Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas from my hometown, Pensacola, FL! I am here with my whole family, except one person- my sister Rose who is all the way in Tokyo... We miss you so much! Here is a picture of us in our kimonos that Rose sent to us all the way from Japan and we each got our own... the boys had cool blue ones with fish on it and the girls got pretty white and pink ones. The kids even got cool ones too! We skyped Rose while we opened presents for 2 hours... you got to love the internet-- we communicated for FREE for 2 hours overseas! Ron even plugged the laptop into the stereo so Rose sounded like she was right there with us. Cale loved his so much, he even fell asleep with his on! Thanks again Rose and hope that everyone had a really nice, safe and happy Christmas. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you guys and love and miss everyone so much!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Crazy Snow!

I was in Minneapolis for our quarterly work meetings and this time- it was snowing like crazy!!! It was so very cold but it was so beautiful- all the snow on the tree tops, covering everything... but it was amazing to me how fast they clean up the roads and keep them clean! I was nervous about driving there (I rented a car) but it turned out to be no problem at all. I just wanted to share with you some shots of what it looked like (Tom, another RSD, took this picture while I drove him to the airport!) It was great to be there for the couple of days I was there... but it was also good to leave and go back to warmer temps!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cory visits L.A.

My dear friend Cory came to visit me in LA and it was only the second time we've seen each other since Katrina. We both worked at NOLA.com together and now she is in Seattle working for the Seattle Times- again, crazy how all of us are now spread out all over the country.

She came in for a conference so I got to spend some time with her before and after her workshops. We got to get a nice long run in (almost an hour!) all along the marina and down Venice Beach- it truly was the perfect run. The waves were huge that day and a couple of times we had to sprint towards the strand since we were running on the packed sand near the shoreline and the waves would just come from no where! We decided to run on the pavement heading back to the marina where the car was parked. Good thinking- running felt like a breeze after running on the beach!
We also got to go see my friend Cory's band- the Dustbowl Cavaliers- one night at the M Bar and she got to meet some of my friends at Yung's house for Yung's b-day party! Good times...
Having Cory here made me realize how much I missed our little group, our lunch club every day at NOLA.com, but especially our talks and the times we all got to hang out (girl's night!). I guess the silver lining in all of this is at least now I have a place to stay when I am in Seattle! I hope it won't be too hard to stay in better touch-- I promise I will try!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Back together again.

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, I reconnected with my "cousin" (not a real one, but you know those flips-- we are ALL cousins!) Therese who I hadn't seen since a couple of months before Katrina. We both lived in New Orleans for many years together and I remember Felicia (her daughter) when she was just a little baby. This is her now... I can't believe how much she has grown up and I feel like she is just one of us! She is beautiful and I am so proud of her- she is now in College at UWF and I know she will do awesome. I am just glad that she is there in Pensacola so when I am there, we can visit each other. Here is a picture of the group of us at my mom's house including another one of my "cousins" Lynne-- we grew up together since we were little kids.(Back row: Roger, Rachelle, Ron, Therese, Riza and Lynne. Front Row: Felicia, Elizabeth and Divina (Therese's sister)

Therese and Felicia- if you are reading this... thanks for coming over to my parents house! I really hope that not too much time passes until we see each other again but please kiss all the boys for me and tell them that I love them and miss them. Seeing you guys really brought back a ton of memories that I will cherish forever. Visiting me in Lakeview, coming over to the Westbank, getting sushi, Mardi Gras parades, going to Felicia's dance recitals, parties at the house.... I miss you guys so much. It was so fun to be back together again. Until next time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from Pensacola, Florida! Just had to post this picture of the delicious fried turkey that my dad just took out of fryer..... yummy!!!!! We are about to eat in an hour or so and we are all busy trying to get dinner done- well, Rachelle and dad are anyway. I hope that everyone is happy, healthy and safe this holiday season! I am thankful to have all of you guys in my life.... miss and love everyone!
Much love, Riza

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanks to all for a wonderful birthday!

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for such an awesome birthday weekend. It was SO special to be able to spend it with everyone and have some quality time with each of you guys. You guys really made me feel special and it just shows me how blessed I am to have such good friends in my life. Friday night, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Dena, Geeta and Kathy at our favorite place which I am sure you have seen on my blog or flickr account many, many times- Cafe Brasil. Thanks Mike for turning me on to that place- you know how much I love to go there! It was a beautiful night with great food, good friends and good wine- thanks to Kathy (since my bottle sucked!). Geeta didn't think she was going to make it on Sat night so we set up a special night for us on Fri nite! The next day my good friend from high school, Carey, picked me up and we got massages together (man, so nice!) and then headed over to Chez Jays for a nice brunch. Funny to sit and have mimossas amongst all the old guys in this dive place right off Ocean blvd in Santa Monica-- but it was perfect to me! We caught up and his birthday was the night before so we treated each other... Scorpios rule! Then that night, we had dinner and game night at Ron's house and it was such a lovely night! Dena made me an awesome red velvet cake (and the pecan decorations on the top were so sweet!) ... its so nice to have a home made cake! She did a terrific job on the cake and I will tell you- its even better the next day! Ron got us some filipino food from this place close by-- we had pancit and egg rolls but can't say that was home made-- sorry dad! Besides the fabulous food and gifts (thanks everyone for all the presents!) - we played a "mean" game of cranium-- and got heated! We had to video some humdinger rounds b/c we couldn't tell who was getting it first and let's just say someone's team kept cheating! Then started a marathon game of texas hold 'em! We should of never started.... After we finished our game and Geeta cleaned out our wallets (beginners luck!), we went to Fred 62 for some breakfast! I couldn't believe we were still up-- it reminded me of when my parents would play mahjong all night long! We were extremely tired but since the sun was coming up and we were a bit hungry, we decided to walk down to Fred 62 for some grub! Walking home, it was so foggy and misty and here are some shots of the empty streets of Los Feliz after a fun birthday night!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jacqui and Suzanne Visit : HBD Cory

Wow have I been totally lazy lately! Its been so long since I posted last and have so much to catch up on! This past weekend, my good friends Jacqui and Suzanne came down from San Francisco and it had been such a long time since they both have spent any real time in Los Angeles. We had such a great time biking all around Venice and Santa Monica, eating on Main Street at the Library Ale House (which is excellent if you guys haven't been!), biking on the Strand and walking on the Santa Monica Pier. As many visitors as I have had this past year and as many times I have done this, it NEVER gets old and I truly enjoy the views and of course, the GREAT company.
Also that weekend was my friend from high school's birthday- Cory- who I am sure you have seen before on my blog. He plays in a blue grass band called the Dustbowl Cavaliers and had a birthday bash at his place. His band members came over to the house and friends of the band (along with their instruments) and they played sweet music all afternoon. It was a ton of fun and I was glad that Jacqui and Suzanne were able to meet Cory and his friends- all of them are absolutely wonderful!This is a pic of Ron playing with the band towards the end of the night. I could tell he was loving playing the drums again-- too bad they couldn't play longer! I am looking forward to the next jam session...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Update on the fires!

Just wanted to update everyone on the situation here... I landed on Wednesday and you could smell a little bit of smoke in the air but mostly, you could see a light blanket of dust on cars from the ashes from the fires that have traveled all this way. There was a haze in the sky and everyone's allergies were acting up due all the stuff in the air! Actually, a lot of people evacuated to Los Angeles, along with neighboring cities but today is Saturday and everything is pretty much back to normal.

This morning, I ran a 10 mile run with my running group, the LA Leggers, and we run in Santa Monica along the strand on the beach and up in the pacific palisades which goes up to Malibu where the fires broke out. I was nervous about the air quality but today is pretty much back to normal and the run went great! It was overcast this morning, as it still is overcast, and it even rained a little bit this afternoon. The run actually was really nice since it was so overcast and I felt great after the 10 miles! I stretched, went home to shower and then got an hour massage which was much needed!

Let's continue to pray for everyone in San Diego county since there are still one or two fires that they are trying to contain but they are almost there! The winds have died down and the weather is cooperating so that's great news for our fire fighters! Hope that everyone has a great weekend and be safe if you are out trick-or-treating!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Katrina Flashback

Well, I am here in my hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I left LA Monday afternoon when there was just a small fire that broke out in Malibu. I get here, go for a run and meet my good friend Jay for a lovely dinner at an awesome restaurant called Zinc. I go back to my hotel room, get up the next morning and while watching the morning news, find out that 250,000 people had evacuated from San Diego and there were now 13 wild fires happening in So Cal!

I couldn't believe it. I was glued to the tube. I was almost late to my presentation this morning because I couldn't stop watching the news. How ironic is all of this. I turn the tv on to see images of people evacuating to some stadium and it totally reminded me of Katrina and people evacuating to the Superdome.

I hope they can contain these fires asap. These santa ana winds aren't helping the situation but they are supposed to die down by the morning. I called my cousin Jeny who lives near Temecula because one of the fires is supposed to be close by but I haven't heard back from her. Let's hope she calls in the am. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Visiting Merian in Las Vegas

It was so nice to be able to visit with Merian and Cathy when I was in Las Vegas this past week. Here are some pictures of us taken at Merian's house (the strip is in the back but you can't really see anything in the photo!) and thanks so much to Cathy for the delicious Korean BBQ, eggrolls and soup that you made and that Merian warmed up for me since you were still working when I came home! The last couple of times that I had been to Vegas I wasn't able to meet up with the two of them, so it was nice to catch up. I miss you guys a lot and hope that we can see each other more often. I wish I could see all of you guys at Thanksgiving but we will all be in Pensacola with my parents! Its been tough blogging lately-- between work and people in town, there just doesn't seem to be enough down time. Cecilia and Jon are in town as we speak but they decided to stay out with a friend of theirs, Jake, who is Jon's high school classmate who lives about 10 minutes away from me! Cecilia won't find out until Oct. 31st where she will do her fellowship but I really hope its somewhere in California!

I'll try and blog more soon enough! Love and miss everyone!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cil comes to visit!

It was so awesome to have Cecilia come stay with me for a few days while she interviewed for schools here in the California area for her fellowship. She had a bunch here in Cali- from San Diego, LA, Irvine and San Francisco- I am crossing my fingers that she will be somewhere here in Southern California so we can be closer together.

Cecilia and I have been friends since before Kindergarten—there is some debate about when we actually met but I say when we were 3. It is awesome that to this day, we have remained friends, best friends, and I know that she will be in my life forever. We just got back about a month ago from the Philippines where we spent a couple of weeks together and now this trip- we have been spoiled this year getting to see each other so much and I hope that we only get to see each other more next year if she matches with one of the hospitals here close by. It would be so great to have her and Jon next door so we can take weekend trips together and be close in distance again.

We had a pretty jammed pack trip when she was here… around all of her interviews of course and my work as well. The timing worked out great because Emma and gang took their big board exam on Friday so we had a big party to celebrate that- not to mention Nate being in town from New Orleans because he had to attend a wedding in Malibu. It was crazy the people that were at Ron and Emma’s house for the party on Friday night who were either from New Orleans or Pensacola. Shoot, there were a couple of people from Vermont too where Emma is from.

We couldn’t get everyone together because we were scattered all over the place but here is a picture of most of the people who were there from New Orleans. It was a great party- a ton of fun. Here is a picture of Dena Cory and I (all from Pensacola… we are missing Eva and Carey!)
We also spent Saturday at Glen Ivy- my second home these days. It’s located in a canyon south of LA in Corona and has mud baths, mineral baths, pools, spa houses, an awesome cafĂ©, etc… I am sure you have seen a few postings from Glen Ivy on my blog previous to this. I can’t get enough of that place—Dena came with us that day! I am looking forward to her next trip in and hopefully next time it will be to move! I miss you Cil so much and it was a blast to have you down again... we've been lucky to see each other about 6 times this past year, and one of those times we were in the Philippines together! There will never be enough times for sure....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My trip to Minneapolis

I just returned from a couple of days in Minneapolis, well St. Paul to be exact, making my quarterly visit to my home office. This is one of four times a year that all the RSD’s (that’s my position- Regional Sales Director is what it stands for) from all over the country congregate to talk about the latest and greatest of what is going on with our company.

This is our second time being all together with this team in particular (Susan and Tom joined us last quarter) and in this team picture you will find left to right: Kim, Susan, Riza, Jesse, David, Catharine, Phil and Tom. We went to dinner at this Italian restaurant in downtown St. Paul which was really quite lovely- the dinner as well as the company. Of course, after a few glasses of wine, we were all feeling pretty good and good times were had by all. Click here to see more pics! On this trip, we got to meet the new president of our company, David Lebow, who came to us from AOL and was a super down-to-earth, laid back, smart and funny guy. It was exciting and encouraging to hear him talk about the future of our company and where our positions were headed- which will be different in the year to come but still not yet defined we will see. Just like being part of Tribune when we became the first duopoly in the country when I was with ABC and the WB tv stations, it will be really cool to be part of this company as we transition into new times.

Also on this trip we got to see the new office which was very nice and huge! It was a maze on the inside, easy to get lost and all the hallways and walls looked similar so it was hard to find your way back sometimes. The company has only been in this space a little over a month so there isn’t anything on the walls yet and offices are starting to looked live-in as people get pictures up and write on the white boards in their cubes. There were sooo many new faces around the building- the company is growing so fast that I can’t keep up! I wish that we could come back more often—its fun to be able to actually see the people you work with and this time back, I did get to meet some new sales support people that I’ve just recently started to work with this last month.

Until next time….

Monday, September 24, 2007

Raining in LA

Raining in LA
Originally uploaded by rizanola
Yup- can you believe it? It actually rained in LA. And it wasn't a little drizzle. It rained like there was a tropical storm coming! We were at dinner and got stranded (another glass of wine never hurt anyone, right?) and waited for the rain to subside. It was really nice to hear the pitter patter of the rain- I never slept so good!

Unfortunately, my run didn't get cancelled and I still had to get up at 5am! Ugh...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hurricane Katrina : 2 Year Anniversary

I can't believe that its been 2 years... it seems like 10. I think about what has happened since Katrina hit and in looking back at all the events that took place, 10 years at least should have passed. Then I think about actual moments of evacuating, then coming back into the city that looked like a war zone and when I close my eyes to remember what that was like, it seems like yesterday.

August 29th will be a day that will stick with me forever. Last year, I wrote this post -Hurricane Katrina : 1 Year Anniversary - and after re-reading it, it again struck me how far we have all come from one year ago.

This year, I don't want to post any pictures of the past because its just too hard to look at still and from here on out, I just want to focus on all the good things that have happened because of Katrina. I am so proud of all of my friends and family who used Katrina as a positive to follow their dreams and for some of us, we needed a "Katrina" to help give us the courage to do some of the things we are doing.

Some of us reacted right away, some of us left months or a year later, some stayed to try and rebuild and some of us are still trying to figure it out (actually, aren't all of us?) but no matter where you are mentally, emotionally and physically- everyone who has been affected by Katrina has a special place in my heart. Here in LA, I find myself looking for signs on whether I should be here or not, but when I think about all the people here who have some connection to New Orleans that have come into my life and have helped me tremendously, I am just happy and grateful to have them all here. Some may not know that they have helped me as much as they have, but maybe I just need to do a better job telling them. I actually don't know what I would do without them all- my support system here.. and you know who you are.

I am sure that there are going to be a ton of specials tonight on this second year anniversary of Katrina and I haven't decided on whether I am going to watch or not- I have a feeling it will be inevitable.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Diving the Channel Islands

On Saturday night after the Sunset Junction street festival, I headed over to Paul's house in Atwater Village and then we drove together to Ventura harbor that took us about an hour from where we were. We unloaded all our gear and put it on the boat- the Spectra above- and picked out our bunks before heading to the restaurant to get something to eat. Since it was about 10, our choices were a bit limited so we finally decided on this Greek restaurant which was pretty good-- just REALLY loud with belly dancers and lots of singing. The boat held 30 divers and for the entire trip with the night on the boat, 4 tanks and meals on the boat- it was totally cheap.. $100 per person! That's a steal. We went to Santa Cruz and Anacapa although the visibility wasn't too good in Anacapa so we did all of the dives in Santa Cruz. The visibility in Santa Cruz was around 60 feet, the water temp was 70 and there was basically no current at all... perfect diving conditions for California. Not to mention that it was yet another beautiful day with bright blue skies and lots of sunshine. We saw a ton of really cool things in the water like colorful nudibranchs like below, that looked almost like they were glowing underwater. As tiny as they are, about the size of the tip of your finger, they were easy to spot because of their beautiful colors.
There were also some really cool sponges and anemones that I don't know the names of... but I love the middle picture below of the black coral that looks like it has a red metallic center-- it looks like a piece of art under water. There were tons of sea urchins (like below) and one time Paul cut one of the urchins open and all the fish would come eat it. It reminded me of being in the aquarium and being surrounded by fish! I miss those days! There were also some really neat starfish like below. I love the massive one on the left with about 20 or so legs. If you could just sit and watch it for a while, you could see it moving so fast across the floor.
The whole trip was just great. We lounged in the hot tub they had on board on the gorgeous drive back to the harbor (ok, as long as we could take it!) and then fell asleep on the top platform heading back in. I wish I could spend every weekend this way!! If you dive out here in Southern California and haven't done this trip, you have to go!

Friday, August 17, 2007

My visit with Cory : Seattle

I just got back from my Portland/Seattle trip and was fortunate enough to go see my old friends Cory and Jason and their adorable daughters Maygan and Anna Corrine who was such a cutie and it had been so long since I had last seen them. Cory and I worked together at NOLA.com and was one of my good friends in New Orleans. We reminisced about how weird it was that us and a lot of our other friends and family are spread all over the country and not even two years ago had this completely different life. Cory talked about her last memory of us right before Hurricane Katrina when I went over to her house with our friend Sarah and it was the first time she had left the house since Anna Corrine was born. We went to the Jasmine Cafe, this little Vietnamese restaurant on Carollton which I frequented for its delicious chicken noodle bowl and cheap prices. Oh, and who could forget the green tea bubble teas that were to die for (and every other flavor too). We had a long dinner, talked about just every day life kind of things and who would have thought that soon after, we would be displaced and now all 3 of us live in totally different cities. Two years later I reside in Los Angeles, Cory in Seattle and Sarah in Washington DC. My how things have changed. It was the first time that I have seen Cory since I left the city and it was so nice to see her, her husband Jason above and her two precious girls. I was so happy to see such familiar faces but I was also so sad to know that we are all so far apart. All my friends from New Orleans will always have a special place in my heart and I hope to keep in touch with them always and often. If any of you are reading this and we haven't spoken recently, I hope to catch up soon.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Diving in Cebu : Day 2

The next day, Cecilia and I had to get up at 5:30am to be at the dock for 6am for the shark dive. The name of the spot was Tingo Point and we went down to 120 feet and stayed down for about 45 minutes. Ok, so no sharks but we saw a ton of other things! Check out these little critters... You are looking at pipe fish, nudibranch and a sea worm.This is also the smallest nudibranch that I have ever seen! This trip, Mikey and Dindo accompanied us on these 2 dives (the pic above we are eating some yummy empanads). Actually, Amando came with us on the second dive and we were honored to have him come. Here is a group shot of Cil, Amado and me in the water!He was hungover from the night before but we managed to talk him into it. It was a great morning of diving. The 2nd dive was on the house reef- Punta Ergano Point. Here you can see every color of frog fish- and big ones too! They are crazy because they look like frogs, will disguise themselves in the coral and they can't swim- they have webbed feet and literally hop from place to place... very slowly of course. Here is a big yellow frog fish!
We also saw some cool scorpion fish and TONS of lion fish. One coral head that I saw had 6 of them all hiding in it... very cool. They are so neat to watch under water but they can be very dangerous so I had to keep my distance. Look at what amazing fish they are... beautiful.
There were also all sorts of puffer fish.. I still have to look up what exactly they are called but in any case- they are cool looking fish. Later that afternoon we went kayaking which was very comical. It was Reyanne's first time ever kayaking and we also attempted to take her snorkeling along side the kayaks but had trouble getting back on the boat! It was hilarious... Cecilia and Dindo's kayak had a tiny leak and their boat ended up filling with water so they had to go back on shore to empty it one time. The second time, they barely made it back and ended up capsizing right before getting back on land! Good times...