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David Sedaris, and the stuff we do and don't buy ourselves

The New Yorker: Fact [MEMENTO MORI by David Sedaris]

Another, as usual, hilarious New Yorker essay from David Sedaris. Mentioned here, first, because of his opening paragraph, which reveals David's personal method for "ubiquitous capture":

For the past ten years or so, I’ve made it a habit to carry a small notebook in my front pocket. The model I favor is called the Europa, and I pull it out an average of ten times a day, jotting down grocery lists, observations, and little thoughts on how to make money, or torment people. The last page is always reserved for phone numbers, and the second to last I use for gift ideas. These are not things I might give to other people, but things that they might give to me: a shoehorn, for instance—always wanted one. The same goes for a pencil case, which, on the low end, probably costs no more than a doughnut.

For what it's worth, I have a similar "buy me stuff" capture device, but more for the purpose of outgassing my brain's frequently mindless consumer pollution. My file is called "crap I just don't need.txt," and I have fended off many ridiculous purchases just by parking the desired item there. Just viewing the long list of previous entries is an embarrassing exercise in aversion therapy. Not to say this always ensures a non-purchase -- consumer lust has a permanent apartment in my heart -- but at least it provides a satisfying speed bump on the race to the checkout screen.

Adding items to this file always reminds me of the story my Mom tells -- of the early, lean days of my parents' marriage -- when she would fill out catalog order forms, "buying" everything she'd ever wanted to have, and then just never mailing the orders in. A kind of Tantric shopping, I suppose.

I wonder how much of our (our at least my) rage for consuming could be mollified by this kind of pantomime spree. Worth a try, and it doesn't cost you a dime to find out.

[ Sedaris link via Mr. Kottke ]

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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