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

A Vegas Education

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's been a month since I hit Sin City, let's see what I've learned so far…

The poker career? Uh, if I had a day job, I wouldn't quit it. I don't know that I've given it a complete shot, but what I've been through so far has shown me that there is a lot more to surviving while playing cards when that is the only source of income. Don't get me wrong, I haven't lost the farm or anything like that; in fact, I'm in the black. However, I may as well be starting each month down a couple grand since money has to be made up to pay for rent, bills, food, entertainment, etc. All you 'I told you so-ers,' get 'em in now.

The off-strip experience. There are a few off-strip restaurants that I've discovered and nearly any needed amenity is readily available. Not too much else to say here other than off-strip Vegas feels like Anytown, USA, except there is a lot more driving involved.

Driving? Yes, ass-loads of it. With land so cheap and vast here, everything is spread out to oblivion. Seriously, to go anywhere is a minimum 15 minute drive. It takes half a tank of gas just to get gas. In the month I've been here, I've racked up over 2500 miles, all within the city limits.

Health. Most would assume Vegas to be pretty bad for the body. On the contrary, it's helped me get back in shape. I joined a gym when I got to town and have been fairly diligent about getting in there. I've also been making regular trips over to the ice rink and doing some skating for cardio. Being able to hit on all of the 15 year old girls helps keep the motivation up. Kidding! (they're more like 12). I've been drinking so much cranberry juice at the tables there's no fear of that urinary tract infection kicking in. Food-wise, I've been cooking almost all of my own meals and eating relatively healthy (I'd say I've lost a good 5 lbs from what I added in Europe and New York). I've got to get the abs in shape for my Thunder Down Under tryout next month.

The typical Vegas experience. Any desire to do this on a regular basis was lifted the second I set my bags down. It's like living in San Diego and never going to the beach because it's right there. Or not doing lines of blow off that hooker because there is a perfectly clean mirror on the table. I've been out a few times while living here, but solely when people have been in town visiting. On the plus side, I have been able to take advantage and see a couple of the shows that are currently playing. I've seen Le Reve (good show) and Love (good, but shouldn't have been billed as a Cirque show); tomorrow, I'm going to check out 'O' and I'm planning on seeing Blue Man when my parents come into town next month. Also managed to take in a couple hockey games over at the Orleans.

Overall…do I regret coming out here? Not for a second. I know that this isn't everyone's dream, but it was one of mine. While things may not be going down exactly as I drew them up in my head, by coming out here, it will never be an unanswered 'what if' question in my mind. And for that, I can rest easy.


Friday, February 22, 2008

It's been said that you lose 5 minutes off your life for every cigarette smoked; I just lost the equivalent of about a 1000 packs of smokes from the tail end of my existence. You see, there are very few things more stressful to me than getting my hair cut by an unknown barber. Hence, with one or two exceptions, every single haircut in my life has been at the hands of two people and those other haircuts have always sucked – today was no different.

I should have known I was in trouble the second I walked into the place. This shop was old school, I mean really old school, like they still had leeches in the back. All of the barbers must have been active members of the AARP for at least the last 20 years. And here I come in looking like a goddamn hippy. Did I listen to my instincts and walk out at that point? No, of course not. After sitting down and mentioning that I only wanted a half inch or so taken off and the first guy refused to cut my hair, did I take that as a sign that I perhaps I should take my business elsewhere? Nope, let's do this thing.

So, there I sat, palms clenched and drenched as I watched inch after inch of hair fall helplessly around me as barber #2 took to my hair like Edward Scissorhands, only a little less emo. Oh sure, there were highlights, like when an older woman walked past and the guy pointed out that, "she sure looks good for an old lady - ass hasn't dropped yet." And just in case I missed the first time, he murmured a second, "that ass has not dropped." But mostly it was torturous experience and now I look like a freakin' pixie; another inch and I could have donated to Locks of Love. No, there will be no pictures, so please don't ask. My Padres hat will be a consistent prop in any of the pictures you do see of me over the coming weeks.

John, you've got your work cut out for you when I get back to San Diego.

Leaving Our Mark In Vegas

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The past week was filled with the general debauchery of Mark’s bachelor party (somehow we all survived). For obvious reasons, most of what transpired cannot be relayed; this story, however, is peripheral enough to be retold.

It’s late, late into Saturday night (Sunday morning?) and a large group of us have commandeered two blackjack tables at the new Palazzo casino. The free drinks have been delivered in excess and everyone is having a great time, as anyone in earshot would attest. I’m railbirding a table with Mark, Steve, Sean and Greg; at the adjacent table, every minute or two a loud cry of “Monkey! Monkey!” would be yelled out by Jimm in hopes that the dealer would deal herself a bust card. After one such outburst, Mark, who happens to carry a sock monkey as a good luck charm, thought it would be appropriate to toss the little guy over onto the raucous table in hopes of helping their general luck. Hilarity did not ensue.

The monkey took flight from one patch of felt to the next, and landed with a seemingly harmless, silent thud on its new resting place. This did nothing short of startle the dealer who let out a high pitched, “sshhiiiiitt!!” turning all of the heads in the place in our general direction. She started to scold Mark but somewhere amongst the first few words suffered a complete and total breakdown instead. Tears began to stream uncontrollably down her cheeks as her shoulders convulsed. Within seconds, the pit boss escorted her off the floor and she would not be seen again for at least an hour.

Abusive Furnishings

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Dinner time has arrived and I'm starting to stir-fry a little chickity China the Chinese chicken chow mein. I've got the pan nice and hot and, once the oil warms up, I throw in the meat and some veggies. Forgetting to turn on the exhaust fan over the stove was a poor move as the house quickly fills with enough smoke to set off not one, but two smoke detectors. The ensuing screeching of the alarms is enough to make my ears bleed as I try to shut everything on the stove down and take care of this auditory nuisance.

I close the door to my bedroom to muffle smoke detector #1 and hop up on the couch in the living room to get to work on detector #2. I rip the battery out as though it were the device's heart, hoping to kill its wailing. No luck. The alarm continues to pound its high-pitched cry against my eardrums. Ignoring my life of impending deafness, I start to alternately press the two buttons on the face of the detector in hopes of shutting it up with little success. Finally, I press and hold the "hush" button and ten seconds or so later the only ringing is in my ears.

I'm able to finish cooking and enjoy my dinner, save for the water torture-esque, incremental beeping coming from the detector as it begs to have its heart replaced. When the last of my food has been consumed, I submit to the incessant nagging. Again, I step up onto the couch, except this time placing my weight on the side arm as opposed to the back of the couch. Without warning, the sectional lives up to its namesake and the portion I am on collapses out from under me, pillows fly in all directions and I come crashing down on top of the entire piece.

My left arm is shocked with simultaneous pain and numbness as my brain tries to process what happened. "Ugh, I'm gonna need a minute," I exhale to a nonexistent audience, as I stumble to the bathroom to assess personal damages. It takes a while for the mirror to come into focus as all I can see are stars floating around the room. Eventually, I pull it together enough to visually inspect my arm and what I see is not pretty. Evidently, I came down so hard and fast onto the sofa that I managed the equivalent of a huge carpet burn along the entire length of my forearm; the top layer of skin looks as though it went across a cheese grater giving me the macroderm abrasion from hell. Add in the two bruises on either end and it's safe to say that the team of sofa and smoke detector won this round.

Copyright 2007, Travis Emmel