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






hair issues:








So here is a quick recap of our weekend:
On Friday, Brian and I saw the Charlie Chaplain movie City Lights at the Film Forum. We thought it was just okay. On Saturday, our friend Heather came to town. We hung out, ate, drank, ate, chatted, ate, then went to dinner.

She left Saturday morning. Brian and I traveled to the Upper West Side to see the Mythic Creatures special exhibition at the Museum of Natural History. I had been really excited about it, but both Brian and I thought it was just okay. Brian noted that they stole my sea-cow-as-mermaid illusionary schtick. We then went to see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which we both really liked, but I think I liked it more than Brian.

Now I want to back up for a moment. On Friday, before City Lights started, Brian and I got some dinner in a small, crowded café where the tables are very close together. We squeezed into our table, and almost immediately noticed that the couple to my left was speaking about their JDate experiences.

I do not believe this couple was an actual couple, or that they were even on a date, because the guy spoke freely and unapologetically about using Jdate as a source of one-time hookups. The girl agreed that if she were going on a Jdate just for fun, she would sleep with the guy on the first date, but if she really liked him, she would wait. The guys said, "I haven't meant anyone on Jdate I liked enough for that. For me, it's just a one-night-stand thing."

Then he started complaining how many of the girls he had met and slept with through Jdate tried contacting him for future dates, and this annoyed him. He complained that many of the girls he meant through Jdate had curly hair. He hated curly hair. One time, he dated a girl with what he described as "natural" hair. He liked her. They went on a few dates, but then he found out she really had curly hair but had been blowing it out straight. This horrified him, and they broke up. "And I hate a girls who wear makeup."

"A lot of girls wear makeup," the girl said. "It's not that big a deal. I'm wearing makeup right now."

"Yeah, but you're hardly wearing any makeup."

"No, I'm wearing a nice amount of makeup. I would say I'm definitely wearing makeup, and it's a nice amount of makeup."

"Well, I didn't notice. I don't like it when you notice that a girl is wearing makeup. Or that she blow dries her hair. You don't blow dry your hair, do you?"

"I blow dry my hair."

"But you don't blow dry it all the time."

"I pretty much blow dry it all the time."

"But you don't blow dry it straight do you? Your hair is naturally straight."

"My hair is a little wavy. It's not curly. But I definitely blow dry it. And when I do, I blow dry it out straight."

After hitting this rough patch, they began to talk about past relationships. Brian and I sat mesmerized by the conversation, unable to talk, unable to do anything else but listen. And occasionally text each other about the horror we were feeling.

It turns out the girl had been married before, but was now single. The guy's longest relationship had gone on for two years, and this is with a girl who was ten years her junior. I started to do the math, but the girl made things easy. She said, "Well, you're 38 now. Things have changed a lot for you."

The guy spoke equivocally about his ex-girlfriend. He said, "She was very immature."

The girl said, "You mean she was socially awkward?"

"No. She was very socially tuned-in. She was very savvy. She just didn't know a lot."

"You mean she wasn't very bright?"

"No, she was brilliant. And very savvy."

"Did she not dress well?"

"No. She dressed amazing. It's just that she didn't know anything. She knew some things. But there were other things that she just didn't know. And it was always irritating."

Just then a new song came on. Brian leaned in and whispered to me that it was a band we liked — the Silver Jews. Ten seconds later, the guy said, "Hear this song?" He pointed up. "What band is this?"

The girl looked at him blankly. "It's a band called the Silver Jews. She would have know that."

The girl said, "I've never heard of them. I know classic rock. Ask me anything about classic rock. I'll be able to answer you. I'm an expert on Classic Rock. Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin...."

They talked about Zeppelin 4 for a bit, but then were back to JDating, which is when I heard about one of the weirdest dating hang-ups ever. The guy said, "I went on two dates with her, and I like her, but I don't think we can go out again."

The girl said, "What's the problem? Is she too clingy?"

He said, "Not really. It's just that ... she told me that every Sunday she does philanthropy."


"You know. She does things for charities. Every Sunday."

"I think that's nice."

"It may be nice, but don't tell me about it."

"Why not?"

"It's not sexy. I can't think of anything less sexy than doing community service."

"I think it's nice that she spends her Sundays doing community service."

"I don't care that she does it. She just shouldn't tell anyone. I mean, not on a date. That's so unsexy. Community service is NOT SEXY. I don't think I can date her again."

"I'd love it if I guy I was dating did community service."

"I can't ever see her again. It's just too gross 'I do community service.' Gross."

After we left the restaurant, I had the desire to alert JDate that we had met their biggest douche bag.

Monday evening was Sam and our fifth annual Asian Food & a Movie Christmas Eve Celebration.

Here the movie list Sam compiled:
2003 – The Fog of War
2004 – Donkey Skin
2005 – Transamerica
2006 – The Thing About The Cat That I Fell Asleep During
2007 - ???
??? Turned out to be Sweeney Todd, which looked visually appealing. And I felt the spurting blood might keep us from falling asleep after the two bottles of wine we drank.

Let me speak briefly about food. In 2003, we ate sushi. 2004 was — I don't remember, but I blogged that we had eaten Japanese. 2005 was Thai. 2006 was sushi, at a restaurant at which I performed my famous joke where the server uncorks the wine, pours it in a glass for a taste, I taste it, then scream "SEND IT BACK!" Only, this time, I made the waitress cry. This year, we went back to Thai. I did not do my famous wine tasting joke because Sam vowed that if I should ever perform it again in his presence, he would forever refuse to eat with me. The restaurant played a Mariah Carey concert album, and our server was her biggest fan. Brian attempted to connect with our server on this level, and was rewarded with his very own Mariah Carey concert poster, which he promptly left behind in the movie theater.

The movie was cute. I think I enjoyed it more than Brian. I think Sam enjoyed it more than me. In the end, who doesn't want to see Johnny Depp?

On Christmas day, Brian and I went to see Persepolis. Brian enjoyed it more than me. As we were leaving, I said to Brian, "It's just that sometime didn't sit right with me. I don't like where the story ended. I didn't feel as close to the protagonist as I would have liked to—"

"YOU'RE WRONG," Brian said.

"I spoke to Sam, who said he saw it already, and I think he felt similarly."

"Well, He's wrong too!"

Brian later apologized for confusing subjective with objective. But he would not lift the specter of the accusation that I had bad taste in movies.

Later that evening, I started to feel lousy. My throat was hurting and I got the chills. I had a horrible sick-person's night and stayed home from work the next day, mostly sleeping.

I woke up this morning, and I was very conscious that I had been dreaming.
I had been at the office, which looked a lot like my parents' house, and I had been trying to open a giant can of stewed tomatoes. In some protracted mishap, I wound up cutting up the palms of both of my hands.

I was a bloody mess. I used tissues from my parents' bathroom to try to stop the bleeding. And it would stop for a moment, only to have the wound open and blossom full ripe red with blood again, streaming through my fingers and on to my clothing and the floor.

I was in horrible pain, and I kept trying to do work, to write with a pen or type on the computer, but blood was getting everywhere. In desperation to stop the bleeding, I went through the kitchen drawers looking for something to make it stop. But my hands were throbbing and spilling blood everywhere. I kept asking my coworkers for help, but everyone was to busy to help.

I'm bleeding, I cried. I don't know what to do. Someone, please help me.

And suddenly, my mother walked in. She said, What you need is for someone to bandage you up. And it was true. That's what I needed. How could this not have occurred to me earlier?

She produced some gauze and tape from her purse (which is very surprising, given the fact that she can't even find her own cell phone in that thing) and began wrapping up my hands. That's when I woke up.

But my hands were still throbbing. My knuckles were swollen, especially on my right hand. Arthritis? My joints ached. I groaned, "My hands!" and thrust them into Brian's face.

"I dreamed my hands were all cut up and bleeding," I said, "And now they are killing me. I think I have ARTHRITIS."

I was freaking out, still under the ghostly gauze-like influence of the dream. Brian kissed me on the knuckles. He got up and brought me some Alieve. Then he made me coffee.

The joints in my hands still feel a little swollen and achy. And even hours later, I am still still experiencing the shadow of pain in my right palm.

I called my mother several hours ago to tell her about my strange dream and about what I perceived to be arthritis. She said, "Everybody gets aches and pains all the time. It's part of being human. It's when you get the same aches and pains repeatedly that you should go see a doctor. Then she told me a story about how her entire arm once went numb, and it turned out it was because she had a problem with her toe and had been walking weird to compensate, and this put pressure on her spine in a strange way, which cause her arm to go numb.

My mother said, "Maybe you slept funny, and it pinched a nerve in your back that made you feel like your hand was hurting." Then she said that if it happened again, not to forget I had health insurance and could go see a doctor.

Sent in from a debcentral reader:
What did you sign up to bring to the office pot luck holiday party?

Cynthia's serving up her famous shrimp cocktail. Febe is making chicken fingers.

And someone has signed up to bring "HOMOS DISH"

As it turns out, HOMOS DISH consists of pureed chickpeas with olive oil and lemon juice, and is accompanied by BABAGANOUSH DISH.

The fellow who signed up for HOMOS DISH for the office holiday party lunch pot luck is Syrian, and was transliterating. So it's okay. But the party took place in a psychiatric office, so many people had comments about what they perceived to be a Freudian slip.

I used to be fast.
I even remember my near-hubris one summer at camp. It was during color war. I said, "Let me run the relay. I'm fast.

We won.

The next year was the year that all our bodies were changing. I came in third in the relay. Like that slow pained growing of Michael Jackson turning into a werewolf in Thriller, my hips were widening, making me sluggish and clumsy. And as my peers shot up, I remained roughly the same size. No matter how badly I wanted to be fast, I had been doomed by my short, wide genes.

If you look at my extended family, you can see that they are mostly all short. We are a people close to the ground. There are other family traits, like the wide hips and narrow shoulder. And small hands with abnormally short pinky fingers.

My mothers hands are laid out exactly like mine—the same stubby fingers, large knuckles, short pinkies. One day, I was looking at an old picture of my great grandparents. The picture had been taken around the turn of the last century in Warsaw, Poland. I had seen it many times before, but never really noticed their hands. The same hands. Both of them.

Here are the Morochs at the turn of the last century.

And here they are 40 or so years later.

On Saturday, I attended my extended family's annual Chanukah party. I was retelling my story of the Moroch family hands, when one of my cousins lifted her hand, palm-out, to mine. It was a match. Another cousin's hands were the same size, and another. Most of them had abnormally short pinkies too.

Different from the agony I had felt at 12 when I saw my body doomed to be short and stubby, I suddenly felt a sense of relief. If phenotypes could throw a party, then wouldn't this be it? We are not born to suffer alone. We are born to suffer with our family. And occassionally, the company can diminish the misery.

I'm biding my time until my own office holiday party.
In the meantime, I am submitting for your review two sets of haikus. The first is from Molly, who usually writes subway haikus. She is finishing her first semester as a law student, and is presently hidden beneath a stack of law books. Here are her 1L haikus.
Judicial review
Watch Marbury get pwned by
That noob Jefferson

Functionalist White
I check you, you balance me
Let's all get along

The Commerce Clause says
No! you can't grow your own wheat
Wickard you dipshit

I seem to recall
Something about apples and
Trash in New Jersey

Quick! to Raich's house
The Supreme Court just said that
She can keep her weed

And Alana has stepped in to fill the subway haiku void. She writes:
This popped into my head yesterday after trying sooooo hard NOT to listen to the angry woman tell us all about Jesus and the End of Days.

Not even iPod
Can drown out the sound of your
Incessant preaching

When the End Time comes
Hell will deliver us all
From your Jesus talk

Today's entries seem unusually literary.

Suzanne (SuSuBelle): my take on the office party question.

Long ago, in a different city and a different life, I had the paradoxical experience of working for a company that paid really well and treated its employees (particularly its female employees) like crap. The company published five trade magazines, the most successful of which was a real rag, but it was also a cash cow. The men for the most part were ad salesmen, although a few, like my boss, doubled as the publisher of one or another of the magazines, and they raked in the dough with both hands. The women were all editorial--the president was actually heard to loudly proclaim from time to time that as long as he was in charge, no woman would ever be in sales at this place.

But the point is, because they paid extraordinarily well (something I've not experienced before or since), people stuck around forevers. They generally gave us a week's pay as a summer bonus, and in the two years I was there, I got six significant raises in salary. But the big one was the end of the year bonus--a month's pay for every person on the payroll.

Needless to say, if somebody were considering leaving, s/he would hang on like grim death till after the first of the year and the bonus check was safely deposited. The fact that anybody with any sense hated working there, and the high anticipation of getting a big check at the end of the year, made the annual Christmas party even more surreal.

I'd never worked at a place where people came to the party in obscenely revealing clothes, got roaring drunk, danced on the tables to the (awful) band, and insulted their bosses face-to-face. The first year I went, all I could do was look on in horrified amazement. The second year, I made a vow to drink NOTHING, which made the scene unfolding before my eyes even more astounding.

By year two, I was in the middle of an unraveling marriage, but I took my spouse to the party and I was GLAD he was there with me. That's the real test of a holiday party--if it has the power to make you look at somebody you despise as your potential savior, then it truly has jumped the gap between the merely boring to the genuinely horrific. And that's why spouses should always be invited to the holiday party. Even if you're barely speaking to your spouse, s/he can remind you that there is life outside the weird little world your bosses have created. Sometimes that knowledge can save your sanity.

Paul: Dishless.
Boss lady was having a holiday get together at her place. She posted a list on the break room door so you could post to the office what dish you will be bringing to the party. I took this as an effective application of two tried and true management techniques: guilt and public shame. Having survived 12 years of Catholic school I was all too familiar with them.

I didn't sign up. I resisted. Being the frugal blogger, I took it as an opportunity to practice moderation, the perfect excuse for a cheapskate. I managed to fight the temptation to bring something even as everyone in the office chatted about how excited they were about Norah's pâté or Nick's lentils. Of course the conversation then turned to me, "Paul, what are you bringing?" The truth is, out of my several recipes none are holiday party appropriate. I'm not showing up to a Christmas party with a pot of lentil soup. And as the list filled up and then overflowed beyond the lines the boss put in for people to sign up, I continued to remain conspicuously absent and I actually felt reassured. There was no way this group was going to finish all that food. But I remained irked. I starting thinking about anti-pasta. Who doesn't like olives and cheese? But I stuck to my guns and marched through the horrible weather to my boss's Gramercy Park apartment empty handed.

When I got there, what should I find but a dish of anti-pasta as provided by the boss herself. So I helped myself to some hard cheese, wine, and then, because I'm curious about these things, I went looking for pictures of my boss as a young woman. I found them in the hallway hanging next to the bathroom.

My own office holiday office party is this coming Wednesday. Brian's is Thursday. I'm still accepting your feedback, as well as your appeals for new year's cards.

In the meantime, keep warm.

Some more feedback.

Rebecca: Since I'm a big self-help phase, I'm borrowing a little...

The Seven Highly Effective Ways to Survive the Office Holiday Party

1. Be Proactive. Drink Heavily. But Not Too Heavily. You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you act about certain things in life. Being "proactive" means taking responsibility for everything in life. This may be depressing when you considered your poorly paid job, so if you were really proactive, you'd find yourself a nice cushy new job, preferably in the for-profit sector. When you're reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. React to your shitty situation by proactively drinking and forgetting your woeful situation. By being proactive in this way you will not to be affected by your circumstances. But you may need a co-worker to shuttle you to your door at the end of the night. Which brings me to #2...

2. Begin with the End In Mind. Formulate a "personal vision statement" to get through the party. Visualize yourself in that happy place. Alcohol will facilitate this process. If you have similarly disillusioned co-workers with whom you can share this process, you can formulate organizational vision statements.

3. Put First Things First. Create a framework for prioritizing the evening. Set short-term goals: work the bar, score a table with the cool crowd, hit the buffet. Accomplishing these short-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear not to be urgent, such as schmoozing up the boss, kissing up, and networking, is very important. Don't forget to delegate and have someone reserve a table while others go for food and horde bottles from the bar.

4. Think Win/Win—you're saving money on dinner, drinks are free, and you'll have lots of incriminating blackmail photos in the morning.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in that advice being rejected. So when you tell the new kid to lay low and just watch the senior management embarrass themselves, he may have to see it for himself.

6. Synergize Apply collaborative decision making. Red or white wine? Value differences. Scotch and Tequila. The result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. Without both the inappropriately gyrating managers, the questionably adulterous staff members and all the drunken others, the party wouldn't be nearly as memorable. And of course this scene must be shared with others to be fully appreciated and recounted again and again and agin for years to come.

7. Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-satisfaction. Regain "production capability" by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities. The after-party.

Karen: party time
Tonight is my holiday party. I planned it with two other teachers.

There are going to be 66 people at a bar in Dumbo. We ordered the catering, we schmoozed with the bar owner to get optional open bar for who wants it, we went to fairway and are MAKING all of the snack food. There are lots of significant others coming this year (like, 6). Including my husband. Who will love the open bar. We don't care who comes, as long as they have fun. and pay the money. That's my take.

Don't call me too early tomorrow morning. heh.

I am beginning to see a pattern here. Still accepting submissions. Still accepting requests for new year's cards. If I don't talk to you before then, have a wonderful weekend, and watch your step. Don't slip on the ice that has been predicted for this weekend here in the northeast.

Two more people weigh in.

Sherman: office party

I have never worked in an office.
I have never been to an office Christmas party.
Well that's not true, I did work in an office one time,
but we never had a Christmas party.
Your question makes me wonder though: ought I to throw
myself an office party? I think perhaps I ought.
I'll buy myself a funny paper hat, serve myself finger foods,
play all my favorite songs, drink too much,
and remove one piece of clothing too many while hogging the dance floor.
I'll make out with myself in the bathroom.
I'll spill my drink on a piece of artwork.
I'll weep about my regrets and be the last one to leave.
I can do this.

Susan: Well, since you asked
Office holiday parties are stupid, especially when they are at not-for-profits, held at work, after hours, and the director tells the party planner to make it, and this is a direct quote heard by the entire development office, "as cheap as possible". Also, they are stupid when there is a new HR person and she thinks it would be "cute" to play one of those stupid "guess who's baby picture this is" games, but she's not organized enough to actually figure out how the game should be played, or who the winner actually was. Or, when, because the party will be "as cheap as possible" the same new HR person thinks it will be fun to have a "bake-off" meaning, of course, that the employees will be providing the food. Now, this is what happened last year. This year, who knows? They could give us the moon.

On the other hand, if you work for a fancy schmancy for-profit post production company, like the one I once worked for, you could have your holiday party at the Puck building, with free fancy martinis and the Village People performing... That, I suppose, would be less stupid.

I am almost out of office holiday party submissions. But you can still submit yours here (or to my gmail account). And don't miss your chance to get an authentic Brian & Deb New Year's 2008 card. I think this one is going to be pretty damn good. Email me if your interested.

Here are more of your responses.

Molly: in praise of office parties at a certain cultural institution

O is for the Oddballs who flock to nonprofits in droves

F is for the Floating Boobs attached to an office underling who has thrown the dress code to the wind

F is for F----a, whose dance moves must be seen to be believed

I is for the Ice Cream that can never follow a chicken dinner

C is for Conversations you'd rather not be having with people you'd rather not be seeing

E is for the Electrician (at least that's who we think that guy was. He certainly seemed to enjoy himself.)

P is for the Pay Raise the drunk director just promised everyone

A is for Awkwardness, which envelopes the evening like a third-rate prom theme

R is for Raise Your Voice in Drunken Song at the karaoke machine!

T is for the Trauma of watching your middle-aged boss dance to Hip-Hop Hooray

Y is for Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's not her husband.

Andrea: Holiday Office Party Protocol
Ok first I think you need to differentiate between holiday office parties and holiday work parties since when there are differences in work environments, there are differences in their holiday celebrations. (There is a reason there are not one, but TWO shows called The Office and a very popular culture movie entitled Office Space. Florescent lighting, canvas cubicles, and shared-germ environments provide for a certain mis en scene) Teachers have cool parties because they don’t really work in offices. And they get to wear jeans, not just on Fridays. That said, I have good arguments both for and against bringing spouses. I am writing them under the assumption there is no cash pay-in because that is the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard of, second only to an office pot-luck.

Good reasons:

  • They get to meet all the lame people you’ve been complaining about and really get a good visual on copy-machine hogger lady and farts-in-elevator guy
  • You can share the wealth of a cost-free kosher buffet
  • Someone to let you know when it’s a good time to say when to the open bar

  • Bad reasons:
  • They may prevent you from hooking up with the hot new intern
  • They don’t want to see Baby Got Back kareoke’d by Tom in HR any more than you do
  • If you really love them, why make them suffer?? Give the gift of Freedom this season. Sometimes, freedom really is free.

  • I am still accepting your submissions. Additionally, we are getting ready to send out our new years cards. So if you would like a card, shoot me an email and send me your address (or your new address if you recently moved).

    Here's what some of you said. I will post the first two responses today.

    Alana: holiday parties don't completely suck

    In principal I think staff parties are stupid, especially when they take place after work hours. But I do go and I do bring my spouse and here's why:

    Xander is absolutely my better half, which ups my points dramatically whenever he's around. If he could come with me to work every day, I would bring him, but that's not very practical. So twice a year I make him ride the 1 train to the very end of the line in order to attend an awkward party because I want to look a little bit cooler than I really am. Also, as much as my coworkers annoy me sometimes, I'm fortunate to work with three guys that I really love. It's nice to get all my guys together every now and then. It makes my life seem a little less disjointed for a couple of hours. Of course, this could be done more effectively at a bar away from the really annoying people that we work with. Hmmm . . . maybe I should throw the anti-staff party this year.

    I see absolutely no reason for staff parties that do not include alcohol. I couldn't survive one without it.

    Bob: holiday parties: more is better, booze is essential.
    this year, our company is bringing the los angeles and dc branches to nyc for a holiday party. while they appear to be doing a decent job with the restaurant, as was the case last year, they have put us up in fleabag hotels that are laughable. i enjoy laughable fleabag hotels, but my colleagues, more high maintenance than myself (i once lived in a basement that had bats and a broken down car in it; a heavy metal band practiced down there as well), most decidedly do not. the lousy hotel has been a source of endless amusement and will no doubt become one of those office myths -- 'that time we had to stay at the carter and brought roaches back in our luggage/were flashed by a vodka-drunk clown/got into a knife fight with a russian madame.'

    last year, the holiday party was held in the district. i was far less happy at this job at that time. i took jenny with me and introduced her to everyone as 'my fake wife.' people actually believed that this obvious dyke and my faggoty little ass were dating. one very traditional heterosexual person actually asked how i thought it made her feel being referred to as a 'fake wife.' stealing a joke that jenny had made to me privately earlier, i responded that she was 'likely just biding her time until the holidays were over,' diffusing what would have been a tense moment, were jenny my real fake wife. in addition, jenny talked to our CEO about sports and i, weirdly, discussed marx with him. if jenny had actually been my real fake wife, i would have likely gotten a promotion. as mentioned, however, jenny is a committed muffdiver.

    when i used to work for a poorly funded propaganda branch of the US gov't, the holiday parties were really, really depressing affairs. there has been recent controversy over potluck holiday parties. these were boozeless potluck parties with some of the most awful, condescending government do-nothings ever to dawn a santa claus and snowflake-themed sweatshirt.

    working as a poorly paid contractor writing recycled news copy at the time, i was happy to get the free chex mix, soda pop and cake for dinner. there was this married couple there, however, that would berate the contractors, engaging us in long discussions about how it was so much better to be a 'real person,' i.e. someone who was not a contractor, but a government employee equipped with full benefits, etc, and absolutely no ambition to do anything 'above their pay grade' except grow a big giant fat f*cking ass. it really is no wonder the government is in such shambles.

    in addition, these lifers would discuss the glory days before reagan cut their funding, when the office parties received an annual budget and were crazed affairs that lasted deep into the night. these parties were catered with lobster and caviar, juicy steaks decorated the christmas trees and pricey wines and cognacs bubbled merrily from the water fountains. furthermore, the office santa gave oral sex to every man, woman and child in attendance, and the federal government issued holiday bonuses of at least $100,000 to everyone who'd been there six months or longer, regardless of whether or not they'd done one f*cking thing since their arrival. i hope the 'real people' from that government job get the beautiful gift of cancer for christmas this year, with a good, old-fashioned, wire-and-cotton swab-enabled gonorrhea test as a stocking stuffer.

    I will post more responses soon. And I am still accepting your submissions. Secret Sanata gone awry? Boozeless or pot-lucked parties? Married co-workers making out with outside contractors? Email me at my contact or gmail and let debcentral readers know what you think about office holiday parties.

    Friday was a big day.
    Because it was Brian's birthday. But also because we attended two different going-away parties for people moving abroad.

    My cousin and her husband are relocating to London. Their farewell party was at a country-themed bar, which had a mechanical bull. Brian arrived a little late, drank a beer, and then rode the bull. It was kind of awesome. I took some pictures and they looked like this:

    Shortly thereafter, we went to our friend Daniel's farewell party. He's starting a PhD program in Berlin. His party was held at a Ukrainian social club, and the theme was Talent Show Extravaganza and Ukraine Awards. There were perogies with black bread and vodka. Daniel juggled. I threw food at Brian, which he caught in his mouth. Our friends Oliver and Ryan did a tango (or mambo?), and then performed some very impressive acrobatics. Other people sang or played guitar or exhibited their double-jointed capabilities. It was very fun. I took a bunch of pictures, and here are a couple:

    But what was most special about Friday, December 7, was that it was not just Brian's birthday (and Daniel's), but it was also the birthday of Sean Henry Sobush. Dave, Heather, and Baby Sean Henry are all back from the hospital and doing well. Dave sent us some pictures — one of Sean Henry, and one taken in anticipation of the University of Florida's Tim Tebow becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

    I am still collecting your opinions on holiday office parties. I will post them tomorrow or the next day. If you have an opinion, let it be heard!

    Happy Birthday, Brian!
    You transform any Day of Infamy into a Day of Famy.

    I'm not sure what that means, but it's supposed to be a good thing.

    'Tis the season ... for office holiday parties.
    And so again does the debate begin: Should significant others and families be invited to office holiday parties?

    My feeling: Yes!

    I have worked at three separate not for profit organizations, and at all of them, we had holiday parties where significant others were welcome. So it seems perfectly natural to me that this be the case across the board.

    Brian works for a government office in which significant others are never invited to the holiday parties.

    We have a friend who works for another government agency for which not only are spouses not invited, but there is a $60 pay in, and pressure to attend in order not to be viewed as the antithesis of a team player.

    Brian recently overheard a conversation in which one woman declared she was not attending her office holiday party because, as she put it, "Office holiday parties are a chance for your coworkers to prove they are not robots. They do that by letting you meet their spouses and families. If there are no spouses and families, everyone is still a bunch of robots, and that defeats the purpose of having an office holiday party."

    I agree. However, I spoke to my friend Karen, who is a teacher. She says her holiday party is a real blast, a kind of insider celebration of the hard work the teachers and administrators have done over the course of the year. There is a pay-in, but everyone is happy to attend. Spouses are invited, but no one brings them along, because it would dampen the fun.

    That sounds nice. Except most office holiday parties are intensely awkward, as you attempt to have social, non-work-related interactions with people with whom you have little in common. And many people drink heavily and then end up doing weird and embarrassing things (like herky-jerky dancing ... or middle-age hook-ups). And who really wants to spend more time with the people you already see for more hours a week than you see your family?

    Who thinks having a good time means spending three additional hours away from your spouse and with a bunch of drunk and socially awkward coworkers?

    This is where I want you to weigh in.

    Email me at contact @ debcentral.com.

    Tell me what you think. Tell me why you think significant others should be allowed at office holiday parties. Or why they shouldn't. Tell me an example of a great office holiday party celebration. Or one that was horrendous. I will post your comments in as party of an online holiday office party debate forum.

    Happy 2nd night of Chanukah.

    And happy snowish night.

    The A train pulled up, and people spilled out, and then people piled in.
    It looked awfully crowded. I felt like I was not in so much of a rush that I wanted to squeeze myself on. There was a young man in a du-rag and a big puffy jacket standing just inside the train. He looked a little of tough, and if I wanted to get on, I would have to push him aside, so I decided it was best to simply remain on the platform, knitting quietly.

    The tough guy suddenly yelled out, "Hey, lady. You knitting or crocheting?"

    I didn't answer at first, because I didn't realize he was talking to me. So he said it again. "You knitting or crocheting?"

    "Oh," I said. "Knitting. Knitting is with two needles. Crocheting only uses one."

    "My grandma used to do that," he called out to me. "Hey," he said, "Get on."

    With that, he pushed the people around him aside and made plenty of room for me. So I stepped aboard.

    It was two stops to Broadway/Nassau, and the whole time, this fellow asked me questions about knitting, what I was making, how hard it was to learn. I told him I had just started this past summer. He said, "My grandma also did the thing with just one needle."

    A woman behind me called out, "Crocheting! I crochet. See." And she pulled a crocheted hat out of her bag. Now we were all talking. She crocheted, but couldn't knit. I knit, but didn't know how to crochet. This fellow's grandmother could do both, and she was very fast and very crafty. He was interested in learning and wanted to know which one was easier.

    The train pulled into the Broadway/Nassau station, and the guy and I got off, but I headed east and he west to transfer to the 4/5 trains. The crocheting woman stayed on, and the doors closed behind us.

    The end.

    Yesterday, I approved the proof of my story for the Kenyon Review. It was thrilling, yet scary. Mostly, I went around saying it was okay to add or remove commas or correct misspellings. The Kenyon people apparently did not cotton to my liberal and creative capitalization of certain words. Oh well. Here is a picture of my proof. The proof of proof.

    Because 31 is the reverse of 13, Brian and I decided to throw ourselves a Reverse Bar & Bat Mitzvah party.

    I had yarmulkes and napkins made up for the occasion, and we purchased plenty of food and beverages. I even had my mother ship me my original Bat Mitzvah dress.

    As we were setting up on Saturday, our phones began ringing. One after another, people called us to say they weren't coming. Brian and I got panicky picturing ourselves as the only guests at our party. But at almost 8 o'clock sharp the guests started pouring in.

    Guests came from as far away as the Bronx, Inwood, Forest Hills, and Jersey City, and one person even flew in from Seattle (Thank you so much, Andrea!). People partook of the food and beverages, wore our yarmulkes, signed our signing board, and watched my original Bat Mitzvah video, which feature sprayed up hair, poofy dresses, and an early version of karaoke know as the "Singing Machine".

    A number of people dressed up in their 1989 best. We did a lame version of the hora in our very crowded apartment. And some people even tried to lift me in a chair.

    I am posting a few pictures, but plan to make a separate little scrap book. Hopefully, I won't forget.

    Thank you so much to everyone who showed up and helped us celebrate this momentous occasion.

    The next morning, we observed that almost all the food was gone, a vast majority of the beverages had been finished off, and though all the guests had left, a black single scarf still remained. Is anyone missing a black scarf?

    ps: If you want to read more about our party, or if you would like to view some unflattering pictures of me, please visit Alana and Xander in New York.

    Please feel free to contact me.

    the history of debcentral