Sunday, April 19, 2009

Poor Baltimore

I just sat down to read the Sunday Times. The Style section always comes first. A glance at the weddings and then onto Modern Love. Today's Modern Love is amazing and I suggest you all read it. It encapsulates so many things I've mentioned (and haven't mentioned) in my blog: how watching The Wire is more than just watching The Wire, Baltimore, public health, and love. I can't do it justice, so just read it.

And while I'm on the topic of Baltimore, this is volunteer week, so I decided to join some fellow Hopkins grad students for a morning of volunteering yesterday. I spent the morning cleaning up and gardening an abandoned lot in East Baltimore. The cleaning involved picking up dozens of broken alcohol bottles, from fifths to tiny airplane liquor bottles. The gardening involved digging and weeding and tilling (I actually used a gas powered tiller. Fun! The other Hopkins girls didn't go near it). Today, I am indeed sore and have a large blister on my thumb, but I am so glad I did it. Sure, volunteering is ideally seen as altruistic, but being outside, doing manual labor was what I enjoyed most. Getting in a zone digging out massive weeds was completely refreshing. Somehow manual labor allows my mind to wander where just sitting or walking or running outside doesn't. I think I'll be back next week.

In sad Baltimore news, my favorite coffee shop here closed. I'm a part-time student this term and rather than spending any more time at school than I need to, I've been at my office for my job, or at cafes to study. The other day I went online to see if Bluehouse, the cafe/eco-friendly furniture store in question, was open on Mondays. It was not. Nor had it been open any other day for the past month. It really was a great place. I would always run into classmates there, the coffee was good, the decor was modern, it was sunny, plenty of seating, and in a really cool old warehouse. Plus, as a study break, you could wander around the store and look at (and sometimes buy) the very cool, unique wares, that you wouldn't see anywhere else. There's still an online store and a store in Towson, but the flagship space is gone.

I'll end this post on a more uplifting, or at least amusing Baltimore story. Yesterday I went out for a walk (and to buy beer) because it was so freaking nice out. I walked by one convenience store, but couldn't remember if they sold beer or not. I peeked in to jog my memory and realized they did, so I kept walking. About 3 feet away from the store was a guy standing there, probably in his 20s, who looked to me like either a drug dealer, addict, or alcoholic. Or all three. Anyway, he said something to me that I couldn't understand. Normally, I would just walk by someone like that. But I was feeling generous because of the weather, so I asked him what he said. He held out two five dollar bills and asked me if I could go into the store and buy him something. By then, he had engaged me in conversation and for some reason (see posts on my Persuasive Communications class) I couldn't then say no. He asked me to buy him a pack of Newports and Phillies. Oy. So I went in and bought the Newports. Then, totally uncomfortable, I said, "Do you have Phillies?" (What was I doing?). The guy behind the counter told me that he didn't have the regular kind, he only had strawberry flavored. Now was the time when I had to decide whether dealer/addict/alcoholic was the kind of guy who would want strawberry flavored Phillies. I concluded, no. So, I walked out of the store and handed the guy his Newports and his change and said, "All they had were strawberry Phillies, sorry." Then he said, kind of annoyed, "That's what I wanted." Um, really? Strawberry. So quick to judge. Lesson learned.

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