First up, about my blog name: "gambrinous with griffonage". Gambrinous is an obscure word meaning "being full of beer." Illegible handwriting is known as "griffonage." My handwriting has always been horrible, and much more so when I am drunk. Neither of which has anything to do with why I blog. Actually, the alcohol might have something to do with that.... I do this because I thought I would share the wanderings on which my mind takes me. And I like to passive-aggressively torture others.
Remember: There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
You can't say I didn't warn you.
Where to begin?
Just so you can associate the information you will be reading with the person it belongs to, here's a picture of me. Because I know you're going to ask, "How recent is the picture?," it's not. In fact, it's from the spring of 1998. Over a decade ago! Scary thing is, about the only difference between then and now are a few (hundred) gray hairs. The facial hair has changed (and keeps getting changed depending on my mood!). Some of the other pictures scattered around here are more recent and you can hopefully tell that my appearance hasn't changed that much... so far.
In the Beginning...
Now you know what I look like, so where should I really start? How about with my name? I don't know what my name was when I was born (I was adopted), but it is currently Erik.
Just in case you're wondering on being adopted, I do have a desire to find out who my "sperm-and-egg-donors" were. Mostly for their medical histories, since most diseases are genetically inherited anyway. There is some curiosity in me about the common "adopted thoughts" of: "Do I look like them?" or "Do I have any siblings?" and just "Why?" But those are questions that I can leave unanswered. In this day and age, it's the genetic background that I'm totally interested in, and what I can expect from my body later in life.
After getting this information about me down in "zeroes and ones," it would appear I seem to be able to organize my life into three stages so far. There are: my pre-college life, my college years and my life immediately after college, and my life since finding "myself." While I hate the cliché of college being the "big" changing place in my life, it really was where I began seriously looking inside myself as a person, as you will later read.
With that in mind, I present my life thus far in a somewhat "edited for television" format....
I was raised in the "Sunshine State" of Florida, in a town just outside of Orlando, called Apopka. If memory serves me, Apopka means "big potato" in the Seminole tongue. Apopka wasn't really a small town, but we lived outside the city limits in the county—way "out" in the sticks for Florida. My father owns a plant nursery, and needed lots of space to raise the plants, so we were rather isolated from other people as I was growing up. These days, Orlando and the surrounding towns have pretty much turned into a megalopolis, and an expressway has been built right through the middle of dad's nursery... Isn't growth wonderful? Not to worry: my dad found a large area of land close to the current location of the nursery, and is in the process of moving the nursery to the new site.
Very young picture of me,
Another young me,
Contrary to what others may believe, I was born (or hatched, cloned, or something...). Here are some baby pictures that I present as proof that I haven't always been this old. Look at that forehead! I look like a freaking Beluga whale or some other thing you would see swimming around Sea World. I wonder why my parents didn't rent it out as a billboard? I was bald for the longest time as a kid. Total strangers would come up to my mom when she was holding me to rub my head for good luck. No wonder I was bald—they kept rubbing off all the freakin' hair that was trying to grow!
After being yanked out of the public school system due to my parents increasing concern about the bad influences I was surrounded with, I was thrust into the "private" religious school system starting with the fifth grade. After a year at that Baptist school, I was moved to a different school which I attended from sixth grade through my senior year. It was a private, Church of Christ-based school called Mt. Dora Bible School (more formally known as "Christian Home and Bible School"). I graduated from high school in 1991. Due to the small size of the class I was in—only 19 students in my graduating class, and many of them had been there as long as or longer than I had—I miss some of the people that I had become close to at the school. We didn't have a 10-year class reunion in 2001—due mostly to the fact that I was the class vice-president and it was my responsibility to organize one.
Me as the mascot,
What else can I tell you about my school years? I was the mascot for my high school—a bulldog. Kind of sexy, huh? Nice collar. Just add a little more leather... woof! You want to lose weight fast? Just put on one of those outfits and run around a hot gym for several hours. Instant weight loss—guaranteed! From those experiences, I now understand why people like to hide behind "masks": you can do almost anything, be your true self, and do something you would never do when someone knew it was you. That was definitely a fun thing to do.
I definitely wasn't a "jock" in school. About the only "sport" I enjoyed was track, and in my senior year, cross-country. It wasn't so much that I enjoyed it—everyone knows I never put my heart or much effort into it. It was just a way for me to be by myself, more or less, and contemplate some of the "crap" that was starting to go through my head at that time.
There are several individuals in my life that I will forever be indebted to for the time and energy they expended on me. One of them was my track/cross-country coach. He's the one in the picture with me over there. (Look how skinny and gangly I was. And what's with me having no tan and living in Florida?)
Soaring with Eagles...
Since I'm writting about people who were important to my development as a member of human society, another would have to be my former Scoutmaster, Mr. Sapp. I am extremely thankful for the opportunities I had as both a Cub Scout and as a Boy Scout. I am forever grateful to Mr. Sapp for pushing me to be my best, which eventually culminated in my obtaining the rank of Eagle. I believe both he and "Coach" laid the foundation for me that has aided me in becoming who and what I am today.
I guess I could write how I feel about the decisions BSA, Inc. has made regarding Scouts and leaders who are gay, but that's really a whole different story—one of which still brings up mixed emotions for me.
The Dark Years
After graduating from high school, and for several not apparently well thought out at the time reasons, I promptly left all that Florida has to offer, and moved to Arkansas to attend college. After living in the central Arkansas for five years—and having finally graduating from college—I happily (actually, ecstatically) moved away from that town whose name I dare not speak. I'm sure that for a lot of people their college years were probably the best time of their life. This could be the furthest from the truth for me. During that time I was beginning to struggle with what the church called "demons"—and leaving that place behind was something I needed to do.
The only bright spot for me during that entire time was meeting one person—someone that I, to this day, refer to as "dad." He was there for me during many dark times in those college years. Unfortunately as of the beginning of 2005, I had to more-or-less sever that relationship due to it becoming a strain on my well-being.
I ended up in Fayetteville, Arkansas, located in the northwest corner of the state, which has probably been one of the best moves I have made so far. I had planed to work on a Master's degree, but after moving changed my mind and pretty much threw myself into the "working life."
At my brother's wedding, 2000.
I Wish Lunch Could Last Forever...
While in college, I started working for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., at store level, first as a cashier, then in the cash office. After graduation, not knowing what I was going to do with my life—wasn't I supposed to have figured that out in college?—and needing what I felt to be a pending life-changing event, I transferred to the Wal-Mart Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, which is a few towns North of where the University of Arkansas is located that I was planning on doing graduate work at. I gave up on the graduate work almost immediately after moving there, and after five years of service with Wal-Mart, I "retired" to pursue my own ideas about what work should involve.
Beginnings of Restlessness
In January 1999, my partner more on that further on in your readings] and I opened the Odyssey Personal Image Salon in Rogers, Arkansas. I love having our own business, but was rather bored and mentally unchallenged sitting at the salon all day long. I had become a "believer" in the "healing" power of touch and what can happen to a human that is not touched. Restless with my "mundane" existence at the salon, I began attending the White River School of Massage in Fayetteville, Arkansas in April 2001. From a business standpoint, it made sense to expand our salons services to include therapeutic massage, while also allowing me to bring in an additional income doing something around the salon. I graduated in August 2001 from a 500-hour program and passed my Arkansas State Board in the middle of September 2001 (four days following the events of September 11).
Back in the Cell, er, Pod
After the events of September 11, 2001, things started to get rather tight at the salon. People began canceling appointments and watching their money tightly not knowing what the future would bring. With the drop in income, Robert and I decided it would be a good thing if I get back on in the "safety net" that Wal-Mart is so good at providing. I figured I could work at Wal-Mart in the daytime, and do massages in the evenings.
After several interviews and much waiting, I started back at Wal-Mart in November 2001. I started out in one area, but I really couldn't handle being desk-bound for 9 hours a day. So as luck would have it, I was "loaned" out to another area that was in need of help so they could catch up. I enjoyed that job so much I requested to be transferred and I was. I built and repaired computers and installed software all day long, which I really enjoyed.
Luckily, vanity has prevailed and things have since picked back up at the salon. The additional income was wonderful, and I felt mentally challenged so I kept the job with Wal-Mart. I have since given up my massage practice.
After two years of doing the computer repair thing, I was promoted to an Engineering position—dealing with maintaining the Windows operating systems used in the Wal-Mart environment. It, as any job, has its moments. I enjoyed what I did but I hated having to constantly battle with my management to get the job done correctly.
After another five years back at Wal-mart, I was beyond ready for yet another career change. As such, I am now a licensed tattoo artist in the State of Arkansas. Finally, a way to make money with my art talent, be my own boss, and give to others something I have enjoyed getting myself.
After 3 years of doing the Wal-Mart thing by daytime, and the tattoo thing by night, I was mentally and physically worn out. After a massive layoff at the Wal-Mart Home Office and a management change that killed morale, I left Wal-Mart for the second time on June 24, 2009. I'm now a full-time tattoo artist.
On the knees of my heart...
Earlier I mentioned "partner." Partner, as in I'm not "officially" married as sanctioned by any religion or the government, but I am in a committed, lifelong relationship with another individual. In this case, another man. Meaning simply: I'm gay. And I'm very much in love with a wonderful man!
Robert singing in the rain, 2004.
That man is Robert in the picture]. We are a happily partnered couple. I refer to Robert as my "husbear"—a term that I have since found many other bear-ish couples use as well.
Robert is a wonderful man. He's a little shorter than average (he's 5′7″ tall), broad shouldered, 9 years my senior, and becoming more "bearish" as the years go by. He's intelligent; and has a wonderful, playful quality, as you can probably see from the pictures around the site. He enjoys cooking, farming and working outside. Not the most computer-savvy person, he uses the computer for games and online chatting, so if you'd like you can send him an e-mail.
Question: How do I know I'm gay?
You mean other than the simple fact that men get me hard and women don't, right? (I know that was probably a little vulgar. But it's the easiest way to express the statement.)
In retrospect, I see things in my past that pretty much said "I'm gay!" which were either avoided or ignored by myself and those around me. But seriously—as far as I know, I've always been this way. It just took me a long time to accept the truth of the statement "I am gay." thanks largely to my heavily religious Church of Christ upbringing and other teachings I now believe to have been instituted by those in power to keep the mindless masses at bay.
One could say I began to accept the truth when I was 23. Yep, I made it all the way to 23 and had never had sex—with male or female. (No wonder I was so frustrated.) I had finally come to a point in my life where I decided that the only way I would know for sure if the feelings I had been fighting all my life meant something by just "doing it." Let's say the puzzle was completed for me in that moment. Not to say that it has been easy since then. Just because I finally knew the truth about myself, it has been a long road to acceptance for me and for others around me.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are," and other Fairy Tales...
Does this mean I'm not out? That depends. Being out means a lot of things depending on who you're talking with. As people get to know me, most figure out that I'm gay on their own. Being gay is just one piece of the puzzle that makes me me. If people won't accept me as a person for the example I live by, then why bother adding anything else they obviously won't be able to deal with?
People know me. People know I have a partner. People know we have kids. That is what's important to me. I think people are sometimes so busy looking at the puzzle pieces they don't see the whole picture.
What do I enjoy doing?
Well, thank you for asking. <wink> There are lots of things, some of which I can't mention here to keep these pages at least rated "PG-13." These are listed in no particular order and are by no means all the things I like to do:
Spending time with my "significant other."
(Where the heck did that "s.o." term evolve from anyway?) Most people think that after so many years Robert and I are nuts to want to spend so much time with each other. Running our own business together and me working outside of that takes a lot of time and energy from both of us. So when we do have down time, we like to spend it together. Watching Cartoons.
Two words: "Cartoon Cartoons!" I get criticized frequently for my unending devotion to cartoons. I think you can learn a lot about society and culture from cartoons. There's often a history lesson or social commentary buried in there. As a kid, Who would have ever thought cartoons would have some deeper meaning? Then again, sometimes they're just mind-numbing and that's okay too. From "Spongebob Squarepants" to "Futurama" to "South Park"—there's always something good on. Do-It-Yourself stuff.
Why pay someone else to do it when you can do it yourself. Okay, I'll admit it—I got hooked on the "Trading Spaces" craze (actually, thanks to BBC America I got hooked on "Changing Rooms" before that) as well as pretty much every other freakin' DIY show on HGTV and TLC. Hey—if I do it myself, I have mostly likely learned something in the process. Listening to music.
I'm pretty open-minded to most genre of music. I know this might sound twisted, but I really love the sound of bagpipes. I don't know why or where I get it from, but I find it very relaxing. I also love Australian Aboriginal, African and Native American music. When I listen to the radio, it's most always on the local alternative or "modern" country radio stations. All gizmos electronic.
Can you even begin to imagine a life without the harnessed electron? How Dark Ages is that? I was lucky enough to be born in the "age of Computers," and I'm going to take full advantage of it. Gawd only knows how many things I’ve taken apart and haven't been able to put back together. I know I probably spend way to much time in front of a computer, but if it's something you like there's no sense in not doing it, right? Junk Food.
Pizza and Hot Dogs: the eighth deadly sin. The most excellent foods to ever have been invented. Where would I be without a slice of pizza? Hot dogs are great, too. I may not have a diverse palette when it comes to food, but me likes what me likes. Sci-Fi.
I'm partial to the "Star Trek" universe (because I hope Gene Roddenberry has it right), especially The Next Generation and Voyager series. I also enjoy other sci-fi and sci-fantasy reading and movies. Ancient History.
More specifically, ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Hindu history and a recently acquired interest in "speculative" pre-History. I'm definitely no "Indiana Jones," but I love archaeology and ancient philosophy, especially those of cultures that lasted several thousand years. I know in real-life it's probably actually mind-numbing work at times. But to be able to figure out the puzzles of the past....
When I step back and take a look at the above list—it's really hard to read from a distance?—it seems like none of the things I like to do really go together. I guess that just shows how warped my personality really is?
Andy Warhol, eat your heart out...
Life is Just a Tire Swing...
If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time out of your probably busy schedule to read my ramblings.
What else can I tell you about myself? If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email. I'd like to hear what you have to say. If you want to know anything that's not mentioned here, you are going to have to send me some e-mail. After all, I can't read your mind... yet.
Until next time...