Brown Volvo at 23rd & Guilford

It was just too windy to stop riding, get off my bike, and snap a picture on my ride home yesterday. It was that kind of wind where you drop down your gears and still find yourself pedaling–downhill. Whatever the conditions, though, just keep pedaling and you’ll get there–best not be in a hurry. So that’s what I did on my way home yesterday from a Friday in meetings followed by a beer and catching up with N, the first week of another new semester in the books. What did I see? Lots of stuff, but what I really saw was the mix of gaudy architecture with plain stacked concrete on the Westside, and on the way home, that brown Volvo parked about four cars down from 23rd Street on Guilford. Continue reading

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


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


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.