Yellow Ginkgo Trees at Centre & Guilford

Bright yellow gingko trees on a busy street against a background of a brick building and blue sky.

This semester has been a slog. Energy levels reached end-of-the-semester levels by midterms, and the joy of being with each other in the classroom, while still there, has been dampened by the part where we’re still in a pandemic, we’re packing our days as if we still don’t have the commutes we lost last year, and we’re all overwhelmed by the energy it takes to pay attention without being able to turn our cameras off for a minute. It has been a great semester (though it’s not over yet), but it has also been an incredible amount of work–intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Still the best job ever.

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Close Call at N. Eutaw & Saratoga

Monday’s ride started like every Monday ride: I meant to leave the house by 7:45am but it was 7:51 by the time I was on my bike. I rode west and then south and then west and then south along the Maryland Avenue cycletrack, ringing my bell and saying good morning to the many pedestrians waiting for places to open between 25th Street and North Avenue. I waited at the red at North, got passed by another cyclist when the light turned green. I rang my bell and shouted “ON YOUR LEFT” in my passive aggressive attempt to get other people on bikes to let me know when they’re about to pass me.

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Sidewalk Closed Sign Along Druid Park Lake Drive

A scene of road construction with the sidewalk blocked off. There is a fence on the right and a busy street is on the left.

I canceled my Monday classes because I could tell we all needed a mid-semester breather, even if the institution thinks we can hold off on that until the end of November. How can I tell? Well, I’m exhausted and overwhelmed, and many of my students are too. Attendance is off, and those who come ready to participate sure do a lot of participating to make up for those of us who are struggling to keep our brains focused enough to pay attention. We are doing great considering, and we needed a day to catch our breath.

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Looking Out Over Herring Run Park from Lake Montebello

The top half of the photo is cloudy skies and the bottom half is grass and trees with road construction heading through the middle.

The weather is perfect, but that didn’t mean I felt like getting out of bed on Sunday and doing anything other than sipping coffee and reading books. It’s cool enough to snuggle into sheets and quilts, and I didn’t want to get out. But I did want to ride my bike, and my ladyfriend reminded me that there’s nothing I like more than riding a bike around in weather like this, so I best get to it. So I did.

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Looking Out at the Water from Fort McHenry

Bike handlebars in the foreground against a background of blue sky with wispy white clouds and darker blue water.

I have been feeling all out of sorts lately, and guess what? It’s because I’m still adjusting to teaching on campus, inside, with masks, as the pandemic continues to rage. The daily death toll is still beyond what I can really fathom, and it’s awful. I know that I am largely protected from severe illness or death by my now three Pfizer vaccines, but I still don’t want to get COVID, and I still don’t want you to get it, either. And I think in-person learning is important, and I’m happy to do it on a fully vaxxed and masked campus.

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Baltimore City Convention Center Field Hospital on Charles Between Pratt & Conway

Friday’s bike ride took me down to the Baltimore City Convention Center to get myself a COVID test. I wasn’t having any symptoms, and the chance that I picked it up from teaching in person on Wednesday and having it show up on Friday was incredibly low, and yet, there I was, getting myself a test. The CDC guidelines say it’s not necessary for asymptomatic vaccinated people to get tested, so was I just leaching resources? Or should I actually be getting tested regularly? If I taught at a rich private school I’d be getting tested all the time, I’m just saying.

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Sitting on the UMBC Transit Shuttle to Campus

Selfie of a white woman with short blond hair on a shuttle bus. She is wearing a blue facemask over her nose and mouth and sunglasses.

I’ve been riding a bike around all summer, because at least I can create a breeze on my bike, unlike running, which just sucks (for me–I’m a heat sensitive bird). Most of my rides have been to and around the park, to some weird fitness class and back, or to meet a friend for a treat outside somewhere. Thursday’s ride, though, took me downtown to the med center’s abundant bike racks so I could lock up and grab the campus shuttle back to UMBC. It was my first regular ol’ commute in over a year and a half. It was also the first cool-ish not-so-humid day in a minute, and it all felt amazing.

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Cloudy Skies Over the Reservoir at Druid Hill Park

Fence in the foreground, green trees behind it, and then mostly just a big old cloudy sky.

I didn’t feel like going for a bike ride on Sunday, but I knew I’d feel better in my body and mind if I did, so I did. I also couldn’t let a rare day below a zillion degrees go to waste. The heat is literally deadly for so many, and it’s figuratively deadly for me. At the end of a long bike ride on a normal July day in Baltimore leaves me feeling like somebody just sucked out my soul. A million percent worth it, but a day in the 70s? Thank you!

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The View from Peter’s Hill at Arnold Arboretum in Boston

Green grasses in the foreground, green leafy trees in the midground, and a blue sky with puffy clouds in the background. Downtown Boston skyscrapers are just peeping up from the trees.

Oh, it feels so, so good to be back on my bike! I’ve taken lots of rides in the past week or two, acclimating to the heat and reacquainting myself with riding on the street with cars. I spent most of Quarantine Times running, especially since my commute vanished and with it my guaranteed daily bike ride. Now it’s hot and humid, running feels awful and sometimes dangerous, and I have remembered that I am happy as a clam to ride around in this weather instead, even though it feels like riding inside somebody’s mouth, especially on trash pickup day.

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Cloudless Blue Sky Above 27th & Calvert

Picture of a bright and cloudless blue sky with a couple of wires stretching across the top quarter of the picture. Green tree branches peek out on the right side. There's a tiny speck in the middle of the image. It's a bird.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s hot outside. It doesn’t matter where you are, it seems–it’s hot, it’s “code red,” it’s never going to end. (Well, we’ll get a break from the heat this weekend, thank goddess.) So this is a post about how it’s hot, and I rode my bike in this heat, and it was fine.

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