Present Ghost

Telling stories



The Expense of Hope

My husband’s grandmother turned 92 last week, and while we sat next to each other on the couch, she rubbed the kicking baby beneath my skin.  I wanted her to feel that squirming little life, because she can’t hear or see well. After our unborn daughter rolled inside me, Louise told me she’d live to see her next great-grandchild. Because I’ve cauterized a lot of the outlets of my emotion in the last two years, I made a joke.

“You said that last time, Louise. I think I’m done having kids. You’re going to have to find something else, because we want you around.”

I’m not hopeful like I used to be. It’s embarrassing, but it takes so much faith to believe something you want, something you work and wait and pray for, will actually happen. Hope gets whitewashed as flippant wishing, but committing to waiting for the possibility of disappointment is excruciating and exhausting. Continue reading “The Expense of Hope”

George McFly Kissed Lorraine Baines

baby 2049

The bathroom cabinet had two kinds of pregnancy tests: the brand-name kind that can tell you how many weeks along you are, and those cheap ones I bought before we started trying. In my doubt, I pulled the only remaining cheap sticks from the shelf. Continue reading “George McFly Kissed Lorraine Baines”

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”

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

On the eve of Christmas Eve, we would like to share a bit of cheer by wishing everyone a holly jolly holiday.

Anne and Andrew Ditlevson reworked this song as a continuation of their annual tradition of recording  a Christmas song or two and sending a CD to family as their Christmas card. They broadened their audience this year by uploading to SoundCloud and allowing anyone to enjoy their sonic cheer.

Do not be mistaken: this is not Burl Ives’ version, although that had something to do with it. Andrew said he was thinking more about Great White (Think “Once Bitten Twice Shy”) and Anne was going more for Social Distortion with this one. Their influences come together well. Oddly enough, you can hear them come through and yet still feel the Christmas in it.

By now, you’ve probably heard the same songs at least one or two times through this season, and you could use a new take. For free downloads of this and other Christmas songs by them, visit

The Gingerbread Man, Part I

Cover by Brock Weaver, 2013. For more examples of his work, visit

Before gingerbread was ever shaped like men, and long before gingerbread boys popped from cookie sheets and ran out the doors of European homes taunting lonely old women and sly foxes, it was baked in the shapes of all the wild beasts on earth—some not seen for at least ten centuries before the very first Christmas. Continue reading “The Gingerbread Man, Part I”

PG usually publishes a new essay or story installment every weekend, but we’re collaborating with artists and pulling together something new. We’re aiming to be finished before Christmas. There will be gingerbread men (though not the kind you’re used to), giants, and cartoons—maybe even some politics. Who knows?


In the meantime, here’s a little stocking stuffer to keep everyone jolly.

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