"I broke so many medical id bracelets that I got the tat," explains Margaret Mary Riley. One of eleven tattoos, a caduceus adorns her right wrist along with the explanatory word, epilepsy. Living car free is more a necessity than a choice for the Grant Park resident, whose seizures are part of her life. Riley moderates their effects using a combination of vegan dieting, sleeping well, and an exercise regimen of ballet, yoga, and cycling.
"People have told me 'You should not be alone' and that just makes me feel victimized." Once she seized during a ride when another cyclist who had stopped to help realized her condition, and berated her for taking such a risk. "A passing homeless man told him off, then gave me a bottle of water," she remembers gratefully. "I spent a lot of time in New York City, so I think yelling at people is totally fine."
It was the Occupy Wall Street movement that found her in Manhattan, practicing her hard won medical skills in the service of the protesters. There she also met her partner, a bike messenger. Back in metro Atlanta, they revived the Clarkston Community Center's Communicycle program, and organized refugee rides for kids around the Stone Mountain path. Now the recent Agnes Scott College political science alumna works as an apprentice bike mechanic while applying for graduate studies so she may pursue an academic career.