Johns Hopkins Department of the History of Medicine on Monument & Washington

Johns Hopkins Department of the History of Medicine on Monument & Washington

Time has already become almost meaningless, and yesterday it was only Wednesday of our first week on lockdown. I’m sure I’ll adjust to all this, but I’m not adjusted yet, not even close. The morning was good–I started off with a Zoom writing group with professors, started by a friend from my Tulane days. It was so good to see some friendly faces, have a chat about our work, and then actually focus for a few decent stretches of time. Time is everywhere and nowhere right now, so to be able to get some thinking done in the stretch of it was a nice break.

And then I spent the rest of my day reworking the syllabi for my three classes that are moving online. I assumed as I was working on them that we’d be out for the rest of the term, but that wasn’t sure until this morning, so I think I’m going to have to go back in and make some more revisions. It is the right choice, of course, but it is devastating to me to be shut out of regular contact with my students. The classroom is so important to me. Students keep me going, and I’ll miss our regular contact. We’ll see what we can do virtually, though, and perhaps this will spark different kinds of connections.

Though I think that’s probably some bullshit, but I need some of that in my life these days, too. Gotta keep peeking for possibilities.

I finally ran out of steam for work and then it was time for a bike ride. I started off with a quick stop at the drugstore to pick up a prescription. My attempts to stay at least six feet away from fellow patrons likely made me look like I was dancing, but whatever it takes. The pharmacy tech told me the police are stopping by every hour to make sure there aren’t more than 50 people in there at any given time. What a world already.

And then I headed over to the Maryland Avenue cycletrack, thinking I’d ride downtown to see if it feels like a ghost town yet. I changed my mind and took a left on Centre Street to head to the Monument Ave cycletrack up to Hopkins Hospital to see what it looked like at what is likely one of the centers of the state’s response to this thing.

I expected things to look really different, for fewer cars on the road, people not out walking, no groups enjoying the warm(ish) day. We have to stay inside to save lives, and to speed up to the future where we don’t have to stay inside. I expected it to feel eerie.

And it did, but because everything felt more or less the same. Clumps of people in parks and at bus stops, in front of the social service sites on Fallsway, clogging the sidewalks at Hopkins. Some folks were in masks, but we were all just out there. Hopkins looked like it always looks, though I’m sure once inside things are different, if you can get inside at all.

I stopped near the end of the cycletrack to take this picture of a most beautiful flower tree in front of the Department of the History of Medicine building on Monument. Behind me is the Bloomberg School of Public Health. I want these two in charge right now–not Bloomberg, but the public health experts, and the historians who might help us make sense of what a pandemic does to societies, and what happens when they end. Because this one will end. Right? It’s very strange to be in a terrifying move at just the start, with no idea how long it will last or how it will end.

I continued my ride over to Patterson Park, which felt like a petri dish, so I biked away immediately and headed home.

This was the first spring ride with bare legs, and usually that’s what I’d blog about on some unseasonably warm March afternoon. There’s a new freedom when I’m out of leggings, wind rustling through my leg hair. I took a few minutes of my ride to focus on that feeling, because it’s still real, and it’s still good. I’m not a brightsider right now, but one thing I learned from cancer is that even if you’d give it all back to not have to have been there, you can’t, so if there’s a moment that feels good, embrace the shit out of it. Take care, everybody. I’ll be running and riding until they tell me I can’t do that anymore.

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