asheville writers

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New Book, “Chicken Soup for the Fuck You,” is here. 

Published August 19, 2016 by April Fox

My new book, Chicken Soup for the Fuck You: Inspirations, Observations, and Character Assassinations is now available in print and Kindle format via Amazon

Here’s a little about the book: 

“Chicken Soup for the Fuck You” is spit straight from the hyperactive brain of a lifelong oddball who has, to put it simply, seen some shit. In the process of finding her voice after a decade and a half of quiet, April Fox puts a wry spin on politics, religion, and the weird and wonderful aspects of everyday life, including parenting a herd of eclectic children. In between, there are periods of darkness, and those are reflected here too.

In short, “Chicken Soup for the Fuck You” is a feel-good book for people who hate feel-good books.

April’s work has been described as “Intoxicating… Awesome, inspiring, and resonating all the way.”
“…a huge dose of reality.”

“Enigmatic and thought-provoking, but still touching.”

“…filthy.”



Chicken Soup for the Fuck You is a collection of essays (some previously published here) in line with Jon Stewart’s Naked Pictures of Famous People, interspersed with brief one-liners and a few lines of verse. It runs the gamut from Barbie’s role model status to evangelist Pat Robertson’s readiness to come out of the closet to why kids with autism don’t make the best survey subjects sometimes. One early reader said he was laughing on one page, raging on the next, and on the verge of tears with the one after that; another, before reading, hoped the book came with “a piece of the author’s brain.” Chicken Soup for the Fuck You is exactly that: a slice of my brain, stuffed inside a paperback cover and served straight to you, ready to be enjoyed. 

Bridges

Published May 13, 2016 by April Fox

There is a bridge

between caring and not

Sturdier than it looks

and once you take the first step,

 it’s easy to cross. 

You can see them there, still-

the things you used to care about

Feel them watching, catch the breeze that carries across

a memory of them, the scent of something

lost

You can taste the regret of not going sooner, mingled with the stench

of the things that ripped them away, the things

you never could have cared about

no matter how you tried

Even in the shackles, looking back across the water, streaming water

down your face 

the things that turned the others 

into monsters

are less than nothing 

inside nothing

under the surface

Bold and bitter 

and irrelevant. 

On Transgender Bathrooms, Dennis Hastert, and How to Protect the Children

Published April 29, 2016 by April Fox

I posted this on my Facebook page this morning, but I thought I’d share it here as well.


Dennis Hastert sexually abused multiple children while he worked as a boys’ wrestling coach. He watched them shower. He gained their trust and then fondled them. He didn’t dress up like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, as proponents of bills like HB2 like to imagine. His disguise was much more clever and far more terrifying: He was a monster dressed as an authority figure, a buddy, a role model. He was like the thousands of coaches, teachers, clergy members, family members, family friends, camp counselors and others to whom we entrust our children every single day.

 
If there are nearly 750,000 predatory sex offenders free to enter our public restrooms in any form of attire, that’s what we need to address.

 
We need to address the fact that there are statutes of limitations on sex crimes, despite widespread knowledge that it can take victims many years before they are able to talk about what happened. They suffer in silence and then are told “Sorry, it was too long ago. Deal with it.”

 
We need to address the leniency in sentencing and the ease with which those in positions of power can often buy their way out of trouble.
We need to address the stigma of sexual abuse.

 
We need to address the idea of better education, so children feel more confident saying no, and speaking out.

 
We need to address the ignorance that teaches our children to fear anyone who looks different, but to follow without question anyone in a position of authority.

 
We need to address the reality that gender identity is a complex thing, not defined solely by the contents of your trousers.

 
We need to address the safety of transgender people, androgynous-appearing people, gay and lesbian people, as others in the community seek to harm them simply for needing to use the bathroom.

 
We need to address the safety of our children, who are at exponentially greater risk for suicide and self-harm if their sexuality and identity are not understood and supported by family and community members.

 
We do not, I promise you, need to address the question of whether or not your genitals match those of the person in the next stall over. If that is your concern, over all the others I just listed, then you are undoubtedly part of the problem.

New Book Coming Soon-Be a Part of It.

Published April 25, 2016 by April Fox

Hi wonderful friends and followers-I just wanted to share that I have a new book coming out in the next few months. This one is different than the previous ones, but if you’re following me here, I think you’ll like it. (Speaking of which, this is a good time to say thanks for being here.)

I’ve started a silly little contest over on my Facebook fan page, to decide which author photo to put on the back cover. Feel free to follow this link to cast your vote. And if you like, go ahead and follow me on Facebook to get updates on the new book, and more. As publication grows closer, I plan to offer a chance to win a free copy of the new book. 

Thanks again for sticking around. You all are fantastic. 

Condem(nation)

Published April 12, 2016 by April Fox

Take a look at your hair,

your skin

the color of your eyes

the space between your teeth

and your words, the cadence

with which they erupt

from your imperfect mouth, the syntax

tripping, flowing, smooth like

broken glass

Take a look at the things

that keep you up at night, the

sites you visit

in the bathroom

home alone, but with the door locked

anyway

the nightmares you’re afraid to tell

the hands you wish would reach for yours

across the universe of shame

the vacant way you stare and raise your hands

in praise

Take a look at your twisted limbs, your fractured smile, your thickened middle

evidence

of greed and gluttony

Take a look at the god you cry to

when your self becomes too much,

staring down the barrel

one finger on the trigger

the other in the air

Take a look at the wreckage

that your life has left behind, at the emptiness around you

at the vacuum that you are

shrunken, flaccid, impotent and weak

Take a look and see

how beautifully easy

it would be

to become the

hated thing. 

Quit Complicating Your Kids’ Questions About Gender and Sexuality

Published April 6, 2016 by April Fox

Every time legislation is passed that has anything to do with civil rights, things like being allowed to marry or use the bathroom in peace or whatever, people start using children as proxies for their fear and lack of understanding. It spreads like a rash across social media, this epidemic of made-up conversations kids are having with the adults in their lives and the resulting deep and moving concern about what to tell the children. “What am I supposed to say when little Khloweei asks about the gay couple in the produce section? How am I supposed to explain transsexuals in the bathroom? My child is too young to be talking about sex!”

Spoiler alert, in case you don’t want to read this whole super-long thing: You don’t have to talk about sex. It isn’t about sex, even. Not at all. I know, it’s shocking, what with the gays and the trannies humping each other all over the bus stop and the amusement parks and shit like that. I know they look like normal people doing normal things with their normal lives, but underneath, totally humping, willy-nilly everywhere.

But really, I’m sorry if you’re confused about how to address your kids’ questions. I’m not belittling that, at all. My kids have asked some things that have made me wish for a time machine so that I could go back and hide in the bathroom five minutes before they decided to ask. Kids ask some intense questions, and some very serious questions, and those should without a doubt be answered. But. (You know me, there’s always a but.)

Here’s what’s really important to remember: children don’t think like adults.

To a small child, everything is new and different. They don’t have decades of experience and context to which they can relate their everyday lives and observations, like we do. Their points of reference are self-centered. I don’t mean that in the negative way it’s often used, but literally: their experience centers around themselves.

And so when you’re standing at a crosswalk beside two men holding hands, you’re taking in everything: They’re adults. They’re smiling at each other, leaning into each other, laughing quietly. One has a take-out box from that fancy candle-lit restaurant up the street; clearly, they’re on a date, and if they only got one box for leftovers, they must be going home together. One man has a bottle of wine tucked into his elbow. They’re going home to drink wine. It’s going to be romantic. They’ll probably end up having sex. That’s what’s running through your head when your child says, “Mommy, why are those boys holding hands?”

You know what’s going through your kid’s head, most likely? Why do those boys have to hold hands to cross the street? They’re grown-ups. Grown-ups can go by themselves. That’s weird.  So how do you answer that question? Try something like, “Sometimes people hold hands when they like each other. I guess they must like each other.” Chances are, your kid is going to give you a really insightful response, probably something along the lines of, “Oh. Look, there’s a squashed caterpillar on the sidewalk. Can I touch it?”

When your child asks why Auntie has a girlfriend, he’s probably not wondering why she prefers women to men. It’s probably just the same question kids ask roughly eleven million times a day: Why? Why are my socks blue? Why is that spaghetti? Why is that lady’s butt so big? Why can’t I touch that squashed caterpillar? Why does Auntie have a girlfriend?

And just like above, it’s a pretty simple answer: “They must like each other.”

If your child is old enough that he’s beginning to understand what kind of relationships are more common than others and to notice when things look a little different than what he’s used to, and his question really is about why Auntie likes girls and not boys, that’s an easy answer too: “Some girls like other girls.” If they ask for more, you can give that information without making everything about sex. I’m pretty sure when your kid asked you why you and Daddy got married, for example, you didn’t say, “Well, Snugglemuffin, we just wanted to make sure your daddy would be able to stick his pecker in me every night for the rest of his life.” You probably talked about love and happiness and friendship — and those are the same things you talk about when you’re talking about Auntie and her girlfriend. Easy peasy, man. You don’t even have to learn anything new.

Of course, the big thing now is transgender. Everybody’s freaking out about the transgenders in the bathrooms and Oh…my… Gawwwwwwd what if my precious little snowflake Mhaddisynne Claire goes in the bathroom and sees a person who looks like a man in a dress? WHAT DO I TELL HER?”

Well first off, tell her potty time is privacy time, which is what you should have been telling her since she was old enough to start having a decent grasp of receptive language.

If it does come up, if your little one sees someone with masculine-appearing features in traditionally feminine clothing and says (at the top of her lungs, at that piercing pitch children only hit when they’re saying something that makes you want to crawl into the toilet and die) “Why is that man wearing a dress?” what the heck do you say?

I’ll tell you. If that happens, then you go, like, “That’s a lady.”

And then if your kid is like, “That looks like a man,” then you go, “People look all different ways. She’s just trying to use the restroom, like you are. Go wash your hands. Go. Use soap. Not that much soap.” (Because that’s how bathroom conversations always end, I don’t care if there’s a band of Civil War reenacting drag queens in there, you’re going to say the soap thing. And also, you really don’t know, do you? Unless you’re the weirdo peeking up her skirt, you don’t know that that lady isn’t a biological woman with stronger features than most.)

I’m not saying not to have conversations about gender and sexuality with your kids. These are issues they’re going to face, if not personally, than as witnesses as their family and friends deal with them. But it’s ridiculous to think these conversations have to center around what people do in their private bedrooms or wardrobes. If you wouldn’t talk about the sex lives or genitalia of straight, cisgendered people, then it’s not appropriate conversation-period. As your child gets older, your conversations can become more comprehensive, but when your child is small, your answers about sexuality and gender should be as simple and gentle as conversations about love and death and anything else that you have a responsibility to explain. Don’t complicate it. Teach love, compassion, respect and inclusion, and your simple answers will grow into understanding soon enough.

 

 

Street Fair Slut

Published February 14, 2016 by April Fox

Let’s sell these things

on a street corner somewhere 

looking far too innocent, with raised eyebrows and lids

open wide, and the hint of a smile

hanging around the edges 

of our lips

Let’s open our coats and offer them,

hanging there from rusted hooks

ten for a penny, twelve for a dollar

buy one get one free

Fingers torn off with the tendons rough and bare,

tongues sliced away, dripping blood and insolence 

eyeballs carved out carefully

with the sharpened edge of a spoon-

if you peer inside, you might see the thing

that made you raise the blade. 

Let’s sell these things, pressed between the pages of a journal

long-since burnt

scribbled onto dirty palms

professionally bound

and sent out from a factory

like underwear, or paint. 

Let’s sell these things, perched up

on a barstool 

sneakers kicking air

face too far from the microphone 

whisper, shout, silence, sing

Let’s sell these things 

and count the coins

let them go without regret

let them land on someone else to hold,

and earn back what they stole. 

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