Archive | August 2011

My Life in Boxes


Today is moving day.


Bonsai Tree: An Epilogue

My bonsai tree has found a home with CM, who is a friend of MW’s, and who read of the bonsai’s plight in my blog posting last week.  The adoption was initiated by MW, who wrote me the following email on Wednesday morning:

Do you still have that damn bonsai? CM wants it.

CM was kind enough to bring me a bottle of wine in exchange for the bonsai, which has almost helped to numb the pain of the Craigslist nightmare.

Here is to hoping that the bonsai will have a long and happy life in CM’s office.

All Who Wander Are Not Lost

Last week, several of my former colleagues threw me a goodbye party, complete with an outdoor moonlit dinner, personalized place settings, candles, an endless parade of appetizers–each more spectacular than the last, homemade grilled salmon, an amazing frozen desert, travel stories, a card with my favourite Tolkien quote, and some very thoughtful travel supplies.

The kind of goodbye party that almost makes you want to change your mind about leaving.

Thanks, everyone.

Down the Craigslist Rabbit Hole

It’s been six long weeks.  There have been 193 emails, one yelling match, and countless frustrations.  Despite all of this, I have finally sold most of my belongings on Craigslist.

I am no stranger to the Craigslist scene, having purchased and sold and repurchased and resold furnishings for several apartments on the website since I moved to Vancouver.  However, after this most recent experience I now understand why some have termed Craigslist a portal to hell and described it as an alternate dimension of bad vibes and broken promises.

Here are some of the highlights of my most recent foray into the Craigslist world:

  1. One of the first people to respond to my ad was a woman who expressed interest in my baby bonsai pine tree.  Once invited into my apartment, however, Ms. Bonsai tried to buy various personal items from me instead, including my spices, my alarm clock, and photographs of my family and friends.  I reminded Ms. Bonsai that this was not an estate sale and that the pictures of my family and friends were not available.   She told me that she didn’t want the bonsai tree and left.
    Baby bonsai, why does nobody want you?
  2. A nameless and faceless individual set up an anonymous email account under the name “Craigslist Offer” and persistently emailed me to offer very low prices for my furniture.  These emails were terse, contained no punctuation, and were rife with grammatical error.  One example: ten dollarz for chairs finale offer.  Another, even more concise, example: 10/-.  After a few of these offensive emails, I put Craigslist Offer on my spam list so that all future correspondence would go straight to the trash.
  3. Ms. Bonsai waited two weeks after our initial meeting and then called to ask if my lamp was still for sale.  When I told her that it was, she said she had to think about it some more and that she would get back to me.
    What is there to think about?
  4. Multiple people set up multiple times to come look at multiple items.  None of these people actually showed up or called to cancel.  My only hope is that karmic retribution will be swift.
  5. One woman came over under the auspices of looking at my couch and asked to use my bathroom.  She complimented my view of East Vancouver and stared out my window for about 15 minutes while I pondered whether it would be appropriate to ask her to leave.
  6. A woman who was away on vacation emailed me to indicate that she wanted to buy my turquoise armchair, and begged me to hold it for her until she returned from vacation.  We set up a time for her to come see it a week later.  She cancelled a day before our scheduled meeting because she had found another chair on Craigslist that she “could not resist”.  By this point, I was no longer fazed by this kind of behaviour, and I sold the chair to someone else.  Ms. Armchair emailed me back a week later to say that she could not stop thinking about my chair, but that she had noticed it was no longer on the Craigslist site.  She speculated that maybe I had sold the chair but wanted to let me know that she was still hoping to buy it.  If I had sold it, could I please email her back and let her know how much it had sold for?

  7. Ms. Bonsai waited a few more weeks before she called me back again to ask if my bar stools were still for sale.  When I told her that they were, she said she had to think about it some more and that she would get back to me.  By this point, I was convinced that Ms. Bonsai had no interest in any of my furniture and that her only goal in this whole charade was to torture me.
  8. One woman bought my Groupon to have two photos printed onto canvas with an online company.  We arranged to meet so that I could give her the code to use online to redeem her Groupon.  She emailed me eight pictures before we met.  At first I thought she had misunderstood the ad, and I specified again that the Groupon was for two pictures rather than eight.  She clarified that she wanted my opinion about which two pictures she should use.  She asked me to go through all of the pictures with her and tell her which ones I thought would look best in her apartment.  We spent at least twenty minutes contemplating which pose of her dog would look best when printed onto a large canvas.  Future Craigslist buyers please note: I am not a professional photographer, artist, or interior designer.
  9. One man called me and indicated that he wanted to purchase my Griddler but that he really did not want to get out of his car.  Could I come down and deliver it to him in his parked car?
  10. N, my last customer, called me several times one afternoon to ask a series of very detailed questions about the three Ikea frames I was selling for $15.

N: Hi, I am calling about the Ikea frames.  Are they still available?
Me: Yes.
N: Okay.  Are they in good condition?
Me: Yes.
N: I may call back later to set up a time to come see them.

N: Hi, I called earlier about the Ikea frames.  Do you remember me?
Me: Yes.
N: I just have a question.  Are there any scratches on them?
Me: No, no scratches.  They are in good condition.
N: Okay, thanks.  I may call back later to set up a time to come see them.

N: Hi, I called earlier about the Ikea frames.  Do you remember me?
Me: Yes.
N: I have a few more questions.  What are the precise measurements of the frames?
Me: I don’t have that information with me, but the measurements are listed in the ad.
N: Oh, so you mean those are accurate measurements?
Me: Yes.
N: Well, I have some pictures that are slightly bigger and may not fit into the frames.  Do you think I could cut them to make them fit?
Me: I don’t know.  I think that would be up to you.
N: Okay, thanks.  I may call back later to set up a time to come see them.

N: Hi, I called earlier about the Ikea frames.  Do you remember me?
Me: Yes.
N: I have a few more questions.  Do you have the boxes that the frames originally came in?
Me: No, Ikea frames do not come in boxes.  The frames were shrink wrapped when I bought them.
N: Oh.  Well, I was going to give these frames to someone as a gift.  Do you have any boxes I can have?
Me: No.
N: Okay, thanks.  I may call back later to set up a time to come see them.

N: Hi, I called earlier about the Ikea frames.  Do you remember me?
Me: Yes.
N: Do the frames have bed bugs?
Me: Bed bugs?
N: Yes, bed bugs.
Me: No.

After several more of these exhausting exchanges, N made arrangements to come look at the frames.  N was almost two hours late, offered me $5 for all three of the frames, and then told me he was going to have to think about it and he would come back later that evening.  My Craigslist-patience, which up to that point had withstood all of the annoyances listed above, bubbled over in a stew of anger and I decided that hell would freeze over before I sold N anything.  I can’t quite remember what I said, because my memory is blurred with rage, but I made it clear that I was no longer willing to sell the frames to N.  The last thing I remember is N standing on the sidewalk with a dazed look on his face while I ran for the elevator.

Next time I post something on Craigslist, I’m tempted to include a disclaimer: please note that this offer does not include the following: gift wrapping, the use of my bathroom, my company or friendship, personal effects in my apartment, delivery to parked vehicles, or my opinion on whether a specific item will fit / look good in your apartment.  Please save us both some time and do not respond to this ad if your offer is going to be so low that you feel that you must use an alias or respond anonymously.

I’ve decided to pack up the frames and put them in storage. 

My Apartment Looks Like a Drug Store

What does packing for a year look like? Lots and lots of contact lens solution, apparently.  I am told that contact lens solution is not available in Tanzania.  I hope it all fits into my suitcase.

Google Chat Advice

I knew that it was going to happen sooner or later.  I could feel it coming.  Just under my skin.  Lurking in that unpacked box.

Blind panic.  We’re not strangers.  And I’m sure we will become even better acquainted over the next few weeks.

I spent the better part of today harassing those closest to me.  Why I am doing this again?  Say it again, louder.

LK offers the following advice to my google chat freakout: I can’t believe you’re doing this.  It is insane.  But it is also really really cool.  You’ll be more than okay, in the end.  

Right…Okay… Back to packing.

I really do have the very best friends.

Seat 12C

My flights are (finally) booked.  On September 13, I’m leaving Edmonton to make my way to Dar es Salaam via London and Nairobi.   Three continents, 18 hours in the air, and a new place to call home.  If all goes according to plan*, on September 15 I will be walking the sweaty streets of Dar trying to locate Q-Bar, where ER and I will live while we try to find an apartment.

*The last two legs of this journey are with Kenyan Airways and previous involvement with this airline has not been entirely successful.