Sidewalk Closed Sign Along Druid Park Lake Drive

A scene of road construction with the sidewalk blocked off. There is a fence on the right and a busy street is on the left.

I canceled my Monday classes because I could tell we all needed a mid-semester breather, even if the institution thinks we can hold off on that until the end of November. How can I tell? Well, I’m exhausted and overwhelmed, and many of my students are too. Attendance is off, and those who come ready to participate sure do a lot of participating to make up for those of us who are struggling to keep our brains focused enough to pay attention. We are doing great considering, and we needed a day to catch our breath.

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Looking Out Over Herring Run Park from Lake Montebello

The top half of the photo is cloudy skies and the bottom half is grass and trees with road construction heading through the middle.

The weather is perfect, but that didn’t mean I felt like getting out of bed on Sunday and doing anything other than sipping coffee and reading books. It’s cool enough to snuggle into sheets and quilts, and I didn’t want to get out. But I did want to ride my bike, and my ladyfriend reminded me that there’s nothing I like more than riding a bike around in weather like this, so I best get to it. So I did.

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Looking Out at the Water from Fort McHenry

Bike handlebars in the foreground against a background of blue sky with wispy white clouds and darker blue water.

I have been feeling all out of sorts lately, and guess what? It’s because I’m still adjusting to teaching on campus, inside, with masks, as the pandemic continues to rage. The daily death toll is still beyond what I can really fathom, and it’s awful. I know that I am largely protected from severe illness or death by my now three Pfizer vaccines, but I still don’t want to get COVID, and I still don’t want you to get it, either. And I think in-person learning is important, and I’m happy to do it on a fully vaxxed and masked campus.

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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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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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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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