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






hair issues:







My Sister's Wedding

Saturday is my sister's wedding.
We're flying down to South Florida tomorrow morning. With my grandmother and aunt in tow.

Two Saturdays ago, I called my grandmother to say hi. I said, "How are things going?"

She said, "Terrible. Just terrible."

I said, "What's the matter?"

She said, "My idiot son is a pig. He shoved his food in so fast at dinner, shoved it into his fat face, that he spent the whole night vomiting on his shirt."

"On his shirt?"

"Yes! It was disgusting."

Later, I called my aunt. My aunt. I don't talk about her much. But she doesn't get out a lot. She asked me, "What should I pack for the wedding?" The last time she flew in a plane was for my sister's bat mitzvah. That was 14 years ago.

I said, "Well, you should wear something comfortable to fly on Thursday. On Friday, you can wear whatever you want during the day, but in the evening, you might want to wear something a little nicer. On Saturday, you know, where whatever during the day, but at night, that's the wedding. So if you have a nice dress . . . Anyway, Sunday. Sunday's the brunch. But it's pretty casual. You can wear jeans if you want. I think I'm going to wear jeans."

My aunt said, "But I don't own jeans. Do I need to buy a pair of jeans?"

"No. I meant, if you normally wore jeans, you could wear jeans. If you don't own jeans, just wear whatever."

So we are all four flying down to Florida together. We are meeting up at the airline counter. And then it's three sweet hours of crazy sky heaven. I keep debating how early I should begin drinking. Then again, I'm on antibiotics.

I feel like I'm never going be well again.
Grace from the doctor's office called me this morning. She said the results from my culture are back. She said, "Your test came back 100% positive for bacterial. You're going to need to be on antibiotics."

I said, "But I'm already on antibiotics."

"They're the wrong ones. You're on tetracycline. You need to be on augmentin. You should take it for 8 days. Don't forget to take it with food."

"What about drinking? My sister's wedding is this weekend. Can I drink while on this antibiotic?"

"I don't think so."

"Then can I start it after this weekend?"

"That's a long time to wait to start taking the antibiotic."

"But I've been taking an antibiotic."

"It was the wrong one. I don't think you should wait to start the augmentin."

Grace put me on hold to ask the doctor about alcohol and augmentin. She got back on the phone. "You can drink," she said. "Doctor says you can drink."


"Yeah. But don't go crazy or anything."

"He said that?"

"No. He just said you can drink. But you really shouldn't go too crazy or anything."

That's the bad news. The good news is friend and fellow blogger Alana Cole Faber has posted my great-grandmother's recipe for borekas on her vegetarian recipe blog. Now I never have to remember where I've put the recipe. It will be in cyberspace! Forever!

I'm still dizzy. But now I'm snotty too.
When the ear, nose, and throat doctor couldn't find anything much wrong, he referred me to an audiologist for further testing.

I went for the testing about a week and a half ago. I sat in something that looked like a dentist's chair and the audiologist gave me a pair of goggles. He told me the goggles had cameras inside that monitored the movement of my pupils. "See," he said," and he pointed over at the laptop on the counter. I turned and saw two enormous eyes peering back at me. I guess this startled me, because the image of my eyes opened wider, even swelled. It was disturbing. I screamed.

"Kind of creepy, eh?" the audiologist said.

First he had me watch an orange dot on the screen. I watched it stationary. I followed it as it moved up and down. Side to side. I moved my head back and forth when I heard a peeping nose. This was child's play, and I passed the tests with flying colors.

Then he administered the Freaky Air in the Ear Canal test.

He warned me that some people found this test unpleasant, then he placed what looked like a dentist's suction tool in my ear. The tool blew cool air into my ear canal, and he waved it back and forth slightly to get my cilia moving. This tickled for the first ten seconds. By 30 seconds, the room was spinning. When we were done with the full minute, I thought I was going to vomit.

The audiologist let me recoup for a moment, and then administered the air into the left ear. Then he blew hot air into my right and left ears, which was ten times more unpleasant.

When I walked out of the office, I felt like I had downed percocets and vodka on an empty stomach, only to have someone hit me on the head with an iron skillet. I could hardly stand up straight.

Today I went back to the ear, nose, and throat doctor. For my results, but also because of my recent respiratory ailments. The doctor looked at me, looked at my test results, looked at me again, and said, "You're perfect! There's nothing wrong with your inner ear."

"But I'm still dizzy."

"Well, you're completely normal."

I told the doctor about my present symptoms, how I suspected I had a respiratory infection. He looked at my tongue, then stuck a metal periscope up my nose. "Oh, yeah," he said, "You're full of pus."


"Yup." He got a new tool and squirted something up my nose. "Anesthetic. It won't hurt." Then he took a giant Q-tip and swabbed the inside of my nose. After that, he shoved a tiny plastic suction up my nostril and vacuumed out my brain. It didn't hurt, but it felt extremely unpleasant.

He told me he wouldn't have the results of the culture until Monday, but we should cover all our bases. He gave me a free nose spray sample and a small envelope full of pills. The the words "Tetracycline -- NO MILK!" were scribbled on the front. So I'm guessing I'm set.

The votes are in!
Dawn S wrote:
Virile Lumberjack

That's my vote.

Susan H. wrote:
I dearly want any one of my suggestions to win. But if I may only vote once, please mark my vote for

The Twinkling Pitchfork

Not unlike the contestants on American’s Next Top Model, The Twinkling Pitchfork has dreamed about this for its entire life. It wants this more than any other contest in this competition. And no matter what anyone says, it is going to be America’s Next Top Fruity Drink Name.


Dave S. wrote:
I’ll vote for my own entry – the virile lumberjack.

If voting for my own entry is in bad taste, you’re running a crappy election!

Alana C-F wrote:
Flu sucks. I mean SUCKS!!!! My sympathies.

I think you should leave the Bellini alone. A real man would be able to order a Bellini and not feel silly. Besides, all he has to do is put a sort of cynical spin on it. "Excuse me, sir, but I'd like to try one of these so-called Bellinis." And then he can lean over to you and loudly say, "Geez. You'd think they could have given it a better name. Bellini. Honestly!"

It would appear that the VIRILE LUMBERJACK is the winner! Congratulations, Dave S! Congratulations, World! I am now officially opening my campaign to RENAME THE BELLINI THE VIRILE LUMBERJACK.

The Bellini is now the Virile Lumberjack


By yesterday evening, Brian and I were both feeling much better.
Mostly, Brian felt tired and I had acquired the seasoned cough of an elderly asthmatic.

Brian slept easily and deeply. I spent most of the night wading through eerie lingering dreams, waking up with my head and back drenched in sweat.

At around two in the morning, I was on the top floor of a discount department store located off the Battery. I knew they would be closing soon, but without warning, the stores lights shut down entirely. Section by section. Brian was with me. We had to make our way back to street level and out the door. Some of the escalators were running and some were stopped and some were running backwards. It was so dark, we could only see a few inches ahead of us. We had our hands out in front of us the whole time. And I kept thinking I was finding more people, but it was just a row of dolls, a row of umbrellas, a row of broomsticks. When we finally got outside, I was worked up, I wanted to call the store to complain. But the number listed on the side of the building was to the Staten Island Ferry. I looked out towards the Battery, and instead of being that harsh harbor, it was a soft sloping beach. It was almost sunset. I woke up bathed in anxiety and chagrin.

I went to the bathroom to shake off the dream. When I fell back to sleep, I was back at the beach, just outside the department store. My mother was asking about what I had bought. We were outside, but we were in front of a changing room mirror. I tried to explain to her about getting stuck in the store. I was talking to her and looking in the mirror. And that's when I noticed that when I parted my hair a certain way, it revealed that all the hair on the top of my head had fallen out. I had essentially been sporting a comb-over. I tried to show my mother. At first, she dismissed me. But then she looked closer and was disgusted. She wanted to know what I had done to make all my hair fall out. She wouldn't believe that it had just happened. I looked in the mirror again, and I noticed that if I buttoned my shirt, I could see a triangular patch of chest hair. "See, Mom," I said, "It's not just baldness. I have chest hair too. It must be hormonal."

Again I was up. It was about 4 AM now. The sheets were sticking to me. I tried to wake Brian and tell him about my dream, but he was remarkably disinterested. I got up again, went to the bathroom again. Checked my hair. It was sweaty and awry, but mostly still there. I checked my chest. Phew. I went back to bed.

I was back at the Battery at the beach in front of the department store. I was waiting for a bus. A coach bus pulled up. We were going on a trip. I had a suitcase and a carry-on bag. Brian was with me. I got a weird vibe from the bus driver. Something wasn't right. We were driving past low-lying strip malls, bleached and abandon. Everything was very bright. I wanted to get off the bus because I was feeling uneasy. Then it was just me and the bus driver alone in a car. Brian was no longer there. We were in a strip mall parking lot. I was being abducted. He was still driving, but he kept trying to grab for me. I finally pulled away. I got the door open. I tumbled out. And I had managed to keep hold of my carry-on bag. But it had split open, spilling all the toiletries on to the asphalt. I knew I should get up and run away. Run and hide. Get my phone and call Brian, call the police. But all the toiletries. They were brand new, never even used. And travel-sized, so they were that much more expensive. I stayed on ground, as if anchored there, hurrying to pick up my toiletries. I could see the bus driver's evil eyes. He was about to back up the car and run me over. I could see he was going to do this. And he was mocking me. Each time I would pick up a small tube of toothpaste, a travel-size deodorant, I could hear him mouth the price lasciviously. I knew I should get up and run. Get Away. I knew I was about to get killed. But when I tried to stand, to turn, I saw more toiletries. I thought, "But I paid good money for that shampoo," and reached for it. I heard him mouth the words "A dollar forty-nine," and the car shifted into reverse.

It was 6:50 now, and Brian asked if I wanted him to hit the snooze button. I told him no.

So this is how disease spreads.
Brian's brother Eddie -- we will call him Patient Zero -- and his girlfriend stayed with us for only one night, but it was enough to get me sick. Maybe this is because I am a vegetarian who eats French fries for almost every meal.

Shortly after I began feeling the chills, Patient Zero's girlfriend starting coughing up a storm. They are both now staying with Brian's sister, coughing and shivering all over each other.

Brian was very wonderfully attentive to me for the past few days. Then. This morning. He woke up and said, "I don't feel so good."

Sure enough, his face was flushed, his body was chilly and achy, his throat hurt. If Brian's sister doesn't get sick too, then we'll know she must be one of the heartiest people alive.

My brother-in-law is visiting.
He lives in LA now, and had scheduled a trip to visit the family in NYC, as well as to reunite with his newish, long-distance girlfriend. Everything looked fine until he woke up at 4 AM the morning before his flight with a respiratory flu.

Brian and I tried to see if the airline would allow him to postpone his flight one day, but they apparently would rather have someone infect an entire plane-load of people on a cross-country flight than lose a little money.

So that's what Eddie did. He and the girlfriend spent the first day mostly sleeping on our futon, then moved to Brian's sister's apartment. But not before he infected me as well.

Mostly, I'm annoyed, because this is the third respiratory ailment I have contracted this winter. And because my head is stuffed full of mucus, I am dizzier than ever.

I started feeling those achy chills while I was still at work yesterday. So I went around proclaiming to my coworkers, "My in-laws make me sick. Literally. They make me sick."

Because nobody laughed the first time around, I repeated my witty joke five more times. Its reception only worsened.

While I was at work shivering and bemoaning my poor luck, Brian was at City Hall playing an extra in the new Spike Lee pilot, M.O.N.Y. He got to play the back of a head in a scene in which reporters ask the Public Advocate cum Mayor questions. I believe he even got to speak. Last night, as I lay in bed sweating and coughing, Brian recalled his lines. He said, "I think I said, 'Mr. Public Advocate, Mr. Public Advocate.' Wait. Yeah. That's what I think it was. 'Mr. Public Advocate. Excuse me, Mr. Public Advocate,' or something like that."

He said that one of the extras in the scene got a little too into her part and tried to ad-lib an question, but she got yelled at.

Okay. Some more Bellini renaming ideas.
Michael F. [aka RT]:

Pretty Pony
Nemo (as in Finding Nemo)
Georgia Hayride
Squid driver
Heck’s Half Acre
Shiloh (refers to the Confederate offensive through the Peach Orchard at Shiloh April 6, 1862)
Johnson’s Revenge (Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnson died at the Peach Orchard)
Butternut Cocktail
Though I've received quite a bit of suggestions, I've only gotten two actual votes. Here's your list:
The Dirigible
The Zeppelin
The Hindenburg
The Ernest Hemingway
Twinkling Pitchfork
The Cow Tipper
The Poor-Man’s Ipod
The Alley-oop!
The Whiplash
The Blini
The Geller
The Virile Lumberjack
The Giovanni
The Nancy-Boy
Pretty Pony
Georgia Hayride
Squid driver
Heck’s Half Acre
Johnson’s Revenge
Butternut Cocktail
Let's vote this thing up, gang.

Comments are still trickling in.
My cousin, Jennifer V. nee H.:
I have to put my foot down…I think it would be a travesty to rename the bellini the Ernest Hemingway. Even though the bellini was originally made for him, his preferred, fruity, mixed drink of choice was the Papa Doble…which consists of the juice of half a grapefruit, two limes, maraschino liqueur and rum. I think the bellini should be renamed The Giovanni after Giovanni Bellini, who it was originally named for.

Suzanne F. [aka SSB]:
On behalf of Michael F. [aka RT], who is suddenly nearly as busy as Brian was last month, I submit his offering: The Nancy-Boy.
Wow. This has become a more polarizing debate than I ever could have imagined.

So let's review again:

The Dirigible
The Zeppelin
The Hindenburg
The Ernest Hemmingway
Twinkling Pitchfork
The Cow Tipper
The Poor-Man’s Ipod
The Alley-oop!
The Whiplash
The Blini
The Geller
The Virile Lumberjack
The Giovanni
The Nancy-Boy

Are we ready to vote yet?


Here are some email comments and suggestions I received regarding Brian and my campaign to RENAME THE BELLINI.

Susan H.:

The Ernest Hemmingway
Twinkling Pitchfork
The Cow Tipper
The Poor-Man’s Ipod
The Alley-oop!

Although this entry does have a whiff of product placement, would you consider renaming it The Whiplash after Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey? I went to a rodeo in Cleveland last weekend, and Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey performed at halftime (or whatever they call the mid-time break at the rodeo). He and his border collie were actually really awesome. They were the highlight of the whole show. At the rodeo, the announcer said Whiplash had performed for the Prime Minister of France and the Premier of China. If he’s good enough for France and China, I think he’s good enough to rename the Bellini after him.

Here’s his website - http://www.whiplashrides.com/whiplash.htm. Seeing is believing.

I also support The Dirigible.

David E.:
Couldn't Brian just pretend he's asking for a "blini" -- one of those tasty Russian buckwheat pancakes? Nobody ever feels awkward asking for one of those.

Dawn S.:
I think Brian should just start ordering "The Geller." The waiter/waitress might have to ask what it is and Brian will explain, "It is a frou-frou, gaudy, foppish drink comprised of sparkling white wine and seasonal white peach puree."

"Oh, that's a belli--"

"NO, it's a Geller. GELLER. Got it? Or maybe you don't enjoy getting a generous tip?"

He should also consider viral marketing. He could start by adding something to the Wikipedia entry for bellini about how it is sometimes known as the Geller, but only among the hippest of NYC hipsters. (What's the point of having an open encyclopedia if you can't make things up?) We could see how well that works, and just gradually, subtly ramp up.

Just a note, I think "bellini" sounds more fascist that foppish.

Andrea B.:
I know I may be one of the few but I really feel that you are doing a disservice to the brunch community by choosing to rename the beloved Bellini. While I understand your desire to protect the soft soul of your darling lawyer husband, this sweet and refreshing beverage is, in fact, Italian. Venician, I believe… that beautiful sinking eighteenth century village that travel bugger Rick Steves once called “an elegant puddle of decay.” Through the backdoor indeed… In any case, when the positively passionate Italian Giuseppe Cipriani came up with this delectable cocktail at Harry’s Bar along the mysterious canals of Venice, inspired perhaps, by the views of the passing ships along the aqua green harbor on a sunlit Sunday afternoon, he proclaimed his masterpiece, a Bellini! So delicate and balanced, sweet and refreshing that gives that special tingle in your bottom from the bubbly Prosecco and juicy peach nectar. Bellisima Bellini!

And so, I beg of you, halt your mission at once and let the Bellini live on. You tell that husband of yours the next time he’d like his bottom tingled for breakfast to look his hipster waitress with big loop earrings in the eye, throw back his head, and in his best Italian tenor bravado shout Bellini! Bellini! Bellini!!!

Dave S.:
I suggest "Virile Lumberjack"

I think that leaves us with:
The Dirigible
The Zeppelin
The Hindenburg
The Ernest Hemmingway
Twinkling Pitchfork
The Cow Tipper
The Poor-Man’s Ipod
The Alley-oop!
The Whiplash
The Blini
The Geller
and the Virile Lumberjack

Shall we begin the voting?

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
So here is my 6,000 word essay on what Brian and I did at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs convention in Atlanta, Georgia, this past weekend.

The Smartish table at the book fair, with Clare and Stephen Writerly schmoozing
Stalking poet Ed Hirsch Partying like it's 1999
The new Cooper baby: Eliana Hilit Amy, Scott, and Eliana

More pictures and further explanations to follow.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to submit your thoughts and comments regarding my RENAME THE BELLINI campaign. They will be posted soon.

Please feel free to contact me.

the history of debcentral