Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Is In the Air (John Paul Young)

A little over two years ago, I ended a relationship with a partner who was mentally ill. When it dissolved into chaos as these things typically do with a person who refuses to seek treatment and self-medicates with narcotics, I found myself feeling like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.

Combat related PTSD is a hard nut to wrap. Civilian shinks have a hard time treating it let alone understanding it. The VA can help them, but it's badly handled and backed up. Not to mention lots of times vets hate hospitals and like many trauma sufferers, prefer being homeless because being homeless means not having to face their triggers.

My support system was amazing. I went from wanting to smash everything in the room to crying all the time over his loss. A bad relationship is like a limb with gangrene. You know you need to lose it to live, but you want to fight to keep your arm even if there are maggots crawling out of it. One friend in particular said it best, "April, he's your knight of shining armor in a suit of armor that he stole!"

When my ex left, things initially sucked. They always do. But then I discovered a renewed love for comedy. I was studying joke writing like I never had before. I was pounding open mics like a young comedian who had never been on TV, and if she was she was standing on her friend's TV set. I was watching films of old master ventriloquists. I also developed Donald J. Tramp.

I also began to explore life on my own. This was scary but this also meant not being chained to a rock. While a partner can be a rock in a good way they can also weigh you down. This meant going to the RNC as a spokes person for an anti-Trump group, being credentialed press at the debates, and work shopping a one woman show. This also meant mastering releasing a body positive book, a line of merchandise, mastering full body puppetry, and applying for my dream MFA program in creative writing.

I would have been doing none of these things if I was still with my ex. Instead, I would have been a full time caretaker to a partner who refused to seek treatment. I would have continued to justify my codependency at the sake of my own self-preservation and sanity. I would have been "that woman."

I have a great support system around me. Whether it's my mom who gives my phone number and email address to strangers bragging about my status as a celestial being. Or my two straight male housemates who are dedicated to their art and families. Or my wonderful peeps from my Monday night acting class who love comedy as much as I do. Or my friend's from the stand-up world who agonize over every punchline. Or my friends from ACT UP who are as passionate about queer politics and queer identity as I am. Or my friends from my haunted house who I miss dearly and chat with on facebook and instagram. Or my friends from my master's program who are passionate about social justice and the written word like I am. Or my friends who remembered to say Happy Valentine's Day. Or my friends who laugh at my jokes. Or my one friend in particular who sent me flowers and listens to all my dreams no matter how stupid they are. Or my boss who lets me chase my dreams and pays me and hasn't fired me yet. Or my favorite Marine or favorite Mass-hole or favorite Frank Logan or favorite anyone and everyone.

I don't need a label to define me in any way, shape, or form. Whether it is this, that, or the other. I don't have to label the way I live or love as long as I am safe and happy.

I wish the same for you, too.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Naked Stand-Up

Hey guys, I have a new act. It's shattering the glass ceiling by proving we are all beautiful. It's preaching sex positive feminism. It's returning to my natural roots. I mean really natural.
I am performing stand-up comedy naked!
Yes, I am doing my act in the buff. Are you laughing at my punchline or my waistline? You decide.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Being Believed

It's the advent of the #MeToo movement. I am both proud and somewhat ashamed to say I fill the hashtag. I have earned the hashtag many times, more than I would care to admit not only to others, but to myself. I spoke about my experience to let others know that they weren't alone, but also to let others know that it didn't make them a victim to speak.

When it happens you always feel like a victim. There is part of your brain that tells you that you are overreacting. When I revealed to female friends an incident that happened when I was younger, one where a group of drunken white boys accosted me and I kicked off my shoes in order to get away, I wasn't believed. This female friend told me it was my "bad decisions" and that "you always put yourself there."

Not only did I stop being friends with her, but it made me feel like I was alone. In my experience, the most awful group when it comes to women is not men, but women themselves. Trans women, for instance, are more likely to be raped and assaulted. They are less likely to report. Among female activists, many do not want to address domestic violence and how cops treat trans women as a joke. Because of this they suffer. It's not a choice to transition. The only thing trans women are choosing is less rights and more oppression.

This is why the TERFs like Rose McGowan turn my stomach and make me ill. She not only invalidated that poor trans woman who challenged her, but then she went on a self-centered, cisgendered tirade, therefore closing the discussion for all victims.

I have walked alone as a victim. I have not been believed. There were people who didn't believe me when I said an ex of mine choked me. There were people who didn't believe me when I said a mentally ill partner was using his family members to stalk me. I would never shut anyone or any victim out of the discussion.

That being said, I have known women who unfortunately lie. The former girlfriend of a mutual friend, a drug addict who was later diagnosed with borderline, claimed he raped her. As the bandwagon formed, I had my doubts as she was known to lie. Later, she admitted she made the story up. While she is more the exception than the rule, there are these instances. These idiots who do this make it harder for the victims and less likely to believe. These liars are as bad as the rapists themselves.

Reading about Aaron Glaser this morning made my stomach turn. I had only met him once. He made my skin crawl. I didn't know why but I wanted to get away from him. When I read about what he did I was not shocked. Steve Crowder defended him which only made me believe the victims more. Aaron Glaser approached the crisis as an entitled whiner. I was part of the internet pitchfork mob bombarding his facebook wall.

Around this time, I revealed to a friend who I have become quite close with in the last two years. An older male, I didn't know how he would react but he is super easy to talk to. As I was waiting for his response, he gave me one I didn't expect. He said, "You went to New York to fulfill your dreams. You are still there. You're a survivor. Give yourself some credit."

He's right. I am a survivor. Some days are better than others but I am.

I get back at these predatory men not only by surviving, but by thriving. I have a career in comedy, laden with ups and downs. I have written two books and am working on a third. I released a calendar and line of merchandise. My one woman show is gearing to do a run in NYC, and I have started a master's program in writing. Life is not easy sometimes, but we all have a strike or two against us and we have to work with it.

Every time I think of the predatory men that hurt me, I use that energy to further myself because success is the best revenge. They will always be predators but it doesn't mean I have to be prey. I am not waiting for an apology I might never get, so instead I treat others the way I want to be treated, but treat myself that way, too.

As for Aaron Glaser, that NY Post piece was the funniest damn joke he has ever written in his entire career. Who believes that bullshit farce, #NOTME!

And one last thing, years ago I would have cried at the photo below because I was filled with such self-hate because of the damage predatory males did to me. Now I take them with style, not because I am acting out but because I want to and it's fun. So to all those doubters and predators, eat my dust, shitheads!

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