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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dancing with the Devil

On Friday night, Trent and I stayed over with some friends in Edmonton while my parents kept the little guy for us.  Our mission, aside from having a really nice evening with some great people, and some fine food & drink, was to wake up on Saturday morning and run 'errands'.  In other words, we had some consumer activities in which to participate in (hence the sinister sounding title).  Our first stop?  West Edmonton Mall... barf.  For those of you who don't know, WEM is one of the biggest malls in the world... actually it is what Edmonton is mostly famous for (again, barf).  Usually, I try to go to that place as little as humanly possible, however we had to return a gift that Chephren had received at Christmas that didn't fit him.  So, off to an extremely expensive children's store we went.  As soon as we entered the mall the first thing that I noticed is the smell of that place - it smelled of... chemicals.  Maybe it was just my imagination (I am reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck right now).  At the children's store itself, we were literally taken aback by the prices of those tiny little clothes.  They wanted $32 for a pair of shorts that would barely fit on my arm for crying out loud!  Anyway, we did manage to make a really good decision in there: we exchanged for a long-sleeved rash top (great for swimming outside in the summer which we will be doing a ton of) and a pair of underwear for the little man - potty training will happen eventually right?  As a bonus, we were left with an additional store credit of $3.42 - which we gave to a lady in the store who was going to town and buying up the store.  She was delighted, and so were we, vowing never to step foot in that store again!

Our first mission accomplished, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves, so we stopped at a cafe for a few bagels which we enjoyed whilst sitting on their patio in the sun.  Our next stop was one that we were greatly anticipating - we had a $300 gift certificate at MEC (MEC stands for Mountain Equipment Co-op, a huge outdoor store, which to us, is the equivalent of a shopping mecca).  We had been holding onto it since Christmas, saving it for something that we actually 'needed'.  A few weeks ago, I went to see a sports medicine specialist who informed me that I have ITB syndrome (an overuse injury from running) and that I needed to be wearing my shoes with orthotics at all times (even inside), invest in yet another new pair of shoes, and possibly a pair of birkenstocks for those summer days where runners are just too hot (more on this later).  After testing out the hip/knee yet again this past week on the indoor track (I was in agony after 20 minutes), I decided that new shoes were definitely in order.  I had been agonizing over this decision for weeks, feeling like I really didn't want to break the 'rules'.  Luckily, I figured out that MEC actually sells a suitable shoe for my running needs and we were in business (gift certificate remember?)

So excited to be going to MEC with those GC's burning a hole in my pocket, I practically skipped through the front doors of the store.  Upon entering the store however, my drunk monkey brain immediately took over and I went into MEC 'auto-pilot'.  After wandering aimlessly through the first part of the store, I eventually got to the shoe section.  I tried on the shoes that I had picked out online, and threw them in the bag - so easy, just like that $165 gone - poof!  Drunk monkeys don't think like that though, and instead, my little monkey friend decided that I should invest in some new socks as well.  After throwing four of those in the bag as well, I moved on to another section of the store.  Next, we picked up some new Aladdin take-and-go coffee mugs - a reasonable purchase as well given that they are eco-friendly and practically bomb-proof.  Then, following our 'usual' path through the store (old habits die hard), I ended up in the clothing section and decided that I 'needed' a new pair of shorts.  I found the perfect pair and after modelling them for Trent (my monkey brain didn't even bother to hear his feedback), they went in the bag too.  I was feeling pretty pumped about the shopping experience until I got up to the till and (sound of a record coming to an abrupt halt) our total was $332...  Not knowing what to say/do I pulled out the plastic and paid for it... feeling the drunk monkey return to the recesses of my usually-more-rational brain.  The first thing I felt?  Embarrassed, hence why I just took my excessive purchases and ran!  Upon walking out the doors of the store?  Regret, deep, deep regret.  And by the time we got to the car I had already decided that the shorts were going back. 

A day after this experience, I am still feeling quite weak and ashamed at my behavior.  I do take some comfort in the fact that MEC will take the shorts back with no worries and that at least some of my gift certificates went to things that are important (I really did need those shoes and I also bought my parents two of those amazing cups which we lovingly use every day).  However, I am really alarmed at how quickly I fell back into my 'old ways'.  Not cool.  Here I had thought I had grown so much in the past three months, and it was discouraging to find that I haven't, not really.  The good news is that I am almost out of gift certificates (finally)! 

Now, with my Shoppers Anonymous confession time over, I am pleased to share that I am 'back in the saddle' and focusing on new horizons.  Today is my first day of the No Impact Week Challenge and today's topic is (drumroll please), consumerism - ironic hey?  This week really will push the boundaries of my experience so follow along as I blog daily about the experience.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."
 
Marebare

3 comments:

  1. Don't be too hard on yourself, shopping malls are designed to get you to buy stuff. I'm reminded of some quote I heard once while watching late night TV (my nemesis). I think it was a Dr. Wayne Dyre show. Anyhow, the quote goes something like this:

    I'm walking down a road and I fall into a big hole. I climb out of the hole and swear I'll never do that again. The next time I walk down the road I see the hole, but I still fall in. The next time I walk down the road, I see the hole, I carefully step over it, but I slip and fall and I STILL fall in. So the next time, I take a different road!

    That's not exactly it, but something like that. The point is it's SOOOOO hard to change old patterns even when you're making a conscious effort to do it. But at least you know the hole is there!

    For me it's not shopping anymore... I've come to hate the entire process. My nemesis is late night television. It's not even that there's anything that I want to watch, it's just that I'm usually avoiding something that I don't want to do the next day, or I'm feeling like I want to "treat myself". UG! After much effort I've weaned myself off of the John Stewart, Stephen Colbert then hours of mindless channel surfing habit, and next week I'm getting rid of my cable TV service!

    Have fun with No Impact Week. I did it back in November and found it to be really eye opening. It gave me lots of new areas to work on! I highly recommend his book too. I got it from my local library and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    I'm gonna go check out Slow Death by Rubber Duck now!
    XOXOXO
    Rebecca

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  2. Hey Rebecca,

    Thanks for the words of encouragement! Slow Death by Rubber Duck is actually a Canadian Book and it is sooooo interesting (it is very relavent to the US as well b/c most of the studies/examples/history comes from the US). If you have trouble finding it, let me know and I'll get a copy to you!

    As for the TV - Trent and I used to be TV addicts as well - him to Sports Network, me to TLC (those damn home reno shows will get me everytime!) Six years ago, right after we got married, we spent almost two years living in a van/shack in the mountains and got totally used to doing different stuff at night - Trent played the guitar while I laid in the hammock reading, knitting, whatever. He also just talked (and talked, and talked). Sometimes we would watch movies, but when we did it was a very 'focused' activity, not something just to fill up the night. When we moved back to 'civilization', we decided to for-go the TV altogether at first - and now we have one just to watch movies on (especially during the long, cold winters that we have here).

    All-in-all, it has been a major life improvement for us, and something that I feel really good about now that we have a son.

    AND, it is secretly super satisfying when people ask you about the latest commercial or show on TV and you have honestly NO idea what they're talking about!

    Happy cutting-of-the-cable celebration to you! You won't regret it!

    Maren xoxoxo

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  3. Thanks for your offer on the book, I found it at the library and am on a waiting list to check it out... which is actually just fine because I'm still working my way through "The Beauty Myth" - which BTW, is very good, although it's a big heavy on the angry feminist rhetoric for my taste.

    Congrats on going TV free... and what an adventure living out in the wilderness! I'd love to hear more about that at some point.

    You know it's funny, but in a way my DVR is what convinced me to make this move. Last summer I had the furnace replaced (with a furnace heat-pump combo that is supposed to be much more efficient... I'm not entirely convinced, but that's another story). Anyhow, it seems that whenever I make any changes around here there is a mass die-off of electronic devices. I think they all gang up on me and go on strike! Anyhow, the day after the furnace was installed my cable box died (along with the keyboard and mouse on my computer), and the green glob growing in the corner of the TV took over the whole screen. I took it as a sign that maybe it was time to upgrade my 20 year old set. Well... that and the fact that my movie-loving boyrfiend had been complaining about it for years. I'd been avoiding it because I didn't want to move the whole entertainment center to get at all the plugs, but since I was gonna have to do that anyhow....

    So I went out and bought a HUGE plasma TV (I was going for the 42 inch model, but when I got to the store the 50 inch one was actually cheaper - ah well...) ANYHOW, since I had to get a new cable box I got the HD variety with a built-in DVR and set it up to record all of my favorite shows...

    But a funny thing happened. I discovered that since I knew the show would be recorded, I didn't feel like I "had" to watch it when it came on... and then it seemed that I just never got around to watching them ever! It's almost like it wasn't watching the shows that I liked, it was just the whole ritual of "me time". Sooo, I've decided to give myself other enjoyable things to do for "me time". I'll still keep the set for movies and football... I can't help it, I love watching my Denver Broncos even when they're making absolute fools of themselves. But the games are all broadcast over the air, and with the new HD standards, the picture is even better than cable... well, most of the time.

    If you'd like to be amused on that topic: http://open.salon.com/blog/the_almighty_beckster/2010/03/31/simplifying_is_sure_complicated

    Good luck with No Impact Week! I can't wait to read all about it!
    XOXOXO
    Rebecca

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