The Highlights of My 2011

2011 has been a bittersweet year for me.  As I struggled to look for work, I was suddenly faced with something I had never had this much of before: time!  Time to do many things I had been putting off doing but was always too busy to do before.  Although the opportunities of the “paid” variety were lacking, I was also given opportunities to do other things that just may one day lead to a more fulfilling life.

And so, as another year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on some of the things and events that have impacted me in whatever capacity.  Many have been happy but some, not so much.  So here we go…

Retiring Swans Co-captain Craig Bolton takes a lap of honour around the SCG

Footy Season

The year in AFL has been a mixed one.  My team, the Sydney Swans, spent most of their home games in Sydney playing in wet conditions, which means I spent a lot of time trying to stay dry in the stands.  With the well-respected Paul Roos now retired after a very successful 8 years in the senior coach’s position, the reigns were handed down to his former assistant, John “Horse” Longmire.  It had been six years since the Swans won a Premiership and with many of its Premiership players retired or retiring, many critics did not give the youngsters on the 2011 playlist much chance to make the finals series.  As usual, the Swans showed their “Bloods” spirit and proved the naysayers wrong and we made it as far as the second week of the finals, finishing sixth on the ladder.  Not a bad effort at all.  Go Swans!

Celebrating Life

In April, I wrote a post dedicated to my school friend, Mary Sands, who married her long-term partner (and the father of her two beautiful girls), Rodney, in a simple ceremony in a park on a sunny Saturday morning surrounded by friends and family.  It was a very poignant occasion – two things were very obvious that day: one was that Mary and Rodney were very much in love after nearly two decades together, and the other was that Mary was dying.  She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was pregnant with her second child in 2009 and the cancer had returned with a vengeance.  Sadly, less than five weeks later and only days after her 39th birthday, Mary lost her battle with cancer.

School friends at Mary's wedding, April 2011

In mid-November, I got a phone call out of the blue from the sister-in-law of a friend and former colleague of mine, Andrew.  The moment she told me who she was I had a bad feeling in my stomach that she was going to be delivering bad news.  My friend, in his mid-thirties and a married father of four young children under the age of six, had passed away suddenly from a motorcycle accident.  I attended his funeral service two days later.  Although many tears were shed, there were also smiles as family members recounted the joys Andrew had brought to their lives, especially to his wife and children.  I had only worked briefly with Andrew about 4 or 5 years ago, but he had an infectious personality and I will always remember his larrikinism and how he managed to make days of working on a dull project fun.  The world needs more people like him and all of us who have had the privilege to know him are better people for having known him.  RIP Andrew Bamford.

Celebrating A Milestone

While we’re on the subject of celebrating life, I celebrated a milestone birthday this year.  There was no big party – just many yummy meals shared with wonderful friends and family and being surrounded by lots of love.  After all, that’s all anyone can ask for, right?  This year was supposed to be a big year of travel.  Although the “big trip” didn’t happen, a “big deal” trip across the border to Melbourne with Lena did.  In all the years we have known each other (I won’t go into details exactly how many years), we had never gone away together so this was a special treat, even if we were only there for thirty hours.  We made the most of the time we had and did…not much! But that’s what people our age appreciate more 🙂

Lena and me in Melbourne

When Tweetpeas Meet

“What’s a ‘Tweetpea’?” I hear you ask. Well, when you tweet a lot with someone and you discover that you’re like two peas in a pod despite a mega age difference, I call that person my ‘tweetpea’! 🙂  After being cross-country Twitter friends for about 18 months, Claire made a trip from Perth to Sydney  at the end of November with her mum and brother to celebrate her graduation.  We had a mini checklist of things we had to do together and video for the benefit of our other Twitter friends: eating meat pies at Sydney’s famed Harry’s Cafe de Wheels in Woolloomooloo, eating McDonald’s McFlurries, eating cupcakes and a video of our first meeting.  There was a lot of eating involved for sure and the first meeting video didn’t happen quite at the first meeting but we re-enacted it anyway :). If you missed our various videos, you can view them at http://www.twitvid.com/videos/valshopaholic.

McFlurry party with Claire

Gratitude

Back in June, I wrote about my dream of becoming a writer.  At the start of 2011, I made a commitment to publish a post a week.  For the most part, I was able to keep this commitment, missing my self-imposed deadlines only a few times, and on occasion would make up for the missing weeks by posting more than once the following week.  I also created a second blog dedicated to my photography and travel stories called Thursday Has A View.   Those of you who follow me on Twitter and are fans of the show White Collar may know this as a reference to one of the safe houses kept by one of the characters.  I have been neglecting that blog for far too long and I hope to update it with more of my travel stories soon!

Anyway, blogging aside, in August I was given the opportunity to be a contributing writer for another Twitter friend, Lena Lamoray.  It wasn’t a professional writing gig but it opened up a whole new opportunity for me to try my hand at writing TV reviews.  The best part about it was that I was reviewing the mid-season finale episode of my favourite show White Collar, which meant I got to watch a screener of the episode ahead of it going to air!  You cannot imagine my excitement over this!  Since that review, I have written reviews for other shows including Suits and Psych for Lena’s site.  My movie review for In Time was also published on her site.  We will be collaborating on much more soon!  Thank you, Lena!

In recent weeks, I have also contributed to SmallScreenScoop.com, writing a weekly recap of an exciting new TV show, Revenge.  And just as exciting is being asked to review a new webseries called Whole Day Down, created by Tai Fauci and Patrick Breen and starring Breen, Willie Garson and Elisa Donovan.  You can follow all my reviews of each episode right here on this blog.  Thanks to Jessica Rae and Tai Fauci, respectively, for these exciting opportunities. Looking forward to more of the same in 2012! 🙂

My Celebrity Moments

OK, technically, I did not meet any celebrities in person.  But thankfully, I have a friend like Carol and her wonderful husband, Ryan.  I live vicariously through them and their extraordinary talent at stalking the cast and writers of White Collar.  In June, Carol and Ryan attended a special advance screening of the Season 3 premiere of White Collar and asked Matt Bomer a question on my behalf.  Then, in August, Carol did it again when they attended a panel presented by the writers and even got me a fantastic shoutout from them. Whilst Carol gets to stalk them in person, I have been stalking them on Twitter for almost two years and they knew me well! 🙂  And the best was yet to come.  The weekend before my birthday, Carol and Ryan went to see Tim DeKay perform on stage (with Calista Flockhart and Gregory Itzin) in A Doll House and asked Tim to give me a birthday shoutout.  I was so happy I cried when I saw the video.  You guys are awesome!  If all the planets align, I will be able to stalk these guys in person one day soon!  And when that happens, not only do I plan to meet the celebrities of the TV variety, I also look forward to meeting those of my twitterverse variety: Katy and Carol – the WCHBO crew would not be complete without you!

Looking Ahead

I don’t have a clue what 2012 will bring – hopefully a new job and more great opportunities, whether they be for writing, traveling or just meeting new people.  I am looking forward to starting a new year.  But before that, I will be co-writing a “TV and movie year-in-review” post with Lena Lamoray very soon so stay tuned!  In the meantime, have a safe, happy and holy Christmas.  May the season bring you lots of joys and happiness.  Thank you for your readership and support and I hope you will keep coming back and reading my musings!

Lots of love, Valerie xox

PS You can find a list with links to all my TV reviews, movie reviews and webseries reviews on this blog.

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12 thoughts on “The Highlights of My 2011

  1. Veronica

    You touched me in many ways… It’s a great post and “great” stories. :’)
    Lots of love (and luck) for the next year, my friend. xoxo

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  2. Carol

    Valerie, you always write such wonderful posts!
    Such a nice look back at your year and great memories and stories. Some sad times, but lots of good times too. I always enjoy reading your posts.
    I hope you make the trip out to NYC next year and we can all meet up there. We’d get to see the sights and watch White Collar film. We’ll all have a great time 🙂 (Thanks for my t-shirt by the way. I hope your readers know that I’m not really a stalker, lol. Just a big fan of White Collar and the boys) 🙂
    So happy you are able to write all these articles and reviews for television shows. I hope this leads to a paying gig in the near future!

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    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      I got a bit excited when I read this sentence: “we’d get to see the sights and watch White Collar film”…I thought “wait, there’s going to be a film version of White Collar?!” Then I realised you meant watching them shooting on location! Lol

      Thank you for your love and support. I hope you know how much it all means to me xox

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  3. Christine Antonios (@christinelive)

    Val, this was a beautiful post, as usual <3. I can't wait to see where your writing career takes you and see all your dreams come true (same goes for that bucket list you are posting soon ;D).

    My 2011 was awesome, in part, because you and I met on Twitter. I wish you a great 2012!

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    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Thanks Christine. My bucket list is slow and steady…just like me 😉

      Thanks for your encouragement & I wish you all the best with your law school! (Better you than me! Haha!) And if I ever need a lawyer in CA, I’ll call you too, right after Matt Bomer! 😉

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  4. Ryan

    Val,
    Great story. How often are you applying for writing gigs? You should start! Don’t pidgeon hole yourself to tech jobs.
    I expect to see you in 2012, in person and in print or other media.

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    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Hey Ryan, I have tried applying for a couple of starter writing gigs…figured I’d start with corporate comms because I thought I’d have a better chance coming from the corporate world but now thinking I need to think way outside the square & more laterally. Will need to get off my lazy behind and take it more seriously.

      Thanks for all your encouragement. You know you I have you to thank for kick-starting my White Collar fanfic writing, hence I named a character after you…just sorry I had to kill you off before you ever made an appearance 😉

      I promise I will keep writing and hope that we can meet in person soon too!

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  5. Ally

    What a wonderful post! Val, you always blow me away with your amazing writing 🙂
    Many beautiful stories…some sad ones, which made me teary, but lots of happy moments! yay \o/
    Hope 2012 brings you a good job and everything you want, including a trip to NYC 🙂
    Merry Xmas! xx

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    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      I always have a knack for making my readers cry, don’t I? :p Thank you for being so supportive of my writing and everything else in general. You have been a wonderful friend and I hope we can meet some day! And yes, trip to NYC would be a dream come true! It is well overdue!

      Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I’m sure you will be spending many more hours playing Wii over the holidays 😉

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