my little woodland friends.
© 1996 Jamie Zawinski <>

My last apartment was in the bottom floor of a house, up in the Berkeley hills. It was a very nice neighborhood, with a lot of greenery and a great view of the San Francisco Bay, but the house itself was, to be blunt, a shithole.

To get to my apartment, one had to go around the side of the house and down some very rickety, steep stairs (someone called it ``the goat trail.'') My floor of the house opened on to a deck out back, but the front of my apartment was actually underground (the hill into which the house was built was very steep.)

My upstairs neighbors, for the most part, sucked. But that's a different story. [ schematic ]

What I'm here to talk about are my little woodland friends. For you see, the front of the house, while underground, had a crawlspace next to it (see illustration.) And this crawlspace opened on the outside world, as crawlspaces are wont to do. However, the wall between the crawlspace and my apartment (really, my storage area) was made of a few sheets plywood, roughly tacked to the beams.

At a few points, it was necessary for pipes and ducts to penetrate this wall. Large pipes. Large circular pipes.

Through large, square holes.

This, of course, meant that the interior of my apartment was open to the great outdoors: not only to wintery breezes, but also to visits of all manner of furry creatures.

My next notable visitor was, I believe, a mole. At least I think it was a mole; perhaps it was an opossum, or a really, really weird-looking rat.

One day, I came home from work (having been at the office, and awake, for the better part of two or three days) and the place smelled like shit, literally. I thought maybe the toilet was in extreme need of a cleaning, or maybe the mold growing in the kitchen sink had gotten way out of control. Always the wishful thinker I.

Anyway, it was late, it was dark, and I was exhausted, so I went to sleep. The next morning, a mere six hours later, I was in the car and on my way to work within ten minutes of waking. A few days later (the next time I was home) I discovered what that troublesome smell had been: one of my furry friends had visited in my absence, and had taken a dump right in the middle of a pile of clean clothes on my bedroom floor! I mean, it had to pick the only clean thing in the house. I don't really know what manner of beast the culprit was, but I would guess that it was smaller than a cat, and a lot larger than your typical rat or mouse.

But maybe I imagined the whole thing, I was having the occasional sleep-deprivation hallucination at the time.

At this time I started to wonder whether the fact that I was only spending a few hours a week in my apartment meant that it was in the process of being reclaimed by nature.

Boy, was I glad when I moved out of there.

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