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Early Morning

The sorbet arrived in Clearwater, Florida largely un-melted.
Nobody mistook it for a bomb, which is good, as it was in fact not a bomb. Brian's sister was home. Brian's brother stayed away on account of his being too busy thinking up jokes to come home for the holidays. On Saturday, we attended an abridged version of the Rosh Hashanah services. Then we saw a bad play. Then we made fun of people. Not the least of whom was Brian's younger brother, who was too busy being away to defend himself.

Mostly, though, Brian, his mother, sister, and I just sat around on the couch in our pajamas. It was a low-stress weekend that way.

We left on Monday morning. Our flight out was at 6:15 in the antemeridian. This means we got up at 4. No one should ever have to get up at 4 AM. No one is pretty at 4 AM. I am incapable of being kindly at 4 AM.

I went from the airport directly to work. I continued to be un-pretty and un-kindly all day. Then I ran over to Century 21 and spent way too much money on black clothing. When I got home, I was no longer tired, so I stayed up until midnight. That was stupid.

This morning on the train, as I got on at 86th Street, a woman leaned out of the crowded cab and vomited onto the tracks. Then she stood up and shrugged. Then she leaned over and vomited again. She stood up and shrugged again, and the doors closed. She continued a conversation she had been having with another woman. That was it. No one said anything.

I am well-armed with my two pints of sorbet.
They are wrapped up in tin foil and Ziploc bags and a foil-lined freezer bag and a keep-it-cool bag and with several ice packs surrounding them all inside an insulated lunch tote.

Now I am nervous that I won't make it past airport security without arousing suspicion. And if they make me unpack that junk, it's all over. I don't know how in the world I'm going to stuff all that crap back in the lunch tote. I had nearly to sit on the bag to zip it up last night.

My sorbet obsession has served well in distracting me from the more pressing of life's issues.

Last night, I dreamt my sister stopped breathing.
She was lying sprawled out on the floor in a dark red room, and someone came over and said, "Hey, I think your sister had a heart attack. Her heart has stopped."

I immediately began trying to resuscitate her. I had to keep her from brain death until the paramedics could get there. Every now and then, she would open up her eyes groggily, and then she would be gone again. I was growing increasingly nervous. I kept breathing into her and pumping her chest, but I couldn't quite remember how many chest pumps to how many breaths.

Finally, she came to. She looked tired and annoyed. I said, "You almost died. I thought you were going to experience brain death."

"Oh," she said, "I was just really tired. And I have low blood sugar."

Then my alarm went off, but I hit snooze so I could check back on my sister to make sure she was okay. I told her that she should go to the hospital and get checked out, but she told me that she felt fine, and that she had a lot of things to do. I wondered whether her non-alarmist attitude was a result of something more serious. I asked again if she thought she might have any experienced any brain death, and she repeated that she felt fine.

My dreams have been on the morbid side lately. I blame friendster. As of late, I have come across a number of people about whom I have thought little in the past few years. And there they are. Pictures and favorite movies and all. It makes me feel kind of weird. And then suddenly all these bad dreams. I can feel the nostalgic malignancy emanating from my computer screen. I need to break free of friendster's evil dream-death-grip.

Jenny has a really cute post today. Check it out. And not just because she mentions me.

Also, I only received one suggestion on how to get my blackberry cabernet sorbet all the way to Florida tomorrow. This in from college favorite Dave Sobush:

Hide it in a cooler marked "human organs for transplant" and then on the plane, look at everybody's expressions as you secretly eat from the cooler.
Thank you, Mr. Sobush. Consider that problem S.O.L.V.E.D!

My sleep has been like a water bug skimming the surface of a lake.
I have been dreaming very vividly, and then waking up, laying dream life like a fine web over waking life.

Last night, I sat up, sure my co-worker Michael was bleeding, a trail of blood leading from our office to the kitchen. Two nights ago, I dreamed we all moved into our building's new wing, and had to undergo a subterranean initiation ceremony. That person I have been trying to avoid since college was there. She now worked at the Museum too. She was angry at me because I had been avoiding her for two years. But then it turned out she was just lonely. I sat up in bed and said to Brian, "Oh, she's not angry at me after all. She's just sad because she didn't have any friends at work.

I am not sure why this keeps happening. On the night I got sick, even as I vomited I was convince that the bar had tried to poison me, as this had been part of the dream I'd been having. I find this disturbing and un-deep. I demand to have uninterrupted sleep!

I received some wonderful feedback from an astute Debcentral reader. In the form of this original poem:

60 Years from Now
(to be sung to "When I'm Sixty-Four")

When I get older, losing my teeth
Sixty years from now
will you be hiding my vitamins?
Birthday greetings, bottles of gin

If I'd been out till half past eight,
would you cane my knee?
Will you still feed me, will you still drool
when I blow a raspberry?

You'll be older too
And if you say the word,
I will give you SARS.

This astute Debcentral reader repeatedly apologized for what he/she perceived as corniness. But I think it's just grand.

We had quite a busy weekend.
On Thursday night, we rented Lubitsch's "Trouble in Paradise", and it was very good, but maybe not as good as "Shop Around the Corner". On Friday, we saw "The Manchurian Candidate", and it was very funny and Frank Sinatra was quite convincing as a man with bad skin.

On Saturday afternoon, Brian and I watched the Gator game with Susan and Karen. Our team lost, and it was sad. We were so sad, we drank 6 pictures of beer between the four of us, then went home and fell asleep.

When we woke up, it was time for another movie. We went with Eleanor to see the new Woody Allen Film "Anything Else", which we all failed to enjoy. The person who failed to enjoy it the most was my very own husband, who spent the duration of the movie scowling and whispering loudly, "The only thing that could save this movie now is if the entire cast contract SARS." When the movie ended, Brian made a loud Bronx cheer. Then he stood up, and waving his hands in the air, declared that to stay in the theater one more second with this movie would be torture. Then he ran out.

Eleanor and I looked at each other. This was by far the funniest thing we had seen since the movie began. We had caught a glimpse of Brian, circa 2063. And you know what: that man is funny. I hope we will still be married in 2063, so when he stands up at a movie, throws his hands in the air, and blows his raspberry, I can hit him in the knees with my cane and tell him be quiet or I'll hide his vitamins.

Our building has been creaking all day.
I don't see any papers or building materials or people airborne, gliding past my window. I guess this is good. The sun is out. I haven't been outside since early this morning. I guess it's all pretty tame.

Today I finally did what I had been thinking about doing for a long time: create a scrapbook area for pictures. It's kind of cute, no?

What I really should be doing is updating my news page. That, or working. Whatever.

I have recently been informed by dedicated Debcentral reader Mickey Featherstone that he has, after two years, completed the task of employing every men's room in his entire office building. I do not actually know this person, and his comments are often unsolicited. Still, he tells us, "Not everyone at Debcentral has lofty goals like me or would even consider undertaking the arduous task of using both bathrooms at work, but I would like to challenge every one of your readers, Dare to Dream!!!"

In other news, Brian and I have found the most perfect sorbet. I never even knew I was looking for the most perfect sorbet. But then, there it was. Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet sorbet. Since we discovered this delicate and intoxicating frosty treat, we have been going through about a pint a day. Terrible. We are heading back to Florida next weekend, and have been concocting a scheme to sneak several pints down there to his mother and sister.

Because I love fan mail, I am encouraging everyone to suggest the best way to get two pints of Blackberry Cabernet sorbet through airport security and to endure the nearly three-hour flight to Tampa. contact @ You know the drill.

I remember my mother looking at me with love and concern and giving me a Malibu Barbie doll as a birthday present. I also remember her looking at me with that same face full of love and concern and telling me that if I didn't stop picking my nose, my nose would never stop bleeding. These memories are unrelated, except that they both occurred before I turned four.

Some of my earliest memories as an air-breathing human being are of getting nose bleeds. I remember being surprised and fascinated by them. They were apparently caused by excessive nose-picking. I guess I must have picked my nose with much verve and gusto, causing it to bleed. I have no real memories of picking my nose with verve and gusto.

I don't believe I have had a nose bleed in the past 22-some-odd years. Except when I fell of the bed and broke my nose on prom night.

On the other hand, I never used to vomit. But I seem to do so more and more. I might become violently ill from a mere two drinks in a night. And then again, I may not. It's a gamble. But I've been losing more often lately than is decent.

Last night, we had a great big opening for that fellow, Andy Goldsworthy and his Garden of Stones. There was a cocktail reception beforehand. And if one worked the event, one found oneself alone with the leftover wine at the end of the night.

I'm still feeling a bit ill.

I am stealing more of Ms. Kitty's big ideas.
She invented the Forty Photoshopped views of the face on the wall behind Bob's and Caryn's and the Twenty-five Photoshopped views from Bob's and Caryn's backyard.

I have a very creative and giving nature as well. Even if it is less original then Jenny's. Out of the goodness of my heart and the freeness of my time, I have made you, gentle reader, three pieces of computer wallpaper. Variations on a theme. They are:

The view from my grandmother's window on the Friday morning after the Blackout of 2003.

The view from my grandmother's window on the Friday morning after the Blackout of 2003 doctored to look as if it had been taken from 20,000 leagues beneath the sea.

and the view from my grandmother's window on the Friday morning after the Blackout of 2003 doctored to show my distressed state of mind at the time.

Now I am off to be a Living Memorial. I will check back with you all later on.

One of the great things about New York City is its many galleries of fine art.
These galleries of fine art often have "openings", and at these "openings" which are often somewhat "open" to the "public," will sometimes "give away" free wine and cheese.

So I try to go to as many art openings as I can manage. The other day, my co-worker Stacy Pinero and I went to one of these art openings. We spent about 8 minutes walking around the art installation, then went straight for the giant wheel of brie. Wonderful!

But I think I stuffed too much cheap wine and cheese in my face too quickly, and felt sick for the following two days.

That is the bad news. The good news is: on the way to the gallery, Stacy and I sighted a pair of gold Diesel brand sneakers for only $20! I put them on immediately. I often worry that at these wine and cheese art events, people will identify me as an interloper. I did not feel that way with my shiny new gold shoes. I was wearing blue and brown plaid pants and a gray top and shiny gold shoes. I did not match even remotely. For most, this might be cause for embarrassment, but my odd dress helped me to blend in with the other arty types as I stuffed myself until I felt sick.

I have been unavailable for comment for several days now. Our museum is about to open its new wing, which is big and beautiful and also not quite as finished as it should be. So things have been a little nuts lately.

This morning, I was out with Mr. Spider of our fair zonkboard, helping to plant trees in boulders with sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. My part in all the hoopla was actually quite small. But enjoyable. Mr. Goldsworthy is super nice, and he has a tattoo of Elvis on his forearm, with the words "The King" printed beneath. I thought that was really cool.

Brian and I see a lot of movies.
Last night, we saw Touchez Pas Au Grisbi, a French gangster film from 1954. On Sunday night, we rented L'Atalante, which is a hauntingly beautiful film about French people on a boat.

Brian and I see about two movies a week. During his time between school and internships, he often announces a goal of a movie a day. This we rarely meet, but we give it the old college try.

For us, real conversation has been supplanted by blurry movie talk. Where once we would discuss the events of our day, politics, ideas, even our enduring love for one another, our conversations have now devolved to something like the following:

Brian: Wow, this movie was a really great movie!
Deb: Yes, it was full of chiaroscuro and montage and other great movie terms.
Brian: Hey, you know this movie really reminded me of that movie we saw a few weeks ago.
Deb: Now that was some movie.
Brian: Movie, movie, movie.
Deb: Movie, movie, film, movie.
Brian: Movie, movie. Cinema!

We are a sad bunch.

Brian had a late class and I went to yoga. This is how we began our evening. We then went out for burritos at a local Mexican place -- a dumpy little place with tea lights on the table and festive piŮatas hanging from the ceiling. I ordered the veggie burrito, which was $7.50. They made me pay a dollar extra for cheese and an additional $1.50 for guacamole.

So, I got my veggie burrito. But where was the cheese? I told the server they left off my cheese, and she assured me that it was there, but that I couldnít see it because it was white. I told her I had paid a dollar extra, and could I have a little more cheese than the invisible white cheese which was apparently hiding in my burrito.

She went to get more cheese, and while she was gone, I bit into what turned out to be a piece of chicken. I spit the chewed up blech into my napkin. This made me unhappy. Iíve been a vegetarian for 13 1/2 years.

Brian and I debated whether to tell our server. I voted no, as I had made such a royal stink about the cheese, she would be sure to spit in my food. Brian said they needed to be told. I began eating my burrito again, resolved to say nothing. The server arrived at our table with my cheese right at the moment I fished out a large knotty hunk of pork. The jig was up.

Our server apologized profusely and went to get me another burrito. Now I wasnít even hungry. What a jerk I was: first making a big stink about the cheese; then pulling meat pieces from my burrito. Now they were going to make me a whole new burrito, and I was full. I ordered a second margarita.

The second burrito they gave me was just beautiful. I picked at it as best I could, apologized, then asked for the check and to take the burrito home. When she brought the check, she told us they gave us the second margarita for free. Now I really felt bad. I placed my napkin on the table and fished through my purse for my wallet. Then I smelled something burning. I had placed my napkin on a tea light. And it was on FIRE. Ack! Of course, I played it down by screaming shrilly and waving my hands in the air.

We paid, left a 40% tip, and ran away.

I received a number of aborted attempts at morals for Uncle Iraís story. Here were two completed thoughts:

"Don't let your uncles grow up to be liquor store delivery boys." --Nick Kocz

"According to Uncle Ira, he was held up at knife point, escaped, committed and then relieved of his student loans. In the long run, I think Uncle Ira got the point." --Mickey Featherstone

On Saturday afternoon, I phone good friend and blood brother Bob Brumfield to say, "Guess where I am!". The answer was that I was in Brighton Beach, performing a cameo appearance as a mature "hussy" in a friend's short film.

Of course, I didn't get to say all this, because after I said, "Guess where I am?" Bob said, "I really can't talk now, I'm in the car with Jenny and Caryn on the way to a Gay Rodeo." Well, sure that sounds more interesting at first, but I got to wiggle my hips in five pounds of costume jewelry, made up like a fading flower in front of a movie camera and a gaggle of the funniest and coolest octogenarians you'll ever meet.

The original hussy was actually a contemporary of these older ladies. But she went AWOL right before shooting. I showed up at 8 am for costume and makeup, and was worried that they would be critical of my general lack of age. When I first entered, they asked who I was, and I said, "I'm Deb Schwartz, a friend of Ruth Sergel. I'll be playing the hussy."

"It's the HUSSY!" one of them screamed. Another one said, "We hate you, because you get all the men."

"Because you're so sexy!

"HUSSY!" they all screamed, and began giggling uncontrollably.

Ah! So I had a wonderful time. The weather was gorgeous. I got a massive sunburn from my costume jewelry to my neckline. There was a real 35mm camera and a boom mic and a food tent and tracks on which the camera rode as it moved around filming.

Still, the locals people were the best. Most people walked by, checked out the camera, and kept moving. But some people insisted that we make them extras. They showed us resumes. They became angry when they heard we had imported our octogenarians from Manhattan instead of using the genuine article. One woman kept repeating that she had been voted "Grandma of the Year" two years in a row. Several people harassed the crew in the food tent, bullying them until they gave up pieces of watermelon.

And even though I had no line, even though I walked in front of the camera for a period of 22 seconds, even still, every time the ladies saw me, they would scream out, "There's the HUSSY! We hate her because she's so sexy!" and begin giggling again.

If only real life were more like the movies.

The Deb/Brian Movie Night Contingent recently saw The Taking of the Pelham One Two Three at the film forum. In attendance was local favorite Eleanor Eichenbaum, high school chum Keith Murray, Deb and Brian, and a whole lot of random people taking up all the best movie seats.

The movie was a hard-boiled 1970s thriller in which a New York City subway car is highjacked by a band of unscrupulously mustachioed killers. The best part of the movie was the credits, which are possibly the most politically incorrect credits in the history of cinema. The people on the highjacked train are credited as "Maid", "Homosexual", "Spanish Woman", "Alcoholic", "Pimp", "Coed", "Hippie", and "W.A.S.P."

I enjoyed the wild proliferation of mustaches. It made me really feel the 70s. I also liked the interesting use of the MTA's electrified third rail.

In other news, it has been over two weeks since Brian and I last fought. Which may be a new record. I have come to the conclusion that the reason we fight so much is because I am a Scorpio and he is a Sagittarius. According to this website I found, I am resentful, obstinate, and emotional, and Brian is a happy-go-lucky beer-drinking fool. It is all starting to make sense.

We had something very close to a fight on Monday evening. But as it would ruin our wonderful no-fighting streak, we will not call it a fight, but instead a Deb-screams-at-Brian-and-Brian-throws-things-on-the-floor. Itís all about naming the thing.

I had a very nice long weekend.
I mean "very nice" in the old people sense. That is, I slept a lot and watched movies and ate mushy food.

Sunday was Uncle Ira's birthday. He is now 59 years young. During our visit, he told us the harrowing story of how he was relieved from the responsibility of paying back his student loans. The story began with my grandmother getting my uncle a job as a driver and delivery person for company for which she had been working. My grandmother is extremely hard-working and conscientious. Her youngest son is neither of those things. My uncle was on the job for only a few days when he made a delivery to some especially difficult customers. The customers took the goods and roughed him up, then held him at knife point. My uncle didn't know what to do? So he pulled out his knife.

"You had a knife?" my brother gasped. By the way, my brother is back from Israel and came with us on our visit.

"So I got away and jumped in the car and just started driving around and driving around."

"With all the merchandise still inside? What were you delivering anyway?" I said.

"Cases of liquor," said my uncle, annoyed that I had interrupted. "So I drove around until I got tired. And then I went back home and Dad was there. I was really freaking out, feeling very bad and all, and then he called the cops on me and had me taken away. After that commitment, they said I didn't have to pay any of my student loans back, but that I couldn't take out any more money either. Tell me: how am I supposed to finish school when they won't let me take out any student loans?"

The moral of this story: Frankly, I am really not sure. Ooh! Let's have a contest! Propose a moral to this story, and send it to me at contact @ care of Morals to Uncle Ira's Crazy Messed-Up Stories. The winning entry will be read live on the air.

Good Luck!

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