Tomorrow I fly back to Romania for the second time in three months like a jet-setting badass to complete my LP guidebook research, wallow in the fame of being a travel writing all-star, beat off amorous groupies with my medical burro riding crop and sleep soundly every night with the knowledge that my life kicks so much ass that my government actually imposes extra taxes on me for it.
I’m not going to deny that there are days that I struggle into my home-office desk chair at the crack of noon, with a mug of chocolate-flavored coffee, no boss in sight, having not donned shoes or a shirt in over 24 hours, read my two pieces of daily fan mail (and delete my 37 pieces of hate mail) and finally get to the grave task of writing caustic remarks and cheap shots about Berlin, Jesus and the slightly dry steak I ate while in First Class during my last flight over the Pacific, but equally, this job has its moments of sobering wretchedness.
Since I’m comfortably at the experience and wisdom levels now that allow me to accurately see into the future (by the way, it’s Splitsville for Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman in 2009), I’ll give you a preview of subjects you’re like to read about in this blog – or more likely, on my Twitter page – over the next three weeks while I’m on the road in Romania:
• The hair-melting heat wave that’s descending on southern Romania as I write this
• People that work in Romanian tourism, that plainly loathe tourists
• Why in Buddha’s name did I choose to research in July, knowing that every decent hotel would be booked for weeks?
• How many Ibuprofen per day I’m taking to fight back the hip pain
• How little clothing women bother with on the Black Sea coast
• The ethical dilemma of being treated like a vagrant by people whose businesses I could make or break with one sentence in the book
• Loud hostels/little sleep
• Has anyone sent me a check recently?
• I have exactly zero confirmed work for after September 1st – do I worry about finances or celebrate the long-overdue break?
• I’d kill for a cheeseburger
And so goes the head-spinning highs and demoralizing lows in the life of a travel writer.
All possible adversity, pain and humiliation aside, this is actually shaping up to be the easiest bit of guidebook research of my short career. I’ve got three weeks to do about two weeks worth of work, almost everywhere I’m going is unspeakably awesome (e.g. Sibiu, Braşov, Danube Delta, Black Sea Coast), and if things go well I’ll spend the final two or three days sitting on a beach and practicing my Romanian with some of Europe’s most beautiful women.
Now I have to go pack my guidebook writer cape and tights (the lavender or the burgundy, I can never decide), review my Romanian curse words and lewd gestures for that first drive through Bucharest, shave my head for optimum speed-walking aerodynamics and eat one last cheeseburger to offset the 5-8 pounds that I’m about to lose.