Lies I have told strangers on the Internet

As I have mentioned several times, I recently moved. But before moving, there was the small matter of finding a new place to live — which, on my budget, meant finding new people with whom to live.

They look delightful. This could work.

They look delightful. This could work.

My primary resource was Craigslist, where the ads ranged from the unhelpfully vague (“Room available, call xxx-xxxx”) to the weirdly specific (“Looking for paleo Aries to help raise pygmy goats, troubleshoot Ruby on Rails, and occasionally cuddle”). Once in a while, though, I would come across a post that seemed promising, and fire off an email introducing myself.

(Fun fact: I got more responses when I didn’t mention my field of study.)

In these interactions, there’s bound to be a little harmless truth-omitting. The person advertising the apartment will play up the patio and private bathroom, but they probably won’t highlight the partying neighbours. They’ll warn you about their four dogs, but they might not mention their 4 a.m. shift at work. And really, why should they? That’s the kind of information that is best revealed once you’ve moved past the “casual Internet stranger asking if the room is still available” stage and into the “we might actually be living together; let’s make sure we both know what we’re getting into” stage.

"Oh, that's what you meant by 'unfinished'."

“So that’s what you meant by ‘unfurnished’.”

And of course, in my email introductions, I coloured a few truths myself. Below are some of my oft-repeated lines, along with what might have been closer to the truth.

  • “I’m pretty chill.”
    • Translation: “I have a ton of pet peeves, but I feel it’s polite to inform you of only two. The others will become clear through a series of passive-aggressive sticky notes utilizing my yearly quota of smiley faces.”
  • “I love cats. Yours look really cute!”
    • Translation: “I’m a fan of cats in theory, but I feel that actually living with some might cure me of that. To be fair, though, they probably feel the same way about humans.”
  • “I like dogs — yours looks super friendly.”
    • Translation: “I am willing to interview canine applicants for the position of running buddy. I draw the line at food-stealing, shoe-gnawing, muddy paw prints, messy front yards, hair-shedding, the smell of wet fur, and generally everything that makes a dog a dog.”


  • “I’m a pretty clean person …”
    • Translation: “I once proposed a strict three-sponge system in the kitchen, in which sponges were designated for use on dishes, counters and appliances, and the floor by a Roman numeral inscribed in Sharpie, starting with ‘I’ for the dishes, which could then be easily changed to ‘II’ and then ‘III’ as the sponge got rattier and was better suited to less hygienic tasks.”
  • “… but I do sometimes have a tendency to leave my books and things around the house.”
    • Translation: “I have turned the corner of the living room into my personal office, complete with a post-modernist collage of bobby pins, old receipts, Latin homework, Nyquil, and Ikea mailers.”
"CLEAN? I do not CLEAN."

“Throw away WHAT?”

  • “As you requested in your ad, I am a Christian, but you should probably know that I’m pretty liberal politically.”
  • “I’m a bit of an introvert.”
    • Translation: “During the weekends of one summer in college, I sometimes scheduled time to step onto the porch for a few seconds. That way, when my sister asked me, ‘Did you leave the house today?’, I could truthfully reply that I had.”

Fortunately, all truth-omitting aside, I wound up finding what seems to be a great situation for all parties. My new roommate brings home a lot of organic produce to share; I’m happy to share my baked goods in return; and the resident cats and I get along famously.

Of course, I haven’t started singing in the shower yet, so that balance of happiness could change. I’ll keep you posted.


Photo credits: VW bus from PublicDomainPictures, tunnel from hattex, dog from Mehihe, and possum from royguisinger on Pixabay.


Book Chatter: Comfort reading

As I have mentioned previously, I’m currently in the throes of moving.

This image is only the faintest of exaggerations.

How many books do I have? Well …

Now, there are are good ways to move, and there are bad ways.

A Good Moving Experience (a true story)

  1. You have enough boxes.
  2. The weather is clear and mild.
  3. You have had time to purge your possessions of nonessentials.
  4. You have several helpful friends with cars.
  5. You aren’t moving far.
  6. You have neither small children nor pets.

A Bad Moving Experience (also a true story)

  1. You have recently graduated from college and are currently jobless.
  2. You have never met your future roommate or seen your future lodgings.
  3. You are moving alone.
  4. It is 90°F in the shade.
  5. You have a tiny car and a box spring that patently refuses to fit in your back seat.
  6. You are plagued by the memories of last year’s move, when you had a boyfriend with a truck.

Fortunately, my current story is the first scenario, but all moving situations are still stressful by definition. There are tough decisions and hard physical labour and — ew — change involved. And that last night in your old place, when you’ve essentially been stripped of your familiar surroundings and are down to the impersonal, uncaring four walls … that’s always a character test, huh?

You just know I would have been the pioneer wife who was always campaigning for a permanently settled life.

You just know I would have been the pioneer wife who was always campaigning for a permanently settled life. The beckoning west be darned — I am not packing up this house again, Henry.

But something that always helps, I’ve found, is to keep a small pile of your favourite books next to your clothing and toiletry essentials, a stack of talismans against the horrors of change. For me, this means engaging narratives, preferably with an element of humor, that will draw me out of my present situation and relieve some of my anxiety, even if it’s just for a few minutes in the evenings before I collapse into bed.

So what’s in my current stack?


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because as we have already established, I am a huge fan of the series, and rereading it — especially the early books — makes me feel young and safe.

Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island

Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island, because as previously discussed, it’s all about finding the comfort in whatever situations life throws at you — or, if that fails, complaining as wittily as possible.


Ree Drummond’s first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, because Ree has had some tricky transitions in life too, and knowing that she’s come through them with grace and humour has been a fantastic inspiration. Also, nothing says “comfort” like pictures of chicken-fried steak.


Terry Pratchett’s The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy (comprised of Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead, and Johnny and the Bomb). Three great stories about a boy facing huge changes in his life and taking them in stride.

By the time I post next, I should be completely moved into my new place, so stay tuned for a celebratory Seasonal Sunday!

What books do you turn to for solace? 


Photo credits: Book covers from Better World Books (pages linked in images); wagons from amychyde and mountains from tpsdave on Pixabay.