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30 November 2002

If the country's economy depended on me, we'd be in far worse shape than we are. Though there might be those who say I have been known to be a bit spendy at times (such as my support of, I basically buy very little. It's only recently that I've begun to look at clothes, since I could finally leave Omar the Tentmaker behind and actually look on the rack for a change. I buy groceries, of course, but that's a necessity. I don't do jewels, or expensive tsatskes. I don't even buy film any more, since I entered the digital age--that got rid of film, developing, scrapbooks, and the detritis that went along with the scrapbooking hobby. I rarely go to the movies. My trips to theatre are paid for by the folks who want reviews. I've probably finished buying all the biking "essentials" (and non-essentials) until I decide to go professional (yeah, right). Other than books (and a lesssening number of those as the years pass), there's very little I actually spend money on.

I know that there are people who "go shopping" for fun. They have nothing in particular that they need to buy, but they enjoy wandering the malls and picking up things that appeal to them. That has rarely been me. I'll "go shopping" as a social activity, if a friend wants to go window shop, but to do it alone, forget it.

So it would seem that "Buy Nothing Day" wouldn't really affect me.

It seems that for most people across the country, today is the biggest shopping day of the year. I listened to the radio on my way home from my mother's and it was a one-hour report of which malls had the most traffic, and interviews with people about how long they waited in line and how much they intended to buy. It's the national holiday of consumerism.

In opposition, there is a group which has declared this as "Buy Nothing Day," the idea behind it being to send a message to corporate America that conspicuous consumption has gotten totally out of hand. (No, this is not a holiday that Ned dreamed up--though I'm sure he would have, if it had occurred to him!)

If enough jammers turn their disaffection into resistance for just one day, November 29 could mark the delivery of a landmark social message. More than a million people will celebrate 11 years of opposition on the unofficial "opening day" of the Christmas frenzy. Play this one right and we will make Buy Nothing Day 2002 a global event on par with Earth Day.

I figured this one was a no brainer. I had nothing planned for the day. I was going to get up, have breakfast with my mother, visit for a bit, get into my rented SUV and drive home. I would put the bike in the car, take it back to Enterprise Rent-a-Car (where it is already paid for, so I figure that's not cheating), get on my bike and bike home again.

I am a conscientious citizen. I have done my part to wipe out conspicuous consumption in my little neck of the woods.

But it was more difficult than I expected. For one thing, my mother came home from her hair appointment with tales of wonderful values at Macy*s. And customer service the like of which one does not find in department stores these days. Plus free truffles to all customers. Savings of as much as 75%, depending on what you bought. I suddenly thought of a dozen things I could shop for in Macy*s.

But no. I would be strong.

The newspaper was full of ads for one-day only specials on things that I couldn't help but think would be wonderful Christmas or birthday gifts for so-and-so. But I tried not to read them too careully.

Instead, I got into the car and headed home. I realized that for the first time, I would be driving by Costco without a bike rack on the back of the car, and I could actually go in and shop at the discount warehouse.

But that would I passed it by as well.

The lines of traffic on the offramps leading to the malls were enough of a deterrent to exiting (plus the cars parked miles away from the mall itself, with dedicated shoppers trudging back, heavily laden like beasts of burden), but I began, instead, to think about having lunch. Obviously a stop at a fast food place was out of the question. And realized that we were out of things like bread. And fruit. But to stock up would mean buying food, and this was buy nothing day. So when I got home, I unearthed an old WeightWatchers tv dinner and had that for lunch.

I returned the car and rode my bike home, stopping at the office en route, and not giving in to the temptation to take a turn around Longs to see if there were any great bargains, or dropping into the Nugget Market for a sniff at the freshly baked bread and the other goodies on sale.

Once home, I put the bike away, got into comfy clothes and locked the front door. I had successfully avoided buying anything today, but there were still all those pop-up ads on the Internet for things I couldn't live without, and 1-800 numbers on television for things I could get at rock bottom prices if I called in the next ten minutes.

At the end of the day, I have managed not to spend a penny. I didn't even go home over a bridge where I had to pay a toll. So I have survived Buy Nothing Day and have bought nothing.

But I have this long list of things I want to go and look at tomorrow first thing. I wonder how early the stores will be open....

Quote of the Day

The only reason a great many American families don't own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.

~Mad Magazine

Photo of the Day

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In my mother's back yard this morning



One Year Ago
Over the River and Thru the Woods was still beautiful when we pulled off at the scenic overlook to check out Donner Lake in the distance. This was a spot where Peggy and I stopped on our first trip to Tahoe, where she told me that the view alone made her trip from Australia all worthwhile. It's a view which is beautiful, whether in the sun, or in the snow...

Two Years Ago

Survival Journal Entry #4
I get the mental image of a Russian babushka doll, the larger outside doll hiding a collection of successively smaller dolls until you get to the solid doll at the core. Am I that doll at the core, surrounded by protective layers or masks. Or is that painted doll at the core also hiding the real “me.”

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Created 11/28/02