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clare & stephen
amy & scott
andrea & jonathan marc & liza

grandma's window
state of mind


hair issues:
my pink hair mistake
my purple hair mistake
my red hair mistake
my hair and dress mistake

chinatown/little italy
thanksgiving 2003
brian's graduation
dennis's graduation

moving day
our new digs
garden of stones

eleanor turns 26
deb turns 27
deb's birthday collage
susan's holiday party
new year's 2004
rich turns 30

jenny miller in nyc
lakeland, fla
the unveiling

zina and me
i and the matzo
telegram from fanny
telegram from deb

our ira visit
gators v. vols
ny state drivers license
the nobel manatee


One of my coworkers recently received this completely unsolicited and random email on her friendster account:


I was parsing through, friends, friends' profiles and thought yours was beguiling. Your hobbies and indulgences meet with my approbation; at the very least I like Star Wars, U2 and too! People say I'm easy going. I have a lot of passions. I'm a business person by day and in my free time explore fitness and hobbies in the arts- lately stand up comedy. Speaking of which, I laughed when I read the waggish comment about being a former marching band geek! Hey, would you like to meet briefly for a cup of coffee sometime? If you don't want to move that fast may I email you on Friendster again?



Whyat drives random people write absurdly unintelligible email messages to complete strangers? Yesterday was now former coworker Julie Cohen's last day at work. I took my camera to her going away party, but I haven't uploaded the picture yet. I am so very far behind on things like that.

Jenny Miller will be blogging every 30 minutes for 24 hours. For charity. Let us help her help the world.

I love people who think the movie theater is their living room.
Brian, Alison Adleman, and I went to see Blowup at the American Museum of the Moving Image. The family behind Alison apparently lacked either shame or volume control. Throughout the film, they kept coming up with such charming bon monts as, "Is that a dead body?" and "You can see that woman's breast."

The family talked throughout the entire film, creating a kind of deformed metanarration. It was kind of funny but mostly very irritating.

On Sunday, Susan, Brian, and I went out to Port Jefferson for Karen and Rich's one year wedding anniversary. The weather was warm and clear and Susan and drank a little too much rum punch. We back on the train to the city, and a woman sitting across from us was turned around, talking demonstratively to the man in the seat behind her. She was saying, "My tire blew and my car spun around and around and around. I hit the brake. It was so scary."

We dozed off and woke up 50 minutes later. There was no air on. Our heads were sweaty and our mouths were dry. We were coming down from all the rum punch. The woman across from us was still talking to the man behind her. She was saying. "If you go from 60 to zero . . . I mean, if you go from 25 to zero. . . I mean, even if you hit the break and go from 10 to zero . . . well, you can imagine. And the car spun around and around and around."

We were flabbergasted. 50 minutes later, the woman seemed to be at the exact same point of the story. Susan declared that we were in one of the rings of hell. We transferred at Hicksville and the train we got on was entirely crowded. We were pressed up against a woman and her cello case. And then the lights and the air cut out, and we stood in the luke warm semi-darkness for another hour. Susan said, "Now this is one of the rings of hell." At least there were no crying babies needing to be changed.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Happy Anniversary of your assassination, Archduke Franz Ferdinand!

Bad News:
Yesterday morning, my sister's dog Daphney died of congenital heart failure.

Today we remember Daphney Schwartz, constant companion of Ali Schwartz, lover of the Alf toy, and sleeper on the bathroom tile

Daphney, your wide, panting smile will be missed by us all.

Because I feel I have nothing to give to the world today, I will use this space to reevaluate my life in terms of what I would want with me if I were to be trapped on a desert island:

If I were to be trapped on a desert island and made to choose any three foods, I think I would choose spinach, mashed potatoes, and key lime pie.

If I were trapped on a desert island and I needed to chose between zucchini or yellow squash, I would definitely choose zucchini

If I could take with me only one CD, I would take the mix CD my sister made me for my 24th birthday.

If I could choose only one hair color on this desert island, I think I would go nature to see how much gray I really have.

If I could choose any one outfit in the world, and I was promised that I would in fact be the only person on this island, and that no one else would see me, then it would definitely be my "house" yoga pants and the "Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre" tee shirt that I got when I was in 4th grade.

If I could only take one movie, it would definitely be Polyester.

If I could leave behind any of my co-workers, I might choose the one who keeps talking loudly about the speech he's giving at the U.N. for the $50,000 award he's accepting for the website he built himself. Yes. I might just leave him behind.

Friday was my dad's birthday.
Because I am not a good daughter, I forgot to call him. Brian and I visited Uncle Ira on Sunday, and we brought him a card to send to my father, as my uncle, being locked up in a psychiatric facility for the past 8 years, doesn't get much opportunity to go card shopping. He addressed the card in front of us, writing under the printed "Happy Birthday, Brother":



Then Uncle Ira told us the charming story of how, recently while getting his hair cut, the institution barber, who is black, said to my uncle, "Hey. You're caucasian. Why do you put Vaseline in your hair?" My uncle responded by saying, "I didn't. The Vaseline is left over from yesterday."

Did I mention that my uncle puts Vaseline in his hair? This is because he can't get hold of any pomade. He has been styling his hair the same way since about 1960, except for the period of time when he looked like an overgrown Doobie Brother.

The afternoon was rich with story-telling and half-chewed food dribbling from my uncle's mouth. Though he did not (as usual) talk loudly about his bowels, he did talk loudly about his social worker, his medical history, and his roommates. He did not serenade us with doo-wop, but he did give us detailed accounts of the food he had eaten recently and the laundry process in the institution. He repeated again that there was nothing wrong with him, and that the only reason he was institutionalized was because he had exercised his free will. In doing so, he had managed to set fire to a flophouse hotel room.

The best part of having open cubicles is that I get to hear my cubemate Mike Thompson say ironic things to his computer. Lately, he's been screaming at the Microsoft help paperclip.

I also get to hear him on the phone. I get to hear him explain to many an old person that though his father is not Jewish, he was raised Jewish and was bar mitzvah-ed. I get to hear him thank people for their offers to set him up with sundry young relatives. I get to hear him loud and clear, as may of the people he speaks to are old and hard of hearing.

Still, Mike says that I am even louder than he is. Even though I mostly speak to people with younger ears. Sam Neuman, who sits in a different department entirely, has said he's heard me cackling on the phone all the way from his cubicle on the other side of the office.

Still, I think Danny is louder than me. Danny sits across from Mike and me. I think he is louder, but doesn't seem as loud only because he doesn't talk on the phone quite as much.

The wonderful thing about these open cubicles is the lack of privacy they offer. This is what I love about our mass transit system as well. When I got off the bus this morning to transfer to the train, there was a man puking into a planter. All I could think of was: Wow, it's a little early to be vomiting.

I like to spy on what people are reading on the train and in the bus. I like to make secret judgment calls against them, because I'm a jerk. I like to read over their shoulders, hoping not to get caught. One time, I was reading over the shoulder of a very mild looking lady. I read how the main character put his son Jake to bed, then got on the computer. Then he opened up and typed "cybersex." The book went on to describe the tingly sensations the protagonist was feeling and I got so embarrassed and flustered I got off the train a stop early.

By the way, here are some pictures from my brother's graduation.

It's hot and humid outside.
But it's freezing in my office. I decided to don the department sweater, something left behind by a past coworker. My intensive investigations have yielded the hypothesis that this past coworker was a good deal larger than I am as well as a good deal less fashionable. Yet she appears to have been more either more generous or more forgetful, as she did leave her sweater behind.

We used to own a department pair of pants as well. A pair of large men's khakis that perennially rested on a hanger on the back door of our old office. One day last summer I got caught in a torrential downpour. Because I was soaking and cold and uncomfortable, I asked around if anyone had any excess clothing items they might lend me until mine dried. I ended up wearing this very department sweater (large, formless, and smelling of old chalk or the inside of your crazy aunt's coat closet) and that department pair of pants. I looked like a clown. A good clown, not a scary clown.

Several people asked where I had found the pants, and when I told them "on the back of the office door", they all squealed, "Ewww! Jake Perlmutter found them on the subway."

Jake Perlmutter was my predecessor twice removed. He is also responsible for the dancing kung-fu hamster. He actually replaced the large formless sweater lady. From what I had gathered, Jake had found a pair of khaki pants on the subway, brought them into work, hung them behind the door, and left them there for me to find several years later after getting caught in a torrential downpour.

When we moved from the old building into the new wing, I left Jake's subway pants there for the new tenant. But I brought the large formless strange-smelling sweater with me to carry on the legacy.

And so here we are.

I'd like to give a shout-out to,,,, and the number of other weblogs who have linked to my rejections page. I try to keep it real. More realness yet to come

This weekend began with a bang.
I got my good news on Friday afternoon and had a little trouble working after that. After work, a number of coworkers, plus Susan, Brian, and I all met at a bar called Verlaine, which is featured on the ever prestigious website The drinks were reasonable and tasty and properly celebratory. Then I got tired and went to bed.

On Saturday evening, I got a call from Susan, who had been locked out of her apartment all day. We met her for dinner downtown, where I commenced my post-modern research for a freelance article I've been concocting in my head. Several weeks ago, mother had called to tell me about an article she had read about former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton. Apparently, to disguise herself when food reviewing, she would dress in wigs and dark glasses. My mother mentioned that, as I have a sizable wig collection, I might think about doing something similar.

My plan on Saturday was to travel to different restaurants and bars around town with a bag full of wigs. I would order a drink wearing one wig, duck out to the bathroom, then come back in a different wig. This was to mask my otherwise overwhelming obscurity.

Susan started out with us at 7A, and then Brian and I traveled to two other establishments on the lower east side and one on the upper east side. No one batted an eye. The servers didn't seem to notice. The patrons didn't seem to care. It was exhilarating. The best part was at Dojo, when we sat outside next to two punkass looking guys. They were both wearing black sleeveless t-shirts which exposed their heavily tattooed arms. They had rings in their ears and rings in their noses. They also had, between the two of them, a grocery bag full of short-haired wigs. It seems like one can go around these days without running into some punk with a bag full of wigs. They're everywhere.

That night, I drank four gin gimlets

On Sunday we went to the wedding of people I knew when I worked at the gallery. The couple had actually met though their work together at the gallery, and now they were getting married. My mother called while I was on the way to the wedding. When I told her I was headed to a wedding in the West Village of some friends from the gallery, she whispered, "Is it . . . is it a man and a woman?".

It was. Jay Manis and Alison Morely were married on the 13th of June in Abington Square Park. They are both photographers by hobby and by trade. The day was gorgeous and the ceremony was beautiful and the guestlist packed with more photographers. To celebrate, I drank 5 more gin gimlets. I also took a lot of pictures. Then I went home and crawled into bed.

I did it!
I am going to be published.

Several months ago, Brian submitted story of mine from grad school to a writing competition. He didn't tell me he had done this until after he had mailed the story.

When Brian did tell me what he had done, I yelled at him.

I received a phone call on Friday afternoon notifying me that I had won first place in the writing competition. The journal is called the Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture. I was a little confused at first, as I have never actually entered the competition.

Regardless, I won. And my prize is that I will be published in their journal in the fall. I will also be flown in for an awards ceremony in early-mid November. At that time, I will be presented with my prize money, which is a check for a thousand dollars.

The man on the phone said he would normally ask me some questions about myself, but that he had been reading my site for the past hour, and knew all about my Uncle Ira and my grandmother and all my previous rejection letters.

The school they are flying me to is in Milledgeville, Georgia (home of Flannery O'Conner).

This whole weekend Iíve felt happy and confused. I will have to assume a new identity now. I was forever the person who could not get published. Now I will be the person who has been published at least once. Maybe I will need a new wardrobe. Maybe I should begin wearing a jaunty scarf tied round my neck. When people ask what I do, can I say: "Iím scheduling coordinator at a museum downtown and a published writer of short story fiction"? I suppose I might get punched if I introduced myself way. I would punch me if I introduced myself way that way.

Regardless, I am happy. It is a nice thing. Much nicer than getting laid off from a job or taking your landlord to small claims court or visiting a relative in a mental hospital. Nice, nice, nice.

It's been hot out lately.
Yesterday, the high was in the 90s, but it was supposed to feel like 100. I didnít actually go out during the day. I remained tucked away in my air conditioned museum cubicle from 9 AM until 6:30 PM, at which time the temperature had cooled down to something in the 80s.

I went jogging yesterday after work -- I should say I went on the slow and belabored trot of the unfit-- and I came back, hoping to have achieved a bit of tone and color for my ghostly chicken-white corporeal being.

I look about the same now as I did before the jog/belabored trot, but some of my co-workers have had success in achieving a nice summer glow. A number of them have been eating their lunches outside in the sun and have come back looking flushed with ruddy health (sans melanoma). A girl I work with went "spray tanning." One guy fell asleep smoking on a bench and woke up with a sunburn.

On my way to the bathroom this afternoon, I ran into a middle-aged co-worker dressed festively in sandals, bright orange pants, and a black button-down shirt. Her face was pinky-red. I said, "Well, it looks like somebodyís been getting some sun."

She looked back at me somber-faced and said, "I, er . . . . Itís not sun. Itís a disease." She whispered the word disease, then looked at the carpet and walked away.

Now I feel awful. Iím such a jerk.

By Woody Smith
Edited by Elaine J Schwartz

Those who are easily offended by what you consider to be a lack of reverence for dead presidents should stop reading right now.

You have been warned.

Ronald Reagan died several days ago. In doing so, by his timing, he did the greatest service to this nation that he ever achieved throughout his career. Had he waited until mid- to late-October, as I incorrectly presumed he would, the constant drumbeat of rightwing propaganda during the last days before we cast our votes might have proven decisive. The remainder of things for which Reagan constantly receives credit were not his doing or were more properly ascribed to him as faults. Our economy did not recover because of his tax cuts -- it recovered because of the plunging price of oil, a result of Jimmy Carter's foreign policy and its effect on OPEC's unity. The tax cuts retarded our growth and narrowed the breadth of our prosperity, even while serving as the chief rationale for cutting government programs that benefit our society overall. Perhaps Reagan's worst crime was his full-fledged attack on the American worker. He set out to destroy labor unions and all forms of worker protection so his rich buddies could get richer as the rest of us suffered. It was a result of Reagan's policies that we no longer benefit from the security of careers, and instead the majority of us move from job to job, losing whatever benefits we still enjoy, since worker benefits also came under attack, in the process.

This is Reagan's greatest lasting impact; American workers no longer have rights in the workplace, and are at the mercy of their employers in every way. He embarked upon the path that led him to a career in politics during his tenure as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), aligning himself with Senator Joseph McCarthy and cooperating with the House Un-American Activities Committee to "expose Communist influence in Hollywood". He turned in several of his allegedly Communist co-workers

He was called "The Great Communicator." This is very peculiar, because he very seldom provided any actual information about our government and its policies amid any of his utterances. "Communication" involves the exchange of information, while what Ronald Reagan did instead was to provide misdirection, fallacy and outright falsehood through the use of comic anecdotes and an attitude of dithering affability. I often called him "The Great Prevaricator." He was often referred to as a "religious man," although he never attended church and was less familiar with any religious tenets, Christian or otherwise, than any president since (and perhaps including) Grant.

Reagan perverted Justice through his choice of the shyster William French Smith, followed by the churlish, police-stater Edwin Meese, as his Attorneys General. He employed scorched-earth policies against the environment by picking the insane James "Slash-and-Burn" Watt as his Secretary of Interior, and Ann Gorsuch Burford as his EPA administrator, turning the agency into a trough for his corporate piggy cronies.

His was the most corrupt administration including the outrageous Iran-Contra Affair. It was found that the President was guilty of the scandal only in that his lax control of his own staff resulted in his ignorance of the arms sale. Although considered personally honest by most Americans, President Reagan and his term in office saw several other scandals of bribery, corruption, and influence peddling involving Reagan's aides and subordinates, resulting in more than 130 officials in the Reagan Administration either being convicted or forced to resign their posts to avoid prosecution. The failure of these scandals to damage Reagan's reputation led Congressman Patricia Schroeder to dub him the "Teflon President", a term that has been occasionally attached to later Presidents and their scandals. It was on Reagan's watch that we lost more Marines, 241 Americans, in Lebanon than we lost on any day since Iwo Jima. Reagan's response was to push this event off the front pages of American newspapers by invading the little island of Grenada on a pretext of such blatant transparency that it has been commemorated in the wacky movie comedy (which I sheepishly admit is something I find to be a guilty pleasure) "Heartbreak Ridge."

He is credited with ending the Cold War. He did nothing of the sort, and his bellicose and pointless rhetoric only served to strengthen Moscow's hardliners and delay the opening and resulting dissolution of the Soviet Union by five years or more. Mikhail Gorbachev opened the Soviet Union DESPITE, not because of, Reagan's threats. It was our shopping malls and grocery stores that caused the downfall of communism, not our military, the rebuilding of which Reagan again falsely takes credit for the benefits of Jimmy Carter's policies.

Perhaps the greatest harm from this is its impact on the funding available for public education nationwide. The long-term effects of this ongoing tragedy are only now becoming apparent, as the United States progressively loses its worldwide standing in discipline after discipline. It was our science that propelled us to the leadership of the world, and it is now in steep decline even as other nations are taking great strides forward. This is Ronald Reagan's fault. His supporters like to state that he was a Democrat and a union president. He left the Democratic Party over its support for racial equality, and he was only a union leader (of the Screen Actors Guild) because of his cooperation with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Senate McCarthy committee, providing these vile organizations with the baseless innuendoes against actors and screenwriters that were used to construct the now-infamous blacklist.

By the way:
Here are some pictures from Brian's graduation.

More to come.

We saw the new Harry Potter movie, and it was Potter-ific!
No. It was okay. I think I liked it the best, but it was missing whole chunks of the story that would enable the plot to make any sense. Brian was confused and annoyed.

On Saturday, I went to see The Boy from Oz with Amy, her mother, and her mother's friend. I came in not knowing anything about the show except what I could glean from the ads posted on the sides of buses. This is to say I knew that it starred a fellow named Hugh Jackman, someone I had never before heard of.

Halfway into the first act, I leaned over to Amy and whispered loudly, "This musical has a completely unmemorable score." Amy just raised an eyebrow. "What?" I said. "Is this about a real person?"

Apparently it was. And the real person (Peter Allen) was a real composer/performer who had written all the songs in the play. And though I had never heard of most of them, the same could not be said for our audience, which was packed with screaming, dancing, limb-flailing middle-aged to older-aged ladies who seemed quite familiar with the both the man and the music. At one point, Mr. Jackman changed his shirt on stage. One might have thought the Beatles were alive, together, and back in town. At the sight of Mr. Jackman's bare chest, the middle-to-older-aged women stood up in the packed house, crying and screaming and pawing at the stage. It was many layers of bizarre.

When we left the theater, we learned that Former President Ronald Reagan had finally kicked the can. He was 93 year olds, completely demented, and in his better days he was a McCarthy snitch and a presidential fibber. Everyone should be so lucky. In 1987, I was in fourth grade and my teacher went around the class asking us if we had just one wish, what would we wish for. Most everyone wished for swimming pools full of candy. Some kids wished to fly or to make world peace or for a new video game system. This one trashy girl Kim said she wished that President Reagan could be president forever. Even at 10, I turned to the person next to me and said, "What an asshole."

Now, I keep hearing Reagan retrospectives all day long, people saying what an amazing president, what an amazing man that Ronald Reagan was, and all I can think is: What an asshole.

This morning, on the train, I stood next to a man with a 40 of Olde English in a wrinkled brown bag and his shirt opened to his pupik. In his other had he held a rolled up newspaper. He was swaying a bit, but did not smell of liquor. Oh the other side of me was a man in a bright green shirt with a business card stapled to his shirt pocket. He was wearing a beaded choker and was singing to himself.

I thought, what are the chances of being caught between two nutsies first thing in the morning! Ah, Serendipity!

At the 59th Street stop, the man with the 40 reached over me and slapped the business card man on the knee with his rolled up newspaper. Then they both stood up and left the train together. Who knew?

I found my high school friend Molly Hale on friendster. She is living in Chicago and working as an actor/improv performer. Her boyfriend maintains the website, which is a forum for Chicago mass transit bloopers stories. I can not submit any of my mass transit stories because they all occur in New York City, which is apparently a place abhorrent to both Molly and her boyfriend. Sadface.

I love New York City and I love New York City's system of mass transit. I don't know how I feel about Chicago's mass transit system because I've never even been there. I've ridden the D.C. metro, and it's okay. My friend Bob Brumfield once sat next to an old man who stunk of liquor first thing in the morning and was repeatedly petting a hank of braided human hair. I thought this was a good story. He can't submit it either, because is just about Chicago. If you have any Chicago mass transit stories, I would encourage you to submit them to Molly's boyfriend's site. Tell him New York Transit Rider Deb sent you.

My friend Amy Cooper nee Fishman is in town this weekend, and she and her husband and me and mine will be seeing the Harry Potter movie.

This is all I have to say for now.

Two graduations in two weeks. Did I say that my brother graduated from law school this past week? I My parents were in town, and my sister and her dog stayed with us in our studio apartment. It's been a bit crazy there lately.

On Saturday night, my parents took us to see the Tom Stoppard play Jumpers. It was very talky, but very cute, and there was a bunch of nudity and a slight bit of gymnastics. The most exciting part of the play was during the intermission when it was realized that Paul Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward were sitting two rows in front of us. He looks a little old now, as one might expect. But he's still looking good. At the end of the production, he put on a pair of dark sunglasses.

Brian observed that whenever someone is wearing dark sunglasses inside a building or at night, it appears as if they are either famous or drunk. We first considered that the sunglasses might call more attention to Mr. Newman (as I like to call him). But then we decided that without the sunglasses it was immediately apparent that the person two rows in front of us was in fact Paul Newman. If we had initially observed Paul Newman in a pair of dark sunglasses, we might have thought, "Is that person in the dark sunglasses famous or drunk ?" We might have thought, "He looks a bit like Paul Newman. Could it be? Yes! A drunk Paul Newman is sitting two rows ahead of us!"

Wouldn't that have made for a better story?

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