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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Power Transmission Lines on Chase Just Before Iris

Fenced off green space with No Trespassing signs. Electrical transmission lines are on tall routers set against a blue sky and trees.

I haven’t been on a bike ride with no particular destination in a minute, so with free time on Wednesday and legs that needed a break from running I took advantage of the sunny fall afternoon to tool around. I headed south, a quick stop to drop a book with a friend, and then I turned east at the Station North Tool Library, across Greenmount, and east on Hoffman. I usually head south shortly after, but I decided to take a left on Holbrook Street to ride the length of it.

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Empty Plinth at Art Museum Drive & Wyman Park Drive

It is amazing to me how quickly I can fall into a routine. It helps me with my anxiety, having a sturdy plan that plays out day in, day out. When we went into quarantine back in March I had my days basically completely filled in a week, and they’ve largely stayed that way until last week when my schedule freed up with the end of summer teaching and formalized teacher training. I decided to take a week off of any kind of work, which was great, but I was back at the emails and meeting planning by 7am this fine Monday morning. I’m happy to be back at work.

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Church Parking Lot at Chester & Gay

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.

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Looking Down Greenway from Stratford Road

Tuesday was one of those surprisingly packed-with-work days that reminds me that a lot of academics don’t get “summers off,” as much as I wish it were so. The highlight, though, was guest teaching a class for a friend of mine about Baltimore history. I did a broad-sweeping story, all of it geared to understanding how this city, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, is constructed on a miles-deep firmament of white supremacy.

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Trophy of the World War 1917-1919 at War Memorial Plaza

I was getting ready to ride my bike down to War Memorial Plaza to join Friday’s protest when my neighbor J. texted me. “You’re not going to the protest, are you?” Actually I was, and though I tend to travel solo, I was happy to have company for the ride downtown. I met him on my bike just up from the alley, and he stayed at least six feet behind me as we rolled down the hill.

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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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Peeking Through the Fence at Lexington Market From Paca & Lexington

Peeking Through the Fence at Lexington Market From Paca & Lexington

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.

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Eager Park at Wolfe & Chase

Eager Park at Wolfe & Chase 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.

Turn around and look the other way and it’s this, a boarded-up church and an empty lot. The edges in this city are like this, all over. Boarded-Up Church at Wolfe & Chase

 

 

 

 

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.

Train Tracks Running Under the Street at 26th & Guilford

Train Tracks Running Under the Street at 26th & Guilford Monday was supposed to be the day the heat wave broke, but I think 95 degrees is still pretty hot. I’ll ride a bike in it, because it’s still cooler to ride a bike than stand at a bus stop waiting for the bus, but I’d rather not. So it was a quick one–just down the hill to the gym for a workout in air conditioning, and then back up the hill to home. My report–it’s still hot out there, and I’d still rather be on my bicycle than almost anywhere else.

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