Tag Archives: cyber shopping

Get Rid of Clutter?

Christmas Clutter

I had planned to wrap gifts this evening. Over the weekend, I pulled roll after roll of red and green and white paper from the bins at a craft store and stacked them in my husband’s arms. Then we stopped at the area’s newest grocery store to buy a few fresh vegetables for these weeks between the gluttony of Thanksgiving and the sugary delicacies of Christmas. As we entered the store and the doors swished closed behind us, I was mesmerized by a carefully crafted and strategically placed display of satiny red paper with white reindeer, by shiny gold and blue foil, priced at two rolls for $3.00. How could I resist? I stacked four more rolls into the cart and skillfully maneuvered past all the young couples who stood in front of the seafood counter, the fresh vegetables, and the myriad cheeses and used their smart phones to compare prices.

So instead of wrapping gifts this evening, I sit here in front of the lighted Christmas tree, breathing in the smell of Fraser fir and the peace of Christ. Not a bad way to spend an evening. But why, you ask, am I not wrapping those presents?

A girl can change her mind, right? Perhaps it’s because I’m older and wiser now, learning to slow down, you’re thinking? But you would be wrong.

Instead, I’m sitting here thinking of my pastor’s Advent sermon series about getting rid of the clutter in our minds. Two Sundays ago, he made the entire congregation laugh out loud over and over again as he described the difference between himself and his wife, our co-pastor. Like me, she dislikes clutter. Like my husband, he has a much greater tolerance for untidiness, and he offered a very funny “scientific” explanation of the law of physics that ensures that clutter accumulates.

This was particularly amusing to my husband and me because we had just finished cleaning out the basement a few days before. I have six boxes of files from 30 years of teaching that I haven’t gone through in the five years since I left the classroom. At one point it was nine boxes, and I weeded through three before I tired of spending a day off sorting through handouts I was never likely to use again now that my job is to design lessons for interactive whiteboards. But I can’t quite bring myself to toss those other six boxes, even though I have used perhaps two handouts I saved before putting three boxes into the recycling bin. What if I throw out something great that I could have used—something I don’t have on a floppy disk or a CD or a flash drive?

And what does that have to do with wrapping gifts, you ask? At the same time that I refused to wheel those six boxes of files to the recycling bin, I insisted that my husband break down the stack of empty gift boxes he’s saved for the past two Christmases that filled up three storage shelves. And so he did. But he wasn’t happy as he stomped the boxes to break them down flat. One woman’s clutter is another man’s practicality.

And if you haven’t guessed it by now, I need those boxes. I broke my vow to avoid Cyber Monday and shop at the mall. I ordered most of my gifts online in spite of my recent blog to the contrary. But none of those items came with gift boxes. And so now, as I continue to stack those gifts on the bed in one of the guest rooms, a bed that needs to be cleared before our friends visit this weekend, I could have used those boxes that hadn’t been recycled for the past three years.

It’s a good thing that I’ve done a better job this year of uncluttering my mind.

So tell me a story. What’s your most beloved clutter?

Feeling Cyber Stalked?

Cyber America

It’s Cyber Monday, and as soon as I opened my laptop, I heard repeated pings from my inbox–merchants touting the advantages of rushing onto the shopping super-highway and making stop after stop to shop while I’m still in my pajamas.  And though I had taken the day off, I knew that in offices around the country, workers turned from the mundane to flirt with the cyber lover who would offer the most for the least in return.

As I have been each year since Cyber Monday came into existence, I’ll be in the passenger seat of my car today for a six-hour drive home from a long weekend at the ocean. But the difference this year?  We have a 4G iPad that would allow my two super-highways to converge if I wanted.

Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m one of those rare people my age who revels in the possibilities of technology.  At my job I write lesson packages for interactive whiteboards and use software to design slideshows with voice-overs while I marvel that when I began teaching, one of my college classes taught me how to make my own filmstrip.  (Does anyone even remember what those were?)  My 26-year-old laughs that I spend more time on Facebook than she does, and when she shared my web site and this blog with her friends, she J that her mom is more tech savvy than she is.  I love it that I can reconnect with old friends, that I can find an answer to a burning question without waiting to go to the library, that I can want a book and have it in my hands in less than a minute, that I can share my thoughts with the world without waiting for a publisher to decide they’re worthwhile.

But I also have to admit that I find it a little creepy when companies pursue me from the cyber cloud.  I compare a book on Amazon and in the iTunes store, and within a few days I get an email from the merchant I didn’t choose reminding me that I was considering the book and another email from the merchant I chose telling me about comparable books I might like.  If I buy something and then neglect the merchant for a while, I get an email with an offer that sounds a lot like a wistful letter from a former lover asking, “Why don’t you like me any more?”

And as if hearing all those political ads weren’t torture enough, I signed a petition for a cause I supported and got email after email from the organization that started the petition and for the party that included the issue in its platform.  And now that the election is over, I’m still getting at least an email a day from each of them, even though I’ve unsubscribed.

And perhaps creepiest of all, after cleaning out my history and deleting hundreds of cookies, these same merchants force me to allow the cookies if I want to shop again in their online store.

So I think I’ll just go to the mall this year and actually hold in my hands the things I want to buy for the people I love.  And, hey, maybe it’ll be easier to get a parking space after all of you buy your goods from the cyber stalkers.

What about you?  Are you buying the latest pick-up line from your smooth-talking cyber suitor?