I think one of the reasons I liked to movie Blow-Up so much is because I like a good mystery that never really goes anywhere.
Look at this really cute cell phone picture of Brian on the R Train in the morning.
Now look a little closer.
See anything unusual?
Can we get in any closer?
Let's see if my cell phone camera can get a better image.
Almost every day last week Brian and I wound up in the same exact train car as this man -- this man who was extremely intent on shaving his face with an electric razor for the entire length of our commute. But it was weirder than that. He seemed to be only shaving the lower right hand portion of his face. And even weirder -- every time we saw him, and for the entire duration of the time in which we saw him, he maintained a substantial five o'clock shadow.
While he intently shaved the same corner of his face, he also intently read a library book, which we also thought odd. The razor was pretty old school, one of those little boxy numbers from the 80s. And his shoes were old school too. Gray Velcro sneakers. Wait! When my uncle was still in the criminal facility for crazy people, he received government-issued Velcro shoes. Because the state did not trust him to not do naughty crazy things with his shoe laces. No belts either.... And this man lacked a belt. Certainly he was not allowed to have sharp objects, like knives or razors blades.
Spring is finally here.
It's been chilly and rainy for quite some time. But now everything seems to be in bloom. Even my garlic.
At the beginning of April, Brian and I held a Passover Seder. Friends of ours brought with them a little plant. I panicked, because I have never been able to keep plants alive. In fact, like a horrible new crack mother, after two days of living with my young charge, I decided to expose it by leaving it on our fire escape. That way I wouldn't have to watch it suffer and die.
But it is blooming now. Really. It looks quite purple and springy. So I have left it there, because maybe that's what you're supposed to do with plants after all.
As my purple plant-child began to flower, the garlic bulb that had been sitting on the kitchen counter began to sprout. Again, I felt the best tactic would be to leave it alone and ignore it, and maybe it would go away.
It still seems to be thriving, so this morning and let it sit outside with the purple plant. They seem to be getting along fine so far.
Before I put the garlic on the fire escape, but after I put the purple plant out, my high school friend Joe Cooper came to visit. About seven years after I graduated, I thought of searching the Internet to see how Joe was doing. But there are quite a few Joe Coopers out there. Fortuitously, Joe Cooper also thought to look for me. There are quite a few Deborah Schwartzes out there as well, but I have worked very hard to be the Deborah Schwartz with the most prominent web presences.
Joe emailed me. He was living in New York City. We hung out. Then he moved to Denver, Colorado, and we lost touch again.
I made another attempt to find Joe Cooper via the Internet. But Joe has basically no Internet presence. So I waited around for several years for him to contact me again.
And he did. He came into town for a work-related symposium, and we all met for Ethiopian food in Hell's Kitchen. It was chilly and rainy, but we had a very nice time. Brian took a picture with my camera phone. It looked like this:
I think it's supposed to get a little chillier this week. And rainy. So go out now and enjoy the weather.
My grandmother's friend Lillian died on Monday.
I did not know her well, but they had been friends since they were teenagers.
My grandmother called me to tell me Lillian was in a hospice, and they were saying any day now. Her voice was matter of fact. She told me how they had met, because the boys they were both dating at the time had been friends. But then she eventually married my grandfather (at 19), and Lillian married Larry, and with marriage and moving and kids they had lost touch. But then Lillian moved to Lefferts Gardens as well. And they were closer than ever.
My grandmother said, "We were so close. We were like sisters. In fact, we used to tell people we were sisters. It was very silly. I see that now. Very silly. But, you see. I never had a sister. Neither did Lillian. So we. We would pretend to other people to be sisters. It filled. You know. A need we both had. We were very foolish then. I know that now. I'm embarrassed to even tell you about it. But what I'm trying to say is we were very close."
My grandmother grew flustered as she told the story, and I could tell that she was hardly talking to me anymore, but instead was reliving it, and that there was something wonderful and painful in this.
On Sunday, my brother took my grandmother and my Uncle Ira to the hospice in Queens to visit Lillian. I spoke to my uncle on Sunday night. He said, "MOTHER WAS ANNOYING ME. SHE KEPT TALKING TO LILLIAN LIKE SHE COULD HEAR HERE, LIKE NOTHING WAS WRONG. BUT SHE WAS COMPLETELY OUT OF IT. BUT MOTHER KEPT TALKING AND TALKING LIKE LILLIAN WAS GOING TO ANSWER HER."
My uncle then went on to give me a vivid description of what he ate for dinner and his recent achievements in organizing his "magazines".
I spoke to my father on Monday evening, and that's when I heard that Lillian had died. I repeated his brother's story to illustrate his delicate sense of pathos. My father said, "My mother told me that she had a whole conversation with Lillian. She said the nurses told her that the hearing is the last thing to go, and even though a person looks completely out of it, they can still hear.
Something hurt me. I said, "They told us that too. They told us all kinds of idiotic stuff. It's all a load of crap. How the hell would they know."
But I wasn't on the phone in my living room anymore. I was back in the hospice in Pinellas Park. The gurgling deathrattle breaths were unnerving. The room smelled of slow death. My mother-in-law's eyes stared blankly, but her face was contorted into a divine sign of pain.
My sister-in-law cried for the aides to help her, to help her to breathe. Can't you see she's suffering.
The aides, the nurses, the doctors all told us that, though the breathing sounded labored, we shouldn't be bothered by it. Meryl was beyond pain.
One hospice aide said, "I can assure you she feels no pain right now."
I said, "How the f*ck would you know."
The aide, a florid, middle-aged woman with scrubs and disheveled blonde hair, said, "I know . . . because . . . I've been there."
I think my sister-in-law and I must have laughed. But maybe we held our tongues. Maybe we asked the woman to go on, because that's what she did. She continued, "I went to the other side. But I'm back now. So I know. I was giving birth to my first son, and I accidentally pushed out my uterus. It's very rare. Well, I died then. Right there on the table. The doctors said I was clinically dead.
"Some people say they see a light. It's true. I saw a very bright, very soft, comforting light. I was in a tunnel of light, and I was walking down the tunnel and I could hear a voice talking to me . . . the voice of God. But he said it wasn't my time. I had to go back and take care of my son. So I woke up. But the doctor's said I had been clinically dead for twenty minutes."
I felt an insane rage towards this woman. But I let it go. Because I wasn't really mad at her and her stupid life and her stupid out-of-body experience. I was angry that I was in a room of three people whose worlds were falling apart, and I could do nothing to help them, to stop it, and nothing anybody said was going to make any of us feel better.
I told my dad about the hospice aide, how she knew that dying people felt no pain. My dad chuckled. Then I said, "Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer."
Molly had a party on Friday.
Back in March, I submitted my great grandmother's not so secret recipe for spinach borekas to our friends Alana & Xander's vegetarian recipe blog. Mostly so I wouldn't keep losing it. I had been kind of craving them lately, so I decided to spend what turned out to be the better part of Friday afternoon making the borekas.
When I was finally finished, I had 4 trays of incredibly ugly, heavy, and tasty spinach borekas, and a kitchen that looked like the site of a recent major disaster. I brought two of the trays over to Molly's for the party.
When Brian and I showed up, Alana & Xander were already there, and had they brought with them the ingredients for making Virile Lumberjacks. It was very exciting. I felt like we had unknowingly made some kind of psychic cyber exchange.
I know this is going to sound silly, but I'm not sure I had ever even had a virile lumberjack (or a billini for that matter). It was light and fruity and rather tasty.
I drank several virile lumberjacks and a couple glasses of glasses of wine. The next morning, both Brian and I had raging headaches. As light and fruity as that virile lumberjack was, it really packed quite a wallop. I think I will stay away for some time.
This morning, waiting on the platform for the train, I saw this sign:
Hee, hee. Ho, ho. How clever! I was so ammused, I photographed it with my camera phone.
When I turned around, I noticed what appeared to be a large turd on the platform. Like from a human or a very big dog. Ugh.
What's wrong with some people? Gross.
10 years ago, Brian and I made our first Passover Seder together.
We were both in college. Passover fell on the Wednesday before finals. So Brian and I, still just friends, organized a Seder for ourselves and our (mostly gentile) friends. Neither of us was 21 yet, and so we had to have a friend buy the wine, which was later stolen by one of Brian's nogoodnick roommates. We called our mothers and had them give us recipes. We went shopping and cooked and I tried to make an egg look roasted by pouring wine over it, then setting it on fine. It didn't work, but the Seder was still a lot of fun.
In preparing for that Seder together, we became much closer, which eventually led to romantic entanglement, which eventually led to marriage. And look at us today!
What I am trying to say is: Passover is for lovers.
This year marked Brian and my 10th passover spent together. So we did it again. We made a little Seder (with much help from our friend Rich), and we invited some (mostly gentile) friends over. We were 15 people total, and maybe it was the 4 glasses of wine, but I felt like everyone had a pretty good time.
Karen took some pictures. Here are a couple.
Last night, Brian and I went over Karen & Rich's to celebrate our first real Easter dinner. Karen even made a ham, though neither Brian nor I ate any. She also made a lot of vegetarian food and food without leaven bread, and Susan brought us a box of matzo, which we avoided as well. Brian and I participated by drinking the customary 4 glasses of wine, and then Rich and I had a dance off. It was a lot of fun.
So Passover and Easter are not so different. They both involve a big meal with a lot of wine. But for one, you have to read a lengthy service telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, and you can't eat any bread, and for the other, there is a ham.
It's very weird. Since this past weekend, I kind of miss my grandmother.
I had such a nice time with her. She was so filled with joy all weekend, and she even paid me a few compliments. My favorite moments, though, were when she would get in verbal tussles with my aunt.
I just received this email from her and it made me happy and sad.
From: Julia SchwartzIsn't that adorable? Am I losing my mind? Maybe this past weekend really did me in.
We're back from my sister's wedding.
The wedding was quite nice, and though most of both families missed to cocktail hour because pictures were going a bit long, just about everything else went according to plan. The weekend itself, though, was not devoid of drama.
As I mentioned before, we flew down with my father's mother and my mother's sister. I have mostly known my grandmother to be a little devil, and my aunt to be a rather bengin person, if not a little sluggish and repetivtive.
During the larger part of the weekend, my grandmother was in good spirits and not even once commented that I was a fatty. But my aunt's behavior grew more troubling as the weekend progressed. We realized she was out of her element. She doesn't leave her apartment much, and the last time she had flown on a plane was for my sister's bat mitzvah 14 years ago.
But still. When we met her at the airport, she was walking unsteadily with a cane, and didn't want to give it up even to go through the magnotometer. By Saturday night, she was dancing up a storm. The next morning, she had taken all the books out of my parents book shelf. By Sunday night, she was accusing everyone of plotting against her.
Ali, who deals with unusual people for a living, suspected that my aunt must be off her medication. This turned out to be true. My aunt "misplaced" the 8 pill cocktail of heavy duty drugs she takes to keep her from thinking everyone is out to get her.
My mother was in the emergency room with her sister until 3 o'clock the next morning. We left for New York at noon on Monday, and my aunt was still pretty jittery. She accused the airport security people of yelling at her, and shortly thereafter, they pulled her into a seclusion room. I freaked out and tried to go after her, but was told that if I didn't back away, security would be called on me. So I thought to myself, "Would it really be the worse thing . . . "
Security returned my aunt, and she was a little ruffled, but largely okay. She still hated everything, the airport, the state of Florida, the sandwich my mother had packed for her. But she was under control.
I was very, very, very happy to get home.
I took some pictures this weekend. Not as many as I would have liked, because I kept forgetting my camera towards the latter part of the visit. I have no pictures of the wedding ceremony, as I was in it, and snapping pictures when one is the matron of honor is usually frowned upon.
I made a slide show in Flash, but my Flash skills are clearly lacking. I can't figure out for the life of me how to edit the slideshow so it doesn't play the entire song. Irritating. If anyone knows what I'm doing wrong, please feel free to email me.
So, after spending a good many hours fooling around, here it is: