Lake Montebello on a Misty Day

A metal fence is in the foreground, the middle of the picture is calm gray waters, and the top of the picture is a gray sky, all clouds.

Long time, no blog. I’ve been riding my bike, more than I have in a long time, actually. Up and down the hill, to work, to the gym, up to and around the park, as far east as I can go, as far west, almost every day. And things have been hard. It was a hard academic year, the shortest and longest of my career. There are so many layers of grief, so little time and space to parse through them. This world. I need a chance to catch my breath and exhale, even as there is no “break” for any of us, if we are paying attention and have empathy as part of our experience of being human. I’m fine, and I’m not, and I’m grateful for a bicycle and a circle to ride it around, over and over again, hello fellow humans, hello misty air, hello. We’re still here.

Empty Lot and Row Houses at W. Fairmount Avenue and S. Payson Street

Picture of an empty lot in the foreground with row houses in the background. The sky is bright blue and dotted with clouds. On the left is a street light with flags reading "Grace Medical Center" on one side and "CARE BRAVELY" on the other side.

It’s spring break, and Monday’s weather felt like it. I spent my morning reading in bed before hopping online to email students reminders to turn in work and answer some other work-related emails before heading to Mount Vernon for a panel discussion about Baltimore for UMBC’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. Ok, so far it’s not sounding like a break, but I knew an out-to-lunch-alone and a solo bike ride were on the other side of things, so even the work felt like a celebration.

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Looking South Toward Hopkins from Broadway East

Picture of a street that dead ends into  deteriorating row homes with a blue sky above it and Johns Hopkins Hospital in the background.

Friday as the last day of work before spring break, and boy howdy did I have spring breakitis that day! The weather was bananas–in the 70s, sun shining, just enough humidity to kick on the dehumidifier in the basement for the first time in months–and I was itching to get outside for a ride. And that’s exactly what I did, once the last of the must-do tasks were completed, meetings over, time for the break to start a bit early.

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Sunlight Over Eutaw & Centre Streets

Picture looking down the street at an intersection. The sun is coming up about midway from the horizon. The sky is streaked with clouds and new light, and there are leafless trees against it.

We went to Michigan for the weekend to see family and meet our new baby niece, and by the time we flew back on Sunday, the time had changed, the weather warmed up, and spring was here. This might still be false spring, yes, but I already feel safe leaving my gloves and lights at home for my work commute. And for now, it’s darker when I leave home in the mornings, which means a whole new kind of light as I pedal downtown to catch my bus out to work.

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Geese and Birds Hanging Out on Lake Montebello

Picture of an urban reservoir on a gray and cloudy day. The water is partially frozen, and birds are standing on the ice while others are swimming in the water nearby.

It’s winter, and that means if the weather report includes snow, I try to get in a bike ride before the ice makes the streets scary for me to bike on. Snow was coming Friday afternoon, and I had a break between meetings from 1:45-3:00, so I put on a whole lot of fleece-lined and wool clothing, my windproof jacket, my tiny hat, and some gloves, and I headed out for a ride around the neighborhood.

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Looking Out Over the Water From the Bond Street Pier in Fells Point

The bottom half of the picture is blue-grey water and the top half is gray clouds with just a sliver of blue in the foreground. The picture is divided by a line of buildings across Baltimore's harbor.

I sprained my ankle really badly the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I do all sorts of stuff with my body, but I didn’t sprain my ankle running or riding my bike or doing weird stuff at the gym. I sprained it walking down my own front steps, just a slip, my ankle bent all the way sideways, me in a lump on the sidewalk in front of my house. Ankles are tricky joints–like teeth and knees, a real design problem–and over six weeks out, it’s still a little swollen. Bodies, man! They are so good at giving us challenges and forcing us to listen to them, whether we want to or not.

So I listened, and I stopped running, even though I was over halfway through with my running plan and really into the steady three-day-a-week groove. Running is really hard for me, and I love the challenge of it and the way it makes me feel in my body, but nope, my body said no. But what if it’s time to say yes? I love running when it’s cold out, especially since I hate riding my bike when it’s cold out, and I want to be outside every day. Running is hard, but it is also so easy for me–strap on a sports bra and some tights, a shirt, and a hat, lace up my shoes, and I’m off.

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OMICRON IS THE COMMON COLD Graffiti on the Maryland Avenue Bridge over the JFX

Picture of a cloudy sky at sunset, light orange and pink at the bottom and stretching up to clouds and light blue sky. There is graffiti on the bridge in the foreground that reads, "OMICRON IS THE COMMON COLD."

It snowed on Sunday, which I know made lots of people really happy, but for me, snow on the ground means no biking, and I hate no biking. I know, I know, I could still bike, and many people do, but when there’s ice, braking and turning can toss you right off your bike, and I do a lot of those things while riding. For me it’s not worth the risk, so I just wait out the day or two for warmer temperatures that make the roads safer for me.

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Blue Skies with Light Clouds Above North Montford & Preston Streets

Two weeks ago Tuesday I was heading out of my house to see a friend read poetry at the brewery just a few steps from my house. I was running late but feeling good, and I hopped quickly down the front steps of my house. I must have missed a step or something, because all of a sudden I was collapsed in a heap on my front sidewalk, unable to get up. I sprained my ankle, badly, but I didn’t know that in the moment. What I knew was that I was hurt, and I was scared, and I wasn’t sure what to do.

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Close Call at N. Eutaw & Saratoga

Monday’s ride started like every Monday ride: I meant to leave the house by 7:45am but it was 7:51 by the time I was on my bike. I rode west and then south and then west and then south along the Maryland Avenue cycletrack, ringing my bell and saying good morning to the many pedestrians waiting for places to open between 25th Street and North Avenue. I waited at the red at North, got passed by another cyclist when the light turned green. I rang my bell and shouted “ON YOUR LEFT” in my passive aggressive attempt to get other people on bikes to let me know when they’re about to pass me.

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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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