thus began saturday. normally it's difficult to work on a saturday, but do you know what's worse? working tomorrow on a sunday, which is the price the company made us pay in order to have a 3-day autumn festival holiday. the only good thing is everyone suffers together.
i asked fengya this morning to help buy a train ticket from chongqing to chengdu. she couldn't remember the password to her account so she created a new one for me. unfortunately i never received the confirmation e-mail. i took that as a sign, and made the decision that i wouldn't go to western sichuan for the national holiday after all. speaking with that kid on the bus yesterday, it doesn't sound like the place will free of people as i'd hoped. in fact, it'll be the exact opposite, which is what i'm most afraid of, the crush of the chinese horde. instead, i will just hang out locally. when i have my one week bimonthly holiday on the third week of october, that's when i'll be going western sichuan. it's a few weeks later, but hopefully the weather will be the same and not even colder.
lunch was terrible. i took a peek at the lunch menu and nearly gagged. i went with the noodles option, which is a big heap of noodles in a large bowl. i asked for more soup, the noodle cook gave me a second serving of noodles on top of the already gigantic portion. at the table i scooped out half of the noodles. the rest was still disgusting, the noodles sticking together into a large clump. i ate just a few bites and threw out the rest. what i would give for a salad! i could make my own chicken caesar salad, i just need croutons (can i even find them here?) and caesar salad dressing. i'll do that when i come back from the national holiday break.
outside the office i whispered to fengya that i wouldn't be eating the cafeteria dinner again. she said okay, but didn't offer any sympathy. when you have a secret crush, you read into every little thing your secret crush says and does. all this week i've gotten a distant vibe. maybe she's just really busy with work, but i'm afraid it could be something else (like, maybe she's lost that loving feeling because i can only express emotions through song titles).
fengya and the guys walked in one direction, i went another. the pitfalls of being a contrarian! i figured maybe some of them would follow, but when they saw how dusty the road was, they headed back. i went in the direction of the cement factory, the company responsible for razing the mountains for raw cement-making materials. trucks after trucks deliver loads of rocks and when they drive by on a hot day, the air is thick with rock dust. i walked far enough to see the loading entrance before i went back to the office.
i drank some coffee today, to help me get through the rest of the day. usually by 4pm i'm totally exhausted. i had a cup of instant coffee around 2:30 (courtesy of lihui who can't drink any now because of his ulcer) and i was full of energy. so much energy i couldn't stop moving. fengya told me that when she drinks coffee it puts her right to sleep. she tried it a few times in college but it doesn't have the intended effect.
since i wasn't eating the office dinner, i caught the first bus back into town. my plan was this: pick up some groceries first, go out for a run, then come back and make dinner. and by groceries i mean ramen ingredients, and by dinner i mean instant noodles. a few people on the bus overheard my grand evening plans and looked at me like i was the saddest person in the world. perfect strangers offer me pity when i can't seem to get it from my supposed office friends!
at the chongbai supermarket i bumped into arnel, the filipino who delivered my house key 2 weeks ago so i wouldn't have to make a trip back to the office to get it. he was looking to buy some chocolates for when he goes home on his vacation at the start of october. he wanted to get a box of snickers but couldn't figure out the price. since he can't speak chinese, i told him i'd help him out. turns out there's no discount if you buy a box, it's just the unit (RMB$4.90) price x16. he decided not to get it, but instead buy the chocolate assortments at the weighing station. as for me, i got some eggs, a piece of baby bokchoi, a package of ramen, some canned congee (for the office), and a cube of raisin bread. i also checked out prices on thermal underwear. since a lot of houses here don't have indoor heating (cement apartments too), people are used to wearing thermal underwear during the winter to stay warm. they average about RMB$100 for either a top or a bottom. i'll need to pick up a set before heading out to western sichuan.
i came home, changed into my running clothes (including contacts), ate a leftover banana, and then headed out by 7:00. today was lightly overcast but dry. maybe a bit colder than usual, but i didn't really notice. a good night to be out on the track field and there was a lot of people. i came in behind a young couple, the boy in a leather jacket, the girl in a miniskirt and heels. they were there to just walk, i lapped them about three times. i was hoping to do 12 loops this time for 4800 meters (3 miles), but stopped at just 10 loops. i don't think anyone else there runs as far as i do. there are few gym guys (you can tell from all that muscle) who run a lot faster, but they burn out just after a few laps. i didn't see anyone from the company. it is a saturday after all, maybe they're all exhausted from working non-stop for the past 7 days, now approaching 8 days and beyond.
the idea came to me while i was running: while don't i buy that box of snickers for arnel? it's about US$13, not a deal for me with my disposable china income, but would mean a lot to him. and it'd be a great way to thank him for saving my ass that time he brought me my key. so i returned to the supermarket and bought it. coming back, i also went to a place that sold sweet roasted chestnuts, because i knew that's fengya's favorite. half a kilo for RMB$15.
after a shower, i did a load of laundry while preparing ramen for dinner. i had a stomach ache, maybe gone too long without eating (lunch doesn't count because i barely ate that filth), and then i went running too. i ate my noodles at my kitchen island while chatting with my parents on skype. after i laid down on the bed a little while, my stomach cramp went away.
helping arnel out really made me feel good. i thought about maybe finding a place nearby where i can do some volunteer work. are there soup kitchens in china? mrs.gu is a practicing christian, maybe there are some volunteer opportunities through her church. i never thought much of it back in the US, since i always felt i was on the bottom rung of the social-economic scale. here in china it's different. working all the time, life can seem a little pointless. going out and helping others at least makes me feel i'm making a difference. i don't know how i got so altruistic. i'm normally a very selfish person.