Tonight

 

Dedicated to my beautiful and amazing mother, Roseann. 

I love you with all my heart and soul. We’ve always joked that we would leave this world together, many years from now, old and grey, with an entire lifetime of happy memories to look back on. I promised you I would always be there to take care of you, to laugh with you, protect you and make sure you always felt loved. For as long as I can remember you’ve been my best friend, my rock, and my world.

It’s been almost seven months now since we received my diagnosis, and through it all you’ve been my strength and the driving force that keeps me fighting. I can’t help feeling like I need to keep apologizing for the situation we now find ourselves in, though I know you’ll also keep telling me that it isn’t my fault. I also know that while this is my body’s battle to fight, that you are also the one staring down every parent’s worst nightmare. Despite the odds, you’ve never once let me give up hope and you’ve always made sure I knew we were in this together. I pray to god and will remain ever hopeful that the time never comes where someone need show you this. But should that time come, it is important to me that you know how blessed and thankful I am to have spent my 30 years of life with such a beautiful, loving, kind and gentle woman. I want you to know that no matter what happens in the months ahead, that I am not afraid. The only thing about any of this that terrifies me is the thought of being taken away from you. I hate knowing what this all has to be doing to you inside, and wish I had the power to make it all go away.

Despite everything we are going through right now, I still feel like the luckiest person alive because I have you. I won’t ever give up, I will continue to fight, and no matter what, I will ALWAYS love and be with you.

I love you to the moon back lady. xoxoxoxo

~ ❤ Forever, your baby boy.


Tonight


 

I’ll miss the snow and the summer sky

And all the love in your eyes

When all that we are, becomes what we were

Remember no one loved you more

Remember the fun

And I’ll live again

I promise it’ll be okay in the end

In a cradle of white light

I’ll sleep with the stars tonight

Forever the child of an angel

Forever the moon in my eyes

I know that this time, I’ll be gone for a while

But I hope you’ll think of me and smile

Though I have to leave

It doesn’t mean that I’m gone

So hold me close as I follow my dreams tonight

I’ll wait for you in the light

Forever begins tonight

The hardest part

Is hurting you

The hardest part is seeing you cry

Look back on the years

Remember my love

And when you close your eyes I’ll be there each night

I just need one more kiss goodnight

Before I leave your arms tonight

America: Divided We Fall

I told myself that I was going to try my hardest not to say or write anything further about the things that have been going on in this country as of late. But in light of recent events, and due to this prolonged period of elevated hostility, hatred, and chaos we, as a people, have become consumed by, I felt compelled to at least offer up some of my thoughts and opinions on what we, as a society, should be doing, collectively, in an effort to overcome these superficial barriers of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual orientation. Racism and ethnic segregation are nocuous to our American Nationalism and will only serve to further divide us against each other. And, as Americans, we should be a united front, held together EQUALLY, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we love, and what we believe, by our common nationality and citizenry. If we truly want to make this nation “great,” then we need to start by mending the tears in the fabric of our society.

I’ve always believed that one of the most fundamentally important things we need to consider when trying to solve many of our personal problems and social challenges is our level of active engagement, not just reflection and rhetorical and philosophical musings. We need to reevaluate everything in and around us, and start taking steps towards developing our own positive inner qualities and transforming ourselves into genuinely ethical and compassionate human beings. But compassion shouldn’t be something we just feel on the inside. It needs to be something we also demonstrate and exercise constantly through actions.

Too many people have become content living isolated, self-absorbed lives rather than being at all concerned with the world around them and the difference they could make in it if they only tried. That “world” includes the proximal intra-personal and inter-personal relationships of home, family, and community, as well as the larger context of society, commerce, natural resources, governance, and the environment. So basically, we need to seriously examine how we are not only treating ourselves, but also how we treat others and the environment.

What kind of a selfish person chooses to live only for themselves today when they could be helping to build a better tomorrow for everyone? And as these inner workings begin to transform us as individuals, the ethical and altruistic qualities we develop begin to spill out into our communities, our world, with each and every consideration, action, and interaction. It is only with a respectful, intelligent, and informed heart and mind that we can finally begin experiencing life with a sense of interconnectedness, rather than the dividedness and segregation that has become so prevalent in today’s modern societies.

But how do we do any of this?  How do we cultivate and nurture a caring and compassionate culture? How do we begin transforming and healing our world?

In order to transform our world, our families, our workplaces, and our communities, we must begin by transforming ourselves through self-contemplation, self-inquiry, and self-reflection, as well as through the cultivation of benevolent humanitarian values and ethics. We have to develop the ability and the capacity to be genuinely concerned about the welfare of others. In the beginning, we may feel as if our actions are inauthentic, contrived, or fabricated, but if we “practice” new behaviors and try to consider, adopt, and see things from new and differing points of view, and we experience firsthand the results of actions rooted in generosity, kindness, and the wish to benefit others — if we restrain our selfishness, hostility, and anger, and make an effort to also develop and promote tenderness, kindness, and generosity — our experience becomes our teacher; our experience educates us.

So the answer to our problem, how it is we create a kinder, more caring and compassionate, UNITED society, arises from the intentions and actions of the individuals within that society. One small act of kindness and generosity, or just one act of tenderness, of selflessness, each and every one of these moments makes a difference. No act is too small or insignificant. Each little gesture serves to eventually connect every single being on this planet through kindness, much like how the strands of a rope all come together to create a larger, stronger form. With this rope, we strengthen and fortify our relationship with ourselves and those around us, like a movement that starts with just one person and multiplies over time until it is all-encompassing. First encircling ourselves and others, close family, friends, coworkers, our communities, total strangers, and eventually….the world.

Carry On

Try to find the strength you need. To calm the doubts in your belief. If you’ve the will, you know your spirit will not break.

If you have strength, then you’ve belief. If you show love, your heart still beats. You’re never quite as lost as you may think.

Though far from shores you’ve yet to reach. Without a star to cross the sea. No avenues of light to guide you to the answers you can’t see.

Seeking fortitude of heart and mind. But who can guide the lost and blind? And who but you can make in Hell yourself a Heaven?

Face your fears, and face your shame. Face the idols you have made. And raze them back unto the dust from which they came.

Be not a servant of the weak. Be the light and change you seek. Leave no stone unturned, and find the strength to carry on.

Believe 

You won’t believe
What you’ll achieve
  The moment that
You choose to see
To stay or leave
Or to perceive
Or be a little less naive
You can’t conceive
The great reprieve
To find just where
You’re meant to be
A place that’s free
For you and me
A land that knows
No boundaries
Of open doors
No locks and keys
A place of hidden
Possibilities
Of open minds
Sweet reveries
A special place
You must agree
So close your eyes
And just believe
Imagine all
That you can be
And for the first time
Choose to see
Through eyes of love
And know relief
Come with me

Eternity

“Eternity, please find me

It’s colder than before

The world took all it came for

And left me at your door

The only life I’ve known

Slips beneath the waves

Forced to face my fears

I close my eyes to disappear

Forever, whisper to me

“The end is drawing near

So dry your eyes

No need to cry

Your dreams won’t leave you here

At the gates we’ll find you

Together we’ll walk through

Take my hand and we will find

A time that knows no years”

Where silent songs are whispered

As they fall on deafened ears

Eternity move through me

And we’ll dance away our fears

To a symphony of broken dreams,

By a sea of make believe,

Like a work of art,

Take your abstract heart,

And pray the pieces all align,

Elysium, eternum,

Take you softly into me,

Into me, infinity

forever, eternity.

-PJR

Rudolph’s Redemption

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” might be the deepest of all the Christmas Classics. It definitely is among the most animated ones. There can be no doubt. Maybe you think it’s sappy, or outdated, or just part of the stupid song. Not so. There is more, here, than meets the eye. There is substance beneath the veneer of stop-animation and the lyricism of Burl Ives. There is a truly valuable and timeless lesson therein. 

Rudolph is a treatise on acceptance. It is a very basic story about the fact that what makes us different, what often makes us hated, mistreated, ignored, or berated … those are the things worth having. Those are the things that define us. It’s not the 99.9% of genetic makeup that we share with monkeys that makes us special, is it? It’s that 0.1% … that last little bit. Rudolph couldn’t help his nose being red any more than Hermey could help loving teeth. Those toys … those misfit toys … they were MADE that way. All of the characters in this story find redemption, ironically, because of the very parts of their being that made them hated. This special teaches a fundamental character trait. It shows that one should value others, not judge them. It tells us to love one another, and not to mistreat our fellow beings.

Rudolph was driven away in shame, Hermey was belittled into quitting his job, and the toys were abandoned and ostracized for not conforming to what some idiot kids thought a “toy” was supposed to be. Well screw those kids, I’ll take a misfit toy over a regular one any day of the week. I want the nesting doll that ends in a mouse. I want a bird that swims. I want a water gun than shoots jelly. I want a polka dot elephant. I want a cowboy riding an ostrich. I want a sinking boat and a plane that can’t fly. I want a train with square wheels on its caboose. I want a damn Charlie in the Box! I want an elvish dentist and a radiant reindeer. I want uniqueness. I want different. Conformity is boring. No one remembers any of the other elves’ names or any of the other reindeer kids, either. If I didn’t watch the special every year, I wouldn’t even remember that they gave some of them names at all. They are uninteresting, unimportant, and banal. But the weirdos stick with you. The oddballs came through in the end, when no one else could.

Hermey de-toothed the bumble and made it tame. The toys were found by Santa and given to (presumably) less judgmental, more grateful children. And Rudolph …well, without him, there wouldn’t have been any presents at all that year. Despite all of their so-called flaws, these hated and undervalued people came right back to help those who persecuted them in the first place. If that isn’t a Christian ideal consistent with the very essence of this purportedly holy day, then I don’t know what is. I can’t think of a single other animated classic that has anything nearly as moving at its core, save perhaps “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer could be played at any time of year for people of any age and it would still ring true, however. That is somewhat unique among the holiday classics.

So, this year and all years hence, I ask you all to lift a glass of eggnog to the greatest, simplest, and purest of all Christmas messages! It is a toast to Rudolph, Hermey, and to all the Misfit Toys out there. It is a toast to our selves. It is a toast to redemption and a toast to acceptance. If you can’t do at least that much this holiday season, then you’re no friend of mine.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a Joyous Whatever Else You Celebrate!

Heresy

Vilify

Everything your faith fails to justify

Just turn a blind eye and never question why

Mindless ignorance personified

Always take the facts they find

Claim they’re falsified

From behind scared eyes

You comply

Raise someone else’s voice up to the sky

Surrender, lose control, get those hands up high

Go on now and testify

To your alibi

With His book of lies

Undefined

The scriptures start to fly like battlecries

Anything that’s different must be crucified

Rather than be unified

We are “purified”

As our worlds divide

Gratify

In His holy name, pray, as hate multiplies

Let the people die so He is satisfied

The blood used to buy

Their “eternal lives”

But they’ll realize

In the end, they were His sacrifice

Pejay Rossi - Regret

A Story of Regret

Dedicated to Dana

He was willing to give you everything.

Some people just have this ability to love deeply, profoundly, and completely. No matter how many storms they’ve weathered, they still choose to shine and they still choose to love. Despite all they’ve been through, they still manage to trust their heart and follow it courageously. And somewhere along the way, it was that heart that led them straight to you. At first there may have been a lot of uncertainty, but it soon became clear that this was no ordinary love. He was the guy willing to do just about anything for you, who knew when you needed him even when you didn’t say a word. He never held back his emotions and was never shy about telling you what he was thinking or feeling. Despite any mistakes he may have made along the way, time and time again, through actions, he fought to prove himself and his love to you. But for whatever reason you remained bitter and angry. Whether it was because of a few bad choices he may have made in the beginning, or the direct result of being burned so many times by those before him, you always expected the worst. For years the battle to win your trust and affections back waged on. But a person can only fight so long before they grow weary and break. And sadly, you broke him.

Blinded by skepticism and bitterness, you couldn’t reciprocate the kind of love he was offering. Either you weren’t mature enough or you just didn’t know how to let go of the past and appreciate what it is you had staring you in the face. Or maybe you were too selfish. Perhaps the timing was just always off between you both. Perhaps it was a little of each. Finally finding the potential “one” after so much heartache and pain has a way of fucking with even the most level headed person. And even after you broke his heart the first time, the second time, maybe even after the third and fourth time, he was still kind and understanding. But above all else, he still found it within himself to love you.

Not only did he find it within himself to love you after all you had done, but he was still willing to love you just as much as before. Truth be told, he probably could have loved you forever. Marriage may have even been a strong possibility in his mind. He had no trouble talking about making a lifelong commitment to you because love wasn’t something he ever held back. He might have lived in a world all his own, with his own ideas of how love is supposed to be, but he believed in love more than anyone you ever met. Even in the end you never really had to question his love for you. But he was always left wondering if his feelings were reciprocated. You knew how deeply you loved him, but you still let fear and unnecessary doubt stop you from ever letting yourself appear vulnerable in any way. If only you had realized how special his love was before it was too late.

You were too scared to see just how rare he was. It wasn’t until you met other people who left you feeling empty inside that you began to truly understand that you had made a huge mistake. Even on their best days, others who loved you would never, and could never, compare to the depth and totality that he did. And no one ever believed in you quite like he did.

Even when everyone else lost all faith in you, he had this ability to see into your heart, into your soul, and he just understood you and your intentions more than even you understood yourself at times. Even when you couldn’t see or understand it, he saw your true potential and actually believed in the person you were, the person you could one day become, and your abilities. He had so much faith and never questioned whether or not you both could make it through life together. And even with all your faults and flaws, he still thought you were perfect and looked at you with the world in his eyes. But your insecurities still managed to get the best of you. And it wasn’t until it was over that you realized he was the perfect one. Body, mind, soul and all.

Maybe, in the beginning, he messed up or had a flaw that still needlessly haunted your thoughts. It’s possible you became accustomed to disappointment and convinced yourself that there was no way things were going to turn out any differently this time either. But despite whatever doubts you may have had about you both, he never had any. And when all was said and done, all you could do was look back at what you left behind with sadness and regret.

In time you would realize that your greatest flaw was your inability to let go of the past and learn to love again. Like so many others, you were blind to what was right in front of you. And just like he wouldn’t have changed a thing about you, you realized that changing anything about him would make him imperfect as well. Suddenly you became painfully aware that his only flaw was settling for you in the first place. Especially knowing that he deserved far better.

He swore he wouldn’t love again, but you know that despite being let down by you, he would one day do just that. You know the type of person he is deep down. You know just how much love he actually has inside of him, and how much he genuinely has to offer anyone he’s with. You know he will treat them just as he treated you, and that the day will come when he meets someone that doesn’t make the same mistakes as you.

Realizing all of this, what you truly lost, you know you made the biggest mistake of your life.

So if you ever want to live the rest of your life full of regret, simply let go of the one person who loves you most. Do that and all the “what ifs” will haunt you until the end of time.

This is my story of regret.

Nothing to Prove

We may attempt to prove ourselves and our worth in many ways. Needing to prove ourselves can be insidious as we strive to be accepted. This is a basic human need.

When you accept that you are complete and whole, that you are not lacking in any way, you stop looking outside yourself for something or someone to complete you. When you look outside yourself for validation of how you should be or act, you actually give your power away to some external person or thing! It is YOU who requires your approval and consideration. You cannot find what you are looking for in something outside of you. You cannot buy enough stuff to make you happy; there will always be a longing for something more. 

You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. You are whole and complete and wonderful.

Perfect Shrimp Pad Thai

Seventy-five years ago, when Phibun decided to give Thailand’s culture a makeover by decree, pad Thai was a recipe that had yet to be introduced into the country’s cuisine. Rice with chili paste, leaves, and salt were the staple, subsistence food at the time, and Thai people bought meals from Chinese food vendors.

The exact origins of pad Thai remain disputed to this day. According to some, Plaek Phibunsongkhram announced a competition to create a new, national dish. Phibun’s son, however, went on record to say that his family prepared the dish well before Phibun ever actually made it government policy, but could not recall who specifically was responsible for its initial creation.

The dish’s roots are Chinese, and its full name is kway teow phat Thai. Translated from a Chinese dialect called Hokkein, kway teow means rice noodles. The entire name means stir-fried rice noodles Thai-style. Noodles and stir-frying are predominantly Chinese, and it was likely immigration that introduced the practice to Siam. Flavors like tamarind, palm sugar, and chilies were the Thai’s subsequent influence on the dish over time.

By publicizing the pad Thai recipe, Phibun turned one potential take on stir-fried noodles into a national dish. It was his belief that by doing so, pad Thai would improve the diet of a people who primarily lived off of rice, and that cooking pad Thai in clean pans would improve national hygiene.

More than anything, it was Phibun’s hope to unify the country by promoting a uniquely Thai dish. Despite its Chinese origins, pad Thai stood out greatly from the variety of wet or dry noodle dishes sold by Chinese vendors. It was part of Phibun’s nation-building strategy to develop “Thai-ness” and impose a “Thai Great Tradition.”

Within several years, vendors selling pad Thai filled Thailand’s streets. Phibun’s son called it “Thailand’s first fast food.”

In summary, the popularization of pad Thai was the work of a military dictator who survived multiple coups, World War II, and who believed that his political future, as well as the future of his country, were both at stake.

And now, without further ado, I give you this American’s take on a Chinese influenced Thai tradition. I put a lot of thought into this recipe, and took special care to ensure that I kept its ingredients as authentic as possible (no peanut butter or ketchup). I hope that you enjoy the final product as much as I did!


Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 23 minutes, approximately

Total Time: 1 hour, approximately

Serves: 4


Ingredients

  • 14 ounces stir-fry rice noodles (I used the Thai Kitchen brand located in the “International Foods” section of the grocery store)

  • 2 beaten eggs

  • ¼ cup fish sauce

  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

  • ¼ cup coconut milk

  • 5 ½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • 12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 cup diced firm tofu

  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

  • 1 cup bean sprouts

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • ¼ cup diced shallots

  • 4 fresh jalapenos, seeded and diced

  • ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped (I actually used walnuts)

  • ½ cup diagonally sliced green onions

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Directions

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Place noodles in a large pot or bowl and cover with the boiling water. Allow noodles to soak for 8 to 10 minutes or until noodles are soft but firm. Drain and rinse under cold, running water for 30 seconds. Drain well and set aside.

rice noodles

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, sriracha, and coconut milk, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

pad thai sauce

In a wok, heat ½ tablespoon of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Just before the oil is smoking, add the egg, stirring constantly until set. Set aside in small bowl.

Next, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Just before the oil is smoking, add the garlic, shallots, and jalapeno and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shallots and jalapeno are tender, stirring frequently.

shallot mixture

In the wok, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Just before the oil is smoking, add the shrimp and cook until pink, stirring constantly. Add the cooked shallot mixture, tofu, mushrooms, and bean sprouts and cook for 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms and sprouts are tender.

shrimp

Add the reserved noodles and egg and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour the sauce mixture into the wok and toss until well distributed. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to steam and simmer. Add the peanuts and green onions and cook an additional minute.

Remove the wok from the heat and season with the lime juice and cilantro. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

Shrimp Pad Thai

Perfect Shrimp Pad Thai