Archive for January, 2009

Sick baby updates for January 25, 2009

First post in which I talked about interpreting at the hospital for a family whose baby had a severe birth defect of the liver: biliary atresia, or, in his case, the complete absence of a bile duct

Second post with update.

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and moral support along the way. I interpreted for the family for the baby’s checkup on Friday. Thus far, everything is going well. It will take about two more months or so to confirm that the Kasai procedure was a success. This family has been so kind to me. They bought my daughter a beautiful outfit from Gymboree, which she loves.

I have not heard anything more about the family whose baby was born with a birth defect of the heart. I assume at this point that no news is good news.

Thanks for your continued prayers for these children. I will provide updates as I learn more.

  • Share/Bookmark

Dropping the L-bomb

Under what circumstances do you say, “I love you,” also known as “dropping the L-bomb,” when you enter a new romantic relationship?

In considering the matter, one digs into a veritable sundae of sociological, psychological, and spiritual issues:

  • What is the vision of romantic love in the society?
  • What phrases, if any, in the society indicate a person’s belief that he or she is feeling romantic love of a particular level for someone?
  • Regardless of a particular society’s vision of romantic love, what actually is happening in “love” on various levels: sociological, psychological, physical, and spiritual?

One could write a book about how love has veen viewed through the ages and what phrases were used to indicate one’s recognition that love is present. Here, however, I’d like to talk about how things are in the US and Japan and how they jibe with my opinion of things.

Whereas in the past love and marriage were viewed in a more (but not necessarily exclusively) sociological context (i.e., marriage was more for practical and economic purposes, such as procreation and bringing families and even countries together), in the US we see marriage as existing for personal fulfillment: i.e., we want to find the person who complements us and experience love with him or her. The experience of love is primary; procreation and other aspects of the partnership are definitely secondary.

The following seem to me to be the basic principles of feeling love and using the phrase “I love you” in the US:

  • People in a loved-based partnership or relationship (e.g., marriage, living together, girl/boyfriend) ought to be feeling love for one another. Contrariwise, people who don’t have such feelings ought not be in such a partnership. For, there is a general belief that married people that don’t “really love each other” should get divorced and find partners they “really love.”
  • People who feel love for each other ought to express those feelings verbally (“I love you”), and something is wrong if they don’t, either with the relationship or with the partner or partners who won’t say the magic words.
  • Mutually saying “I love you” is a major milestone in the development of a relationship.
  • One ought not say “I love you” without really meaning it (whatever “really meaning it” means).

How about in Japan? The vision of romantic love in that country is not tremendously different from our own, and the way people approach dating is roughly the same as well. Furthermore, the phrase “ai shite iru” (literally, “I am loving [you], with the object of the verb usually left implied, as is common in Japanese grammar) has approximately the same sociological import as “I love you.” Once people are in a relationship, however, there seems to be much less of an expectation for verbal reinforcement.

So, according to the unspoken rules, we need to feel love for someone before we say “I love you.” We know as individuals what it’s like to feel romantic love for someone, but what is really going on? What neurological patterns are at work? What is happening in the spiritual dimension? We must confess our ignorance.

Furthermore, we cannot assume that a person who says “I love you” is necessarily feeling the same things that we are. We may try to judge through our five senses and even through senses beyond these whether the person is sincere in his or her words, but I have yet to see anywhere a table or chart that tells us what what degree of love goes with what facial expression or amount of light shining from the fourth chakra.

No, here we are definitely working in a world of fuzzy logic, in which a person must self-assess his or her feelings of love to decide whether to release the three-word trope, and we must in turn assess through uncertain signs whether that trope has been released appropriately. To complicate matters further, people drop the L-bomb even when they do not “really feel” love. For example, they may drop it in hopes of placating their partner now and “really feeling” love later. Or they may, like myself, be willing to say it under a rather lax standard, in which romantic love is conflated with altruistic love.

It’s true: I drop the L-bomb rather easily and retract it rather cautiously, as I try to “love everyone,” and hey–even if my romantic feelings for you are deceased, still “I love you,” right? I need to ponder more whether it is proper for me to use these words in this way.

All that said, there are of course times when the feeling of love is so strong on both sides and the energy working between and emanating from the persons in combination so great that only a fool would say, “We don’t know what’s really happening here in the hidden dimension; therefore we cannot say if they are really in love.” I would even venture to say that most of the time, when people say, “I love you,” they are expressing something sure and true, an apt symbol of something important and mysterious. Although I may be lax in dropping the L-bomb myself, I am no cynic when it comes to this most important of things.

  • Share/Bookmark

"DAYS"–a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson



Daughters of Time, the hypocrite Days,
Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes,
And marching single in an endless file,
Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
To each they offer gifts after his will,
Bread, kingdoms, stars, and sky that holds them all.
I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp,
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.

§           §           §

Wow, what a great poem, and an unusual one for Emerson. He rarely wrote unrhymed verse, and the meditative tone of regret here is not to be found in many of his other works.

The feeling of slow movement, the Days walking in single file, is exquisite and immediately makes a deep impression on the imagination, as does the selection of offerings large and small.

Emerson’s poems are often difficult to interpret. Why are the Days hypocrites? Does the narrator regret his choice (simple things instead of the world itself), feeling that his will was insufficient; or does he contemn the Day for scorning his simplicity? Or is it a little bit of both?

My impression is that Emerson is commenting with some measure of regret on the way of time (“muffled and dumb”: time cannot speak for or explain itself) and the way of the world (“the pomp”). Our days promise to bring us anything we want, so long as we are willing to fight for it (“after his will”), but if we forget our “morning wishes” (perhaps our big dreams when we are young) and opt for the simple things, the world looks down upon our choice (“the scorn”).

A deep, beautiful poem that gives one much for pondering, both in image and in thought.

  • Share/Bookmark

Step away from the karma

I think I finally got something: I will sometimes have opportunities in life to be with someone or influence someone that I ought not take. Step away from the karma. Don’t force the puzzle piece. Let semi-awake dogs fall back asleep.

This was the great lesson of 2007 and 2008: I took the sales approach to life: it was about selling my product to people, convincing them that I had what they really needed. I not only sold my business products, I sold myself as a product: have a relationship with an awesome person. This is what you want, isn’t it? Isn’t it?

Recently, my readers have seen me return to this post again and again: “If the energy is not coming toward you….” My message for today is related but not quite the same. I should not try to force something if the energy is not coming toward me, certainly, but I also should not involve myself in something when the energy that is coming toward me is negative or conflicted.

In the past week I have had an epiphany about a relationship that began in late 2007 and affected me greatly throughout 2008. She was in a huge karma war with her then-boyfriend (now the father of her unborn child); she wanted to be with him and wanted to escape from him at the same time. She used my energy toward her to “escape,” but she was not done with the old relationship. To be sure, I was sold a bill of goods: she told me she loved me, emphatically; she told her mother we were getting married; and so on. Nevertheless, had I been more perceptive or more honest with myself about what I did perceive, I could have saved us both a huge amount of trouble (the relationship ended in what these days is called an “epic fail”).

In May of 2008 I took a new approach to business that has given me both more money and more harmony in life: I don’t sell myself or my skills. I network a bit, I talk about my work as a writer, and if people think, “I can use this guy to make money and make my life easier,” then they give me a try; if they don’t, they don’t. The upshot is that I only end up working with people who are excited to be working with me. I let the energy, the karma, come to me.

It has taken longer for me to learn this same lesson as it pertains to relationships. The type of woman for whom I have been searching is rather rare, and thus the temptation has been to see her where she is not. Accept no substitutes. At last, I may be prepared to do what I need to do: Keep my eyes open. Engage in appropriate search methods. But wait. Wait. Wait. Let the her energy, her karma, come to me.

  • Share/Bookmark

"FROM HAFIZ"–a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson



I said to the heaven that glowed above,
O hide yon sun-filled zone,
Hide all the stars you boast;
For, in the world of love
And estimation true,
The heaped-up harvest of the moon
Is worth one barley-corn at most,
The Pleiads’ sheaf but two.

§           §           §

This is in the “Translations” section of my complete poems by Emerson, so presumably he translated something (a complete poem, a fragment?) by Hafez, a very great Persian poet of whom I was, until I read Emerson’s lyric above, almost completely ignorant (perhaps the name rang a bell, but that’s about it).

Emerson’s lyric is probably a butchery of whatever Hafez wrote, but it’s a nice little poem in its own right. Having read through (or shall I say, “processed”?) all of Emerson’s poems, I must opine that the success of this small work depends mostly on luck: Emerson was best when he kept it short, which he didn’t often do, but almost all of his short poems also lack “it” (indeed, I really liked only ten or so in total, all of which I intend to post on this blog).

Why does this poem work for me? The metaphor is apt, and the lines of irregular length and the irregular rhyme scheme in combination with the effect of the last two lines add up to something clever and aurally and mentally satisfying.

I don’t know if there is a term for it, but I really like the poetical effect exhibited in the last two lines, in which the latter phrase builds upon the former but elides much of its structure:

Is worth one barley-corn at most,
The Pleiads’ sheaf [is worth] but two [at most].

To me, this kind of structure has great elan and, in this case, “makes” the poem.

  • Share/Bookmark

"LOVE"–a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson



Love on his errand bound to go
Can swim the flood and wade through snow,
Where way is none, ‘t will creep and wind
And eat through Alps its home to find.

§           §           §

A good quatrain is not easy to write. In just four lines it must give the reader a sense of satisfaction, the feeling that a complete idea has been expressed well.

This quatrain is snappy in meter, full in concept, and compelling in imagery. The escalation from trudging through the snow to gnawing through the very mountains is believable. The reader may adopt the poem not merely as a succinct way to imagine the power of love, but also as a mantra for use in achieving his or her own love goals.

  • Share/Bookmark

Rouge Musings for January 11, 2009

Some thoughts remaining from 2008:

Promises are for keeping, not believing. I guess that’s the big one.

Along with that, I’d like to add a new word to the lexicon: po’titlement, the sense of entitlement some people get not because they’re in the elite but because they habitually perceive others as better off than they, even if they’re not. In other words, “I’m po’, so I deserve mo’. Pick up the tab.” 2008 was a year in which I dealt with several such people.

The Saks store brand tee shirts are really nice and not too expensive, either.

A new way to blow someone off: “Blog about it.” Sample dialog:

A: Did you eat all the cookies? Those were for everyone in the office.
B: Yeah–so what?
A: They’re all gone.
B: I know, I ate them.
A: Well, they were for everyone in the office.
B: Eh, just blog about it, won’t you?

B is clearly in the wrong here; perhaps s/he is suffering from po’titlement: the right to eat others’ cookies because there has always been a lack of cookies in his or her own life. Speaking of which, I could use a Krispy Kreme doughnut right about now, but I’m not going to have one for the following reasons:

  • I am in Crown Point, Indiana, and there are no Krispy Kreme joints around here.
  • I am not going to leave the house, anyway.
  • I am on a diet.

Actually, I’m not really on a diet. That reminds me of a joke:

A: I’m on a seafood diet.
B: I’ve heard this one before–that means you “see food” and you eat it, right?
A: No, it means I primarily eat seafood.

I think I told it wrong.

Caol Isla is okay, but Lagavulin is so much better. I have not become a huge fan of Arran. The Glenlivet Nadurra was very nice. That’s about the extent of my splurging over the past two or three months. I managed to please people with Christmas presents that didn’t cost too terribly much (or they were good at feigning delight).

Anyhow, I continue to reflect on the topic of this post, in which I talk about the necessity of having the energy coming toward oneself in order for an endeavor to succeed. It’s not quite the same concept, but one thought that went through my head from time to time in 2008 was this: Velcro has two sides. In a relationship, whether of a personal or business nature, both sides should come together eagerly and naturally. It’s not a perfect metaphor, as one side of the velcro will actually stick to just about anything that’s fuzzy. So, the moral is: don’t be fuzzy. Don’t be fuzzy-headed! So often in 2008, I was. What a crazy year that was.

  • Share/Bookmark

"DRY"–a poem by Matt Rouge



A habit broken months ago today,
when all the little bubblings of the earth
retreated from my judgment of their worth,
in taunting glee has come again to stay.

Without a meeting to restrain the flow,
a bottle to unpurchase for the dearth,
I kept my hands cupped for the pouring forth,
always a draft just several clicks away.

Not all I knew of spirit and its ways
revered that source or blessed my hitting send,
and now that nothing serves to drown my gaze,
I thank and curse the method of the end:
a well still coaxing thirstiest desires
yet dry as anything in summer’s trend.

  • Share/Bookmark

Sick baby updates

In this post I first talked about interpreting at the hospital for a family whose baby had a severe birth defect of the liver: biliary atresia, or, in his case, the complete absence of a bile duct. I reflected on my gratitude that my daughter was born healthy and has remained so.

In this post I updated the story of the baby with the liver problem.

On Sunday I helped this family out again. The Kasai operation their child underwent seems for the time being to be a success; the baby was discharged and will continue to be tested to make sure that bile is flowing properly. Please keep this baby in your prayers.

On Monday–it seems about two weeks ago–I helped another family. Their baby was just five days old but had to undergo open heart surgery because of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect that leaves only half of the heart able to pump. Until the early 1980s, this birth defect was 100% fatal. Now, however, a series of three surgeries before 18 months of age can keep the child alive and even fairly normal as far as activity goes. The baby underwent the Norwood procedure, which sounds just wickedly complex from the Wikipedia article linked for your reference. Please keep this baby in your prayers as well.

Doing my job, of course, requires that I meet the surgeons who have performed the operations. Here they are, who have spent the pressured and long hours in the operating room, working on the tiny, vital parts within tiny bodies. When I put new windshield washer fluid in my car I splash it everywhere, but here are people so brilliantly skilled, who have altered the human organism to save life, creating pathways that were not there by means of what the body has to offer: intestine, blood vessels.

There is no blood on gowns, no drama of the OR attached to them. The cleanliness and calm they have is uncanny. In both cases, the majesty of success was theirs. The parents are grateful for the news. There is an intermingling of vibrations between the giver and the receiver, related yet distinct, like a river flowing into the ocean: both are happy that the child will live, but one had to make it happen; one had to prevent the worst from happening, at least for today.

I lived in the parents’ country for eight years. I have seen Japanese people laugh, cry, hope, and despair in countless situations. Fate chose for these two families to have children in the United States, in Indiana, how far from home, far from the morning NHK news and the train stations with their kiosks selling everything and miso soup and tatami mats and the black spider web of power and phone lines that no one thinks about until they are seen throughout the city and everyone forgets until they are seen again. Fate chose to give their children horrifying, burdensome birth defects–nothing to be fixed, sewn up, taken care and dismissed: no, in an instant they took on a life of thinking about, dealing with, and paying for them. These things.

Japanese people in the waiting room, and somehow I’m there with them.

  • Share/Bookmark

Reflections on three recent posts

In this post I reflect on a rule of thumb recently given to me by a wise man:

If the energy is not coming toward you, then there is almost no skill or wisdom you can apply to the situation to make it succeed. On the other hand, if the energy is coming toward you, then you can lack skill or wisdom or fail to apply them and still succeed.

Addendum: Make sure it is a lot of energy! “Coming towards you” means, “Wow, I can’t believe all this energy is coming at me!” This is more advice to myself than to you, gentle readers: I often tend to put more energy into a system than it deserves and reap a pretty awful ROI. Had I followed this rule more closely, I could have avoided some serious nonsense this past week.

Regarding that nonsense, in this post I told you I was “ready for whatever comes.” I was! The fox has had the sour, sour grapes shoved down his throat for the final time. Enough! They are sour.

Finally, in this post, I said, “Now I can feel you out there, soul mate.” I still can. That is energy that is truly coming toward me, and I eagerly but patiently wait for its arrival. When she arrives, we are going to make serious waves and rock the oh-nine! It’s going to be fun!

  • Share/Bookmark