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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/

Monday, October 17, 2011

American Fight Song

I'm not always a fan of protests.  Living in the Bay Area it's been getting a little out of control here on the left coast.  People standing up for criminals who manage to shoot their own selves in their getaways, rallying because their own bad behavior of climbing to the top of commuter trains got their cell phones disabled - never mind the danger they constantly put others in. 

Like everyone else - but unlike everyone in big-time media - I've been intrigued about the idea of Occupy Wall Street since its inception.  I've been following somewhat closely to see where it's going to go, even though my husband has to explain the demands to me because frankly I'm not so smart when it comes to politics and money. 

My concern initially was that a lot of angry people were showing up for the wrong reasons.  I still do believe this to be the case after watching many of the videos coming out of various cities.  OWS has seriously got to be for Youtube what the iPod was for Apple.  Not to downgrade those who protest in sincerity, but I'm willing to bet that many are there and don't even know why.  They are there because they don't have lives, are pissed off at someone or are just generally very angry and demanding attention.  I'd also bet - and I'm not much of a gambler - that many people are looking to become the next reality TV star out of this. 


It's easy for me to question intent - I find it difficult to understand how shaking your bare boobage on the streets of Manhattan supports a cry against Big Business.  It ridicules the cause.

"Do a split, do a yell!  Shake a tit for old Rydell!"

But then there are the claims of brutality.  Truthfully, I don't know what to make of this, and it's one of the reasons I've hesitated to post thus far on the topic.  It is frustrating that we catch a glimpse of a cop macing a deaf girl, or another one dragging someone who's been arrested across the ground - my first reaction is that of course, it's overkill.  But there's something in me too that knows better than to go on such little information, and we are seeing a lot of arrests and assaults but none of the before and after to support the claims of brutality.  This doesn't mean it isn't happening, but how much of it happens on a dare from someone who is begging to be arrested by way of their own actions?  And they are the ones who belittle the true injustices on the streets of Manhattan or anywhere else.

In this litigious society that we live in where just about anyone will spin the truth for a dollar, my skepticism is justified.  One reason I respect my friend Anthony as a minister of gospel is because he doesn't attack people with whatever random Biblical quote comes in handy, he teaches to always read what comes before it, and after, to get the whole story; to question, and to think. 

What turned me off in the beginning was Anonymous being behind it.  Faceless people with robotic voices crying out against injustice who turn around and hack websites and put the private information of innocent people to the public is cowardly.  Claiming to be victimized by Facebook and calling for a 'shutdown of the site' and thereby punishing those who (albeit begrudgingly) choose to agree to their terms of wiping any privacy from your life is wrong.  Speak out, yes.  Raise attention to your cause, yes.  Bully others to your way of thinking?  No.

What has surprised me is that I really thought this protest would burn out as the SF Bay Area BART protests have in a rather quickly dying flame, but just the opposite has happened.  Instead, as a wind pushes a raging fire further out of control, cities large and small are joining this movement.  A small suburb of the city that is known for its well-off residents held a protest in support of OWS last week, and I'd joked that I'd be shocked if more than ten people showed up - it would cut into shopping time for too many others.  Lo and behold, 300+ came out.  That's almost as inspirational as the Grinch spreading cheer through Whoville on Christmas Day. 

In the end, my support of Occupy Wall Street is conditional, much like the love a parent gives to a redheaded stepchild (I am one, so I can back up the claim).  I refuse to view the protesters as a whole, just as I refuse to judge the police as a whole.  People make their own choices, and it is those individual choices I'll put in my mind's line-up so I can seperate the power-trippers from the do-rights. 


Truly I believe that much of the mess we are rebelling in is of our own (as a whole) creation.  We have complacently agreed to let our credit score rule our lives, and the meek mice are now the roaring lions - something that usually never ends without senseless consequences of some kind on both sides of the battlefield. 

It's been a long time between civil wars - the blue of the police and the suits against the gray of anonymity are clearly drawn.

For now.

Gavin DeGraw - A Change Is Gonna Come

(c) Kymberlie Ingalls, October 17th, 2011

White Knuckle Dreams

         “Well, this ain’t no Sunday drive – got the tach red-lined and the throttle opened wide.  Gonna kill a lot of bugs, pass a lot of poles, no, this ain’t no Sunday drive…”
I have been attending races at the Antioch Speedway since before I was born.  Literally, my mom was pregnant when my dad was working the crew of my uncle’s stock car.  My brother was already a toddler wandering around in the mud of the pit.  Back then it was messy, dirty, sporty, fun, and the rules were.. there were no rules.  “You run what you brung” was the philosophy.  It’s always been something I can share with my dad and my brother, and while I still to this day know nothing of the inner mechanics of a car, I can admire the beauty of seeing one pushed to its limits and coming out victorious.
          Stock car racing is a rich part of American culture, and has its roots deep in our nation’s history.  It originated during the prohibition period of the 1920s, when runners of moonshine had to figure out a way to outrun the authorities, so they would modify their cars and engines to enable them to get the job done.  This eventually led to organized events by the time the 1930s came around, but there was a lack of consistency in the rules, prompting Bill France, Sr. to form NASCAR (The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) in 1948, allowing for unified rules across the independent tracks.  The term “stock cars” refers to cars that have not been modified from the factory originals, however the phrase is more general now, referring to the many classes of cars that race today.
          I have loved to drive fast for as long as I can remember.  I’ve driven at speeds as high as 115 mph, including taking the curves of the Santa Cruz mountains in excess of 90mph.  It was a challenge, late at night with no traffic around me, and the thrill of it was exhilarating.  Driving is my favorite danger.  It feeds my need to hover on that slight blur between what is real and what is not.
          Something about feeling one with the car - flesh and blood entangled, melded with steel into a streamline of speed.  A hundred and ten, and climbing.  To hear the hum and feel the shifting, the elevation.

          When I first met my husband, Roger, he was racing his Dodge Viper on various paved road courses throughout California, on the occasional weekend as a hobby.  Roger and I never saw a grown man cry so hard as when he had just run his week-old Viper into a wall, leaving it crumpled on the trackside, where no insurance was going to cover the damage.  I remember seeing that owner sit by his car, devastated, but it is a risk any driver takes.  It’s very easy to lose sight of being grateful for your own good luck of coming out in better shape than the car. 
          One day I took Roger to the local dirt track to watch a night of racing, and he decided that this would be more fun (not to mention less risk and expense), so he set about choosing his class – the dwarf cars.  As the name indicates, the dwarf car is very small compared to the other hulking cars that run on a dirt track.  They are 5/8 scale in size of the original coupe and sedan original stock cars dated between 1928 and 1948.  They have a reputation of being “cute,” but only until the green flag drops.  Then they can hit an average speed of 80 mph on the straightway of an oval track, and if they had more length can get to about 120 mph.  They use motorcycle engines to run. 
          Roger had some fun with the concept of his dwarf car, deciding to capitalize on his native Wisconsin, and dubbing himself “CheezRacer.”  We decorated the yellow car with cheese holes, created an animated likeness, and soon he was very popular among the kids who came with their parents each week to watch their favorites speed around in circles to the checkered flag. 
     A typical day at the track is very long, an average of 8-10 hours.  Once parked and the car is unloaded from the trailer, thus begins a long checkup of the motor, the body, and the safety equipment, usually in the heat of a very unforgiving sun.  Many do not realize that local independent tracks must adhere to the same safety rules as professional tracks.  A helmet and firesuit are required, as are fire extinguishers that are easily accessible by the officials in the event that your car does go up in flames, something I have seen happen often.
          I admit that I like to see the drivers take chances, push their talents, sometimes the result being a crash, a flip or a roll of the car.  I can say this because, while I have seen some brutal accidents, luckily serious injuries are very rare.  In fact, most injuries occur in the pits or the garages versus on the track, such as the time I was almost beheaded by a tire that had come off of a racing stock car, rolling up a double-banked hill several hundred feet at full speed and flying over the fence, right where I had stood seconds before Roger pulled me to safety. 

I have seen a few of my friends involved in some spectacular acrobatics, with their cars doing somersaults in the air, and have seen them walk away from it grinning, more upset at their race being cut short than any damage to themselves or the car.  One night, my friend Tony flipped his car in the air, a triple end over end, and he actually got back into it and finished in fourth place.
Two weeks ago, watching Roger drive head on into a concrete wall at 70 miles per hour in a racing incident, everyone kept asking if I was okay seeing that.  I suppose that’s how I know I’ve got a racer’s drive in me – it’s knowing that these are the risks that are taken, and it’s being able to remain calm in the face of twisted wreckage.

I’ve long had a love affair with the Antioch track.  So many memories.  I’ve also long had the dream of being out there on the dirt myself.  I’m not too confident in my abilities, however, in sliding around the muddy corners.  It’s a whole different concept from driving on a paved road.  And you need to have confidence to compete, while still keeping in mind that others depend on your skills and your smarts to prevent mistakes that can be quite costly.
My older brother now races, mainly at the Petaluma track north of the Bay Area, although we have also traveled to Marysville and Placerville as well.  He runs a dwarf car also.
Driving is something that can get into the blood, and it’s an infection that never really goes away.  Weaving in between the others – a high speed game of cat and mouse, sometimes with dire consequences.  It requires brain work and strategizing, before the race and while out on the track, not to mention muscle work to keep the car in your line when you find it.  The motto of oval track tracing:  “Drive fast, turn left, repeat…”
          And it’s not all about being behind the wheel yourself.  To watch the cars bob and dart and challenge each other, it’s rather fluid in its beauty.  Dancing on pavement, or sliding in the dirt.  The passion to feel the car, to tame this metal beast, and to find the heart behind the dented, painted, hard-driven vehicle – finding the brain beneath the motor.  But when you are moving with the wind rushing in at you, and when you realize that this mechanical Lolita has won you over, it is a defeat that will happily reap its rewards in the muddy grin of a champion.
          “It’s a white-knuckle ride, there’s only one thing on my mind – to be the first to cross that finish line.  If I don’t run out of gas and my tires will last, I’m gonna take that checkered flag…”

© Kymberlie Ingalls, August 18, 2010
“Sunday Drive” – Alabama
“White Knuckle Ride” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Weed Is Just A Weed

I love to cook.  Love to experiment with sauces, herbs and spices - greens like sage, basil, oregano and thyme.  Colors like mustard, paprika, saffron and coriander.  Natural ways to make a ho-hum chicken taste legendary.

Alice B. Toklas loved to cook as well. 
Toklas published her own literary memoir, a 1954 book that mixed reminiscences and recipes under the title The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. The most famous recipe therein (actually contributed by her friend Brion Gysin) was called "Haschich Fudge," a mixture of fruit, nuts, spices, and "canibus [sic] sativa," or marijuana. Her name was later lent to the range of cannabis concoctions called Alice B. Toklas brownies. - Wikipedia
How is it that pharmaceutical companies can pump us slowly full of toxins, poisons and pills - with side effects to cause everything from blindness to a habit of walking funny - yet it somehow became illegal to  pluck a weed from the ground and take advantage of its homeopathic healing? 

Tobacco is a natural plant, and it's legal to smoke it.  Sage and thyme are plants, I'm allowed to cook with it.  Aloe is amazing in healing burns, and nobody goes to jail treating their sunburn. 

I am so.. soo.. tired of the government refusing to allow us to live off the land in a safe and affordable manner. 

  • Natural foods cost a fortune compared to the processed crap that food stamps allow us to buy.  
  • Prostitution allows men and women to become an entrepeneur, using a natural commodity.  They can rent out their fingers for hire to work with computers.  Their legs are for hire to stand on a sales floor all day.  Their backs are sold and sacrificed to stock warehouses at night.  But use your privates to make a buck and all bets are off.
  • Drugs are available with a prescription and are as abused as anything else.  Thanks to modern medicine, my mother-in-law has become addicted to a rainbow of narcotics and anti-depressants that she is likely never going to be free of.  Most of her problems would be solved with one simple herb.

One of the things about our current society that irritates me the most is those who live off of unemployment benefits, disability, assistance, and other means of government support who then turn around and work for cash, skipping around Uncle Sam like he's the bozo in the middle that doesn't have a clue.  Marijuana dealers rank the highest among this cult.  They peddle their wares illegally to the general public, and not a stoned cent is claimed as income, while the rest of us pay their share in taxes, all the while judging each other for wanting to indulge in the happy weed and forget about our troubles for a while.

The government wants more money to spend.  When I was a kid, I asked my parents for money to buy candy.  "How do you intend to earn it?"  they asked.

I wish I'd been smart enough to say "Off of the hard work of others."  I wish I'd wanted to be Government when I grew up. 

In case you're wondering, this is all coming from a woman who's never been high (illegally) a day in her life.  With the exception of the contact high from a Halloween party a few years back.  But I digress.

So, why do I support legalization of marijuana?  Because it is a trade, a commodity, just like anything else, and should be treated as such.  Reefer Madness has seen its day come and go.  We've made strides in racism, sexism, ageism and just about every other ism there ever was.  We've marched for civil rights, and for women's rights, and animal rights.  Why can't the potheads have rights too?

The statistics of deaths caused by drunken drivers in this country every single day is staggering.  Add to the mix of drivers on the road under the influence of prescription narcotics - the same narcotics that incite violent behavior in many.  When's the last time you saw a stoner attack anything more than a bag of Doritos? 

I'd never have qualified for the job of Government anyway.  Apparently I'm too smart.  I know where the cash cow is in this country, and happy cows do indeed live in California.  It's not the cheese - it's the grass.

(c) Kymberlie Ingalls, October 7th 2011


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