Storefronts at West Pratt & Ackworth

Storefronts at West Pratt & Ackworth It’s summertime, summer school is over, and this is the time when I tend to get restless and glum. I work best when I’ve got stuff to do, so if I’m not careful, unscheduled time can get the best of me, stealing from me this valuable time to let my mind range freely, read new things, and make new connections. I’ve learned this over the past zillion summers, so I make sure to schedule things work, writing, and relaxing-related. Today’s schedule featured a bike ride over to the Be Free Floating in West Baltimore for my second trip in their sensory deprivation tank.

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Drug Free School Zone at West Lanvale & Fremont

Drug Free School Zone at West Lanvale & FremontFriday 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.

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Hoop Garden at Laurens Street & Islamic Way

Hoop Garden at Laurens Street & Islamic WayWednesday’s ride took me down the hill to meet O. and R. for a much-needed work session, which mostly took the form of catching up, because we hadn’t seen each other in over a week. And then  S. met us for a conversation about what it was like in the 1970s when she moved to Baltimore: being gay was considered “bourgeois decadence,” people lived in communes until they didn’t, and love was in the air. Continue reading

Looking East Past a Blighted Factory at West Lafayette & Spedden

Looking East Past a Blighted Factory at West Lafayette & SpeddenFinally, a dry day without ice on the roads, plenty of sunshine, nowhere to be, and no cold or flu dogging me! Oh, it was good to be back on the bike. It took about two minutes flying down the hill on Maryland Avenue to get that smile on my face I get when I feel at home and most myself–when I’m on my bike headed nowhere in particular. After a brief stop to pick up this week’s coffee I decided to go left instead of right and was quickly tracing new streets in West Baltimore. Continue reading

Heritage Sign & Blighted Building at Lafayette & Division

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Oh, it’s finally here, my itty bitty clown bike! I got a call yesterday evening from the bike shop, so I waited impatiently this morning before walking down to the shop for its 11am opening to fetch the newest member of the family. It was just as lovely as I remembered, and as I took it out for a test spin along the Jones Falls Trail, I started to get good and giddy. It’s just so much fun! I rode it back home to grab my helmet and to show it off to S. before heading back down the hill to meet V. for work that couldn’t get done because I was too bust thinking about riding my new bike. I then rode it over to Upton to meet J. so we could nerd out together along the Pennsylvania Avenue heritage walking tour. I snapped this picture of the new bike against a new public history sign and increasingly old blight. The tour tells the history of a culturally, politically, socially, and economically vibrant area, but it doesn’t explain at all why so much of that has been lost as parts of this neighborhood continue falling to pieces as others keep it alive. Upton and Pennsylvania don’t look like they do now by chance. Decisions were made that make that glittering past “history,” right? I pushed my bike from sign to sign, historic church to historic church, stopping along the way for a chat here or there, and a chance to demonstrate the Brompton’s quick fold to a woman sitting outside in the sunshine with her cigarette, watching people pass on by. And then it was time to ride the new bike up the hill to home for one last fold on its birthday before lugging it up the steps to its new home. I can’t wait to see what we learn next. *squeal*

Billie Holiday Memorial at Pennsylvania & W. Lafayette

The weather report said it might rain, and a glance at the sky assured me that it would, so of course I put on a skirt and a light jacket and headed out for a long bike ride to campus–oh, the curse of aspirational dressing! I was cold all day. Regardless, it just felt good to be on my bike after three days off due to what I’ve decided was a pollen-induced multi-day headache. I zoomed down the hill and then took my right through Bolton Hill and Marble Hill over toward Upton. Continue reading

Crumbling House on a West Baltimore Corner

It was another beautiful late winter day in Baltimore, sun shining and just a little bit warm, so I treated myself to a bike ride to campus. I had plenty of time, so after wooshing down the hill and taking a right and then a left through Bolton Hill, I followed some new streets through West Baltimore as I vaguely angled toward Arbutus. I was stopped at the light at Lafayette and Argyle, I think, and watched a little police profiling go down. Continue reading