Finals season does not lend itself to a holistic lifestyle. Students, myself included, are too preoccupied to think about superfluous and optional activities – eating, for instance. No, instead finals are a time to enjoy late nights full of doomsday prophecies about one’s future, a wealth of libraries, databases, books and essays. In retrospect, I can say with shameful confidence, that I do not recall eating a single vegetable during the month of December. While I did not necessarily gain weight per se, due to the infrequent occasions I actually sat down to eat over finals week, when I returned home for the break I was regularly drinking at least five cups of coffee per day and could hardly climb a set of stairs without wanting to lie down. In hindsight, I was lucky not to contract scurvy. After my usual series of Christmas season binge meals, I decided to take a page out of the Basic Man handbook and start living healthier.
Luckily my brother was on a similar health kick so I figured I could just copy him to achieve my goals – and it’s been working. Unfortunately, my dependence on his example has left me almost entirely without comprehension of my diet, I will try to explain it as best I can.
Step one. I stopped drinking coffee again. I fully intend to resume drinking it back at school but five cups a day was too much. I quit it cold turkey which lead to considerable headaches. Fortunately, I’ve found that tea helps and apparently green tea is good for you so there’s always that.
Step two. No sugar! None at all. This has been the most depressing part of the whole ordeal. Essentially it just means no desserts or anything like that. This meant goodbye to M&M’s, cakes, whipped cream, iced cream, caramel – now I’m just making myself hungry but I think my point is clear. Oddly enough this lack of sugar lead to intense cravings which gradually subsided. This really made me think about the effects of sugar on the body and all that mumbo jumbo. The cravings were very real. Strange stuff.
Step three. Finally, and most heartbreakingly, I noticed that my brother eats almost no carbs – certainly no processed gluten and stuff like that. This meant no more pizza, sandwiches, toast, pasta and all that good stuff. The hardest part about giving these foods up wasn’t the cravings. Don’t get me wrong - there were horrible cravings, but they just sort of stopped a few days in. No, the hardest part of giving these foods up has been just how boring my options for dinner are these days. Lots of plain protein and stuff like that – nothing too exciting.
While the tangible benefits of my new diet are still minimal (how do I know when I am healthy? Do I get some sort of token or trophy or something?) I can say that the greatest benefit of the whole thing is how natural it seems. I eat lots of fruit, lots of vegetables, meat, fish, reasonable amounts of rice, I drink water and tea and occasionally watered down juice. It’s kind of comforting to think that in an age where at every turn people seem to run into all sorts of new health problems, that my diet is roughly the same as that of my ancestors. I like to assume that my ancestors were healthy but who knows, maybe they were just hungry all the time and thought they ate boring food. I’m sure I’ll crack and go to McDonald’s soon, but for now, I am healthy-man. Maybe I should go to Soul Cycle.
American and Canadian Thanksgiving do not fall on the same date. Canadian Thanksgiving is a more subtle celebration, usually just commemorated with a day or two off work or school and it falls the second Monday in October. I sort of went home for Canadian Thanksgiving - I took a train up to Montreal with a few friends to see my homeland for a couple hours before returning to New York. That being said, although Montreal is a Canadian city, it is still five hours away from Vancouver by plane which is why I say I only ‘sort of’ went home. American Thanksgiving is, apparently, a rather elaborate holiday. Everyone takes, more or less, the whole week off, and goes home, and beats up fellow shoppers on Black Friday etc. I didn’t really know how big a deal it was which is why, this year, I didn’t plan to fly home which was a big mistake (or so I thought).
By Tuesday afternoon my last friend had left Manhattan and I was completely alone. The first few hours were tough, I sort of felt like a tourist at the Grand Canyon, “Okay, I’m here… but what do I do now?…”.
It was about one in the morning when I decided to go to bed. Only I didn’t really decide to go to bed I decided to lie in bed for a couple minutes and watch a little bit of Terence Malick’s The New World, before dozing off. Once again – big mistake. Three hours later I am bleary eyed, my shirt drenched in tears and sweat, watching Collin Ferrel saying his final good-bye to Pocahontas. What a film.
Wednesday morning I couldn’t get out of bed. Partly because I hadn’t gone to sleep until four or four thirty and partly because I still couldn’t stop thinking about Collin Ferrel and Pocahontas, and Christian Bale – he was there too.
After that I spent most of my day walking. I had to go to the Chelsea Market to buy chocolates for a friend who had invited me to his house in Westchester for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a nice walk and it wasn’t too cold out. To get from my place to the Chelsea market I basically just go straight west through the village and to the water. So I had a nice time on the walk and I bought the chocolates but when I got back I realized it was getting quite late and I had a paper due Friday which I hadn’t even started yet.
So I didn’t make it to Westchester for Thanksgiving the next day on account of I hadn’t finished my paper yet. I thought being alone on Thanksgiving would make me sad but it didn’t since I had all the chocolates to myself now. Besides, my paper was on Spanish history and I really like Spanish history, and on top of all that, by the time I finished my paper The Weeknd’s new album, Starboy, had dropped. And it was far from a disappointment – especially that track with Lana Del Rey. She’s quite something.
So I suppose staying here alone for Thanksgiving wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I got a lot of work done and now I get to stay at home and watch movies and listen to The Weeknd for the rest of the "weeknd". I even got my parents to pay for a nice solo Thanksgiving meal – see attached picture of Canadian Blueboy below.
Another year and I am back in the city. Specifying my location as “the city”, however, is not an attempt to denigrate the legitimacy of any other city. In fact, I have been in a great deal of “cities” over the past several months. The first of which being Vancouver, my home city and part-time residence. While I never considered myself a New Yorker, even at the end of my first eight months in the city, I did in fact feel very “New York-ish” upon returning to the place of my birth. For instance, I seem to have become (if this is even possible) an even more vocal complainer in contrast to my more stoic Vancouver family members. Statements such as “Bagels here suck”, “Everyone walks too slow”, “Why are there so many damn trees around here” serve to show that while I may not yet be a New Yorker, the city has begun to leave its mark on me.
The next slew of cities to leave their mark on me were in Italy, where my family visited several locations – Rome, Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi, and, perhaps the most beautiful of them all, the seaside town of Positano where we rented a home. For die hard movie lovers – you may be familiar with Capri and Positano as the inspiration for the island town of Mangibello in The Talented Mr. Ripley. It was in Italy that my New York-isms were temporarily substituted for Italian-isms. We all know the famous riddle – “If a North American travels to Italy but does not embarrass themselves by pretending to be ‘local’ do they really go to Italy?”
The answer is no but apparently my Italian sandals are frowned upon here in New York so, once again, I have been forced to re-adjust to being back in ‘the’ city. My classes are harder, but less time consuming. This year I will surely have time to dive into all sorts of fun projects and should produce some exciting work to show you all very soon. But first, I need regain my New York-isms. Making progress. Once again remembering how, why and when (always) to complain. My computer is slow.
Landing back in Vancouver recently marked the beginning of my summer vacation and end of my first year at NYU. That being said, I feel like I am still in a transitional, oddly purgatorial state – not completely having left school but not being completely free of it.
First, I have yet to receive my exam grade. Grade, singular. I actually only had one exam and I felt like it went pretty well but until I actually see the grade there will always be a small voice in the back of my head that subtly suggests, “You failed it”. So there’s that. Also I’m not yet free of the physical effects of school. Simply put, I am tired. Yesterday I fell asleep on a chair in a store. I went shopping with my mom and sister but apparently they abandoned me soon after I fell asleep. I imagine I looked very frightening – a random man, asleep in a woman’s retail store. Eventually they found me and bought me sushi and I felt better but I still feel slightly confused. If I am home, why is school such a big part of my life? Not to mention all the friends I left back in New York and coming back to all the friends I had left here last fall. Very strange indeed.
I kind of feel like one of those impoverished aristocrats at the beginning of Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard – minus the cherry orchard and the over mortgaged house. I guess those were two pretty integral parts of the story and in reality, my situation bears little resemblance to The Cherry Orchard. But I like that play and using it as an example helps reinforce the idea that I got all the questions about Stanislavski and the Moscow Art Theater correct on my final exam – which I still think I might have failed.
Imagine the most popular kid in school is throwing a huge party in their house. They’ve spent thousands of dollars on food and drink, purchased designer goodie gift bags for all invited guests and there a rumor that Drake will be in attendance. An invitation is hard to come by and they have hired eighteen rugby players as bouncers. Your chances of getting an invitation are slim to none and the possibility of sneaking into this party is very unlikely but regardless, you need to go. You simply must be there.
Right now in New York City this impossibly wonderful party exists and it’s called Hamilton. Buying tickets is nearly impossible and the VIP list is elite. But, just like the popular kid’s party, not going is not an option. I consider myself extremely skeptical in regards to hype surrounding shows or movies but I can assure you that Hamilton lives up to, if not exceeds, the aura that surrounds it. Attendance should be secured by any way possible.
My tickets came as a stroke of luck. While I have never really been particularly partial to musicals, after hearing the Hamilton hype back in August, I decided to buy some tickets. Turns out the first available tickets happen to fall on my birthday so, taking this as a sign, I spent a comparably minimal amount for tickets nine months in the future.
If you weren’t as fortunate as I was to secure tickets, there was the option of waiting in line for up to 12 hours in the hopes that someone cancels or is a no show. No word on how much these tickets can cost but, as I said before, not seeing Hamilton isn’t an option so start saving your money and get in that line up!
There are those that were lucky enough to see Hamilton last year when it was in the public theatre right across the street from where I take classes. And some of the rehearsals took place in the Robert Moss Theatre right in our building! Rumor even has it Lin-Manuel Miranda used to frequent the local Starbucks back then. If only I had been born a year earlier so I could have started at NYU a year sooner.
I understand there is one more way to obtain tickets for this show that – in case you’ve missed my point - is mandatory to see. I hear Lin-Manuel is offering tickets to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan if he passes an outstanding bill regarding the Puerto Rican Debt Crisis. So if you want to score some tickets, just commit to a lifetime of politics. Remember not seeing Hamilton is not an option so if a lifetime in politics is what it takes, do it!
I’ll close with this….Get. Hamilton. Tickets. Have I made myself clear? Get your tickets like you’re running out of time - don’t throw away your shot. (sorry for the bad jokes). You won’t regret it.
Welcome to my world! I'm currently a freshman at NYU and have just about finished my first year. I grew up in Vancouver, BC, Canada and started acting when I was 7. True story - I asked my Mom if I could be an actor and she said I could if I found an agent. So I wrote a letter to one, they called, we met, they signed me and here I am - 12 years later. Maybe one of these blogs posts I'll share the letter I wrote that got me started in this business. It's quite funny actually. But for now, I'll try to update this page every once in a while to let you guys know what shows I’m seeing, what I’ve been learning and just generally what’s been going on in my world. While I can say my time here has been exhausting – it has certainly not been boring. Ride with me on the journey to more Alex. (PS - DJ Khaled was the first celebrity I saw here in New York).