Monthly Archives: January 2011

Bits of Updates

Although I like to think that every small event in a day holds tremendous significance in the bigger picture of a person’s life, there are some smaller events that just don’t warrant their own blog posts. So for these smaller occasions, I have decided to lump them together as bits of an update.

My Birthday. Today is my birthday! Okay, maybe this should be more than a bit of an update. But since it’s my birthday in a new city, I don’t have too much to report, other than the fact that I’ve technically entered another year. And that feels great. It also happens to be Queen Beatrix’s birthday. She and I have more in common than she realizes.

Exploring Amsterdam and beyond. My mom and her husband met me in Amsterdam on the day I arrived. They were troopers, walking with me through all parts of the city as I tried to get my bearings and shop for essentials. We walked through the touristy areas of central amsterdam, the southern canal belt, and oost (my neighborhood). We explored Vondelpark, while socializing with plenty of happy Dutch dogs. We took a canal cruise through the city, and a bus trip down to Rotterdam, the Hague, and Delft. We walked through plenty of markets, including Dappermarkt, which is my favorite because it’s just a couple of blocks away from my apartment. We visited some great museums, including Van Gogh and Tropenmusem (tropics museum). And we ate in all types of restaurants, ranging from Ethiopian and Tibetan to falafel and frites with mayo.

Sadly, in spite of my efforts to convince them to move here, they left on Saturday morning. The weekend felt instantly lonelier.

Immigration status. I had a bit of a snafu with my immigration paperwork. The University claims they sent me an email back in December. But I never responded to it because they never sent it. Since I didn’t respond, they stopped working on my application. As a result, I haven’t been able to move quickly on opening a bank account. And everything else that requires a bank account to begin has been on hold. But no fear, I have been able to set an appointment for this week, at which time I should get all of my official numbers and things of that nature. I know I’m legit. And soon the Netherlands will know this as well.

Apartment makeover. The apartment has been painted some lovely colors, including an orangey-red in the bedroom, a golden-yellow wall in the kitchen, and sage with a dark green accent in the living room. In addition, the wonderful paint team also aggressively cleaned all of the wood in the apartment. With a smoker previously living here, the walls were horribly stained and everything was stinky. Now it all looks so fresh and so clean. I hope to have my stuff shipped relatively soon, arriving by March. With the walls looking so nice, I just need some furniture between them to make it feel like home.

The same contractor who managed the paint and cleaning will return this week to begin working on my garden. Clearing out all of the crap, filling-in and painting the fence, and turning the little pond into a fountain are the plans. It should be a great blank slate. I will work on the rest. I’m going to get a gardening for dummies book. There is always room for a new skill.

Starting school. Today/Monday/my birthday is the big day. I have an orientation for the graduate program, as well as an orientation for my language course. This will be my first chance to get a good sense of what my program is all about, as well as assess my peers. It feels like my first day of grade school. But in addition to meeting new people and trying to appear intelligent, I need to navigate the city under more pressure than I have had to so far. Over the course of the day, I will be in several buildings throughout the city. I’ve studied the map. I think I’m ready.

This won’t be my first orientation day. Last week I participated in the international students orientation. We were split into groups of about 10 or 15. I quickly realized I was one of two or three graduate students. The rest of the people in my group were undergrads, spending a semester of their junior year abroad. While this will certainly be a great experience for them, and I wish them the best of luck in everything they do, I didn’t want to spend an entire weekend with 19 year-olds. Our interests just aren’t the same. And I didn’t appreciate feeling like a Golden Girl so early on. I skipped out on the rest of that orientation.

Although I will share one priceless quote from a policeman who said a few words to the group of international students: “Never buy soft drugs off the street. Sometimes it’ll be fake. But most of the time, it’s just shit.”

Fulbright application. The good news is that I am now a finalist. There isn’t more I can say on this without feeling like I’m cursing myself with all types of bad luck. Let’s just say I’m really happy about this and everything else mentioned above.

A Walk through the Oost

I live in Amsterdam Oost, pronounced “oast,” meaning east. Before I arrived, I read a small amount about the area. From what I could make of it, there would be a few places to eat and maybe a museum or two. And since I would not be living in the heart of central Amsterdam, I gathered I would not make it into any of the cooler kid circles. But cool kids or not, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the Oost.

my block

My block is quiet. With the exception of a heavy-footed upstairs neighbor, I have yet to hear any noise at night. Yet, I’m quite close to pretty much everything I would need. Across the street there is a ‘Comfort Cafe,’ which, although I haven’t tried it yet, is exactly what I need to be across the street from me.  On the next block, a store exists for everything I can imagine needing, from the general grocery store, to a pet store, and then to a black hair products store.  At the end of that block, I’m at Dapperstraat, which hosts a market Monday-Saturday.  A couple of years ago, National Geographic voted it one of the top 10 markets in the world.  And it’s just about a block away.

shopping street (not busy on this day)

black women everywhere...sigh.

I walk another long block and I have arrived at NiNsee, an organization that I would pay money to work or volunteer or research or whatever for (I was so excited to stumble upon it).  Across the street is the entrance to Oosterpark.  Water, trees, birds, dogs, happy people.  My own personal park.  I’m in love.  After walking through the park, I discovered the Tropenmuseum (Tropics Museum).  Haven’t visited yet.  But it looks like a gem.

NiNsee Office

Oosterpark

in front of Tropenmuseum

In addition to these finds, there are a number of cafes, evening stores (read: bodega or corner store), and yes, even coffee shops.  I came home one night, ran out to the store for some water, went down the street for some herbal refreshments, and I was home again in less than five minutes.

neighbors

Again, I’m in love.  And it’s with the Oost.  Cool kids better recognize.

The Apartment’s Potential

My apartment is taking on a special pursuit – conversion from a ‘student’s two-room apartment’ to a ‘grown-up’s one-bedroom apartment.’ I’ve begun to drive myself crazy with all of the ideas for the makeover.

Before I even saw the place, the guy from the rental company told me to make myself comfortable by painting or doing what I wanted with it. They’ll be renovating all of the apartments in the next year or two. So it doesn’t really matter what I do with it.

With my creativity switch turned to “power,” I saw the place as a solid blank slate. A private entrance leads to a long hallway, which will be perfect for the ancestor wall of photos on one side, and the revolution wall of photos on the other. This hallway leads to the less than ideal tiny bathroom. But it’s all mine. And it has a sink, which the guy warned me it might not. A nice coat of paint, some shelves, and a shower curtain that stays up will suit my teeny bathroom nicely. I’ve already become more used to it without all of those things.

The next door is to the tiny bedroom. It will fit an adult-size bed, but not much else. And without one real closet, my brain has been spinning around the dilemma of storage. Where will everything go? The one closet that is full of shelves can function as a dresser if I add appropriately sized baskets. And maybe I can squeeze in a clothes rack somewhere. Not sure. But after some pretty paint in the red/orange family in there, I’m hoping the bedroom’s smallness issues will matter less.

master bedroom

 

Next is the kitchen, which is huge. A table, chairs, and a dance floor would all fit nicely. With one wall of a bright color in the gold/yellow family, along with some art, the kitchen could be one of my favorite rooms. There’s a connection for a washer & dryer (might I be so bold?). And the treadmill that I just couldn’t get rid of could go in one of the corners. Ambitious, maybe. But it’s my biggest space.

the kitchen

The kitchen has a door to my private garden, which, although it requires some love and attention, is so perfectly cute and much larger than I expected. It even has a little space for a fish pond. I picture it with a couple of chairs and an outdoor table, some of those outdoor lights, a little fountain in the pond, and a better defined fence to allow Zora to walk around freely. This is exactly the type of project that I would normally let slide, never actually getting around to doing one thing with it. But the vision is just too lovely for me to allow my laziness to overtake it.

pre-love garden

On the front end of the apartment, my living room faces the street. It’s a nice size, with a mock fireplace holding the gas heater. I see tons of potential for this room. With curtains replacing or covering the vertical blinds, the windows will look much better. A pale green paint, with a darker green over/under the mantle, will warmify the room. My large mirror, artwork, sofa, and an area rug will make it feel like a living space. In another corner, I plan to have one tall and one short bookcase, along with my tall table and 2 stool-type chairs. (This happens to be the corner in which I’m currently sleeping on the student-size single bed.). This corner has a window that looks into the kitchen. I’ll put some white lights around it, hopefully highlighting the complementing colors of the two rooms. It’ll be my own little cafe.

the living space

To prove to you that I’m serious, I’ve already spoken with a painter and negotiated a price with him. On Tuesday morning he and I will buy paint while his partner sets up. I’ve also requested new quotes for shipping my stuff from Brooklyn storage to here. While the painters work and my stuff makes the trip on a boat somehow, I’ll work on purchasing/making the things that will make it complete. I have no idea how long it will all take. But I imagine that within a month or two I will have a transformed place. Just in time for some guests to stay comfortably.

Settling In

Exhausted.

I tend to think the moving process is complete once the boxes have been placed in their new home and the movers have left. But just like any other move in the past, that is far from my current reality. I have so many things to do before I can begin to feel settled in the city and in my apartment.

Learning my way around has involved lots of walking, a bit of getting lost, and plenty of asking for help. I have collected about eight maps, guaranteeing that I will pull one out if I check in any given pocket. And I study them in bewilderment, trying to understand and remember the multi-syllabic street names as they all seem to twist, narrow, and intersect. And once I’ve determined either where I am or where I’m going, I look up to find no street sign, or perhaps there is one in the distance, posted on the side of a house in the smallest of fonts. But sure enough, I’m coming to know where to find Linnaeusstraat and how to get home from Dapperstraat, or even Overtoom, which requires two trams and a short walk.

Speaking of the trams, public transportation won’t be too bad. I’ve been on the metro, multiple trams, and at least one bus. Although the maps appeared useless at first, the system seems to be pretty straight forward. To help matters, they have a trip planner website (something like hopstop), which allows me to enter a “to” and “from” address and provides me with the recommended travel route. Considering my classes are all in very different locations, and I don’t yet have a bike, I will become quite acquainted with that website, as well as my fellow tram riders.

In addition to learning my way around, to really become comfortable, I have to establish myself with the basics. A phone, mobile or otherwise, is basic. A bank account is basic. And you can’t get more basic than food and water. I’m gradually getting there, with a temporary cell phone and some snacks and drinks in the fridge. But the lack of ease that seems to come with much of it is frustrating. The bank account, for example, can’t be opened without a visa number. I’ll need to either hear from my school on the status of my paperwork, or start the process over on my own by making an appointment at city hall. None of it can be done over the weekend. So regardless, I need to wait until Monday to inquire further. And, unfortunately, I need a bank account in order to purchase internet and cable. Although I don’t have a tv, which makes cable a lower priority, I feel like I’m shriveling inside without easy access to the internet. And with the internet, I’d be able to straighten out so many other basics with much less effort. But, alas, I’m immersed in a somewhat confusing cycle. And even if it only takes a few more days to resolve, my impatience makes it feel like it’s already been an eternity.

As for my apartment, it has a major lack of storage issue. And also a lack of furniture issue. It came equipped with a single bed, a large table, two chairs, and a bunch of junk in the kitchen that I don’t want (old glasses and silverware). I’ve made a few trips to stores that are close-by to gather some of the things that will make me comfortable but weren’t able to come with me from the States, like sheets, a pillow, cleaning supplies, and Zora’s litter box. And I’ve bought simple groceries – nothing requiring a pot, pan, large fridge or oven to prepare (yeah, there’s no oven and only a tiny fridge).

I’m adjusting to living with the basics. But let’s face it – I’m a grown-ass woman with a bad back. I want my queen-size bed with its memory foam. I want my sheets, and blankets, and artwork. I want my Cuisinart pots and pans. I want my plates and appliances. And I want my books. I can do as much shopping for practical little things here and there as I’d like it. But I’ve already faced the truth: waiting until the end of this semester to decide if I should have my stuff shipped over here won’t be necessary. I want my stuff now. My stuff will help a lot. Yeah, my stuff. That’s what I need. My stuff…

Regardless, with a tiny bed, a tiny fridge, a tiny bathroom, no bank account, and no internet, I couldn’t be happier. I’m so friggin’ happy…gradually settling in.

A Cat’s Moving Story

I adopted Zora in Oakland when she was about 5 years old. She had been in the shelter for a year and a half, going between their two sites hoping to find a home in either of them.

I found her by looking at profiles of the long-term animals on the SPCA’s website. They described her as the shelter cat, no longer focused on finding a home, but accepting that she may be a “lifer.” She now resided in the back and only occasionally stayed in the cages up front for display. Her primary job was to test out the temperament of new dogs to see how they would respond to a cat hissing at them. So she was constantly on the defense.

I went to the shelter and requested her by name. “You want to see Sweat Pea?” (her name at the time), he said somewhat in disbelief. Then with a sudden burst of excitement, he jumped up and said, “Oh! Let me get her for you!” Shortly after that, another woman joined him in his giddy excitement to introduce Sweat Pea to someone. They explained that I would need to come to the back to meet her.

She had a little bed that was perched on a dusty windowsill behind the metal shelves of food and supplies. Her food bowl and water were somewhere in the midst of the chaos, as was her litter box. Her home was the supply room. A long-hair domestic cat, with gigantic and bright green eyes, a thick coat of black, brown, and white hair, and a little bit of an attitude, she really was quite charming. I knew her name wouldn’t remain. I also knew she was coming with me.

With her name now Zora, she quickly became spoiled and happy with life in my Oakland apartment. But less than six months later, we moved to Brooklyn. The cross country flight was a big deal, forcing her to stay in her carrier for more than 10 hours. But it never crossed my mind that she wouldn’t come with me. So both she and I had to bear it (though I admit her burden to bear was much greater than mine).

Then, just a few years later, I was ready for another big move – only international this time. During the brief time in which I wasn’t too sure about which country I would move to, I researched animal immigration laws. With many countries requiring absurdly long quarantines or other challenging hoops to jump through, I understood why many people think such a move with an animal would be nearly impossible. But thankfully, the Netherlands has a pleasantly friendly animal immigration policy. As long as she had her shots and a microchip, she’d be good to go. They don’t quarantine animals here “on principle.” My kind of country.

I took her to the vet two times: first to get the shots in November, and then earlier this month to have her European Union passport/health certificate created. A few days before our departure I had to drive out to JFK to receive an official USDA stamp on her passport. Fortunately, Zora did not have to make that trip. Because just a few days later she was in a bag, on a plane, sitting under the seat in front of me, exhausted from having cried the entire way to the airport. She also pooped in her carrier three times during the drive, requiring me to change the padding multiple times before we even got on the plane. I worried she wasn’t ready to fly again.

But on the plane she settled down. As I watched my movies and enjoyed my tasty dinner, I checked on her every five minutes or so. She cried a few times. But then she started dozing off. As she accepted her fate, the entire process became much easier.

plane seat

 

Once we arrived in the Netherlands, they looked at her passport for about a minute, then told me to have a nice day. She didn’t even have to come out of her carrier to walk some sort of straight line test, which for some reason is what I imagined. There we both were, suddenly walking around the Netherlands…legally.

We stayed in a hotel the first few nights before moving into my apartment. Then with very little furniture and no heat in the apartment on the first night, Zora followed me around the place whining, seemingly chastising me for making yet another poor decision. But once she discovered the big windowsill in the kitchen that looks out onto our private garden, she began to purr and let the events of the last few days roll off her back. She was home. And hopefully she now understands that no matter where the next plane will take us, she’ll always be home with me.

window seat

It’s a long way from the Oakland SPCA, isn’t it?

Black Girl Officially Gone

That’s right. It’s official. I’m gone!

JFK to AMS

I arrived in Amsterdam early Sunday morning, before the sun rose. And after anticipating and talking about this arrival for so long, it felt surreal.

But first let me back up a bit.

Stored Stuff

Following my last day of work, I went into a more aggressive packing plan. Distinguishing between the stuff I would keep/take, keep/store, purge/donate, and purge/trash proved to be an incredible challenge. Every single item was suddenly important to me, even if I hadn’t seen much of these things in over three years. In the end, about 50 percent went to storage, 35 percent went in the trash or was given away, and 15 percent has come with me in three gigantic suitcases. All of these preparations were just barely in time for Friday, which was moving day. And just like every other moving day before it, it was long, painful, and exhausting. And yet again, I vowed never to do it again alone. Only this time I didn’t take the vow too seriously.

With everything packed away in an appropriate place, my cat and I drove to Jersey to stay with my sister for the night. I was so tired I was in a fog. Only a vague sense of excitement still lingered. I mostly just wanted to put my head on a pillow. So although this was my last night with my family and my last night in the country, I barely said goodnight before heading to bed. My cat, Zora, equally traumatized from the day’s events, passed out right alongside me.

And then came Saturday. The big day. Around the time when I was to head to the airport, Zora was nowhere to be found in my sister’s house. My nephews and I searched every room and crevice in a panic. About 15 minutes after I planned to leave, I felt a furry patch deep in the back of a dark closet. This fool had every intention of missing the flight. But I pulled her furry ass out of the closet, tossed her in her bag, and we were on our way.

The airport was smooth. After paying an unacceptable amount of money for extra luggage and Zora’s ticket, next thing I knew we were on the plane, making ourselves comfortable on the three seats we had to ourselves. Well, I had the seats. Zora was under the seat, poor thing (I’ll have to tell her story in a separate post – it’s that deep). I drank, I ate unexpectedly scrumptious veggie food, I watched the Social Network and Going the Distance, I joked with the flight attendant. It was a delightful flight. So delightful that I only got about 30 minutes of sleep.

Airplane Snacks

Arriving in Amsterdam around 7am, I was just about as exhausted as I was the night before – except this time I was working off a couple of those plane bottles of wine (oops). Immigration was easy, with barely a minute before the guy stamped my passport and sent me on my way. I met my mom and her husband in the baggage claim area. Shortly after that, we were on a shuttle, heading into the city of Amsterdam…my new home.

After more than a year of planning, overthinking, self-doubt, and anticipation, the moment has arrived. And unlike many prior anticlimatic moments of realized goals, this one was worth every minute of the past year. Every single minute.

I’ve been in Amsterdam for less than 48 hours. And much of it has been spent sleeping off the pain of the last couple of days. But so far it all seems to fit perfectly. The first day was sunny and relatively warm (somewhere in the 40s), the streets have been clean and quiet, the canals have been a welcome change of scenery, and the people have been incredibly kind.

I remind myself not to think of it as a utopia. Reality is sure to hit me one of these days. But what the hell? I can enjoy the fact that I made the right decision for awhile, right?

With that, I’ll leave you with the first Dutch word I spoke to a real live Dutch person…goedenavond!

Savings: Status Check

I figured a check-in on the savings account would make sense in light of my recent financial victimization. And fortunately, although my savings plan was disrespected and disregarded for much of the past few months, somehow I have managed to pull together a few dollars to inch up the bar on the grand total. With surgeries, moving expenses, cruel scams, and the desire to eat in restaurants competing against me, saving money certainly hasn’t been easy.

My preferred strategy has been to account for all of my expected expenses, then dump anything remaining from my paycheck into my savings account. A couple of times this has backfired.  Then I have a biweekly automatic deposit into savings. There’s also my bank’s “keep the change” feature, which rounds all of my debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar and adds that change to my savings. It’s not much. But every little bit helps.

Another piece of good news is I’m caught up on most of my expenses. So any money coming in right now goes to moving expenses and savings. I always expect a few surprises that will cost me money. But perhaps I actually have a chance to get at least halfway to my original goal.

Here’s the latest.

Before I Go, Let’s Party…

I’ve been asked a number of times what I’ll miss most about living in New York. I always answer, “the people,” meaning my friends and family. Genuinely good friends aren’t easy to come by. And I’ve met plenty of good people in every city I’ve lived in. But something special has happened since I’ve lived here, giving me the opportunity to meet and fall in love with so many people, all of whom I hope will remain life-long friends.

In celebration of these friendships, as well as, of course, my upcoming move, I decided to party hard during my last few weeks in NYC. Not too much packing or Rosetta Stone studying has been done during this time. But I’ve certainly been having a great time.

A few highlights:

My going away party was on December 30th, the day before New Year’s eve and just days after the snowstorm that mysteriously paralyzed NYC. So I worried that no one would be able to come to Brooklyn to celebrate my upcoming departure. Fortunately I was wrong. Unfortunately I was too drunk to remember if I thanked everyone for coming.

The evening started with a pretty light dinner and a pretty strong mojito. So I was already feeling free before I even arrived at the party venue. And speaking of the venue, it was perfect: a private little movie theater with a bar, and seats that were formerly bucket seats from old cars. We were able to drink what we wanted, watch the little movie I created about my family history research, and then dance to the playlist I put together for the occasion. It was delightful. I was both the drunkest and happiest person at the party. Well, until I realized I had to say goodbye to people…then I started to cry. But it was a happy cry. Oh, and then when I got sick on the way home. But it was a happy puke, trust me.

The following night was New Year’s Eve. Two friends had come up from DC to stay with me and help me celebrate through the weekend. And we met up with some more friends at the party, where I danced more and drank a little less than I had the night before. We ended the night around 5am, at which time on that particular holiday you will find vomit in every car of the train on your way home. The sad thing was that on our train, all of us were too drunk and tired to either notice or move.

Exactly a week later was my last day working. Although I didn’t know what was planned, I knew my friends/coworkers would plan something funny and/or fun for my send-off. And to be honest, since the ante has been upped each time a person leaves, I figured I might be the first one in awhile to get a lollipop and a pat on the back. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The office has two floors. So around 5pm on the big and final day, I noticed all of the staff heading upstairs. They were discreet. But it was obvious. Then I could hear things being said on the microphone, including my name one or two times. Around the same time, I was met in my office by the CEO holding a blindfold (trust me, not a typical Friday). I was blindfolded and led upstairs, all the while hearing my friend on the mic welcoming me to the party. With the blindfold off, I was looking at a sea of purple, with everyone seated as an audience and wearing at least one purple item. There was a large purple seat reserved in the middle, along with a purple fedora, a purple boa, and an open bottle of champagne with a long straw. My fantasy.

I turned around to see eight of the most wonderful people dressed to the nines, looking remarkably similar to Prince and the Revolution. That alone would have been enough. But it was followed by a scripted and carefully choreographed Prince medley, telling the story of my time there. If I hadn’t been having such a good time dancing and laughing, I would have been crying because it was all so lovely. The evening continued with more drinking and more dancing. But the performance was the highlight.

And now, with less than a week left, I don’t expect my remaining days to include much partying. Rather, I need to make up for lost time on the whole packing project. And perhaps I’ll be struggling with the new, nagging feeling that I’m actually going to miss New York. Who would have thought?

Black Girl Done Gone and Got Scammed

Warning: The following contains some appropriately vulgar language.

I’m not sure if this has come across in earlier posts. I’m not even sure I was clearly aware of it until earlier this happened. But I’m an idiot. If “idiot” offends you, feel free to refer to me as a dummy, foolish gal, stupid head, whatever you prefer.

Remember back when I almost got scammed when looking for an apartment in Amsterdam? Relying on online research led to nothing but mystery and heartache. I learned my lesson from that…or so I thought.

Immediately after I nailed down a place to live, which I’ll move into on February 1st, I set my sights on finding a place for my first couple of weeks in Amsterdam, during which time my Mom and her husband will be joining me. We were looking for a place with enough space for three people, ideally located in central Amsterdam. Hotels are great. But they’re pretty pricey. Especially considering that we’ll be staying for two weeks.

So, as I always do, I turned to the internet. I researched short-term rentals to find a number of websites advertising apartments throughout Europe – with most of the companies based in London. The system seemed to be that apartment owners work with agencies to rent their space out to vacationers. The agency does the leg-work, receiving a cut of the rent received by the owner. Sounds like a good idea. And it may actually happen.

I found a website with a cute place – two bedrooms, nice bathroom, centrally located. Comparing it to the other, similar websites, the prices were pretty much the same. So I was happy with this choice. I submitted an inquiry form, providing my name, email, and dates I would need the apartment. I received an email not too much later. The place was available. And after a bit of back and forth to clarify the cost, deposit, contract and payment process, I sent the deposit and 50% of the rental fee via bank wire transfer.

Receipt of payment and signed contract in hand, I checked this item off of my to-do list – until several days later when I received a message from the rental guy. He was sorry for the inconvenience, but the owner of the place changed her mind and now needed the full payment for the apartment in advance in order to hold the place for me. If I sent the remainder of the rent, it would confirm my reservation. No way. And what kind of business would be irresponsible enough the change the terms of an agreement so casually?

I told him I would take a refund. And I also wanted a refund for the $35 wire transfer fee. At the same time, I started researching other places to stay. Strangely, the website for my place was no longer working. But I found another one that also looked really good – same price. So as I was going back and forth with the first guy, I was making an arrangement to send a deposit to the second.

But now there was a problem. I couldn’t send the second deposit until I received the first deposit back. And the first guy was giving me problems. I was starting to worry. But the fog really started to lift when he told me his accounting department wanted to get the money to me as quickly as possible. And since wire transfers can take a few days, they would prefer to send it to my credit card. All I would need to do is send him my credit card information. Oh shit, goddamn motherfucking asshole.  At this point, I knew I had been scammed.  And not only that, he was trying everything he could think of to get as much money out of me as he possibly could.

So this goddamn motherfucking asshole thought I was dumb enough to pull out my credit card, send him all of my information, and expect to receive a deposit ?  I’m sure I was a perfect candidate for being »cleaned out: friendly, excited, bank account.  Yup – I guess I deserved it.

I’m thankful for one thing: the fact that I waited before sending money to scammer #2. His responses were eerily similar to scammer #1’s. And when I checked several days later, that site also no longer existed (though it had been up for a couple of weeks). So it’s clearly a thing. They’re not all necessarily the same person or working together. But they have at least established (and regulated) a clear process for scamming people.

My first action was to get in touch with my bank to see if there was even the slightest chance that they can track down the bank account I sent the money to and get it back for me.  But since people lose thousands of dollars everyday to assholes like this, my loss wasn’t likely to be an exception.  And sure enough, the bank reported back that the scammer’s account had insufficient funds to refund my money.

In spite of the crime that has clearly been committed, no one seems to care. I’ve reported it numerous times, in numerous ways, in numerous countries. No one even responds.

So there you have it. $850. Gone.