A complete season of travels wiped out.
ASTORIA, New York City- I was supposed to be on my way to South Africa to speak at a conference a few days from now. Cancelled. I planned to be a part of a press trip to Singapore at the end of the month. Nope. I was scheduled to give talks in two different cities in Kazakhstan at an independent media festival in April. No more. I had arranged to fly directly from Kazakhstan to Ukraine to give a talk at a new cities conference right after that. Gone (more than likely).
I had a full slate of international speaking events and journalism projects planned for this spring that had the carpet pulled out from under them by coronavirus. That’s $5,000 of revenue — minimum — that I will be losing and the complete stoppage of momentum in the acquisition of public speaking engagements. It also hamstrings my progress on journalism and film projects as well, as my economic model is use the free travel that comes with such events to carry out my other work on the sidelines.
Basically, I’m grounded for at least a season which undermines the very reason why I moved to NYC:
… the underlying reason why I came to New York City: so I could have a steady base of operations that would allow me to plan — to make commitments way in advance and keep them when the time comes. This is paramount to being able to do speaking engagements, big projects with myriad moving parts, and, seriously, be able to get the most out of my work.
The model that I envisioned when I set up a base of operations in Astoria back in August works. I was able to secure a $30,000 film project in Hong Kong and set up a full slate of speaking engagements. In the beginning of December I was able to sit back and give myself a pat on the back as it actually looked as if I was going to be able to pull this off. Then my participation on the Hong Kong film project got blown up when I was denied entry at the Hong Kong immigration — something that’s been happening frequently for journalists and academics there — and then coronavirus took care of the rest. Meanwhile, rent, the bill for my kids’ school, utility payments are all still due … and we have to eat.
One thing that I have not really had much of an opportunity to focus on is the frailty of my economic model. Under ideal circumstances, all’s good. But when things get shattered for reasons that are out of my control, I don’t have a response other than to bunker down and allow the storm to pass.
It’s looking as if I will be having a couple of months of downtime — at least. Time to develop a new economic model, an optimist would say. Or time to enjoy hanging out with my family without the prospect of impending travels on the near horizon. Or time to finish projects that have been left on the docket for far too long.
In terms of travel right now, I don’t recommend it. Covid-19 has now spread to at least 115 countries and it will probably end up in all of them by the time this thing is through.
While adventure is often a byproduct of mishaps and mayhem the mishaps and mayhem of quarantine doesn’t sound particularly appealing. Governments are taking a scorched earth attitude towards the pandemic, basically putting up partitioning walls and cutting off entire countries. I don’t exactly know what the impact of warm weather is on coronavirus, but if this thing spreads rampant through the tropics — parts of the world that tend to have less developed medical infrastructure — it could be a long while before things are put back together again. Imagine being stuck in Bangladesh as an infectious disease runs rampant. That’s not the kind of adventure that travel stories are made of:
“It sucked. I couldn’t leave my hotel room for three months.”
That’s not a tale of the open road that anyone wants to hear.