A secret tentative plan

I tend to be secretive about my most sacred and valued hopes and dreams. I’ll quietly decide to try something days or months (or never) before telling anyone about my intentions.  The less everyone knows about what I’m doing, the less everyone will be disappointed by my inability to accomplish whatever it was that I probably shouldn’t have told them about in the first place.  And trust me: I have not accomplished plenty.

In addition to a fear of expectations, there’s also the jinx factor.  If I fill others in on a plan, the plan is then doomed to failure.  For example, after telling everyone that Savion Glover would one day be my husband – it’s almost 20 years later and well, obviously no Savion. That’s because I jinxed it.  That apartment I deemed perfection, the job I thought would guarantee happiness, or the man I was sure was him – it rarely ends up being what I said I wanted.  If I’m honest, in most cases, it ends up being something better – something I didn’t imagine for myself.  But when I set my sights on something I really, really want (like the Savion thing), I don’t want to tempt fate into finding something better – or worse, more challenging than what I actually want.  So while I try to get between points A and B, if B has any level of significance, I won’t be saying too much about it.

I started the blog when I began to realize how terrible this strategy could be.  As much as I’d like to believe it’s possible to do everything for and by myself, I know it shouldn’t always be that way.  Support and guidance can be wonderful things.  But I’ve recently fallen off the blogging thing – writing altogether, really.  And I’ve caught myself a couple of times thinking I have nothing to write about.  Nothing worth sharing.  So I’m a “black girl”and I’m “gone.” Yeah, now what?

Truth is, a lot is now.  I’ve just been backsliding into my old, secretive, suffer-in-silence ways.  As the comforts of my student life appear to be approaching an end quite quickly, a number of grown-up realities – big girl decisions – have come into play.  Money, career, home…scary-type stuff.  The stuff I was temporarily happy to set aside.  And no offence, or anything, I just didn’t feel like sharing the next steps with you.  What could your knowing offer other than a jinx on an already tenuous situation?

Yet, although I still mostly believe that, I need to get over it.  Particularly because I’m about to be getting “gone” again.  And that is what this blog is supposed to cover, as the title would suggest…

Black girl gone…to Suriname – in (about) two months for (about) two months.  I’m dragging out the fieldwork and writing process for my Master’s thesis to incorporate the research I’ll do over there in the coming semester.  So this means I will remain a student for just a bit longer.  A bit like cheating, perhaps. But you would do it too.

And while I continue with my thesis research, and as I work through the logistics of a temporary move from Europe to South America, I’m working out a business plan.  Because in 2013, I have no intentions of working for the benefit of someone else’s mission. My mission is to introduce young (and all) black people to our histories by paying tribute and learning the stories of our ancestors, beginning with their own ancestors.  And I’m really excited to turn that into a full-time gig.

It will look like a nonprofit organization, based in the U.S., with a branch office in the Netherlands (ahem).   Partnerships between schools and local genealogical societies (read: young and old) will provide young people with African ancestry in the Americas with personalized research into their family histories, enhanced by their own culturally and historically-relevant experiences and research. In the long-run, we’ll provide the young people with travel opportunities.  But at the moment, my priority is just to clarify and prove the concept.

Yeah, and that’s where I draw the sharing line.  And that just left me pretty uncomfortable.  We still have some issues to work through.

So here’s hoping I didn’t just jinx the isht out of myself. And further hoping that I can find sources of support and encouragement among you, in addition to a willingness to hold me accountable!

A story

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by all there is to do in order to be where, what, and who I want to be. And strangely, the feelings of anxiety have become more pronounced as the plan becomes more clear. Now that I know happiness is attainable, and it’s actually all under my control…well, it seems like a lot more pressure.  As the universe seems to declare, “sure, you can have whatever you want,” all I seem to say is, “but wait, you want me to do what first?” That looks like a whole lot of scary work ahead.

In the midst of one of my more unproductive and (somewhat) irrationally overwhelmed times, I stood on a NYC subway platform.  Transferring from the C to the A, I was headed to the airport – back to Amsterdam.  In my mind I listed the number of things I needed to get done approximately weeks ago, preoccupied by creeping self-doubt.   When I briefly returned to the present, I took inventory: suitcase, laptop bag, something’s missing.  My leather jacket. My most favorite.

That sinking feeling when you realize something is lost – some/anywhere in NYC. It hurt. I briefly attempted to acquire some sympathy from two ladies standing beside me by sadly declaring, “I just lost my jacket.” They kindly obliged with sighs and looks of pity. As I stood there with a big ‘ole suitcase and various other bags strapped to me, I had no option to go back and retrace my steps. We all knew that jacket was long gone. So I began working on getting over it. It’s just a jacket. I probably wore it too often anyway. Perhaps its replacement will bring me even more joy.

During the following (excessively) long train ride, I kept thinking of the stairway at the first train station.  Although I hadn’t been paying attention, and I had no idea the jacket had fallen, I felt strangely certain of when it must have happened.  A glimmer of hope remained with my friends who would follow me to Amsterdam just a couple of hours later.  Perhaps I could catch them in time, get them to follow the route I had taken, and maybe they would even find the jacket at the station.  A laughable long-shot. Grasping at straws might make the recovery period worse. But it’s worth a try.

I arrived at the airport about 10 minutes after my (typically timely) friends planned to leave, after anxiously watching the clock tick away on the super-duper slow air train shuttle-thing. If I missed them, it’d be over. Without a U.S. cell phone, I asked the security woman taking bags where I could find a pay phone.  I would have to go far, to the other side of the large airport area. “Or, you could just use my phone.” Seriously? “Why look for a pay phone when you could use this?” Exactly.

Several hours and an Atlantic Ocean later, as I expected, Amsterdam was cold and drizzly.  I wore only a sweatshirt that was insufficient and also seemed to regret my careless disregard of layering and, well, decency.  This discomfort marked the beginning of a new life without my leather jacket. And, considering the circumstances, I think I was coping quite well with the unexpected hardship. Too many other things are competing to cause me worry. A well-liked, but forever lost leather jacket cannot be one of them.

Two hours later, I met my jet-lagged, weary, and appropriately-dressed friends at Centraal Station.  We exchanged hugs and stories of our respective overnight flights.  Leading them to my place, it was pretty clear the glimmer of hope I had maintained was no longer.  With the intention of sparing my feelings, they didn’t even bring it up. But I needed to close the chapter. “So…you guys didn’t find the jacket, huh?”

“Oh no, sorry.” Sad faces. Agreement that it was a long-shot and reassurance that they tried.

How incredible it would have been if they had found the jacket. This would have meant a kind someone had picked it up and handed it to the station attendant. And my friends, who I narrowly caught on their way out the door, would have followed shortly after to retrieve it from likely the same attendant I had earlier asked to buzz the door open for me. And these friends also just so happened to be on their way to Amsterdam, reuniting me with the completely lost jacket in just a few short hours. How charming of a scenario that –

“Dana, we tried to pretend for as long as we could. But, we actually found your jacket.”

A bag unzipped. And emerged the forever and completely lost red, vintage, most favorite, leather jacket. My already loved friends became heroes. Heroes.

But what are the chances? The question kept coming to mind. The strong feeling about where I dropped it, the kind person who handed it in, the security lady with the cell phone, my friends and their plane, the timing, all of it seems so unlikely, even as individual scenarios.

Getting to some kind of point: I believe in signs. And this sure felt like one. As if I received some direct communication from someone or something that knows more, and perhaps knows why.  It’s a sign of what, I’m not sure. But strange things seem to happen more often these days. And I suspect that’s because I’ve finally started listening. Paying attention and listening. And with this, I’m making no exception. That leather jacket was not lost and found in vain.

Forget the doubt. Do the work. Trust the process. You’ll get what you want, dammit.

(spirit speaks to me with sass)

Back to the subject of dating

I can’t even pretend to be an expert on this subject.  As many of you know, I didn’t have much luck dating in New York.  And in searching for who is ideally the black man of my dreams, I left Oakland and Brooklyn for Amsterdam.  Not necessarily the decision of an expert, or a logical person for that matter, if we’re making these types of judgments.  But whatever.  Here I am.  A single, black woman living in Amsterdam.  Figuring things out as I go – mainly what I’m looking for, and if anyone is looking for me.

First let me be clear that I don’t plan to turn this into a dating blog.  I feel really uncomfortable with the idea of broadcasting the details of what could be a genuine source of anxiety or unhappiness for me.  I can deal with the conversation only if we’re talking in hypotheticals and theory.  Then it’s totally fine.

Going back a bit, when I decided to leave New York, it was for a number of reasons.  It wasn’t where I could see myself long-term, only partially because I didn’t feel like I had a potential partnership there.  A loner in Brooklyn would remain so.  Amsterdam was likely a place where I could be, at least for some kind of term, regardless of whether or not the life partner question was answered.  I figured if I’m going to be alone, I may as well be alone in a dope city while I figure everything else out.  Hell yeah.  And I would make the same decision in every lifetime I had to.

Rising above being single, while living and loving the life I created, was the plan.  Easier intended than done.  It’s impossible to place it completely out of mind.  Once I figured out how to open a bank account and where my classes were located, I was thinking, “where are the cute boys?”  There was no way I was going to be here for all of this time and not date at all.  Oh my goodness, I hope not.  So assuming I was looking for someone in the range of cuteness…where might he be located?

I asked around quite a bit.  In the beginning I was pretty clear about my preference for black men.  In addition to education and sense of humor, blackness has always been on my list.  This has social, political, personal, and shallow reasons behind it – all of which are another subject.  So most people referred me to de Bijlmer.  “If he’s black, he probably lives in de Bijlmer.”

If only it could be as simple as a short ride on the metro.  In addition to mapping the location of potentially cute boys, I’ve gotten plenty of opinions on the plight of the single foreigner in Amsterdam – and a disturbing plight it is.  “Dating in Amsterdam? Hmph!”  Straight women and gay men seem to agree that the process of courtship is passive at best, seeming to lack the fun part.  As I mentioned recently, men don’t typically make a first move.  They may be receptive when approached.  But if you’re the type of person who prefers to be pursued, you may just want to think about moving.  Could it really be all Dutch men?  It can’t be true.  Trouble is…it kinda seems like it’s true.

So that means I need to work on stepping up my game.  Acting oblivious (one of my previous moves) clearly isn’t going to cut it in these circumstances.  But it’s still not so simple.  The question then becomes who is pursued?  The guy I want?  Or the guy who wants me?  Which brings me to another common response I get: “you’re looking for a black man? Well, good luck. [or, ha!]”

Initially I thought my unlikelihood of finding a black man in Amsterdam was simply due to poor odds.  White people are more common around here.  And the black men who are around are usually in relationships.  That would make sense.  And it seems to be somewhat true.  But a number of sources tell me that if I wanted a black man around here, I might just have to be a little whiter…or just white.  And if I want to be with someone who is attracted to me, I should consider a guy who is…well, white.  A few black men have expressed some sort of interest in me.  But for the most part, I don’t get so much as a glance in my direction.   Could that be true?  Is it possible that I’m not as attractive as I think I am? (Seinfeld reference, sorry.)

So a white guy?  It’s not my ideal scenario.  But, though it’s likely a surprise for many, I’m open to dating a man who isn’t black.  Life’s too short for me to hold onto that one.  And anyway, Dutch men are a pretty good-looking group, which eases the pain of being rejected by the black men.  So perhaps I should be practicing making flirty eyes with white men, and coming up with my opening line – probably something like, “soooo, how do feel about zwarte piet?”

Of course I’m not limited to white Dutch guys.  Amsterdam is an international city.  Anything can happen as long as attractive men are acquiring passports.  So I’m going to stay positive, blocking out the numerous voices of Amsterdam’s perpetually single.  I’ve been learning a lot from them.  But I don’t want to be in their damn club.

Homework, Procrastination, and Freak Outs

Homework sucks.  Well, no.  I understand it from a reasonable perspective.  If I only attended class, even if I listened really carefully and took diligent notes, I wouldn’t learn much.  Most of the substance comes from reading, reflecting, writing…all of that.  I get it.  Really I do.  But for some reason homework brings on this unwelcome sense of dread and anxiety.

I think it goes back to when homework started picking up – maybe 4th grade.  I used to expect to be finished with all of my assignments by about 7pm.  So when Jeopardy was coming on in the living room, and I still had more than one assignment left to finish, I would freak out.  It would start with biting my nails, progress to a racing heart, and finally escalate to full-blown tears.  It was insane.  My mother would explain that I was only wasting more time with my freak out.  But I couldn’t be reasoned with.  I was already convinced I would still be doing math word problems as the sun rose…on my 20th birthday.

I didn’t have as much time to panic over homework in high school.  I was always involved with a bunch of activities, mainly ballet, that kept me busy.  By the time I got home and had some dinner, I only had a couple of hours before I needed to be asleep.  So even though I hated it, I just had to get it done.  One night I remember eating my dinner on the way to a rehearsal, while writing a paper, relying on the light in the car.  If I had taken time for a freak out, I would have missed rehearsal, and I wouldn’t have finished the paper.

The problem became procrastination, a good friend I met in college.  More free time meant more time to waste.  If I had 2 days to complete a paper, something else of critical importance would take priority on the first day – something like cleaning my roommate’s hair out of the vacuum or sitting in a room with a few friends discussing how much work we had to do.  On the second day, I would get everything else out of the way at the beginning of the day – checking mail, having breakfast and lunch, maybe a class or rehearsal.  Nothing would be finished between any of those things.  So I wouldn’t start until they were all completed.  And that usually left me at 9 or 10pm, beginning a paper that was due the following day.  I had it worked out to a science though.  Mountain Dew, commiserating friends, and knowledge that it had been done before got me through it every time.  I lost a lot of sleep.  And I had a reasonable number of freak outs.  And none of it helped improve my relationship with homework.

Law school was just about the same, defined by procrastination and complaining.  But that complaining was warranted.

And now, here I am about a decade later, still biting my nails, wasting time, and freaking out about homework.

I handed in my first real paper last week.  Although I left myself plenty of time to write the paper, it took me far longer than I expected to finish.  At one point I had to trash my argument because it was centered around an article that turned out to be absolutely nutso (took me three reads to realize the guy was talking about magic more literally than is acceptable in an academic environment).  Researching, re-reading, and trying to make sense of it all just went on and on.  I expected to finish with plenty of time to spare.  But around midnight, the night before it was due (it was to be emailed by midnight the following night), I was making fried rice and tea, knowing I would be up for several more hours.  And then, of course, old habits came back to haunt me.  No tears were shed.  But self-doubt made an appearance.  And then there was that woman I haven’t been in touch with for 4 years on facebook – I needed to look at all 121 of her Grand Canyon vacation photos.  And then there was my phone’s ringtone – that had to be changed.  And then of course there was the discovery of Top Chef All Stars on youtube.  My goodness.  There was just so much to do in such a short period of time.

But there’s a happy ending.  I finished the paper, emailed it, and handed in the hard copy before 6pm the following day (perhaps my earliest ever).  And I think it made sense.  If it didn’t make sense, well it’s not so much a happy ending.  But it certainly felt happy to get over that hurdle.  And having spent so much time on the paper, I understood more of the concepts than I had before I began.

So finally feeling a bit smarter and more confident, I think homework and I may have reached a better place…but that’s not to say I won’t be looking at every single photo you’ve posted on facebook the night before my next paper is due.

Cycling Debacles

There’s a woman ahead of me on her cell phone. Her pace is slow. So I follow her. An old man zooms by us both, pleasantly ringing his bell. Another woman pulls up behind me, saying something in Dutch. Most likely I’m doing something wrong. So I assume she’s alerting me to the fact that my tires are on backwards or something. Then she pulls up beside me, causing me to panic at the thought of veering straight into her. “dutch…dutch…dutch” is met by my blank, nervous stare. “Oh, you’re not dutch! I was just saying you have really awesome dreads!” I offer a winded response. Something like, “hank-uh.” Then she zooms off at three times my speed.

Cell phone lady must have turned. Because now I’m at the intersection alone. Every muscle is tense. My hands are tightly clenching the handle bars. And every ounce of my concentration is on the peddles. When the bike light turns green, I’ll need to have a plan for how to push off smoothly, in spite of my exhaustion, frozen fingers, and runny noise. A pitiful scene. And a typical one.

So yeah. I got a bike. But look, people. No one can be good at everything.  And I am comfortable with owning this as one of my more obvious weaknesses.  I’m even able to see the humor in the misery of it.

Before purchasing the bike, I watched the bikers really closely.  Aside from the fact that I hadn’t seriously ridden a bike since I was very young, I was most concerned by the laws of bike traffic.  Stopping, merging, navigating – there was definitely a system. And although it continued to baffle me, the cost and slow pace of the trams compelled me to put on a brave face, buy a bike, and learn by doing.

I was told not to spend more than 60 or 70 euros on a bike, knowing that it has a high likelihood of being stolen anyway. Some people even recommended going straight for a stolen bike for the lowest price guarantee. But since I feel too new to engage in criminal activity, I went to the Waterlooplein flea market, which usually seems to have a good selection of used bikes. I looked through the first guy’s selection, which seemed to be mostly the more expensive, fancy-type bikes. He walked up with a bike in tow to ask me if I needed help. When I told him I was just looking at the bikes, he said, “how about this one?”

A typical dutch bike – brown, rusty in plenty of places, and absolutely no frills. But it seemed like a good bike with the potential to be cute if I could figure out the right accent colors. As I considered the bike’s aesthetics, the guy said, “it’s a good bike. Try it.”

Internal panic. I didn’t think I would have to take my first ride in years in front of an audience – at this crowded market. But it was important to me to be cool. So I said, “okay, great.” Adjusting my gloves and shuffling things around in my bag, I stalled a bit. Then I took a deep breath and pushed off into the street behind the market. I wobbled into a turn on the sidewalk to avoid running into real traffic. Then I leveled off to go a few paces down the street. I hadn’t fallen off, so I got off before I could. 60 euros, including a new lock and some dinky lights, I bought the bike.

rusty and sexy

Although I had gotten over a huge hurdle by getting up the nerve to purchase the bike, I still didn’t have the nerve to ride it home. So we walked halfway, making a stop in the park. And then I practiced, going in circles, back and forth through the park. I felt silly. But I needed the confidence boost before I could go into the street.

Finally I forced myself to leave the park, coming to a complete stop before I had the courage to enter the bike lane. Then I was in the mix. A few people passed me. And one of those tiny cars honked at me when I didn’t know I was allowed to turn at a light. But I managed to get myself home, exhausted and relieved.

The next morning was Sunday, when hardly anyone is on the street. So I decided to take my bike to the central library, which took me about 15 or 20 minutes after getting a little lost. Two days later I took it to class. And since then, I’ve just been forcing myself to keep getting back on. I’ve come home so exhausted that I can’t even take my coat off (yeah, I’m out off shape); I fell off once in front of about 10 people waiting at a tram stop when my tire got stuck in the track (only because construction forced me out of the bike lane); I still scream out loud when other bikers merge into my lane; I sweat in spite of the freezing temperatures; and I have yet to ride at night. But each time I feel slightly calmer and less tense, which in itself makes it easier to ride. I understand how the lights and intersections work. And I haven’t run into any pedestrians (well, almost – but not really).

Once the cold weather eases up, and I can steer the bike with anything less than a death grip, I’m pretty sure my bikeriding skills will resemble my approach to driving down Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn – carefree, reckless, and impatient. But until then, I’ll be testing the limits of my comfort zone every day.

parked

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.

 

UPDATE: a Scam Is Just a Scam

Thanks to all who provided input on the scam question.  The consensus is that it was a scam.  Although just barely, I’m pleased to say I avoided some major heartbreak here.

 

This morning I sent an email to the University, asking for advice on the situation.  I sent the address, the rent, the passport and the “proof of ownership” certificate.  Here’s the response:

I had a look at the attachments and googled the address, and I get the feeling that this deal is kind of dodgy. The whole house seems to be for sale: http://www.huislijn.nl/koopwoning/amsterdam/eerste-constantijn-huygensstraat_109_f47d00a6-cca0-4f8b-91a3-e043c617f078/overzicht.html and this website also tells us that the top 3 floors are rented at the moment but it doesn’t say if this situation will continue. And the proof of ownership looks very fake to me, but I could be wrong.

Mmhm.   I don’t think you’re wrong, Renee.  I don’t think you’re wrong at all.

 

Immediately after receiving this message from Amsterdam, I received this link from a friend (thanks MYC!):

http://santacruzhomebroker.com/santa-cruz-real-estate-blog/2009/01/

It provides almost an exact replica of the “proof of ownership” I received from my scammer.

 

And finally, I took a look at the advice on scams provided by Craigslist (not sure why I didn’t do this before).  One particular bullet point stood out from the rest:

3. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:

  • Scam “bait” items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, and other high value items
  • Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money – this is FALSE, once you’ve wired money, it is GONE.
  • Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands – but could be anywhere
  • Apartment listing may be local, but landlord/owner is “travelling” or “relocating” and needs you to wire money to them abroad
  • Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, rent is below market, etc

 

So there you have it.  I feel like I just escaped an attacker.  Dirty, hurt, and unable to trust strangers.  But I’ll get back out there.  I still have to find myself a place to live.