Cambodia Better Bring It

Ugh. I’ve been slacking on the blogging. I know. The thing is, I had to run all over town to find shorts. In February. In D.C. where the high temps this month have regularly hovered around “freezing your leg hairs off.”

(Also, I’ve had a lot of big deadlines to hit in the past couple of weeks. But let’s just blame the shorts, shall we?)

But we’re leaving this week for our annual Poe Super Birthday Extravaganza Trip to Far Flung Destinations–and this one is going to be a doozy.

This tradition began in 2008, when XFE was in Rome for work right before my birthday. We cashed in some miles and I met him and some of his co-workers over there, and had a merry old time eating lots of pasta, going to lots of museums and drinking lots of wine. And, of course, going to a soccer game (a tradition now whenever we travel to Europe).

The next year, XFE and his co-workers were in Japan, again, right around my birthday. In fact, I spent my actual birthday on the flight coming home. We did not see a soccer game but we did go to the opening day of a sumo wrestling match in Osaka. And ate lots of sushi, including sushi for breakfast after visiting the Tokyo Fish Market.

Tokyo Fish Market
That’s a lot of frozen sushi, which actually sounds quite gross.
I don’t know, how do you sumo??

Every year, XFE has outdone himself, planning a bigger and better birthday trip. For my 40th, it was Australia. Two years ago, it was Peru. Last year, South Africa where I stroked a cheetah (YES, a cheetah!) and ate lamb’s brain at one of the world’s best restaurants.

South Africa Safari
Yep, just chilling with an elephant. No biggie.
South Africa cheetah preserve
That’s a cheetah, with my pudgy paw all up on it.

This year, it’s Cambodia (with stopovers in Singapore and Hong Kong). I know, right? I would not argue with anyone who says that I’m spoiled. I would lose that argument every damn time.

Oh, pardon me, I meant to say, the Kingdom of Cambodia. That is, apparently, the official name. Pretty bitchin’.

I am beyond excited. But I will say, it’s hella hot and humid in those places right now. So, I needed a couple of pairs of shorts, particularly since we’ll be visiting the very dusty, very hot, Angkor Wat. I want to make sure I have as much exposed pasty-white skin as possible to attract all of the mosquitoes in the area, and keep them away from my beloved trip planner, XFE. Love = sweating + risking yellow fever.

I don’t really know what to expect from this trip. I always like to say that we actually get to take a trip three times: once during all the excitement and anticipation of the planning stage. The second when we’re actually there, soaking it all in. And the third when I get to come back and write about it all. In fact, those amazing birthday trips (along with the non-birthday timed trips we tend to take as well) is what led to the creation of this blog. I wanted to document and remember all the amazing places we’ve been together. Even Peru, where my intestines tried to escape my body repeatedly.

Me at Machu Picchu
You can’t tell, but this not-so-young lady is wondering where the nearest bathroom is.

But because of the fluctuating nature of freelancing, I haven’t really gotten to take that first part of the trip. A lot of the planning has been carried out by XFE. He’s the one who found a spa for us to go get massages our first day in Siem Reap. He’s the one who found and arranged a fun-sounding food tour in Hong Kong called the Won-Ton-A-Thon.

We’ve actually put off a lot of the planning specifics, figuring we’ll use our 20-hour flight on this ridiculousness (YASSS to miles travel!) to figure out more details. Between stuffing our gobs with caviar and bossing our butler around, of course.

How on earth can they be gazing into each other’s eyes when there’s so many other things to see on this airplane??

Then I realized — when I was working in an office and not very happy with my work environment, I would spend a lot of my free time daydreaming and researching our upcoming trips. Now that I’m my own boss, I seem to be a bit more focused and productive. Hence, no daydreaming and a lack of blog posts, as well.

Which makes this trip kind of exciting. I haven’t ruminated it to death. I’ll be seeing everything with fresh eyes. Sure, we might miss some neighborhood or hot restaurant that we would have known about if I’d just spent more time on TripAdvisor, but I’m looking forward to just being blown away by the strangeness and the newness and the overall foreignness.

I haven’t even really thought out my packing list. Which is why, while the rest of the greater Washington D.C. area was out chipping ice off their sidewalks on Sunday, I was running around a mall trying to find sweltering-weather appropriate gear.

And, while I’m typing this, I’m supposed to be packing. XFE has been packed since Saturday.

Guess I better get to it.

Girls Gone Wild in the OT

My parental guidance counselor, XFE is out of town for work this week, leaving Petunia and I to fend for ourselves once again. So, there’s been a lot of this:

foot warmer

And this:


And this:

wine and cheese

Actually, that last one is a big, fat, wishful creamy lie. Because even though XFE was also out of town for work last week, he breezed in on Friday and made a fantastic dinner for a small dinner party we had on Saturday night. He made two beer can chickens on the Big Green Egg, while I made a chili-lime roasted butternut squash salad, and we collaborated on a lemon-dill ice cream.

We also got oysters. Did you know that you can have them shuck oysters for you at Whole Foods? And they put them on a tray with ice for you and everything. Pretty nifty. It’s a discovery that’s  about to revolutionize all our months with an “r” in them, I can tell you that much.

Since we drank multiple, hangover-inducing bottles of wine and champagne (my brain was trying very hard to escape my skull all day Sunday), there was plenty of chicken left over to eat throughout the week. (Petunia also had a hangover on Sunday. Too many catnip-tinis.)

Petunia Garbo

After XFE bailed on us, we spent MLK/inauguration day away from any form of fermented adult beverages and focused instead on staying warm in the plummeting temperatures and Arctic winds. I am chilled to the bone, despite the fact that I’ve raised the temperature in the house up to a non-XFE approved 72 degrees. But try as I might, I cannot get warm. Especially my feet.  I’ve been making hot tea like it’s Downton Abbey up in the shizz.

The cold weather is also causing my house to make very creepy, scary, strange noises. I woke up at least 8 times last night CONVINCED that someone had somehow broken into the house in order to try to get with my freezing cold feet. (I’ll take ‘Strange Noises’ for $50, Alex.)

insomnia jeopardy

And they may or may not be scaling the roof to get to these ice-cubes-that-need-a-pedicure. Or trying to get in through the bathroom ventilator vents. Or running their hands along my bedroom wall behind our headboard. And scratching on the downstairs windows. Or making the floorboards creep. Let’s just suffice it to say, it was not a restful first night.

(Also: I discovered this morning that my coffee creamer had gone bad and since I had already made coffee, I thought I’d try to use almond milk instead. Newsflash: Almond milk is not the same as creamer. Not. At. All. So if this would-be creepy-house-roamer is reading this, please put some creamer in my fridge. And I don’t mean that in some sexual way. Seriously. Creamer. Low fat, if you can swing it).

Crap like this right here below doesn’t help with my nerves. That’s my tension shower rod on the floor in my bathroom. We know how to party up in here.


Petunia is embarrassed by my jumpiness. And lame partying skills.

aloof petunia

“Don’t worry: I will protect you with my scary glow eyes.”

creepy eyes

Bare Legs in Winter. Why?

Excuse me, miss.

Yes, you, the young lady in the puffer coat on the corner, shivering away on this damp, drizzly, cold morning.

You seem like a smart young thing on her way to work, hair: neat and in place; makeup: appropriate; professionally dressed (with the possible exception of the puffer jacket which I think looks like you’re walking around in a giant sleeping bag, but I get that it has some redeeming qualities: ie; it’s warm as a sleeping bag).

So why the hell are you walking around with bare legs and Tory Burch flats in the 37 degree weather??

Welp, at least the hat will keep her warm.
Welp, at least the hat will keep her warm.

I’ve lived in Washington DC for around 9 years now and this is something I will never understand: bare legs in winter and an unnatural attachment to Tory Burch flats, no matter the season.

I get that DC ladies may not want to take fashion advice from someone who left work yesterday looking like this:

HBC layers

A very bad Mary Poppins played by Helena Bonham Carter. (In my defense – and yes, I’m feeling quite defensive about this ensemble — it was raining and those are my rain boots and they are NOT what I wore all day. My brown leather knee high boots are actually in that bulging light blue bag on the left. Along with all my lunch gear. Also: that supremely unflattering-length skirt is now in the donation pile.)

But this is not fashion advice; this is survival advice. It’s cold out there. Really, really cold. Hell, it’s cold in most offices. So if it’s cold enough to wear a coat, it’s cold enough to cover your legs with either pants, or tights, or even knee high socks, if you can manage it.


And on a fashion note, seeing your pale winter legs slowly turn blue is not cute. No one is looking at you and thinking, “yes, that hypothermia really makes her look like she just came from St. Tropez.”

fur and bare legs

Even a fur coat is not really sufficient.


The cape is lovely but where are your pants, dear?

winter shorts


Scarf…check. Coat…check. Fuzzy earmuffs….check. Tights….ooops.

alexa chung


Alexa, I’m chilled just looking at you. Although you’re legs are quite moisturized-looking, so good for you on that score. That windchill is going to dry those out completely.

winter coat and flip flops


It’s always the young girls trying this look out. Never older ladies, I’ve noticed. Listen, I have to commute as well and I totally understand the concept of a commuter shoe, but maybe wear something that actually covers your foot or something that you can wear warm socks with. Warm socks can be quite lovely on a cold day. Really!

Chicago: 1, Poe: 0



As I mentioned yesterday, we’re heading to Chicago Friday morning for a wedding this weekend. I’ve only been to Chicago once, but me and Chi-town (despite your deeeelishous pizza), we had a very rough start.

I went to Chicago for the first time in May for the Magellan Spring Half Marathon (May 15th). I want you to keep in mind what I just said there, particularly two key words: May. Spring. Got it?

Why Chicago? Well, my friends Matt, Melissa and Michelle are from there. And when Matt and Melissa took up running at the beginning of the year with the goal of doing a half-marathon, I got very excited. I thought, “Yeah! New running buddies to run with! And we’ll enter lots and lots of races, and collect tons and tons of tech shirts, and it will be totally awesome, we’ll be a Running Wolf Pack for EVA!!”

A few months later, Matt and Melissa informed me that they hated running. A lot. And that after the Chicago half-marathon that they had signed up for, they would probably never run again. Suddenly, all my dreams of a Running Wolf Pack began to evaporate. In a panic, and realizing this would be my only chance to run with them, I quickly signed up for my first half-marathon.

I’ve done my fair share of races. I’ve even done a couple of ten milers, including the George Washington Parkway Classic in mid-April. But I had never done a half-marathon. So I threw myself into training and we all did really well in our individual trainings. We felt physically and mentally prepared for the race.

Matt, Melissa and crew (including super-cheerleader Kelly) got to Chicago a couple of days before I did. They said it was cold, and the weather reports seemed to agree. Highs in the low 40s?? Since it was already pretty warm here in DC, I guess we all had forgotten what 40s felt like. Regardless, I made sure I packed a running jacket, some ear muffs and some gloves. Yep, that should do it.

It did not. We made a desperate last minute run to the now-boycotted-forever Nike to try to get some more appropriate running gear the day before the race. The place was mobbed, and fully stocked….with summer running gear. Hardly a parka to be found. And definitely no gloves. Poor Melissa and Michelle ended up wearing gardening gloves purchased at a drugstore.

When we woke up the morning of the race, we tried to pump ourselves up, convincing ourselves that the tiny peaks of sunlight indicated a nice, warm day. Then we got outside and we knew we were in trouble. It must have been in the 30s and the winds were 20-30 mph. With the wind chill, the temperature was (no shit) 27 degrees. Oh, and we were running entirely along the lakeshore, where the winds would kick waves onto us. Oh, and did I mention it was sprinkling the whole time?

We soldiered on and ran the entire race. It was pure endurance and stubbornness. And it was hands down the most miserable running experience of my life. I could not stop shivering after the race and when I took a hot shower, it hurt so bad. I just stood there in the shower for about 10 minutes before I could actually use my hands.

It’s all a blur. Literally, a blur. Also: I’m wearing my favorite race shirt, a UT running shirt. Which Melissa has reminded me is a Nike shirt and I can no longer wear. Awesome.

So yeah, Chicago has a lot to make up for.

This is not a grimace of triumph. It’s a visage of extreme pain.

I’m warning you Chicago: Running Buddy Amy and I are bringing our running shoes this weekend and I’m spoiling for a rematch.

I was too cold to drink beer. UNFATHOMABLE. Too cold? To drink beer?