Who is Deborah Schwartz?
The experiences of Deborah Schwartz
The persistance of Deborah Schwartz.
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City Slush

Happy Sloppy Weather, Street Trash, Blue Van, and Postal Service!!!
And a very happy New Year to you, too.

Here's hoping that 2009 is less eventful — in a good way.

To help welcome in the New Year, one last unseemly West Virginia stripper story from Bob.

me and my boy trainer (now in NOLA) and his fiance, kate, were coming back from the bar one night. trainer and i decided we should go to the strip joint before reaching our final destinations. kate was less enthusiastic, but i assured them that there was an extra trashy one close to where they would be dropping me off. trainer remembered it instantly and was even more enthusiastic than before. kate, even less so. as we passed by the place, the lights were down, etc, and kate, relieved, said 'look, it's closed!' just then, we looked at the door and saw some guy literally tumbling, ass and elbows out the door. trainer and i were like, 'no you're wrong! they're open.' kate would not get out of the car and asked us to go check. we did, and all the lights in the place were out. there were silhouettes of stripper hair and much movement that we couldn't really identify, but there was a table knocked over. a guy walked out of the door, blood dripping from his skull all the way down his face. he said to us, simply and calmly, 'it's not a good time guys.' we left. when we went by just seconds later, the cops were there.
Thank you, Bob. Thank you, everyone.

Merry Belated Christmas!

Wednesday was to be the sixth annual Asian Food & a Movie Christmas Eve with Brian and Sam, but Sam wound up spending Christmas with his family in Ohio. In my opinion, this was sacrilegious. Val was a good sport and came along. We saw Remember the Night, which was quite amusing. It was kind of like Double Idemnity only instead of Stanwyck & MacMurray becoming more malicious and devious, they both got nicer over time. Oh well.

We ate sushi afterwards, and then, because we are old, we got tired and went home.

After that, I had four days in a row off and I more or less frittered them all away. I used this special gift of time to do things like sew patches on both of my winter coats where the lining was ripped. I applied acrylic to more toast. I reorganized my shelves of non-perishable foods, only to discover we owned 3 jars of curry sauce, 2 unopened bottles of mustard, 4 jars of peanut butter (two of which had been opened), only one can of black beans, and a package of astronaut ice cream. I'm not sure if I'm more surprised by the multiple jars of curry sauce or the fact that we have been housing a package of astronaut ice cream for god-knows-how-long.

Last night, to end our holiday stint, Brian and I had our first official Ozu and Ouzo evening. One is an influential Japanese film director, the other, a anise-flavored liquor of Greek origin. I can never seem to remember which word goes with which definition, but I know I like them both.

We saw Tokyo Story, which was cute and thoughtful and funny. Until the mother became gravely ill after a visit to her ungrateful children in the big city, and then Brian and I felt a little like our guts were being twisted.

Earlier last week, my red rain boots started leaking.
I felt annoyed and betrayed, but I am still plotting ways to repair them. Here are some pictures of their betrayal.

Alana says Shoe GOO. Now I just have to locate some.

I was, as I said, unhappy about the rain boots. But I still had my secret weapon: Back in early 2003 I had purchased a pair of gigantic snow boots. They had been on sale at a store in The Village. I said, "Wow! These are only $50? What a deal!" The store clerks looked at me like I was possessed. I think they felt that nobody in her right mind would ever pay to own such gigantic, cumbersome shoes.

But I did. And I loved them, until I felt they were just too heavy. Walking with them was like walking with a pair of kayaks strapped to your feet.

So I hadn't worn them in a while, but on Friday, with all the snow and slush (and my absence of rain boots) I pulled them out of the closet.

In the evening, Brian and I went to see a movie, and while I was walking to the theater, I felt like the toes on my right foot were a little wet. And then I heard a clicking noise. The kind of noise a flip-flop sandal makes.

Once in the theater, I unstrapped my shoe, and this is what I found:

It seemed that after all these years, the shoe upper and the gigantic sole wanted to go their separate ways. The heel looked like it was giving me a Bronx cheer. What had I done to deserve such punishment?!?

I freaked out and started yelling about how the fates were colluding against me so that I would have no appropriate footwear for the winter. I think Brian would have been more embarrassed, except we were watching a selection of mostly silent films by Joseph Cornell (including Rose Hobart). All five people in the theater were crazy old freaks anyway, so I fit right in.

One last thing: It's that time again. I am getting ready to send out our New Year's cards. Do you usually receive one, but have recently moved? Have you never received one, but would like to? Have you received one before, but accidentally got dropped off our list? Email me.

A friend had recently sent out an email with asking how Jewish friends felt about Christmas in general, and the "Christmas special" in specific.

This got me thinking.... Though I have known and heard about Jews who were jealous of the holiday, or celebrated with their own "Chanukah bush," I have, for most of my life, approached the holiday season with feelings ranging from indifference to mild annoyance.

My family wasn't very religious, but I grew up in South Florida, which has the third highest Jewish population in the United States. Most of my friends were Jewish. Christmas seemed like a non-event.

Jewish holidays are often accompanied by phrases like, "It could have been worse" or "it would have been enough." And sometimes our holidays actually involve fasting and beating ourselves on the chest as we repeat an alphabet of woe.

As I understand it, Christmas is a time families when get together and eat a festive meal, exchange presents, and generally feel happy and thankful. I will now give a brief overview of some festive Jewish holidays and how they are celebrated:

Chanukah is a minor (non-biblical) holiday celebrating the how the Jewish people were saved from assimilation. It is the commemoration the victory of the Judean people over the Hellenised Syrians. During the three years of fighting, the Temple was trashed. Some purified oil was found, and it lasted for eight days instead of one. On this holiday, Jews celebrate this precarious military victory by eating fried things (potato pancakes and jelly donoughts), lighting candles, and exchanging presents, which traditionally had been gelt, or money.

Pesach is an eight-day-long holiday that celebrates the Jews freedom from Egyption bondage. On Passover, before (and after) the festive meal is eaten, Jews are required to tell the story of how they were once slaves in Egypt, and how they were able to escape, only to wander in the desert for 40 years before being allowed to enter the land of Israel. The song Deyanu, or "It Would Have Been Enough" is sung. During the meal, Jews dip sweet things in bitter things and fresh things in salty things to help mitigate the holiday's joy. They are forbidden to eat anything with leavening, so most foods and all desserts are devoid of fiber and weigh 12 pounds.

Purim is a festival day that commodates the non-military victory of Persian Jews over a government plot seeking to annihilate them. On this day, Jews dress up, drink large quanities of booze, eat triangluar-shaped cookies (hamantaschen), and use noisemakers every time the name of the government plotter (Haman) is said aloud.

There are other big holidays, like Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the New Year, where one eats sweet things (apples and honey) and gets ready to repent on Yom Kippur, Sukkot, the feast of booths, where, for eight days, one eats all meals in a roofless lean-to, and Shavuot, the anniversary of the day God gave the ten commandments to Moses, where one celebrates by eating dairy products.

The general theme of festive Jewish holidays seems to be "Thanks, God, for not letting those people anihilate or assimilate us," and celebrations usually include eating some type of heavy, unhealthy food. These holidays are all celebrated in the shadow of the distruction of the first and second Temples, the Roman expulsion from Israel, the expulsion from England, the expulsion from Spain (and the Inquisition), the Nazi genocide of the Holocaust, etc. (see nifty timeline of Jewish persecution).

As a Jew, the idea of dragging a fir tree indoors, hanging it with flammables, and sticking presents under it seemed absolutely absurd. Especially when you grow up in a household where "presents" are things you can use, like a socks or dungarees.

What's more, the idea of a fat interloper entering your home in the night through your chimney (a structural item not much see in South Florida) to leave you and your family presents ... this simply can not be conceived of. If a strange man is sneaking into your home in the night, he is doing so to rob you or persecute you or he is a Cossack getting ready to rape you and set fire to your home.

I never much watched those Christmas specials because at best they were boring and at worst alientating. The plot arc of most seemed to be that some grouch or non-believer or meiser was finally enlgihted to the joy Christmas. Like any good paranoid person, in meiser, I read "Jew" and in enlightened I read "forced conversion or expulsion."

At a recent family Chanukah party, I asked a few older cousins their views on Christmas. One said, "I was the kind of kid who got underware for a birthday present. During Christmas, we could see everyone celebrating and giving presents, but my family didn't do any of that. It was completely foreign to them. I told myself I didn't need that. I felt like a martyr."

Another cousin in response to Christmas question, said, "It's all I wanted. To fit in."

Brian said, "I remember being jealous as a six-year-old. Mostly because of the presents. Other than that, I don't think I noticed much."

Am I over thinking this? What about you?

Sorry to leave you hanging for so long.
I've been very busy lately. But not all work-busy. Brian and I had a party. To make it up to you, I have posted pictures from our party. You can find them here:

In other news, my beloved red rain boots have sprung a leak. They are not even a year old. And though I had bought them on sale, they purport to be made by a reliable shoe manufacturer.

I had been running errands in the pouring rain last week, and was feeling very self-satisfied, because I was well-equipped with rain gear: a good coat, an umbrella, and my boots. How prepared I was! Kudos to me.

But then I started thinking, Wow, it's so rainy outside, I feel like I'm sloshing around in a puddle. But that's impossible, because I'm wearing these wonderful rain boots.

It eventually occurred to me that I was in fact sloshing around in a puddle. Once out of the rain, I inspected the boots, only to discover that the seam sealing the boot upper to the sole had begun to come apart in several places. On both shoes. Betrayed! I felt so angry. At my boots. What dupe I had been. Why had I loved so much such tawdry things?

I'm still angry, but I think I'd like to give a go at salvaging them. Do you think I can apply caulking to the seam to keep out the water? If it works, it'll be cheaper than buying another pair of rain boots. However, their fashion plate days are obviously over.

How dreadful everything looks.
It's chilly and windy and rainy out. This weekend, it was dark and freezing cold. This bleak weather is a good match for our nation's dreary mood.

I found out that the museum where I used to work just laid off four people. That's after laying off a historian at the end of the summer and then firing the receptionist. So I'll call the toll six. Friends at other museums have reported similar layoffs and cut backs, and one's former employer was caught selling off valuable art to private dealers.

Back in October, my present non-profit lost a quarter of its staff. Every day there are more stories of layoffs and firings and foldings and bankruptcies. Businesses are shedding employees faster than a radioactive pigeon molts feathers. How terribly glib.

I've always been a glass-half-empty sort of person. Now, I spend moments at a time trying to remember times when I felt that weird sort of wild joy.

I was on the train in the evening when Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You" came on my ipod. I was back from summer break. It was my last year of college. Gainesville, Florida. Dawn, my roommate, had a record player. Look, she said, and put on "I Feel for You." I think she owned two vinyl records: that one and Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto."

Back at school. Final year. Good classes. Good grades. Good roommate. Good apartment. I had a boyfriend I loved (Brian), a bunch of awesome friends, and was president of a funky on-campus club. I felt so light. We danced around the Dawn's bedroom, replaying the song again and again.

I feel for you
I think i love you
I feel for you
I think i love you
Not much to the lyrics, but ... it was ... well, I was happy. There was hope.

That was — what — 1998. A decade ago. Wow. Recently, Dawn moved to New Zealand. I haven't seen her in years, though we occasionally chat over email. I'm still here in New York trying to make things work.

That boyfriend and I married back in 2002. It was his birthday on Sunday. Mostly, we stayed in. It was cold and dark this weekend. But it felt kind of nice. Just us in our dumb little chilly Brooklyn apartment watching episodes of The Wire.

I woke up Monday morning, sweaty-headed. I had been having a nightmare. It took hours, days, to shake the weird feelings the dream had left behind. Like vomit in the mouth, I kept tasting it. I've been feeling lousy ever since.

Here are a few pictures from my grandmother's recent Dramatics Class recital:

Sam came along and we both had a very enjoyable evening. Last time, the dramatics teacher let me know she felt my flash photography during the performances was disruptive to the actors as well as the audience. This time, all pictures were taken after the performances had ended.

In case your interested, here's a group photo from the April 2006 performance.

Please feel free to contact me.

the history of debcentral