Real Life On Hold - these are the adventures of California native Travis Emmel, as he takes time off from the rat race to travel and see the world.

Journal Entries

I Hope That Text Was Important

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Being between adventures means I'm currently biding my time back home while I figure out my next move.  Yes, I've become a regular George Costanza: "Hi, I'm Travis, I'm unemployed and live with my parents…"  Trust me, the ladies love that one.  But, that's not really here nor there as far as this little tale is concerned.  What is relevant is that while home, I've been helping my dad with some computer work at his office.  Over the weekend, I had to stop by Office Depot or Staples or some sort of crappy all-in-one store for some parts for said project.  While I was busy not finding what I was looking for, a girl walked over in my direction, furrowed her brow and pointed at me until we reached the point of mutual recognition.  Turns out it was my first girlfriend, circa junior high/high school.

 

As we're bumbling through the semi-awkward 'try to catch up in 5 minutes but where the hell do you start since you haven't seen each other since high school moment' she reaches into her purse and pulls out her cell phone.  In my mind I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt, ok, maybe she just wants to get my contact info so we can continue catching up another time under more planned circumstances.

 

Nope, just being rude.  So I completely shut down my side of the conversation and waited for what had to be the world's most important text messaging interaction to complete.  I don't see you for 14 years and you can't give me five minutes of genuine attention?  Nice seeing you too.

Man in a Suitcase

Monday, November 26, 2007

While in NYC I was truly 'living out of a suitcase' as my luggage took the place of my dresser.  I guess I became pretty accustomed to living this way because I didn't realize I have been doing the same thing back here at home for the last week until my mom asked if I was ever going to unpack my suitcase.

A Day of Travel

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ugh, my body is none too happy about being up at the crack of dawn and is sure to make its discontent known by the constant feelings of nausea. Come to think of it, it could just be a carry over from last night's subjection to bits and pieces of the 2girls1cup video or what could more appropriately be called the most vile, disgusting, NSFW thing you should never have the displeasure of viewing (don't google it, trust me; and, if you can't heed my advice, definitely don't look it up at work).

***

I'm in the air on my way back to the West Coast and currently adding to my discomfort is the growing level of annoyance with the 'normal rules don't apply to me' woman in the adjacent row who decided to bring her stupid, yippy purse dog that hasn't shut up since we took off, on board, and is letting it run around her lap and the seat next to her. This is, of course, after the flight attendant explicitly told her, for the second time, to put the dog in its carrier and place it under the seat where it must remain for the duration of the flight. And I really wish she'd stop standing up and facing me with her pink, crushed velvet wedgie.

***

Seriously, dude, you're going to the bathroom again? Either you're doing more coke than Tony Montana or that must have been some really bad Chinese food last night. Why do I care? Probably because you bash the shit out of my seat every time you get up. Please, just go hang out in the back of the plane.

***

"Hello from the flight deck. We're running about 50 minutes ahead of schedule, so we're gonna take a little detour over the Grand Canyon. Don't worry, we'll fly back and forth over it so both sides get a good view. Let's start with the right side of the plane." The plane dips its right wing down a good 30 degrees and my view of the horizon is replaced with the Colorado River. The entire family behind me crowds the window seat to get a look and practically slams me face first into the seatback in front of me.

"Ok folks, now the left side." The plane rotates hard on its axis the other way and now all I see is sky on my right. And everyone else running to the left side of the plane as if the Virgin Mary herself was waving back at them.

"Isn't it beautiful? Great day for a tour of the Grand Canyon." True, but what is even more beautiful is that that damn dog finally shut the hell up.

We make 5 or 6 more S-turns over the canyon to kill any time advantage we may have had and continue on our way, ensuring a non-early arrival (is this why this flight only comes in on time 60% of the time?).

"You know what folks? We've got an extra few minutes to kill here, let's take you on a tour of the Hoover Dam. It's gonna be coming up on the left side, I'm gonna try to put us right over it so you can get a good view. It's such a beautiful day out there – look at that view!"

***

Oh, we're starting our final descent, time for Yippy to start up again...

***

Why is it that the only people that check the tags on their luggage are the ones who have ridiculously unique luggage in the first place? I’m standing in the baggage claim at the airport and watching a guy very meticulously check the tag on his enormous, bright purple suitcase while it’s still on the belt and other bags are starting to pile up behind the monstrosity, threatening to carry the two of them around the ‘claim. Not to be outdone, a woman 10 feet away is giving just as much attention to the tags on her pink and white zebra-stripe luggage that she just pulled off the carousel. Meanwhile, a myriad of black suitcases float down the belt as people pluck their anonymous bags without a second glance.

Bye, Bye Big Apple

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The New York portion of the trip is rapidly coming to a close and, as I sit here and reflect on the past 7 weeks, I already know what I'm going to miss most about this city.  The jaywalking.  Such a simple pleasure really.  Not only is jaywalking acceptable out here, it's practically encouraged; people will all but push other folks off the curb if they're being held up.  Why do I feel like I'm going to either get a ticket or run over when I get back to California?

"It Would Look Bad If You Died On My Watch"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When I was younger, I used to be highly allergic to legumes, namely peas. Actually, I was allergic to just about everything, but back to the peas - it was bad enough that I could take a single pea, stick it on the back of my tongue, swallow it and I would still have a reaction. Of course, once my 'friends' got word of this, they would try to slip peas into my food in hopes of seeing me suffer.


Fortunately, I have managed to outgrow all of my allergies and haven't had any sort of reaction for about 10 years…until last night, that is. Dana, Dave and were amidst a food tour of the West Village and stopped off to get some falafel. For whatever reason, I started to have a pretty serious reaction to the chickpeas; my lips began to swell up and my throat started to constrict. Dana got very nervous (much more-so than me) and went into full disaster control mode, insisting that we get to a drug store and buy some Benadryl immediately to keep me from going into anaphylactic shock. I guess med school made trying to kill me a little less funny.

A Tale of Three Meals: Third Course

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dana and I made a quick trip to Philly last weekend for what would became better known as The Fat-Ass South Philly Food Tour. When it comes to cheesesteaks, there are two 'go to' places in Philadelphia: Pat's and Geno's. Conveniently, they're right across the street from each other; not conveniently, they're a cab ride away from downtown.

The debate is endless as to which is the better cheesesteak and the long lines that snake around each joint further prove that a common opinion is still a ways off. Given that either would probably be a safe bet, we opted to go to Pat's since they claim to be the originator of the cheesesteak as we know it. Anyone who's seen the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld has an idea how the ordering process works at Pat's. There must be no hesitation when ordering unless an open reprimanding and trip back to the end of the line is what's desired.


Fortunately, no major snafus in the ordering process and Dana and I were presented with two perfect examples of Pennsylvania's official state food along with a side of fries and a glass of birch beer. The verdict? Pretty damn good. However, I should have heeded Dana's advice and gone with the Cheese Whiz topping instead of provolone cheese. We finished up and were ready to head back to the city when this little conversation came up:


"Uh, are you still a little hungry?" I asked, a bit incredulous that the thought could even cross my mind after polishing off all that food.

"Well, I wouldn't say I'm stuffed."

"Would we be crazy to go grab a cheesesteak at Geno's; you know, for comparison's sake?"

"I'm down."


And that's how we ended up sampling cheesesteaks (and fries and birch beer) at both venues in the matter of about 30 minutes (this time I went with the Cheese Whiz, though – a much better call than the provolone).


The rest of our time in Philly was spent checking out the stairs that Sylvester Stalone ran up in Rocky, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, taking a walk around the city and trying to survive a serious case of the meat sweats.

Appetite Cleanser

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today I spent my time using my writing skills for evil (and amusement) instead of good.

Play with my whammy bar

A Tale of Three Meals: Second Course

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Is it possible for a pizza to be so good that it is worth a 40 minute subway ride (plus transfer), standing in line for 45 minutes to order and then waiting an additional 45 minutes for the pie to be prepared? If it comes at the hands of Dominick DeMarco at DiFara's in Midwood, Brooklyn, then the answer is a resounding 'yes'!

How does an 70 year-old man turn this simple food into an amazing meal? Let's start with the basics; from ball of dough to completed masterpiece, Dom's the only one touching the pizza and no matter how far out of the door the line snakes, he takes the same amount of time and care with each one. Choice ingredients don't hurt either - homemade dough, stretched by hand, not thrown, silky tomato sauce with bits of peeled tomatoes, high quality olive oil, herbs and peppers grown in the windowsill and hand-grated cheese imported fresh from Italy. All of these components come together to create gastronomic ecstasy.

The dough, albeit a tad soggy in the center, is perfectly elastic throughout the body of the slice and is complemented by the light and crispy crust. The sauce is sweet with a muted tanginess that goes well with the trifecta of cheeses (mozzarella di Buffalo, low-moisture mozzarella and Parmigianno-Reggiano). And the peppers - Oh my God, the peppers! Never have I tasted peppers that were this sweet and tender. All of the ingredients were so fresh and tasty that I was even able to overlook my staunch aversion to mushrooms and allow the evil fungi to play their role in pizza perfection.

Here is a shot of the pizza and one of the master at work:


Next up: Philly Cheesesteaks

A Tale of Three Meals: First Course

Friday, November 02, 2007

I should have heeded the repeated warnings, but the cravings ultimately overpowered my sensibilities. Last night, Dana, Dave and I went to a Mexican joint in Brooklyn. Despite their time tested advice that the carne asada tacos were the only passable item on the menu, I threw caution to the wind and went with a burrito. The verdict? Meh. I fail to grasp why creating decent Mexican food is so complicated. All of the required ingredients were present, yet the burrito fell totally flat on its face.

Burrito Impostor

If anyone ever opens a Southern California style Mexican place out here, they will make a killing. As for me, I guess I'm going to have to wait another three weeks before my cravings are fulfilled.

Copyright 2007, Travis Emmel