A Letter to My Younger Self…Or, to You.

It’s my birthday on Monday. I’m grateful to those who are part of my life and you who make it better. You know who you are. 🙂As I’ve gotten older (and I am older than I look, I think), I’ve realized that relationships matter more than money. That’s probably the primary lesson I’ve learned and I used to choose work over everything else. Here are some more valuable lessons I wish I’d known if you want to benefit from my plethora of mistakes: 

(Then again, I don’t know if I would’ve listened had someone told me. I dunno. Hindsight…)

1. Listen to all sides. There are always more sides than yours. 

2. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you’ll get. 

3. People over politics. Always. Never lose someone over how they vote. It’s fucking stupid. Dump them over being a negative asshole, a liar, or a shitty person. But not for how they vote. 

4. Speaking of, sometimes people act strangely because they’re dealing with something or have a mental disorder – diagnosed or not. Patience and finding out where they’re coming from and HOW to talk with them can help. 

5. Skincare! Satin pillowcase, always moisturize and use sunscreen. 

 

6. Showering before bed saves time in the morning. 

7. Don’t work out or wrestle if you’re hurt or sick. There’s nothing to prove. 

8. ZINC and Vit D! Not Vit C for colds. It’s ZINC, D and sovereign silver.

9. It’s all about pets & plants. 

10. Not having kids works out fine. We’ll see about in the end. The jury’s out on that one. 

11. You’ll never have a healthy relationship if you’re not a healthy, whole person. No one “completes you” and you will not complete anyone. Worst fucking line in cinematic history. Best line: “May The Force Be With You.”  

12. There’s no crying in baseball. Or, wrestling. 

13. Free speech includes the word “fuck”. Get over it. No one is slapping your baby. 

 

14. You CAN choose your family. In modern times, traditional ideas of marriage and family are somewhat outdated. Partners are actually partners and friends can be family. The true meaning of “Blood is thicker than water”: those who spill blood & battle together are tighter than anyone, including family. It was meant for warriors and soldiers, but hell…life is a battle.

15. Dirty laundry belongs in the wash, not on Facebook. (Oh, and when you publicly post how much you love your significant other, we all know exactly how badly that relationship is going. We also know that if you post about nothing other than politics, you kinda have no life.) 

16. Complaining is far easier than changing. Most people are fine with being average. The majority of us don’t LIVE, we exist. 

17. Happiness is a choice, not a right. It’s how we choose to see things. 

 

18. You are not too old, and it is not too late. 

19. Don’t listen to what others say. Listen to your gut. 

20. You get ONE SHOT at life. Do things, go places. Travel is the best education you can give yourself. Every little choice you make today will affect tomorrow…your future…from what you’re eating for lunch, to how you treat your mom, to choosing a job you don’t love because you have money fears…to karma if you steal music or model’s photos from her site. (Yeah…that might be why your car was broken into.)

22. WALK. Every day. Even if you don’t feel like it. 

23. WWYD. What Would You Do? Treat people the way you want them to treat YOU. When in doubt, default to that. 

 

24. Respect is earned, not given. And if someone wastes 10 minutes of your time, 7 minutes is YOUR fault. Stand up for your damn self. 

25. Make decisions based on love, not fear. If you chose fear, you’ll pay for it with a shitty life. 

26. Be honest. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s horrible. Say what you mean, mean what you say. 

27. Manners and courtesy go a LONG WAY. (People are afraid of anger. Took me a while to learn the anger one. Still learning about it.) 

 

28. Do not drive slow (or the speed limit) in the passing lane. Which is the left lane in the USA. Many of you do not know this is a law. MANY OF YOU. And for fucks sake, use your turn signal. (Also a law.) We don’t have ESP and you are not on the roads all by yourself.  (This isn’t a lesson I learned on my own. It’s one my dad taught me.)

 

29. Tell people you love them (if you do.) They die suddenly, and you may never have the chance. 

30. Forgive assholes. You don’t have to forget…just forgive. Most of the time, it’s for you, not for them. 

31. There’s a massive difference between reacting and responding. ALSO: No one can make you FEEL anything. Your feelings are your own. If you DECIDE not to get upset, angry, care or bothered by it…you won’t. BOOM. Just like that.  

Ps. Expectation is premeditated disappointment. Want something? ASK FOR IT. 

32. Best advice I ever got: Never keep your meds on the counter. Put them into a box and keep them in the cabinet. Seeing your pills all the time is a mental cockblock. You are not A Sick Person, you are a PERSON who just happens to also be sick. Don’t let it affect your aspirations.

33. a. God helps those who help themselves. Thoughts and prayers are nice (if useless for the most part) but DOING something is BETTER. If you don’t believe in God, same thing applies. Verbs make life move forward. 

b. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Yeah…I dunno about that one. Might be bullshit. But you can handle more than you think. Sometimes, you just have to tell everyone around you “no” until you get where you need to be.

34. No matter how stunning someone is on the outside, they can get ugly and unattractive REAL fast.  It happens the other way around, too. Less physically attractive people can become very beautiful. 

35. Sometimes the line between bravery and stupidity is gossamer thin.

36. Sex is natural. Nudity is natural. Having emotions is natural. Wanting to be loved is natural. These aren’t things to ever feel shame or embarrassment for. 

37. I know I’ll continue to learn something new every day.  

Got advice? Let’s hear it.

Xo. 

-Me

“There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

 

 

 

If you want to spoil me for my birthday, here is a link to my Amazon Wishlist. Xo! #SpoilYourGinger!

http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw … … via @amazon

 

 

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Chapter 21: A Southwest Air Stalking

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?

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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.

“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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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.

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

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Chapter 11: Missed Moments…

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We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we always remember how they make us FEEL. 

Sometimes someone will come into our lives when we need them the most. Even if it’s just for a fleeting moment. One such situation comes to mind…there’s not much to the story and it doesn’t have a lot of substance BUT it changed my life. Or rather, my outlook on life.

I met a man in Japan once. He lived in China. He was slim and athletic with a strikingly handsome face, fun sense of humor and dark eyes that were almost black.

Half Mexican, half Anglo, he was a stuntman in the Japanese movie I was there to film. We were paired so he could train me for some intensive martial arts, and as the only two people there who spoke fluent English we ended up talking quite a bit after the longs days were done.

When you’re in a foreign country and you find someone you can talk to after days or weeks of exhausting broken English and hand-gesture communications, it’s not uncommon to open up about things you wouldn’t normally talk about like a dam that’s burst. Just like how much easier it is to spend foreign cash, because it doesn’t feel like ‘real money’. Perhaps you speak freely it’s because you think you’ll never see these people again.

I was at a very low period in my life about many things, and he showed me another way of looking my situation. One of which was my age; hitting thirty and still chasing a dream, wondering if I should be opting for the ‘American Dream’ of having babies, stability and house of my own instead.

He said something like this: “The people who do have all of that think YOUR life is far more interesting. Age is just a number. My mom had me at 40, I was her first child. I know someone else who had her first baby at 44. No issues. So don’t stress.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  Live your life.”

In a nutshell, that was it.

And, it was profound. As a female having to choose whether to continue pursuing a crazy career or stop and have children…going home to America…feeling like a failure for not having the house with a white picket fence…the way he spoke to me about our societies’ narrow way of thinking opened up my mind.

One night after training, he called me at my hotel in Shinjuku and we chatted for hours. He invited me to visit where he was currently staying in Tokyo, giving me the complicated train instructions. I was in the midst of a bad relationship back in America that would soon end terribly. That was part of why I was staying in Japan so long; for a much-needed breather. I said I’d see how I felt and let him know.

It was getting late. I looked up the train schedule; there were only a couple left that evening. I sat on the edge of my bed and watched the clock tick.  

And I sat.

The last train pulled out of the station.

I called him back, saying I didn’t feel well.  

A lie.

I was afraid. Because I really liked him.

He was one of the most positive people I’d ever met. I left Japan and stayed in touch with him via email, but eventually, life got busy for both of us & we lost touch.
We had never so much as hugged, but for many years, I thought about him.  His love for life. How much his outlook had personally affected me.

What IF.

Regrets vs. remorse. Regret is for something you did. Remorse is felt for something you did NOT do.

I always felt that I’d missed the boat. Literally and figuratively.  I think he would have been good for me, and I could have learned from him. I’ve made a lot of bad choices in relationships and have created monstrous turmoil in my personal life. I think my career would have gone better had I a more stable or positive home life. I promised myself not to ever let that train leave again.

We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we always remember how they make us FEEL. In this case, I remembered both.

 

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I later found him on Facebook and finally got the chance to tell him how grateful I was for his advice & how it changed me. He remembered us hanging out, but had no idea he’d told me all of that or how I’d been affected. I was happy to have the opportunity to thank him…and still have him as a friend.

Chapter 9: If Darryl Dies, We All Riot. Part 1

If Darryl Dies, We All Riot. If Darryl Riots, We All Die.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Shows & Shoots.

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The ‘Ugly’ – Pre-Show:

On a pretense of working the Horror Hound convention, I decided to hit the road for a week. I really just wanted to do something fun, make a little money, shoot something artsy and see friends. Cincinnati was a new venue for HH and close to Louisville, so it all came together pretty nicely.

Except for the actual dealing-with-the-convention part.

“Are you sure you’re going to be in Cincinnati? It’s not on their site.”  After several of these emails from fans and only a month to go, I started to contact HH, asking if they needed anything else from me since I still wasn’t being advertised. 

I’d appeared on many other Horror Hound conventions before, so I was surprised that I had a very hard time dealing with whoever was running this show. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, since the fan reviews were pretty harsh and a few regulars I know of that work the show gave up trying to get in touch with them. This is a shame, because the convention looked spectacular. The lineup of guests was absolutely stellar. After being booked several months ahead of time through Pickle Press, my comic book company, I still wasn’t listed as a guest on the HH site. Eight emails, seven tweets and three weeks later, they finally added me – to the vendor page. You know – the page no one looks at other than the vendors. More emails ensued. I got a curt reply telling me they’d been busy with their Horror Hound magazine and “being on the site at ALL is a privilege.”

I recoiled, because I’d never heard anything so inane. Really? Don’t people still pay a good chunk of money to get in? So I wondered if it was personal. That’s the only thing I could possibly think of that would elicit such a stupid, smug comment. I asked, and was assured that it was not personal. I did not buy a table, so I was completely clueless as to why I’d be listed on a vendor page instead of with the others who also earn a living in FRONT of a camera.

Frustrated, I worried that investing a lot of time and my own money into this trip  to work with my comic book company wasn’t going to be worth it. Sometimes the bigger the show, the less worthwhile it becomes because fans exhaust themselves on the huge names.

Wizard World.  Chiller Theatre. GlamourCon. Con-Tamination. Every other Horror Hound convention I’ve ever worked…no one had a problem adding guests to their site since the general modus operandi is to bring in every last fan you can over the span of a single weekend. And, website additions don’t cost a dime.

I normally try not to say too much about bad experiences, but this is how fucktarded it was dealt with – especially since I should have been listed with my co-worker Rhino. We were the ONLY two wrestlers on the convention in what is a pro wrestling heartland. Since I used to tour in that area and hadn’t been back in a while, I was especially annoyed but figured I’d advertise it on my own and hope for the best. (That turned out to be mostly fruitless. My free weekly newsletter tops out at 11,000 subscribers before kicking people off…my Twitter is around 17,500. Facebook is 6,000. Yet for some reason, most people either don’t read or don’t pay attention to anything other than the actual show advertisement listing.)

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THIS is why it bothered me:

When I’m brought in for conventions, situations vary depending upon the show. Usually some (or all) of my expenses are covered by the promoter or vendor and I’m paid a guarantee. For Horror Hound, I eat my expenses because I’m working with my comic book guys to promote ourselves, our books and Pickle Press (HERE-> http://pickle-press.livejournal.com/). It’s a very small budget. We have fun and I’ve always done well enough in sales with being advertised that it’s been worth it. HH is fully aware of this, so that’s why I’m so upset about how unprofessionally it was handled.

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I’d love to have an agent who dealt with this kind of thing, but I’ve never been able to find one who can book me better than I can book myself. I stay busy and handle everything myself as far as shoots, shows and conventions, so that’s why I get to deal with more bullshit than most entertainers are subjected to.  I’m also pretty sure it’s why I’m crazier. Quite frankly, with running two sites, several social networks, doing video and photo editing, writing assignments, bookings, emails to return, shoots to plan and traveling to book…I don’t feel like dealing with the petty stuff. Paying someone a percentage would be VERY worth it if you can find one with real contacts who will actually work for you.

The lack of business sense and professionalism in money making situations never ceases to amaze me with its arrogance and stupidity.

Enough complaining. I could only hope it all worked out.

The ‘Bad’ – Day 1, Thursday:    

The plan: Fly into Louisville, drive to Cincy, work myself ragged over the course of the weekend, then head back to KY to stay a few extra days visiting friends. Because I was staying a week, working a convention, doing photo shoots AND there was still a need for heavy clothing, I had three grossly excessive bags.

Flight delay. I decided to track down food during the interim. A guy sat across from me. “I like your hair color. What did you do to your knee?”

Sigh. I’d been hacking away at a bun-less Nathans hot-dog  since it was the only low-carb, sugar-free, dairy-free protein I could find in the airport. I hate telling people what I do. I wear my knee brace to pre-board on Southwest since it tends to act up from traveling, I get to board first AND it’s pretty much the only perk of being a beat up pro wrestler. This allows me to get on the left side of the plane thus avoiding drink carts and being seated between two 400 pounders. Neither of which is good for knees.

I forced a smile, made polite chatter and then excused myself to find a charging station. Sitting at the same gate I used to call Mom from to tell her I was on my way every other week for over a year…you just don’t realize the habits you’ve formed until they’re not there any longer. It felt weird. Empty. I hadn’t flown much since she’d died a few months earlier, so I haven’t really been back to this terminal. I was so exhausted for her final year and a half, but I would give a hell of a lot for just one more trip.

Mom would sometimes come to the airport with my uncle, or wait at the window and excitedly throw open the door before I’d gotten out of the car. Hugging me with a big smile and an alarmingly frail body, she’d attempt to grab one of my bags. I’d laugh and hand her the little carry-on knapsack I keep my travel pillow in. That would satisfy her. This was always how it happened.

-Except for that last time.

It’s funny how you miss the strangest of things. The unapparent. The little routines. I could always find her in the airport pretty quickly because she dressed in bright colors. Mom loathed dark colors (“They’re depressing,” she’d say, wrinkling her nose)…and that’s pretty much all I usually wore when I traveled. It was easy to mix and match. Everything went with black. I began rooting through my drawers to pack purples, blues, reds and pinks for those trips just to make her happy.

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Random visions hit me out of nowhere. For her entire life, Mom had planned to donate her organs when she died and was devastated to learn that she couldn’t due to having been through so much chemotherapy. I can still see her eyes sadden when she told me everything in her was poisoned.

Friends text. My phone doesn’t ring anymore. I have no one to call. My Gram had just died six months before Mom did. Grandmom was a night person like I am, so I’d call her every evening to chat about nothing. She was nearly housebound without much going on, so I’d either ask her about her stories growing up during the Depression or we’d play a game. “What are you doing tonight?” “Oh, I’m going dancing,” she’d say. “Are you? Did you get new shoes?” “Oh, yes…I found gorgeous stilettos.” And so on. I got Mom started on the game. It was a funnier version because the chemo made her a bit loopy.

Me:  “Whatcha doing? Going to a party?” Her:  “Oh yes!”

Me: “Who is your date?” Her: “I met a tall, handsome man at the bank last week.”

Me: “Oh, nice! What are you wearing?”

Her: “A red dress. With ruching.” Me: “‘Rooshing?’  I thought it was ‘rucking’.”

Her: “Oh we’ll be fucking. Definitely.”

See where I get my fun side from?

There was no one else left. I looked down at my head-to-toe black travel clothing. I hid in the charging station, dabbing at tears that kept welling up, letting my hair fall around my face to hide. Most of my friends were polite about it all, but no one seemed to take an interest in how I was really doing (not well) or understand the sheer exhaustion of running a business out of Florida and traveling every other week to Philadelphia to take care of my dying family. This was a bit of a shock since everyone in Philly had been going above and beyond in being supportive. The absolute worst feeling in the world: When you can’t fix someone you love no matter how desperately you want to. When you are helpless to do anything other than watch them suffer and die.

People I thought would be there for me weren’t exactly going out of their way to cheer me up back in Tampa, other than Jordan, who was really great the entire time. At home I’d reach for the phone to call Mom…then the split second gutting reminder that I could not do that any longer would hit, and I’d crumble. Each occasion was spent with the ever-present knowledge lurking in the back of your head that this will be the last. The last Christmas. The last birthday. The last Easter. The last Mothers Day…what can you do, other than make it as much fun as possible and take lots of pictures? And that’s what I have left. Memories and pictures. Somehow, it’s not quite enough.

 

The ‘Good’ – I arrived in beautiful Louisville. I’ve had several places I’m happy to call home. Philly, Boston, Alabama, Tampa, Louisville. I’d missed it here. I’d thought Kentucky would be just a brief stop for a year, and ended up staying for four. It stole my heart and I love going back.

My friend, Joe Mays (Here -> https://www.facebook.com/AlienTwilightPhotography?fref=ts ), a photographer of the erotic and artistic nature, had arranged for me to stay at a “visiting artist apartment”.  Located on the top floor of a house found in the historical district, it was an adorable little place. Gorgeous, really. A cozy third floor walkup (carrying 149 lbs of luggage up protesting, creaky stairs) which opened up to hardwood floors and huge ceiling windows with a breathtaking view. There was a tiny single bed, an even tinier bathroom, a plush red ottoman and a record player with a stack of vinyl ranging from Michael Jackson to Nina Simone.

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Cheap But Honest Plug: Open Gallery – (Here-> https://www.facebook.com/thegalleryisOPEN?fref=ts ) a hot new gallery that just opened on Floyd Street near Papa John’s in Louisville was rapidly becoming known for its art showings with cocktails, live music and scantily clad models. They house their artists, which enable those who reside there to work part time, allowing them to have more time to spend on creating. Brilliant, yes? I highly recommend a visit.

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The lovely apartment was Allison’s (Here-> https://www.facebook.com/rodney.paintings ), a pretty, redheaded artist from Alabama. (Yes, we grow on trees down there.) She had stocked the refrigerator with coffee creamer, eggs, apples, almonds and cans of starbucks double-shot coffee. The place had a neat energy to it…exactly what my fragile mentality and soul needed at the moment. Warm, pretty, solitude. I’m one of those weirdo’s who loves being alone. I always wanted to buy something like this in a city to have on the side as a retreat.

Day 2, Friday: The Lovely Apartment had very few electrical sockets, half of which worked and a dodgy heating system that roasted you alive. Icicles set in between blasts. The bathroom wasn’t heated and was so narrow; you had to turn sideways to pee in order to fit. Plus, there was just one sad, deflated pillow. But the view of the city was amazing and the coffee pot worked. Joe arrived to collect me. My 149 pounds of luggage and I clunked down the three flights of stairs and onward to Cincinnati after a brief stop at Waffle House, of course. Everything is better after scrambled eggs.

I checked into the hotel and lost my key in approximately 18 seconds flat…a record, even for me. In the time it took to walk from the office to the car, it vanished faster than prom dress at midnight.

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I re-keyed, changed into a little black strapless dress and headed over to Horror Hound. I’d wanted to say hello to Norman Reedus whom I’d met several times at various conventions over the last few years. Being a huge fan of the show, I wanted to see if I could a get a photo with some of the other Walking Dead actors, like “Herschel”. I figured it might be best to do that before the insanity hit. Not realizing to what extent that Norman had become The Man, I also didn’t realize how hard it would be to just say a quick hello. Luckily, the staff pushed me to the front of the line, his agent knew me and I got to chat with him for a couple of minutes. His wait time would be so incredibly long; he’d end up staying until 1 a.m. every night to finish signing for all who had waited. I observed him hugging kids, patiently retaking photos that didn’t turn out and chatting amiably with fans. Star status had clearly not gone to his head. His female fans, Dixons Vixens, had signs that said “If Darryl Dies, We All Riot. If Darryl Riots, We All Die.”

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Most of the others weren’t there yet or were still filtering in wearing dark glasses and baseball hats to avoid getting mobbed, so my fangirl moment came to an abrupt halt. I’d be working wit some of The Walking Dead cast on the Mid Texas Comic Con on May 4 & 5 (HERE –> Please note how excellently they advertise all the guests!  http://www.centexexpo.com/index.html ), so I could be a fangirl then. Joe wanted a photo with John Carpenter, so we took one together. (They Live, ya know.) Carpenter, didn’t seem quite as cheerful. Michael Madsen, on the other hand, was always smiling.

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I would have loved to have spent more time walking around and saying hi, but I felt obligated to get back to my booth. It was nearly 5 p.m. and the doors would be opening to the public. On the way out of the room, a chorus of people said, “April! You dropped something!” Indeed, my pass was on the floor. I laughed and waved. “Thank you!”

“Hey,” hollered a guy in line. “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” Sigh.”Yep, come see me later!”

I shouldn’t have bothered rushing back, since the line to get in stretched around the parking lot. Fans stood outside in freezing temperatures for 2-4 hours (then queued inside for autographs another 2-3 hours).

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Many waited only to be turned away at the door, as passes had sold out. Nearly everyone I talked to drove quite far to attend because of the amazing caliber of guests brought in.

I was joined at the table by my haiku and dirty comic book writing friend Nik, along with his sharp witted wife for the weekend. Plus one of my favorite artists in the entire world, Jay Fife.

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Stripper Viking 2 debuted (Here-> http://www.aprilhunter.com/store/), as did Jay’s new Scooby Doo “Daphne”  print (Here-> https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jay-E-Fife-Illustration/215290038586) and both were wicked NEAT.

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Our section of the convention remained empty until about 8 pm. A blonde stopped by and admired my 8×10’s. “These are really cool pictures. Are you in any of them?” The entire table snickered. Insert dumb blonde joke here…maybe along the lines of “all redheads look alike.” As we were cleaning up to leave at 10 pm, a PA blared announcing that HH was staying open an extra hour. I had a photo shoot early in the morning before the convention, so I groaned. I also groaned over the handfuls of people who stopped short at my booth and exclaimed, “April Hunter! I didn’t—“

“Yeah, I know. I’m here.” Thanks, HH.

“Yeah! If I had, I would have brought the WEW DVD I have.” Awesome! Maybe I’ll sign it when I’m back in the area again-in two years. I don’t like to work a certain area more often than that. Meanwhile – get yer ass on my newsletter. It’s free. HERE: -> http://bit.ly/ahnewsletter Or twitter (@AprilHunter). Or my facebook (AprilHunterOfficial).  Because I’m really good about letting people know when “I’m going to be there.”

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My freshly issued key didn’t work.

FOR FUCKS SAKE.

I walked for what felt like a half mile to the front office with hurting feet in whore clothes lugging my huge bag of shit in 34F degree weather. Somehow, I managed to be nice when I got there. Yay, me. This trip is full of firsts.

(TO BE CONTINUED HERE: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/05/11/chapter-10-there-is-no-i-in-cnt-but-there-is-a-u-pt-2/

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

A birth certificate shows that you were born.

A death certificate shows that you died.

But pictures show that you LIVED.

Photography:  Definition – Writing with light.

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

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

Here are a few of my favorites…

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

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

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

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Pregnancy pictures are something I truly enjoy capturing.

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Philly by day…

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Philly by night.

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

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

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

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

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Pro Wrestler & Actor JD Maverick/Jordan Danyluk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I think her name was Jade. Stunning girl.

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

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

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

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

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

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Edmonton, Canada at Christmas.

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

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Toronto. A girl who went by the name Ninja.

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Another Canadian photo…pro wrestler & actor JD Maverick.

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Tampa Bay. Clearwater, to be exact.

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The calm before the storm.

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

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

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

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

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Paris.

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Clermont Ferrand.

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

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Paris.

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Notre Dame.

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

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Toulouse.

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

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Josie, a professional wrestler.

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

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

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

Thanks for looking and thank you for posing!

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