Saint Joseph

Seven days ago while listening to the WTF podcast featuring Adam Ferrara, I learned something about real estate and religion. Adam Ferrara shared a story from his childhood about how when they were selling their home on Long Island, his mother made his father bury a statue of Saint Joseph in the yard. The belief is that this will make the house sell quickly. When their house didn’t sell right away, his mother mentioned it to her priest, and the priest asked, “Well, did you bury him upside down?”


That night, his mother made his father dig up Saint Joseph and bury him the “right way”. And the house sold.

I was raised catholic, and I’d never heard of this before. I found it odd, of course. (And a little cute, because superstitions are always a little cute.)

So, let’s back up.

We bought this house last September. It’s a bit of a money pit. But I am told most 100-year-old houses are. It’s constant upkeep. Things go wrong. Stuff breaks. Leaks happen. Roofs rot. Gutters fall off. Bathrooms need updated, as well as kitchens, and basements. Doors and walls are covered in lead paint. The floors creak and moan. There is just so much to do when one buys an old home. They’re temperamental. But they’re also damn sturdy and have unique personalities.

We were in a bit of a rush when we bought this house. Emory was to start private school in Brooklyn. We had already put down a $4,000 deposit on his tuition and had another $10,000 due immediately. When I found out I was pregnant with Walter, and knew we couldn’t raise three boys in a 900 square foot apartment (or pay for private school), we hit the ground running. We figured if we found something fast, we’d save the $10,000 on Em’s school tuition and instead use that toward a home.

So, that’s what we did. And to some degree we settled. This is not the home we would have purchased had we not been in such a hurry. It needed more work than many other homes. It had been neglected for decades. It was sad. I described it as perpetually sighing. Toby suggested it had been lived in by the chronically depressed. But we got a pretty OK deal on it due to all that stuff.

We’ve done a ton of work on this house since September. We are therefore quite broke.

In order to save money we don’t have, we do whatever we can ourselves. A lot of that includes cleaning up and fixing the yard. And since the outside of the house was neglected as much as the inside, there is a ton of yard work to do. The bushes out front are scraggly and pathetic looking. They are skeletal even during the plush summer months. They are surrounded by weeds the size of small trees. And the grass out front is a joke. It’s 90% weeds, 10% crab grass. The ivy looks like massive piles of unkempt yard pubic hair. It’s just awful.

I usually do whatever I can while the baby is taking one of his 30-minute naps. (He’s not a napper!) I will venture outside and quickly dig up some sad bush. It’s slow-going, and a ton of hard labor, but it’s kind of fun getting lost in thought and covered in an organic filth other than poop.

This morning, while hacking away at one of the larger bushes, I unearthed this fella:

This is him after a quick bath:

I don’t find it all that odd Saint Joseph was left here. I gather this happens often enough given how many Catholics there are in the world. The weird part for me is, had I found this fella, say, 8 days ago—prior to listening Adam Ferrara tell his story on WTF—I’d have tossed Saint Joseph aside believing him to be another long lost children’s toy (of which we’ve found several).

No. It’s not the existence or the discovery of Saint Joseph I find all that strange. It’s the coincidence of how quickly the order of life events stumbled into one another, unfolded before me. That is the weird part. That’s the part that rendered me still.

These are the type of occurrences that always make me feel giddy about being alive. I look for them all the time. I cherish these strange coincidences that make me pause and mutter the words, “Huh. Well, that’s weird.”

But, what do I do with him now? Do I bury him again? Do I save him and bury him when we try and sell our house in the future? Or, do I free him from the earthworms and the soil? Has he done his job? Goodness knows this was a difficult house to sell! Do I send him on his way?

Will someone find him and bury him before he even gets to see another sunrise?

What do I do with Saint Joseph now?

Long Training Run: Week 3

I ran 8 miles on Saturday. I’m getting a touch worried as to how I’ll eventually find 13-20 miles in this small town. Finding 8 was hard enough. I’m not a fan of looping back. I know that’s probably pretty silly. I don’t mind running the same routes every week. But I don’t like looping back during the same run. Weird.

Actually, finding 13-20 miles isn’t difficult if I run up the mountain. Which gives me a great big HAHA! right now because I can barely walk up that damn mountain. It’s freaking steep and very long. But eventually, I’ll have to. I’m hoping by then hills and/or mountains won’t frighten me as much.

The run was fine overall. But AGAIN with the belly issues. Midway through mile 5, I started experiencing gut pain. So, I ran/walked, eventually pausing RunKeeper until I found an outhouse/porta-john near the baseball field in Maplewood park. And HOLY COW, this was BY FAR the most disgusting public bathroom I’ve ever used, prompting me to leave the following note in RunKeeper:

(Yeah, I inhaled a bug as well. Poor guy.)

Anyway, I was so relieved to find an open toilet, I didn’t give a shit (OR DID I?) what it looked like. (God, I am an awful, vile human being. I can’t wait to see how many people I disgust with my nonsense, namely my husband who, should he read this, will wish to avoid me indefinitely.)

That was the only hitch, the only stumble. Overall, it was a great run.

I’ve noticed that my long runs feel better mentally than the shorter ones. I think it’s that I go into them knowing I can (and should) walk a bit. I know that I’m going to be out there for a while, so I just commit. I get lost in thought, listening to whatever podcast. And then, before I even realize it, I’m halfway done. That doesn’t mean the long runs are easy! It’s just that they’re easier to commit to and embrace than my weekday maintenance runs. Maybe that’s because of how early I have to get up during the week in order to train. Maybe it’s because I know that once I return home I’ll have to get three kids ready for the day. That stress looms. Whereas on Saturdays, it’s not a big deal if I get home after 8 AM and all three kids are still in their PJs watching cartoons. Incidentally, the idea of training once school starts up, and everyone needs to be somewhere by a certain time and it coincides with when my weekday runs become longer and longer, that just makes my head spin. I’ve no clue how we’re going to manage that.

That’s the thing about training for a marathon, much more so than a half: it’s a part-time job. And everyone is affected by the amount of time involved. I’m asking for a great deal of patience and understanding from everyone in my family. Granted, I hope my boys can learn something from this as well. But we’ll see.


Left the house at 5:52 AM. Temperature: 70s, partly cloudy.

Pre-run fuel: Plain oatmeal, banana, coffee with sugar and creamer. Water.

Route: Down past the Duck Pond in South Orange, right into the neighborhood, past Mountain Station. Down Valley all the way to where the nursery is. Took a right there and then another right down Salter. Through park. (Hit another outhouse in the park) continued on back through town and then up Virginia onto Ridgewood and home again.

Time and distance: Average 11:23 minute miles with miles 3 and 7 being the fastest.

Post-run recovery meal: Banana peanut butter smoothie with almond milk. (GOD I LOVE THIS BEVERAGE.)

Personal Stuff: Bellyaches during mile 5. Getting sick of this. Also: It seems I’ve put on weight this week, but I haven’t eaten poorly. I’ve eaten more, but that’s because I’m burning more and therefore craving more. I put on almost 2 pounds. I’m sort of hoping that has to do with recovery and muscles. I remember this happening while training in the past as well. I’d GAIN weight the day or two after my long runs and then things would even out again three or four days later. Wondering why this is. Hoping that’s the case, because I don’t want to gain weight. I want to weigh 140 by October. Finding a balance between the ravenous hunger I have after my longer runs and what I actually eat is going to be key.

Pros: Beautiful morning. Felt great. Quiet morning.

Cons: Belly issues and I ate a bug. :[ The sound on my iPhone is dying.

Upward and onward!

Long Training Run: Week Two

Today I ran seven miles in the pouring rain. I don’t mind running in the rain one bit. During these hot summer months I much prefer it to sunshine and humidity. The most difficult part of rain running is the first few minutes before you become fully soaked. But once that happens, it’s all good and you no longer notice.

I’m pretty sure the locals thought I was crazy. But I did see one running group and another lone jogger out there. Both of us had huge grins and waved maniacally at one another. I’m not the only crazy one!

Some stuff about things. Without going into too much detail, I forgot how much my body acclimated to high weekly mileages before I got pregnant with Walt. There’s a great deal of training your internal organs go through, namely your guts. People may find this disgusting, or wonder why I’m discussing such things, and I’m sorry about that. But frankly, if you’re a runner, you know this is a thing sometimes. Maybe not firsthand, in which case, consider yourself lucky! But surely you know someone who has experienced this problem before.

Belly and gut-aches. Blergh. Having to walk or hobble in search of the nearest public restroom, being willing to overlook some of the worst bathrooms imaginable. Not giving a damn if the one you finally stumble into looks like something out of the movie Trainspotting. Yeah. That.

Anyway, I’m told this is a bit more common for women as we have hormones to contend with on top of the normal mechanical issues and failures that come from bouncing atop asphalt for hours.

I’m back to square one on that front. My body is asking what in the hell it is I think I’m doing. This gets better. I remember that as well. But I have weeks of bellyaches to dance with first.

So, while the first mile felt great initially, it quickly went to shit. (Ha ha.) I was forced to walk/jog for at least half a mile in search of a public restroom, pausing RunKeeper finally as it was pointless and totally messing up my data. I know I won’t be able to stop time during an actual race. But I use this information to figure out what I need to do, what I have done, and how far I’ve come, or if I need to change things. And searching for a bathroom isn’t criteria I need cluttering up that information.

Around mile 2.25, I finally found a bathroom at the public marina. There are few things more uncomfortable than having to pull up rain soaked running shorts and make sure the elastic is in the right place again! But I managed.

Miles 3 and 4 were slow. It took me a bit to get back up to speed after the bathroom search. I don’t like stopping and starting again. My legs are always confused by this. But by mile 5 I felt better and was able to keep my original pace. I continued home in the rain. And it felt great.

Miles 6 and 7 were my fastest. And while I’m still very slow compared to what I was running last year before the pregnancy, I’m pretty pleased that I had the energy to make my last two miles the fastest. I was able to get some 9-minute intervals into those last two miles.


Left the house at 7:47 AM. Temperature: 60s, Pouring Rain

Pre-run fuel: Plain oatmeal, banana, coffee with sugar and creamer. Water.

Route: Forked River, around lakes 1,2 and 3. Onto Lacey Road to find bathroom at Marina. Down to dad’s dock, through neighborhood, back to rail trail behind Caffreys. Back around lake 2,1. Home again.

Time and distance:: 11:50 minute miles, including walking before finding a bathroom and finally pausing RunKeeper because it was just getting silly. Last two miles were fastest. 9 minute pace intervals.

Post-run recovery meal: Light vanilla soy milk, homemade maple granola, fresh blueberries and bananas. Two Hersey Kisses.

Personal Stuff: Bellyaches during and after run. Fear I’ll be facing these for a while. Four months, one week postpartum. Still breastfeeding. Still dieting. Down 43 pounds. 7 more to go. Current weight: 147.

Pros: No sunshine or heat. Rainy day and lovely!

Cons: Belly issues.

Upward and onward!

If A Runner Passes A Cyclist When There’s No One Else Around, Should They Make A Sound?

I’ve noticed something while running in my neighborhood, and while I can’t say it will happen forever, there’s been enough of a pattern to make me think, “Huh. Weird.”

I run early. I’m usually out the door by 6AM. At that hour, unlike in the city, there are very few cars. I have more digits than I see cars. It’s very quiet. I love it. It’s before all the grumpy commuters come out with their grumpy faces and grump up the road. It’s a ghost town. But I do see quite a few people out running and cycling.

Every time I pass a runner–and I mean every single time–we exchange pleasantries. It’s like a nonverbal: “Hey! You’re out here too! Isn’t it awesome being up with the sun? Don’t you feel good about yourself? Well done, my friend!” (Well, this is what goes through my head. Maybe I’m a little too chipper in the morning.) The point is, it’s always pleasant and we always recognize one another’s existence. Not doing so, given the early hour and the emptiness of the roads, would seem so weird.

I also pass cyclists. These aren’t commuters, they’re avid–dressed to the nines in racing gear–cyclists.

(Now, here is where I do something stupid and write something I’ll likely regret. But who cares? I’m gonna blog like it’s 2001 before I considered every possible backlash or interpretation.)

None of the cyclists will even look at me to nod hello. I always want to! But nope. It’s as if we, the only two humans on the street, simply don’t exist.

So: why? Is this normal? Why is it joggers exchange pleasantries, at the very least they toss out a smile, but cyclists won’t even make eye contact? Do cyclists nod to other cyclists at least? Certainly they must. Because pretending no one is there seems very odd.

I used to feel this way about hiking as well. I once dated a guy who was always looking for the most secluded spaces to hike. And we found many! But on occasion we would see others out there also seeking seclusion. And I always said hello. Because, while yes, we were out there to avoid other people, other people were around. Saying hello seemed like the right thing to do.

It’s curious to me. I mean, not enough to lose sleep; I’m not angry. I’m more left wondering, which is what I do while I’m running; my mind meanders as much as my feet. Part of me wants to yell out, “Top of the morning to you!” at the next oncoming cyclist who pretends I’m not there.

Or maybe I just keep running by the same cyclist, we are in an opposing loop and he’s LIGHTNING FAST and just really grumpy.

Long Training Run: Week One

This morning I ran six miles and it didn’t suck. In fact, it felt pretty great to be back out there. It was a slow one! And I walked up the two steepest hills, but overall I am very pleased with my energy level. I still have a lot of work to do to get back to my previous 10K times, but for the first time since having the baby I feel like it’s possible

Also: I plan on using this space to write about my training. I know it’s pretty boring shit, but I think it will help me.


Left the house at 6:39 AM. Temperature: 66 degrees.

Pre-run fuel: Plain oatmeal, banana, coffee with sugar and creamer. Water. Ate a Gu Gel 2.5 miles in.

Route: Through South Orange, around Duck Pond, through both downtowns, up to Ridgewood and back home again.

Time and distance:: Ran a 10K at an 11:20 per mile pace. (Including walking.) Walked two steep hills.

Post-run recovery meal: Plain low-fat yogurt, homemade maple granola, fresh blueberries (Elliot picked them!) and strawberries.

Personal Stuff: Four months postpartum. Still breastfeeding. Still dieting. Down 42 pounds. (!!) 8 more to go. Current weight: 148.

Pros: No roadkill!

Cons: I miss running through NYC.

Upward and onward!

NYC Marathon

A couple of years ago, I qualified for the 9+1, which means I became eligible to run the NYC Marathon. Last year, I was prepared to run it. I felt solid, and ready to train for it. And I am pretty sure, barring any unforeseen injuries, I would have finished.

But then right when I was to begin training, I found I was pregnant and had to postpone it.

So, here I am again. I am set to run it again this year. But this year I do not feel physically ready. And up until this weekend, I felt awful during every single run since I started running again at 5 weeks postpartum. But after having two very solid runs both Saturday and Sunday, I’m inching my way back again. (Helps the humidity and heat let up.) This weekend was awesome.

Even so, I feel there is no way I could actually run the NYC marathon. I could walk and jog it! But I don’t feel physically ready to do it well so close to having a baby, especially a giant baby who split my pelvis during birth. (Story to come! That was one hell of an injury; it took a long time to heal.)

So yesterday I tried to postpone it again and discovered I could not. You can only postpone it once. So I will lose my spot entirely. And that sucks as I know people who have been trying to get in via lottery for years. I feel as though if I postpone it, I’ll be giving up any chance of ever running it.

What do I do? To those of you who’ve run marathons and trained for them, is it possible for me to train and run in under 4 months time? Even though I was a distance runner before, I’m basically a beginner all over again after giving birth in late March. I went from a 9 minute mile to a thirteen minute mile due to having to walk a lot. I have made a bunch of progress lately but I’m still only able to run a 5K at a slower pace than what I’ve done previously.

I’m just not sure of what to do. I have some time to think about it, but my goodness, it scares me. Training for this makes me feel so nervous! How will I find the time AND the energy? Walter is still very attached to me. It’s going to be very difficult.

Any insight welcome.

Honestly Finally.

About a year and a half ago a marketer sent me a big box of organic snacks and juices. The intention was to have me write about it, preferably mentioning how much my family loves it—blah blah blah—it’s the greatest yogurt on earth—blah blah blah—OMG you guys MUST go out and buy this stuff—blah blah blah.

Well, needless to say that didn’t happen. I just didn’t find the time to live up to my end of the bargain. What I did find time to do was consume every last drop of all that free stuff, especially the Honest Kids juice. And then after we ran out of the juice, I went out and bought more, a lot more.

And then more time went by and more juice was consumed and I felt even worse about never writing. I wrote her a couple of times letting her know that my kids loved the stuff, particularly the juice, and that I would write about it soon. And I meant it. I wanted to tell her about the time I served it to a child during a play date, a boy who isn’t allowed refined sugar. But since this juice is naturally sweetened (fruit only) he was allowed to have it. He thought the juice was the single greatest drink on earth. He was so into it, his mom and dad decided to pick some up as well. I meant to tell her that.

But I didn’t.

About a month ago, she sent me yet another package filled with their latest juices as well as a cool mason jar I continually drink from. The package also included a whole bunch of guilt. I was reminded of (yet again!) how I’d never written a thing. I mean, how hard can it be to throw something up here? C’mon, Michele.

So, here’s the deal: I’ve promised many times before that I won’t ever become a blogger who writes reviews, or accepts free goods from marketers just so I can lie and tell you how great a product is (even if it isn’t). I am a terrible liar. I also don’t have a lot of time. I honestly have NO idea how other mom bloggers do this sort of thing and remain full-time moms. I started this post three weeks ago, and it’s just now going to see the light of screen (or so I hope). I just can’t keep up with it.

This is what happens when I try and do anything for longer than 15 minutes:

I also don’t like feeling guilty, so I usually don’t agree to accepting free anything.

And even though to some degree advertising got both Toby and me to where we are today, I am not crazy about selling shit to people. I want people to make their own decisions based on their own tastes and needs. What do I know about what you like? Nothing. But I do know what I like, and I can and will discuss that.

And so…

Here’s the honest truth: I have been buying cases of Honest Kids juices since this particular marketer sent me her package. At first it was just a few here and there. But once we moved to the suburbs last October, and therefore discovered more storage, I started buying cases of the stuff. My mom buys it in bulk as well. She knows how much my kids love it, so it’s at her house as well.

I never wrote the review I promised all that while back and I’ve always felt badly about that. But what I have done is continue to buy the products she sent me. I became a loyal customer. My boys bring the juices to school for lunch every single day. If I forget to include one for some reason, I get an earful. We go through so much of this juice.

I’m even turning it into popsicles.

My family will continue to drink Honest Juices for the foreseeable future. I’ve turned at least two other families onto Honest Kids juices. I have even handed these juices out to the workers who did our roof, cut down our rotting trees, regraded and seeded our yard, and redid our bathroom. I gotta tell you, watching hardworking men and women with filthy fingers sip juice through a kid straw is pretty hilarious.

It only took me roughly 17 months to write, but I suppose in the end, given how much we buy, I suppose in the end I did ok.