Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 Goes Out the Door - A Year of Making Goals and Achieving Them

Downtown Montreal at night, as seen from Mont Royal. I moved to this beautiful city on June 18, 2012

What I Accomplished This Year

It's not hard to believe that 2012 is almost over. Although I'm not in the habit of making a list of resolutions to accomplish every New Year's Eve, I must say I'm pleased with what I was able to do in 2012. I did have one resolution that I made around this time last year. I'll tell you what it was now because it has come to pass.

I promised myself that in June 2012 I would move to Montreal. And I did. The plan was a year in the making; I was putting the puzzle pieces together to figure out how it would all work starting in June 2011. My goal was to move here to complete my MBA at Concordia University.

It didn't quite happen as planned. My mark on the first Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) was not high enough for me to be accepted into the program. When that happened in December 2011 I took a deep breath and came up with Plan B. That involved moving to Montreal in the summer, as planned, and writing the GMAT again in the summertime.

I moved to Montreal on June 18, 2012. I remember the date because it was also the last day for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's 'Cut the Waist' weight loss challenge. The challenge was thought up by Mayor Ford and his city councilor brother Doug. But I'll get to those two later in this post.

The move went smoothly and I stayed on Rue Durocher, in the heart of McGill University's student ghetto, for the duration of the summer. Through luck of the draw I had a great roommate, Phil. Wedged in between work, studying French at the Commission scolaire de Montreal, and hanging out with Phil, was GMAT studying. I spent many evenings on my second floor apartment's balcony, pouring over study guides.

Come test day all of my studying didn't make an ounce of difference.

Fortunately, I'm one of those people who gets knocked down then gets right back up again. Shortly after writing my second GMAT I applied to Concordia's Graduate Diploma in Business Administration program. A little more than a week ago now I got the green light. I will be starting the one year program in September 2013.

But moving to Montreal and being accepted into a business program weren't the only things I accomplished this year.

In late October I launched Bentley Swan Copywriting Services. The idea for the business came to me after I helped my friend Joey Wargachuk edit his graphic design website. After helping Joey the wheels in my head began to turn. In my short career (4 years since graduating with a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University) I have already worked as a journalist, in government communications, and in marketing. I have written government briefing documents, speeches, website copy, blogs, tweets, and more. I specialize in writing that is carefully tailored to my clients' needs.

After doing thorough research on the field of business or product in question, I tell my clients' stories using creativity, experience, and the knowledge I have gained. 

Next on my list of side projects is joining the army reserves in Quebec. If all goes as planned I will begin training at the end of March or in early April.

Thankfully it hasn't been all work and no play. I've been fortunate enough to meet several Montrealers, some of whom have become new friends. I've been in Montreal for 7 months now. I'm discovering why Quebec truly is, "the distinct society." For me it has less to do with language laws and more to do with the human element. The warm and understanding way Montrealers have of relating to each other is wonderful. It's no mystery to me why Americans from a few of the northern States (Massachusetts & New York) regularly make the drive to Montreal.

Not only am I making new friends, I'm connecting with new business partners through my copywriting business. I'm thinking this bodes well for 2013.

To round out my accomplishments for the year I've taken up painting as a hobby (again). I first dabbled while living above Toronto's Glad Day Bookshop. My first painting was of a sunset seen from a beach. After leaving Glad Day and moving to Parkdale I did two indoor paintings.

At the end of this year's summer I got back into the groove with a painting of McGill's main campus. It shows the playing field on the grounds and the downtown skyscrapers behind it.

This was followed by another landscape of Montreal's Tam Tams party, which takes place every Sunday during summertime in front of the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Monument. I just finished another today that I based on an old promotional postcard for Glad Day.

But it hasn't been all work. There's been plenty of city exploring and fun this year.

On September 18 I had the pleasure of attending Peter Gabriel's 'Back to Front' tour commemorating his breakthrough So album at Montreal's Centre Bell. I was on floor level ten rows back. Along with the time I saw David Bowie back in 2004 on his 'Reality' tour, seeing Gabriel live is an experience I will never forget. The man must have practiced for months to make his voice hit those beautiful notes. And hit them he did. Bowie, Gabriel, and a few other 70s' rockers made music that has earned my lifelong admiration. Timeless songs that speak to the heart of the human experience.

The Rob Ford Ridiculousness in Toronto

In late November, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was ordered removed from office by a judge over a conflict of interest. While still a city councilor Ford had been ordered to pay the city back $3,150. This because he was using city resources to solicit money for his football foundation. Ford used city letterhead to solicit at least some of those donations. It wouldn't have been an issue but for the fact he didn't pay the money back, then broke the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by voting on the matter as Mayor. Total moron.

This is the same Mayor who was caught reading while driving, allegedly gave the finger to a mother and her daughter who called him out for using his cellphone while driving (illegal in Ontario) and the list just goes on and on. While a city councilor Ford was notorious for not reading briefing materials, then grandstanding in the chamber. This behaviour got him shut out of all the committees he wanted to sit on, so he filled any time not spent coaching football with constituency work and built himself up a strong base of supporters. During Toronto's last municipal election it was these people who became known as 'Ford Nation.'

Mayor Ford has such a long history of idiotic public behaviour and statements that it's a wonder so many people voted for him. His victory said something about the lack of critical thinking and observation in Toronto. Rob Ford, to put it bluntly, is a high school bully who never learned a lesson. For most people who behave like Ford that lesson comes in the form of having the living shit kicked out of them.

But that didn't happen. He behaves like a brat and remains ignorant of the rules Toronto politicians must follow.

Not only this, but all the oxygen spent talking about Ford's actions and his future should be spent on the most important issue for Toronto's future: transit. Toronto politicians have squabbled about transit for years now - it's the file that's going nowhere. With the GTA continuing to grow, adding another streetcar to the Queen line just won't cut it . An article from a December issue of The Economist really put it best. Model T Ford Breaks Down, indeed.

I hope 2013 is the year Toronto dumps Ford and elects a competent Mayor who knows how to compromise and can move on some of the serious business that so urgently needs to be done.

Best Movie of the Year

2012 has been a great year for movies. Cosmopolis and The Dark Knight Rises were among my favourites. But for my Movie of the Year, there was really only one option.

Mars et Avril is that movie. Set in Montreal thousands of years in the future, it's a simply told love story for the ages. This movie brought me to tears every one of the three times I watched it. I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen - this is one to experience in a movie theater if you can. 10 stars on a 5 star scale.

Future Projects

2013 will bring a return to school, more projects with Bentley-Swan Copywriting, and I certainly hope new and exciting collaborations with Joey Wargachuk.

On a final note, this is a shout out to Pierre Fitch, Max Ryder, Jake Bass, Phil, John Scythes, and Joey. You guys made my year. Here's to a 2013 where we move beyond old limitations and into the unknown.

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