Best Reason to Stay Up Late
Whenever I have friends over, we end up eating and talking and losing track of time, and, once in a while, singing karaoke. It reminds me of the family meals we had in Russia, which always lasted a very long time. That's a tradition I miss.
Best Place to Be a Tourist
Hong Kong. It's like the Asian New York City. There's always some new place to shop or eat, and though most people don't realize it, the beaches are beautiful. And I love Positano, Italy. The world just stands still there.
When I need to push myself, I think of all those nicely polished trophies waiting to be lifted up by the winner—and how that winner might be me.
Best Pump-Up Song
When I need to get going, whether it's starting my day or working out, I turn on U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name." It's not too loud or overpowering, and it reminds me of an incredible U2 concert I once went to in Los Angeles.
Best Book I've Read Recently
The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness,
by Joel ben Izzy, is a memoir of a storyteller who lost his voice, and how he made sense of the loss. I find myself picking it up again and again to reread a chapter or two, and I'm inspired every time.
My mother's cooking. When you travel so many weeks a year, it's always nice to have a home-cooked meal. She'll make Russian cuisine, like stuffed dumplings and borscht, and everything is topped with sour cream. It's like our ketchup.
Best Way to Tame Butterflies
If I'm nervous, it means I had to work hard to get there, whether it's playing in a tournament or speaking at an event. So I try to stop and be proud of getting to live in that moment.
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