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

blizzard 03
blizzard 05

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
new year's 2005
miami vice party

jenny miller in nyc
lakeland, fla
the unveiling
arts & letters

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
old crap

Uncle Ira's Birthday

Today is Uncle Ira's 61st birthday!
Our birthday visit, as I mentioned before, was this past Saturday. I will tell you about it now, and include some pictures Brian took on his newish camera phone.

Around 11:15 AM, Brian and I headed three floor up to my grandmother's apartment. She had already begun preparations for our visit to Manhattan Psychiatric Center to visit my uncle for his 61st birthday. My uncle has been a ward of the state for the past decade. In honor of his birthday, he had requested we bring a chocolate cake, which we had. He also requested we bring chocolate ice cream. My grandmother explained as we were packing up our backpacks for the voyage that she could not find reasonably priced chocolate ice cream at the grocery store, so she pulled out some spumoni ice cream which had been sitting in the freezer (at least since June) and attempted to divide it up by color and place the different parts in Chinese take-out plastic containers. Eventually, we were on our way. We took a bus three blocks to Lexington Avenue and a train to 125th Street. Then we had to take another bus to Manhattan Psych on Ward's Island. The MTA offers only one free transfer, and my grandmother refused to pay the additional $1 (senior fare) for the bus to Ward's Island. So she made us crowd around the driver as we got on the bus, and she sneaked on behind us and clopped her way to the back of the bus (she wears metal taps on her shoes). The bus driver saw her and just rolled his eyes.

Once at the institution, Brian and I plugged in his ipod to the computer speakers we brought. We played doo-wop songs we had downloaded for my uncle. He seemed to like them, and would occasionally sing along with joyous flagrant disregard for the pork lo mein in his mouth.

Later on in the meal, I presented my uncle with the gift I had bought for him: a guayabera shirt. He likes pockets a lot, as they are fine places to store his many stashes of candies and sweet treats. He was annoyed by the shirt, as it was meant to be worn untucked, and he preferred to tuck in his shirts.

Later in the meal, I tried to sneak my uncle a Hershey's bar, but got caught by my grandmother. It was embarrassing. So he ate his pork lo mein and we all shared in the bounty of the birthday cake and old ice cream. His nose was running even more than usual. My grandmother would yell at him and say, "IRA, WIPE YOUR GODDAMN NOSE BEFORE IT DRIPS INTO YOUR MOUTH!" and my uncle would yell back, "I'M DOING IT, I'M DOING IT!" as he reached for the handkerchief in his back pocket. My grandmother would then yell, "THAT HANDKERCHIEF IS FILTHY! WHY DON'T YOU USE A TISSUE LIKE A CIVILIZED HUMAN BEING!" and my uncle would begin to response, "I LIKE USING A HANDKERCHIEF--" but my grandmother would cut him off, saying, "SHUT UP IRA AND EAT YOUR GODDAMN FOOD! WE DIDN'T COME ALL THIS WAY TO LISTEN TO YOU TALK!"

All in all, it was a pleasant visit. Except for the snot. That was Saturday.

Today is Wednesday, and the day of my uncle's actual birthday. This evening, I called him on the phone to wish him happy birthday. I began my call with a melodious rendition "Happy Birthday". He cut me off to tell me about an argument he had had with his mother the evening before, and another one he had had with his psychologist today. This took about 20 minutes. When he was done, I said, "Can I finish singing my song now?" He said, "What song?" I said, "Happy Birthday. I was singing Happy Birthday to you before." "Oh," he said. So I began singing again. I ended with a stylized " . . . And many more" To this, he responded, "Okay, I gotta take a leak," and hung up the phone.

So, happy birthday, Uncle Ira. 61 tons of fun, life's just begun!

It's that time again!
Here are the subject lines from the last 18 email messages from my grandmother. Enjoy!

FW: Florida Alligators
FW: A tale of Six Boys
FW: Vive la France
FW: Lonely Night
FW: Presidential Stamp
FW: some cartoons
FW: The Alphabet
FW: Recall To Active Duty
FW: Vive la France
FW: Favorite cookies
FW: animal thoughts
FW: Older Gentleman
FW: thinking
FW: Kids in shul - a few oldies
FW: Fly a kite
FW: Hospital misunderstanding
FW: More blondes
FW: Hearing Test
Please note that she forwarded the same email ("Vive la France") twice. Still, there was no time for a hello, a simple how are you, the requisite you look like you've put on weight. I guess that's what phones are for.

A little while ago, our friend William Bowers had an accident in which he crushed both of his wrists.

He was recently operated on. Brian and I felt it was only right to send him a little get well soon gift.

He appears to have received our present. The lawn flamingos look happy enough in their new home.

We celebrated Uncle Ira's 61st birthday this weekend with our annual birthday visit. Brian took several covert pictures with his camera phone. I don't have those yet, but I'll tell you all about our fun times when I do. In the meantime, you can enjoy this image (taken with Brian's covert camera phone) from our previous visit.

More landlord tenant issues.
This just in from our friend, Will in West Palm Beach (addresses have been left out to protect the innocent):

Dear Nadia,

The rat infestation has left my apartment uninhabitable, as I'm sure you will agree when you hear about last night's horrifying events. This is my notice to you that I will be moved out of the apartment by the end of the month.

As my lease is up this month and given the nature of this infestation, I don't think there should be any outstanding issues. I have left the apartment spotlessly clean and undamaged, just as it was when I moved in. Call me and we can arrange for me to drop off the keys for you at Cosmo's. If you are not able to return my $790 security deposit immediately, you may mail it to my office.

Last night was the last straw for me. My girlfriend was nearly attacked by two rats. These animals are so desperate for food that they apparently have lost their fear of humans.We were sitting on my couch watching television at about 10 p.m. when two large rats appeared, one from behind the TV stand and another from the couch. My girlfriend was drinking a glass of wine and munching on some cheese when a black rat, twice the size of a guinea pig, came from behind the television stand and ran right for her while the second followed from behind. She gave this horrific blood-curdling scream and jumped up on the couch right before the rat could get to her feet. You can probably check with the neighbors, I think everybody on the block heard the scream. What I had hoped was only confined to the kitchen has spread. This is a major infestation that must be dealt with immediately.

The health and safety of the residents of the building are at stake. When I was outside earlier last night talking to Bobby and Lashira, they pointed to all the rats in the trees. You could see some and hear hundreds of others. Bobbie and Lashira told me they had avoided eating in their kitchen for three days. All of us have thrown away at least $50 in food in the last weeks, and we have been forced to leave the apartment to eat some nights after face-to-face encounters with the disgusting, disease-carrying rodents.

These rats are intelligent and have thwarted ordinary means of control. Traps I laid out didn't work and the rats carried off three poison packets over the past few weeks. Clearly, the poison did not work since they have been spotted alive and well since eating the packets. This situation should have been dealt with weeks ago when it became apparent that the apartments had a rodent problem. It is impossible to sleep or eat in the building, which is unfit for human habitation.

I will be staying with friends while I pack up my belongings and prepare to move to a new residence. You can reach me on my cell phone to arrange for the key drop-off and return of my deposit.

I appreciate the kindness you and your mother have shown me throughout my time on here. I wish those nasty rats had chosen another house, but obviously I cannot continue to live in a place where I am constantly on edge, bracing for what might be waiting for me behind the cupboard door.


I have a minor bronchial infection.
That's what the doctor said. I had been coughing my head off for almost a week before I finally went to the doctor. The combination of coughing and antibiotics made for an unpleasant weekend.

On Saturday, Brian and I went to dinner with my grandmother. I told her about my cough, and she said, "Do you bathe?"

"Well, I shower daily," I said, "but I never really take a bath."

My grandmother said she too used to prefer a shower to a bath, but now she finds a bath to be therapeutic.

I told her that I just didn't like the idea of sitting in a tub of my own dirty water. So she suggested that I shower first, so as to be clean before bathing. "Then you plug up the tub," she said, "and fill it up with hot steamy water. Lay down and breathe in that hot steamy air. It'll open up your lungs. You could even put one of those rubber pillows under your head. Then just sit back, enjoy yourself, and read a nice pornographic magazine."

"Nonna!" I said, "I don't own any pornographic magazines. And even if I did, I don't know that I would want to read them in them in the bath."

She just shrugged her shoulders as if to say Your loss.

At least she doesn't shock easily.

More from my sister, who is doing her PsyD internship in a mental hospital in rural North Carolina.

Well, all my patients that were on my caseload were discharged last week, so I got a new set today. One of my patients was the man who was just satisfied to be in the hospital. I took him out of group to ask him if he would like individual therapy, and he responded by saying, "Well, if the treatment team thinks it is NECESSARY." I explained that it was not necessary, but that it was his choice if he would like to. He said, "Well, no thank you. There's nothing really going on that I would like to talk about. I was in counseling in the 90's, but I just really went in to say 'hi.'" With that, I left, in search of new and different patients.

My supervisor recommended another patient, one whom I was also familiar with, but this individual I have in my groups. Keep in mind, I run groups for the Disturbed Thought Low Process Track, so none of the patients in there are particularly high functioning. Nonetheless, this particular patient always struck me as a nice man who was enthusiastic about his treatment. He gleefully agreed to see me for individual therapy. My supervisor and I agreed that he is a "nice man."

Since working at the hospital, I really like talking with patients about their diagnosis, particular symptom constellation, and their medication. I am quick to encourage med compliance post-discharge and problem-solve for methods to avoid future hospitalizations. As a result, the patients who I find most difficult are those who are in denial of their symptoms because it makes the other aspects difficult. So I usually wind up starting by asking why the patient was committed to the hospital, how they feel since they have been in the hospital, what they have been diagnosed with, and what symptoms are problematic for them.

With this in mind, when I met with my new patient this afternoon, I asked him why he was admitted to the hospital. Apparently, according to him, it was just a big misunderstanding. Although I did not realize it at the time, I had the distinct honor of getting a very prestigious member of society on my caseload. My new patient, who reminds me very much of a teddy bear, who presented for session with a juice stain on his shirt from lunch and not a tooth in his mouth, is unmistakably a top-secret government agent. According to my patient, his wife thought that he was "crazy" because he was saying that he worked for the C.I.A., and my patient, being the government employee that he is, understood why his wife would doubt him because he is unable to divulge the top-secret nature of his work. The only information that he was able to discuss was the material that has already been de-classified. In fact, my patient developed the now infamous Hummer vehicle for the military. He talked at great length about how none of his family believes him, even though he has worked for the government since the age of 18. The Hummer thing was wrong from the beginning because I know that those vehicles have been around for longer than he has been alive, but I did question how one would go about proving that the patient was telling the truth. Just as I found myself getting sucked in (not because he was manipulative, but merely because he was experiencing a hard-core delusion that he swore his life on), I thought to myself: this is NOT correct. This man disclosed that he was living in a homeless shelter and was involved in an intensive day treatment program (and yes, while simultaneously working for the government), and was taking Risperdal (an anti-psychotic) for 10 years. That is reason enough to pause when he starts to get into his government job! At the end of the session, I just couldn't help but feel really sad for this man, who holds this conviction closer to his heart than anything else in the world. But then I chock it up that if he thinks he works for the government, so be it, he doesn't appear to be hurting anyone, just hiding government secrets, right?

This morning, I stepped on a piece of glass.
It was very unpleasant, but it also made me feel very stupid.

Let me start from the beginning. Last night, I had a cough. Sometimes when I have a cough, it keeps me up at night. So I decided to take a single Tylenol PM to help keep me asleep and not up coughing. I went into the bathroom to get the Tylenol PM, and while I was there, I managed to knock over a thick glass soap dish. The soap dish was actually not near the sink, but instead sitting on a stool by the hamper. This is because we actually have a soap dish built into the wall, so there was no good place for the glass soap dish except on the stool. After I knocked over the soap dish, I picked it up and examined it. At first, it appeared to be fine. But then I noticed a piece was missing. I looked around on the floor, and found the renegade glass corner of the soap dish. I threw it in the garbage. Then I went to sleep.

I slept well. I did not wake up in the middle of the night coughing. In fact, I had trouble getting up when my alarm went off. Maybe this was because of the Tylenol PM. Groggily, I made my way to the bathroom to perform smaller bodily functioning. Then I got up and stepped down and was overcome with the feeling that an enormous tack had been driven into the instep of my foot. I screamed some very blue things very loudly. As I picked up my foot to see what was stuck in it, the thing that was in it fell out into a neighboring mop bucket (our apartment is a bit cluttered). I began rummaging through the mop bucket (which of course was filled with books and magazines) to find the thing that pierced my foot, but had to sit down on the toilet seat, because blood was spilling out of the bottom of my foot and onto the bathmat.

So I sat down and tried to catch the spilling blood in my cupped hands. This was probably also because of the Tylenol PM. Or because of the shock. Or the fact that I am never fully awake until I have consumed three cups of strong coffee.

Though an interesting and novel approach, simply catching the spilling blood in my cupped hands did not seem to improve the situation. So I reverted to Plan B, which was to scream to Brian for help. I screamed bloody murder, which was only half true. Brian came in, and I said, "I'M BLEEDING!!! DO SOMETHING!!!" and he said, "What do you want me to do?" and I said, "GET ME A TISSUE!!!"

So he grabbed a handful of tissue and gave them to me. I said, "Brian, really, this is too many. You're just being wasteful."

He said, "You're bleeding. You asked for tissues. I grabbed some tissues."

So I sat holding my foot and tissue-ing up the blood. Then we both rummaged through the mop bucket in search of the culprit, which turned out to be a second renegade piece of broken glass. It looked like THIS. When I saw the chunk of glass that had been in my foot, I made some more loud blue comments. Then I limped around and wondered if I should go to the doctor, but finally decided against it, because it would be too time consuming. Instead, I took a picture of the piece of broken glass and wrote this story about it.

And that is the story of me and the piece of broken glass.

Sometimes I get great ideas, but I can't follow through because I'm not craftsy enough.

I have this new fabulous idea--a novelty Judaica item: Flesh colored yarmulkes with frizzled comb-overs. I think they would be big. REAL BIG. And then I could create more yarmulkes made of only hair. For balding men. Both reverent and practical.

But I am not craftsy enough to even create a prototype. If anyone has craftsy skills, let me know. We'll corner the novelty yarmulke market.

Jenny was in town this weekend. Brian and I met her at a bar called Pianos on the Lower East Side. Fellow blogger Brian Minter's band was playing, but not until 10 PM. I told Jenny I really didn't think I would be able to stay up that late, as I have the sleep schedule of a 70 year old woman. But I was having so much fun, I managed to stay up past the last band, and almost went to the afterparty bar.

When I was introduced to Mr. Minter, I said, "Bears Will Attack?" and he said, "Debcentral?" And we both hugged. Blogger reunions can be so funny. You've seen pictures, you've read personal stories. Sometimes you've even talked online. And now you're finally meeting in person. It like Internet dating . . . only without the dating.

Sometimes, when I'm on the subway during rush hour, I have this burning desire to dance. It will be very hot and crowded, people pressed against me, everyone tired and miserable. But I want to dance. Sometimes, the desire is so strong, it's almost palpable. I can see myself in my mind's eye--bopping up and down, extending my arms grandly, wiggling and shaking my shimmy. Maybe it's an anxiety thing.

During high holy days, my mother would sometimes be called up for an aliyah (a call to read from the Torah). She said she had begun to grow afraid that once she'd gotten up on the bima, she might suddenly do something bizarre in front of the entire congregation. The thoughts were so disturbing to her, she began refusing the honor altogether.

But where as the people in the synagogue might find this odd, I don't know if anyone would even blink an eye on the subway. One sees so much there. And during morning rush hour. I'd probably be just another short Jewish girl shaking her shimmy on the 4/5 train to Bowling Green. Anonymity can be intoxicating.

Most of the time I love New York City, but some days I just hate it.
Some days I walk down the street and see one nice new restaurant after another. Bright colors, a fresh coat of paint. Sometimes the restaurants have a theme. They are more like movie sets than real establishments. On a recent walk through Washington Square Park, I could not find even one homeless person urinating in public. Not one strung-out speed dealer. No men with tin foil wrapped around their heads. No public sex in the shrubbery. It was just unnatural.

The day was warm, but pleasant. A sharply-dressed young man in dreadlocks played the saxophone for a small crowd. Everyone looked clean. There was no garbage on the ground.

I said to Brian, "I bet I couldn't get someone to flash me even if I paid them. What's happened to this park?" It's true. Washington Square Park is clean and nice. Hell's Kitchen is young and hip. When you pass 110th Street, nothing that remarkable happens. Sure, there is still plenty of poverty in the city, but it's mostly in the outer boroughs. On a bad day, I feel like Manhattan is turning into Epcot. Only more expensive.

I don't know why I'm in such a bad mood. I will attempt to cheer myself up by posting the subject lines for all the email messages my grandmother sent me this past week:

FW: Principles of Jewish Buddhism
FW: A Well Planned Life
FW: Puzzled
FW: Cute Boy Girl story
FW: Names
FW: What would u do....
FW: I have reservations about this one!
FW: Lets play Kosher Millionaire
FW: Patent office
FW: Idiot of the year
FW: US Navy's New State of the Art Two Point Navigational System
FW: George W Converts
FW: Two Choices
FW: Rescue!
FW: Birthday present
Can you guess how many of the 18 email messages contain personalized content? Can you guess how many of them contain dirty jokes or prurient images? 18 forwarded electronic messages straight from my grandmother's funny joke machine. L'Chaim!

I present you with a sweet little excerpt from a Missed Connection Nick Kocz sent me in honor of my sister, who has been working with the disturbed of thought in rural North Carolina.

Missed Connection

You wore a pale green hospital gown that fastened with drawstrings and carried a children's art composition book that had stiff black covers.

You introduced yourself as "The Lord of the Three Pyramids." When you spoke, you tugged on your earlobes.

"Charmed," I said, looking down at the intake papers in my lap.

Me, I was the student nurse whom you tried to convert as your sole apostle. You were my first patient.

We were standing thankfully not closer than ten feet apart. You were telling me how much you wanted to sniff me up, that the secret to one's divinity was found in one's body odor. And me, I was desperately searching for an electric cattle prod that might be hidden somewhere in the padded walls of your cell.

Your hair was pressed to your forehead and I gathered that you had not showered for several days. You tugged on your earlobes again.

"Let me show you my art," you said.

I am open to additional DebCentral Missed Connections. They just tickle me!

All Guest Blog submissions should be emailed to

tikkun olam in space provided below

more zonking @ heck's kitchen

heck's kitchen
julian in new york
rebecca in progess
adventures in andrealand
anthony litton
kevin de young
no home-like place
underblog rides again
thanks for not being a zombie
puritan blister
this is grand
charles blackstone
smartish pace
marc & david
writing right (or wrong)

andres dubouchet
bob and david
tim and eric
the lonely island
midnight pajama jam
ovos films
bloggedy blog blog

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