nos. 1 & 2 | on performance anxiety

this post is part of the hackneyed devices series that brings you along on my fall 2017 Prokofiev tour. I hope you like it.

Before I left for D.C. and Princeton last Friday (the 13th, no less), before lugging a full-to-bursting weekender on the subway and mustering a half-hearted “hello” to the bus driver, I felt wholly severed. From my body, from the music that would rule my life the next 48 hours. Even after fifteen years of studying piano, it still strikes me just how many costumes performance anxiety can slip into. Sometimes, it may be something as feathery as a stomach flutter: quiet enough to go unnoticed, just disquieting enough to lace my hands in ice, turn them as unforgiving as wood. Sometimes, it is so mercilessly crippling that the very prospect of stepping out of bed is excruciating, and the voices that taunt you swell into a cacophonous, deadly chorus. Other times, there are nightmares, and these are the most heartless of all.

Since I was 10, I’ve had a recurring performance anxiety nightmare. It goes like this: I walk onstage. For some reason, there are thousands of attendees, silent as a catacomb. Before I take my first bow, they begin screaming in unison, clawing up at me, hurling a random medley of things at me, shouting, “what are you doing?” “You shouldn’t be up there!” I never stay unconscious long enough to see what happens next, because my mind, so treacherous in its tenacity, spares a stroke of remorse and startles me awake, usually fighting a lump in my throat.

Every week before a performance, every year, for the past ten years. Like clockwork.

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field notes SF – ramen, etc.

this much-requested food diary is the final post in the Bay Area “field notes” series. yum.

devoured: appropriately-named “Best Day of My Life” (BDOML) açai bowl c/o Bare Bowls. Friend’s response to snap story: “Is that weed?” (No, but it could have been.)
reunited withvictoria, cradling a massive “welcome” bouquet in her arms. Ecstatic tears ensued.
surrounded by: so much athleisure I might as well have been swimming in lycra.

tried: hint® @ Facebook HQ micro-kitchen #146; raspberry sorbet @ Sweet Stop; demolishing evil robots/frying bacon @ Oculus; surprisingly savory cajun tofu burgers @ Full Circle.
metwill (more tears) + ashu (“surprised to see us?”) + poz, head of intern videography.
basked: atop MPK 20, in Facebook’s High Line-esque rooftop garden.

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field notes SF – flower power

this post is part of the Bay Area “field notes” series.

Have you ever walked into a place and immediately realized what was missing from your life? San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum is that place for me. It brings D.C.’s Freer & Sackler galleries to their knees, its collection is second-to-none, its commitment to education is infectious, its Far Leaves tea canisters are scintillatingly aromatic.

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field notes SF – sfmoma x munch

this post is part of the Bay Area “field notes” series.

“The color shrieked.”

I was twelve when I fell in love with Edvard Munch’s autobiographical The Scream (1893). Utterly unprepared, I flipped through a generic “Best Artists of the 20th Century” book and recoiled in repugnance at the iconic face that howled back at me.

The Scream is tucked away in Oslo’s National Gallery, but its two cousins hang side-by-side at SFMOMA’s special exhibit: Anxiety (1894) and Despair (1893-4). I hadn’t realized (before setting off the alarm trying to get a good look at the two #freeme) that Scream is actually one-third of a triptych. Throughout the exhibit, I kept returning to these three: every next painting is The Scream repurposed, Anxiety reimagined, or the subject of Despair recast in a different hue of melancholy.

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field notes SF – overheard on the Caltrain

this is the first post in the Bay Area installment of the travel series “field notes”. hope you enjoy!

overheard: “I heard Berkeley Hillel is, like, so much stronger than Stanford Hillel. I’m not sure why, I mean, I’ve been to both campuses and they both have solid Jewish communities…” – a gregarious young Jewish woman
sidebar: Whatever else it may be, Stanford is an overwhelming sensory paradise: the rows of palm trees that echo the countless arched pathways; the seemingly endless occasions for photo ops (including one where we witnessed a freshly-minted bride grab her groom’s asscrack, with Rodin’s sculptures eyeing them in the background); the colorful nods to Art Deco; expansive space to breathe, utterly antithesis to Columbia’s austere geometry; the omnipresent sun etching every crevice in gold, from the Quad to the Arboretum.

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