About Me

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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.rainfallpress.com/

Friday, December 31, 2010

We Shall Be Free

Garth Brooks - We Shall Be Free

“This ain’t comin’ from no prophet, just an ordinary man… when I close my eyes I see the way this world shall be when we all walk hand in hand…”

It’s time to put the tree away for another year, take down the glittering lights – and cross our toes that they will work next year, despite their being brand new this year.  China has us over a Christmas barrel, and they know it - we’re never going to cash in that “warranty” that comes inside the box.  We’ll just trudge down to Kmart next December when we’ve pulled them from storage to find that half of each string has gone out, grumbling all the way.  Ho ho humbug, and all that.

One of the reasons I love the holiday season, despite my best curmudgeon fa├žade, is the giving.  The receiving is most excellent as well!  But it’s the giving that takes away the chill in the air.  To be able to treat a friend to a special holiday meal who otherwise couldn’t afford it brings out my inner elf.  Helping to gather toys from strangers in an effort to make Christmas a teeny tiny bit better for a child gets my jingle bells jangling.  Hosting parties that leave friends smiling, surprising someone with a card or a gift, forcing my cats to humiliate themselves with their annual holiday photo to send in the cards that I will spend eight hours signing, updating, and addressing – priceless.

Today, I zipped out on the road to lunch with a friend, and got back to the reality of everyday music.  No more being serenaded by Bing and dreaming of a white Christmas.  All of my holiday friends – Karen Carpenter, Kenny Rogers, Julie Andrews, Charlotte Church, Mariah – are being put back into their file folder on my hard drive until after the next turkey has been carved. 

As I got back to my country roots, heading over the green hills toward Highway 4, the holiday buzz carried me along, and I sang out loud to my favorite cowgirl anthems.  It was a concert to behold, let me tell you.  I’ll be appearing all week, check back for showtimes. 

In the back of my head, though, every year as the calendar turns over its last page, comes the thought: Wouldn’t it be amazing if this sort of goodwill carried over into the new year?  We all feel charitable when the food banks start rolling out the ads looking for donations as Thanksgiving approaches, and Toys For Tots hangs their colorful signs all around the community. 

What about in January, March, even in July?  People will still be living on the street, hungry and unclothed.  Children will still need to know that someone cares.  Schools and libraries are always in need of volunteers.  Seniors will still be there looking for a new friend.  There’s no way to take on all of it, but every so often it is possible for each of us to look beyond December, and contribute an afternoon to others. 

I find New Year resolutions to be quite pointless – all they do is set us up to fail, and personally I have plenty around to feed my gargantuan sense of guilt.  January is a beginning of a new calendar, not of our lives.  Every day that we awaken is another chance to look around ourselves, see past our own noses.  It’s really not even as daunting as it sounds, and has a different feel to it than simply writing a check to assuage a sense of obligation. 

It’s rather freeing, in fact.  If only Santa really did stay in our hearts after the stockings have disappeared from the mantle.  Imagine what a world it would be. 

Imagine how much brighter your corner of it could be.

“When the last child cries for a crust of bread, when there’s shelter over the poorest head – stand straight, walk proud, ‘cause we shall be free…”

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Grown-Up Christmas List

Amy Grant - My Grown-Up Christmas List

“Do you remember me?  I sat upon your knee and wrote to you of childhood fantasies…”

I want to be a Who.  I want to sing songs with words like pantookas and ding dang donglers.  Then I want to gather around a tree, hand in hand with my entire village of friends, watch it light up and bloom while we sing “Christmas day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp!”

Dr. Seuss was never an idol of mine as a child, but I think he nailed this one pretty proficiently.  I’ve been the Grinch.  I’ve experienced my heart growing three sizes in one day.  Have watched others morph from their own Grinchiness.  And yes, this year my family will gather ‘round the roast beast – I’ll even dare to say it could be a merry occasion without the trepidation that I might just be jinxing it. 

It will be a small gathering, as it has been the last several years.  The family is dwindling.  This year, all over the nation, celebrations are shrinking along with our budgets and our hopes.  Expectations that next year will be any better than the last are disappearing like reindeer dashing away in the sky. 

I’ll keep my wish list simple this year.  For everyone but my husband, that is.  He still has some shopping to do. 

But for everyone else, I wish this:
A promising future for those with a long road ahead, and for those whose path has grown shorter but none less bright.

A year to bring wealth and blessings that aren’t always found at the bottom of a thinning wallet, and can’t be charged with a plastic wish.

An education that isn’t always found in a classroom, but at the hand of a teacher who doesn’t need an apple and a chalkboard to earn the title.

 A moment of happiness – more than one if you are so lucky – whether on a winter’s night when the moon brings about a luminous kiss, or a warm, sweet summer’s day when laughter rolls off of the sun’s tongue to tickle your ears.

Success that fills any little void leftover from these hard, recent times – or plants a seed to grow upon.  Find your inner Who - trim up your tree with bingle balls and wuzzle wuz.

World peace is out of our reach, but inner peace can be found quite simply by gazing upon the colored holiday lights, wrapped in the arms of a loved one or in a moment of solitude, a gift unto itself that doesn’t need a ribbon to be meaningful.

“This is my only lifelong wish, this is my grown-up Christmas list…”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Holiday For The Rest Of Us!

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Why does Christmas have to be the bully of the holiday season?  The big fat kid on the playground that keeps all the other holidays quivering in their corners? 

There’s been a lot of unrest the last few years over cultural celebrations such as Kwanzaa, and Hannukah.  Political correctness has reared its ugly, green Grinchy head in the workplace as well as the public, with fear of offense to any and everyone for wishing good tidings for the wrong holiday.  It’s gotten beyond the point of silly.  Frankly, I’d love to wish everyone a good Festivus (a holiday for the rest of us!) and take any happy greetings I can get – especially if they involve gifts. 

There’s been a movement circulating on Facebook, and prior to that in email chains and various other social sites, claiming back CHRISTmas (because it is a day of Christ, after all – who cares that it isn’t his real birthday … details and bygones).  “I say Merry CHRISTmas because it’s about CHRIST – if you don’t like it, f&#@ you!”

That’s the spirit, alive and well, right there.

I don’t care if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, a groovy Kwanzaa, or wants to light a menorah and think of me while doing so.  Glad tidings are hard to find in this dirty, deceitful world, so I’m happy to have them piled at my door whenever and because of whatever. 

Many of my friends are Jewish, but I’ll be honest in saying I don’t always know who.  I’ve never been one to pick one out of a crowd - don’t go by traits, noses or last names.  I don’t automatically assume that every black person I know celebrates Kwanzaa, because it is to highlight the African culture, but not all blacks come from Africa. 

I have my own meaning of the Christmas holiday, and it’s not to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  My holiday is to remind me to appreciate others, reflect on the year, to bask in the warmth that arises from the chilly winter air as people take a moment to breathe, and muster up a spirit that only comes around at this time of year.

Every year in the magical waterland of the Bay Area known as Discovery Bay, there is a lighted boat parade that comes around, and we gather to see all the glitter, the fun, take part in the cheering and carrying on.  This year, for the first time, there was a little boat in the midst of all the Santas and snowmen, with a beautiful blue Star Of David displayed on its bow, and I heard my friend Andi whisper “Isn’t that something?  It’s a Hannukah boat!  I’ve never seen one before in this parade!”  Andi and her husband Joie celebrate the holidays with the rest of their friends, host beautiful parties, and never, ever make a big deal over Christmas versus Hannukah at their home.  They welcome us all for a festive occasion, but I could see how touched she was by this little boat quietly taking its place in this holiday parade.  I hope in the future we’ll see more of them participating, for the Andi’s of the world. 

Is there really something so wrong in saying “Happy Holidays?”  It doesn’t make me “politically correct,” it means I’m wishing you a very happy holiday season – makes no difference to me which one, or ones, that might include.  It’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one lighted Times Square apple ball.

I’m not selling out, not afraid to offend anyone.  It’s a time of peace, hope your season is merry and bright, but whatever your celebration includes, make it a freakin’ happy one already!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When My Heart Finds Christmas

Like a lost little girl, it’s and I am gazing at the lights of the Christmas tree, reflecting on the past year.  The green, the red.  The blues.  Friends lost and found, changes that crept up and left me with questions asked more so than answered. 

It’s a festive time, and the joy of the season always wins in the end, but it’s after the holiday parties, after the fun gatherings that I find myself in the light of my tree, darkness closing in.  Childlike twinkles that recall the past, a symbol of wishes and dreams.

The loss of innocence as when Santa Claus becomes just another myth.

The sun will dry my tears tomorrow, but tonight the moon will see them fall.  My love of all things Christmas – the colors, the warmth despite the crisp chill, the songs – becomes faint in the frosty night air.  It wages a battle within my heart, gingerbread wishes chased by charcoal sketches, haphazardly drawn on faded paper thoughts.
I miss my family.  The loud holidays, the inviting smells that filled Grandma’s house, the shuffling of relatives in and out the door.  Cameras flashing to capture a memory.  Seasons when camaraderie triumphed over intolerance. 

Today I am missing my sister, and am discovering my brother.  Remembering my mother, and looking for my father.  I am sad for what has been lost, and thankful for what’s been found.

I have a friend with whom many hours have been spent recently.  Busy hours talking, quiet hours sitting.  This has been a gift that didn’t need a pretty ribbon to be meaningful.  Calm that I have found, and that I hope has been given.   Out of the blue this came, as though not a day had passed from the last confession to the first.

Candy canes are whispering in my ear, promising sweet thoughts, yet there is a sharp bite that forewarns me.  When the tree comes down, the lights are dark again for another year, and the ornaments packed carefully away, winter settles in.  A white blanket falls over the red and green, the silver and the gold.

A white shadow.  

Wonderings of what lies ahead sparkle around me like the shimmering champagne raised in a well-meaning toast.  But champagne loses its glow, and by the end of the blue dawn, so has the new year.  

Thoughts to be drowned out by cinnamonny cider and melting snowflakes. 

Pictures blaze before me like stars in the night sky.  Random scenes from a forgotten life.  Faded snapshots of a wanted dream.  Longing to fit into the memories, and the need to run from them.

My tired eyes are slowly closing as the green branches of the tree blur in a haze of .  Why does Christmas seem so much more magical after the night has fallen?  And why is it chased so quickly into the clouds like dashing reindeer?

Tossing my wishes into the air like pinecones and holly berries, for the tiniest of seconds there is a glimmer of hope.  Hope that I can skate away on the river beneath me without falling through the thin icy layers.

I told someone tonight that I had faith in very few things.  Questions abound.  I have faith, however, that these familiar feelings will find me while I sit quietly by the chimney, waiting for a new revelation to arrive on the hearth. 

I have faith that another year will pass by as swiftly as the last.  And I have faith that change will drift in like the flurries of yesterdays. 

Time to turn out the lights for another evening.  Daylight will arrive soon and this sleepy girl wants to fall into a bed of sugarplum dreams, even when she is frightened to find only empty footsteps in the snow.

“All the days are kind to me, but fall too far behind to see, but when my heart finds Christmas, I hope it finds you too…”

Friday, December 3, 2010

Love The Way You Lie...

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The truth about lies is that we don’t always know when we’re telling them.  And when we do know, most of us stay in denial, convincing and justifying until we’ve given ourselves a reinvented truth. 

Little lies – “You look fabulous!,” “Mmm, tastes great!,” “Can’t make it in today.. sick..” give way to bigger fibs – “You mean so much to me.”  “It’s not you, it’s me,” “I’ll call you tomorrow.”    

It’s when a calculated risk is added that it becomes more dangerous, more appealing, more… hurtful.  This is when we begin to believe our own lies, and the lies of others.  Most of us need to believe whatever we want to so desperately that it cuts off the oxygen supply to our smarts.  Suddenly the alarms go silent, the blinders are firmly in place, and the fog blocks out any chance of good sense.  This is what many salaciously call a fantasy. 

The reality of fantasies is that it’s a mask, to hide our inner desires, our basic instincts … our fears.  So many colors, shapes, sizes – no mask is the same aside from the common thread of a suffocating need.  Society is one big masquerade ball, our lives being a very long party that we constantly spend looking for one whom we can reveal what is beneath, what is hidden.  But the instant our vulnerability is at risk, the masks go back up and we delude ourselves with make-believe.

A party is much more arousing with all of the moon’s enticing intrigue, than in the light of a cold gray morning when the streamers have fallen and the colors are nothing more than a wretched rainbow derived from the madness that is suppressed deep within us all. 

Whoever said “a little fantasy never hurt anyone” hasn’t made it to the end of the party yet – hasn’t gotten to the hangover of their drunken lies.  Some can’t face their reflections long enough to see the truth of their unintended deceptions, some of us stare long enough until we transform unintentions into truth. 

A lie always loses its shadow, and is always chased away by the dawn. 

This is the biggest truth of them all. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Steel Poinsettias

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I think … well, I think entirely too much – this, I believe, we’ve established.  But I think that yes, I am drawn to the dramatic, to the bittersweetness of life’s journeys.  There’s something about that taste of a raindrop upon your tongue that brings a memory to mind, the faces that hover like ghosts in the gray skies, and the highs of low emotions that call to me, and claim me as their own.

So many are often spouting their positive platitudes to me, extolling the benefits of “moving on,” or “getting over it.”  It holds absolutely no appeal to me, for if I were to do so, it means letting go, and I’m not good with letting go.  Change has never been a friend to me – a hello inevitably leads to a goodbye.  Goodbyes bring about sadness, and the irony here is my beauty, my soul, my heart is driven by my sadnesses. 

How do I … why? would I… turn that off, change that part of me?  The moments that strike me as meaningful are those of reflection, of remembrance.   May it be laughter, longing, lust or loneliness – it is all kept within the attic that is my mind.  A treasure trove of melancholy.

My husband says he doesn’t like it when I’m sad, therefore at times has difficulties reading the words I write.  I can understand that, I don’t like when he is sad either.  I don’t like to see anyone I love sad.  Don’t like to have my heart broken, either, but it does happen.  Right now I’m thinking of someone who has broken my heart.  Someone I believed in.  And right now I’m feeling like a little girl standing alone on the playground with a chilly wind blowing through me, having just been told that Santa Claus is a big fat fake.  I’ve discovered that the gift of friendship he’d given has turned into just another empty box with pretty wrapping, and I was drawn in by the ribbons and bows of it. 

The poinsettia has always been a favorite flower of mine.  The hearty richness of color and sturdiness of the plant in the winter, despite its need for warmth, is a reflection of this life that  I’ve survived. 

Many of my friends don’t understand my fascination with the world online.  They can’t surmise why I will while away hours of my lifetime talking to people I will never meet, why I want to look up friends that I haven’t seen or heard from in decades.  It is for reasons such as this:  when a name pops up on my screen that I haven’t yet deleted from my contact list, alerting me to their presence and bringing tears that have no place in my eyes, it can immediately be washed away by a joke on my Facebook wall, from an old friend whom I haven’t seen in twenty-five years. 

Thanks, Angie, your hugs reach from ten thousand miles away.  You are a reminder that goodbyes sometimes lead to a hello again. I miss you all most at Christmastime.  Empty boxes catch the eye beneath a quietly twinkling tree, but the stockings full of love are the first thing the child in us reach for.

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”  - Truvy Jones

© Kymberlie Ingalls, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Who Let In The Rain..?

There’s an old saying: “We plan, God laughs.”  I heard this today: “Make plans, but understand that we live by Allah’s grace and by Allah’s plans!”  Sounds to me as if there’s a lot of similar thinking going on – and yet too many are still being judged by the name of their worship, rather than the common goal.

Someone asked me tonight “Why do you persist in letting things be rough?”  And the thing is, I think he expected me to answer him.  If I had those answers, I wouldn’t be sitting here now at typing to an internet full of strangers when I could be sleeping peacefully. 

Peace.  Just when I thought I had a hold on it, I turn around and find a big chunk missing out of my ass.  They say that pit bulls aren’t bad dogs, they have bad owners.  Seems to be that way for me with this peace thing.  Zen and light work great for some, but I appear to be just another bad owner of it.  

“Maybe you take things too seriously.”  Is he kidding with this?  Of course I take everything seriously.  It’s the nature of my beast.  My husband just let out an overwhelmingly loud snort in his sleep as I typed that – subconsciously he must agree.  My response:   “Nearly all things pass.. some just pass more than once.” 
But my friend isn’t aware of the many things that haunt me at .  He’s chased his own demons, and I’m still learning where it’s left him, but mine are my own and there’s no need to justify them.  Ghosts of songs that echo resoundingly in the attic that is my head.  Spectres of dastardly deeds that point their fingers at my madness every damn time it trips me up, chanting “told you so!” like a mob of Brady kids gone wrong. 

My delirious mind wants to fall asleep.  This isn’t something that eludes me every night, but when it does it’s as if there’s a crack in the universe that I can slip through for just a moment, and toss out my thoughts like stars to scatter the night sky.  I couldn’t possibly do this if I didn’t persist in what I know, if I wandered from my path because the little GPS on my shoulder said “Recalculating… turn left!”  Sometimes we have to go against the voices.

Sometimes we have to latch on to that common goal, no matter how we come to see it.  Whether God's will, Allah's grace, my friend's casual curiousity of my malleable mind, or karmic destiny - it all leads us to the same place; inner peace and understanding.  Tolerance.

What was that old song that Pebbles and Bamm Bamm would sing?  Open up your heart and let the sun shine in!”  Bunch of hippie songwriters. 

Once again I find myself looking for that ass-chunk that is the missing peace of me. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Tear Today, A Turkey Tomorrow

A Tear Today, A Turkey Tomorrow

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“When I have food, help me to remember the hungry.  When I have work, help me to remember the jobless.  When I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all.  When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer.  And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency, to stir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help by word and deed those who cry out for what we take for granted.” – A Thanksgiving prayer.
What am I thankful for?  I thought I’d better sit down and figure this out so that I’m better prepared for the 238 people asking me on Facebook.  The pressure was getting to me to shape up my pessimistic attitude lest I rain on everyone else’s turkey parade.

I have a roof over my head.  This is a good thing.  I may not be able to afford to heat the place (seriously, we went all last winter without even cracking on the heater, thanks to the Smart Meter That Stole A Warm And Fuzzy Christmas, brought to you by Pacific Gas & Electric), but at least I have a loving husband, two furry funny felines, and a pile of blankets to keep me toasty.

While I worry about the long hours my husband spends trying to make a go of our business that we bought a few years ago, I am thankful that we have something to call our own.  We are strong, sometimes unwontedly so, and this carries us forward when the road ahead looks bleak and tiring. 

The family dinners – horrid as they have been in the past, perhaps my family is finally growing up.  Still moody, still bitchy, but at least not as destructive as the shattered family photos have shown.  Every year for at least a decade my dad gives the “I don’t even care if we have dinner!” rant, and it leaves me wondering why I do, year after year, but it’s because I know that deep inside it’s for my dad that I make the effort.  Despite his complaints to the contrary, he wants us there.  I do think, however, that I’m the only one who realizes that someday we won’t even have the bad holidays.  I see that they’ll disappear someday, much like Santa’s sleigh at . 

Mostly, I am thankful for the ever-changing carousel of friends.  While some have left me with sadness and hurt between the last Thanksgiving and this one, others have remained steady and true.  Today I am feeling a twinge, a slight crack in this old heart, but I’ll try to push it aside.  Learning comes from each whom have crossed my path, inspiration comes from the unlikeliest of faces.  There is no one I don’t share with, type to, wave at or hug that doesn’t leave an impression.  Maybe I haven’t met you yet, but a meaningful experience isn’t always visible to the naked eye.  These, I have found, to be the most valuable when later discovered. 

I am thankful for the moments throughout the year when these things come to me.  At in the middle of April, or on a hot July day, not just the fourth Thursday of every November.

If you are reading these words, I am thankful to you – no stranger is random.  Your time is what I cherish.  May peace find you, whether alone or lonely, with loved ones or missing them, at home or without one.  May you be thankful for any little thing that brings you a tomorrow. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How The Grinch Took Back Christmas

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It is apparent that I am going to have to stay out of retail stores and restaurants from Labor Day until the day after Thanksgiving.  And the thought of commercialism coming in and crashing my Christmas parade really pisses me off. 

You see, for as long as I can remember, my holiday season goes as follows:  suck it up and suffer through Turkey Day; be rewarded with a fun Friday of setting the house ablaze with an array of festive lights, bringing out the tree for decoration, and the playing of the first holiday song. 

I have taken great care in my selections over the years of that prized first song.  I have 834 on my iPod to choose from.  Tradition for me has morphed over the years into any little thing that distracts me from the drudgery of family squabbles and miserable memories.  Yes, retail began years ago to bastardize the Christmas season by trotting out the perfect Martha Stewart trees before the ghosts and goblins of Halloween are even laid to rest, but I'd always managed to keep it at arm's length by tuning out the sights and sounds until I was ready to embrace it all on my terms.  Perhaps it's my inner Grinch rising up inside my ever-shrinking heart, but it's not so easy anymore.  Now I'm scowling at the tinny speakers above me, and seeing the tree lots as just another cemetery full of uproot and decay. 

It irks me that my tradition is being encroached upon by a nameless, faceless jolly red giant who crashes through the season like the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, with slashed price tags dangling from every limb, spouting a list of things you need but really just sounding like a grown-up in Charlie Brown’s world. “Whah whah?  Whah whah whah whah!”

Don’t get me wrong – I love a gift.  I could sit and open presents all day long and be content, but the gifts I prefer are those that have thought behind them, and are given with the spirit they should be, not out of obligation.  I love to give them as well, but tend to spread it throughout the year.  It’s fun to give something unexpectedly to someone in June or September, just because.  Or taking the time to spend with someone – no gift equals lunch with a friend, catching up sharing a laugh or two. 

I refuse to give up my holiday spirit altogether, but can see I’m just going to have to be more creative about how I get there.