i went to bed after midnight last night (sunday), my evening hours consumed by chats with parents, laundry, dinner making (some fermented glutinous rice with tangyuan dough balls), and the blog. it goes without saying that i was reluctant to wake up this monday morning. i briefly fantasized about sleeping in late then coming in to work around lunchtime, but the responsible adult in me forced me to get out of bed. i hit the hot air button on my AC remote so the room would be nice and toasty when i got out of the bathroom. mornings are a lot easier now that i've discovered this feature (which i formerly thought was broken). i made myself a sandwich before i left the house - some cracked pepper ham with mayonnaise on bread i purchased last night - then grabbed my santa head decoration - making sure not to get any glitter on my sandwich - before heading out the door.

my mornings are starting to get awkward again! but in an interesting way. i've paid too much attention to too many ladies, and they all take the same bus. instead of just getting onboard, they stand with me outside despite the cold. there was xianglian, who said she didn't hang up her santa claus head yet. there was also zengfei, commenting about my new sandwich. xianglian was suffering from a tooth ache, i made a mental note to give her some advil when i got to the office. on the bus i sat with neither of them, each taking a seat with somebody else.

loren finally returned to work today. in a casual discussion between him and our boss mr.lee, mr.lee dropped a potential bombshell on us that maybe he's considering leaving as well, moving on to another project. with him gone, not only do we lose the head of the department, but our already small unit of 5 people will be reduced to just 3, with nobody with enough experience to run it. i also have a feeling yuwei might be leaving as well, with all the recent phone calls she's been making, leaving just herbert and me.

shortly afterwards pansusu called me into his office for a private meeting between him and loren. "your friend is leaving. are you ready to take on the responsibility of being the only claims adjuster for the chinese half of the company?" he asked me. he also gave his blessing in transferring over claims authorization power from loren to me. it felt a little surreal. through no action of my own, i've sort of just risen to the top of the pecking order. i went from having no construction management claims experience, to being the chinese head of the department (the other head being the korean side). maybe i should be stressed out but i feel relaxed as always. none of this feels real to me, it's like i'm just playing office, except millions of real dollars will exchange hands based on my actions. maybe when i first started working here i had a feeling that my job wasn't entirely necessary, and a position was created just to fit me in. i don't feel that way now; through circumstances beyond my control, i've suddenly become quite essential to the operation of this company.

i brought my chinese santa claus head to the office and clipped it to a conspicuous area of my cubicle. the more i look at chinese santa claus, the more scared i am. there seems to be something insidious, something off. for one thing, it seemed to be created by somebody who had no first-hand christmas experience. reindeer yes, but not rudolph. santa on a sled but not a sleigh? what's wrong with santa's mouth? 2 christmas trees? bluebird? and why are there 2 additional mini santas? the head itself is well-made; besides the glitter, parts of santa's outfit is actually red felt, and certain elements (like santa's moustache) pop out like a popup book.

after lunch i tried to take a nap. after 15 minutes i almost fell asleep but my time ran out.

loren didn't feel well enough to go out to dinner, so we ate in the office instead. we got to the cafeteria so early (5:40) that we managed to catch the first 6:00 bus leaving the office. when i got off the bus, xianglian and zengfei were standing outside, like they were going somewhere. i said good night to the both of them and walked home eating my office-issued banana.

it'd been more than a week since i last went to the gym so i was due for a visit. i left right when i got back, like around 6:40, which is a bad time because it's peak treadmill time and none of the machines were available. i stretched and waited, until finally one freed up. i started with 12km/hour, reduced to 11km/h then 10.5km/h, but towards final stretch i kicked it up to 13km/h for a near sprint. i was exhausted but it felt good, especially walking home in my shorts and t-shirt and feeling the eyes of astonished pedestrians who couldn't believe somebody would just walk around in so little clothes when it's this cold (50°F). the full moon was out but i couldn't see any stars, not with all the light pollution.

after a shower, i washed my dirty gym clothes. i finished the rest of my duck feet as well an asian pear followed by some sugared walnuts. my sichuan paocai is floating in the jar. xianglian told me i had to wait until 2 weeks before i can open the jar, but i read it can be ready to eat in as quick as 4-5 days. i guess i'll know it's fermenting when i start seeing bubbles. food experiments are fun! this weekend i may go over to xianglian's place and teach her how to make korean kimchi (remember to wear an old shirt, it can get messy).

Irma Thomas - "Take A Look"