6:56am. that was the time on my cell phone this morning. why didn't my alarm ring? didn't matter, not enough time to worry about that. i had just 20 minutes to get ready for work in what usually takes me 40 minutes. 10 minutes was spent completing the final digestion phase of last night's hot pot. nothing more to say about that except spicy going in, spicy coming out (i fear i've already said too much). the other 10 minutes was spent shaving, showering, and getting dressed. there was no time for breakfast, so i threw my chinese ham moon cake into my bag, in case i got hungry (back at home i don't usually eat breakfast anyway, so my body is used to being hungry in the mornings). i was thankful there was still running water this morning, that it didn't stop again overnight.

out in the hallway waiting for the elevator to arrive at the 11th floor, i bumped into yuwei. this was my first time seeing her upstairs in the morning. her taciturn demeanor meant she wasn't a morning person. in the elevator were a few additional members of her korean consortium. downstairs, they went one way while i went the other. it was raining slightly, but not enough for me to use my umbrella. i even waited outside the bus for a few minutes, getting slightly damp, but enjoying some fresh air before having to sit through a stuffy 25 minute shuttle bus ride.

i sat next to fengya. she seemed a bit groggy herself, said she didn't sleep too well last night on the account that she didn't have running water either. apparently it affected the entire area, not just my building. that's good, better to suffer together than alone. she said she was going to take a nap, i let her be and tried not watching a concert video of a provocative female singer playing on the in-bus HDTV screen.

i didn't have my moon cake for breakfast (managed to outwait the hunger pangs until lunch) but the office lunch was awful and i ate very little of it, and ended up indulging in my moon cake mid-afternoon.

after lunch i did take a walk outside the office grounds with fengya, my stalker (her friend), and liao ke (the housing admin kid). he was feeling under the weather, suffering through a cold that left him feverish and lethargic. the rain stopped but there were still a few puddles not yet dried. liao ke seemed to be a bit of a lady's man and the girls were chiding him on how he recently broke up with his girlfriend of 6 years and just now found a new girlfriend. they also briefly talked about homosexuality, since somebody at the office thought liao ke was gay. when i pointed out who i thought was gay in the office, they said that guy was straight. i'm embarrassed to admit that i find the subject kind of fascinating. how are gays treated in china? there isn't anything with chinese religion that ostracizes homosexuals, yet at the same time i get the feeling there aren't that many out gay people. i think there's a lot of family pressure to get married and have a child, and being gay kind of makes that a little more difficult.

on the bus ride back into town, fengya asked me if i'd be interested in running tonight. i said sure, but first i had to make a few errands. we agreed to meet at the track field at 7:30. yangyi - the coworker who was supposed to go to venezuela on a 2-3 year construction management project next month but who may now be staying for another month or two until he can get his visa - convinced fengya to cook dinner for us sunday night. "make sure you go to the market sunday morning," he added jokingly.

first stop was the top floor of the chongbai department store. it took a little while to find but i found the gym, shockwave fitness club. they let me take a look before a young membership associate came to talk to me. the gym isn't that bad and the equipment are sort of crammed together, although the treadmills face outside with a great view of the people down below through the glass windows. the clientele seemed to be sweaty guys and nondescript ladies. the associate was giving me the prepared lecture about all the benefits but all i cared about was the price. somebody had told me it was only RMB$200/month. "our one year contract is RMB$1500 (US$245)," he told me. i asked him if they had any monthly contracts. he hesitated, then told me it was RMB$380/month (US$62). they also had a 50 visit plan, which was the same price as the one year membership. there was also a 3 months plan (which he earlier told me they didn't have) for RMB$780. i got the feeling the prices were flexible but i didn't want to negotiate. when i told him about the RMB$200 price i heard about, he said it might've been a summer only deal with college students. at RMB$380, i think it's a bit pricey. they also have different classes (yoga, spinning, etc.) which are free for members, but i wasn't interested in any of those. the only thing i can compare it to was when i joined fitcorp for a few months back when i worked at SRM. i forgot how much that cost, i think US$40/month, and the place was much nicer despite being in a basement.

next i went to the supermarket downstairs to buy a pair of taller plastic stools (RMB$56 each). i also wanted to get some moon cakes, but i was getting a special receipt so i can get reimbursed from the office, and figured it'd be better if i didn't buy anything else along with the stools. i'll come back tomorrow though.

finally, i bought half a kilo of spicy duck feet (RMB$18) from the duck parts dispensary on the other side of chongbai department store.

i returned home, changed into my running clothes, and left the apartment by 7:20. i made it to the track field right on time. they only leave one set of stadium lights open, which left the place still sort of dark. not sure if they do it to conserve electricity, or to keep the temperature down, even though it was already on the cool side. in the center of the track field was a soccer field with crowds of men kicking balls around, occasionally an errant ball hopping onto the tracks. fengya was already waiting there, listening to some music on her cellphone. i don't like to carry anything when i run, so i left my cellphone back at home. we walked around the track one time before running at a slow pace for 4 loops, followed by another walk around, before i asked for permission to run by myself at a faster pace. it felt nice to go fast, and there were a good number of people just walking, so it was fun lapping them. i went 1.5 loops before i caught up with fengya (who was still walking). i was panting breathlessly because i expended all my energy. we walked around one more loop before finally returning to where we live. it was only after we stopped did i realize fengya was running in jeans. she said she didn't want to be cold, which is the opposite of what i do when i run, which is to wear as little as possible.

these tall plastic stools work fine. i often see around outdoor dining tables outside of restaurants. they're the perfect height, so now i can work at the desk or sit by the kitchen island. i sort of wish i could have 2 more stools but mr.ma told me to only get 2.

i spent the rest of the evening watching the season premiere of boardwalk empire and snacking on my duck feet. there were a little bit more expensive, but have a better flavor, much spicier than the ones i got last time. i ended up eating the whole bag and later felt the hotness burning in my stomach. too much of a good thing! my stomach still hasn't fully recovered from last night's hot pot!

i also did a load of laundry, keeping in mind it now takes at least 2 days for clothes to dry with so much moisture in the air.