I realize it’s “so 2003” to be newly obsessed with Craigslist, but I since spent the last few years in Bulgaria, where there is no Craigslist (gasp!), it’s really become something I am quite taken by. Yes, I just said taken by. It’s a shame, since without the “in Bulgaria” part, my apartment would have been taken faster than you can say “Post Communist Hell.”
Two bedroom flat, two gorgeous balconies with wide mountain views, large kitchen and dining room, mold-free bathroom with flushing toilet, fully furnished and only a block away from outdoor markets, town center, town church, town park, town bank, etc.–$100/month.
Ryan and I pay 500 times that for an apartment 1/1000th as small in our new Seattle hood. (Math—not my forte.) But that’s the price you pay to live in a place you actually want to live, with such amenities as a ten-story library, Thai restaurants, and no Bulgaria. Resulting from the exorbitant rent we pay for the donut-shaped hobbit hole where we currently reside in the Central District, I have been fanatically utilizing the “Free” section of Craigslist in furnishing our new abode. Yes, I just said resulting from.
The first thing I learned about free stuff on Craigslist is that that everything besides no-legged tables goes fast. Much like a trader or someone who has to do things fast, I have had to be on the computer e-mailing and calling people as soon as their post came up. Otherwise, another Seattlite with faster fingers would be getting my new used futon.
My first successful acquisition was a large entertainment center and desk, all from an older man living in a mountain neighborhood where there were no non-white people on the street corners. Actually, there were no people. And in fact, no corners. We drove on a meandering road up the ridge, each house at the end of a long private driveway.
I wondered to whom you might give a dollar to fetch your runaway bitch mutt, as Ryan does with our neighborhood crackheads.
While the furniture was kindly disassembled for convenient transport, it took me a month surrounded by an assortment of screws, nails, and oddly shaped wood pieces to get the entertainment center up and ready to entertain. Re-building the desk, however, is requiring skills that my Ivy League BA in Psychology has not afforded me. However, from the various pieces of nicely-finished black wood piled in our bedroom/office section of the donut, I think it will be a really nice desk once it is assembled, perhaps by someone STEVE WHITE who may perhaps be more handy with a screwdriver, of the tool variety.
In our new home, Ryan and I were sleeping side-by-side in our REI sleeping pods, which was fine and gave us a perpetual sense of adventure and transience, at least at bedtime. However, when I saw “Clean Down Comforter” on Craigslist one day, I knew I couldn’t say no. Who says no to a clean free down comforter? Not me friends, not me. We drove to a hip chick’s apartment, and when she told me her name, I knew she had to be Bulgarian, as there are only 3.5 names in Bulgaria for women. She was indeed from Bulgaria, and had learned English from Peace Corps Volunteers, so we sat around and reminisced about the great Bulgarian… yogurt. And beans. As we were about to leave she said, “Hey, do you guys want all my pots and pans too?” And this is how we came to possess the nicest pots and pans I have ever owned.
I knew I spent the best years of my twenties in Bulgaria for a reason.
Things really started to pick up when I managed to find us a brand-new looking Ikea kitchen table! We drove deep into Tacoma to pick it up, which made the owner of the table laugh at us, as if to say–you do realize the money you spent on gas cost more than this Ikea table. But to make it worth our while, and because Ryan is extremely affable and I make sure to tell everyone we don’t have anything because I was in THE PEACE CORPS, this charitable young couple decided to help us build our dreams using all the things they weren’t taking with them on their move to San Francisco. This included lamps, a bookshelf, a fancy coffee maker whose various contraptions we have not yet figured out nor have any intent to, and most importantly, approximately 5 lbs of raw spaghetti, a near-gallon of olive oil, and various canned goods, including Tomato Soup and garbanzo beans. From their food products, I extrapolated that in a parallel existence we all would have made great friends. We drove away from Tacoma ecstatic, feeling like we had won the lottery, but instead of a million dollars, we had a lifetime supply of spaghetti.
Some people have said, “Jenn, why don’t you use the time you spend on Craigslist Free looking for a job under Craigslist Jobs.” And I say, “That’s silly. Why would I want a job when I can have a free weight lifting bench?”
We’ve also acquired a comfy free futon and futon frame, small desk, decorative bureau, cozy orange-corduroy loveseat, TV, lamps galore, a printer, and free tickets to a Kermet Apio show!
Still on the free wish list are: dishes, a basketball, haircuts, bikes, a SLR, one or two MacBook Airs, and a movie option for my yet-unwritten first novel.
Since we did need some extra cash to supplement our non-income, we decided to sell our iPhone on Craigslist. In less than ten minutes I had about twenty offers, but oddly enough, the best offer was from someone willing to pay more than it was worth at a store. We couldn’t decide if he was really dumb or we were, but he came and paid us a stack of cash and sped off. Feeling the whole exchange was strange, I joked about how he was probably Vietnamese mafia and didn’t want to go to a store to just buy an iPhone like a normal non-mafia person. Later I Googled his name, and perhaps he has a very common Vietnamese name, such as the Vietnamese version of “Chris Wong” but his name was also the name of a Seattle Vietnamese drug ring leader!
I’m glad our iPhone may have found a safe home to be used for heroin smuggling.
I really do hate it when I am right. Especially when it involves Vietnamese Tony Soprano knowing where you live. And by you, I mean ME.
In a country where people can afford to put televisions, computers, couches, and the occasional unwanted second daughter out on the curb, I love this country’s enthusiasm for trying to re-home furnishings—all for nothing. It’s so un-American and so American all at the same time. Wow.
Some people read The Secret and put their dreams out to the universe, hoping to attract a Ferrari through the strong magnetic power of Ferrari-lust. I put my dreams out to Craigslist, hoping to get something for nothing, again and again.