On a Saturday in 1991 my mother gave birth to me on the ninth floor of a tall building. The building was not a hospital. It was the apartment she lived in at the time, with a view of the train tracks below -- my mother lived by the station. Whistles marked the departures of trains both freight and passenger and my mother spat me out in the midst of all this. There was a lot of smoke, apparently, and Simon & Garfunkel was playing. I have no memory of this whatsoever. Heroin was big in those days, but my mother wasn't a user. Our neighbors were, though. In the first year of my life my mother stuffed the holes in our walls with paper so I wouldn't get stoned, so I wouldn't grow up stoned and dependent. I was tall for my age, even then, my mother used to hide my legs under a blanket. She had always wanted a delicate child, yet I came out of the womb amazonian. When we went for walks together -- me in my stroller, she on her feet -- she liked to pretend I was smaller than I actually was. I have since forgiven her for this. Nadia de Vries does not harbor grudges!

My life was both violent and uneventful until my 10th birthday, when I was diagnosed with a mysterious illness of the blood, and became an overnight spectacle in my neighborhood. We didn't live by the tracks anymore, then, but in an old row house next to a steel factory, the biggest one in the country. I could see the fire burning in the pipes from my bedroom window. I was the girl that lived indoors and was never seen, sometimes the neighbors saw me pulling down the blinds to look outside and they would point at me. I was very lonely during these years but I taught myself how to code and play chess, I taught myself English. I became fascinated with romance novels as they emphasized the mystery of the physical world, the world of intimacy to which I was not privy. Filled with yearning, I taught myself how to write fiction by having cybersex with people from all over the world. By the age of 14 I was a pro. I was paid in takeout pizza and high-end fragrances. My favorite, at the time, was Dior's 'Pure Poison', and the man who bought it for me said: That's what you are! By 15, the mysterious illness had disappeared and I was dismissed from the world of Medicine, and inducted into the world of the Real. First I was tall, then I was ill, then I had a rogue, restless body -- and now I am here.

At 16 I left high school and entered trade school. My 'trade' was Pharmacy, I was trained as a pharmacy technician between the ages of 16 and 19. On the first day of my internship, an elderly widow came up to me in tears and told me about how much she missed her husband. I wasn't yet equipped to commiserate with pain that deep. But over time, I learned. The widow and all the other patients at the pharmacy taught me to be open-minded, respectful, and empathetic to other people, including the people I could not relate to at all. I learned to be generous and forgiving. See also: the first paragraph of my tale.

When I was 25 I got an unpaid PhD position at the local university. I did my research during the night and worked as a legal secretary during the day, a job that taught me to be cautious -- I learned that you can't be friends with everybody. But that doesn't mean I didn't try! All the money I made, I put into 1. my rent and 2. my poetry. These were turbulent years. The stress rewired my brain. For example, I used to have eidetic memory but I can barely remember the titles of books now. Nor the names of old friends. It's become a source of insecurity to me. I liked most of the people at the university, but the wages were horrible. There was, also, little room to grow. At 29 I successfully defended my PhD -- this was during the pandemic -- and I vowed to never work in academia again. So far I have kept my promise.

What else is there to tell you? I cannot whistle or swim, and I'm allergic to cocoa. I don't like journalists who prioritize my illness over my writing. And I'm a real gusher! I love ambitious women, women who uplift each other, and women who give each other compliments behind their backs -- the superior form of gossip. I'm wary of people who are afraid to call female writers 'geniuses', and of people who scoff at the experiences of the oppressed. More generally, I distrust people who treat others with contempt. We're all in this together! If you've ever been hospitalized, you know exactly what I mean.

In the early summer of 2022 I was attacked by a wild dog that leapt from the shadows, just as I was making my own way towards the sunlight. This experience taught me that we're all perpetually under threat, and at the mercy of circumstance. The wild dog in question is still alive, and I've learned to make peace with this. Though sometimes, when I look in the mirror and see the scar I was left with, I'm filled with grief all over again.

One day, I'll win a big literary prize and take a lover who'll destroy me. I won't have to worry about money again, or about being lonely. Until then, you'll find me here, online, honing my craft. You may laugh, but I take it all very seriously...

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