Friday, September 12, 2008

What I've been up to

Finally, after much anticipation, here's that 2 minute wrap of the past 6 months...

1- I graduated! I'm all done with school for now, having finally obtained my B.A. Specialization in Journalism (Print and Broadcast) from Concordia University, in my hometown of Montreal. As much as I love school, I was ready to get out in the real world, where people are theoretically as committed to their work as I am. How naive of me! Still, I have the stamped piece of paper, and I'm not planning on going back to school until the summer of 2010 so as to not compromise any chances of working on the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in that same year.

2-In early July, I made my way to Calgary for a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. Not only did I meet some wonderful youth in my community, I made some very good friends, albeit much younger ones ;) Though that shouldn't come as a surprise to those who know me well! The purpose of the trip was for the National ISTAR (aka Ismaili Student Total Academic Recognition) Awards. It was the first time these awards were handed out on a national scale. Though I was nominated in a couple of categories, namely Arts and Culture, I didn't make any finalists list or win any prizes. That experience helped me realize that no matter how creative journalism is, most people don't consider it to be an art. I guess it is more of a technical trade in the mind of the general public. But then again, journalism isn't as well regarded a profession as it was in the time of legends like Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite.

3-While I was in Calgary, I got to attend my first ever Stampede. The quick version? LOVE! The awards were purposely timed to correspond with this exceptional Calgary event. The country music fan in me was totally and utterly thrilled. I caught my first ever country shows, Emerson Drive at Nashville North and Dierks Bentley at the Coca-Cola Stage. I also went behind the scenes at the Stampede grounds thanks to my press pass, obtained because of my participation in a documentary on the Stampede that used the Ismailis' values of volunteerism and community as a central character. I was one of three young girls who were chosen - mostly due to timing and availability - to be stalked over three days in Calgary. It was an experience on several levels. I made good contacts with the staff working on the documentary, and I learned a lot about shooting in the field. To be able to understand both sides of a documentary was extremely interesting to me, and I have to admit I had a lot of fun secretly communicating with Mike the sound guy!! For days after the shooting finished, I actually missed knowing someone was listening to my random conversations and lame jokes. Oh, the tapes are going to be a hilarious listen...

The documentary was made for CityTV and should be broadcast nationally sometime before Stampede 2009. I can't wait to see what made the cut, how silly I look and speak, and what ends up on the cutting room floor! And, of course, I wouldn't mind flying out to Calgary for the premiere ;)

4-On my way home from Calgary, I made a pit stop in Toronto, where I got started on my Olympics contract. That's right! I had the honour of working on the 2008 Beijing Olympics with CBC. For the month of August, I was working night shifts covering the events in Beijing - but from Toronto. Basically, with a producer, announcer and editor, we put together 2 minute video highlight updates based on what the main network was putting out. The updates were due every hour and a half, which amounts to about 6 a shift. It was a lot of fun because I got to keep track of a lot of the Olympic happenings. I also got to get re-acquainted with a lot of the people I met and worked with during the NHL playoffs last season.

I'm very proud of myself for achieving my Olympic goal 2 years earlier than anticipated. I'm still working on making a bigger impact for 2010, but as Scott Moore, head of TV Network Sports at CBC said at the wrap party, "Every element, every person who worked on the 2008 Beijing Olympics contributed to our success and made it that much better a product."

That's a loose quote, of course.

This most recent trip to Toronto made me realize that I was psyching myself up for a potential move to Canada's main business hub. And so, I thought I actually wouldn't mind living there too much. What I realized, once I came home, is that the city itself is toxic. In fact, I wouldn't enjoy living there. What I like about Toronto is the people that I know there. I have a whole lot of really good friends in that city, and that's what I miss when I miss Toronto. Also, it helps that whenever I'm there, I have a job and a certain amount of independence that I don't get in Montreal... but that aside, Toronto is no more spectacular than it was before.

My Olympic experience also helped me build new contacts and regain my faith in the ability to successfully work in sports (and media in general) in a city other than Toronto. Hopefully, some of this networking will pan out sooner rather than later!

Also when I was in Toronto, I attended the first ever (hopefully annual) Rhinestone Country Music Festival at Downsview Park. What a blast it was!!! I only went for day 2, but I got to see a bunch of new artists and current favourites: Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, and Jason Aldean specifically. Those who have seen the pictures know how much fun I had wearing my cowboy boots, enjoying the sun and singing along to every song.

The trip as a whole helped me centre myself and re-discover my priorities. It wasn't just hanging out with friends I hadn't seen in a while or making new ones. It was about having the time and ability to ask myself what I really wanted and what I really care about. A lot of those conclusions are having an impact on the decisions that I take daily, and in a positive way.

All in all, I'm very satisfied with my summer, although I sometimes wonder where the time - and sun - went! Now back in Montreal after my quick trip to New York City, I have to reacquaint myself with the changing downtown landscape of my city. But with hockey season just around the corner, the city is starting to come alive again like it does in the middle of the winter.

And that's what I love about MY Montreal.

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