Friday, November 29, 2019

Teenage Dream (Katy Perry)

It was the year 1998. More than anything I wanted to be a champion diver that made it to the Olympics. This was one dream that wasn’t going to come true. It wasn’t a matter of wishing upon a star, because no matter how hard I wished I still sucked.
A gymnastics injury had put this bizarre dumb ass teenage dream into my head. I had actually been a decent gymnast so I thought that meant I was going to be a great diver. My mom thought so too which is why I found my way to the Steel City Aquatic Club. My mom would gush with pride, “My April is learning to be a platform diver!”
Then I would belly flop on cue disappointing her. My mom, always my biggest fan, continued to edit the truth in my favor. I am not exaggerating my suckage as I have witnesses that will testify to it on a Bible in a court of law.
One girl who was a good diver as well as everything wrong in the world was Jennika Paker. Granted Jennika was never mean to me. Then again, being mean would constitute thinking that person was worth the effort and I didn’t even make that cut.
Jennika was everything I wasn’t. Aside from being a good diver, she was sleek and looked like Barbie. Her face didn’t suffer the scarring cystic acne mine did and her perfect white teeth werent cursed with braces complete with rubber bands. I struggled with my weight and Jennika seemed to keep that off effortlessly as well. In contrast to the tiny compact beings who call themselves divers, Jennika stood five eight and looked like a beautiful ethereal being every time she left the board. Whenever she landed in the aqua colored water, everyone would stop and stare. There was always a young lad that would offer to get her a towel. It was like something out of Caddyshack.
Adding to the Caddyshack reference, Jennika’s family was super loaded and belonged to the local country club where Jennika golfed when she wasn’t training at the pool. When she wasn’t golfing, Jennika was appearing on the brochure for the Steel City Aquatic Club looking perfect as ever. Her looks caught the attention of a local sporting goods store owner who not only had Jennika model in a fashion show but model on a poster for a swim suit line as well. Seeing her every time I walked in made me wish she would get to close to the board, hit her head, have her brains splay everywhere and die. What wasn’t there to hate about this bitch really?
When dirty old men saw the poster they probably dreamed of doing so nasty they would end up on an online registry and not care. When teenage boys saw the poster they probably had wet dreams where she was diving naked into their pool. Women and girls secretly wanted to be her, but she made me gag. My mom saw me wince when we walked in to buy me another bathing suit. She said, “Don’t worry about her. This won’t age well.”
“How do you know, she’s perfect.”
“Yeah, but I’ve seen her mom. The sand is going to the bottom of the hour glass once she turns 30.”
My mom was trying to make me feel better-God bless her. But the Jennika Pakers of the world just made my blood boil. I was a shitty diver, a good student in some subjects, and gained weight when I looked at a cookie. Jennika was a great diver, bragged that Yale was recruiting her, and ate a Twix regularly at practice. I was only 13 and she was 16, thirty was an eternity. So if this was even true there was an eternity of pain and suffering to go.  
I tried to dump my resentment towards Jennika, I really did. However, it lasted a short while before I overheard Jennika talking to Kelly, another diver we knew. Kelly was always neck and neck with Jennika for best in show. Jennika said, “I’m being recruited by Yale, and it seems like a lock because both of my parents went there.” (Of course they did you elitist bitch).
“Really, I’m being recruited by Notre Dame. Working on getting my SATs up.”
“Notre Dame approached me but my parents didn’t think it was a good enough school.”
Kelly said nothing. Instead, she went back to the diving board and threw an insanely difficult dive better than Jennika. In response Jennika got up and did the same dive but not as good but everyone stared and gawked in wonder. I hated this world and hoped it blew up. Or at the very least I hoped Jennika got too close to the board, hit her head and her brains went everywhere.
As Kelly got out of the pool I said, “Notre Dame is a good school. Good luck.”
“Thanks. I've been working hard. It's my dream school,” Kelly said. She was sort of shy but I could tell she needed the compliment after being ripped down by Princess Jennika.
"You'll get in."
"I hope," Kelly said as she went back on the board and executed another near perfect dive.  
While the Jennika’s of the world make you wonder if life is fair, in a way it is because shortly after that I quit diving. I sucked and it was way too much money my dad said. This was not only a victory for the diving community but a victory for all mankind really. Shortly thereafter I discovered I could talk to puppets and the puppets could talk. I also realized that I wrote funny essays that others not only enjoyed but that won awards.  I found my thing and my mom could gush without exaggeration. It was a win, win.
Jennika faded from memory as she was out of sight, out of mind, and I really didn’t care. That is, until an old friend from Steel City Aquatic Club friended me on facebook. For the heck of it, I wanted to see what happened to Kelly. She did end up diving at Notre Dame and was All American at one point. She now coaches at a small college in Florida and has a husband and a baby. I was happy as I always liked Kelly and unlike Jennika she had to work for the things she had. 
For the heck of it, I went on facebook to find Jennika Paker who was now Jennika Seymour. The woman looking at me on social media was almost unrecognizable. She was pushing 40 and looked every bit of it. The aging stick didn’t just hit her hard, it beat her to a bloody pulp. A body that once was all lean muscle and buxom now was loose skin and fat, possibly a mix of genetics and the baby weight she had failed to lose. While it comes across as body shaming and I apologize, I am writing out of shock because there was no trace that an elite athlete let alone model was ever present. My mom had been right. No only did this not age well but the sand was now at the bottom of the hour glass.
Jennika had a husband who wore a Stanford ball cap and looked like a nondescript milquetoast white dude. I wanted to caption it, “White, Republican love.” They had two kids under the age of 5 who of course had their own facebook pages because why not? And they lived in Orange County because it’s a good place for them really and truly. They took a family photo on a yacht because where else would white Republican love and their spawn hang out? The name Jennika also aged horribly too. Can you imagine a Grandma Jennika. Oh the horror! The horror!
Just as I was about to hope her yacht crashed I read a post of hers. It was dedicated to her husband Paxton Gaylord Seymour IV (true fact). The name alone made me want to troll as she began by talking about what a lifesaver Paxton had been for her. As the post went on though, she spoke about how during her sophomore year of college her mother, who was apparently bipolar, committed suicide and how the rest of her biological family was toxic. However she met Paxton during study abroad and the two clicked. Not only was it love at first sight but his family welcomed her. The post was about not only how this new chosen family changed her but how she treated Paxton’s mother like her own mother.
I hated reading this post. I hated that I had to feel sorry for Jennika, but more than anything I hated myself for hating someone who was actually wrestling with real shit. Jennika hadn’t been a celestial being, we had treated her that way because she shined for a moment in time. Maybe she had been an asshole when we were kids. I was an asshole too. We were all little assholes. And maybe Kelly knew to get on the diving board and ignore her ass because that’s how her asshole dealt with Jennika’s asshole.
I found myself glad Jennika had a constructive outlet and more than anything, glad she didn’t get too close to the diving board, hit her head, and had her brains splatter everywhere. Her home life only made her want to do that every day. For what it was worth, I was happy she was happy and was happy she was keeping herself busy managing the facebook pages of her small fries. As for her body losing it’s shape, she has two small kids and doesn’t do the workouts she used to. I’ll have to remember the shaming parts of this post if and when I have kids as it will be my kharma.

Sigh, she wasn’t perfect but the good news is I don’t hate her. Won’t be doing any rides soon on the yacht though. Aside from it being creepy if a facebook stalker asked, I suck at boats worse than I did at diving and we’ll just leave it at that. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019


When I was a first year at NYU, I was passionate about ventriloquism and comedy even though I sucked. (Luckily now I am mediocre). Most of us really and truly sucked, yet we were billed rising stars. The audience grimaced, as if the only thing that should have been rising was their asses out of their seats. Some of us were NYU students and some of us were semi-homeless, but by the way we all dressed really and truly who could tell the difference? 

After getting off the stage with May Wilson, who was then a converted Juro former Jerry Mahoney doll, I was followed by a guitar player. Like all of the alternative rocker bad boys who invaded my teen girl fantasies from the radio, he had an acoustic guitar and sang in a way that reminded me of Layne Staley. He even said he was dedicating his set to Layne Staley. Hot. 

He said his name was Mark and he sported the peroxide hair, smattering of a goatee, sunglasses inside, and leather jacket with Marlboro Reds in pocket despite the warm weather. He was sulty, sexy, and something that made me want to take my panties off right there. I eyed him and smiled hoping he would see me but unsure of what to do if he would. Every girl there felt the same way too. He had hot guy problems. I was wearing a baby doll dress and would have thrown my panties but alas, I would have gotten arrested and would have had a tough time explaining that one to my parents. 

A busty red head moved closer to the stage. I could tell she was one of those dumb girls from a Bumfuck town who majored in lit and thought Mark was singing directly to her. She made no secret of the fact she thought I was below her as she had rolled her eyes when she saw me exit the stage, doll in hand. She was just another shitty element to what had been the shittiest year of my life in a minute. 

New York had been hard on me and my first year of college had kicked my ass. My anxiety had been such an issue that despite my work ethic I was placed on academic probation just because I was so crazy that I misplaced homework, froze up during classes, and just fucked up everything I touched. I medicated my nerves with drinking, smoking and food. All made me crazier and calmer at the same time. I was still stuck on a dude who saw me as nothing who was in college in another state, but his drug habit was getting him kicked out. I was crying over another dude who said he wanted nothing to do with me but saw me as a friend. Another fella I flirted with thought I was gay. I had a crush on a chick. To say there was a lot going on was an understatement. 

My then roommate had a boyfriend who loved her which made me want to jump out the library window but three people had already done that and I am all about being original. However, I couldnt hate her too much because her cousin had been brutally murdered by a Peeping Tom last week and she was back in Florida where she was from to sit Shiva. So when Big Red scowled at me I was devoid of all feeling. Life had already taken a dump and she was just another turd in my toilet bowel. After this it was back to my room and my precious puppet children.  

When Mark finished his growling via acoustic guitar, Big Red marched up to the stage and in a Long Island accent that still haunts me to this day said, "Mark, I loved your guitar. You are soooo incredibly rockstar."

Looking at Big Red I wanted to tell her she was so incredibly desperate but you don't mess with a firecrotch cause a firecrotch is crazy. It's the law of the jungle. (It's also something I heard a drunk uncle warn a male cousin about once). Mark nodded and brushed past her like she wasnt there nearly knocking her over. I bit my lip trying not to laugh as she narrowly missed tumbling. The only thing better would have been if that bitch fell on her ass.

Mark kept walking until he saw me. He said, "Hey you, I dig your puppets."

I wasn't expecting this. My words started to stammer, "Thanks."

"May Wilson is hot. Does she really give good head?" It had been a badly conceived joke and the delivery was terrible but it turned a hot dude on. God is good all the time!

"I dunno, she never invites me." Okay stupidest reply of the century. I have a hot bad boy who wants to talk and this is how I mess it up. Meanwhile Big Red was glowering out of the corner of my eye. I went from being happy to totally elated 

"Want a cigarette?"

"Sure." I took one and we stepped outside. We smoked and talked for a few minutes. Big Red walked passed us and made sure to make an obnoxious coughing noise as she walked by. I liked the fact our smoking made her angry. It meant all was right in the world. 

"Wanna blow this joint and hang out in my room?" Mark asked after we put our cigarettes out. 

"Sure.You got booze?" There would probably be a bad decision involved and my area of experience when it came to sex was like Donald Trump to politics, but why let inexperience stop me? I should have been listening to the words come out of his mouth but he was so Goddamn cute that as Sanford Meisner said, "Words are immaterial."

When we got to Mark's room, we ended up drinking Jack Daniels and smoking more cigarettes. He ended up telling me about his ex, Natalie, who was in the music school too. They dated and the break up was bad. As a matter of fact, she had toyed with his emotions last week. Mark was an artist and a tortured soul and he said, "She broke my heart so badly, I wrote a song about it."

Mark hit play. He growled in his Layne Staley knock off voice, "I fucked you 20 times and you came 20 times and stole my heart. And now you are a fucking bitch ripping me apart."

There had never been such wordsmithing since Shakespeare. The alcohol was starting to hit me, but not so much that I knew to bite my lip to keep from laughing. Mark said, "Let me play you a second track."

Who was I to stop this visionary and original thinker from showing me his work. This selection called Natalie went, "You were the piece of my heart that made me weep, you woke me up by sucking my dick in my sleep."

I wanted to ask if this was a comedy show, because the drunker I got the funnier he became. But this was my chance at action, action that had alluded me all year and now it was a hot guy. I wasn't looking for love. I was just looking for him to be his hot self. Now if his hot self would stop talking that would be the trick, because the more he talked the less attracted I was becoming. Hoping to save the evening I said, "Kiss me you handsome fool."

"Handsome fool, I like that. And just so you know, I'm very focused on my music career and I am not looking to be your boyfriend. So I want to give you some good, clean fun." I wanted to tell him a little less conversation a little more action, but I didnt want to do that. Why? Because that would mean quoting a musician with some talent in front of this Friday night mistake. 

Tom then proceeded to kiss me. Actually it was more like a booze and cigarette tasting slobber. However, it had been a lonely year and I wanted to see this car wreck explosion to the bloody end. I kissed him again. I needed more booze. It's the only way I wouldn't hate myself later. Tom then said, "When I am a famous rockstar you can say you fucked me."

That statement alone made Layne Staley kill himself all over again. No wonder that poor soul chose to be a shut in. I wanted to get on that program too. They say God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and thats when Nature took over. The British came to town and I had no tampon. So I told him as he groped me that I would have to take a rain check.

Eager to save the evening, Mark said, "You can still suck my dick."

I lied and said I wanted the whole groupie sex experience and made my exit promising to call him with no intent of ever doing so. While I had yet to meet Natalie, I could safely say that her dumping his ass clown was the best decision of her life thus far. 

Big Red ended up hooking up with Mark a week later, and I know because I saw them together where Big Red rolled her eyes and Mark looked the other way. They would break up the following week, and yes he wrote some song about her that he uploaded online. The words were, "Big Red, gave the best head....." She had Mark and I had nothing, so she could take her superiority and choke on it.

Mark did not end up becoming a famous rockstar. After college, he bottomed out on booze and coke and had to go to rehab where he found Jesus. Shortly thereafter he found a broken and desperate woman who looks like she doesn't make eye contact to marry him. They both operate a therapy practice where they help children with their self-esteem. On his facebook page his bio says, "I wanted to be a rockstar and that didn't happen. Now I help kids live their best lives. I'm winning."

Yeah Mark, glad you grew up. Glad you are less of an asshole. Glad you are helping the greater good. Free advice, don't play your clients any of your music. It will set back any therapeutic progress they might make ever. Just saying, rockstar. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

And the Cards Read Her

Setting: Tarot Shop

I am sitting across from Kat, 50s, a client who wants a Tarot Reading. As an aside, I was taught to read Tarot from a Roma Woman. The Roma folk believe the cards can get mad. Me, I just think people are crazy.

Me: Shuffle the cards and lay them out.

Kat: Don't you lay them out?

Me: I was taught you don't touch the cards at all. That way you get the most accurate reading.

Kat grumbles and shuffles.

Me: Do you have a question for the cards.

Kat: How is my relationship with my son?

Me: Turn them over.

Kat: Don't you turn them over? I have never been read this way before!

Kat turns cards over. It's a bunch of reversals indicating her kid is a moron and she's a ballbuster for a parent. In Tarot words this relationship is a shit show.

Me: Looks like you and your son have been butting heads.

Kat: No, it has been getting better. He went to rehab.

Me: It shows more struggle ahead.

Kat: Is he going to relapse! I can't believe these cards! They are upsetting me! How could they do this!

Me: The swords don't necessarily mean a relapse. They are a warning. He's a kid, he is 20 and thinks he knows everything. This is why he has you, Mom. But just relax, it's a warning for him to stay on top of whatever he's doing for himself.

Kat: I need to ask my cards about relationships.

Kat angrily shuffles and lays them out.

Me: Relationships with whom?

Kat: Anyone.

Kat lays the cards and turns them over. The cards indicate a confused woman in denial.

Kat: I don't like this spread.

Cards: You don't like my spread, well I don't like you.

Me: These are just warnings. Warnings that while things are good to pay attention to what's around you.

Kat: I have never had a card reading this foreboding before!

Me: These are just warnings.

Kat: These cards are fucking liars. They are cursed.

Cards: Well at least we ain't cursed with denial and stupidity.

Kat shuffles cards again. She gets several reversals and turns them the way she likes. I don't argue.

Me: It looks like everything's going to be alright.

Timer goes off.

Me: Do you want more time?

Kat: You're alright but these cards, I don't like them.

Cards: Whatever, Loser.

Kat exits grumbling. She pays.

End scene

Sunday, August 11, 2019

All In the Draw of the Cards (Kim Carnes)

One of the survival jobs I have had over the years is I am a palm/tarot card reader. Most recently, I scored a gig where I read for a few hours a few days a week. For the most part it's pretty chill and I like most of the people I read for. Actually, it has been an honor to read for several who just inspire me to continue to follow my dreams even in slow season because they ask me about the future of theirs. It has also been a reward to help people remember they deserve love and happiness. But then we get people who probably need more help than I am qualified to give.

Enter Virginia. This woman, who apparently has been to every psychic in the store, wanted a reading with me because we had never met. A life coach with her own business, Virginia has blood red hair, probably dyed from the blood of an ex or her cat that she killed.

Virginia: Ask the cards, what is the future of my business? It's been slow. Will things turn around?

I turn the cards. It is a bunch of cups, swords, and death.

Me: These aren't great cards, but it means things could still turn around if you have a new strategy like a marketing plan and also budget/save your money. That way you have resources for a rainy day.

Virginia: When will money come in?

Me: The cards don't give dates or times but soon. Summer is going to be over, people will come back from vacation. The cards are telling you to make a business plan. There is a lesson in all of this.

Virginia: I can ask my Sugar Daddy for the money. Will Ike my Sugar Daddy give me the money? We are in a sub/dom relationship. He says he is getting sick of bailing me out financially.

I turn the cards again. Cups are in the middle which according to the cards means yes. Outcome isn't so great but hey.

Me: It shows your sugar daddy will give you the money, but you mentioned him before and he seems like a jerk honestly. Why not look into a marketing plan because this seems to be a pattern. I'm not just saying it but the cards are too.

Virginia: I don't have time for that. I need a solution now. You know what I can do. I can do magic, that's what I can do.

Me: I don't think you need to do magic. I think you need to wait the slow season out and relax. The cards are telling you that and so am I. See, no magic necessary.

Virginia: I have done magic before and it has worked.

I nod unsure of what to say/do.

Virginia: You don't believe me? Well I can do magic! Trust me, I can do magic and it has worked many times. Lady, I can do magic. I can do magic so good I am better than David Copperfield.

I nod still unsure of what to say or do.

Virginia: I can do magic. And if you don't believe me ask the cards. They know my magic works. Cards, should I do magic?

I ask the cards. We get a bunch of swords which aren't good news. The cards agree with me. This idea is cat shit crazy.

Virginia: Oh I know the cards and these aren't good. Ask them again if my magic will work. Hey, you haven't seen anything until you have seen me do magic.

I flip the cards. Note, in old Gypsy tradition it is said if you ask the cards the same question twice they get mad.

Cards: Did we stutta mutherfucka? And who would go to life coaching from you. Bitch, you cray cray.

Me: The cards are saying you can do magic and they apologize for doubting you. I also apologize for doubting you too.

My buzzer goes off.

Me: Your time is up. Pay out front.

Virginia: Oh I can do more time.

Me: Great.

Cards: NOOOOOOO!!!!! Haven't we suffered enough.

To Be Continued

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Peaches Gets An Exorcism

This past weekend my 5 month old niece Peaches got baptized. My 90 year old cousin, a retired bishop, performed the ceremony. According to my cousin who did seminary in Rome, the baptism is actually a form of exorcism. This sounds intense but my 90 year old cousin is gentle as a lamb. He was the most well liked bishop in the Pittsburgh dioceses before retiring and married all my older immediate family members, my parents included. While he did not marry my sister Skipper or my brother in law Boomer, he made a celebrity guest appearance on the alter.
Sure, I get the church wants to play it safe and all. As a lapsed Catholic, for as much as the exorcism trivia was cool, it was also a bit much. Peaches is a 5 month old baby. She still has her brand new car smell. This small being who cries, poops, but also has a way of eliminating all familial drama when she’s around should be celebrated. Plus an RC baptism is the parent’s first chance at starting the college fund. It’s not the day where Peaches sits up in her crib, her head spins around in a 180 and she screams, “Demi! Demi!” (Note: Peaches has projectile vomited on me before so there is that potential). 
However, I will give the bishop this, Peaches is teething. Hell hath no fury like a teething baby. Peaches woke everyone up several times during the night because of the pain she was in. While I felt terribly for her ordeal, it also woke up the entire house. Her pooping schedule was also off, so there was the fear she would poop in the christening gown. I am sure she wouldn’t be the first baby to do so but still, a pooping baby in a white gown is the devil. So yeah, maybe my cousin had a point.
The most fascinating thing about  a christening and a new family member is talking to the older family members. We were trying to figure out how old The Bishop was. “He’s gotta be 90.”
My sister in law Marie laughs, “Isn’t that old?”
My brother Wendell says, “No, he married our parents, aunts and uncles. He’s up there.”
At the party, we all try to figure it out. My Aunt Barb says, “He married my husband and I 46 years ago and he had been a priest a while. And he renewed our vows 25 years ago. He has to be at least 90. But he’s still driving. How is he doing that?”
The man who christened Peaches just might be immortal like the Highlander. However, in the event he wasn’t I decided to talk to him a little about his life. First, I wanted to figure out how we were related as I have 26 cousins in my immediate family alone. Apparently he is my now deceased grandfather’s cousin. The Bishop studied in Rome back in 1952, and was away for four years from his family because flight was so expensive. He talked about how Europe was after the war, and how there were certain Communist countries he could not visit with his friends. It was a world without internet, cellphones, GPS, and cable TV let alone Netflix.
Just as I was well aware of The Bishop’s age, I also became acutely aware of my own. The world he knows is different than the one I know and will also be different than the one Peaches will know. Someday, she will look up at me with her big blue eyes and ask, “Auntie April, what’s a CD?”
She will also say, “I saw an old movie, one from the 80s and they had landlines. How did people function?” I won’t lie. I will say the 80s and 90s were hell because living without a cellphone is war and war is hell. Okay, maybe I won’t but it sounds like something crazy an older relative will say. Even those thoughts make me acutely aware of my age.
I can safely say I have known Peaches for her entire life. About a year ago we did her gender reveal party. Skipper was sick every day as she was in the early throws of pregnancy and craved Stove Top Stuffing which Boomer was forced to cook. Before the party, Skipper called me on my way to school in California to inform she had, “A bun in the oven.” This was after she and Boomer returned from Bonnaroo. So yes, Peaches has already been to a hippie music festival. 
I also feel old as I remember standing next to Skipper on her wedding day as maid of honor. Not only was it a lovely treat, but she was talking about having kids within three years. Then it seemed sort of scary because I had remembered Skipper as a young bride. When she tried on wedding dresses she started to weep stating, “I look like an adult woman who has a mortgage and pays her own cellphone  bill!”
I also remember meeting Boomer for the first time. It was clear he liked my sister and she liked him back. Being the big sibling I asked him what his intentions were. He said he liked Skipper. I looked him in the eye like Clint Eastwood and said, “Man, if you mistreat Skipper in any way I will kill you.”
It since has become a running joke between the three of us. Boomer is a good guy and has morphed into a good father. Peaches for the most part is a good baby. Towards the end of the day, it was my shift. Her parents wanted a nap and my parents had to clean after the party. This meant I was on baby duty. We played with her toys which had the same song going in a loop. Songs that were stuck in my head for days and yes they are still haunting me in my sleep. Peaches also tried to eat the entire train because why not. After all, earlier in the day they gave her an exorcism for a reason, right. When she had the train taken away she got my finger and gripped onto it with her tiny fingers. Swayed by adoration and amazed by her strength, I was caught off guard when she stuck it in her mouth and bit on it with her half of a tooth. (I had also hoped I washed my hands). The Bishop was right. This kid was possessed by the devil. 
After I yanked my finger out of her mouth Peaches started to hiccup and fuss. What to do? I don't have children and my parents are cleaning. Skipper and Boomer are sleeping. So I hiccup back. To my surprise Peaches laughs. She hiccups again, I hiccup back and she laughs again. It turns into a game. Now I am liking this. Peaches is an evil I can work with,“Peaches, you know your parents might not like this, but you might have a future in show business. Your Auntie April needs an opening act. Start working on your television 7. Save yourself a few years of grief. And as for that exorcism, we are all going to hell. You and I will just be in the back playing jokes on people.”

Friday, July 12, 2019

Shakespeare and Other Things

I am doing Shakespeare this weekend for the first time in years. There is part of me that's excited and part of me that's nervous. I remember being half decent with the language, but the words were always what got in my way. While I loved Shakespeare I was never a Shakespearian actor if you get my drift.

I started out wanting to be a classical actor of some sort. In high school I even interned for a summer with a classical stage company downtown. When college started I was certain I wanted to be a Shakespearian actor. Sure, I did the ventriloquism, but the classics were going to be my home. I loved history and understood the text. My mother also supported these ambitions as she felt I had a gift with language and Shakespeare. We even toyed with the idea of me studying Shakespeare abroad. I was stoked and sure.

Some of my acting teachers, not so much. One in particular really harshed my mellow. She was actually a smart lady who had done every Shakespeare show there was. Although we didn't get along, I always admired her knowledge. However, she was carrying her own baggage to the teaching experience. A refugee from both a classical stage company that no longer existed and a school which she was an alumni and teacher that closed it's doors, she was bitter and burned out. While I have faith she loved and appreciated the teaching aspect, the administrative part of her job killed her soul, and she seemed miserable and trapped. Older students confirmed my suspicion. She said to me, "April, my class is for classical actors. That's not you."

The summer after I left her class, I became more immersed in comedy and ventriloquism. It seemed these things were going to be my tickets and perhaps she was right, I wasn't a classical actor. If being a classical actor meant being an unpleasant bitch I was good with it.

However, the next term I had another instructor who rocked for lack of a better word. He admittedly only taught acting for the paycheck and retired, spending all of his energy gigging with his rockband. We often joked about the amount of coke he did back in the day, and we all felt bad until he told us how much coke he did back in the day and it was a lot let me tell you. As an assignment I had to do Queen Gertrude. I did it for his class with the broken notion that Shakespeare wasn't for me. However, my teacher disagreed.

He gave me a Sense Memory exercise in which Queen Gertrude was drunk. I killed it. Not only was it a lot of fun,but he told me I had a gift with the language and I did in fact have a future with Shakespeare.

The brief reunion didn't last. While I had the opportunity to study in England, because of some schedule changes it made it difficult. Plus my mom went from being stoked about it to being frightened of terrorists and feared I would die overseas. I was discovering my real strengths were my ventriloquism, comedy, and creating my own original material anyway. Sure, I loved Shakespeare but it didn't seem to be in the cards.

This notion was echoed further after college as a lot of classical theatre requires a lot of long hours, is non-equity and offers no pay. Plus I was passionate about the ventriloquism and comedy, figuring those were my tickets. As time wore on, I wandered farther and farther away from classical let alone legit theatre. It wasn't going to be home and that was okay. I could pull it out of my hat if need be, but it wasn't what was going to bring me to the next level for the time being.

Undergrad saw me discover my ability to write for the stage. While I was discovering my wings as a playwright, jokes were more my thing and that gave way to essays and ultimately a book. I tried adapting my work to screen but was miserable at it. So I gave up, until some life events that you might know about changed everything. These saw me rededicated to craft, getting a master's, and reading all the texts I had neglected since college.

When I studied screenwriting, I wanted to give actors material they loved, as no amount of good acting can be overcome by horrendous writing. Material that could show off their strengths and do the work for them so they could SHAKESPEARE. This meant getting my ass kicked again in acting class, and signing up for a SHAKESPEARE class. Yes, I actually applied and I figured if they payment went through they wouldn't read my application. To my pleasant surprise and chagrin they read my application.


So long story short, this weekend, I am back to one of my first loves. At first it was daunting but I remembered to get out my dictionary. (Something my unpleasant teacher pounded). But I also remembered my Sense Memory. (Something from the one I adore). I forgot how much FUN this was. So yes, I am excited and a tad nervous.

"Anon, anon I pray you remember the porter!"

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Democratic Candidates If They Were Movie Characters

There are so many Democratic candidates for president who the hell can keep track. To make it a little easier, I decided to break the Democratic candidates down as if they were movie characters by the roles they would play.
Note: This is a spec script at best and have no idea what the actual plot would be. BUT.....dear readers (whoever the freak you are) show yourselves and give me some plot lines/scenarios. I am asking you with the confidence of a straight, white, cis man. You know, the fellow who looks in the mirror and sees a stud, a genius and the BEST PENIS EVER!  (Give me the confidence of such a stereotype).
1.       Elizabeth Warren- Mayor and boss bitch. She dumped her husband and is having the time of her life. Her twitter handle is colorsofthewind2020

2.       Bernie Sanders- Old ranting man who yells at strangers. His only friends are his long suffering sheep dogs. Twitter handle is marx4life2020

3.       John Hinkenlooper- Bernie’s first sheep dog. Twitter handle imjustasheepdogididntaskforthis2020

4.       Michael Bennett- Bernie’s second sheep dog.Twitter handle rescuetherescue2020

5.       Cory Booker- Self-proclaimed player and author of the self-published manual, “How to Get Pussy Without Really Trying.” Twitter handle playa2020

6.       Amy Klobuchar- Twice divorced Avon Lady who might have killed one or both of her ex husbands. Does not have twitter handle. Got thrown off for angry rant at twitter staffers. 

7.       Joe Biden- Creepy old man who’s inappropriate with women and uses his dead wife as an in cause hey, why not? Twitter handle hairsmeller2020

8.       Kirsten Gillibrand- “One time at band camp” girl. Frequent target of Joe Biden’s creepy advances. Twitter handle onetimeatbandcamp2020

9.       Eric Swalwell- Nice guy who swoops in to defend women from creepy Joe Biden. In return, he always gets dumped. Twitter handle stereotypicalnicedude2020

10.   Kamala Harris- The local sheriff who frequently arrests Joe Biden for hair sniffing and Bernie Sanders for vagrancy. She takes pity on his sheep dogs. Twitter handle throwyoassinjail2020

11.   Julian Castro- Dishwasher repairman who is secretly studying to become a member of the FBI. Twitter handle notfidel2020

12.   Bill de Blasio- The weird guy in the neighborhood who brags about converting lesbians to his team. Twitter handle typecasting2020

13.   Pete Buttigieg- Owner of the gay bar “Pete’s Gloryhole.” Running a tight ship, he frequently sees Republicans leading a double life having anonymous sex and has to eject Bill de Blasio on Sapphic Saturdays. Twitter handle Totaltop2020

14.   Tulsi Gabbard- Bouncer at Pete’s Gloryhole and foe of Bill DiBlasio. On the side she teaches self-defense to women, Amy Klobuchar is her best student. Twitter handle smackdown2020

15.   John Delaney- Assistant Regional Sales Rep. (For life and eternity). Twitter handle DunderMifflin2020.

16.   Jay Inslee- Local yokel often mistaken for Gary Busey. Pretends to be Gary Busey to get chicks. Twitter handle garybusey2020

17.   Tim Ryan- The stunt double to Beeker from the Muppets. Twitter handle beeker2020

18.   Marianne Williamson- The crazy cat lady at the end of the block who uses healing crystals and brags of practicing the dark arts. Twitter handle notmariannebutzool2020

19.   Andrew Yang- The IT programmer who has a hot wife. Twitter handle imstillsmarterthanyou2020

Monday, June 3, 2019

Photo of the Week

Ex: You act like there was never anything between us. How can you do that?!
Me: It's not as hard as you think. 
Ex: So now you're gonna dog me?
Me: Nah, dogs are loyal.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Donald J. Tramp on Russia

Today I asked the president whether not not he colluded with Russia. Just like all of our encounters, this one too got no where.

Did he collude with Russia?

I am just as confused as you are.

To book go to www.AprilBrucker.TV

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Writing Hard

I am working on turning my book, I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl, into a pilot. At first I didn't want to. Part of it was cowardice, and part of it was I have been burned by the promise of so much more with my writing for so long.

However, as I started writing my pilot, I don't want to stop. Each time I step away from the computer I feel sad I have to go. I have broken plans with people so I could WRITE. Does that make me a write-a-holic? Is there is a 12 Step Program for me?

The last time I wrote like this I was 25 years old. I announced I was writing a book. My roommate at the time thought I was crazy. She was right. I was. One of my best friends at the time was a very flamboyant gay drug dealer. (RIP Chacho). I announced my plans and she was like, "Okay. You do that." In between her crying about some dude that didn't want her back and me lusting after my normal losers my book was filed in the way back of her mind.

It was hot the summer I wrote my book. So hot I kept my underwear in the freezer. She opened up the freezer to get ice cream and there were my pink satin panties. Let's just say things got interesting. Relax fellas, no lesbian porn.

I wrote everywhere. On the train. In the house. I had no idea what would happen next, but I finished my first draft by the end of the summer.

She moved out and moved on. I published I Came, I Saw, I Sang. Things happened and then they didn't.

Years later, as I write the pilot version, Broadway Singing Telegrams, I am writing just as furiously as I did when I was 25 years old. I write on the train. I carry around a notepad. When an inspiration comes to me it's as if heaven has opened and something miraculous has happened. I never thought I would live to write this, but I enjoy revision.

I had my first reading last week. It was nerve wracking to get it organized. It was exciting to hear my words read for the first time. It was endearing to see how my friends loved and supported me.

I am glad I am writing the pilot because this is my voice. For so long I let others try to tell my story, that's why it felt flat. This is the most authentic my writing has ever been. It's me, honest and bare on the paper about the life and world close to me.

I have no idea what will happen next. The wheels of fate might swing for or against me. I live with two straight dudes.

For better or for worse, there is no underwear in the freezer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Putting It Out There

I have always written. My words are part of my wheelhouse. Heck, my verbal part of the SAT was near perfect. Math.......we won't talk about that. God invented the calculator and Satan is always making me use my fingers and toes.

As a kid, I loved being onstage. In real time I am extroverted and friendly, but there is a part of me that loves being in a library being lost in the stacks where I don't have to talk to anyone. I am a secret misanthrope. People piss me off and when I am hangry, I have no biased bone in my body. I hate everyone.

While I loved performing as a kid, part of me wanted to write the next great American novel. Fuck you Faulkner. So over you Flannery O'Conner. Here I am bitches and bastards!

It would have been an opus of coming of age tragedy. There would be a love story of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the good girl with the double life who does something messed up to get ahead. One of them would have to die. Maybe a boating accident. I would propose cancer but that is so overdone. Eh, that cocktail is curing people. A murder......but then it's a mystery. Okay, I'm back to my outline.

What I am trying to say is, as a writer, you always want to write a book that can live for generations, and you want to write for writers. So yeah, I loved Moby Dick. I am the dick who loved the cetology of the whale. First week of grad school Pervical Everett called Moby Dick his cheesecake.


 However, as you read this blog you know I am not writing the great American novel anytime soon. I am just an awkward lonely woman waxing philosophical in her room. No danger of being great here.

If you have been following me (all three of you) you know that prior to grad school I considered myself a novelist and an essayist.  Sure, I acted and performed my own stand up and one woman shows. Although I read and acted in plays I could never translate my writing into that format. The more prose I wrote the less of a playwright I became. I tried to adapt my book into a musical and this composer looked at me like I got off of not just a spaceship, but a short spaceship. I wrote a screenplay based on my book, it was cute but it was too long. Part of grad school was that I wanted to network as a prose writer and get screenwriters to adapt my shiznit.

But I decided to bite the bullet and stop being such a wimp and genre jumped to screenwriting. I am having fun but am finding a surprising wheelhouse in screenwriting as I said in a previous blog. As I say to the point of my 3 readers wanting to shoot themselves, grad school has made me less of a wimp when it comes to revision. The talent ain't in the writing. It's in the rewriting. And the rewriting.And more rewriting. Writing is rewriting.

Whenever I hear a writer say they don't like revising, I want to tell them they are evil and stupid. Words had to die for their cowardice. Your work becomes like your baby. Why do you think Salinger never sold the rights to Catcher in the Rye?

As  Percival Everett says, "No novel is ever finished. It's only abandoned."

The hardest part of being a writer is abandoning your baby.

It means not crying when you press send.

 It means getting difficult feedback.

It means taking the note behind the note without following it with,"Get fucked."

If you are a playwright or screenwriter, it means not fighting with your manager when you overwrite. It means not crying when you tell them you are only protecting your work against an incompetent or power hungry (male) director who will destroy every precious word you wrote.

 It means trusting someone else to direct your vision and trusting that this person will respect your time and energy while secretly praying they don't destroy your script.

It means having your actor friends read your work out loud and being open to what they say.

It means being excited about having your actor friends read your work.

It means being excited about having your work directed and staged.

Yeah, I'm putting my work out there. Just as part of me wants to write the great American novel, I also want to write material actors will have fun performing and look forward to getting. As an actor, there have been so many times I have gotten scripts that have given me nothing and I felt less than excited. I want actors to get my pages and be excited, not just because of their words but because of what their imaginations can bring.

I want directors to be excited to make my stuff come to life. Sure, I have a death grip on my "precious words," but just as my work means a lot to me I know it will mean just as much to the people making it come alive.

As Emmy Award winning screenwriter Jane Anderson said, "Collaboration is a gift."

With that being said, I look forward to sharing my pages with the world. And thank you to all my friends pushing me to have my work read. You are the reason I spew my crazy thoughts on paper........much love.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Screenwriting, Etc.

I haven't blogged in a while because I have been learning how to be a screenwriter.

My MFA program's screenwriting/new media headquarters are in Santa Barbara. I still remember speaking to my now mentor who has been a working writer and teacher in Hollywood for many years. An NYU alumni like myself, she originally aspired to be a song writer. I said to her, "So luck and destiny had other plans and you became a screenwriter."

Mind you I am all about astrology. She says, "No. It wasn't luck. I had to work hard."

She wasn't lying. Screenwriting is HARD WORK that lit isn't. You have to read screenplays, outline them, watch the film. Most of the time the draft is different than the screenplay itself. A novel is eventually finished and put on a shelf. A screenplay, they are still rewriting and cutting as they are shooting. 

At first I resented all the work that came from outlining screenplays. Now I love it. Is there a special place in hell for someone like myself? Yes. The truth is though, a good screenplay reads like a novel. You can't put it down. I would have never guessed. 

When I entered grad school there were people who told me I didn't need to go. I was already a writer. However, what they didn't know was when it came to revision I was a complete coward. Grad school has cured me of that. Screenwriting especially.

I am currently drafting a pilot based on my book, I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of  a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl. For years people approached me about possibilities. Some were well intended but out of their wheelhouse. Others were big dreamers who were all talk. Then there were the scammers. Each let down broke my heart.

I tried to draft screenplays and pilots, each being mediocre because I was a novelist and not a screenwriter. Most novelist are horrific screenwriters. MGM and the other studios would experience the flight of best selling novelists from back East who would hand in screenplays with too much exposition and dialogue. Studio heads would throw their hands in the air. I was aware of my limits. If paired with a real screenwriter I would give them the reigns. This was not my wheelhouse.

However, as I said I am learning how to do it. The pilot I have written is shaping up. One, I have stopped being a coward when it comes to revision. Two, I know that I am the only one who can truly tell the story about my world. I am the one to write this piece. Me and only me. 

Studying screenwriting has made me a better actor and comedian. So much of my twenties were spent doing comedy and ventriloquism that I really didn't "act." I was too young to play the character roles I was good for and plus, I just liked creating my own work. Screenwriting teaches you that each word counts, which has made my joke writing better. Each character has a quirk for a reason,which has made my character development better. Each word matters, which has made me a better actor because just as that writer wrote that word for a reason, I know my character says it for a reason. Screenwriting has made me love collaboration as both a writer and an actor, because I no longer see it as a curse but as a gift to be a part of something greater than myself. It makes me appreciate being a writer and a performer, but appreciate other writers and performers as well, because without this most holy combination my work wouldn't exist.

I will say I am still not a great screenwriter. There is a lot of work to be done. The future of this pilot is uncertain just as the future of anything that's "brilliant" in ones mind. But grad school has opened a door that was always there that I was just too afraid to push. I think I might have found an accidental wheelhouse in screenwriting and I'm okay with that. 

The last thing I will say is this. As I write, I have learned when a scene or piece of dialogue doesn't move a story along, no matter how smashing or witty, it must go. I know somewhere Judd Apatow, Alfred and Alma Hitchcock, and many others have cried the same tears. Yet these are also tears of happiness. With each draft, and each revision, I am closer and closer to where I need to be.......getting my work out into the world. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Towel Juggling

This past week I was on ABC's Videos After Dark. A TV appearance is always a mix of fun and stressful. Growing up I remember Bob Saget was always Danny Tanner. He introduced my video and didn't even tell me to go to my room!!!! Bonus, he didn't pay my way into grad school either. #Winning

Did I mention life is good.


Is that my dad? NOOO!!!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Open Letter To Covington High

Dear Mr. Rowe,

I grew up in the church. Both of my parents went to Catholic school, my dad until 9th grade and my mom all the way through grade 12. My cousin is Bishop William Winter of Pittsburgh, and my cousin married not only my parents, but all of my aunts and uncles, and at the age of 90 made a special appearance at my sister’s wedding on the alter. The priest who married my sister played high school football with my brother, and his parents, who are active in many Catholic causes, live next door to my parents in my hometown. My grandparents attended church two times a week and said the rosary daily until they passed away. Not only did I grow up respecting God and the church, but being Catholic was and still is very much a part of my fabric.
When I saw Mr. Nick Sandmann taunt Nathan Phillips I was horrified not only as a person, but as a Catholic. Nick Sandmann does not represent the Catholic Church I knew growing up. The church I grew up in prayed for the family of the fallen  Yitzhak Rabin, because despite having a different faith than us he still fought for peace in a war torn region. We prayed for the family of Matthew Shepherd, because the way he was murdered was ghastly, inhumane, and a hate crime. We also adopted a refugee family from Croatia, as the former Yugoslavia was at the time a battleground and many were dying. In taking in this family we did advocate "building a wall." In fact, our church was doing the opposite. 
 We were taught Catholic meant universal, and that the gift of being Catholic was you could go into a church anywhere and see Catholics of all shapes, sizes, and colors and have something in common. Ethnicity and color were no factor, and we were taught that it was acceptable for churches overseas to have Jesus's that were non-white, but also welcome. My elders in the Catholic Church emphasized treating all people with dignity regardless of whether they were like me or not. It was the Golden Rule, do onto others as they would do on to you. Both my grandfathers were not only good Catholics, but veterans who served their country in World War II in the South Pacific. I was taught to respect not only my elders, but all veterans as they sacrificed for our country. 
Sadly it appears this is not a part of the curriculum at Covington.  
Our priest did teach us about evil though. He sad it was afraid, egotistical, stupid and ultimately pathetic. The young man who got into the face of Nathan Phillips was all these things and so much more. I will not say his name as he does not deserve to be acknowledged let alone remembered, as his actions were the low road and Mr. Phillips took the high road in the face of true evil and hate. Actually, this tale reads like a Jesus parable. Ironically these kids were part of The March For Life effort, but these kids don't respect life at all, period. 
I am the oldest female cousin of 26 cousins and have worked as a teaching artist. When I see terrible behavior from young people, it doesn't speak so much about them but the adults that act as both parents and teachers. I shudder to think what the parents of these young men are like, and I think it's disgusting their chaperones did nothing to stop their vile behavior but instead stood back and did nothing. What turns my stomach most is these young men chanted "Build a wall" and blamed the start of the conflict on a group of black kids. Not only are these kids being taught intolerance, but part of being an adult is taking responsibility for ones own actions. They aren't being taught that either. Apparently the only value they are being taught at Covington is hate. 
While I could call your less than stellar scholar any set of names, it would do us no good. This young man is on a path that leads to no where positive. As Ghandi once said, "An eye for an eye leaves the world blind," and this kid is currently walking in a darkness that is only going to ultimately drag him down. My prayer is he will see the light and learn the error of his ways, as Saul did when he became Paul when God blinded him. They talk about these conversions and miracles in The Bible. You should read it. It's actually a good book when you don't pervert it to your own agenda that includes being a racist hate monger. 
Then again, you don’t seem to be big on reading at Covington. Because if you were, you would know that the white man was the invader and technically, if anyone should have a grievance about building a wall it should have been the indigenous peoples to keep our rape, slavery, and smallpox out. And you would also know the Catholic Church was the biggest presence in colonization, erasure of Native peoples, and the slave trade. But hey, why tell the truth? And why change? 
Just some food for thought.
April Brucker