Tuesday, June 28, 2011

WHEN THE MONEY TREE IS CHOPPED DOWN: Thoughts from a bankruptcy attorney

I personally have never had a good sense of the value of money. My husband will strongly agree to that fact. However, in my years of practice in the area of Bankruptcy I came to see that people were defining themselves and their self worth by money or the lack thereof.

My bankruptcy clients were some of my favorite clients because they were the exact opposite of the people that the credit card companies and banks stated they were. In the over 100 bankrupticies that I represented clients in, I can count on one hand people that might have been "trying to get away without paying", trying to defraud the creditors in any way or being in contempt of the bankruptcy process.

My clients were good people that fell on hard times. They were people that had been out of work for various reasons and had still tried their best to keep up with payments. They were people who did not come out well after a divorce and were overwhelmed. They were people who were sick and had minimal health insurance, if any at all. These people tried everything before coming to see me. They would try to work out something with their creditors and were often rebuffed. They went to Consumer Credit Counseling (at that time owned by the major credit cards) and were given a plan that was impossible to implement if they wanted to eat or clothe their children. I can say that every one of them did not want to see me and file a bankruptcy.

What saddened me the most was how embarrassed these people were who, usually through no fault of their own, were having to take a step that they found distasteful and ugly. The bankruptcy statues were set up as a "fresh start" for people whose obligations were way beyond their ability to pay. I tried to make them see it this way, but so much of their self esteem was tied up in money and the ability to provide for their families that they usually could not. Yes, some were not the best money managers on the block and some shopped a bit, but I had few gamblers and most of the people I saw had sincerely tried in every way possible to make good on their debts.

The bankruptcy laws have since been "reformed" by the strong credit card lobby in congress making it even more difficult for people to get this fresh start.

I learned through this experience that your self esteem should never be tied up in money. We are all trying our best to get by and money should never ever define the person that you are. Throughout my years of practice I learned from my clients and I can only hope that they learned to be proud of themselves.

I know the quote below is more of an environmental statement, but it does sum up my thought:

Written for the GBE2 blogging project.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The GBE2 topics have been fun, but I haven't written on them in a couple of weeks. At first this week upon seeing "first love", I was not inspired. My husband, oddly enough, was my first male love and still continues to be after 37 years.My children and grandchildren will always be my loves. I have had loves for music, both playing and listening, certainly sailing which gave life to my childhood and I love reading. However my FIRST LOVE was without a doubt definitely and truly the library.

I learned to read young and learned to know and appreciate books early, but for me at about 6 years old there was something almost orgiastic about receiving my first youth library card. Now I could go into the place that held everything worthwhile without an adult. The Cranston William H. Hall library was (and still is) a wonderful columned structure that was almost like a cathedral to me. Inside it smelt like a library should; like the printed page, the much used binding, a little dusty and a slight smell of floor wax. Even with being restricted to the children's section, my foray into heaven with my new library card was all that I ever dreamed it would be. There were books I could easily read, books I could struggle a little to read, books that looked boring, books that were exciting, books that were fun, books to dive into. AND I could take about 3 home at a time if I returned them on time. I was a precocious brat of a child and got into trouble all the time at school, at home, and other places, but I restrained myself in the library. However, I did get kicked out once for giggling too much (the book had pink pages that was too much for me at the time) and vowed never to let it happen again. It was one of the saddest days in my childhood.

First loves wear off they say, but not here. My first paying job (i.e. 50 cents an hour) was at the Providence Public Library, when I was in high school, working in Reference and Periodicals as a messenger. I found a love of history in all the old periodicals in the stacks. In my various trips to various colleges, my only comfort zone was the library. Yes, I had friends and went drinking, etc., but it wasn't like nailing research in the library.

So how does this love story come out. After law school, I left my love (except for the law library of course) and BOUGHT books. Upon our retirement into no funds, my husband suggested (even insisted) that I visit my first lover again; how kind of him. I did and it was still waiting for me. Yes the Providence Community library had the same smell, but had added a few features. I could pick out books online from every library in the state, request them and they would be brought to my local library just for me. The magic continues; I could now download ebooks for free from the library onto my iPhone. I could still go in and browse and discover new authors or subjects just as if we had never been parted. Soon after our renewed love, my library became threatened and I did all I could to defend it, using money, contacts and the written word. It is safe for the time being and just rewarded me by the fact that I was one of the first to get a book 400 people were waiting for because my branch takes care of its branch members first. This is not unrequited love.

"A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas—a place where history comes to life.” - Norman Cousins

Saturday, June 11, 2011


This blog is supposed to be for the fun and enjoyment of everyone and more especially for Baby Boomer Pirates like myself, who may be sort of retired but oddly enough are not independently wealthy. I think all of us have certain acronyms that strike a bit of fear in our hearts. I only listed three. Please fill in more.

1. The very first one that pops into my mind is the IRS (Internal Revenue Service for those pretending not to be afraid). It is my true belief that if the very skilled Seal Team Six had not gotten Osama Bin Laden, the IRS would be the next U.S. group to be successful. He had to have some money here and you can believe they knew about it. They have been writing to my mother since she died; we returned the letters stating DECEASED, so now they are writing to her as Her Name Deceased. Unbelievable.

2. Many people in their 40's, 50's and even us in our 60's have a fear of the AARP (which by the way is one of the strongest lobbies in Washington). How many people who are eligible, reading this, have not joined? Show of hands. No, me either. Why, they somehow creep you out don't they. They know when you turn 50 almost before you do. They seem almost as good as group #1 (above) in finding you no matter how many times in your life you have moved. Yet, they mean no harm. They want to give you discounts. They put the "boss" (Bruce that is) on the cover of their magazine. I find usually the AAA (not too fearful) give better hotel discounts, but I will always look at AARP. They're the grim reaper of acronyms. They don't have DEATH in their name, American Association of Retired People, but they somehow smell a little of it.

3. Well at 61 I'm in the fourth quarter of life I would guess so I look at little askance at RIP. I hope it will be in peace but not for a long long time. That is one acronym that can stay away as along as possible.

Please I need more add any that strike fear in your heart.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Speaking of great Pirate events, Dead Men's Tales will be opening shortly in Newport, RI. This is a great pirate historical tour of Newport with real pirates as guides. For more info go to: DEAD MEN'S TALES.

Keep your eye on the "Pirate Pages" for more fun pirate events.

Welcome Aboard...Tall Ship Formidable

There is a great Pirate Ship Tour that one of the Rhode Island Pirate Players will be crewing on this summer. Welcome Aboard...Tall Ship Formidable

If you are in the area of Rockport, ME this summer, check this out. I know I might just do that later in the summer. If you go, please report back to the pirate how your liked it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Success Saboteur

I admit it, right here in front of a least 10 people, I am a success saboteur. I do not sabotage other people's success, but throughout the years I have done a good job on mine.

Believe it or not, pirate or not, I've always been a person who has pushed the limits, in school or in many other places. Always wanted to see how far I could go from what was expected and found quite definitely that this was not the road to success. Before this goes too far though I think that I need to put forth what my particular definition of success was over the years. Success to me, at the time, was not to be totally bored by what I was doing. If this was a job and boredom was on the horizon, I found ways to make it entertaining, often perhaps not that entertaining to management. When I was in school my attention would always be captured in the beginning, but if boredom broke on the horizon, my best effort went out the window. I then looked for something more entertaining or at least interesting to do.

Raising children was something that I would not say I was a success at, but it was never boring and almost always enjoyable and actually caused me to put forth my best effort. My mood still swung back and forth, but with a nice stable husband and father the kids turned out o.k.

Since I'm sure you didn't buy in for my life story, let's skip ahead to the time when I found out that there was a name for the "success saboteur" and that was bipolar illness. After a few firings and the stress of menopause, I took a break from the world for about a week in a locked floor of the hospital (where BTW I met some very interesting people, not at all boring) and started the long journey to finding out why I had sabotaged my own success and life for over 50 years. It has taken time and I'm still a saboteur, but am trying to become disciplined and use whatever talents I have for good, not evil. Writing has seemed to be that place oddly enough; in college if told to write anything I would cringe.

Here comes the "cheap applause" part. My family stood by through all of this and I have a 37 year marriage. And the people I have met blogging and writing have been so encouraging that I may have found my place in the world. I still won't turn down a plunder or a party, but it will not interrupt my success any more.

This post is part of the GBE2 blogging group.