All Of The Lights

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Every place you vacation has something special about it. When it comes to Las Vegas no matter how many times I visit or how old I get I’m still enamored by all the lights. It makes me feel like anything can happen and is happening at every moment. It brings the same excitement I got as a child at Disneyland.

There are so many lights with a variation of colors and blinking patterns spread all around the strip and city. There are lights inside and outside the hotels along the walls, up, down, and all around. I’m a woman all about the details and the lights awaken my curiosity of how it all comes together. It may sound weird but it’s actually very sobering for me in “Sin City”.

The lights signal that things are moving and shaking whether you see it or not just like life. You may not see things that are happening but there are always things going on. I guess as a nosy journalist I’m always looking between the lines to find the hidden story. The lights do that for me. I know inside every hotel, casino, store, restaurant, and club things are happening and there is a story.

The lights and billboards are constantly moving with advertisements for the various live shows in the Entertainment Capital of the World. People are constantly flying into the city, checking into the hotels, moving, shaking and deals are being made 24/7 hours. People refer to New York City as the city that doesn’t sleep but I beg to differ, Las Vegas NEVER sleeps!

The lights bring about inspiration and beauty in its own way. A beauty created and designed by humans. It has its technicalities and equations that make it work (oh, ya’ll didn’t I was a nerd) and it all comes together for us to experience. They’re a sign of abundance and money to be made, won, or created. Driving (or walking) down the strip puts you in the middle of it all. Each hotel, casino, and light was once just somebody’s vision now made a reality.

The realist in me knows that everything that glitters isn’t gold, but the romanticist in me doesn’t care because I  choose to create my world among the city’s illuminating lights.

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What are your thoughts on the lights? What do you love about Las Vegas? Is there another city full of lights that I need to check out?

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

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Adventures of TheJournalist25: The Venetian

During a recent weekend trip to Las Vegas (Read: How To Vacation With Men) I had the amazing opportunity of staying in two hotels. One of which was The Venetian.

Two days before my scheduled trip I received my usual daily emails from Jetsetter.com when a $120/ night room deal appeared and I just couldn’t pass it up. I had already booked my room for Friday and Saturday with plans to return home on Sunday, but since I was driving I was able to extend my stay an extra day.

I’ve always wanted to stay in The Venetian since I was an adolescent girl visiting my dad during the summer. It just screamed luxury and class with the high-priced boutiques and gondola ride in the middle of the shopping area. (Yes, I’ve always been bougie.) Who could resist a faux France experience such as this. I could only imagine what the rooms were like and finally the opportunity to experience it had arrived.

That Sunday afternoon after checking out of my other hotel and having brunch with my dad I anxiously followed my GPS’ directions to The Venetian. I pulled up around 2:30 pm in my rented Toyota Yaris, sunglasses on because I was still a little hungover, and allowed valet to open my door as I got out to check-in. I was actually surprised by how many people were checking-in on a Sunday, but I rolled with it. I mean it wasn’t like I had a choice. I was beyond ready to lay my pretty little head down on those feather-down hotel pillows, but all in due time.

Once I finally got to the front of the line they couldn’t find my reservation *sigh at Jetsetter*. The lady was very helpful as she went ahead and charged my credit card for the room and gave me directions on getting the charges reversed once I got in contact with Jetsetter. Thank God I’m a baller!

It took her about 15 times of putting in my information for the check-in to be complete. I was patient and she was polite. I couldn’t hold it against her that I wasn’t quite recovered from the night before, and I knew getting an attitude wasn’t going to make things any better.

Finally, she handed over my keys *shrieks inside* tells me my room number, 18-131, and then hands me a map and shows me how to get to the elevator tower. She used a pen to point out the direction on the map to get through the casino and gave me a left right left direction just to get to the elevator. I wasn’t prepared for the walk to the elevator. It was like the universe was playing a sick joke on me for having a good time the night before. Mind you I’ve never stayed in a casino-hotel besides the Mandalay Bay and their elevators are conveniently right before the casino and shops.

The Hallway Before Getting To The Casino

As I began to walk thoughts of passing out crossed my mind, but I mustered up the energy to walk myself and roll my luggage to the elevator. Once, I got there I had to flash my key at security on post, it wasn’t like he was really paying attention anyway.

Finally on the 18th floor! I couldn’t be happier only to realize that 131 is basically at the end of the damn hall. As I rushed down the hall to my room I realized I was hungry and tired, what a combination #shrugs. I was feeling too queezy at brunch to actually eat anything other than a banana and half an omelet. At one point on the way to my room I think I just glided down the hall in my clear no grip jelly sandals. All in all I made it to the room and couldn’t have been happier.

I stepped into a Victorian style, golden, regal studio suite. Maybe five feet away from the entrance was the bathroom on the right with french doors opened. I’ll come back to the bathroom because it was an experience in itself. Directly on the left was a framed full length mirror on the wall. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a nice mirror. Then *wallah* the rest of the room ahead of me.

On the right, the king size bed adorned in white egyptian cotton sheets (not sure what the thread count was) just how I like it with four big fluffy pillows. There was also a red chaise lounge at the foot of the bed. On both sides of the bed were nightstand type shelves joined to the wall. On the left was an iHome alarm clock and the telephone on the right side. I used the iHome to play my Rick Ross station on Pandora and charge my iPhone while I fixed my hair in the bathroom later that afternoon.

The Bed I Slept In

May I add that the electricity outlets were not the easiest to get to let alone use. That was disappointing. Sometimes its the little things.

There was a nice cherrywood dresser directly across from the bed and plasma tv hanging above it.

I couldn’t stop there, even though I wanted to so badly, but I had to check out the sunken living room. Yes! there were two little stairs to walk down. It was cute and sassy like me.

Sunken Living Room

The valour-like L-shaped sectional sofa was a bit dated from the 70s or something, but it blended well with the ambiance of the room. It didn’t look out-of-place. When I sat down on the couch that bad boy sunk in so it wasn’t very comfy for me to relax on.

Just a few feet away was the office area. It continued with the theme of the room with the wooden table and chair. I looked around some more and saw the forbidden snack bar connected to the entertainment center. I was advised during check-in that all the snacks were censored so if I picked anything up it would automatically charge $45 to my room. Whaaaaat in the hell! $45?!!!!!! Yeah so you know I stayed clear of that area.

The Roman curtains and shades were remote-controlled; too bad my window on the 18th floor was facing a wall. Very little lighting got in either way. So much for the nice view. Even with the few negatives about this room I was still enamored by it and felt luxurious. The best way to describe the way I felt is the Straight Talk Android commercial.

I finally scurried to the bathroom to potty and stuff. It was sooo fancy darlings. I’m surprised it didn’t have a bidet. In the corner there was a vanity! The vanity had a mini sewing kit on it (that I should’ve taken now that I think about it. Not that I know how to sew or anything). The floor was marble, there were double sinks and the toilet had its own room (most nice hotels have this set-up). The bath tub and shower were separate. I couldn’t figure out how to turn the flatscreen on in there. Please don’t judge me.

I finally laid down in my cozy bed and it felt good. I couldn’t sleep though because I was hungry too.*sigh* I forced myself to sleep anyway for an hour and a half before meeting up with my friends.

The time flew by while I was out looking at everyone else gamble. When I arrived back at the hotel it was bedtime. I used valet in the parking structure because its closer to the elevator tower. Much more convenient. The Grand Luxe Cafe was very accessible before heading back to my room so I stopped and got carryout even though I’m not a huge fan of their menu.

Inside The Venetian

By the time I fell asleep good my alarm was going off. It was 4:30 a.m. and time for me to get back on the road. I took a nice hot shower. It was one of the best showers I’ve ever taken actually. Got dressed, packed, and rolled out.

Overall, it was nice staying at The Venetian, but I could’ve done without it. I know from my description it sounded bomb, but all the things I described was to be expected from any 4 and 5 star hotel. The Venetian is actually a 5 star hotel, but I would rate it a 4. The main thing I felt it was missing was the personable customer relationship. I felt lost in the sea of other guest after checking in. I wanted more and expected more after the previous hotel I stayed in.

Vegas is a bright, vibrant city, but The Venetian was kind of dark with very little natural light inside the room. The environment very stale. The television was complicated to work and was set up like a wack Netflix and OnDemand mixed, just too damn complicated.  I felt like I had to force myself to relax instead of just relaxing. I’m not pressed to stay there again… at least not if I have to pay for it.

Sometimes it just be like that!

Have you ever been excited about something but wasn’t impressed afterwards? Have you ever stayed at The Venetian? What was your impression? Talk to me.

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

Is It Ever Too Late? Success Over 35

There use to be a time, not too long ago, when if you were of a certain age you could kiss your dreams goodbye; you were counted out of the game. It would be time to cut your losses and settle for a mediocre life with a steady income, especially if you had a family. #Chalked

With the success of a few people lately I now recognize that those days are gone. This is a good thing for those of us who may be feeling like a raisin in the sun from time to time.

Two individuals who have made their dreams very real at their old(er) age are Nene Leakes and 2 Chainz. I mean who would’ve thought?! A 36-year-old (kinda) new rapper and a 40 something year old starting her acting career.

I commend them for even continuing to pursue their dream after 35 years old and up until this point. I was very happy and proud of Nene when I saw her on the cover of Ebony’s 2012 Power 100 issue. Some people may look down upon it because of who she is on Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) or just her past in general, but she represents something bigger than whatever ignorance people associate with her.

She has busted out of the box people try to put her in and has made her dreams come true (to an extent). Some real actors haven’t even been on network television yet and here she is with roles on Glee and The New Normal on two different networks stations thanks to show creator, Ryan Murphy. Murphy created these roles for her and consults with her about it as we saw on the first episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA). #bomb

Lunch with Ryan Murphy

Along with still being on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, she was on Celebrity Apprentice. People may say what they want, but don’t front like you wouldn’t love to work for or with Donald Trump. Don’t lie to me or yourself. That show did wonders for her career’s next step.

If I see her in a Tyler Perry film or on Oprah’s Next Chapter she will officially be an A-list star. Especially since we just watched her try to call TP on the first episode of RHOA and got super played (kinda). I’m going to be watching out for Miss Nene because she’s gonna be working with TP soon, if not already on the low. Mark my words.

Nonetheless, she went from being a college dropout, stripper, reality tv villain with a bad weave and “I’m rich bitch” to being on television with white people. *Gasp* You can’t tell me Jesus doesn’t save and God ain’t good!

I mean who has heard of an actress starting her career after 40?! That is not normal for our society, especially not an African American woman at that.

Then, theirs Mr. 2 Chains aka Hairweave Killer.

We all counted him out after Duffle Bag Boy fizzled out on the charts and radio especially since Lil Wayne carried the song, but wallah everybody is walking around talkin’ bout “it’s mine I spend it” now. At least they were a couple of months ago.

2 Chainz on MTV How I Made It

He seems to be on everybody’s song or their on his. Everywhere I go it’s some kid or car stereo going “2 Chaaaaiiiinnnnsss!” It’s actually starting to be quite annoying, but I’m not gonna front like I don’t know a song or two. His album Based On A T.R.U. Story debuted at Number 1 on the charts its first week.

He’s everywhere!

Granted they still have a way to go when it comes to overall success, but I just want to acknowledge their perseverance to even get to this point at their age. So many people give up and give in its good to see those who kept pressing toward their goals until they reached it.

Are you surprised at their newfound success at their age? Will you fight for your dreams after 35? Speak on it in the comments.

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

Stick, Shift, Clutch

This week I have designated Dream Week, as I will let you in on some of my various dreams, big or small, in hopes to inspire you to continue to dream. I encourage you to discuss your dreams with others and work towards making them reality not just this week, but everyday. Also, lets help one another achieve our dreams too because it can’t be done alone. I’ve being feeling so inspired lately by many memories.

Today’s dream has truly become a connect the dots moment for me, although, the dream hasn’t been achieved yet. I never had an interest in cars growing up until I read this article.

I remember being about 14/15 years old, sitting on the floor in my ‘crazy daisy’ yellow room with my back against the bed doing what I loved… reading magazines. This particular moment I was reading Honey magazine with Gabrielle Union (I believe) on the cover for her lead role in Deliver Us From Eva. Inside was this incredible story by Mitzi Miller about her driving a yellow and black manual Lamborghini for two days. She didn’t know how to drive a stick and she was in New York City. It was awesome!

The entire time I read that one page article I couldn’t help but think 1) I want to learn how to drive a stick-shift when I’m old enough to drive 2) This is what I want to do when I grow up; write about cool stuff like driving a car (mind you I had no interest in writing seriously at this time, it was just something I was good at) 3) This story is so funny.

That one article sparked something in me that I never thought would manifest into what it is today. I grew to love cars after getting my license and want to become an automotive journalist.

I always kept in the back of my mind that I wanted to learn how to drive stick-shift, but that was pretty much it. Once, I learned how to drive (automatic transmission) my love for cars began because I wanted a car and had men around to help me understand them better.  Now, here I am wanting to start an automotive magazine for women.

I can say in the last year I’ve been actively trying to learn how to drive stick shift, but its much harder than it seems, in my world at least. Afterall, it was a task just to learn how to drive an automatic but I digress…

I have been behind the wheel of a stick shift-clutch a couple of times. The first time, my friend and coworker from Chili’s at the time, April, had a Scion XB. She explained to me how the gears worked which was easy for me. Now, when it came time to use the clutch and gas pedals I was completely uncoordinated. It was fun trying to drive around the empty parking lot at midnight unsuccessfully getting it to go very far.

We eventually had to stop because I couldn’t afford to fix her clutch or transmission if I broke it. Did I mention her car was brand new?!

I’ve tried looking on YouTube to learn this coveted skill because you can learn how to do anything on there, except how to be coordinated with your left foot on the clutch and right foot on the gas and brake while driving smh. I tried a few other things but as you probably already realize it all fell through.

My past failures of learning how to drive stick-shift has made me relentless about one day being able to do it. I dream of not only knowing how to drive it but being in Germany driving a Porsche down the road at 125mph, or a Maserati.

Lastly, I got a chance to meet Mitzi Miller in 2007 at the Cover to Cover Annual Magazine Conference held on Howard University’s campus. It was surreal having her sit at my table during lunch and converse with her. I was able to tell her how I still remember that article. I could tell it brought back good memories for her too.

Since then, she has become the editor-in-chief at Jet magazine among many other accomplishments.

Does anyone know where I can learn how to drive a stick-shift in Los Angeles? Have you had a similar experience that you dream about doing or felt inspired to do? Share your dreams.

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

 

More Than…

The Walls I Work In

With all that is going on in the world I truly believe that we live in the best time ever.

The culture has shifted for my generation from doing what is expected (college, “good” job, marriage, and kids) to truly being passionate and happy. Settling for less is no longer an option for those who dare to dream. Living for the sake of living is not cutting it. Our spirits beg and plead for us to do more than the mundane things of the world, and were not putting up much of a fight either. Were going for it.

Yes, there are still a huge amount of people who live day-to-day not necessarily happy. People who try to find joy in material things, greed, their job title do exits, but the numbers seem to be fewer in my world than greater.

Some may argue that I see life this way because of my beliefs and the people I surround myself around… and they are right!

I will never forget my first couple of months at Howard University. Although, it was cold outside, walking around campus the energy there sparked my spirit with more fire. I was finally around people who were not only like-minded, but dreamed bigger than me… and made it happen. Life was no longer about the right and wrong answer (to a certain extent) but about thinking. Imagining a world and creating it.

The greatest thing I could ever learn that semester is that I didn’t have to wait until “I grew up”  to do what I wanted but that the time is now. I was very much inspired although I didn’t act on it at the time.

As I sit in my mother’s house now in the dining room at the evergreen wooden table with matching chairs, while having $2.27 in my bank accounts combined I can honestly say I never felt better. I enjoy what I do. I don’t feel like a slave to the dollar (don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind getting some more money!).

Working all the jobs and internships I’ve had in the past I never felt the way I feel at this table everyday writing; doing what I love. I don’t take this moment for granted at all because I still remember how it felt to get up every morning to do something I wasn’t interested in for a paycheck that still couldn’t pay all my bills and try to smile. My soul felt like it was dying everyday. The walls felt like they were closing in on me in those offices (thank God for windows!). All my energy for doing what I loved was depleted by the end of the day. And the cycle continued week after week.

One thing that remained constant were my dreams. They only got bigger and bigger.

I meet new people constantly who are going after their dreams. Some still have to work the 9-5, and some decided not to. Everyone’s story is seemingly different. All I know for sure is that no matter what anyone says I’m doing what feels right. I hope that you’re doing what feels right for you too.

I feel like our generation is at a point where we don’t want to wait until were 40 years old or older to take risk. We don’t want to wait that long to truly feel happy. We understand that our spiritual well-being is important now, no matter what religion we subscribe to. There is something in the universe greater than us and the shallow things of this world.

Are you doing what you love and are passionate about? What do you dream of doing? What inspires you? Comment!

-TheJournalist25 xoxo