Adventures in Reality: My Escape from Wonderland


Hey, everyone – I’m Kelley, and this is my story…

One Sunday afternoon, I tumbled down the proverbial rabbit hole and into a political discussion with my enigmatic father. Our talk led me from being a curious, middle-school Alice trying to make sense of a peculiar world to where I am today – writing content for my heroes, the superstars of snark at Chicks on the Right.

This conversation occurred in the early ‘80s, when most of my peers idolized Madonna and used the word “like” enough to gag me with a spoon; meanwhile, I suffered from delayed Beatlemania and Flower Power syndrome. One of my Fab Four biographies described John Lennon’s left-wing activism. My parents ran a clean, conservative Hoosier homestead and scorned the defunct hippie culture, with its smelly incense, drug-inspired music, peacenik demonstrations and relaxed morality. Being a good little rebel, I thought liberalism sounded just great. Why, even the word suggested freedom! Also: My neighbors, the only authentic liberals I knew, were kindhearted, generous people who improved life for everyone in our community. So, while arguing political ideologies with Daddy, I advocated for the easygoing left because they were into groovy stuff like peace and love, unlike the uptight right. I was actually terrible at the art of debate.

He just smiled inexplicably from the depths of his recliner – much like Lewis Carroll’s oracle sitting on a mushroom – and responded, “Well, Sweetie, it does seem that way, doesn’t it?” Then he closed his eyes, somewhat Caterpillar-y, officially ending the dispute. I didn’t know then what I know now: Daddy is often mystifying, sometimes downright frustrating…but, given time, always right.

Fast forward through many unwise decisions to my life as a staff writer and columnist for a local newspaper, where I worked the police beat. I met lazy people who started trouble and hardworking people who stopped it. At one point, I lost my job and hit what I assumed would be a brief bad patch. I freelanced and tried several work-from-home jobs, but I was drowning. As a single mother of three, I believed accepting government assistance was my only option. Deep down I knew that conservatism was right, but remained unable to identify the reason…until my youngest son innocently asked how we lived, when I never went to work. Only then did I realize that my “brief bad patch” had become a lifestyle – that the helpful hand up to get back on my feet had turned into a pathetic hand-out mentality faster than a politician can switch allegiance.

Being a welfare parasite made me feel bad. But you know what was worse? Starting to rely on strangers for survival was far too easy; and continuing to do so was government-approved. Once you enter the system, the offers for more benefits are like pop music songs – they just keep on coming, even if they are dreadful nonsense.

My actions contradicted my upbringing and the life lessons I wanted my son to learn. His question was a pivotal moment; teaching him right from wrong was, and is, so important to me that I even homeschooled him for the first several years. I immediately started researching the fastest way to earn a marketable degree. Now I work full-time for the genealogy and history department at a public library, where I help create military displays and plan related programming, among other duties; this is entertaining but, regrettably, does not pay well. I would, in fact, fare better financially if I stayed home and stuck out my hand, because FREE STUFF. But I won’t. I can’t. I would rather drive my unreliable minivan off a cliff. Thanks, but no thanks, sneaky old Uncle Sam. You can keep your handouts, and I’ll keep my self respect. My family and I? We’ve got this.

Two of my kids are happily married and living on their own; maternal bias aside, they are freaking amazing humans. My youngest son, now a teenager, plans to become a law enforcement officer in a few years – to make this world a better, safer place and give back to society, rather than take from it. All three of my children are hardcore conservatives and, since we escaped the conflicting messages and dubious gifts of Wonderland, they know why.

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