What shall I do with the ghost staring at me in my living room?

Shall I shake his hand to congratulate him on his arrival? It must’ve been some ride from wherever he came from, no doubt.

Shall I ask him to tea, ask him about life – and death – and ask him if he’s craving anything, like fresh strawberry pie or braised goat tacos from North Hollywood.

Shall I pass him my joint and tell him it’s more CBD than THC – in case he doesn’t want to get higher than he already is.

Shall I flirt with him, ask him if he still harbors any sexual preferences, or is sex something that’s forgotten once the genitalia turn spectral. 

Shall I listen to his moans and groans, and I stay silent, and wait until he utters the first word in our encounter. Why would it be incumbent upon me to act first? The living are such pushovers. 

Shall I ask him about my parents – how is mother and step-father doing?

Shall I ask him about the election, he surely must know the results; I mean, what’s the point of living then dying then coming back if what he can only offer is the incitement of fear. How boring. How juvenile. How insulting, actually. 

Shall I ask him his age, name, and last-known location, as if I were introducing myself via some old AOL chatroom, surely that must be important; for, at the very least, I can help guide him to wherever he may want to go; perhaps, this could be the perfect reason to use up the last drops of ink in my Epson printer to print out directions for him via Mapquest; he’ll hopefully get this joke, unless of course, he was of the Thomas Bros. generation of navigation. 

Shall I ask about God. Ha, no, LOL.

Shall I invite him to sit down and rewatch that episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix with me. The episode where Japanese taxi drivers pilot ghosts around the town of Ishinomaki free of charge, and I’ll joke that the eerie way they would appear in the back of the cab reminded me of his summoning to my living room.

I’ll tell him that I originally watched it with my wife and that she laughed when she saw me squirm inside my snuggie, turning what was supposed to be Netflix and chill into Netflix and chills.

And I’ll ask him if he had ever taken a taxi as a ghost before. And no matter his answer, I’ll fake laugh because, in truth, I wouldn’t be able to relate anyway. And hopefully this will ignite some small talk. And he’ll blather out all the sordid details of his passing, and I’ll nod and smile and mirror his body movements to gain trust, and who knows maybe we’ll turn friends and I’ll invite him to meet my group of friends after the pandemic is over, and he’ll joke that that would be the most ironic thing because, by that time, I’ll be joining him and…

Okay, I think I’ll just get inside my snuggie and pretend he isn’t there.

L.A. Notes

The Reason Why I Fell in Love with Words

I gave my money to the Los Angeles Times today.

When I was growing up, my parents read the newspaper religiously.

The Daily Breeze when we lived in the South Bay.

The Press-Telegram when we lived in Long Beach.

My mother had told me: “Read the newspaper. You’ll be smarter.”

And so I did, and so becoming, I fell in love with words, sentences, bold type, small type, bylines, and stories.

So when I first moved out of my parents’ house, the summer after I graduated high school, one of the few bills I paid every month was my subscription to “The Press Telegram.”

I remember how proud I felt writing that monthly check and mailing it to the subscription department, adulting like a motherfucker.

Then every morning I’d see that folded up paper on the front door of my $350 per month studio apartment right next to the Green Leaf Motel in downtown Long Beach, and I’d take out the sports section and check the boxscores.

Eventually, my love for the medium drifted away and my need to get informed was satiated by many other outlets.

And up until this day, I had subscribed to nothing.

I don’t want to forget — ever again — why words matter to me so much.

Notes The Writing Process

Three Books I'm Reading Today

I’m not sure if this is common knowledge among writers (you never really know) but it’s always worth pointing out that if you want to become a better writer than you were yesterday, you must read everything.

”I’m influenced by everything I read, shamelessly. ‘In a review someone said, ‘Oh, she sounds very much like Amis.’ I was flattered by that. I love Amis. Thank you very much. I think if I carry on plagiarizing for 15 years, it will settle like silt, and I’ll write something really great.”

— Zadie Smith, via The New York Times

And that goes with anything that involves words and sentences. Even as relatively innocuous as a tweet, which requires one to read enough tweets to become one decent enough to gain a multitude followers. (Of course, the alternative is to just blurt shit out and I guess that has impact, too.)

But if you want to be thoughtful and be able to convey what you want to say in such a limited word space, you’d have to study the best twitter accounts and the best twitter accounts are often created by writers who write often — and presumably read often.

For me, when it comes to writing, nothing boosts my will to put words down on an empty Word document than reading a fine line of prose or poetry, and so I read as much as I can, and the three books that I’ve picked up recently — that I would also recommend to anyone who loves to read — are:

  1. Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash by Eka Kurniawan
  2. Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld by David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro
  3. The Open Boat: Poems from Asian America edited by Garrett Hongo
The three books in their natural habitat.

I haven’t finished any of these books, but if you happen to be reading or have read any of these books, let’s start a discussion.

The Open Boat will definitely be part of my ongoing rotation with so many gems that I will for sure come back to for many years to come. Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is original and endlessly entertains. Yakuza not only details the criminal underworld of Japan, but it also provides some insight on how the Japanese people live, their values, their core.

What are you reading today?

Notes Poetry

Today, I read a poem…

It was by Helena Lipstadt entitled “A Quarrel with the Village of My Birth.”

The word “village” lured me in.

I fell in love with each “Even her” – especially in the following line:

“Even her avenues are lined with pikes.”

Then I read each “Of course” and was compelled to share.

Read “A Quarrel with the Village of My Birth” at Porter House Review.