Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Single in Sin City

Desert Dating Brings the Rain

Prior to moving to Las Vegas, I was in a relationship. Things seemed to be going well . . . until they suddenly weren’t! I’m sure there were many things that contributed to the demise of our relationship. The difference in time zone was difficult enough. Also, I’ve come to realize that trying to maintain a relationship when developing a new career in a 24/7 city and being a graduate student is near impossible if that person doesn’t understand your position or trust you. When it finally ended, I had extra time for some more selfish ‘me time’ and even more energy for work.

After several weeks of being single, my new friends began encouraging me to date. Dating in Las Vegas seemed like a ridiculous idea considering in this small town, there are only 2 million residents. That’s pretty small considering the 40 million tourists that visit throughout the year. Therefore the chances of meeting some nice local guy were not very high. My friends suggested a few nice places to meet nice guys and even tried to set me up on a blind date. My colleagues even invited me to bars and clubs with them because they were on the man hunt. Honestly, dating is NOT a priority right now and I don’t think you can meet ‘Mr. Right’ in a bar or night club. Needless to say, all of their suggestions were met with a quick, NO THANKS!

When I Googled ‘Dating in Las Vegas’ a plethora of recommendations appeared including local match making services (It’s Just Lunch) and tips from some recognizable companies like eHarmony and Match.com. Seconds after reading the lists of websites, I decided this was not the route I wanted to go. I’d consider a blind date at a Starbucks before I take my chances with online dating. However, before I closed my browser, I decided to humor myself with some dating tips.

Although most of these tips are just plain common sense, here’s a look at eHarmony’s Top 10 Guide to dating in Las Vegas (sprinkled with my comments of course).
1.       Live Like A LocalThat makes sense
2.       Dress for the weatherDuh! Contrary to popular belief, wearing flashy garments in Las Vegas is NOT attractive.

3.       Avoid Bars, especially along The StripThis is exactly what I told my co-workers!
4.       Go to casinos frequented by localsIsn’t this similar to a bar setting?
5.       Take a Hike
6.       Attend an outdoor concertNice casual setting
7.       Go Boating
8.       Explore the Vegas Arts District
9.       Attend First Fridays at the Arts DistrictLots of networking opportunities here
10.   Find Your SexyI’m curious as to why having confidence in yourself isn’t listed as #1

In regards to the dating tips above, I think I’ll let my experience guide me should I decide to date in Las Vegas. Some tips are interesting and others just seem stupid. In any event, I got a really good laugh while reading it.

My non-dating phase may feel like a storm to others, but for me its a start to new beginnings. Sunshine always appears after the rain. Being single in Sin City is the best thing right now (at least for me it is).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Now the fun begins

Throughout the first 90 days on the job, my coworkers constantly asked if I was overwhelmed and encouraged me NOT to stay in the office too late. They would say, “Run while you can Alisha. The real work starts after your probation.” I never doubted them. The job, the responsibilities and the expectations are everything they said it would be. It wasn’t until yesterday when I looked at my calendar that reality hit. When you read this list, it may sound like I’m complaining or bragging. I think it’s a healthy balance of both.

My Week In Review

Monday – Wu-Tang Concert at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay
Meet and greet with the members of the band. Received backstage passes for the show. PERK!

Tuesday – Meet the Press
I met the Managing Editor and Staff Writers of Greenspun Media Group. During the event, I successfully pitched two stories and confirmed a photo shoot and interview for one of my clients. NICE!

Wednesday – Photo Shoot
Staffed interview and photo shoot with Las Vegas Magazine and a local celebrity chef. Article is expected to be published in September. STAY TUNED!

Thursday – New Employee Lunch with VP
The new public relations coordinators and I were invited to lunch with the Vice President of our department. One word to describe the meeting; INTERESTING!

Friday – Powerful Negotiation Skills
For Las Vegas Restaurant Week, I secured web and radio promotions for our participating restaurants for two weeks. Each web and radio mention is valued at $5000 and $3750 respectively. This opportunity cost my clients next to nothing. WINNING!

Drained from this week’s activities and excited to relax I started to pack up and shut down my computer. Visions of laying by the pool all weekend put a smile on my face. Then I look down at my blackberry to see a message from my supervisor that said, “You’re on-call as I will need your help this weekend.” DAMN!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Backstage Pass

The view from miX at Mandalay Bay
Living in Las Vegas and working in public relations does have its perks. Considering all of the activities from dining to entertainment there is plenty to choose from. However, nothing beats getting an unexpected phone call that gets you backstage passes to a concert on a Monday night. Normally, I don’t play or stay out late on work nights. However, this was one opportunity that I was not going to pass on.
On August 22, Wu-Tang members Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and rap duo Mobb Deep performed at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. I’ve seen Wu-Tang perform before, most recently in Atlanta, Georgia in December 2010. Each show revisits a decade of dopeness with amazing performances. Each show is different and better than the last. With or without backstage passes, I was guaranteed to have good time.
Prior to attending the event, I met some friends for a few cocktails at miX Lounge in Mandalay Bay. This swanky lounge is quiet with a great view of The Strip. The atmosphere was the exact opposite of what was waiting downstairs at The House of Blues.
The line to get into the House of Blues was wrapped around the casino floor. Thankfully my backstage passes allowed me to cut the line.
The fans that arrived to support the artists were just as interesting as the show.  Most fans showed up in their best outfits, maybe a Wu-Tang  t-shirt. One fan bought $200 worth of Wu-Tang paraphernalia. Another fan had a not so subtle tribute to the band with several tattoos of Wu-Tang members on his chest, arms and legs. Now, that is dedication.
Backstage View
Rap duo Mobb Deep and MC Supernatural, who once held the world record for the longest continuous freestyle rap (9 hours), opened the show. Once Raekwon and Ghostface Killah hit the stage, fans were taken on a journey through hip-hop history that went on for several hours.  
Unfortunately, I was not able to stay until the end of the show. I needed enough sleep to continue running The Strip. After all, it was only Monday and I had a full week of meetings and more events.

Friday, August 19, 2011

90+ Days Later . . . Now what?!

The first three months of my new job have gone very well. I have worked on several major projects including my current assignment, publicizing our restaurants’ participation in Las Vegas Restaurant Week. I successfully pitched new menu items for Japonais and had several journalists experience the restaurant and write awesome reviews. Since completing my probationary period, my first thought was, now what? I’ve been performing well. Now what? The first ninety days were exciting. How can I avoid getting bored on the job? How do I keep making a great impression?

I decided to do some research on Google and a few other sites. Between advice from my mentors, on the job experience and the a few internet articles, I compiled my own mini survival list.

Blackberries and Meetings don’t mix
It’s obvious that when you’re in a meeting your phone should not be a distraction. When I started working, I noticed that all of my colleagues brought their blackberries to meetings. In fact we’re expected to bring them. Each were placed face up so any incoming email could be seen. Our workday is based on deadlines so it’s important to keep an eye on our phones. However, don’t touch your phone too much because it gives the impression that you’re not paying attention. I learned this the hard way. Although I did not reply to any emails or take any calls, the mere fact that I placed my hand on my phone caused a few associates to give me a disapproving stare.

Don’t ignore your co-workers
Sure you’re tired of hearing about your co-workers drama filled relationship. In fact, everyone in the office is over it. As much as it hurts, you must listen or at least show them that you’re paying attention. Letting your eyes swerve to your computer screen can cause your co-worker to resent you in the long run. It’s important not to burn bridges.

You brought that for lunch . . . seriously?
This may seem silly but we are all guilty of it. If you’re going to eat in the office, do not bring food that is going to have your unsuspecting co-workers gagging from the smell. The hoagie with onions may have seemed like a great idea. However, onions can smell like a big armpit. What you’re enjoying and what your co-workers smell is very different. Be considerate.

No matter how stupid you think it is . . . you have to participate

Every company offers fun department activities and contests to build moral and strengthen skills. Some of these things may even seem very silly. Personally, I believe some of these contests are designed to create more work. It doesn’t matter. Suck it up and participate.

Taken individually some of these infractions seem minor. However, it is important to be mindful of your behavior in the work place. After all, you would not want any of the above to be the reason you’re not considered for a promotion.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vegas Minute Notes

My Bedazzled Desk

Happy 90 Days!!!
It’s official. Today, August 16, 2011 marks my 90th day at my new job. YAY! To celebrate this momentous occasion, my co-workers decided to bedazzle my desk with gems, streamers and a big card. It feels good to be welcomed. I hope someone made cookies or something. My co-workers and I can always find an excuse to have a party. After all, today is National Rum Day. I believe drinks are in order . . . after work of course.

Weekend Recap
In commemoration of settling into my Las Vegas life, I attempted ‘living like a local.’ To help with my first weekend of fun, a few new friends introduced me to some great hangouts off The Strip. Who knew life existed outside of the two mile long entertainment sandbox? In addition to visiting my favorite restaurant, Japonais, my friends and I enjoyed a day of shopping and a movie at
Town Square
, a popular locals’ (and tourists) hangout. This may seem like a ‘regular’ weekend but it was just enough to get my feet wet. Future weekend adventures will include a trip to the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, ‘Toptional’pool day clubs, like Moorea Beach at Mandalay Bay or Bare at The Mirage and more. Before any of these adventures can happen, I must find a new salon and spa.

Operation Furniture
My dream living room from IKEA
Prior to completing my 90 days at work, I refused to furnish my entire apartment. Now, it’s time to really make my apartment feel like a home. The last three months, I have had a bed and a simple dining room table to complete class work and enjoy a meal (when I decide to go grocery shopping). Both were purchased from IKEA in Burbank, California, which is a four-drive from my apartment. Rather than pay the ridiculous $200 delivery fee, a friend and I spent $60 on gas (roundtrip) and packed what we could into my car. Did you know that, if carefully done, you can fit a king sized bed and dining room table in a Honda Civic? Well you can! My goal is to find a nice yet inexpensive living room set before my work and school schedule consumes my life again. It would be nice to find something in Las Vegas but if I can’t I’ll be on the road to California again. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vegas Weekend

In my post last week, I bragged how great the Northeast is and I still believe that. However, Las Vegas offers an eclectic mix of fun and adventures. From fine dining to hiking, you can create a different and fun agenda every weekend.

August 16, 2011 will mark 90-days in Las Vegas and its time for me to start living like a local. After all, Las Vegas will be my new home for awhile. Here’s a look at some of the new restaurants that I will enjoy as a resident of Nevada this weekend.

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Taste Italy!
Discover Italy at Onda Ristorante & Wine Lounge is a culinary exploration through the regions of Italy. Each month Onda will feature an innovation three-course prix fixe menu and with an option to add an unlimited wine pairing. Each new menu will highlight a new region of Italy. This month, Calabria will be featured. I look forward to trying the Grilled Whole Fish and Pasta Fusilli. Read more on this fun activity here.

Japanese dinner and a show anyone?
Japonais, a personal favorite of mine, now offers amazing new menu items, such as Sweet Shrimp, Diver Scallops and Smoked Kobe at its Robata Grill. Guests can gather around the Robata bar and watch as chefs prepare skewered food over a tradition charcoal grill. This ancient style of cooking is known as “Robata Yaki.” Japonais has the only robata grill in town where you will get a front-row seat to see the action. Here is a recent article about Japonais which was published in Las Vegas Weekly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best of the East in Las Vegas

Since arriving in Las Vegas, I have maintained that this two mile strip of entertainment is nothing but an impersonation of every other great city. Walking down The Strip you can travel to Paris, New York, Egypt (Luxor Hotel & Casino) and back. All of their clubs and restaurants in this sandbox are a replica of something great from another city, especially cities in the Northeast. I always tell my co-workers that Las Vegas copied a lot of things from the New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia regions. We have the best burgers! We have the best cheese steaks! Pizza! Everything! I do like my new home in Las Vegas but some things back home just can’t be redone, like food. Maybe it’s the Jersey in me. Or maybe I’m just right. 

After spending three hours photographing a milkshake at BLT Burger, located in The Mirage, for a publication, Desert Companion, I decided to try the food and see what all the hype was about. Wow! I was blown away. These burgers could beat any Five Guys Burgers, every other burger place on The Strip and probably compete with the best places in the Northeast.

Desert Companion - July 2011
BLT's Grandma's Treat
Photo Credit: Sabin Or
My favorite is the Veggie Falafel Burger with a side of Fried Pickles and their signature spiked milkshake, Grandma’s Treat. The best part was that the meal was inexpensive. If you’re going to buy to burger on The Strip, you must go to BLT Burger. Finally! I found a place that reminds me of the great dining back home.

The restaurant d├ęcor may reflect the natural Nevada landscape and glamour of Las Vegas but the food is a perfect tribute to the best places found back home. Why is that? Like many of the chefs and restaurants in Las Vegas, they all started back East. The executive chef/partner of BLT Burger, responsible for the BLT brand, opened his first restaurants in New York and brought his talents to the west. Guess I was right.