October 19, 2009

Maybe It's Me: An Ode to Craigslist, or, m4w: "To The Whistling Falafel Eater"

Craigslist.

It is the most wonderful and most frightening cyber playground there is.

Whether it’s chatting with likeminded people in discussion groups from travel to transgender topics, finding a job in bioengineering or the adult industry, buying and selling useless junk, looking for a rideshare or looking for a good time – Craigslist has it.

I have no problem freely admitting I’m a Craigslist junkie.

It saddens me that there are closed-minded people out there who get all paranoid when I start talking about the good times I’ve had on Craigslist. “The internet is not safe! BAD THINGS HAPPEN ON THE INTERNET! THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING!” These frantic, wild-eyed nonbelievers say.
Well, I was raised by parents who refused to let my sister and I come inside from playing unless a limb had been torn off or an eyeball had fallen out. They believed in our ability to make good decisions while running amuck unsupervised through the neighborhood – that we had enough common sense and the ability to reason to take care of ourselves.

The same holds true regarding the internet. We were one of the first families I know who had a computer and “the online.” They knew just about as much as we – their young daughters – about this world wide web thing, and when my sister and I discovered chatting, they had faith that we wouldn’t give out our home address or social security numbers. Sure, they had a few choice words with my sister when they found out she was lying about her age to get into chat rooms so she could discuss literature with people from across the country; and sure, they lectured me long and hard when I went on my first blind date with a boy I had met off the internet about meeting in public (i.e., our school cafeteria, since we both went to the same high school) and following my instinct, but they were never worried about our safety.

So now, years later, my parents are not surprised at my crazy Craigslist antics.

I don’t remember how I discovered Craigslist – I think I was redirected there a few years back when I was scouring search engines for modeling and acting opportunities in New England. Somehow I e-tripped and e-fell into the “Gigs” section of Craigslist.

And I never e-got back up, again.

As it’s been many years now since this love affair has started, and it’s still going strong, I thought I’d pay a quick homage to what I believe is not online the most diverse collection of classifieds and forums, and an exceptional online community, but the best website there ever was.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, just some of my adventures in Craigslist . . .


Jobs
“TV/Film/Video”
My first foray into Craigslist was when I found a photographer to work with. He was a middle-aged man who lived a couple hours drive away and was looking to deviate away from photographing inanimate objects and move to, specifically, senior portraits for high schools. We met – in a public place – and took shots. Fast forward many years, and not only is he the only photographer I’ll work with, he and his wife are two of my favorite people. They are kind-hearted and selfless friends who I absolutely adore.


Gigs
“Talent
I’ve been in several “indie” films as a result of discoveries in the “Talent” section. Drove to Boston, MA to stay with a director I had never met to create a thirteen minute short film about drugs and sex. It’s my favorite piece of work to this point. Drove to Manchester, NH several times over the course of a month to do a full-length indie movie with two of the smartest men I’ve ever met – and spent many good moments with their parents drinking hot chocolate in the cold forests they took me to. Drove to the middle of nowhere to see my sister who was working as the special effects make-up artist on a full-length indie horror movie she found off of, you guessed it, Craigslist. Ended up staying with her for a few days and getting to randomly help on set.

“Event”
The Jack Daniels Corporation was looking for models to send to its week long Adult Spring Break in Killington, VT. They needed pretty girls who weren’t afraid of having a good time, being party-starters and the general center of attention. I got to go and while I was there I made a contact at a marketing agency in Boston, who set me up as an alcohol promotional model. Ended up working as an alcohol promotional model for them and in the process met the account manager of Guinness. He ended up hiring me to the marketing specialist of Guinness in New England. Went for an interview to be an ice cream maker, but they were so intrigued that I was a marketing specialist they created a job for me as their marketing director. And now I have several companies who’ve all expressed interest in me as I’ve suddenly become some Marketing Guru.

All because I started off as a Jack Daniels Girl from something I found off the internet.


Community
“Musicians
A local band was looking for a manager to help them with some of the behind- the-scenes/administrative duties involved with the successful running of musical act. I ended up charming the pants of them, becoming their assistant manager, and helping them for several months before they disbanded. Still – I made cash, made some really solid connections (one can never network enough), and got to a hot band chick for a spell. Meanwhile, when I was convinced that I wanted to start my own band after teaching myself the guitar and making my own really horrible demo CD all to cope with the broken heart I had received from a rock star, I met several musicians, even playing with some, through this medium.

“Pets”
After going to a fair I was convinced I needed a pet bunny. I was talked out of it at the fair itself, but went on Craigslist and posted under the “Pets’ section asking after mini-rex rabbits. Some lady wrote to me tell me she was a breeder of this kind of bunny and her parents rabbits had just had a litter, did I want one of the babies? I said yes – and for the next several months she sent me updates and pictures of the babies, letting me choose the one I liked the best – which happened to be the baby blue. She met me in a parking lot to give me my seven-week old bunny, Boone – the first snow of the season falling around us. I took the small gray ball of fur from her, suddenly realized I had no idea what I was doing, and drove home terrified I was somehow going to kill this small creature. Fast forward and earlier today I had to clean his fur for the second time this week after he decided to jump in the sink and roll around in apple sauce and chocolate ice cream. I think I’ve created a monster. But he’s my monster, and I love him, when I’m not threatening to eat him in stew.


Personals
“Casual Encounters
Potentially the best place in the entire internet to have a good laugh. Pervvy people posting their dirtiest desires to see if someone else would like to partake in some NSA (“No Strings Attached”) fun. A great source of entertainment nearly every time a group of my friends gets together (people get so embarrassed when you read what’s basically porn out loud). Also – it’s a good reminder that no matter how bad things are, at least I’m not one of the people writing desperately in there. On the other hand – it’s a sad reminder at how pitiful and disgusting the human race can be.

“Missed Connections”
The sole reason I have not lost faith in mankind. A forum dedicated to people who missed the opportunity to tell someone something to their face, so they get to post it anonymously on the internet knowing full well that the person it’s directed to most likely isn’t one of us Craigslist junkies. Because of this stupid section, I try desperately to do unique things when I’m in public so that someone will write me a post. Like: “To the short, freckled girl with the stunning eyes: I loved that you were standing in Whole Foods staring at the falafel whistling some indie song this afternoon. Let’s eat falafel and whistle indie songs together.” It never happens. Anyway – it’s a good reminder and uplifting to my hopelessly romantic heart that there are all these people out there, just like me, wanting to be someone’s missed connection. On the other hand – it’s a sad reminder of how desperately lonely we all are or can be.

“Women Seeking Men”
There was a spell not so long ago where I would get beyond inebriated with the express intention of posting in this personals section looking for boys to date (drunken rants are uninhibited, after all). As a result, I went on dozens and dozens of first dates with boys I met offline. No, they weren’t all good – one tried to rape me and it was a gentle wake-up call that reckless serial dating wasn’t safe (regardless if you were meeting the boy from the internet or from the falafel aisle of Whole Foods). Some were wonderful, though – one was a glassblower and on our first date – our only date – which fell a few days before my birthday he brought me a gift: a glass blown necklace he had created specifically for me, tailoring it to my eye and skin color he’d seen in the picture I’d sent him. The only time I ever wrote a non-drunk posting I ended up meeting the best boyfriend I ever had. Although, I think we each secretly wished for a better “how did you meet” story than “the internet,” though.


For Sale
“Books”
Took a drive with a friend once, because she found some lady online who was selling, apparently “thousands and thousands” of books. Always up for an adventure, we headed out and were progressively disillusioned the further out into the woods we drove. Eventually we found this lady’s house, and sure enough, she had a garage full of books. FULL of books. She was selling them for three dollars per grocery bag to raise money for her neighbors child who needed a heart transplant. Nine dollars and nearly thirty books later I was happy we had driven deep into the sketchy woods. We called a few days later to see if they were still open, but she had sold all of the books and raised thousands of dollars. Good for her!

“Electronics”
I sold my TV, my ex-boyfriends entertainment system, and my VCR player to some elderly man for thirty bucks who came and picked it up in a blizzard. I bought my Xbox 360 from a man who worked at church and showed me that the system was in great working order on the giant projector in the church itself; and, I negotiated the price down on my Wii from a college student who was hurting for the cash. We met in the alleyway of a hospital to make the money for system exchange.

“Wanted”

I needed a Mexican flag for our Mexican themed kitchen. Some lady had an extra one. She gave it to me for free. It actually gets way better, though: my most recent Craigslist foray was two separate postings, one that stated that I needed a TV and one that stated that I needed a futon. A wonderful lady wrote back to me saying she had a TV for sale, and if was the futon person as well, she could sell me one of those, too (apparently my writing style is a little to distinct for my own liking – how’s a girl suppose to write anonymous postings in “Missed Connections” if everybody knows how she writes?). Her family was moving to Sweden and didn’t need any of their stuff. So, I drove out to her house meeting her, her husband, and her two daughters (ages five and two), and she sold me a twenty-seven inch TV and the most comfortable loveseat I’ve ever sat on my life (which I’m sitting on now with Mr. Bunny himself) for the grand total of seventy-five bucks. They have the coolest bookcase in the world that they’ll be selling me in a couple weeks (it looks like large ice cubes stacked on top of one another, some with glass doors) for a pricey twenty-five dollars. Sweet hookup? I think yes.


So thank you, Craigslist, for continuing to provide me with everything a girl could ever want.

Here’s to all the chatting with likeminded people in discussion groups from the vegan forum to the “1099” forum; to the marketing jobs and modeling opportunities that may still be laying in wait for me; the selling of ex-boyfriends’ stuff and purchasing of exceptionally cool, albeit unnecessary treasures from other people; for the missed connections yet missed and casual encounters yet laughed over.

Here’s to you, oh list of Craig’s.