Monday, February 8, 2010

Meg Pokrass Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #245 Tiff Holland

Born Tiffany, Tiff says her mother was expecting a pole-dancer. Tiiff considered sexual reassignment surgery but legally changed her name to "Tiff" instead. Her childhood was, in her words, something like a mix between a Roald Dahl book and the Robert Earl Keen song “Christmas With the Family.”

 Tiff's eccentric and spirited family plays a significant part in her poems, flashes and short stories. One of the strangest incidents involved finding out that her brother was actually her uncle (she now calls him her "brunkle"). Tiff's choices sometimes happen like this: she was an education major for one day. Her advisor signed her up for a course in constructing bulletins boards. Tiff immediately marched across campus and switched to Philosophy. A high school jock, Tiff was an Army ROTC cadet in college. She joined to prove a point to her first husband who had left the service. “You like it so much; you join,” he’d told her. Tiff's poet friends couldn’t believe it when she showed up at poetry readings in BDUs. Tiff has worked at a library in Hawaii overlooking Pearl Harbor, as a 911 dispatcher, as foreman of an automotive transmission ring packaging plant, as an insurance adjuster and English instructor. She says the most amazing thing she ever saw was while she was living in Hawaii: a "moonbow" a shimmering silver rainbow. While swimming in Waimea Bay she suddenly felt rain on a beautiful clear-sky day and opened her eyes to discover she was actually feeling the spray from a spouting whale less than fifty yards away. She started writing fiction while at the University of Southern Mississippi. Tiff refers to her first short story as a "mulligan," but says Rick Barthelme looked at it and pointed to a place in the first section and said: “This part is really good. This works." It was an "aha" moment. Tiff met her husband, Bill, when dispatching for the parking division at Kent State. Bill was the responding officer when an angry student attempted to break into the office after his car was towed. Tiff's favorite things about Bill: he always knows what to do in an emergency, is terrific with their young daughter, and is one of the only people in the world who can "call her bluff." Bill found Tiff while she was having the stroke, just about two years ago, and thanks to his emergency training and cool head, he knew just what to do. He later nursed her through two years of absolute hell. He’d sit on the bed when everything she saw was spinning and bouncing. He’d talk to her while waiting for her vision to normalize. Their daughter, Tori, is funny and smart and manages to sing in more than one key at a time. Tiff's dog, Tuck, kept in contact with part of her body darn near every second of the day while she was recovering from the stroke. Tiff calls Tuck her "Siamese dog-twin." Tiff is a prolific writer who has no personal knowledge of writer's block, and her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart. She is putting the finishing touches on a short story collection and is also working on a novel. Her work is both funny and heartbreaking.
 For fun, she watches "Cash Cab" while playing Scrabble on Facebook. For the most part, Tiff writes about just about everything in her life. The question is always: what parts are true? And she's not telling. Tiff says she has only one big, real secret. She's keeping it.

[Note: Meg Pokrass also wrote the postcard life story for Ethel Rohan and you can read Meg Pokrass' expressive life story here.]


LitPark said...

Loved reading this, and looking forward to your collection and novel, tiffer.

Randall Brown said...

Love it. Love Tiff.