W5D4 Ready or not, here I come.

OK, I count five things to write about tonight. Still, I’d like to get to bed early, so I’ll try to keep them short.

1. Sadness – Wow, man, grief strikes you without warning. I know exactly when it happened. I was riding the 4 train to Grand Central and had a seat, which is kind of rare on the 4 because it is generally packed. I don’t read standing up, it’s too awkward with my backpack, and hard to read with one hand because the other is holding on for dear life. Those tracks are not smooth. I am reading “Boys in the Boat”, which was really well written by Daniel James Brown. I got to this passage: “Their white blades flashed above the water like the wings of seabirds flying in formation.” Even twelve hours later my eyes still well up.

Some of my readers may not know that the principal of my school, John Fidler, passed away unexpectedly last weekend. It is the grief over his passing that hit me this morning. I got off the train a short time later at Grand Central in a daze. I stood on the platform, my back to a wall, facing its length. I just stood and slowly put my backpack on, looking at each and every face that passed me as people rushed to board the train. The station seemed twice as busy as usual – there were faces everywhere. Not everyone made it aboard that train before it left the station – that’s how busy it was. I slowly walked the length of the platform and climbed the stairs, still looking at every face I could see. It was as if the city was moving twice as fast as me. The usually distinct squeals and clacks of the trains, the loud muffled orders from the speakers, and chitter of conversations blurred together in one static cacophony. I stopped to pick up a bagel and coffee, and walked slowly toward the exit. Ever so slowly. I knew I wasn’t ready to face Lexington Avenue. I found a place to set my coffee, and stood and slowly ate my bagel, waited for my coffee to cool, and eventually drank it. I had no sense of the passage of time. When I looked at my phone later, I realized it must’ve taken me over half an hour to leave the station. I continued to slowly walk down 42nd street, semi-aware of my surroundings. There was part of me taking care, though, reminding me to look both ways before I crossed the street, keeping me from bumping into people. I just kept looking at faces. I can still recall many of them distinctly.

In a few minutes, I was in the classroom, where students had already started on their activity for the day – a challenging coding tutorial. I joined in, helping girls get unstuck. Playing with teens will bring you into the present like nothing else.

2. Counterfeit drugs – I saw a cool guest speaker, Neil Campbell from Pfizer, who talked about a technology they are developing so you can use your cellphone to identify counterfeit drugs. He said about 80 percent of the drugs purchased online (from non-mainstream vendors) were counterfeit. You’d like to know if your medicine is real, right? The counterfeiters make really convincing copies, but they don’t have the same active ingredients, and may contain dangerous substances. (What do they care? They already have your money.) The new technology can spot minute differences in what the pills look like, and is 99.99 percent accurate. They are trying to get it to 99.9999999 percent accurate, and should be there soon. His advice? If a deal looks too good to be true, it is.

3. Bagelling – there are many slang definitions of this word, but the one I learned today is: “inserting a Jewish phrase or concept into a conversation in order to determine whether the other person is or isn’t Jewish.” (link) Didn’t know that was a thing, did you? Me either. One of the GWC instructors, who is Jewish, was making polite conversation with a representative at a vendor table, and said that she was from Arizona. The vendor, who did not appear to be Jewish, said, “Arizona, they have nice [insert Jewish word I don’t know here] there,” thereby revealing their common heritage.

4. Bolivian food – By the afternoon, I was feeling happy and full of energy (yay, grief, you are so transient). After I left my last site, I walked down a different than usual street toward the 1 train. I missed 7th avenue, and had walked all the way to 8th and 54th. I had a choice – walk down to my usual stop at 50th, or walk up to 59th, Columbus Circle. I got out of work a bit earlier than usual and had some extra time. I decided to try to find something for dinner, rather than waiting until I got back to the Bronx, and headed up toward 59th to try my luck. There are many restaurants along the way on 8th avenue, and I thought one of them might offer something different for dinner. Nothing caught my eye, though.

When I got to 58th and 8th, I was surprised to see a subway entrance – I had expected to have to walk over to Broadway and 59th. I forgot that Broadway cuts diagonally west as it goes uptown, so I was actually pretty close to it. I resigned myself to having to get dinner in the Bronx, and headed down the stairs. I noticed something different immediately. At the bottom of the stairs, there were double glass doors, like the kind you find in the entrances to public buildings. Very few subway stations have these, and if they do, they’re usually at street level, not at the bottom of the stairs. I got down there, went through the doors, and low and behold (which translates from Middle English as “look and see”), a food court, with specialty fast food restaurants. Not as cool as Gotham West, but still pretty good, and definitely well situated. It was actually Turnstyle, a whole underground marketplace.

With a plethora of unique choices, one stood out. I needed something that would transport well and reheat easily later. That excluded things like pizza (doesn’t travel easily, unless you tip it vertically, then it doesn’t travel well) and bento boxes (hot and cold in the same plate – doesn’t reheat easily). The winner was Bolivian Llama Party. I didn’t actually look a the name until after I purchased my dinner, but it was a good choice. There is a limited number of Bolivian restaurants in NYC (maybe 3?), but it is good food. I had two salteñas, which BLP emphatically (NSFW) proclaims are not empanadas. They are like very happy and slightly spicy pot pies.

5. Hiatus – Doc Och’s Box will be going on hiatus for a couple of days while I travel back home to attend services for John. I’ll be back next week.

The title today is a reference to this ditty from 1973: (Ready or not, here I come). Can you guess why? It’s a double entendre.


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