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

Charles Blackstone: Interview II

Brian and I spent Thanksgiving at the Geller home in warm, mild, raucous Clearwater, Florida. The Schwartzes converged on the scene to celebrate the holiday, as well as Chicago's zestiest poker-face bon vivant, Charles Blackstone. I first interviewed Mr. Blackstone in October before I had actually formally met him. Now that we have spent a weekend together drunk, debauched in our house clothes, making fun of people, I have asked him to grant DebCentral a second interview. After a fair amount of balking and whining, he has acquiesced.

DS: Charles Blackstone, thank you so much for joining us again. Tell me: Schwartzes and Gellers in one house. Was it too much?

CB: What's too much, really. The Schwartzes and Gellers complement and compliment each other. It was holiday bliss. Really. I felt like Kelly Cherry pie for 72 hours. I'm glad to have been a part. I've considered myself an honorary Geller for years. I'm glad to know that now I have become a Schwartz as well. Do you think [Brian's mother] Meryl meant it when she said I could come back next year?

DS: Meryl Geller is the kind of woman who invites her children's friends over for dinner even when her children are not in town. I'm sure the invite was in earnest. Tell me, if the Schwartzes and Gellers were pitted against each other in a post-Thanksgiving Day family tug-of-war, who do you think would win?

CB: Meryl is wonderful and I have a bag of mushroom turnovers in my refrigerator to attest to this fact. I think the tug-of-war victory would definitely depend on which side the Blackstone landed. Right now it's too close to call. Let me count a few chads and get back to you on that.

DS: What is the most unusual Thanksgiving celebration in which you took part?

CB: I would have to say the first Thanksgiving back in '21. A pilgrim chick I'd met the night before at a trough invited me. I felt like we were rushing into things; we'd just met and already she wanted me to meet her family. It turned out okay. We pillaged a few Indian tribes, indentured the denizens, made them turn over their beads, spiked the sangria, forced Christianity upon the children, ran out of white meat, and then rounded out the evening with a little impromptu jousting.

DS: I must say, you have led quite a colorful life. Can you describe for our readers here at DebCentral what your Dream Thanksgiving would be like?

CB: Two words for you: Seagram's 7 and 7. Wait--that's three words. I wish I could have had a few more days in Clearwater this year. It shocks me to have had such a positive reaction to the state. I've written stories which declaim South Florida as the vapid, insensate wasteland of elderly overvoters and trite banalities that it is, but I never knew that NoFlo could be so pleasant and charming. Maybe it was just the cast of characters. We could have probably been in Decatur, GA or Decatur, IL and had just as good of a time. I mean, right?

DS: You have been so positive and upbeat throughout this entire interview. It's a little unnerving. As we wrap up our talk today, will you make fun of someone? Just for old time sake.

CB: I don't know what's wrong with me. I will try to be sullen and intractable next time. I'm scared to mock anyone--you never know who's standing behind you on the internet. Can I make fun of myself? I like easy targets. Ahem. "Hiiii, I'm Charles Blackstone. I'm SO important. Look at me. Pay attention to me. Feed me. Make me grand. I won't do dishes but I will stand around the kitchen. I won't even pretend to be helpful. I'm such a pompous ass yet oh so endearing. Is that a cornbread soufflé? Place it in front of me. I want it all." How's that?

DS: We love you, Charles and miss you terribly.

I made this.
I am off tomorrow to Clearwater, Florida for Thanksgiving. Write me things and I will post them.

When people come back from vacation, you ask them how it was, and when they say, "Fabulous!" or "So restful!" you might get disappointed. Those are the obvious answers. Can't those people tell you about the fights? About how they worried at every meal that they might max out their credit card? Doesn't anybody get mugged on vacation any more?

Today, at work, I was one of the people I hate. People kept asking how the trip to Milledgeville was, and I had to keep saying, "Amazing!" But it was amazing. Please, though, before you get too disappointed in my predictable answer, let me explain why.

First: The school paid for everything. The airfare (mine). The bed & breakfast. The food. Whenever Brian and I go away, which is once, we spend the bulk of our days worrying the restaurant is charging us for water. We are very cheap and very neurotic. On this trip, an entire layer of worry was completely absent.

Second: The students and faculty treated us like superstars.

Third: Writers/judges Kelly Cherry and Molly Peacock treated me like a peer.

Fourth: Milledgeville was once home to one of the largest lunatic asylums in North America, at one time housing as many as 20,000 patients. The town presently has about 18,000 residents. Many of the old psychiatric buildings are still standing, but are abandoned in a creepy broken-window way.

Fifth: Everybody was amazingly nice. And they kept saying nice things to me like, "I really liked your story," or "I like your website." Conversely, no one stood up during my reading and screamed, "Fraud!"

Six: I got to participate in a number of panel discussions. Meaning I, as a published writer, was a member of the panel. This has been my long-standing fantasy. I've wanted it so much, I've been interviewing myself for over three years now. I was so excited about being asked questions by someone other than myself, I answered them with a zest and a relish the questions did not warrant. Especially because I did not really know the answers to most of the questions. But I'd practiced for that contingency.

Seven: Did I mention that Flannery O'Conner was from Milledgeville? I like Flannery O'Conner.

The whole time we were there, Brian and I kept thinking, We could move to Milledgeville, Georgia. It is the anti-New York. There is one theater and three restaurants. Two perpendicular streets which compose the downtown area. No Barnes & Noble, but they do have a Waffle House. And I suppose if we lived there, people would eventually stop treating us so well and expect us to get off our duffs and make a living.

I am working on posting my pictures from the weekend. In the meantime, I am available for speaking engagements, readings, and panel discussions of all kinds.

Can you imagine if the only thing you ever wanted in the life was a piece of cake. And every time you tried to take a piece of cake, somebody beat you viciously with a stick?

Then, one day when you've finally begun identifying yourself as the person who just couldn't get a piece of cake, started thinking maybe you didn't really need that cake after all, you find out your husband has asked for you, and you not only get a piece of cake -- you get an entire cake, a three tiered deal with chocolate ganache and sugary flowers and your name written on it in frosting. And they are going to fly you to Milledgeville, Georgia to pick it up.

I keep waiting for them to try to take it away from me. I am leaving this morning for Milledgeville, George to pick up my cake. I keep envisioning myself on stage wrestling with people from the Arts and Letters as they try to keep the writing award from me. But I have a feeling they are just going to give it to me. What's wrong with me?

Dear god! I hope I don't make a scene. Wish me luck. I fear I will need it.

Some very welcome news:

NYS Board of Law Examiners
Date of Birth: 12/76

The State Board of Law Examiners congratulates you on passing the New York State bar examination held on July 27-28, 2004. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this lookup screen, each applicant must rely on the official notification (via U.S. Mail) as to whether he or she has passed the examination.

An official certification notice has been mailed and will contain your Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) scores. The notification which has been mailed is a required part of your application for admission to the Bar. . . .

Phew! Sure, we knew he would pass. But still, what if . . . Brian felt that studying for and taking the bar exam again (knowing he had failed the first time) would be comparable to having non-anesthetized root canals performed on all the teeth in one's head. . . again. Brian has been feeling a bit saner since he got this news

I, on the other hand, am a wreck. My awards ceremony/reading is this weekend. They fly me out on Thursday. I am thrilled and hysterical. I haven't been sleeping nights. I haven't done a reading in several years. And I never like this. And never for so long. My mother asked, "Are you going to wear a wig and dark glasses?" I told her that I was pretty sure it wouldn't be an appropriate forum for such stuff. I told her that I was very nervous I would be boring. Who wants to listen to anyone read anything for a half hour. I'm the one doing the reading, and even I might fall asleep.

My mother suggested I make a Powerpoint Presentation about the story, which I run along-side my reading. I think the idea is wonderful, but I don't know if I should inflict my quirkiness on the kind people of Milledgeville, GA. Any suggestions?

By the way, HAPPY 27TH BIRTHDAY, AMY LEE FISHMAN COOPER! You are the original Malkat Yofi

28 and feeling great!
Thursday was Jen Leventhal's last day at the Museum. It was very sad, but also happy, because Jen has moved on to the Met. I didn't have any good pictures of her from Thursday night's festivities, as she kept shielding her face with her hand every time I tried to take a picture.

Jen, we will miss you already!

Friday Brian and I met up after work to eat dinner and see two one-act plays that began at 10:30 PM. I apparently fell asleep at 10:35, then woke up at intermission, at which time I insisted on going home to bed. I had a whole lot of fun.

Star Jones was married on Saturday. Sam made us stand around for an hour and a half to wait for the celebrities to leave St. Bart's Church and walk half a block to the reception at the Waldorf Astoria. Many other people were there to gawk too. We saw some famous people, like Barbara Walters, Chris Rock, and Spike Lee. Ashford and Simpson were there too, looking eerily well-preserved. But Jackee stole the show. My camera wasn't really working, so I only got a picture of Sam looking on as some random wedding-goers passed, and this un-famous person's very silver dress.Brian and I left, but Sam staid longer to catch a glimpse of the diva-bride herself.

We went downtown to celebrate my 28th birthday at a small divey bar on the Lower East Side. Here is a picture of Brian and me on the subway*, headed to my small birthday gathering (*Note: We are actually completely confused in this picture and are riding the train in the wrong direction). It was a hard fight, but I managed to stat up past midnight, at which time I officially turned 28 years old. How does it feel to be 28? Thumbs up!

My actual birthday day fell on a Sunday. So we went for Chinese food at 5 PM with my grandmother.

This evening, at dinner, we overheard a conversation in which a woman was saying, " . . . That’s the difference with cocaine. People on cocaine often have an oval look about them."

Brian and I got quiet. The woman went on, "Their eyes are similar to the other, only they look coked up." One of the guys the woman was with mentioned something about sinewy-ness, and the woman replied, "Yeah, sometimes. But in a coked-up way."

Then she said, "When I first met the family, I knew immediately that they were all coked up. They looked like a normal family, but in a coked up way. And he. The minute I spoke to him I could tell he was coked up. He looked kind of like Dr. Evil, but on coke."

I had no idea who they were talking about. I strained my ears further, but then, all of a sudden, they were talking about the 1998 Florida gubernatorial election between JEB! Bush and Buddy MacKay. Brian and I knew a bit about this election, as we were still in Florida at the time. The much-loved Democrat Lawton Chiles was in the tail end of his second term as governor when he keeled over on his exercise bike one morning. His lieutenant governor, Buddy MacKay, served as governor for a short time before the takeover of Jeb, who had run against Chiles and lost four years earlier.

The people sitting near us got most of these facts right, but some of them were in error. We whispered corrections to each other under our breath.

Earlier today, I met someone who refused to hold his tongue. Brian’s cousin’s mother was in town, and she came down to the Museum, then took me to lunch. At one point, I was jazzing her with the story of Brian and my early years together. I said, "He would eat off of a plate, then just leave it on the table. He wouldn’t even take it to the sink. If I didn’t wash it, the plate didn’t get clean." I told them how a friend of mine had said she had a similar problem. But she had chosen to wait it out. When it was her boyfriend’s turn to do the dishes, she would let them linger in the sink until he did them out of necessity because they had run out of clean dishes. I told my friend that it wouldn’t work for me, because if we were to ever run out of clean dishes, Brian would just eat the food over his lap, and then his pants would get dirty too.

I wanted to say what a long way we’d come, Baby. I wanted to say that last night, when Brian couldn’t sleep, he got out of bed and washed all the dishes in the sink. Then he washed all the pots and wiped down the counter. Then he set up my coffee for the morning. What a swell fellow. This all due to my careful conditioning in which I foster responsibility as well as resentment.

But I didn’t get to tell this part of the story, because a complete random at the pizza place cut me off at the pants line and said, "What you people need is a cleaning lady! She could clean up after your husband, and then he could talk to her about his problems. Hell! It would probably be cheaper than a shrink."

We all laughed, but mostly because we were weirded out and assumed this man was drunk. He continued, "Really. It would probably be a lot cheaper than a shrink. And your house would be cleaner." We laughed again, but more nervously this time. But he just went on, "Really. You should try it. For real."

That’s when Brian's cousin's mother and I chose to stare at our own person spots on the wall, pretending to study them and not hear the random guy. When he appeared to refocus his attention on his pizza, we changed the subject entirely. No more dirty dishes.

The man did have an oval look about him. I wonder . . . .

I never thought there would come a day when I would link to wikipedia.org in earnest, but he has sent me this interesting link, and this one, containing interesting information from the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary

The House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff has received numerous reports from Youngstown, Ohio that voters who attempted to cast a vote for John Kerry on electronic voting machines saw that their votes were instead recorded as votes for George W. Bush. In South Florida, Congressman Wexler's staff received numerous reports from voters in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties that they attempted to select John Kerry but George Bush appeared on the screen. CNN has reported that a dozen voters in six states , particularly Democrats in Florida, reported similar problems. This was among over one thousand such problems reported. "Touchscreen Voting Problems Reported," Associated Press, November 5.
Thanks, co-worker Danny for screaming in my face everyday about how wonderful a website wikipedia is. Your work has finally paid off. You can stop now.

In other post election news, Brian and I were constantly bombarded this past weekend and sore winners. On Friday, we were invited by Brian's aunt and uncle to Riverdale for Shabbat dinner. The first half-hour was pleasant. And then somehow presidential politics came up, and we threw down for the next hour and a half. Brian's uncle wouldn't admit that he had voted for Bush, but did admit that he hadn't voted for Kerry because Christian fundamentalists are better for Israel than are liberal peace-niks. It got ugly for a time, and then we all apologized for our outbursts, but in the end, Brian and I knew that we were right.

We had lunch the next day with my brother (who is ba'al teshuvah) and a number of young people from his Orthodox community. They too talked about the recent presidential election, and they too were supporters of our current sham president. But unlike the evening before, Brian and I were vastly outnumbered. So we sat there digging our nails into the palms of our hands and trying to keep our mouths shut. Occasionally, after a particularly right-wing comment was made and Brian thought I was going to explode, he would shout out "FUCK YEAH!" with a bizarrely over-zealous gusto. It was so unusual that the conversation would often die down for a few minutes following the out burst. We are sure that my brother's compatriots think Brian has Tourettes Syndrome, which is fine with us if it keeps us from dining with them again.

Sunday was an Ira day. We are still confused as to how the man secured an absentee ballot from a mental institution, but as you may already know, he too voted for Bush. Whatever. He drooled and dropped shrimp with lobster sauce into his lap. Other than that the visit was okay.

Our dinner with my grandmother had nothing to do with presidential politics. My grandmother is a die-hard democrat. But when we met her downstairs, she did say, "I hope you just woke up from a nap, because your hair looks awful. It's all over the place. You should have brushed it."

I actually thought it looked good. But who am I to judge. We later went back to her apartment for dessert. Though I think her apartment is usually clean and orderly for an 86 year old person, we've noticed that she has started stockpiling paper and plastic goods as well as sundry sale items. Brian and I noted that inside her toaster oven, along with vegetable bags from the grocery store and plastic eating utensils, were several egg shell in halves. They appeared clean and in good halved condition. We have no idea why they were there.

Last night, I went to bed at ten o'clock. I feel old, but rested.

I am told there are five stages we experience when we deal with loss:

I have been experiencing them in no particular order lately. I have moved from bargaining to anger to depression. Now I am in denial. I am pretending that I live in the United State of New York City. Every time I see a picture of George Bush, I turn away. I do not listen to the radio or turn on the TV.

And I speak only to people who agree with me politically.

I have also spent an inordinate time looking at the Lonely Island website. This was referred to us by our friend Josh Trotter, who was a film student, not unlike the proprietors of the Lonely Island site. I watched so many of these film students' shorts yesterday, I began to think I knew the fellows in them. One of the guys kind of looks like someone I might have known from high school.

When I made this "almost looks familiar" jump, I'm afraid I peered into the chilling abyss of the crazy mind. I could see how someone might watch a person's work on the web or on TV so much, he might feel like he knows that person. Maybe from high school. Maybe they were friends back then. And if he should ever meet that star of My Sister Sam, confront her, and should she ever refuse to acknowledge him as the old chum he thinks she thinks he is, then of course he might be justified in shooting her and leaving her for dead.

I told Brian that I refused to look at the site again until those three guys no longer looked familiar to me.

I am disowning Florida.
They do not deserve my love. Almost all of the state's major newspapers endorsed Kerry. But that did not make a difference, because I'm sure few of the yokels who went to the polls read the paper.

I am not disappointed in Kerry. He's an okay guy. It's those red-state Americans who are bizarre. Oklahoma elected a senator who claimed openly that blacks are genetically inferior to whites.

Illinois did good. Brian and I think Barack Obama should run for president in 2008. But then some red-state yokel would probably try to assassinate him.

I wish we could cede from most of the south and Midwest. The blue states could break away. We could be the United States of Democrats and Mr. Obama could be our leader.

Last night I drank too much and passed out early. In my fevered half-dreams, Kerry was winning the election. I dreamed Bob Woodward was in my apartment, looking over my shoulder as I checked the internet for election results. I woke up to a raging hangover and spent a good part of the early morning dry heaving over the toilet and thinking, Why, America? Why?

This hangover will probably last for 4 more years.

If this country is attacked again, I hope the terrorists target the red states for a change. They've got some major a-holes living there.

This morning, I voted.
Brian and I got there at 6:30 AM, but it was already crowded and chaotic. New York still uses those old school voting machines from the 1930s. I pulled the lever, flipped switches down the line in the democratic column, then pulled the lever again. It was kind of anticlimactic.

Before I got in the booth, I had to get a card with my name on it, which was then taken away from me once I voted. The woman at the table said, "What's your last name?"

"Schwartz," I said. "I'm sure you only have one."

That's my dumb joke which I use all the time for no good reason. What usually happens is the person turns to the SCH page and sees about one million other Schwartzes. Then I throw back my head with a devil-may-care laugh and say, "No Relation. . . to any of them." People usually just ignore me or write me off as a lunatic with an underdeveloped sense of humor. I hate the joke as well. I don't know why I say it.

One time, when I was voting in student elections in northern central Florida, I used the joke, and got an odd response. The shriveled little raisin of a old white lady said she couldn't find my name on the list. I spelled it for her repeatedly. She finally located it, shocked by the name's pronunciation and its spelling. "Well, looky here!" she said. "There's a whole bunch of Swarzes here." She pronounced the "S" with the accidental whistle of a heavily-countrified southerner.

"Yup," I said. "No relation to any of them."

"Must be a big family."

"I don't know any of those people," I said. "It's a very common name" "Well, I'll be! I ain't never heard that name before. And here's a whole page of 'em right here. S[whistel]warz."

"It's Jewish," I said. "I'm Jewish. It's a common Jewish name."

Fast-forwarding in time almost a decade later: I gave my name to the woman with the voter roster. I made my "No relation" joke. I got my card. The took it away again, then I voted, pulling levels back and forth.

When I came out of the booth, I was a little shaken up by the oddness of the voting machine. The little old woman who had been behind me in line asked me if this was my first time voting. I told her that I had voted previously in Florida, but I had never use this kind of machine.

She told me she had been voting since she was this small, holding her hand up to my waist. The she said she hoped that Kerry would win, then giggled and said, "I too am a Schwartz."

I am very nervous about this election but apparently many Schwartzes around the country have united in voting for Kerry.

One warning: Regardless if you are a fellow Schwartz, if you live in a swing state, have voted for Bush, and would not like me to strangle you, please lie to me about the way you voted. I am very emotional right now, and cannot control my actions.

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