Sunday, December 31, 2006

A look back at 2006

Well, another year has passed and this year has been very eventful in some ways for me and not so eventful in other ways. I look back at this past year and it was such a whirlwind of memories, I can't believe its about to be 2007.

My life has completely changed from the start of the year until now, going from moving out of Nate's place in New Orleans to moving into Mike's place around the corner. At this point, my house in Lakeview was still sitting there from the flood and my house uptown was just renovated and rented out to help me pay my mortgage. It took me almost 6 months from this point to sell the house in Lakeview, sell the house on Sycamore place, sell all my furniture and get packed up to move out of the city. In the meantime, I quit my job, spent some time with my sister in South Florida and did a sisters weekend in Key Largo, spent some time with my mom and friends before packing up my car and heading west.

In June, my cousin and I packed up our cars and followed each other to California where I dropped my car in LA and then headed up the coast to help her drive to Milpitas. From there, I spent a little bit of time in San Francisco and then headed back down to LA. I left a week or two after that for my trip to South America where I went to the Galapagos Islands, Cuzco, Lima, Macchu Pichu, Iquitos and the Amazon.

Then from there, I had some good friends come to Cali and I got to enjoy the coast a little bit- doing some diving in Catalina Island, camping in Big Sur, lounging at Glen Ivy Spa and riding up Pacific Coast Highway, which is such a beautiful drive (but you start to feel nauseated so thank god Cecilia drove!). I also spent some time with my mom in Las Vegas for Labor Day weekend which was a lot of fun.

After my travels were over, I finally landed a job with Internet Broadcasting after about a month of looking and then it seemed like the next 4 months were gone in a flash. I was traveling a ton for work and really trying to get the hang of this gig, so all of my time was dedicated to this. In November, I finally got a little break and my family and I and my cousins went on a cruise in the Bahamas for Thanksgiving. It was nice to be just with my family and away from everything, although it had been a while since I was in Pensacola.

Christmas creeped up on us so quickly as well and after flying to Minneapolis for some meetings, I was able to spend some time with my family in Pensacola, making a pit stop in New Orleans on my way there.

So that is my year in a nutshell. Although much has happened and there have been so many changes for me this past year, literally so much has happened that I haven't had much time to just sit and think... which I have been doing a lot these last few weeks. Before, something always had to be done- like move, look for a job and a place to live... pretty big stuff. But now things have calmed down for me- I got a job, a new place to live, etc...- and now I am sitting back absorbing it all and reflecting on this past year and it has really hit me like a ton of bricks! Its just now that I am feeling the shock of everything that has happened since my divorce, Hurricane Katrina and moving my life to a completely different place and its really pretty heavy.

I am hoping that 2007 will be the year where I find myself and really come to terms with everything so that I can move forward with my life and live life to its fullest. I want my family and friends to know that I appreciate you guys every single day because without you, I wouldn't be able to pick myself up in times where I am just unsure about where I am in my life, where I am going or choices I have made this last year. I need you all so much and thanks for being there for me always. You guys make me strong and you make me feel complete. I love you all and I just want you to know how much I appreciate you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A New Orleans' Christmas

Ok, so I know that I have been really bad at posting but with the holidays upon us, its been crazy trying to spend time with family and friends before I leave to go back to Los Angeles.

My friend from New Orleans, Vanessa, threw an awesome Hanukah/Kawanzaa/Christmas party or as she says... HanuKwanzaaMas... with a little New Orleans flavor. They have a cute little house in Carthay Circle (my old office!) and it was a blast! Stephanie threw the party with her and it was fun to see some "new friends" that I had just met through them very recently and its so nice for her to share her friends and family with me. Everyone is so nice and down to earth. One of my favorites is her friend Rick who is just full of spirit and great advice. He is such a great friend to have and looking forward to getting to know him better. Here is a picture of him and the girls... I also got to meet Vanessa's Dad for the first time, although I've met her mom once before, and other people that I've heard about so much before but never met. Ron and Emma also came to enjoy some good food and drinks and it was nice to see them since its rare to see them these days! So- speaking of the food... Vanessa worked so hard on the food-- the gumbo, awesome veggies, the New Orleans cheese roll thing (that I loved!) and the best of all- the cookies! I actually have to give myself and Steph some credit for those though because we baked all night the night before and decorated the cookies practically in our sleep. It was nice to be around good friends and I really enjoyed meeting new ones. Thanks for throwing a great party and can't wait until the next one!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Our Christmas Party at the Buonfiglios

I just got here in New Orleans after being in Minneapolis for the last two days for meetings with the team and more importantly, our little holiday party at Dave's house. I was a little surprised about how mild the weather was -- I didn't even have to wear gloves or a hat! I was kind of bummed that there wasn't any snow on the ground because this was my one opportunity all year to see it. Oh well... maybe when I come back in first quarter I will get a little taste.

It was great to have everyone together as a team and be able to talk about stuff as a team, bounce ideas off each other, etc... Here is a picture of all of us at Dave's house for the party... Jeff, Jesse, Kim, me, Catharine, Johnathan, Dave and Peter!!! I love how well the team gets along and I really enjoy spending time with each and every one of our team members, just wish we were closer.
I also got to meet his lovely wife Michelle and his kids Jinny and Christian. Here is a picture of him and his cute daughter! Here is a picture of Jeff, Jesse and Kim... they are too cute! We worked hard these past couple of days in back to back meetings but we laughed a lot these past two days too and being around this group, time flies by. Just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you guys and looking forward to my next trip in (maybe I'll get snow then?). You know, we all travel so much all the time and its so tiring and hard to be away from family and friends, but when we get together... its not so bad. I enjoy your company and just glad that since I do have to be gone from home a lot, at least during these trips, I get to hang out with you guys. The rest of the pictures are posted here...click here to view! Hope you enjoy the shots and enjoy the rest of the holiday season! Peace and love, Riza

A night at Pershing Square

Last Thursday night, Ron called me to see if I wanted to go down to Pershing Square to go see The Submarines Play, a husband and wife team and the woman, Blake, actually went to high school with Emma (Ron's girlfriend for those of you that don't know). Anyway, I was reluctant to go because I knew it was downtown and I am all the way on the beach so I knew it would take me at least a 1/2 hour or longer to get there. My buddy JD and I had planned on eating dinner together that night but I called him and he was game for anything so we headed downtown to go see them play. I love live music and its been a long while since I was able to soak it in.
We headed downtown (thanks for driving JD!) and to my surprise, they were playing outside, on a beautiful stage right in front of an ice skating rink! It was the most gorgeous scene and for the first time all season, it really felt like Christmas (without the snow and freezing cold of course!). The weather was perfect... a bit chilly but nice to hang out and there were a ton of people out! They had some food booths around the rink that had your staples, you know... hotdogs, nachos, hot chocolate and more! The band was great and it was the first time I had seen them play... Blake was so fun to watch and I love how she talks to the crowd in between songs. It was a really good time and afterwards, The Great Northern played which sounds a lot like The Submarines.

If you are interested, click here to check out The Submarines! Hope you like them....

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dena's Holiday Party

Last Friday night, my friend Dena hosted a holiday get together at her house and we had such a great time. For those of you who don't know who Dena is---she is my friend from high school who now lives in LA and we connected a few years back. The funny thing is that not only does Dena live here, but three of our other friends from high school in Pensacola, FL also live in the area. Cory, who plays for the Dustbowl Cavaliers and who you have seen through previous posts, Carey Williams and Eva Lawson (also from previous posts!). Eva and I actually went to grade school together!!! Here is a picture of us from that night. My friends Vanessa and Stephanie came with me to Dena's and it was nice to have them all meet each other. It ended up being a great night with good friends and Dena even gave us little gifts to take home that were too cute. Thanks Dena for hosting a great night and it was so nice to have us all together. Holidays are a time for good friends to spend time with each other and this was a totally fun night. After the party, Vanessa, Steph and I actually went back to Vanessa's to continue cooking and getting things ready for the party the following night! I can't believe we did it.. but we did-- although we decorated cookies and they weren't so cute. Oh well, it was the thought that counts and it was fun just to hang out and spend time together.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My new friend Ellina

I just got back from Albuquerque, New Mexico a couple of days ago and it was a great trip! The station that I work with there is the ABC affiliate KOAT and the team there is so great and inviting! It is definitely a station I feel at home with and the people are just so nice and I love the town... and Santa Fe too. It helps that I have such a close friend there - Jay, who you met from a previous post - and now I have gotten to know someone who I work with a little better and her name is Ellina. It's crazy how much we have in common -- from things we eat, to our habits and just all around really. Its so nice to meet new people on the road that you can connect with and someone who is very genuine and real. We don't meet these kind of people everyday so when I do, I really try not to take that for granted.

After the hurricane, one thing I really learned is that you can't take anything for granted... especially family, friends and just sincere people you meet in everyday life. Now that I am out here in Los Angeles and my network of family and friends hardly exists compared to what I had in New Orleans, I realize now that friends and family in your life are the most important... and trying hard to become a better friend.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dena's Event & The Dust Bowl Cavaliers

This past weekend, I went to a holiday party that my friend Dena put on to showcase some of their artists they represent. She has a business partner Anne have a business together called D & A Fine Arts. It was a fabulous party and the art was really amazing! I am so proud of her and the company she has built and all of her successes. She is one of the hardest working women in show business and I really admire her drive.
After the party, we headed to Molly Malone's bar to see our friend from high school, Cory Rouse, play with his band, The Dust Bowl Cavaliers. It was so great to not only see Cory and his band play, but to hang out with my pepes from Pensacola! Here is a picture of us after the show and Cory is putting on his best "model" face. He is hilarious.

Cory and his band just released a new CD-- they did a tribute to Tenacious D and the album is called BLUEGRASS WRECKS THE MUSIC OF TENACIOUS D: THIS IS JUST A TRIBUTE. They had their CD release at Amoeba music here in Los Angeles and you have to check out the CD! It's awesome... and Cory sings one of my favorite tracks! Support your pepes from good ole P'cola and click here to purchase the CD. I can't wait until the next show Cory and I still owe you dinner soon!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Mexico: Hanging with my girl Jay

Now I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico and its my second time here in the last few months! I was excited to come to the market this time because my girlfriend Jay, who I knew from New Orleans (I actually took over her job at NOLA.com!) came down from Santa Fe to meet me for dinner. We met last night at a restaurant called the Rancher's Club-- awesome Lobster Chimichangas-- and her sister Lena met us as well.

Jay is such a dear friend and she is someone who I know I will be close friends with forever. Its been 3 years since I've seen her and it seemed like yesterday. First of all, we both haven't changed much since the last time we've seen each other- that is, the way we look- but of course our lives are completely different now than when we last saw each other. We've talked on the phone a lot, especially since the hurricane, but she now lives in Santa Fe with her 3 kids and her husband Jim. I am so glad this is one of my markets that I handle because its so much fun to see her and now I know I will be able to see her at least 4 times a year!

We had such an awesome time together and laughed for almost 6 hours straight. Great wine, good food and good company- you can't beat it. And her sister Lena is just like her, I am lucky to have made another friend. Thanks Jay for the lovely gift and the wonderful picture that's going up on the fridge! I already can't wait to come back again to hang out with you.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bahamas Cruise : Day 3 and 4

We finally left the dock at around 8AM the next morning. Rachelle and I went for a run around the upper deck and as we were running, I started to feel nauseated and it was because the boat started to move! We were "sea-locked" all day this day so we did the only thing you could do ... nothing. It was really nice to get up, eat a big breakfast and then hang by the pool, wander around the ship, etc.. They did have these cruise activities all over the boat that were so stupid that you just had to watch them. One was the hairiest guy competition (and they had like 10 guys volunteer to do it.... yikes) and the other was an ice sculpting contest. We did this pretty much over and over all day until the girls got ready to get our massages and facials and that was a lot of fun! The boys hung out on the putting green or by the pool waiting for us to finish and then off to our dinner all together... in the same place as the nights before, same waiters, etc.... Since we had all day to hang out, I finally explored other areas of the ship because we always just went to the Lido deck and stuck around there pretty much the whole time. I ended up finding a topless deck on the other side, not to mention a full on volleyball court, basketball court (all surrounded by nets so the ball doesn't fly off the deck and in the water) and like 5 other pools! I wish we had more time to spend on the ship... actually, no I don't. Anymore time on that ship and I would have to enroll in a Weight Watchers program.

We all got together for dinner once again and this night, we celebrated all the November Birthdays-- and there were a lot of them. Me, Rose, Dan, Cale and Lucas! They got a cake for us and sang happy birthday.... so sweet. After dinner, we ventured out to the Palace Theatre (where we saw the shows the night before) and tonight was an 80's version of what they did 2 nights ago. It was like a tribute to the music of the 80s-- they sang and danced to Michael Jackson's Thriller, Pat Benetar, Madonna (and all versions of Madonna came out actually, pretty cool), etc... After the show, some people hit their rooms and the others stayed up to play some "bingo"- ok, that's all there was to do before the comedian started- and then the comedian came on after that. The next day, we just packed and had to be off the boat by about 10am. After we "de-shipped", we spent the day in Miami on South Beach, had lunch and walked around. The weather was a little overcast and it even rained a bit, but we had a good time. Here is a picture of us on the beach. We finally left around 5ish since we still had a 3 hour drive back to Melbourne Beach! We had a great time but I was exhausted and had an early flight to Las Vegas to look forward to the next morning! My, how fast our time on the cruise went by.... Thanks Mom for setting all this up for us! We should do something like this every year!!!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bahamas Cruise: Day 2


Ok- I know I have been slow to posting, but after I left the Bahamas, we spent the day in Miami, then overnight in Melbourne Beach and then flew straight to Vegas for meetings and it was in the 30s there! I finally got back to LA after about 2 weeks being on the road and with all the weather changes and time zone changes, I was worn out. I was starting to feel sick so I have been spending a lot of time recouping. Anyways, I am back with more.

We opened our eyes this day only to find that we were docked in Nassau, Bahamas! Because of all the commotion the day before, we got a little bit of a late start- not to mention eating a 2-hour breakfast, which was easy to do. We finally got our group together and made it off the boat and on the island! We had no idea what we were going to do since it was too late to sign up for any island excursions so we met a guy named Cliff who was with some tour company (or was he?) and he suckered us into doing an island tour with him. Our time was short so we caved in and said yes. He took us around and pointed out some historic sites of the downtown area of Nassau, took us to some markets and then we went to Atlantis. This place was amazing and although we didn't do the full on tour of the Aquarium in the Atlantis, we did get to see this huge tank where you could see spotted eagle rays and mantas! Huge ones!!! Not to mention all kinds of other fish- wide-eyed jacks, triggers, tuna, etc... It was a site, I can only imagine what the Aquarium actually looked like which was located right below the main lobby of the hotel. This hotel ranges from $300 a night to $25K a night and lots of stars and celebrities stay here. The art and design inside was absolutely amazing. It was fun being on the island and although I have been to the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas, this was my first time in Nassau. I wish we had more time in port and I also wish I could of had time to do some diving! We were able to shop at the markets in the "downtown" area of Nassau to get some little gifts and also Cliff took us to another place where he had friends who owned some craft booths. We had to hurry back to the boat because it was "formal" night this night for dinner and since we were running late, we missed the "drink with the captain". We got back and we all got dressed up and again, had a 4 course meal and ate until we couldn't anymore! My favorite was this dessert they called the melting chocolate cake that was served hot with vanilla ice cream-- delicious! After dinner, we hit "Putting on the Ritz" karayoke bar and it was so hilarious! There were a bunch of people already in line to sing and it was funny how serious all the singers were! Rose, Merian and Ron signed up to sing and we were laughing so much my stomach was hurting! Rose sang "La Islan Bonita" by Madonna and they had a box of "props" you could use so she grabbed this drum that hung around her neck! She showed off her talent by holding the mic in one hand, banging on the drum every now and then and holding and never spilling her drink! I mean, her singing was good- but that was the most impressive part. We all stood up and danced and had a great time! Merian sang "Just Once" and she did an awesome job! She got the crowd going and people in the audience had their lighters out and their hands up swaying from side to side! Ron was the last to sing and he sang a Michael Jackson song, "Rock with You" and he did an awesome job seeing how the display wouldn't work so he couldn't see any of the words to the song and had to do it off memory. He rocked it though and the moonwalk move was the best! He was a hit and we all got up and danced! After we made fools of ourselves at the karayoke place, we decided to check out the mid-night buffet. Ok, so we did end up eating but it was amazing how packed the place got! It felt like it was lunch time seeing how big the crowds were. Just a tip if you were ever to go on a cruise: avoid the mid-night buffets and understand that just because there is food around, you don't have to eat it. We learned that on about the last day of the trip!