Who is Deborah Schwartz?
The experiences of Deborah Schwartz
The persistance of Deborah Schwartz.
The relations of Deborah Schwartz



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Medical Detective

09.30.04
Due to this yearís excellent placement of Jewish Holidays, I am off from work today and tomorrow.

Instead of doing anything useful, I decided to use my day off to take in our dry cleaning. This errand took about 7 minutes. Then I went to the post office to buy some more stamps. This took 12 minutes, as the post office is several blocks further away than the dry cleaners.

The man who sold me my stamps was kind and courteous. And his enormous bald spot was painted black. I suppose this was to fool people standing at a distance into thinking he had slick black hair covering his scalp. And it might have worked, too. But as soon as I reached the counter, it became apparent that the majority of his head was painted black. This disturbed me terribly, and though he was kind and courteous, I had trouble looking him in the eye as we made our stamp/money transaction.

Almost a week ago, I began feeling mysterious abdominal pains. The pains increased, and on Monday, I made an appointment to see a gastroenterologist. I was having trouble eating. For three days, I subsisted on a liquids-only diet.

Brian and I even spent several hours playing ďSelf-Diagnosing Internet Medical Detectives,Ē searching for a condition associated with my symptoms. On Tuesday night, we deduced that I could very well be suffering from gastritis.

I was very much looking forward to my doctorís appointment armed with my wealth of self-diagnosed internet medical detective knowledge. Until late yesterday afternoon, when I suddenly started feeling better.

I have not cancelled my doctorís appointment, understanding full well that the moment I cancel is the moment the pain returns. I am feeling a little dumb, though. I guess Iíll just tell the doctor Iím concerned the symptoms may return. Maybe it wasnít gastritis after all.

09.28.04
The other night, I was having a dream in which I was on pier, standing near someone who was fishing, his line cast into the water. The person felt a bite and reeled in his line, only to find an ENORMOUS HAMMERHEAD SHARK at the end. The shark growled, looking mean and bloodthirsty.

I woke up with a start. I turned towards Brian for comfort, tendrils of sleep still holding me to the image of the big nasty shark. Brian, who had had his back to me, turned in and said sleepily, "You too?"

I reached out for him. "Yes. Me too."

Then I thought about what I had said. I was confused. "Wait. Did you see the hammerhead shark?"

"No."

"Oh. I had a dream about a hammerhead shark. Why did you ask 'You too?'"

"I snored so loud I woke myself up. I turned and saw you were up too. So, I thought my snore had woken you up as well."

"Oh," I said. "For some reason, I thought you had had a dream with a hammerhead shark like me. But I guess that wouldnít make any sense."

"So you didnít hear me snore just now?"

"No."

I turned on my side and Brian put his arm around me, both of us resuming our separate dreams.

09.27.04
I was at my desk this morning when my coworker Julian came up to me and said, "Youíre here today! I read your blog and thought you were caught in the hurricane."

I guess I donít update as much as I should.

When I met Brian after work on Thursday, the hurricane was supposed to make landfall sometime on Monday. Our flight left early Friday morning, and by the time we got to South Florida, the hurricane was due to hit Sunday afternoon. By that evening, they upgraded the forecast to Sunday about 2 AM. When we left for synagogue on Saturday morning (for Yom Kippur services), they were saying the magic time would be midnight.

My family had invited several people over to break the fast on Saturday evening. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It is one of the most holy days of the year, and Jews everywhere are supposed to fast for a full day to think about the lousy things theyíve done over the past year, ask for forgiveness, and vow to conduct their activities in this new year (5765) in a more decent fashion. It is really a nice idea. Forgive people who have wronged you. Ask for forgiveness. Donít let anything fester.

In a more traditional household, our fast would have ended after sundown. We called our break the fast party for 6:30. And then 6 oíclock. As the hurricane approached, our fasting time got shorter. 5:30? Our last guest left just after 9 PM, and we turned on the TV, we heard the weatherman say, "Jeanne made landfall exactly when we had predicted: 9 PM."

Hollywood, that diamond of the Gold Coast of Florida! We were situated perfectly between the swooping bands of hurricane-force winds and rain. Our power never even flickered out.

While it was not a relaxing weekend, it was not nearly as eventful as it might have been. Our flight took off on time on Sunday night. And there I was, Monday morning, the same chicken-white color I had been before I left for Florida. Though there were no hurricanes in New York City to speak of, we did pony up a a man who was fatally stabbed seven times while riding the N train. We here in New York try to make the most of what little excitement we can get.

09.25.04
How irritating.
Brian and I flew down to South Florida to visit my parents for Yom Kippur. Since we've been here, I have somehow managed to acquire a stomach bug, and now we are about to get hit by a category three hurricane.

Jeanne the Hurricane appears to be moving in fast. Our plane back to New York is supposed to leave tomorrow at 8 PM. So if youíre my boss and youíre reading this, please note that I might not be at work on Monday, due to my sitting around with my family in Hollywood, setting things on fire because we are without power.

09.23.04
This morning, when I was getting off the train, I saw a man with a shirt that read "Life's good. Eternal Life is better."

I assumed it was a jesus-y shirt. But then I though, "Oh god! How horrible would it be to have to stick around for an eternity!" This is my opinion on the concept of eternal life: To schlep one's self around throughout the infinite space of time would be a total drag.

Last night, I went out with co-workers to a preemptive Wednesday night happy hour. Brian was at work, and then he was running errands, and then he was at home. I remained at the two for one happy hour.

When I was on my second set of two for ones, I noticed that a large, heavy-set man with curly dark hair and big glasses had found his way to our table. It turned out that he was a complete random. A couple of my compatriots had been ordering drinks at the bar and managed to accidentally pick him up. The bartender had pointed him out, saying something about him being lonely and needing friends. The implication was that he had been having lady troubles and was really depressed. So he found his way back to our table, where he proceeded to make himself disliked by me.

He was basically annoying and pretentious, blabbing about how important he was. Eventually, he started going around the table trying to guess the ages of the various ladies in attendance. I asked him what he had guessed for me, and he smiled at one of my coworkers and said, "I was off by a couple of years. I guessed you were 30."

So I yelled at him.

The whole story is that the fat kept blabbing and saying he was the food critic for American Lawyer Magazine. I told him I had never heard of it, and that I was surprised that a magazine for lawyers would have a food critic. He said, "If YOU were a LAWYER, you would have heard of it."

I said, "My husband's a lawyer. Both of my parents are lawyers. And I have never heard of American Lawyer Magazine, much less a food critic for a law magazine."

He said, "Every lawyer knows about American Lawyer Magazine."

I repeated that I had NEVER heard of it. He repeated that everyone has heard of it, suggesting that I was a fool and my loved ones were hacks. The co-worker who had accidentally brought him back to our table notice the tension and cut in, saying she was sure Brian HAD heard of it, as ALL LAWYERS knew of this magazine, and that he had probably just never mentioned it to me. She went on to say that she thought SHE had heard of the magazine, and it was "so great" he was a food critic, and that his job must be "so interesting."

Some time later, the age-guessing event occurred, he revealed that he thought I was 30, and I screamed "30! 30! MOST PEOPLE TELL ME I LOOK YOUNGER THAN I AM! ONE OF THE SECURITY GUARDS AT THE MUSEUM THOUGHT I WAS A COLLEGE INTERN!" Then I told him how classless it was for a man to guess a woman's age. Then I got up and left, dragging the nearest coworker (who happened to be Rebecca Finkel) with me, mostly so I could continue to complain about what a jerk the random fatty was.

This morning -- after waking up still wearing the shirt from the night before, with my pants not quite making it off my body -- after seeing the guy with the "Eternal life" shirt, but before this moment, I emailed former coworker Sam Neuman about my evening. He wrote back

not to rain on your parade, but American Lawyer is a really famous magazine. it's one of the biggest-circulation trade magazines in the country. . . . why would they have a food critic, though? i don't think i've ever seen a food review in there. not that i read it regularly, but, you know, since it's NATIONAL, it would be kind of bizarre to include local restaurant reviews.

my guess is that he was lying and just picked a magazine at random, but it is a real magazine.

someone seriously thought you were a college intern? i love you like you are a part of my body, but you definitely look mid-20's.

who introduces age-guessing as some kind of fucked-up parlor game, though? that's one subject that is just going to make everyone uncomfortable.

Sam then checked the online masthead of The American Lawyer and found no mention of a food or restaurant critic.

Ooo! Random! Don't cross me when I'm on my second set of two for one happy hour drinks.

09.20.04
Oh my!
Debcentral.com was down all day long. And so was my web hostís website. And when I called my web host, I just got a busy signal. All day. I really started to panic, especially because I had not backed up the glorious content that is debcentral for at least a month.

But Iím back. It turns out that the server is located in Baltimore, which had its power disrupted for the better part of the day due to an underground electric fire. LíShana Tova, everyone! Happy 5765! My museum gave me this past Thursday and Friday off in honor of Rosh Hashana, the celebration of the Jewish New Year. On Thursday, I played hooky from synagogue. At first, I felt great. I slept late. I ran errands. I came home and took a nap. I sat around. My idea of a good time. But by Thursday evening, I was wracked with guilt. Luckily for me, Rosh Hashana is celebrated over two days. On Friday, I sucked it up and went to synagogue. It wasnít so bad, really.

This weekend, we saw A Letter to True, The Last Laugh, and Vagabond. They were kind of lame, wonderbar, and stark and depressing, respectively. On Saturday night, we watched the Florida Gator game with Susan, Rich, and Karen. We lost. It was very sad. But then we watched the tail-end of Road House, which I believe has the potential to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Sunday was the most gorgeous day weíve had in a long while. Brian and I celebrated by sleeping late, eating a large breakfast, and then going back to sleep. Call us old fashion.

And then Baltimore had that underground fire.

What an exciting weekend. I live it so you donít have to.

09.15.04
Last night, I finally found a wallet appropriate for Uncle Ira.
I think. Then I met up with Brian, and we walked from the financial district all the way to the Lower East Side in quest of a reasonably-priced restaurant serving light fare and with no wait.

Before my feet started bleeding, we found a sushi place on 1st and 10th. Soon after we ordered, a couple was placed at the table to my left. The guy was a tall, punky-looking, and white, with a shaved head. The gal was short with dark hair and a stylish-yet-business-like cut. When the server arrived, the guy ordered his drink -- something that was apparently not on the menu -- in Japanese. I thought I might not like this fellow.

At a moment when Brian and I were more quiet, the dark-haired girl said to the shaved-head guy, "So. Tomorrow night begins the Jewish new year. And Another year finds me without faith."

Our ears perked up, because their conversation sounded juicy. The guy said, "That's silly. Don't worry about it. Faith has nothing to do with calendars."

"I know, said the girl, "But nothing means anything anymore. I don't have faith. The calendar just reminds me of that fact"

They talked about this a little further in more muffled tones, then the girl said, "It's like in [too muffled], that scene where the neighbor films the bag in the wind."

"Yeah," the guy said. "That was an excellent scene."

"Amazing."

"Amazing. Every critic thought it was the best part of the film. The way he films the bag being blown around. Hypnotic" (At this point, I realize they were speaking of the movie American Beauty, a film that both Brian and I found empty, insincere, and generally loathsome. Especially the ending. And the part with the freaky boyfriend and the plastic bag in the wind. The guy went on, "Yeah. It was wonderfully done. The rest of the film was total crap."

The girl looked annoyed and said, "That was one of the only films that has ever meant anything to me."

Then the couple got into an argument about it, which made me grin. The guy finally conceded that the film might be much better than he had initially thought, and promised to view it again. This made me annoyed.

Then they talked about some crappy dumb-sounding book whose name I couldn't make out either. On the way home, Brian told me they had been discussing the Celestine Prophecy, a book I've never read, but I heard was also a real crap-fest.

I think something is wrong with my hearing. When eavesdropping, I am forever missing key sections of juicy gossip.

Which reminds me of the time I was reading the New York Post over somebody's shoulder on the train. There was a funny picture of a dog in a hat, so I leaned in to read what I though was the accompanying article, but the headline read: "MOM COMES HOME FROM WORK TO FIND ALL 3 KIDS DECAPITATED." I gasped! How horrible!

The lady holding the paper turned to sneer at me, then pulled the paper closer to her so I couldn't read it anymore.

09.13.04
When will this madness end?
On Saturday morning, while I was still in the shower, a cockroach fell from the sky and landed in my tub. I felt unclean all day.

My general disturbance was not helped by our visit to Uncle Ira on Sunday. We arrived, and my uncle was very agitated. He had a pain in the upper-right-hand portion of his chest, and he had diagnosed it as either the early warning signs of a heart attack or gas. He screamed a lot that this past week had been very hard for him. I was supposed to bring him a new wallet, and I hadnít. I was supposed to bring him his prayer book for the high holy days, and I hadnít. The rabbi at-large was supposed to arrange for him to be able to observe a fast day on Yom Kippur, but he hadnít. My grandmother was supposed to pack peanuts, and she hadnít. The social worker told him he might be stuck in Manhattan Psych for another two and a half years. And now this pain in his chest was killing him.

Only the slimmest majority of wonton soup made it into his mouth and stayed there. He kept repeating, mouth full of liquidly foodstuff, "THIS IS NOT MY WEEK!"

About a half an hour into our visit, one of the other patients began screaming at his little old mother, "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! GET OUT OF HERE, YOU FUCKING BITCH!" The patient was gigantic Ė maybe 6 foot 4.

His mother was a shriveled little woman with a foppish hat and not many teeth. She said, "Erwin, you get a hold of yourself now. Donít you be causing a scene."

The gigantic patient stood up and pushed back the table. He began again, "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! DONíT BE TELLING ME WHAT TO DO! GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!"

There were two attendants in the room, both women about five feet tall. They told him to settled down, or he would lose his privileges. One of them turned to the other and instructed her to call for a male attendant.

There was some more "FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU"-ing, Erwinís mother came at him with her cane, shouting, "How dare you talk to me that way!" The attendants yelled, "Mrs. Williams, donít go near him! Stay away from him!" There was more shouting action and cane action and "FUCK YOU!" action.

My uncle Ė a man who canít be above five-foot-seven and has a belly like a pregnant woman Ė simply raised his eyebrow and said, "See. I told you it wasnít my week."

It was as endearing as my uncle has been in a long while. The berserk patient was finally escorted out, his mother poking him with her cane. We stuck around and watched food drip out of my uncleís mouth for an hour and half more. At one point, my uncle talked about a breakthrough he had had. How his doctor had asked why he started the fire, and he said, "Because I stopped taking my medication." The doctor asked why he had stopped, and he told him it was ďbecause of the side effects.Ē

"And that was the right answer," my uncle said. "The side effect. These drugs give you tremors. And shakes. And you canít have sex. . . ."

A raving lunatic is not able to have sex? Really? Is this a bad thing?

Backing up a bit, on Saturday night, I got together with some friends from the gallery I used to work for. We drank wine and watched the fireflies glitter inside the bluish light of the September 11th memorial. It was a warm and bright spot in an otherwise roachy weekend.

Today, Brian had his first day of work. I sent him off to City Hall with a new suit, new shirt, new shoes, new socks, new undershirt, and lunch money in his pocket. From what I can gather, the day seemed pleasantly uneventful.

09.10.04
I have many email address, which I check with varying degrees of frequency inverse to their age.

My second oldest email account, and the one I check with the second to least frequency is my hotmail account. Even though I've had this account since 1999, only recently have stray emails found their way into my inbox. The first odd email I got was as follows (I have changed only the first name of the sender, because I thought it would be funny):

From : arthur schwartz
Sent : Friday, June 4, 2004 9:42 AM
To : deborah_schwartz@hotmail.com
Subject : update

Hi--Sorry about the silence. Nothing wrong, just busy--what with Rachel moving up to Berkeley, end of the year school stuff with students, my life with Deborah, etc.

Will call you over the weekend, and catch up.

Love....

I found this email to be cryptic. The man who sent it had the last name "Schwartz". He sent the email to someone whose email address was deborah_schwartz@hotmail.com. And he mentions something about his "life" with someone named Deborah. Hmm. What could possibly be going on here? I thought it might be funny to write him back, but then I thought it would funnier if I didn't. I'm always up for a chuckle.

I checked this same hotmail account again today, and Lo! and Behold! another mis-sent email. I have reproduced the short exchange below. I have changed first and last names as well as email addresses of everyone not deborah_schwartz@hotmail.com. Again, I have done this mostly for a giggle.

From : Grumpella Fritzbot
Sent : Wednesday, September 8, 2004 11:39 AM
To : "'Flossy Rutabaga Saskatoon'" , "'Crancid Eskamoza"
CC : "'Maleficent Crumpski'" , robotpants@comcast.net, Deborah_schwartz@hotmail.com, iheartcrack@mishpucha.org
Subject : RE: Request for interviewer -- 10/20/04 CW Event -- Miss California 2003 - Ernestine Kettlebuttom

Flossy,

Thanks for forwarding this on. The three former Miss America's I mentioned that the Festival Extension Committee has contacted/awaiting replies are:
1955 Myrna Turner
1957 Salmonella Fishbind
1993 Michael Flatly, the Lord of the Dance

My understanding is that the Festival Extension Committee folks have NOT invited (nor do they intend to) invite Miss California 2004. Evidently she's too expensive. I'm not sure where you got this information.

Grumpella


-----Original Message-----
From: Flossy Rutabaga Saskatoon [fsaskatoon@mishpucha.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 4:49 PM Cc: Maleficent Crumpski; Grumpella Fritzbot
Subject: Request for interviewer -- 10/20/04 CW Event -- Miss California 2003 - Ernestine Kettlebuttom
Importance: High

Crancid,

Here are the notes on the confirmed (and unconfirmed) participants for the 10/20 noontime event where we need an interviewer.

Can you use this to pitch one of the reporters/newscasters at KPIX? Wolf Blitzer (noon news) Bertie Ahern (6 & 11 anchor), Bella Abzug(business reporter) would be good candidates.

Our thinking is that they need an opportunity to say yes/no before we approach others. It would be great to have an answer before the end of the week.

Thanks!
Flossy


Ernestine Kettlebuttom, who is the only Ideal Festival participant who has responded to our invitation thus far and is confirmed for October 20th.

Ernestine is fluent in Spanish, and has an impressive education and academic awards history:
- B.A. in International Studies from University of Arizona, Tucson (1997-2000)
- University of Arizona Honors Program
- Year abroad at Universidad La Catolica in Santiago, Chile (1999)
- Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA (2001-2003)
- Pacific School of Religion McCoy Scholarship (2001-2004)
- Dean's Recognition Honors Award
- Mary Roby Academic Excellence Achievement Award
- Brown Scholar (2002-2003)
- She was crowned "Miss San Francisco" in 2002.
- Currently enrolled in the Master of Divinity program at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley's Pacific School of Religion.

Her career goal is to obtain an advanced Divinity degree and possibly a Ph.D., in order to serve as an ordained Minister.

Her talent in the Miss California competition was vocal (singing "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters). Her Miss California 2003 "College is Possible" platform was focused on "helping youth learn about funding opportunities for higher education".

Invited but not confirmed for 10/20 is --- 2004 Miss California - Fiebers VanWinkle.
Fiebers VanWinkle began battling anorexia nervosa when she was only 13 years old. She is a graduate of the University of California, LA with a B.A. degree in Sociology and has also designed children's shoes for Skechers USA.

Flossy Rutabaga Saskatoon
Marketing Director
International Museum of Mishpucha

Wow! That was a lot of names to change. I'm tired.

So keep those strange emails coming. I have to go now and compose the weekly staff happy hour email. Cheers!

09.09.04
A couple days ago, I got an email from my mother. It was to the whole Schwartz clan, and it went something like this:

My letter carrier in the office said that the big package of oily whale blubber you sent home leaked all over the post office and other people's packages --and he is not allowed to touch or deliver it. I'll go over this afternoon to pick it up after I've put plastic all over the back of the car. But honestly, I don't know what it was that leaked -- or who sent it -- do you have any idea?
I was immediately aware that I was the sender of the package.

And it was not whale blubber that had leaked, but olive oil from Italy. We had sent bottles of olive oil and vinegar and a container of coffee and a package of pasta and a picture of Brian and me with the statue with the tush.

I notified my mother of this, and got back this email:

Went to the post office with a black plastic bag lined laundry basket and got this lovely, albeit half wet, package. Only the oil broke, and it was very nicely encased in bubble wrap, but one side of it was open. The postal worker gave me the package in a plastic US mail basket after first telling me that the package was in isolation for fear of explosives. But somehow, it looked innocent enough, and he allowed me to take it. I opened it in the back of the car with the help of a UPS delivery guy who happened to be there picking up from the UPS box. He said it would have arrived safely from UPS, because they handle things much fewer times and much more carefully.

It's a shame, but It looked so nicely and compactly wrapped. . . . The second bottle is not damaged, nor is the pasta, nor is the other stuff in a box that I can't tell what it is (I don't remember).

Thanks for such a thoughtful gift!! Maybe I should dip the box in our salad to get a whiff of Italy! How in the world did you get all that home?

We decided to get everyone food as souvenirs because they could use it and it would be done with. Unlike all those t-shirts and snow globes and mugs and figurines that people get you, which sit around the house until you have to move, and you just can't see packing them up and moving them and unpacking them again so you can put them on the shelf and dust them until you have to move again. So you ditch them and try to live with the guilt.

While we were in Italy, we purchased two additional bags to bring home all the heavy food we had purchased. And then we realized why people buy souvenirs of light little figurines and t-shirts and mugs. Everyone gets dry goods next time around.

So by some evil fluke of the calendar, we will be visiting my uncle for the third visit in a row. How taxing. On the bright side, I don't know if I made this public, but Brian got a job with the city and he starts working Monday. His department has a very long name, but I understand it has something to do with reviewing contracts. He is presently looking for another suit. I, on the other hand, am still schlepping around in my clothes from high school. Thank you, Non-Profit Organization!

09.08.04
At the risk of sounding like a crazy bag lady I would like to complain loudly about the erroneous association between religious fanaticism in this country and the term "moral".

People who own guns, support the death penalty, dislike foreigners, think gays are disgusting, believe unborn people should have more rights than born people, and eat buttered meat with ketchup for every meal are allowed to run around like headless chickens cloaked in the word "moral". Like streakers in raincoats. And they are allowed to do this because they spit up the word "God" into every two words they rub together. Like spitting headless chickens in raincoats.

I can do that too. Godgodgodgodgod. God bless America. God save the president. God bless you all. God is my co-pilot. How's my driving, God? God is in my TV. I married a Jewish carpenter named God.You're going to Hell!

I get very annoyed about this. Really I do. Why is a fetus worth more than a grown-up person? Because soggy almost-babies are cuter than cracked-up gang members? Are white people's lives generally cuter than the lives of people of color? And American people are cuter than Middle-Eastern people, obviously. A gun in my hand is a million times cuter than a gun in the hand of a criminal. Gay people can be cute on TV, but when they want to have the same rights as me, well, that's just going too far. And money is cuter in the hands of the already-rich, because when it gets into the hands of the sniveling poor, it gets all crapped up with their dirt and their sweat.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the Bush.

I am in full Crazy Bag Lady mode now. Why am I any less moral than Dick Cheney? I've never had enough money to be corrupted. I am a kindly vegetarian Jewish girl working at a Museum in downtown Manhattan. I get dern tootin' mad when I think how my tax dollars went to protect the well-fed folk who were lobbying last week to make sure I don't have as many rights or opportunities as they do. But at least the moral well-fed folk went to see Avenue Q while they were here.

From here on out, I would like to request that all demon-seed republicans who have previously been referred to as "moral" be heretofore identified as "bat-shit crazy" or "fascists". I would like to replace the word "values" with "give me your money so I can snort it like coke" and the term "Religious Right" with "Bat-shit crazy fascists who want my money so they can snort it like coke". The word "God" will be replaced by the word "Carbuncle", but only because I think it sounds funny.

You see? Words don't really mean anything. I was an English major. I should know.

Thank you and good night. I will now crawl back into my corrugated cardboard box and take a nap.

09.06.04
Broward County got lucky again.
The storm missed it. And thank goodness. I called my parents Thursday evening asking if they were prepared. They told me they had batteries and water and canned goods, as well as hurricane shutters, so I shouldnít worry.

Nearly everything in town closed down Thursday afternoon, and my parents and my sister (with her new pooping dog, Amelia) sat around waiting for the worst.

And they sat around Friday as well.

And Saturday too.

Early Saturday afternoon they lost power, and by Saturday evening, they appeared to be going stir crazy. I spoke to my father on the phone, and he sounded depressed. They had been sitting around the house listing to the radio the whole day long. No TV. No Internet. They couldnít go anywhere. The air conditioner was out, and the house had been growing steadily warmer in the highly saturated air. Yes, they had food, but they were going to have to eat it cold. My father asked what we were doing for dinner.

Brian and I had escaped to East Northport, to the home of Heather Scottís parentís Bob and Mary. We had spent the day visiting the wineries of Long Island, going from tasting to tasting, until Brian was drunk and I was falling out of my shoes. Then Heather, who had to remain sober enough to drive, turned us around and we went home and all took naps. As I spoke with my father on the phone, the Scottís were cutting up vegetables to grill on the barbeque.

"Barbeque," my father said. "Grill. I wish we still had a barbeque."

"Dad, you guys never used it when we had one. And then you threw it out fifteen years ago when Mom thought it was going to explode."

"Hmm," my father said. Then he pepped up and said, "Look! Your mother just woke up from her nap. Talk to her."

He handed the phone over to my mother, who seemed equaled demoralized. The storm was still stalled off the cost Florida, and even the radio news was unbearable, as it had been basically the same since the previous evening.

Then I heard my mother shout, "Martin! What are you doing? Where are you going with that? A barbeque? You canít make a barbeque!" She turned back to me and said, "I have to go. Your father is lighting things on fire." And she hung up.

On Sunday, I learned that my father had taken a large iron skillet, filled it with newspaper (which he then set on fire), put an oven rack over the skillet, and grilled their leftover Chinese food. In the morning, my father lit more newspapers on fire and heated up the teapot to make coffee in the French press. This fire-setting was a major point of contention between my parents. But before my father could light a third batch of newspapers on fire, the storm was on its way out. My sister Ali had been able to reach her answering machine throughout the storm, and she new her power was still on. Sunday afternoon, the Schwartz family piled into the car and headed over to my sisterís apartment in Plantation, where they stayed for several hours until getting the word that the houseís power was back on.

Did I ever mention that we were not the kind of family that went camping together. Needless to say, all my people are safe and sound. Brian and I are rested and back in the city. Our long weekend is almost over.

09.03.04
All of my hurricane memories so far are happy ones.
It was a time to take the lawn furniture into the house. My sister and brother and I would pretend we were in a spaceship. Hurricane warnings were a time when the whole family was forced to be together. I have always slept better during rainstorms. I remember once, I was in third or forth grade, there was a hurricane warning, and the school let the students go home early. I spent the night that Hurricane Andrew hit talking on the phone to a boy I had had a crush on, and by three thirty in the morning, we were dating. The storm missed Broward County, and we went to the Mall together the next weekend. We broke up soon after.

Still, I worry about my parents. I worry more about them the farther I am away. Even though Iím sure there is nothing my presence could do that would keep them any safer.

Last night, I talked on the phone with my father and my sister. Ali was planning on staying at my parentsí house for the weekend. She had brought over her dog and had spent the afternoon with my father cleaning up loose objects around the outside of the house. The dog had apparently passed the time pooping inside the house and then sitting on it. This was the cause of some tension between my father and my sister. Animals!

I have been feeling lousy all week. I feel like getting out of town. I wish I could be with my parents and my sister, though it looks like theyíll be safe now. It might still be fun. All of us together in the house again. Sitting around and watching the news. The dog pooping and sitting in its poop. Good times, good times.

As I wax nostalgic, I must restate for the hundredth time that I am a bad person: Because I am gleeful that my brother was able to snap pictures on his camera phone during our last visit to our uncle.

I am posting the pictures on my website. Because I am a bad person. A very bad person.

09.02.04
Shit.
This reporter's South Florida family may get walloped. This reporter is quite a bit nervous.


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