Why Writing Embarrasses Me

“Keep in mind that I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” -Erykah Badu, Call Tyrone

The hardest part about creativity is anticipating how people will react to what I create. Including my future self. I need only to read my old Myspace or Tumblr posts to experience some major cringe at what I once thought sounded so profound.

There are things that we create for ourselves and things that we create for others. True magic happens when we create something for both. For me, this is writing. But I have to be honest. I’m not confident about my writing. Every time I click “publish” on my blog, I immediately feel an overwhelming sense of dread. Do I come off judgmental? Stupid? Immature? And god forbid if I catch a grammatical or spelling error AFTER my post has been published.

I write about random things. Things I will think about during a long hot shower or during a walk around the Pearl District when it isn’t raining hard but just enough to make me feel a sentimental kind of way. Being lost in thought is a strength (and weakness) of mine. One that inspires me to create. To take photographs. To film. To write. Puzzle pieces from the past, present, and future are constantly in a synchronous tango in my mind — all of them just waiting to be synced into a 2,000 word essay. Ultimately, I’m just trying to make sense of it all and my first instinct is to share that process with the world.

Our lives appear so different but really — we are all the same. At our cores, we simply want to love and be loved. Everything else is just white noise. When I write, I am attempting to break down those superficial barriers. Those mental blocks that keep us from relating to each other. If just one person thinks, “yes, me too”, when reading one of my posts — I have achieved what I set out to do: close the gap.

My blog is public, yes. But not really. I don’t send a newsletter to my friends and family whenever I post one of my musings. I don’t advertise it and I can’t say that I am proud of it. At least not yet. Because I’m scared of it. I’m scared of being vulnerable. I’m scared of showing you all my blue. My worst fear is that my vulnerability will be used against me. That someone will laugh at me for my truth.

Not everything I write will stand the test of time. Next week I may not agree with my own opinion. This makes me want to delete anything no longer relevant to me. But I fight the urge. The urge to cover up where I began. Where I came from. I keep it out there, visible to all, in hopes that people can see how far I’ve come. That I’m not perfect. That I’m not an expert (on anything). And that I’m growing each and every day to become a better version of me.

Whenever someone reads my post, I blush. I cringe. My heart beat picks up a little bit. My foot might tap repeatedly or my eyes might shift all over the room. And yet, it’s so worth it. It’s worth it to expose myself and scream, “yes, this is me!”. People used to share stories over campfires. Myths, legends, and witch tales used to be passed down from our elders to our little children. We, as humans, are natural storytellers and although this is a screen and not a campfire — these are my stories. I hope you enjoy them.

Love,

Jamakea

The Hardest Part About Being a Parent (so far)

Before I had kids, hell, before I even WANTED kids, I imagined that the diapers, sleep deprivation, lack of “me” and romantic time, and the overall 24/7 responsibility of caring for another person would be nearly impossible.

Surprisingly, those ended up being the easier parts. Yes, I am tired. Yes, I could use a moment to comb my hair and get out of the sweatpants I’ve been wearing for 4 days straight. But these incredibly exhausting things are bearable — for me at least.

No one warned me about what would truly be the hardest part about parenthood:

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If I Died Tomorrow: A Message to My People

I’ve always known that life was fragile.

When I was seven-years-old, I attempted to draft my first will. “My beanie babies went to my mom. My hot wheel collection went to my grandpa. Oh and please play the Pocahontas song at my funeral — you know, the obvious requests.”

I wasn’t sad about it. I just knew that death was a part of life. It scared me, yes, but I knew there was no escaping it. As I got older, I noticed that no one liked to discuss, let alone acknowledge, this inevitable end. In our American culture, we are obsessed with avoiding old age and death. We nip and tuck every wrinkle. We drain life savings on months of life support for those who’d rather be on the other side already. We shun our elderly and deem them useless. We’ve had it all wrong.

I want to acknowledge, out loud, that today could be my last day on Earth. I’d be lucky to someday have smile wrinkles and a sagging bosom. I’d be blessed to have achy joints and sun spots. Those are the evidence of having made it. Of having lived. Not everyone lives long enough to see a wrinkly face smiling back at them in the mirror.

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Dementia: Losing Someone While They Are Still Living

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My grandma’s favorite quote was, “life is what happens while you’re planning it.” She’d say it casually while peeling mangoes or teaching me how to wrap Christmas presents. An amused smile always rested on her face while she said it– as if she was bewildered by the trajectory of her life.

My grandparents took my father and I in when I was not even a year old. My mother had unexpectedly asked for a separation leaving my father heartbroken and faced with his new reality as a single parent. I slept in my grandma’s giant walk-in closet in a humble little house in the desert canyons of Southern California. She took care of me as if I were her own baby. I woke up in her home on Christmas mornings. She hid my Easter Eggs. She played ABBA and Smokey Robinson and danced with her two index fingers wagging in the air. I loved her.

My grandparents retired when I was 12. They were in their mid 50’s. My pop had saved, scrounged, and invested every penny they made to make this happen. His master plan included traveling across the U.S. in a modest RV with sporadic international trips. To make this financially possible, they were to retire to a town in Arizona notorious for its spring break culture and retirement community. This town was six hours away from my father and I. For my grandma, it might as well have been on the other side of the world.

Our family unanimously blames that move for being the catalyst of my grandma’s downfall. My grandma had little living family left, most of whom were estranged. My father and I were her everything. She wore us around her neck in a gold locket that she would subconsciously touch throughout the day. As if some small part of us lived within that locket. Being moved to Arizona made her feel robbed of her happiness — her greatest treasures, stolen. What was weekly dinners turned into (some) holidays and birthdays. The first Christmas I woke up without the aroma of my grandma’s orange rolls baking in the air was, and remains to be, one of the saddest days of my life.

Like so many who find themselves depressed, my grandma turned to the bottle. My grandparents had always been social drinkers so her indulgence went unnoticed for quite some time. Her drunken bouts were her just being “my crazy grandma”. Until, the phone calls started that is. Grandma’s fingers always seemed to find her cell phone and dial my father and I during her binges. She’d be drinking at home alone on a Tuesday. For hours, she would rant on how much she despised living in Arizona. How much she resented my pop. How much she hated life. Seeing her name pop up on my phone cued an eye roll and eventually inspired anxiety. I was just barely a teenager. My father eventually told me to stop answering her midnight calls. What I would do today for her to call me just one more time.

Our family was terrified when my grandma got a DUI. When she got her second, we were in disbelief. My tiny little grandma? My sweet and gentle grandma who couldn’t help herself from feeding baby quail and stray cats? My grandma was now going to be facing a jail sentence and time in a half-way house? She’d call me to tell me about her fellow inmates. We’d laugh at the absurdity of her predicament. Somehow my grandma and I could always found a way to laugh.

She would never drive again. In an instant, she had robbed herself of her a whole lot of independence and even more of her pride. Although the binges ended, the drinking didn’t. Having a couple of cold ones was the theme of my grandparent’s story. Of their identity. For them, sobriety was not the answer.

The first time we noticed something was off, we passed it off as being the effect of too much drinking. She’d mistake us for other family members. She’d forget long gone family pets. She’d tell the same story over and over again and lose every cell phone my pop bought bought her. Yet when the drinking binges ended, her confusion didn’t. The phone calls ceased. The birthday cards stopped arriving.

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