I’ve been riding my bike a lot since I last blogged about it. I ride it almost every day, especially now that school is in session. It’s just how I get from here to there, and since I go here and there, I’m pretty much always on my bicycle. It has been so hot these last couple of months that biking has been a lot less pleasurable than usual. I’m still always happy once I’m on the bike, but if I’m being honest, I don’t always want to get on there.
Friday was a hard day. Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police while selling CDs outside a convenience store. Philando Castile was shot at a traffic stop, his girlfriend filming as her 4 year old child sat in the back seat. These were the latest two in a year that has already seen over 500 people shot and killed by police officers. And then shots rang out in Dallas, more people dead, more lives plunged into the heavy ocean waves of despair. Layers upon layers of loss, each one all about politics, and also about the individuals with lives cut short, the people who loved them left, after the cameras turn off, with the void of death. It’s so very permanent, and the grief will never ever fully subside. It is so, so sad, and angering, and it makes me want to melt down all the guns and freeze time until we can figure out how to uproot what Judith Butler calls schematic racism: the settled notion that all Black people are a threat and all white people need constant police protection from them. There’s a lot of other stuff we need to do, too, but that’s what was on my mind as I headed out on a bike ride on Friday.
Thursday at 10am, that’s what time the judge in the bench trial of Caesar Goodson was set to rule. Thursday at 10am, the third trial of the cops indicted in Freddie Gray’s murder. Gray was walking around his neighborhood that day in April 2015, and then he was chased by cops, dragged into a van, driven several stops, and arrived at the police station with a neck that “felt crumbly, like a box of rocks.” And yet here we are, more than a year later, a mistrial and an acquittal, and nobody thought this next decision would be anything but an acquittal. Folks are blaming the prosecutor, the police, the media, “the system,” and here we are, another acquittal announced 23 minutes late.
The sun finally came out out on Wednesday, and after a bunch of hours at home trying to catch up on email, I pulled myself out of bed–my office, when I’m lucky–and hopped on the bike to head down to War Memorial Plaza. I’d read on the internet that Nick Mosby was making an unexpected announcement at 1:00pm, and that would get me out of bed and on my bike, and then I’d be almost at that Chipotle and I still have that coupon they mailed everyone for a free burrito, so, given this tight calculus, I found myself waiting for Mosby to emerge and get all official in front of the cameras.
Last Thursday’s ride took me down to the Inner Harbor to meet A. and her sweet baby girl for a tour of the Christmas Village. It was empty, which I suppose is to be expected on a Thursday afternoon. That worked for the 19 month old kiddo I was with who mostly wanted to oh-so-carefully step her way down stairs and then run up them to slowly sneak down them again. And then she wanted to run as fast as she could, which wasn’t very fast if we’re being honest, and everyone who saw her could help but smile. Continue reading
Today’s ride took me down the hill for my last shuttle ride to campus for the fall semester. I love the last day of classes almost as much as the first, but I’m a little bit distracted right now, so I wasn’t totally on my game. The thing about teaching, though, is that just a few minutes with students and the distraction was gone, replaced by a sweet recognition that I’m pretty flipping lucky to have a job that lets me take the long way to work, and that the work is largely me having interesting conversations with other people about interesting things. And then class ended early, because it’s the last day, and I was back on the shuttle bus to fetch my bike to head up to meet N. for a celebratory beer and cheese plate. I took a lazy route home, mostly walking, because in my distraction I’d left my safety lights at home. I snapped this picture of Catherine Pugh’s Mount Vernon campaign headquarters, lots of those popping up these days. I wonder what sort of person wants to be mayor, given how much cash you have to throw down to make it happen and how many favors you end up owing. I saw Nick Mosby, another guy running for mayor, at the Monument Lighting last week. We were both shoving ourselves through the narrow peoplechute going south from the east side of the park, and I said, “Hey, you’re going to be our next mayor!” He chuckled, “I will if you vote for me,” and then he lamented that he was going to be late for a meeting. I suggested that was pretty bad scheduling, and he nodded firmly, “But it was important for me to be here.” I could practically see the gears turning, don’t act like a meeting’s more important than this community event, this was the right choice, grind grind grind, and I thought wow, he’s going to be on display and calculating his every move for a very, very long time. I bet that just becomes normal at a certain point for those politicians. And then I ran into J., had a quick drink with him and R., and got back on my bike to home. I love that I live in a town small enough to run into everyone like that.
Thursday’s ride took me up the hill to place a large order at Popeye’s and then down the hill, over, and up again to Druid Hill Park to do a bunch of laps as I try to get used to clipping in again. I got out of the habit, and now I’m scared of it. I used to clip in every day, even just for a quick two mile ride to Tulane. I taught in my bike shoes and hopped back on the bike to ride around town afterward. They were normal–now they’re not. I’d like to make them normal again, at least in time to pull myself up and over and through the Adirondacks at the end of July. That’s what was on my mind as I did my laps, getting more and more and then less and then more comfortable with my spds. Continue reading