Craigslist Ad #1: The One Where Some Lady Made Me Feel Like a Jezebel
The first house I toured was blocks away from the Berkeley campus. A Chinese national going by the name of “Susan Smith” opened the door and asked me to take off my shoes. She showed me a room with a free-standing wardrobe, a barely-there window, a twin size bed and an Ikea desk.
She spoke very quietly and asked me every question at least twice. She told me that she didn’t like anyone to use the dryer late at night because it kept her up.
I said I’d take it and she told me I couldn’t have any male visitors then repeatedly asked if that would be a problem. I repeatedly told her it wouldn’t be a problem. Then I never heard from her again.
Craigslist Ad #2: The One Where I Gave a Crackhead Suggestions for her Skin
The second place I visited was, almost literally, a shithole. It called itself a hotel but it was really just a short-term apartment complex. The landlord didn’t answer the door when I arrived, but his right-hand woman did. She walked with a limp and took three full minutes to get to the bottom of the stairs where I was waiting. I expected her to be old and infirm, but she was barely middle-aged. She asked where I worked and what I put on my skin. I told her Burt’s Bees radiance cream and made sure to mention that I used it every morning. I walked with her through the hallways of the complex and she showed me the communal bathroom where a rusty sink was installed underneath a funhouse mirror and where black bile sat, unflushed, in the toilet. A woman who looked like Stevie Nicks if Stevie Nicks had never been famous yelled for the woman giving me the tour. My tour guide yelled back something unrelated and gave me a housing application to fill out. She told me to return it with a deposit and the room I viewed that day could be mine.
I said thank you and ran.
Craigslist Ad #3: The One With the Marijuana in the Backyard
Next I visited a bus in the backyard of a landscaper who grew marijuana in her garden. “I love fucking you” was written on the ceiling above the makeshift bed where I would have been sleeping.
Craigslist Ad #4: The One With the Certifiable Michael Jackson Superfan
Soon after that, I visited a house in East Oakland owned by a woman whose main interest was “prison justice.” Her house was a “fragrance free zone” and reeked of dirty hair. She let stray cats stay in her yard and wore screen printed tees decorated with the faces of little black boys. A replica of Michael Jackson’s white sparkly gloves were encased in a glass box above her non working fireplace and phrases like “make that change” were scribbled all over the bricks that sealed the fireplace. I thought she was an asshole.
Other good ones:
Craigslist Ad #5: The One Where the French Professor Studying Stem Cells Held My Purse and Almost Accepted a Handshake as Payment for a Bike
Craigslist Ad #6: The One With the Girls Living off Food Stamps in a Beautiful Victorian House Near the Lake
(And somehow, it makes me like everything here a little more, makes me want to grab the city’s hand and smile and point and say “look what I went through to get to you”)