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.kymberlieingalls.com/p/editing-services.html

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Do They Know It's Christmas?



There's a world outside your window, and it's filled with dread and fear where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears...

Used to be I would anticipate the holidays despite the family heartaches because I could always find something to take root and make Christmas shine just a little bit.  Traditions were essential; the first song was chosen carefully - the theme to sum up the year - and played the morning after the turkey carving, the tree was pulled out for weeks of dream gazing, lights were strung outside to glow into a winter's night, and overflowing baskets of warm cookies were to be given away.
To quote the good witch, it's fun to be popular.
Now, the music becomes tired long before the season has begun, the tree is a hassle, my husband grows more tired each year of climbing on the roof to string up cheap lights that rarely work, and the cookie list became too long to keep up. 

Some things remain. Theme songs, a dream has a possibility, occasional treats from the oven, an anonymous glass of wine at crowded bar for someone who seems blue.  The gathering of toys for kids in need of a Christmas is what grounds me.  Someone asked why, when I'm so not a kid person, this was such an important cause to me.  I began to reflect on my mom, and how she worked to put her special touch on holidays she knew were more difficult for us than every other day of the year.  Perhaps it's in her memory I want others to have their moments as well. 

I'm not a religious person, so is it hypocritical that I am accepting of gifts and indulge in the name of Christmas when I don't believe in the cause?  As the year comes to a close, I focus on endings, beginnings, the people who have passed through and those who've chosen to stay.  It's about taking inventory of my world. 
Through my work, I communicate with strangers on the internet every day.  I talk with them, hear their stories, and learn about lives other than my own.  They are snowflakes - they may look the same on the surface, but each is different from the next.  Reaching out is what keeps me connected in my solitude.  Writing can be a lonely journey; many of our friends are imaginary, our worlds are painted inside of our own minds, and our words are carefully constructed.  I write about my life to prove its authenticity.  These strangers contradict my own views and show me our universal truths as well.  Without them, I would be one snowflake falling.

One tiny invisible snowflake.
Someone said to me in a letter today, " I suppose if Christmas was a football, I'd be Charlie Brown feeling perennial hope snatched away at the last moment.  I seem to be near another nadir, looking for hope.  I have a small window but haven't found the door."  It was ensconced in a long letter describing the meaning of his Christmas. 

Once in awhile something stands out demanding my attention, be it a song, a whisper, or a word and suddenly things will make sense for just that moment.  Another letter read, " If you are looking for someone worse off than you to brighten up your holidays then I can show you what Christmas is all about."  He is without a home, working two jobs and trying to bring his family to live under one roof again.  " So this year for Christmas I'm all alone living in my car trying to figure out where to park and sleep each night.  I have a full-time job during the day and part-time job 5 nights a week with working an average of 75 hours weekly. I'm one of the lucky homeless."
There's a world outside my window.

Snowflakes adrift all around me, too many of us lost in the storm but in the midst of my own blizzard are people showing me their faithful longings.  How could  I not see the divinity in that? 
Another letter came to me in the mail today, written in hand by an old friend who's become new again.  Jim wrote: "You're living out Gandhi's vision when he challenged us to 'be the change you wish to see in the world.'  Thanks for bringing the real meaning of Christmas to so many and for allowing others to share in the endeavor." 


With many friends around me to join hands, I am not invisible.
It is in the quiet winter evenings that I read these letters, with colorful lights like a sky full of stars dotting the tree in the corner casting their light on my husband's face as he sleeps with our two furry  girls snuggled in tight against him.  Angels may be out there getting their wings, kids might be praying for that one toy they can't live without, and malls are filled with a false joy reflected from the grand silver and gold ornaments hanging above the weary shoppers.  Across the globe, people are starving, and not just for food to nourish them.  They don't know a Christmas like we do. 

We give from afar to brighten our holidays, thinking it will absolve our sins in the year behind us.  We drop our needs into stockings hung above a fire where they beg for warmth.  Our expectations for new beginnings are wrapped up in glittery ribbons and searched for at the bottom of a sparkling glass of liquid hope.  Where will you find your Christmas moment?  
Look around, feel the snow fall on your skin, let the iciness melt as it touches you.  And feed the world.

In our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy.  Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime...
 

 

(c)  Kymberlie Ingalls  -  December 3rd, 2013

Lyrics:  Do They Know It's Christmas?  /  Band Aid

Thursday, November 28, 2013

For Just A Moment

Time goes on, people touch and they're gone....

There was a hole in the sky tonight, as though a portal into another time.  It was golden rimmed in the hazy grey, much as we see the past in the midst of what lies in front of us.  The fall tones seem to have faded already as the blues settle in. 

It was a winter day at the end of last year when a friend said to me "Let's see what the new year brings" after we'd shared a glorious morning that promised a horizon of good things.  There was a moment, a smile,  that flashed, as an icicle does in the rising sun. 
Icicles that fall and pierce the skin, leaving a thin, cold trail of blood.
What followed was a year of loss, confusion, and searching for answers that had no questions.  Friends have been lost, some buried.  I have crashed, and been burned.  The scales have tipped and I've now forgotten more than I remember, but I remember that day.  It was something to hold on to. 

What memories have survived now decorate a year gone by, like colorful ornaments; blue eyes here, brown there, green peering from around the corner.  Why is it the eyes I remember?  I work so hard to forget my own. 

The summer came and went, a season of soaring highs and devastating lows.  My year continued to be one of rediscovery, recovery, and introspect.  I find it terribly disconcerting that so many chase my hidden smiles, then like a child who soon loses interest in a coveted Christmas toy, they leave me behind and take that supposedly disarming smile with them. 
My husband tells me I always take on too much.  Too many tasks, too many people.  In doing so, I am bound for failure too often.  As people continually walk away, it is apparent that I am the common denominator.  I keep reaching out until it seems I find someone who will want to stay. 

I've been accused of being ungrateful, insecure, psychologically unsound.  I am held up in comparison to the lives of others by people who don't understand that I'm not living anyone else's life; I'm trying to survive my own until it's time for me to lay down and rest.  In doing so, I don't rely on holidays to be thankful for people who touch my life, even if briefly.  I could be angry at those who go.  Where is the good in that?   An icy memory may stab the heart on a lonely night, but when it melts, it becomes water that nourishes.
There is one who brings more smile than hurt, more safety than fear, and has not left me.  I don't want to believe it's because I've crippled him, thereby keeping him at my side by default.  Instead I will fall asleep choosing to think he wants to be lying next to me, his hand resting on my back because it comforts him as much as it does me.  Because of this love, I am able to give to others the same. 

I am also constantly needing to test its strength.
Let the holidays come and do their worst as I tremble in anxiety and wander the stores trying to look like I hadn't been crying for an hour at the thought of sitting at a cold family table wondering why I can't have the happy Thanksgiving so many wished for me.  What pulls me back to face another day is the realization that so many shared their warmth with me.  None tied by blood, but who hold me in higher regard. 

I am thankful for this; the kindness of doctors who keep me in medication that can't be afforded despite my disinterest in their  life-prolonging effects.  The efforts of those who seek my smiles even when they abscond with them soon after.  The company of those who wish to give it.  That my work is now being recognized by many.  The knowledge that what I put forth into the world is what will be returned to me.  That a goodbye doesn't mean forever.

And the ability to see the rainbow that glimmers inside of an icicle. 
Someday when we reminisce we'll say there wasn't too much we missed, and through the tears we'll smile when we recall we had it all, for just a moment....

 

 

 

(c) Kymberlie Ingalls, November 28th, 2013

Lyrics:  For Just A Moment /  David Foster

 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bandita

Today started off pretty okay.  It was the end of a decent week that had seen beach time and two road trips with my husband.  Got to sleep in this morning, just enough to better my mood.  I decided to go haunt one of my usual places for a bite to eat and keep my friend Josh company while he slaved away serving tables.  The weekend ahead wasn’t looking too bad other than a family dinner that always has the potential to go awry. 

And there was rain on the way.  Gray clouds rolling in, the scent of fresh rainwater misting the air.

I was driving downtown, headed for the freeway.  Moving over to my right, there was an older SUV several lengths behind me.  He apparently took offense at my lane change, moved around to the right of me and tried to race around to slide back in front of my car.  This, of course, did not sit well with me, so I kept my car at an even pace and refused to let him in. 

As Judge Judy would say, “That was your mistake, your stupidity.  A sane person would have let it go.”  And that’s exactly where she hits the nail on the head with that little gavel of hers.  We’re all living in this powder keg, together, and all is not harmonious.  Insanity is a much bigger reality today than fifty years ago when “road rage” was a three year old having a tantrum in the back seat of the Buick.

Sanity is never a claim I’d take to the bank.

A good fight isn’t something I ever go looking for, but generally won’t back down when it kicks me in the shins either.  So, when I saw the beefy tattooed arm shaking at me through the window with an obnoxious flair, my instincts shoved my sanity out the window.  Wrong move, because the chase that ensued put not only my life in danger, but those of the drivers around us.  The blood-boiled haze that blocked out anyone else on the road blinded me, as I let Bandita perform at her angriest.  Darting and weaving through the thick traffic, dangerous memories spurred me on until, at 95 mph, realization that I would likely be at fault for pursuit forced me to let the driver speed off. 

Uncaught.

My shimmering emerald Firebird is my shadow, my machinistic soulmate. Roger, my husband, has felt many regrets at his matchmaking when he presented her to me upon my thirtieth birthday We’ve grown up together in the last ten years.  She’s been rebuilt on three of her four sides, and we’ve nursed each other back to health after the accidents, each worse than the last.  . 

Bandita was patient as she waited for my fear to subside and I could slip once more behind her wheel with minimal waves of panic.  It seemed she understood why I needed to abandon her for the safety of our big, intimidating truck.  She’s protective of me to a fault, with instincts just like my own that won’t let anyone else on the road rev her up without good reason. 

If you’ve got a fiery woman, never do her wrong – especially when she’s holding a matchbook…

Unresolved anger is a very dangerous thing.  It can eat away at the soul of a person like a rust corrodes the strongest of metals.  It lies dormant, lingering until someone itches your  trigger finger and with no warning, there lie the jagged pieces in a volcanic mess. 

It gets so exhausting trying to maneuver around, like a soldier – always in stealth mode, waiting for the next land mine to trip.  Seems a soldier is always fighting a war that isn’t theirs, but they pick up their guns and begin a new day anyway. 

Five years ago, I nearly lost my husband in a hit and run accident.  A truck came rushing through the night and plowed right through us, never stopping, never looking back, never to be seen again.  A two second difference and he would have been torn in bits.  I nearly lost my life that evening, and… I nearly lost my life.

I drive through that intersection every day.  The perfect circle on the faded road haunt me with its almost artistic dark, rubber stain. 

Unresolved anger –in Roger’s eyes every time he sees a champaign colored Toyota truck, his eyes skimming the front end for damage, quietly because he thinks I don’t see.  In my own mind every time someone around me runs through a red light. 

And now someone has taken Bandita away from me.  My empowering moment of sing-along at the top of my lungs to songs like Superwoman was cut short by the carelessness of another, and the damage is significant.  I don't think she'll make it this time, and it's a loss that frightens me.  My best friend, my companion in my strongest moments, who had protected me through five accidents in as many years, all at the careless hands of others, is on life support. 

She's repairable, but at what cost?   Euthanasia is sometimes more humane.  Maybe she's tired of fighting the war too.  Maybe her anger has subsided where mine has only grown.

My gas pedal is my trigger, the white lines of the road and the faint edge of sanity is what keeps my foot from taking aim.

 


© Kymberlie Ingalls, February 22, 2012              Updated:  March 19, 2013

Lyrics:  Mama’s Broken Heart / Miranda Lambert

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

100 Years

Time goes by, suddenly you’re wise.  Another blink of an eye, the sun is getting high…

In the five years that I’ve known Byron, he lost almost everything in a house fire, and for over three years he and his daughter had to shuffle around from home to home while they rebuilt.  He had broken his hip twice, but persisted through rehab and still managed to show up to class anyway.  Rain, sleet, walker or wheelchair couldn’t keep him away.  Not bad for a man upwards of 90 years old.   

Byron and I were classmates.  In my head he was a friend of mine, but I hesitate to say that aloud because the truth is, I wasn’t a very good friend in return.  Outside of writing class and our group lunches after, I didn’t give much of my time to him. 

In my second year, I got a little braver with my writing, and decided to begin work on my memoir project.  With trepidation I wrote about a brief fling I’d had with a 41 year old man when I was just 19.  This class consisted mainly of seniors whom I was becoming quite attached to.  Slowly they’d taken me in as a sort of surrogate daughter, a feeling I’d been missing for a long time.  I wrote about this infatuation during my Denny’s era when I worked the night shift.  I described the staff, and how the cook in the kitchen used to play Robin Hood and feed us poor workers all sorts of yummy things once the management went home.  As I’d begun to read the story aloud, however, I realized I’d forgotten to edit it and take out the sex scene.  It wasn’t graphic, but considering the audience and my extreme shyness, it just didn’t seem appropriate.  I forged ahead, blushing be damned.  When I finished, there was silence, and I thought Ooops. 

Byron leaned his tall, lanky body forward and looked at me with big hands clasped together.  I braced myself, as he spoke in his gravelly voice.  “I used to own a Denny’s in Southern California.  I always wondered where the food was disappearing to.  Now I know!” 

The ice was broken.

And it thawed completely last year.  As class commenced for the new quarter, I knew better than to offer critiques because I was having a shit day and would end up taking it out on everyone’s work.  Keeping quiet in my little corner, I felt sad because I could see Byron’s mind deteriorating on the paper before me.  Scattered sentences, repeated paragraphs, his weakened voice lost track of the words, and all around the room the silence was heavy because nobody wanted to speak the truth. 

Afterwards, as I wandered slowly to the parking lot, a young man approached me and motioned to the car where he had just settled Byron into his seat.  “Mr. Citron would like to speak to you.” The aide said politely.  I walked over, trying to muster a smile.

“Hi Byron!”  He looked me square in the eye.

“Why didn’t you comment on my story?” 

“Um,” I stammered.  “I’m… tired today, I guess.  I didn’t say anything about anyone’s!” 

“But you didn’t say anything about mine.  I hope you wrote some things down.  I need your help!”  It was almost a reprimand, but the thing about Byron was that his scowls and growls were often hiding a smile. 

“Next time, Byron, I promise.”  I sensed he knew the story was a mess, and was calling me out for not saying so.

A month later, several of us were having lunch after class, and I asked Byron how he was doing.  It was a blustery November day, he was bundled up in his chair at the Chinese restaurant, his grumpy demeanor topping my usual dourness. 

“How ya doing, Byron?”  He thought for several seconds before answering, his square jaw moving slowly back and forth as he rolled his words around in his head.

“They said I have bone cancer.  Shooting me up with all kinds of drugs, different treatments.  I don’t know what for.”  With a sudden shift, he began to talk about the weather, and how he could never figure out his damn email.  I just sipped my water in silence. 

Last week I learned the end was near for Byron.  Expected, yes, but sadness engulfed me all the same.  I told my friend Josh who had waited on us at our last holiday luncheon in December.  “Was he the feisty old guy in the wheelchair?” He laughed.  “He was cranky, but he was alright at the end.  He was awesome!”

Yes, feisty  is a word for Byron; at 95 years old he’d survived his share of life. 

I wanted to write a letter to him, but the task before me was daunting; how to say farewell without saying goodbye?   He was a smart cookie, and would know if he was being written off.  So, I pondered, and in my dilemma I buried my denial.  If I didn’t write the letter, Byron wouldn’t die.  He’s a feisty old guy, he’ll hang on, demanding his sugary Cokes and fatty butter from his caretakers. 

I wasn’t strong enough to visit, and truthfully I wanted to remember him at a more festive time, with his friends.  I’ve sat by one deathbed too many in my lifetime already. 

My mind kept floating back to that day at the car, Byron chastising me.  I remember being surprised at his having noticed.  For most of my life, it was always my outspoken ways that went noticed, and rarely with admiration.  It is my silence that goes unheard, and ignored.  Byron had heard my silence.

Everyone comes along in a lifetime for a reason.  I needed to be heard when I had nothing to say. 

Byron passed away in his sleep this morning, I hope with peace in his heart.   Another stone laid to rest in my path. 

There’s still time for you, time to buy and time to choose. There’s never a wish better than this when you’ve only got 100 years to live…

 



© Kymberlie Ingalls, February 12th, 2013

Lyrics:  100 Years  /  Five For Fighting