Thursday, May 29, 2008


It's true. I'm in love with the my best friend, and he loves me. The full story is coming, but I just couldn't hold it in any longer.

Love, Soon-to-be Mrs. Nichols

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sgniht sdrawkcab and Oddities

Right now, I'm eating hot buttered popcorn and drinking Diet Coke. It's 10 in the morning. Also, most nights I get pancake cravings, that I don't usually fulfill. This leads me to believe that someday, if I ever get pregnant, I will want breakfast food in the morning and dinner at night, and my husband will be utterly shocked.

I've never been the kind of girl who dreams of my someday wedding or buys bridal magazines. However, helping my friends pick out dresses and make centerpieces and giggle about their fellas is one of the most fun things I've ever done. I did not expect this from myself.

I'm always cold, but I love fresh air. So, most of the time I have my windows open at night, only to wake up freezing and cursing whoever left the window open, only to remember that it was, in fact, me. Why I have not yet learned to close the windows BEFORE I fall asleep is beyond me.

I love driving, but if there is a man coming along, I usually insist that he drive. The only exception is if he is between the ages of 16-20, in which case I value my life too much.

Rainy days are my favorite. FAVORITE. However, laying out and getting a tan is also my favorite, and so is the beach.

I love good photography and taking pictures, but never remember to bring or use my camera.

I love clever commercials and ad campaigns, but HATE advertising-speak, which brutalizes the English language.

I check email obsessively during the week, and completely ignore it on weekends.

Pink pedicures are awesome, but if I paint my fingernails anything other than natural, I feel sorta like a Ho.

I love horses, but typically stay quiet in conversations about them unless I know you very well. I do not, will not, compete about how much I know and love the things that I know and love.

I always pay bills and rent on time - except for my student loan. For some reason, that one slips through the cracks every few months.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Remembering Today

Today I went to lunch with a friend. We were honest about our friends' weddings and our own relationships and the weirdness of growing up. We sat outside and ate Mexican food and drank Diet Coke and gloried in the perfect day.

Yesterday I rode in a car filled with some of my favorite people. I went to a Bridal Shower and saw unmentionables thrown about in a cavalier way that would embarrass all of us, were it any other occasion. I went to do a good deed and got crabby about it, which made it not-so-good after all. I went to church and worshiped my heart out and saw my imperfections and was ashamed of myself but grateful to God for putting up with me.

The day before I laid on a beach and ate salad and chillaxed with awesome people. I passed out programs and teared up for a dear friend's wedding. I danced the night away with friends and the man I love. I smelled roses and wine and laughter in the air.

I need to record these things more often. I need to remember why life is so good and I am so blessed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In Which Dani Gets Swallowed By Cubicles and Forgets That Sunshine Exists

Work has been stressful lately. That's really all I need to say, because recounting the stress simply serves to remind me of the stress, which simply serves to make the stress worse. Yes, close friends, family, boyfriend, and frightened acquaintances at the grocery store to whom I vomit my daily outpouring of recounting pointless stress, I realize that I am a walking, talking contradiction. But that's what makes me fun. Right? Right.

Anyway, when I get stressed, rather than do something healthy like go outside and recall that flowers still grow, or pet a cat or feed a baby or knit a sweater for a cold person or something else lovably wholesome, I wallow in the dullness of my life in a horribly sad and sniffle-inducing way.

I sit here, pointlessly wringing my hands and making to-do lists, looking around the gray walls of my cubicle, which are just sad, being only spruced up by shiny industry posters and the occasional horrible email.

It's lame. I know it is. Even when I force myself out of the office for lunch, though the faint hint of a summer breeze ruffles my hair and I am slightly wooed by the sunshine on my cheeks, I march myself staunchly into the cold dark of the parking garage and sit in Rocky, bemoaning my fate and listening to Dr. Laura tell people how dumb they are.

I just realized today after one such pointless lunch hour how really absurdly stupid this is, and how it doesn't help anything, and how if I keep on in this stressed-out state I might just have a coronary by the time I'm 30. So today, as soon as the bell rings, I am living up to my NEW to-do list, which has NOTHING to do with anything essential, at least in the traditional way.

I will:
  1. Laugh
  2. Work out
  3. Eat something healthy and good
  4. Enjoy the hint of summer swirling around
  5. Go see my friends
  6. Laugh more
  7. Give good hugs
  8. Steal a kiss

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In Which Dani Travels to an Unknown and Intimidating Land of Mirriors, Plastic, and White, Fluffy Fabric

Confession #1: I've never been inside a David's Bridal before.
Confession #2: I've never bought a Bridal magazine.

These two truths might be the reasons why trying on bridesmaid dresses in a large, girl-centric store (as opposed to a small, boyish bridal store - I don't know what I'm talking about these days,) is such a challenge for me. Or maybe it's because the walls are LINED with mirrors, and there are little pedestals on which you're supposed to stand and knock everyone senseless with your beauty, but I just get up there and feel weird. WHY is everybody looking at me?! Go about your business, please. Dress shopping is not for the faint of heart or the shy.

Anyways. So we walk into this strange land of large poofy dresses encased in plastic, softspoken ladies, monochromatic bridesmaid dresses in every possible color... and mirrors. Did I mention the mirrors already? Because it's OUT OF CONTROL. The doors are mirrored, the walls are mirrored, I'm pretty sure there are mirrors attached to the price tags, should you desire an itsy-bitsy glance at yourself. If you're at all insecure about anything on your body, you should just leave now, because it's will be shown off in glaring detail from several angles.

Be that as it may, I tried on a couple of cute flowy numbers with little straps that went with my comfort zone. "OK," I thought. "This works. These are short, they have straps. I can do this."

Then the Bride says, "I'm not crazy about straps..." at which point my face falls and I look around in terror at the many mirrors and my sweet bikini-strap tan lines from too many hours on the kayak and by the pool.

So we try on the long, a-line strapless dresses, and even though my bikini lines need some work, one look at the Bride's face tells me that this is THE dress. And you know what? I'm OK with that. This is her vision of the wedding she's always dreamed of, and I'm so excited to get to be a part of it - even if that includes braving the world of plastic and straps and tulle and and scary bras and all kinds of fabric-y terms that I don't understand.

Monday, May 12, 2008

This Love

In a darkened bar, a line of young people wait eagerly around an inflatable kiddie pool. Ranging from probably 16 years old to late 20s, they are all races and backgrounds, both sexes. Some guys have the tight button-down Volcom shirt and shaved head of a dressed-up surfer, some sport the shaggy locks and tight jeans of wanna-be rock stars. The girls are huddled together with towels around their shoulders and grins on their faces, wearing cute tanktops and headbands to hold back their soon-to-be-soaked hair.

The disco balls hanging from the ceiling reflect dim light onto the water and the crowd shifts as we stand and stretch up from our bar stools and couches for a better view. The band starts with an acoustic strum and an invitation from the stage into “new life” – and we watch as smiling people kneel in a tiny pool and are asked a serious, life-changing question: do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and your savior?

We see the steadfastness in their eyes. These are the discounted, a group of MySpacers, college kids and wait staff, members of a lost generation who’ve been romanced by a love that their peers find laughable. They are standing up, so to speak, courageously announcing their change of heart in a dim bar on a Sunday night, going into a few feet of water as a nervous new believer and coming up to the cheers, music and applause of their new-found family.

We can’t wipe the grins off our faces as they come up and are wrapped in warm towels and big hugs. We are singing, clapping, dancing – celebrating a life rescued and a Love found. This is RockHarbor at the Shark Club – where God is found in the unconventional and Church is not a place but a relationship.

Despite the fact that we don’t know their names, we have a community in this rag-tag bunch of believers. It’s not fake or imposed – I don’t have delusions of best-friend-ship with the couple sitting beside us with whom we shared pleasantries – but I got an authentic glimpse at a Love that transcends age and culture and music tastes. A Love that supports even those we don’t know because of the divine romance we find ourselves in.

This Love changes lives. I hear a lot about how scared we should be, how bad everything is, and how the world is going to hell. Maybe so, but I have a feeling that we’re not done here yet. This Love is strong enough even for this generation, and I got to see it first-hand.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tyrone Wells - Live at the Coach House

I went on one of the most awesome dates of my life last night. Tyrone Wells played at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, and Adam and I went to get wowed once again.

He did not disappoint. The man is an amazing singer/songwriter, hilarious storyteller, and great entertainer. I'd never seen him with his whole band before, (last time we saw him, it was in his "home turf" - Plush Cafe in Fullerton - which tops the charts for weirdly bright decor and only holds about 50 people - a totally different vibe from the full band and bar at CH).

I've never been a celebrity follower, (it took me until J.Lo actually had a child to figure out that the GFY rumors were just messing with me,) and while most of my girlfriends will beguile time at the beach or pool with a gossip rag, I'm much more likely to be seen with a fat novel, recent news or a writing magazine. I have to be honest, though, and admit that I am a sold-out Tyrone groupie.

I've learned also, that I should listen to (and become groupies of?) the people who he shares the spotlight with... Amber Rubarth and Jason Reeves were fantastic as well.

ps - Thanks to Adam for being a great date and equally enthusiastic live music lover... at least somebody else feels the need to move to the beat and not sit woodenly like these boring Californians...

ps #2 - We didn't have a camera... but the Blackberry did pretty good at catching the moment:

What a great night.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Eating is so exciting!"*

In honor of my dear Julie, who will be coming out to the Sunshine State in T-minus One Month, and who gets rightfully excited about all the great things that there are to eat in the world, I've compiled a by-no-means comprehensive list of the incredible eats that abound here in the OC. (She told me to make a list. I can't help myself.)

Also, this is a way to bribe all of you who have not yet purchased tickets to come see me, to do so ASAP. I have fish tacos. And the best bagel sandwiches ever. AND A BEACH, complete with kayak. Come, come.

Fantastic Eating Place #1: Chronic Tacos.
This is probably my f
avorite place. Here's what I wrote for my "Hungry? Thirsty?" review: "This is Saturday afternoon OC at its finest. Even when popping with people, the atmosphere is relaxed and beachy, and servers and clients alike are friendly and unhurried. It definitely has a local vibe, as most people walk right in and order without a glance at the menu, but not before saying 'Hi' to several other regulars and neighbors. Business people stand comfortably next to beach bums, and everybody walks out with full tummies." My personal favorite thing is the Pollo Asada Burrito with black beans and rice, cheese, guacamole, onions, cilantro, cabbage and green sauce. By the time you've powered through all that, it's time to move up a size and go take a siesta on the beach.

Fantastic Eating Place #2: Golden Spoon
This is definitely a girl place. The yogurt is so cool and delicious and has only 68 calories per 8 oz. of creamy goodness. And they have sprinkles. 'Nuff said.

Fantastic Eating Place #3: Pedro's Tacos
I kinda like Mexican Food. Pedro's is a total dive, but also the BEST baja fish tacos I have EVER had. Two corn tortillas, a giant piece of fried fish, creamy baja sauce and fresh cabbage. Adam and I have made a tradition of getting them after kayaking, and it is the best combo on the planet. Combined with a healthy, kayak-induced hunger, a soft coastal breeze, a Diet Coke and some extra hot sauce... heck yes.

Fantastic Eating Place #4: The Bagel Shack
I love bagels. It's a starchy indulgence that I will never give up. I have loved many bagel-ries in my long and illustrious bagel-eating career, but so far, the Shack tops them all. Styled after a classic Tiki Hut, the Shack is a wonderland of fresh-baked bagels, tan, hungry, sandy-footed beach bums and open-air, Saturday morning chillaxing. Every bagel sandwich is named after a famous local surf spot, and their OJ is seriously the freshest-tasting, most incredible stuff ever. My fave? A Cheddar bagel with "Trestles": ham, pepper jack cheese, onion, pepper, and guacamole.

Fantastic Eating Place #5: JC Beans
Best coffee in South County. Hands down. Unlike Starbucks, you don't need a quad-shot in a 16 oz., their espresso is so good that three does the job easily. The baristas are friendly, the outside is hand-muraled, and the inside looks like C.S. Lewis' study would if he lived at the beach. And it's a block from my house and cheaper than the 'Bucks. Delicious.

Fantastic Eating Place #5: Sonny's Pizzeria and Pasta
I like to say that this is where Adam and I had our first date. At least it's the first time that I remember knowing for pretty dang sure that he wasn't just a friend. I ordered a beer and he told me later he was very relieved that I was a "cool girl". (As if he didn't know that already! ;) Anyway, it's a very cute hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, the kind with busty waitresses, probably not-so-distant mob connections, twinkle lights and great food. Also, it's known to attract pretty people, (I mean, obviously, Adam goes there, Bah-dum-ching!) as the last time we ate there we saw this guy, in the flesh.

Fantastic Eating Place #6: El Mariachi
I warned you I liked Mexican food. El Mariachi doesn't have a website, but that's just because their food is so freaking fantastic they don't need one. And they have a "Grotto De Amor" and great margaritas, so it's pretty much my favorite restaurant.

Fantastic Eating Place #7: Mosun's
We started going to Mosun's because they have 50% off on Wednesdays and Fridays, and Adam eats a lot. It is a seriously swanky sushi bar (try saying that five times fast,) that opens into a dance club at night. It's also located in downtown Laguna Beach, which is touristy and fun to wander around in... especially when you save room for a stroll to the gelato shop down the way and a walk on Main Beach. Tip: try the Firecracker Roll. It's fantastic.

Fantastic Eating Place #8: The Chart House, Dana Point
High-class steak house with a multi-million dollar view of the Harbor and some killer mixed drinks. Take your girlfriend there for her birthday and it will melt her heart. Just sayin'.

Fantastic Eating Place #9: The Yard House
Now, I know there are Yard Houses everywhere, and I did my best to keep chains out of this list. However, this is a great place. I love the Snakebite (half Carlsberg, half cider) and many a memorable talk has been had sitting outside, at night, on heavy teak furniture over a pint or two. One of my favorite times was in Shoreline Village in Long Beach, after a long day working the Motorcycle Show, kicking back, watching the lights on the water and having a beer with one of the best sports I know.

Fantastic Eating Place #10: Waffle Lady
As of last week, this place now shares facilities with a BBQ joint, but I'm sure it's still amazing. The last time I went I got the Cinn-A-Wonderful Waffles, which were just that. Wonderful. Light, melt-in-your-mouth waffles loaded with cinnamon and walnuts with cream and syrup on the side for a drench-your-own experience. Like a cinnamon roll, only better (and more waffle-y). If that's not adventurous enough,
Waffles with everything from chocolate chips to cheddar cheese and jalapeno also smell great, although I haven't tried them all.

*A direct quote from Julie, circa junior year or so.