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


The first time I heard the word "tsunami", I think I was in the fourth grade. I believe there was a graphic of a happy cartoon teenager surfing the large wave.

This current situation is too awful.

So I don't get too depressed and jump out the window, I will tell you the story of what our waitress said Tuesday night.

Now former coworker Anna Martin was holding her goodbye party at a bar in Chelsea, (Jen Leventhal, who reads my blog, but says I never mention her, was there too). We had a waitress who was otherwise rather surly and tight-lipped. An example of this was that there was a drink special, but she would not tell us what it was. She kept insisting we got to the bar and ask the bartender for details.

About an hour into our stay, our party had grown larger and the waitress asked what the celebration was for. When Anna told her we were from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the waitress became very animated. She said that being Jewish was very in now, that they talked about it all the time on The OC, and that even Madonna had been studying Judaism and now wanted to be called Esther. She said she was Catholic, but that nobody cared about Catholics anymore. She described Catholics as if they were the washed-up Norma Desmonds of the religious world.

When our waitress had turned to help someone else, Anna said to me, "You better blog about this."

This was Tuesday. Since then, I have been running around like a person with two full-time jobs. I am a bit frayed, and have not been at my computer long enough to form a coherent thought. I am off today (I now work Sunday-Thursday). And I can reflect on atrocity and religion and such. We will be going to Julian and Lisa's apartment in Greenpoint for New Year's Eve. Our sexy New Year's Day plans include a sexy visit to my Uncle Ira, watching him spit sexy Chinese food at us as he explains to us how the world's powers have plotted against him.

Happy 2005!

This Christmas Eve, I did what I did last year: Japanese food and movie.
In fact, last year Brian was in Florida and I went with Sam Neuman for Japanese food, then we saw The Fog of War.

This year, Brian and I went to see In the Realms of the Unreal, about that Chicago janitor cum outsider artist. It was neat and weird. After the film, Sam joined us, and we went for Japanese food for dinner. Then we all saw Jacques Demy's 1970 bizarro fairytale Donkey Skin. Then we went home.

I slept most of the day Saturday. It was good.

Sunday was my first official day as Manager of Visitor Services at the Museum. Official, only because no one expected me to do my other job that day. But not as official as one might like, as I was locked out of my new office, because no one has given me the key yet.

I got to meet fellow blogger George Williams. We had crappy Japanese food for lunch. We chatted about blogging and the North East corridor (He had been Jenny Miller's professor at Maryland, and had helped to get her started with the web. Then Jenny helped me. And look at us now. Ridiculous exhibitionists. Oh, that's another thing we talked about. The more people who know about your website, the fewer people there are to make fun of (unless you want to get punched). George and his wife are presently teaching in the Midwest, and have confirmed what I assumed: Most people in the Midwest wear khaki pants and are fat. Thanks, George!

After work, Brian and I went to the t-shirt shop on Avenue B and had them make me a shirt that said "ROYAL A-HOLE." I apparently thought this was a world of giggles funnier than the fellow at the shop who was making the t-shirt.

I am wearing my shirt today. Under my many layers of clothing -- because it is COLD out. I pulled up some of my many layers of clothing to show off the t-shirt to my co-worker Mike, but in my over-zealous pride, I went one layer too far. "No worries," Mike said, "We're tight and all. And they're how I thought they would look anyway."

It's holiday card season.
Have you forgot about Clark Kent, my uncle's lunatic friend from the kookoo prison? I haven't. Some time ago, he wrote us letters, one addressed to Brian, and one to "Jack Schwartz". Those were good times, weren't they!

Well, he still calls us and leaves messages on our answering machine several times a week, and now we've gotten the sweet treat of identical authentic crazy person Christmas cards. Oooo. Let's look inside. Yes! One for Brian and one for Jack (I guess that's me), written in the boxy adolescent scrawl of a madman prone to violence.

What did you get for Christmas?

The big news is I got a promotion. I am now the Manager of Visitors Services at the Museum. And until they hire someone new, I am still the Scheduling and Outreach Coordinator for Youth Groups. My first day as Manager of Visitors Services was today. My last day as Scheduling Coordinator is yet to be determined.

I went out and bought my own copy of Poets & Writers so I could see my name in print. I am very vain.

I'm reading a book now in which the protagonist at one point drives from Northern Virginia to Orlando, stopping on the way at a Waffle House off I-95. The character and his love interest order a whimsical breakfast of "grapefruit sections and sausages, bananas sliced in cream and pieces of rye toast."

Has this writer ever been to a Waffle House? I don't think she did her homework. Brian and I grew up in the South. We spent many a half-hour hung-over-breakfasting at our local Waffle House. We even made the near-identical trip down from southern Maryland to central Florida a number of times by car, always stopping at one of the many quaint Waffle House franchises, and never have we seen any of these aforementioned items (with the exception of sausages). In college, we had friends who worked at the Waffle House. If someone were to come in and ask for "bananas sliced in cream," they would probably just cackle wildly while pulling in cigarette smoke through their tracheotomies.

Anyway, I am annoyed at this novel, annoyed at the protagonist, annoyed that author would ever have to guess at the Waffle House menu (when it is so obviously available for download on the website) and then get it so so wrong.

The author has lost my trust. And I'm only on page 46. What editor allowed this atrocity to occur?

When I was younger, my family had a hamster with a tremendous zest for life.
It was very active, and would often break out of its cage and go scampering around the house. Its name was Hammy. Hammy's cage was kept in the kitchen, and when it wasn't empty, Hammy could be seen ramming its little body against the cage door until it flung open to freedom.

One of the presents Brian and I received for our wedding was a cute little pop-up toaster. For almost three years now, it has been sturdy and dependable. But within the last few months, it has been doing something very odd. I drop the bread into the slots in the top and press down the lever. Then I leave the kitchen. When I come back, there is no bread in the toaster. It is now on the counter huddled under the dish rack. I have managed a number of times to catch the toast furtively escaping the toaster. I have seen my little brown friend leap into the air at an unusual trajectory. It tries to clear the first tier of the dish rack. But misses. It hits the side, and tumbles down, knocking into the toaster and landing stiffly half under the dish rack.

One night Hammy got out of its cage and stayed away for several days. This was very unlike Hammy. We panicked, thinking it had crawled up into the space between the walls and promptly died. But not Hammy. My mother spotted it dragging itself across the kitchen floor at 3 in the morning. Its back legs were paralyzed. Its tail was set askew. We took it to the doctor, and were told to feed it prednisone, which we did religiously. We bought it an enormous cage, so it wouldn't feel too cooped up. But Hammy grew old, sedentary, and depressed. It died quietly one night in my room, like a little lump of beige, urine-smelling hair. I cried.

This morning, I put up a slice of bread and went to put on my skirt and tights. When I came back to the kitchen, I noticed the toaster was once again empty. I saw that little brown fellow peeking out from under the dish rack. "Look, Brian," I called out. "It did it again."

Brian came in to marvel at the gusto of our little friend. I wonder if the problem is with our toaster or our bread.

My mother wrote me yesterday to say, "Your quotes and the 'town yokel' had me in stitches." She also forwarded me a string of emails between my father and herself.

My mother had emailed my father concerning my interview with the Union Recorder. The subject line was "She sure is funny - I could not stop laughing." My father responded by saying

I read the "interview" and neither thought it was hilarious nor that it made Deborah sound like a yokel. I have been interviewed on several occasions by newspaper people and the general rule of thumb is that whatever you say, they write what they want to write. I have a little statue of the Empire State building in my office to prove it.
My mother wrote back
Refresh my memory!

Also, I just meant her comment that she did not like the way she sounded in the interview, which, you must admit, was probably done by capturing her words on tape, because it does sound like Debbie -- but does not sound impressive or clever grammar-wise. You had to be there for the delivery.

And my father wrote back
You may remember back in '92 the Lennar/Amerifirst project. You also remember we were using law students. I got a call from a reporter about the project and her idea was that we were giving them crap work to do. This was true, but we were all doing the same crap. After 1/2 hour on the phone, when she kept pressing me about the low level of work they were doing, I said to her that we don't close on the Empire State Building every day. This was what made it into the article.
I thought the exchange was very cute. Especially because Brian, before going to law school, had worked as a newspaper person. And because my mother guessed correctly -- the student who interviewed me had been using a tape recorder. She said something like, "I don't even know why I'm here. My editor made me come." And then she pressed record.

On the flip-side, I spoke to my aunt this past weekend, and gave her the much-belated news of my writing award. My aunt lives here in New York City, but does not get out and about too often. I told her about winning the contest, about publication, the $1,000 prize, and being flown in to Georgia for the awards ceremony. She kept saying, "It sounds like a scam," and "Did the check clear?" I told her many times that the check had in fact cleared, and that I had already been flown into Georgia and put up for an entire weekend just to receive the prize, so it was doubtful they would have gone to all that trouble to bounce a check. "Still," she said cautiously, "You have to admit it sounds like a scam."

Nick Kocz wrote:

Just wanted to drop you a note-- I saw the notice of your Arts and Letters award in the new issue of Poets & Writers, which came in over the weekend. I was so envious! Good job!

I tried to find my name on the Poets & Writers website, but to no avail. So I googled my name and Arts and Letters, and found this story from Milledgeville, Georgia's local paper, in which my quoted text is arranged in such a way as to make me sound like the town yokel.

It could be worse. They could have included a large unflattering picture of me as well.

I am off to buy the latest edition of Poets and Writers.

Two recent experiences:
On Thursday, Brian and I saw the Maltese Falcon at the Film Forum. To pass the time before the movie started, we listened to the conversation of the two young men in the row in back of us. One was saying, "It's not as funny as Seinfield, but it's more clever."

The other said, "It's funny, because he's always getting into trouble." Brian and I figured they might be talking about the show Curb Your Enthusiasm, of which we have seen several episodes on DVD (because we do not have HBO). The second guy continued, "And who's the guy who plays his friend?"

"You mean Jerry Lewis?"

"Is that his name? I thought Jerry Lewis was older."

"There's an older Jerry Lewis and a younger Jerry Lewis. Larry David's friend on the show is the younger Jerry Lewis."

Brian and I looked at each other. They weren't talking about Jerry Lewis, the slapstick comedian cum spokesperson for disabled children, but Richard Lewis, the neurotic self-deprecating comedian with big hair.

"Yeah," said the other guy. "The BoKu guy." The first guy asked the second guy what he was talking about, and the second guy said, "The younger Jerry Lewis was on those advertisements for that drink in the 80s. You know: BoKu."

Brian and I continued to whisper loudly "RICHARD LEWIS."

On Friday, we saw Bad Education, and on the way back, we got on a subway car with a stinky indigent person stretched out asleep on a bench. We sat down on an empty space on a bench diagonally across from him. He appeared to be exuding a general urine smell, but we didn't say anything. That was at the Bleeker Street stop. At Astor Place, an angry young man boarded the train, pacing and cursing. He was angry that there were no longer empty seats on the train, and that the indigent man was taking up an entire bench. He looked a little crazy.

Eventually, he hit the bottoms of the indigent person's boots and got him to draw up his legs up bit so he (the crazy person) could sit down. Then the crazy person continued to yell at the indigent person in a mixture of English and Spanish, berating him for smelling like urine and being lazy.

The indigent person, who's cap and beard made him look like an enormous garden gnome, sort of woke up and began calmly defending himself. He had a chuckle about something in Spanish, then pulled out a large can of King Cobra, popped the top, and began drinking. The crazy person continued cursing (mostly in Spanish) at the indigent gnome, then stalked off the train at 14th Street.

The gnome continued sipping his King Cobra and muttering and giggling as if he were talking convivially with other people on the train. Everyone else on the train was silent.

Endive in crudités.
My friend Maggie had this at her party this weekend, and I thought it was wonderful. I am having people from my writing group over tonight, and it is Brian's birthday as well, so I thought I would set up some snackies. Including a crudités with endive.

I bought the endive last night at a market several doors down from the supermarket where I bought the stuff for the dip. I was waiting to check out at the supermarket and put my heavy bags of vegetables (including the endive) on the floor beside me. In front of me was a large heavily accented man with a fur cap trying to return an item worth $1.40. The cashier was very brusque, and kept rolling her eyes. Then man kept shouting (in his heavy accent) "I DO NOT UNDERSTAND! WHY DO I HAVE TO SIGN ALL THESE THINGS!"

The woman in the adjacent check out wanted to get out of her stall, but the large man was in the way, shouting and waving his hands. The adjacent cashier kept saying, "'Sucuse me!" and the fur cap man kept saying "WHY DO I HAVE TO SIGN ALL THESE THINGS!"

The adjacent cashier was getting increasingly annoyed, and finally pushed the fur-cap man, at which time he stepped back, arms flailing, yelling, "VAS IS DIS?!?" and stepping down hard on my bag of vegetables, mangling my endive.

The whole time this was going on, I kept thinking, which of these people is more sympathetic? But after the fur-capped man crushed my endive, I knew where my allegiance fell.

The man was given his $1.40 and he left noisily. My cashier rolled her eyes again. I leaned in to her, our secret pact, and whispered, "That man stepped on my endive."

Her eyebrows crossed once in a question mark, and then, as if she were clarifying what I had just said, said, "Credit or debit?"

"Credit." I said.

Did I mention Brian turns 28 today? Day of Infamy. I married a younger man. As Uncle Ira would say, "TWENTY-EIGHT AND FEELING GREAT!"

My father forwarded me the poem he had written for him. It went something like this:

28 and never late!!!
by Martin Schwartz

A birthday comes but once each year
And when it comes it brings great fear
A wrinkle here, a wrinkle there
An ounce, a pound and soon a ton
But alas something to bring a cheer
At least you're not Republican!

Oh, and it's the first night of Chanukah, which can also be spelled Hanukkah or Hanukah or Chanukkah. And Pearl Harbor Day. And the one day anniversary of my endive being stepped-on by the large fur-capped man. Cheers!

Alison Adleman recently moved to Fort Greene in Brooklyn.
This weekend, Heather Scott, Brian, visited her in her new neighborhood for Brunch. On the train the way back to the Upper East Side, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a woman who was toting a children's book illustrated with Australian Aboriginal Art. She held out the book for me to see as she flipped through the pages. "It's this just gorgeous?" she said.

"It's very nice," I said.

"I just love this kind of art."

"It looks very nice."

"You know," she said, "This book gives me some great ideas for some projects I have coming up." I just nodded and smiled, but she continued. "I didn't used to like this kind of art at all. Until today, when I went to the reading where I bought this book. The author was so wonderful. She really inspired me."

I smiled again, and searched for Brian, who had moved down the train a bit. I examined an advertisement encouraging New Yorkers to quit smoking.

The woman began speaking again. "The universe has been providing me with some amazing mentors lately."

She wasn't mean, she wasn't frothing at the mouth. She seemed perfectly nice, but I didn't want to encourage her to keep talking to me. She didn't look like the crazy stab-you-on-the-train kind, but who knows.

"I've been meeting recently with a wonderful warm lawyer and a wonderful warm architect. They have really been inspirations to me. And now I've met the author of this wonderful book."

The ad to stop smoking was also written in Spanish. It said something like, My mom is a quitter, and I'm proud.

"The universe has given me this lawyer and this architect to show me you can be knowledgeable and competent, and still be caring and kind." She paused for a bit. "I'm getting evicted from my apartment. But the lawyer and the architect have been helping me fight my landlord."

I looked down the length of the crowded train. I couldn't see Brian at all. I was annoyed.

"Don't you just love this book? I just love this book. I think I will give a free copy to my clients when they book An Aboriginal Experience. Do you think that would be a good idea?"

She wouldn't stop looking at me, this woman who was being evicted. I said sure, it sounded like a wonderful idea. I wasn't sure what An Aboriginal Experience was, but I wasn't about to egg her on. The train stopped at my station, and the woman got up and said, "Thank you for listening to me." I almost stayed on the train, so I wouldn't have to have an awkward encounter with her. But I didn't. I let her get a little ahead of me, then I darted out the door and headed away from the stairs, trying to find Brian. I asked him where he had been, and he said, "People kept pushing me farther and farther away from you."

"Whatever," I said.

Thanksgiving Day weekend was charming and crowded. At JFK airport, while we were waiting in line for a cab, Brian hear a girl ahead of us say something about the Upper-East Side.

"Ask her if she wants to share a cab."

I told him I hadn't heard anything, so he should be the one to ask. We went back and forth until she was next in line, and finally I broached the subject. She said that she had in fact asked if anyone would like to share a cab to the Upper-East Side, and so all was well.

As soon as we got into the cab, I realized the girl looked familiar. But I couldn't figure out from where. I asked her about herself. She was from Connecticut. Her parents had in the last few years moved down to the Tampa Bay area. She had a brother who lived in Brooklyn. I started talking about the large lady who sat beside me on the plane, her legs squooshed against mine. Our taxi friend said, "Well, I never have that problem. I'm a knitter. When people take up too much space on a plane, I take out my knitting needles do this." She made wild zealous knitting motions with elbows flapping that might have taken out someone's teeth. Then I realized who she was. She was the knitting girl I used to see on the bus when I practiced yoga in the mornings. I didn't say this out loud, though.

She said she had been working on campaigns, and she had just managed the campaign of someone who had lost. Brian asked who. She said it was the gubernatorial race in Rhode Island.

When we got out of the cab, I told Brian about the knitting bus girl. He knew somehow I had thought her familiar. He guessed I would have known her from the bus or the train. When we got home, he looked up the Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates. The knitting bus girl had managed a Republican campaign.

Yesterday morning, I found the place on my website where I mention the knitting bus girl. I sent Brian the link, and he said, "Well, now that you know she worked for a Republican, you don't have to worry that you guys shoulda been friends."

I think my problem is that I become emotionally attached to every random and odd ball I meet on the bus or the train. I think we should be friends. I'm sure this is not normal. I'm glad I didn't tell the knitting bus girl I recognized her.

All Guest Blog submissions should be emailed to contact @ debcentral.com

for the sake of the children

more zonking @ heck's kitchen

to make a better world

heck's kitchen
no home-like place
anthony emigration
underblog rides again
this is grand
julian in new york
george h williams
bloggedy blog blog
andres dubouchet
smartish pace
bob and david
tim and eric
the lonely island
midnight pajama jam
ovos films
marc & david
it's true collective
kevin de young
writing right (or wrong)

for our own sanity

contact @ debcentral.com

back to top )
the history of debcentral