Tag Archives: #TLTT

Sweet Potatoes Story 1: Vol. 1 #TLTT

23 Dec

The following excerpt is part of the blogging project, The Life and Times of Tara #TLFF

Sweet Potato Drawing

That it will never come again

Is what makes life so sweet.

– Emily Dickinson, Poem Number 1741

She used to imagine she’d find out while cutting sweet potatoes. Something about the monotony of slicing through tough roots felt apropos. She’d feel a brief chill moments before answering the phone call from her mother. She’d have known what her mother was going to tell her because she was intuitive, perhaps to a fault. This scenario, she imagined, played over and over in her mind for several years. The thought became more obsessive throughout her late teens and early twenties. This was the only way she could imagine it; to experience her father’s death from a safe distance.

The peeling of thin slices, layer by layer kept her mind occupied. The chomping sound, like biting into a sour apple, provided a soundtrack for her thoughts. Still, she couldn’t avoid her legs from going limp upon remembering the day she sat by her father’s bedside. She was transfixed by the vein that pulsated on the right side of his neck. Every hour that went by the slower the vein would pump. Any moment now, she thought to herself, he’d be gone.

She used both hands to press down on the knife to make a swift cut. Sweet potatoes are resistant. Her forefingers numb from cutting all afternoon. Calluses forming. Her hands were swollen.

She remembered her father’s hands. His fingers were thick, bloated. His nails yellowing. His hands were turning pale white, but the age spots were still visible. Rigamortis was setting in even though his heart was still pumping. He wasn’t leaving without a fight.

The water was boiling for too long prompting her to drop the potato slices in the shallow water that remained. The potatoes were submerged. She poured white and brown sugar on top of the potatoes, then seasoned the slices with nutmeg and cinnamon until fragrant. Insider her small apartment it felt hot, stagnant, and humid from the boiling water. It felt like home.

She hadn’t lived with her father for several years. After he became too sick for her to take care of alone, he was moved to the family home down south. They were roommates for nearly a decade. She had her own room, he had his. There was also a spare bedroom for him to paint, and for her to dance. They were two artists living under one roof. Like father, like daughter. They’d congregate in the family room on week nights to watch cable news. They’d gather on the deck at midnight to gaze at the southern stars. He’d tell her with insistence that there’s no way we’re the only ones alive in the universe. If so, what an entire waste of goddamn space. Her father believed something was out there in the stars, though he was never quite sure. She liked to believe in the hypothesis that something was out there wandering about, but she needed more evidence. The conversations and debates never grew old. She always believed that her father, although significantly older in age and experience, consider her as an intellectual equal. He encouraged her to question everything. Though he didn’t explicitly tell her to, she learned to question authority by observing the life he led. He didn’t always win, but at least he was heard.

While living together she’d cook and he’d wash the dishes. Thanksgivings were a deal. She’d cook a massive meal that included turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, pies, greens, all of which they could never eat. He’d hand-wash all of the plates, silverware, pots, and pans, despite there being a dishwasher. Neither minded taking the time to finish each chore. For them, home life was a system of looking out for each other. Patiently.

An hour had passed. The sweet potato slices were soft and ready to go in the oven. She drizzled marshmallows over the tender slices and placed the pan in the pre-heated stove. Several minutes later they were ready to eat.

It had been five years since her father passed away. Five years since she sat next to his stiffening body. She’ll never forget the waiting. Never forget the musty smell in the bedroom or the heat that surfaced from anxiety’s curse. She’ll always remember watching when the vein stopped pumping, and she’ll always recall that moment when she whispered to herself, “that’s it. It’s over.”

She sat alone at the small dining table looking down at a hot plate filled with the syrupy-glazed concoction. The marshmallows slid from the potatoes like butter on a warm skillet. She swallowed a fork full. They were the sweetest potatoes she ever ate.

Revamping The Life and Times of Tara (#TLTT)

17 Nov

Having recently been inspired by my cousin’s Facebook page, ImmaTeen, and reading all of the fascinating stories about teenage growing pains and love, I’ve decided to reconfigure The Life and Times of Tara (#TLTT) as solely a storytelling blog. I’ve been thinking about ways to revamp this space since it’s my most visited web page among the others, and since the title of the blog makes sense for storytelling.

I’ll start with short vignettes about one young woman. Not sure where she lives. Not sure what she does. But I’m sure the details will emerge eventually. I am, however, certain she meanders. I think I’ll frame her experiences through a mixture of fiction and non-fiction since she’s probably an ephemeral character anyway.

When I was a kid I wrote a story about a princess riding on a magic carpet in the desert. I also once told a cautionary tale about a teenage girl who’d been seduced by an older male teacher (think: After School Special). When I was 22-years-old, I composed a 150-page novella about a well-renowned psychiatrist from the Northeast who maintained an intimate relationship with woman no one had ever seen before.

From a desert princess to a teenage girl to an invisible woman, I definitely have something to work with.

Not sure how often I’ll be able to write, but I think I’ll start by going through some of those old stories, reshaping the narratives and plots, and then post them here. Feedback and comments are welcome. Ya’ll can help narrate the stories if you’d like. I hope #TLTT will be like your back porch on a humid night in Houston; musty and buggy, but comfy like home.

My imagination was wicked when I was a girl. Here’s hoping I can tell those kind of stories here on this rickety back porch.

It is important to say the names of who we are, the names of the places we have lived, and to write the details of our lives . . . We have lived; our moments are important. This is what it is to be a writer: to be the carrier of details that make up history, to care about the orange booths in the coffee shop in Owatonna . . . Recording the details of our lives is a stance against bombs with their mass ability to kill, against too much speed and efficiency A writer must say yes to life, to all of life: the water glasses, the Kemp’s half-and-half, the ketchup on the counter . . . We must become writers who accepts things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with the yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing” – Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones.