Life After High School: Interview with Eric Pope

Chapter 5 of my blog-to-book project: Life After High School: Secrets To A Successful Life By Those Who Have Had Twenty Years To Think About It (or) What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School continues via an interview with Eric Pope. If you missed the last post, click here, otherwise, you can start at the beginning here.

Eric Pope

Seattle, WA

My Life In High School

Eric Pope AHS 1996

Who were you in High School and how did you feel about it?

I was a shy computer geek who was in debate and played soccer. I played Dungeons and Dragons on the weekend with my few friends. I did not belong to Anacortes just yet—most of the town was upset with all the Californians who moved in the early 90’s and I was a part of that migration. There were people who hated me just because my parents bought property that used to be a favorite woodland to play in.

What did you think your life would become when you graduated?

Working for Microsoft, married with 4 kids and a soccer dad by the time I was 30.

My Life After High School

Eric Pope Wotan with club

What happened in your life to you, for you, and by you in the last twenty years (how have you used your time and who have you become)?

Eric Pope’s 20-Year Adventure

Living The Fairytale Life In A Sin City Comic Book

  • Incredible relationships
  • Acting in movies
  • Breaking world records with the world’s largest zombie horde
  • Nerd celebrity
  • Commercial whitewater river rafting guide
  • Working at Wizards of the Coast on Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering
  • Burning Man
  • Performances
Lowest points:
  • Runaway bride
  • Depression
  • Had to get a restraining order to keep an ex away
  • Two heart surgeries
  • Crohn’s disease and Pancreatitis
  • Suicidal partners


For most of my life, I have been good at computers and creativity. I spent most of my early teens helping Anacortes school district build computer labs for schools and even teaching teachers how to use Windows Word for the first time. Was even in the high school art club and was their treasurer. Spent the weekends playing role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, developing my acting skills and silly voices.

My core group was Brandon Schultz, Adam Paul, Chris Ellis, Kyle Bunker, Corey George and Jesse Schenk. Over time some would come and go, but this was my wolf pack and best friends. A year after high school some of us were focusing on school and others the night life, but it was during this time I started forming my own identity.

I have always wanted to be a knight from the movies, to be the hero and do the right thing. I identified with Superman as well, not because of his powers but what he represented. A hero of hope and inspiration even though he was an alien from another world which would also explain my feelings of being a shy teenager in Anacortes.

I was a hopeless romantic with rose-colored glasses welded on, couldn’t see any faults with my bad friendships and romantic relationships. I tried to see the best in everyone and feeling like an outcast I often identified with the freaks, geeks, and nerds in the world. After all these experiences I feel like I am no longer the knight who has the shining armor, now the armor is dented and has some mud flung on it. Even though the armor is damaged the spirit and the dream is the same.

Community College Years

At Skagit Valley College I began my transformation by hanging out with the Goths and misfits. Started getting into real romantic relationships, more than just going to high school dances and holding hands. Was also exposed to multiple faiths and cultures, I made it a point to go out on dinner dates with a girl from a different religion just to understand her perspective.

I also joined my first tech startup called Fidalgo Networking. We were one of the three companies you had to choose from to get internet service. Started out as a low-level customer support tech and stayed with them throughout community college and Western Washington University. Mostly playing video games and pausing when a customer called or walked in the front door.

The biggest achievement during these years was using my technical skills to make an impressive video for a class project in a combined class for Human Sexuality/English/Media. My group ended up giving the speech and showing the video for both a state senator and the Governor of Washington. I dated a Scottish lass named Karate Girl (real names have been omited for privacy), she introduced me to Kenpō Karate and I was with them for several years even after the relationship ended. This was my first introduction to fighting.

Western Washington University Years

I attended to receive my degree in Computer Engineering and a certificate in web programming. These three years were intense as I started to explore both my relationships and acting side in my life. I initially intended to be a counselor and work with children but my father convinced me to stay the course for computer science because I do tend to take home the stresses of work. Counselors tend to work with the worst case situations and witness hard luck stories that would haunt you. I joined many clubs and activities like swing dancing, was drawn into all kinds of martial arts and joined a few underground clubs that were more or less like fight club but we could talk about it. Most of us just wanted to make sure we could keep fighting after taking a good hit. After most of the members started coming down with serious injuries I left.

I managed to find a few dungeons and dragons groups but they introduced this new thing called Larping, where we would dress like vampires and play in dark corridors, forgotten sections of the library and empty buildings. It was like improv theater and I loved it, didn’t have to commit to week after week memorizing lines, it was more natural, and I was good at it.

From this community I started dating goth girls which put me at odds with my Christian friends from the community college, I was pretty much ostracized for trying out new things. Goth Girl was a goth and punk hair stylist, she ended up being my sugar mama when I moved in with her. She would drop me off to school, pay the rent, get the groceries, dye my hair and dress me up for clubbing in Seattle. She was my introduction to the Seattle nightlife and party houses like Freak Manor before it was just bar hopping around Bellingham or house parties.

This was also my first experience of having more than one partner as Goth Girl was bi-curious, so we had a girlfriend that joined us for about a year named Computer Girl. But I will leave it at that. Goth Girl introduced me to the wide world of cosplay and conventions around 2001, I found large groups of people who believed that Halloween wasn’t the only time to wear costumes! That was the gateway drug into all kinds of communities and cultures, such as medieval renaissance fares and heavy sword fighting. I became obsessed with that fighting until I gave a man a concussion from battle, I haven’t gone back to heavy fighting of any kind since.

While on all these adventures I continued to work for Fidalgo Networking but now was working remotely, just answer the cellphone when it rings. I had the freedom to travel anywhere and work, just as long as it was a quiet place. The company mostly benefited from this as I was able to take odd hours and when I was at school had a large resource pool of computer geeks to ask questions to.

Stop Eric PopeEric Pope crazy

Crohn’s Disease and Pancreas Problems (Spring of 2003)

At the end of my college years the excessive lifestyle was catching up to me, Goth Girl tried to kill herself because we had been dating for too long. It still doesn’t make sense even though we are friends today, I tried to support her but she was deep in her depression. I still maintained the polyamorous lifestyle, now with two young beautiful girls named Foxy Girl and Gamer Girl. This brought upon jealousy from my single friends from the dungeons and dragons games who were also part of the computer science program. One by one they asked Gamer Girl out but she only had eyes for me.

My senior year was a hard one as I found myself now ostracized by my close friends who added drama to computer science world for me. Even so far as one old friend who started dressing up as Lex Luthor because I was known for wearing superman shirts at school. That was a little strange. To make matters worse my workload at Fidalgo went to full-time as I was the senior employee and handled the hardest calls, I tried to squeeze 20 credits a quarter to finish in spring when Microsoft recruiters would be coming by and my girlfriends started fighting with each other so I had to put some distance with Gamer Girl.

The stress got to me and soon food started hurting when I ate.

The doctors thought I gave myself a super ulcer but after 2 weeks I drove myself to the Emergency room and found out that my pancreas was destroying itself. I was hospitalized for three weeks as doctors had no idea how my pancreas got into this state. The fifth doctor who took on my case took a long shot and found out that I had Crohn’s which is another disease that crawled its way up my stomach and infected my pancreas. Long story short (too late Eric you have already set yourself up for the long version) when they tell you that stress can kill you it really can.

While I was hospitalized my good friends who ostracized me visited frequently asking for forgiveness and hoping I would be alright. I managed to convince the hospital to let me bring in my computer so I could finish my senior project which was a 3D multiplayer Pac-man game. It was a large group project and I wasn’t going to let my team down. Turns out I ruined it for future generations as the teacher now tells students he doesn’t even care if you are in the hospital because he had one student finish from his hospital bed. Foxy Girl and Gamer Girl continued to fight over who got to visit me, one particularly bad night the girls were fighting in front of me so I left the room pulling my liquids and IV cords behind me. Nurses still laugh about that one. When I was discharged I was taking an average of 32 pills a day in a hellish medical cocktail just to keep my body from killing itself.

Eric Pope Film NoirEric Pope Pike Place Market

Foxy Girl Timeline (2003 to 2007) – Midpoint 10-Year High School Reunion

Foxy Girl stayed with me through thick and thin, even when her mother was trying to convince her to leave me and marry someone healthier. For two years I had to slowly taper off high doses of Prednisone a terrible steroid that takes over your world, I couldn’t even drive I had so many drugs going through me. Funny thing is that while I couldn’t really operate books or a computer very well I could still take tech calls so I went on part-time to keep income coming in.

Eventually, I was off all medicine with the help of medical marijuana, acupuncture and learning not to stress the fuck out. It took a lifestyle change as I removed many forms of stress from my world. I ended up making Foxy Girl my world and helping her finish college, she wanted to go into costume design so we entered all kinds of costume contests around the pacific coast. She became discouraged as college courses became too hard and she had me take her online math tests just to pass. She dropped out after 4 years of trying and became depressed.

During this time I was slowly getting back into my career, started as a web developer on the side for 2 years and then was picked up by a start-up in Anacortes called Integra which ended up being the first of many daggers in the back from a startup experiences. I was fired at 5 months and 2 weeks, just a few weeks shy of stock options. Thankfully this was enough experience to get into contracting with Microsoft and brought me to the Redmond / Bellevue area.

The 10-year high school reunion came and went, I was still a little shy to open up to our class and Foxy Girl’s personality seemed to make some of the classmates uncomfortable. The following year I was making more money than I ever thought I would be making with Google and was working on some amazing projects. The biggest contribution to the software world at this point was the rotating and animated emoticons in chat programs. I worked on this with two twin brothers at google. Foxy Girl’s depression continued to grow and at this point, she gave up on school, just wanted to get married and have kids.

It was a few weeks before our wedding was scheduled that she told me she had been having an affair with a friend of mine who was a cloth vendor at festivals. We knew early on that he was a bit of a charmer and has been known to break up relationships, just never thought it would happen to me.

From this point on I was not as trusting of people and started learning filters to separate the bad from the good. We were together for 7 years, which is still the longest relationship I have ever had. She was the only partner I opened up to 100% and if there is such a thing as true love it was her, we took walks every day after work just to reconnect. The depression sent me into a spiral, left my job at Google and just traveled to events. I gave up on a lot of dreams and just played world of Warcraft for half a year.

Eventually, I woke up and told myself “I don’t want to be a grandfather who would tell his grandkids stories about his 60th level paladin, I want to tell them about the adventures I was in.”

King Of Zombies In The Dark Side Of Seattle (2008 – 2012)

I still did costuming and continued the work that Foxy Girl started with me, I just went on a larger scale with my Wotan the Faeriesmasher costume by winning Master Class and Best-In-Show at Gencon the largest convention for gamers. I went pro from here on out, I was asked to help out at costume shows and even give lectures at shows. For two years I worked off and on at Wizards of the Coast on Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering.

This was the golden years of my career in a way because I was working on the games I grew up with as a teen, the pay was crap but the geek prestige was through the roof. I had strangers ask for my signature even though I didn’t even work on that particular book. My rise in nerd stardom grew during this point.

Another project I helped out with was called The Seattle Zombie Walk a flash mob where zombies would gather and surprise an area of Seattle just exploded in popularity. We went from a couple of college kids just having fun to hundreds then thousands of zombies in our horde. My friend (and roommate) who worked for the democratic party told me that in town hall meetings conservatives were concerned about these zombie flash mobs and what the government would do when the zombies came to their town.

The founder of the zombie walk and future girlfriend Artsy Girl was overwhelmed by its success and began to resent it, the art project has changed on its own and handed the group over to me. I put so much time and effort into it, leading zombies on all kinds of adventures in different towns, on the ferry and even the light rail. In the early days, we would tell everyone when the cops show up scramble, but we grew so large that I started working with the police letting them know our routes just in case they get calls and enlisted zombie officers to help with the chaos.

It just caught on like wildfire. Soon I was working with producers for large concerts and events. We broke world records three times for zombie attendance. We had zombie conventions with popular zombie celebrities. The best memory from that time was a huge zombie wedding with over 50 zombies renewing their wedding license, Bruce Campbell from Army Of Darkness was the priest and I was revving ‘here come the bride’ on my chainsaw in the background.

I was in two documentaries, a history channel game show, three rock videos, hired to help out with commercials and teach extras how to be zombies, flown all over the USA for zombie gigs. I started averaging 10 to 15 conventions a year between my nerd career at Wizards of the Coast and leader of the zombie walks. My craziest adventure was leading a zombie walk to the San Diego Comic-Con premiere of Zombieland with Woody Harrelson and zombie models in the horde. That walk led into an adventure trying to get zombie strippers to a GWAR concert and having to run from the cops. I will need a few drinks to tell that story.

While this was happening I won a beauty pageant in the goth community in Seattle and became Mr. Goth Seattle of 2012, this introduced me into event production for bars and night clubs. Some of my weekends included leading a zombie walk during the day and then racing home to shower then host a for a club in downtown Seattle. I started modeling, attending fashion shows and bouncing all over Seattle’s club scene. Didn’t matter if it was goth, gay, posh or raves.

Meanwhile, I still tried to go to parties and stay involved with many social circles. I was known for hitting three events a night and a common joke with my close friends was “Hey Eric you have been here for 2 hours don’t you have another party to go to?” I really didn’t care anymore about a lot of things at this point, I was addicted to events and on the verge of burn out.

I dated women I shouldn’t have and pressed my luck on a lot of situations. There are some hotels and Denny’s that I am banned from, but overall grateful I have never been arrested or sued. Some called it open relationships and others called it lifestyling, but whatever you called it I was usually in relationships with three women at any given time. In a weird way, it worked out because I would have a clubbing girlfriend who was into the night scene, and a costume girl that loved zombies. I had someone to share each of my adventures with without burning out one single person. Some lasted longer than others, should have committed to a few who were precious gems and others should have run away from after I saw the first red flag.

I had a hard time with commitments because Foxy Girl was my everything and I couldn’t get over her or out of my mind. My brother spencer had just graduated and was having a hard time finding work so during these years I rented a large house in north Seattle, rented the rooms to him, his girlfriend and best friend for dirt cheap just so they could get their feet under them. Of all people it was my brother who gave me the relationship wake up call, he just told me he wasn’t even going to bother remembering any of their names and just nod as they walk by.

Artsy Girl Chronicles (2012 – 2014)

One of my solid close friends I had after Foxy Girl was Artsy Girl, a gorgeous tall blonde artist who was everything that I wanted as a partner at that time. I always respected my parent’s relationship, dad was the engineer and mother was the nurse and artist. A blend of logic and creative, I modeled my relationships and my life in that way as well looking for a similar balance.

In a way, I was glad I put myself in the friend zone with Artsy Girl because I needed to get my world back in order, I thought even if I could date someone like her I would being doing all right. We would talk once a week at least for a few hours, we would complain or brag about who we were dating at the time. She has always given me some of the best advice in my life and has helped me branch out into communities that I never knew existed.

A few of those were Burning Man, Faerieworlds, and she even-handed me the zombie walk that she started. I honestly owe her all of the glory and helping me become who I am. At the lowest point in the dark side of Seattle, I was dealing with a restraining order I had on a nanny that was furious I broke up with her and dating a demanding pole dancer who wanted me to give up my nerdy friends. Artsy Girl talked me into taking a break and becoming celibate for a few months, just stop dating.

Eric Pople River Rafting Guide

I entered an intense River Rafting Guide course that took away all my free time. I put in around 30+ trips that summer, I was certified guide and found a healthy passion. I pulled back on almost all of my events, only going to the largest ones I was in contract to be at. Around this time I kept ‘vag blocks’ around me, female friends I could trust who would intercept aggressive women.

At the end of the summer, I was in my first major motion picture Knights of Badassdom and it was amazing. For two weeks I rose from a backup background extra to a featured extra with several scenes right up in the camera. The director loved my outfit and the energy I brought to the set. They were so happy with me they flew me out to San Diego Comic-con to introduce the actors and directors for hall H panel. The filming took place in Spokane and I made a lot of great friends out there, for two weeks it was 10 to 12 hours on the set mostly at night. I never thought I would be singing karaoke with Steve Zhan and playing pool with the director Joe Lynch. I was happy to have a filmed death scene but then spending a full week as a corpse wasn’t the best thing in the world, but I am still glad I did it.

Eric Pope in Knights of Badassdom

This led me to all kinds of independent film companies and still heavily involved with today. This includes another film called ‘days of ember’, a few Indy short films by gravestone entertainment and zombie Orpheus. Just after Knights Of Badassdom I started to date again but kept it light compared to the past, then Artsy Girl had me come over to hang out and when I walked into her living room she had candles lit on every shelf and table. We started dating. I was thrilled to be dating the crush I had for years. We were a natural couple and she soon involved me in her adventures, nearly made me go broke because I would pay for my half of the trips but she is a trust fund kid whose father owned mansions and penthouses all over the USA.

Spent the month of December at her family’s penthouse in Manhattan that had a beautiful long view of Central Park right next to Trump towers, got to see a bunch of Broadway shows, visit every museum, went on my own Ghost Busters tour, celebrate X-mas and new years eve there. Trips to private lodges along the cascades, a mansion in Santa Fe, vampire masquerade ball in New Orleans, holidays with her family at the beach house near LA. Even though we were always traveling, I was really happy to give up most of my events to be a part of her high-class world. She even introduced me to some amazing events like Burning Man and Faerieworlds that soon became a big part of my life. I almost lost my job just because I was traveling so much.

During these years I felt like I needed to make more money so I took an intense Job with Amazon working R&D on Kindle Fire HD. Everything the papers say about Amazon is true, they push you to the breaking point and then will judge you on the extra tasks they pile on and not the job they hired you for. I wasn’t even there for a year but it felt like it burned away 5 years of my life from the stress and strain.

Our relationship began to fall apart when her business started failing and her family started to like me. To be brief her father always sent money when she couldn’t make ends meet or her art shows didn’t pay out, that ended soon as they wanted her to figure out how to be more self-reliant. The parents always wanted her to be with someone who was a blue blood or successful entrepreneur. I was a senior software engineer who loved acting, most of my gigs were fairy-smashing barbarians and zombie work. The mother’s nickname for me was Lurch, so in the early days, they didn’t approve at first.

The day I felt I won over the family was when the father had a huge party at their mansion in Santa Fe just after Indian market which was the largest gathering of native American artists and tribes. The house was filled with artists and millionaires, I entertained people around a table showing them augmented Reality which wasn’t commercially available but a fun gadget. Late at night after the caterers were gone some of the guests were about to leave intoxicated, one artist who was a dear friend of the family didn’t want to bother the family so he was trying to sleep in his car. I was the only one who was able to convince him to come inside and I ended up making grilled cheese sandwiches for a bunch of hung over artists and patrons.

When the family accepted me is when I think that Artsy Girl was over me, looking at her past she loved being the rebel and opposing her father yet she was dependent on him. Been a long time since I was that heartbroken, but it helped me get over Foxy Girl finally. She dumped me two weeks before Burning Man and in a way by throwing me into that deep end of having to find a new tribe, ride there and more it helped me find a new artistic family.

Many people will tell you crazy stories about Burning Man, fighting in the thunder dome, snuggling with strangers in a large cloud room or dancing on converted buses or military vehicles as they cross the desert. The one shared experience many have that helped me through this was the temple, a large wooden building that looks incredible, hundreds of thousands of dollars are donated to build this temple and people come here with the ashes of loved ones or pictures of people they need to say goodbye to. I wrote a large lovely goodbye to Artsy Girl on one of the alcoves and stayed till Sunday to watch the building burn down to the ground.

Wotan the Faeriesmasher (2010 to 2016)

Somehow during the end of the dark nights and the zombie walks I was discovered for one of my other characters Wotan the Faeriesmasher. It was the costume that won me the best in show award and my highest achievement in the cosplay community for professional costuming. I was encouraged to keep wearing the costume at shows and helping out, started out as hosting but then for a few months I was doing stand-up comedy insulting the crowd and threatening fairy girls who he found annoying.

I was approached by a producer who worked for the largest renaissance fair in Washington and hired me as an independent actor. Like the zombie walk, it blew up like wildfire through a forest. Soon I was hired by events up and down the pacific coasts with some trips out to Baltimore, Pennsylvania, and Texas. I take some of the ‘burst into your personal bubble’ experience I learned from the zombie walks combined it with the voice of a professional wrestler and a Disney villain. Children now have a villain that they can fight, faeries had a nemesis to throw their magic dust at and blow kisses to.

Honestly, my soul needed it, after so many dark days in Seattle nightlife I felt good about what I was doing. I was honestly getting bored as a zombie having only one or two repeated lines, it was limiting and got tired of wearing fake blood. Now I am in a children’s book and a coloring book, receiving emails from parents whose kids are inspired by me. I felt like I was giving back to the community and all I was doing was being a silly older brother playing make-believe. I started out as an independent, now I am lead a whole troop of actors who are scattered all over the northwest who join my act and help out entertaining families. By turning into a performer I have found plenty of other fun gigs, working for large haunted houses in Seattle around Halloween and also as Krampus the X-mas Demon around Christmas time.

Dreamer Girl Adventures (2012 to 2015)

After the end of my relationship with Artsy Girl and stepping away from the nightlife of Seattle, I found myself more involved with the Burning Man tribes of the northwest. Instead of meeting at the clubs every Friday or Saturday we were renting fun venues and strange locations. We rented Theo chocolate factory and recreated Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I was the Mad Hatter serving tea and absinthe. After that, we rented a large art studio in Seattle and had a classy James Bond party with men in tuxes and ladies in cocktail dresses. I was Jaws the villain with metal teeth, capturing guests and taking them to a torture room everyone could look into and interrogate them for fun.

We filled a large warehouse with three dump trucks worth of sand and had a beach party in December. I was dressed as an admiral and was accompanied by four gogo dancer girls as navy girls working the party and making guys do push ups/military drills. I had many fun roles from Mad Hatter, comic book villains, the captain from Gilligan’s Island, etc. Soon a lot of Burning Man fundraisers had me as a featured performer and all I was doing was playing make-believe as the big brother again. I love it and still help out to this day with many fundraisers for art projects.

After being burned by Amazon I was ready for a healthier company and the perfect one came along. I took a job working at Disney Interactive and was on a small team responsible for all the user accounts on every Disney-owned website—ranging from ESPN to club penguin, marvel comics, and Lucas Arts. I really enjoyed working for this company, they respected a balanced lifestyle and still to this day I show up every other Wednesday to play board games with ex-coworkers there.

During this era, one of the Burning Man producers convinced me to take a lead role in a children’s theater show as the king of elves who hates Santa Claus “For taking away all my toys for the girls and boys!” This is where I met Dreamer Girl, a curvy beautiful yoga teacher who was also a nude model. She joined me on all kinds of adventures, it was like Peter Pan and Tinkerbell all over again. She was a best friend who I loved dearly and I was sold on her fairytale life. All she wanted was a healthy family and to be a mom, her family was riddled with drug abuse, divorces, a wicked stepmother and raised in a strip club as a small child. I was sold but my family not so much.

Over the years of dating models, dancers and artists I have learned to deal with the crazy. I would tell my close friends that I have +10 to dealing with daddy issues. I was pretty good at it but it was unhealthy, my family was worried because we were soon engaged and planning for a wedding in 2015 on the main stage of Faerieworlds. She had some demons from her past and I was alright with helping her out by taking her to therapy for a year to see if she can heal those wounds.

I soon discovered that she was lying to her three counselors, hiding the worst times of attempted suicides and tried to get me to lie as well so they wouldn’t put her on medication. I was faced with an intervention by my family after her meltdown at Christmas in front of my family because no one wanted to watch the nutcracker.

One by one my family called up and told me they loved me and were worried for me. That even though I can help her and maintain this, it wasn’t healthy and if she wants kids they would go through Hell. Breaking up with Dreamer Girl was one of the hardest things I had to do, I felt like I was abandoning my best friend and someone who depending on me. She is drop dead gorgeous and was deeply in love with me. The Eric Pope from 1996 would have kicked my ass if he knew I dumped a hot yoga teacher who loved to play board games with me, but in the end, she wasn’t going to get better and I had to make the difficult choice.

Eric Pope as Chewbacca on Ferris Wheel

Eric Pope Wotan with bird

Erin’s Epic Expedition (2015-present)

After breaking up with Dreamer Girl I fell into a destructive spiral of depression, ended up losing my job, having to move out of a home I really liked in capitol hill, the car was damaged during a Black Lives Matter protest and funds were stolen out of my bank account.

During this time I was house sitting for a friend who was working out of Asia for a few months and tried to start dating again. As we get older the dating pool gets dark and murky, the rush of new romance is gone and instead it’s more like an interview getting straight to the point. Ended up going on dates with five women but it was pretty grim and my heart wasn’t there. I then answered an email from a lovely girl named Erin, she was telling me that she is looking for more fun in her world as a veterinarian and is a bored with living out of Gig Harbor.

She enjoyed seeing me at the renaissance fair and saw all my photos on Facebook, was hoping to join me and my crew for an adventure. I thought she would go running for the hills after our first few parties I took her to. A convention party where two of my friends were in exotic costumes and a mad max flash mob at a movie theater where I had a stop sign strapped to my arm and had 6 women pulling on the chains attached to my dog collar. She didn’t run away from the party life, managed to keep up with my crazy schedule and everyone seemed to love her.

Erin is not like any woman I have ever dated in the last 20 years, she is independent, incredibly intelligent and can take care of herself. She is not the princess I was looking for but a queen that took care of her own kingdom. I really took notice to her when I found out that she made promises with senior citizens that if they died she would find homes for their cats. She even would take some of these widows out for birthday lunch if they didn’t have anyone else in their world.

A few weeks after we started dating I found myself between several recruiters trying to get me to work for their company. REI in Kent, Security Company in Portland, Skykick in Seattle and Unreal Games in North Carolina. Erin convinced me to stay locally, she didn’t want to see me go so I took REI’s first offer to work at their headquarters in Kent. Then Skykick gave the better offer and stole me from REI before my first day of work. It’s a great company of ‘bro-grammers’ and gamers. One of those places where you even hang out with co-workers after work. Best part is that the company loves that I do all these performances. I have organized several morale events for the employees and several of them show up to my shows so I can terrorize their children.

Eric and Erin

We have gone on several amazing vacations, both Disney and Universal Studios theme parks in California and Florida. Everglade forests and the Miami keys, even a romantic escape to a summer cabin on the Oregon coast. We have been able to time out her veterinarian conferences on the same weekend and region where I had an acting gig. When we started dating she had two costumes, now she has a closet dedicated to her costumes and is starting to catch up with me. Recently she made a Professor McGarnigle costume to match my Hagrid costume from the harry potter world and she is working on an Ewok costume so Chewbacca can have a buddy.

Eric Pope Chewbacca

With my heart locked up because it can’t make any good decisions, my brain said to pick this one. I have taken her on many adventures and as her family would tell me ‘you make her Facebook more colorful,’ the best part is that she is healthy and good to me. This last Thanksgiving I asked her father for his blessing, and we just bought a house in Anacortes. With both career on a good track and healthy partner who knows I might be able to be that soccer dad in the next 10 years.

Eric and Erin having blast

My Life Lessons

What were the major life lessons and wisdom that you gained during your journey over the last 20 years?

To live your adventures.

I decided at one point to stop playing video games and live the adventures so I have stories to tell my grandkids about. I have become reborn several times in this one lifetime and every 3 years feels like a different lifetime.

Letter To My High School Self

If you could write your 18-year-old self (or however old you were when you graduated) a letter, and send it back in time, what would you say? What lessons, wisdom, encouragement, or warnings would you give yourself?

Don’t try to be a knight and rescue a princess, find yourself a queen who can be your equal.

Next time, we interview Elicia de Leon.


Are you from Generation X? I want to hear what you think! Please comment below and participate in the conversation about What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. What do you wish someone told you when you were eighteen?

About the author

Featured in CNN Money Edition, Jesse Stoddard’s primary aim is to make his mark in the world by exploring new ideas, enhancing collaboration and cooperation with teams, and working in his unique ability, which is transferring infectious enthusiasm, taking action, and loving people in order to gather and connect with others to pursue a bigger, brighter future.

Jesse’s mission is to make good bolder with his writing and art, to serve God, and in such a way that he illuminates truth, shines a humorous light on our human imperfections, and reminds us all to be humble while pointing us to what’s right.