Jan Stafford Kellis

The $4.99 mood lifter

If anyone out there still doesn’t own an Easy button from Staples, it’s time to drive to your nearest Staples (I drove all the way to Grand Rapids, 5 hours each way, so don’t try to say you don’t have one close enough) and buy one. Better yet, buy a couple in case your friend/enemy/babysitter/accountant/co-worker/mailman/telephone repairman/step-cousin-in-law needs one too. Whoever invented this button deserves a huge bonus and a large raise for brightening up millions of people’s lives with the simple three word phrase “that was easy”.

For those of you not in the know, the Easy button is a large red button, attractive and friendly in a technologically keen way, sitting anywhere you might need it, that, when pressed, states in a matter-of-fact masculine voice, “that was easy”. The button begs to be pressed, performs every time on time, and does so in a consistently cheerful manner. It’s fun, it’s functional and it’s cheap humor therapy.

We were discussing the merits of the Easy button at work the other day when someone said, “boy, it’s not very often you hear that phrase anymore. Everything is becoming more and more difficult.” I told him, “you need a button. That’s the whole point–stop seeing the difficulty in everything and embrace the easy tasks!” Any large, difficult task can be broken down into small steps–the more difficult the task, the more steps–but each time a small step is completed, it merits a pressing of the Easy button. Hence, the more difficult the task, the more times you get to hear “that was easy” so the easier it is! Everyone needs one of these things. Even if a task is truly difficult, once it’s over, it’s no longer difficult because it’s completed. Time to press the button. Go ahead, it’s free (the 4 AA batteries last a llloooonnnggg time). Press it twice. That was easy.

Whose Dictionary Are You Using?

I attended a seminar yesterday in which the facilitator used the word ‘profusively’ five times. We were updating our CPR training, and the question was: “if you happen upon a scene were a victim is bleeding profusively, what do you do?” I thought: before or after I correct his grammar?…

Country Mice in the City

Tomorrow I embark on a journey to the city. Chicago! Named for a wild onion, it’s the city of big shoulders and wind and it’s my favorite major US city (I’ve been to NYC, LA, St Louis and Orlando, so those are the comps). My sister, daughter and I will stay just outside the city itself and take the train in every day as if we’re commuting. We’ll stroll the Mag Mile and State Street, take in a show at the Briar Street Theatre and eat lunch at Ed Debevic’s. It’s October so we will enjoy a color tour all the way there and back and we can leave our outer layers at home.

We’ll stop at a Borders Books. This alone is worth the 8-hour drive, each way, so we can sit on the second floor drinking coffee in the window and watching people scurry by on the pavement below. We’ll shop at Macy’s. Macy’s! And the fabulous Columbus Day Sale! Oh, to live in a place with stores. I’m also bringing three of my books to leave in various strategic locations for someone to pick up and read.

This, the eve of a trip to the city, makes me wonder what it would be like to live in an urban place. It seems glamorous from here, tucked into the woods where the only culture is the free karaoke performance at the bar. I’m sure I’d take in a play at least once a month and rarely eat dinner at the same place, cook less often than I do now (it’s become my  least favorite chore) and buy fresh flowers from the corner stand regularly. I’d probably dress better–a Life Is Good T-shirt would not be considered dressy casual in a city–and I’d know all of the train schedules, which taxis are the fastest, and the shortest routes on the safest streets. I would be just one more anonymous soul trying to get through the day with no one asking me how I like my new job or if I’ve seen the new hairstyle of the girl at the gas station.

I’d miss the trees. And my routine: a five-minute, five-mile commute to work on a two-lane road canopied by maple trees much of the way, mine frequently the only vehicle on the entire route. I run out the door most mornings, my boots untied and coat half-on, turn up the radio to hear 5% of the news events occurring in the world, none of which impact our lives here, and which  my commute was longer so I could hear the rest of the story. I always see Mrs. Goetz in her window, watching me turn toward work, so she can later report to me what time I arrived every day last week. She’s pretty accurate–if any local employers are considering time clocks, they should just hire her. She’d also be a reliable alibi corroborator if one had driven by her house at the time of the murder. She’d remember, down to the minute, what time she spied the vehicle and which direction it was headed.

But I digress. We are traveling to the city, it will be fabulous, then we will travel home and it will be even more fabulous for the brief interlude of urban sophistication. 

Authorial Connections

The internet certainly shrinks the world. I just received an email from author Deborah Clearman, who stumbled upon my Bookworms Anonymous website and wanted me to know she thinks the idea of Bookworms Anonymous is fabulous and she has just published a book, which she wants me to review. I…