Reality TV Time: Southern Charm New Orleans

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: having a cold sucks. Especially in the summer.

I’ve been sick for about a week. And it really sucks. It’s also been raining in D.C. for basically a month. Sure, there were a couple of days of modest sunshine, but mostly, it’s been rain: warm, humid, phlegmy rain.

cat in rain

So even if I were feeling 100 percent, I’d be housebound.

You’d think that with all that time at home, I’d have been more productive. But, you’d be wrong. I just finished up my big client project for the year and was gearing up for prospecting mode when this cold laid me out. I’ve got another big client project with no hard deadline that I’m working on and a few smaller projects, but I’ve got some breathing room. If only my gunk-filled lungs will cooperate.

However, when one is sick and housebound and hopped up on Nyquil/Dayquil, there really is just one activity worthy of a doxylamine succinate-soaked brain — watching a lot of bad TV on Bravo, including Southern Charm (both the original and the New Orleans edition).

I, of course, watched Southern Charm Savannah and I got to say: I was disappointed. I just couldn’t get into it. It was just missing something. Maybe a Ravenal. Maybe a Patricia. I’m just not sure, but I didn’t find a single character that I really liked and instead found several that I despised.

ashley borders via Bravo
I’m sorry, Ashley. I really thought I would like you, but I just didn’t. (Photo: Bravo)

Southern Charm New Orleans snagged me from the first. Sure, it does seem that every marriage on the show is on the verge of collapse, which is never really comfortable or even fun to watch, but I dig this group of friends. They seem to genuinely be friends and have each other’s backs. I love how they can throw down and call each other out and then end up dancing to zydeco, all the in the same 10 minutes.

Don’t get it twisted: Tamica has a big ol’mouth and stirs the gumbo pot like it’s one of her many exhausting jobs, but, everyone seems to know that’s just how she is and not to take it too seriously. I especially love the tension and marriage-commenting that goes on between her and Reagan, neither of whom should be handing out any commitment advice right now. They are worthy adversaries who play off each other’s relationship blindness pretty well.

jeff and reagan

(Oh damn. Just found this.)

But it’s the guys that especially made this spin off so great – all of them, even Tamica’s cousin, brother, and assorted hanger-ons. They’re all strong, successful, and just chill. They’re clearly used to high drama women and know how to brush off the nonsense. Plus, we saw a little bit of vulnerability in all of them: Barry trying to instill confidence in his daughter, Jeff wrestling with some serious family demons, Justin being a mama’s boy who’s afraid of ghosts, and Jon Moody, who just can’t seem to find a shirt (seasonally inappropriate turtleneck, notwithstanding) or a pair of pants that actually fit him (son, them pants this season were snug!). Poor thing had to go without a shirt most of the time.

jon moody
There is almost never a time that a turtleneck is needed in New Orleans. This is also one of those times. (Photo: Bravo)

I haven’t seen the finale yet (it’s on the DVR) but I’m fairly sure it will involve the N.O. gang and all their friends and relatives getting together to eat great food, drink too much, make drama and resolve it. It’s pretty much a Bravo finale requirement. Jon will, undoubtedly, be shirtless (for his art, of course). Reagan will wear a giant hoop skirt and some lion-emblazed, doorknocker jewelry that I think only she can pull off. Tamica will meddle in some people’s business and go a teeny bit too far. Justin will dodge efforts to get him married off after only dating his current love for ONE YEAR (y’all just leave him alone). Barry will be silent and supportive.

In any case, I hope (and suspect) that Southern Charm New Orleans will get a second season and I can’t wait for it.



Soccer Road Trippin’ Through the South

It’s hotter than Hades here in D.C. so it seems like the perfect time to hop in the car and drive many, many hours to even hotter locations, primarily in the South.

Sally and Burt
“Oh, I’m sorry, am I inhibiting your driving? It’s just that this is a couples road trip and what could be more magical and romantic than that?”

But we do it for the love of soccer.

That’s right, my travel-partner-for-life XFE and I are going on a road trip to see our favorite English Premier League team, the Tottenham Hotspurs, play two games in the United States as part of the International Champions Cup. Eight European teams, including the Hotspurs, who you may remember came in second in the Premier League this past May, will be playing at stadiums across the U.S. July 19-30th.

Tottenham Traveling Squad

We’ve got tickets to see Tottenham play Paris Saint-Germain in Orlando and Manchester City in Nashville. And instead of trying to see Tottenham is pay Roma in New Jersey in the middle of the week, we decided to skip it and swing through New Orleans instead (we’ve got some history with ol’New Orleans).

So today, we’re in the car for approximately 8.5 hours heading to a quick overnight stop in Charleston to say “howdy” to the fine folks of “Southern Charm.” (Well, maybe not so much. Although, we are going to try to have drinks at the Gin Joint, which was featured on the show.)

Gin Joint on Southern Charm
Cameran = matchmaking fail.

While we’ve travelled quite a bit, we’ve never actually been on a road trip, per se. I mean, we’ve rented a car and slowly meander our way across northern Italy, but that was only 270 miles. SFE dodged Irish sheep for about 300 miles when we drove the Ring of Kerry and explored the Dingle Peninsula back in 2009. And we once got held up on a highway in Peru on our way from Lima to Paracas by a fishermen’s protest, turning a trip that was only supposed to be 3.5 hours into a multi-hour nailbiter. We’ve even traversed northern Spain (twice!) to get our soccer (and kebab) fix.

Poe at soccer

But we’ve never done such a heavy driving trip. We’ll be covering approximately 2,853 miles in a total estimated time of 42 hours and 18 minutes. Which is a lot of beef jerky and “Despacito” on the radio. Here’s hoping we don’t kill each other.

Couples road trip

In the meantime, here are some past posts explaining our love of the Hotspurs.






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

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.