Looking Up at Friends in a Window at Chesapeake Commons at Howard & Centre Streets

Looking up at a window at Chesapeake Commons at Howard & Centre Streets

It is an absolutely beautiful day in Baltimore, and it sucks to have to spend most of it inside. Outside feels increasingly dangerous to me. I think it’s the new relatively new call to wear a mask when outside. It’s an acknowledgement that this virus is invisible and could be hanging in the air anywhere, that not even standing all by yourself on a street corner is guard against it. And the masks we’re told to make ourselves, out of cotton, maybe with a coffee or furnace filter stuck in there, will only stop a relatively small percentage of those viruses from getting in. Wear a mask, but not a mask that actually works, because those are (absolutely rightly!) for folks working directly with patients.

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Old Market Building at Maryland & North

20180529_161905 The wildest thing has happened, which is that I’m done with active treatment for cancer and I’m already able to do things with my body I kind of feared I wouldn’t be able to do again. The last six months were brutal in so many ways, and also less brutal than I was expecting, but as I emerge on the other side of this round of cancer treatment, I’m getting back to living as I used to live. My sister and I have been talking about those stories of people who survive cancer and then reinvent themselves in amazing ways. We agree those are likely people who didn’t like the lives they had going all that much. Me? I loved the life I was living, and getting parts of it back so quickly is a huge gift. I’ll take that over being a SuperSurvivor any day.

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New Asphalt at Park & Madison

It has been a whole bunch of gray, rainy days lately–15 days in a row and counting, to be specific. I’m still riding my bike every day, but to be honest, I’m getting pretty tired of riding in the rain. Wednesday’s ride home was a total drag–I was tired, didn’t feel like climbing the hill on a good day, and there it was, more rain, getting my glasses wet, decreasing my braking power, and turning drivers into, well, drivers. I waited it out for 10 minutes or so, staring at the internet, wondering if it was possible to wait it all the way out, and deciding nope, no way out but through, get on the bike and get riding.

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View From the Jones Falls Trail Between Druid Hill and Falls Road

View From the Jones Falls Trail Between Druid Hill and Falls RoadMonday was my first bike ride since my dad was killed by a driver, and I was pretty nervous about it. Would I be extra skittish around cars? Would a giant hole of sadness open up inside me as I did the thing we both loved to do on the bicycle that he bought me and he knew was my home? Would the bent stem on my front wheel’s tube make it so hard to pump up that I’d just start crying frustration tears and not make it out the door? I gathered my things, pumped up my tires–the stem miraculously working fine for the first time since July (thanks, pops)–and headed out, layers and hats and gloves for protection. And it was fine.
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Catherine Pugh Campaign Headquarters on Charles Avenue in Mount Vernon

Catherine Pugh Campaign Headquarters on Charles Avenue in Mount VernonToday’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.

Folding Chair Locked to a Street Sign at Charles & 23rd

Folding Chair Locked to a Street Sign at Charles & 23rdI’ve been riding my bike around a lot lately, though I haven’t been writing about it. My bike is just my everyday, as it’s been, the way I get from here to there and back again. School started last week, so that means the commute is back, down to the shuttle stop, a ride the rest of the way, and then reverse. On Friday I took my bike with me on the shuttle–love that front bike rack–so I could ride the whole way home, a quick stop at the casino for some payday action, a leisurely ride back home via the Gwynns Falls Trail. Continue reading

Archival Stacks in the Basement of the UB Learning Commons at Maryland & Mt. Royal

Archival Stacks in the Basement of the UB Learning Commons at Maryland & Mt. RoyalWednesday’s ride took me down the hill to Mount Vernon for a late lunch and a whole lot of water to fight the headache that doing taxes causes. Don’t get me wrong–I love paying taxes because I love subsidized public goods like roads, transportation, safety nets (even if the stuff I want doesn’t get the money I’d give it), but It doesn’t take much time with those forms to realize that the rich don’t pay taxes at anywhere near the rates middle class people do (think home ownership, car ownership, the money to pay someone to find all the loopholes), and that’s the sort of thing that makes my whole head and neck ache. And that meant every pothole or wrinkle in the road made me feel like someone was stabbing me in the neck with an ice pick. Ouch. Continue reading

Police Helicopter in the Sky at St. Paul and Mount Royal

Helicopter in the Sky at St. Paul and Mount RoyalWednesday’s ride was all commute, happily since Monday’s rain-out meant a super crowded bus ride home. It was so crowded, in that way that reminds you how relative that whole “no touching” dictum is. I mean, if the kinds of physical contact happening on that Monday bus ride were to happen at the workplace, somebody’d be out of a job. Wednesday’s ride home was a different kind of slow slog, this one taking place right after I heard that Eric Garner’s killer was not indicted. That means the grand jury didn’t think there was enough evidence for any reasonable person to even possibly find the killer guilty of any kind of crime. It sucked the air right out of me, but I had the privilege for that to be a passing feeling, and I returned to breath, shallow for a bit, but there. Continue reading

Pedro Noguera Speaking at Centerstage on Calvert & E. Monument

Pedro Noguera Speaking at Centerstage on Calvert & E. MonumentTuesday was all meetings in the city, all a couple of miles apart, the perfect day to take the bike. I can’t believe people think it is easier to drive those short trips rather than bike. Lucky me, I have a bike, so I hopped on it first thing and pedaled through the changing leaves over to Waverly for a most excellent meeting with R. and O., two of my favorite co-conspirators. Then it was time for a ride down to Mount Vernon to meet B. and N. for a meeting about redesigning the website and using social media strategically–they pay people for that, but I think we can manage the twitter account without too much trouble. The last stop was at Centerstage for a many-hour symposium, brought to us by the Open Society Institute–Baltimore. Continue reading

Wall of White Men at 11 & 1/2 West Chase Street

Wall of White Men at 11 & 1/2 West Chase StreetIt was time to bid vacation a mini-farewell and get back to work today, so that’s what I did, most of it from the comfort of my air conditioned apartment, because that’s just the kind of lucky duck I am. But then it was time to get out, and I hopped on the bike and headed to Federal Hill to meet A. for gossip and work–reading for her, administrative this and thats for me. The ride was hot and sweaty and pedestrians seemed to have it out for me, stepping off the curb and right into my path more than once. I used my outside voice to encourage their sharing with me the Inner Harbor loop and thought to myself, everyone needs to learn how to share, not just the drivers. A couple hours of work later and I was headed back toward Mount Vernon for a meeting at the offices of Baltimore Heritage. I love this group, and I mean love. Continue reading