Time has already become almost meaningless, and yesterday it was only Wednesday of our first week on lockdown. I’m sure I’ll adjust to all this, but I’m not adjusted yet, not even close. The morning was good–I started off with a Zoom writing group with professors, started by a friend from my Tulane days. It was so good to see some friendly faces, have a chat about our work, and then actually focus for a few decent stretches of time. Time is everywhere and nowhere right now, so to be able to get some thinking done in the stretch of it was a nice break.Continue reading
Thursday’s bike ride took me down the hill and east for a gym class and brunch with my dear friend and work wife. We call it “brexercise,” and it had been over a week since we did that, and that turned out to be too long. I was in a good mood. The lifted heat wave has been a treat, and having some time away from the office, even more so. I was happy to see my friend, and my body was feeling strong. And I knew I was going to get to see my radiation oncologist for a routine follow up, and I just love her, the radiation oncology nurse, the techs, everybody. I saw them all the time in one of the lowest times in my life, and I was looking forward to seeing them in this, a seriously great time in my life, which I’m getting in no small part due to their work.
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.
Sunday was hot, hot, hot, but I was in the mood for a bike ride to no particular destination, so I lathered on the sunscreen, filled up my water bottle, and headed down Barclay Street to see what would happen. The first thing that happened was getting soaked in my own sweat, but that’s just part of the deal, being outside in the summertime. At least I was creating my own breeze. I went south and then east, and then south and east again. I decided to see how far that new east/west protected bike lane goes. Yeah, it stops at Washington, which means it’s really for getting people to Hopkins, and that’s it. I hope the city extends it someday, because I wanted to keep going east, and there’s a lot of east left to go from there. The lane’s great if you live in the central part of the city and stop at Hopkins, but for the rest of us, it’s not enough.
Today was a beautiful spring day–sunny, not too hot–and I had my penultimate radiation session at Hopkins. I rode my bike the way I ride my bike to the hospital, down Barclay, a left at the Tool Library, across the street and another left at the cemetery, a right, a left into a terrible bike lane, and a right into a slightly better one. I locked up outside on a rack that’s not bolted down and grumbled about that in my head before spinning through the doors to the elevator down to the basement. It’s amazing how quickly routine becomes routine, and this has been mine for the past month.
Today’s ride took me over to Johns Hopkins east hospital campus, as per usual. Today is the start of my second week of radiation treatment, and I got up plenty early to ride my bicycle for that 8:15am appointment. The promise of 70 degrees and sunny made me almost too excited to sleep.
I had a day with no deadlines on Tuesday, a rare one in the past month. That meant I got to spend my morning finishing up a task I’d been avoiding for a few weeks, and then I hopped on the bike and headed south and east to complete one of those tasks I am middle class enough to do: register for TSA Pre Check so I can be one of those people I have been sneering at for the past couple of years who bypass the serfs on their way to the front of the airport security line.
School’s out for summer–or until summer school, anyway. I’ve still got plenty of grading and summer course planning to do, but I started the week jubilant with the feeling that yes, I made it through that tough semester, the students survived and learned some things even if I wasn’t at my best, and I’ll never have to do the first semester after my dad was killed ever again. That part is both happy and sad–happy because days are so much better than they were at the start of the term, and sad because as time passes, he’s still gone. It’s nuts to me that he’s dead and doesn’t even know it. But I digress.
Friday’s ride took me down the hill early to meet D. for coffee and a planning session for an independent study we’re working on together. We got to talking about how it feels to walk around Baltimore, what we so on foot that we don’t see in a car, and how at odds our rhetoric about movin’ on up is with the streets between here and there. And then we walked, me pushing my bike, east on North Avenue to the Great Blacks in Wax museum, where we wondered at the juxtaposition of Dred Scott and George Washington, the Middle Passage and Ancient Egypt and FUBU, and what the lawn jockeys were doing standing with Henry “Box” Brown. We parted ways a couple of hours later, her for a walk back west, and me for a ride downtown and east so I could clear my brain with fries and some college basketball. I zig zagged my way and found myself in the East Baltimore of the Hopkins redevelopment–Middle East. This area changes every day, it seems, but also nothing ever seems to change, except on this day, when the vacant homes were fenced off. I snapped this picture of a block filled with the brick piles of demolition, a last row of houses still standing. The pile smelled of the must that is in the very cells of some of these neighborhoods, and it held the signs of life still lived there–curtains, mattresses, kids’ toys, broken chairs. Rising behind them is the new development–a glass cube ready to hold students and young professionals who can walk to their new community garden guarded over by police lights and visit the corner store with a security guard standing on the store’s corner. I took a slow tour of the few blocks and thought to myself, “Hey, Re/Development, your bones are showing.” And then it was Butcher’s Hill and down the hill to Boston Street and a whole different world. Baltimore, you sure don’t hide your shit.
I wasn’t in much of a mood for a bicycle ride, but N. gave me a task to be completed at the new Target, so I followed her instructions and hopped on the bike for a ride to that suburb-in-the-city, Canton Crossing. As soon as I was on my bike I was glad I was there, riding on the slightly foggy streets on a much warmer day, feeling that speed that comes from freshly-pumped up tires. I decided to take an early left, before Mount Royal, to see if I could get myself lost. I found myself zig zagging around Greenmount Cemetery, past new-ish housing developments with their brightly-colored doors that never quite hide the signs of capital’s abandonment, but they look pretty, and then going up and down the streets of northeast Baltimore, past row after row of abandoned row houses and other houses decked out with balloons and signs–two new baby girls and a baby boy came home to East Baltimore this weekend. Continue reading