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



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Off Target

11.30.07
I knew it!
I knew that the Random Woman had emailed Brian more than just those two times. I did a little research, and I found another email!
From: JibJab
Date: Jan 13, 2007 5:58 PM
Subject: Check out this Joke on JibJab!
To: Brianís email address

Your friend Mom discovered a great joke on JibJab and wants to share the laughs with you!

To see it, cut and paste the link below in your browser:
http://www.jibjab.com/nuckin_futs

Mom says:
Dear Brandon, This is the Year in Review from JibJab, Nuckin' Futs!-the same people who brought you the Bush/Kerry stuff. It is hysterical-enjoy. Hope you are doing great. Love, Mom

Shortly after I found this, I learned or a new twist to the saga. Brian had apparently felt bad for this poor woman who said she had no other way of contacting her son but by using an incorrect email address. So he too did some research, the upshot of which is as follows:
From: Brian Geller
To: Random Woman
Subject: Re: FW: A Hallmark E-Card

Random Woman,

I don't know if this would help, but I googled your son's name and found this email on the web: [Harvard email address which is similar to Brianís email address]

Maybe try that? (Assuming he's at Harvard).

Hope your e-card reaches its destination!

Brian

To which the Random Woman wrote back:
From: Random Woman
Subject: RE: FW: A Hallmark E-Card
To: Brian Geller

Thank you. He is in Central America-having graduated from UC Boulder. His email uses his entire first name. Thanks for the help.

CASE CLOSED!

This is a little reminiscent of another misdirected email saga from last April. I had sent out what I had considered to be a humorous invite to our second annual four-drink minimum Passover seder. I had mistyped my friend Mollyís email address. The exchange with the woman who received the errant invite went something like this:

From: Random Overly-Friendly Lady from Montana
Date: Apr 6, 2007 10:05 PM
Subject: Passover
To: Me

Hello Deb..... WHO are you and how did you find me? Sorry I missed the festivities....... Maybe next year! Shalom,Mosey O' Sullivan Basin, Montana


From: Me
Date: Apr 7, 2007 7:42 AM
Subject: Re: Passover
To: Random Overly-Friendly Lady from Montana

Sorry about that. I incorrectly typed the address for a friend and coworker, Molly Sullivan.

Take care. Happy Holidays.


From: Random Overly-Friendly Lady from Montana
Date: Apr 7, 2007 12:49 PM
Subject: Greetings from Montana
To: Me

Hello again Deborah... Thanks for clearing up the mystery and for responding.... I'm always happy to make new friends.......My sister who lives in Massachusetts is good friends with a woman named Molly Sullivan who is a former Olympic fencer....Anyway, small world if your ever in Montana visit the Montana Artist Refuge.All the Best, Random Overly-Friendly Lady from Montana

Sullivan Basin, Montana

I never wrote back to the Random Overly-Friendly Lady from Montana's last email, because Brian said if I did, this unstable-seeming woman would probably come find me and kill me in the night, and he didnít want to have to say "I told you so."

Sometimes, sending and receiving email messages can be like playing Frisbee during a tropical storm at night. Who knows where your email will end up? And if the random person who catches it decides to return it, are you obligated to continue playing the game.


11.28.07
I've mentioned Brian's misdirected email problems before.
And I wrote about the Random Woman, who was trying to write to her son. When Brian wrote her back, she said, "I thought this was my son's email-for the last two years.... It is the ONLY way I have of reaching my son."

This was sad. It happened back in September, and we hadn't heard anything further, so we hoped mother and son had finally been reunited in cyberspace.

This morning, the Random Woman sent Brian a Hallmark ecard. The personal text read:

Dear Brandon,

Wishing you a healthy and happy year. May all your dreams come true.

Love,

Mom

So Brian wrote her back again:
From: Brian Geller
Subject: Re: A Hallmark E-Card
To: Random Woman

Ms. Random Woman,

Thank you for the card -- but alas, I'm not the correct recipient. I'm Brian Geller.

Sincerely,

Brian

Two hours later, Brian received this response:
From: Random Woman
Subject: FW: A Hallmark E-Card
To: Brian Geller

Thanks. This has been my son's email for years -- . I wonder what's up.

Okay. We all know you sent Brian something back in September. It obviously wasn't your son's email address then. And Brian has had this email address since 2004, so your son didn't have it two years ago either.

I wonder if the son has ever written back....


11.27.07
I sat in the sun.
I did. I know you don't believe me, but I did. I sat out by our hotel pool for almost an hour and a half. I covered everything but my legs in a thick layer of SPF 55. I tried to pretend I was relaxed and that I didn't mind being suffocatingly hot, that the sensitive skin on my face wasn't irritatedly inflamed as a reaction to the sunscreen and to my own sweat.

And after an hour and twenty minutes of stressful sunbathing, I went inside, only to discover that, though my legs were still the same shade of translucent, I now had several more freckles on my arms and shoulders. I can't win.

Brian and I got to spend a nice amount of time with our friends Dave and Heather, who are on the precipice of parenthood. I was a little shocked by how relaxed and happy they were. It made me think that maybe if I had a baby, I too would be relaxed and happy. Then I realized that I was me, and relaxing is impossible.

Here is a picture of Brian posing for a picture with his sister, father, and brother. The picture is being taken by Brian's aunt. I thought it looked kind of meta.

Our flight on Monday was supposed to leave at 6:40 pm. It was postponed until 7:50, and then to 8:45, and 9:05. When we were on the plane, pulling away from the gate, we were told the plane wouldn't actually leave until 10:30. We landed at 1:30. And, because everyone else's flight had been delayed as well, we waited on line at the cab stand for 40 minutes and didn't get home until 2:30. Now I need a vacation to rest up from my vacation.


11.21.07
We are heading down to St. Petersburg, Florida to spend Thanksgiving with Brianís family.
Growing up in South Florida, I spent the better part of my childhood hiding from the sun.

Leathery old crones abounded, as did people with weird scars on their noses from melanoma. And if that werenít a deterrent, I was always fair skinned and burned easily. When the burn subsided, it would leave behind of festival of freckles.

I have been told by numerous people that freckles make one look cute and youthful. But I know the truth: freckles make you look like you have blemished, uneven skin. When you are young, they are ugly. When you are older, they are ugly and can be mistaken for liverspots.

I married a man whose skin goes from white to red, then back to white. Together, we moved to points north, farther from the blistering southern sun. And we are forever shaded by New York City's skyline jagged, looming skyline, buildings that block out the sun but keep in the car exhaust.

For the most part, I am thrilled to be hidden from the sun. But one of the downsides is that my legs have changed in color from pale to translucent. In shorts (which I rarely wear), it appears that I have stolen Slim Goodbody's anatomical unitard. For someone who grew up among people with skin like old baseball gloves, this is disturbing.

Whenever we go down to Florida, I say I'm going to lay out in the sun and tan my legs (or burn them). I get outside in my bathing suit, book in hand and sit in a sunny spot. I feel awkward showing off so much blinding white skin. I try to concentrate on reading, but it's too bright. And hot. I'm sweating. I don't want my face to get any more freckles. I lie back and put the book on my face. Now I'm suffocating. Ack! I'm hot and sweating and I can't breath and the sun in beating down on me and I'm getting more freckles on my face because the sun is baking my skin beneath the protective layer of book.

Finally, sweat-soaked and thoroughly panicked, I shakily make my way back inside. When I look at my watch, I discover I've been outside for six minutes. When I return to New York City, people ask me if I was hiding in a cave for the entire visit.

Of course, I hope that this visit will be different, that finally my legs can achieve a color that does not make people think they're visiting the Bodies Exhibition.

I just checked out the weather in St. Petersburg. It's supposed to be cloudy and rainy all weekend. I feel both disappointed and relieved.

By the way, Happy Birthday (yesterday), Dave.


11.20.07
I am now officially in my Reverse Bat Mitzvah year.
At 13, I became a woman. At 31, I am now the reverse.

My friend Heather sent me this bit of insight:

I think some of our difficulty with aging is not simply "the American culture's obsession with youth & beauty", as is incessantly pointed out. I think it's also tied into the praise we got as children for being precocious, and our awareness that there's no such thing as a precocious 31 year-old mediocre teacher. =) You know what I mean? We grow up knowing that being smart is good, being physically fit is good, and just being sharp for our age is good. Then we become adults and end up fabulous & spectacular (of course) but also somewhat normal...

So what are we to do? I guess just concentrate on shining "this little light o' mine (ours)" in our small spheres of influence.

She's right, though. My problem with oldening isn't about getting older. It's about not being better.

We were all such bright young stars. We had so much potential. We could have grown up to be anything: prominent surgeons, poet laureates, presidents of great nations. And we grew up to be us.

Yes. We're grown up now. And time has proved that we are simply us. Nothing more.

For years, I harbored the fantasy that I would one day be discovered as a child prodigy. I have as much chance of this happening now as I do of dying of SIDS.

And yet....

It has been an uphill, rocky trip, but I am still trudging. I have had one substantial publication and will have another this spring (in the Kenyon Review of all places!). I have a job I enjoy in a field I like for an organization in which I believe. And I am married to one of the funniest people I've ever met.

In general, now that some of that immense pressure about the enormous, open future is off, life is a little more fun. So let us age like mediocre wine!


11.16.07
It's not an obsession with my own birthday that makes me wear the tiara.
It really isn't. It's just that getting older has become a bit more difficult for me. Instead of maturing gradually and gracefully, I've decided to fight it every step of the way.

Still, time marches on. Here is a shot from my pre-party:

After work, I got together with a small group of friends on the Lower East Side. Here are a couple shots from the party:

I made sure to get to bed at a decent hour, because I had my biannual physical examination scheduled for the next day. Here is a shot from the after-party:

I hadn't had a physical in almost two and a half years. The doctor kept asking, "So, what's new with you?" I wasn't sure if she was trying to suggest something, or had simply forgot that she had just asked.

I told her that I was working at a different place. I said that the day before had been my birthday. I said I was now 31. When she kept asking what's new, I said, well, I've gained some weight since I last saw you. In fact, in the last 8 months, I've gained about 8 pounds. It's very disturbing.

"You're in your 30s now," the doctor said. She said, "The thirties are the best. I first started medical school when I turned thirty. But you've got to watch it. I gained 60 pounds while I was in medical school. 60 pounds! And I didn't even notice. I was wearing scrubs all the time, for christsake! One day, one of my coworkers asked me how much I weighed, and I said, '130,' and she said, 'Aw, honey, we've got to talk.' You've got to go to the gym. Bike to work. Portion control. Do it now. Believe me: It only gets harder."

Then she put the stethoscope against my back and had me breath in and out. Suddenly, she grabbed a fistful of my flesh and screamed half triumphant, half comical, "BACKFAT!"

"AHHHH!" I screamed back."

"It wouldn't be so bad if you had some muscle tone."

I know she was trying to be helpful. I know she didn't want to see my 8 pounds to turn to 80 without my having realized it. I know it was all information I needed to hear, needed to face. But still, it was the most depressing day-after-my-birthday-physical-examination I have ever experienced.


11.14.07
I'm 31 today.
But I feel as immature as ever.

Brian bought me a new coffee maker, which was really nice, given how our old one was so dysfunctional, we had to stand and hold the pot while the coffee was brewing.

I got dressed up and put on my birthday tiara, but just as I was about to leave the house, I suddenly felt very dizzy. I had another spell of my benign positional vertigo, something I hadn't had in months and months. I sat down for ten minutes and waited for it to pass, feeling dizzy and queasy.

I was three stops away from work when I realized I had forgotten my cell phone. So I turned around and went back to get it.

I was feeling physically lousy and all around stupid. And old. Then, while I was knitting while I waited for the train, I managed to drop about 7,000 stitches. I now I felt lousy, stupid, old, and uncoordinated. I struggled for five minutes to try to pick up my falling stitches. If I could find some sort of short object to help me pull up the yarn. I reached my hand inside my purse, and I pulled out—not a paper clip—but my long lost metrocard! I was so severely taken aback, that I tried putting my hand in my purse again to see if I could pull out anything else wonderful and missing.

I'm still feeling a little low energy. But I've gotten a number of nice messages and phone calls. Bob wrote me: "you're how old now? 40? 41? is brian gonna take you down to the sex store to pick out something inflatable with rocking chair legs attached to it? that'd be swell."

Thanks, Bob.

Andrea sent me this picture all the way from Seattle:

Thanks, Andrea! I also got a card from Ira. The front looked like this:

And here is the inside:

Thanks, Uncle Ira!

Thanks, Ali, Mom, Dovid, Bonnie, Jenny, Andrea, Bob, Sara, Eileen, Karen, Dave, Sherman, Eric, Susan, Brian, Uncle Ira, Nonna, and everyone else dropped me a line to say happy oldening. And a very special thank you to Julian, who called on his way back to the hospital, as his wife, Lisa, had given birth early this morning to their son.

Happy Birthday, little Leon. November 14 is an awesome day to be born.


11.13.07
Sent to me from Bob, who never even lived in Florida:
To avoid cops, man runs -- into gator's jaws

Thanks, South Florida, for keeping it real.


11.12.07
After her bath, my grandmother took us to see a community production of the play 1776.
It was a timely production, being as 2007 is the 231st anniversary of the United States' declaration of independence. The production was actually quite polished, as were the ticket prices at $25 a pop. The play contained such memorable numbers as "Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve", "The Egg", and "Is Anybody There?".

My uncle spent the better part of the production grumbling about how bored he was. During the second act, he fell asleep and began to snore loudly. This is what happens when you take a heavily medicated psychotic person to community theater.

I now see that the play had been made into a film. I watched the trailer, and it looked almost as engaging as the play.

Wow. A musical about a bunch of white men sitting in a room debating about whether they should declare independence from the British Empire. WARNING: Do not operate heavy machinery while watching this show.


11.05.07
My sister ran the New York Marathon.
That was Sunday. It was her forth marathon. I was very proud of her. My parents were in town, as was her husband, Joel, and we all stood around to cheer her on in Brooklyn. When she got to Queens, my brother was there to meet her. Then my Dad met her at 59th Street and my brother again at 86th Street. Then we all converged as close to the finish line as we could.

As close as we could was about 10 blocks away. Still, it was fun. Here are some pictures:

That was Sunday. On Saturday, in honor of my parents' 39th wedding anniversary, we went to Tavern On the Green for brunch. We ate in the Crystal Room, which looked like it had been designed by a 12 year old girl. It looked like this:

Brunch was going swimmingly, until my grandmother said she felt she had eaten too much, and was nauseous. Here's a picture of her feeling nauseous, and my uncle still eating:

When I looked over again, she was slumped over a bit with her head down. We couldn't tell if she was being meditative, or if she had passed out. She had passed out. My sister and I ran over to her. Even unconscious, she started vomiting. We got incredibly nervous, and started yelling to call 911.

The sound of my grandmother's breathing was shallow and labored, but still present. The color was leaving her face and her lips were turning purple. More vomit came up, some out of her nose. Ali and I were almost in tears trying to figure out what to do. I wanted to get the vomit out of her nose. Ali wanted to make sure her air passages weren't obstructed by my efforts.

Then, she wasn't breathing at all. She's not breathing. Can you hear her? No. No, she is definitely not breathing. Get her down on the floor. Ali and I dragged her to the floor, and laid her down. Ali positioned herself at my grandmother's head to begin CRP. She said, "I'm certified, but I'm still nervous I'm going to do something wrong."

And then my grandmother's eyelids fluttered. She was regaining consciousness. Just in time for two police officers to arrive. EMS workers followed right behind. She kept insisting wearily that she simply ate too much and was just lying down. But within 5 minutes, she was up to her old tricks again, asking the emergency workers if they were married, if they were going to undress her, telling them she was feigning illness because it was the only way to get so many nice uniformed men to fawn all over her.

We almost had to sedate her to get her in the ambulance. They keep her at the hospital for only about an hour, and then my grandmother, against the better judgment of the doctor, checked herself out.

Here are some pictures of my grandmother dirty-talking the emergency workers from her place on the floor:

For a moment we all thought we were going to lose my grandmother. This is one time I am very thankful for her stubbornness.


11.02.07
Happy November!
November 2nd is my parents' anniversary. They have been married for 39 years today.

November is also my birthday month. On the 14th, I will be 31, which is another year farther from 29. I fear I am aging less like a fine wine and more like an feisty old crone. Ho hum.

My friend Alana wrote me recently regarding our moth problem. Our interchange was as follows:

Alana wrote:

Did you find the moths? You may want to try freezing your wool clothes to kill the buggers. Seriously. Put a couple of sweaters in a big plastic bag, then put that bag in another bag, and leave them in the freezer for a couple of days. Repeat until you've frozen everything. Naturally, once you've frozen and thawed something, don't put it back in the usual place until you've frozen anything the moths might be living in. Then get some cedar for your closet and drawers. I'm really sorry. Are the holes small enough that you can repair some of your favorite things?
I wrote:
Someone at Brian's work suggested getting things to the dry cleaner. I'm confused, though. Even if I have a sweater that looks okay, and even if I get some cedar stuff, my clothing is still vulnerable?
Alana wrote:
Yeah, in principle. Freezing will kill the moths and any larvae (gross, I know) that are living in your clothes. It's what we do in museums. I think we would actually freeze twice to be extra careful, but once should really be enough. I think you can buy really big Ziploc bags these days, but you can really use any bag if you tie it up really well. You want to keep moisture out if possible, and of course keep anything in the bag from coming out.
I wrote:
Of course, one issue is that our freezer is quite full. But maybe we'll eat some more veggie burgers and frozen peas to make room for our sweaters filled with moth larvae. Thanks!
Alana wrote:
I guess in the interest of full disclosure I should also tell you that museum freezers are sub-zero usually, but who in NYC has one of those? I'd use my household one.
I wrote:
By the way, my skirt looks like this:

Alana wrote:
I'd stitch it up. It's so awesome. Besides, if you like it, who cares if it has a few patched-up spots. It can be the skirt you wear on days when you ask for a raise. You know. To emphasize NEED.


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