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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Looking South Along Chinquapin Run From a Bridge

Rocky stream running between two green and overgrown banks with a cloudy blue sky in the background.

Sunday was–you guessed it–hot and humid. I spent the morning luxuriating in the ice box that is my bedroom when I’ve got the AC unit blasting, the door closed, and the windows covered. I remember a time in my life when I’d be too afraid of the utility bill to run it like that, but now I can afford to cool myself off. So many can’t, and so many couldn’t even if they wanted to. As the heat dome continues to settle over the Pacific Northwest I remember that they’re not ready for it, they don’t have the infrastructure for it, and even if they did, heat waves are the deadliest of “natural” disasters.

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Looking Out Over the Water from Canton Waterfront Park

Thursday afternoon found me out on my bike, no plans other than to be at the beer place by the light rail station at 4:30pm to meet my work wife for nachos. I headed down the hill to the Fallsway bike lane, then left to hook up with the Monument Street bike lane, and then up and down and over and down and through and into the Potomac Street bike lane. Remember when everyone was so mad about that bike lane? How embarrassing. Now it’s just there, filled with trash cans and cars, and, on this Thursday, me and my bike.

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Looking Across the Harbor at Domino Sugar from Fells Point

Baltimore has been “enjoying” a heat wave for the past week, though if I’m being honest with myself, it’s just sneak-peeking July and August for us. I absolutely HATE the heat and humidity. I’ll adjust, but being outside in the summer is just so much less pleasant for me than being outside in the winter, and it makes me cranky.

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Monument Between Ramsey & Ashton Streets in Carrollton Ridge

Monument with a soldier and eagle on a post that reads DEVOTION against a blue sky with puffy clouds. Streets are on either side, and a burned-out red brick building is in the background.

Tuesday’s bike ride took me first to get a haircut and then wherever I felt like going, because I had an afternoon free of meetings and assignments to grade weren’t coming in until midnight. Academics often complain about their jobs, which I totally get because complaining about work is a birthright no matter where you work or what you do. That said, that I could grab a few hours on a random Tuesday to do whatever I wanted to do? Yeah, most jobs don’t let you have that much control over your time. But don’t tell anyone I said this job is actually pretty cushy in terms of control over your own time, especially not after the year we all just had.

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Looking Out at a Cloudy Sky and Ships from Fort McHenry

Gray and cloudy skies in the background, dark water in the foreground, and two ships on the water.

I woke up early Tuesday morning–3:30ish–with my mind spinning about details, none of which would seem important in the morning. One of the things spinning around was where I could ride my bike after teaching that day. I’ve been so swamped with work for the past few weeks that finding time to just ride without a planned destination hasn’t been easy. I think it woke me up because I’ve been low key excited about that rare free afternoon for awhile now. I tossed and turned, got a little more sleep, and then was up, sending emails and writing and grading and teaching and meeting, and then the magic time came when I could get on my bike and see where it would take me.

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