Public Phone at 20th & Charles

Public Phone at 20th & CharlesIt was a cold and windy day, but the sun was out and there was no risk of rain, so I finally got to take the bike out for a little spin. It was a short one, just over and down the hill to lunch and the coffee shop so I could get some work done and also maybe, just maybe see some real live adult people. I’ve been snowed under by the grind of teaching every day, and it felt great to get out of my house and my office and wake back up to the city. Continue reading

Empty Lot at Greene & Fayette

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Last week’s ride found me back on the bike part of my commute, and oh boy was that nice. I zipped over and over and over and down and over and down and up and over and up and down and over to the bike racks nearest the shuttle stop. I was plenty early, as is my usual, so I had about 15 minutes to walk around the neighborhood. This is bustling downtown, plenty of workaday wallets heading to offices to do that paper pushing many of us do since we became bureaucracies back in the day. But still, in downtown Baltimore, there are vacant lots like this one.  No Trespassing, the sign reads, and I wondered about the privateness of this property and the part where it seems so normal to us to heed the demands not to use land that isn’t being used. I’m sure the fear is people using this as a place to set up shop, or to live here, to sleep, to tent, something like that. The part where some people have nowhere to sleep, though, it’s intimately related to the part where others have private property that is protected like this. And then my shuttle came, I spent the day at work, and then I was back on the bike to home. Days are getting longer, people.

That Taste of Salt in My Mouth All Over Baltimore

I haven’t been riding my bike much lately, chosing the bus and a reliable ride home–thanks, Barrows sisters!–to avoid ice and sub-freezing temps. Sure, I could ride my bike, but I could also flex my multimodal muscles for greater ease. But then it’s Monday, I’m just heading to Mount Vernon, and oh boy, I miss my bike. So I took it, breaking my rule against riding in the rain, and felt at home again. Except for the new taste of salt that kicks up in my mouth when I ride in the city in the winter. I forgot about all about it, but there it was, the visceral reminder that the stuff they spread on the roads is stuff, and it has to go somewhere; it doesn’t just evaporate with the ice. A little might end up on my tongue, but much more ends up in the bay, and it’s not benign. And then I rode home, tucked the bike away, and felt grateful for choices.

Desks Inside a Giant Pressure Cooker at Gay & Lanvale

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Yesterday’s ride took me down the hill, around the harbor, and back up through Federal Hill for a cheap haircut and a morning with my favorite fresh baby and her mom. It was a windy ride there and back, gusts that blew me of my course and went straight through my windproof gloves. I had the wind at my back when I was riding down the hill, a fact I realised only on my way back up. I didn’t head back out again until the evening, when I layered up and strapped on all the lights to zip over to the Humanim building on the east side. I’ve passed that building by accident a bunch of times and always wondered why a castle rises over the blighted blocks of this neighborhood. Turns out it’s because Humanim decided to find the 25 million bucks to renovate it and turn out into a workforce development and community organizing force for the area. This night it was for a meeting of Baltimore Corps, and I was there to task about why local history matters. The Humanim rep said it mattered because it matters. I said it mattered because politics and justice and how are for here and how we could be elsewhere and all sorts of reasons. And then I was done and left to roam the building. I headed straight to the second floor to see how they’d repurposed the giant pressure cooker of this old brewery–it’s another workstation, a magical one. Sometimes history matters because look at this place. And then I got back on my bike for a windy ride home, happy to be back in action after a long winter’s nap.

Intersection at 25th & Guilford

Intersection at 25th & Guilford2014 was a great year for bicycling. I rode in new places, got a new commute, and did a whole lot of exploring. I blogged less this year than the last few, but that’s because I’ve been writing more in other places, writing gigs I’ve picked up only because I’ve blogged regularly for the past five or six years. Turns out writing gets easier by writing more and regularly. Same goes for biking–it became my primary form of transportation back in 2008, and I am just so terrifically grateful that the bike and I found each other, and that now it is just common sense that if we’re going there, we’re going by bike. What a gift, to see the world from two wheels like that. Continue reading

Cars, Trees, and People at President & Fayette

Cars, Trees, and People at President & FayetteThursday’s bike ride took me down the hill and up the other side to visit A. and her sweet baby girl for the afternoon. It was such a nice ride on a cool, windless day–and that second part makes a big difference. I was mostly just happy to stretch my legs on a ride that wasn’t taking me to work. And then we had a ridiculously nice day, the kind you can only have when one of your companions reliably giggles and coos every time you fake-sneeze or stick your tongue out at her. For all the ugly in the world, it was good to remember that there’s this other kind of divine goodness, the still-fresh baby; she’s also part of this world. Continue reading

Police Helicopter in the Sky at St. Paul and Mount Royal

Helicopter in the Sky at St. Paul and Mount RoyalWednesday’s ride was all commute, happily since Monday’s rain-out meant a super crowded bus ride home. It was so crowded, in that way that reminds you how relative that whole “no touching” dictum is. I mean, if the kinds of physical contact happening on that Monday bus ride were to happen at the workplace, somebody’d be out of a job. Wednesday’s ride home was a different kind of slow slog, this one taking place right after I heard that Eric Garner’s killer was not indicted. That means the grand jury didn’t think there was enough evidence for any reasonable person to even possibly find the killer guilty of any kind of crime. It sucked the air right out of me, but I had the privilege for that to be a passing feeling, and I returned to breath, shallow for a bit, but there. Continue reading