Peeking Over the Fence at Rash Field at William & Key Highway

A construction site with lots of gravel, dirt, holes, and diggers. Tall buildings are in the background.

Tuesday was busy–lots of emails in the morning, teaching in the morning and afternoon, and then meetings. It was good to see students again, but if I’m being real, I mostly wanted to be outside. It was sunny, 60 degrees, just perfect, and sitting inside at my computer felt like a waste of that perfect air. Fortunately, I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon and enough time to ride my bike there and back between tasks, so I got to hop on the Surly and head down the hill like the old days.

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Flowering Tree at Barclay & 33rd

Looking down a street toward a busy intersection, a bright pink flowering tree in the foreground.

I got a new bicycle! It’s a blue Trek Domane AL 2, the most basic entry level road bike they had in my size at the bike shop by my house. I’ve been thinking about maybe getting a road bike off and one for years. I love my Surly, but sometimes maybe I don’t want to be riding a tank up and down the hills around here. Maybe I just want to go out for a ride with nothing on my bike but my ass and a water bottle. I certainly don’t need a road bike, but I want one, and then the local bike shop had one in my size, and after a couple of test rides, I rolled it on home to cuddle up to the Surly in the basement.

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Mattress and Christmas Tree at Eutaw & Academy Alley

Old mattress and Christmas tree in an alley against a red brick wall.

It’s March, and that means we get a li’l taste of spring, but it’s just a taste, don’t get too attached. It came this week, and it has been glorious–sunny, blue skies, and by the end of the week we even got a break from the wind machines. For me this meant hanging out with friends outside, but comfortably. It has been months since I’ve seen people live and in person other than my partner and not been shivering away. I was positively giddy on Tuesday, waiting to finish up my work day so I could hop on my bike and head down the hill for some quality time with my Work Wife.

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Boarded-Up Windows at Perkins Homes at Gough & Caroline

Boarded up windows on a square brick  at Perkins Homes in Baltimore

I was a grumpy ol’ crankpot yesterday. It was the first day back to work after a much-appreciated vacation, and when somebody put a meeting that could be an email on my calendar, I just lost it. I hate it when my time is wasted so that bureaucrats can feel like they have work to do. There’s so much of that in so many of our lives, and I wish that the way capitalism has resulted in a world that needs less “work” meant we actually worked less. Anyway. I was angry about the meeting, but then I was off the races with it, just huffing around, not doing anybody any good. So I took my bike out for a ride.

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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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