2011: An Oakley Odyssey

It’s about gone, kids. 2011. All done.

2011 has been a serious roller coaster for me professionally and personally. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was updating the 2010 end of the year list!

Golly.

2011 in Pictures

Jan – March: Welcome to the family, Robin Hood the Hyundai Sonata! / Custom made truffles from Drago Centro / Got laid off

April – June: New Zealand vacation / Cochon 555 / The Nerd Machine Slave Leia PSA

July – September: 4th of July at the Los Alamitos Base / Camping on Catalina / USC football season

October – December: Awesome Halloween / Thorough destruction of the bRuins / Annual candy cane martini at Patty’s house

Drinking Buddy of the Year: Brandon…again

When you’re unemployed for most of the year, who else would be your drinking buddy but your husband!  Brandon has returned to claim the title since he got it in 2009.  This year, the mister also started to try wine, so we’ve had a little more fun with that.  Speaking of wine…

Bar of the Year: District Wine, Long Beach

I was introduced to District Wine by USC Alumni Club of Long Beach.  The club has many mixers hosted here and the board congregates here for the board meeting for bottlomless mimosas on a Sunday.  Elegant but cozy place with friendliest of staff can be really mellow some nights and lively on others.

With a variety of wine by the glass and very reasonably priced by the bottle and delicious nosh, if this place was around the corner from my house, I would certainly haunt it.  I like District Wine so much when I was contacted by Ghirardelli to host the Intense Dark chocolate and wine pairing event, I didn’t even try calling anywhere else but here.

I’m looking forward to many, many more good times!

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Restaurant of the Year: Vino e Cucina, Long Beach

My friend Brenda introduced me to Vino e Cucina a few years back. It was REAL Italian food, owned and operated by Italian family.  I totally loved the food there since the very first bite, but I couldn’t get Brandon through the door for the longest time.  You see, the first time we popped in was a Friday night when they were still in the one store. With no reservation, they couldn’t seat anyone. B didn’t like that too much.

Since then they had expanded into the neighboring storefronts, and I finally convinced Brandon to come order a to-go dinner on a weeknight. The food proved itself worthy.  And now we eat there about once every other month.

Newcomer Award: Saatchi LA Peeps

“But Oakley, you only worked there for 4 months! How could you be so attached to these people?”

When you find a work environment you like, meet the people you adore, and get a sense of a company culture that fits you like a glove, you can’t help yourself feeling like you’ve always worked there. I feel like I belong there more than any other place I’ve worked at before (maybe except HSX.com).  I’ve met great people and created some awesome memories in my short time here.  This will not be soon forgotten.

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Oh, and again, thanks, Matt. 😉

High point of the Year: New Zealand Trip

Fresh off the layoff, the trip was the perfect springboard into the new adventure.  It was a carefree trip. We ate a lot. We walked a lot. Then we drove a LOT but we also saw a lot along the way.  We nerded out with Lord of the Rings sites. We drank plenty of wine and guzzled enough local beer. We took a million pictures (and I haven’t uploaded them all yet).

It was great seeing my dad and getting him out traveling even on a very limited schedule. My mom had always wanted to visit New Zealand. In a way, we were taking this trip for her as well.

The best, though, is that my dad and I reunited with my cousins Nancy and Nat who we haven’t seen in 10+ years.  I also finally get to meet my nephew Brandon for the first time.

What an adventure.

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Low point of the year: Unemployment

Yes, I was all gung-ho about my new adventures. Then I was defeated by the reality of it.  I had some days when all the rejection emails and resumes that disappear into the black hole that is the Orange County job market really got me.  There were days when I felt useless and stupid. And there were days when I thought I should just grab a cup and go panhandle.

I’ve gotten used to a set schedule and a steady paycheck for these past 4 months. Going back to not working is going to be interesting all over again.

Holiday of the Year: Halloween…again

That’s it. I’m retiring this category since a) Halloween is my favorite holiday, and b) it’s ALWAYS awesome.

This year I didn’t have quite the same number of costume change as last year.  But I still had quite a bit.  A 1980s prom princess at work pre-Halloween. A Trojan Cat in the Hat for Halloween weekend tailgate.  Myself aka the Devil for work on Halloween day and then the TARDIS in a tutu for Halloween party that evening.

That TARDIS outfit though, I’m quite proud of. Now you just have to find more occasions to rock out my blue tutu. Hee.

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Song of the Year: Pumped Up Kicks, Foster the People

I know, I know. This song is now overplayed.  However, you have to give it credit of the catchiness.  I mean, I caught it a bit before it blew up and I still caught myself humming it out of the blue.

Movie of the Year: Captain America

As a Harry Potter fan, the final Potter movie should be on this list. However, it just wasn’t. Since I haven’t seen The Muppets just yet, Captain America will be crowned as my favorite this year.

Super hero movies has gone gray. You know, all the heroes have some kind of flaws or darkness they have to deal with.  It’s so refreshing to see a TRUE super her with no baggage.

Surprise Movie of the Year: The Warrior’s Way

Brandon got this on rental. Horrendously cheesy with the story, the comic book CGI, and gratuitous violence. Everyone is over the top and stereotypical. The plot is predictable as hell too. But you know almost immediately that you can’t take any of it seriously. Even the actors don’t seem to be taking it seriously. Once you look at this as a live action comic book rooted in no reality of any kind, some kind of a fantastic voyage where everyone is in on the joke, you’ll totally enjoy it.

Book of the Year: Hunger Game trilogy

Oh, Entertainment Weekly Magazine. You influence me so. After having read so much about it, I decided to pick up the Hunger Game paperback for my New Zealand trip. I just couldn’t put it down. I ordered the box set the moment I came back and plowed through the rest in a record speed.

I mean, what’s not to like? Post apocalyptic, totalitarian world. A teenage girl fights for her family. Two boys who love her yet she doesn’t really know what she’s feeling.

If you can skip through the narratives about the food, the fashion, and how she was confused about her relationships–pretty much the parts Brandon couldn’t stand and therefore didn’t read past the first book–you have yourself one kick-ass sci-fi trilogy.

And next summer, the movie. Squee!

TV Show of the Year: American Horror Story

I actually didn’t want to continue watching after I watched the pilot. My skin was left crawling. Too intense of an hour of television.  But curiosity–and free on demand–brought me back.

And boy am I back and so totally obsessed with this show now. (Glee? What’s that?)

That’s about it for 2011.

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