A Writer's Selfie
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts on February 14, 1935, and named Nancy May Steinberg. Or so my mother believed and taught me, until at age eighteen I discovered the name on my birth certificate was written Nancy Mae. No matter. I requested the certificate on my eighteenth birthday in order to marry, and, as women did in those days, promptly changed my name, to Nancy S. Davies.
My second legal document, a driver’s license, confirmed the name change. I was already pregnant when I learned to drive. I never changed my name again. Those last two statements may be unrelated.
Nancy May went off to school at age four. The most important learning experience of my childhood in Boston was singing God Bless America while crouched on the school’s basement floor during air raid drills. In this same school I wrote my first poem, an epic of the American Revolution, entitled “General Braddock’s Defeat”. My patriotism didn’t last, but the writing habit did. I composed poems and hung my head out the bedroom window while I smoked. My aunt called me a Bohemian. I supposed I would die of tuberculosis.
Back then I read Kerouac and Ginsburg. Which is to say, time marches on. And unless something’s seriously amiss, so do we. I read lots more. I supposed The Scarlet Letter warned us against teen pregnancy. I believed Moby Dick was a social disease. I learned all the honest words I needed from Norman Mailer. I attended, at one time or another, Swarthmore, Northeastern University, Maharishi University, and Boston College. At my present age such “credentials” seem not only remote but pointless. Maybe absurd? Ridiculous? In my lifetime there’s never been a year without war.
Decade after decade every event we lived and every account we write becomes fiction. History we learned in school was fiction. Stories invented to sterilize the moment, to justify invasions, to keep us shopping a while longer. A lot of science turned to fiction, and most of the medicine we swallowed. Governments, fraudulent elections, money, power, assassinations. Etcetera, Mexico.
Me, I falsify to suit my imagination. I lie. I steal. I used to march, but now I have arthritis.
This site contains a portion of what I wrote during the second half of my life. No General Braddock. I offer the material as a writer’s selfie, for my daughters, grandchildren and greats. Pure vanity. No other reason. No money. No profit. I’m not a researcher, not a reporter. Nothing trustworthy. Don’t quote me.
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