What’s this woman’s story?

Name: Mel

Age: 27

Degree: BA in Creative Writing. I want my MFA, but I can’t afford it.

Debt: $20,000 in student loans (AFTER receiving merit scholarships that required a 3.7 GPA – I was a Cum Laude graduate.)

$10,000+ in credit card debt (from the unemployed years, part one.) I can’t afford to pay any of it. Creditors call every day.
JOB LOST: laid off by large prosperous law firm in 2009. Since then, I have not been able to find a steady job, part or full-time.

Unemployed years, part two: I WAS HOMELESS. I moved 3,000 miles away from my home to try to get a job. Any job. Because of moving, I lost my unemployment. The economy is worse here.

I have been trying to find a job for 2 YEARS. Not even a good job. Just A JOB. No luck.

FIRED FROM: one part-time job because i was SEXUALLY ASSAULTED and wouldn’t shut up about it. (I live in a fire-at-will state.)

My Dad: had to declare bankruptcy after over 30 years of being in business successfully. His house was foreclosed upon.

My Mom: is one paycheck away from complete disaster. My step-dad was just diagnosed with cancer. I’m terrified that this crisis is going to bankrupt them, too.

My Partner: has lost 40 pounds that did NOT need to be lost, because we can’t always afford to eat.
Me: months behind on rent.

[I am] bipolar [and have] asthma. [I] can’t afford meds. I have no health insurance. I have no prayer of health insurance, even if I could afford it. I have preexisting conditions.


Medicaid won’t accept me because I can’t prove my income. Ditto for food stamps.

I only have part-time work – usually about one day a week. Sometimes, far less. I can only work when I get hired for gigs. And sometimes, the gigs just aren’t there.

I have been a stripper to pay bills & rent, and to EAT. Until that money dried up, too.

I’m overqualified for the jobs I can get, so I don’t get hired. I’m qualified for the jobs I want, but the publishing industry isn’t hiring.

We have condiments in the fridge, ice packs in the freezer. I ate yesterday because I worked a gig which fed us.

WE ARE THE 99%. And we are being screwed.

For more stories of the 99 Percent, visit the “We are the 99 Percent” Tumblr.”

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."