Bankruptcy Blues

One woman, three cancers, and a cash crunch

Julie White

Julie White
Ohio, USA
June 16
writer, editor, dreamer-in-chief
After careers in teaching and librarianship, as well as a stint at editing, I jumped ship to become a freelance writer. I have worked primarily in educational publishing. In 2009, I took a part-time job at a library, trying and failing to make ends meet. Bankruptcy followed. I'm using a pseudonym, because I have to write about money or the lack of it, trying to make sense of my life as an educated, underemployed, aging woman sliding into poverty status.


Julie White's Links
FEBRUARY 3, 2014 9:43AM

A Savings Account Counts!


On Friday, I tried to open a savings account at the credit union in my town. I’ve lived here for sixteen years and not done so; my checking has always been with a bank, sometimes in town, sometimes not. For years, I’ve not had any income that could,… Read full post »

MAY 26, 2013 7:26PM

My Great Expectations



I didn’t read Charles Dickens’ classic until my first year of teaching, when it was part of the ninth grade curriculum. You may recall that the young hero, Pip, is told early in the novel that he has “great expectations.” He assumes these will come via Miss… Read full post »


If declaring bankruptcy does nothing else, it is showing me the many different ways that society punishes those of us who opt out of the modern banking system. For several years now, I’ve refused credit card offers claiming to help me “rebuild” my credit or to congratulate m… Read full post »

APRIL 28, 2013 8:59PM

Chest Pains



The gorilla on my chest made itself known at 2 a.m., waking me from a sound sleep. I wanted to assume that the pressure I felt was bronchitis; I’d been fighting a cold for two weeks. But I was frightened enough to get out of bed, sit… Read full post »

APRIL 7, 2013 9:20PM

What Bliss Costs


"Spend all you have for loveliness,

Buy it and never count the cost;

For one white singing hour of peace,

Count many a year of strife well lost,

And for a breath of ecstasy

Give all you have been, or could be."

 … Read full post »

MARCH 24, 2013 9:53PM

Having the Difficult Conversations



My mother would have been 93 this month, which isn’t impossible to imagine, given that her mother lived to be 95 and that some of her sibs have passed 90. But they hadn’t smoked for six decades as she had, even after being diagnosed with COPD—the chronic,… Read full post »

MARCH 3, 2013 8:07PM

Living Graces


Women I do not know are covering my three “little” medical bills, which jointly added up to $943.00. These women have become for me the embodiment of those paintings and sculptures of the three graces—beauty, joy, and blossom or abundance, according to some engravings. I have… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 4, 2013 8:54PM

Shopping at Goodwill


 Yes, it’s true—I’m a terrible snob. So I had to get past the smell first. Goodwill must fumigate everything. How else can I account for the fact that, regardless of which Goodwill I frequent, every garment smells the same, even if it still has dry cleaner tags on it?… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 2, 2012 5:31PM

One year, two surgeries

I am scribbling as fast as I can, phone receiver cuddled on my left shoulder.

Deductible met


4 percent of balance, payment decreases

interest-free loan, 25 months

First Bank of x


When the woman from the hospital tells me the expected… Read full post »

AUGUST 12, 2012 2:43PM

Education for the 99%



The wealthy have always had access to education. Private tutors for the young men of England who went on to Oxbridge and became priests, lawyers, scholars. Prep schools, even now, for the wealthy in the U.S.; places like Phillips Exeter, or, for young women, Brearley. (Nope,… Read full post »

JULY 22, 2012 10:09PM

Meaningless Work



News flash: Julie White has determined that her work is meaningless. That working in a community college (possibly any college) is akin to factory work. There’s always another class coming down the chute/line/table, another group of first-year students who do not know --- fill… Read full post »

JULY 6, 2012 8:48AM

Loved Equally

I have never been good at sharing.

I was first, and chosen, and a girl, which was just fine, because my dad was a ladies’ man and my mother wanted a girl to help with housework, which I failed to do. Pictures from the first four years of my life… Read full post »

JUNE 26, 2012 8:59PM

What They Didn’t Tell Me



If you have a humanities mind, there is no refunds and exchanges counter where you might get a math-science brain that would do you more financial good.

If you are hopelessly idealistic and believe that you should serve others, you will make a whole lot less… Read full post »

MAY 20, 2012 4:39PM

Money and Needs


Some months ago I was listening to a public radio station in the car and “Marketplace Money” came on. I’d never heard of it. I’m a public radio type, but I’d rather hear music than voices, so unless I’m in the car, without other options, I don’t liste… Read full post »

MAY 6, 2012 9:36PM

I Am the Problem



The other day I talked with my chemo nurse and others who had been part of my care. I occasionally stop in to chat briefly and to be a celebrity—the Survivor! five years out and no recurrence (yet)—and be hugged. The last time, I’d complained about my… Read full post »



No, I am not talking about steaming up the car windows of an old Chevy, but of a much less pleasant task—getting paying work as a freelance writer. Compared to making it to home plate as a freelancer, even the insecurities and agonies of junior high… Read full post »

APRIL 17, 2012 10:05AM

Eat Like an Inca



At the moment, eating gluten-free is trendy, though I suspect most non-Olympic contenders who are symptom-free don’t stick with it very long, because it is hard. (I pouted and cheated for a year after my diagnosis of celiac.) But by focusing on a gluten-free life, oneRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 5, 2012 8:18AM

My Hunger Games


Much about my mother can be understood from one fact: she grew up poor and hungry, the child of Eastern European immigrants, during the Great Depression. To this I attribute her hatred of school, for who can concentrate on the pleasures of the mind when the body is hungry?… Read full post »

MARCH 25, 2012 8:45PM

Call me Irresponsible


I subscribe to a crazy New Age site that puts a thought of the day in my inbox five days a week. Being a natural skeptic, and having read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-sided, I don’t put much stock in the power of positive thinking. (I do, however, believe inRead full post »

MARCH 9, 2012 10:22AM

Playing the Game



My insurance company threatened—yet again—to cancel my health insurance, because I was nearly two months late. They allow a grace period of one month, but not two. And they raised my rates, as they do every year, because they can, and because I cost them money.… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 19, 2012 7:59AM

"Keep Calm and Carry On"


During the worst of the Battle of Britain, when bombs fell nightly and people slept—or didn’t—in the tube [underground subway system], the government issued a series of posters admonishing people to “Keep Calm and Carry On.” You can buy modern reproductions of thi… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 4, 2012 6:45PM

How Not to Make Money


The O’Henry short story called “The Red-Headed League” repeats the line, “It looked like a good thing, but wait til I tell you.” My version of that story doesn’t deal with small, obstreperous children, however, but with creating income. I'm not unemployed&… Read full post »

JANUARY 26, 2012 9:17PM

The Predators

            An article from the Chicago Tribune that my local paper picked up had the headline “Rules to rein in fees from debt-relief firms.” The Federal Trade Commission needed only 229 pages to say these companies had to end their aggressive telemarketing,Read full post »

JANUARY 15, 2012 8:14PM

Friday the Thirteenth

I don’t have much good to say about cancer, but I must admit, it’s given me some perspective on life's problems. All Friday the 13th events take second place to the Friday the 13th in 2006 when I suffered the indignity of a transvaginal ultrasound (tvu) and learned I had an
Read full post »

JANUARY 8, 2012 8:06AM

Hapless but Happy


I’d been thinking of a friend of a friend, who in the last three months has been ill, had her car break down and leave her stranded, and finally has accidentally hit someone with the car. Although the girl and the car weren’t badly damaged, naturally the woman is… Read full post »