Present Ghost

Telling stories


car rides

In the car

Most of the time, when I drive to work, I just drive. I follow the same blue-green Honda Fit plastered with bumper decals about universalism, hiking, and geology. If I’m not catching up with family phone calls, I’m listening to Vietnamese language CDs and pushing the “back” button again and again trying to pronounce impossible words before 8 a.m.

The other day at a stoplight, I looked to my left and saw a Sikh in his black 1997 Hyundai Accent, sipping on a homemade energy shake. His turban was pressed against the ceiling. In front of him, a salt-and-peppered post-professional man revved his engine and smirked in his Mercedes convertible. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. To his right and in front of me, a woman was hotboxing it in her 4Runner, blaring talk radio so loud that I could hear the anger passing through her windows. The hatch bore a Navy ribbon. The woman to my right sat in an Avalon and applied her perfectly coordinated lipstick in the rearview mirror, sipped her Starbucks, and blotted. Continue reading “In the car”

In the Car: An Excerpt


At Christmastime, when the family would cram into our old Suburban for the cross-country trip from Ohio to Kansas, we played four tapes on repeat: Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Amy Grant’s Home for Christmas, and a split Christmas special featuring Nat “King” Cole and Frank Sinatra. My parents seldom shared interests in music, but they agreed on the latter. My mother had a certain level of tolerance for hearing “Breath of Heaven” and I think it must have worn down after the fifth rotation. Continue reading “In the Car: An Excerpt”

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