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



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Something Scary

10.31.05
I am a very bad friend.
I was talking to Julian at lunch, and I was in the middle of a story when Julian began coughing. I thought I'd play gracious, so I ignored it and kept on talking. But Julian kept coughing. Finally, I said, "What's wrong with you?"

Julian said, "I'm . . . choking."

"Drink some water," I said.

But he didn't drink any water. He just kept on coughing, and was obviously no longer listening to my story. "I told you to drink some water!" I said.

Julian then turned away from the table, but kept coughing. Until finally, he vomited into his hand.

"That was gross," I said. "Are you okay?"

"I told you I was choking."

"I thought you were just coughing."

"No I was choking. But you were too busy trying to finish your story to listen."

I am a very very very bad friend.

A while back, I was cyber-approached by the fine fellows at jest.com (they had rejected me before) to write a short saucy humor piece. I came up with a real zinger about Halloween costumes for women. I felt it was both topical and humorous. In fact, it was so good, that the person I sent it to never bothered to email me back. Even after I sent that sad-puppy-dog "did you ever get that email I sent you" message. Because after midnight tonight, this piece will no longer be topical, and because sometimes the worse things look in ones life, the more severely one needs to laugh (at ones own jokes), here it is:

It's Halloween. Youíre Female. What Are You Going to Wear?

Letís begin with the standard approach: Choose any costume idea, than simply add the word "sexy." This will yield such classics as the "sexy cat," the "sexy nurse," and the "sexy lady-vampire."

In addition, you can substitute in the word "French" ó and emerge as a "French maid," or a "French ambassadorís oversexed wife." But be careful: "French whore" suggests V.D. and "French fry" equals formless yellow sheath. No matter how much punch you drink, neither of these costumes will get you laid.

No time to shop? Then look to your closet. Combine a short skirt, cleavage-displaying blouse, and pigtails for the "sexy Catholic school girl." Throw on a nighty and slippers: now youíre a "sexy sleep-walker." Sandals and a sheet make for a "sexy Roman toga." You havenít spent a dime, but will still have plenty of opportunities to give up the goods.

Best of all, Halloween can be the night when you transform your handicap into your best costume feature. Prosthetic leg? Try "sexy pirate." Crippling rheumatoid arthritis? No! Tonight you are a "sexy old crone." And the alcoholicís bloated belly easily becomes a "sexy pregnant stomach". Your disfiguring feature can shine, shine, shine.

The most important thing to remember is to be safe and have fun. And nothing says "safe fun" like a bottle of Jack and a pair of exposed nips.

10.29.05
Brian flew back to Florida this morning, so I had dinner alone with my grandmother.
We went to her favorite restaurant, a place containing no dearth of blue hair and face work. It has the two things my grandmother loves most in a restaurant: Prix Fix and Pre-Theater Menu (aka Early Bird Special). As usual, my 87 year old grandmother forgot her hearing aide. So we shouted at each other across the table for an hour and a half.

Brian's mother's health has declined significantly. My stomach has been in knots for almost two months now. And then my grandmother kept talking about how my uncle had achieved the next stage in his work towards release from the insane asylum: escorted visits to the clinic on 125th Street. But, allofasudden, there is talk of him making escorted visits home every other weekend.

If you refer to this nifty little chart I had made up some time ago, you will see that presently as he moves into the first stage in the "yellow zone," he would also simultaneously jump into the first stage of the "red--GET THE HELL OUT OF THE APARTMENT BECAUSE THE CRAZY MAN WHO OWNS IT IS COMING BACK TO VISIT!!!--zone." I don't understand how or when god let this happen, but it looks like it is upon us. My uncle has a court date on November 19th, but my grandmother thinks it is just a formality. With December, we should except to see a substantial increase in PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIC MAN POKING AROUND OUR HOME LOOKING FOR HIS COLLECTION OF BLACK TAIL MAGAZINES.

About halfway through the meal and I was experiencing an increase in abdominal pain. My grandmother asked what the problem was. I leaned over the table and said, "I have IBS and the stress is getting to me."

"WHAT!?!" she said. "WHAT'S ICS?"

"IBS," I said.

"OH!" she said. "IRRITABLE BOWWWELLL SYNDROME! YOU GOT A LOT OF GAS ROLLING AROUND IN YOUR STOMACH!?!"

"Not so much," I said. "Mostly, I just feel nauseated."

"WHAT?"

"I feel sick to my stomach."

"WHAAATTT??!!!"

"I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO PUKE, NONNA!

"OH. WELL, THAT'S TOO BAD. WHENEVER I FEEL MY STOMACH IS UNEASY, I ALWAYS SUCK ON A PEPPERMINT CANDY AND THAT SEEMS TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER. DO YOU WANT A PEPPERMINT CANDY?!?"

I told no thanks, maybe later. My grandmother suddenly became distracted, because she noticed the people at the tables next to us were receiving a plate of seasoned cannellini beans with their bread. My grandmother noted that we had received our bread three quarters of an hour earlier (we were now working on our entrees), but we had not been offered any beans. She promised to inquire into this when she next saw the waiter.

She finally caught his attention and asked to have our leftovers packed up in two separate doggy bags. Then she grabbed him by the sleeve and said, "WHY HAVE YOU DISCRIMINATED AGAINST MY GRANDDAUGHTER AND ME?"

He looked confused, so she repeated the question, than pointed to the small plate on our neighbor's table. "YOU NEVER GAVE US OUR BEANS. I SEE THAT EVERYONE ELSE AROUND HERE RECEIVED A PLATE OF BEANS WITH THEIR BREAD. BUT WE NEVER GOT OURS."

The waiter apologized for the oversight. My grandmother said, "WELL, WHAT ABOUT OUR BEANS?"

He said, "But they usually come with the bread. They come before the appetizer. But you've already finished your main course." My grandmother just sat there making a sour face until he said, "I will pack up some beans for you to take with you in your doggy bags."

The waiter turned and was helping one of our neighbors when my grandmother leaned over to me and in her best stage whisper said, "IF THAT WAITER WANTS ANY TIP, HE'LL MAKE SURE TO GIVE US OUR BEANS. HEH-HEH!"

By now I was doubled-over. I felt like a ferret trapped in a tiny cage. A ferret with insane abdominal cramping. My grandmother could see I was turning green, so she said, "DO YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE TOILET? BECAUSE IF YOU DO, I DON'T MIND WAITING."

"I think I just need some fresh air."

My grandmother promised that the meal would be over any moment, but I guess the beans took longer to pack up than she had imagined. Then we had dessert, and my grandmother stood over a neighbors' table and read their dessert menu. She ordered profiterroles, and proceeded to drop her spoon on the floor several times. Each time, she would pick it back up, clink it around in her ever-foggier water glass, then begin eating with it once more. When the waiter tried to take her plate away, she waved her finger at him. When he suggested that there was nothing left on the plate but a thin layer of ice cream, she announced, "AND I'M GOING TO LICK IT UP WITH MY TONGUE! HEH-HEH!" Then she spilled some of the chocolate ice cream on her blouse, and spent five minutes blotting the stain with her napkin and the foggy ice cream water.

When I thought we were finally ready to go, she tricked me again and spent another three minutes zipping and unzipping the various pockets of her purse, which any sane person might mistake for a sizable piece of carry-on luggage.

As we were walking out of the restaurant, my grandmother devised a million differently little plans on how we could walk several blocks out of our way in order to catch a series of infrequently running buses home. I started to get very angry. I insisted that I just needed to get out of the restaurant, and that I felt much better now.

"HERE!" she said. "THIS WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER." She shoved an shriveled old peppermint candy that she had dug up from the bottom of her cavernous old woman purse. I took it, but said I would it eat it later."

"EAT IT NOW GODDAMNIT! IT'LL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER."

So I did. But it didn't.

10.26.05
More misdirected emails
Do you remember this fellow? Well, I've gotten a couple more emails from him lately, all as short and odd as the first. Let's look! From : arthur schwartz
Sent : Wednesday, September 14, 2005 11:56 AM
To : deborah_schwartz@hotmail.com
Subject : campus hours

Hi, Deb-- Here is when I can leave campus: MWF 2, TTh 3. See you Saturday.

Love..... Sounds like he works at a university, no? And then I got this one . . .

From : arthur schwartz
Sent : Wednesday, October 19, 2005 3:19 PM
To : deborah_schwartz@hotmail.com
Subject : birthday

HI-- I assume you're back from Seattle. Your birthday's coming up--any suggestions for me about what you'd like?

   By the way, Deborah would like to have you & Hap over for dinner--when is the next time he'll be down this way?

Love....

Hmmm. Seattle? Birthday? Deborah? Hap? What's going on here?

This is where Detective Debbie (aka "The Diminutive Pinky") springs into action. Dr. Schwartz appears to be a professor of linguistics in the German, Slavic, and Semitic Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara. I was even able to find a picture of him. This doesn't solve any larger mystery, but at least I know my google skills are still up to par.

Oh, and here is another excerpt from Little Brian Geller's 1984 journal. This piece, the first in the journal, is called "All About Me". Enjoy!

10.22.05
I wish there were a TV show called, "Appalachian Psych Ward," so my sister could write for it. Here's the latest news from the field:

Last week, I was running my interpersonal skills group with my psychotic patients. Just to give you some background information about my groups, I design the group as a social skills training group. As you may be aware, individuals with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders tend to have pretty poor social skills, so each week I present the group with specific skills that we work on. We go over the "steps of the skill" where they are taught how to implement that specific skill, and we do role-plays with the patients so they can practice the skills. After that, we (the group and I) give the patients positive feedback on their performance and move onto the next skill. We usually work on 4 skills per group, and lately, I have been really lucky to have patients who are willing and able to participate. Many of the patients enjoy the ability to apply these skills in the group, as it tends to be more hands on and interactive. I like it as well.

So last week was business as usual (you know how it is working with psychotic patients -- you never know what to expect). The first skill that we went over was "How to get your point across." In general, the steps of the skill encourage the patient to be relatively straightforward and brief in their interactions, and the role-plays are superficial in nature. Two male patients who are active participants in the group role played a scene where one patient told another patient where to buy a pair of shoes. They did a fantastic job and were met with applause when finished. After they sat down, we were discussing their great performance when a female patient stepped into the middle of the room and stood next to me. We'll call her "Jane" for confidentiality reasons. To give you a little background about this patient, this is not her first hospital stay since I have been an intern, and my recollection of Jane was that she was an patient who actively participated in group and was a positive contributor to the discussion in the past. She had been recently re-admitted to the hospital, however, and on this particular day, she was sleeping during the whole group. Needless to say, I was surprised to see her up and standing in the middle of the room. I said, "Hi Jane." She gave me her hand as if to shake it and said, "My name is Rose, I am the manager of the bank. Are you here to apply for the job?" At that moment, I was so overcome with shock, confusion, and the thought, "What IS this woman thinking??" I, for better or worse, started laughing, but was able to control myself. I attempted to redirect her by saying, "Jane, can you take a seat please?" She followed with, "I understand you would like an interview today." Meanwhile, she had my hand and would not let it go! I became really concerned that this woman was off in her delusion that her name is Rose and that she is the manager of some bank, and she has detracted the group from its purpose. I then explained to her "We were just finished doing a role play and giving some of the patients feedback on it." Much to my surprise she said, "I know! I was doing a role play too!" That is really great, except it was a completely inappropriate time and context. Hence the need for social skills training with these patients. I told her that she could role-play the next skill, but by the time we got around to it, she was sleeping once again and, despite efforts on my part, I was unable to wake her up.

The next day I saw Jane in the medication room. I said, "Hi Jane." She looked at me and said, "I'm not on speaking terms with you!" Ok.

Two days later in the Diagnosis and Symptom Management group, I was calling role. When I called her name, Jane said "You mean Rose!" She slept through most of the group, except for a couple of occasions where she got up and said, "People are talking about me in my sleep!" At another point during the group, she was attempting to give a pencil (unsolicited) to an Asian patient (or as they say here in these parts, "An Oriental woman", it is so wrong, so wrong). Her intentions were unclear, so eventually she just gave up.

This afternoon I saw her right before lunch in the hall of the treatment ward. I said, as usual, "Hi Jane." Apparently, she was just delighted to see me and asked what I thought about her hair. I told her it looked nice, and she told me that she did her hair so that it would look like mine. Then she told me that she looks like me now. She started rambling something else, and then said, "I have two daughters!" Attempting to elicit more appropriate information, I asked, "And how old are your daughters?" She responded, "And they look just like you. And they look like me. And I look like you." At that point, I excused myself and left, knowing I look NOTHING like this woman. But at least she was on speaking terms with me. Maybe, though, that's not such a good thing!

10.19.05
My parents spent Yom Kippur with my sister in North Carolina.
I spoke with them briefly while they were waiting to board their flight back to Fort Lauderdale. I was having trouble completing my thoughts though, because my parents had me on speakerphone and were discussing amongst themselves the low-riding nature of a young woman's pants. This young woman was sitting not far from them and was happily chatting on her cell phone while my father kept hoarsely whispering, "I can see her whole tush!"

"Hey," I said, "you guys, what's going on there?"

"Shhh!" my mother said. "You're on speakerphone. She might hear you."

"Who might hear me?"

"The girl whose tush is showing."

"What are you guys talking about?"

"And the kicker is that she isn't wearing any underwear."

I gathered from my father's tone that he very much disapproved of this young woman's attire -- so much so that he couldn't focus on what I was trying to tell him. I finally gave up, wished them goodnight, and hung up the phone.

This morning I logged onto my email account to discover that my mother had emailed me a picture of said tush. It looked like this.

The email's subject line was as follows: "Marty made me take this picture -- he was horrified that she has no underwear!!" The email with the image was sent to myself, my sister, my husband, and my father (Marty) at both his work and his home email address.

Soon after, my sister wrote back: "That's really an awful scene. Cover up a little for goodness sakes! Her butt seems really high to me for some reason!"

So I (always the optimist) wrote: "Is it possible that the exposed flesh is of her back, but that her back is all folded and weird? How incredibly odd."

My father, from his work account, replied: "look at her hips. The pants are below her hips"

My mother soon added: "No, this was no trick photography -- it was her tush!"

Several hours later, I received a forwarded email exchange from my mother to someone named Michael Schwartz. It went something like this:

Subject: Fwd: Sorry for sending you the last e-mail
Michael
   You were kind enough to let me know that I was sending you e-mails that were intended for my husband Marty.
   Somehow your email address got caught up in our family interchange -- with a silly picture I took this weekend of a young woman in the airport.
   I apologize for not noticing that your email address was still in the mix.
Thanks for your patience
Elaine

BTW, Marty's address is "MAschwartz, and his office address is mschwartz - thus the mixup. I hope you are not disturbed much and hope it stops.

Because it was not enough that only a random stray Schwartz should know how incredibly strange my family is, I wanted to make sure that anyone who happened upon my blog would know it as well.

Viva la Undies!

10.09.05
I speak often of our roach problem.
The problem is mostly that I can't figure out how these little buggers are getting into our apartment. They have not taken up residence in the dark cruddy recesses of our kitchen, but, instead, can often be found frolicking in our porcelain tub. I am quite sure--but not totally sure--that they are falling out of the crappy air vent thing that sits high up on the wall to the right of our shower head. It has happened before that I have been looking into the tub when suddenly, as if by spontaneous generation, a couple of roaches appear. It actually seem like they have dropped out of the tub faucet. But I can't imagine how this could be plausible.

About that air vent thing: Our bathroom is the flip side of what I believe to be the trash shoot or the back of the elevator shaft. These places are often dark and filled with cruddy recesses--things little roachies just love. I have never witnessed any roach exiting from this space, but I have observed that when big burly people were working on the ducts in the trash room, many more roaches happened to find themselves in our tub.

You might now be asking yourself what these roaches look like? Well, then. Let me produce an image I took of several of these fellows congregating in our tub. Ooo! Looks like fun. After I snapped this picture, I swooped up the little fuckers with a tissue and flushed them down the toilet.

In other news: So, you knew that even as a young one, Little Debbie was a poet. The example given is from April of 1988. But did you know that Little Brian was writing poems years before that. When we were in Clearwater recently, Brian and I discovered a composition notebook from 1985. In April of 1985 (Exactly three years before Debbie), Brian "published" his first poem. The fever-dream like stream-of-consciousness piece The Seashell is written in the shaky unsure hand of an eight year old. Though Mr. Geller's handwriting hasn't changed much in the two or so decades since the poem was written, his writing style has improved dramatically. I would go as far as to say that his writing is "no bore to me".

I plan in the future to continue photographing the roaches in our tub, as well as scanning in pages from Brian's third grade notebook with the purpose of humiliating him and amusing myself.

10.04.05
Happy Jewish New Year!
In honor of the New Year, and of starting things off with a clean slate, I present you with 27 of the most recent emails from my grandmother to me:

FW: Last picture I ever took: Contest Winners
FW: Priceless
FW: FYI
FW: Wild Party in Alaska
FW: Real Ad!
FW: Some new ones
FW: The Mistress
FW: Cohones De Toro
FW: those Torah pictures
FW: TORAH SCROLLS SAVED-incredible pictures
FW: Blonde men
FW: One way or the other
FW: Late-Night Jokes About Bush's Record-Setting 2005 Vacation
FW: How Government Works
FW: Trrojan warning (not a joke)
FW: Question?
FW: Jewish Rowing Team
FW: The bull
FW: False Teeth
FW: Women's Life Cycle
FW: Flattery
FW: Man's Best Friend
FW: Indian Wisdom
FW: senior personal ads
FW: Bookkeeper Stress
FW: Some Cartoons
FW: The show off

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