It’s Monday, but wow, it feels like we’re off the calendar altogether. This is my spring break, and I’d planned to spend it in upstate New York, visiting Harriet Tubman’s old house, stopping by Seneca Falls, and touring John Brown’s Farm, maybe a quick zip down the old Olympic bobsled course in Lake Placid, weather depending. And I was looking forward to space to read and write, all by myself. Less than a week ago I was crowdsourcing travel stops. Wow, that seems quaint now.Continue reading
It’s Saturday, and it feels like I’m in the slow beginning of a disaster movie, where the characters are all going about their daily business with no idea what’s ahead. Except we know what’s ahead. We see what has happened in China, Korea, Italy, Iran, France, Spain, and, like, Seattle. We see what is happening here as the case count ticks up. Schools are closed, workers are told to work at home, the Department of Defense has banned even domestic travel. The writing is on the wall, and yet.Continue reading
This week has felt like a thousand years, as I’m sure it has for most of us. We started getting warning emails about taking our teaching online last week, but it’s not easy to figure out how to respond to those warnings. I’ll go online when I need to go online, but until that moment, there’s not a whole lot to do. I mean, get extra training, rewrite the syllabus, etc. etc., but nope, I spent that time fretting and talking with the students who made it to class on Tuesday about what we’re all afraid of and what we think we should do. That was basically it for preparation.
Tuesday’s bike ride was the usual–down the hill and to the left to the University of Maryland Medical Center, locked my bike to the racks near the door and under the overhang to protect my fancy seat from forecasted rain, and then I walked over to Pratt and Light to catch the shuttle to campus. My commute takes forever, but the good part is that it gets me outside first thing in the morning, heart pumping, legs moving, eyes up and out.
It’s the end of February, which means spring is around the corner. It’s hard to be excited about spring when we barely had a winter. I wore gloves on today’s bike ride downtown, but it was one of only a handful of times I’ve felt the need to slip them on. I should have slipped them on more times than I actually did so, but sometimes I have to learn a lesson over and over again in perpetuity, apparently. But spring is here, as evidenced by these cherry blossoms in front of the nursing school on Lombard.
Today’s ride was a quick one, just down the hill for a treadmill workout at the gym, up the hill to meet colleagues for lunch, and then up the hill to home. It started like all rides do, in my alleyway.
For the past many weeks, I can’t even tell you how long, I’ve been walking my bike past this dead rat. It’s the glob at the bottom of the picture, and if you didn’t know it was a rat, you might think it’s just a wad of trash.
But it’s a rat. The tail gives it away. I ride over so many rats in this town. Sometimes they are fresh, and I go around to avoid the squishy crush of their bodies under my wheels, but most of the time I’m rolling over flat bodies that I think are trash before I notice the tail, always the tail, sticking up and out like a handle I’ll never grab. A rat’s tail is made of bone, so it’s just not going anywhere.
The ride home was tougher than usual, thanks to strong, cold gusts of wind. Pedal, pedal, pedal, I made it, walked my bike back down the alley, around the rat like I do twice a day, every day, grateful for a Friday with some space and time.
It is April in February, which means many days of breaking my father’s rule to never start a bike ride in the rain. That’s generally good advice, but that would mean a whole lot of time waiting for buses, and when the weather keeps spitting rather than downpouring, I’m generally up for the risk. I’ve been riding in lots of rain, just with my raincoat on and that little cycling cap that I used to think people wore to look cool when riding a bike, but which I now understand is pitched just right to keep the rain off my glasses. So yeah, I’ve been looking like a cyclist lately, and one willing to get soggy in order to maintain some modicum of control over where I’m going, and when I’m going to get there.