Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

23 Aug 2020, 15:13 p.m.

A Sunday Morning Bike Ride

This morning I woke up before Leonard did and I bicycled in the relative cool and quiet of a Sunday morning. Thank you, past planners and builders, for bike lanes and promenades. I'd had some bike trouble in the past few months but now it was straightened out (thank you, bike repair shop) and this was my first pure-pleasure ride in months.

I passed by a gas station sporting an ad: "Proudly Fueling Whatever Happens Next." The "next" was partially blocked so it seemed to read "Proudly Fueling Whatever Happens." Which seemed comically out of touch. But I work in open source software. We bar ourselves from saying "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil." So who am I to judge?

I sat on a bench by the water -- I live on an island, as hard as it can be to remember sometimes when I sit in my apartment like the proverbial brain in a jar -- and smelled the salt through my mask, and saw water birds. People walked and rode by.

Reading an absorbing book while surrounded by a lovely, novel natural view is one of the pleasures I treasure. I'm partway through Joanna Russ's nonfiction collection To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction. I took it out of my backpack, a satchel my friend Teresa Nielsen Hayden gave me while she and her partner Patrick were moving. Teresa and Patrick knew Russ and they were friends when they all lived in Seattle. I'm settling into Russ fandom as a stranger, and in every essay I find some new lens to use on this literature I've been reading my whole life.

I read for a while, and biked home. On one residential street I saw some downed power lines -- maybe from the storm earlier this month? -- and stopped to call 311, who told me to call Con Edison, and then the options confused me, and then I called again after I got home and succeeded in telling them so they could go send a truck out. It seems so dangerous to see several power lines stretching from the poles down to the street and the sidewalk, and the storm was multiple days ago, so how could I be the first to call in and report it? But I think I was. For every problem there's someone who's first to get the ball moving to get it fixed.

The other night as I was falling asleep a thought came into my mind: Some lessons you learn like scars. I think I will only know months and years from now about what lessons are stiffening, calcifying inside and on me, as I pass by and through the birds, the book, the power lines.