Happy New Year

Tuesday 31 December 2019

Yikes! The end of another decade. I’ve always viewed my life in 10 year increments. The decade from 2010-2020 is quite interesting I have come to realize. And why or how did I come to know this? Well, because of what I did. I moved to Eastern Ontario in 2010 to finish off my career. Then I retired in December 2015. I took two sailing courses, bought a boat, lived on it for seven months. I really should write about the shit I do. I do some pretty cool shit!

So that was how it began. It ends with me having lived in Montreal for 16 months now. And I attend university as a senior auditor. I live in Milton Park. And I am having a freaking riot! I love living here. I love working as a student and a writer.

But I am behind today. I had a downtown chore to do and I am glad I got it done before noon. Then I had some chores to do here this afternoon. It is all legit! Everything that was closing, was closing by 06:00 pm or earlier. And I did get the car out of the snow that the snowplow had buried it in. There was no rush and I am practiced with the little shovel, the broom, and the snow brush for the windshield. Then I drive five blocks and then park it again. I am driving it everyday just to exercise it and keep it fluidly sound also. Plus also now it is parked in a spot that had been ploughed out by the machine. I will move it first thing tomorrow morning then it is done. The streets and sidewalks have been ploughed but that is all. There is snow everywhere. I speculate that snow clearing operations will begin on the second of January 2020. At that time it will be the full program, towing cars and trucking the snow out.

It is New Years Eve and I am having a quiet one. Which is what I had planned for. I am starting off the year in a “single” frame of mind. Things are very interesting when sex is removed form the paradigm. Here’s a challenge! Date for six months intensively and never have sex. Meet five new women per week and invite them for coffee and let them know that you are doing this very same thing with other women also. Good luck with that one. I may need to meet five a week just to have somebody to talk to. I should read that book and start that program again. Do it to write a book about the program. So there are a couple of pros right there. Get a book and a couple of dates too. It would be a fun project besides.

I don’t know if I could write a book in that context. I think I could. Just be as honest, open and straightforward as you normally are. That is the only way to be. And have some fun dates with some nice ladies. I have to do this. If I am not going to get serious and settle down with a woman, than at least have girlfriends. If there are enough candidates then I don’t have to waste time with fending off neediness and undesirables. Remember, these are not blind dates. These are not social media email-a-thons either. If you are meeting somebody in the grocery store and they agree to meet tomorrow for lunch, they are serious as well. Six months is 24 weeks. Five per week is 5 x 24=120. One hundred and twenty women every six months. Two hundred and forty a year. What an incredible aspect of life that would be. It would be a lot of work. It would be all about women. Maybe I would meet some academic women. It would be a good way to socialize. To get to know some ladies!

I had fallen asleep earlier before nine pm. I woke up just in time at eleven twenty. Just in time for New Year’s! It was pretty uneventful in this neighbourhood as expected. There were some fireworks over at du Parc & Prince Arthur. But it was all over in under a minute. And a bit of hooting’ and hollering’ too. Gotta have some fun. I’m sure there was a celebration somewhere. Probably by the river. Yes, it has been a quiet event here in my apartment. More sleep is in the offing. But I wanted to get back to this page. I had wanted to post it earlier but then there was the sleep issue.

I am really happy that I have made it to 2020. It was always a target date for me because I will also be sixty-five years old this year too. In seven months and twenty-two days. Another reason I like the date is that I got to retire before September 2020. Money is always important because of the choices it gives, but to retire earlier than planned is a gift of time that is difficult to replicate. I am one of the grateful ones. I have worked all of my life. I did work hard. There was no choice in the industry I was in. In September I will start receiving another government pension. An increase of just over seven thousand dollars. That will be my last large pay raise in life, probably. It is a powerful combination of time and money.

On the domestic side of things, I have not made any furniture purchases for the apartment. I had costed out a purchase of some Ikea products from a lady in The Village, but I just didn’t want to spend the money. I have had to spend a lot of extra money these last couple of months. The debt is coming down quickly and I am still saving a little in spite of the debt priority. This debt priority is actually debt relief. It will be gone in a number of months. That will permit more choices. More money, more choices. That is a wonderful thought to be able to debt-free once again. Indeed, to be able to put seventeen hundred dollars a month to savings would be a very comfortable lifestyle. Maybe get a new MacBook. If I need one. No need, no purchase. The place (my apartment), still needs a few more bookshelves. I also would like to get another desk for the office/living room/bedroom. I will get a kettle in the next day or two. Bookshelves I may be able to get in the spring when students graduate and they leave. A proper bed would be nice. I could have a love seat in the bedroom too. But for sure I will get a love seat or a couch for the living room. A foldout couch. No, not a fold out. Fortunately I have the luxury of time. With regards to apartment furnishings.

Now that I have re-committed to my jobs as a writer and a student I have to ensure that I put in full days. No slacking off. This has to be treated seriously, sincerely. Like a job, or two. Because that’s what it is. Two or three jobs. All I have to do is my best. That’s all.

Get More Beauty

Maybe I’ll get more beauty in my thinking! Today is the most beautiful I will ever be. That is if my looks matter. Of course looks matter, they have a role to play. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Do people judge people solely because of their appearance? Unfortunately yes. In fact I see it everyday. There are a number of homeless that live in the neighbourhood. The behaviour between the the homeless and the people walking by are an insight into human psychology. Normally all interactions work well as can be expected. Occasionally, somebody will drink too much beer and there may be some inconvenience until the police remove the problem person. There are two individuals that I seek out. One fellow is outside Place-des-Arts métro station. He is Cree nation from northern Québec. The other fellow is Inuk nation from the Arctic. To be homeless in the Montréal winter is not a pleasant proposition. What is it like up there to consider homelessness in Montréal the lesser evil of the two.

In the station there was a fellow with some hard miles on him, and he was walking through the station cursing the coming winter and his having to live on the street. Now there are shelters. Resources are limited. It is less work to panhandle and feed yourself that way than to run all over the city, if you have transit money, and be told that the place is full or they ran out of food. It has been a long time since I slept under a bridge. I did live on the sailboat for one season. I did live out of my car this past June, but it wasn’t because of homelessness. It was a month long vacation. I slept 28 nights in the car and two nights in a B & B when the car was in for service. After a month of sleeping in the car it felt strange to consider not sleeping there after returning home. Speaking of sleep, I slept well last night again and here I am at 07:45 am writing away.

There is a lot of beauty here. A lot of outdoor stuff like parks and then this incredible architecture from so many decades ago. And I used to camp up until I got the boat three years ago. I have done outdoorsy, by yourself, in the middle of nowhere kayak trips and hiking trips. That I can do. But homelessness I fear. An intense, being scared. Having said that, a lot of people live this way their whole lives if you can imagine. I think maybe the fear of homelessness may be worse than the actual being homeless. If you’re homeless, you have to deal with it constantly, endlessly. The productivity can be distressingly low. To have to suffer so much in order to receive so little.

Life here is good. We are supposed to get 25-30 kms of snow but it is already late. It was first expected to arrive last night at supper-time but everything is still clear here. I should go for a walk soon. But I can walk in snow if necessary. Another good aspect to my life is that it is quiet. I hang out at home a lot. When school is open I hang out there as well. There is a huge library a few blocks away and now that I am a bona fide resident of Québec I can become a member. That should be a good place to work. Plus it is at Berri/UQAM metro station so easy for me to get to. That place will be a whole new adventure. Another pro is that I’ll get familiarized with UQAM also.The other thing I like about it is it is all in French. I still go to my old hood to get a dose of French now that I live in a very bi-lingual area. McGill Ghetto, as expected, is very bi-lingual. About five blocks east of here is Blvd. Saint Laurent. That has always been the marker between Montréal Est & Ouest. I miss the French. My default language when I open my mouth to speak is French. They figure it out as soon as they hear my accent. But French is another of the many reasons I moved to Montréal.

I am glad to be back at WordPress. There have been changes but I will learn them soon. My intention is to post everyday so I should become acquainted soon. One thousand words a day here. I also write another 1,000 words a day at google.docs too. I have been writing everyday for over a month. Many of those days are 1,000 words or more. If I do not write 1,000 words on a day it feels quite abnormal, uncomfortable. That is what my experience has been. I had never heard of that or foreseen that. That makes writing a keeper for sure.I use a Mac with google.docs mostly. I do have a Windows laptop backup with Word. I also am interested in continuing with the Scrivener Trial Offer. But I have WordPress up and running too. And I have a book on WordPress so I am literally all set to go with WordPress. Although I have written more than a thousand words quite often now I will be writing 2,000 everyday. Today is the second day of this new habit. And today is an early start for me. Here it is 08:40 am and I already have the first one thousand words done. I did watch a few minutes of Elizabeth Gilbert and Ann Patchett. Interesting as hell. I even like Liz’s voice. Liz has inspired me immensely. Especially about what a writer is and isn’t. All we need is a pencil and a scrap of paper and we’re in business. My writing is somewhat limited right now. I write a fair bit about Montréal because this is where I live. I talk about writing because that’s what I am, that’s what I do. Also I speak about my efforts to be a scholar in Classics. Maybe. But right now I audit Latin and Rome. I am pushing myself gently, too gently in my goal to be a scholar. That is not quite entirely correct. There is a three year process in play here. Come the beginning of the third year I will know whether I am a candidate for being a paying customer. Of course, I read a lot. It is part of my job as a writer and part of my job as a student.

Well, I have to move on with the day. Write another thousand. Then a shower and walk. I need to buy a kettle for tea. This is exciting stuff!

Do It

That is the best advise ever received. Alexa The Actress said that. Without bragging I have done a fair bit this last sixteen months. I moved to Montréal. I started auditing at Concordia University downtown. My scholar career is ongoing.

I am in my second apartment since arriving here. The first one had a roommate. It was very reasonable expenses with two people. We would have stayed another couple of years but he got renovicted.

That led to an incredible journey to Canada’s East Coast. It was a full 30 days. I now have been to all ten provinces of Canada. I call my trip, “Mike’s East Coast Homeless Tour”. Yes, I was homeless for a month, between apartments. So I lived in my car for 28 nights, usually in 24 hour MacDonalds, or Tim Hortons so that I had a bathroom at night if needed. What good is a drive through when you need to pee?

Seriously though I just started reading through the journal entries for the trip and there is some good material I think. Maybe I will get a few stories out of it. But I am glad now that I journaled the trip because now I am enjoying it in the re-living by reading. Reading with the intent to write something out of it. for sure there will be essay’s. But maybe a short story or two. It will be interesting to see how many words I end up with. I have a number of old journals which also will yield some stories. The 7,000 words per week will give me a regular source of material.

Down at Paperterie Nota Bene they sell typewriters. They priced between four hundred to six hundred dollars each. They look cool and thanks for the memories but how inconvenient. No delete key. But they are stylish and beautiful. They would be a nice decor item if nothing else. If you are in Montréal and you like pens and journals and a lot more you would like this store. They have an amount of items imported from Europe. It is interesting to go in and see all the stuff and people. The staff are knowledgable. There is a large choice of ink pens.

We are supposed to get our second sizeable snowfall of the season within the hour. It will snow until late tomorrow. That’s okay; the lack of snow has been a real blessing. This is Montréal, after all. We’re famous for two things; snow and cold! Lol! What more could a Canuck ask for? Truly my decision to move here was a well-founded one. My life has expanded immensely. Plus my kids will come and visit here. They both love Montréal. My daughter had been to Montréal three times previously in the winter though. This July visit was her first summer trip which she really enjoyed.

Originally the plan was to retire and move to Costa Rica or Colombia. I wanted to get away from the snow so I moved to, eh, … Montréal? Yup. But there is a lot going on here for me and I haven’t even scratched the surface. And they speak French! I love that and all the other cool stuff about this city. I live three blocks from the Green Line. I can walk to school in a half hour. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I am a writer living in downtown Montréal and going to university. That plan all came together very quickly and I knew right away that if I did it, my life would change like I never could have imagined. The dream is to get a degree and then get another one and  … who knows? Maybe get a double degree and then get another one. Or maybe two double degrees? It is financially possible for a Québèc resident. I will get through the semester. Besides, it’s auditing. I am seriously considering taking Latin 1 again next September for the third time.

And the two goals are closely connected so the benefit of the learning is doubled or what have you. I am learning a lot about essays. I didn’t realize they served so many purposes. I will use essays for school. I will also use them to write articles. The more the merrier. It is working out well having the time to learn how to do various things.

I am looking forward to school again. Once it starts it flies by. It is only thirteen weeks. It goes by quickly. I am not up to par with the students and I need to be. I need to be the top of my class! Why not? Absolutely why not? If I choose to I can get a law degree. That is an incredible thought. Remember that lady lawyer that was sitting next to me. I remember what she said. She told me to get a law degree, twice. She told me twice. Then I met Andrew here who let me know how financially possible it is to get the Québec undergrad law degree. That is food for thought. I don’t know if I need an undergrad first. I am going to find out tonight. As far as Andrew was concerned he educated me. A BA law degree here is three thousand a year for three years. The total is nine thousand dollars. If you want an MA LLB, that will be closer to twenty-five thousand. Academics are given paid work. That’s what Montréal is for me. It is an opportunity waiting for me to decide how I want to live this wild and wonderful life.

Tomorrow is coming. How will I keep busy tomorrow? I will write just like today. But now I have upped the ante because I am committing to write. I need to do a days honest good work. Just because it is writing there aren’t any bragging rights. It is work. If we are going to work then we are going to get paid so we have to be paid writers. Nobody can work for free for ever. It has to at least be able to support itself. Let’s be honest. We need to be rewarded commensurately for our efforts.

Good night.