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A Dream

Last night I dreamed that I died. I wasn’t old, sick or wounded in the dream, but my wife and I both knew I would die soon.

When I died, I was happy to discover that I could still walk around and that I wasn’t consigned to some sort of eternal torment.

As per tradition, no one could sense me, and I’m pretty sure I was able to walk through walls.

I tried to reach Amy and convey something to her, but it was to no avail. I wasn’t fraught over that, and she seemed reconciled to my death.

I didn’t fly In the dream, but I did walk into other people’s homes and places of business, where I made snide comments about them.

I was gratified to know that my wit would outlast my mortal existence.

My afterlife was like being on Twitter with zero followers.

Le silence

Podcast: Stick and Move

Sarah Deming on The Virtual Memories Show

Virtual Memories – season 4 episode 11 – Stick and Move

“Claressa Shields was the first boxer who showed me that women can be artists in the ring, like men. It was kind of like the first time I read Virginia Woolf.”

Essayist, boxer, novelist, chef and more, Sarah Deming joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about yoga’s role as a gateway drug into boxing, winning a Golden Gloves tournament, the joys of watching a great fighter, her literary idols, the miracle of Bernard Hopkins’ longevity, and how she found her soul.

“I really like the people who write about boxing with empathy. There’s a lot of subtly disrespectful boxing writing. I think it’s essentially because of the threat the intellectual feels from the athlete, and I think racism underlies it, too.”

We also talk about the spiteful inspiration for her first novel, the thread connecting boxers and adult film stars, the magic in the mundane, and why it’s almost impossible to write something boring about sex or a fight! Give it a listen! (And check out these wonderful essays Sarah wrote about skydiving and vodka-peddling!)

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Sarah Deming is the author of the children’s novel Iris, Messenger (Harcourt, 2007) about the Greek gods in suburbia. Her essays have appeared in the Threepenny Review, the Huffington Post, and WNYC.com. In 2013, she won a Pushcart Prize and was listed as notable in Best American Essays. Sarah has ghostwritten two erotic novels and assisted on ultramarathoner Scott Jurek’s memoir Eat and Run. She was a writer/researcher for CNBC’s boxing coverage of the 2012 Olympics. Before becoming a writer, Sarah was a Golden Gloves boxing champion, chef, and yoga teacher. She volunteers as a strength/conditioning coach for young boxers at the Atlas Cops & Kids Gym in Brooklyn and teaches yoga at New York Health and Racquet Club.

Credits: This episode’s music is Brainy by The National. The conversation was recorded at Ms. Deming’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Ms. Deming by me.

10 Years On

10 years ago today, I launched this blog. I was going to write some grandiose post about all that’s gone on during that span, but I think I’ll just celebrate this blogiversary the way they all should be celebrated: sobbing quietly in a corner.

Anniversaries

Three years ago today, my pal Sang was found dead in his apartment of a heart attack, at the age of 43. Here’s what I wrote a few days after his death. I think of him every day.

Today’s also the ninth anniversary of the day I met my One True Love. I thank my lucky stars for her every day.

Who Am I? (party monster edition)

I’m the guy who went to a party last night and

And that’s my idea of a good time.

Who Am I?

Apparently, I’m an asshole. (To quote Denis Leary.) Here’s a screencap from my Sitemeter dashboard:

According to the IP address, this search was done by someone in my office. Yay, me!

(And go check out the Virtual Memories Show podcast!)

Years of the Nines

Holy crap, dear readers: today’s the nine-year bloggiversary of Virtual Memories! Congratulate me!

I have absolutely nothing to share with you in relation to this event, because I’m currently working on the next VM podcast! So here’s a pic of me looking suave and debonair or something!

go, big blue.

There ain’t no color in memories

My brother’s house burned down last Sunday. He and his wife and kids got out safely, but the place was a total loss. Their insurance company is saying all the right things, in terms of rebuilding and replacing everything. I mean, inasmuch as you can replace things. A lot of stuff has sentimental value. I can’t imagine that shock of seeing everything go up in flames. On Sunday morning, in the driveway of his home, I spoke with Boaz and he said, “You know how you wonder what you would save if your house was burning down’? Well, it turns out you make sure the kids safe and leave everything else.”

Their community — their congregation, the school where my brother and his wife teach, their neighbors — has mustered an incredible show of support. Here at my office in New Jersey, a thousand miles away (they live in St. Louis), I sent a company-wide e-mail on Monday to ask for donations of clothing and such, to help out the kids (they’re 12, 9, and 11 months). I was out sick Tuesday, but when I got in Wednesday, I discovered EIGHT BAGS of things for the girls, along with a stack of gift cards for Target and the like.

(Self-absorbed aside: I hate being involved in these sort of momentous conversations with people, because I feel like I’m half-assing it when I tell the same story for the 15th time. Or I think that other co-workers might happen to hear me re-telling it and uncover the tricks I employ for faking human emotion when I talk. Also, I might cry when I think about my nieces having to escape from the house without even getting their socks and shoes on, on a cold Sunday morning.

But it’s wonderful that so many people who’ve never even met my brother or his family turned out to help support them during this time. I’m really touched by it, especially because I don’t come from an extended family and have to rely on friends and human kindness in a time of need. I’m sure I’ll say this to them in a way that sounds completely insincere and glib.)

Amy & I are heading out for a visit next week. We’d booked the trip in December, so it’s not like we’re dropping everything to race out there. (Although I think I would have done that, depending on how bad the airlines would gouge us for tickets.) We’ll try to raise the kids’ spirits a little, take ‘em shopping, show ‘em some love, and otherwise try to help the family any way we can.

I’ll write or podcast more about this later. For now, I just advise you to make sure you have couple of fire-escape routes, keep off-site backups of all your important computer files, and maybe put together an emergency pack of important stuff that you can quickly grab on the way out.

For my part, I’m trying to figure out the logistics of getting two panicked 80-lb. greyhounds out of a second floor balcony, if we’re ever caught in that predicament.

To end on a cheerier note, here’s a pic of the greys in question, cuting it up:

dogsbodies

Behind the Wire

What I learned in German class today:

  • Seven hours on trains one day after seven hours on a plane is not a recipe for a healthy back.
  • When the pre-sunrise countryside is shrouded in frost and mist, the single trees make the world look like a tilt-shift photo, or a model train set.
  • Stuttgart looks like the grayest place ever.
  • The trains don’t all run on time.
  • I can survive an hour stuck in a town named Ulm.
  • I could probably survive a lot longer in Ravensburg.
  • There’s a youth group or something called Gegen Nazis. Which, it turns out, means “Against Nazis”, but I was freaked out when I saw a teenager stomping down the sidewalk with that on his T-shirt.
  • I figured I would end up in Germany trapped behind a fence, staring up at three tiers of barbed wire, but I didn’t think it would happen in my first full day in country.

Abyss Seein’ Ya

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted. For what it’s worth, it’s not that I wasn’t writing; I just wasn’t blogging. I’ve been spending some time trying to write a piece of fiction, because I still labor under the weird notion that I’ll be able to craft something more emotionally effective or Important if I do it under the guise of fiction.

It’s really difficult for me, because I’m too respectful of (my version of) The Facts, and also because I tend to make characters who think and react like I do. So I’m trying to get out of that.

Which brings me to Germany. I’m writing this in a cafe of Museum fur Kommunikation in Frankfurt. I’m here for a big pharma conference. Given my family history, I’m not thrilled about being here. I used to tell coworkers & friends that I’d never come here. Why now? Well, business demands it, and I goofed on my coworkers for cutting me out of this event last year, when it was held in Paris, so it wouldn’t be right for me to subsequently blow it off out of personal preference. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to attend a show in Dubai or Saudi Arabia.

But that’s not the only reason I’m here. I wanted to come because I wanted to see what it would do to me. I have no gauge of it right now. I got off the plane a couple of hours ago after an overnight flight, and my room isn’t ready yet, so I’ve just been wandering around the museum district and taking pix. I’m somewhat zonky from the flight, so I haven’t thought too deeply about Germanness. I do find it funny every time I see a word that ends with “fahrt”.

At the end of the week, I’ll visit a pharma facility in Freiburg. My dad says his dad’s family comes from Freiburg. I wonder if part of my ambivalence about this country comes from that idea that it’s part of my heritage. It’s not just nemesis, Mordor, base of evil. It’s in me.

Here’s a sheep with an old telephone for a face:

There are little kids having a birthday party here. Germans are so goddamned strange.

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