it rained today, and was finally cold enough for me to try out my new H&M hoodie. nobody said anything, which i guess is a good thing since a hoodie is supposed to be inconspicuous. loren returned to work today after his 10-day vacation, sporting a new haircut.

the rain had stopped after lunch and i went for a long walk with xiao. he's the one guy in the office that i have the most difficult time understanding because he seems incapable of using simple words. even when i asked him to explain something to me, he ends up using even more difficult words. his lanky frame gives him a rather animated way of talking though, so even if i don't understand, it's still entertaining. he seems to be under a lot of stress, whether it be work or family, and he told me he used to be a really care-free guy until he started working here.

guo wrote an e-mail to everyone. it was in chinese, but i had it google translated and understood enough to know it was a dinner invitation. earlier i overheard him mentioning dinner plans with fengya, but i thought it was just the two of them, but turns out it was for everyone. they were going to go eat roasted fish, which is my weakness, meaning i'd rather eat cafeteria food instead. zhouke (who came with us to chishui) ended up canceling because she was taking out a coworker who was leaving, and loren took a raincheck as well because he just got back and had to clean his room.

regardless, i was ready to join them until lihui told me to meet him after work for rice porridge dinner as he left work complaining of stomach pains. i already promised him last night i'd go, but i didn't think he meant tonight, just one day in the near future. that's when i got the bright idea that i could go join guo and the gang after my dinner with lihui.

something else weird happened in the office. i was in the break room at the same time as ms.yu (not to be confused with ms.yuwei). i hadn't spoken to ms.yu in almost 2 months, not since that first sunday i arrived and had lunch with her and pansusu. i think a month ago we said good morning to each other one time, also in the break room, but only because we bumped into each other. the fact that she was now talking to me was so incredible, i wanted to ask her, "why are you speaking to me now?" but i played it cool, like we'd been friends for months. she said i'd been working here a long time now, and i told her almost 2 months. she asked some work questions, but i didn't really know the answers to. i asked her what she was doing for the holidays, she said she was taking a yangtze river cruise boat to yichang and then home to hubei. i told her i was having trouble ordering a train ticket, she said i could come and ask her help anytime. is the cold war between us officially over? now the only person left in the office will still hates me is her friend, but maybe she will be nice to me too now. ms.yu is pretty, and probably one of the few unmarried woman in the office who's even close to my age (i think she's in her early 30's).

i thought lihui went home so i was surprised to find him still at the office an hour later. he tried to explain to me what happened but i couldn't understand. he had to use a patchwork of additional english terms before i finally figured out the situation. apparently one of the construction teams didn't think they'd been paid enough so they parked all their cars at the entrance of the parking lot, blocking all cars from getting in or out (including the shuttle buses), until they got paid. i couldn't see any of this from inside the office, but apparently the situation was finally settled because by 6:00 the buses showed up.

lihui and i were the first ones onboard the bus. he was have a very animated playful argument with some girls and ended up inviting them to dinner as well. one of the girls he was talking to was the same girl i spoke japanese to a few days ago. i've been hoping for an opportunity to be fully introduced. she came with her roommate. not only did they go to high school together, but college as well, and now they're roommates working at the same company. turns out they're both from the greater chongqing area, close to hubei. the rice porridge was good, a change of pace from the normal cafeteria food, but still on the slimy wet side. lihui ended up treating.

after that dinner, i went to a convenience store and bought a small bottle of bai jiou (RMB$12). the store owner said it was too little a bottle, i told her it was just a gift so i wouldn't arrive empty-handed. i then called fengya asking her where they were. she told me to head to the agriculture bank. when i got there, i didn't see any restaurants. that's when xiao called me. he actually came out to look for me. after some phone negotiating, we finally found each other and he took me down a street i'd never been before, lined with various restaurants.

earlier i was explaining to fengya what it means to be "fashionably late." everyone had already ate but they were on their second wind. they were only drinking beer, so my bai jiou was a bit excessive, although greatly appreciated by guo, who would take the bottle home with him afterwards. they had 2 cases of free beer provided by the restaurant (3.3% alcohol content, almost like water). the new person there was yangyi's girlfriend, who i'd never seen before. she was very curious about all-things taiwan, and didn't believe them when they told her how old i really was.

we went home by 9:30. the restaurant was about to close. in fact, most restaurants were closing up shop by that time. everyone sort of stumbled home, except for fengya, who didn't drink. she stood in front of a building i didn't recognize and disappeared inside (probably a short cut to her apartment).