Our vendors: Julie B. (The Contributor, Nashville, USA)

Interview by Hannah Herner, The Contributor

There are a couple of things for which Julie B. known around The Contributor office. She submits writing regularly. And she is also always toting around her service dog, Oreo—a cute, tiny Chihuahua that you might not even notice at first.

Julie describes herself as determined, stubborn, and “not a fluff person.” We know her as a caring, funny and resilient individual.

Tell me about why you like to write for the paper. 

I went to [Contributor Co-Editor] Linda [Bailey] and I said, “Linda, I have an idea, and I want to know if I can do it. I want to write an advice column.” She goes, “What made you think of that?” And I said, “Have you ever watched Sex and the City?” And she’s like, “Oh no, you can’t put that stuff in there!” Because Carrie writes a sex column. And I said, “No no no, I just got the idea off of the show, because she writes an advice column and I thought that would be good for the paper.” People can write in and I can answer their questions.” And she goes, “But you have to promise me, no sex columns!”

I love it. I love doing it. It inspires me.

Credit: Hannah Herner

Tell me about Oreo.

He’s medical equipment. He’s for if I have a seizure: if I pass out he’s trained to bark or go get somebody. He’s a blessing. He’s my baby.

Is your Native American heritage important to you?

Oh, yeah. When I was born, I was born on an Indian Reservation. When you turn 13, you become a woman on the reservation. You’re not a child anymore. It’s kind of cool because you get a ceremony, they give you a ceremonial knife, and you become an actual woman. I kind of miss the reservation because you kill your own food and you make your own stuff. Women would do pottery and make their own dishes. You didn’t go out and buy them, you made them. It was more rewarding making them than just going to the store.

Do you want to talk about being sick?

I’ve come to terms with dying. I came to terms with that a long time ago. When I found out I had brain cancer, yes, I was in denial for a couple of weeks. Then I thought, Why am I doing this? It’s not going to go away magically. I came to terms [with it]. OK, I’m dying: let’s just do this and deal with it.

That’s when I started going to tumour doctors, cancer doctors, radiation.

I’ve had doctors say to me, “You have no chance.” I’m a stubborn you-know-what. It would have to take God himself to come down here and get me.

I’ve come to terms with it and when a lot of people they look at me, when they find out I have cancer, they feel sorry for me. I don’t like that. You don’t need to feel sorry for me. I’m not going to keel over right in front of you. A lot of people don’t want to be my friend because they think that I’m going to die on them. Yea, I’m going to die. Eventually, it’s going to take my life. But why should I sit and feel sorry for myself or cry about it? It’s not going to do any good.

Credit: Hannah Herner

Thank you for sharing that. I know it’s not something you tell a lot of people. 

Now the whole city of Nashville is going to know! [laughs]. I actually think it’s a good thing that people know because maybe they would stop treating me like trash. I hate to say this about the place that I work at, but people think that because we’re Contributor vendors, we get respect. We don’t. Some people will say “God bless you” or “Have a good day.” But there are ones that pass you by, they roll their eyes, or they tell you to go home, or they look at you like you’re dirt on the sidewalk. That’s not cool with me at all. I work really hard even though I have cancer and I’m dying. I get out there when I can and I work my butt off to earn my money. Technically, the people in Nashville need to learn that we are not out there for kicks and giggles. We are out there to do a job. We’re out there to make it easier on homeless people.

I had someone tell me The Contributor isn’t a real job. I earn money, don’t I? I have a badge, don’t I? Then it’s a real job. I may not sit in a cushy little office with a nice little chair and a computer and earn a nice little paycheck like some people do. But I get up, I get dressed. I go out here and I do my job. And I’m happy working for The Contributor for as long as it takes.

I do need to know something. Do you see yourself as a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte or a Miranda?

I think I’m more or less like Carrie. The others are cool and everything. Carrie, she’s got that will power. She’ll write about anything. She’ll try to get her friends to go places and do things. She’ll pretty much do about anything.

She’s had her heart broken a bunch of times but is still out there trying!

She’s been through a whole lot but she’s still out there and she’s still doing what she loves to do. Most people give up. I’m not one to do that. I’m one to stick with it. It is what it is. I’m one to, as my dad says, pull up your big girl panties and deal! Don’t throw a pity party.