Archive for June, 2006

play it again, sam

I left my heart in San Francisco.

And also, apparently, my pants.

file under: sheesh

Our old apartment in Manhattan was a bit of a rarity in that it had a seperate dining room. Now, by a stroke of what could be called luck if you were charitable, when I finally moved in with Miranda, I was the owner of a six-seat dining set, so we were occasionally able to use the dining room to entertain medium-sized crowds.

…but the disclaimer about luck was intentional: this thing was, to be blunt, ugly as sin. It was a circa-1976 glass-top table, with a base made of brass-finish tubing and faux oak, and six chairs also made of the same metal tubing, with hideously ugly brown-with-gold-tints upholstery. It was everything awful about the 1970s asthetic crammed together: one look at it, and you could just see it all sitting on deep green shag carpeting, while people with bad facial hair did lines off it. The only reason I had it at all was that my apartment in boston had needed a kitchen table, and a co-worker at BBN had been willing to sell me the entire set for $75.

Physically acquiring the thing was an adventure in and of itself, involving strapping the tabletop to the roof of Jeremy Behrle’s Toyota Corolla with bungie cords, and then driving down Route 2 into Boston desperately holding on to the glass with our hands out the side windows, because the wind kept nearly successfully ripping it off the roof of the car.

In any case, our new apartment in San Francisco, while about the same size in square feet, does not have a dining room at all, and is no place for a table that does not collapse, fold down, lose leaves or preferably all of the above. So I’m trying to get rid of it, and did what I assumed was the obvious thing: put an ad on craigslist. I asked for $150 in the spirit of utter optimism, figuring I’d quickly come down to $75, then $50, then eventually put it in the free stuff category.

By tuesday, the ad had produced only one response: a weirdly irate woman writing to complain that she couldn’t see the table well in the pictures. And true enough, they’re crappy pictures, but due to all of the boxes yet to unpack, we don’t have the space to actually set the table up in the apartment right now. Since there was nothing I could do for her (and I didn’t care for her tone anyway), I just deleted her mail and ignored it.

Today, I got another mail from the same woman:

From: Karen_Alexander@(elided).com
Subject: dining table

You need to show THE TABLE!! Your picture shows only people eating!! I might be interested in the table but cannot see what the heck it looks like or anything! Please give measurements and show a better picture if you want results.

thank you.

This e-mail and any attachments are confidential. If you receive this message in error or are not the intended recipient, you should not retain, distribute, disclose or use any of this information and you should destroy the e-mail and any attachments or copies.

Well, it’s certainly good to know that this was a confidential email! Okay, score one point for ‘s assessment of the bay area mentality, I guess. My response:
From: “Dr. Memory”
To: Karen_Alexander@(elided).com
Subject: Re: dining table
Reply-to: postmaster@(elided).com

Your incredibly constructive suggestion was already noted and given appropriate consideration the last time you sent it to me. Don’t feel obligated to do it a third time.

In the sprit of unsolicited kibitzing which you seem to enjoy so much, allow me to suggest that COMMANDING people you have never met before (with a mix of all-caps and multiple exclamation points no less) to help you is unlikely to produce particularly useful results.

There are, however, ways to get the things you want without needlessly pissing off the people you’re trying to get them from. For instance, someone with a smidgen of manners (not you, in other words) might have said something like:

“Hi, I think I might be interested in your table, but I don’t get a good sense of its size or looks from the pictures in your ad. Do you have a better picture, or at least the measurements?”

Addtionally, someone possessed of some meagre deductive skills (again, someone other than you) would have read the text of the ad and inferred that the reason there was no carefully posed photo of just the table was because I had just moved and there is no room in my new apartment to set it up. They would have made this clever deduction mostly because that’s what I said in the ad, so actually it wouldn’t be deduction at all, but merely “reading comprehension”. (But again, clearly a skill possessed by someone else.)

In short, thank you for your timely reminder that craiglist’s reputation as a magnet for the desperate, clueless and deranged is well-deserved, and that the common garage sale is far underrated.


The reply-to was probably a little mean. I wonder if she’ll notice it?


I have:

  • An apartment full of boxes, delivered today.
  • A missing bedroom window (a story still unravelling, which I may never know the full extent of since it involves my new landlord swearing copiously into the phone in what is probably Turkish but could possibly be Farsi)
  • Incoming cats, to be delivered tomorrow.
  • A raging beast of a headcold, since last wednesday.
  • Jet-lag

If I’ve been out of touch or flaky or not returning your email, voicemail or psychic entreaties: grovelling apologies. I will be re-establishing contact with the external world very very soon. I hope.


A move isn’t real until I carry dad’s violin to a new place with me. It has always, always been the last thing to go: it can’t be mailed, shipped, or packed. It’s the one object I own that I would think twice before entrusting a friend to carry. Letting movers have it is out of the question. So it’s traveled in my hands to every one of the last I-forget-how-many homes I’ve had.

Seven years ago, I carried it on an amtrak train down to New York from Boston. Six years before that, it travelled with me in Andrew Boyd’s VW microbus from Great Barrington to Boston. More recently, I carried it along the F and A trains from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

It sat on my lap in the car to JFK on Sunday. I fretted as it went through the X-Ray machine, and then every time the plane hit a bump in the air. I clutched it nervously while hauling the rest of my luggage to the shuttle pickup at Oakland airport. It’s sitting at my feet now, here in San Francisco.

I guess this must be home.