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/

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's All Wrong, But It's All Write

The Eagles - Take It To The Limit

The life of a writer. 

I’ve heard the arguments for either side: that it is solitary, or it is social.  All depends, really, which way you want it to go.  But it's a hard life.  An artist puts a lot of themselves into creating, then comes the judgment.  Like a child seeking approval, we want to think that we've pleased the world.  We want to stand on a chair, kick up our heels and curtsy in our Shirley Temple dress and curls, and bask in the applause.  And, some little atom inside of us has also convinced us that we have unleashed genius upon the world.

Then come the accolades. 

Ask us which we remember more – a hundred compliments… or one criticism.

I find this to be true off the page as well.  Having grown up in a fishbowl of gunky water polluted by negativity, it's hard to comprehend when I'm swimming in clear water.  When someone smiles and says "I love your sweater!" I immediately think "but my hair looks like crap, right?". It's like, one kind word forward, two insults back.

Every week, I take words that I’ve poured onto a sheet of paper, then I gingerly carry said papers to one of my many critique groups so that they can sprinkle their salt and piss lemon juice all over the wounds. 

Okay, I kid.  Sort of.  Critiques are a very helpful, and necessary tool for any writer.  One of the groups I’m in has the “rule” that we can’t respond to any comments unless it’s a direct question. 

At least one of us fails miserably every single week. 

It is a very difficult thing to sit silently while people misinterpret your intent.  We’re writers, for shit’s sake.  We do what we do to express ourselves.  Putting a gag order on us is the same as duct-taping our hands to the desk.  We want to defend our words to our death!  Then come the times when we do let our audience down.  Any artist takes that personally, feels it deep inside like a prostate exam gone wild.

Tonight, one of my fellow writers, after hearing two pieces regarding my recent friendship fallacies, earnestly stated that my “voice” has lately seemed a bit too passive.  I, of course, want to shout out “Look at the last three months of my life!  Being momentarily passive is what has saved that little shred of sanity I have left hanging from the rafters in my head.” 

I know she meant well, and it’s a genuinely helpful comment.  But in my head all I can think is – I failed my audience.  I have not convinced them of my detachment - rightfully earned as I watch people leaving me in droves.  Why might that be?  Because while I can write these feelings down in blood-red ink, it is followed by my false persona of smiles and polite conversation.  I belie my own words with my actions. 

Truth, with a side of hypocrisy, please.  No just desserts, thank you. 

© Kymberlie Ingalls

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Furry Wisdom

Sylvie is an adorable creature, with long black locks of fur, golden eyes that narrow with a smartness that makes me question her dumbness, a tail that is a sure indication that she is half-raccoon, half-squirrel, half cat, and a slightly off-focus gaze that locks on to me as she waits patiently for her treat. 

And she waits.

And she waits.

There isn't any other purpose to Sylvie's reason for existing, except to get treats.  Every playful moment, every time she gives chase to her best friend Georgie, each time she climbs to my shoulder for a hug, whenever she playfully steals my pen.  Every little loving lick she bestows upon me is with the intent to be given a treat at the end of the day.  She thinks she has us fooled, but we are quite aware of her malicious intent.  The cat has serious focus.

I could learn a thing or two from Sylvie.  How to be the Grasshopper, rather than the dreary Ant I am not so playful, so loving, or so precocious.  I don't get my way with a purr, or a batting of my ancient goddess eyes.  I can't just casually wave my gorgeous tail across someone's arm, causing them to melt with my bewitchery. 

The one thing we do have in common is that if there is scenery to be chewed on the stage, our teeth will be sunk in faster than you can say 'kitty chow.'

If I could, I'm pretty sure I'd be the richest, most contented woman alive today, and I'd get to sleep sixteen hours a day too.  Bonus points.

Instead, I scramble to be liked by my peers, while at the same time "just being myself" - one makes the other quite difficult to achieve, as has been indicated in the shortening of my buddy list as of late. 

Sylvie is loved by her fans - namely my husband and myself, but really anyone who comes to the house to see us is instantly taken with her.  We can't fault them, she works for it.  She fetches, she backflips, she rubs against their legs without ever saying what it is she's angling for - treats.

She doesn't hear harsh words, doesn't see what goes on in the world outside of her safe haven.  When Sylvie wants to take a rest from things weighing on her mind (treat seeking!), she will find a dark, quiet hideaway and returns when she can't stand to be missed any longer.  She's the baby of the family, younger than SPCA-cage-sister Georgie by two months, but doesn't feel left out or left behind - she has two parents who gush and mush over her constantly.  Okay, with the rare exception of when she's underfoot, but one goofball antic later she is always quickly forgiven.

Yes, there is something to be learned from Sylvie. 

I'm not sure exactly what it is yet, but when I do, maybe I'll find that sixteen hours of sleep I crave. 

I'll take a pass on the treats.

(c) Kymberlie Ingalls

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nuggets Of A Princess

Lisa and I met when I was in the fourth grade, she in the third.  Seems I was both resisting and hoping at the same time that she would become my friend.  We were both shy, awkward girls, but where we truly bonded was the common thread of our abuse.  She, at the hands of her mother, myself under my stepmother’s heavy hand.  Not to mention any other kind of horror that can be inflicted upon a child – we could open up a t-shirt shop from all the been-there-done-that’s. 

Flash forward thirty-two years later, and we still have common threads, but vastly different lives.  I’ve always had a need for independence – maybe I’ve been financially reliant on others, but my spirit, my mind, has always stood on its own.  I’ve been mistreated by many, but never for very long.  In my few relationships, they may have been maddening at times, but never abusive.  If there was ever any dysfunction in my relationships, platonic or romantic or familial, I’ve given as good as I’ve gotten.

I don’t like confrontation, but will speak my mind when the need arises.  I’ve spoken said mind for and against those around me, and my honesty has landed me in hot water more times than not. 

So, what I have never understood is how Lisa and I could come through all of the same kinds of terrible things, but be such different women.  I won’t lie, I get so frustrated because I can’t seem to light a fire under her ass to stand up for herself – to me, to her mother, brother, her son.  She seems to think that I beat on her emotionally as her wretched blood ties have, but when I ask for examples of my bad behavior, none can ever be provided with accuracy.

Lisa is like the animals in the rescue commercials - full of love for the right person, kind as can be, willing to play if you'll just throw the ball, but has those big eyes that whimper "Why do you want to hurt me?"  Used to be she was also the most honest person I ever knew.  Used to be...

But I digress.

I’ve been reading the memoir of author/actress/self-professed-loon Carrie Fisher.  You may recognize her from her little part in the Star Wars saga.  The book is entitled Wishful Drinking, something I’m quite familiar with.  In it, there is nothing she doesn’t lay bare for a laugh or a self-inflicted jab.  It’s been comforting to see her approach to many of the issues that we share, but one thing stood out to me in a shining epiphany.  Something that, for the moment, is allowing me to feel a sense of “I’ve done all I can and it wasn’t good enough, but it’s okay anyway” and not feel the failure that has needled me these past few weeks. 

Fisher was talking about herself and her brother, Todd, and drawing on the same parallels that I see between Lisa and I, and this is what she’s finally figured out:  “It’s not what you’re given, it’s how you take it.” 

Smack.  There it is.  It’s like someone finally threw a can of V-8 at my head. 

This is what I’ve been trying to figure out all along, but for some reason it was like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. 

Is it just in the genes?  My mom was a survivor, so was my grandmother, and with that comes a defense stronger than any army.  Lisa’s mother and grandmother are a rotten pair, but she broke the cycle, if only by throwing herself on the cross to stop harm to anyone else.  That’s her nature, as shouting out against injustice is mine. 

Neither of us are wrong or right, it’s just how we took what we were given. 

© Kymberlie Ingalls

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fool's Gold

It’s common knowledge that I wear the Fool’s clothing – I don’t know to say ‘proudly,’ but it is without shame.  It is also commonly known that, despite my brash demeanor, I’m really too sensitive for my own being. 
Deflection - verb - to bend or turn aside; turn from a true course or a straight line.  To swerve.
There was a conversation recently between myself and someone I’ve gotten to know moderately well in this past year.  When I doubted something Mark said to me, he replied with “But… you know me, Kymberlie.”

“I’ll tell you what I know:  Just when I think I know someone, I find out just how wrong I was.”

Almost two years ago, when I began working on my memoirs and digging into my past, my foray led me to one of my exes.  I had many relations before being married, but few relationships.  Keith was one of the ships.  We’d sort of stayed friends, then lost touch when I moved and married, but now we were becoming friends again.  This made me happy. 

Then, a year ago, he met a girl.  I met said Girl, and she was a lovely person.  Keith was happy, and again, this made me happy.  Then, suddenly, he disappeared.  I called, texted, emailed.  Even sent a Christmas card, and a gift too.  Apparently I was as clueless as an elf who thinks she can fly like a reindeer. 

Coincidentally, a month after having met Girl, I happened to post about women who don’t let their men socialize with other women. 

Do you see where this is going?  ‘Cause I sure as hell didn’t.

Finally, the other day, I texted him and said “So, it’s been a year since we hung out, do you want to get together and catch up on stuff?”  The reply I get back: “I’ll get back to u in the morning.”  To which I think, “wtf kind of answer is that?”  And of course, no reply came in the morning.  Two days later, I sent an email asking what was up, and why did this feel like a shunning of some sort? 

I was pretty upset with your blog that you posted a month or so after the four of us had lunch. I can't remember the details, but it was pretty melodramatic and implied that my girlfriend wasn't happy with or wouldn't let me hang out with you. It all just made me realize how much unnecessary drama I had in my life. I frankly don't want to hang out with you because of all the drama and negativity. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I feel that I'm backed into a corner at this point.”

We all have our hot buttons – something that really fuels our anger and makes us lash out.  Being misunderstood is mine.  I put a lot of effort, on paper, onscreen, and face to face in being as clear and as honest as I can.  I may not always speak out directly about something rumbling around in my brain, but if asked, a forthright answer will be given.  A pattern has emerged lately that I seem to be in a trough of some sort that everyone wants to shovel their own perceptions of things they think I’ve said like piles of manure on my head. 

In other words, they want to dump their crap on me.

For someone who is so anti-drama, Keith sure built some up in his head for a year.  But what hurts the most is that he never even asked.  He tried and convicted me without any consideration whatsoever.  It’s a searing hurt that leaves me feeling the failure.

My friends are the gold in my life.  Each one, no matter how big or small their role, is valuable in some way or another.  When one doesn’t show me the respect I try so hard to give, it’s a sucker-punch to the gut.  And I’ve been socked a good one an awful lot lately, it seems. 

Lisa still isn’t talking to me, because she thinks I called her an idiot.  I guess that’s worth tossing 32 years of friendship to the wayside – not worth a return call, note, any kind of response at all.  If her intent was to belittle me in supposed return, she gets the blue ribbon prize.  I’m tired of apologizing to her for things I didn’t say.  But it’s all perception, and you just can’t fuck with perception. 

‘Round and ‘round, the way things go.  It’s very hard to tell the real thing from it’s pyrite counterpart, but sooner or later the shine will show the truth.  In the meantime I’ll wake up tomorrow, place my jester’s hat upon my red hair, and play the fool for another day.

It won’t be until day’s end that I will wonder… who’s playing?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Best Friends

Natalie Merchant - Kind And Generous

I grew up in a ‘guy environment’ – a tire shop, and a racetrack.  My comfort level with the opposite species derives from this and feeds from my fascination with the Martian mind of the male sex.  I am friends with women too, but the connection isn’t as deep, in general.  I lack the need to join in a circle of empowerment and sing bitch songs at the top of my lungs. 

The few with whom I am close are as varied as the snowflakes in my blizzardy mind.  They are of all walks, religions, anti-religions, of all moralities and maturity levels.  Like women who are magnets for the bad boys, I seem to be the magnet for the drama princesses. 

My lips love to spill forth the contents of my chattery brain, and perhaps this is why I surround myself with people whom I’m constantly opinionating to.  My nature has never been a deep dark secret – rarely do I wait on an invitation to give my take on your life. 
Two weeks ago, the friend I’ve had the longest (32 years) and I had an argument.  They’ve been quite frequent these last couple of years, and, as family does, we tend to sweep things out of sight and pretend to move on.  We have very different views on a lot of things, but I love her still.  However, like many couples, you can love each other and still drift apart. 

After this particular argument, I tried to explain and stand up for myself in our misunderstanding, to no avail.  No response, nothing.  What hurts is the obvious disregard for my feelings, the lack of understanding on her part.  Yes, I’m brash at times, but I made an effort.  I haven’t seen effort on her part after these arguments in way too long. 

And, this time it’s different.  I’ve seen the replacement on the wall for some time, with someone who is willing to feed off of the drama.  I get the appeal – opposition is difficult, and takes work.  I’m sad because it feels she has given up.  I thought we were in this for life at this point.

Through all of this, though, and for the last twenty years, I’ve had a rock that sometimes sits so quietly in the rush of swirling drama around me, that I often forget to acknowledge her.  Robin listens to my rants, she tries to impart her logical take on things but backs off after having her say.  She’s kind, generous, beautiful and fun. 

I don’t often enough take the time to be grateful for this woman who’s shared half of her life with me.  Part of this latest contention with Lisa has been having her new BFF lorded over me as an example of everything I supposedly do wrong.  Then, I turn around and shove my problems with her on Robin in a torrent of phone calls and endless tirades. 

As often as I’ve wiped my muddy feet all over it, the welcome mat is always there.. 

Every year, my husband treats me like a princess for my birthday, whereas my family likes to pop every balloon in the room.  After witnessing two decades of this stress, last year she and her husband proclaimed that no matter what, I was going to have a stress-free, unforgettable birthday.  They treated us, and my other best friend, to my favorite theatrical production in the city (Wicked!), which had to have cost them a fortune.  They did this just because, for whatever reason, they appreciate me.  It’s difficult for me to grasp this concept, because it’s not something prevalent in the crowd around me.  Not anything said, anyway.

In my old age, I’ve learned that we can’t put a price on a memory, but it just goes to her generosity that money isn’t much of an objection with these two.  Our weekly dinners are something to cherish, and her unwavering support is a lifeline to me.

Never once have I had to worry about men beating on her, family driving her to the nuthouse, bickering between us or any of the other things that wear this old girl out.  She keeps a promise, and shows up when she says she will.

If, like me, you have this one friend in your life, the link to what little normalcy I can muster, don’t let go.  I may be addicted to the drama, but without her I’d have no retreat from it. 

Thanks, Robin, for being my friend.  Thanks for being the anchor in my never-ending tugs-of-war.