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Turning a Skeptic to a Fan
I am not a fan of New York. There I said it. Gasp! I know I just ruffled some feathers, but I had to get that off my chest. I don’t do the overcrowded streets, the cramped apartments or the inflated cost of living (I’m a frugal Fran at heart), but I just returned from a week long stay and I have to tell you I just might be coming around to the “Big City”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love city living. I spent years in Washington DC and absolutely loved it. They say home is where the heart is and DC definitely has my heart. A lot of people will wonder, “how do I dislike New York so much but love DC when they have a lot of similarities?” Let me just say, they’re different or at least I thought they were. After this last trip to New York I just might be a fan of the city that never sleeps. I experienced the city in a new way. I wasn’t a tourist, but rather I ate where the locals recommended, I escaped the busy streets of Manhattan for the quiet family environment of Staten Island, and for once the glitz of New York finally started to make sense.
When traveling I always look to escape the tourist traps. I want to experience the real city and immerse myself with the locals. New York was no different. I stayed in the Financial District and spent my days in Brooklyn, Harlem, and Staten Island. This isn’t to say I didn’t fall victim to the #basicbitch tourist traps, but it is in walking the streets of Harlem where I first felt a part of the city. As I wandered the streets of Harlem I felt the spirit of the people, in Brooklyn I found the cute restaurants I would frequent if I lived there, and I became a pro at navigating the subway. My past experience of the DC metro probably didn’t hurt. When I heard New York natives/locals complain as they walked the streets of Manhattan to get to and fro I couldn’t help but empathize with them. Manhattan is in fact where I felt the most out of place and it was in part due to the tourists who constantly got in my way. I know I was technically a tourist, but I know how to navigate and not appear as such. I spent time out on Staten Island with my friends and for the first time EVER I could picture having a life in New York.
Don’t worry I’m not moving to New York, but I won’t spend years avoiding a return trip. My best friend will be getting married in the spring and I have to say I look forward to returning to the concrete jungle framed by roses.
A City writing it’s place in history through culture & architectural advancement
Dubai, the new playground for the rich and famous is quickly making a name for itself. It is where Princes and rich housewives vacation, but the average person can only dream of going, right? Wrong. A little over a month ago I flew halfway across the world with my college roommate to Dubai for the trip of a lifetime. All of this while traveling on a budget because at 25 years old please believe I am balling on a budget. I am fortunate enough to have traveled quite a bit throughout my lifetime and know a few tricks of the trade and now I want to share some of those tricks with you.
First, getting to Dubai was not the pretty penny most believe it to be. We were able to find our flight on Groupon which is known for their good deals. By all means if you can book a private jet go right ahead and please give me a call. The flight was booked through a third party, but ultimately was no more trouble than booking through a site such as Orbitz or Expedia and cost only $500. Secondly, our lodging was booked through Orbitz. By doing a little research via Google and travel blogs it’s easy to find the best places to stay throughout the city. Dubai has different pockets of the city and depending on what you’re looking to do while you’re there will dictate the best area to bunk. Lodging can vary from the super cheap (I would steer clear as you will miss out on the basic luxuries) to the mid range accommodations all the way to the World Famous 7-Star Burj Al Arab. By splitting a hotel room we were able to spend less than $350 for the week.
Now for the fun stuff, getting around town and sightseeing. Dubai is a city surrounded by desert sands and coastal waters. By taking a taxi which is quite easy as they are abundant throughout the city, you can experience both in the same day. Dubai is by no means a walkable city with it’s twists and turns and lack of walkways. However, for those that would like to try public transportation by all means go for it (I did no such thing-and I’ve lived in Washington DC). Taxis are everywhere and reasonably priced as long as they are run by the city, which are easily demarcated by their colorful tops. Most trips will run you less than $10. Dubai also has Uber but I found it to be rather difficult as they don’t use addresses and wait times can be quite long.
Dubai is a Muslim country that follows Muslim law. What that means for those who are unfamiliar is that profanity is not allowed, alcohol is not sold outside of the airport and nightclubs which are hidden away in hotels, modesty is the best policy, and weekends are Friday and Saturday. While you won’t be arrested for a slip of the tongue or a hem that is too high it is best to be respectful of the people who call this beautiful place home. I recommend stopping by the duty free shop on your way out of the airport where you can grab up to 5 bottles (!) to last your vacation. This will also save you when you go out because let me be the first to tell you, drinks are crazy expensive. I don’t know if it’s due to the fact that alcohol is not an everyday commodity, but drinks at the “secret” clubs can run you a pretty penny.
During your stay be sure to jump right in and explore. Stop by the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, appreciate the modern architecture filling the sky around you, take a trip out to the Dubai Miracle Gardens, step back in time in Old Dubai where you can bargain at the original gold souk. You can’t forget to sit back and relax at brunch on Friday where locals and tourists alike feast (and imbibe) to their heart’s content. For a city that does not condone the intake of alcohol there is no shortage of booze infused brunches on Friday. Dubai is situated right on the coast with some of the most beautiful water so be sure to take a trip to the beach, on the other end of that Dubai is surrounded by desert sands making it perfect for a safari getaway. As a bonus trip if you’re so fortunate to have time, I would without a doubt make a trip to Abu Dhabi to visit the Grand Mosque. I’m convinced it has to be one of the wonders of the world.
While I have to admit, when I first imagined going to Dubai I envisioned private jets, Bentleys, and girls laying on yachts all day I was given so much more. I was met with culture, kind people, and a city that is looking to merge its history with its future.
The Life of a Publicist
Let’s get one thing clear, I love my job. I love what I do. There is definitely something to be said about being a publicist, but unfortunately not all of it is good. And the negatives only seem to stack up as a woman of color (double minority). The level of disrespect is so real it’s sad and it’s time we talk about it. In light of recent events (i.e. our recent presidential election) there is more racial tension in our country than we’ve seen in a while. It is no secret that people of color have been discriminated against as well as women, but now it is apparent that in 2016 it is somehow acceptable. I’m not the first nor will I be the last to state my opinion on the matter of race relations in our country.
In the relatively short time that I’ve been in my beloved career field I’ve had some amazing opportunities. I’ve worked red carpets, planned some of the most amazing events, and best of all I’ve had the most incredible boss babe entrepreneur as my mentor. I’ve learned so much and been able to flex my skills which I will be forever grateful for, but at the same time there are some things that I’ve been witness to that would blow your mind. You’d think as a (somewhat) successful publicist who gets the job done I’d have the respect of the clients that I work with, but sadly this is false. As a black woman people seem to think that I am incapable of doing my job. Let’s stop right here. It’s 2016. Let me repeat, IT IS 2016. I don’t feel the need to prove myself to anyone; you came to ME for help. I graduated from one of the most prestigious universities with honors. What have you done? And it’s not only me that encounters the disrespect; I have seen my team and those I choose to work with be a victim to the side eye/smart comment/disrespectful overbearing eye. And it needs to stop, but sadly I know this lack of respect is not going to change anytime soon.
In my field there are a plethora of women. In fact I have yet to meet more than a handful of male publicists, but it is still nearly impossible for us to get the respect we deserve. We are still seen as the assistant but never the one running the show. All too often my gender or my race is seen as a hindrance to my level of success. And for those of you saying “stop complaining, your race/gender doesn’t hold you back” you’re right. I’m not going to let it stop me, but that’s not going to keep the rest of the world from trying their hardest to keep me in my place.
With all of the racial tension going on around the world today this is not something that necessarily makes news or needs to; it’s just something that needs to change. The color of my skin does not dictate my work ethic, my skills, or my worth. I’m tired of having to repeatedly prove my value as a contracted employee. If you have such a problem with me, don’t hire me. Trust me it won’t hurt my feelings. In fact, you will save me the time and energy of having to spit a lil’ game or proving you wrong, but best believe I will do both if necessary.
I never thought that in this day and age I would be struggling with the same issues my grandparents faced. It blows my mind how our society has drastically backtracked and set itself back. What’s even worse is that there are people that are OK with this. I truly respect everyone’s opinion but I can’t stand for someone who does not stand for the respect of everyone else.