Oysters, Pistols and Tipsy Walking in New Orleans

October is a very big month for me, both personally and professionally, and we celebrated some seriously huge milestones this past month. In fact, we were so busy celebrating them, that I didn’t even have time to write about them! So just consider this the first in a three-part series. Or something.

First up was the birthday of my manpanion-for-life, XFE. We don’t usually travel for XFE’s birthday, what with Porktober® and all that being right around the corner. BUT, we decided to jump on some low fares and cash in some Starwood points for a quick weekend trip.

So, we went to New Orleans and acted like we were about 15 years younger than either of us are. We stayed up late, drank too much, ate too much, talked to random strangers, bought expensive artwork.

It's entirely appropriate to make finger pistols when buying artwork.
It’s entirely appropriate to make finger pistols when buying artwork.

Yeah, a little souvenir for my new office and to commemorate my first year of self-employment.

We saw this subtle little work of art while walking by the Hall Barnett Gallery on Chartres Street. They’re an LED reproduction of a neon piece called “Guns.” Supposedly, there were only three produced—one owned by the gallery owner, Holly, another owned by a couple in New York and then us.

They were absolutely unnecessary, but we just couldn’t walk away from them. I mean…neon guns? Hello? And they change colors! There’s even a remote control. We negotiated them down a teeny bit, but the final number still made me need a stiff drink afterwards.

(Update: They were damaged during shipping, so now we’re waiting for a new set. Or is it pair? Fingers crossed. Or is it guns crossed?)

Boo. Hiss.
Boo. Hiss.

Luckily, we were staying right across the street from the gallery at the W French Quarter. This is the infamous hotel where I cracked my head open five years ago. Actually, almost five years to the day. I know this because that super helpful Memories feature on Facebook popped up with that FrankenPoe picture right before we left.

Honestly, none of this is cute. The pout, the bags under the eyes, the airport bathroom stall. Oh, or the stitches.
Honestly, none of this is cute. The pout, the bags under the eyes, the airport bathroom stall. Oh, or the stitches.

Besides slippery dangerous showers, the W French Quarter is also home to SoBou, which is a Brennan’s establishment and therefore means: 25 cent martinis at lunch. (Note: if you ever do go this option—and you absolutely should—do not get one of the Kool-Aid colored/flavored pre-mixed martinis like a Cosmo. Get a classic, dirty martini).

I will say, we had a few issues with the W Hotel this time out. We were using points, cash and upgrades to cover our three-night stay, and they basically wanted us to move rooms each night. There was much finagling until they finally upgraded us to a carriage house studio type room that had definitely seen better days and had a non-working hot tub surrounded by cigarette butts on the patio.

W New Orleans Collage

The concierge also dropped the ball on the champagne I had ordered, despite the fact that I had filled out all the paperwork and called twice to order it and confirm that it would be in our room. There’s a whole litany of other annoyances (including XFE’s pet peeve: old, snagged towels with threads hanging everywhere), but, at least no one ended up in the emergency room, so that’s a half-hearted win. Sorry, W French Quarter.

We fared better in the eating category. On our first day we did a very scientific comparison/survey of two famous oyster places: Felix and Acme. We ate approximately four dozen oysters between the two places—raw, grilled and Bienville. XFE joked that we should have been pooping pearls after all that. Final consensus: Acme won by a shell sliver and honestly, it was their boo fries that had us coming back again the two days later (French fries covered with roast beef gravy and cheese).

Let's see, from left to right: oysters, oyster place, oysters, and oyster place.
Let’s see, from left to right: oysters, oyster place, oysters, and oyster place.

When we returned to Acme, we were not alone. We dragged along a couple of new friends we met during what was perhaps our very favorite tourist activity ever: the Drink and Learn Tour. We’ve been on a lot of tours in a lot of places, but this particular tour was hands down the best tour we’ve ever been on (and….didn’t take any pictures of. What can I say? I was too busy enjoying it).

The owner/tour guide, Elizabeth Pearce is a drink historian, fantastic historian, and an all-around hoot. You meet up (at a bar, naturally) and you receive a small, crossbody cooler containing four color-coded drinks. Then you take a short walk, stop, take a sip of your drink, and learn about the colorful history of New Orleans through adult beverages. Everything from how and why rum punch represents the early melting-pot days of the Crescent City to how praline liquor helped female slaves buy their freedom. It was so entertaining and we both learned a ton.

Then we went and got oysters and beer because that’s what you do in New Orleans. Or at least, that’s what we do there.*

(*We did a bunch of other galivanting and tomfoolery, but this is a family blog, so better left unsaid.)

New Orleans Collage

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Why I’ll Never Be a Forehead Model

Sometimes it happens in meetings. Or at the nail salon while I’m getting a pedicure. Mostly it happens on the metro.

I’ll be looking down, writing on my notepad or reading a book or magazine, and all of a sudden I’ll feel it.

(Get your minds out of the gutter).

I feel someone looking at me. Staring intently at my forehead. When I look up, they usually have the good grace to look away, only to be caught again a few seconds later. It’s like they’re trying to figure something out, but aren’t quite sure….

I feel you, Maxwell. I feel you.

This morning, it happened at the dentist’s office (yes, again I was at the dentist’s office where I received the wonderful news that I have to get a gum graft for my receding gumline. Oh joy).

Only, since my dentist has the bedside manner of Frankenstein, instead of politely looking away, he just pointed and came right out and asked, “Did something happen to you there?”

I don’t even need to look to see where he’s pointing.

He’s pointing at my scar on my forehead. Who can blame him? It’s certainly one of the most, um, distinguishing features on my face.

I actually have two scars on my forehead. The first runs right along my hairline. It’s very white and deep like a chalky crevice right before my curls start up.

That one was acquired when I was very young, I think around 8 years old, but honestly, I couldn’t say for sure. My nomadic gypsy childhood coupled with my mother’s propensity to lying makes my personal historical timeline a jumble of real and imagined memories. (Did that really happen or is that something mom just used to tell people to entertain them/garner sympathy/get something out of them?)

Regardless, I think I remember what happened. I think it was winter. I think we were living in Arkansas or maybe it was Missouri. I think my mom was out with whatever boyfriend she had at the time, perhaps getting or cutting down a live Christmas tree. (This is how all my childhood memories work. Everything is just out of reach.)

I do know that I was doing — I was performing (what we called) pinwheels on the railing of a below-ground storm cellar. The railing was above ground (obviously) and I had hooked my leg over it, threaded my arms under it and clasped my ankle. Then I twirled myself over again and again, kicking my free leg out behind me to build up some really good velocity. I was a school yard, monkey bars, pinwheel expert and I was showing off for some other kids.

I don’t remember how many times I got over the bar or if I even made it over that first time, but at some point, my head hit the concrete base attaching the railing to the storm cellar. I was, to say the least, quite woozy but incredibly calm. Until the other kids started pointing out that I was bleeding. And I looked down in the snow and saw blood.

I have other vague memories – a terribly young babysitter wrapping my head in a quilt and waiting for some adults to get back and take us to the hospital (remember, there were no cell phones back then.)

I don’t know how many stitches I had, but I do remember the rather rakish bandage headband I was rocking when I got home later that day, where I proceeded to jump up and down on the couch (this was not what the doctor had ordered) singing, “Ten little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and broke his head. Mamma called the doctor and the doctor said: No more monkeys jumping on the bed.” (Repeat at least 9 more times or until you get yelled at).

My more recent head decoration occurred not at the hands of a male stripper (as you might rightly imagine if you read this blog regularly), but while on vacation in New Orleans with friends.

We were staying at the W in the French Quarter, a lovely hotel with gorgeous bathrooms with very large glass showers covered in beautiful dark gray slate. Slate, let me tell you, is a very, very unforgiving surface.

So beautiful, so dangerous.

I slipped. It’s as simple and unexplainable and befuddling as that. One minute I was upright, doing normal bathroom beautification things, and then I was on my hands and knees holding my head.

Every time I think of the wet thud sound my head made against the slate, I get a metallic taste in my mouth. For several weeks afterward, I would jerk awake whenever I had that falling feeling you get when you fall asleep.

Initially, I had the same peaceful woozy feeling as the first time. And once again, I saw the blood, this time against wet black slate instead of stark white snow. Hmmm, not just a bump on the head and two ibuprofen then?

We made a frantic trip to the Tulane University emergency room, (that was an interesting car ride during which I tried to reassure and joke around with an understandably distraught XFE and our nervous hotel-supplied driver.)

The emergency room was surprisingly not busy at 7 am on a weekend morning. I would have expected there to be a lot of drunk, injured people so early in the morning, particularly in New Orleans, but no. Just us. Which provided ample opportunity for every person on duty to stop by and see the girl with the gnarly gash on her head. The reaction was always the same. I would remove the washcloth from my head, and there would be an “OHHHH!” It was fun the first few times, but the novelty eventually wore off.

I think I got seven or eight stitches this time. Despite XFE’s reservations, I waived my right to wait around a couple of hours for a plastic surgeon and opted for the on-duty doctor to stitch me up. I kept up the merry banter, trying to put everyone at ease and convince them all that I would be just fine. I was, after all, old hat at head injuries by this point.

I did not get a jaunty headband this time. I also did not jump on any beds. But XFE did take me on a fairly substantial shopping spree to make me feel better, complete with a splitting headache, a massive goose-egg and huge black stitches. The shopgirls were very kind, if horrified. It was a precursor of things to come.

The stitches stayed in for about a week, and you couldn’t really cover them since the injury was up near my hairline (again – only diagonal this time instead of horizontal – in fact the two scars almost touch). Bandages wouldn’t adhere. So there I was, with stitches just exposed. Made for some interesting times at work and on the metro. I felt pretty much like a monster.

Honestly, none of this is cute. The pout, the bags under the eyes, the airport bathroom stall. Oh, or the stitches.

Two months after the incident, we were visiting XFE’s family for Christmas. His mother tried to be reassuring, saying that the scar was hardly noticeable. His father, to my eternal mirth, shouted out, “What do you mean? It’s huge! It’s right there on her forehead.”

A year-and-a-half later, my scar is fairly faint, but I wouldn’t say it’s unnoticeable. The emergency room doctor this time did a much better job than the first time. There’s definitely less of an indent. Plus, I’m a quick healer, a skill that came in very handy when I was young.

I think when most people see my scar they think it’s a shadow from my hair or perhaps even a makeup line. Some sort of trick of the eye. I bet they wonder why they hadn’t noticed it before.

Except for my dentist, who’s been seeing me every three-to-four months for the past five years. He didn’t mistake it for anything other than what it is – a scar. Something with a story. A story he wanted to hear.

Maybe I should point out the other, older one and ask him if he knows what a pinwheel is.

You’re looking at my scar, aren’t you? I can tell.

Hello world!

Hi! Look, I’ve birthed a blog. Most people familiar with me know that’s about as close as I ever want to get to birthing anything.

Welcome to The Poe Log, a general interest blog about anything that pops into my curly giant head.

I’m a writer by day, but writing is a muscle that has to be exercised. I think I’ve been using the same few muscles for too long. I want to stretch—get out of my comfort zone, write about things that I want to write about instead of what someone else tells me to write about. And I want to be a better writer overall.

The Poe Log is not a “project” blog. I’m not cooking my way through a large cookbook. I’m not asking strangers to pay off my debt, or running 52 marathons in a year to raise money for Africa. I didn’t move from the U.S. to London or to San Diego because my husband is in the military (those last two are blogs written by friends of mine and they are awesome. You should check them out.) (And actually I did live in London for six months but it was about 100 years ago before blogs were even invented. But I wish I had had a blog back then. Those were some goooood times.)

The point is, all of these are fine objectives for a blog. But that’s not me. That’s not what this blog is about. 

I’m more into snarky commentary about the stupid things celebrities and politicians get up to. Future blog posts will also include: complaining about exercise and my quest to not be the lamest runner on the planet next to my super speedy friends; eating fabulous, amazing food; dreaming up new drink concoctions; shopping too much and trying to dress myself every day without indulging in yet more shopping. And lots of wonderful, wonderful travel.

So let’s get this party started.

25 Things You Don’t Know About Me (ala Us Weekly)

[Or maybe you do know this stuff since I’m pretty sure it’s mostly my friends reading this.]

1)      I love celebrity gossip magazines, including Us Weekly.

2)      I’m from God’s Country. Also known as Texas. Don’t mess with it.

3)      I have a significant other/spousal equivalent/life partner/lover/man friend. We’ll call him Big E.

4)      I have a slightly Rubenesque Calico named Petunia; aka Princess Petunia Potpie, aka Toonces. We’re kind of obsessed with her.

I mean come on, right? How cute?!?

5)      We’re addicted to reality TV. The cat too.

6)      I can’t remember the last time I went to an actual movie (see #5).

7)      I’ve never been to any Disneyland property.

8)      I’m afraid of birds.

9)      I’ve been kicked in the head by a male stripper (Bachelorette party. San Francisco. 2008)

10)  I’ve gotten stitches in New Orleans. And I wasn’t even drunk. (Oct. 2010)

11)  Actually, I’ve gotten stitches in the head or face area 3 times (only injuries I’ve ever had). Good thing I have a hard head. No modeling career for me. Shucks.  (see #9 and #10)

12)  Big E and I had food poisoning for about 10 days in northern Italy and Zurich. Romantic. We both thought we were going to die. (Salami. March 2011)

13)  I’ll be 40 years old in March (Australia Birthday Blowout 2012 – details to come)

14)  I grew up really, really poor. Like, trailer park trash, free-government-cheese poor.

15)  Speaking of my trashy upbringing, I have a tramp stamp.

16)  And a belly piercing. (Cringe. I really am a 90s cliché)

17)  I work for The Man, here in Washington DC. (Not Obama. More like, the Corporate Man.)

18)  I recently ran my first half-marathon. It was rough. No full marathons in my future.

19)  I love all 80s music. Really. All of it. Still.

20)  My favorite foods are Mexican and barbecue. And fried pickles. Or anything with ranch.

21)  I love fashion and Alexander McQueen is my favorite designer. Not to buy stuff from, but just from an amazing artistic, inspirational standpoint.  

22)  I’m ridiculously early everywhere. It’s like I’ve got OCD or something. But I rarely get annoyed if others are late. How can I when I’m early all the time?

23)  I hate politics but I looooove a good political scandal. Luckily, DC does not disappoint.

24)  I am horrible at keeping a secret. Seriously. Don’t even ask me if I can keep a secret. Because I can’t. I really suck at it.

25)  I’m a computer idiot so there will be lots of just text at first while I get up to speed and make this the mutli-platform, visually-dizzying awesome blog that I feel sure it will become.

So that’s the prologue to the Poe Log–the beginning of the story; the part to get you excited about the good parts to come. Leave a comment, as long as it doesn’t contain any secrets that I might blurt out. Any readers with tramp stamps out there? Multiple head injuries?