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



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New Year

L'shana tova!
Happy 5769!

I predict that in the coming year, corporate greed will be out, and being poor will be in. SUVs - out. Coupons - In. Insider trading - Out. Being out - In. Bulimia - Out. Skinny pants - In. Attractive but uncomfortable shoes - Out. $39 rain boots - IN!

On Sunday, Brian and I went to see one of our favorite comedians, Eugene Mirman, perform at a new bar in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. I wore a green dress with pictures of buttons on it, blue stockings, and because it was raining, a pair of $39 red rain boots that occassionally make my feet sweat.

Shortly after we walked into the bar, two women jumped off their stools. One said to the other, "She's perfect!"

When in my life has anyone ever said that about me?

I was completely baffled.

The other one said, "Rain boots! Perfect. So Gowanus chic."

Then the women turned to me and introduced themselves as being from the New York Times Style section. At this point, I was terrified that I was now part of some bizarre Candid Camera show.

They took a bunch of photos of me (and a few other nattily dressed individuals at the bar) and said pictures would run either this Thursday or next Thursday. The New York Times Style section?!? I am very hopeful and excited.

I am aware that much of my photo shoot was spent with the camera aimed at my dumb rain boots. Still. The New York Times Style section! Watch for me and my dumb, red rain boots and start the new year right. L'Chaim!

The sky is falling!
Or maybe it just seems like it, because the eruption of political bullsh*t has raised up the land.

Maybe, just maybe, John McCain's strong arms pulling this country from jaws of economic meltdown is brining us closer to heaven.

Yesterday after work, I went to my local ATM to deposit a check. When I got home, I discovered the the federal government had seized my bank's assets and forced it into a shotgun marriage to JPMorgan Chase.

Blah, blah, blah. You are tired of hearing me, and I am tired of saying it. But you know when the poo hits the fan, the big difference between corporate welfare and welfare (and healthcare) for individuals is in the hundred-billions.

I am so bored with myself right now, but it's all I can talk about, all I can think about. That and the dangnabit election. I long for the simple days when a bloated hairless rodent could captivate a nation, and obese cats and big foots (feet?) filled the tabloids.

I have been wondering what entertainment will look like as we ease into recession. I imagine a lot of magazine stories about making more with less, crafts projects as Christmas gift, how to die your bread yellow to make it look like it was filled with butter.

As for movies, I am thinking there will be a great dichotomy between films about the working (and out-of-working) man and those about fancy-pants rich people in gold lamé on cruise ships.

Maybe I'm taking too many cues from the 1930s.

I have been asked to post the following link, so I will, even though it has probably already been forward to you no less than 60 times today. Still, I think it's message is a good one: The Great Schlep.

I heard about a study which suggested correcting erroneous information sometimes only reinforces the information (in Republicans).

In the study, the researchers showed political ads which alleged things that turned out to be untrue. Then they showed the same people proof that the allegations were untrue. The refutation only further convinced conservatives that untrue information was indeed true.

As I never remember details, I could not remember where I heard about the study or who conducted it or any of the details of the study, other than it made me very scared.

It turns out I read it on Gawker: Scientists Explain Why People Vote For Republicans.

I had also heard a recap of the study on "On the Media", but I am guessing they were referencing the more legitimate coverage from the Washington Post: The Power of Political Misinformation

As I understand it, this means that when your dumb coworker/neighbor/cousin says, "I heard Barak Obama called that nice lady Sarah Palin a pig," and you say, "No! That's a complete distortion of the facts," and he says, "But I read it in the New York Post," it will not help you to find Barak's speech on youtube where he actually DOES NOT call Sarah Palin a pig. Because if you do, this will only make your dumb coworker/neighbor/cousin more convinced that it did in fact happen.

This is something I very much suspected, but have been completely incapable of comprehending.

Luckily, my grandmother is quite liberal, and I don't have to convince her that Barak Obama did not call Sarah Palin a pig. I received an envelope in the mail from her the other day. When I opened the envelope, I found another envelope, this one from the DMV. She wrote a message on the front. It appeared as follows:

She wrote: Deb Is this a renewal — you should correct your address — maybe you don't want them to find you. Nonna..

I liked the idea that I've been hiding from the DMV. I don't imagine I would have to work very hard. Still, she has a point. If I change my address from from Uncle Ira's apartment to Brooklyn, I can present it to the server at La Taqueria on Tuesday nights and get a dollar off my margarita.

Last night, as I was brushing my teeth, I peered closer into the mirror.
I do this a lot. Brushing my teeth is my special time to catch up on many of my personal flaws. Oh, no!, I thought. My eyebrows are in need of some serious maintenance. I made a note to myself to remember to pluck my eyebrows the next morning.

This morning, as I was again brushing my teeth, I again I peered into the mirror. That's when I remembered that there was something I wanted to remember. But I couldn't remember what it was. I took a quick catalog of my flaws, and decided that what I needed was to trim my own bangs. So I did.

This set me back about ten minutes. First one side. Then the other. Oops. Back to the first side. Now the other. Finally, my hairs looked almost straight. I really think I did okay. I mean, I've certainly done worse.

When I got to work, I went to the ladies room and peered in the mirror to evaluate my bang-trim, which turned out to be more of a two-inch cut. This is when I re-noticed my eyebrows! They were experiencing something akin to a 5 o'clock shadow. No! I wasn't supposed to trim my bangs. I was supposed to pluck my eyebrows. And now, my shorter, slightly asymmetrical bangs called even more attention to my unkempt eyebrows.

I'm sure no one cares. And I'm sure no one even noticed. But still, I walked around all day imagining my eyebrows were wearing cartoonishly large mustaches. I suppose what I should have been picturing was my scalp, unzipped and open, revealing a brain like porous coral or holy as swiss cheese.

Another thing I kept trying to remember that I should remember was to send out Jewish New Year's cards. I am finally getting around to that now. I am going to see how quickly I can churn them out. L'Shana Tova, everyone! Do you want one? Did you move? Do you have a new name or an extra family member? Email me, and I will send you my de-personalized Jewish New Year's card.

It looks like the economy fell down and can't get up.
Does this make me anxious? I am always anxious. I am even able to maintain a certain level of anxiety as I sleep. The other night, I had a dream that every last tooth in my head fell out. One after the other (three years of braces for this!?!). During most dreams, if I am not trying to stick teeth back into my gums, I am scanning desperately for a bathroom or hopelessly lost in some dirty, dark mall trying to find my family.

Anxiety is what gets me up in the morning. And it is what tucks me into bed at night (what if I don't get enough sleep!?!). If anxiety was a skill that could be honed and used to kill and in self-defense, I would be anxiety's master ninja.

But part of the art of being anxious is maintaining a certain level of anxiety. When the sky is clear and temperature is nice and one is sitting on the cool grass eating a tasty sandwich, one has to remember that this can't last forever. Global warming will soon usher in an age of immense heat, hurricanes, tidal waves, massive coastal flooding, the reduction of fresh water, and the extinction of hundreds if not thousands of presently existing flora and flauna.

At the same time, as one's work is constantly disrupted by the sound of businessmen leaping from windows and hitting the street below, one has to remember that it could always be worse.

If growing up Jewish has taught me nothing, it has taught me that I can never really relax — some terrible trial for our people is hovering just around the corner. But, also, it can always be worse.

When I hear the stories about the soaring cost of food, I think, Well, it could be worse. At least there is still bread to buy. At least I don't have to make my meals of old potato peels and sand. When the stock market starts tanking, I think, It could be worse. I still have a job, a place to live. At least I don't have to hide from the Gestapo.

I really think this. And, in talking to Jewish friends (especially those who worked with me at the Holocaust museum), we seem to all be plagued with this ever-present specter of anxiety and guilt. This subway ride is uncomfortable. But it could be worse. I could be crowded for days on end, packed, tighter than sardines, into cattle cars only to arrive at my horrible death. Yes. A really crowded subway trip is going to have trouble competing with systematic genocide.

I was talking to my mother several weeks ago. She has had some serious back pain and has been pretty much laid up for months now. She said, "Yes, it is very frustrating, but then I think of our neighbor who has that horrible lymphoma and is suffering so, and I know my back pain isn't such a big deal."

So, buck up America! Who cares about the fundamentals of our economy? As long as we are not printing off U.S. currency like funny money, we should be okay. And as long as they have not come for the Jews, and I am still able to blog, you know I have not yet jumped out the window. It's all going to be okay — comparatively.

This election is driving me crazy.
I feel constantly anxious, scanning headlines for the latest teaspoon's-worth of news that might give me some further insight into what will go down on November 4.

I was talking to my mom yesterday about my hopes and fears in this election. She said, "That Barak Obama, he's something special, isn't he?" It's soothing to your candidate talked about in mom-ese.

I said, "I just gave money to the campaign." She said, "That's nice, but don't you think you should sign up to volunteer?"

We talked about the the ABC interview with Sarah Palin, which was as wonderfully horrible as I could have wished. Who in their right mind could vote for someone who knows less about foreign policy than your average high school student? And you can't exactly claim she's the candidate you'd rather have a beer with, as when you turn your back, she might just plunge in a knife.

My mother said, "I heard Wonder Woman on the radio, you know, Lynda Carter. She's an evangelical Christian. But she says she can't stand that woman." "The REAL Wonder Woman on Sarah Palin: “America Should Be Very Afraid.” Thanks, Mom.

In the meantime, by way of gothamist, The T-shirt of Terror.

It's that time again....
when PTSDs are a city-wide experience.

I had dinner with friends Andrea & Jen the other night.

I had started complaining about how taxing being in a long-term relationship can be, when they both started yelling at me. They said they loved Mr. Geller. They said I didn't know how good I had it and I was just being a cranky old meany.

I think being in a relationship for a prolonged period of time can sometimes turn one into a cranky old meany. But I realize there are good things too. Let us think for a moment about what prolonged relationships do for us. Here is the object of my prolonged relationship:

In this picture, he is doing two things he very much enjoys: drinking a beer and choosing songs on a jukebox. I think that's kind of cute.

Now let me go on a quick-but-related tangent. Today I was talking with a co-worker. She is from San Francisco. I admitted that I have only been there once, and it was on a family trip when I was 13. But I said I felt much closer to the city because I had read that book. "You know," I said, "The one about San Francisco."

My coworker looked at me blankly. I floundered. "It's a book — a series of books. And it ran in the newspaper or something. I mean, it was serialized. Stories about San Francisco. And now there are a bunch of books. About that character, Michael, and that girl, whose name I forget...."

My coworker said, "O! I know what you're talking about. I love those books. I adore them. Yeah, they're by that guy — what's his name? I can't remember."

"Me neither," I said. "And I can't even remember any of the characters' names except that one, Michael. There was a girl who was kind of a main character too, but I can't think of her name. I've only read the first three. I like two the best. Because of the stuff about the cult."

"Maupin!" she said. "Arminestedmmm or something. Armistead Maupin."

"Yeah. I mean, I read three of the books, I so I feel like I kind of know San Francisco a little better than I really do. At least San Francisco in the late 70s. Gosh. What is the name of the series? Something about the City. The City and Something? I can't remember."

I apologized for my extreme lack of proper nouns. This is a problem I've always had — remembering names and dates and places. I mean, I know them conceptually, I just don't remember what we call them when we speak about them.

Brian, on the other hand, can walk out of the house wearing two different shoes, but he is a regular proper noun maven. When we are together, my conversations make more sense. An example might go something like this:

ME: "I heard something about that politician. He's the governor of New Mexico or something."

BRIAN: "Senator John McCain from Arizona."

ME: "We'll this stupid, washed-up actor who's endorsing him..."

BRIAN: "Chuck Norris."

ME: "He was on a news show with that old guy with the big plastic-frame glasses..."

BRIAN: "Larry King."

ME: "Well, I didn't watch it. But I'm sure it would infuriate me."

A conversation without Brian turns into a session of mad libs in which no one has bothered to fill in the blanks. One of the good things about being in a relationship for almost 12 years is that, yes, your husband already knows everything you're going to say before you say it, but his services as interpreter for others are invaluable.

Brian and I were walking down 9th Street in Park Slope.
It was a pretty nice day, warm, a bit humid. Maybe it was 11 in the morning on Sunday. The sidewalk was dappled with young Slopers and babies and dogs.

And an old, shriveled lady in a wheelchair bleating that her tire was flat

She was calling out, "I can't move! I have a flat tire! Someone help me! I have a flat tire on my wheelchair! I need help!"

Several weeks ago on this very same block we saw a delivery boy fall off his bike. I said, "Brian, I think we should go over and see if he's okay." Brian wanted to keep walking. But I turned around and walked back towards the accident.

A man across the street had run over. The delivery boy, tall and rail-thin, was still lying on the ground with the bike on top of him. His eyes were gigantic with a look of shock and disbelief. Which was confusing, because the fall hadn't looked that bad.

The man tried to help up the boy, who resisted at first, but finally acquiesced. The man said, "Are you hurt? What hurts? Are you okay?" But the boy continued to stare off blankly, seemingly without blinking.

We all stood around and waited. The boy said nothing. He had skinned his knee. It was hard to tell what else might be wrong. That's when he started groaning loudly — almost mewing — and executing vigorous deep knee bends. It made us all uncomfortable. The man said, kind of weirded out, "It looks like it's not broken," and walked away. Brian and I followed.

Remembering this event, I told Brian to keep walking. But he stopped to talk to the wheelchair lady. She was heavily made up and was wearing a large floppy hat. Grocery bags hung about the wheelchair like Christmas tree ornaments. "Thank you, thank you, young man," I could hear her say as Brian began pushing her. There was an access-a-ride van about 300 feet ahead of us, and once we saw this, we both made the same leap of logic: access-a-ride is here to take the wheelchair-bound lady home.

As Brian got closer, the old lady grew increasingly anxious. She started screaming, "Hurry up, hurry up!" So Brian pushed faster. And as he turned her 90 degrees to get her into the van's entrance, the driver, listless and frowning, said, "Oh no you don't!" He tried to close the doors on her, but she stuck out her feet.

A screaming match ensued between the old lady and the access-a-ride driver. Neither Brian nor I could tell what was going on. The driver tried closing the doors on the old lady's legs again, and she began screaming, "CALL 911! CALL 911!"

Then, the old lady miraculously stood up and jumped onto the van's stairs. She sat there, produced a cell phone, and began dialing and shouting, "POLICE! POLICE!"

Another old woman was on the sidewalk with us. I looked at her. She looked at me. She shrugged her shoulders. She said, "It's a very nice thing that your husband did. No one would help her, but he did. That was nice. There was really no way to know it would end up like this." She said, "Last week, I saw a man fall down in the street. At least 20 people ran over to help him. They tried to help him up. Then they tried to pull him up. It was right in the middle of the street. In traffic. But he was fighting them off. He started screaming that he wanted to be left alone. Right there. Right in the middle of the street. What could they do? Probably a drunk or a dope addict.

"It's a shame, you know," she said, "when you try to do something nice in a city like this." I nodded and she walked off in one directions, Brian and I in the other.

It's not just me....
From A C-F, Gloria Steinem's Palin: wrong woman, wrong message. And from both Jon F and my mom, from the Daily Show, Sarah Palin Gender Card.

Enough politics. How about some pictures? Here are some shots I took during our DC/Baltimore long weekend:

Kevin celebrating the new Harris Teeter in D.C.

Edina (the lesbaby) with mothers Jen and Bunny in Greenbelt, MD

Maeve watching sea life at the Baltimore Aquarium, then later on, eating it

Maeve dancing ecstatically after missing her nap but before crashing

I got to my doctor's appointment before the office opened.
It was a small office in one of those large, old buildings in the 20s. I sat down on the mosaic floor in the hallway and pulled out a book.

Soon, I could hear noises from the office next door. A man's voice and a woman's voice. It sounded like bickering. I wondered if the office next door was a couples' therapy. I strained to listen.

That's when I heard the woman punctuate the end of her sentence with the word "Vagina!" It sounded like, "Just mmmffmmhhh mmmhfff mmhff a Vagina!"

My interest was piqued.

The man said something I couldn't hear. And then the woman responded. Again, I could only make out one short phrase. It was "soccer moms".

I had a hunch I knew what was going on. But I listened on. I heard the man say, "Listen to yourself." And then their voices dropped, until I could make out the woman's words, "oldest president ever."

A young fellow with a backpack walked past me and into the office, and the bickering stopped. But I had heard enough. This man and this woman were having the same argument men and women have been having across the nation since the GOP nominated Sarah Palin for vice president.

A number of people have asked me what I think of the GOP VP candidate. My answer is I don't think much. Because there isn't much to think.

And do I think her daughter's teen pregnancy should be off-limits? My answer is yes. Because it's none of anyone's business what her family does. Except that Ms. Palin is in favor of making everyone else's family's business her party's business. From with whom we talk on the phone to what we do in our bedrooms to what's going on inside our uteri. Her party thinks they know better than us how we should live our lives. I resent that.

Ms. Palin is an advocate for abstinence-only sex ed. It worked so well, her 17 year old is five months preggers. When a number of republicans have been asked about this, they say they feel even closer to her now, because they've had similar problems with their teens.

The policy worked so well at home, it should be a nation-wide policy. I don't get it. I just don't get it.

A number of women have had violent reactions to the nomination of Ms. Palin. It's not that we want to vote for any old woman. It's that we want to vote for an agenda that understands women — and who better to understand this more than another woman.

But the Grand Old Party found someone who likes dude stuff — sports and hunting and subjugating women's special parts — and she's young and a bit foxy to boot.

We say, "Do they really think we will vote for her just because she has a Vagina!"

Some men then accuse us of being misogynists. They say, "Listen to yourself," because here is a powerful woman candidate, and we are rejecting her. Violently.

But we are sick and tired of eight years of anti-woman, anti-family, anti-child policies. We would not dare vote to continue more of the same, no matter how much lipstick and mascara you slathered on it.

That was a very long way of saying I'd like to offer the Republican National Convention this song.

Please feel free to contact me.

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