as promised, i woke up around 5:40 to get ready to take the 6:30 shuttle bus into work. i had my hard-boiled egg, my banana, and bagged a square of tasty bread. in my hand i carried the cyclamen plant into the early morning darkness. there was a surprising number of employees congregating on the curb waiting for the bus to arrive. i saw fy's friend from high school (who works in the warehouse department) who told me where to wait for the bus. when it finally arrived, it was a large bus, which we nearly filled to capacity. it was all men except for one woman. most of these guys had to be out on the construction site, either safety supervisors or foremen.

having been out of the office for a week, everything felt new again. mr.lee was surprised to see me, "why are you here so early?" i told him i wanted to catch up on my work, he seemed duly impressed. "you come to exercise with us?" he asked. i then heard the loud korean military music as my korean coworkers quickly filed out into the plaza in front of our office building for their morning exercise. "hana dul ses! hana dul ses!" a man with deep booming voice announced over the loudspeaker. sipping my hot tea, i glimpsed an small army of koreans doing synchronized morning exercises. this was worth the price of waking up early to see.

while everyone was out of the office, i wrote "乔迁礼物" on a sticky tab and placed the cyclamen on fy's desk right behind me. it felt a little too cliché. i'd already given her chocolates and now flowers? could i be more obvious? i returned to my desk, waiting for everyone else to arrive at work at 8:00.

a few people came up behind me and grabbed my shoulders, welcoming me back to work. ms.pan and ms.xiang both welcomed me when they came by the printer. everyone except for fy. she did however notice the flowers, and was surprised to where they might come from, and finally looked at me with a questioning look and i nodded and smiled and turned back around after she thanked me. later over text she asked me what kind of flowers they were and confessed she's a terrible plant person.

some people noticed my week old beard, but most said nothing even if they noticed. it was nice having the beard again, even if it was only for one day. i also wore one of my brand new pants, which is even less obvious, although i did feel a little self-conscious because it has a bit of a flourish on the backside, although not too many guys were checking out my butt.

next friday there's a company team building event being held at the local gymnasium. there will be contests pitting various departments against each other, things like 3-legged race or tug-of-war. today was the last day to sign up and due to low participant turnout, members from the company admin department went through the office today to talk with people individually to get them to join. mrs.guo asked me if i wanted to do something, i told her i was too old for things like that. "i'll just be on the sideline taking photos," i half-joked, but she said they needed an official photographer and asked if i wanted to do it. i tried to hide my excitement when i said yes.

i saw zeng fei waiting in line during lunch. laughing with one of her friends, i noticed for the first time that she's missing one of her side teeth, like a mid-molar. what happened? could this be a deal breaker?

i've been dying to ask fy where she moved to, and waited until the late afternoon before i had the chance. she basically moved to the other side of town opposite the track field gymnasium. when a girl you like but don't know if she likes you back moves to the other side of town, that kind of says a lot. at least i won't see her at the bus stop anymore, since i've been trying to avoid her for the last week or two. i felt a little depressed and went to go stand outside the office with my tea to veg out. later during dinner, i wasn't in the mood to eat and ate what i could and almost ran out of the cafeteria so i could catch the first bus leaving the office.

the only way to alleviate my depression was to go out and buy something. so i went to the chongbai supermarket and bought an iron. i've been thinking about it for a while. i noticed all the korean employees have nicely wrinkle-free shirts, and i've always wondered about that. is it some miracle fabric? but then i learned that their company actually issues each employee a free iron and ironing board. that's the secret! i too want wrinkle-free garments when i go to work. so tonight i bought the cheapest iron they had, RMB$89 for a little pink iron with steaming capability.

i returned home to do some ironing. i'm actually a terrible ironer, making more creases than fixing them. but like anything, i'm hoping with practice i can get pretty good at it. back at home, i probably iron something once every year maximum. i managed to sort of iron 3 shirts, but i need some practice with the steam feature, which comes out more as dribbles than vapors.