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



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

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
port authority heights

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

Deb Expounds on Love

Love is an odd thing.
In the blue fuzzy light of morning, you might look down at the person you love as he or she sleeps, and your heart may be filled with a tremendous feeling of love, so much, that your chest aches. And the whole time you are looking down, the person you are looking at, the person who is sleeping, may all this time have been dreaming -- not of receiving your love -- but of eating a gigantic burrito with sour cream and guacamole or walking through a twisted labyrinth in search of a clean bathroom.

Despite what poets have written for centuries, love is not a reciprocal action.

When a mother whose car has rolled over on her baby finds the superhuman strength to lift the car and save the baby, the mother is thinking only of her baby, while the baby is most likely thinking OOOOOWWW!.

A woman sitting on her couch in the blue fading light of the evening may be annoyed by her husband who is sitting next to her. If the husband apologizes for not purchasing scallions as he had promised, if he tells her that he loves her -- even if he really means it -- that love does not feel like anything to the woman if she chooses not be swayed by his language. In fact, the feeling of not having scallions can be a more tangible feeling than the feeling of not having love.

Love is a compound-complex feeling. If the woman on the couch chooses to think that it is more important to have love than to have scallions, she may choose to feel charmed or amused by her husbands expression of love. And if she does so, but the husband has grown agitated in the interim, maybe from hunger, then her love falls short of its target.

But maybe they both feeling love at the same time. They have thrown scallions to the wind. They love each other. A reciprocal verb. But they are really both just feeling love at the same time. No cosmic rays exude from their bodies like pulses of radioactivity. These two people both feel love, but it is their own love they are feeling.

If their feelings of love are stronger than their feelings of physical hunger, this couple may have a chance at staying married for another year.

In other news, no one has entered my contest. Doesn't anybody want a picture of the singing Kung-Fu hamster that sits on top of my work computer? Has everyone gone mad? Or maybe contest entries were sent, but my heart was not open to except them. Hop to it, people.

For further inspiration, consult the OFFICIAL HECK'S KITCHEN VOTING GUIDE. Start your engines!

I conducted this interview yesterday over email with my coworker Julian Voloj. Julian's office is on the on the first floor of the Museum, and cube is on the fourth.

DS: My co-worker Julian has agreed to be interviewed by DebCentral. He was born in Munster, Germany, the child of parents who were born in Columbia who were the children of parents who were born in Germany. He is the former president of the Union of European Jewish Students, a published author, and the writer of a blog which I recently discovered could be poorly translated from its original German by Google Translator. Several years ago, he was in New York City being interviewed by a young reporter for the Jewish Forward. A year later, he moved to Brooklyn, New York and married that reporter in a small civil ceremony. This past weekend, he married her again in a large Jewish ceremony in Las Vegas. Julian, tell me, why, of all places, Las Vegas?

JV: Dear Deb. First of all, thank you for having me at DebCentral. When I discovered DebCentral and read the first interviews you did with Diva Deb Schwartz, I said to myself: Wouldn't it be wonderful to be interviewed by DebCentral? Well, I said: Waere es nicht wunderbar, von DebCentral interviewt zu werden (because I do not really speak in English to myself). Anyhow. A small correction, my grandfather paternally was from Romania, my grandmother indigenous Columbian, my grandmother maternally is from Czernowitz, so German speaking but the city is in today's Ukraine, and my grandfather was German. So, you see, a very easy combination. But to come back to your question: Why of all places Las Vegas? This is the result of a long research. Our first idea was to have an outdoor wedding. It was clear that we will marry in the US, so that my friends and family had anyway to fly over from Europe. Combining Jewish holidays and vacation time of my mother there were not so many option when to do it and so we found the date first, or at least a period of time: mid-October. Initially we were discussing to have the wedding in Lisa's hometown, but even if Michigan in the so-called Midwest, it is not so central when you come from Europe, and, especially because we wanted to have an outdoor wedding, not the sunniest place on this planet. The first time I was with Lisa in Michigan we were actually on a wedding, at it was soooooooooo cold. New York, another option, is, as you might know, not really cheap and you get not really much value for your money. And October can be also very cold. So, to make a long story short, Las Vegas sounded like a perfect option. Lisa's parents love Vegas and are anyway several times a year in Vegas, and it was easy to convince them. Since it is in the desert, the weather is normally sunny and warm in October, the prices are moderate and even cheap compared with New York, and there are also logistical advantages: you can find hotels in every price range, you don't need to rent a car and can just walk (try this in Michigan!) and you don't have to plan much because there is sooooooooo much to do there. Does this answer your question or should I go on, Mrs. Schwartz?

DS: What other kinds of things did you do when you were there besides gamble and get married?

JV: Well, I did not even gamble. As you can imagine, we had several reunions, with friends and with family. Then there was the essential that kept the Jewish people together for so long and maintained our culture. Yes, I am talking about food. But I have to admit that I did not eat so much. And then we went around watching stuff. You know, walking from Paris to Venice, from Luxor to New York and so on. Some enjoyed the pool or went hiking (unfortunately not me) and since we got a wedding suite we had the chance to chill in the Jacuzzi and watch TV and... stuff, you know.

DS: Is it true your grandmother brought her own cookware with her from Germany?

JV: Well, this was her initial plan, but my parents could convince her that she needs no water boiler because the hotels have something like this. And you know what, the hotel did not have a water boiler, so she could not make her tea in the middle of the night. She told me "I knew it, I told you so" (again, she did not speak English to me, but just to make it easier I translate immediately from German) and had to run warm water to use it for her tea. My poor grandmother, it was a lot of stress for her (and for my parents traveling with her). I think she has not been in a plane for ten years or so. But at the party she was dancing and enjoying herself so much that she said that all the stress is totally forgotten. That was nice. You should have seen her getting down to East Coast Hip Hop. Speaking of my grandmother, did I mention that she met with her nearly 90 year old cousin again after nearly 40 years? They are both from Czernowitz. After the Shoa her cousin moved to Israel, my grandmother to Columbia. And after so many years they met again in Las Vegas. Was quite a touching moment. I attach you a picture of this. The person on the left is my grandmother, in the middle her cousin and on the right my grandmothers boyfriend Josef.

DS: Had you ever been to Las Vegas before your wedding?

JV: Indeed I was. We went last December to Vegas to see the venue. It was... let's say a "culture shock" even if the word culture might be wrong. Las Vegas represented to me everything one might hate about America. And I was so luck to happen to be in Las Vegas during a Rodeo competition. The most disturbing thing is the permanent sound and light pollution. There is this permanent clicking and beeping of the slot machines and there is this horrible neon light, everywhere. I also never really understood the concept of "white trash" before meeting representatives of this species in Vegas. I think it took me two days to overcome this feeling. Then it is actually ok. You just take it as a joke. And that's in a way what it is. First I thought it is sad to see all these addicted gamblers etc, now I think it is just strange. Like with so many places I think it is important with whom you are there. When we went out last Saturday with a bunch of friends it was just great fun. We went to a Club and met Paris Hilton, in the elevator I ran into the annoying "Surreal World" Ryan Starr...I admit, Vegas wouldn't be my ideal vacation destination, but for a fun weekend with some friends it is fine. Have you been to Vegas, Deb?

DS: I have not. But mostly due to my pervasive fears of gambling, white trash, excessive neon, and stage-show pasties. I also have an irrational fear of being drowned in human-born schmaltz. That's why I love New York; It's not phony. You can sit in real human pee on a seat in the subway. And once you get out of the train, you can really run into the streets screaming and tearing at your filthy clothes because you feel your soul has been violated. And the real people of New York will really completely ignore you. But enough about me, Mr. Voloj. Tell me about your plans for the future. Do you think you will stick around New York City for a while?

JV: Yes. I love New York. Since being a New Yorker seems to mean to be originally from somewhere else, it is easier to be a new immigrant in New York than somewhere else. When we are in Michigan I always feel more like a stranger than in New York. Even if I am just for one year here in New York, I feel already part of the city. Of course, there are always annoying things like fighting with your landlord about essentials, taking the subway during rush hour etc but then there are moments when I just love to be here. As you might know, I am creating Jewish heritage walks through the city and every time I am on my bike and discover something new, I feel to get a little bit closer to the city. Last time I cycled down grand concourse and went eastwards on 165th I discovered a retirement home with hundreds of pigeons. This home was a former Jewish orphanage (I am not sure how to spell this word, so please correct me) and now it had a spooky abandoned atmosphere. Or being in Staten Island visiting Baptist churches with a bimah and Stars of David on the benches. There is always something new to discover, and it is not bad for someone who just arrived a year ago to be able to do walking tours to show people their city from a new perspective. Where, when not in New York, is this possible? But then again, everything is sooooo expensive and real estate not easy to get. Even if our apartment is relatively big for New York standards, it will be hard if not impossible to raise "normal" kids in this apartment. But it is hard for me to imagine living somewhere else in the States. On the other hand, who would have imagined that I'd live in New York now? Life is full of surprises and you just have to make the right decisions, or at least the decisions that seem right for you. How about you? Do you plan to leave the city? I mean, you and your husband have great careers and everything, but maybe you want to live somewhere else. Maybe Las Vegas? Or Hawaii? Or Flint? Or...

DS: Smartass. As far as what's in store for Brian and me and our future hoard of crazy drooling genetically defective children, we love poverty. We think it's cool. So we plan to be here for quite a while. Hey, I hear you cook. When are you having us over for dinner?

JV: Sometime after our honeymoon. And what about your cooking skills?

DS: I can make mashed potatoes and gin and tonics. Not much else. I suppose we could always go out to eat.

JV: Sounds like a plan. And I now go out to get some fresh air in Greenpoint. And you?

DS: Would you like to walk with me to the subway?

JV: Out of Office AutoReply: I am out of my office until November 15th.

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the New York City subway system. Happy Birthday, New York City Subway System. Not to be rude, but you look your age. I think it's all that smoking. You're all craggy and your tiles are falling off.

In honor of the Subway Centennial, the MTA piled a bunch of people into 4 cars of an old train and sent them a-creeping from a defunct City Hall stop to 59th Street and then back to Times Square, quasi-reenacting the rapid transit system's inaugural run. Because he works the office of the mayor, Brian was offered the opportunity to go along. He said it was kind of cool. I was so jealous, I ran over with co-workers Mike Thompson and Julian Voloj during our lunch hour to check out the haps.

The old-timey train was gone, but one could still descend into the original City Hall subway stop. Inside, there were several-odd people dressed up in seemingly thrown-together period costumes greeting visitors and reminding them to keep moving. We were underwhelmed. We left and went to a quasi-sanitary pizza place a couple blocks away.

In other news, Heck's Kitchen tells us about The Lovers as well as The Atomic Bomb.

As you may already know, I am very jumpy about the upcoming presidential election. I keep imagining different election-day scenarios. I'm pretty sure this one won't go any smoother than the 2000 election.

I am taking a break from my interviews to host a contest. In 200 words or less, guess the events of this upcoming election day as well as the election's final outcome. My email address is all around this dern page. Find it and email me your guess. All contestants will receive a picture of the singing Kung-Fu hamster that sits on top of my work computer. If you predict the election correctly, you get a picture of me drunk in random bar, clad in dark sunglasses, a wig, and a superman t-shirt that I bought four years ago from the little boys section in the Target in Silver Spring, Maryland. I will also post your emails, if you like.

The following interview was inspired by a story I read in the New York Post.
"October 21, 2004 -- Teresa Heinz Kerry touched off a firestorm yesterday — and was forced to quickly apologize — by saying First Lady Laura Bush has never held "a real job," even though she's been a teacher, librarian and full-time mom." –New York Post

To forge a spirit of peace and understanding, I have imagined inviting Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry out for a drink to discuss what they had in common – their love of their families, their husbands, and their country. In my mind, I invited both women to a bar called the Blarney Stone in downtown Manhattan near where I work. I chose this location because the drinks are cheap.

ME: Ladies, anything you want . . . It's on me today. Get whatever you like.

LAURA: Well, thank you. I'll just have an iced tea.

ME: I said "anything you want." You can get a real beverage.

LAURA: Thanks. Iced tea would be fine.

ME: I'll have a Bud Light.

TERESA: Can I get a gin and tonic?

ME: I changed my mind. I want a gin and tonic too. You want a gin and tonic, Laura Bush?

LAURA: I'm fine. Really.

ME: Teresa Heinz Kerry, Laura Bush, you are both powerful women married to men who seek to lead our country. I brought you here to the Blarney Stone today because I want you two to realize there is more uniting you than there is dividing you.

LAURA: That is a very commendable gesture.

ME: Thank you. Now, Teresa, I understand you head the Heinz Foundation charities. Before that, you worked for the U.N. trusteeship council. Laura, you were an elementary school teacher, then a school librarian, then you got married. Is this correct?

LAURA: I gave up teaching so I could focus on the most important job a person could undertake: raising a family.

ME: Teresa, isn't it true that you technically have more children than Laura?

TERESA: I have three sons and two step-daughters.

ME: You are two women who have been caught up in the bitter partisanship of politics. Teresa, according to the Post article, your comment about Laura's employment history was a result of being asked why you would make a better First Lady than Laura.

TERESA: More or less.

ME: Laura, isn't it true you murdered your high school boyfriend?

LAURA: Excuse me?

ME: I notice the Post never mentioned your former occupation as . . . A MURDERESS!

LAURA: If you are referring to the death of a close friend of mine back in high school, that is a topic I would rather not talk about.

ME: When you say "death" do you mean "being run down by a car you were driving?"

LAURA: I refuse to answer any questions addressed to me in such a manner.

ME: I'm sorry. Teresa, have you ever rammed your car into your high school boyfriend's jeep, throwing him from the vehicle and killing him?

TERESA: I can't say I have.

ME: Even when you were 17?


ME: Laura, the article I read said you are well-favored over Teresa by most Americans.

LAURA: I am flattered.

ME: Is it true that most Americans like things that are bland, placid, and with no more insight than a Hallmark card.

LAURA: I don't want to be presumptuous, but I feel like you're attacking me.

ME: Teresa, do you think the media gives you a bad rap because you're a woman who speaks her mind?

TERESA: A lot of people don't like uppity women.

ME: Laura, your husband is a liar and you are a wet blanket.

LAURA: Is that a question?

ME: No. The question is, did you mow down your high school boyfriend because you were preggers and he wouldn't marry you?

LAURA: I would like to leave now.

ME: Is it true, Teresa, that you support a woman's right to have a safe and legal abortion?

TERESA: Absolutely.

ME: Is it true, Laura, that you say you support a "culture of life" when in reality you enjoy killing people?

LAURA: I feel strongly about our duty to protect the lives of all children – born or unborn.

ME: But not criminals on death row?

LAURA: I said children.

ME: Criminals come in all ages. Even 17. Even in a car. Running a stop sign.

LAURA: You're not really here to unite anyone, are you?

ME: Sure I am, Iced Tea Queen of Death.

LAURA: I'm leaving

ME: You can go. We don't need you to have a good time. Killer!

There were ten questions on the document attached to the misdirected email from the International Museum of Women's. Instead of asking them to Nicole Lamarche, Miss California 2003, for whom they were intended, I have asked them to my friend and former co-worker Sam Neuman, who has kindly agreed to answer them as if he were Nicole Lamarche, Miss California 2003.

DS: We are very lucky to have with us today former Miss California 2003 Nicole Lamarche. I am going to quickly talk about some of your accomplishments for our audience. I hope you don't mind, Ms. Lamarche. You have a B.A. in International Studies from University of Arizona; you were part of the honors program; you spent a year abroad at Universidad La Catolica in Santiago; you won the Pacific School of Religion McCoy Scholarship, the Dean's Recognition Honors Award, and the Mary Roby Academic Excellence Achievement Award. You are also a Brown Scholar and were crowned "Miss San Francisco" in 2002. You competed in the 2003 Miss America pageant with the platform "College is Possible," and sang "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters for the talent portion of the competition. Currently, you are enrolled in the Master of Divinity program at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley's Pacific School of Religion. Phew! That's quite impressive. Now on to our questions. Please tell me the story of how you decided to enter the competition.

SN: Thank you for having me, Deb Central. I am indeed incredible. Why did I enter the competition? Well, as Billy Vera and the Beaters once sang so memorably, "What did you think / I would do / at this moment?" But, seriously, I wanted to share my message of hope with the world. College Is Possible. Now you know. Also, I kind of thought it would be an easy win, because did you see those heifers I was competing against? Uh, Miss Anaheim, the Miss Hit In The Face With A Frying Pan crown is all yours. And I have to say I found it a little ironic that Miss Tulare County's platform was "By the Numbers: Reducing the Risk for Alcohol-Related Problems" when she would probably be better off ENCOURAGING heavy drunkenness in others, especially male others, if you know what I'm sayin'. So, yes, to answer your question, College Is Possible.

DS: Please finish this sentence: "An ideal American woman is…."

SN: ...definitely Margaret Thatcher. Now THAT is moxie.

DS: Very interesting answer. It really shows your knowledge of international studies. Now here's a difficult question, but one I'm sure you've thought about quite a bit since first winning the Miss San Francisco competition in 2003: How would you describe yourself?

SN: Thanks. I really admire a woman who can bring home the bacon AND fry it up for dinner, if you get my drift. And talk about a look that goes effortlessly from the boardroom to the bedroom. If I could describe myself in one word, it would be: Nicole. A few other words to describe me would be: Awesome. Attractive. Academic. Amalgamation. Actress. Ambassador. Asthmatic. Assassin. Author. Arthur. (Let's just say I often find myself caught between the moon and New York City. I know it's crazy, but it's true.)

DS: Wow! I'm afraid you might have just answered my next question. What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

SN: Well, College Is a Possibility.

DS: I understand you have been competing in beauty competitions since as far back as 2003. Tell me, Nicole, how did you prepare for these competitions?

SN: I think the best way to prepare for any beauty competition is to make oneself as beautiful as possible. I knew when I first began competing in pageants, way back in 2003, that I would have to go on a stage with dozens of other gorgeous, talented girls and guys (let's just say that Miss Fullerton and Miss Garden Grove had a, uh, private bathroom backstage during the competition) and truly show that I am the best. The other guys and gals offered serious competition, except Horsey the Ballerina, obviously, but in the end, I prevailed, and my secret was that I truly focused on being better-looking than the other contestants.

DS: How inspiring. My next question deals with the future of the next generation of Miss Californias. In a way. What opportunities would you like your daughter to have that you didn't?

SN: I don't have a daughter. I'm only 19. I mean, 18. I was born in 1988. Do some fucking research, International Museum of Women! This interview is OVER. [(pulls out cell phone, dials frantically) How did they find out about Dakota? I told you not to let her out of the basement. I don't care! Goodbye."] OK, I'm back. I'm sorry about that. What's your next question?

DS: Um. Er. Well, if you could have lunch with any woman who ever lived, who would you chose and why?

SN: Most women would probably answer this question by saying they would like to have lunch with famous political leaders or Oscar-winning actresses such as Ellie Wiesel or Kim Basinger, but my answer is more simple: my mom. And I make my dream come true almost every day.

DS: That was touching. And I could tell your answer was truly from the heart, and not from the head. In what ways do you think the Miss America pageant and Miss America reflect the identity of American women today? In what ways do the pageant and the winner NOT reflect that identity?

SN: I guess you could say that the pageant and the winner are a reflection of the average American woman, if the average American woman taped a life-size photograph of a beautiful, intelligent woman to her mirror.

DS: So, would you say the concept of the Miss America pageant meshes with a new millennium view of women and their role in society?

SN: Absolutely not. I think that mesh is more a fabric for hookers to wear and not really a good look for professional, confident women like Miss America contestants. If dressing like a whore is what a "new millennium woman" does, then I am proud to say that I'm an old-fashioned girl.

DS: No one can say that Miss California 2003 is wishy-washy. You are surely a woman of conviction. I have one last question for you today, and I believe your insight will be thoughtful and enlightening (as always). In what ways does the Miss America competition serve young girls in this country who look to the winner as a role model?

SN: The Miss America competition teaches young girls an important lesson that they can't learn anywhere else: being pretty is nice. And the prettiest girl of all should get to wear a crown wherever she goes. The world has a lot of Beaters, but there can only be one Billy Vera. And, for chunky, pimply girls, hey, College Is Possible.

DS: Thank you again, Ms. Lamarche, for joining us here at DebCentral. The young girls of today need to look up to the Miss Californias of yesterday to find their inspiration for tomorrow. Thank you for inspiring us.

Yesterday, I got another misdirected email about Miss California.
I have decided this time around not to change the names. It was too taxing. The email was sent from someone with the International Museum of Women concerning the interview with former Miss California 2003 Nicole Lamarche. It was as follows:

Subject: FW: Requests...and Miss California Noon 10/20
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 22:17:57 -0700

Please forward via voice mail (since I'm at an all day seminar Friday) phone numbers for both Brodie and Pierre so that we can ask one of them to video next Wednesday's Miss California 2003 (Nicole Lamarche) interview by Glenna Matthews.
If you would prefer to make the contact, let me know who is up for doing this to meet Elizabeth's request while she's traveling. Please let them know Gail's Equity guidelines.

Subject: Re: Requests...and Miss California Noon 10/20

Hi Marilyn:
I'm glad to hear you were taken care of and appreciate your cooperation on letting us know if any access requests before 1 pm. As for videotaping the festival next week that should be fine but just make sure they do not video any company signs, or people walking down the concourse, etc (we need to protect the privacy rights of out tenants).

Subject: Requests...and Miss California Noon 10/20

1:00 should be fine going forward. I did talk with Sandy yesterday, so she was in the loop.
On occasion an exhibit problem comes up in the afternoon (like today, there's a fallen breast). When this happens, I contact Julia from Anne's team for a fix... since they may be at Onomy in Menlo Park, it may be that they'd be late.
Also, for the Miss America Wed Noon Festival on the 20th, Elizabeth, our Board Chair will be away and asked me to arrange to have the Miss California interview video taped. Is that something I need to have special paperwork for? (One of the Museum volunteers has offered to help do the taping.)
We sure appreciate Equity's support.

Attached to the email was the same bio as appeared in the previous email, as well as a Word document titled "imow-moderator questions for miss california". As I have been in the interview mode, I will ask these same questions to Sam Neuman, who will answer them as if he is former Miss California 2003 Nicole Lamarche. Stay tuned . . . .

As I have mentioned before, when Underblog and Sherman were in town, we all went to see the documentary film Tarnation. At one point in the film, the director's grandfather speaks about the divot in people's lips, how it is a place that has been touched by god's finger while a baby is still in the womb (or some such nonsense). The other day, Brian mention that part of the movie again and said, "I turned to look around the theater, and everybody was touching their fingers to their lips." He asked me if I had looked around as well, and I said I did, but to see if anyone in the theater had a cleft pallet.

This is true. So far as I could tell in the dark, no one did.

This morning before work, Brian went jogging. When he came home, I was sitting at the table spreading cream cheese on pieces of toast. He looked confused and asked me when I had purchased cream cheese. I said, "This is crazy. This is the cream cheese we bought for the brunch for your graduation. That was back in June. I found it in the back of the fridge. Can you believe it still tastes okay?"

Brian said, "You should be part of some sort of circus side show. LADIES AND GENTLEMAN! BEHOLD A GIRL WHO WILL EAT FOOD SIX MONTHS PAST ITS EXPIRATION DATE!"

I realize that I push the limits of food edibility, but Brian is the opposite. On the DAY BEFORE the milk expires, Brian insists that it is no longer any good. "Smell it," I say. "Does it smell rotten?"

"I can't tell."

"Then it's probably not rotten. Drink it."

"I could get sick."

"Give it to me. I'll drink it."

"You could die."

So I, a person who ordinarily does not like to drink milk, will drink the milk in order to prove that it is still okay. I have not died as of yet. Call me a risk-taker.

I recently discovered my high school friend Joe Cooper here in New York. Sadly, he is moving in less than a week to Denver. We met for dinner last night and did some catching up, which consisted of me talking for long periods of time about people from high school I had stalked on the internet, and where, according to google or friendster, they are now. I think Joe was mortified.

Good news, comrades! Thanks to Google Translator, we can all read my co-worker Julian's blog, which he stealthily tried to hide from us by writing it in German. Beware, though. The English to German translation is often neither graceful nor accurate. Reading it can be a little of a dadaist experiment.

My second interview
DS: I am very privileged to have with me today Eric Webster, political scientist, former mayor of Dunsmuir, CA and long-time DebCentral reader. Welcome, Eric. It's so wonderful to have you here at DebCentral. Would you rather I call you Underblog?

UB: Thanks for having me Deb, it is a pleasure to be here. Underblog is a sobriquet I endeavor to live up to; either name is fine with me.

DS: I understand you are getting your PhD in Political Science. Do you have any secret formulas at your disposal that can predict the outcome of this upcoming presidential election?

UB: I won't shy away from the prediction: Either John Kerry or George W. Bush will be elected President. They would give me my three-dollar parchment and tenure if I had a secret formula that predicted the winner. Of course, I would have to publish it and it wouldn't be secret anymore. The known stuff boils down to these: high turn out helps Dems; bad economies hurt incumbents. If the voters get sick to their collective stomachs, turnout may be depressed and we get four more years. If the stock market tanks between now and then, look for Kerry to win. Of course, the whole Iraq / War on Terror thing is a giant trumping wild card. This is what they teach us.

DS: I understand that you were a mayor of somewhere in California. Is this what first got you interested in politics? Or was it the other way around?

UB: The home I was raised in was a divided household: Mom was from the McGovern/Eugene McCarthy school, and Dad was for Nixon. I always made a point of voting. The city council gig was coterminous with my ownership of a bar, cafe, and bed and breakfast in Dunsmuir, CA. One does not have to be a very big fish to make a splash in such a small pond. I was roped into running for office before I knew better. When I took out papers to run, I had barely met the 30 day residency requirement. I was deeply impressed with our city attorney (there are worse gigs, Mr. Geller!), and I thought that if I ever returned to finish my Bachelor's, it would be with the intent of going on to law school. UMCP took the chance that Georgetown would not, and I completed my BA there. Along the way, I met many law school dropouts pursuing PhD's in political science, and a couple of professors who had completed PhD's after their JD's. I realized I would be, in all likelihood, an unhappy lawyer. Instead, I became an unhappy graduate student.

DS: May I ask a personal question? You were at UMCP about the same time I was. Tell me, what was your favorite drinking establishment in the area?

UB: Excellent question. I believe I set a non-abstainer's record in my 2 1/2 years at Maryland: I visited an area pub exactly one time. I believe it was called the Cornerstone. A friend and I joined our ex-TA for a drink. This law school graduate, then working on his Ph.D., later kind of hit on my friend. She was rightfully ickified. You did creative writing, right? Did you occupy quarters in that isolated cube back behind the new South Campus Commons? One of my most schadenfreudlich memories was hearing an English professor insult one of his students during class. Does this sound familiar to you?

DS: Yes. Pretty much all of my classes were in Susquehanna Hall. If you're asking if it was I who was being insulted, I would guess no. Not because I was too good a student, but because I often sat far away from the professors with my book propped up, stealthily taking a little snoozy behind my textbook mask of deception. If it had been I who was being insulted by the professor, he or she managed to do so in such a way as not to wake me up. Which is commendable. One last question, Eric. It's a two-parter. What do you miss most about D.C. that you can't get in the twin cities area? And vise versa?

UB: What do I miss most about DC? Jenny Miller! Ranger Ted! Video Americain! My soccer pals over on Lanhill Rd. Watching huge tropical storms from my porch. Takoma Park. Tiffin (and its vegetarian cousin and neighbor Udupi Palace); for some reason Montgomery County's excellent Indian food has not made its way here yet. On the plus side, our neighborhood is much calmer here. We get real winters; there is none of that partial-melt then freeze nonsense that DC gets. When it snows here, it sticks around till the big thaw in spring. The zoning of the Cities is much more old-school: most of the older neighborhoods have small commercial areas around the major corners. For instance, it is quieter at our house in St. Paul then it was in Takoma Park, but we are much closer to neato stuff: bookstores, cafes, bakeries, and grocery stores. We also found an excellent Tom Kha Gai soup, which we were never able to find in DC. Also, the Boundary Waters are exceptionally beautiful. And remote. Come visit!

DS: Wow! Thank you so much for the invite. And thank you for the interview. I hope you will join us again here at DebCentral. And be sure to pencil us in on your next trip back to New York City. Do you have any last words for our readers?

UB: Thanks for having me at DebCentral. And remember, you will always be famous to me!

I can’t sleep.
I keep thinking about how our sitting president is the King of Snarky. I have watched some of all of the recent political debates, but I could not bear to watch most of any of them. Because George Bush is too dumb and evil.

Most things are worse for most people than they were four years ago.

Still, about half the country is dumb or evil too. And then you have people like Brian’s brother who will help us lose the election by insisting on both living in a swing state and flushing their votes down the pooper by voting for Ralph Nader.

I am so distressed.

On top of all this, the world is thrown into further chaos. Jenny Miller is losing her home. Some day soon, Uncle Ira will be released into society. I haven’t done my delicates laundry in ages, and am running out of clean undies. My world is falling apart.

On an up note, I spoke with the incredibly nice Martin Lammon of Arts & Letters today. They are purchasing a plane ticket to fly me down to their awards ceremony in November. It’s still like a dream. I keep having visions of myself in tiara and sash, my whole person cast in the gaussian blur of a fading diva returning to the screen. I am at the awards ceremony, which for some reason resembles a regional beauty pageant, and I step up to the mic on the cafetorium stage and am saying something asinine like, "You like me. You really like me."

For some reason, this image comforts me. Maybe the stars are aligning auspiciously. Maybe John Kerry will win the presidency. And Jenny Miller will remain in the Emerson Street house. And undergarments will find their way into the washer and there will be clean drawers for all!

Viva la Revolucion!

Because I want to be famous so badly, I have built my own fansite.
In maintaining it, I sometimes worry I am ailenating my three readers (one of whom is my mother) by talking so extensively about myself. I am assuming you all (Mom included) get a little tired of hearing about what I eat, what movies I see, the dreams I had the night before. In an effort to reenvigorate this site and the world, I will be conducting a series of interviews.

The first person I have interviewed is my husband's sister's friend from graduate school, Charles Blackstone. I have never met Charles, but I hear he will be dining with us in Clearwater for Thanksgiving. Because he emails me back at odd hours of the day, I am assuming he is busy. So I was especially pleased when he granted debcentral.com this interview.

DS: Let me start off by saying thank you so much for granting debcentral an interview. In case our audience doesn't already know, you are a Chicago-based writer who teaches, has been published, and already has his own fansite. Is it true that you did not solicit the fansite to be built?

CB: Hi, Deb. Thanks for having me in today. It is true about the fansite. I'd plug the URL, but it's so long and complicated and crashes most browsers on contact that it's definitely not worth it. Not to mention that the site is terrible, inaccurate, and contains many horrible pictures of me.

DS: You sound resentful about the existence of this site. What happened?

CB: How I came to be virtually entangled with the person who brought this travesty into being is an interesting story. I'll start by saying that I have always been incredibly lucky in that I've been able to attract the strangest people, and this one happened to fancy herself a web designer. I'm probably going to get into trouble for talking about this, but I'm going to do it anyway. I want my story to be a cautionary tale, for the kids, in the form of a Lifetime television for women movie of the week story about the important differences between good internet friends and bad ones. It's the least I can do.

DS: I believe you were about to say something nasty about the person who built the site.

CB: I met this person at a party and she mentioned that was familiar with my work, that she had designed sites, won awards, etc. I'd been interested in getting a better online presence and so without thinking I said the worst possible thing at that moment: "Maybe you could put something together for me?" Big Mistake.

DS: So was this person psychotic? I love psychotic.

CB: The problem with publishing in internet journals and having your book publisher sell your books online and links tangled up and winding all over the net is that a lot of information (along with, obviously, full texts) is immediately accessible to all the aspiring hack web designers and sycophants (psychofants?) out there. This one grabbed whatever she could, paying little attention to context, and slapped it all together. From there, she made up stuff about readings and other things I was working on.

DS: Yes. That sounds a bit psychotic.

CB: But the worst part is that instead of mock-ups we could have reworked, or just some offline files I could have taken and hidden on a zip disk somewhere, she took got her own space and took the site live, despite my (unvoiced)reservations about its lack of professionalism and overall ugliness. Worse yet, she demanded money for her disservices.

DS: What did you do?

CB: I definitely wasn't going to pay for it. I thought frames were as out of fashion these days as those cell phones that came with bags attached to them. Most of the links point to non-existent sites. A lot of the spurious text is in white on a white background, or blue on blue. Other backgrounds are so busy and vertigo-inducing that after spending five minutes trying to make sense out of it, you wonder if Internet Explorer hasn't somehow slipped you a roofie when you logged in. The whole thing is strange and funny, but also disconcerting. At first I worried that having something like this out there would ruin my reputation, but I think I'm probably still the best one around to do that job.

DS: Still, you persevere. You are a pillar of strength. What now?

CB: I think the fansite has been largely ignored, which helps ease my tortured mind. It's been up for maybe eight or nine months and I haven't received any complaint emails or too many weird looks on the street. I've also been able to push it down a few items in the google searches by spending some weekends Keith Richards-drunk in Atlantic City. I always end up partying with Paris Hilton and Hilary Duff so inevitably there are photographers. You know the routine. Readers are much more interested in those photos anyway, and now that I've spoken out I feel tremendously vindicated.

If you would like to be interviewed by debcentral, please email us at contact @ debcentral.com

I have three major reoccurring themes in my dreams

    I am searching for a clean, working bathroom, but am unable to find one.
    My teeth fall out, or they crumble in my mouth, or I accidentally swallow them.
    I run into and am confronted by a certain couple whom I have been trying to avoid since graduate school.
Last night, I had the avoiding-the-annoying-couple dream.

I went to the dentist last week. The dentist was scraping the what-not off my back teeth, and at one point, my back molar was grabbed by the dental tool and yanked hard. Though I would not describe this as the good pain, I felt overwhelmed by the tenacity of my tooth to stay in my mouth and not fall out or crumble like putty.

After my cleaning, I told the dentist (who is also my cousin) about my teeth-falling-out dreams. I told her I've these dreams several times a month. At first I combated the tooth nightmares by having my waking self suggesting to my sleeping self that I had a third set of adult teeth waiting to come in. My deceased grandfather was fabled to have such a "third set" gift, though I believe when he died seven years ago, he was relatively toothless. I told a friend about my wily mind trick, and she pointed out that if I did have a third set of teeth, they probably would have shown up on my dental x-rays years ago.

I asked my cousin if my x-rays suggested I had a third set of adult teeth waiting in the wings. She said no. When I asked her about my tooth dreams, she said, "That's a question for the psychoanalyst, not the dentist."

Because I have reverence for the mentally ill I try to appear as if I'm listening to my uncle when he speaks.

As of late, Brian has had no such compunction.

I have already mentioned on numerous occasions about the majority of food which finds its way out of my uncle's mouth. Sometimes it winds up on his chin or stuck to his cheek. Sometimes it falls into his lap or onto the floor. Sometimes, when he's feeling feisty, we get food rained on us. My husband and I both find this experience rather unpleasant.

When he is not drooling or spitting food at us, my uncle can often be found secreting candy we have brought him into any one of the half-dozen pockets in the relatively unclean jacket he wears. During our recent visit to the crazy house, Brian sent me a series of text messages while my uncle was telling me about Iraq's plan to bomb Israel, his personal theories on the Kennedy assassination (which I found largely unintelligible), and the acquisition of his new Green Card ID (the picture on which makes him look like he's vomiting). The messages, sent to me from across the table, went something like this:

    1:12 PM: Hey, doofus! i love you! lets go to island pizza [a defunct food facility on the grounds of the psychiatric center]
    1:15 PM: Did u c ira's picture on his ID?
    1:22 PM: Maybe, for purposes of stowing away candy, we should buy ira some cargo pants
    1:32 PM: Ira, you really need to learn to chew louder
    1:47 PM: Ira's wearing a new make up, fried rice obsessions

Instead of being charmed, I just got angry at Brian for allowing me to absorbing the larger part of the stray airborne food particles.

When we were with Underblog and Sherman on Saturday, we went to see Tarnation, the story of a young man who has documented his chaotic and sometimes disturbing life as the son of a mentally ill mother. Or something like that. After the movie we all discussed whether it was exploitative to film your crazy mother as she rambles and sings and screams like a maniac, then use it in a documentary about your life. When we were walking back to the M35 after our visit with my uncle, Brian said, "It's not exploitative. The best way to cope with a crazy person is to try to keep laughing."

Then one of the facility's workers walked passed us, perked up, and said hi. He was wearing street clothes. Brian replied, "Hi, Ira's friend."

"Brian!" I jabbed him in the ribs. "That was a employee. Not a patient."

This man is very clean-cut and normal and pleasant. But it's true. Sometimes it's hard to tell the employees from the patients.

A zonkboard convention was held in New York City this weekend.
Attendance was not overwhelming, but spirits were high. Jill (aka Sherman), Eric (aka Underblog), Eric’s brother (aka Underblog’s brother), Brian (aka BG), and me (aka Deb) met for a movie, and then dinner. We were later joined by Sam Neuman (aka Orange CGI Cat Who is Four Feet Tall). We drank wine. Everyone forgot a camera. It was fun.

I completely frittered away my days off by sitting in front of my computer, trying to teach myself Flash, like the sad sad dork I am. I re-did my Fourth of July slideshow, the banner on my index page, and my interview with myself. At least I am up to date.

Brian has been having an email fight with his brother because Eddie says he’s going to vote for Nader. Eddie is a college student in Florida. Florida is a swing state. Eddie maintains that Kerry, only slightly better than Bush, has not done enough to earn his vote. He says that he is not throwing away his vote at all. He is making a statement supporting multiple-party elections, while making a call to the democrats that they can not forget their more left-leaning contingents.

In response, Brian has been barraging him with articles saying otherwise.

In response, Eddie wrote back that Brian's emails were useless. Only the politicians and their policies could change the way he would vote. "Not you."

It looks like the argument is more deeply rooted than just in the election.

In other election related news, we visited Uncle Ira today. Somehow, even though he had been incarcerated and is presently residing in a mental institution, he managed to get his hands on an absentee ballot. He proudly told us he had voted for Bush. Mostly because he found out that Iraq had had missiles aimed at Israel and was ready to obliterate the Jewish state before we invaded them.

He said if Jesse Jackson or Colin Powell had been on the ballot, he would have voted for them. He couldn’t vote for a democrat, because it was the Clinton distraction that had taken away his SSI benefits while he was in prison. He doesn’t like Nader, so he had to vote for Bush.

I finally did it.
It took me nearly two years, but I finally updated my news page.

It took my all day Friday, but I did it, all except for the interview with myself, which I wrote back in June, and saved to some random place that presently eludes me.

I had a great movie long weekend. This is what I saw:

Freaks, 1932 - Circus small person Hans falls for a normal-formed acrobat with a pretty face and a sinister soul. When the acrobat's evil plot is discovered, the circus "freaks" revolt and some kind of chicken deformity ensues. Cameo appearances by a woman with no arms who eats with her feet and a fellow with just a torso and a head who looks kind of like a cartoon worm. A must see for fans of the Freakatorium.

Goodbye, Dragon Inn, 2003 - One of the slowest movies ever film. A once grand, now decrepit theatre is home to the lonely, the hip impaired, and those who eat. Beautifully shot. I thought there was a subtle homosexuality woven throughout the film. Brian said, "Subtle?!? Is two men going into a public bathroom stall together subtle?" Regardless, we both liked the film immensely

A Dirty Shame, 2004 - Love! I love love love John Waters! And he came and spoke after the film. I asked him a question, but it was dumb, and now I feel angry I didn't think of a better question. Oh, and the movie was kind of about sex, kind of.

Hero, 2002 - I am apparently not very good at movie reviews. I lose steam easily. But the movie was really beautiful. I cried a lot. But I cry at everything. It really was gorgeous, with nice music and everything. Plus a message of peace.

Also, I built this site for my mother's democratic club. My mother has been updating it a bunch, and has even posted some pictures. Check it out.

I called Brian yesterday to see when he was coming home, and he told me, "I think I did something really stupid."


"Well, I was pulling staples out of documents, and one staple flew up in the air, and I never heard it land. I looked all over for it, but I can't find it anywhere. Now my throat feels all itchy."

"Are you trying to tell me you think you swallowed a staple?" I have heard many bizarre claims from Brian, but this was pretty novel.

Brian sounded more meek. "I did an internet search for swallowing staples, and sources seem to think I should be vomiting by now." He paused, and continued in all seriousness, "But I'm still nervous."

He was so nervous, that he ordered a $1.50 can of diet Coke with dinner. When I asked him why he didn't just drink water, he said, "My throat is still itchy. I think the bubbles in the soda will help push the staple down."

I told him if he had really swallowed a staple, it would be ripping its way through his insides by now, and the Coke bubbles wouldn't much help.

He said, "When I was younger, I swallowed a nickle. Nothing bad happened to me."

At the doctor's appointment yesterday, the doctor felt around my stomach area and said she thought the problem might be a gallstone or a spasming of the upper stomach. I had relayed my symptoms to her and said I had tried looking them up on the internet. "I thought it might be gastritis," I said, a little hopeful and a little embarrassed of my Self-Diagnosing Internet Medical Detective skills.

The doctor was turned away from me, scribbling notes in my chart. She didn't seem to hear, so said again, this time a little quieter, "Gastritis."

"Excuse me?" she said.

I was now terribly self-conscious about my Self-Diagnosing Internet Medical Detective quackery, so I just said, "Nothing."

The doctor said it was highly unlikely that I have gallstones, as they mostly effect old fat white ladies with high cholesterol. Then she giggled. Still, I'm going for a sonogram on Saturday to make sure. Brian imagined us waiting with a bunch of happy expecting couples trying to get a peek at their babies-to-be when I point to my belly and say, "Indigestion!"

Instead of doing anything productive yesterday, I did this and this, as well as this and this. Enjoy the great old stuff.

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