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

San Francisco

Friday, April 27, 2007

I’m finally on my way to San Francisco, albeit not as originally planned. This trip is more along the lines of a vacation as opposed to truly living in the city. I’d all but decided to move the trip to San Francisco to follow my European adventure when Dave got in touch with me and let me know he’d be up in the Bay Area for a couple weeks. Coupled with the repeated pleas from my sister to make the trek up, I decided I would at least go up for a short visit.

I remember being younger, probably around seven or eight years old and there had been a recent plane crash in the news. Perhaps it was my extreme impressionability at the time but I was soon overcome with an immense fear of flying. Admittedly, this wasn’t much of an issue at the time as my family rarely did a lot of vacations that involved flying; however, it quickly become a topic of concern when it was announced that we’d all be going to the East Coast to visit relatives a couple of months later. In that time preceding the trip, I became consumed by the [irrational] fear that the plane was going to disintegrate somewhere over the Midwest and lead to my very untimely death. By the time the trip was upon us, I was begging my family to leave me behind, reasoning that I could stay with my grandparents and keep them company while everyone else was across the county.

My parents would have none of it and I was dragged to the airport, figuratively kicking and screaming (and perhaps literally) every step of the way. As I lugged it through the airport, I felt like the only thing I’d packed in my suitcase was dread. We boarded the plane and as I sat in my seat I was overcome with fear; my palms dripped with sweat as I clutched the free end of the fastened seatbelt making sure it rode low and extremely tightly across my hips. I released my death grip on the seatbelt long enough to memorize every bit of information from the safety card that resided in the seat pocket in front of me and was probably the only person on board the flight who gave my complete and undivided attention to the flight attendants as they went over the safety features of the aircraft.

The moment of truth finally made itself known as the plane taxied out to the runway. On the verge of passing out, I read myself my last rites in my head, closed my eyes and prepared for the eminent death that awaited me. The engines roared to life as the plane thrust forward, pinning each of us to our seats and, within moments, that big, silver bird lost contact with the tarmac below. As we rose into the air, all of my fears seemed to erode, as though they’d been left behind on the runway. Suddenly, flying was exciting again! The curiosity of watching the world shrink away from the window replaced the stress caused by my morbid thoughts.

On the return leg, I was able to enjoy the entire flight from takeoff to landing and have not had any issues with flying since. When I tell people that I’m taking off to Europe by myself for a few months, a lot of people ask if I’m scared or tell me that I’m brave for doing it. I think the above account is a perfect metaphor to answer those people: it’s only scary if you make it that way. When the time comes, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

For Sale

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cleaning out the closets and threw a few things on craigslist...Email me if anything catches your eye. A lot more coming, but this is the whitetrash/random items sale!

(from top left to bottom right: beer signs, universal remote, wine rack (x2), wheelset, cheeseboard, halogen tracklight, CB radio)

The Pressure's On

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The reality of leaving San Diego has finally started to set in and I’m beginning to feel the heat. For me, this is actually a good thing as I’ve learned that I’m very poor at getting things done without a deadline. As my parents will attest, when I was in elementary school and junior high, I had a bad habit of laying down in bed only to have whatever project was due the following morning (and, of course, I had not started) come rushing to the forefront of my mind and startle me to full consciousness in an overwhelming bevy of emotions, namely stress, fear and regret. Sadly, things have not changed. I have, however, gotten a little better at recognizing a looming deadline and planning somewhat accordingly.

The fun is on hold, at the moment, while I bear down and start packing up and jettisoning all of my belongings (look for a For Sale post in the next day or two). I figure I’ve got a solid 2-3 weeks to get everything in order and that’s deadline enough for me.

(Vegas post is half-written, should be up shortly)

What Happens in Vegas...Will be Posted Soon

Monday, April 16, 2007

Been doing too much of this:

To write about this:


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No news is good news…sort of. It means I’ve finally buckled down and started getting things done. Right now, my bathroom is completely unusable because I’m halfway through stripping all of the paint off the walls, refurb’ing the shower and putting in new baseboards. Thus, I’ve been forced to shower on campus or at friend’s places.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of what else is going on:

Went up to Hemet to celebrate Easter with the family; while in town, I went out on Saturday night to the new hotspot in town and met up with Darin, Corey, Mike, his sister Mary and a couple other Hemet folk. Sunday morning came too early and I slept my way toward noon as best I could. Had our traditional Easter Sunday dinner at my parents place; this year, it was just the four of us, my grandmother and my uncle. Every year, my mom and grandmother make a nice spread of traditional Italian Easter dishes. However, as the number of attendees continues to diminish, so do the number of dishes that make the cut. This year, we had Peigna (an Italian bread that has whole eggs, still in the shell braided into the dough), Pastdira (a rice pudding dish), and a lamb roast (also a traditional Italian Easter food). A couple things that didn’t make the cut that were on the table last year included a ricotta pie and Torta Rustica (a casserole-esque dish made with eggs and preserved meats).

Started selling off various possessions, using eBay and Craigslist with much success [Sample Ad]. Figure that those sales, coupled with my tax return should add up to an additional 3 months of unemployment.

Speaking of saving money, I have discovered the true value of Happy Hour.

Met up with Randy last weekend and, for the first time in a year, put some miles on the ol’ mountain bike. When we got to the trail head out by Lake Morena, we were getting the bikes out of the car and getting ready to take off when a stretch limo with “Rob Couture” and a cartoon rabbit airbrushed along the side and three sets of bike racks on top pulled up (this is a couple miles down a dirt road, mind you). Out step three guys who were also there to do some mountain biking. We talked to them for a few minutes and then all decided to ride together for the day. Turns out they work together at an advertising agency in La Jolla and do tons of random stuff on the side (make T-shirts, run a junk disposal company, etc.) The head guy, Rob, decided to buy the limo on a whim so that they could carry more than four people in one car when they all wanted to go mountain biking. He found one on eBay in Minnesota and drove it back to San Diego. They were a lot of fun to ride with, as well, and I’m sure Randy will be riding with them again (I would too, except that I doubt I’ll get in many more rides before I leave.

Heading off to Vegas for a Guy’s Trip with the weekly poker group. We’ve got a comp’d room at Bally’s for two nights and then staying another two nights at the Wynn. Between the special poker rate that we get for playing there and the few bucks that we’ve been putting into what’s become the ‘Vegas Fund’ each week, the price of lodging worked out to about $40/person for the whole trip. The only officially sanctioned event on the trip will be for all of us to have dinner at Aureole which is located in Mandalay Bay.

This will probably jinx things, but I think I found tenants for my place. Again, the true value of happy hour has shown through.

If I do end up getting a lease signed within the next week, I will be heading up to San Francisco the following week. Uh, yeah, still in San Diego.

Shout-out to Mark and Shira - Congrats on the engagement!

AIDS Ride Recap

Monday, April 02, 2007

My final prep for the AIDS Ride took place on Saturday night with a quick trip over to Kinko’s. I thought it would be nice to recognize everyone who made a donation by creating a sign that I could pin to my jersey during the ride. You can see a larger version of the sign here. When I returned home, I assembled everything else I would need the next morning, knowing full well that I would barely be functioning.

Sunday was the big day for the AIDS Ride. Started off by shocking my body awake a good four or five hours earlier than it’s been accustomed to lately, packed my bike and gear into the car and headed down to Harbor Island. While I can’t say I’ve seen the crack of dawn in a long time, I feel comfortable saying that that morning must have been abnormally cold and foggy. It’s always a tough call figuring out how many layers to start a bike ride with on a cold morning. If I start with too many, my body’s burning up after the first 10 minutes and then I have to find someway of stowing the extra clothing; too few and no matter how far I’m riding, it’s going to be a long, cold, miserable time. For the ride, I opted to just add arm and leg warmers (to answer your question, no, they weren’t of the Flashdance variety) and leave my jacket in the car. It was a combination that proved to be a bit short of ideal.

Overall, the turnout for the event was pretty good. The head of UCSD’s AIDS Research Institute was on hand to make the opening speech and UCSD’s Chancellor dropped the flag to start the ride. The bikes got underway at 8:00AM and they were releasing about 10 riders every 2-3 minutes (they staggered the start to spread people out since it wasn’t a race). A friend of mine from UCSD, Jason, elected to do the same ride as me, so we paired up for the entire course. Here’s a picture I took towards the end of the ride; as you can see, the fog never really lifted, nor did the temperature.

When we got back to the start/finish area, Jason took off; I opted to stick around because I knew some folks that were doing one of the other rides and I wanted to chat with them for a bit. Additionally, there was a raffle, other give-a-ways and Sierra Nevada was sponsoring a beer garden. During the festivities, Being Alive (the group that organized the ride) recognized a few of the top fundraisers; imagine my surprise when they called my name as one of the top 5! Again, a testament to all of you who donated and your generosity!

After the ride, I went home and immediately fell asleep for the next four or five hours. Woke up for dinner and then went right back to sleep. I guess my body wasn’t quite ready to do the ride, certainly my ass wasn’t -- a fact that I’m reminded of every time I sit down.

Copyright 2007, Travis Emmel