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






hair issues:







Liberty City

It looks like New York and sounds like New York but is far more dangerous.
It's Grand Theft Auto IV. I've never seen—much less played—any of the previous GTA games. But this one is special. Because it's set in my favorite place ever: distopian New York City.

People have been comparing and contrasting the landmarks of Liberty City with those of NYC.

Very impressive. Now all I need is to find someone who owns the game to let me into their home.

So I can steal their stuff.

Just kidding.

Here are some really gorgeous pictures taken by our friend Stuart.

Thanks so much, Stu!

This Passover I made two Seders.
One on the first night, and one on the last.

The first Seder was in South Florida, and my sister and I did most of the cooking. The last one was at our apartment in Brooklyn. This is the third year in a row that Brian and I have put together a Seder for our friends. Two years ago we had 9 people in our small studio apartment. Last year we had about 15 in our current apartment. This year, I had a stroke and forgot we only have seating for 12 (some friends had brought over chairs last year) and invited too many people. And a large number of them came. We had 23 people at our Seder.

I was nervous, but I think turned out to be our best Seder yet. People sat on the futon, on chairs, on the floor. Many bottles of wine were polished off and much of the food was eaten. I was having such a good time, I only took two pictures, and they both came out bad. However, our friend Stuart, who is a very good photographer, took quite a few, and when I get some, I'll post them.

When I cook, the food I make looks ugly. Sometimes it tastes fine, but it is often aesthetically challenged. Because of this, people don't usually want to eat what I make. However, this Seder started rather late. And then we read our freaky coloring book haggadah for another half hour or so. So many of the participants had been drinking for over an hour. We didn't get to the meal until about 9:15, and by that time, most of the participants were ravenous and drunk. We had very few leftovers. I think this turned out to be a wonderful recipe for success. Thank you to everyone who came and ate my ugly food and made our Passover special.

Last night, we saw a double feature with our friends Sam and Valerie (Women in Love and Sunday Bloody Sunday) and ended Passover with pizza and beer. Yay leavening!

Every now and then, Brian will say, "Is it Tisha B'Av yet?
He says it hopefully, like one might inquire how close we are to Christmas. This is a joke, because Tisha B'Av, or the Ninth of (the month of) Av, is actually a bit of a downer. It is a day of mourning established to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people—many having coincidentally occurred on the ninth of Av (the destruction of the first temple, the destruction of the second temple, our expulsion from Spain, etc.) It is a fast day, but, unlike Yom Kippur, observers are still required to work. This, in my opinion, is a double whammy.

I thought the saying was funny enough to make into an ironic t-shirt. When I was packing for Florida, I thought I would include it. Then I changed my mind and decided to wear it on the plane.

At the LaGuardia, we got our boarding passes and checked our bags. And discovered that nearly everyone on our flight was an Orthodox Jew. I got a little embarrassed and decided to keep my hoody on. Except when I went through security. Then I did a little dance to prevent any of my fellow passengers from reading my shirt.

And then, after we boarded, when we were all ready to go, the girl in the seat diagonally behind us found a large pocket knife in her seat front pocket.

We were told there had been a security breach, and that we all needed to leave the plane. We were made to line up and airport security workers went through every one of our personal belongings with the precision and zeal of a dental hygienist.

Everything was fine until they pulled me aside to wand me and pat me down. The security woman said, "Take off your sweatshirt."

I looked out in front of me and saw a large Orthodox family chatting and sitting on their luggage. I said, "I'd rather not."

"You're going to need to take it off."

"Can't I just keep it on?"

"The zipper is going to go off when I wand you. You're going to have to take it off sooner or later."

So I unzipped my sweatshirt and turned to the side.

"Look towards me," the security woman said.

I turned my head, but kept my body facing in another direction. "Turn your body towards me," she said, confused.

I inched my body a little more, turning my head and my hips, but keeping my torso stationary, hopefully out of eyeshot of the Orthodox family.

The security woman looked baffled, but continued on with the examination. I was standing with my legs apart and my arms outstretched as she patted me down, and though I was not happy, I was not as uncomfortable as I was in the next moment when I heard a woman say, "Can you read that woman's shirt?"

I turned my head in the direction of my torso and found another Orthodox family had set up shop in front of me and the children were all trying to read my t-shirt. My instinct was to cover myself, but the security woman let me know that this was not a good idea. And so I stood there, splayed like a doofus, while the family pondered why anyone would wear such a borderline-blasphemous t-shirt.

When I was done, I headed to the airport bar where Brian was waiting for me. "What took so long?" he said.

"Get me a large beer," I said.

Below is my interview with museum registar, bleeding-heart do-gooder, serious beer-drinker, and goodfriend Alana Cole Faber.

DS: Alana, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed by DebCentral. You and your husband keep a blog called Alana and Xander in New York. What's going to happen to it when you move to Montreal?

ACF: I've been wondering the same thing. We're definitely going to keep doing the blog, but it will need a new name. They speak French in Montreal, so I thought perhaps I should incorporate this into the title. I recently learned about this French-English language mix referred to (often in a derogatory sense) as "franglais," so I've been thinking about renaming the site "Xander and Alana en franglais." My French sucks, and it's definitely Anglified, so I might use the blog to help explore and deal with my linguistic inadequacy.

DS: "Franglais" makes a sound like you have phlegm caught in your throat. But I like it. So, I know Xander is going be doing his post-bach in Mathematics. You've been working as a registrar of a Holocaust Museum in NYC. How are you going to top this sexy job in Canada?

ACF: French in general is a little phlegmy anyway.

Xander is going to be a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre de Recherches Mathematiques, which sounds pretty hot. I don't think I'll land anything that prestigious. My current dream job is to work in a used bookstore. I used to work for Barnes and Noble and loved it. Everyone I worked with had master's degrees and loved to read. I'd love to work with old books and photographs. (I've applied to work at the New York Public Library at least a half-dozen times.) The fact that I don't speak French will make finding a job a little tricky though. Certainly I won't be able to find a museum job, because they all operate in French. But working in a bookstore would be great. I also plan to open an online art and craft store this summer.

DS: Wow. I too am a fan of old crap. What's the weirdest old thing you've handled in your time as a museum registrar?

ACF: Probably a book from WWII that warned soldiers about sexually transmitted diseases. It had all sorts of information in it about why premarital sex is bad and what to do if you really just can't help but screw a hooker. Other than that, I've dealt with all sorts of strange things. I once curated an exhibit about the history of fire fighting, so I dealt with antique fire extinguishers and whatnot. At the museum here we exhibit lots of old weapons. I'm probably one of a handful of registrars that knows how to load a machine gun.

DS: If you were going to set up a death match between museum employees, who would you pit against the registrars as their most ferocious adversaries?

ACF: At most museums, the answer to this would be registrars vs. curators, since historically the two have been considered enemies. Here I actually get along with our curator, since she used to be the registrar. We both like the database to be updated and for objects to be conserved, stored properly, etc. So at this museum I might say the board of trustees because they don't really have the interest of the collection at heart, but most of them are old so that wouldn't be fair. So I guess my answer would be the "executive branch." They don't understand what we do at all, and they don't really care to learn. I'm pretty sure I could take them, especially if Matt and Andy were on my team.

DS: Now that you're leaving, what is the thing you'll miss most about New York?

ACF: That's easy. Our friends. We've made our own family here, and that's what really makes New York home for us. When we finalize the adoption of our kids, it will be here. They'll have New York birth certificates. They'll be baptized here. I mean, I love New York for other reasons. It has big salty pretzels and Central Park and crazy subway evangelists and good beer. It has that je ne sais quoi thing about it that makes it unique and wonderful. But really it's the people we know here. I love them!

DS: DebCentral will also miss Alana & Xander in New York City. What do you think you guys will miss the least?

ACF: Riding the subway during rush hour. Montreal has a metro, but it's not as dirty or as crowded as ours.

DS: You are a registrar and your husband is a mathematician. What does your sock drawer look like? How about your bookshelves?

ACF: Ha! I'm only organized at work. My sock drawer has the socks all matched up, but only because my husband does the laundry. He's very organized. We have separate bookshelves, all of which are a mess right now thanks to me. When I filled mine up, I started cramming the extra books onto his bookshelf. The books that didn't fit on shelves are stacked in piles around our apartment.

DS: You guys are both very environmentally and socially conscious. You are vegetarians. You use compact florescent light bulbs. You are adopting two infants from Ethiopia. One year, for lent, you even gave up pre-packaged foods. What's your biggest secret splurge -- something that if told yourself, yourself would raise an eyebrow?

ACF: Yellowfin tuna. We're not strictly vegetarian. We'll eat sustainable seafood occasionally. Things like catfish and tilapia, both very good choices. But I LOVE yellowfin tuna. Raw. Every now and then, I let myself have some, but I feel terrible about it. It's a terrible choice from an environmental standpoint.

DS: I'm sure God is frowning on you when you're eating it. I have to ask: What are you going to sell in your online art and craft store? Will there be flattering representations of me?

ACF: Funny you should ask, because I've been meaning to talk to you about it. I'm selling miscellaneous arts and crafts to unofficially raise money for the adoption. I'm not allowed to officially raise money according to the Ethiopian government, so it will just look like any old business at a glance, but everyone I know will understand what it's really for. I'm asking my artsy friends to donate arts and crafts for the gallery, which I will sell (I hope) to raise money to help cover our adoption expenses. Things like photographs, crocheted scarves and hats, handmade tote bags, cards, or whatever I can make or get people to donate. (Here comes the plug.) Soooo if you or anyone you know are inspired to print up some wacky postcards or paint or knit something, it would be very much appreciated.

DS: Maybe I should donate the cabbage head hat I knitted for Brian. Or maybe I should make something that someone might actually want. I need to think about this.

Okay. I don't want to take up too much of your time, but if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one or the other, would you want dark chocolate or milk chocolate? What about zucchini or yellow squash? And what beer would you take, assuming we could get beer to you on that desert island?

ACF: Dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is really just candy, but dark chocolate counts as nutrients. Very important for desert islands.

Zucchini. Unless the yellow squash came in Southern-style casserole format.

Ommegang Abbey Ale DS: Okay. Last question. I'm sure you guys are thinking a lot about what you might name your Fabertids (adopted infants). Are there two names you will definitely not be giving them? If so, what are they?

ACF: Nevaeh, which is "heaven" spelled backwards--one of the recent trendy names that's just plain stupid. I feel sorry for the girls that got that one, because they're destined to be ditsy. And Adolf. I'm pretty sure there's no way we'll name one of them Adolf.

DS: Thank you so much, Alana, for being DebCentral's first interview of 2008. May this bring you only as much fame as you can handle.

Brian and I are heading down to South Florida tomorrow for a family style Passover. Who wants to be interviewed next?

I received a strange email on my website account last night.
I almost threw it out, thinking it was spam. But, thankfully, I read it all the way through I discovered it was sent by someone from the history channel concerning a picture they found on my website.

It went something like this:

Deborah Schwartz,

I work for KPI, a production company in New York that has been commissioned to produce several episodes for the second season of [REDACTED], a hit series on History (formerly The History Channel). I'm working on an episode on [REDACTED], and we're including footage of a purported [REDACTED]. Some believe that the [REDACTED] is actually just a [REDACTED].

We came across a photo on your website which illustrates the [REDACTED] theory perfectly. We'd love to have your permission to use the photo for our show. (I'd also like to know if you actually have a better, higher resolution version.)

I engaged in a number of back and forth emails with the gentleman, and agreed to send over a higher resolution image. As it turns out, though he found me randomly on the internet, his office is actually just down the street from mine. In handing over the image, I agreed not to divulge details about the picture in question or the show in which it will be used. The people at KPI then agreed not to make me either rich or famous. We were all in agreement.

If I find out when my picture will be on, I'll let you know. And then we can play Spot the Picture that Appeared First on DEBCENTRAL.COM and Was Taken by Deb. Winner gets a gets a free [REDACTED]

The New York Intelligencer polled people about pollsters.
My friend Sam was polled. And photographed. And quoted.

Can you guess which quote is his?

Alana has stepped up for the first DebCentral interview of 2008. More to follow....

Yesterday at lunch I went with a coworker to a shoe store and got depressed watching a middle-aged woman wearing an old ugly pair of shoes try on a new ugly pair of shoes.

It made me want to say something. Like: I thought you might have been wearing those ugly shoes because you got dressed in the dark, or out of some freak style mishap, but now I see that it was a definite choice. One which you're certain to make yet again.

Of course, I said nothing.

After the shoe store (coworker's errand), we went to Barnes & Nobel (my errand) to see if the Kenyon Review was out and about. Happily, it was.

I purchased all three of their copies.

When I've said that I've been published in the Kenyon Review, people will sometimes say, "If you bring me a copy, I'd love to read it." This makes me frustrated, because it is actually a highly accessible literary magazine. It's like, "If you bring me some food and you cut it up and put it in my mouth, I'd love to eat with you."

I'm being a little unjust, because I've done the same thing to other people. Still, when people have said this to me (about the magazine, not the food), I usually say, You know, it's available at Barnes & Nobel. However, I started to get worried that I was telling an untruth, that Barnes & Nobel no longer carried the Kenyon Review. But it does. I have proof. Except the one in Tribeca is all out right now.

Another person asked if I was going to have a signing party. My feeling is that people like the idea of a signing and a party much more than they like the idea of heading over to the local Barnes & Nobel and shelling out $10. However, I am open to suggestions.

I also have ambivalent feelings about having a story in such a high-profile publication because I haven't produced one single thing lately. It's not that I have writer's block. I have tons of ideas. It's just that when I sit down to write, my skin starts to crawl and so I check every email address I've ever had and comb through facebook looking for people from high school who I never even liked. Then I drink three glasses of wine to calm down. Then I get so calm, I fall asleep.

It's been like this for months. It's less like writer's block and more like being a runner with a fire hydrant for a prosthetic leg. It's like being in love with someone, and having that person go through personality-changing dementia. I want to write, but it's very hard to get going, and then everything I write makes me feel like throwing up.

I'm sick of talking about my mishigas. Who wants to be interviewed? Write me and we'll talk about something and I'll post it.

I picked up my new glasses yesterday.
I had seen an ophthalmologist for my new prescription. When I picked up my glasses, I tested them out by closing one eye, and then the other. "WAIT!" I said, "There's something wrong. Everything's blurry out of my left eye.

The woman looked slightly peeved, but checked the glasses against the doctor's prescription. "No," she said. "It's exactly right. It's a simple prescription too."

I thought this sounded a little snotty, but I put the glasses back on, paid, and toddled back to the subway in my new goggles.

At first I felt like I was looking through the wrong end of a pint glass. But I started to feel a little better. This is when I noticed that the prescription was making my left eye work a little differently. I mean, it was kind of working, not lazing around like a union employee waiting for his pension to vest.

I was seeing in 3-D.

As I was climbing the stairs out of the subway, I flipped my glasses up, then down again. The stairs came out at me. I could see the edge of them better. I looked at the top of a balding man's head. There was a new dimension of precision between each sad hair as it hung morosely over the scalp. I guess I didn't realize how lame my depth perception was until it was corrected.

I kept flipping my glasses up and down until I got some weird looks from people thinking I was some sort of pervert. Still, I'm kind of excited about my new secret power — almost as good as x-ray vision, I now have normal depth perception.

If I could choose, I would definitely choose to be able to flip the light switch with my mind. It would save a lot of trouble on those nights when I'm already in bed before I realize I've forgotten to turn off the light. Still, it might have been the lack of depth perception that has kept me tripping so often, missing steps, falling down stairs. Maybe depth perception will bring me some measure of new-found grace.

People kept walking by my desk all day, looking at my suitcase, my large tote bag, my camera.
"Going somewhere?" they'd say.

"To a cousin's Bat Mitzvah," I'd say.

"Where to?" they'd say.

"Long Island."

Then they'd laugh hysterically that I would pack such a full suitcase for such a short trip.

"My husband's stuff is in there too," I'd say. He's a big guy. He has large clothes." This has become a bit of a sore spot lately. When we go away for short periods, I feel like we should be able to squeeze into one suitcase. But Brian's clothes and shoes take up three quarters of the suitcase, leaving me with scarcely any real estate.

And it's not just that. It's the way he packs. He lobs clothing in willy-nilly, and while everything would probably fit fine if it were assembled properly, because his clothing exists in a giant mound, one needs to sit on the suitcase to zip it up.

I expressed my exasperation to one laughing coworker, and she paused and said, "But he's such a sweet guy."

"Yes," I said. "He is."

I am married to a really wonderful guy who is an incredibly sloppy packer. When I get overwrought about these kinds of things, I know my crazy is showing a bit. Who the hell cares if we bring one suitcase or two? Or if his stuff is a little messy and disorganized? Or if his clothing is elbowing mine out of our luggage? Or if I spend my time meticulously plotting all the clothing and toiletries I will need during a given trip, while Brian wakes up in the morning and in 15 minutes has pulled all kinds of random articles out of his drawers and off hangers and overhand-pitches them artfully towards the open suitcase on the bed, sometimes hitting the target, sometimes not?

ME: One of your shoes is in, but the other missed and is on the floor.

HIM: Crap.

ME: Are you going to pick it up?

HIM: Sure.

ME: Are you going to do it now?

HIM: Give me a sec.

ME: You're going to forget and we're going to go away and you're going to only have one shoe.

HIM: I'm not going to forget.

ME: You are going to forget, but then it'll drive me crazy and I'll pick it up for you, because it is too annoying to think of you while we're away wandering around with only one shoe.

HIM: Don't pick up my shoe. I'll do it.

ME: When?

HIM: In a sec.

ME: Whatever.*

I realize that ruminating like an old angry cow on our poorly packed suitcase is not a good way to spend one's time. I also realize that if I could peer into my husband's brain, I would see that there is no area in which such trivial concerns are allowed to occupy space. So Brian does his sloppy packing thing, even though he knows it annoys me, and I get annoyed, even though I know it's stupid and a waste of time and energy. I guess this is jetsam of marital bliss.

*Please note that the shoe dialogue did not actually occur this morning.

Susan's parents saw the my 17th Century Susan photoshop comparison
Here's Susan's report:
So, mom and dad were a little too flabbergasted to reply via email. But they did tell me that my friends, apparently, have too much time on their hands.

And dad was offended it wasn't more Swedish.

Then mom asked me what I'd been doing that caused such dark circles under my eyes.

Parents can sometimes be rough. But so charming in their own way.

My friend Dawn sent me this link: postcardsfrommymomma.com. I thought it was very swell.

Also, I almost forgot to tell you that


I can't believe I forgot to write about it. Truthfully, I don't know too many details. He can live at home (our old apartment) full time, sleep in his own bed every night, if he so chooses, but he still has to make trips to the clinic on 125 Monday though Friday.

Wow. He's going to have a lot of time on his hands. In honor of this wonderful news, I am making available to the public desktop-background-sized images of Ira. What a cutie!


Heading to the movies, I switched from the 2 to the 1 train at Chambers.
On the platform, I passed two stocky, relatively tough looking fellows. I noticed that they shook hands, and dollar bills were passed. One of the men had a black carry-on suitcase with him. He unzipped the end and reached in. Maybe I've been watching The Wire too much, but I was pretty sure I was witnessing a live drug deal.

What the man pulled out of the suitcase was a large pair of scissors. The man who had paid leaned in towards the man with the scissors. Then the man with the scissors proceeded to delicately trim the other man's mustache. I was one of the most confusing public male interactions I've ever seen.

When the man with the scissors was done, the man with the mustache ran his hands over the sides of his mouth, feeling to see if his facial hair had been trimmed properly. He smiled a little, nodded, and then assumed his otherwise tough-guy face and walked away. The man with the scissors unzipped a small portion of the suitcase and discreetly pushed the grooming utensil inside.

I had been headed to meet my friend Sam to see the 1924 silent film The Thief of Bagdad, a fanciful, culturally iffy romp through one of Iraq's sexiest cities. A tale of magic, marriage, and Mongolian hordes, I highly recommend this film to anyone with a deep appreciation of boundless shimmery lame.

Please feel free to contact me.

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