I was in Austin, Texas all week last week, there to learn some basics of computer programs used in the digital humanities. I was anxious before I left, worried that I’m an old dog that can’t learn new tricks. I’m an impatient bird, and when things get frustrating, I have a tendency to give up. Computers are frustrating; could I hack it, so to speak?
I could, and I did, and I had an amazing week, the most focused and interesting week of learning in memory. I didn’t want to leave, even though by the end of it I wanted nothing more than to be at home. It was hard work, 9-5 in classes, and before and after tending to one or another of my three other jobs at the moment. I didn’t think I’d find time to get in a bike ride, but Austin has a bike share system, and it seemed a shame to pass it up. I choked down a quick lunch on Wednesday and had exactly 40 minutes to get to a bike, ride around, and get back to class.
I haven’t blogged in awhile, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been biking. It’s absolutely biking season in Baltimore–cooler temps, still light out after six, and besides, biking is the best way to get around. Most of my rides have been to and from work or to and from the place where I get my haircut, but at least once a week I’ve managed to take the long way and get just lost enough.
It was my birthday last Thursday, and I was a bit apprehensive about it, my first without my dad. Firsts are tricky, or so I’ve heard, so I didn’t make any big plans for the day in case what I wanted to do was sit in bed and cry. That’s not what I wanted to do, waking up in a celebratory mood instead. I decided to keep it going on Friday with another vacation day, this time for a bike ride. I set out without a real plan, except a vague desire to collect my free Birthday Burger at Red Robin down in Canton. I zig zagged my way there, got a burger that I ended up paying for–don’t worry, the free one’s on my card for later this week–and then decided on a whim to bike over to Dundalk. Getting there’s a bit of a pain–Holabird Avenue’s not exactly bike-friendly–but once you’re there it’s a dream of wide bike lanes and quiet streets. I made my way slowly over there and took the lane on Holabird to avoid that close-call feeling as cars imagine they can pass you even when they can’t. I went past the Amazon warehouse where all the magic happens, noted its ample bike parking and wondered if the company doesn’t have the clout to get a bike lane in front, and talked my way through the truck traffic before making my right on Dundalk Avenue.
School’s out for summer–or until summer school, anyway. I’ve still got plenty of grading and summer course planning to do, but I started the week jubilant with the feeling that yes, I made it through that tough semester, the students survived and learned some things even if I wasn’t at my best, and I’ll never have to do the first semester after my dad was killed ever again. That part is both happy and sad–happy because days are so much better than they were at the start of the term, and sad because as time passes, he’s still gone. It’s nuts to me that he’s dead and doesn’t even know it. But I digress.
Today’s ride took me down the hill to work, as per usual, and then back up the hill to home. I took this picture of signs outside the University of Maryland parking garage at Eutaw and West Fayette. No Trespassing Violator Prosecuted, but also, bicycle air is in there. I had a couple of thoughts: first, what a great thing to know, that there’s air here, in case I ever need some. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride took me to Charles Village to meet N. for a surprise lunch before heading down to the Horseshoe Casino to invest some spare dollars and then enjoy happy hour while watching college basketball. None of that aligns with any of my political priorities, but fuck it, I’m on vacation and am basically a huge hypocrite. I left, one “cosmopolitan” and two lite beers plus some of Guy Fieri’s “vegas fries” on board, but in spite of all that, since I broke even at the slots and UCLA won a nailbiter, I considered myself a winner. Continue reading
Sunday was another shockingly beautiful day in Baltimore, and we had an outdoor wedding to attend down in Fells Point, on Ravens game day. This is just the sort of thing that would throw my parking-averse self into a frenzy days in advance, worrying where we were going to put the car, how much parking would cost, when we’d have to leave to find a spot–not to brag, but I can really worry about this sort of thing. But the ladyfriend and I both have bikes, so we put on our formal wear–me, a dress and heels, her slacks and a vest and a tie and some snazzy wingtips–and jammed some lights and a safety vest in a bag for the ride home, and headed down the hill to watch L. and T. tie the knot. Actually, they did so awhile ago in Australia, but they wanted to throw a show for the rest of us, and they couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day to do so. Continue reading