Article / 03 November 2020

Yamen, So Far, in Verse

I'm Yamen, the oldest son of some hippies,

As a little kid, life was always trippy.

I don't mean drugs, I'm not trying to boast,

Mom and Pop took photos up and down the coast.

Out West, Up North, they made people smile

and I rocked and I rolled with them mile after mile.

Got a little sister, showed her the streets,

then mom said it's time to settle down and hit the sheets.

Kindergarten for me, things are a little new.

Seeing the same people for more than a day or two.

Not used to friendships that go past the weekend,

So it took a little while to find myself a friend.

In case you're stuck and find that's your task,

the best way to make a friend, I've found, is just ask.

I asked Joel and Colin, Jason, Barril and Paul,

and a dozen other buddies when I count them all.

Grew up on tapes: cassette and VHS,

And my folks' book collection that always impressed

On the outskirts of town, and the fringes of the schoolyard

I learned I was smart enough to not try too hard.

TV told me I was a geek, or maybe a nerd, but

it was an identity, who cared what the word was?

Grandpas on both sides clearly knew the deal,

Made sure I hit the keyboards as much as the field.

I learned how to DOS before I learned how to click.

I learned how to run .bats before I learned how to kick.

I got another sister, who loved to look up to me

and taught me a thing or two about responsibility.

I showed her the best games and played her the best songs,

and she was doing the same back to me before too long.

Started opening my mind to the power of creativity

Imagination was a place, my mind was an odyssey.

Rolled with some funny buddies in some quirky competitions

where you think on your feet to decide your position.

We hit it big, took it to the world tournament,

and then tripped on our feet and placed in the sediment.

Didn't wince much, we still had fun,

and got to rock the Mouse Park in the Florida sun.

My parents both knew I was getting pretty smart,

but also kinda big, so some martial arts

taught me to keep level knees, and promote level minds

Lessons I'll always carry, from Master Lyons.

High school came around, still trying to fit in

Thought I'd talk to God to find a group to get in.

He opened his doors and taught me lots of lessons,

but never seemed to answer when I came up with questions.

Did the church mouse bit with the church mouse girlfriend,

Sundays starting in the pews before ending web surfin'

I did a lot of thinking about how to have a moral character

and tried to square away the parts of the faith I found embarrassing.

Things were going swell, God seemed to have a plan for me,

I even got into my first pick for university.

Moved up near Seattle to learn to make games,

and learned that studying and playing aren't one and the same,

I couldn't compute the calculus, and I couldn't crack the code

grades looking like F5, time for my plan to reload.

I dropped out, swapped video games for video edits,

thought it was about the same, entertaining for credit.

Long-time, long-distance girl saw problems long-brewing,

said building a future with someone else might be worth doing.

First broken heart on top of wounded pride,

If I didn't have amazing friends, I might not still be alive.

But I rolled with the punches and tried to hang on,

and met a new miss amazing before too long.

A girl with great hugs and a guy in need

we were head over heels at incredible speed.

We took on the world, and the world pushed back

Around the time we got married, it gave us a smack.

I lost my job, she lost her health,

we lost our momentum, we lost our wealth.

Found the kind of love that is only forged through struggle,

and built a bond that could survive any trial or trouble.

Like this one: she passed out one day,

woke up and didn't know how she had got this way,

the woman looking up at me from the hospital bed,

wasn't quite the same one, she just shared the same head.

I helped her connect the dots, but the shapes we drew

showed her she needed some change, to undo the I Do.

I won't lie, there's a lot of pain in this chapter,

But we didn't give up when faced with disaster.

See, we both cared about each other, and we still do,

Romance aside, we share some battles we've been through

It took dismantling fears and soaking up tears,

and a flood wiping out the life we'd built over years.

We came out cleaner, and we came out happier,

she even helped me find a new girl who's much sassier.

A commitment to friendship not the usual cliche

My ex-wife is one of my closest friends to this day.

It's not all sappy, life's still ever bittersweet

even if I salvaged a win from that heartbreaking defeat

The stress made a mess of this mind of mine,

and I stopped ever feeling even kind of fine.

Woke up every day with a head full of dread

listing reasons why I shouldn't even get out of bed.

10 hour days with 4 hours commuting,

the rest of my time sleeping or computing

all the ways I'd failed, all the goals I'd missed,

I couldn't walk outside without getting pissed.

I was living the dream, making games for the millions,

wondering if I'd ever get a cut of the billions,

but it wasn't so much rewarding as testing

and I wasn't getting any gains for all my investing

in the corporate dreams of the well networked,

all I was getting was depressed and overworked.

God didn't answer when I asked where I messed up,

and I let him know I was ready for him to fess up.

Making all of creation sure sounds pretty swell,

but what kind of bully damns my friends to hell?

If Hell is full of people who never learned to care,

well, he didn't have to send me, I was already there.

Alright, it wasn't quite such an epic showdown,

more like an IP drip of revelations that slowed down

the indoctrination, and gave me room to perceive

that God or not, my own happiness was up to me.

And on that note, all I had was hesitation

A decade spent blocking serotonin via medication

left me with absolutely no will or motivation

and I watched all the bits of my life as they caved in.

Depression is a beast, it's a battle you don't really win,

just hold it off for the day before it comes back again.

Anxiety had me stressing, wondering if I was even there

In the space above my aching heart, just below the hair.

When it felt the darkest, I tried a Little Something Different

and spent a night purging demons from the firmament

of my mental plane, where I'd been scared to go

for longer than I think I really even want to know.

When the morning came, it dawned on a new me

While I still had a lot of problems, I could finally see

that my ruts were canyons, but with new eyes on

I finally climbed up and saw new horizons.

Started filling the crevices with clean water and love,

so I could float back up when I fell down from above.

I still occasionally find my self plumbing the depths

but now it's in spurts short enough for held breaths.

With a new head on my shoulders, I found a new calling

making art where computers do all the drawing

and math drives the designs with fractal complexity

while I turn the knobs and fine tune expressively.

Reality is complicated, and damn I know it well,

so I doodle on it in ways that I hope one day will sell.

I'm soaking up love from my girl, and my puppies and my cats

and the friends and the family that let me live like that.

I know that I'm lucky, and I'm trying not to waste it

and success is getting so close I can taste it

but nothing is certain, except I'm certain I won't

get anywhere if give up now, so I don't.