I've spent $9,588.64 at Amazon over the past 12 years. I know this because I came across a page on the Amazon site that lets you download a .csv file with every item you've ever ordered at Amazon for as long as you've been a customer.
Looking through the purchases was an unexpectedly cathartic experience.
First, credit where it's due: I never would have found this page if were not for a story on Gizmodo this week by Adam Clark Estes, "I'm Starting to Have Serious Doubts About Amazon Prime," in which--well, as the headline says--he breaks down whether Prime is still worth the now $120 annual fee.
He also mentions this page on Amazon. Make a few quick selections there, and Amazon will quickly put together a spreadsheet that shows everything you've ever purchased from the company.
$10,000 and a day of nostalgia
In my case, I have two accounts. Apparently, I created one in 2006 and the other in 2011.
Going back 12 years was engrossing. Sure, we know Facebook and Google have far more information on each of us than we'd like to admit. But this Amazon spreadsheet was like a diary that I never quite got around to keeping.
I highly recommend you give it a look. Just go here, enter the date range, and click Request Report. Within minutes, you'll get a link with the option to download the .csv.
Here's a sample of purchases that jumped out at me during my trip down memory lane. They might not mean much to you--but I guarantee your list will leave you feeling nostalgic all day.
I mostly bought a lot of books back then: Jackie Spinner's Tell Them I Didn't Cry: A Young Journalist's Story of Joy, Loss, and Survival in Iraq was the first in the .csv. I was working for Bob Woodward of The Washington Post then, and getting ready to go to Iraq as a reporter. I wanted to read everything I could find about that first.
More books. Here, I was focusing on things written by people I met during my reporting: Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons From Malaya and Vietnam by John Nagl and The War I Always Wanted by Brandon Friedman.
By now, I was deep into writing my first book. Sometimes I needed to get as far away mentally from writing as possible for a little while. I bought a PlayStation 2 and FIFA Soccer 07 for distractions. Ultimately, with a deadline looming, I gave it to my neighbor's son.
I got together with my then-future wife, and came to New York to be with her. I read The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 during the massive daylong Craigslist sale I held just before I moved. Later, I bought sleep headphones for her, as I allegedly snore.
I bought some over-the-top USA flag sunglasses and other super-patriotic gear. Was it the 4th of July? No, I realized; this was back when the USA was actually in the World Cup.
We had a baby. Biggest (and best) life change ever. Purchases include sleep sacks, a baby monitor, and every imaginable product to get your baby to sleep through the night.
Instant Pot. Weird: I wrote at least three articles (one, two, three) about the marketing of this product before my editor suggested she might want to try one. Wait, I thought, my wife and I should probably try it too.
Most recent purchases: gifts for my 2-year-old nephew, including the Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set and Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Because, as a writer, I like the idea that we're closing this with the purchase of a book.
If you're still reading, here's your reward. Get your own .csv. Let us know in the comments the most interesting thing you'd totally forgotten that you bought.
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