Friday, Jul 12th

laurentakesleaveLooking for some beach reading? Scarsdale’s Julie Gerstenblatt has just published her first novel on Amazon , and it’s the perfect vacation escape at just $4.99 per download. Lauren Takes Leave is about a stressed-out working mom with an absentee husband and a pre-occupied babysitter. So what does she do? She takes a vacation making this a good one to take on your vacation.

Here’s a description of the plot:

Wife, mother, and middle school teacher Lauren Worthing needs some time off from her busy, suburban life. So when a jury duty summons arrives, it creates the perfect alibi for ditching her slightly unfulfilling career, slightly spoiled children, slightly absentee husband, and slightly criminal babysitter.

With uninhibited friends like Jodi Moncrieff and Kat O'Connell by her side, Lauren takes leave of her senses and embarks on a weeklong pleasure bender.

From the chilly exam room of a local dermatologist’s office to the marble master bathroom of a suburban McMansion, Lauren explores deep, probing questions that come with middle age and upper middle class complacency. Questions like, who is she, really? And, why didn’t anyone tell her not to pole dance in Louboutins? Before the week is over, Lauren and her friends have moved far away from the chick-lit stereotypes they've become and closer to the lying, cheating, stealing bad-asses they didn't know they'd ever want to be. Lauren Takes Leave is a riotously funny tale of women on the verge.

Gerstenblatt’s first book came out on her birthday, July 3rd, and so far the response has been great. She spent the holiday at the Scarsdale pool and was thrilled to find people already reading her book on their Kindles.

Gerstenblatt hired her own editor and got help for the cover from her husband who is an art director. Designer and friend Gary Chews and illustrator Liz Starin produced the book jacket that is based around clues from the story with an object for each day of Lauren's vacation week

Check it out here: and when you click “Look Inside” you can sample the first few chapters.

gerstenblatt

Columnist, blogger and author Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia.

rosemelon3_copyWe moms have it hard in May and June. The social calendar that we tend to throughout the year virtually explodes for the spring season, with graduation parties and birthday parties and class parties and final exams and proms and cookies to bake and brownies to bake and teachers to thank and yearbooks to distribute and camp trunks to pack and backpacks to unpack and trip forms to fill out and letters to send to camp and Father’s Day to plan and little league playoffs and final recitals and band concerts and about a million other obligations that keep our heads spinning. Until now. Because now, we have reached Nirvana. We have reached the end of June.

Ah. Say it with me. The end of June. Now exhale.

At the end of June, and well into July and August, Mommy needs – no, Mommy deserves - a cocktail.

Here are some of my personal summer faves.

The Literati

I first tasted this drink at a meeting of my book club, and have thus duly named it in honor of the occasion. Thanks to my friend Emily for serving it up in beautifully elegant stemware and making me feel special, even though I hadn’t read the book.

1/3 Prosecco
1/3 St Germain
1/3 San Pellegrino

“So, it’s a poor man’s champagne cocktail,” my friend Amy said.

“No, it’s The Literati,” I explained. “And, if you want to get crazy, try this.”

The Crazy Literati

2/3 Prosecco
1/3 St Germain

To hell with the San Pellegrino

This is how Emily served it, and, I must say, it’s quite deeelish. Thanks to Alex Javadi, Senior Wine Consultant at Zachy’s, for originally sharing with Emily this concoction, which is similar to the St Germain cocktail on that liquor’s website.

St. Germain is elderflower liquor that gives a wonderful aromatic to the drink. The St Germain website explains the process by which this liquor is brought to you: “After gently ushering the wild blossoms into sacks and descending the hillside, a few of the men who gather blossoms for your cocktail will then mount a bicycle and carefully ride the umbrells of starry white flower to a collection depot. Vraiment.” Really! They do all this for us!

St Germain comes in a killer bottle, making it a most impressive gift to bring to a summer soiree for about $30. (Be a real dahling and bring with it a few bottles of chilled Prosecco, won’t you? Your hostess and the other guests will love you.)

The Chat Punch

The Chat Punch is the kind of sticky-sweet drink reminiscent of a late 1980’s booze cruise, which is perhaps why I instantly fell in love with it. This is the drink my friends Gaby, Allison and I drank at Chat American Grill last summer, before sending dear Gaby off to her new home in St Louis, MO. When we reunited a few weeks ago at the same spot, we immediately ordered a round of Chat Punches, only to discover that the drink had been removed from the menu.

“How could they?” I wondered aloud. But then I realized that, if people are like me and only order it once a year, it might not be their bestseller.

“The bartender is gonna make it for us anyway!” Gaby said. We hoorayed.

And then I hoorayed again when the general manager of the bar shared the recipe with me.

1 oz. Absolut peach
1 oz. Absolut Mandarin
2 oz. orange juice
1 oz. cranberry juice
a splash of peach schnapps
a splash of pineapple juice

Serve with ice in tall glass and garnish with an orange slice
Sip through a straw

Warning: this does not mix well with spinach and artichoke dip.

The Rosie Melons

One of my favorite places on earth has to be the Top of the Standard (formerly known as the Boom Boom Room), at the Standard Hotel julieskitchenin the Meatpacking district of NYC. Just getting ushered through those big double doors into the swanky glass-and-leather-and-velvet lounge makes me feel better about my mediocre life. And sipping a $14 cocktail makes me believe that maybe my life is actually pretty damn fantastic, since I can apparently afford such a decadent libation. Alas, according to my sources (I called and asked the hostess), the Rosie Melons has been taken off the menu. But I have spent hours in my lab recreating for you the drink made exclusively for the Standard by mixologist and self-proclaimed cocktail architect Yusef Austin. (Actually, I watched the great tutorials he gives for mixing drinks on his website and modified them using the right ingredients. And then, just when I was this close to cracking the code, through a friend-of-a friend at Scarsdale10583.com, I was given the actual recipe from the Beverage Director at The Standard. Phew!) And now I am sharing the Rosie Melons with you.

Are you laughing at the name? Could you maybe stop? Because this drink is serious, people. It contains rosemary.

2 oz vodka
1/2 oz rosemary-infused aquavit
2 oz. cantaloupe puree
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup

Blend and shake well with ice
Serve with a rosemary garnish

So, fine, this one takes some advanced planning. Like you have to buy aquavit and then infuse the aquavit with rosemary sprigs for a few days. And you have to puree a cantaloupe and make simple syrup. The good news is, that by the time you’ve finished making it, you really are in desperate need of a drink.

If you are looking for a nice, non-alcoholic summer refresher, look no further that Martha Stewart’s berry spritzer. I personally enjoy the berry spritzer at Eli Zabar’s E.A.T. on the Upper East Side of NYC, but when I called there for the recipe, they were suspicious and hostile. “How do I know you aren’t going to steal the recipe?” A man from the kitchen staff asked me when I was connected to him on the phone.

“Well, that’s kind of the point of printing your recipe in an online newspaper.” I said. “I am asking to steal it for the benefit of the masses.”

“Berries and seltzer,” he said.

“How many raspberries?” I asked. “And, do you, like, mash them? So they don’t get caught in the straw?”

And that is when he hung up on me.

So you will have to go there to enjoy one for $8 or make Martha’s, below.

Summer Berry Spritzer

3 cups blackberries
1 cup raspberries
½ cup simple syrup
½ cup white grape juice
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
ice
seltzer (or sparkling wine, if you’d like alcohol)

Add patriotic fruit skewers for the 4th of July, with raspberries and blueberries, if so inclined to be like Martha

Place blackberries, raspberries, simple syrup, grape juice, and lemon juice in the jar of a blender; puree until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids. Fill 8 Collins glasses with ice, if using. Divide mixture evenly between glasses; top with seltzer or wine and serve immediately garnished with fruit skewers, if desired.

Lastly, apply SPF and relax. So, moms, let’s toast to summer! What are your favorite warm-weather libations? Do tell!

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia.

girlnamedigitYou know that feeling you get from holding a new book in your hands, excited by the promise of the first few pages? That’s how I felt when I first read A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan. It was a Saturday morning. My Kindle and I crept downstairs in the dim morning light and hid under a blanket on the far end of the couch in the sunroom, pretending that we were still asleep. In that way, I disappeared from my family’s radar for the better part of the morning, and by the time they found me and begged for breakfast, I was already hooked on Digit.

And that was good news, because before reading her novel, I was already hooked on Annabel Monaghan.

Annabel and I met in a novel writing workshop at Sarah Lawrence College in the Fall of 2010. She was there to workshop a project called Digit, and since her novel was completed and the rest of ours were not, we read her manuscript first. In person, Annabel is funny and self-deprecating and humble and smart. She’s the one you want to sit next to in class so that you can pass notes back and forth and give each other meaningful eye rolls, as if a continuing education course at a local college is the same setting as your high school biology lab. (Which, in a way, it is.) By week two, we had our own little inside jokes. As I sank into my couch, I desperately hoped that her book would live up to the real her.

We were told to read the first 50 pages for class. I got to 51 and never stopped. Here’s a plot summary: Farrah "Digit" Higgins may be going to MIT in the fall, but this L.A. high school genius has left her geek self behind in another school district so she can blend in with the popular crowd at Santa Monica High and actually enjoy her senior year. But when Farrah, the daughter of a UCLA math professor, unknowingly cracks a terrorist group's number sequence, her laid-back senior year gets a lot more interesting. Soon she is personally investigating the case, on the run from terrorists, and faking her own kidnapping-- all while trying to convince a young, hot FBI agent to take her seriously. So much for blending in.

I am delighted to tell you that Annabel Monaghan’s first novel for teens, A Girl Named Digit, released on June 5, was just named a Best Book of

annabelmonaghan
Annabel Monaghan
the Month for June by Amazon. Book bloggers love it. Amazon Vine program reviewers are consistently giving it 4 and 5 star reviews, and these people don’t even know her. Seventeen.com named the novel a book club pick of the week. Which shows you that I have excellent taste, both in books and in the authors who pen them, and that I may not be as humble about Annabel’s success as she is.

 

Annabel, who lives in Rye with her husband and three boys (ages 13, 11, and 6) worked for Goldman Sachs and Paine Webber before leaving finance to join the PTA. Recently, she and I sat down at our computers and emailed an interview to each other. Here is the resulting conversation:

JG: Hi! How are you?

AM: How am I? I am up to my elbows in Peter Pan costumes, that’s how I am.

JG: Did I tell you that I got roped into co-chairing my kids’ elementary school musical next winter? Am I insane?

AM: I just spent all week at our school attaching bobby pins to Indian headbands. Don’t ask me.

(Skip over hair color, colonoscopy, root canal, and husbands to parts where we discuss new novel.)

JG: I know that the idea for A Girl Named Digit came from a conversation you had with your former babysitter, Gretel Dennis, to whom the book is dedicated.

AM: Yes. We were talking about a recent New York City kidnapping and Gretel said, “What if the girl is faking it? What sort of person might need to be taken?” I had my character and, pretty soon, my plotline.

JG: And the idea for the sequel (the one that I know you are working on but that you haven’t let me read yet)?

AM: The idea for the sequel came from a very small thought: I think we need to take it up a notch. What if Digit's gift was a threat to national security?

JG: Ooo! Scary! Are you getting very excited about the novel’s release? I know you have a previous book (Click!: The Girl’s Guide to Knowing What You Want and Making It Happen, 2007), but does it seem different this time?

AM: I am very, very excited but also much calmer than last time. It's different from last time because there was no ARC (advanced reader copy) with Click! so no one had ever read it before it's release date. With A Girl Named Digit, lots of reviewers and bloggers have already read it, so it takes a little bit of the tension out of it for me. It's more like a blind date with a guy you've already seen from a distance.

JG: Which is actually how I met my husband. What's the hardest thing about writing a novel? The best?

AM: The hardest thing is just sitting down to type. When it's time for me to sit down to write, I am suddenly hungry-sleepy-in need of a run. But if I can force myself to sit down, it only takes a few minutes to get swept right back into a story. The most interesting and surprising thing to me about writing fiction is how it's really a collaboration between the writer and the characters. It's a little like having kids - you create them, mold them and give them direction, but in the end they just do what they are going to do. In that sense, writing is kind of a magical process.

JG: In what ways are you like/not like Digit? From other interviews, I know that you collect bumper stickers, although not to the extent that Digit does. Also, Digit picks one outfit and sticks with it, and you have said that you, too, like a uniform of sorts. But tell me something else.

AM: I didn't really intend for Digit to be at all like me, I mean, hello, she's a math genius. But we are alike in some small ways. When I was in high school my friends were the coolest girls in town (they still are), all athletes and about a foot taller than I am. I fit in, but not really. At parties I had a tendency to sneak away and talk with the parents for a while. I had the sense that maybe high school wasn't "my time," and I was okay with that.

JG: Now is your time! Who is your favorite non-main character in the novel and why?

AM: I really love Digit's dad. He values her gift, but at the same time he doesn't want her to miss out on the fun of being a teenager. I like how his ego and expectations aren't bigger than his simple love for his daughter.

JG: I like him, too. But I think my favorite non-main character is Olive. (When readers get to the end of the book, they’ll see why.) OK, so how much of the math that you used in Digit did you already know and how much did you look up? If you researched any, what sources did you use?

AM: Like anything else, math is really easy when you already have the answer. Nearly all of the math and coding processes in the book I found either on the Internet or at the library. I'd try to wrap my head around the math and then work backward from how I wanted the answer to work out. It was actually pretty fun. (#nerdalert)

JG: What advice do you have for writers -- both the teenage/young variety and the old/middle aged variety?

AM: My advice for kids and teenagers who want to be writers is GET STARTED! Especially while you're parents are paying your bills! Write anything you can think of, just to capture this exciting and brief time in your life. And if you find that you really like writing, don't chicken out. My advice for adults is to mine their vast experience for material. We often don't think our own lives or communities are interesting because they are so familiar to us. But there is so much drama in a family or an office or a parking lot, you have plenty to work with.

JG: Plenty, agreed! That’s why I walk around the suburbs with my Moleskin notebook in hand. Lastly, what advice would you give to Digit as she prepares to go off to college that either someone told you or that you wish someone had told you?

AM: The obvious things which, ahem, no one told me: 1. Schedule all your classes for much later than you think entirely necessary. 2. Lay off the mac and cheese. 3. Dive all the way in.

JG: So true. Still having trouble following rule #2. Thank you.

AM: No, thank you.

JG: Coffee at Le Pain Quotidien at 9:15?

AM: Yes. I have a funny story for you.

JG: You always do.

Meet Annabel Monaghan on Thursday, June 14th from 7:00-8:30 at the Rye Free Reading Room for a talk/signing event. The book is for grades 8 and up, and it is a perfect summer read. Annabel promises to talk quickly so that there is ample time to eat the free snacks. Books will be available for purchase.

gerstenblatt

Columnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia.

 

yoga2I recently got the chance to try a class at Yoga Haven 2, located at 91 Montgomery Avenue in Scarsdale. The studio, owned by Betsy Kase, is the new outpost of the beloved Tuckahoe yoga studio, which Kase first opened 15 years ago.

“Back then, Madonna was on the cover of Time magazine doing yoga, and people couldn’t believe that you could look like her from doing only that,” Kase explained. “Now, people have more understanding of it.” In the past few years, in addition to growing her studio across the board, she has seen an increased interest from prenatal clients, seniors, men, and even children.

“Eleven year olds spend 8 hours a day sitting in a chair in school,” she said. And then they go to play sports, sports, sports nonstop, without much stretching, “so they are getting tighter and tighter,” which can be rough on the body. That’s why Yoga Haven offers a variety of classes for kids and teens, including a Monday evening class just for boys. “We do handstands and hang from ropes, and lots of other fun things,” she explained.

Now, as you may know from other articles I’ve written, I am into spinning, not stretching. But after pulling my calf from three consecutive days of fast, repetitive pedaling, I knew that I needed to try something else. As I learned from Kase, yoga helps to heal and strengthen both the body and mind, and people who have been injured from other exercise often find a home with yoga. According to Kase, even individuals who have perhaps had surgery and then done physical therapy are finding that they still are not getting complete pain relief until they’ve done yoga. In fact, she turned to yoga in her 20’s because of chronic pain issues. “Back pain, TMJ, neck pain, migraines, digestive issues –“ she said, counting off only some of the woes one might have to make them sort of mildly miserable all the time and that the practice of yoga can help alleviate. “We’re getting older, and people are realizing that they’ve got to do something different.” In fact, she told me that, after 40, people lose 3% of their flexibility each year.

That means I’m 6% less likely to be able to touch my toes today than I was 2 years ago. By the time I’m 50, if I don’t start stretching now, I’ll be as crackly as a petrified tree.

Yeegads. I entered the studio.

Yoga Haven 2 is a beautiful, calming, light-filled space in the former home of Eastchester Glass (and all glass in the studio was supplied by them; plus, the owner there is a client of Kase’s). First, I stole someone else’s mat and then realized I had to take one of my own off the wall, for which I apologized profusely. Then I looked around and grabbed whatever props others had, including some styrofoam blocks and a blanket. (Taking any new class, even a calming one like yoga, is sort of stressful until you get the hang of the culture and general expectations.)

Betsy taught this particular class herself, which is the Monday 9:30 – 10:45 level 1 and 2 Vinyasa class. It was a perfect start for me, because although I haven’t done yoga in a while, I used to take classes regularly and sort of know what I’m doing. I’d call myself an advanced beginner. We began by sitting cross-legged on our mats and closing our eyes, getting ready for the session ahead. Betsy asked us to “unravel” ourselves, and that’s the moment that I realized just how “raveled” I was. Uncoiling my mind and body was what I worked on for the next hour or so. Down dog, up dog, plank, warrior 2, pigeon (oy), we stretched and built strength and balance.

Turns out, I’m wound pretty tight. This became really evident to me during the end of class, during deep relaxation, during which I did not relax deeply.

My son is leaving for sleep away camp for the first time in less than 2 weeks, my husband is looking for a new job, I’m about to self-publish my own novel on Amazon.com (which actually has in it a funny scene set during a yoga class), and I’m used to a high-energy spin class in which a teacher screams at me over Rihanna and I scream and whoop back, sometimes while waving a sweaty towel over my head. So, no, I am not the best at pulling a serape blanket over me and falling into a deep sleep/meditative trance at 10:30 on a Monday morning in a room full of strangers, some of whom are breathing loudly.

There’s so much to do! Have to get a toothbrush holder for Andrew! Who else used this mat and/or this blanket? Did I put enough money in the meter? I should go to Trader Joe’s after this!

An instructor for a yoga class I took in Brooklyn in the late ‘90’s used to tell us that the mind was like a puppy, in that its natural inclination was to stray. When we noticed our minds walking away from us like puppies during class, our job was to pull gently on the leash and bring the mind back. In the Yoga Haven class, I pulled and pulled on that leash. Eventually, I was yelling at that puppy, bad puppy! Heel! Stay! Come back, goddammit!

Betsy brought us back to the land of the conscious slowly. As we stretched our toes and spines, she told us that the mental aspect of the practice can be as hard, or even harder, than the physical work. “You have to cultivate the patience to do the practice,” she explained.

That’s clearly something I really have to work on.

Maybe you need to learn to unwind and build strength, too? I highly recommend taking some classes this summer at Yoga Haven. And then, go to Trader Joe’s afterwards. Keep the two activities separate - don’t create a mental shopping list during deep relaxation - and you’ll be great. Namaste.

Classes are $10 for your first class and $20 afterwards for drop-ins, with a 10-class card for $150 and an unlimited monthly class cards available for $140/mo or $345 for 3 months. You can download the Scarsdale Summer schedule here.

gerstenblatt

Columnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia.

 

 

triathalonArtist, yes. Successful businessman, sure. Snarky comment maker, indeed. But here are words I’d never thought I’d utter: I’d like to introduce you to my husband, Brett, the triathlete. When Brett and I met in 1996, he was merely a summertime tennis player, and, when I was not chain-smoking, I occasionally attended a step-aerobics class. In Central Park, we went to Sheep’s Meadow to hang out instead of going for a run around the reservoir. I though we were perfectly matched in every way.

When we moved in together in Brooklyn a few years later, we joined a gym and attended spin and yoga classes side by side. Skip ahead 12 years, and you will find that spin and yoga is where I still remain. Brett, however, has moved on. Way on.

My husband now goes to the gym. A lot. He has a trainer. He does something called box jumps. He wears something called a weight vest. When I said I’d marry him in sickness and in health, I didn’t know quite how healthy he meant.

I think it all began a decade ago with a Memorial Day mile road race near my aunt’s home in Norfolk, Connecticut. Norfolk, known as “the ice box of Connecticut,” because of its lovely winters, is not what you’d call a competitive, cut-throat place. With its pretty little town of rolling green, Norfolk serves as home to the Yale Summer School of Music and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and has a strong reputation for attracting artists and craftsmen of all types to its quaint little corner of the Litchfield Hills.

But this setting is deceptive, because it has turned my art-schooled husband into a road warrior.

At last year’s race, he had to “beat his time” from the previous years. It was all he talked about. And then he did it! Yay, Dad! My kids cheered. We were all so excited! But the thrill of victory was quickly tainted by the agony of defeat, which in this case, was placing fourth in a race with only three award winners. Sure, Brett ran 5 consecutive 7 1/2 minute miles, some of them uphill, but he missed out on receiving a plaque from the Norfolk Fire Department in the male 30-39 year-old category, and that just wasn’t good enough. So, this year, he had to beat his time as well as everyone else’s. At the very least, he had to be the third fastest man in his age group and win a plaque.

Brett was faster than ever. He beat his previous year’s time by 40 seconds. He was so fast that he was shaking at the end, unable to talk. Memorial Day was hotter than heck this year, and I was concerned that he had pushed himself too far.

Lacking a bit in competitive spiritedness, I felt a mixture of pride in Brett and worry for him. What was he trying to prove? I wondered. Wasn’t it good enough to be able to participate in events like this? Why did he have to win?

The Norfolk Firemen posted a list of finishing times to a nearby evergreen. I hesitantly checked the stats. Brett was fourth again.

“It’s okay, bud,” Brett said to our 10-year-old son, Andrew, who was concerned that Dad was disappointed in himself. “All you can do in life is try really hard and still place fourth.”

You see, I married him for his humor.

On the walk to the car, we rationalized that, next year, Brett will be the youngest in the 40-49 year old age group and will therefore kick the old guys’ butts. Our spirits were lifted.

This 5-mile road race was like the gateway drug for Brett. Apparently, it’s not enough to try to outrun people. Now he has to run, bike, and swim his way to healthy. Next month, Brett will compete in a “sprint,” which I understand to be a practice for a full-length triathlon. His first Olympic-distance triathlon is in September.

I am of course proud of my husband for wanting to accomplish something of this magnitude. Training for an event like a trialthlon takes real discipline, both of the mental and physical variety. It also means spending lots of quality time away from his family in order to train. There are the daily runs, the 20-mile bike rides, the weekly “Super Human” class at Equinox, and the Sunday swim club followed by a tennis league…just for fun.

It’s hard to stand by your man when he’s constantly moving in the other direction.

I know golf widows. I don’t feel bad for them, because they belong to some posh country club in order to indulge their husband in his choice of sport, and thus, reap the collateral benefits of this by sitting by the manicured pool, flirting with the tennis pro, or golfing with the other ladies. But there is no home-away-from-home for the triathlete widow. No group support country club. No built-in tennis pro just waiting to fill my time while the kids are in mini-golf camp and daddy is training. Women who lose their husbands to golf might feel like their husband is having one affair. Triathlete spouses have lost their mates three times over. And there is no one I can turn to and sigh and say, “Mine’s mountain biking today. Where’s yours?”

(In all fairness, I also know several women who train and have competed in triathletes, so I understand that the feeling of being left behind by your uber-fit spouse is not gender specific.)

I was feeling a bit jealous of people who have couch-potato spouses until the other day, when I heard about a guy who makes my husband seem lazy. Meet Josh Zitomer. He is a personal trainer who personally trains himself by preparing for and competing in one of the sickest, craziest events I have ever heard of, the Spartan Death Race. Like Tough Mudder, the Spartan Death Race (visit youmaydie.com) mixes insane outdoor challenges with the spirit of mortal danger rarely seen outside of true combat. The creators of this race actually seem to want you to die. It’s counter-intuitive that anyone would pay a $900 entry fee for this right, when eventually, everyone gets to die for free anyway, but I digress.

According to Josh (who is a friend of a friend of mine), the race director begins by saying that “we don’t want any of you to finish…we will encourage you to quit.” Less than 10% of the starting group makes it to the finish line. Now, right there, hearing that, I’d give up. But Josh says that being pushed to the limit like this and being told he might not live makes the challenge even more exciting. But then again, he has competed in many double and TRIPLE ironman competitions. I can’t even do the math on that.

This isn’t a guy who could sit through a three-hour Verdi opera like Brett can, I’m guessing. Everyone has their skills.

Yes, Josh has a family that he runs away from too. In order to train, he gets up at 4 am so as not to upset his wife who does not like to sweat at all (I instantly love her) and who, I can imagine, feels like a Spartan Death widow, which is way worse than a golf widow or triathlon widow, because she might actually end up…a widow.

A typical workout for Josh might include flipping a tractor tire up a 1-mile hill. Or an hour-long run with a 40lb weight vest. One session was simply 3,000 burpees. Another was a mile of walking lunges with a 70lb log. Once a week he’ll test his strength, speed and endurance with a timed climb up the side of a mountain…while carrying a 5-gallon bucket filled with rocks.

Suddenly, a swim, followed by a bike ride and a run doesn’t seem so bad.

Did I introduce you to my husband, Brett? He’s a triathlete. And, I am so proud of him and I love him just the way he is and I really hope he’ll find the strength to stop right there, because being a healthy, well-balanced husband, father, businessesman, artist, and triathlete is more than enough. Even without a weight vest. Even in fourth place.

Especially in fourth place.

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia.