A Pretty Face with Nothing to Back it up is Null and Void

Purposefully Pretty You Me NYC“A pretty face with nothing to back it up is null and void”, according to PurposefullyPretty Inc. a nonprofit organization seeking to reach, teach and inspire young women to identify and pursue their purpose in life. Their goal is to teach them about beauty and the importance of having a purpose, by helping them become the inspirational and determined individuals they are destined to be.

Like any other teenager, many deal with insecurities and obstacles in their life.  PurposefullyPretty founder, Diamond Craig and the PP team are women who have struggled with some to many of the same issues that young women face today.  It is their desire to mentor, guide and inspire them to reach their personal and professional goals as well as overcome the various struggles that confront them.

Purposefully Pretty You Me NYC

PurposefullyPretty implements its mission through mentorships, community service, empowerment events, and the #IAmPurposefullyPretty workshop series. Through this workshop series, the PurposefullyPretty team travels to schools, libraries and other organizations that cater to young women; providing all the tools that they need to become the next generation of leaders and dedicated women.  This workshop series gears itself towards young women between the ages of 11-18; to help them achieve their confidence and character necessary to pursue their goals and to acquire the tools needed.  Therefore, by the end of the series, they have a better understanding of what their purpose is.

Conclusion

Some of the workshops apart from this series include ‘Identifying My Purpose’, ‘Radical Self Love’ ‘Social Media’, ‘Conflict Resolution’ and a host of others.  They can also join the PurposefullyPretty organization, by becoming a registered member.  Members benefit by establishing relationships and networking with all of its members.  Purposefully Pretty has such great opportunities from prom makeover contest to summer leadership programs.  They also collaborate with other organizations to focus on what young women are interested in!

A Leader for the People of The People

Image Courtesy of Vulture.com

When the news of Nipsey Hussle’s murder broke, I couldn’t believe it. I was honestly a little confused and it took a while to understand. Looking at all the social media, comparing his death to Tupac’s. I didn’t really get it but now I do. It does feel the same in a lot of ways emotionally. Even people who have never heard of him were affected by his death.

I was in the nail shop the other day as the conversation came up between a few customers. Everyone had nothing but amazing things to say. I remember hearing about the rapper who sold the first 1000 copies of his mixtape for 100.00 and made over 100,000.  Hussle was one of those rappers who were on the scene but not in it. He came up around the blue-collar rap.  He was part of the XXL freshman class with the likes of Freddie Gibbs, Jay Rock and Wiz Khalifah. 

You could tell he wasn’t in it for the perks of rap.  He was using his voice to teach a new message, by showing a different side of rap, the entrepreneur side and the mental state. Nipsey was the first rapper I heard talk about investing and buying land. He recognized the value in the message and what it would mean for his neighborhood and others. Shortly after he took a trip to Africa, he made it his mission to provide, uplift and invest in the community.

He was one of those guys that could go into any neighborhood and be good anywhere. Nipsey had that kind of respect and gave that same kind of respect in return. He knew and recognized the fact, that there are Crenshaws everywhere all over the world.  I don’t know why but when you lose someone in the Hip Hop community especially in the Black community, it feels too close to home.  The fear for black men in this country is as real as fuck.  It’s too easy to become a stain on the sidewalk always in arm’s length of that terrible phone call. It’s one of my biggest fears and I don’t feel alone on that.

With this tragedy, he brought people together and sheds light on a topic that fell upon deaf ears unless you were vegan or a conspiracy theorist.  At the time of his death, he was promoting and working on a documentary about the New York Trial in which Dr. Sebi won against The Attorney General of New York.  Dr. Sebi was being sued for not having a license to practice after advertising his cures of multiple diseases including Cancer and AIDS in 1988. He proved that you didn’t need medicine; holistic, natural remedies and a change in diet is the cure and of course, this didn’t sit well with the medical field. He brought attention to the sad truth, there’s more money in the disease than the cure.

Conclusion

I would like to thank Ermias Joseph Asghedom A.K.A Nipsey Hussle for his contributions to Hip Hop, his community and community’s worldwide. A man who truly understood his purpose and voice. A man for the people, of the people. May his soul Rest In Peace 

Shortstack: Breaking the Rules and Setting New Standards

They go by the slogan “Breaking The Rules and Setting New Standards.”  Starting out as a small fashion show straight to a mission, Shortstack is a nonprofit modeling agency for young teenage girls.  Their objective is to create opportunities for the teens, by encouraging them to embrace their inner and outer selves and helping to achieve their aspirations of becoming a model.  According to program directors, Patricia Budhan and Frannelys Frias “Shortstack is not just a modeling program, it’s also a self-esteem program. We want to help girls overcome their struggles.” This nonprofit program is a space for young girls to blossom into young women. It is also a sisterhood where anyone can reach out for advice or have a shoulder to lean on.

Throughout the program, the agency renders life lessons such as time management, networking, and how to communicate with others. Many have come out of this program finding their lifetime friend. Together the girls go through auditions, workshops, and segments, while simultaneously creating a bond with each other. Hal Eisenberg is the CEO of Windows of Opportunity Inc., which is also the parent umbrella that Shortstack 501©(3) is under.  Eisenberg, the Executive Director of Shortstack, Tracy Mangan Mignone, along with program directors Patricia Maria and Frannelys Frias steady the course of the curriculum.  Considering it takes about nine months to prepare the girls for the runway show, the Shortstack team works very hard to provide the models with their outfits, photo-shoots, sponsors, the production overall and the audience. 
As people hear the word about Shortstack, this leads to a conversation.  According to Tracy Mangan Mignone “We walked through Roosevelt Field mall and sent out packets giving people a chance to see their clothing on our runway.” As the years went by, it was easy for people to reach out and get their clothing line into the fashion show.

Conclusion

Shortstack is the vessel that advises a young girl on how to use the power of confidence to their advantage.  They want the best for these teens by showing them, they can be whatever they want to be in life.  They still continue their mission for many that were in the program.  Once a Shortstack always a Shortstack. We wish much-continued success with their mission in helping young girls build their confidence and self-esteem.

Getting to Know ToniSteelz

Toni Steelz You Me NYCToniSteelz, Brooklyn born and raised, adult-contemporary hip-hop artist has been performing ever since she was a kid.  Considering she comes from a long line of performers in her family, performing comes naturally to her.  As busy as she is, she took a few moments out of her day to allow You Me NYC to get to know a little more about her.

A day for Toni starts with an early rise and a prayer.  Then she lets the dog out to take care of his business.  Next, she dedicates an hour or two to social media and emails.  Then breakfast, yoga to follow and then she takes a walk around the neighborhood to prepare for the day and kick off her creative flow.

Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Queen Latifah are her musical inspirations when it comes to creating her work.  Her process requires meditation, water, snacks, trees, a pen, paper and space.  Toni Collaborates with other artists as well and finds the process to be a bit more simple.  According to Toni, it’s easier to bounce ideas off of someone else.  She will definitely work with other artists in the future.

Toni loves her work, she loves to create, meet new people and adores her fans.  When her fans reach out she reaches back.  She can’t acknowledge all of her fans, but she does try her best.  She does, however, dislike the backhandedness and the judgments that come with the territory in this industry.  However, when asked if she ever thought about leaving the performing arts and starting a new career, she replied with an emphatic “No”.  Hence why she involves herself with other aspects of the industry such as acting, writing and producing.  She is also considering other genres, like, RnB/Soul and fake singing(jokingly) as well.

With all that is going on in her life, we asked if she ever has time for herself and her response, “I make time for myself”.  Unfortunately, she learned that the hard way, after she was hospitalized for dehydration.  Toni relaxes by going to theme parks, comedy shows, traveling, hanging out, enjoying a nice bowl of pasta(her favorite food), watching television(The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is her favorite show) and occasionally takes a “hit” of “weed”.

Toni Steelz You Me NYCConclusion

Be consistent, relentless, focused and always remember to have fun which is her advice to anyone trying to get into the game.  According to Steelz, “ToniSteelz” is the future and she plans on bringing her lady friends with her.  She sees herself creating and starring in films along with a few other business ventures.  Toni is traveling on a long road and she is excited to see where it brings her.  We at You Me NYC are delighted to be a part of that journey.

 

Check out ToniSteelz’s “Welcome to my Hood” and share with all you know.

Fashion Face Palms…

Am I the only one that finds it amazing how an article of clothing can take you from feeling like a four to feeling like that fashion ten you want to be?  It’s something that’s not just vain, but something that you can take to boost your self- confidence and help you become the best version of you.

2019 so far has been pretty questionable in the fashion field.  I mean, do people want to feel like a four?  Here are a couple of fashion fails thus far.

Number 1, Kim Kardashian West, February 25th

In late February, the style mogul was seen in Montreal entering the “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine arts on a Monday night.  Now, Kim is known for pushing the lines in fashion and I too am willing to sacrifice comfortability for the sake of an outfit, but sis… It was 10 degrees that night in Montreal.  Not only does she look like she belongs in Xena: Warrior Princess, but she was freezing while at it.  I think- take the armor away and maybe add something else, like a nice bustier, the outfit would have been fine.  And on top of that, she’s wearing the same see-through Yeezy pumps she’s been wearing for the last 2 years.  Your man is questionable, Kim.

Number 2, Kristen Stewart, January 22nd

Kristen Stewart attended the Chanel Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019 in Paris.  First of all, you’re in Paris, the fashion capital of the world.  You know how many people go to Paris just to look cute and do it for the ‘glam?  It’s not the clothes that are ugly, per se.  Chanel can do no wrong in my eyes (for obvious reasons), but it’s the way she put it together.  First of all, Kristen looks like Edward from Twilight.  The blazer, with gold/ copper accents, could have been better suited with black pants, a skirt, hell, wear the blazer as a dress, but she decided to be a four and wear it with some ugly ass copper pants.  On top of that, the garnish on the dish were some Doc Martens.  Why!  Mr. Karl Lagerfeld did not so gracefully hold down the House of Chanel for 35 years for you to wear this to his last finale.

 

Number 3, Robert Pattinson, January 18th

It’s a pure coincidence that the same week we mention Kristen as worst dressed, her ex-now-twin shows up trying to take the title.  Again, it’s not the clothes, he’s just mad extra.  Pattinson was seen stepping out for Dior Homme’s Winter 2019 Men’s Show.  It looks like he’s wearing a regular khaki suit with the same colored leather jacket.  That already is a no… so tacky!  On top of that, he added an earthy toned, brownish peacoat and scarf to hide the tackiness.  The problem is, well, he just looks homeless… and you’re trying too much sir, and it shows.

Number 4, Kat Graham, January 23rd

She has pillows for arms people!  I love a blunt shoulder and shoulder pads, but she looks like someone who’s been working their biceps their entire life.  Kat Graham attended the Jean-Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring Show looking like a disco ball with stick figure legs.  She paired this shit with a bob and a vampy lip.  The bob reminds me of Edna Mode from The Incredibles, who I think is totally cool by the way.  The lips made her already small lips look like a simple dash like line from afar.  COME ON!

Number 5, Emma Stone, January 5th

This one kind of hurts, because I like Emma, I really do.  I also love Fendi, but that dress is fucking ugly.  Yeah, I said it!  And those shoes!  I want to puke.  Emma was seen at the BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party in a Fendi… dress thing.  She paired the look with a Louis Vuitton clutch and I already mentioned the shoes.  This is basically a dress that has orange birds printed all over it.  It looks like she was going for a Thanksgiving kind of theme.  The dress also has ridges on it, which looked horrible, but I think that was used to distract the eye from the ugly print.  To complete this “look” she paired it with orange makeup.  In my opinion, this just clashed with the look.  I don’t like anything about it, the design, how she paired it, the length is awkward, and it’s just a big no from me.

Number 6, Jenna Coleman, January 10th

At least she looks cozy… And what’s up with the bottom half of this ensemble?  It looks like some kind of plastic table cloth which also splits.  Jenna Coleman attended the screening of The Cry when she wore this.  I guess because it was a screening, she figured it’d be dark and nobody would notice that she doubled a table cloth as a skirt.  This is especially heartbreaking because she is a well- dressed woman.  She usually looks amazing and she’s graced many magazine covers, including Harper’s Bazaar.

Number 7, Andrea Echeverri, February 10th

Andrea Echeverri attended this year’s Grammy Awards dressed up as the award herself.  The Grammy’s, aside from being probably the biggest accolade a musician can receive, is also an opportunity to showcase your inner fashionista.  She probably knew she wasn’t going to receive the award and wanted to go home with it anyway.

 

I can only hope that 2019 brings us more looks.  I get it, you want to be creative and I guess for any celebrity, all press is good press.  All I have to say is, “where is Rihanna?”

Hip Hop Started out in the Heart

Hearing the theme music to Wayne’s Brother’s play for the first time changed my life forever. Electric Relaxation by the Hometown Heroes, A Tribe Called Quest. I guess you can say that’s when I decided to make it official with Hip Hop. No doubt about it, I was in love and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it. I’ve had crushes before but nothing like this, nothing I could put into words. Just a feeling I couldn’t and didn’t want to describe. Kind of like the first time you have great sex. A Tribe Called Quest You Me NYCA Tribe Called Quest in the early days. From left to right,
Jarobi White, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Phife Dawg.
Ernie Paniccioli/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

That’s what Hip Hop is to me, a feeling with such a vast everlasting stamp on this world. Too much to box in but just enough to recognize. However with any and everything, we need reasons to classify and define. If it doesn’t fall into the guidelines regulated by individuals not even responsible for its creation; it’s seen as blasphemy and should be punishable by law. Funny, I haven’t been on this earth as long as most people, however, I have never heard anyone debate so passionately about who’s the best country singer. Especially when it comes to content. There’s a certain kind of freedom allowed in other genres that I don’t see in Hip Hop. It’s always who did it first, who’s the king or queen? Who’s the strongest lyrically? No real room for growth, variety or inclusivity. Unless it’s being used for advertising purposes, then the lanes and streams are endless.  

Hip hop tends to get treated like the troublesome teenager with talent and promise that needs to be disciplined and watched constantly. That one kid all the students love and the teachers can’t stand. The kid with straight A’s who lived in detention really out of boredom unless you needed to show diversity on campus. Hip Hop is almost 40 years old and should be treated as such including the artists who continue to strive and create in this genre. 

I love hip hop but I hate having discussions about it sometimes. If you say more quote on quote conscious artists like Kendrick and J Cole then you get some form of respect but if you say Migos or Kodak then your musical choices are in question when there’s room for everyone to have a seat at the table. Like for BET to trash Nicki Minaj while congratulating Cardi B on her Grammy was disappointing. I’m actually not a fan of either personally but both women worked hard, created their lane and succeeded in it. That’s what Hip Hop is all about. Take out the competition, find the beauty in that. Get back to the heart.  

Metro Manga

People draw inspiration from pretty much anything these days.  Whether you are walking around Central Park, strolling down Eastern Parkway, or staring out a window.  Manga artist Sophocles Plokamakis, founder of “Sophocles Art” and coiner of the term and genre “Metro Manga” finds his visions in the Subways of New York City.  Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Peter Frz:    What genre do you consider your art to be?
Sophocles:  I create comics in the subway which I call Metro Manga because they are inspired by Japanese comics and read from right to left. When I paint Metro Manga on canvas, I’d say that my work is a mixture of Manga and Pop Art. I used to paint in a photo-realistic style, but I much prefer impressionism painting and pop art.

Peter Frz:    Where are you originally from and where are you currently residing and how long?  
Sophocles:  I’m from Astoria, NY a very Greek city in Queens and I live here now for about 8 years but I’ve been in and out of Astoria my whole life. I love how it’s a great mixture of the city and the suburbs. 

Peter Frz:    What is your creative process like and what tools do you use to harness your creativity then transpose to the canvas?
Sophocles: 
 I use a portable clipboard as a drawing pad that holds all my paper and Japanese Kuretake Fude pens (calligraphy brush-pens), sharpies and Japanese animation red and blue color pencils. Sometimes I draw on black paper, usually black card stock. I make the majority of my art in the subway drawing real people on the spot. When I step into the subway, as I’m waiting for my train, I make a composition of Manga Panels starting from right to left. I record my journey from what stop and train I started with so that my readers can see where I was that day. Each panel in manga records a moment in time and I want my Metro Manga to be my daily visual ongoing comic strip, that people can look back on many years from now, like old newspapers as a moment in the history of art. 
Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Sometimes I color my paper manga with Copic sketch markers and more recently I’ve taken them to the next level by making large acrylic paintings of the comic pages that I made in the comic. For my paintings, I use Copic brush pens on top of acrylic paint on the canvas.

Peter Frz:   How has your style changed over the years? 
Sophocles: I started making art when I was 3. It started out very abstract, drawing comic, video game and cartoon characters with accurate colors and costumes but in an extremely simple style. The Heroes all had giant smiles and the villain’s big frowns. I’ve been told by art teachers my whole life that I had good observational skills so as time went on my fan art became more precise, subtle and detailed, but I’ve always been a fan of the more abstract simple design of characters in Japanese cartoons and comics. It was Shonen Jump, a Manga magazine translated into English from Japan that changed my life. At SVA I learned fundamental drawing, painting and sculpting skills and was exposed to different kinds of art I had never looked at before and was encouraged to experiment with different genres of art. I love that school and the effect it had on my journey through the art world.

Today my characters have detail that sets them all apart from one another but they are still simple. I use as few lines as possible to suggest the people of the Subways of the world like an Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodcut print) artist or a Sumi-e (Japanese ink painting) artist. I’m always open to my style constantly evolving and exploring new territory as an artist, which I think is vital if you are to keep growing and coming up with new pieces that have an impact.

Peter Frz:   What do you believe is a key element in creating a good work? 
Sophocles: The key element in making great work is to do what you love. I learned this from my favorite teacher Keith Mayerson in our Principles of Cartooning class in my sophomore year at SVA. Once you find a subject that inspires you the rest is easy because I get overwhelmed by the urge to create something new every time I travel on the Subway. The subway is my main studio so you need to find what moves you and gets you painting, drawing, sculpting, making collages, prints, or even in the other arts, which subject(s) inspire you to create a new song, dance, etc. 

Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Peter Frz:   What lead you to make art a career and was there any adversity from family or friends regarding your decision?
Sophocles: It was my love for cartoons, Manga, comics, video games, museums, and galleries. There was a lot of adversity from family and friends regarding my decision to be a pro artist and art teacher especially those closest to me. You have to push through that, if you are serious about being a pro artist, you got to show your art to people in galleries, the subway, parks, shows and network with artists, curators, and collectors so you can attract more opportunities through other people. 

Peter Frz:   Who or what are your biggest influences?
Sophocles: My biggest influences are Akira Toriyama (Creator of Dragonball and Doctor Slump) and Osamu Tezuka (The God of Manga and creator of Astro Boy) Toriyama’s amazing draftsmanship in Doctor Slump and his action-packed storytelling in DBZ and Tezuka’s Genius level storytelling made me want to make comics, art, cartoons and animated tv series for my whole life. Another huge influence on my life was traveling to Japan twice and visiting all the best manga museums, galleries and shows like the world of Dragonball in Nagoya, and the Osamu Tezuka museum in Takarazuka. That trip changed my life and I began to focus all my energy toward making comics on the subway as opposed to just drawing sketches of the passengers before that. Also, the character Goku always inspired me to want to keep making art and to see just how skilled I could become.

Peter Frz:   What are some of the challenges you face while you are creating?
Sophocles: It’s easier for me to draw in public and make comics on the go than at home. At home sometimes I get distracted. When I’m on the subway there’s always someone who inspires me to make art every time I commute on the trains. A challenge I face when drawing in the subway is when someone gets up and leaves the train before I’m finished drawing them.  However, I solve the problem by playing a drawing game I call MR. Potato Head. I’ll piece together a character in my Metro Manga by drawing other people’s features or clothing onto the original person that I drew so that I am still drawing from life and not inventing things. I find that when I draw from life or quality photo references my drawings look more accurate and polished than when I draw from my head.

Peter Frz:   Is Sophocles Art your first venture and were there any other ventures before Sophocles Art?
Sophocles: 
My business name used to be Sopho Toons (short for Sophocles’ Cartoons) but I changed it to Sophocles Art so people would know the name behind the work. 

Sophocles Art You Me NYC

Peter Frz:   What’s been your greatest artistic success?
Sophocles: I’ve had lots of success in my journey as an artist but I have to say Decemberfest and the other shows I curated at ONE ART SPACE in Tribeca, NYC is my greatest accomplishment. Decemberfest was a 70-artist group show that I curated with my business partner and fellow curator Oriel Ceballos on December 1st 2018. We had 1000+ people come to see the show in only a 3-hour span. There were lines around the corner of the block to get into the show. I have never seen anything like that in all the shows I’ve been a featured artist in, as well as shows in the Chelsea galleries even for big-name artists from the past. I put my all into that show and the results were a testament to the power of GREAT ART and how it inspires a community and the world. 

Peter Frz:   What is next on the horizon for Sophocles Art?
Sophocles: I make a ritual of writing my top 10-20 goals for the year before the new year starts. For 2019 I have 5 more shows to curate at One Art Space. The next one is on April 5-6. Send me a DM if you’d like to learn more on Instagram @sophocles.art. I also want to self-publish 5 books this year featuring my subway art, a children’s book and a look book for my animated TV series that I’m working on.

Sophocles Art Nas You Me NYC

Peter Frz:   Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Sophocles: In the next five years I see myself earning the money selling my books, art and to travel to all the major cities in the world that have subways and making METRO MANGA a Global project sort of like how Brandon Stanton (HONY) has taken his camera to other parts of the world, however my stories are fictional to give me the freedom of what to write. I see myself exhibiting in NY Comic Con and San Diego Con as well as cons and galleries around the world. I plan to make volumes of books of my travels through the subway systems of the world and drawing on location in other countries as well as places in the U.S.  

Conclusion

Sophocles Art, an innovator in such a crowded, demanding, and high-pressure field, delivers exceptional results and shows that in a craft like this, there is always room for exciting new ideas.  As long as New York City has its subways and urban settings we look forward to seeing what else this dynamic artist brings to the imaginative table of art.

Sophocles Art You Me NYC

  

 

Shit, if You Can Make it Here, You Can Make it Anywhere!

If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. People have always used this as a coping mechanism when the city overwhelms you. But what about the people who have been here their whole lives? What are our mechanisms? The ones that survived what people couldn’t do for six months. What are our words of encouragement to keep going? 

New York is advertised as the fun, loud, entertaining city that never sleeps, filled with assholes too caught up in the hustle and bustle to say hello. When that’s not taking place, it becomes an episode of “Law and Order.” But when you take away all of that bullshit, what’s left to entertain you? If those things didn’t exist, would you guys continue to come here? Would you continue to see this as a stepping stone if it didn’t come with those things? When people come here they think we’re just used to it. People have been known to enjoy cold weather, but no one likes being cold. No one gets used to the wear and tear this city can have on your physical and mental well-being. 

Conclusion

What helps is the perspective of this place. The city is so unique people forget it’s a whole state. It’s not even the capital but it plays such a major part on how New York is viewed as a whole. It’s easy to get caught up and one of the ways to get out is to take in some nature. Trees literally help you breathe. If I were surrounded by skyscrapers and trains and “New York” life all day long, I’d have a panic attack all to myself…: which has literally happened to me. Being native to this surrounding, I’ve learned to drown out certain things and internalize others. It’s one of those things I’m still working on myself. Just don’t forget to breathe. Shit… this society; in this day and age, if you choose to keep going in this life, choose to wake up this morning without complaints. You already made it! You already won. For my native New Yorkers, just keep doing what we do best, keep moving and grooving!  

How this Brooklyn Girl Got, Got

Being a born and raised black woman from Bedstuy, I like to think I can spot a scam from blocks away. I’ve seen people getting hustled for cash, phones, jewelry, etc for most of my natural life. So it came as nothing but a devastating blow to my ego (and funds) when I literally and figuratively got taken for a ride.

This adventure into how I got played like a fiddle started at my usual go-to for groceries in the “Stuy” aside from Mr. Kiwi’s, at Food Bazaar on Myrtle and Broadway. A standard market with plenty of aisles of sometimes hard to find goods that any millennial hipster resident is bound to be delighted over. This particular evening in the hood I hadn’t dressed for the frosty 30 feeling like 10-degree weather. I still found the adult in me fighting onward to finish my last errand of the day. After the intentionally speedy shopping trip and after the otherwise long day of adulting, my iPhone and I were running close to empty. This begins my harrowing experience of the night.

While shivering my hind off, I hastily try to procure a way home via my favorite ride-sharing apps. A rather risky situation, considering my misleading battery on 5% and was likely to shut down at any given moment. As I asked the security guard who was nearby opening up a locked gate, what the exact address was, he answers, excitedly “Why are you looking for a cab?” I nod “Yes!” without hesitation. He then rushes back indoors with the promise of assistance. Mere moments later a middle-age black man meets me near the exit and promises he’s been sent out to help me hail a cab from a nearby service. Nothing out of the ordinary as of yet, two older gentlemen one an employee from the store the other, a local clearly there to earn his stipend for helping. Within 10 minutes my ride was whisking me off to my not so near hood. The price, a smidge lower than what my apps displayed, it felt my night had gone off without a hitch. All was well up until my departure from the said vehicle.

How This Brooklyn Girl Got, Got You Me NYC

The driver, as I was exiting the vehicle to retrieve my groceries asked for his payment. I was a little taken aback but pushed on trusting the man’s East African accent and toothy smile. I give him the fare with tip and the second I closed the door and walked back towards the trunk of his car he sped off full force. As I mentioned before I was raised in Bedstuy so I’ve got quite the stamina and endurance for running. With nothing else to lose I start sprinting in my Ugg’s determined to stop the trifling grocery thief. I give it my all still freezing in my light leather jacket.  I am in arm’s length from the trunk as he yielded but decided not to stop as the traffic sign demanded, almost as if were to confirm this was no mere accident. I’d been had, if not by that man alone, then a ring of deceivingly helpful and gracious individuals.

Depleted, frustrated and seething with anger I make just about every single phone call possible. Starting with the man who so delightfully offered to help me in the first place, the security guard. After minutes of tracking the voice down, he agrees we’d spoken to each other prior but denies that he’d offered to help me find a cab because it’s specifically against the companies rules. He also refused the notion that he knew of anyone that’s assisted a shopper with transportation. My next stream of furious phone calls tackled every cab service in the surrounding zip codes, none of which dispatched a car to the store I was at or heading to my location. The next most final solution is one that is rarely considered and even more scarcely used, I called the police. Frantic and only remembering the ‘T’ on his license plate I describe my predicament to the dispatcher. Apologetic she inquired if I’d used any of those handy app’s to find my ride of the night which of course, I misguidedly had not. After a brief wait, I was alerted by the station that my partially documented experience (from the grocery store parking lot and traffic cams passed along the way) was simply not enough for a police report, therefore, leaving me empty-handed and helpless. With the finality of the dispatcher’s tone, it ultimately occurred that the scam I found myself on the losing side of, was pretty foolproof. The security, kindly gentlemen and pay-less driver could’ve very likely been in cahoots leaving me blindsided.

Conclusion

With that experience finished I take a few bits of lessons learned: always get your own cab, take notes of your driver’s license and TLC plates, and if the deal seems too good to be true, you can bet your bundle of groceries it is.

 

5 Ways To Prioritize During The Holidays

Tis the Season to be Jolly…. Bah Humbug! Are you looking forward to this holiday season? I know I am not…I used to love holidays, now I dislike them mainly because of the commercial aspect of it. I do love the spiritual side of it and what it means to be of service in the age of giving. There are so many people who are homeless this year. It hurts my heart that they don’t have a place to live and be free to celebrate in their own way. Do your best to give back to someone less fortunate than you. You will be surprised at how blessed you are.

Many of us are overwhelmed with trying to please family, friends and more. Now with so much going on in our daily lives, how do we have balance and not go into debt during this holiday season? Our rents and mortgages are extremely high, food prices have gone up and the kids are growing faster than a speeding bullet.

So, what can we do? I want to share with you five ways to prioritize during the holiday season! Here are few methods to get you through those holiday blues:

Step 1 – Pay all household bills first like Rent/Mortgage, telephone, utilities, and car & life insurance. Look for sales and start your shopping early like in July, (Back to School sales) August, and September (Labor Day sales).

5 Ways to Prioritise During the Holidays You Me NYC

Step 2 – Create a holiday budget. If you spent over $1500.00 last year, cut that in half and pick two items per child or person (get something they really want or need). Don’t spend excessively when you know you have bills to pay first. Bring in the New Year with a few dollars. Cha-ching $$$

5 Ways to Prioritise During the Holidays You Me NYC

Step 3 – Create a food budget, find fun new items to make with the family. Try baking holiday cookies or cupcakes. Do your home & holiday grocery shopping all in one. There are always plenty of sales on food during Thanksgiving week. Have your menu handy and focus on buying everything you need all at once. Tell your family and friends to bring a dish. Why should you be the only one cooking? Share the love.

5 Ways to Prioritise During the Holidays You Me NYC

Step 4 – Learn to shop at discount and department stores that have creative ideas for holiday decorations, games, toys and fun products. The following stores like Five Below, Marshalls, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar General are shops that have 25% to 75% sale offers. They usually start before the holidays, like Christmas in July. Don’t forget the stuff you bought last year that’s up in the closet. Get the family to design their own Christmas stockings and buy stocking stuffers. You can spend less than $10.00 per stocking. You can find quality items for as low as a $1.00 to fill those stockings like nail polish, cute combs, candy bars, “Hot Wheels” cars, gloves, hats, and gift cards.

5 Ways to Prioritise During the Holidays You Me NYC

Step 5 – Organize a few weeks before. Set up your holiday table. Have fun with the family, play Christmas movies or music. Get creative, let the kids make holiday decorations. This is a fun way to keep the family together. Remember do not go broke trying to impress people in order to show them you love them by spending excessively.

5 Ways to Prioritise During the Holidays You Me NYC