Peeking Over the Wall at St. Paul Cemetery at O’Donnell & Bonsai Streets

A small old brick building is set against a blue sky. A low brick wall extends along the sidewalk. On the other side is a cemetery.

This 2020 election has been a real doozy. I spent most of last week glued to the TV or Twitter while telling myself that neither of those things were helping. I was so exhausted on Wednesday, but woke up to roll into three straight hours of engaging with other people, something I was frankly in no shape to do. I wandered around for the rest of the afternoon in a daze, feeling like an empty husk of a person. I cannot control what I cannot control–and wow that includes the outcome of a presidential election, but the stakes are so high I struggled with the mindfulness practices that usually help. It’s like when I got cancer; “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” stopped soothing anything.

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Luxury Student Housing Going Up at Paca & Lexington

Looking up at a multistory building being built on a corner in Baltimore. Wall installation is underway, but the construction is mostly still just showing its bones.

I took a couple of bike rides this week, mostly to work off global pandemic anxiety that has been enhanced with election 2020 anxiety. I spent a lot of the week staring at Twitter and refreshing the New York Times to see who would be the winner of this thing, even though I know that I can’t control who wins, and that whomever wins, there’s still a global pandemic, crushing poverty rates, and so many people without adequate food, housing, and health care. C’mon, Biden-Harris and a new inauguration day!

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Park Bench and Picnic Table Under Cloudy Skies at Middle Branch Park

A blue park bench is in the foreground, set against green grass and a picnic table and tree in the middle of the picture. The sky is cloudy and the water of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River is steel gray.

Monday was the first day of early voting in Maryland so I wanted to check out the lines at one of the sites. The best way to do that, of course, was on my bike, so I hopped on and headed down the hill toward Camden Yards. When I first heard this was going to be an early voting site I had images of voting from home plate, looking up at my adoring fans in the stands. Alas, you actually vote inside Dempsey’s Brew Pub–decidedly less exciting. I requested an absentee ballot and dropped it off in a ballot box a couple weeks ago. I was, as usual, my own adoring fan.

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Looking Up at the Blue Sky Above St. Mary’s Park at Paca & Druid Hill

Picture of a blue sky with a whisper of white clouds. A tree and a lamp post are also in the picture.

I was so, so tired by the end of last week. I start every week with a to do list that seems pretty manageable, and yet all it takes is a couple extra tasks getting dropped on the plate to throw me out of whack. By the time I hit Friday I was toast, and when I finished my tasks for the day, the last thing I wanted to do was ride my bike somewhere. But I was meeting some friends and collaborators for an outdoor meeting in the park, so I had to suck it up and ride my bike down the hill.

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Power Transmission Lines on Chase Just Before Iris

Fenced off green space with No Trespassing signs. Electrical transmission lines are on tall routers set against a blue sky and trees.

I haven’t been on a bike ride with no particular destination in a minute, so with free time on Wednesday and legs that needed a break from running I took advantage of the sunny fall afternoon to tool around. I headed south, a quick stop to drop a book with a friend, and then I turned east at the Station North Tool Library, across Greenmount, and east on Hoffman. I usually head south shortly after, but I decided to take a left on Holbrook Street to ride the length of it.

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Baltimore City Jail Being Demolished at Fallsway & Eager

View down the street at the Baltimore City Jail being demolished. In the foreground on the sidewalk is a red star with a name of a victim of police violence.

Wednesday’s ride took me down the hill in the sunshine for a quick haircut at the barber. I know many don’t feel like that’s a safe activity, but I do, so I wore my mask, joined B. and one other barber and client inside, and got the back and sides cleaned up. It was so good to be out of my house and neighborhood for even just the 20 minutes I spent inside there.

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If You Tolerate Racism, Delete Uber Sign at Fallsway & Gay

Sign painted on a building that reads: If you tolerate racism, delete Uber. Black people have the right to move without fear.

Fall is here and I am over the moon about the weather. It is finally cooling down, reliably, and that makes being outside so much more pleasant for me. I spent Saturday riding bikes with my brother and nephew, along the glorious Anacostia Trail. My younger nephew had only learned to ride at all a week before, and he made it over ten miles. I loved watching his noodle legs spin around and around as he set a solid pace for the rest of us, only having to walk up a couple of small hills. He’s a natural, and I’m so glad they moved close enough that I’m going to get to ride bikes with them a whole lot more.

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Looking up at UM School of Dentistry at Baltimore & Pine

Looking up at a metal sculpture that stands out against tall glass and brick buildings. From this vantage point, I feel overwhelmed.

The weather has turned to fall, and I’m so incredibly grateful for it. I’ve run three times a week for most of the summer, and though I acclimated to the heat and humidity enough to not feel like I had to puke at the end of every run, it never got easy. So much of my body’s energy was working to keep me from overheating that little was left for the actual running. I found it all deeply uncomfortable, but I got enough good feelings out of it for it to have been worth it.

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Looking Out at the Old Pier at Fells Point

The ladyfriend took me hiking this past weekend in the Shenandoah, and it was glorious. I loved just driving somewhere away from home with her, something we’ve not done in as long as I can remember. I loved being out in the woods, seeing waterfalls and views, waving an occasional hello to others out doing the same thing. Driving into the park it seemed busy, but once you’re off the main drag, it’s easy to find quiet.

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Celebrate Black Lives Sign in Patterson Park Along Eastern Avenue Near Lakewood

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking down lately. Classes started last week, and I have been busily prepping classes and fretting about prepping classes. If you live on social media, which I do, you’d think a semester of remote learning for college students was the end of the world, especially for professors. For me, it’s just what we’ve got to do for public health, and let’s all do our best to make the best of it. Look around, read the room: it’s fine. (Except when it’s not–access issues have never felt more urgent, but that’s another blog post.) That doesn’t mean I wasn’t wringing my hands the last couple weeks, but now that the semester is underway, I’m just trying to get in a rhythm and swing of things.

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