The Ross Letters

February 27, 2019


I’m writing this letter from my business class seat en route to Seoul. It isn’t very crowded, and everyone seems to be passed out except for me. There’s a rather obese woman next to me snoring.

Every time a stewardess walks by, they hurry and avoid eye contact. I think I’m supposed to be asleep like everyone else. But I don’t sleep on planes, Matthew. I just don’t. Flying is already weird enough. There’s no way in hell in closing my eyes. I just wish one of these gals would bring me some damn coffee.

They gave me some weird pickled vegetable tart right after takeoff. I keep having to get up and let out my farts in the lavatory. Still, I wish they’d bring me another one. It was actually very good.

I was watching a movie, but the headphones were too tight. They were giving me a headache. I suppose I’ll just read… right after I go release a few more farts.

Break wind,


February 26, 2019


At the Suvarnabhumi airport, traveling alone. I haven’t traveled alone in over five years. I haven’t really done anything alone in quite a while.

I’m in the prestige lounge. I still have a little bit of inheritance left over, so I am far away from the riff raff. Personal space feels nice after five years in Southeast Asia.

My wife is staying back to sell the house. We’re starting anew in America. There’s no plan as of yet, but I’ve got people waiting for me when my plane touches down in Atlanta.

What brings me back to Georgia time after time? Loyalty? Stupidity? The desire for closure? I don’t think I will be staying long; this will merely be my starting point.

Maybe that’s what this is. Maybe I will symbolically leave it behind for good this time.

These are strange circumstances under which I am returning. My parents are dead, I still have no career direction, and I somehow managed to get married along the way. Life is fucking crazy, man.

I don’t even know what Americans do anymore. This is going to be weird.

But I remain assured that it won’t be boring.

So, on that note, I’m going to pour out this warm, shitty beer and prepare another espresso.

See you soon,


December 26

December 26, 2018


Yesterday I ate a bunch of weed cookies and played video games all day.  My wife got me a fitness tracker watch for Christmas.  It was freakin rad.

Somebody please tell 19-year-old Pete everything is going to turn out OK.  I know how scared that poor fucker must be.

Iron Paul, from Space

November 23


I tell myself every day that these are the “good old days.”  These will be the days my mind returns to as my memory begins to fade.  I will remember only that I loved and that I was loved, and I will find comfort and solace in those memories until I am laid to rest.

Life is not sad.  Life is fucking amazing.


November 10


I am riding in a cab to go out for the day. A few minutes ago, we drove past an alley. For whatever reason, I turned and looked down the alley, and somehow I managed to catch a man pissing by his car. One second later, we drove past a concrete statue of a nude man.

Now, I don’t know why the universe decided to show me two dicks like that, but it’s got me really wary of this day.

I’m going to try to just keep my eyes fixed forward.

Enjoy your day,


Sept. 29


I have been doing exactly what I want for a year now. I have been making decisions based on things I have wanted to try. Nothing has come out of anything I have tried so far.

But sometimes losing is what you need. Sometimes a defeat forces you to take a long look at your own playbook. Sometimes failure pushes you to the spot you couldn’t seem to end up in through any previous efforts.

You start to gain focus when you try and fail several times. You become familiar with the pitfalls. You become able to recognize obstacles sooner. Your response time becomes better.

You even learn how to take the hit. You learn how to tumble and absorb some of the shock. You can take bad news. You can still put on a brave face.

You learn to stand upright. You learn to disagree. You learn to work harder than the hardest working person. You learn contingency plans.

I think I’m ready now. Even if I’m not, I will move the ball farther down the field. I’ll get to that goal line. Then I’ll do it again. Even if I fail, my next attempt will be better.


Sept 26


At the Mega Bangna mall again, stoned and feeling grateful. A few trips to the health stores and some late afternoon yoga are all that’s on the agenda.

As I was entering the mall, I passed a woman walking with her mother. The mother was probably in her sixties, but she carried herself with a great deal of delicacy and femininity.

The daughter was lovely, but looked tired. I think to myself all the time about how tired I am, but nobody is tired the way a mother is tired.

Two or three meters behind the mother-daughter duo was a man rolling in an electric scooter. Time seemed to have weighed more heavily on him, as his his graying skin and liver spots revealed. He seemed content to roll on his own, allowing the gals their time.

What a privilege it would be! For me to one day be rolling behind my daughter and her aged mother! To behold a life truly complete!

Shit, dude, I’m starting to tear up in the middle of this coffee shop.

I guess that’s all for now. I’m going to wander around and be alone with my thoughts.

Your friend,



January 30, 2017


I was at my favorite vegetarian restaurant today, perusing a rather heavily picked-through a la carte assortment. The lunch rush seemed to have ran off with all the usual items, so I picked through ten or twelve items that remained and selected vegetarian larb moo, two servings of sitr-fried mushrooms, and some wontons.

I put all my items on a tray and was perusing the shelf of snacks while I waited for the lady to come and put my purchases in a bag. As I was picking through the banana chips, a college-aged girl and her boyfriend walked in. She saw the tray and picked up the mushroom wontons, and for a moment I was about to let her have them.

But I did not.

I didn’t say anything, I simply took them from her hand and put them back on the tray. For a single moment in time, there was a collective gasp from the girl, her boyfriend, and the two ladies who worked there. For that moment, I wondered to myself if I had done the right thing. As the moment, which felt like ninety full seconds of breath-held awkwardness, came to a close, one of the women said “sorry” to the girl and she simply went and sat down with her boyfriend. I echoed the apology, as politely as I could put them back on the tray.

As I was paying for my food, I thought to myself hey, now’s your chance to do something cool. Go give her the wontons. That’s the absolute last thing anybody would expect from you.

And that voice in my head was right. They were twenty baht, and it would have been a rather unforeseen gesture to not only relinquish the item, to to pay for it as well. Furthermore, there is a woman who works there that still regards me with suspicion and scrutiny in spite of frequent patronage. For a moment I thought of her as well. Giving this 20 year old college student may completely break down walls. Giving this young lady those delicious mushroom wontons might actually build bridges with a hard to read and harder still to understand culture.

But I did not.

Now I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking that I was taking revenge for some ancient slight, or perhaps trying to even a decidedly tenuous playing field. You would not be wrong in assuming those things, but there was a different motivation today.

The food was on a tray. Other a la carte items were on the counter. Pay attention. Situational awareness. It’s one thing to be a stranger in a strange land, but the awkwardness and the near-ignominious lack of regard for their surroundings that I have to see on a daily basis with these college students is infuriating. Not only were they sheltered, but now they are loosed upon the land with money, a vehicle, and no clue. I know that most kids that age have no world experience, but I’m talking about world experience scores that are in the negatives when you take into consideration what a semi-closed and semi-private society this is.

The food. Was on. A tray.

If this is your first time, I’m sorry. That’s really what the apology was for. I’m sorry you don’t pay attention. I’m sorry you had a startling moment. I’m sorry that you live in a country where nobody disagrees with each other. It must have shaken you up a bit to have a large white dude snatch a carton of delicious food out of your hand.

But the food was on a tray.

So I took the wontons, Matthew. I took them with a smile on my face. And you want to know something? They were fucking delicious.

Arroy Mak,



March 4, 2017


I just got home and decided to hold off eating lunch until I got this written down. I’m a little unnerved after seeing a moped accident only twenty minutes ago while I was walking home from my favorite vegetarian restaurant. It was another one of those moments where it’s hard to know what happened, because there wasn’t really a collision. From what I can tell, it was just overconfidence combined with inexperience that caused it, though I’m sure it didn’t help that there were three people piled onto one of these tiny machines.

From what I could tell, it seemed like the boy driving was trying to dodge a woman who was parked on the side of the road and had just opened her door. Her expression was that of annoyance, though there was definite concern. I’m not sure if the concern was for the people, however, or for herself and the loss of face, but I do know she seemed like she wanted nothing to do with the situation.

The kids were almost run over, too, by a truck. It was a fiasco, and it really shook me up. I kept walking, annoyed by what I was sure to be another one of those incidents that was caused by puerile disregard, but then one of the girls began crying and it really got to me. I had to look. She was clutching her shoulder and sobbing loudly, while flock of bystanders dumbly hovered around, uncertain of what to do.

I hardened my heart and pressed onward. Truth be told, I wanted to kneel next to the girl and hold her hand until the ambulance arrived, but I talked myself out of the sympathy that was attempting to take over. It’s hard to explain this struggle, but I will briefly attempt to, if not only to absolve myself of this coldness that I think you and my friends know is not typical of me.

First, everyone is always in a hurry. Even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, people with disposable income are all moving at unsafe speeds to get somewhere. Second, mopeds are dangerous. These stupid things are everywhere, and for some reason nobody seems to comprehend that they were not designed for long-distance street driving. Third, there are no traffic rules. People squeeze these stupid little idiot-bikes everywhere they will fit, and it is just dangerous.

I just don’t understand what goes on around me. The Thai are some of the most unconcerned people I have ever seen when it comes to safety. It blows my mind, the overall absence of fear. Maybe that’s why I have a hard time feeling sorry for people when this happens. You can only take so much crap and observe so much stupidity before you start to kinda say Ok, prick, you get what you deserve. You think I haven’t tried? They can’t be told anything. I hate it for them, because I can still hear the sobbing in my mind and it is still messing with me, but at the same time I wish they would take that next step and understand that rules and laws keep us safe.

I don’t like this mix of emotions. I need to watch some cartoons or something.



April 5, 2017


I try not to read my recent letters for long periods of time. I don’t want them influencing how I write and I don’t want to examine a period that may have been traumatic when I am having a good day. For the most part, my first three years in Thailand have been terrible. Rife for growth and personal development, to be sure, but terrible.

But today when I was at the gym I was thinking about how a year ago I was sprawled out in my bed, too injured to even get up and move around. My rage had turned me into a compulsive exercise fiend, and with little to no variation and a thick skull, I hurt myself badly and for a few weeks was unsure of what to do. Not only that, but according to the letters from around this time last year, I was perpetually angry.

I may not have figured out very much since then, but I have certainly moved forward. I had no money, a stack of bills, I was miserable, and I was 108 kilos. Now I have some money, a single student loan, and I weigh 100 kilos. One thing is for certain: each year, a bit more progress is made.

I even have a 708 credit score.

When you’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to be able to evaluate how far you have come, especially with significant stress. I wasn’t even thinking about this until recently. It has almost been like somebody just flipped a switch, and the torrent of misery all but stopped. Yeah, I still think about my stupid job and I’m sure I haven’t sorted through all my mixed feelings about the loss of my parents, but I’m just so satisfied right now. It’s not like I’m a hundred percent, either. I still have a few things wrong with me and I still get stir crazy from time to time.

And I get annoyed a times. I managed to drop down to 97 kilos, and after a prolonged sinus infection I took too many antibiotics and killed the gut flora that was keeping everything moving. Naturally I tried to overcompensate in the gym again, and I ended up messing myself up a little bit… again. I’ve been mad at myself for doing the exact same thing exactly a year later, to be honest, and that is what has prompted all of the thought about last year.

But I will say this: it’s not as bad this time. I suppose I am slow to learn my lesson on certain things, but no matter what has happened, every year is a little better than the previous. At least I’m not doing those horrible visa runs anymore. At least that little cunt Geoffrey is gone. At least I don’t have to tutor. This time, the improvements in my life are far more pronounced, it would seem.

This was all going through my head today when I was at the gym. Although I was a bit mopey over gaining a few pounds, I noticed something that snapped me out of it. After my cardio set, I went to the locker room to sit in the sauna. I removed my shirt and happened to glance up at the large mirror on the wall, something I try to avoid doing, and I was more than a little surprised.

I had muscle tone.

Not a lot, mind you. I’m not fit and cut. But I did have discernible musculature in my arms, chest, and shoulders. Actual muscle tone. My arms are not particularly large from having to cut back on weight lifting, but my biceps, triceps, and shoulders can all be seen. It’s not just a solid mass of flab. I couldn’t even say that about myself when I was in the army and exercising ten to fifteen hours a week.

It was quite a revelation, especially since I was lamenting my slight weight gain from finishing off my school year with a bit of a loss of self-control and spending a significant portion of the vacation so far just sitting around. I was trying to reason everything, of course, but at the same time a calm came over me suggesting that I just chill out and be satisfied with myself.

Obviously, I am still batting it around in my brain, but I will say the conclusion keeps coming up the same. I actually am satisfied with myself. I logged on to my bank account just to look at the balance. That was satisfying as well. Be satisfied with yourself. Stop entertaining alternate realities and what could have been.

These kinds of things can only really be seen when things are holding still. Did I need it? Absolutely. I was starting to get down on myself for how I was spending this free time. I’m on vacation, and I need to do just that: vacate.

So I’m gonna chop up another lime and pour some more Perrier, then turn on Spacehog’s “In the Meantime” and look up the lyrics. It also dawned on me today that I’ve heard that stupid song a hundred times and still have no idea what they are saying.

After that? I’m gonna get some ice cream. Screw it. Go big or go home. It’s not a proper vacation if you don’t gain weight.

Get to the choppa,