to leave for something or just hungry – I  snapped. She had been taking ages and I started pulling her towards home. She flopped down on the concrete in protest and I dragged her body along by her leash. She’s forgiven me, but I haven’t forgiven myself.

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I have zero recollection of what the desk flipping episode was over. None. It could have been stubbing my toe.  These are semi-blackouts. I do remember flipping the desk. I remember being crushed over Bella. That’s it. Nothing else. This is normal, because I don’t remember any of episodes, or at least not in detail. I’ve actually sat and tried to search my brain to remember things and cannot. Jordan says he wishes he could video me & play it back. I’m grateful he doesn’t.

As a rapid cycling manic, I was up to several episodes a day at one point. It was bad.

The thing is, I’m not a terrible person. But I can do terrible things. It’s not only horrific and damaging, but afterwards the realization leads to the depression that comes after the mania.

There is nothing worse than realizing how badly you’ve hurt someone or something you love. It’ll gut you. Imagine this…over and over and over again.

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Crossfade “COLD” 

“What I really meant to say is that I’m sorry for the way I am.

I never really wanted you to see the screwed up side of me, locked inside of me so deep, it always seems to get to me. 

I never really been wanted you to go, so many things you should have known, I never meant to be so cold. 

What I really meant to say is that I’m sorry for the way I am.”

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The fights are horrific. I have a vague awareness that I’m getting out of control when it starts, but almost nothing can stop it. Jordan used to be able to. He would use humor. That would almost always disable the explosion. But after a while, he changed. The man I admired so much for his kindness and patience became me. He stooped to my level and everything about him I wanted so much to be, to learn from, admired…it was no more.

It’s like fighting with a 12 year-old version of your worst self. You can’t get through to him, nothing gets resolved, because that’s how you’ve trained him to fight. The fights escalate to another level. One time the police showed up when I was screaming at him in the parking lot. A neighbor called because they thought he was abusing me. Embarrassing. The damage and cruelty and violence you can’t come back from.  That’s just on the inside. Never mind the wreckage around you. Broken plates, holes in the wall.

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And, it never ends. In your moments of sanity, you realize that you’ve ruined another life. Just like that. If it’s someone whom you know is a good person, a decent person – but they’re now biting, angry, defensive, unable to say anything without sarcasm and eye rolling, mimicking – living with this fact, knowing you’ve turned him into that, it’s enough to make you die inside.

Medication didn’t completely solve us, because I’d come back to Florida from my Mom and Grandmoms after he had held everything down smoothly at home and completely take it out on him that I had to come back, when they clearly needed me in Philadelphia. They weren’t eating most of the time and my half-blind grandmother had started falling and hurting herself – and there I was in Florida every other week having to work and be at home trying to save my marriage when I should have been taking care of them. No matter where I was, I was in the wrong place, and wracked with guilt.

I’ve pushed Jordan so close to the edge, he actually turned to me and said, “You know what? Why don’t you just fuck off and leave when your mom dies?”  Hurtful, but not undeserved – I had shoved him from behind into the door frame. Everyone has their limits and Jordan has always been very good to me. If you can make a calm, cool and collected Canadian snap, you know you’ve pushed pretty damn far.

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I’m torn between wanting to love people and wanting to save them from me. That season finale of Dexter that everyone hated? I got it. I understood it. It’s my life. I push people away on purpose if I like or care about them and try to keep them at arm’s length.

Choose Life

Exactly how many times have I contemplated suicide? Oh, more than you and I can count together. More so as a way to end the suffering. End the fact that I’ll be on meds for the rest of my life. End the fact I destroy the ones I love, who love me. End the fact that I’m self destructive. The way I see it, someone’s life is her own to choose what to do with and when there really is no way out, when no matter where you go or what you do, it won’t change anything in the future.  Sometimes your options are limited. You either live or die. That’s purely your choice. Yet, I go on. I know that life is a gift. So, I try to live each day with gratitude for what I have. Because at the end of the day, I do know I’m fortunate and I am grateful.

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I have never really had much for patience. I move, think, read, drive and talk faster than most people, so I tend to get annoyed with the slowness. My Mom had Aspergers Syndrome (high functioning Autism) and it wasn’t a good combo. We had a very rocky relationship my entire life until I got on meds just less than two years ago, about eleven months before she died.

Our relationship changed for the better once meds were in the picture, thankfully. As before meds, I had little patience with her, took a lot the wrong way and in turn, treated her badly. I flipped out on her after she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. I stopped talking to her for several months over believing (what I now know isn’t true) that she favored my brother. “Fine! I hope you die alone!”

Yes. I said that. If there is a hell, there is a special place waiting for me there because of those words. I’ve also called her “the worst fucking mother in history.” That hurt her until nearly the day she died.  I stayed up late one night, feeling awful, and wrote a long letter about how sorry I was for saying it and recalling all the excellent Mom Moments that she did for and with me. Only then did she get over it, and asked me to print out a copy. I’m extremely grateful that she was very forgiving and I learned a lot from her in that way. But the fact that I ever said any of it is terrible. Seriously, when I play these things over in my now stable mind and read them on my screen, it makes me cry. How the FUCK could I have done these?  I’m a horrible person. What the fuck is WRONG with me? Who does this shit? The worst part is that it can and probably will happen again one day. The guilt I feel makes me feel sick at the pit of my stomach and will never, ever go away.

When I think it over so I can try to learn from it, I don’t know what I was thinking…well, I wasn’t thinking. I was reacting to what I emotionally PERCEIVED a certain way. This is what it is to be Bipolar. We perceive things differently, react more emotionally. Even if what I was reacting to was correct (and it was – there was a valid issue I won’t go into), any normal person would wait and try to calmly talk it out or give space or whatever it is normal people do.  I wouldn’t know.

Not me. I blew up, called everyone everything, backed it up with abusive emails and told everyone to never talk to me ever again. And then I didn’t…for a long time. And meanwhile, my mother was dying from cancer.

Not that I’m blaming all this on BP, but you can see how having this BULLSHIT DISORDER can really mess with you and those around you to the point where it ruins lives?

I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t stop it from escalating. There’s a difference between losing control and being out of control.  When the mania takes over and is going 100 mph into psychosis, it doesn’t matter if it’s my mother, my husband, my dog…it’s like, “terminate on site”…and the worst part for me is just a few short hours later, it’s like it didn’t happened. I can’t remember all of it. But to them, it’s like they barely survived an assassination attempt.

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Interesting Fact: In the late 1800s, Jean-Pierre Falret, a French psychiatrist, identified “folie circulaire” or circular insanity – manic and melancholic episodes that were separated by symptom-free intervals.

The Misery…

I fucking hate the fact that this controls every aspect of my life. Work. Sleep. Breathing. My energy levels. How much money is left over after getting my prescriptions. How I’m treating those around me. If I’m inspired to work or if I have to drag ass and force myself. I’m very guarded, wary of letting people close to me. I’m afraid to make friends or have real relationships, I don’t want them to see that side of me, knowing they’ll end up shunning me. People always SAY they’re tolerant until they see something they don’t like, and then they forget all about that so-called tolerance. It’s ridiculous how many uneducated idiots claim ‘tolerance’. Not to mention insulting, considering how most think “bipolar” simply means moody.

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If you want to know what it’s really like to live with the physical aspects of BP, read Spoon Theory (“But you don’t look sick…”). It’s written about Lupus, but can be applied here as well: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

I’m afraid to get into relationships, knowing I’ll end up ruining it. Because…what’s the point? Or, if they do stick around, I’m afraid I’ll hurt them in some way. I feel completely broken inside. Defective might be a better word. It’s not a good feeling. How is there any kind of future when this is how life is? It’s genetic, so I dare not have children. I’m pretty much destined to be alone for the rest of my life, so facing that hasn’t been an easy pill to swallow. Or five per day. Sure, with meds you can control it. But only so much.

So, how I feel at this moment is that it’s mostly eradicated me as a person. I find I’m more and more isolated to protect myself and others from me. This, of course, is depressing. I have to force myself to go out and do things. Perhaps this will change in time, but it’s my current frame of mind. (However, I’m bipolar. Attitudes are mercurial around here.)

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The Fucked Up Accolades…

When I write manic rants or flip out on twitter and say what I really think about things, I get SO much positive feedback, and now I know why. Because I’m crazy and able to say and do the things that most people WANT to but cannot or won’t.

Like the time I went to the outdoor rock and wrestling fest to support Jordan’s show. It was 98Rockfest, a big deal in the Tampa area. Each high-end band was to do a 20-minute set, with a wrestling match in between over at the ring. Then back to the stage. The band going up after Jordan’s match did “mic check…check, check” all through his match and their post show promo, which was being taped for TV. It was irritating and disrespectful. At the end, Jordan actually asked him politely on his microphone if they could give them a few minutes just to finish up – and the band responded with “I don’t think so! Fuck you!” The crowd cheered for the band side.  I had been hot before, but at that point, I saw RED.

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Once that happens, I don’t have much control left and I have no fear. I walked over to the stage in my sundress and platform sandals, scaled up the back of it, walked right on stage right up to him and ripped the mic right out of the guys’ hand. (Note: this was the warm-up roadie for the act, not the band.) He got in my face and told me to get off stage. “Or what? You’ll hit me? Go on…do it. All the guy asked for is a few minutes to finish up – this is the wrestler’s time right now, not yours. A little professional courtesy would be nice.”

“Get the FUCK off the stage.”

We were nose to nose. Actually, I was a bit taller than he was. “Sure thing, fuckhead. And your mic is coming with me.” I jumped down and took the entire apparatus with me, stand and all. The wrestling side of the crowd started cheering, everyone had whipped out their cell phone cameras and then I realized I was probably in deep, deep trouble. I’d just lost my shit and jumped on the stage to confiscate the Marilyn Manson, Shinedown, Alice in Chains mic. Surely the police would be coming in a minute for me?

The venue wanted to shut the wrestling show down immediately. It was a very hot, long day and half the guys hadn’t had their chance to perform on what was the biggest show of the year with more press attending than ever. I was the most hated person in most of the locker room. The rest couldn’t stop thanking me enough. One of the guys said, “Fuck, you’re my fucking hero.” The others just stared at me then looked at the floor like I was missing my nose. Or…my mind. Including Jordan, who gave me an earful, then avoided me like I was a plague that he might catch by association. The remainder of the day was completely strained.

I didn’t get arrested and the show went on. Howard, the well-respected wrestling promoter, talked some sense into them, they watched the tape back and saw what was going on and made a deal with the venue for more time (and respect) next year. The band Adelitas Way, whose roadie it was, publicly apologized to all of the wrestlers while on stage and tweeted me: “We’re very sorry. That was someone who worked for us, not our singer. We apologize.” Howard actually invited me back this year, but I think I’ll sit this one out.

Maybe these things aren’t right, but they certainly don’t feel wrong or undeserved at the time.

I never bullied anyone. I never started a fight. I’d end the fights or be the one who stopped the bullying. I have absolutely no tolerance for bullshit.  My nephew was groped by an older boy in the woods on the way home from school. My family couldn’t do anything about it since the boy was underage and his father was a higher up on the army base. My dad asked me to handle it. I went to that kid’s class and said the principal wanted to see him. As soon as he stepped into the hall, I slammed his head against the wall. It took three times before he split open. I was suspended. My dad picked me up and got me ice cream. The kids name was Jody. Who names a boy Jody? My nephew was never touched again. My brother got the piss beat out of him and a concussion in Philly when two boys cracked him with a bat. I gave it some time and waited for them. I beat them both badly and broke one kids nose; they never came near us again. I saw them while out with my brother a few years ago at a movie theater and we had half a laugh about it. They knew they deserved it. Being military, we moved a lot. Kids would fuck with us. Always. You either learned to fight back or you got bullied and tortured. I never started trouble. But I found out fast that as soon as I cracked someone in the nose – in front of the entire school – the testing stopped.  Suspension was a small price to pay for being able to walk down the halls in peace for the rest of the year. Or, until we moved again. Whoever coined the cliché “violence doesn’t solve anything” clearly didn’t remember what high school was like.

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I took that theory a step further once I grew up. In several different cases of road rage where someone has messed with me, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure they think twice about ever doing it again. I’m that psycho that’s been fucked with on the road, follows that person and pulls them out of their car at a red light or in their own driveway. I’ve pepper sprayed a car ful of guys following me home on various occasions (once managing to pepper spray myself in the process  – horrible!), kicked out two different windshields, ripped a car door off its hinges. It doesn’t matter to me. When I’ve turned into the Incredible Hulk, it’s too late. Shit is getting smashed.

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The REASON I get the positive feedback was already stated. And the REASON people don’t say or do what I do is because people aren’t supposed to do or say these things outside of Hollywood movies. They value their relationships, jobs, marriages and don’t want the repercussions of “speaking freely”. Whereas I bear the brunt of that with every outburst.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

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The Side Effects

People who are bipolar generally loathe admitting anything is wrong. Me…I couldn’t wait to get fixed. As a holistic practitioner and advocate for natural meds and diet choices, I wasn’t so eager to get on western prescription medications, however…until there was no longer a choice. Admittedly, they serve their purpose. I now make clear decisions, not emotional ones. My walls no longer have gaping fist holes covered by photos and no one gets shoved into a door frame unless I wish to shove them. In other words, I have choices now, which is a first. However, I knew there would be side effects and there are. Some big ones.

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First: Loss of memory, cognitive issues, lethargy, brain fog and speech problems. I just do dumb things like put the salt and pepper in the refrigerator, go into a room and forget why I’m there or dump my protein powder into my glutamine container instead of my protein shaker, even though I’m looking at both right in front of me. As for my speech, I can’t recall words. I know what I’m trying to say, the words are right there and I’m gesturing, but they’re not coming to the surface. It’s utterly frustrating. When you earn a living doing things like live promos in the ring or having to think on your feet, it can cause serious anxiety. Every live show, I go through a mini panic attack and pray I’ll be able to remember my spots. I feel like a once sharp knife whose blade has gone dull. In “Homeland”, Carrie stopped taking her meds because she felt she missed the attack due to her senses becoming sluggish. I can relate.

Second: Numbness, vertigo, back and joint pain, migraines so bad I vomit and now have to take ANOTHER medication just to prevent them.

Third: The meds are expensive. I mean, EXPENSIVE. And while they work, they don’t work quite right.

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Fourth: I’ve lost the passion for things I love. For me, this is the biggest issue. I could tolerate the others, but this one is killing me. I used to read a book a week. Now I can barely concentrate on one and I struggle through it for four or five weeks. I love music – and forget to play it. I’ve always enjoyed photo shoots to the point of scouring online portfolios for new photographers, finding ones with talent and being willing to shoot for trade to get them started just so I can try something creative. I haven’t done that in ages and almost cringe at the thought of shooting. It mostly feels like work.

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Yoga. Crossfit. Spanish classes. Going to the pool. Driving to the beach. These things all feel like work now. Documentaries and movies have always been my escape. I no longer have the attention span to finish them half the time because the drug mix has caused a form of ADD that is driving me insane. More insane than my normal insane, anyway. I’ve tried to offset it with natural supplements like magnesium and GABA. It’s lessened, but not by much. I’ve always been creative…and now I’m not. This is bothering me beyond words.

The only things I still enjoy is spending time with my pets, writing, TV series I can get absorbed into and learning. I’ve always enjoyed learning something new every day and still spend time researching anything that interests me. But I feel like a shell of my former self. And I don’t like it.

For someone whose motto is “You only live once – and life is meant to be LIVED”, this is really fucking hard to deal with. Watching my Gram and Mom die slowly and losing my dad in a plane crash has all changed me dramatically. If I’ve learned nothing else, I know that we can die at any moment and no one wishes they’d worked more in life when on their death bed.

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In that last year, my mother went from a boring caterpillar afraid to go anywhere to a butterfly who couldn’t spread her wings wide enough. She lived more with cancer than she did in her entire life while healthy. I pushed her into that, not giving her a choice. Tired or not, we got on boats, drove into the city and went to museums, took pictures, visited friends, got on roller coasters, took horse and carriage rides, went on a whale watch and stayed at a B&B in Cape May.

I’ve always lived like this and feeling like a caterpillar fifty percent the time just isn’t me.

I don’t have much of a choice either. Live out of control like a hurricane – or live in a fog as half the person I once was. Those are my options. It’s the reality of being bipolar.

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Not one to just accept things, I’m trying to find another way to both stay balanced but feel better. I’d like to back down the dosage of Lamictal a bit, but I’ve heard it’s very dangerous and causes all kinds of neurological issues if you don’t do it in tiny increments. Screwing it up can bring on full rage, seizures, sleep disruptions and constant vomiting. Who has time for this? I’m self employed and have to work. But again, what are my options? So, I guess I’ll do site updates ahead, find a couple of weeks between travel dates and lock myself in my house to do this chemical experiment and hope for the best.

If you’re bipolar enough, you can qualify for disability, because many can’t hold a job. For me, I can’t work for anyone else. I need to be self employed. That’s why I still do what I do. It allows me freedom. The issue now is NOT being able to. How can you write if you can’t remember? How do you work if you can’t concentrate? How do you create if you don’t feel creative?

So my quest is to find enthusiasm for life and function again while staying balanced, even if I have to endure seizures and puking to do it.

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The Reality…

Take a plate and throw it on the floor.  It shatters into little pieces.  So you tell the 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. This is what my relationships have always been. I cannot figure out how to stop breaking the goddamn plates.

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My psychologist has advised (or prescribed) living alone for a while. I guess I really AM fucking off after Mom died. So that’s another thing I’m going through as well. Eight years of marriage (and the part-time loss of one dog) will be on hold with a trial separation.

I have no family left and Jordan has none in this country. The stress and costs of getting two places and buying double of everything from furniture, car insurance and dog food has been absolutely brutal. He got the Christmas Story leg lamp. I kept the Achmed-The-Terrorist bobble-head.

Our moving weekend was the same as the Shine Wrestling, and this is why I missed the pay per view. We were just overwhelmed with cleaning, packing, IKEA trips, setting up two different places, hiring movers – and then trying to factor in traveling and shows? Something had to go. Luckily, my boss at Shine is a good friend and an understanding person who has been aware of everything for a while.

I decided to finally buy a house and found a very small place in a cute neighborhood with a fenced in yard for Bella. I’ve been keeping busy with planting things and fixing it up. It’s my first house. Admittedly, it’s comforting to know where I’ll be living next year. This is something I’ve never been sure of, having grown up military and been a nomad my entire life.

Much of the house was in need of updating and the outside was completely neglected. I’ve become obsessed with fixing up the yard since I hope that will be where I can spend some serious time. Huge, thorny bushes running rampant, dead grass, a half-collapsed fence, a deck that’s seen better days, overgrown trees. But it has potential, and I’ve always really wanted an “outdoor room” kind of space; a retreat. Overhauling a yard is very expensive, I’ve found out. Shockingly expensive. I’m spending my paychecks at Lowes. But it’s keeping me busy and the improvements are incredibly cheering.

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Moving. Med adjustments. Separation. Trying to hold down some kind of work. Finally realizing that both my Mom & Gram passed away last year (they died within 6 months of each other) because I have no one to talk to about any of this who understands the whole story; what it’s like to live with me…it’s been challenging. To say I’m shattered is an understatement. I feel alone and lonely. They are different. One I enjoy. The other, not so much.

And I’m tired. Very tired. I’m tired of everything being harder than it needs to be. It’s been years straight of taking care of Gram with dementia, Mom with cancer, fighting to get the rest of the family on the same page and failing when I wanted to help her holistically instead of just medically and the volatile home. It’s all been too much.

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I barely had the energy to pack and move. I think right now, I need to hole up and do nothing, unless it’s fun for a while, like comic cons or lunch with friends. Just sleep and be left alone to recuperate and find out what I love again. This is part of the reason I decided to do the blog. It’s cathartic. I really do have no one to talk to about these things, so now I’m talking to you. If you’re still reading, that is.

I hide things far too well. I’m a master at it.

Emotionally: I’m done. Mentally: I’m drained. Spiritually: I feel lost. Physically: I smile.

Crazy isn’t stupid, and I know I just need some time.

Despite feeling terribly isolated for stints, I’m just stupidly hopeful enough to look to those silver linings.

Que sera, sera.

“The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” Joesph Campbell

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On a final note, I want to say that I’m extremely grateful to many of my friends and fans, who have been helpful, and wonderful with my housewarming registry. It’s appreciated more than you can imagine, and I could not do all the repairs, updates AND downsizing décor without you. Thank you to Jordan for encouraging me to start this blog last year. Other than my Mom and Gram, he is the only person in my entire life who has never abandoned me no matter how many times he may have wanted to and he’s one of the best and kindest people I’ve ever met.

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The Next Bipolar Chapter:  https://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/01/30/chapter-16-bipolar-for-life-alone/

 

Some Really Cool Stuff –

WATCH THIS. This doctor does an online YouTube blog on how to control your “inner hulk”. His info is REALLY good. Bipolar Advantage Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOYYpJ2lAJwcBonFRin_PyQ

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Watch this amazing documentary preview: Of Two Minds – http://www.oftwomindsmovie.com/ 

If you want to see more, it’s available on both Amazon and itunes.

A book you might want to read is “An Unquiet Mind” by Dr Kay Redmond.  She is bipolar she knows firsthand what she’s talking about.

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Here is a BP newsletter you can subscribe to that’s also full of info about various things relating to dealing with the disorder. http://bipolar.about.com/?nl=1

Top 10 Misconceptions about Bipolar Disorder: http://akorra.com/2012/06/04/top-10-misconceptions-about-bipolar-disorder/

 Hopefully these things help. I know they have for me.

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Lastly, I’ve read about Nuvigil and Provigil working well as a BP drug. It’s not approved for this use, so getting insurance to pay for it would likely be a huge hassle, but if you’re up for the challenge, it’s supposed to eliminate the exhaustion and make people feel alert and clear. I can’t afford it and wish I could. I understand it’s around $510 a month. Even half of that would be too much with all the other prescriptions, but it’s supposed to work wonders. If you can, more power to you, I hope it works. Let me know if you try it.

I think the way America is the only country that runs a For-Profit healthcare system is very sad. Too many can’t afford the medicines and therapy they need to feel better and simply function. Over half our incarcerated have mental illnesses. Access to proper medical attention and affordable meds could prevent so many problems. Sadly, we are not likely to change anything soon. Since medication for life is an issue, retiring to another country is definitely a serious consideration in the future.

Contact info: comments@aprilhunter.com

www.AprilHunter.com

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She said

There’s a difference between

 

Starving

and

Staying hungry

 

Loving a memory

And

In loving memory

 

Living your dreams

And

Daydreaming

 

Struggles in life

And

Struggling to live

 

Screaming at me

And

Screaming my name

 

Doing time

And

Running out of time

 

Being damaged

And

Being broken beyond repair

 

Losing control

And

Being out of control

 

I said to her

There is a difference between

 

Loving that I know her

And

Knowing I love her

-By Kirk Olsen

You-would-worry-less-about-what-people-think-about-you-if-you-knew-how-seldom-they-do.

Chapter 14: Bipolar Blues and Manic-Depressive Madness. The Intro.

28 Aug

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Bipolar 1: THE MANIC INTRO

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Bipolar Blues & Manic-Depressive Madness.

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t want to see me angry.

I reached for the glass of water and swallowed the pill. I try to remember to take it the same time every day, but I’m not always successful. I take pills in the morning. I take a pill in the afternoon. And I take pills in the evening. I have the option of taking an additional pill at bed time to shut my brain off, but it’s highly addictive, so it scares me. The lithium has ruined my thyroid, so I take another pill for that. If I’m not careful, it can also can ruin my liver, brain and kidneys. That’s just ONE of the harmful drugs I’m on. You might wonder why I’d take something that could kill me? It’s because that without it, I will destroy everyone around me.

I am so fucking fucked, it’s fucked up.

There. That’s about my entire story in a nutshell. I am broken. Completely broken, And like shattered shards of glass, anyone who comes near me walks away bleeding. So, I have become more and more of a recluse, afraid to have friends or relationships, because I know I’ll just end up destroying the people I care about, which kills me inside and makes me—once again—want to kill myself.

It’s a fantastic pattern, isn’t it?

And that’s what being bipolar is.

What’s so frustrating is that I’m a good and decent person. Mostly. And hurting others is NOT what I want to do, but it IS what I do. My heart breaks all the time for what I’ve done. Living with myself is a form of torture some days. I’m tugged back and forth between wanting to love people and wanting to protect them from me.

I’m a humanist. I believe in equality for all and treating people like you want to be treated. When I turn into the Hulk and can’t abide by this – then I have to live with the results of the disaster I’ve caused that I can barely remember…but the damage is all around me – it makes me want to curl up and die. Hurting others whom I love and having no control over it makes me want to kill myself because that’s the only way I can make it stop.

The truth is something I’ve had a hard time putting down on paper. The reason is because when I’ve gone back and read what I’ve written, I think I sound like an asshole. I tend to glamorize my stories if they’re for the public unless I’m writing under a different name or anonymously.  I’ve realized I sound like a jerk for thinking some of the thoughts I’ve had.  If I were on a reality show with some of the things I’ve done, I’d have been voted off first. But regardless of how I may come across, I promise to tell only the truth on this page. Clearly, from my chosen career path, I’ve never been much to give a shit what people think. If I didn’t have a thick skin, I’d have crumpled up and cried myself out of the business ages ago. As I’m getting older, I care even less.

I know there are more out there just like me.  What I DO care about: helping others. So here I am, naked once again. Except this time, I’m really stripped down to nothing.

“My pain is self chosen. At least I believe it to be. I could either drown. Or pull off my skin and swim to shore. Now I can grow a beautiful shell for all to see. The River of Deceit pulls down…” –Mad Season

I think that anyone who is bipolar has considered suicide at some point.  Living with this illness can be just too much to bear at times.  Bipolar disorder has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Some studies have determined that as high as 50% of people with bipolar attempt suicide, and 25% are successful.  I don’t think even most types of cancer carry that much risk.

It’s a good indication of just how difficult this disease can be.

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A common misconception is that you can “become” bipolar, or something can turn you that way. No. You can’t. It’s strictly genetic. You either were born with it, or you aren’t. End of story.

My friends are pretty clueless as to what bipolar disorder is or how bad it can be. Sure, people know the term. But they have no idea what it IS. I’m going to tell you…no matter how fucking embarrassing this is. Because people should know, instead of saying, “This weather is so bipolar!” without having a clue as to what it actually means.

If I meet someone who is familiar with it, they usually tell me someone they knew had it while rolling their eyes and saying, “They broke up. He was bipolar.”

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It’s staggering to me that people have to wonder why we kill ourselves. They know nothing about the disorder, have no clue how to respond to episodes, don’t bother to educate themselves, just dump people on the side of the road who have it and then tell all their friends why it’s not their fault. Well, if you don’t know how to deal with it then maybe it IS partly your fault.

Would we tolerate this with Autism, which is also a highly difficult disorder? Or is there a push for education and awareness? People who have bipolar disorder severely enough can qualify for disability because it can be impossible to hold a job, so it’s something the world should know more about.

That said, I will fully admit that those who love us and stick by us are saints.  We are not easy to live with and it takes a certain type of person or an awareness and knowledge how to deal with it and how not to take things personally. To those who hang in there, I applaud you because there are so few of you. The majority of the world walks away and washes their hands clean. You pretty much have to go into “silent mode” when an episode (that’s the official term for it) happens and just refuse to take it personally no matter what horrible things are said or what expletives are screamed at you. It’s not you. It never is.

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Like Autism has its wide spectrum, so does bipolar disorder in a sense. Manic episodes can range, as can the severity and types of bipolar disorder. I am Bipolar 1, which is extremely manic with crazy episodes. I have a more severe rapid cycling version of bipolar disorder. Insane stuff that makes Silver Linings Playbook look exceedingly tame. When left untreated, these episodes happen more frequently and can scar the brain and cause tissue loss. I was up to several a day at one point. Mine are deranged, yet no one sees them except the people who are absolutely the closest to me. Even semi-close friends can’t see me being bipolar. Many don’t even believe it when I tell them, because outwardly, I can be so friendly, outgoing and sweet. That’s my other side. And it IS genuine. When the very few people in my life don’t give up on me, it’s always the same reason when I ask why they don’t piss off for their own self-preservation: “Because you have a good heart. You’re a really sweet person most of the time.”

Most of the time.

This is part of the reason I’ve always had pets who are much more than just an animal to me. They’re Therapy Service Animals. Without them, I’d be lost. They are there licking the tears and ready to curl up against my leg when everyone else leaves.

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I can’t stand the fact that my illness can dictate every aspect my life, but I do not want to be a ‘victim’ to it. I’ve decided that the question is this: Am I bipolar? Or do I HAVE bipolar?

As soon as I got on medication, my family relationships improved drastically. Every person in my family has stopped speaking to me for a length of time at some point in my life. Friends, too. I thought it was them, of course. But the common link was always me.

This was my mother’s last mission when she was diagnosed with cancer – to get her unstable, uninsured daughter to the doctors and have her mental health sorted out. And she did. She looked me in the eye and said, “This is why I’m still alive after three years when they gave me six months. God has given me this purpose, because I need to take care of you.”

My father was bipolar. It was called manic-depressive then. He had multiple suicide attempts and reckless behavior until he finally succeeded in 1997. After retiring from the Army as a flight instructor, he became a firefighter in California and battled wildfires by plane. One day, he flew his OV-10 Bronco into a Hollister mountain. “Pilot Error”. Sure. He called everyone to say goodbye the day before. There wasn’t enough of him left to fill a large envelope. He once said to me, “I’ll never be happy.” Dad was the most honest, fair person I’ve ever met. He was such a good person that despite being a massive fuck up, he had two funerals; a west coast memorial where he’d lived for a few years and an east coast one where he grew up, and all three of his ex-wives attended. He also self-medicated with alcohol to the point of being an alcoholic, which is why I’ve mostly been afraid to touch the stuff. To me, it’s all a drug. Meth or liquor…it’s all the same. If it alters you to where you’ll kill or hurt someone else, it’s a drug.

One time, in full mania, because my mom kept arguing instead of knowing how to shut down in order to dismantle it, he grabbed a BB gun and shot her in the hip at close range while she was doing the dishes. It broke the skin and had to be dug out. My little brother ran under the kitchen table, curled into a ball and started screaming. I ran into the laundry room. We all ended up there and my dad grabbed a hunting rifle. He aimed it at my brother and I. My mother shoved us behind her. Last minute, he lowered it and shot through the floor. My brother and I would look up through that bullet hole into our house from the basement until we moved. Another time, I slammed the bathroom door. I was about eight or nine. I can’t remember why. He broke the door open and I was behind it. The bottom of the door wedged up over my foot, breaking all bones on top. They never took me to the hospital. My uncle said this was a regular Friday night. It’s no wonder I grew up always ready to fight or defend myself. As awful as those stories sound, when my dad was being good, he was great. Really great. But when he wasn’t, he was scary as fuck. I realize now that I never knew if he was going to snap and kill us or himself, and that’s the environment where I grew up, 

Their fights were legendary. Eventually, he left. My mom would have stayed with him forever. She was one of the loyal ones. He took me, my mother got my brother.

My step-mother and I had been squabbling non-stop. He called us into the dining room, loaded a pistol with one bullet, spun the chamber, pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger. I left after that. Russian roulette was the last straw. He’d been raising me since the age of twelve off a military base in Alabama, but my senior year of high school, I moved back to Philadelphia. Living with someone who is bipolar – it was a challenge.

Those with bipolar disorder are much more affected by environment and energy than most. Colors, sounds, arguments, negativity, the news, room decor…you name it.  They’re very in tune with what’s around them and will react. That’s why all of these things need to be considered and controlled.

Not one person around me had ever figured me out. My mom and grandma had always known something was wrong, but they’d taken me to therapy only to have me misdiagnosed as clinically depressed or with anger issues.

You know how you feel there’s something wrong with you your entire life, but you just don’t know what it is? No? Well, that’s what I’ve felt like since I was a young kid. Is it cancer? Am I dying? Why do I feel so horrible and tired when I do everything right? Why do I get sick so easily? Why do I have bronchitis all the time? I eat well, I get enough sleep, I don’t do drugs or alcohol, I work out and do plenty of cardio. I was exhausted to the bone. The doctors were telling me I was perfectly healthy other than asthma. So I began to think I was a hypochondriac and everyone around me agreed and began teasing me about it. But I still knew deep down that something was integrally wrong.

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Ever since I was a teen, there were always thoughts & plans of suicide. Cutting my arms up and down with knives and blades just to see how deep I could go. When I’m not tanned, you can still see those silvery scars. Depression so exhausting, I just can’t seem to sleep it off. Being self-employed with a strong work ethic, I never missed a booking. I would drag myself out of bed, cry until the very moment I got on stage or to a shoot, clean up my makeup, paste on a dazzling smile and get through it. Not one person ever knew. I was a professional to the core…and it made me hate myself even more at times. Why couldn’t I just be myself and be left alone to heal? Not have to go out there and expend energy I had to pull out of my ass because there was none to begin with.

I was also misdiagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This is why I walked away from WCW and never pushed for WWE. I was too exhausted to travel like that. The non-stop, all hours, always delayed traveling is what kills you with WWE and WCW. It’s brutal. When I got off the road with WCW, it was so bad; I was tested for Lupus multiple times and told I had an auto-immune deficiency. I was offered a contract with WWE and had to politely turn down, too afraid I’d never be able to keep up or stay healthy. They gave me two more tryouts after that and I took them, but knew I’d never be able to work for them. People who are in great health who can get by on four or five hours of sleep suffer tremendously. I’d probably have been hospitalized after a few months…and I know that about myself.

I was misdiagnosed again as clinically depressed and given an anti-depressant. That’s the absolute worst thing you can do to someone with bipolar disorder. It swings them severely manic. Things got worse. Whereas I was occasionally alienating people beforehand, I was now ripping everyone’s heads off in my life over things so small and unimportant, I couldn’t even remember it was that made them stop talking to me in the first place.

You hurt everyone around you. You hurt yourself. And for the longest time, you have NO idea what’s wrong with you, just that you don’t feel in control and you don’t feel “right”.  With bipolar, your mind speeds, thoughts come faster than you can compute at times. I always carry a notebook so I can write things down. My brain never shuts off, so sleeping is extremely difficult. When I do, I don’t feel like I did.  Then there was uncontrollable anger.

Jordan finally figured it a year and a half ago. In 2009, he said he was leaving, that he couldn’t live like this…then Mom was diagnosed with stage-four cancer a week later. He bit the bullet and decided that going at that time wouldn’t be the right thing to do. But he gave me an ultimatum while we got “separated while living together”: That my violent behavior and impatience was unacceptable, so get fixed or else. Out of desperation to not have another failed relationship, let alone one with one of the nicest people I’d ever met – and to not be my father – I started seeing a therapist with him who casually mentioned that I should get a brain scan and perhaps the behavior was being caused by bipolar disorder. He started researching it while I traveled back and forth to Philadelphia to take care of Gram and Mom. The more he researched, the more it all clicked together. I took two tests and scored off the charts and was finally correctly diagnosed.

It was a huge relief to finally know what was wrong after all these years. Dealing with it mentally…that’s been a whole ‘nother issue. There is no cure. This will never go away. I will be on medications until the day I die. Which could be sooner than later thanks to a host of issues that come along with this like respiratory problems, severe sleep disorders (due to racing thoughts and lack of being able to actually shut off and “rest”) B-12 deficiencies and the aforementioned torture of living. I’ve been seeking as much information as possible and have become a bit of an expert on this topic. I’ve also been searching for others who are going through the same thing. I read other bipolar blogs-what these people are doing to themselves and others, saying, thinking…and for once in my life, I feel a little bit normal. Not normal, NORMAL…but normal in that there are others that are like me out there. Good people with a shit disorder that turns them from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. My only real choice in this matter is to elect to live as healthy as possible, eliminate as much negativity from my life as I can and watch my surroundings. Plus be on point for when something is coming on.

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The medications have been an ongoing chemical experiment. For someone who is holistic and doesn’t subscribe to western Big Pharma policies of “a pill to cure everything” it was a real slap in the face. I resisted at first. Admittedly, they have helped tremendously. At a cost, of course.  The main medication is an anti-seizure which doubles as an anti-psychotic. This acts as a mood stabilizer and its main side effects are moderate to severe back, neck and joint pain. To a beat up wrestler with back, neck and joint pain, this is not fun. But it’s a lifesaver. However, I’m even more drained now.  I have an inbox full of emails I don’t have the energy or drive to answer. Half the time I don’t feel like talking to anyone. I have to force myself to see friends. And those awesome manic highs I used to have where I’d write all night? Gone. I’m on so many prescriptions, it freaks me (and my wallet) out. However, I feel clear. For the first time in my life, I can think clearly instead of emotionally. There isn’t any more ridiculous fighting.

When I get my medications refilled, I affectionately call them my “crazy pills”. For once, I can choose to flip out if I want to. Or not. But I have choices, which is a first for me. Despite the damage already having been done, things around me are more peaceful and I’ve spent a lot of time this year apologizing to people in my life that I’ve hurt. Some have accepted it. Others never answered. I’m OK with that. I just wanted them to know how sorry I was for any hurt I caused.

While most of humanity can only access a small portion of their brains, there’s a valid theory that those who are bipolar can access much, much more. This is why they’re usually of quite a higher intelligence and extremely creative. This is also what causes the racing thoughts…and the irritation and impatience with others for not being able to keep up. In my case, I can sometimes do complicated math in my head in a split second without thinking about it, or while the girl at the cash register is still struggling to figure out how much change to give me. If I’m not exhausted from not sleeping, that is.

There’s a positive flip side to being manic, too. Being able to stay up all night and work very creatively and productively. Arguing efficiently. Most bipolar engage in a lot of risk taking, which can be a good thing, because we don’t have the fear others have to keep us from experiencing life. Like a nude photo shoot on the roof of Caesar’s Casino in Vegas, or leaving everything behind to jet off to Japan for a few months with absolutely no capability of speaking Japanese. We also don’t take shit. As much as this can work against you, if you can control it, it can certainly work in your favor.

As with anything, there’s always a silver lining.

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However, if you can’t control your inner Incredible Hulk, it will control you. You’ll ruin yourself and others like an IED explosion. Bipolar people not only have health issues and often die young, but they also tend to have issues such gambling, promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, debt, spending, violence, making (often bad) decisions that are purely emotional, on top of the fact that we perceive things differently…the list can go on. You can destroy everything you are in a single weekend.

Worst of all is that you black out. Much of it you don’t or can’t remember. All you know is that there’s a huge fucking mess around you…and you’re not quite sure how it got that way…but you have a terrible gut feeling it had to do with YOU. The flip side of THAT is the depression that sets in afterwards, which is another story.

Bipolar Trivia: The symbol for this disorder is the ‘comedy/tragedy’ theater masks.

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So.

How fucked up am I? Well, it goes beyond smashing coffee mugs, although there’s been plenty of that. I’ve gotten into more fist fights than I can recall. With both females and males. I’ve kicked out not one, but two car windshields in fits of rage. I pulled a guy out a car at a stop and pepper sprayed him and his friend in the face (and myself in the process). I jumped on stage at a huge live rock concert and threatened to beat the shit out of the mic check guy because he was being rude. (He really was.) I’ve ripped a car door off its hinges, punched holes in walls, thrown tables and sofas over. I’m strong anyway, but I become scary, super-human strong when I’m manic. I wreck shit. I’ve spent a lot of money fixing and replacing things.

Ever since I was around eleven or twelve years old, Mom used to call me Jekyll and Hyde. My family went through buckets of Spackle  I told my mom that she was the “worst fucking mother ever” while she was dying from cancer. Yeah. I did that.  I’ve said the horrible things to the people I love, the ones who love me. I’ve driven many away for good.  I almost killed my dog when she was a puppy. By accident.

There’s more, but these are a few of the stories I’ll tell you about.

This has been my entire life for as long as I can remember. Don’t make me angry.

There is a saying that life isn’t black and white – it’s shades of gray. And this is generally true except for bipolar disorder. It’s always black or white.

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I have soft spot for The Incredible Hulk. I get him. He’s smart. He does what he feels is right at the time, despite the destruction. And he can’t remember it afterwards.  Then, dejected, he retreats away from everyone to be left alone. He is classically bipolar.

In The Avengers, there was a scene where Dr. Bruce Banner was entering into the battle as himself and the others were worried that he needed to turn into The Hulk first. The insinuation was that he needed to get angry first to make the transformation. Dr. Banner smiled back at them and said that the secret to his control is that he is always angry.

There is no cure for bipolar disorder. People are delusional if they think there is a way to fix it. But learning control – that’s the key.

This started out a blog just for me, for my sanity-if I have any of that left. Then I told a few people about it and they kept pushing me to write and publish it. Some were also bipolar.

This blog got VERY long, very fast. This is just part of it.

There’s more. Much more.

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

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

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NEXT:: BIPOLAR 2: THE DARK SIDE – https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/11/05/chapter-15-bipolar-2-the-dark-side/

Chapter 12: Flashback to WCW, Year 2000.

17 Jul

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Touring with WCW (January 2000)

(This is an older blog I’d written about my very first weekend in the wrestling business. I was recruited into WCW through Playboy and not the least bit trained when I was hired. (Thankfully, my parents raised me that me that you introduce yourself to people and shake their hand…which is probably part of the reason why I’m the ONLY girl of the six originally hired still in the business. That, and insanity.) These were my first impressions when I started working in wrestling and my first of many WCW Tour Diaries that are on my site now.)

Why is wrestling so popular? It now gets better ratings than Oprah and Springer together. Maybe it’s the classic good versus evil, larger-than-life super heroes who battle it out in the name of right against wrong. A world where tough, sexy, muscled babes live whose chest proportions defy what nature intended. Where the winner of the fight gets all the girls, glory, belt and lives happily ever after until needed or challenged again. Sex and violence rolled into one big happy two hour time slot of fantasy. This is the stuff every comic book is made from. And when it’s performed live, it’s called wrestling.   

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I’m going to start from the beginning, and you can come along for my ride. All that worrying and stress for nothing. When I got back from England just in time to start with WCW, I ended up having an absolute blast — and can’t wait to do it again this Monday night. I wish I could be as detailed as I’d like to be, but it would go on too long and I’d get into trouble spilling things I shouldn’t. So, I guess you’re just going to have to wait for the biography for the fill-ins. Until then, here ya go…

In my years of flying, I’ve come to two conclusions. First being that the airlines deliberately try to make you so freaking uncomfortable, they’re attempting to force you to spend triple to go to first class. And secondly, that people on these flights are disgusting. They cough without covering their mouths, pick their noses, eat like pigs, drop their seats back without any concern for the person’s kneecaps behind them, and become demanding to top it off. And each year, people seem to be getting fatter and fatter. My seatmate this time was no exception. He graciously allowed me to have half my own seat for the 4 hour trip to Buffalo on this fully packed flight. And he was sweating. Ick. (Sometimes I wonder: are humans like goldfish, able to grow as large as their environment will allow them to? That would explain why the English are so slight and Americans are so bloated. We have to fill out our homes, 3-lane highways and SUV’s. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t care if someone is heavy. Eat all you want. Hell, you ain’t making a living naked, so go for it. But when it cuts into my own personal space, like coughing or smoking, and I didn’t ask for it, then it’s just fucking wrong. And I just might smack you in the face, depending on my mood and how much sleep I’ve had. You understand, right?)

And lastly, how the hell is the seat being in the full upright position (not that I recline it, because I hate having it done to me) going to save my ass any quicker were there to be a crash?

I checked in, and was impressed. Classy hotel! The nice thing about being on a Per-Show pay scale with WCW is that they pick up the travel tab, where if I were under full contract, I’d have to pay hotel and rental car expenses. Those really add up.  In every other pro sport, costs are paid by the team and medical expenses are covered. Except pro wrestling. Then again, in every other pro sport, they get an off season.  

I don’t understand how this business can be drug tested like a real athletic sport, but not given a SAG card like in real entertainment.  You’re self employed, so you have to pick up the tab on everything, but still have to work the schedule you’re told.  People make fun of it as if it’s fake, yet wrestlers limp around with some of the worst injuries and no off season to heal.  With few places to work, you literally have a 20-70% higher chance of becoming a film or TV star than nabbing a coveted spot on the few hours of aired wrestling TV each week.

 It’s the most unfavorable of everything. You just have to love it…or be completely crazy.

 The first thing I did was look out my hotel window-wow. Huge fleets of TNT trucks are right outside. Sid F’N Vicious was on my flight and checking in with me! The reality of what I’m about to do sets in… 

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Getting up early on Monday, I called Kim and Tylene and we decided to meet at the tiny hotel gym. One of the Nitro girls was there doing cardio. She pretended we didn’t exist. I’d heard the Nitro girls were quite standoffish, but was surprised nonetheless.  Meh. Whatever. I was just here to have fun and work. We showered and headed to the arena by 1pm. First things being first, we were dying to check out what the ring was really like. All of us jumped around imitating wrestlers and did cartwheels for a few minutes like three dorks. It was harder, smaller and higher than it looks on TV. (Sounds like a bad porno description, huh?). The ropes (actually cable wrapped in rubber tubing) were very stiff. And the mats on the floor were pretty damn thin. In other words, I wouldn’t want to take a fall on this. My respect grew even  deeper.

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Another thing I noticed were that the wrestlers looked a lot healthier and leaner in person. Most were pretty cool and not much like the character they portray. I particularly liked Meng, Booker T, Buff Bagwell, Medusa, Asya and Bret Hart. Admittedly, it was sort of strange to see all these people who I’d been watching on TV for so long in person and being that down to earth. I mean, there I was, in the middle of the N.W.O. and working next to the legendary Terry Funk! After reading so much about him in “Have A Nice Day” (by Mick “Mankind/Cactus Jack” Foley – I highly recommend this book to everyone, even non wrestling fans will enjoy it) and seeing Bret Hart’s tape, it was very surreal. I even got to see Jimmy Snuka fly off the cage my very first night.      

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It came time to get into makeup. We had a pre-taping to do. The story was something along the lines of Steiner having a birthday and we were the ‘hoochies’ brought in as a set up to get him drunk and weaken him with good loving so he’d be too weak to win. All the backstage stuff you see is pretaped around 4 or 5pm before the show starts. We didn’t even have a script until shortly before that. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of show where they post the night’s matches on an erasable board in the back, and they seem to make it work.  (Kind of.) When the guys do get the script, they’re all in the hallway with the writers, working out last minute changes. Many ad lib live. It does take a lot of talent to memorize, spew, and pull off unrehearsed moves with another without much thought or time. And to do it LIVE. The arena was PACKED. I almost froze when I saw the amount of people I was to walk out in front of. All I could think was to not trip over the grate in high heels and I hope a boob didn’t fall out. I also couldn’t get over the amount of kids in the audience. As someone who has catered to a mostly adult 18-35 male audience in my varied careers, I found kids to be a little strange.

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Tylene, Kim and I were seriously given the once over in the back by some of the other girls. And on our first night, we were lucky enough to get quite a lot of airtime, something that increased the tension even more when we got back into the ladies locker room. If ya know what I mean…

When we left that night, we were giddy from having so much fun. Being the only girl from the northeast, I was elected the driver. The west coast girls (where I currently lived as well) weren’t used to the highway on ramps and aggressive drivers. Of course, I proceeded to get us extremely lost in downtown Buffalo. We decided to go the hotel restaurant for a drink and dinner. Apparently, so did everyone else. Fans and wrestlers alike. I was most impressed with Diamond Dallas Page and Buff. Both were hounded relentlessly for autographs all throughout dinner to the point where they couldn’t even eat. And both handled it graciously, signing every scrap and napkin placed before them. Even Tylene and I were stopped in the hotel hallways by a few guys and kids and asked to sign. I couldn’t believe it was starting that fast.

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The next day we got up early to start the drive to Erie, Pa. Hellish. Snow and ice held us back and we arrived an hour late. I asked around for the script, but no one had it yet. And no one could tell me what the plan was. When I explained my dilemma to someone, they just patted me on the shoulder and said, “Welcome to the WCW.” Kim had left her wallet at a rest stop somewhere along the way from New York and was freaking out. Believe it or not, a guy called the arena (she’d told him where she was headed when she asked for phone change) and drove the wallet all the way to her, with all her money in it. My faith in humanity was restored. Since I couldn’t find out what was going on, I sat in the arena, asked the crew questions and watched them set up for the night’s Thunder show. Did you know they have four different stage set ups, with a different ring for each? One for Nitro, Thunder, WCW Saturday Night shows and Pay Per Views. I found the backstage people very interesting, and realized most of the show ran as well as it does because of their time and expertise.

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We soon found out we weren’t in that night’s script. Damn. Hell and high water to get there, but no show time. Sort of like getting the roses, doing the foreplay, rolling on the condom and then being DENIED. Ah, well.

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Packed up again and headed out. Steiner, being a decent guy, helped us carry our bags. He seemed sort of bummed our bouncing breasts wouldn’t be making a second appearance on the show that evening. When we got to the garage, we found kids surrounded the building. I mean, SURROUNDED. Even from that far away, they spotted him and started screaming, “Steiner, Steiner!”

It’s fun playing a bouncing hoochie, but I hope they let me play something a little more badass and bitchy eventually. I know I have to work my way in and get my feet wet first, though.  But for me, I’d need more than just a paycheck to be happy here. I’d need to feel like it was a challenge or fun.  I’ve never been a “just a paycheck” kind of girl, so I hope this isn’t that kind of place.

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(As history proved, it sort of WAS that kind of place.)

You can read the entire series of WCW diaries here: http://www.AprilHunter.com

 

Chapter 10: There is no “I” in C*nt. But there is a “U”. Pt.2

11 May

Continued from Part 1: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/04/27/chapter-9-if-darryl-dies-we-all-riot-if-darryl-riots-we-all-die-pt-1/

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HorrorHound Comic, Pop Culture & Horror Convention

Cincinnati, March 22-24, 2013

The Ugly, The Bad & The Good

Day 3, Saturday: The alarm went off after what seemed like a short nap. Lying there, I realized that there is no ‘I’ in cunt. But there is a ‘U’. With that nugget of intelligence, I hauled myself out of bed for a god-awful hotel breakfast and even more tragic coffee. ‘Coffee’. I had a laborious makeup job to become Poison Ivy, a redheaded character from Batman. I was told spirit gum would hold the winged eye pieces on. They fucking lied. To my dismay, they kept peeling back. Out of desperation, I tried eyelash glue. This worked. So well, in fact, that it ripped part of my eyebrow off later that night when removing them.

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I’d found an artist on Etsy and had the Ivy outfit custom made when fans kept requesting me to do the character. Steven Griffey arrived, with a huge Starbucks skinny vanilla latte. Huge brownie points. HUGE. I’d met him in Indianapolis when he shot a model I knew. His photos are artsy and incredible, so I was really excited to work with him. (Stephen Griffey Photography-> https://www.facebook.com/StevenGriffeyPhotography?fref=ts )

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He set up a ‘studio’ in the room and clicked away. It was snowing green glitter from my costume everywhere. I’d worn the skirt kilt-style (without undies) to avoid lines, so I ended up with a glittery jay-jay. But, in a nutshell, the photo shoot kicked ass.

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The idea of emerging from the hotel wearing nearly nothing in 32F degree weather wasn’t thrilling. We headed to the convention a bit late and the line was wrapped around the building. “Hey, are you Poison Ivy?” Insert a new blonde joke here. I smiled and quipped, “Nope. Today I’m Jessica Rabbit.” Confused look. Jesus. Just go away. Or buy something. Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” clearly never dealt with people.

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I saw a variety of cameras…including the disposable film camera. “I bought the last one at WalMart before coming here.” Really? Did you find them next to the 8-track tape players and Betamax video recorders?

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There was a guy standing in front of my booth. “Hey, I was there the night that you and your roadie kicked that guys teeth in when you were doing a show at Alley Cats. I remember that clearly.” Holy shit. So did I. Touring as a burlesque act, it was a rather interesting career at times. “Were his teeth really kicked in? We didn’t stick around to find out.” “Oh, yeah. I was with that bachelor party. Hey, don’t feel bad…he deserved it.” Yes. He did. The ‘roadie’ – my ex husband – was a laid back soul. Not much ruffled him, and he let me handle my own issues. He knew I was much quicker to punch someone in the face and break their nose than he was…and, unlike him, I would get away with it. But we had a signal…and on that particular night, he’d been on edge with the wild group that had been seated at the stage. That is a whole ‘nother story, detailed in the Behind-The-Scenes Diary section on my site. (HERE-> www.AprilHunter.com)

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Two batman’s (batmen?), one cat woman, Bella Dementes the giant dirty nun and many smiling fans later, the convention ended. I had fun. Thank you so much to those who follow my twitter and newsletter.  Also, thank you to the fan who forwarded my info to www.WrestlingFigs.com. A little help from my friends never goes unappreciated.

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Here’s a little video diary from Saturday:

I had a shoot for the latex booth across the way after the show. They’d asked Steven Griffey if he would shoot me for their catalog, so we planned on doing the funky masks and jewelry after dinner. We headed out for Japanese restaurant, figuring it was a healthy choice.

When I got back to the hotel, my room looked like it a giant fairy had a party and left glitter dust everywhere. As I got ready to shoot, I realized too late that the food had been loaded with MSG. It causes me to puff like blowfish. I was pretty much ruined for the shoot, but we did our best to work around it and managed to get some neat shots the latex people liked.

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It was LATE, and I’d literally worked from 7 a.m. til midnight. I jumped into the shower and lazily decided to stick pink sponge rollers in my hair instead of blow drying it & crash in bed.

Day 4, Sunday:  I stumbled down to the office to grab Yucky Breakfast with no makeup and a head full of pink Grandma rollers. The room had been empty on the previous day, but was bustling that morning, packed with fans and vendors. SHIT. I tried to shrink inside myself and go unnoticed.

Nobody look at me, nobody look at me, nobody–“Hey, April!” Crap. Everyone turned; Nik was calling out to me. I waved and ducked out.

I packed for my check-out and then added a stolen pillow into my bag. Lovely Single Girl Apartment desperately needed it. On second thought, I unzipped the bag and threw in a blanket, too. For what they were charging for these rooms and the terrible quality of coffee and breakfast,  they should give us pillows out as a consolation prize.

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Sunday was fairly uneventful at the con other than signing and selling a lot of new Stripper Vikings. People love dirty comics, especially this one. It was also Stupid Question-less. I walked around and snagged some photos. The car from Christine..pet a duck…admired some quirky and gruesome art…said hello to Rhino. He told me he’d quit caffeine. Clearly, he’s more man than I’ll ever be, because I rely heavily on it.

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After looking back on the slew of snapshots I took posing with others, I apparently like to do that “ooh, yeah!” thing with my hand in most of them. Not sure what that was all about. Maybe I was trying to pull in more energy.

Unfortunately, the money in sales for all three days added up to what I normally make on just a Saturday at other shows. That was exactly what I’d been afraid would happen. There are times when I really hate being right…this was one of them. While it’s GREAT that so many fans support independent artists, movies and music, I think things would have be happier for all if there was more organization involved.

I’d also missed a Shine Wrestling iPPV (where I was involved in a hot story line  and a Slammin Ladies custom videotaping for this and I could have earned the same amount staying home.

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But I would not have gotten to see friends and done kick ass photo shoots. So, hey. Speaking of, Joe arrived and we hit the road for Louisville before the predicted snowstorm hit.

He entertained me with this story: “So, I was in the men’s room washing my hands. The dryer wouldn’t turn on. I waved my hands in front of it…nothing. I waved them again, no luck. So, then I stepped back and waved them under it one more time, wondering if it was broken. It still wouldn’t come on. Suddenly I realized it was one of those dryers that I had to push the button to turn on. Geez. This is what technology is turning us into.”

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142 lbs of luggage lugged back up the creaky stairs. Evidently, I sold 8 lbs of DVD’s and photos. I tried to calculate in my head exactly how many photos would make up 8 lbs…but after a few hours sleep over the course of three days I couldn’t figure out jack shit.

Eat. Shower. Bed. I snuggled down with my newly stolen comforts in the chilly apartment. Until I remembered I had to get up and go out into the front hallway to shut off the only bedroom light. Balls.

Day 5, Monday:  The newly acquired pillow made life just a little bit sweeter. Translation: it was exceedingly difficult to get up early for a photo shoot.

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Hotaru is one of my favorite photographers. She’s a stunning half Japanese, half Filipino former model herself with a fun attitude. Very easy to work with. I’ve always enjoyed shooting with model-photographers. Julie Strain was probably the most well-known that I worked with. She would shoot me topless, barefoot and in boxer shorts…then throw a wig on and jump in for photos herself. (I appear in a couple arty coffee table books she published.) Former models tend to create differently from male photographers. Sadly for YOU, Hotaru kept all her clothes on.

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Freezing floors. Filthy stairs. Dirty door jams. Anything for art. We created some cool stuff. Everything I am has been created from NOTHING. Photos, video, comics, matches, writing, my site…it only exists because I created it. It’s one of the things that I love that about my career. Made In America! Buy American! I do – as much as I can. From buying my costumes to having my hair done in a privately owned hair salon, I put it right back into our economy. It’s extremely appreciated when those of you who are fans purchase anything from me, and it truly matters.

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I knocked a few custom videos out and then I was done. Ahhh. Sitting on the comfortable red ottoman, trying to relax, I still had that “I need to be somewhere or be doing something with my time” feeling.

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After thinking hard about everything, I emailed a very honest letter to Horror Hound, telling them how disappointed I was with the lack of professional courtesy. Then I asked Nik if he knew any others shows in his area, figuring that people hate honesty when it’s pointed at them, so I should probably find other work options. That’s something else I really enjoy about being my career: the freedom of having the option to say, “you should have handled that better” and going somewhere else to work. If I had all my eggs in one basket, I would literally be a basket case. It doesn’t exactly offset the lack of benefits, non-existent health insurance or long hours working without weekends or holidays, but there are a few upsides.

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Joe picked me up and we headed over the one of the best Indian restaurants in the entire world, Dakshin. It’s the Indian place where Indians eat, located in…Louisville, KY. Go figure.  I won’t eat in ethnic places where their own people aren’t present. It’s a bad sign to go into a Japanese place and not see a single Asian. We had a hard earned naan-tastic cheat meal. Their slogan is “Try us once and be ours forever.” It’s true. It’s damn true. (Dakshin -> http://www.mydakshin.com/)

Day 6, Tuesday: Five days without exercise guilted me into bundling up for a walk. With cutting wind, it literally felt colder than Canada did at Christmas. I walked around the University of Louisville campus, ran stairs and then made my way over to Quills Coffee for a cappuccino and Hunter S. Thompson quotes. “Let’s get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?” Hunter was from Louisville (and one half of my namesake). This is the thing Louisvillians; they will always let you know who is from there. And fairly quickly, as if clawing for the recognition they deserve but don’t quite receive. Abraham Lincoln. Larry Flynt. Tom Cruise. Muhammad Ali. Thomas Edison. Diane Sawyer. I hear it’s a now legal obligation for every Louisville resident to see all Jennifer Lawrence films…punishable by death. Kentucky has given us a little common sense and a whole lot of crazy. Crazy makes the world more interesting. “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” I wonder who said that…and where he was from.

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After years of driving by the consistently incomplete bridge to Indiana from Kentucky, it was finally open to walk. And I wanted to before I left. As in, it was on my Bucket List. Not high up mind you. It wasn’t ranked like ‘cruise to Barcelona’, ‘speak Spanish flawlessly’, ‘walk the Great Wall of China’, ‘live in a tree house’, ‘buy a mountain cabin or tiny Lovely Apartment with nothing around’ or ‘eat a snail’.  It was more on the level with seeing an IMAX movie. (The Hobbit! I finally went this year!) Nonetheless, it was on the list. After several not-so-subtle nagging texts, a couple of the artists from Open Gallery came over, scooped me up and we all proceeded to freeze our asses off for the walk. Music blared at the halfway point. It was pretty neat. I always thought the bridge views into Louisville were stunning. I also think the artists took  me so I’d leave them alone. 😉

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Back to the Lovely Apartment for my final night of solitude and more carb-gasmic Dakshin Indian food.  I was exhausted, but also felt happy and accomplished. I loved all of what I did: the con, shoots, who I worked with, seeing fans, visiting friends…so nothing was a burden.

Day 7, Wednesday: I scrubbed up Lovely Apartment and fluffed up Stolen Pillow. Thank you, my friend. Enjoy your new home. 142 pounds of luggage down three flights of stairs. Airport. A solid frisking courtesy by TSA without so much as a kiss. Oddly enough, I flew out of the other gate I used to visit Mom from. Landing in Tampa. Straight to the gym. That is all.

I know it’s hard to believe, but the Horror Hound email was never replied to. Shocker, huh?

Perhaps it’s the situation of bad convention once, shame on you. Bad convention twice, shame on me.

A huge thank you to Open Gallery! If you’re in the Louisville area, be sure to check out this little art gallery gem!

 

See Part 1: If Darryl Dies, We All Riot – https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/04/27/chapter-9-if-darryl-dies-we-all-riot-if-darryl-riots-we-all-die-pt-1/

Chapter 8: Staying Motivated To Workout!

5 Apr

(This was originally written and published for RxMuscle.com)

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If It Was Easy To Look Good…Everyone WOULD.

Baby, it’s COLD outside!

Some days the hardest part of working out is getting out the front door.  Fifty percent of Americans quit their workout program within a year of starting.  HALF! That’s a lot of quitters! To make sure you remain a non-quitter, here are some motivational tips to help you get your rear in gear during cold weather.

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Kick It Up To HIGH GEAR…

– Sometimes it’s liberating to tackle your workout first thing in the morning and get it done for the day. Tip: Trick your clock by setting it 20 minutes ahead and lay your gym clothes out the night before.  (hardcore peeps even sleep in theirs.)  

Not a morning person? Pack a gym bag and treat it like part of your job. If it’s in your scheduled appointments each day, you’ll go.

-Find the good reasons. Bikini season? A photo shoot? A genetic history of heart disease or diabetes?  Better Facebook photos? Find the reasons WHY you want to lean down and remind yourself every morning.

-Squash Cheating While Out. If you don’t want to be tempted while out at a restaurant by something like bread or fries, ask them not to bring it to the table. If they do, ruin it quickly by dumping half a shaker of salt or something equally as vile  all over it. Temptation squashed.

-Use fear and guilt for GOOD. Guilt is generally a wasted emotion unless you can use it to gain something positive. In this case, fear and guilt are powerful tools.  Fear of getting fat. Guilt for cutting out early on cardio. Use that to do better tomorrow.

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-Naked Reality. The reality is most of us could look better naked. Turn on all the lights, strip down nude— and jump up and down in front of the mirror.  If anything shakes other than your “bits”, you can lose bodyfat. Mirrors don’t  lie. Or, EAT NAKED. If you’re letting it all hang out while eating, you’ll be very aware of what’s not covered up.

-Get a workout partner…or hire a trainer. You’re less likely to blow off a training session if you know someone’s waiting for you or you’re paying for it.

Tip: Hang out with fitness-minded people. Their good habits tend to rub off on you. Search online if you want to venture out of your comfort zone. Meetup.com is great for activities like group walks, Mommy fitness classes, hiking & mountain bike excursions, salsa dancing, park yoga, boot camp, pole dancing…

-Add some new kick ass tunes to your ipod/mp3 player. You may love Coldplay or Clapton, but in the gym, fast paced dance music or heavy rock work wonders.

Set multiple small goals. A monthly goal, a by-your-birthday goal, a yearly goal, a competition goal…whatever they may be, they’ll keep you going forward.

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-Keep a training & diet journal.  Record your gym activity. Try to beat last week’s log, even if it’s by just one rep, one pound or one minute.

Related Article –  Weird Foods: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/02/14/weird-foods/

-Treat yourself!  Invest in some new gym clothes.  Get that cute low-cut Lululemon top or those skin tight Brazilian flared pants. The better you look, the better you’ll feel.  I’ve also found that grabbing a few fitness magazines is inspiring. Not only are the photos motivational, but new articles and recipes are always helpful.

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-Recognize your progress. Date & record your weight and measurements. Check it every 2 weeks. If you’re down in pounds and/or inches, you’re going to become even more encouraged.  Once you get to a certain point, donate your loose clothing to charity. Let someone else wear your fat pants.

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-Change things up. Remember when you were a kid and exercise was FUN? Try another gym, some classes or sign up for boot camp.  Belly dancing, stripper pole, Zumba or hot yoga can be amazing workouts. How about ice skating or pond hockey for cardio? Find things you LIKE.

-Make an inspirational photo wall. When I’m dieting, I’ll often rip out a few photos of women that inspire me and magnet them to my fridge.  Whether it’s Ava Cowens’ washboard abs or Erin Sterns  rock hard butt,  these photos are constant reminders of what I can look like if I keep doing what I’m doing.

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-Go to a local fitness show or convention. There’s nothing quite like being in the middle of it all to light a fire under your ass. Check the SCHEDULE page on RxMuscle.com (http://www.rxmuscle.com/contest-schedules.html  ) or the NPC site (http://npcnewsonline.com/contestdates.cfm )   for shows near you.  In Canada:  http://www.cbbf.ca/events.asp )

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-Change your attitude.  If you can’t change your situation, you CAN change how you see it. Decide to view your workouts differently.  At the end of the day, remember that you’re doing this for no one other than yourself.  No one can work out for you, and no one will enjoy the benefits of your  sweat BUT you. Sometimes you may not receive the encouragement that you’d like from family or friends. But this is your life, your body, and your chance to make yourself happy.

You’re out the front door. The hard part is already behind you. Now, go WORK your BEHIND!

 

Thanks for reading! I love getting feedback  & ideas, so please check out  http://www.AprilHunter.com & follow me on http://www.Twitter.com/AprilHunter

-April Hunter

Professional Wrestler, Pinup Centerfold & National Figure Athlete

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

Related Article – Weird Foods: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/02/14/weird-foods/

 

FEEL.

9 Jan

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Winter grey beach.

Step gingerly into the soft ocean. January icy water. Pain.

It’s not enough.

 

Among the beautiful shells and soft sand are cigarette butts.

Bottles.

Then, a sand castle.

A reminder that children are better than the slobs who raise them.

But won’t they too grow up to be slobs? Ignorant cunts playing music too loud, refusing to move out of the passing lane, bringing 18 grocery items into 10-or-Less and carelessly leaving cigarette butts and bottles on beautiful beaches?

We are disgusting.

We are parasites.

Over breeding.

Thinking only of ourselves.

Ruining the beautiful host we live off.

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I choose a path broken shells to walk on. They cut into my feet, and I am aware of every single step I take.

This is why we  asphyxiate for orgasm.

Pierce ourselves.

Cheat on those who love us.

Slice into our arms and leave scars.

Steal.

Race cars.

Fuck in public.

We want to feel.

Shell cuts my foot. Sit down on the rocks.

The blood waits, then flows. It matches my chipped red toenail polish. Instead of crying out, I’m fascinated. I feel.

 

Constructive. Destructive.

We  all have the same choices.

Ruin our lives, our credit, our careers.

Or skydive. Salsa dance. Scuba. Visit a country that won’t speak our language. Try new food. Give.

 

Then…there are None Of The Above.

They do nothing. Live in monotony. Live in fear.

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Never trying for dreams. Maybe they ruin dreams for others.

Dead while alive.

Fucking pathetic.

A complete waste of space. Their lungs breathe air into an empty soul.

 

“I’m bored.”  This is not possible.

There is so much to enjoy, see, taste and learn.

What is meant to be said is: “I am boring.”

 

Seagulls screech overhead, the waves hit the rocks, the blood trickles down.

I breathe deep the salty air.

Feel the chilly sand.

I feel.

I am Alive. 

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

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

15 Dec

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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/