I will never stop putting things in my shopping cart online

  • When the pandemic hit, I started investing in household items.
  • At some point I realized that emptying my bank account for candles was not entirely wise.
  • Now I just add stuff to my cart without hitting “buy”, and I won’t stop anytime soon.

It all started when I broke a glass.

In early April, I knocked a cup of water off the coffee table. It was one of the last I owned, leaving coffee mugs with Kanye West quotes on them to act as my only drinking vessels.

Williams-Sonoma had a sale, so I decided to order some new goggles. But I had minimal shipping to do, and on a whim I added a set of fancy cocktail glasses. Although cocktail glasses were cheap, they weren’t necessary and that was new – I had never bought kitchen utensils which were anything but superficial.

I fell in love with them. I loved how small and fragile they were, how ill-suited they were for anything other than holding a single Negroni. I was thrilled to sip them on my fire escape at sunset. I loved that I didn’t need them, but still had them. When my roommate accidentally broke one, I considered telling him to find a new home.

retail cyber online shopping gift card holiday black friday sale credit card


Crystal Cox/Business Insider


From that moment, a monster was born. All I wanted was to empty my bank account and buy stuff I didn’t need for the apartment I couldn’t leave. I bought some enamel baking dishes and a KitchenAid mixer. I ordered a nice set of oven mitts. I splurged on a cordless vacuum cleaner on


black friday

and declared it “my favorite cleaning object of all time”. I bought so many candles that my roommate told me I had a problem, like I didn’t already know.

Yet things cost money, and money is limited, and although my thirst for things cannot be quenched, my finances have forced me to cut back on spending. I want every Etsy lamp out there, but I don’t want to go into debt for four decades to make this a reality.

So I found a workaround, a solution that allows me to plan home renovations and imagine a perfect apartment with couch pillows. Instead of buying all the home items I covet but don’t need, I put them in online shopping carts.

Right now I have a Nutribullet, two vanity trays, an air fryer, and three storage baskets in my Bed, Bath and Beyond cart.

Anthropology keeps emailing me about two lamps and a $68 makeup bag that I’m not buying and will never buy. There’s a naked $99 desk lamp in an Urban Outfitters cart that I’m paranoid about, I’m going to get drunk and hit buy. I’ve preferred so many mid-century dressers and overpriced side chairs from West Elm that I suspect they’ll soon take a restraining order.

I dream of Target photo frames, decorative trinkets and fluffy towel sets. I draw plans for closet organizers and tape down any end tables I don’t have. I want to throw out all my current stuff and replace it with new stuff. I want every fancy cocktail glass that exists on the planet.

retail cyber online shopping gift card holiday black friday sale credit card


Crystal Cox/Business Insider


The other day I described some of the things I wanted to buy but couldn’t buy to a friend of mine, who said I looked upset. I’m disturbed. But in all thatit makes me feel good.

In the Before Times, I was doing just fine among a collection of mismatched broken junk left by former roommates. My apartment was where I stored my things while my life went on elsewhere. But now, life happens nowhere else. Each decadent item, however imagined, shakes up my homebound world and makes it slightly better.

When I imagine buying something, it’s like a small investment in the future

When I think of those fluffy towel sets, I imagine giving them to out-of-town friends I haven’t seen in months who come over when all that is finished. Photo frames will contain photos of me with my loved ones when we can smash our faces together again. My mom, who I can’t be in the same room with until we’re vaccinated, will come over for a drink served in my new cocktail glass and give me a hug.

And there’s something grown up about planning a house, which I’ve never had the time or luxury to do. I only have time now, that’s why Wayfair is my homepage and I can tell you the difference between an “apartment sofa” and a full size sofa. (One is smaller, because it’s for an apartment. Duh.)

I still don’t necessarily have the luxury, hence online shopping carts. But I’m more intentional about living in a space, grounding myself, deciding what I like and want without the outside world telling me. I had never bothered to consider these things before, whether they were related to household items or otherwise. In a year that seems rather stagnant, lost and lonely, this is a small step forward.

They’re silly little things, real or imagined, but for now, that’s what I have.

Rebecca Fishbein is the author of “Good Things Happen to People You Hate” and a contributor to Jezebel. His work has appeared in Gothamist, Baltimore City Paper, Time Out New York, Vice, Splinter, Adweek, The Cut, Lifehacker and Curbed NY. She lives in Brooklyn.

Do you have a fun, weird, or compelling coping mechanism for the pandemic? Let our essay editor know.


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Peggy P. Gilmore