Jacob Samuel

6 lbs 7 ounces at 7:27 AM on 8/27/09
My brand new nephew's name is Jacob Samuel, and he is quite the looker. Or, I guess, he is more the gazed-upon right now. But he seems to be taking it in stride.

Pictures are not coming in as quickly and as in as high a volume as I would've liked, but here are a few:

I'll be in SoFlo for the bris later this week.

Speaking of Hollywood, Florida .... We made the New York Times! After Century of Growth, Tide Turns in Florida

Also, Brian thought I should mention that I appear here, which is very nice. There are quite a few Deborah Schwartzes floating around in cyberspace — but this Deborah Schwartz is in me.

Which makes me remember .... I've been getting a lot of misdirected email message lately. A recent one had the subject line "Tonight" and in the body: "7:30 p.m. vaniller ice cream." I was a bit sorry I wasn't the correct Deborah Schwartz. But then again, I've always been more of a fan of chocolate.

Mission Accomplished!

My sister is a mother.
And everyone looks so cute.

I can't wait to meet the little fellow.

Lost and Found

My site was down and I didn't even notice.
What is this world coming to? My brother actually emailed me to say that when he typed in "debcentral.com," a link farm came up.

There was apparently some mix-up with the renewal of my domain name, but I'm back.

Far bigger news than the downing of my silly website is that my rather pregnant sister is presently in the hospital on the verge of being induced. Soon, I will be an aunt to a very small human. And my younger sister will be a mother. This world is just so wild.

I used to think all the time about things I wanted to blog about — stupid little thoughts and observations. But then they started drying up. Now I think about blogging again, but I never seem to have the time. Work is so busy, and by the time I get home, I have no taste for stringing thoughts together into coherent sentences.

But I'm here now. I have other things I wanted to mention, but more pressing is that I saw Kathleen Turner again! At the Delacourte Theater. The play: Ouch!. But it was still a lovely night filled with friends, wine, and Kathleen.

I got a text this evening from my sister saying she was being transferred to the labor ward. Wow. More soon.

The Dead

On the way to the subway this morning, I passed a young girl walking hand in hand with her mother. Maybe the girl was four or five. She said, "What's wrong with him?" and started to walk away from her mother, towards something on the sidewalk.

The mother said, "It's dead. It's a dead squirrel. Don't touch it. It's probably dirty."

The girl gave her mother a sullen look and returned to holding her hand while walking down the sidewalk.

Ooo! I was almost as excited as the young girl. I ran over to it. Yes. A dead squirrel. He looked so cute and peaceful. Like he was taking a nap.

Except for the red pulpiness about the mouth and the flies all around.

I whipped out my phone to take a picture. I think the mother thought I was deranged. I think the little girl was jealous.

So here's my adorable dead squirrel picture

Some days I get lucky.

Of course, this fellow was much cuter than that dead rat on the subway tracks or that charming dead seagull in we saw on the street in Iceland.

On any given day, I can often think of half a dozen things to write about, but I can barely come up with one thought anymore which I can string up and hang onto coherent sentences.

About Iceland: I feel a little uncomfortable talking about our trip as if we were some kind of great explorers. Many of the tourists with whom we came into contact seemed like the rugged, adventure-seeking types. A number of people at the guest house where we stayed the majority of the time had been camping or hiking up volcanoes or doing other kinds of hearty activities. Brian and I could barely manage to drive our rented Toyota Yaris up a 15% incline without getting into a car-crash or an domestic dispute.

Brian noted that there's a movie coming out this fall called Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre, which I first assumed to be a joke. But it isn't. It's a really blood-and-guts horror movie which takes place on a whale watching boat.

I said, "I think a plot of a tourist paying $45 to get on a choppy boat and experience extreme nausea with fellow passengers loosing their cookies right and left for three and a half hours — that's quite horrible enough for me. You don't really need a bloody massacre too. It's a bit redundant.

I talked about the movie with the host of our guesthouse. He said, "Massacres? We don't have those here. That is very American."

Iceland does have an extremely low crime rate. It is an island about the size of Kentucky with a population of about 300,000, 60% of which live in the capital city. At times, Reykjavik can seem as big-city-bustling as Annapolis, Maryland. The country has a bizarrely high literacy rate, and almost everyone seems to have published several books.

I am now reading a book by Iceland's Nobel Prize-winning author Haldor Laxness. The writing and tone is really quite wonderful. There are no massacres. Not even of birds.

Oh. One more thing: Some of the other Americans staying at our guesthouse left to go backpacking in Greenland. I said to our host, "Greenland? What's in Greenland? Besides Polar Bears?

He said he didn't know, that he had never been there. He said, "In Iceland, we have a saying: If you go to Greenland, make sure to bring a friend ... who runs slower than you."

I think it best that we did not go backpacking in Greenland, and our only ruggedness to speak of was occasionally sharing a bathroom with other people on our floor.

Tropical Iceland

We're back!
Yesterday, while we were transitioning back to non-vacation life, Brian spilled half a cup of coffee into our computer keyboard. I didn't think much of it, as I had done such silly things dozens of times before.

Maybe because Brian drinks his coffee with milk and sugar or maybe because the keyboard had had enough, it began showing signs of rheumatism, especially in the left shift key. So I ran cold water over it — something I had also done dozens of times before.

At first, it showed signs of feeling better. But the keys were still sticky. So this morning I gave it another shower and left it to dry head down on a towel.

When I got home from work, I discovered our beloved keyboard had passed. Very sad.

So I pulled out an old keyboard, but discovered, much to my dismay, that neither the Z nor the space bar were working. It was probably for this reason I had purchased the new (and now dead) keyboard (may it rest in peace).

But I very much wanted to post pictures from our trip. In the end, we had a lovely time, minus, of course, the sea-sickness, rustic mountain roads, and wanderlusting sheep.

I am typing this blog entry on the awkward combination of my Blackberry and a keyboard without a Z or a spacebar and am praying for the best.

Also, here's a video of the Fiery Furnaces singing about Iceland.

Enjoy! More to come....

Iceland "!"

Iceland is full of NATURE.
Which I find frightending.

There are road signs here that say: "!"

That's right. That's what I was thinking. I'm waiting to see road signs that say: "@$%*!"

Yesterday, we went on a puffin/whale boat tour, and I got so sea sick, I had to spend the entire trip with my head down, trying to sleep and praying not to spew vomit on everyone.

A man on our boat said, "If you think you are going to vomit, you should really move to the other side of the boat."

I said, "I know, but it's very windy. And the boat is rocking. I'm afraid to move."

He said, "The wind is blowing. If you [he made the universal sign for puking], it will blow back ... onto me."

And then today was the "!" and the sheep in the road and the Blue Lagoon, which magically turned my hair to straw and almost made me break out in hives.

Other than that, we are having a grand time.

Oh. And we did not need bathing caps after all. Thank you everyone for your feedback. But dramamine and thorazine would have been nice.

Godard, Alligators, Pianos, & Bathing Caps

Here are some more signs I saw while I was about town.

On the wall of a public bathroom: "Godard is overrated."

Thu: Sex w/ alligator. I will no longer look forward to Thursday.

My aunt is leaving the hospital tomorrow. Here's a short video of her playing the piano for us, with Brian singing quietly along.

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. Have to get ready for our trip. And I've been so tired. Now that I'm nice and old, it seems I can fall asleep just about anywhere.

I've started knitting again. The other day, I fell asleep mid-stitch. A few days before that, I was on the subway platform waiting for a train (it was pretty late at night), and I fell asleep just as I was — standing. I experienced that odd sensation sleepers sometimes have of feeling like one is falling forward. Suddenly, I jolted awake. Which was good, as I had been, in actuality, falling forward. Horrible, crumpled mess on the tracks — that is something I do not need (to be) in my life right now.

Brian seems to think we need to bring bathing caps to Iceland. He says, "They are very clean people. It says in the tour book that you have to take a shower with soap, and without your undergarments on before going into the lagoon."

Do I need a bathing cap? I'm praying not. I was game for a wig, but a bathing cap is really just too much.

Photos & Frustration

Our friends William and Roxcy were in town this weekend.
I took some pictures with my giant, heavy camera.

Last night, Valerie exposed us to some more culture. We saw/heard the New York Philharmonic Concert In the Park. It was a gorgeous night and the concert was beautiful, but I kept getting distracted by other people's elaborate picnic accouterments. One group had on top of their picnic blanket a low table with a lantern on top. Another appeared to have brought a server with them who came with trays of prepared food, cloth napkins, a floral centerpiece, a large cake, and beeswax candles. This annoyed me.

While I was on line for the port-a-potties, I overheard two fellows talking behind me. They had just waved to a passing couple. When the couple was out of earshot, one guy said, "I don't get him. He spent $400 on shoes."

The other guy said, "I know. And he makes, like, half what we make. Like, a third or fourth what we make."

"Yeah. He makes like a third or a fifth what we make, but he spends half his paycheck on clothing."

Both men appeared to be in their mid-to-late twenties. One said to the other, "So how do you know those girls?"

The other said three girls names, and then said, of the first, "I know her from college. So we go back. Way back. Like, I've know her for, like, seven years. Or ten years or something. We go back." The second girl he knew through the first girl, and purported to have known her for almost as many years. The third girl was a different story. "I've only known her for like two or three years, maybe, but we have a total crush on each other, you know."


Then one asked the other whether Mayor Bloomberg was a republican or an independent. The other said, "Well, I'm a registered republican, and I get his mailings, so I think he must be a registered republican."

The other guy said, "I'm an independent, you know — I don't want to be tied to either party — but I get his mailings too."

Shoes, money, pretending that girls like you when they don't ... and now you're political conservatives! Of course, I hated them and I hated being trapped on line with them as I waited for the inevitable grossness of attending a port-a-potty party.

I had brought our little camera to the concert to snap some pictures. But, all of a sudden, it didn't work. I kept replaying the last things I had done with the camera before taking it out at the concert. I had charged the battery, inserted it in the camera, then dropped it into my purse. Did it bang against something. Had I spilled water on it? The camera was completely dead.

Today I was about to call Canon tech support. But I noticed that when I took out the battery and looked inside the slot, I could see a small, silver piece of vaguely foreign-looking material. After some maneuvering, it became apparent the silver piece had actually originated as tin foil from a gum wrapper. The camera works fine now.

Which is good. Because we will need it soon. Brian and I are headed to Iceland at the end of the month. We'll be there for a week. Anyone have any suggestions?

Weekend Photos

Here are some pictures I took this weekend with my crappy camera phone.

"We Still Carry Answering Machines."

Don't walk ... Hang ten.

Creepy baby doll in a garbage bin.

Rooftop laundry and graffiti, as seen from the pedestrian walk of the Manhattan Bridge.

Happy Monday!


My friend Valerie had an extra ticket to the ballet.
She invited me to come along. It was Romeo and Juliet, a story I've never been too keen about. And by the time I got home it would probably be around midnight. I hesitated, but decided to go.

The ballet turned out to be pretty fun. The costumes and the sets were really gorgeous, and I guess I don't mind the story so much if people are bouncing around and nobody's speaking. I was a tiny bit embarrassed by how scantily-clad the men were. Big, frilly shirts on top, but on the bottom, not much more than a jockstrap. I kept thinking, Someone should really say something to them. Someone should let them know....

We bumped into my friend Ann and her friend Erica, which made the evening even more enjoyable. I think I like ballet.

I can't remember why I thought mentioning the ballet was notable enough to blog about.

Our July 4th festivities were a little less notable. I did witness a really substantial pot hole with an orange traffic cone shoved into it. I liked it so much, I took its picture.

The other day, there was a smear of something that appeared to be blood on the subway seat next to me. I took a picture of it.

I got a few curious glances. I think people thought I was doing this so I could report it to 311. But I was just doing it because I thought it was funny and gross. And notable.