Kelley’s Konundrum May 22, 2016

The Mystery of Misidentification

As a follow-up to last week's blog about censorship, I wanna return to the news story that started it: Beyond Magenta, about transgender teens.
This weekend, a friend of mine informed me she was boycotting Target because they are allowing people to use the restroom for the gender they identify with, not necessarily the one they are born with.

I, of course, think this is a fine idea. I am one of those people who has always gone into whatever bathroom is available anyway--having to pee is no joke, and the whole ‘having MS plus birthing two big-headed babies’ situation makes it even less funny. Long lines in girls’ bathrooms have always seemed monumentally unfair to me, and even though girls treat the bathrooms much better, my bladder makes me a beggar, not a chooser.

But no, this friend is disturbed enough to avoid going to a store we Real Housewives of 4S Ranch collectively lost our minds over when a new one opened in our neighborhood last October. Lost. Our. Minds. It's a whole cultural phenomenon, Target Shopping. Check out this website for further clarification: <

But this friend feels it is so wrong for Target to let someone in the bathroom who was born with a penis but is a girl in soul, spirit and lifestyle. Maybe even brain formation? I don't know if that has been established, but either way, she feels so strongly  about the issue that she’s not going to patronize the store.  She wants this girl has to turn left and go into the boys room, skirt and all? But my friend thinks this is better than allowing her to go into the room marked Girls.  This is a complete mystery to me.

Now I know there are a lot more bathrooms labeled ‘Family’ these days, and it’s true a transgender person can use that. And I spoke to another friend whom I knew would have an outlook, an understanding and an explanation of the situation which would help me ‘walk a mile’, which is what I’m trying to do with this whole Konundrum blog.


THIS friend explained how she thought the other friend was probably looking at the situation from the POV of a parent or grandparent, and how they’d be worried and fearful that the change in bathroom status opened the door to individuals with nefarious tendencies—pedophiles and predators. Although I can’t see that as being the way the situation would go as a general rule (most men, pedophiles or not, would not dress up as a woman to get into the girl’s bathroom to prey on little girls, and many pedophiles who prey on little boys are already allowed into the boy’s bathroom,  and public restrooms aren’t the place pedophiles go to groom their victims anyway, it’s a much longer and more protracted process than housewives ducking into Target and encountering housewife impostors and…I just don’t see it as the problem parents would anticipate. I mean…I keep having visions of dudes throwing a sundress over their biker guy tattoos and trying to smear makeup over their five o’clock shadows. I know it’s not funny, and I understand the worry, but I don’t see that the problem is what my friend is fearing. It’s a kneejerk reaction.


And I also feel like I understand the reasoning behind the change. Making sure there’s a family or unisex bathroom in public buildings is fine, but I can also see how it is construed. What is the difference between this and having colored and white restrooms? Even if the bathrooms during segregation had been exactly the same, which for the most part they weren’t, the separation still said the same thing: We Don’t Accept You. You Are Different. Keep Away.

I get it.


To me, (and there’s going to be a whole other blog about this, maybe next week), allowing a transgender girl or boy to go every place every other girl or boy goes, that’s what they are looking for. Not ‘let’s figure out a way to make SOMETHING available to everybody’, but ‘let’s find a way to make the SAME THING available to all the girls and all the boys.


 Right now, the boycotting is still a mystery to me. Maybe you can help me understand.


I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

10:25 AM

Blog December 18, 2016 The mystery of finding religion...or maybe losing it?


I know I've discussed this topic before, not not for the least reason that it is one of my topics in the second book of the chalkboard outlines cozy mystery series! With Emma and Leslie (which are certain parts of me, I think you know that already)are in somewhat of a religious crisis because of one of the characters and one of the suspects in the newest book.

I don't think I personally ever went through a religious crisis per se, but I did have a very interesting religious education in general, which included an atheist excommunicated Mormon father, a goes to church to be social mother, and a. Buddhist aunt and uncle. My parents were great at raising us to be searching and educating ourselves and then deciding, when we were old enough, which direction we wanted to go as far as religion. I'm forever grateful to their choices in my upbringing.


So in our own personal household there is one atheist scientist – that's my husband -- one Agnostic-- that's me, and two little boys who are only just beginning to ask a lot of questions. This is why I'm revisiting the topic today.


We're raising the boys in the same manner I was raised, which is to say we're trying to teach them about different religions or schools of thought. This way they will be better equipped to choose. When they were younger, we used to do 'religious studies' on Sundays since we don't go to church. We've talked about Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism, and I've taught some myths from one of my favorite classes when I taught: mythology.  We just wanted them to start getting some exposure to what's out there.  Which is a lot. Anyway, we haven't done religious studies for a while. Grey is really into mythology, though, because he read the entire Percy Jackson series and loved it.


Which brings us to now and the questions that are starting to arise. One major tenet to their questioning comes from their paternal grandparents, who are very, very Catholic. And super and upset that we are not. Stop giving us Bibles and other religious accoutrements, but not for lack of years of trying. Doesn't help that pretty much all of our siblings on both sides are evangelically religious. How does this happen? I have no idea.


Anyway, the hilarious thing happened the day before yesterday. The boys were getting ready for bed and we were coming up to kiss them good night. Griffen is on the top bunk. He's laying there, ready for the kiss, when he pops his head up. "We're not Jewish, right?" And I said, "No, we're not Jewish." He already knows we're not Christian because we've had that discussion. "What are we then?" He wanted to know. I wasn't sure what to say. "We're Americans!" I said, but then backtracked immediately, because that was an ignorant thing to say. I know Americans are every religion and that's what make us great. It was just the first thing that popped out of my mouth.


He paused for a minute. Then he pushed his eyes up over the bed rail, and gave me a grin that could only be described as 'shit-eating.' 

"Are we heeeeaaathans?" He hissed. Then he chortled.

I ruffled his hair and said what I should always say, which is the truth. "Yep, we're heathens," I said. "Pagans, infidels, however you wanna say it. We practice the religion of kindness and community,"

"And science!" Grey piped up from the lower bunk. He's probably gonna be less of a questioner, but We'llsee. "And science," I agreed. I kissed them both goodnight, and left with a smile. It was that face, that Joker smile and the glee with which he said, "Heeeeaathens" like that's the most delicious thing to be.

And I guess I sorta feel like it is. 

I'd love to hear your views! Until then...Stay Mystified!


Kelley’s Konundrum November 25, 2015


My Konundrum this week (really 2 weeks because I missed last week) is WWSD? I’m getting a bracelet, or maybe a ring, with these letters.

So the Paris Attacks have been on peoples’ minds in the past couple of weeks. The solutions I’m hearing don’t feel like solutions, but rather like fearmongering and passing judgment. My least favorite solution was a database for Muslims entering this country. Or maybe it was Muslims already here and also those entering this country? Whichever the case, the idea goes against everything we are supposed to represent. Ludicrous. Why don’t we develop a database for redheads? Left-handers? Yankee fans? I just don’t understand the concept. The whole point of this country is that all people get to try and make lives for themselves, and it’s when we arbitrarily put people into groups that the point is lost, and we become like the terrorists.

Yes, I said it.

The terrorists have the view that anyone not like them deserves conversion, subjugation and/or death. Now, this is an extreme view, especially when you consider the ‘death’ element, but the initial impetus is shared by many people who are not terrorists. Lots of religions believe that anyone who is not of that religion either needs to convert or is doomed to hell. Speaking of bracelets, the What Would Jesus Do bracelet is popular. But if Jesus REALLY was a ‘my way or the highway’ type of guy, I don’t think he’d have as big of a following. I think the ‘my way is the highway’ idea is a people construct. But a lot of those people have screwed up the meaning of the bracelet, so that’s why I don’t wanna wear that one.

I was talking to my neighbor about this topic, and that’s where the WWSD idea came about. What Would Superman Do? I told him that the Paris attacks made me think about this. Superman’s whole purpose is to help others, and there are no prerequisites to receiving his help. What about Batman? my neighbor asked. Maybe a WWBD bracelet? No, I said, Batman is a fun superhero, but he is motivated by revenge for the death of his parents. Superman is good just because he has the capacity to help people (as do we all), and he uses it (as should we all.)

I think it’s great if people can use religion to help them make better choices, or as a source of solace or strength, but some use it to make excuses and pass judgment, and this terrorist nonsense is the ultimate in passing judgment. I’m over it. Give me the What Would Superman Do bracelet. Or , hey, maybe it could be What Would Santa Claus Do? I’ll wear that one, too.


I guess WWSD isn’t really a mystery. Maybe the real mystery is why more people don’t want one for their own personal collection! What do you think? I’d love to hear your views…J



p.s.: Soon I’m going to start a series of blog posts which relate to my upcoming cozy mystery release: Death by Diploma. The posts are diary entries. The killer’s diary! That’s right, everyone, you can get inside the mind of the murderer in Death by Diploma before the book even comes out…

Until next time: Stay Mystified!

Blog January 1, 2017

The mystery of Sacrifice

Last weeks blog or maybe it was two weeks ago I was thinking about heroism and whether or not I could be a hero for somebody else if the situation called for it.


This week, along the same sort of lines, I'm thinking about sacrifice. And what I might be able to do to sacrifice for somebody I loved. Sure, we all say we'd give our lives to protect someone we loved, or even to help save another person we didn't know. Maybe. 


So again I watch that show called pure genius, where the tech giant created the hospital and they use advanced technology to do all sorts of really cool medical things. This one stuck with me because I really wondered whether I'd be able to do what the character ended up doing. 

The story was about kidney donors to people who need kidneys.  The main characters mother is the one who's kidney was failing, and she had a rare blood type and the daughter wasn't a match and her heart was also feeling now because of the lack of time she had left for a transplant. The cool technology, in this case, was about kidney pairings.


 Kidney pairings are a neato Bandito thing whereby people and their families in need of kidney transplants can donate a family member's (or whoever the donor is)'s kidney to someone they don't know, in exchange for their family member donor who has the blood type needed for them. Does that make sense? Donor A doesn't fit with Sick Person A, but she still has a kidney to donate. So Donor A can give her kidney to Sick Person B, and then Donor B gives that kidney to Sick Person A. Then everyone is well, capisce? And this show, because they have to use a technology and because there were so many unavailable kidneys for this particular sick person, they used a slick computer algorithm to make this kidney pairing turn into a huge chain that went all over the world. The chain then turned into donors ABCD EFG and H. To then have their kidneys given to sick people ABCD EFG and H, in whatever order the donors matched. Pretty slick, huh?


So here's the Konundrum: The main character was a prima ballerina who had just gotten a job with the Paris Ballet. I hadn't intended to be a kidney donor in the first place, see? Because she knew she wasn't a match for her mother. But then when the chain idea came about she agreed to be a donor so her mother could get another donor off the chain. Which totally put her ballet dreams on hold. But then…


Her mother got so sick that she was going to die anyway. The ballerina was then having to make the decision whether or not to give her kidney to complete the chain because if she didn't it screwed it all up and then seven other people die.


I won't tell you the end, because I think you should watch the show. It's really good! The point is: she had already agreed to give her kidney to the chain. Should she still feel responsible to it even though her mother wasn't a part of it anymore? What if she found out one of the people needing a kidney was an adorable and precocious 10 year old boy?  What if one was a bigoted Nazi? Keep in mind she still had this life-altering occupation  in France to begin, an opportunity she might never have again.  Her mother told her to go to Paris.


I know, I know… this is now reminding me of the Kohlberg's Moral Dilemma worksheets I used to teach in my English classes, but I think it's a legit dilemma to ponder. It'd be easy to say, "There are 7 billion people on this planet, thousands (I think it's thousands?) die every day, and I can't be responsible for them." This is totally true, and feeling like you are seems like it would cause quick trip to the sanitarium. But I can't help but wonder--what's the line? And how do we know where to draw it? If we can't see the value in every life, even the ones we aren't directly connected to, how does that figure in to our own self-worth? Ugh.  My head is getting spinny again.


I told Jim I'd like to think I'd still give my kidney to the chain, just because I'd said I would--even if it didn't help  him (he was the SickPerson A in our hypothetical scenario.) But I don’t know…what if the operation would cause me to miss my acceptance speech for my first Pulitzer? Or fill in life-changing opportunity here:___________________.

It's a mystery.

I'd love to hear your views! Until then...Stay Mystified!

Pure Genius tv show

Kohlberg's Moral Dilemma

Blog January 8, 2017 The mystery of the Joe Walsh effect.

 Life's been good to me so far is one of my favorite songs of all time. Yesterday I tweeted 'I can't complain, but sometimes I still do.', and that's the crux of today's Konundrum. Why can't I just spend ALL MY TIME being grateful? My life is amazing, my family is completely stellar, but still I spent this morning with the usual yelling and kvetching about how slowly everybody was moving with their LACKLUSTER efforts to get ready for school. But then I was reading this wonderful article that just made me feel like a total shit.

Here's the topic: The main focus of the article is a triple amputee named BJ wheeler. As a young man here and some of his buddies were exploring the train system or the coastal line one night, gunning around, and an electric surge grabbed onto his watch, shooting a gazillion bolts of electricity through his body out his hand and his feet. He lost all three appendages. Right now, besides doing many other amazing things, he's running a specialty hospice house out of San Francisco, and that's where the second part of the story comes in.


One of BJ's desires to live life to the full list came in the form of motorcycle riding. Are young man who build him a specialized motorcycle that could be written using only the one hand he has available, is part of the story. A year or so after this motorcycle was built, the young mechanic (Randy Sloan) developed a very aggressive form of mesothelioma, and spent the last six weeks of his life--which came almost right at the time of the diagnosis--at this hospice. 


The story made me look at my life with this question: why the hell can't I be more grateful all the time? Our health is so stellar and our lives so fantastic, I should be crooning songs of contentment and dancing jigs of joy 24/7. 

 Because it all can change so quickly. 

 One day BJ is playing with trains and the next day he's missing legs and arms. One day Randy Sloan is strategizing his next supercool motorcycle, and the next he has tumors invading his entire body. Literally that fast. And don't even get me started on the family members of the people who were killed yesterday at the BAGGAGE CLAIM of that airport in Ft. Lauderdale, for Christ's Sake. <> Or a mall. Or a marketplace?

 It's overwhelming, and since no one is going to stop doing these things, I feel like gratitude is the one thing I've got to fight it. What we've all got. Because otherwise the evil wins. I'm working on it. Trying to complain less, even though, as Joe Walsh would say, sometimes I still do. I'm fighting the good fight, pup pup cheerio!

 I'm interested in  hearing your views! Until next time: Stay mystified!

Here's the video from last week's blog:  VIDEO

Kelley’s Konundrum October 4, 2015 What Makes Us Be Happy?
This morning I had four hour’s worth of MS Friends hotline duty, since last week we went to the AC/DC concert. It was a fairly busy four hours, all regular callers, no real crises. My konundrum came to me when I talked to a caller we’ll call John. John has some very serious health issues related to the MS, but he is also very overweight, I think, and this is due to his mostly bedridden status. It is common knowledge in MS circles that keeping your weight under control is essential in helping control the MS. But John is very unhappy, in pain, and the calorie control isn’t in his wheelhouse right now, no way no how.


So here’s the mystery: John is unhappy because pain has caused him to remain in bed, and remaining in bed has made him gain weight. But the more I listen to his story, the more it seems that a lot of his pain could have come from his food choices to begin with. So is it the chicken or the egg? Are people happy because of the things they do, or because of who they are and where they landed in that crazy poker game we call life on Earth?

I am very happy. Most of the time I can find the best in a given situation. But it’s easy for me to see the many good cards of my life that I was lucky enough to be dealt at birth. I was born into a stable, caring, education-loving family. Both of my parents are genetically predisposed to being thin, and passed a good metabolism on down the line. I live in the 20th/21st century. I am white. I am heterosexual (don’t get your hackles up; these two are on the list because there is no question being those two things makes life easier in the tending-toward-puritanical and racist views this country still espouses. You know what I’m talking about.) I was born in the United States. I’m cute. Come on, quit shaking your head. You know when you are cute, or how you can be cute. In my opinion, happiness goes a long way toward making a person cute. So there’s the chicken or the egg thing again.


Now, are these the reasons I’m happy? I guess I could list a few sad things: I have MS. I have scars all over my brain and spinal cord that cause me everything from crippling fatigue, seizures, balance issues, problems walking and pooping, but not enough problems peeing (There is  total unfairness of opposites in incontinence and constipation happening simultaneously in one body.). I’m prone to numbness—haven’t felt my hands, the bottoms of my feet, or my pulse in twenty years. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was just a big, vampiric torso. As far as an MS disease process goes, though—I’m fortunate there as well, because I don’t really have pain.


But there are many people in this country who have been dealt a lovely hand of cards and are still unhappy, as well as many people from every walk of life, from every country in every era of time who are dealt only low cards, not even two of a kind, and still wake every day with a smile. Cases in point: I have this neighbor—stunningly beautiful, in terrific shape, comes from a stable family and seems to be a part of one as an adult, but as far as I can tell absolutely relishes being unhappy. Complains about everything, within her control and without. Confronts people, seems to thrive on conflict. Now, true, I don’t know the situation well enough to be sure her life is this barrel of monkeys for which she is unappreciative—there could be all sorts of things going on in her life which cause her unhappiness. But I don’t think that’s it. And then you hear stories daily of people smiling through absolute shitstorms, grateful for everything surrounding them. The girl who called the hotline last month (Nicole)—she was born a boy, and her gender reassignment surgery caused an MS flare which rendered her quadriplegic. When asked if she’d get the surgery if she’d known it was going to cause her paralysis, she laughs and says ‘absolutely!’ and wheels around in today’s favorite dress (she only wears dresses) rolling her pink wheelchair. Why is John so unhappy but Nicole so happy?


For me, I think it has to be about looking around and finding the good, fostering the good, cherishing it. I am thin, yes, but I work my tail off to stay that way. I eat well, exercise, drink water and try to get enough sleep. People tell me my situation is all about luck, but then they would never wake at 5 a.m. four mornings a week to exercise. People tell me they wish they could write a book, but would no more cut out a couple of TV shows a week to give themselves the time to write than they would chop off their own right arm. People tell me they would like to save more money but then they are picky about ways they’d go about saving it (we paid for our entire summer vacation by going through golf courses in our town on the weekends to collect recyclables. Dirty, disgusting, vacation-paying family work.) So that is the mystery. If I didn’t start out with all of the good things at my birth, would I now be unable to deal with the MS in the positive way I do? If I wasn’t thin to start with, would I be unable to get and stay that way? Do I have a genetic difference in my brain from my Negative Nellie Neighbor that makes it easier for me to see the silver lining? Or is it all luck and happenstance? It’s a mystery!

I’d love to hear your views…J


Until next time: stay mystified!Kelley

Kelley’s Konundrum January 10, 2015

I know we’re in the middle of the killer’s journal, hopefully with all you intrepid readers taking note of anything the killer says that may be construed as a clue. But there are two reasons for no journal entry today.

There are only two entries left, and the book doesn’t come out until February 23. Now, of course I realize that this killer is my creation, and if I wanted to create another entry or five to serve as more clues, that would be well within my purview. But no, these entries were part of the original draft of the book, created back in 2000 and then rewritten, discussed and changed ad nauseam before I found a wonderful publisher who saw its potential and offered me a contract for publication. Which now has become, with the help of two editors, a proofreader and a cover artist, into what I think is a much better book than that one I started out with. But in an homage to that original burst of inspiration, I’m going to stick with the original journal. Feels more organic. Or maybe I’m just being lazy, but the first thing I said sounds better. Don’t you think?
I saw Philhomena today. For the second time. But it made me think, about a new Konundrum. Plus Jim showed me this video that made me think about it. And then he was watching Dances With Wolves. Or I guess it’s just a reiteration of an earlier Konundrum, but golly gee whillikers—it just keeps coming up! So no journal entry today. Today’s Konundrum? Here it is: bom bom BOMMM

Why do so many people seem to behave like their lives would be better spent\ peeing in other peoples’ Wheaties?


          So, first, Phlhomena. We saw this in the theater originally, and at that time I just enjoyed the story and the fabulous Dame Judy Densch. Very touching. Plus we were at a Cineopolis, one of those fancy theaters where you sit in a leather recliner and they serve you wine. But this time, the second time, it was on the tv and I was doing laundry, which doesn’t actually require brain power, (not that the recliner did, but the stuffing in that chair sorta sucks the brains right out), but rather gives me a sort of assembly-line regularity (sort, fold, smooth, repeat) that opens up that cranium and lets the ideas flow right in. Also it is a great place to get really, really indignant. There’re gonna be spoilers now, so if you don’t want to hear them, skip to the last paragraph.

          If you haven’t seen Philhomena, it is the true story of a woman who lived in Ireland in the 50’s. She got pregnant very young, was placed in a convent, and her baby boy was sold by the nuns and shipped off to America. The nuns at this time treated young unwed mothers like the loss of their babies was God’s punishment for having premarital sex.

          So Philhomena became a nurse, had a daughter, and spent the next fifty years trying to find her son. An English journalist named Sixsmith took on her story, and together they searched. They found out her son Anthony had his name changed to Michael Hess, and was raised in America where he had become a high powered lawyer who worked for prestigious clients, including the government during the Reagan administration. And he was gay. And he was dead, now, from AIDS. This was a very heartbreaking part of the story and of course not how anyone wanted it to end, but with the whole ‘true story’ part, it was not to be so. And the heartbreak and  indignation hadn’t really started yet, although the Ronald Reagan’s big blowoff as far as AIDS legislation could do it, but I already knew about that.

          The end of the story was the real feeling cruncher. Philhomena just wanted to find out if her son had ever shown any interest in where he came from. All their investigation seemed to point to ‘no’, but what they finally discovered (from Michael’s widower) was that he’d shown SO much interest that he was buried in the cemetery at the convent. In Ireland. Where the one remaining nun from that earlier time refused to tell him, even in his last days, that his mother had been looking for him his entire life. Then when the journalist confronted the nun, she said that it was all because of Philhomena’s original sin against God.


          And what did Philhomena do? She did exactly what the nun should’ve done, what all nuns should do. What all people who profess a belief in a teacher who, whether you believe in his divinity or not, taught compassion and love as a way of life.

She forgave the nun.


Double ugh. I didn’t forgive the nun, I wanted to clock her. She was in a wheelchair and I wanted to knock her right out of it. Not Christian of me, sure, but I never make any claims to Christianity. How could you look at a person dying from an insidious and painful disease, and not do something, anything within your power, to comfort and give solace? How could you look at a gentle old woman, a healer herself, and not relent and give her information about her dead son? Whether you are religious or not, human people should behave like they give one teeny little shit about other human people. Or other living things, whatever. 

How does this kind of hypocrisy still run rampant? In the name of religion or not. I can’t stand it. Did this nun feel like, because she was a nun, she had to take on God’s job of passing judgment? But then again, that’s Old Testament God. New testament God doesn’t do that. He forgives. Like Philhomena did.

I’m not going to be able to solve this mystery today. I just keep seeing evidence of people who are supposed to know better acting like idiots. I guess what I have to do is a couple of blogs which focus on people who act more like Philhomena. A lot of them exist, they just aren’t in the news as much. J

My husband watched Dances With Wolves at about the same time, and holey moleyo, talk about inhuman behavior. Our treatment of Native Americans certainly falls under the umbrella of this Konundrum (still), and so I’ll end the blog with this video:
Proud to Be

I mean, really. Are you going to have a sports team called the blackskins? The whiteskins? The yellowskins? How about the micks? The kikes? Jesus. I can’t believe this is still an issue. Just call the team the Washington Warriors—wouldn’t even have to change the helmet design or the mascot.


Please, people. Stop the wheatie-peeing. Life’s too short.


I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified



10/09/2016 Konundrum—What. If?

Really don't know what I want to call this Konundrum today. There are so many things I've been thinking about.

First I wanted it to be an extension of the empathy conundrum from last week, but then somebody asked me a question the other day. The question was: how do you think your life would be different if you'd never been diagnosed with MS?


I didn't know how to answer, and then I watched a pilot to this new series called Timeless. That messed with my head even more, and made me consider my answer to the Never-had-MS question even more carefully.
First, a little bit about the show. The main character is a historian. Well I guess the main character is really a time machine invented and now regretted by scientist. Regretted because it's now been stolen by a bad guy who wants to change go back and change history to the Dark side… Or so we think.

Anyway, in the pilot episode they find out the bad guy has taken the time machine back to the 1930s and the explosion of the Hindenburg. (Spoiler alert here). The historian goes back in time and the bad guy PREVENTS the Hindenburg from exploding. At first. But why? And then the historian goes back to her own time to find out her mother never died and her sister (who raised her in her mother's absence) was never even born. WTH? And    how would something that happened in the'30's to NO ONE in her family affect her family so profoundly in the future? It's the Butterfly Effect being explored on a TV show, and I guess there's no way to prove its truth because we don't know how to travel in time yet.

And I don't know how my life would be different if I'd never been diagnosed. I've speculated before that it'd be worse, because I feel that much of my compassion and empathy comes directly from that illness. I started teaching in California in 1992, which means a disease-free me, if I'd stayed in California, could retire with full benefits by 2022, at the age of 53. But to what life? Would I then be a retired teacher WITHOUT a successful writing career and a beautiful son beginning his third year of college and another beautiful son beginning his first? Would I be somebody who'd gotten married earlier than I did in this world-of-MS (not to my original husband--I've said before that my diagnosis and his noble reaction to it is the only reason I went through that in the first place), and having children who’d be graduating high school RIGHT NOW and beginning their own careers by my early retirement of 2022. And what would these children look like? What would they be like? Would I even have them? Would they both be boys? Only 2 or less than 2? My goodness.


I've said this before and I'll say it again: it hurts my head.

And here's another trippy whatif: what if Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been born into an era where women were examined for their skills as opposed to their gender (she couldn't find a job out of law school because of her gender), and she was a central reason for the passage of Roe v Wade. In a news segment I saw this morning, Justice Ginsburg's thoughts on this whatif--if she and first female SCJ Sandra Day O'Connor had not been excluded from successful law firms at the outset, they would probably have spent their lives as partners in lucrative law firms, instead of changing the world as we know it through their service on the bench of the highest court in the land. What. If? 

Or who knows? Maybe the world goes the way it goes, in whatever way it can, regardless. Maybe I would have had the job offer at my alma mater regardless, and maybe would have gone back to GJ to meet my husband and have my beautiful boys anyway, and I would still be here in California and still happy, healthy and optimistic because something would've brought me to this compassion and empathy anyway because that's how I was raised and that's how I'm wired. Who knows? I'm kind of glad we don't know how to time travel, because maybe then we'd be less able to appreciate where we are as a direct function of where we've been.


I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!




Timeless TV Series:

 Video version of last week’s blog

Type your paragraph here.

Kelley’s Konundrum  August 21, 2016 The mystery of Winning the Competition

Right now it's weekend laundry time, which means folding and movie viewing. Today's feature is Good Morning, Vietnam, which almost makes me cry right off the bat because I am so sad about the death of Robin Williams that I almost cry every time I see him. No, the part that made me feel questioning or mystified, I guess, is the part where he talks to all of the soldiers when they're out on the street taking a bus to Na Trang.

A bunch a young kids and how many of them came out alive from that bus ride? Well, Vietnam killed over 55,000 Americans, so I guess (if these weren't fictional movie soldiers), many of them did not. And all because of guns and bombs and missiles. Now I understand the reason we fought this war was to prevent the spread of communism, and I would never want communism to spread to America, so I get it I guess, but I guess I don't understand the need to kill lotsa people to be able to work things out. Or I guess that it's more to say war, to me, seems not about working things out, but about establishing power and control, victors and spoils, and I'm just not into that.

It's kind of funny. I talk all the time about not being into competition, and that is true. I could not give one shit about winning or losing and I am married into a family now who are all sports people, which means they compete in everything. The war argument is the same thing, because it seems to be all about who wins or who loses. But I’m trying to look at extraneous reasons for competition, and right now is a perfect example: I've been involved in a book cover competition all week, where my mystery novel cover for Death by Diploma is up against nine other book covers and the winner gets a week of free advertising! So I have my first $0.99 book sale coming up August 23-27, and I really need as much exposure as possible for that sale. I've been winning all week, by Friday night I was ahead of #2 by 40 votes! And then Saturday came around and I was all of a sudden down by 11! 

Well, I lost it. I started texting everyone in my address book and posting pleas in all my social media venues, and I was like DAMNIT! I need to win!!!

So there's the perfect example: I don't have a burning desire to be the victor of the cover contest. My friend Stephen was like, is there a big note of pride tied up in this cover contest? And I scoffed. Pride, Schmide. I just need the advertisement! But I'm still scrambling to win, and I can see how the competitive vibe could get out of hand: last night, the second place author and I were in a completely random Facebook discussion about what we’d do if we tied—DanceOff? Pokemon Go fight?

 My dancing sucks these days, as you know, and I barely comprehend the concept and/or impetus behind Pokemon Go and don’t really want to learn. Plus I’m pretty sure she and I are both Pacifists, and here we are ready to come to cyber-blows over a book cover. Over the perceived possibility of a Communist coup, I can see how the stakes, and the emotions, are higher.(I still think we could have approached it a different way, hence my Pacifist leanings.)

I did win, though! As of midnight, 8/20/2016 I was declared the winner of the AuthorShout cover wars, by 8 votes! So this week Death by Diploma is the AuthorShout Book of the Week…AuthorShout on Twitter

Perfect timing for the upcoming $0.99 ebook SALE I’ve got going on from August 23-27. Here is me on BookBub—bring that up next week and get Death by Diploma on your electronic device for less than a dollar! Yay, books! BookBub

And all the other authors in the contest still came out and supported and congratulated me, so here’s my solution to today’s Konundrum, whether for Cover Wars or wars of a much larger scale, and of course it comes from the head Sportsman in my family, my husband: It’s all about sportsmanship and love of the game. Win or lose, if you’re giving 100%, the outcome is just what it’s supposed to be. Would I still be saying this if I’d lost? Yes, I believe I would, because I’ve been working in all sorts of other ways to prepare the world for this book sale, and I know that as a writer, and in my life, I’m giving it my all.

I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!


Here's the VIDEO from last week's blog: Video August 14, 2016

Kelley’s Konundrum January 17, 2015

My konundrum this week is completely selfish, solipsistic, narcissistic and self-absorbed. In other words, as if this is a new thing: it’s all about me.


So here goes: how do I find three gazillion blogger/reviewers who want to review Death by Diploma? I think I have a smidge of the answer, because I’ve been making lists all week. Lists of bloggers and reviewers. The lists have one thing in common, whether we’re talking about The Indie View or Embers or the good ‘ol Book Blogger Directory.

They are big. Big. Ass. Lists.

And each blogger has different requirements if you want to ask them to review your book. If they review books like yours. My understanding is for every 25 requests you send, you maybe get one review. So I’ve been going through all the lists, trying to find reviewers who review my kind of books, and then creating a query to ask them. It’s very overwhelming. So this blog is all about me, in that I am now going to tell you that I received my first copy in the mail on Thursday,


Here is me kissing the book. It’s really beautiful, clean and sparkly inside and out. So for my blog today, I’m popping the picture of the book, and I’m going to stick the book trailer in again, and I’ll just say—if you’re a blogger/reviewer and mysteries are in your queue, and if you want to review this one on Amazon and GoodReads and I’m reading about all these other sites? Shelfari and Library Lovers or something like that, and how cool is that? Just contact me! J


The mystery of how this is going to happen? Gotta go, so I can buckle down and DO IT! You’ll hear from me about this again soon, flashing the mememememe sign again on the February 23 release date! After I get started on the review requests, then I’ll try to get back to a normal state of mind. Try.





Death by Diploma Book Trailer

Death by Diploma website

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Kelley’s Konundrum June 5, 2016

The Mystery of Misidentification, Part 2

On one of my guest posts for a blogger, I talk about my late father and how happy he was as a father of three girly-girls to finally have grandsons. He had seven of them, all of whom he got to meet before he died. He didn’t get to spend near enough time with them, but that is also another blog.


So back to the girly-girl thing, and as an addendum to my blog two weeks ago about misidentification. With the recent advent of transgender rights, I’ve been thinking a lot about feeling comfortable with my own body. Beyond the sometimes “oh I’m so fat” or “I hate this body part or that body part”, I’ve always liked being a girl, I like dresses and the color pink. I wasn’t really that into dolls, but being pregnant was the most incredible thing that I ever got to do, and I hope they can figure out a way for transgender girls to do it, too. But mostly I am happy being me.

Anyway, I always felt I was supposed to be a girl, and even if I think vaginas are kinda ugly (penises, too, if you wanna get right down to it), I never felt like mine wasn’t a part of me. I can’t imagine looking down at one or more of my body parts and feeling like it was an alien appendage, but I guess this is what happens. I can’t imagine. I’ve been trying, though, and the more I think about it, the more I feel like any person who feels like a girl should be able to go anywhere a girl can go, and any person who feels like a boy should be afforded the same right. Just because I haven’t been in the situation doesn’t mean I can’t empathize.


Nicole knows, though. She is a regular caller on the MS Friends hotline. Maybe her story can help us all relate.



              One of my favorite callers is Nicole, and I can tell you her story because she told me I can. Nicole was born Robert, but she always knew she was a girl. When she was seven years old she told her parents in no uncertain terms what she knew in her heart, and what did they do? They did what any supportive parents should always try to do, in my opinion. They supported her. She started with a dress of her sister’s, and her parents took her to a different school where she could be Nicole instead of Robert. The school, also supportive, let her use the bathroom in the nurse’s office. When she was eighteen she had the surgery to become Nicole, and because of the stress of the surgery, when she was diagnosed with MS a while later, her exacerbation rendered her quadriplegic.

            I know when I was diagnosed, I spent a fair amount of time with the whyme’s, but if I had been Nicole, I think I would have lived there forever.  Transgender, MS and now quadriplegic? I can’t even imagine being optimistic under those conditions. She is, though. She gets new dresses all the time and adores being able to wear them daily. One of her friends painted her wheelchair pink—her favorite color. My favorite color, too; one of the things we talk about when she calls the hotline. When asked if she would still undergo the surgery if she knew the result, her answer is “absolutely.”

I feel pretty comfortable in my own skin, thank goodness, but if I didn’t, I hope I’d have the courage to sacrifice something to get it. And still be grateful when I did. People like Nicole make me grateful I can give something to her, even if it is only a smiling voice on the other line. And an appreciation of pretty dresses and the color pink.

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!







Kelley’s Konundrum October 25, 2015

 I posted something about this on GoodReads the other day, but now I’m trotting over to Blogville and Kelley’s Konundrum. My mystery is about why certain books are, to me, like an addiction. And a weird addiction which goes outside of my usual interests. Like here’s my analogy: I am definitely a chocolate addict, to the point where I practically have my own billboard reading “IF IT AIN’T CHOCOLATE, IT AIN’T WORTH THE CALORIES”. I have always felt this way, so hard candies, fruit pies, other kinds of desserts like that are rewarded by a turned up nose and an I’ll pass. So if for some reason I developed an unusual craving for, let’s say, apple fritters. And every time I saw an apple fritter I ate it—could eat five or six a day, let’s say. That would be weird, and definitely against my demographic.


 I feel that way about Jack Reacher novels. Lee Child writes these Jack Reacher novels about this ex-Army MP who lives off the grid and basically spends his entire life wandering the country and knocking heads with anyone who breaks his particular moral code, which can operate on either side of the law. A lot of people die in these books, and not just the bad guys—there is a lot of collateral damage which often involves other people (girls usually) who are caught in the middle of his brand of justice and are not as smart or as quick as Jack, and often they die.


Now, I love a Stephen King novel any day of the week, but I still maintain he is writing love stories. Shoot-em-up bang bangs do not interest me at all, to which my husband will attest by sharing how far my eyes loll back in my head at the mention of “The Expendables.” Totally pointless. But these Reacher novels, I eat ‘em up like chocolate. Even though they are technically apple fritters.


Why is that, do you think? I have a couple of theories.


First, the Jack Reacher books are…removed from violence. I mean, Jack is a super violent guy, a head crusher for sure, but he is almost clinical in the way he describes said head crushing. And he analyzes it, like, if I tweak my arm this way and it comes under his elbow at this angle, it will pulverize the guy’s elbow, but if I fling it that way over his bicep it’ll hurt, but it might not stop him. So I guess I’ll go with the tweaking and not the flinging. The guy ends up with his elbow practically vaporized, but it was necessary to stop  him for sure, see? I don’t know why I like this clinical analysis so much, except to say maybe it appeals to some latent right-brain tendencies I never knew I had.


Plus he explains things. One time he talked about shooting some guy from a very long distance (Jack’s a sniper, see. Among other ways to kill people), and the explanation was so user friendly I totally understood it, even though I’ve never shot a gun and I totally suck at math. This last book, Make Me, was about the internet (indirectly) and the deep web vs. surface web, and one of the characters analogized the internet and search engines to the deep or surface web as tennis balls in a swimming pool (tennis balls are website) with a silk ribbon swimming through the tennis balls (ribbon is search engines.)


I’ll try to explain things the way they were explained in the book. The Surface Web are all the sites you can get to using search engines like Google or Bing, using key words or maybe links from other sites. The Deep Web (which I always thought was The Dark Web, but no…The Dark Web is simply defunct or broken websites) is the web you have to know the entire address to get to, and you can’t find it simply by key words. The Deep Web is where you find criminal pursuits and really twisted and perverse mindsets. The people who run sites on The Deep Web make it their mission to not be available to search engines.


So the Surface Web is the tennis balls on top of the pool. The Deep Web has less buoyant tennis balls, (maybe because their heavy secrets weigh them down.) The balls on top have altered materials, maybe spikes or hooks, and the balls below are smooth, like billiard balls. Envision the search engines as a smooth silk ribbon, winding its way through the balls. The ribbon gets caught on the balls with the spikes and hooks, which is what businesses want (search optimization). But the ribbon floats right past or through the billiard balls, which is what the criminals and twistoids want. See, I got that! I felt the same way about The Martian, where Andy Weir used astrophysics as the center of the story (for sure not my strong suit), and I was like, Yes, I get that! Very interesting.


I guess I will eat apple fritters, and love them, then, if it’s very clear why they are apple fritters. And what happens if I eat them this way or that way. And it helps if I learn the Johnny Appleseed story along the way.


Plus I guess a lot of us like the story of the superhero, and Jack Reacher is a badass human superhero. That’s no mystery.


I’d love to hear your views…J


Until next time: Stay Mystified!


Make Me, by Lee Child.

Kelley’s Konundrum May 14, 2016—The mystery of parental fears.


The mystery of parental fears... This morning I saw a news story about currently banned books and banned books of the past.

Librarians compile a list every year of books they have in their library that are the most complained about.  One of the top 10 this year is a nonfiction book about transgender teens called Beyond Magenta.   <>

As a matter of fact, several of the books from this year's list have something to do with the LGBTQ community. Or with religion. (Apparently the bible is the book that has shown up on the banned list most of all...)

And the article went on to discuss previously banned books that are now part of the mainstream community, I.e. Harry Potter or even 50 Shades of Grey.

So here's my Konundrum: how can I understand the fear that seems to inspire all of this censorship? As an English teacher, I am against censorship of all kinds, and as the frou-frou tree hugger hippie you all know me to be, I'm also against keeping my children from exposure to any and every kind of idea, culture, and potential. And sure, many readers lifted their eyebrows when I told you we took the boys to a drag show in Las Vegas. And I dunno, maybe some readers might disapprove of my third -grader reading all of the Rick Riordan books about Greek and Roman mythology? Because it glorifies polytheism? See, I can't even wrap my head around that--to me that sounds ludicrous. For parents who believe in God or parents who do not, all it takes is a discussion with the kid for him or her to understand 1) fiction vs. non and 2) the historical value of learning about myths of all cultures. 

And the Harry Potter thing reminded me of something else. There are people in my own family who have taken part in PTA meetings and ideas about book banning in the past, I think for books like Harry Potter that may have appeared to be related to witchcraft or Satanism, or...whatever.  The hypocrisy of Harry Potter censors always got to me, because, um, can you say The Chronicles of Narnia? Witches, talking animals, magic of every stripe all over that series, but THAT book was controversial because of its overtly Christian themes!?!?! WTH? I will not shut up, I'm serious! :-) Governor Jeb Bush even got called out for church/state violations for encouraging students to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Such a great read…

You know my dad the bookstore owner brought me everything, censored nothing. Ever. But he also talked to me. I read early, but I also understood, early, the difference between reality and fantasy, and what I didn't understand was always discussed.

I'm trying, though. Trying to walk a mile in a censor's shoes, because those are still the shoes of another human, often a parent who is scared to death of the choices their kid is faced with every second of every day, and how little control they really have, especially as the kid gets older and older and sees more and more. It's gotta be hard.


So I’m not going to be able to solve the mystery of censorship or parental fears, not today, anyway. But I’ll keep on trying…

And where is that manual for perfect parenting anyway, dammit?

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



February 7, 2016

Ooh, we're getting close to BOOK RELEASE DAY!!! It's time for another journal entry from the killer's POV, The Konundrum is, of course, WHO IS THE KILLER?

Glory is like a circle in the water
Which never ceases to enlarge itself
Till by broad spreading it disperse to naught.

                                     --King Henry the Sixth, Part   1,(Pucell at I, ii)

     I fail to understand why I must do everything myself.   It’s not a wonder that I don’t have any friends; everyone is too incompetent for words.  Too inept and useless to be helpful to me and my state of mind. 

After the untimely death of my mother, I was taken in by an aunt and an uncle until the age at which I could claim my freedom.  They had an appearance of culture, appropriate houses and schooling and diction.  They were obviously related to my absent father as opposed to my classless mother, but I soon found the aunt was almost as useless as that mother, although it took more illicit substances than merely alcohol for her to reach the catatonic state she so enjoyed.  The uncle was even more useless, although it took neither drugs nor alcohol to perpetuate his hobbies, which involved lecherous hands on my knees at dinner and one experience where he came to my room with the clear intention of pedophilic sexual activity.  It was utterly astonishing, and I took one look at his slobbering mouth and those lecherous hands that reached for me.  The powerful, well-placed kick to his genital region was almost automatic.  He kept his distance from then on, using dinner now to glare nastily in my direction.  One day, months before my eighteenth birthday, the aunt approached me.  My impending freedom and her momentary lucidity had put me in a generous mood.  The conversation began innocuously enough, with her asking after my future plans.  I re-explained my acceptance to a prestigious university, as she obviously was too stoned to hear it the last five times.  She then explained to me the actions of the uncle.  He, in a fit of worry, had been to the Dean of Admissions and showed him a file.  A file that documented my short stay in a mental institution after the death of my mother.  A juvenile file that was sealed!  He then told the Dean about my father, who apparently committed suicide in just such an institution after his rejection by a favored fraternity.  The aunt gave me a condescending pat on the arm as she delivered the message that the uncle was too cowardly to give.  This was the first news I’d had of my brilliant, misunderstood parent, and combined with the news that the university had rescinded my acceptance, was the ultimate in betrayal.  And now it has been proven to me once again…betrayed by both sexes!  First the HE creates the bungling mess at the school and now the SHE is threatening to betray me.  To betray us.  Well, he has made a powerful vow to be loyal no matter what, plus he is somewhat important to the success of my legacy, I suppose.  But she, now she will have to be dealt with.  Quite swiftly..

I'd love to hear your views! Until next time: STAY MYSTIFIED! :-)


What makes us heroes?


In 2005, I was recovering from bunion surgery. If you've never heard of bunions, they are those super lovely big bumps you get on the sides of your foot down from your big toe. For me for me, removing one of these bumps (which was causing big foot pain) involved having my foot bones broken, shaved and then nailed back together, basically. 


At this time, I was wearing one of those Camboots and rolling around with one leg on this sort of stroller, I guess. I was also teaching at the local junior college. One night I was sitting on my stool in front of the class and one of my students collapsed. I don't think it was a seizure, it was more like a fainting spell. I found out later he was dehydrated and sleep deprived, like many students I know.


But the question is, what did I do at the time? The answer is: nothing. Oh, sure, I was sitting in a high stool with one, but still... I was the adult in charge. A couple of students ran to the fallen one, and I directed the other one to call the ambulance, but that was it.


I even had a student asked me, one who happened to be a nontraditional (already adult) combat veteran who did tours in Iraq. He said, why didn't you go straight to the student? You are the one in charge? And I didn't have an answer. Still don't. 

 I thought about it a lot, especially recently. I just finished a fictional novel which took place during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II. The two sisters in the book, Isabelle and Vianne, both displayed exceptional heroism while in the middle of the war, putting their lives at risk to save others. And then this morning--A New story from the ubiquitous CBS Sunday morning--about the Carnegie medal, which has risking your life to save another as its requirement. Check that out, because these are a bunch of everyday people who do extraordinary things for no other reason than they are there when someone's about to die, and some unknown force within them spurs them into action.

The student in my class, his life wasn't in danger, and there were a lot of other people sitting right next to him who jumped right in. I'd like to think if it was just he and I that I'd have flung myself off of that stool and taken immediate action, but the fact that I did nothing haunts me. I can see the soldier student's face asking why didn't you go to him?

I don't know. I don't know why.

 And I'm afraid--afraid that if it came right down to it and I was the only one, I'd freeze just like I did then.

 They say everyone is the hero of their own story, but sometimes I wonder if I have the capacity to be a hero for someone else. Do you?

I'd love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay mystified!

Carnegie Medal of Heroism

Kelley’s Konundrum October 18, 2015


Should my Konundrum today be about the mystery of the afterlife, or the mystery of what goes on in people’s heads? I’ve had musings about both subjects all week, and I’m not sure which one to talk about.


So never mind. I’m not talking about either of those topics—maybe next week. Instead, my current Konundrum relates to song lyrics: i.e. how much control should I—or can I—exercise over what my children listen to? This mystery actually started a couple of weeks ago. I am still in close contact with Kristy, my closest friend from high school. We’re talking the other day about her daughter, age 12.  She’s recently been listening to what Kristy calls ‘dirty rap’, which as I question her more closely I think is Nikki Minaj and Flo-rida, stuff like that. I, of course, pooh-poohed her concerns and blathered on about how I’d just heard of Flo-rida for the first time a few weeks ago, where he did this song on The Today show that seemed to have a really positive message, actually, and how I felt that the ‘bitches’ and ‘hos’ themes and proliferation of the ‘N’ word seemed to be getting better in the age of current hip-hop. Better than what I remember, at least, from the 80’s and 90’s AKA my husband’s and my generation (he’s younger—you knew that, right? :-) )

Then my husband played a Flo-rida song, one which the boys love, as a ‘pump-up” song on our way to their soccer games this weekend. The title is “Goin’ Down for Real” and it’s a very catchy tune, oh yes it is. But I’ve never looked at the whole lyric, and I heard something that caught my ear. So I Googled it.


Holy cow. Now I see what Kristy meant. I’ll put the lyric at the bottom of this blog, just for a point of reference. Flo-rida sings one line and says it’s a ‘double entend-rah, double entend-rah”, and yay for the second semester word. But the rest of the lines aren’t really big on the double entendre, more just a ‘I’m gonna straight up talk about sex right now, and put it to a catchy tune.’


Now, I don’t feel like a Tipper Gore wannabe, really I don’t. I am against censorship in all circumstance. I as the parent am responsible for policing my boys and what they watch and listen to (as much as that is possible), at least for the next several years. Nobody else. I don’t think either of them really understand the lyric’s meaning. I don’t really think Kristy’s daughter does either, but here’s the mystery: how important is it whether they do or they don’t?


Jim is concerned about this too, because he asked me the other day how old I was when I first started listening to Whitesnake’s “Slow and Easy.” I love hard rock now, but don’t think I really started listening to it and loving it until college. I do remember a couple of songs I thought were really sexual though, to which I started listening back in junior high and high school: three that came to mind immediately were ”The Stroke”, by Billy Squier, “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and “Erotic City”, by Prince. All fabulously catchy tunes, but undeniably sexual in nature (although I’ve heard since then that The Stroke is not really about masturbation, but rather the political nature of the music industry. What do you think? Still seems sexual to me).


I don’t feel like listening to music with a sexual theme has corrupted me. I don’t think it’s corrupting my boys, either, although I’m remembering something a little embarrassing right now, in light of this post, that I still have to share with you. Judge me if you must. When my oldest son was turning three years old, his favorite song was Nickleback’s “Burn it to the Ground.” I even called Tommy Rocker at 95 Rock in Grand Junction, and Tommy played it as a dedication on his third birthday. Not so much sexual, but focuses on heavy drinking and partying,  and I’m glad he heard the radio edit on his birthday, because there are a couple of swear words too.


He doesn’t really listen to Nickleback these days…we’ve started limiting the stujff they listen to that has actual swearing (Blake Shelton’s ‘Boys Round Here’ has the line ‘back woods legit, don’t take no shit’, edited version ‘don’t take no LIP’. They are very good about singing the edited line even if they hear the unedited version, but still…they know what word really goes there. J


I feel like teaching them the concept of words, their power, and knowing their place is more important than trying to control the words they hear. What do YOU think? When Kristy reads this, I know she’ll call me and give me her views to. I’d love to hear yours.

I’d love to hear your views…J


Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Goin Down For Real—Flo-rida


I know what you came here to see
If you're a freak, then ya coming home with me
And I know what you came here to do
Now bust it open let me see you get low
It's going down for real
It's going down for real
It's going down for real

Your girl just kissed a girl
I do bi chicks
Shake for a sheik
I'm throwing these Emirates in the sky
Spending this As-salamu alaykum
Peace to M.O.N.E.Y
I love my beaches, south beaches
Surfboard in high tide
I could just roll up
Cause I'm swole up
So that birthday cake get the cobra
Bugatti for real, I'm cold bruh
That auto-biography rover
Got the key to my city it's over
It's no thots, only Anna Kournikova's
I set records, ratchets hold up
(I set records, ratchets hold up)

I know what you came here to see
If you're a freak, then ya coming home with me
And I know what you came here to do
Now bust it open let me see you get low
It's going down for real
It's going down for real
It's going down for real

And they already know me
It's going down further than femurs
Girls get wetter than Katrina
Yeah my girl you never seen her
Cause my tints by limousines
My touch say it's the Midas
We the plus your man a minus
My team blowing on that slam
Make you cough-cough that's Bronchitis
Put your hands up
It's a stick up, no more makeup
Get that ass on the floor
Ladies put your lipstick up
Double entendre, double entendre
While you're hating I get money
Then I double up tonkers

The Stroke—Billy Squier

Now everybody
Have you heard
If you're in the game
Then the stroke's the word
Don't take no rhythm
Don't take no style
Gotta thirst for killin'
Grab your vial and

Put your right hand out
Give a firm handshake
Talk to me about that one big break
Spread your Ear Pollution
Both far and wide
Keep your contributions
By your side and

Stroke me, stroke me
Could be a winner boy you move mighty well
Stroke me, stroke me
Stroke me, stroke me
You got your number down
Stroke me, stroke me
Say you're a winner but man
You're just a sinner now

Put your left foot out
Keep it all in place
Work your way
Right into my face
First you try to bet me
You make my backbone slide
When you find you've bent me
Slip on by and

Stroke me, stroke me
Give me the reason this is all night long
Stroke me, stroke me
Stroke me, stroke me
Get yourself together boy
Stroke me, stroke me
Say you're a winner but man
You're just a sinner now
(Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke)

Better listen now
Said it ain't no joke
Don't let your conscience fail ya'
Just do the stroke
Don't ya' take no chances
Keep your eye on top
Do your fancy dances
You can't stop you just

Stroke me, stroke me
(Stroke, stroke)
Stroke me, stroke me
(Stroke, stroke)
Stroke me, stroke me
(Stroke, stroke)
Stroke me, stroke me
Stroke me, stroke me
Stroke me, stroke me
Stroke me, stroke me
Stroke me, stroke me
Say you're a winner but man
You're just a sinner now

Burn it to the Ground—Nickleback

Well it's midnight, damn right, we're wound up too tight
I've got a fist full of whiskey, the bottle just bit me
That shit makes me bat shit crazy
We've got no fear, no doubt, all in balls out

We're going off tonight
To kick out every light
Take anything we want
Drink everything in sight
We're going till the world stops turning
While we burn it to the ground tonight

We're screaming like demons, swinging from the ceiling
I got a fist full of fifties, tequila just hit me
We got no class, no taste, no shirt, and shit faced
We got it lined up, shot down, firing back straight crown

We're going off tonight
To kick out every light
Take anything we want
Drink everything in sight
We're going till the world stops turning
While we burn it to the ground tonight

Ticking like a time bomb, drinking till the nights gone
Well get you hands off of this glass, last call my ass
Well no chain, no lock, and this train won't stop
We got no fear, no doubt, all in balls out

We're going off tonight
To kick out every light
Take anything we want
Drink everything in sight
We're going till the world stops turning
While we burn it to the ground tonight
We're going off tonight
To kick out every light
Take anything we want
Drink everything in sight
We're going till the world stops turning
While we burn it to the ground tonight



August 30, 2015

Today I decided to walk my 98 year old Golden Retriever, Ellie, half a mile down the street to return a movie to the Redbox. The movie was a nice little Will Smith romance/thriller that Jim and I really enjoyed, so I’m walking down the street, musing over my enjoyment of the film and my general enjoyment of my fantastic life, when BAM, we saunter up to the Redbox only to find the front screen of the machine shattered and thus rendered Out of Order.


So now it’s my enjoyment that’s shattered. Ellie and I start home, movie still in hand and grousing about asshole kids who have nothing better to do with their time than play destructive games on Saturday nights. I think that will be Kelley’s Konundrum for this blog, but then as my walk progresses, I change my mind. The mystery of why people do stupid stuff actually doesn’t fit for this blog, although I think I will just throw out a hunch and wager alcohol and drugs were involved.


No, to discuss the ACTUAL Konundrum presented to me on this day of August 30, 2015, we have to go back to the book I’m reading right now:  All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. I’m only about 25% in to the book on my Kindle, but it is wonderfully written and I aspire to his word choice and chapter conclusions. Right now the two main characters, a German boy and a blind French girl are both dealing with Adolf Hitler and the tyranny and terrorization that is WWII. Werner, the boy, is a brilliant orphan who is rescued from a future in the mines by recruitment into the Hitler Youth organization, I think. And this poor girl, Marie-Laure, has lost her home and is traveling by foot with her father to try and find a place to stay, because her entire town has been bombed. Marie-Laure hears a constant underlying hum in the air, and while her father tells her it’s the thrum of the ocean, she knows in her heart it could very well be the sounds of artillery fire and buildings shattering, collapsing, to the earth.


So here’s the mystery: would I be able to survive in an existence such as this? Would ANY of us living in today’s day and age? Where time stands still if our computer screen starts buffering, and we stamp our foot in frustration when our days don’t go exactly as planned? I mean, I feel like I am pretty good at being grateful…instead of being frustrated when my left leg conks out after ten minutes of walking, I usually spend time being thankful that my wonky leg is still getting me where I want to go. I started out the walk that way, too, really I did, but now the Redbox thing has me turning a simple inconvenience into my latest I’m-so-Entitled Tragedy. Hmph. Ridiculous. Never mind that Marie-Laure wouldn’t be even able to see my Redbox movie, right now at the point I’m in in the book, she can’t even leave her house for fear of death. Or Germans. Which pretty much = death at this point in our history. Makes my pissant problems seem even more ludicrous than they are.


I sort of feel like the answer to this Konundrum is simple. I don’t think I would’ve survived the circumstances of WWII or of any war, to tell you the truth. I’m soft and I know it. But that’s the good thing coming out of my perceived useless trip to the Redbox, besides a little bit of exercise for myself and my old girl. Instead of staying annoyed with the idiot or idiots who shattered the screen and foiled my trip, I ended up inordinately thankful that any thrumming I heard in my background was only the SUV.Until next time. Stay mystified!

August 23, 2015

I’ve decided, since my first real publication is the first in a series of murder mysteries, I need a schtick. One of my Facebook Pages relates to said cozy mysteries, so I called it Kelley Kayes Kozy Korner. Because of my name, ya know? I thought the K theme was gonna have to continue, despite my need to avoid using it three times alliteratively (I don’t need anyone making ‘KKK’ acronyms out of my blog entries.)

So, here’s my schtick. I’m going to call these entries Kelley’s Konundrums, and they will be my observations on life’s little mysteries. I don’t know if I can solve these mysteries, wrapped up neatly in a little bow the way I try to do it in my fictional world, and fair warning: a lot of things that mystify me in today’s world will probably get political in the discussion. Change the channel if you don’t like, or feel free to argue!


My first Konundrum isn’t political, though, it’s just goofy. And I solved it right away through the magic of Google.  Here it is:


Mysterious sign


Now. I saw this sign on a Twitter post, accompanied by this huge acronym which I also didn’t understand, but that’s a later blog. So I’m looking at this sign, and I’m thinking, ‘What’s the need for caution? If you grind up a bunch of bees, how is that dangerous? They are dead and in chunks, and couldn’t possibly sting you!’

Some of you might see the naivete right off, but this was a complete mystery to me. Chunks of bees, ha. No danger, certainly no need for signage and little icons. So there you go, the magic of Google. It’s another mystery to me that anyone says they don’t know ANYTHING anymore, with this incredible technology right in front of us.


Anyone who didn’t write me off as clueless right away should know what I found (if you haven’t already googled it yourself.) about ground bees. They’re not chunks of dead bees, oh no. They are bees who make their hives IN THE GROUND! Lawn bees, not dead or chunky. Never heard of them, but definitely cause for caution.  So there you go…mystery solved.

Until the next Kelley’s Konundrum, stay Konfounded! (OH, crap. There’s that acronym I talked about.) Never mind, stay mystified!


Kelley Kaye



July 7, 2015

Yesterday I had a meeting with my content editor. She was very pleased with the changes I've made so far, but she had comments about other elements of the changes I hadn't really considered...mostly these dealt with the perspective she's afraid some readers might have about my protagonists Changes I hadn't even considered, which I guess is the crux of the need for editors. See, I am very politically incorrect. Perpetually, perenially politically incorrect. I don't get offended about stuff--life's too short--but by the same token I don't understand or anticipate when somebody's gonna get offended by me. For example: my character in this one scene came into a classroom and smiled at a janitor she'd met the day before. Now, the janitor's not important in the scene until a little later, so my gal just smiles and moves the scene along, boom boom lemme get to what's supposed to happen next. 

My editor saw it from the point of view of a janitor who's been working behind the scenes, treated poorly his whole life, so the fact that my character didn't greet him or try to engage him in conversation could be perceived by the reader as a snub or condescension toward the janitor. Never even occurred to me, even though I cleaned this office as a side job from the ages of 13 until about 40, and I know how demeaning it can be to have to clean up after people who don't really care for or respect their environment or the people who serve it. I was just trying to move the scene along, ya know? I could see what my editor meant, after the fact, and it was a very easy fix--only took a couple of lines.

I'm paying more attention to the issue of perspective as I continue with my monster edit. It's going well, but I also wonder, will the political correctness ever ease up? I heard on the news today that some people from other countries don't even want to come here any more because they perceive we are SO over the top, so easily reviled or angry about everything anyone might say about us as a people or a culture or a country, they're over it. No longer is 'Coming to America' such an exciting place to be coming to.

What do you think? I'm learning a lot, but I also can't get the mantra out of my head: life's too short, life's too short, life;s too short...

Would love to hear from you--Kelley

June 14, 2015

I've been thinking a lot about my murder mystery today--the one I am currently editing. The main character, Emma Lovett, has a background I hadn't really solidified in my head, yet, and that emerged as a problem with building her sympathy and interest from early on. So what did I do? Since she's already supposed to be me in my first teaching years, I just made her me, more. I put her father as my father, only current (he went to Vietnam instead of my father, who was in Korea), but the other information is pretty much the same--he died of emphysema, owned a used bookstore, was really smart and well-read; man there are so many great elements about my dad I can add. 

But then there are other elements that had nothing to do with him I am adding to move the momentum of the story. This is why I love fiction so much. I feel like it's my world, things I know and have experienced, only BETTER! Or worse...depends on my mood. Isn't that cool? That's why I like paranormal elements, too, because then I can totally change even the physics of this world.

May 31, 2015

Here is a message I got on Facebook, from a former student:

>>Hey! You probably don't remember me--this is definitely a little out of the blue.

I was just working on a story when the B-52's started playing. I suddenly had this vivid memory of a hip English teacher dressed up as a "Rock Lobster" for Halloween. You, right?

I would have been the, uh, fairly talkative freshperson. Maybe bright blue hair? 2003 or 2004.

More than a decade later I write sci-fi, and it's nice to run into you because I have totally been looking for someone to blame for that. Plus the hipster-ism. JK wink emoticon

Seriously, it was nice to remember one of the classes that got me into writing, so thank you. Are you still teaching? Writing? Either way, I hope you're well.


This is the coolest thing that can happen to a teacher, to have evidence of a positive influence on another's life path. Or, I don't know--if this guy is a struggling writer, maybe it's not completely positive. But if he's doing what he loves, then yay! That's all I ever wanted.

I had a fairly flaky student probably fifteen years ago, who told me that my "get your shit together" type speech really sunk in, and when he contacted me later he was in medical school. That was an amazing day.

Most importantly, I had a female student who credits me with the fact that she's alive. She'd had some horrible things happen to her before he moved into my small town, and she was cutting herself and suicidal and not in a good place at all. I guess the things she did in my class, writing, therapeutic thought-provoking things, did something major. I am still friends with her now, actually made her wedding cake, and she is married with kids and seems to be going great guns. She cheerfully gives me credit for that to anyone who asks.

So now that I am writing and not teaching, I wonder if what I do can continue to be of service to others? Is just writing a fun story going to have that kind of chutzpah? I guess I'm sort of into it, maybe a little too into it? If I feel our purpose on this planet is to interact with other living things in a positive way, do you think I'm keeping score? Isn't that silly. Like my power addiction is how many people I can help? Wow, I do this with the memoir I'm writing right now--just talk myself to the point where I can see how ridiculous I am being. If I am doing what I love and doing it the best I can, that is all that matters. Anything else is just gravy.

May 25, 2015

Okay, I have s new writing schedule. Sundays are supposed to be an entry for "Sundays With Mommy" (think Tuesdays With Morrie but not so sad.), which is this sort of diary I started for my boys like four years ago and have only done like twelve entries for. Pppppptttthhhhh. So every Sunday: Sundays With Mommy and blog entry. I've obviously already screwed it up, because as you can see, it's Monday. But I was writing about Memorial Day anyway, so I'm going to give it to me. I hope you had someone you could think about today, and be thankful for those that helped this country be the remarkable place it is!

Sundays With Mommy

May 24, 2015


Hello Grey and Griffen!

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day we give our appreciation to all those who have served and fought for this country. Your Great Grampa Wally served in WW11, as did your Great Grampa Ray. Your Grampa Don, my daddy, was in the Korean War at age 19. He served as a Forward Observer, which are the guys that go ahead to scope out a situation. Obviously, most ALL of those guys get killed…luckily for me (and you) he was there right at the end of the war, so they were mostly doing cleanup at that time, and he didn’t get blown up. Grampa Bud was in the Vietnam War, as an infantryman and right in the middle of it. He doesn’t talk much about that time, so I can’t relay it to you here. Maybe you should ask him.


Anyway, I hope you will take a minute today and think about all the members of our family and all the people in this country who have sacrificed themselves so we can be here doing whatever we want to do. It’s a very big deal that I didn’t really understand or appreciate when I was young. I’ve learned more now, and I’m glad you’ve been trained to thank people for their service when you see them; hopefully the enormity of that gift will sink in.



I love you two so much.

So that’s all for this Sunday. See you next week. Hopefully not next year, for Pete’s sake.

May 14, 2015

Well, I didn't win a scholarship to the SBWC! But that's know how sometimes when somebody wins something that you were trying for, and you're like "How could this have happened? The winner sucked compared to the fabulousness of yours truly...:-)" Well, not so for this winner. She kinda wiped the floor with me. Check it out...

Have a great weekend!

Write on...


I wrote this as an entry to a contest--trying to win a tuition scholarship to SCWC, a writer's conference in Santa Barbara. The requirement is "Things My Mother Taught Me." Hope you like it!

                                                 Words My Mother Taught Me.


I don’t think she meant to, but for a long time I thought my mother was teaching me how to swear. At 5’2’’ and 106 lbs soaking wet, with a ready smile and a sharp style, you would never know she had this talent. At my father’s funeral, where all the old family friends gathered to tell stories of the olden days, my favorite tale came from their friend Dan: “Yeah, one day on the houseboat, Shelley almost fell off, and her favorite phrase came rolling off her tongue: goddamnmotherfuckingsonofabitch! When I repeated the story later, she shushed me. Oh, Dan, she admonished. I NEVER said ‘mother’!” The whole crowd loved that one, and for a brief moment we got to forget why we were all there together.

When I was growing up, she used the phrase and others like it to vent, often slamming cupboard doors to punctuate each word until her frustration had abated. Her special word talent also displayed itself behind the wheel, with her favorite word being ‘asshole.’ “Nice turn signal, asshole!” “You ASShole! That really burns me up!” She could barely keep it in check when my sister and I started having kids, and our special word talent became chiding and shushing. “Shh, Grandma! Little pitchers…Grandma, that driver can’t hear you, all you’re doing is raising your blood pressure.” The woman with the ready smile also used many kind words, though, loving words, the soft sounds of “I love you” reverbarating exponentially more than any colorful cussing.

Now my mother has Alzheimer’s. Her car keys have been relinquished, sharp style replaced by mismatched garb and disheveled hair. We talk on the phone, many times per week, and when I ask her what she’s eating, she can’t give me a simple meat and potatoes sentence. Instead it is a recitation of whatever ingredients stand before her, potassium sorbate, sodium chloride, brown rice. I knew the diagnosis was grave and progressive when one of the ingredients she repeated was bologna. Only she pronounced it ballawgna. If you knew my mother and the exactitude of her previous intelligence and linguistic correctness, the misspeak would make you cry too.

Now we play word games. In an effort to build new neurons and fight the disease which is destroying hers, every day we pick a letter. We go back and forth: friend, fellowship, fight, flailing, feeble. Sometimes we laugh at the size or silliness of the words we come up with: ineptitude, inertia, interdependence, display diarrhea douchebag, ha ha ha! My boys love to join in, ankylosaurus! Griffen yells. Autobiography! Grey chimes in.

It’s turned in to a revisitation of the normality we once shared. It’s become something important we can share now. Of all the words my mother taught me, whether excellent expletives, proper grammar or loving support, she’s teaching me some crucial ones now.

Patience. Acceptance. Remembrance.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.

May 7, 2015

For this entry, I want to talk about happy endings. My thoughts have not crystallized on this subject, though, so I may have to come back. Suffice it to say, I am obsessed with happy endings. I just tweeted Stephen King (yes, the master of horror himself) with a thanks for his continued belief in them, and if you don't think he believes in them, go back and read all his books. Not necessarily the movies, because who knows where those will go once a gazillion other people have a say, but the actual books. Dean Koontz too, he always gets to the silver lining. It has to be the right happy ending though, right? Not the gratuitous ones, but the ones that leave you hopeful and hey now, that couldn't really have ended any other way. The only exception in my head right now is Of Mice and Men, which is not exactly straight up hopeful, but such a wonderful book and really, how else can it possibly end? For the time period and the location, no other way.

March 20, 2015

Type your paragraph here.

Do you have a question for me? Ask me here.


This is my very first blog entry! I know I should start with the whole point, which is books, so I'll talk about the two books I'm reading right now: I'm almost finished with Kelly Stone Gamble's They Call Me Crazy. I'm very curious  about how it's going to end, because it has not gone in a predictable fashion AT ALL! I'm also reading a graphic novel called Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? It's about Alzheimer's, which is my mother's recent diagnosis. Which sucks.They're both worthwhile reads, tho...

March 8, 2015.

Kelley’s Konundrum December 6, 2015




I’m going to start peppering my blogs with diary entries. That’s right, the killer in Death by Diploma’s been doing some journaling! Now you’ll have the opportunity to read some diary entries from the killer’s Point of View. Start solving the mystery before the book even comes out…


“O mother, mother!

What have you done?  Behold, the heavens do ope,

The gods look down, and this unnatural scene

They laugh at.”


                                  --Coriolanus, V. 3.183-186

Actually, my state of affairs is a bit depressing.  If I were a glass-is-half-empty sort of person, I’d wonder how God could have given me such a trauma to endure at such a young and malleable age.  I sometimes think it a marvelous tribute to my own extraordinariness that I turned out the way I did.  Amazing, really.  I started writing my memoirs once; my thinking was such that my story would win a Pulitzer or a Nobel, but I started it and it just looked like so much melodramatic drivel.  For example:

     I sometimes recall the way it was when I was younger and we lived in a house for a while.  My bedroom was in the upper corner, hiding away like a kitten hides from the neighborhood dog.  It was where I went when the yelling started, although the voices tended to waft upward through the wrought-iron heating vent.  If the yelling was about me, I would lock the door to my room and cower in the corner, sometimes pulling the bedspread over my head and leaning my shoulder up against one brown wall.  I realize now this only succeeded in delaying the inevitable; I would eventually have to come out and she would be exponentially angrier because of the wait.  But at the time, all I could think was not now, not again, not now, not again, notnownotagain . . . and the repetition of the mantra seemed powerful.  Every time I thought, it just might work this time.  It never did.


     See?  Drivel.  I somewhat liked the kitten/dog metaphor, but . . .

     Besides, I completely believe that it does one no good to dwell upon the hand one is dealt.  I used to have this neighbor, Ike was his name or some other trailer-trash moniker.  He engaged in the painful cliché of itching at his genitals and belching simultaneously, and he scratched at a belly that looked nine months pregnant all year round.  His shirt said “Shit Happens.” 

     Yes, I believe it does.  All I can do now is pave the way for my legacy.



I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Kelley’s Konundrum: September 27, 2015
My conundrum today is about ants. Why ants? Now, of course my husband the scientist can go into a COMPLETE explanation of the cycle of life and top predator on the totem pole (us) vs. low man (not sure who low man is. Some form of microscopic sea life?) and the importance of the entire chain for it all to work. And I totally get that, I do.

We have this hummingbird feeder out our dining room (dining crevice? Dining nook? Indentation? Dining room sounds a little more grandiose than it actually is) window. It’s very cool—hummingbirds hang out there all the time and we can watch their magical wings whir (50 times per SECOND when they hover!) and then enjoy their tiny presences when they perch on the feeder’s edge, resting briefly while  dipping their beaks into the sugared water.


The problem is the suction cups used to attach the feeder to the window are persnickety. Every couple of months they de-suck and down the feeder goes! This last time it happened, the feeder fell perfectly straight and landed right side up on the ground behind the side bushes. It’s a little bit of a trick to maneuver through the minuscule hole in between those bushes to retrieve anything, so I didn’t go after it right away. Probly the feeder sat there for a coupla days. Hey, I am a busy lady!

Anyway, on Thursday I finally had a moment to sneak through the bushes and get the feeder out. I slid through the little opening and picked up the feeder and the suction-cupped hook. I looked at the feeder, and it was, of course, filled with dead ants. They flooded the red sugar water and crusted the holes. They were everywhere.

I’m sure it’s not mysterious where this is going. I wasn’t standing there for long, but it doesn’t take a long time for this to happen. Because of the amount of time the feeder had been on the ground, there were now MILLIONS of ants who’d made the food pilgrimage, and they were still all over the feeder and all busy, busy on the ground where I stood. They raced over my knuckles and crawled up my legs like a scene from a horror movie. It felt like it happened instantaneously, but I’m sure in reality I stood there in the middle of the pestilence like an idiot, waiting for events to register while I stared, open-mouthed, at this plastic container filled with drowned ants.


Needless to say, I screamed like a little kid, threw my hands up and ran.  I was trying to shake them off my hands and scrub them off my legs as I went, and I’m sure my contortions as this happened were hysterical.  Wish I was on Candid Camera right then. I had to go back later and pick up the feeder, which had gone airborne at that moment. I put it outside the door and dumped water on it to kill the remaining ants. That afternoon I couldn’t find the car keys, and of course had forgotten all about the scene from Death by Insectassassination Part 1. I had to use the spare until Friday, when I went back out to check the suction cups that had to set for 24 hours. The keys were there under the bushes, where I’d flung them.


So like I said. Why ants? Or horseflies. Mosquitoes? Don’t get it. And don’t even get me started on earwigs.

Until next time: stay mystified!Kelley

Kelley’s Konundrum The mystery of Lack of Control 8/14/2016.

CBS this morning was entirely about guns in America. Interestingly enough, I got through the entire newscast without crying or getting indignant or angry, until we got to the story about guns in Australia. Then I experienced all three of those feelings. First of all, all I ever hear from anybody when we are talking about politics or issues or what have you is how biased and slanted the media is as a whole. I liked this CBS Sunday morning, because I felt like it really was unbiased. Talked about gun history and about places where guns are used as tools rather than scary weapon or use with respect and appropriate fear, but it also talked about places where it was out of control and places where it needed to be fixed. So the final segment, the Australia one, I felt was a nice balance. 


In Australia, because of a 1996 mass shooting in Tasmania killing 35 people, the rules about guns are very strict: no automatic or semi-automatic weapons are allowed (the country had a massive gun buy-back), and gun owners have to register their weapons and lock them up --ammunition locked up separately--and that is checked. No mass shootings have happened since then, multiple victim homicides at all have gone way down: the murder rate is down 50% and the suicide rate is down a whopping 80%!


So the CBS Australia story focused on a gun collector and vineyard owner. He has lots of guns, uses them for all the reasons US gun owners do--hunting, personal protection, target shooting, collecting, and he LOVES the laws and restrictions. Can't imagine going back to the way it was, feels incredibly sorry for our country and how violent and scary things have gotten here in America! The reason I liked the segment so much was that I felt it brought all elements of the gun story together: responsible gun ownership in all its permutations, but shown in a place that  is dealing successfully to fight the mass shootings, and it's a country we respect with a similar wild-west, gun-slinging history. Why can't we do that? That's the mystery: WHY CANT WE DO SOMETHING ABOUT MASS SHOOTINGS?


It's BS, man. As a teacher who lived in Colorado when the Columbine shootings happened, and who then spent the next 11 years (until I retired) living with lockdown and shelter-in-place drills, having the shit scared out of me when some stupid douchebag kid in a monkey mask burst into my classroom and started throwing desks around, and that is nothing compared to the now MILLIONS of people who've had their lives cut short or irretrievably altered by a mass shooter's bullet. Don't scoff, Do. Not.,, in your brain say MILLIONS, no way, Drama Queen!  Just think about it. For every senseless violent shooter's bullet, there's a dead person who was a son or daughter, brother or sister, auntunclecousingrandmagrandpafriendstudentneighbor. 


Like I said, millions.

So, to me, the solution to today’s Konundrum of our lack of control is simple: nobody’s really listening. Nobody’s listening to EVERYbody I’ve ever talked to about guns, everybody who says background checks should be for every person purchasing a gun, whether it’s at a gun show or a pawn shop or a yard sale, everybody who says if you have a violent criminal record you should NEVER be able to buy a gun, everybody who says people with any ties to terrorist organizations or who are on a no-fly list should absolutely, unequivocally never be allowed to buy a gun.

The only element I have not heard totally everyone agree with is the automatic weapon part. I don’t think they’re good for anything but killing people and should be banned, but as I continue with my constant attempt at empathy, compromise and all-around good cheer, if this is your argument, I’ll give you the opportunity to give me a good reason why. Otherwise, I think you have the solution, too. We’ve just gotta figure out a way to make it happen.

I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!


All right: so this week my cover is in a contest at  I'm having an issue putting the link in, so I'll get back to it! Let's try the link to last week's blog, now on video:Last week's video

I am so excited! I have a release date for Death by Diploma--third week of February! And author Mary Fan created this OUTSTANDING trailer for the book: Death by Diploma Trailer.

Here is the next entry from the killer:

Kelley’s Konundrum December 13, 2015




“The actors are at hand, and by their show

              You shall know all that you are like to know.”


                        –A Midsummer Night’s Dream V.I.117-118


Once upon a twisted time otherwise known as junior high, I was bullied and cajoled into auditioning for the spring play.  By my English teacher I think, or perhaps it was a counselor–something about a lack of involvement in school.   What they did not comprehend was my conscious avowal to specifically NOT get involved with the cretins and morons by which I was surrounded every day.

      No matter...of course I said no, since acting is such a...a menial activity, n’est ce pas?  Anyone can contort their face and voice and adequately create another persona.  God knows, I did it for my cow of a mother often enough.  But then I started thinking, why not?  If I did it naturally enough in front of my demonic relatives, surely an appreciative audience would bow in wonderment.  I started imagining myself called for encore after encore, bowing for one more standing ovation.  If school was this easy, surely I could excel at an extra-curricular activity in my sleep. With one hand tied behind my back. Etcetera, etc.

     So I decided to do it.  I rehearsed a monologue for the lead, despite my idiot counselor (or teacher, or whomever’s) suggestion I begin an acting career by trying for a smaller part. Nonsense!  Even the most (cough) “intense” leading role in a junior high setting was beneath me.  I was brilliant during the audition, if I do say so myself.

     Incredibly, they gave the role to somebody else.  Well, I did get the role, but as an understudy.  An understudy!  As in “studies UNDER some other much less talented actor.”  This particular much less talented actor had a pimply forehead and knobby knees and long stringy hair, and onstage gave a whole new meaning to the term “overacting.”   Unbelievable.

     I pondered ways to rid myself and the acting world of this moron, otherwise known as the “star.”  I rigged a sandbag to fall on top of the idiot’s head, but it missed and split open all over the stage.  It seemed “understudy” was another word for “custodian,” because guess who got to clean it up?

     It only helped me understand that people don’t realize brilliance when it’s right on their doorstep.  Such are the lessons that will serve my legacy.



I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!

Kelley’s Konundrum The Mystery: Conspiracy Theorist or Good Ol' Fashioned Pragmatist? That is the question...

A couple of years ago I noticed a piece of blue frog tape covering the camera of my husband's cell phone. I asked him about it. Why would you cover up your cell phone hole, I asked? How are you going to take pictures?
To prevent people whom I don't want to see me from seeing me, he said. I take it off when I want to take pictures.

WHAT? Nobody's going to hack your phone, I said. You're not famous. We don't have any money. We don't do drugs or have affairs or have swingin orgies on our tiny condo floor. What possible reason lies behind your worry? 

I'm freaked out, and I'll tell you why. I was married, lo so many years ago. For about a minute. When I learned the vast differences between the two of us, yes yes I know I should've known that beforehand, I vowed I would never make a commitment like that until I knew my partner really well, and that's exactly what I did.

But this little new development, this random little piece of blue frog tape, didn't sound like my rational scientist husband. It sounded like hats made of tinfoil and stockpiles in basements. If there were any basements in California. It freaked me out.

NOT TO MENTION, what is that hacker gonna see? I never leave my laptop open, and the desktop has a lovely view of the bathroom hallway. The cell phones just sit, on desks, floors or coffee tables. So the hacker would have a nice view of our ceilings, or maybe a view of me working on book #2. Excruciating boredom for the hacker right there--I don't even think I stick out my tongue or hold bizarre conversations with myself. Plus I'm a writer and a blogger, so I'm already volunteering information about myself, for free. All the time.

About 2 months ago, there was a 60 Minutes about this issue. Somebody'd seen a picture of Mark Zuckerberg's laptop, and the little piece of tape over the camera. At the time I scoffed at Jim. You are no Mark Zuckerberg, I said.
But then, yesterday, a major morning news show had an interview with the head of the FBI, who has tape over all his computers and thinks we all should.
At least he wasn't advertising for the latest design in tinfoil hats and survivalist paraphernalia.

Jim had his moment of gloating and toldyasos, and I relaxed a little bit on my freakout, because, I guess because he was now in the company of Mark Zuckerberg and the Director of the FBI. Dumb reasons, I know. We are not bazillionaires or top level crimefighters but we have as much value as human beings as those two or anyone else, for that matter.

But like I said, we're really just not that interesting. Hackers would be disappointed. And I am for sure not gonna put Frog Tape over my phone!


I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!




Here’s the video from last week’s blog:



Video Jim Comey:




Kelley’s Konundrum May 1, 2016—WHAT about walls?


I think I explain this on the video, but just in case—I look like a drowned rat here because I had just had some sort of emotional meltdown before I sat down to make the video. I don’t remember the cause of the meltdown, nor do I remember why the hell I wanted to capture my swollen face on video, lookin’ scary digitally for all eternity, right at that time?

But this is one of my all-time favorite poems, and it speaks directly to this week’s Konundrum, so…why not??



Mending Wall

Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side.  It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it

Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.'  I could say ‘Elves’ to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself.  I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'

From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1916, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1939, 1947, 1949, © 1969 by Holt Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Copyright 1936, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, © 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 by Robert Frost. Copyright © 1962, 1967, 1970 by Leslie Frost Ballantine.

            This week my thoughts have been directed several different times toward walls and the idea of walls, and the Konundrum of when they should be built. I am of the mind, and I’m sure this is no surprise to those of you who know me, that walls are meant to be breached and broken: emotional walls, physical walls, they are more often than not superfluous and cause more pain and angst than they solve. I feel like the mystery of why we build walls can be solved by just knocking them down.

            But I know this is simplistic. Even Robert Frost tells of an important time to build walls: to keep the cows from aimlessly roaming rather than safe on the farm. But then there are so many other times when the wall makes no sense: his imagery of sentient pine cones marching across the field to illegally munch on helpless and cowering apples makes me giggle to this day.

            So these are the two ideas that presented themselves to me this week regarding walls: first, I have a critique partner, Melissa, who has a work of literary fiction I am critiquing for her. It is set in Africa, and has a lot of interesting commentary on geography and history. In the scene I’m reading, the main character Louisa is remembering information she learned from her father when he traveled to The Great Wall of China. I don’t know much about the Great Wall of China except that it was built by slaves and it is hella long.

            According to <> , the main purpose for building the wall, way back in the 3rd  century and probably even earlier, was as a means to prevent incursions of barbarian nomads into the Chinese Empire. It is over 13,000 miles all told, branches included. <> THIRTEEN THOUSAND MILES of wall, which the history channel ends by explaining as “an enduring physical and psychological symbol of Chinese strength: “a representation of the barrier maintained by the Chinese state to repel foreign influences and exert control over its citizens.”

            I guess that’s the mystery for me. Are foreign influences always bad influences? And why is control the ultimate outcome? One of Donald Trump’s policies as a presidential candidate is to build that wall between Mexico and the U.S., to keep Mexicans from crossing the border illegally. To me, this is the wrong outlook because a wall keeps in as well as keeping out. This country is so fabulous, how can you blame people for wanting to live here? I feel like the focus should be on making it less expensive—but still difficult—to become a citizen. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, but why does ‘doing it well’ have to mean breaking the bank?

As a teacher for almost 20 years, I heard a multitude of horror stories from people within my school, primarily from Mexico and Canada, involving astronomical lawyer’s fees and mountains of bureaucratic red tape associated with becoming a citizen and which had nothing to do with learning our country’s history or any other logical steps to citizenship. The path to citizenship shouldn’t involve walls, it should involve stairs. And it’s not positive to exert control over the citizens of this country, maybe the thing that should be exerted is compassion. Counsel? How about calm? And instead of repelling, we should reply. Respond? How ‘bout REACH for the stars?

Yes. To solve Kelley’s Konundrum for this week, I think we shouldn’t build walls to exert control, I think we should build stairs to exert compassion. Instead of repelling, we should reach for the stars.

Maybe I’m being overly simplistic, but what can I say? Spring, it’s the mischief in me. And it is Mayday…so there you go!


I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Blog November 27, 201The Mystery of the Allure of swearing, Part 2.

 I just finished the fourth draft of the second Chalkboard Outlines book, in preparation to send it requesting publication from the publisher. In this draft there is a scene where a student gets in the face of another student using much name-calling and swearing. Leslie Parker explains to the student she needs to quit with the swearing, I don't only because it can get her into big trouble in school, but because it makes her seem 'tacky.'


Those of you who have read the first book may remember that Leslie, herself, swears like an overstimulated sailor on leave, when the situation arises. You may also remember that  I also have an affinity for blue language, especially when I'm with certain friends (you KNOW who you are) or by myself in the car.


But there is a time and a place for it, in my mind, and even a therapeutic value in it. Plus it’s fun. In its place and time. Now, my husband seems to think that time and that place is NEVER. But y'all already know--he's a little over the top.


Here comes the reason I'm talking about this for a second time. My husband's favorite movie of all time--top 3 at least--is Major League. It was on Epix yesterday during laundry time, but suffice it to say I've seen it umpteen billion times just by association, and this viewing just reminded me of things I’ve seen many times before.  There are lotsa scenes in the movie with lots of cussing, but three scenes in particular with an F bomb dropping in exactly the right place, and as I've seen the edited version too, I'd say they are crucial to the emotional resonance of the scene. If you've seen the movie, I'll bet you know the ones I'm talking about. But here they are, just in case. tom berenger Dennis haysbert Corbin bernsen 

See? See? Very crucial. The substitution of other words, or bleeps, don’t even come close to bringing on the Oh YEAH feeling that comes on with the original format. Even Jim agrees with this one, though it unfortunately means the boys won’t get to watch it until they are at least twelve.

  I sorta feel the same way about the FCC removing that F-bomb out of The Who's 'Who Are You?', but maybe that's another blog...


I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!




​Kelley’s Konundrum May 29, 2016


The Mystery of Memory

Last week was my father’s birthday. He would've been 83 years old. The fact that he isn't, that I am on my way to a little league playoff game with my SONS makes the day that much sadder.

Donald W. Bowles was a father to girls. Three of 'em. Girly girls, too. From Barbies to ballet, piano to Pom- Pon squad, lipstick to legwarmers, (yes I said LEGWARMERS. Children of the Flashdance generation, woot woot!), we didn't even feed  a wish for sons by at least being tomboys--my one sports endeavor involved an attempt at cross-country team which ended fast when I puked all over the  desert hillside. Upwind.

Belonging to a generation that didn't express physical affection, my father had to take cues from my mother. "Hug her, Daddy. " "Tell her you love her, Daddy.” (My mom called my father ‘Daddy’ when she was talking to us about him or to him about us.) He took his cues, for many years, awkwardly. As an older adult, he did it wholeheartedly. Especially after he got sick. Emphysema and severe COPD made him come to terms with his mortality much earlier than he would have liked, but one of the ways he did it was by opening himself up to affection.

He found a way to show his love though, early on. That love was shown through books, books he read, books he loved, books he shared. He was the best daddy, and his lack of understanding about us as girls didn't matter a whit, because he showed us every day through books.

And now, with the exception of one girl all three sisters have all boy children. Boy's boys, too, all soccer, little league and transformers. So I'm feeling a little maudlin about the unfairness of that, as I watch my seven-and-nine-year-old-athletes send their pitches screaming across the plate (they're not lobbing 'em, anyway), and knowing he will never get to see that. We will never get to see that, together.


I guess the mystery is how I can take that unfairness and turn it into something positive. I wish I wish I WISH I believed that he was here and watching us and enjoying the game from his perch in Heaven, but I don’t. He is gone, and I can’t be with him while he’s enjoying his grandsons or talk to him about how much they know about sports. Which is a lot, a scary amount of knowledge for a 9 and 7 year old. It’s something he knew a lot about too, and they would be having rip-roaring conversations about that if he was here. But he’s not.

So instead I called my mom, who has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember much of anything, but she gets excited about any stories I tell her and any memories I share. Since my Dad served in Korea, we talk about Memorial Day and how I remember going with the family to the Colorado National Monument, eating fried chicken, deviled eggs and brownies with one layer of chocolate frosting and one layer of mint, then another layer of chocolate. Yum yum yum. And we talked about a beautiful Memorial Day story I saw on the news today—a man who returned his late father’s Japanese flag to the son and daughter of the soldier the flag had belonged to. In Japan. Blog about THAT story will have to come later, but it was a touching, tender story that touched everyone who saw it. We talked about that, and laughed and cried just a little. And my dad couldn’t share in this story and she won’t remember it.

But I will.

And now it’s on paper, so other people can remember it too. Maybe that’s the solution.

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



.Today’s Konundrum: The Mystery of Aging


 My back still hurts. It's been three weeks, and I've been to the chiropractor three times in the massage that therapist wants, and I have millions of stretching exercises that I've been doing like every possible moment I can think of it. I've been icing it, medicating it, yelling at it and counseling it.


Still hurts. 

Last night I finally made an appointment with the Doctor, and it feels like a surrender. A surrender to the facts: I'm getting older. 

So that's the topic of today's Konundrum: how long will it take us to surrender to the realities of aging? For me, whose most famous character trait (flaw) is trying to control things which can't possibly be controlled, probably a long time. So I'm going to touch on three classic 'aging' markers in my own life: backaches, age spots and gray hairs.

Second (since I already hit on the backache: age spots. I have a big one on my right cheek.  I think it appeared when I was in my twenties, which of course is a direct insult to the term "age spot" and to anyone over 40. It is maybe a half inch around, shaped like Asia minus India. Over the past 10 years, I've done everything from laze it, to freeze it, to slather it with fade cream twice a day every day. It has faded, sure, but not 10 years of work worth.

Third: I have a gray hair that I just found at the top Of my head which I hesitate before plucking out,  only because everybody always tells me not to pluck your gray hairs out, But nobody ever really tells me why? Is it because another gray hair is going to grow in its place? a grayer hair? a purple hair? But see, I know there's not going to be a purple hair in its place because I always pull those annoying puppies out, and there is nary a purple hair in sight. Maybe people think that if you leave the gray hair alone it will become friends with its brown buddies again and convert back to brown. I'd like to try that theory out, but the gray ones have met me. They know my skills regarding willpower and self control . They mock me, and position themselves to strategically catch the light in the mirror of my boudoir. Pick me, pick me, you know you wanna, they hiss like the devil on my shoulder Do it, do it do ittttttt--until I cave and yank it out, sighing with pleasure as I view my cascade of once again brunette tresses.

I guess the solution to the mystery of how long we wait before accepting the fact that we're getting older, for me, anyway, is NEVER.

I'm trying though, to at least surrender to the most positive aspect of aging, and that is the accumulation of wisdom and experience that comes with it. Just don't begrudge me a few creams, fillers, and boxes of hair color that I can’t seem to forgo...


I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!



 Here’s the video from last week:
 Mystery of the Miracle Mood Shift

September 20, 2015

I started writing this back on September 12, but now I finished it.Better late than never, I guess.

Kelley’s Konundrum: The Mystery of the Magic Book
 Martin Sheen's West Wing Leviticus scene
This scene is a hilarious scene from The West Wing being shuffled around the internet right now because of that county clerk who is refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because she is an Apostolic Christian. I had to look this up: an Apostolic Christian is (here is me cutting and pasting): Despite the relatively recent origin of the denomination, the church seeks to stand for first-century Christianity in its faith, practices, and government.[1]

That definition explained a lot. I don’t understand why people are following a practice that could almost be described as ancient. How do you ignore everything we know now that we didn’t know then? I’m sitting here trying  to formulate my thoughts coherently, but everything I come up with will be refuted by somebody who resides completely in a whole other century, or a whole other world. I remember a student I had many years ago. This was before I was experienced enough to know that some beliefs don’t make sense to me, the Average Jane, but make perfect sense to someone from a sheltered world such as hers. She was a Creationist, believing the world is only 6 to 10,000 years old. I made a comment about dinosaurs, which she didn’t believe in whatsoever. In my most inexperienced, ideological new teacher voice, I cupped my hands, showing her a vision of bones sitting within. “What about fossils?” I asked. “What about all those old, old bones archaeologists dig up?”

Nonplussed, she shrugged and said, “Those are hoaxes planted by the devil.”


How can you respond to that?


You can’t, so I didn’t. I picked my chin up off the floor and moved on.


1--the original Greek or Aramayic or whatever original language didn't even have a word for homosexuality, or care about it as a concept, for that matter. My understanding of that "man lying with another man" line is it's referring to pagan rituals, orgies if you will, that are frowned upon in many cultures, not just our own nightmarishly puritanical one.

2. All of these quotes people cherry pick are from the Old Testament, I.e. Before Christ. People who follow "Christianity", I.e. Follow Jesus Christ, should be quoting from the books about him, which are all about loving your neighbor, not stoning your brother.

3. It's a book. Even those who ascribe to the school of thought that it is a divinely inspired book, it's still a book written by men (don't even get me STARTED on the fact that there are no books in there by women), and the books that made it in there were chosen by men. (Check out the Apocrypha--second string players). Men who are human and subject to their humanity, which means flawed.

3. On that note, in my opinion as a book lover, follower of books, studier of books and writer of books, NO books should be taken literally, but as tools only. It has been argued that Shakespeare was divinely inspired, too, but I'm not going to kill someone over it.

4. As far as this county clerk goes, give me a break. You do not have constitutional freedom to impose your beliefs on others. If your actions affect others' abilities to live according to the laws of this country, your actions are wrong. If this chick doesn't like homosexuality, then she shouldn't invite gay couples to her house for dinner. She still needs to give licenses to anyone who qualifies for them.


**Since the first time I saw this news story and the Martin Sheen scene going around, the clerk has been released from jail and is back at work. Her underlings are issuing the licenses for same-sex couples, and she has publicly dismissed the licenses as invalid. Pppppptttthhhhh.


Aw, shucks. The whole mystery of why so many people find the need to pee in other people’s Wheaties? That’s a hoax. Planted by the devil.


Until next time: stay mystified


March 20, 2016

Kelley’s Konundrum March 20, 2016—Does EVERYONE have a dark side?

            The boys have been asking about the movie GooseBumps—the Jack Black movie based on all the children’s scary books from the early 90’s. I’ve never read any of these books—which is surprising because as a person, I love horror novels, and as a teacher, I had a huge library for students in my classroom. But I think it’s just a perfect storm as far as that series go—I was too old when it first came out to pick them up, and my high school students didn’t want “kiddy lit” in their classroom library. But today, we picked up the movie, and I bet Fletcher (my youngest) is gonna want to start reading them as soon as the movie is over. Here’s an example of why from a long road trip—California to Tennessee—we took in 2014. Fletcher was 5 ½.

            We’re driving through Kentucky, and the boys are being mean to each other. Jim expresses his dislike for the boys’ attitudes, and makes a couple of threats about taking away Fletcher’s LeapFrog and whatever Finn is playing with. Then we pass the Kentucky State Penitentiary, and Jim says, “Should we just do that? You two can start being nice to each other or we can detour over to the Kentucky State Penitentiary!”

            And since Fletcher is still five at this point, I clarify further: “That’s another word for a prison.”

            Jim chimes in, “Yeah! A jail! A prison…the place where very bad people go. Is that what you want, or do you wanna be nice to each other?”

            So Fletcher says, “Okay, we’ll go there. To the penitentiary.”

            The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, really, because I have always been fascinated with the dark side of things: murder mysteries, horror movies, you name it. But the point is, Finn would never want to go to the penitentiary. Fletcher was curious and fascinated, though, as so many people are. But why? I am very pacifist by nature—I take spiders outside and step over snails. I’ve never been in a fight—the closest I came was at a dance club in high school, when a tough girl decided I had “looked” at her (?!) and wanted to kick my ass. After the requisite posturing from her and the needed cowtow from me (“Really, I’m not here to fight.”), she backed off, and I, frankly, breathed a sigh of relief.

            So why do I still like it? Why do I salivate over a new Dean Koontz or Stephen King? Why was Fletcher ready to head for the penitentiary? Here’s my theory for myself and my theory for Fletcher. For me, I think it’s an ‘I am the hero of my own story’ thing, and I always try to imagine what I would do to be the last man standing—how I could, against all odds, be the one who survives. Through quick thinking, long-lasting, pain-enduring, breath-holding, Macguyver-esque fabulousness. It’s not just a dark side, it’s weathering the dark and emerging in the light.

            I think that’s probably Fletcher’s fascination with the dark side, too. He has never seemed interested in blood or killing or how that works and why, and it’s not my focus either—if I’m going to skim, it’s through descriptions of the gore and blood and onto the hero’s victory (or maybe the love scene. For me, not for Fletcher yet—he’s still grossed out by the ‘kissy kissy smooch smoochy’ part). Not really a black hat, then, but a longing to always be the one wearing the white.


I hope.


I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



​​Kelley’s Konundrum January 24, 2015

          I have a friend I meet for coffee once a month, because if you have young children you know what a premium is placed on adult conversation. And if you are blessed enough to be able to work from home (I bet all of you writers on the East Coast are loving getting up and walking down the stairs to go to work), any conversation, meaningful or goofy, introspective or slap-happy, is important to your mental health. To my mental health, anyway.

          This friend and I (we’ll call her Kendra) talk about everything, from parenting to politics. She and I are both in our forties, and we have young children. We’re surrounded much of the time by mommies in their mid-thirties or younger. A 33-year-old might be able to relate to the fatigue of chasing around active little boys, but the thought of grey hair hasn’t even crossed her radar yet. Kendra and I are living that already—nose and chin hairs, too. It’s fun to have a friend who wants to bemoan the effects of aging and laugh about them too.

          So anyway, this past week we were talking about books, or movies, or both, and somehow…I know this could be a shocker…we got on the topic of actors we liked. Male actors. Handsome male actors that might make the “Five actors if you ever actually met, you’d be able to get a pass from your spouse to go home with said actor for one night.” (How arrogant is…EVERYONE who creates this list, right? Like just because you get to meet this famous actor, that person’s gonna look at you and say, “Obviously I want to go home with you, random stranger.”) I think this concept was started on a Friends episode. Lots of couples have made this list. I don’t remember my husband’s entire list, but I think it had Charlize Theron and Cate Blanchett.

          My list changes over time, but it’s always stayed pretty true to the “type” I’ve been attracted to my whole life. Physically, I’ve always liked tall, blue-eyed brunettes (Prince Charming Complex? Maybe), but more than that, I am attracted to men who ACT tall, if nothing else. Men who walk into a room and change the energy of the room, who take risks and put themselves out there. Men who, and here’s the Konundrum, are a lot like my dad. My Konundrum is, What’s the Mystery of Attraction?

          I’ve thought about this in the past, but making the list with Kendra brought it all back: is that old saying about falling for people who remind you of the opposite sex parent really true? Not all that Freudian kill your mom marry your dad stuff, but just…is there a pattern? I remember reading a book about genetics or evolution and how we are the third chimpanzee. Diamond? Is that the right name? Yup, found it. This is the book I read: It talked about attraction being based on what you know, so the people you’re around when you’re very little end up having the looks or the smells or the oompnh you’re looking for.

          So here’s my current top 5 list: Michael Weatherly, Chris Pine, Jensen Ackles, James Marsden and Rob Lowe. That’s not in a highest to lowest or ranked list, I dig them equally. Kendra’s list was Tom Hardy, slots 1-5. So she digs all of hers the same too.

Michael Weatherly

 Jensen Ackles              

Chris Pine

 James Marsden and

Rob Lowe

          I know, I know. They’re all pretty, right? I’m into the pretty boys, for sure. But it’s more than that. These five actors to me all seem…bigger than life. A little dangerous, either in the characters they play (Dean Winchester in Supernatural is a very bad good boy, and if you’ve ever watched NCIS, you know Michael Weatherly is a rakish rogue. And Chris, James and Rob—they’re crazy. Willing to do almost anything on stage and put themselves out there in ridiculous ways, from Chris Pine’s silly Prince on Into the Woods, to Rob Lowe’s effeminate plastic surgeon with permanently arched eyebrows on Under the Candelabra and James Marsden’s wacko character who ends up naked on a rooftop in Death at a Funeral. Those guys are both having a great time with commercials, too, with Rob’s DirectTV series and James nursing wolves in the wild. (You haven’t seen that one yet? Hilarious.) Those guys are fearless, don’t take themselves too seriously, and I find that very attractive.

          Now there should be a picture of my husband here, but he has a sort of ‘thing’ about his picture being all over the internet. So I will describe him and then I’ll tell you a story. My husband is 6’5” with blue eyes, brown hair and a wide smile. I’d say he’s pretty, except right now he has a beard that started growing in oh, September, and hasn’t stopped since. He looks like he’s auditioning for Duck Dynasty. So…the story.

          Last year he came downstairs during my book club and met my friend Cate for the first time. He didn’t stay downstairs to jibjab, of course. Just grabbed some chips, shook some hands and that was all of book club he could stomach. So here’s Cate’s comment:

          “Your husband is so handsome, I had no idea. I mean, not that you couldn’t pull a handsome guy, but I mean, I had some sort of schoolteacher vision of a short guy with librarian glasses and a paunch.” She paused, “Maybe wearing a vest. But no, your guy has presence. He’s impressive.”

          And that’s it—that’s the attraction. He’s larger than life. I made some joke to Cate about “just being that good” and then I blew her mind when I explained how he is ALSO eight years younger than I am. So there, Cate. But he is. Impressive, I mean. And what am I, chopped liver? I am decently cute and wicked smart. If I do say so myself. I even had a student ask me to Prom, for reals. I mean, he was actually wanting me to go to Prom with him, as if that wasn’t completely inappropriate.

Oh, well, that’s another blog, isn’t it? I just wanted her to be not so surprised I could catch a cutie.



 Okay, so here’s my dad:


He, was also larger than life. One of those guys who started conversations everywhere he went, my dad was the guy who always had the next big idea in his head. He maintained for my whole life that he was the guy who had the original idea for graphics on T-shirts, and damnit, if he just would’ve patented it!

He had the idea for bottled water back in the 60’s before anyone ever saw that future—even went so far as going out with his friend Tinkerbell (TOTALLY another blog) and pricing plastic bottles. He owned an oil well in Frisco, Utah, that never spouted oil and a gold mine in Costa Rica that had gold in it, but the Costa Rican government wanted too much money for him to get it out. So there it stayed.  He did end up inventing something, critical to my life and our family’s existence: the used bookstore.

          I’m not kidding. See, my dad was a rabid reader and lifelong learner, earning something like 325 college credits without ever putting enough different classes together to earn a degree. When he was like 32, he was at a loss—not having found the next big thing and not sure what to do next. He asked my mom (his girlfriend at the time) what she thought, and when she found out he owned somewhere upwards of five THOUSAND books, she suggested he open a store.

          So he did. In 1966 he opened the first used bookstore, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The concept of selling used books and trading them as well had never been done before (DAMNIT! No patent.), so he ran Central Book Exchange from 1966 until he sold it in 2006, and not only did the store support our whole family for forty years, the books he brought home and the books we discussed brought me here, to you, today.

          See? One of those guys. Risk-taker, inventor, larger than life, he was hugely tall in my eyes even though he was only 5’11” (5’8” by the time he died.) Pretty, too, wasn’t he? That picture was taken when he was nineteen, on his way to the Korean War. (Just on a side note—my oldest son asked if Grampa Don had been in the Civil War, and I was so sad he wasn’t alive to hear him say that. He would have cracked up, most likely guffawed and said, “Most days I feel like I could’ve been.”

          So for the mystery of whether we are attracted to our spouses (or our favorite famous actors) based on who we were surrounded by in our youth, I think for me the answer is yes, obviously. Here are some links to articles I read before I started this blog:

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Kelley's Konundrum July 17, 2016. The Mystery of Singing On

Good morning my intrepid readers and detectives! Many of you know that my favorite show is CBS Sunday morning, so today the Meryl Streep article I watched (CBS Sunday Morning) made me smile for the entire rest of the morning, and now I want to talk about it in today's Konundrum. I guess we'll call it...The Mystery of Singing On.

I love to sing. I love to dance. I've always loved it. When I was little, I got to play the role of Sir Thomas More in the church play, the church musical I guess it was, and I got to sing like crazy in the lead of the male, historical religious figure. I sang and danced my part in a long brown tunic from the inside of a jail cell. (A set, designed as a jail cell. Of course.) In junior high I was in what was called Swing Choir, which was an audition-only couples' dance choir, and we sang and shimmied with our male partners to popular songs like Michael Jackson' 'Beat it' and Journey's 'Separate Ways.' 

We thought we were The Shit.

Then, onto high school where I danced at football games and functions alike as captain of the pom-pon squad. I got to choreograph our squad dances to popular one-hit wonders like ‘Two of Hearts', by Stacey Q, and even though I'm willing to bet that 95% of you reading this blog have never heard of that song, or high school dance teams known as PomPon Squads, we thought we were The Shit!

Now I am an adult and multiple sclerosis has caused me to not move or dance near as well as I used to--my balance is way off due to nerve damage--and I'm finding out apparently I am and always have been, at best, a very mediocre singer. My husband loves to tease me about pitchiness flat-here or sharp-there, when I belt out a chorus of whatever favorite song is on the radio, and I try to ballroom dance with him and can only stay ON MY FEET for limited amounts of time, much less make the steps do what I want them to.

But I love it anyway. 

So this morning's show about Florence Foster Jenkins solidified my viewpoint on the concept. Florence Foster Jenkins was a New York socialite in the early to mid-1900’s who loved to sing opera. She was apparently an awful opera singer, but her confidence and love of the genre (and in this case, we must include her unadulterated wealth) propelled her to a performance at Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall! Can you imagine?!?! Meryl Streep is playing her in a new movie called Florence Foster Jenkins, and as they interviewed the fabulous Miss Meryl, it seemed her research into Florence's character confirmed that Florence’s confidence and passion for music and performing music (again, I have to mention money and social standing) led her to be able to enjoy her passion some awesome venues until the end of her life.

I don't have any money or societal influence, but I do have confidence. Plus an (over?)abundance of understanding that singing at the top of my lungs or dancing-slash-tripping across the dance floor doesn't hurt others, and makes me exceedingly happy. The people who love me, love me in spite of a nonOscarTonyEmmy caliber performance ability, and the people who don't love me are certainly not going to love me because of a perfect pitch or pas de bourree.

I love doing it, and I think THAT's The Shit.

The fabulous Miss Meryl left us with a word of wisdom by Florence Foster Jenkins, and I think it's a profound commentary on how we all should approach life and enjoying the things we love:

"Some might say that I couldn't sing, but no one can say that I didn't sing."

Recordings of Florence Foster Jenkins have never been out of print. Never. So I say, sing on, Florence Foster Jenkins! Sing on, intrepid reader! That's the answer to today's Konundrum: why should we sing on? 

Why not?  I say. We are all The Shit!

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!




December 20, 2015 Kelley's Konundrum: Why aren't there more examples of kickass, badass girls in literature and film? A review of the SciFi short story anthology Brave New Girls.

Let’s talk about honeybees. A couple of years ago, my husband the science teacher was talking to my son about bees. My husband is allergic, and we don’t know if my son is because he’s never been stung. But he was trying to assuage my son’s fears by explaining the importance of bees to our existence. How important are they? Very. Like, if the bees go away, there goes the planet. That is simplistic, I know, because bees aren’t the ONLY things that pollinate, but…

Anyway, bees have been on my mind. So as I started reading Brave New Girls, a short story anthology edited by Paige Webster and Mary Fan, I started with a short story called The Hive, by Kate Lansing. Fi lives in a not-too-distant future where all the trees are dead, replaced by metal sculptures. Protection for the honeybees is Fi’s passion, and she uses all her scientific and hacker skills to achieve it.

And Fi is my introduction to a whole myriad of young female characters, all of them with the wiles, intelligence, bravery and bravado I can appreciate and expect in my literature these days. These characters come from fictional worlds of now and then and yet-to-be, and they are fantastic representatives for the book’s purpose: increasing STEM opportunities for girls. The book’s proceeds go to a Scholarship fund through The Society of Women Engineers.

What are these women doing? They are all computer savvy, and many live in futuristic worlds on far-reaching planets. They must survive and thrive with odds against them, (including that predator also known as teenage angst.) Some of the storylines include:

Viala, a girl with scientific genius who has to hide her intelligence because her father used his scientific creations to kill people.
Katie and Rachel, two girls from different eras—one from the  22nd century and one from the 1942 Warsaw Ghetto—working together in a storybook Martian world to save their planet using WWII electronics.
Meg, whose favorite science teacher died of lung cancer and left her a time machine. Which she now hides in her basement.
Philly, hacker extraordinaire who uses her parolee job at the cemetery to fight an evil, greedy, world-killing corporation, playing a little Robin Hood while avenging her friend’s death and her father’s ruination. This story has a cool element in that in Philly’s world, the cemetery has holograms above the gravestones with messages from the loved ones.
Jane Colt, the character from Mary Fan’s Jane Colt sci-fi series, stars in the final story. This tale combines your favorite teen movie themes, human girls with robot parts, virtual reality, a spectacular fight scene, and even one of those examples of karma that leave you smiling and nodding: that’s right, take that.

It’s interesting to note almost as many male authors writing kickass, badass girls in this collection as women. For example, Stephen Kozeniewski gives us a fabulously fun story called The Keys to the Stars, where the reader follows the life of science nut Judy Kraybill. Judy might be a significant University Professor now, but she used to be a brilliant kid living in the 1950’s who could decipher important messages. From space.

So my Konundrum for the week is this: WHY aren’t there more kickass, badass girls in literature and film? While there may be some genetic differences between genders in terms of base brute strength, both sides can dominate equally in the brains department. Because of too much history as far as desperately demure damsels in distress, it’s so much more FUN to read stories like these! I only talked about seven of them here, and there are eighteen stories to choose from.

As a proud owner of everything Buffy the Vampire Slayer since her 1992 inception (plus I just re-watched Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight—girls totally rule in that action flick), I was excited to see Brave New Girls on the bookshelves, and to learn the reasons behind ITS inception. Anyone who wants some fun with science, space, potential pasts and possible futures, all with truly cool female characters running the show should check out Brave New Girls. Promote some STEM in your life, and the lives of girls around you…

Brave New Girls
I’d love to hear your views! Until next week…Stay Mystified!


March 13, 2016

Maybe I should have written about Daylight Savings today. I hate Daylight Savings. But ah well, my bad luck today-not living in Arizona, Illinois or Hawaii. So that's what I wrote about anyway--the mystery of luck. Enjoy!

Kelley’s Konundrum March 13, 2016—What’s the story with luck?


I have no doubt that I am a lucky, lucky ducky. I’m often in the right place at the right time, I win stuff on the radio or in the raffle drawing. I was born to caring parents in the greatest country on the planet, in my opinion—America. Sure, I have MS, but it’s not the kind of MS that rendered me paraplegic or causes me massive pain (I heard Montel Williams talk once about his MS and he said the bottoms of his feet constantly feel like he’s stepping on needles or knives or hot coals. Something you for sure don’t want to step on. Ever, much less all the time.) I haven’t really felt the bottoms of MY feet or my hands since 1996, which from your point of view might be troublesome (It’d be nice to feel my pulse, maybe) but from my point of view and probably Montel’s too, that’s pure luck.

But Kelley, you say, what about the years of infertility? Don’t you wish you’d been able to get pregnant when you wanted to? All those days of seeing pregnant women and the heartache of all those periods showing up month after month after month? To which I respond not just no but HELL no. If I’d have been able to get pregnant whenever I a) probably would’ve gotten pregnant that first time I had sex, or b) would’ve gotten pregnant during that first one-minute marriage, which, it’s obvious why THAT wasn’t a good time for me to be fertile, or c) if I’d been fertile during my sperm donor attempts at single motherhood, then I’d have a child right now whom I would love and adore, but…I’d be a single mother. With MS. Instead I had to wait a while, and I ended up with this whole FAMILY. Plus there’s d) which is that the entire experience is one of my favorite chapters in the memoir. See? Lucky.

But where does it come from? Why do I get to have all these wonderful things, where somebody else gets a shit sandwich for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? I was talking to some friends of mine at the gym the other day. A lot of them feel I make my own luck—by being positive and working hard and just cultivating a sunny outlook. All of this is true, but it doesn’t change the basic luck I started with—where I was born and to whom. You can’t cultivate squat if you’re born smack dab in the middle of a jungle, HIV positive with guerrilla warriors surrounding you.

It’s tough to be optimistic if you’re the third arranged wife of some misogynistic douchebag who makes you eat rocks because he doesn’t like the way you cooked his dinner.  I’d just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, and I’d cried and cried with the injustice of it all. Why are there millions of women in the world who are only allowed to exist based on the whims of men? How can you keep smiling if you were born into a world that doesn’t value you in any way?

It’s only chance that we are where we are when we are—the aforementioned friends at the gym were talking about coming from this ‘strong stock’ with the ability to ‘endure and withstand’ great odds, but then again, isn’t that just more luck? Don’t even get me started on the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I”. I hate that phrase and I refuse to use it—even though I know it’s just most people’s way of saying “I’m so glad that didn’t happen to me,” I feel like the phrase is a slap in the face to every person who just lost his house to a tornado or much worse than that, her child to cancer. What, those people didn’t deserve the grace of God? Ugh. Like I said, don’t get me started.


Now, it’s true. I do make my own luck in many ways—if I want to win a prize on the radio, I listen at the times I’m supposed to, or if I want to win a raffle, I buy more than one ticket. I work ridiculously hard to keep the MS in check, including 5 a.m. workouts and more vegetables than I can count, and the ONLY reason (listen!) I have written a book is because I sat my ass down for many, many hours and put one word in front of the other until it became one. Then I spent countless more hours fixing it until someone wanted to publish it, and now I’m spending crazy amounts of time doing things to try to get people to want to read it. Including writing a blog about life’s mysteries.


I can’t spend too much time trying to solve this mystery, because really it is an unsolvable, unknowable question which ranks right up there with why we are here to begin with. I guess all I can do is continue this gratitude I have for my life and for where it’s going, and a continued attempt to help people around me to see their own luck and cultivate it. I don’t know what else to do…it’s a mystery. If you have some ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!


I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



February 21. 2016
TWO MORE DAYS until the release of Death by Diploma!!! I can hardly breathe. Conveniently enough, there is one more journal entry from the Killer's POV. It's super short, when you read the book, know this came right before the climax in the original draft. 

Enjoy! I'm so excited! I will do an extra blog on release day with links to all the places you can buy the book, along with instructions for how to get the book signed, BY ME, if you want it!

“These signs have marked me extraordinary

              And all the courses of my life do show

              I am not in the roll of common men.”


                                  --Henry IV III.i.38-40

 My Lord, is there nobody available to comprehend the ability of my legacy?  Maybe if my progeny comprehended some of her own potential I wouldn’t be forced to act again and again on her behalf.  And now, loose ends, loose ends.  Never have I had to deal with so many loose ends.  Ah, well, after tonight it will be over, and she and I will have another little talk about the responsibilities of greatness.


     Soon all shall be remedied.  My legacy will be grateful.  My rewards will be bountiful.

I'd love to hear your viewpoints! Until then--Stay Mystified!


Here is Death by Diploma. Available February 23


Just got a release date for Death by Diploma: February 23rd Yay! Here's the next installment from the killer's journal:

Kelley’s Konundrum December 26, 2015




Start solving the mystery before the book even comes out…


“Sweet are the uses of adversity,

              Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

              Wears yet a precious jewel in his head...”


                                  --As You Like It II.. 12-14



My mother may have been a useless, illiterate old windbag, but she did teach me one aphorism which has been useful to me: Only the Strong Survive.  She meant it, as I have taken it, literally.  Oh, I suppose strength of will and strength of intellect or character might have mattered to her if those particular concepts weren’t completely foreign to her nature, but no.  She was talking about strength of the brute kind, and she went out of her way to demonstrate hers on many the occasion.  No matter, one can learn a lesson and apply it elsewhere.

     I think I was rather young: maybe fourth or fifth grade.  For those who don’t remember grade school, it was a time where children are exquisitely and tenaciously cruel to one another, if for no other reason than an inability to understand the ramifications of such fun and games.  There was a group, nee a gang, of fifth grade girls and boys who called themselves “The Crew.”  They ‘hung out’ together both in and out of school, and their only apparent raison d’etre was to terrorize younger and smaller kids.  Now, I’m sure this is a familiar story to many, as it has been immortalized in countless fables and legends, but this group made bullying an art form.  At the same time two or three would be dumping a small duct-taped boy into the back hall trash can, the rest of the group would be distracting adults with a smarmily precious rendition of “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” in the school courtyard.  Sometimes the boys guarded the girl’s bathroom while the girls slapped, terrified, and stole the underwear of a fourth grade girl.  If one were to tattle on any Crew member, repercussions were both swift and painful, so no one ever explained to the stupid starry-eyed adults that their favorite little students were up-and-coming Attilas. 

     I was successful at avoiding The Crew mostly by virtue of height.  I was as tall in fourth grade as almost all of them, and as the year wore on I was taller than most elementary students.  This was certainly fodder for normal teasing, but for some reason it kept me out of the Crew torture chamber.  A day came, however, when I couldn’t avoid them any longer.  Nor, did it seem, that I needed to.

     One girl, let us call her ‘Carrie’, was a particularly nasty member of the aformentioned group.  She had Barbie doll looks and an equally vacuous intellect. She and a boy--oh good grief, let’s call him ‘Ken,’ were patrolling the halls at lunchtime, I assume searching for prey.  Anytime an adult would stop them they claimed Mrs. so-and-so or Mr. so-and-so had put them on as hall monitors.  Adults are so stupid, really, when it comes to sociopathic children with nice clothes and false smiles.  Actually, when it comes to anyone with nice clothes and false smiles, people lose all sense of judgment.  It seems a pity, but in reality just makes my legacy more impressive and deserving.

     Carrie and Ken were patrolling, as I said before, and I was in front of my locker reading something way beyond my grade level, as usual.  I thought the fact that I was sitting down made them forget how tall I was and why they usually left me alone.  I was wrong on that count–something had happened that caused me to engage their wrath.

     “Didja want to tell us something, dorkwad?”  This from Ken.  His vocabulary was already highly developed at fifth grade.

     “Such as...?”

     Carrie responded.  “Oh, I dunno.  Maybe about something that happened with Mikey??”  Mikey was another of their little crew members.  Big and mean and stupid, when they said ‘give it to Mikey–he likes it, he likes everything!’ they were usually referring to his joy in any and all kinds of torment toward others.

     I replied nonchalantly.  “Whatever could you be talking about?”  But I knew, of course.  The previous day in class had been boring for me as usual–the topic matter was planets or their moons or suns; something about which I already knew everything there was to know.   Mikey had been sound asleep in the desk next to me, drooling profusely onto his book.  I don’t know what came over me; as I had previously stated I was just plain bored.  I scooted the book out a little from under his slackened face, enough so that the bottom half came out over the edge of the desk.  Then with the lightest of touches I placed another book underneath the top half.  This gave the book a gentle slope which allowed the saliva to travel and pool–where else??–right into his lap.  We were dismissed to recess immediately after the astronomy lesson, and imagine my delight when Mikey stood up with a huge wet spot right in the middle of his crotch.  The fact that he was a Crew member didn’t seem to matter when he became a pants-wetter; he was taunted mercilessly for the rest of the day.  Probably forever, knowing how those memories can stick.

     I wondered how Carrie and Ken knew I was the cause, however.  Mikey was certainly too stupid to figure it out–I was fairly sure he thought he actually did wet his pants.  Someone must have seen and tattled.  How they found out seemed less and less important, however, as the two converged upon me in the hall.  Their faces pinched and angry, hands outstretched into little kid claws; they hoisted me up from my sitting position.  As I said earlier, I had been in situations like this before, and with grown-ups, so what happened next was merely a blur of bodies and contact and sharp, cracking sounds.  When I came out of my delirium, Carrie and Ken were on the floor bleeding, and I thought it best to leave the scene immediately. 

     I was convinced the police would soon be knocking on my trailer park door to take me away forever, which was fine by me.      

     It turned out Carrie had a concussion and Ken a broken arm, and they were too humiliated to admit a little fourth-grade toady nobody had extracted that kind of vengeance.  They claimed to have been robbed and assaulted by one of the custodial staff, and he was never seen nor heard from again.  I was left in the trailer park and without a juvenile record, but I suppose my house or a detention facility would have both been equally ample teachers for the life lesson I needed to continue learning, and which one day will serve my legacy as well.



I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



elley’s Konundrum September 4, 2016   The Mystery of Unfairness


Today I've been thinking about the trip we took the summer off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. Really, I've been thinking about the unfairness of life. I know that's not something I usually kvetch about, knowing full well that anything I say comes out full-on sour grapes, because my life is fantastic and I love everything about it. But I was thinking about it while watching my favorite Sunday morning show--CBS Sunday morning. 2 stories there made me reflect on unfairness, one of which will be a later blog because I don't have the heart to tackle it right now, AND because it'll turn this post into a 50,000 word treatise on unfairness, and nobody needs that. 

 Okay. One of the CBSSM stories was about Joey and Rory-- remember them?  Rory is this sweet little overall wearing farmer, and Joey is a beautiful country singer. They became a lovely country act, one I know about only because of this commercial I cry to every time I see it:      
Joey and Rory

I read the love story of these two, and then bewail the complete unfairness of the whole thing, because on CBS Sunday morning I just found out she DIED! Joey died, of cervical cancer for Christssake, and the whole thing is so monumentally unfair. Their great love story ended so prematurely, as did her life, and she was only 40! W. T. F!?! 

So I'm bemoaning these sad stories right now and then, like I said, I was thinking about the summer road trip. Here’s the not fair portion. This was a fantastic 2 and 1/2 week road trip we thoroughly enjoyed--saw 3 baseball games and 5 volcanoes, and it was great! But the one event that turned me into life's-not-fair Negative Nellie happened at Olympic National Park just west of Seattle. We'd jumped in to look at all the incredible redwoods, and we came upon a little 1 mile hike--up to a bridge, down and back. Easy peasy, lemon squeezie. Now we weren’t planning to do any hiking today—it was Mariner’s game day and I was dressed for a cold evening in my leggings and Ugg boots—great for warm feet, not so much for support and traction. But a mile? Pshaw. We walk the half mile to the bridge, no problem, then cross the bridge to return to the park’s entrance. We see a couple of forks in the path, and my youngest son (the impulsive one, the one who’s a lot like me) jumps on one and we head out.

And there’s the problem. After about ten or fifteen minutes of hiking through a sort-of path which was sort of becoming increasingly rocky and root-ridden, and Jim and I started definitely questioning whether this was the right path. Plus the terrain was starting to look like every Friday the 13th movie I’d ever seen. He decided to go back the other way and see if we could find the other path, and my leg was starting to protest. If you follow me and this blog, you’ll know that after a little bit of use, or after my body temperature accelerates, my left leg and my right hand just sort of…stop working. I don’t know why bottom side left and top side right—MS is apparently an equal-opportunity disease—but as a teacher and writer who needs to write and likes to walk, right now in the middle of Olympic National Park I was starting to resent the unfairness.

So we decided to retrace our steps, with the intention of going all the way back over the bridge and walking all the way back the way we came. When we got back to the bridge, though, lo and behold we could see a much clearer path that was most definitely a path, and none of us felt like castigating my son for jumping the gun. After all, he’s the youngest one in the group and still we followed without question. But the leg was turning into a problem. As we walked, I would trip over rocks and roots, not because I couldn’t see them, oh no! But because the communication between my brain and my leg suffers with the nerve damage wrought by this disease, and even though I can stare directly at the root or rock and talk directly to my leg, it doesn’t abide by my directive. If my left leg was my son, he'd be this mouthy, recalcitrant juvenile delinquent. I'd say, son, lift up over this tree root, and that uppity little shit would say fuck you mom! I will not do what you want me to do, and no amount of healthy eating, exercise, optimism or begging can make me lift up over that branch. It ended up that Jim had to actually piggy-back me down about the last ½ mile, crying and frustrated and humiliated because of my ridiculous, pig-headed leg. What a nightmare.


And I guess that's my biggest frustration. The one I've always talked about but I always grouse about, kvetch about and bitch about. I feel like all of those elements should give me more control than I actually have. Every time I see myself getting stronger because of things I'm doing or getting better because of work I'm doing or getting happier because of idealism I am pursuing, I can't understand why that doesn't work across the board! I cannot accept the fact that I have damage to my brain and my spinal cord which possibly mean I'm going to have this kind of problem for the rest of my life. My left knee might always behave like a dickhead teenager when I walk a little too high or too far, and my right hand might stop working even sooner than it does now, as time goes on. It’s just not fair, and that’s a mystery I am unable to solve. Maybe you can help.

 I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Here’s the video from last week’s blog:

Video from Aug 29, 2016


November 8, 2015

Kelley’s Konundrum November 8, 2015



Here’s my Konundrum: Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? I can’t even remember the correct version of the saying right now, so confused are my thoughts.

I started thinking about this during the week when the news came on about that beloved police officer in Illinois. Remember when they started covering that story? And the community was on lockdown because of the unknown unsubs he’d been chasing when he was gunned down. So earlier this week came the staggering news that he’d actually orchestrated his own SUICIDE to make it look like a murder. Sounds like a story plot, right? And then it gets juicier! It’s looking like this guy was a criminal from years back, embezzling funds, using company property for his personal stuff, nothing that tracked with his beloved community reputation.


Adding even more fuel to the fire is the news I heard on Friday, still unconfirmed in my household, about what he did as the shit flew closer and closer to the fan: he apparently tried to put a HIT on whatever public official was investigating his unlawful activities. It amazes me how someone can live this double life. Someone who isn’t fictional, that is.


And then…and THEN I heard a story about this kid who was kidnapped ten or so years ago, turns out  by his FATHER, who at least didn’t kidnap him to molest him or sell him to slavery, but rather to raise him elsewhere under a different name. I think. Not knowing the whole story I cannot begin to speculate at the reasons behind this event, but here’s the interesting plot twist: the kid ran into some trouble with his Social Security card when he was filling out college applications (this information led me to the conclusion that he wasn’t a slave or a trafficked individual, because that life doesn’t usually lead to an undergraduate education), and started doing his own investigation into his own kidnapping! Good Grief, Charlie Brown! I don’t know what’s going to happen with this story, but I’m interested to see.


I could go on and on with true stories like this, from this year only: the escaped prisoners set to meet their frustrated insider prison employee at the manhole cover and WHOOPS! She gets cold feet! The devoutly religious family of twenty-one million children and BAM! One of the sons is molesting his sister! For God’s sake…WTH? Don’t even get me started on Jared from Subway or Bill Cosby. I can’t even go on.


So which is it? Did these people read some interesting thrillers at some point in their lives and use those as blueprints for their own? Or is it just our collective unconscious that pens these truth-is-stranger-than-fiction news at 5 stories? Or do we hear the actual stories and create our own fictions from those (like every Law and Order episode you’ve ever seen..ripped from the headlines.)


Although the TV episodes take these ‘from the headline events’ and tweak them to make them even juicier. The events that I’m thinking of this week rival any books I’ve read, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. What kind of  true events mess with YOUR head in the same way as your latest guilty pleasure novel or TV show? I’d love to hear your views…J

Illinois Police Officer
Kidnapped Boy Solves Own Kidnapping
Until next time: Stay Mystified!


December 4, 2016 The Mystery of your Life's Theme 


I went to a writers conference a couple of weeks ago. On the second day I went to a workshop called ''s a Secret'. Apparently it's always titled this because the guy who runs it never knows what his topic will be until the last minute. His final decision this year was to talk about theme, and it was a revelation for me. First we talked about the concept of theme, and he asked us to give some examples. Then he said, "if you can figure out what the theme is for your most recent project, and take a look at other projects from your past, I think you'll find you're exploring that theme in everything you write.”


And I'll be a monkey's uncle if he wasn't totally right! I started with the second book in my cozy mystery series, because I was just finishing a fourth draft to send on to the publisher, and I'd really found two themes within the story: How perception alters reality and how the main character (AKA some version of me), feels a need to try and control things in her life which are beyond her control. He asked, "is there any way to combine the themes into one?” And I'll be damned if there wasn't a way. So here is the theme:


Our beliefs about the world are altered by what we think we know, and what we are compelled to try and control.


As I looked back at the many still unpublished projects in my virtual desk drawer, whether fiction or non, I found that they did indeed explore this combo theme. I also found that I spend my whole life exploring this theme, really--from trying, every day, to understand the perception of the people who voted for Donald Trump (still pretty stymied), to working all this month to fix my backache through sheer force of will.

It was a revelatory workshop. I can now use this new understanding as a springboard to shape future writings. I can use it to help formulate my own attempts at self-psychoanalysis, not that it will do me any good. I'm still gonna try to impose my will on immutable events, and I'm still gonna try my hardest to understand why you don't just back off and let me run things, which would be better for all concerned.


Why won't you do that? It's a mystery... :-)


But in the meantime, try figuring out your OWN life's theme. It's an eye-opener!

I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!


Here's the video from last week's blog: Mystery of Swearing Part 2

Kelley’s Konundrum 9/25/2016: Why 2 steps forward, 1 step back?

So I spent this week talking about politics on Facebook, but I don't think I'm ready to talk about that here and now. With this topic will lend itself to a later theme, political theme, on my blog. But until then here is today's blog called two steps forward one step back.

I had to get snacks for my youngest son's soccer game this weekend and I got some fruit snacks, you know those fruit strips that come in a little individual packages? And I also got him a box of juice boxes in various flavors. This is our standard snack for soccer or baseball or whatever event we have to bring snacks for, because you can get juice boxes that are 100% juice and then of course fruit strips are 100% fruit and then we feel like we are not ruining the teeth of our children or any of their friends. Not too badly, anyway. But this time I noticed two things: 1), the box of fruit strips now had little boxes inside the big box for each flavor of fruit strip! No what's the point of that? What a waste of materials, in a world where we are trying to reduce reuse and recycle! It's not too hard for me to look at the fruit strips and read what's on the front of the package and find a flavor that I like. I don't need to have them separated by flavor beforehand, dammit!

AND THEN, and then 2), I opened the box of juice boxes only to find that each flavor there was separated also by plastic wrap separating each section. W. T. H.  ? Again, total waste of materials, plastic materials no less, and seeming to assume that I or anyone over the age of two are unable to separate flavors on our own. Very condescending. 

So why are companies doing this? How many more jobs are filled by adding the extra boxes or the extra plastic wrap, or how about that extra stuff in ANY thing? It's even more impossible to open Christmas presents with toys nowadays than it used to be! I have boxes mailed to me regularly that are twice the size of whatever is in the boxes and full of things that I don't think are needed to deliver the boxes safely to me!

So why is it, that in an era where we can see the importance of saving space and reusing items and recycling, companies doing all of this to make it more packaging, bigger spaces, less reusing?

It's a mystery I have yet to be able to solve, but I'll tell you this: the next thing I'm writing is a letter to Costco complaining about the extra materials used for their Kirkland brand juice boxes. Baby steps, right?

And maybe next week's blog topic might be an extension of this idea in terms of concepts we as a society seem to have improved upon, but not really. Can you say Japanese internment camps circa 1942 vs. proposed Muslim ban circa 2016? Yeah, like that. It's a mystery..,

I'd love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!


 Here’s the video from last week’s blog:

 Video from September 21st blog

April 2, 2016

Hello Readers!

Today I have THREE separate blog posts--you may have seen them on my Blog Tour--Sage's Blog Tours! But in case you missed these guest posts spotlit from three different and fabulous Bloggers, check them out through these links! Or head over to the tour to comment on some of the sites with reviews or interviews! Thanks for stopping by...

I'd love to hear your views. Until next time: Stay Mystified!


Zigzag Timeline by Mary Fan

Charline's Blog and More

Bab's Book Bistro

Kelley’s Konundrum 8/7/16


The mystery of Perception
I think I've blogged about this before, but it's just ever so important of a realization that everything we say or do, and I mean EVERYTHING is perceived by every other person in a different way. 
Today's blog was inspired by a book club book I just finished, so it might be a little bit of a book review along with a Konundrum.

The book is called The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty. Set in Australia, the book follows two women, Cecilia and Tess, and in the process follows all of the people in their world: husbands, parents, children, and best, best friends (?). 
I wasn't thrilled with this book was first place on the book club reading list, because it looked like maybe a romance, which I hate. But it is not a romance instead, it's a commentary on perception. Every time I hear about a new event from Tessa's point of view, or from Cecilia's point of you, I am impressed by its accuracy.

And of course we are talking about perception, so what do I know from accuracy? Get this: Cecelia is one of those perfect supermoms. You know, the ones that drive me bonkers--always perfectly coiffed well dressed well behaved children with pounds and pounds of cupcakes and party favors for all occasions. These women drive me crazy, because I am the one with no clue about the school schedule, the mismatched little boys and the unpainted toenails, with nary a cupcake in sight. 

But get inside Cecelia's head and there are no cupcakes there either. She's just as much of a mess...same with Tess, and when you hear what comes out of the mouths of all the other characters in the book, you can see they are all equally messy.

We are all equally messy.

I have a specific memory from high school, involving a guy in my class named Mike Pisciotte. Mike and I didn't hang out in the same group of friends, but I knew him and I went to classes with him for most of my life. One day we were talking about something, I can't remember what, and he said, "but you're rich!" WHAT? I am, in actuality, the original scholarship kid. My mom made all our clothes until I was 11, and my first car was a 1970 Dodge Colt, a true and utter piece of shit if ever their was one. Now, I know the fact that I had a car made me rich by most of the world's standards, but compared to the people in my little community, the adjective what's the furthest thing from my mind. And it was a shocker that anyone else would perceive me that way. I've never forgotten the comment, because I felt it was so far from the truth. 

In my speech class when we talked about the communication model, I had a fantastic little exercise I used for the concept of "communication interference."--anything from actual noise to preconceived notions about the speaker that might alter the intent of the message--so I asked my students to pretend they didn't know anything about me and they just saw me one day walking down the street. I asked them to tell me what sort of things they would assume about me just from seeing me there: What's my religion? What kind of car did I drive? Music? What church did I attend? Did I have any tattoos? Questions like that, and the answers are always hilarious! Usually, I drove a fancy car, I went to the Catholic church, or maybe the Mormon church? I listen to classical music (maybe some classic rock) and of COURSE I didn't have any tattoos! 

The truth; I don't believe in organized religion. I drive an old Honda (to this day!), listen to Metallica or even Rob Zombie (along with Frank Sinatra, Depeche Mode, Led Zeppelin, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton. I really have no music categories) and I have two tattoos. One of my favorite lessons! I hope at least one of my students, through the years, thought twice about this exercise at a time they were ready to make a decision about who to befriend, who to date, or who to hire--based on assumptions.

Based on perception.

Anyway, I don't want to give you any spoilers on The Husband's Secret, except to say it was a secret I did NOT see coming, and that because of Liane Moriarty's spot-on exploration of the Mystery of Perception, I'll be reading all of her other books!

I’d love to hear your views. Until next time: Stay Mystified!


This will go up on Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media sites I can find, but also I'm starting to put ny video blog from last week, so here's the video:The Mystery of Going Too Far

Plus, GET THIS! Death by Diploma is going ON SALE for 99 cents! Follow me on BookBub HERE and you'll get a reminder of when the sale is (August 25th) and you'll also get notices for any books as I write them

April 24, 2016

Happy late Birthday to Shakepeare! Another late thing is this Sunday blog! So sorry--today's Konundrum is about when to let go? How old should our kids be before they can take part in certain experiences? I found out I have a lot to say about this, and I'd love to hear your perspective!

Kelley’s Konundrum April 24, 2016—WHEN is the right time to let go?


            I am still recovering from the Blog Tour, which was unfortunately the last time you heard from me. It was an amazing adventure, though, one I hope I get to repeat for this book and many future books. And I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by two looming deadlines right now, which are prepping for the non-fiction memoir (I still have work on the proposal before I can start sending it out) and Chalkboard Outlines #2 (which should have a good draft finished before the end of the summer, but…jeez), and it’s way past fling-flangin’ time for a new Konundrum, which thankfully my husband unwittingly presented to me this morning.

            My son is turning 10 in June. TEN!!! This is so incomprehensible to me. Anyway, he’s matured past the time when he wants a giant party with zillions of friends and even more presents, and has decided he wants to have four friends join him to go out for a movie. And a sleepover.


            Neither of my children has ever had, or been, to a sleepover, and as a matter of fact have never even spent the night away from one or both of us. And we—my husband and I—have, as another matter of fact, never spent the night WITH EACH OTHER AS A MARRIED COUPLE without our children in the building. And our 10th wedding anniversary is in four days.


            No, I will not shut up, I’m serious. I don’t need to read this information back over to understand how dysfunctional, overprotective and fucked up that sounds. I will just say that it all started when we planned to get pregnant before we ever got married, and therefore had our oldest son with us, as the best man, at our wedding when he was 10 months old. And that meant he was with us on the honeymoon, which was actually not a deterrent to traditional honeymoon activities, because a PaknPlay fits nicely in a hotel bathroom, and Babywise sleep training means both boys have and still sleep really hard and really long. J


(By the way, Babywise is the 9th Wonder of the World, and continues to leave us with the ability to continue honeymoon activities, long after the honeymoon.)


            But back to the sleepover. So Jim has agreed to let my oldest have four friends stay the night here with us, but he’s still leery of letting either of them sleep somewhere else, even though his close friends have parents whom we know very well, and trust. And then Jim started talking about 6th grade camp, which is coming up and lasts a week, and was pertinent to the conversation only because one of Grey’s teammates is missing a week of baseball because of it. Jim doesn’t want either of the boys leaving for camp, either, 6th grade being two grades away notwithstanding.


            My Konundrum then becomes obvious: when and in what situations should you let your children go? And to what extent? I grew up in a small town with gazillions of sleepovers, week-long church camps and Girl Scout camps starting…when? I think about this time, third or fourth grade. For sure by sixth. I babysat little teeny babies when I was 11 years old, rode my bike anywhere and everywhere and basically enjoyed a lot of autonomy and freedom that my boys have yet to experience.


            I know they are boys and there is a difference in maturity, and we are in a big city and this is a different world in 2016. But here’s where our discussion got heated: Jim is a teacher and coach and hears a lot of information that he’s utilizing, for better or worse, in his decision making. He’s heard 6th grade camp is really just an excuse to fool around—with boy and girl fooling around and I don’t know what other kinds of fooling around. Dirty jokes? Dirty pictures? Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto surreptitiously played in the corner on cell phones? He didn’t say anything about kids sneaking liquor or drugs into the camp, but knowing MYself as a sixth grader (I tried a little peppermint schnapps at a sleepover I think when I was 11. Is that 6th grade or even younger?) that would be where my mind would go.

            But so what? That’s my mystery. If they are never presented with situations where they have to make choices about these elements in their lives, or if they’re not presented with these situations until they get into high school, how can they learn? Now, I am not a parent who lets the boys try alcohol or will let them drink and have parties at home in an effort to keep them from doing it elsewhere, or to ‘demystify’ it in the hopes they will lose interest, but I am really stuck on this decision of when and where to let my kids do what?

            As the person in this marriage who tried a lot more stuff and came out wiser on the other side, I can understand his protective inclination. I know and he knows I probably could’ve gone the other way and ended up not wiser, just more broken. But I’ve also seen the sheltering backfire in a big way, and so has he, so we are both stuck neck deep in this mystery with no real solution.

            I guess we’ll start with the sleepover. And I think for our anniversary we’re gonna get Gramma to come from Arizona and leave us to go have a little sleepover staycation of our own at a hotel in San Diego. No Babywise needed..

I'd love to hear your views! Until next time--stay  mystified!


Kelley’s Konundrum November 15, 2015


My Konundrum this week is about a personal, internal mystery. What the hell are my politics? Let’s call it, “The Mystery of Labels.”


I know pretty much anyone who knows me would call me liberal. Words like ‘bleeding heart’ and ‘tree hugger’ have definitely been used to describe me. ‘Pinko hippie Commie’, maybe even. Whatever the label, I’m fine with it, but I’m starting to think those labels don’t really fit me, or maybe I don’t really understand how my viewpoints fit into a given category. The terrorist attacks in Paris this week brought these thoughts to the forefront of my mind.


Sunday morning news shows are all over this topic, and right now they’re talking about what the USA stand should be to keep terrorists from coming into this country and planning an attack like this one we’ve just seen in France. Commentators and politicians are discussing whether it’s necessary to implement more procedures before you can enter the country (extensive background checks, etc.), or whether immigrants should even be allowed to enter.

I, personally, am from immigrant stock originally, as are all of you unless you’re 100% Native American. I love living here—can’t imagine living anywhere else. So I understand why people would want to be here, and if I can look at it from the point of view of someone who’s on the outside looking in, I completely get it. My ‘hippie’ label says of course, people should be allowed to try and have what I have and cherish. But I hate those %$#@ terrorists, too—hate anyone who thinks destruction and murder are the ways in which to build a perfect society. I use that strong word ‘hate’, which defies my labels and my interests and puts me into their category with their words, but I would welcome more vetting and hoops and requirements to keep terrorists out. Does that land me in the conservative camp? Or does it just make me a hypocrite because I’m already here?

How about this: let’s talk for a minute about parenting. I think I’m a pretty strict parent. My boys have to clean their plates and finish their homework and write letters of apology. They have consequences for everything from not telling the truth to giving attitude—and sometimes that involves mouths being washed out with soap. For real. I think that gives me a different label (which I’ve seen in the faces of some of my friends), and I’m not sure what it is. Tyrant? Cold-hearted (too much ice in there, no blood in sight). I don’t think a lot of people would give this a liberal label.

And what about guns? I hate them. Don’t have them in my house and will not ever. But I have friends who hunt, and who depend on hunting as their livelihood, and it’s not my place to tell them they can’t, UNLESS they bring their shit around me and mine. My boys aren’t allowed to play video games with what my husband calls ‘shoot ‘em up bang-bangs’ in them. There you go, and you can sort of slap the liberal label on me there, I think. Except I don’t know about the tolerance for gun ownership as a whole? What’s that label.

So going back to the original impetus for this blog: I would personally welcome any need to give information about myself to be able to travel whenever I want to. I would be fine with cameras on streets and in stores that can see what I’m doing. I don’t care if someone needs to listen to my phone conversations or track what I’m doing on the internet for two basic reasons: No, make that three: I CARE ABOUT MY PERSONAL SAFETY and I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING ILLEGAL. NOR IS MY PERSONAL LIFE ALL THAT INTERESTING. I feel like people who cry foul on privacy rights and civil freedoms—especially in these instances and in light of terrorist attacks and school shooting massacres—do so only because their actions are illegal or immoral or selfish or greedy or anything they don’t want coming to the light of day. Now because I feel that way, where does that land me in the land of labels? Am I ignoring that potential ‘slippery slope’ that’s going to land me straight in the midst of Orwell’s 1984? Am I just another frog in the  pot? Are you labeling me Stupid? Stupidity Supremo?

I choose no. I choose not to be labeled, except for the ones I choose for myself, because after all that is the only thing I can control on this swiftly tilting planet.

My label is “Learner,” and that is an acceptable solution for my mystery today. But who knows? Tomorrow is another day. What do you think?


I’d love to hear your views…J
Paris Attacks


Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Today’s Konundrum: The Mystery of the Miracle Mood Shifter.
I have a backache. I've had one for about the past two weeks, a strange persistent pain right in the center of my low back. I'm not prone to backaches, because I work hard at keeping my core strong and keeping myself stretched out. This is a mystery I am right now unable to solve, and one I could definitely do without. So I've been to the chiropractor twice and I had one massage, and my back still hurts.

I do not deal well with pain. I know most people say well, NOBODY deals well with pain, but I really really do not. I know people who live with chronic pain and I don't understand anything about how they survive.

Since the  massage I've been doing strange cat/cow poses every 30 seconds and masse sof lunges that the chiropractor gave me as important exercises for my lower back, and my focus all the time, instead of ‘what's the big secret the book number three of my murder mystery series?’ or ‘wow son that's a fantastic goal!’ is OW OW OW OW my back still hurts.
That is a crappy focus.

But an experience I had on Thursday altered that focus. Those of you who follow me know that I eat really well except for a cheat meal (that sometimes turns into a cheat day) once a week. This Thursday I was feeling a particular need to cheat, you know, because I was in pain. So the cheat meal was gonna be Taco Bell--one of my favorite cheats.
The mood alteration came with the voice on the other side of the microphone in the drive-thru line. The people on the other side are all great and happy and ready to help me, for sure.


But THIS voice! This voice exuded happiness. The sound of this voice was like colorful balloons electronically pouring out of the little holes--from her enthusiastic endorsement of my choice of Dr. Pepper, to the feeling she really wanted to connect with me, as opposed to just efficiently hurrying me right along.

The feeling was reinforced when I reached the window. This woman was old! (I mean, in terms of average age of drive-thru fast-food window cashiers).Probably in her 60s, she could easily have been the person who spends her time looking back with regret at the path that put her at that window so late in her life--can you see the type I'm thinking of? The hard-living, life sucks and so do you type? But no, this lady has so obviously taken such a different tack: more like life is great, you are great and I’m so excited about your choice of Cheesy Gordita Crunch with a Dr Pepper! You're gonna love it, and I'M the one who gets to give it to you! Yay for us!

Okay, maybe I'm overdoing it there. But her attitude was contagious, and it snapped me out of my 'woe is me my poor aching back' doldrums.

I spent the next few days looking for things that made me feel this way, topped off by a lovely news story on CBS Sunday morning about a stranger who donated his liver to a girl who was dying from Stage 4 liver disease, and the story ended with their wedding.

Right now it's Sunday night. My back still hurts, but it's getting better, slowly, and the Taco Bell worker with the amazing outlook is what started it all for me...

It's no mystery--every day above ground is a good day, and the more I can remind myself of that, or let TacoBell ladies do it for me, the faster I will heal. The more I can BE that for the people around me, the more we all will.


I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!




Here’s the video from last week: <>

Kelley's Konundrum July 24, 2016

I'm going to try something new with the blog--VIDEOTAPING! Each week I'll add a link to a videotaped version of the blog from the week before to today's new blog. Let me know what you think!

 You all know, intrepid readers,  my favorite writing tool is eavesdropping. I get more story ideas using the tried and true trick of I-am-not-looking-at-you-which-makes-you-think-I-can’t-hear-you, than any other method. So today’s Konundrum is called The Mysterious Inevitability of Eavesdropping Karma. I never said this method couldn’t come back and bite you in the butt, so here’s an example:

My 10 year-old and I stopped at Panera the night before we left for our summer road trip, which is the reason you’re just hearing this story now. (Just as a side note, there’s a new salad dressing out there that I found at Panera that night and had one other time during the trip: Green Goddess dressing. I think it’s a kind of Ranch Dill Pesto concoction, and it is YUMMY. You should totally try it.)

So, back to Panera and dinner with my son. I'll admit right now to getting annoyed at the two parents helping their toddler at the soda fountain. They weren't super young parents--both looked to be in their early to mid-thirties. But they spoke in baby talk to their little boy, referring to themselves (in 3rd person, of course) as 'Mama' and 'Dada', and water as 'wawa'.

As they tried to help their little guy press the lever on the coke machine, they even gave an 'Amen' when he successfully filled his drink. 


I like to consider myself non-judgmental, but who am I kidding? These parents bugged the crap outta me, from the first 'mama' all the way to the last 'amen.' I have no patience for people who talk baby talk to their kids--everyone knows that is not good for their growing speech development. C'mon, I get the urge to let out a little burble, a little goo-goo ga-ga, as much as the next guy, every now and again. That's why I have a dog. 

Anyway, the karma for my blatant judgment came a minute later, when the toddler was set down from his soda fountain adventure and decided to follow me to my table.

"Oh, are you coming to dinner with us?" I asked him, (using perfect clarity and enunciation). "Great! We’re glad to have you! (Maybe I could teach him how to pronounce wa-ter.)"  To which the dad immediately scooped him up, and said, "Come on, Dax, this way. Wrong grandma."


I'm 46. With a 7 and 10 year old, dude. 

Like I said, karma.

I’m certainly not going to stop eavesdropping. It’s a valuable tool which I use for characterization and dialogue ideas. And I try my best to not sit in judgment of other people, but I’m afraid my 20 years of teaching and 10 years of parenting have created some deep-seated reactions to things I perceive as…oh, what are the words? Pretentious? Overzealous? Designed for the sake of appearances rather than substance? I don’t know. And I do understand these parents are doing their best and their actions come from their own combined life experiences, which might have little in common with mine. I also have to admit that from a standpoint of someone who’s maybe a little too proud of being asked for her hall pass A LOT during her first five years of teaching, being the “wrong grandma” at 46 stung more than a little.


Maybe I’ll chalk it up to another example of our flawed nature as humans—my flawed nature as one—and move on from there, trying to do better in the future.

But maybe not. Probably I’ll just keep on eavesdropping and try and get a thicker skin. After all, the fact that in, oh 20 or 25 years I’ll have an opportunity to be the “right grandma” (something I thought might never happen), coupled with the fact that I’m a writer now, something else I never thought I’d be able to do, make me think my Karma is in a good state.

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!

Here's last weeks blog, the video version: The Mystery of Singing On...!


Kelley's Konundrum August 28, 2016: The Mystery of 'Yes, But'...AKA your Actual  Rights vs. the Ones You Mistakenly Think You Have

So yesterday there was a story on a talk show about a restaurant. The host was talking about a Mexican restaurant somewhere in the United States that has a card. They hand the card to patrons as they walk in the door, and it is sort of a list of expectations for behavior in the restaurant. Especially behavior of children. Children are expected to stay in their seats and not run around and scream or throw crayons or dump water or any tomfoolery like that. If your kids do this, the restaurant owners will ask you to leave.

Now I personally can't believe that was even a topic of discussion for a talk show that had controversy, But of course, it was. Was the restaurant overstepping his bounds by presenting the card to the patrons? Was it going to lose business?

And then, it happened. One of the hosts said those words that set my teeth on edge, my biggest pet peeve (regarding children and really, everything), and I'll tell you why. The words were 'Nobody else has a right to tell me how to raise my children."

Ugh. I hate this phrase. I immediately dismiss anyone who says this phrase if you want to know the truth, because I feel like they've already missed the boat. No, of course nobody else has a right to tell you how to raise your children, but here's the rub: The people who spout this phrase on a regular basis seem to have no idea about where their rights end and another person's rights begin. For example, let's talk about the owners of the restaurant. When they opened a business they have a right to run the business in the way they choose to run it. If they have certain expectations about the ambience in the place while the restaurant is open,they need to do what they want to do to keep it that way. If that means handing a rules card to patrons upon entry then they absolutely have the right to do that. The parents that don't like that obviously need to find another freaking restaurant. Patrons who enter a restaurant have a right to not be disturbed by screaming and yelling kids while they eat. If they want screaming and yelling kids while they eat, they will take a picnic to the park. 

I am certainly not saying that my children have never misbehaved in public. My youngest son threw a temper tantrum in the middle of a Barnes and noble one afternoon that could possibly go down in history. Right next to the Starbucks where people were trying to eat and read books. What I am saying, is that, realizing where my rights as a parent and and other peoples' rights began, I picked my son up took him out of the store where he was throwing a temper tantrum—and then actually gave him a consequence for the behavior--which in this case was the loss of the cookie and milk he was expecting after BandN story time.

Which, really, that is neither here nor there. That would be specific to a parenting blog, which this is not. This is a blog about rights. 

I feel very, very strongly about rights. You have the right to do or say anything you want to, UNTIL what that is bleeds over and starts interfering with my rights. It gets trickier and trickier, and that's where I'll get into the 'Yes, But...'s' I'll talk about a little further down the page. Or maybe the topic will bleed over to next week's blog, and guess what? I absolutely have the right to do that, thanks to the founders of this country and all the blood that's been shed to perpetuate that. And better yet, YOU have the absolute right to read it. Or not. Fabulous!

Back to the restaurant. Yes, they have the total right to run their business however they see fit, including sending curtain-climbers away. I can see the word-bubble coming out of your head BUT WAIT! What if they want to send  away blacks or gays or Muslims? Don’t they have the absolute right to do that, too? Ugh. No, argumentative devil’s advocate person. Pop that word balloon—can you see me with the needle? Good.


The difference is between reasons for sending people away, and the whole ‘bleeding over into other people’s rights’ issue. First: reasons. In my world, people are not judged by how they look, but rather how they act. I think it’s perfectly fine to call someone an asshole if they act like an asshole. That is utterly different from calling someone a name because of the color of their skin or the country where they were born or the way they choose to worship or not worship. Totally different. It’s different to turn someone away from your restaurant because of the way they look or worship than to ask them to allow other people to eat without being disturbed. If parents don’t like that, well then they are welcome to eat down the street.


Secondly, the bleedover. This is sticky, sticky I know, (and a future blog I’m sure), and can be taken (and will be taken, by me, I’m sure) in all sorts of directions. I know anyone can start arguing first amendment as far as speech, second amendment as far as guns, fourth amendment as far as,  maybe, who can look at my phone, and any views on either side of those arguments are passionate and fervent, and…ugh.


 I plead the fifth.


Okay, I’m bad at pleading the fifth. Shocker. Next week I want to talk about bleedover as far as…wearing your seatbelt. Smoking. Even what you eat. How does bleedover as far as rights go affect these issues? Hmmm…visit me next week!


I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!




Here’s the video from last week’s blog

Video from Aug 24, 2016

Kelley’s Konundrum October 11, 2015


What is UP with this?

This week on the news, there was a story about a female ESPN commentator who called a MLB playoff game:  Her name is Jessica Mendoza, and she is a very successful athlete, in the field of softball. Some people freaked about a female softball player calling a professional baseball game played by males. Some Atlanta radio show host posted a bunch of seriously denigrating tweets. What is UP with this?


Now, I know less than nothing about sports. When I listen to people speak in public, whether it be for a sports competition or a political forum or a newscast or on a stage, I am bothered by the usual things: an excess of verbal pauses, particularly ‘ums’ and ‘likes’. A monotonous voice. A tendency to ramble, and yes I am well aware of the irony of this statement given my standard raison d’etre. But at least I come around to a point, even if it is by a circuitous route (yes, I’m talking to you Donald Trump), and my meanderings are all related in some way to said point (still talking to Donald Trump. And most politicians.) Sports commentators should for sure have a point, and wow do I wish politicians did.


But here’s the mystery: WHY does it matter if it is a girl or a boy speaking? Or working, creating, producing, cleaning, acting, preparing, programmingfarmingrunningcookingplayingfishingserving, any of those gerunds that you can list when you feel, for whatever reason, like you need to be passing a judgment. Why does it matter if a woman or man, black or white, gay or straight, grumpy or happy, is any of those things when there should be only ONE question. One.

That question is….drumroll here…How well are they doing the job? Like I said, I don’t know anything about sports and I care even less about comments on sports. I’ve heard Jessica Mendoza has the knowledge and the insight to do this job, and for those who are disparaging her, I wish there was some sort of litmus test: are they disparaging her only because she is a woman and the naysayers feel like commentators can only comment if they’ve done that EXACT sport in that EXACT way, or do they have legitimate points about her delivery? I will bet any amount of money that if the comments were typed out and presented without names attached, or no—here’s a better idea. If you could hear the comments and the tone and timbre of the voices involved, but not be able to see the speaker or know the sex of the speaker, and you had to rate the performance of the speaker, the results would be different.

Or they wouldn’t. I don’t know—like I said, this is not my area of expertise. But at least they’d be genuine, performance-based results and not based on a personal problem or bias toward a group based solely on elements having nothing to do with the performance.


If you honestly think Jessica Mendoza didn’t do a good job, then that’s fine. That’s your opinion. My husband turns the sound of TV commentators to mute and watches the game with the radio commentary in his ear, because his opinion is the radio guys do it better. Also fine, because he has examples of differences in focus or emphasis which he prefers.

Everyone has a different opinion about…well, about everything. MY opinion is that we are all entitled to our opinions, but when you are called to give reasons for that opinion, I tend to discount those who say, “Uh…I dunno. I just don’t like it.” I discount anyone who doesn’t like something simply because it’s different. How small minded is that? I also discount those like Mike Bell who use their 140 Twitter characters not to make a salient point, but just because they feel like being a douche.


Life’s too short to be a douche. Just my opinion.

I have a feeling there will be many more blogs to come regarding the mysteries of why so many people seem to delight in their own douchiness.

I’d love to hear your views…J


Until next time: Stay Mystified!Kelley

Mike Oz article on Jessica Mendoza

​​Kelley’s Konundrum 7/31/16

 The Mystery of Whether it’s Gone Too Far…

Why I Decided Not to Write About My Children

 My friend Richard sends me stuff. He is amazing at looking around at the world, finding things that would interest me as a writer, and sending them on. If I could afford to pay him as a research assistant, I would totally do that! But I can’t, so I’ll just say, here and now and in the future, over and over ad nauseam, THANKS, RICHARD! You give me great ideas!

When he sent me this article, titled ‘Why I Stopped Writing About My Children’, I had an immediate, gut-wrenching, knee-jerk and viscersl reaction, because I LOVE writing about my children. They do funny stuff, tender stuff, wondrous stuff and frustrating stuff all the time, perfect fodder for my pen and paper. I don't put pictures of them on the Internet and I don't use their real names when I write about them, but I do write about them.

 So I was defensive right off the bat. Unlike the author in this article, I don't intend to write about their issues with sexuality and masturbation and all of that tween and teen kind of stuff that I think is nobody's business but our family's, and I feel like I am very conscious of what I'm putting out there as far as being something they can read in the future and enjoy, not be embarrassed by. And yes, I am noticing remnants of my defensive posture even as I write this right now. My kids do fun and amazing stuff, and I want to be able to talk about them even as I seem to be saying I don’t overstep the bounds that this talented writer says she did on a regular basis.


But I conscious enough? Is this just another Shakespearean tragedy called ‘Methinks She Doth Protest Too Much?’ Are my boys going to look back in 10 years or 20 years or 50, and say awww, that's just my mom the writer doing her version of a photograph album? Or could there be things within the pages of my book and memoirs that really hurt them?


I never, EVER want to hurt them.


This blogger has changed her entire outlook on blogging, and now she concentrates on nature and the outdoors and things that have nothing to do with her children. Good for her, but for me, that is an extreme solution and I don’t think I can or want to or need to go that far.

 I went back and looked at some of the nonfiction pieces that have involved my children. They are still young enough that the stories are just cute and funny and I don't think it would be embarrassing to anyone, them or me or my husband, not even my neighbors across the street who feel like they have some say in my business. And I've noticed my non-fiction, maybe even my fiction, writing is MOSTLY, probably 98.6%, about me and MY reaction to the world around me: A good ol', solipsistic festival of self-absorption.

I think it is important to pay attention to how my writings could affect my boys in the future, though, and I plan to use the article sent by Richard as a litmus test for future writings in terms of being really careful about my boys in their minor status and that in the future. I will make it my mission when I write about them to not do anything that's going to be embarrassing or too privacy-invading to them. They’re super smart, so maybe I’ll even start running stuff by them, get some feedback directly from the source. I’m grateful to this blogger, and to Richard, for helping me carve another notch in my lifelong-learning belt.


My husband, though, that's a whole 'nother story. He's a thick-skinned, confident, fully-formed adult, and he's gonna have to suck it up and realize he might be a star in my writing show.

Whaddya think? I'd love to hear your views. Until Next Time: Stay Mystified!


Last week's blog on videoHERE



April 9, 2016

My Konundrum today is this: How Can We Learn to Accept Help? The post is being covered by Ali the Dragon Slayer on her UK Blog. Please stop by! 

.Accepting Help Konundrum

​Kelley’s Konundrum May 8, 2016—WHAT about milliseconds?

I have this friend, his name is Ken. He's been around the block a bit—he was a Yale undergrad and a Notre Dame doctor and his cynicism knows no bounds. Super liberal in his outlooks, but his opinion of others in general is lacking, which seems strange to me, fellow tree hugger. I am the ultra frou-frou tree hugger type, as is his wife. In addition to that ‘we-are-all-connected-as-one’ feeling, she and I both believe that the energy we put out into the world somehow changes the world. That it is a scientific fact, if you are mean and pissy those particles somehow float around in the air and become infectious to the surroundings. Ken thinks we are both certifiably bonkers, that we are really overestimating our importance to the grand scheme of things in a solipsistic and narcissistic fashion. He believes we aren't even the grains of salt—we are like that minuscule stain on the far corner of the grain of salt.

And I get that, really I do.

But what if he's wrong?

Have you ever seen a movie called The Seventh Seal? Skip this paragraph if you don't want me to spoil the movie for you. The Seventh Seal is a drama, maybe it's partially horror, movie starring Demi Moore. Her character has been plagued by one fertility problem after another and miscarriage after miscarriage. She's finally pregnant, but her same problems are starting over again and she's trying to find a way to stop the problems and she finds out something about the seventh seal, which I guess has to do with the babies in Heaven. She meets this intense, scary guy and find out he's Jesus, and Jesus tells her that her baby is going to be born without a soul because all of the souls in heaven are used up, I guess.  So at the end she sacrifices her own life to refill the souls in heaven so that her baby can have one.

It's definitely Melodramatic Hollywood baloney, but it makes me go back to one of my original thoughts on…the status of all things, I guess. You've heard in a previous blog that I feel like the world is sort of on this set of scales balancing good and evil, if I want to get even more melodramatic than the average Hollywood tale. I feel that the energy in between people who are doing good and people who are doing bad fluctuates, and when I am using my energy toward good I'm helping the scale tip in the right direction.

This is the part where Ken thinks I'm a lunatic. In his eyes we as people are way too insignificant and could never exert that kind of control.

But again, what if he's wrong? What if, and this is the writer in me, the world only turns if somebody is doing something to appreciate it? Say, every millisecond of every day requires One human or one animal to be aware of the amazing place we live in? That's a lot of humans and a lot of animals, but it is more milliseconds. Even the term milliseconds makes me think…that’s a lot.

So I know it is weird, and it is sci-fi, and probably makes me sound like I'm ready for the straitjacket. But still I wonder, and I worry about the one millisecond when every living being as frustrated and pissed off and unappreciative and rolling their eyes and slapping their knees and huffing and puffing or hungry and tired, and everyone’s losing their grip. It's a lot of living things, but it's a lot of milliseconds too. 

So I am doing my part to avoid that big Blam. When I step out the door I tried to notice my surroundings, smell the jasmine perfuming the air, listen to the birds or maybe look up at the sky, and just be present. I like to smile at the guy behind me as I hold the door open and let him walk through. I’m trying to appreciate my FOOD more, because recently I became aware that I don’t do this, instead I shovel it in (if it’s chocolate), or slam it down (if it’s healthy and only going in my mouth for that reason).


If I do all this, maybe the combined milliseconds I’m doing it lengthen the odds there will ever be that tiny void which ends the world. I worry about whether it’s enough, though, as I read about some of the ridiculousness going on right now, in this country alone. And I think about little ‘ol me, who really is no more than the speck on the stain on the far corner of the one grain of sand.

Because maybe Ken's right. Maybe I am this ridiculous, solipsistic and narcissistic nightmare who takes the stepped-on butterfly here theory straight to the tsunami in China, and all of what I do makes a difference to me and me alone and maybe a teensy bit to my immediate circle, but certainly no further than that. And going any further in this thought process is futile and silly.

But what if it's not?

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Kelley’s Konundrum July 10

The Mystery of New Information

Wowee kazowee, intrepid detectives! I’ve been gone from this blog for almost a month! I’m so sorry, but not really, because I was on a ROAD TRIP up the west coast. It was really fun, the whole Gusich family and our new dog, Lucy. I’m sure you’ll find out all sorts of stories about the road trip in the blogs to come, even though I know some of them will come  in the form of guest posts on other websites—for example an upcoming post at Tall Poppy Writers about how I utilized my favorite writing tool—eavesdropping—during the road trip. Stay tuned, mystery lovers!


So for today’s blog I am going to talk about every writer and readers’ favorite activity, which is learning new things. Here is today’s story about something interesting I learned, and how it can relate to themes within my blogging and writing, like preconceptions and assumptions. Enjoy!


I found out recently that the Chinese food takeout box was not invented in China. It was invented in Chicago patented in the late 1800s by a man named Frederick Weeks Wilcox.  He put the picture of the pagoda on it and then later added those words ‘enjoy’ and ‘thank you’ to the box. I also found out there are way more McDonald's in China than there are in this country, by far.

Oh and two things I knew, but didn't really think about, are the facts that the takeout box for Chinese food is ONE piece of cardboard, folded in an ingenious origami pattern to keep liquids from dripping out and keep food tucked in nicely. I say I knew this because I have futzed with the box at point in my past. I also found out the food that we put in those takeout boxes labeled Chinese food is really not anything like what they eat in China. I did know this I guess.

One other piece is totally new information to me: if you take the wire off the top of the takeout box for Chinese food and spread the box out, you can use it as a plate for that leftover Chinese food. Or whatever leftover food you have in the Chinese takeout box, because I have seen lots of restaurants that use that box that don't sell Chinese food.

I am one of those people who uses whatever solid surface is handy for a table, and whatever material I can pick up to use as a plate, so this information will come in handy for me in the future, I'm sure.

Oh and by the way, if you are a person who is concerned about giving too much of our stuff to China, that takeout box which was invented and patented in America, is also produced in America. So enjoy your kung pao chicken, patriot! And watch out for those preconceptions and assumptions. J


I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Today’s Konundrum: The Mystery of Why I feel like I Have to Give an Opinion About This Election!

  I guess I'm going to have to have a blog about this election year. I went for a long time not posting anything on my Facebook page or my Twitter page, because I didn't want to get all upset. Or maybe I didn't want to offend a certain population of my readers or of my friends or, I just don't know. But I'm just going to say it because there are like 23 days left and it will be what it will be and since I blog about what's going on my life, I would be remiss if I didn't touch on my feelings about this issue at least one time in the blog. So… Donald Trump scares me. I think he is the epitome of everything that's wrong with people. Every time he says something rude or obtuse or exclusionary or oblivious, which is always, I cringe. He is truly horrible, and there is a large number of people in this country who want him to represent. Us. 

 I can't believe it.

Now, I know there are many people who say we have equally horrible choices. That's just not true! Not equally horrible.

Here's what I know: you can look at the two issues that people are looking at as far as Hillary Clinton is concerned: her email scandal and her time as Secretary of State when the BenGhazi incident happened.

You can find opposing viewpoints on each of those issues, depending on where the news is coming from, but if you seek out the most credible sources they tend to get to a similar place: she's made mistakes. She's told lies. She's done a lot of good things for our country. You really have to go to more 'fringe' sources to get more into that "Hilary's the Devil".

Now I'm sure it's true that I have that thing, a thing called convention bias Contention bias? Cappuccino bias? I can't remember what kind of bias, but it's something that starts with C, and basically it means that you will seek out articles and people and sources that believe the same things you do. Consciously or not, this is what you do. I'm sure I do this, and I can see that Facebook goes ahead and does this for me by deluging my Facebook feed with articles about liberal stuff. And animals doing funny things, which is another one of my biases.

But let me tell you this: I don't want to have this bias. I want to try and look at actual facts by credible sources and learn everything possible about the situations for which I have an opinion. I even had a former student who was curious about my reasoning behind my vote for Hillary, because he couldn't figure it out. So he sent me a bunch of things to try and get me to see the light and vote for Trump, or at least not vote for Hillary.

The one that really struck me was this video from some sort of news group—it wasn't one of the main ones, but some hyperbolic site that said THIS IS THE BIG ONE! This is the thing that's going to prove to you once and for all that Hillary is bad! And it was a video about something she said concerning Benghazi. And with the video boiled down to was Hillary had said something to the parents or spouses of the people killed in Benghazi, and she said another thing to someone else in the state department. The things she said to the victims families were… Softer. Left out some details. But the people that put the video out behaved as if it was as if she had shot those four people herself, and then lied about it. And I'm sorry but the words she said and what she wrote didn't say that! Nothing like that!

But because all the people watching the video have that confirmation bias, ooh...maybe that's the word! Because they have that confirmation bias, what they heard when I watched video was Hillary is the devil and she kills people and she rapes people. And on that note, I've heard a ton of anti-Hillary people talk about how she defended a rapist and this makes her evil, and on the same level as Trump. W.T.H? It is a fact that she was a public defender, early in her career, and she defended a man who raped a 12 or 13 year old girl. And depending on the source (confirmation bias!) she either got this rapist to plea to make a plea that gave him some jail time he never would have had otherwise, or in another source she did everything in her power to get him off and laughed big evil witch like cackles at the time she did that. 

I don't care which source you believe, but the fact is her job, anyone's job as a public defender, is to give the best defense to anybody she represents that she is able to give. That is the law. She was doing her job.  How did she turn into Lucifer's second ascent?


As far as Confirmation Bias vis-a-vis Donald Trump, I don't care if you think he's a GREAT businessman who's gonna save us because he tells it like it is, it is undeniable fact and on videotape for the world to see, he is crude, immature, arrogant, and uninformed ("I don't know anything about Russia" and "That makes me smart" to not pay income taxes).

But when it comes right down to it, this is the reason I'm not voting for Donald Trump, and would not if he was the Democratic candidate, either: he's not sending a message I try to live my life by, and that I will EVER ascribe to. Everything I abhor and have fought against in my life, my career and my relationships, exclusion, intolerance and hatred, is practiced by Donald Trump, and that's why I've been posting to FB and Twitter, and why I am blogging about it now.

Despite her flaws and because of her record of helping people in the past 30 years, of practicing inclusion and tolerance, I am with her.

So is Canada, by the way--our neighbors to the north. Check out this cute ad I saw this morning, and I agree...we are GREAT!



I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Here is last week's blog via video


Kelley’s Konundrum March 27, 2016—WHERE is Kelley?


            Next week I start a Blog Tour. I’m still not completely sure what this is, but I think it involves different bloggers over a two week period (April 1-14) spotlighting me on their sites, through  book reviews, maybe interviews, or ‘guest posts’ which involve me thinking up a bunch of new Konundrums all…right now. On top of this crazy life I’m leading already, I have to make up a bunch more blog posts that have been a brain stretch on a weekly basis. I can see you rubbing your thumb and forefinger together in those tiny violins playing “My Heart Bleeds
For You.” I know, I know. But I’m feeling stressed. I have another Konundrum in mind right now, based on a whopper of a Thursday and called “Where is Kelley’s Bladder Control?” but it’s too fresh to write about right now…only four days since that mystery presented itself, and it’s still unsolved. So you’ll have to wait. Maybe a guest post :

            So this Konundrum, titled “Where is Kelley?” is just going to tell you everywhere I am. I’ve had some fabulous articles—newspapers, magazines, and bloggers—written since Death by Diploma came out in February. So I’ll just show you where I am, and if you missed one of these in the glut of Tweets, blog posts and FB posts I’ve been desperately flinging out into cyberspace these days (probably not, but maybe this is your first time here! A girl can dream, right?

            The mystery of where I am was never really a mystery! I’m right HERE: <>  !

            And here: <>   (Sunday paper in my hometown)

            And here:<>  (My time on The Rack muwAHAHAHAHA)

            Here: <>  (Story by Blogger
Terry Ambrose)

            Now here: <>  (Community Article in my local paper)

            How ‘bout here?: <>  (Article in community magazine 92127)

            Here?: <>   (You have to scroll down a little to find this lovely review by Sandy Penny)

            I’ll be here very soon: <>  (This blogger, Jeff Kivela,  is reviewing the book as we speak, but this terrific spotlight, complete with trailer, bio and interview, has been tweeting out regularly for over a month)


Wow! I am a lotta places! I hope you want to revisit some (or all) of them, and then please join me in Sage’s Blog Tour! Many more mysteries to be solved!


I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Kelley’s Konundrum November 1, 2015

 My Konundrum this week is titled The Mystery of Hypocrisy. It came about on Tuesday, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.


So my oldest son is in third grade. His teacher has her own personal classroom library, which I get that…I totally had my own library in my classroom, all from my dad, of course. J His teacher probably spent her own money on hers, or sometimes parents donate, whatever. Not everyone is as lucky as I. Anyway, I hadn’t read every book in my library, and I doubt his teacher has read all of hers, either. No big deal. So he checked out this book called “Rookie Bookie.” I still haven’t read it, but I looked through it, and the book is about this math-smart middle-schooler who basically uses his propensity toward numbers to create this bookmaking operation.

Jim read the title and freaked out a little bit. Like, why is there a book in his son’s third grade class about a twelve year old bookie? All the connotations are running through his head, I can see it, slimy, shady characters who prey on your inherent human greed and then shatter your kneecaps when you get in over your head. He asked me about it and then I freaked out a little, like, “oh, no, we are never, ever censoring books in this household.” This is an issue about which I feel very strongly. I do think it’s good to discuss books with your children, though.


So I asked him, “Tell me about the book.” He explained it just like I said. “Does the main character learn not to gamble by the end?” I wondered. I am, of course, looking for the cautionary tale here.

“Actually”, my son said. “At the end he uses his bookie stuff to help out his baseball coach.”


“Do you know why your father is concerned about this book?” I said.

“Yes, because there’s gambling in it.”

"And do you understand why this concerns him?” I queried.

Here he pauses. “Not really.”

And why would he? I took a mental inventory. We live in Del Mar, and we go to the horse races once or twice a year. It is a fun day of cheering on the horses and half price hot dogs, and each boys get to pick one race and pick a horse they think will win, and we place a $2 bet on that horse (While we and whomever we bring with us bets $2 on each race, for a total of six races). They know about Las Vegas, and around here there are three or four casinos on neighboring reservations. They know about Fan Duel and whatever the other place is. And here’s the kicker: we’re right in the middle of football season, and EVERYONE IN THE  HOUSE trots out a quarter on Sunday and bets on who will win the Sunday games, with Monday Night Football included in the event of a tie.

          Why, indeed, would the Rookie Bookie book concern my husband, when we don’t seem to demonize gambling even in our own house? It’s a legit question, and had me questioning our hypocrisy that whole day and into Wednesday, and then I started questioning our whole LIFE PHILOSOPHY.

          For example, I think I’ve talked before about our household ‘trifecta’ i.e. the three most important things we believe as a family: kindness, trying our best, and HONESTY. But how honest are we being if we’re lecturing our kids about gambling but then gambling, regularly (even if our ventures only total about 18 bucks a year?)

I told my son we were concerned about gambling because it can turn into a dangerous pastime, and like alcohol or drugs or cigarettes, can be addictive for some people and thus ruin their whole lives, they lose their jobs, all their money, their family, because of addictions.

          My son said the sweetest thing, then, and he actually got teary. This goes in here as a recorded remembrance of how sweet kids can be. He said, “I have the best parents in the whole world; why would I want to do anything you didn’t want me to do?”


          I had to address what he said here though, and not just ruminate on that lovely thing he said. “It’s not that we want you to do everything we want you to do. Well, yes I guess we want that, sort of. But what we REALLY want, and are trying to teach you, is to do what you want only after educating yourself on all the options and possible consequences of your decisions. And making those decisions based on what is best for you and those you love, and also that won’t hurt others.”

I could have gone on and on, but I stopped then. He’s only 9. And frankly, I don’t know if all of that sunk in anyway, but hopefully it went in that vault of neverending broken record recordings which are us trying to be good parents growing good children who’ll turn into caring, self-aware adults. I can see how you might see us as  hypocritical on this issue, but I feel like the open doors of conversation here is the healthiest way to proceed.


 But then I had one more minor meltdown, because it’s almost November. How honest are we being if we keep telling our boys we believe in Santa Claus? And the Tooth Fairy? Isn’t that the ultimate hypocrisy? (Jim has already yelled at his brother because he told his three girls there is no such thing as The Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. Only Jesus is real. His girls are not allowed to talk to our boys about these matters, and as far as the rest…well, that’s another blog.) But the issue does concern me in terms of what we tell the boys is important (honesty. Of penultimate importance). Are they going to look back at us when they are adults and feel like this was a lie we told them?

          So I called my friend Erle to discuss the matter, because Erle’s been around the block and is always good for a little mental clarification. He told me to read Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, which I’d heard of but never read. Edtorial in the New York Sun circa 1897. Still so relevant. I read it, and cried all the way through it, and then I felt clarified, and really like this is not related t
o dishonesty or hypocrisy or anything in the bizarroworld of my brother-in-law. It’s about love. And wonder. And joy and awe and the fantastic world of childhood. Of course I believe in Santa Claus, and I always will, although I can’t guarantee I’ll be leaving him cookies my whole life, like Erle does. I can only aspire. Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

          Have I solved the mystery of hypocrisy? Heck, no. Am I ready to continue the journey? A little older, a little wiser, and with the memory of my sweet boy telling me I’m the best, hell yeah!


I’d love to hear your views…J


Until next time: Stay Mystified!


Kelley’s Konundrum September 11, 2016   The Mystery of ‘Getting the Shakes Out’

Should ALL people do something occasionally to 'get the shakes out'.?

There've been three earthquakes around here in the past few weeks with magnitudes of 3.0 or greater. The last one was in Borrego Springs, our San Diego desert.  My husband the scientist slash science teacher had a remark when we heard the news on the radio. "That's really good," he mused. I had to think about that, but just for a minute. "Just to get the shakes out?" I asked, remembering something he'd said once about earthquakes: little ones here and there prevent buildup to big booms! When we were in San Francisco this summer, we went to the earthquake house at the Exploratorium, where you can experience the 1989 California quake (I actually lived through that one—was in college in North Central California at the time—but I was in my car and not on the Bay Bridge, so I didn’t really feel it) and also the 1906 San Francisco monster. Its power was terrifying, even just in the simulated version.

“Yes,” Jim said. “Lots of little earthquakes can reduce the buildup that causes a big explosion.” And to me that seemed like a metaphor. A metaphor and a mystery. A konundrum, if you will.

Of course, for every opinion there's an opposite opinion, so you could look at it another way, which is that lots of little shakes means big amounts of seismic activity in a place, and so statistically more likelihood that because of the sheer number of shaking occurrences, there is more likelihood that a big one will hit. Ppth. I know the value of looking at things from all angles, believe me, I do. But sometimes it's a pain in the keister to get an idea and then have to immediately sit down and consider the opposing viewpoint. Empathy schmempathy, right?! But such is life for we self-actualized types!

So for today, for this moment anyway, we're working with the metaphorical idea of lotsa little quakes preventing a gigantic explosion. It's called 'The Mystery of Getting the Shakes Out.’ Here's my theory: I believe that we need to be continually doing small things to relieve the stresses of life, be it staycays on long weekends (yeah I’ve never done that, but I aspire) or massages or movie night. So many of us just work and raise our kids, and then…BOOM! We're gonna have a big meltdown, whether it be emotional or physical.

The event that made me think of this metaphor concerns my friend Brenda. Brenda is a pistol, let me tell you--she's like a Chamber of Commerce bigwig and the CEO of some other wig, plus she runs. Marathons, 50Ks, any crazy event that takes beaucoup de training, that's what Brenda does. Plus she has two kids, one of whom is young and not yet totally self sufficient. So she's up at the crack of dawn and working toward well past dusk. She is busy busy busy!
Here's the explosion: Brenda and her family planned a huge, all-inclusive trip to Peurte Vallarta, a week filled with beauty and bells and whistles, and I bet you already know the ending: they ALL got sick, and the big vacation was a big bummer.

Now, I know that is an anecdotal experience and not scientific whatsoever, but I can back it up with lots of experiences of me and my friends from our teaching days. It is hard to teach full time if you’re doing it right, and I cannot even begin to count the number of Christmas or summer vacations I started with this kinda earthquake, be it a nasty flu or just one of those ridiculous cough-that-hangs-on-for-three-weeks cold. Seems like evidence to me.

So in my opinion, the real mystery is why we don’t try harder to get the shakes out? I know as Americans we are driven. We’re ambitious. We’ve got bills. I try, really I do, to take naps and go to the chiropractor and learn meditative breathing. I suck at that too. And I’m not really getting much of a paycheck yet with this writing business, but I’m working 6 ½ days a week instead of 5, and even though I love it with all my heart and would never want to do anything else and can’t stop the feeling and just wanna dance and… and…oh, nooooooooo….



I’d love to hear your views! Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Here’s the video from last week’s blog: The Mystery of Unfairness

Kelley's Konundrum January 3, 2016

I can't believe it is 2016! Here's the next installment of the killer's journal...

“An honourable murderer, if you will:

              For naught did I in hate, but all in honour.”


                             –Othello, V.2.291-2













          So it has come to this.  The necessity has arisen for me to kill again.  When I use the word necessity, laymen would see the two terms, “necessity” and “kill” intertwined only in the instance of self-defense.   So what, I ask, is self-defense? The dictionary defines the word ‘defense’ as the justification of some act or belief.  Correspondingly, when one is defending one’s self, one must include the emotional and intellectual self as well as the physical.  Sometimes the defense of those more vulnerable selves should take precedence over all else.

     I hold as an example my first commission of self-defense:


     The home in which I lived, if one defines home simply as the area of one’s residence, was (at least for most of my pre-teen and teen years) a ghastly trailer with an even ghastlier woman calling me her child–I think I’ve made reference to her and it before.  Or maybe she is the ‘it’ and the trailer, since many slaves to machinery refer to their vehicles in the feminine, is the her.  If the men she slept with were any measure of her femininity and humanity, ‘it’ will definitely suffice. 

     I was in my ‘room,’ if it could be called that, writing in my memoirs.  The treasured book of my writing had grown quite large, as I had been contributing to it since my late childhood, and I was at that time right on the corner of adulthood–I believe my eighteenth birthday was only two blessed years away.  I had turned the book into a huge three-ring binder some years ago, thus I could keep adding to it as pen washed the ink of my brilliant words onto paper.  I went back and re-read frequently, highlighting passages that were extremely important.  I also, on occasion, found other speakers I considered worthy of my notebook, and I added them in as well. 

     It was one of those times I was adding the words of another that she entered my sanctum sanctorum.  I had recently finished Mein Kampf, and although Hitler was a deplorable individual, his words had the power to inspire and I could see why he reigned so completely over so many.  I was adding this quote:   “Success is the sole earthly judge of what is right and wrong.”  when my mother came in and saw what I was reading.  Her starched and ratted hair stood up in crazy angles that I assumed were meant to seduce, and her pancake makeup and low-cut blouse were for the same purpose.  She disgusted me.  What are you doing with that book?  she asked.  Don’t you know that man killed millions of people?  I was surprised she had even heard of Hitler, so illiterate and stupid was she, and I said as much.  She slapped me then, which was nothing new, but as we held a glaring contest to see which of us would back down first, she did something that threatened my very self.  She absconded with my memoirs!  She seized the binder from my hands, and before I had time to react, she had run from the room and slammed the door shut.  As I recovered, I heard her shoving something against the door; I later found it was a chair from the kitchen thrust under the doorknob.  Well, my strength has previously been attested to, and it took me only moments to break the door open.  It was long enough.

     In the living room squatted a chubby little wood stove by which the trailer was heated during the cold winter months.  It was lit now, and as I burst through the door my mother was standing over the hole in the front.  She had opened the rings of the binder and pulled the paper out, and was feeding it into the fire in chunks, muttering all the while about the monster she had raised, and Hitler, and who knows what else.  The fire was melting her make-up, and she looked like a garish raccoon under the flickering light.  All I could see was my life feeding the flames.  I’m fairly sure it was an old iron skillet I used to hit her over the head, but it was so long ago, and all that really mattered was the retrieval of a few pages of my memoirs.  The rest burned, as she is burning now, I’m quite sure.  I never looked back.


     I didn’t plan for more killing.  The fact that my sentinel was forced to defend my cause pains me, but it was definitely self defense.  My sentinel understood the necessity to protect my legacy, as well as having a complete understanding of the importance of a second act to prevent exposure of her questionable past. It should be completely understood that this whole operation is for the good of my legacy, which is as much a part of my self as ever anything could be.  Maybe more, or maybe only all the good in me.  Self-defense, no question.

Until next time--Stay Mystified!

(Sorry I missed last week--Santa Claus brought the family a 5 day trip to Disneyland! Whoo-ee--Santa must've been saving for like three years!)

Blog June 12, 2016

The mystery of Buellerism

Today is my oldest son's 10th birthday. That's right, it's his first foray into the world of double digits! He had a slumber party with four of his friends and his younger brother last night, which ended this morning with pancakes and bacon and birthday cake...again.

The thought of him getting older and bigger combined with my laundry day movie watching. Today the movie was Ferris Bueller's Day off, arguably one if the best movies of my all-time favorite decade, AKA the '80s. Because I'm thinking of my son and of childbirth and motherhood and all of those kinds of things I looked at Ferris from another light, I guess.

So the final scene comes on and Ferris's sister has rescued him from the principal, and Ferris has jumped into his bed and stopped the stereo snoring with a well-timed baseball shot. And this time, instead of thinking how great Ferris is and how great the movie is, this time I'm thinking "why, you manipulative little shit!" He totally fools his parents and everyone around him, and he's a hero, then and now, of the adolescent world. He's still a hero of mine, too, I'm a Buellerist ‘til the end, and the question is, WHY? How can this stay in the top 10 of my all-time favorites, even when my heart literally stops at the thought of either one of my boys trying to pull ANY of the stunts Ferris got away with. I mean, can you imagine?

Sure, my high school son, ditch school, steal your friend’s dad’s car, fabricate your excuses with technology and strategic mannequin placement, illegally impersonate someone else and steal their lunch reservations (Abe Frohmann, Sausage King of Chicago? Sure, that’s me), hit a baseball game and then do a little karaoke on a city street. No problemo.

I know this is a different time than Ferris’s heyday, and part of the reason I’m upset with him now is because I can see the real dangers a young adult could be in if he put himself in a Buellerist situation. Maybe I still love the movie because Ferris didn’t really hurt anyone with his antics (except Principal Rooney—but c’mon, even the adult Kelley, taught high school for 20 years Kelley, still thinks that character was a total douchebag who deserved everything he got) and parent Kelley can see how Ferris was obviously a smart kid who did well in school and in life. My mom welcomed senior ditch day when I was in high school, because I didn’t ditch at other times and so she excused it for me…maybe that’s not as fun, but…maybe mine and Ferris’s other lapses are more easily excused when so many other good choices were made, historically.

I hope parent Kelley would be smart enough to go into her son’s bedroom and discover the snoring mannequin, but then there’d be no movie. Ferris Bueller Gets Busted by Mom at the 7-11 on His Way Down the Street—no one wants to see that one. So here I am, 46 years old and still the ultimate fan of Ferris Bueller. Why? It’s still a mystery. My son DID just turn 10, not 16 or 17 or 18 years old. Maybe I’ll change my mind then.

Ferris Bueller Twist and Shout

I’d love to hear your views…J Until next time: Stay Mystified!



Kelley's Konundrum February 28, 2016

Yesterday I had my first book signing. It was a fabulous affair—when I arrived, I found a display of my books both as you walked in the entrance and on the wall behind the front desk where books are purchased. The IT guy embarked upon a search for an HTML cable, to set up the YouTube video of my book trailer, and hook it into the big screen on the back wall of the signing section. I gazed over the displays of the colorful cover, so thrilled at the way it draws the eye. The body outline with the huge blood splotch dripping down the chalkboard prompts the immediate question: Hey, What Happened Here?!? I love it.


The signing is scheduled for 2:00. Christine, the store associate, wants to wait for a couple of minutes before we start. Jim and the boys are there, and my friend Richard from the gym—he came, and brought his mom. Two customers sit down eagerly, and I can tell these two are Readers with a capital R.


That’s it. Nobody else is there. My grand debutante ball, my quinceanera, my coming-out, has a grand total of four attendees.  Oops, five. Five, because another friend from the gym, Jim Damian, came a little late. My grandiose, grandiloquent opening turned out to be a teensy weensy baby gathering.


 But what a blast! I got to do a reading—read the prologue, using my best storytelling voice, and then the small crowd peppered me with questions, both funny and thought-provoking, for like thirty minutes! And one question from Christine, presented itself, like a gift, as my Konundrum for this week.

                “If you could choose any book you’ve read and loved before,” she asked, “to be presented to you now, for the very first time, what book would it be and why?”

                I didn’t hesitate—wasn’t really a Konundrum for me at the time. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I said. “I would love to re-live the magic of that story for the first time.”

TKAM was central to my Freshman curriculum, and I read parts of it to kids as they experienced the amazing world of Atticus Finch, Scout Finch, and Boo Radley. I cried every time and I loved it every time, and I think I’m going to re-read it again as soon as I have a minor second to do it. I also talked about Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s original first draft of TKAM told from the POV of an older Scout and a more cynical and (possibly racist?) older Atticus. I don’t know for sure, because I haven’t read it. I don’t think I’m going to, either.

Call me an ostrich, head firmly swallowed in the sand, if you want, and maybe you’re right. But Atticus the idealist is a really important person to me. He represents the person I strive to be, and even knowing there’s a book out there where he devolves into someone who might disappoint me, even if it’s more realistic, true-to-life and human, is hard to swallow. I think if  I read it, I would feel like I think my husband felt when it started to look pretty likely that his hero, a representative of fantastic fatherhood AKA Cliff Huxtable also known as Bill Cosby, was turning out to be a rapist and a role model only to prisoners. It was heartbreaking.


I am choosing not to have my heart broken, which is within my purview because I can just not buy the book (whereas Jim, unfortunately, can’t walk by every TV and news program for the rest of his life or at least for however long this scandal survives) and let an unblemished Atticus live on in my world. So that’s what I’m going to do.


What about you? If you could re-read a favorite book, or re-watch a favorite movie, re-do a favorite event, for the first time like you’d never experienced it before, what would you choose? It’s a mystery…

I’d love to hear your views! Until next time, Stay Mystified!


January 31, 2016

OKAY, Okay. I know this is lazy of me, but a really great article (about me) came out on my hometown paper today, and I think it is very complete and "bloggish" in its tone and intent. So along with posting it ad nauseam on every social media site I can find, I am placing it here:Article About Me  I guess my Konndrum would be why am I feeling so lazy? Not really--I have to do a guest post for my blog tour, which starts April 1. More on that later.

I'd love to hear your views! Until next--Stay Mystified!