Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Little Bit Naughty, A Little Bit Nice

After giving me a perfect gift our first Christmas together and then giving me the best birthday gift ever, I had come to accept that Dave was simply a better gift-giver than I. But this year for Christmas, I thought I had come up with the perfect gift to put our gift-giving skills on the same level. And yet he still one-upped me.

We love wine. We're getting married in six weeks at a vineyard. For his birthday last year, I got him a really good wine bottle opener (along with several other things, of course). So for Christmas last year, I decided to go big and get him a wine fridge. After all, even though it was a more expensive gift than I budgeted for, it would benefit us both for many years, so it was worth it. He loved it so much that he wanted to sleep under the tree in the living room with his fridge that night. Even now, three months later, he still gets excited every time we pull out another perfectly chilled bottle of red, white or champagne. I did good -- real good.

But even so, he outdid me. He may have even outdone himself (though I don't know if a gift will ever truly be better than a diamond ring). I have been addicted to S Factor for nine months. I've never missed a week, and it's the first workout I actually crave all week long. So for Christmas, he made it possible for me to workout whenever I want. He got me...

a pole! (photos coming soon -- just of the pole, not of me on it, you perverts)

It's in the middle of the living room. We don't usually take it down when we have company, unless it's the parental units. He loves to show it off to his friends -- that his fiancee is a pseudo-stripper. I've even shown some of our closest friends a few pole tricks (clothed, of course). And I can't deny that I like having it up, too. It's a reminder of this new power I've discovered.

I'm thinking of having my girlfriends over for dinner, wine and some pole-dancing/lap dance/striptease lessons! (No boys allowed!)

Garza Azul

Hey there, faithful readers (if there are any of you left)! I can't believe how long I've been away. A lot has happened in the last six months, and a lot has changed. So here I bring you the first of several installments chronicaling the new and improved life of Nicole.

We went to Mexico for Thanksgiving. But this vacation was not to a typical resort town in Mexico, with tourists everywhere, modern amenities, overpriced restaurants and multiple entertainment options. Rather, we were headed to a tiny village just south of Guadalajara. True Mexico, where no one speaks a lick of English, but where everything is authentic and somehow charming despite its primitiveness. At first mention of the trip, I was a bit concerned about having no phone, no Internet, no connection of any kind to the outside world. But I quickly embraced the idea of a relaxing retreat from our stressful lives, with nothing to do for an entire week but lay by the pool, read, play games, shop in the local villages, and eat authentic, home-cooked meals.

After a five-hour flight from Los Angeles, followed by a one-hour drive from the airport in Guadalajara to the house we rented in the remote area of Lake Chapala, we were ready to settle in and start the relaxation. But we soon discovered that there were a few omissions in the description and photos on the American owner's web site. First, the house was home to the largest spiders I've ever seen. And you couldn't kill them because they ate all the other bugs. I had to take a Xanax every night just so I could fall asleep with the 3-inches-in-diameter spider on the wall directly above my head. The pool was infested with wasps and all other manner of flying, stinging insects. I got stung once and decided not to go back, so I didn't come home with a winter tan like I had hoped. Our room was filled with gnats the first night because someone left the light on the night before we arrived. Said room was also on the side of the house with no hot water, so showering was a major production. And there were bats there, including one baby bat who took up residence in the corner of our bathroom.

But it wasn't all bad. We played A LOT of games. Which is one of my favorite things to do. We spent time in the surrounding pueblos, and I learned that I actually know more Spanish than I thought. I woke up every morning at whatever time I wanted, and did Pilates on one of the many balconies overlooking the lake. We were with a great group of friends, one of whom was formerly a professional chef. So we ate a lot of fantastic food made with the freshest ingredients and, of course, did our fair share of drinking. And Dave and I took some photos on the grounds (which were beautiful) that we were able to use in our save-the-dates.

I don't know if I'd go again. It was definitely lacking in some of the luxuries that I prefer on my vacations and just in life, in general. (I'm really not a roughing-it kind of girl.) But it was an adventure, and the memories are priceless.