The weather report for the end of the week was all rain, so I grabbed an hour on Wednesday to sneak in a bike ride around town before everything got all wet. I know, I know, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing, but I hate riding in the rain if I can help it. My brakes don’t work as well, drivers are even more bananas than usual, and once my glasses get wet, I can’t really see. The older I get the more likely I am to choose my mode of transportation or exercise based on pleasure rather than what I think I should be doing. It is a gift of getting older to care less what other people (by which I mostly mean my internal high school principal) think about what I’m doing. And I can’t tell you how happy I was when my stepmom gave me my dad’s bike tour journal, where he clearly chose to stay in hotels sometimes to avoid the rain and charge his cell phone. If you knew my dad, you know he was a purist about many things, so learning he wasn’t always that way was a real treat.Continue reading
The spring semester started this week, and for me, teaching started Tuesday. That means I’m back on my bike commute after six weeks of working from home. It is a huge relief. I love not having to commute into the office, but after a few weeks of that, I miss just being around people. I know many white collar folks who can work from home want to keep doing that, but I like being in person with people, especially with students. And I think there is real value in being together with students in the flesh to talk about ideas.Continue reading
Tuesday was unusually warm, a balmy 41 degrees, so I knocked off work a bit early to take a bike ride in the sunshine they said we wouldn’t get. I headed west this time, and then south, heading toward Stricker Street to pay my respects to the three firefighters who died when the house at 205 Stricker Street collapsed on them. A fourth firefighter was injured, though he appears to be recovering. Pictures of these firefighters are all over the news, and they are devastating. So young, such smiles, so many people who loved them, killed doing a job that is entirely about helping protect others. Flags at half mast, a long line of fellow firefighters accompanying them from shock trauma to the medical examiner’s office, so many tributes pouring in from all over. It is just so sad.Continue reading
My gym started a “challenge” in November. If you went twenty times between the second week of November and the new year, you would get a free hat. I signed up for the challenge, because I’ve never met a free hat I didn’t want to take home with me, even if I will never wear the free hat. When I signed up for it I wondered what would get in the way of this free hat for me. The last gym challenge I’d signed up for was at the YMCA, six years ago. I missed the free shirt because my dad was killed by a driver, and I had to leave town for the last week of the challenge, a couple days short. What would it be this time?Continue reading
This semester has been a slog. Energy levels reached end-of-the-semester levels by midterms, and the joy of being with each other in the classroom, while still there, has been dampened by the part where we’re still in a pandemic, we’re packing our days as if we still don’t have the commutes we lost last year, and we’re all overwhelmed by the energy it takes to pay attention without being able to turn our cameras off for a minute. It has been a great semester (though it’s not over yet), but it has also been an incredible amount of work–intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Still the best job ever.Continue reading
One thing that makes Baltimore so different from New Orleans is that here in Baltimore, for much of the summer it cools off enough at night to make a difference, and sometimes, on summer mornings, it’s actually nice outside. That hasn’t felt true for the past couple of weeks, but Monday at 8:30am it was only 73 degrees and the humidity was only 80%. I was so excited to experience a run in tolerable conditions that I headed out for my weekend long run (four miles, week one of round two of half marathon training, for those following along at home) on a Monday.Continue reading
I took my bicycle to DC last weekend. I used public transportation to get there and back, and while riding around DC, I ate lunch at a restaurant, sitting outside, pulling my mask down just for bites. It felt like being a tourist at the end of the world. The place was empty, except for the gloriously alive Black Lives Matter Plaza by the White House and the streams of local runners making their pretty much everywhere. I don’t know how they do it in the middle of the day, but there you go.Continue reading
Here we are, another week into quarantine. I regularly ask my students in our online course meetings if things are getting harder or easier. A. said a few weeks ago that things are mostly just getting weirder, and I totally agree with her. I remain in total disbelief that this is happening.Continue reading
The heat wave broke with a beautiful overcast day on Tuesday, and I was lucky enough to have places to be on my bike and the energy to ride. My first stop was at the dentist for a six month cleaning and check up. I am lucky enough to have dental insurance, even though it mostly covers nothing but these check ups, so I get them on the clock–I’m not one to leave money on the table. I missed one cleaning, during chemotherapy, because the Internet suggested I avoid it due to risk of infection. I told my oncologist this at the end of treatment, and he was like, yeah, ok, you didn’t really need to do that. When you live in the online support group world where everyone posts their nightmares, it’s easy to get swept up in it. But whatever–I’m back to the dentist, happily letting the father-daughter team at Dr. Shelton’s office have their way with my mouth. It’s a gift to get this care in a world where we’ve somehow decided eyes, mouths, and spirits aren’t work the same level of care as the rest of us.
That ride took me through Waverly and out Ellerslie to 33rd, anything to avoid a few blocks on 33rd. And then I took the lane and pedaled as fast as I could as cars whizzed by me, because two lanes headed in one direction with a median is a freeway to drivers. I pulled up on the sidewalk at The Alameda, locked up, and went in for what would be almost an hour’s wait. It’s so expensive in so many ways to access health care, and I’m intimately aware of the layers of luck that let me do that.
I left with clean teeth and a trip south and west again to the gym. I took The Alameda (I love the “The” part) to Saint Lo Drive through Clifton Park, a route I haven’t taken in a long time. The park is beautiful, though the asphalt isn’t. The rumblebumble strips to slow cars are great for slowing cars, I hope, but on a bike, it’s not awesome. I popped out at Sinclair, took a right, and a left on Wolfe and took that all the way south.
That single street ride, just two miles of it, is a tour of uneven development and displacement, and the racialized nature of those things. I snapped this picture at Chase Street, at the entrance to Eager Park, part of the new neighborhood, Eager Park. This was called Middle East when I moved to Baltimore not even ten years ago, but it’s been rebranded by the Hopkins development. Neighborhood names in Baltimore are largely real estate marketing tools, so it’s no surprise they’re at it again.
From the angle of this picture it’s a brand new shiny park, the green just coming in and promising much more as the years allow for new growth.
And then I continued my ride through Hopkins, across Orleans, and down through Upper Fells and Fells and west to Harbor East, entirely different worlds, all Baltimore City. It was a good day for a ride.
It’s July, and there’s a heat wave, so honestly what I’m seeing on my bike rides this week is my own sweat in my eyeballs. It’s brutal, especially going uphill. I’d still rather ride my bike than bake at the bus stop, waiting for another bus that’s going to get trapped in the traffic nightmare that is a sinkhole at Howard and Pratt and street closures for Artscape. Seriously, a bicycle is always the best way to get around.