where doesn't it hurt? that's probably the easier question to answer. i can't tightly ball up my fist, both my forearms hurt, the bruise on my right arm has become a painful welt, my neck aches, my lower back aches, i have no strength in my upper thighs to the point that i almost couldn't get up from the squat toilet this morning. this is what happens when you don't exercise for a while and then go full tilt.

i found a blue shirt i haven't worn before stashed away in one of my ziploc bags. how much clothes did i bring anyway? i like to think i'm the most stylish man in the office. most guys just wear their company issued uniform, but i like that i have some variety with my clothes, my little daily freedom of expression. know what would class it up? a waist coat AKA a vest. maybe i can find one in the nearby department store. i've been to that place a bunch of times already, but only to the supermarket in the basement, or one of department store restaurants.

usually i see ms.pan in jeans with her hair tied in a ponytail, but today she was all dressed up in a skirt with her hair down. i didn't have a lot of time to interact with her, just told her i wasn't eating dinner at the office tonight because i was going to go to the old city.

i showed ms.yuwei my bruise and she told me i should get it checked out at the office infirmary. i thought it was for office accidents only, but she said anyone can go. i went later in the afternoon, found a sleepy nurse snapping to attention when i showed her my injury. she thought maybe i'd burned myself until i told her i got it from badminton. she said there wasn't much she could do but give me an icepack. if the swelling didn't go down, she'd spray some yunnan "white medicine" on it to make it better.

luoren figured out that my bruise wasn't the result of my left swinging hand smacking my right arm; instead, it's probably because i was holding the paddle wrong with my right hand and ended up hitting my forearm a few hundreds with the end of the handle.

pansusu came to my desk in the early afternoon and told me we were having dinner tonight. i'd already made plans to visit the old city, but my IT friend might be busy, so i decided to have dinner with my uncle instead. when dinner time came, people were asking me how come i wasn't going to dinner, but i couldn't easily answer them. "oh, i'm not going to dinner because i'm having dinner with the company boss."

we got into his private SUV and drove back to the city. i had images of delicious hot pot dancing in my head, but pansusu told me were eating at his apartment. was he cooking? were we ordering takeout? my second surprise came when his wife greeted us at the door of his 13th floor luxury apartment.

"how about that ms.yu?" pansusu asked me, referring to the ms.yu that met us for lunch on the first sunday that i arrived in changshou. "because of you, she's never speaking to me again!" i told him. "did you do something?" his wife asked. "no!" i replied. she said i just don't understand chinese women. i may not be a chinese lady scientist, but i know when i'm purposefully being ignored. i'm starting to enjoy our awkward non-interactions. it's good to know not everyone likes me, keeps me humble.

pansusu told me he got me a new apartment in his building, that we'd be neighbors. that's when i finally told him the truth, that there was a pretty food chance i wouldn't be able to serve out my entire one year contract. i can do 2 months, 3 months tops, but i need to get back to boston in november to replace my furnace and insulate my house. "and then you won't come back?" pansusu said. "could i come back if i wanted to?" i asked. to be honest, i don't have any work back in boston anyway. i compare my life back at home with my life in changshou, and sure the hours are long, but it's a lot more interesting. at least i could winter here. could i come back? "sure," pansusu said, and asked me how long i needed. i told him a month, he said i could take a leave of absence. it's all up to me. but now that it may look like i won't be staying here for the next year, pansusu tried to cancel the new apartment. he called somebody at work but it was already too late, they paid for the place earlier today.

i felt terrible when i returned home. up until now i'd only been grumbling to myself and my parents about my wish to return to boston in 2-3 months. but now i've officially announced my intentions (to the boss no less), yet at the same time opening the door to the possibly of returning to boston for a month then coming back to china to work through the winter. another thing: i turn 40 in february, this is probably the last place i thought i'd find myself on my 40th birthday. i'm living in interesting times.