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 Out at the Old Pier at Fells Point

The ladyfriend took me hiking this past weekend in the Shenandoah, and it was glorious. I loved just driving somewhere away from home with her, something we’ve not done in as long as I can remember. I loved being out in the woods, seeing waterfalls and views, waving an occasional hello to others out doing the same thing. Driving into the park it seemed busy, but once you’re off the main drag, it’s easy to find quiet.

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The Marley Station Mall Parking Lot from the B&A Trail

I have been riding my touring bike for over a decade, and what my rides look like have changed in that time, because I have changed. It has always been my daily commuter from day one, because I love traveling by bike, and I hate parking cars. Seven years ago I used it to train for and ride my first century ride, and five years ago I used it as it is meant to be used–for a self contained tour of the Adirondacks. I asked my dad how to train for that tour. He told me to go on longer and longer rides, and then go on the two week tour, because the best way to get in shape for bike touring is bike touring. He was right.

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Blue Water and Skies from Fort McHenry

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s incredibly hot out. It might be a global pandemic and a revolution, but everybody’s still happy to also talk about how it’s hot out. In Baltimore this past weekend should have been Artscape, the biggest free arts festival in the country, but it was cancelled, of course. Artscape is always on the hottest weekend of the year, and this year was no exception. (PS This week in July is statistically the hottest every year, so it’s not just Artscape that makes it so hot, but clearly it’s mostly Artscape.)

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Old Carnegie Building Being Demolished On the Hopkins Campus at San Martin Drive & University Pkwy

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.

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Helicopter and Blue Skies Above War Memorial Plaza

Monday was one of those days where I worked all day but didn’t get anything substantive done. It’s amazing what bureaucracy will have you thinking is labor, but I digress. At the end of it I didn’t really have the energy for a bike ride, but I knew I’d feel better after a ride, and I was right.

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Housewerks Salvage at Bayard & Hamburg

Housewerks Salvage at Bayard & Hamburg

I was feeling kind of blue on Monday, not for any real reason, but you know how it is. I find that all my irritation, frustration, anger, fear, despair…it gets laser focused on some tiny thing in my life that isn’t important at all in the scheme of things, but in a moment can get me so down. Right now, it’s the part where we got a new couch in January, it was delivered at the start of the lockdown, and the legs don’t fit, and so we’ve got a fancy couch sitting on the floor, and we may be sitting on the floor for months and months.

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Looking Down 33rd Street From Elm Street

Looking Down 33rd Street From Elm Street

Every day is the same, and the sameness is grinding. I’m incredibly routinized in general, and it took me only a few days to have a brand new quarantine routine. I still get up at the same time every day, but instead of commuting to work I read a book for awhile and then dither around on the internet. I next join my 8am Zoom Cat Chat group and then my Zoom writing group and attempt to put words on the page for two hours. That’s what I’m doing right now–putting words down for a little bit of time every day. This morning’s words are here.

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