Poor Adam…

Adam of Words Mean Things has posted an entry in which he asks, “Why ha[s America] not gotten the point, when every other industrialized country in the world is light-years ahead of us on [this issue of same-sex unions]?”

Today, the Canadian edition of Time magazine named Michael Leshner and Michael Stark, the first gay couple to marry legally in Canada, as “Canada’s Newsmakers of 2003.”

Today, the American edition of Time magazine named The American Solider its 2003 Person of the Year.

(Mind you, on the timecanada.com poll asking “Do you agree with our choice for the 2003 Canadian Newsmaker of the Year?” a whopping 84% of 371 respondents as of 19:25 AST today answered “No.” Then again, we are talking TIME magazine here…)

Regardless, Adam, what do you say? Since I already bestowed upon you the title of “Honourary Canadian citizen,” should I take the next step? I could send you the papers you need to become a landed immigrant as well as a copy of the Chronicle Herald so that you can start looking for an apartment — assuming you’re open to the idea of coming to Halifax. ;-P}

Another One for the “Arrgh” File

Regardless of What They Say…
I read in a blog somewhere — I don’t remember whose — that the non-word disorientated yanks her chain the wrong way. Me, it’s irregardless. I feel the urge to slap somebody — preferably the writer — whenever I see it.

Professional Nose Pickers
Another one is how professional has come to be misused and overused. It’s so bad that on some website requiring registration — again, I don’t remember which site — the form clearly stated “traditional professional (accountant, doctor, lawyer, etc.).” In many instances, the substantive “professional” has become synonymous with “a white collar worker.” As an adjective, it has come to mean something along the lines of “deftly executed.” Consider, for instance, how many times you’ve heard or read that a website was or wasn’t “very professional,” and then examine what I consider a liberal definition of professional. Even if someone were to “perform nose picking” for pay, it’s doubtful it would be a good idea to call that person a professional nose picker.

This Rant Comprises a Rant on “Comprise”
I don’t care that opposition to the usage comprise of is subsiding. There’s no need for it. We’re allowing people who can’t use a thesaurus properly to lower the standard. I can just see it now: a bunch of people decided they didn’t sound sufficiently erudite when writing “consists of” and decided to substitute “consist” with “comprise.” Oh, get over yourself! You’re only making yourself sound more unlearned.

“Period.”
Okay, let’s get this straight once and for all. In English, a period or a comma goes inside the closing quotation mark; a colon or a semi-colon goes outside the closing quotation mark; a question mark or an exclamation point goes inside or outside the closing quotation mark depending on context. Look smart: Punctate correctly.

Real Compounded Words
¤ nevertheless
¤ nonetheless

No hyphen. No space. No other way.

Who’s That You Say?
Don’t reduce people to objects by using the pronoun that to refer to them (e.g., “People that…”). The correct pronoun to use is who (i.e., “People who…”). And use whom as an indirect object (e.g., “The woman to whom I was speaking…”).

The Dreaded “D” Word

I’ve been reticent to blog about this topic until now, but I’ve come to the point where I feel the need to do so.

One of the things that has made 2003 truly remarkable for me is that I have never before had so many friends, acquaintances and relatives simultaneously going through the same thing: depression, to various degrees. Of course, I’m not going to mention who and to what degree — some of you already know, anyway — since that would be crossing a line I shouldn’t cross. It would be up to these people, individually, to start their own blog and, if they chose, write about their experience of depression.

After having successive individuals come up to me and confide that they’re going through a depression, I started to wonder about my own state of mind. That’s because, as a friend, I got involved: I even read quite a bit about depression — what it is, what it isn’t, how it’s treated, and so on — just so that I wouldn’t do more harm than good. (I did that once before and, thankfully, the friendship wasn’t lost once we discussed the errors of my ways.) And after reading much of this material, I have been vindicated (for lack of a better word) in that some of the ideas I had prior to those readings — common sense for the most part — were roughly on track with what professionals who deal daily with depression have to say and advise.

The most important new thing I learned, however, is that most forms of depression should be classified as a disorder, not a disease. That is not to minimize the very real pain and suffering a depressed person is going through; instead, it helps to better focus treatment. Diseases are dealt with mostly through a combination of surgical interventions and/or prescription drugs which, we hope, will lead to a cure. But if we look at most forms of depression as a disease, we might, for one, focus too much on the drug therapies, which, in the case of anti-depressants, are not designed to be a cure. Furthermore, by calling depression a disease when it’s not, we could be encouraging depressed individuals to play a more passive role in treating their ailment, thus minimizing the importance of their input towards finding a cure for their depression.

In one book I read, the author/therapist related a story about a woman who came to his clinic. Most of us would qualify her life as being “rotten,” including the fact she’d just been told she had only a few more months to live due to some bizarre, inoperable cancer. Yet she manifested no signs of depression, even though the therapist himself thought it would have been perfectly normal for her to be in the deepest of funks. But no, she came to see the therapist to help her come up with ways of easing her family into her pending death.

This phenomenal woman reminded the therapist how an important prong of research on depression has to be among those who, for whatever reason, are somehow immune to depression. And personally, I was reminded of those prostitutes in Africa who, despite being exposed and re-exposed to HIV, never acquire it. What is in the makeup of the therapist’s “patient” or those African women that shields them so well? What can we learn from them, and can (or how can) it be applied to help prevent depression or HIV transmission?

Although I, like mostly everyone, have gone through rough patches that could certainly be termed depressive instances, somehow I’ve managed to pull out by turning to a confidant and allowing myself the time to go under, so to speak. Until this year, I used to think that I was prone to being negative and mopey and, therefore, always had to work against that. But now I realize that it’s the other way around: my modus operadi is to make the best of imperfect situations (which most situations are) and find solace in the accomplishment despite adversity. Everybody has regrets. I have regrets. But dwelling on those regrets or second-guessing why others behaved as they did towards me doesn’t change what is now in the past. More useful is to look at what my reaction was and to use the cushion of time to my advantage to examine if my reaction was justified and what I learned I should do similarly or differently should a similar situation arise.

I must say, however, that even I get a little numb when I consider the past of one of my friends currently going through a depression. Put simply, it is overwhelmingly awful. But the worst, seminal incidents occurred decades ago. This is what makes this friend’s case such a tough nut to crack: on the one hand, “lessons” were learned by a child and they’re still being held as applicable in adulthood; on the other hand, the cushion of time seems to have flattened my friend’s very perception of time to the point that “bad stuff” from many years ago are recounted like the “bad stuff” that happened yesterday. One hardly knows what to look at first. But that said, one truth still holds: dwelling on the exact circumstances of past events will never change them.

I do hope 2004 will be better for all my friends and relatives who have just gone or are going through a depression, and those friends know they can count on me. I won’t lie and say that I’m finding it easy and that I’m not affected by it all. And I can’t promise that I’ll be in top shape to deal with each crisis. Nor can I promise that I won’t give up if you don’t give as well (i.e., if you expect that I’m going to “fix” things while you sit back and wait for everything to fall into place). I can provide the water; I can’t make you drink. 😛

But therein lies a bit of irony, at least in my eyes: I realize that in trying my best to be supportive, I’ve been taking a bad situation (your depression) and attempting to help you find a way out or around it. Maybe that’s why, at some level, you’ve chosen to confide in me. And if that’s so, that’s pretty cool.

Christmas Week

I made it pretty clear last year that I’m no fan of Christmas. It bores me and I hate how it has become an orgy of consumerism. I’ve seen people taking on extra part-time jobs just so that they could afford all the gift-giving, which to me is very sad. A lot of people are making themselves more miserable at a time of year when it’s already too easy to be miserable due to the lack of daylight.

Some interesting statistics came up in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. One of them is that the people of Atlantic Canada, the country’s most “have-not” region economically, are those who, on average, will spend the most on Christmas shopping this year. I guess I could put a positive spin on that: the most generous Canadians are those who have the least. In fact, these figures are reflected proportionally when it comes to giving to charities. The country’s cheapskates on both fronts, it would seem, are the people of QuĂ©bec.

Anyway, I like the fact that it’s been years since my siblings and I have given up on giving each other Christmas gifts. Now we just pitch in for a set of big gifts for Mom and Dad and call it good. All my friends know that I don’t give Christmas gifts. Instead I give year-round — when I can and when it strikes me. They know not to take it personally; I just don’t “do Christmas.”

I’ll be leaving for Moncton around noon on Tuesday, in the delightful company of BeeGoddessM and Tif* the Neurotic Cat. Already we have a tentative plan to go see a movie on Christmas night. And we’ll be driving back to Halifax on Saturday, weather permitting. I sure hope it permits…

* Tif was the nickname of the late Canadian author, Timothy Findlay. I don’t know if the cat is as gay as his namesake, but he’s skitty and weird and has a little pinhead. And he’s the cutest grey tabby I ever saw.