I needed all this...for my mental health

💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn email newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.

When Philly entered the stay-at-home order, I really didn’t think it would last through my birthday.

Mid-March felt so far away from the middle of May, when I would turn 24. We’d be mostly out of the woods by then, I figured, assuming friends and I would celebrate the way we always do: singing karaoke at a bar.

The joke that is 2020 was fully on me. A global pandemic. Hospitals scrambling for PPE. The economy locked down. Reality set in, for my naive brain, at some point in early April.

I was lucky enough to be able to continue working, but disappointing info continued to emerge — like the fact that singing could spread the virus even farther. Yeah, the annual karaoke birthday party was officially canceled.

Unwilling to let the coronavirus ruin my favorite holiday, I hopped online and ordered a fancy bluetooth karaoke microphone. For some reason I opted for the rose gold.

Didn’t realize it, but that was just the beginning.

Now that I’m home all the time, and I can’t really spend money in stores, the pattern continued. An e-commerce addiction flourished, one of the few sources of serotonin left in this world. I lost it and bought a bunch of really weird stuff online.

For context: This behavior is out of character. Working full-time at an office all week, I was rarely able to be home when packages were delivered — and it was too risky that they’d be lifted from my stoop while I was gone. Online shopping is something I basically never did before quarantine.

(Disclaimer: I realize I’m really lucky to be able to spend money right now. Millions of Americans have had to file for unemployment after losing their jobs due to COVID restrictions. More will likely suffer when pandemic benefits expire at the end of the month. Find out more about filing for unemployment in Pa. here.)

The same day I snagged the karaoke mic, I ordered six disposable cameras online. Later I got a waterproof one. Because ultimately 1997 never ended.

One of the many questionable tees I bought in quarantine Credit: Michaela Winberg / Billy Penn

I’ve been adding graphic T-shirts to my shopping cart like I’m a 7th grader hitting up the Pacsun at my hometown shopping mall. No literally, I’ve bought seven different tees online since quarantine started.

The worst one? I paid actual money for apparel from a Birds Aren’t Real conspiracy theory company. I don’t think I believe the message. But it did come with a free sticker.

It does not, dear reader, end there. I’ve also bought Platform Tevas — which my mother confirmed are ugly — a giant plastic pineapple made for drinking, and a retro Phillies SnapBack. Like what am I, a frat bro?

The only thing more confusing than my purchasing these items is the moment I receive them. It’s a real Jekyll and Hyde scenario.

But at the end of my buyer’s remorse tunnel is a shining light: I believe I’m not alone. I think some of you are with me.

Please, Philadelphia, validate me. Those of you who are like me — lucky enough to be employed and unlucky enough to possess little impulse control — let me know I’m not the only one blowing my salary on random items during a health emergency.

What did you buy, and why? And how did it feel the next day?

Fill out the form below and we might include your response in our next story.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...