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






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I have already received several responses to my RENAME THE BELLINI campaign. I think RENAMING THE BELLINI might even become a cause celebre.

I am really just a hair's breadth from buying RENAMETHEBELLINI.COM. Maybe I will do it as soon as I get back from Atlanta....

Because I'm going to the AWP conference!

I'm kind of really freaked out. Brian can't figure out why I refuse to even look at the schedule. But I can't bear to. I'm too nervous. And I keep vacillating between feeling too inadequate and too smug. It's all very dumb, but I can't stop myself.

If you will be at AWP as well, please do come up and talk to me and make me feel un-stupid for attending. And talk to Brian too. Because lord knows he's only going because I made him.

And do continue to weigh in on RENAMING THE BELLINI.

I look forward to hearing from you. Let us fight the good fight!

A bellini is a refreshing, brunchy drink made of sparkling white wine and peach puree.

Brian loves the drink. But he hates the name. It sounds like some frou-frou, gaudy, foppish drink that might be ordered by an Italian dandy or a Texas debutante. Most brunches, he refuses to order it. He can't bring himself to say the word. Bellini. He's too ashamed.

It breaks my heart to watch Brian's brunchtime inner battle. I suggested once that he just point to the word on the menu. But he said it would be almost the same as pronouncing it. He couldn't stand acknowledging to himself that he could like a drink that was called a bellini.

That is why I have begun a campaign to RENAME THE BELLINI.

I have been toying with the idea of buying the domain name renamethebellini.com. It is, surprisingly, still available. Brian and I have come up with a number of alternative drink names. My favorite is the zeppelin. Maybe because of the shape of the champagne flute. Or maybe because drinking several of those fizzy sweet cocktails can make you feel like your floating. Then, half an hour later, you come crashing down. We've tried on other variations: the dirigible, the Hindenburg. I still favor the zeppelin.

What do you think?

Let's begin the movement right here on this site. Brian and I would like to hear your suggestions for RENAMING THE BELLINI.

contact @ debcentral.com

Maybe, if I get a few class suggestions, we'll all vote. If the debate gets really hot, I'll go ahead and buy renamethebellini.com. The world must know! The world must be told!

Personally, I prefer a nice spicy tomato juice with a strong shot of vodka. It's like getting a little wild while you drink your vitamins.

It snowed again last night.
The second, I think, of the season. I left work and walked up through Battery Park City, passed the World Trade Center site, to the A train. Karen and Rich invited us over (to watch the Oscars).

It was dark out, and the street lights and neon signs bled brilliantly against the inky night sky. At first, I mistook the snow for drizzling rain. But it was drizzling snow. A clean layer of snow lay over the streets like a new bed sheet. The air was chilly, but not too cold, not the kind you can feel down to your marrow. It was the kind of chill that touches your nose and cheeks while the rest of you stays cozy.

I felt good. Really wonderful. I felt a tremendous sense of peace within me. I was so happy to live in New York City. Right here. And now.

But within the happiness was a residue of anxiety. How long can this be sustained? Soon, it will be so hot again. The entire city will sweat and stink. Garbage cooking in the streets. The light too bright. The sky too low. And me, turning the same crank while the prices of food and clothing and rent rise and rise and rise.

I tried hard to hold on to the peace. When I got off the train in Cobble Hill, the snow was coming down hard, enormous wet flakes. I felt better again. I took a couple pictures with my dumb camera phone. An attempt to hold on to things. Then I met up with Brian and we watched the Oscars with Karen and Rich and Susan and Nick. I never care about those kinds of things, but we ate and drank and made fun of people's plastic surgery and had a very pleasant evening.

Brian took another picture while we waited for a cab to take us home. Here are our moments.

Vesy & Church

Smith Street in Brooklyn

Yes. I know. I look like I'm 12

From the neurologist, I was sent to an Ear, Nose, and Throat man.
Dizzy spells, nausea, headaches. For two months now. This would be doctor number three.

All throughout the office, there were pictures of what took me too long to deduce were before-and-after rhinoplasty shots. They were kind of amateurish photographs of profiles, mostly women. For some reason, I initially assumed these ladies were members of the doctor's family.

I explained what was going on. I told the doctor that I had initially panicked and assumed it was a brain tumor. But the neurologist told me my brain was "perfect". I had then spoken with our friend, Josh, whom, 6 years ago, had told us he had been experiencing dizzy spells. Brian and I called him this weekend, and he revealed that he has since been diagnosed with "Benign Position Vertigo". His symptoms were remarkably similar to mine, so I came to the conclusion that the diagnosis was probably the same as well.

The doctor looked in my ears and looked in my throat. Fine, he said, fine, fine. Then he stuck a metal object into each one of my nostrils. Fine, he said, then paused. "Do you ever have trouble breathing through your left nostril? Your septum is partially deviated."

I saw the twinkle in his eye. I avoided eye contact with the lady on the wall who I had initially mistaken for his daughter. "I fell in yoga," I said. "And also after prom. I fell on my nose in yoga and on prom night. A hairline fracture."

I smiled an enormous goofy smile, because I was uncomfortable and I didn't want him to say what I feared was going to. But he didn't. He kind of rolled his eyes a tiny bit, then looked in my ears again. He wasn't going to make a new-nose sale.

Where I grew up in South Florida, rhinoplasty was almost a rite of passage. And don't think in my early teenage years I didn't come home crying to my mother that no one could see if I was pretty or not because my nose got in the way. I think I was fourteen. My mother said I was too young. If I waited until I was 16 and still wanted a nose job, my parents would see what they could do.

By 16, dozens of my peers now had tiny ski slope noses. Noses that always looked greasy for some reason. Noses that were too small for their faces. Little by little, all the girls (and some guys) were beginning to look the same. Sometimes, I would catch people staring at my nose, and I could see the question that was forming: When?

For some reason, this made me angry. That now people assumed I wanted to look plain and pretty with my tiny little greasy nose. My answer, then, was Never.

On prom night, I had two drinks and fell off the bed of the hotel room in which myself and a handful of the nerdy kids were having our prom party. I woke up in the morning with a black eye, a blazing headache, and vomit in my hair. When I saw the doctor, he looked elated. He said, "Your septum's partially deviated now. Insurance will cover it."

"It" was the rhinoplasty he had in mind for me.

"I'm not really interested," I said.

"Just wait," he said. "You will be."

I fell again about 8 years later, this time, while practicing yoga. My nose became more crooked. I could see the bump growing. For a week or two, I was incredibly self-conscious, imaging myself as one big nose moving about from place to place. A giant nose running for the bus. I giant nose ordering a sandwich for lunch. I was a giant pulsating insecurity.

But then I got over it. Forgot about it. Moved on. Being obsessed with the size of your nose makes you no fun to be around. And isn't that what it's all about?

Back in the doctor's office, he checked my hearing and the pressure in my ears. He said, "Your hearing is perfect. The pressure is perfect."

I said, "Really? I'm always thinking I'm having trouble hearing. I was pretty sure I was going deaf."

"Nope," he said. "You're hearing is perfect. You're probably just blocking people out. You know, choosing not to listen. That's your business. I can't help you with that."

So there you have it: Perfect brain. Perfect hearing. Lousy listener. Slightly deviated septum.

I finally emailed my story to my grandmother.
She had made numerous requests that I send her the story "through the Internet." It was very cute, but I was afraid that she would have trouble opening the attachment. She received the story last night and left a message on my voicemail saying that the letters were too big, and she couldn't see the whole page at one time. She had to keep scrolling back and forth. So she just skimmed it. She said in her message, "The story seems . . . sensitive. Really sensitive."

She called me at work today to say that she was finally able to print out the story. She repeated that it was "very sensitive" and that she hoped I was not writing from personal experience. I said, "No, not really. Actually, it's kind of loosely based on a chapter from the Odyssey. Kind of a modern adaptation. Kind of."

"Oh," she said, "I know. Make believe. I get it."

Then she said she would go purchase the Kenyon Review just to see what kind of writing it contained. She said, "I'll go to Barnes and Nobles to find out the price. If I don't like it, I'll just leave. Then I'll come back tomorrow and, you know, shoplift."

The reality is often stranger than the fiction.

My mother and I made a slide show for my sister's bridal shower.
The project that we thought would take an afternoon or two spiraled out of control into hours and hours of sorting through old pictures, scanning them in, retouching and resizing them. Then the computer was giving us trouble. And so were two different flash drives. Everything took much longer than we thought it would.

I'm aware that the final product it a bit amateurish, but it was a lot of fun to do. My mother and I did a dry run at 1:15 in the morning the day of the shower. We had an LCD projector, external speakers, and my mother's little laptop. We played the slide show and danced around the kitchen like two ten year olds. Then we clapped our hands, hugged, and went to bed.

The party was actually a very great success. Many people came. They schmoozed and ate, and we needed three different cars to get all the presents home. The guests seemed to like the slide show fine. My sister, Ali, liked it too. But my mother and I were the most proud. Of our slide show presentation. And of Ali. What a cute, spunky kid she was. And what a fabulous adult.

For anyone who is curious, this is what it looked like:

(click the play button or go here)

Thanks, Brian's Uncle Isaac.

I'm now off to Hollywood, Florida, land of the drop-dead celebrities, for my sister's bridal shower.


If you fast forward in the press conference to 18:37 seconds, you can see Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler mention Brian among is thank yous. Very impressive. I'm working on capturing just those few golden seconds so I can play them over and over.

In other news: I hate Valentines Day. I hate it because it's dumb. I also hate it because it's a fake-y made-up holiday created by the union of Big Chocolate, Big Flowers, and Big Greeting Cards. It is a holiday that promises disappointment and hurt. And, in general, I don't see any point to it.

I am, at core, not a very romantic person. This is mostly I believe that Romance is an inorganic amalgam concept that is made up a number of divergent more "pure" emtions. It's part love, but it's also part greed, party need, part vanity, and part desperation.


I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Debbie is just a big old killjoy because nobody loves her enough to show her some nice romance.

I'm married, remember!?! So, yes, maybe this is true. But what is more important is that one person's romance is another person's totally-creeped-out-ness. I once had this discussion with my friend Andrea, who is now back in Seattle. Andrea firstly thought I was FOS, but then recalled that while she was in college, a boy once stalked her and covered her car with flowers or Post-It notes proclaiming his love for her. I guess this was romantic to the Post-It note guy. But Andrea became totally freaked out and nauseated.


I hate people asking me what I'm doing for Valentines Day. I hate that when I say, "Nothing," when I say, "I'm working late," people look at me with a sad face as if I were the ugly girl at the prom. But I don't want to do anything for Valentines Day. Because I hate it. Because it's dumb and fake.

But if one is absolutely going to insist on some sort of pretty story, I will tell you that I went to the neurologist today. This is the second doctor I've been to concerning my recent dizzy spells. Of course, he found nothing, and has referred me to an ear, nose, and throat man. But before he found nothing, he had his assistant do a brain scan. They mussed my hair with nasty white gel and stuck wires on my head. Then they made me sit in the dark for five minutes, instructing me to close my eyes, then open them, then close them again. When they were done, they both exclaimed, "AH! What a beautiful brain you have! A perfect brain!"

Because I am not a romantic, I said, "By beautiful, you mean normal, right? It's not any prettier than any other brain?"

The assistant said, "Well, no. But sometimes you see epilepsy. Or a stroke. That is very bad to have to tell the patient about it. You can imagine, the patient, that they get very upset. But it is so wonderful and such a relief to see a brain as perfect as yours.

Greed. Need. Vanity. Desperation. But also love. Also love.

Brian never came home last night.
I spoke to him around midnight, then went to bed. At 4:45 am I woke up in a state of panic. In my heart, I knew that Brian was still at the office, working doggedly and bleary-eyed. There was nothing to worry about. So I should just go back to sleep. But I was filled with anxiety and pain. For him.

Sympathy pains are ridiculous. They benefit no one. Still. I couldn't stop myself. I would dose off, then wake up suddenly, imagining I had heard my phone ring (I had taken it to bed with me). At 5:45 I broke down and called him. He seemed in relatively good spirits, more awake then I had expected. He thought he would be done in another 20 minutes.

Several sets of 20 minutes went by. I got up, showered, made coffee. We spoke again at 6:45. They were still finishing up, working against the clock. The report needed to be to the printers at 7, but every time they thought they were done, some new issue would turned up.

Brian sounded calm and lucid. Almost yogi-like. After 6 weeks of ever-increasing sleep deprivation, he had moved beyond sleep. I was a wreck.

I think if I were ever to be able to stop worrying, it would be a sign of something tremendous. Like the apocalypse. I don't think I like feeling anxious, but I'm not at peace unless I'm worrying about something. From the very big (familial health issues) to the very small (are we running low on toilet paper) and everything in between (I can't finish my meal, but children in Africa are starving). My days are woven together like one enormous patchwork quilt of worries.

It makes me angry how I can't let go of the worry. But if I did, wouldn't I become unmoored? I talked about this with my cousin last night, about the fear that if we were to just relax and let things go, the world around us would crumble. Some people have faith, and praying makes them feel better. We have worry. It's our religion

Absolutely ridiculous, I know. Insanity, really. But, still, it feels like home.

It's all very sad.
I don't think I've seen Brian for more than a couple waking hours all weekend. And they keep pushing the deadline for the release of this report. Which just means more time not seeing each other. He should be done by this weekend. But I'm going home for my sister's bridal shower. We will just miss each other. Sad for me, and sad for Brian, who can hardly form coherent sentences any more. I imagine his brain must look like a steaming cup of ramen noodles.

Boo hoo. You are all very sad. I can see it in your eyes.

Okay. Let's move on. I did happen to get my hot little hands on a fun new picture from my past. Let's take a look:

Mmm. Kiss the nonagenarian. Kiss her!

Wow. This is a picture of me kissing my 90 year old great grandmother who was crazy as a loon and always smelled of urine. These are my memories of her. Her telling us how robbers would crawl up the side of the old folks home where she lived just to rip her stockings. Her telling us how hundreds of cats lived in her basement. Oh, and how she could never quite get our names right!

Well, she was 90. Good for her. Only, can you see how uncomfortable we are made by my embrace. I am very obviously thinking, "This stinky old person can't even remember my name. I hope this embrace ends soon. I don't want to inhale her age and infirmity." She is obviously thinking, "Who is this young person who has affixed herself lamprey-like to my temple. Is she trying steal my soul? I wish she would go away so I could go back to the rec room to watch the television and abuse the staff in my native Ladino."

People: Let us take heed. Let us stop the problem before it starts. We need to prevent the uncomfortable forced embraces of the very young with the very old. Act now. Tikkun Olam. You'll thank me for it.

Brian came home at almost 2 in the morning and left again at 6. He shuffled out this morning looking drawn and otherworldly. I felt so bad, but there was nothing much I could do. So I went back to sleep.

Let's think back to a slightly better time, when I was still able to demand that my husband leave the office by 7 PM for the anniversary dinner I had planed two months in advance.

Karen tells her side of the story, filling in the gaps:

Here are some things that happened AFTER your anniversary dinner (I'm just filling in the blanks for you)

- I said that I was making cookies when you called. You said you were stuffed and would not want any cookies. But you ate a lot of them.

- Uncle Ira called and you put him on speaker phone. He taught us many things. You are Brian clearly stole all of the lids to his pots and pans. Just because you bought some of them, does not give you the right to leave the pot and take the lid. And he really can't think of anything that he could possibly cook without a lid. He told us all about the difference between psychopathic and psychotic. The lightbulbs are burned out in the chandelier. He can not find the lightbulbs. His mother is driving him crazy. He can not believe that you people managed to get a cab all the way from your apartment to Peter Luger. It's so far.

- Uncle Ira tried to pretend for a minute that he called because it was your anniversary, but I don't know.

- Brian and I began to play a silent game of scrabble.

- You went to the bathroom.

- While you were in the bathroom (FOREVER) Brian said hi to Ira. Ira didn't really notice that it was Brian on the phone and not you.

- You came out of the bathroom with Brian's convincing, and I mentioned that you should probably go home and get it on, since it was your anniversary. Brian gave me a look that said that was not likely.

Happy Anniversary Schwartz-Gellers.

Our anniversary is on June 28th. Get ready, we may come over.

Wow. Maybe it was better not-remembering.

I miss my husband.
For about a month now, he has been helping to draft a report for work. And, like a slow, silent creep, his hours have become longer and longer. At first, he was working until 8 or 8:30. Then 9, Then 10. Soon he was getting in around midnight. He starting going into work for a half day on Sunday. Then a full day. Then all day Saturday and Sunday.

I miss him. But when he's home, all we can talk about is how he's never home. He says he doesn't understand why I would want him home if all I want to do is yell at him.

But sometimes, when I don't yell at him, he forgets to come home. He works until he can hardly speak, and the I yell at him to shut down his computer and get his ass into a cab right now.

I'm very jealous. Because I feel he is choosing staring at a computer monitor for 15 hours a day over chatting with me. It had gotten really bad for a time. But then we came to an agreement that he would leave work at a reasonable hour (8 o'clock), we would eat dinner together, and then he could work from home until midnight. This was nice, maybe, because I felt like I was winning. This lasted for about two weeks.

But now I feel like I'm losing again. Now he's back shackled to his desk for 15 hours a days. When he comes home, he's a zombie.

I've had a number of friends email or call asking if we've been avoiding them. We're not. Brian's just been very busy.

I've been busy too. Yelling at him. I've also been sick twice this month. I got the same cold twice. I didn't think that was suppose to happen. Like lightening. But it did. And then I started getting these dizzy spells and weird headaches. I've convinced myself that I have a brain tumor. When I'm at home waiting for Brian and not yelling at him, I'm worrying about the massive polyp I believe is forming under my skull.

If you miss us, we miss you too. Hopefully, this report will be done soon, and Brian will no longer be forced to work so late and I will no longer be forced to spend my free time yelling at him, and I will find out that I simply have an inner-ear infection or have developed vertigo, which is an O, so funny thing. Ha, ha!

Give us another week.

Karen saw my pictorial account of our anniversary dinner and took issue with it on two points:
1) I made no mention of the fact that, following the dinner, we took a cab to Karen and Rich's.

2) I made no mention of the festivities therein, which included me accepting a call from my crazy uncle, putting him on speaker phone, making trip to the bathroom, and then falling asleep before he could finished his ramblings.

While Karen's allegations are all true, I would like to rebut that:
1) The account I posted on the web was photo-based, and I had no photos of which to speak of the festivities at Karen and Rich's.

2) I remember very very little of the actual festivities. Mostly because when I wasn't actually asleep, I was experiencing a sort of wine-induced cerebral hibernation.

I invite Karen to synopsis what occurred during our post-anniversary dinner festivities. If she does, I will most certainly post them.

. . . . One more thing . . . I made this in two days. Aren't I getting good!

Okay. Who here is going to AWP?
I just bought the plane tickets. I've made hotel reservations too. Everything short of actually signing up for the conference.

This will be my first. My first AWP conference. My first writing conference. Ever.

I never usually like these sorts of things. Or, at least, I always supposed that I wouldn't—I've never actually been to one. I think I always just assumed it must be a lot like sleepaway camp: posturing, hooking up, and, towards the end, color war.

But, despite my incredible inferiority complex, I am beginning to feel more and more like a real writer. So I guess I should get off my keister and schmooze. I know a number of people have already told me they were planning on being there. Anyone else?


Is this thing on?

Please feel free to contact me.

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