i didn't want to go to work this morning. i struggle most mornings, but it's usually because i don't want to wake up just yet. today was different, today i didn't want to go work and face all those people whom a few days ago i thought were still my friends. but the show must go on as i reluctantly crawled out of bed and into the dark changshou morning.
if this week can be remembered for anything positive, then it'll have to be for the fact that i talked to zeng fei this morning. i was standing outside waiting for 7:30 to come around before boarding the bus (on saturdays there are no medium shuttles, just the big bus). zeng fei was also standing close by, but far enough away that i could only reply with a polite nod and a smile. but then shirley xianglian came by and offered zeng fei a dried date. they were both happily snacking and i went up to shirley and jokingly asked her for my share. i wasn't planning on talking with zeng fei, but to my surprise she joined our conversation and i ended up talking with her briefly, something about the nutritional health benefits (for women) of dried dates and ginger tea. although we still haven't been officially introduced, come next week (in about 36 more hours) i'll feel more comfortable talking with her on the medium bus.
i also spoke with guo briefly at the bus stop. it was just chitchat, he saw me drinking from my tumbler and asked what it was, i said it was hot tea. superficially it seemed very business as usual but i have a good memory.
after lunch i found fengya standing outside the entrance to the office by herself. here was my chance to talk with her alone. i asked her how come we don't talk like we used. she said it's because she's very busy. i wanted to tell her i've been busy too but i still find time to at least say hello. "have i made you angry with me in some way?" i asked her. she laughed, "not in the least, i am not mad at you!" she is impossible to read. because earlier, while we were waiting in the lunch line, she asked me if i was good at taking care of plants. that was because she wanted to return the flower i gave her because she said she'll end up killing it. you'll end up killing me with your insensitive questions! i didn't bother answering her.
later she was kicking around a feathered weight with guo and his gang. i was sitting outside on the steps in front of the office with my tea. not before answering some dSLR camera questions from romeo the filipino. i also saw there was a chinese guy taking photos of the gang with his own dSLR camera. when i pulled out romeo's canon to take a few test shots, fengya saw me and groaned, "tony, no!" i ignored her, i wasn't taking their photo. later the guy with the camera came by and sat next to us. "i'm a beginner too," he said, clutching a nikon dSLR. i didn't want anything to do with this guy. cameras are strictly forbidden on the construction site. after a few minutes of listening to the gang having fun without me, i had enough and went back inside.
at another point later in the afternoon i found fengya sitting by her desk taking a break. loren was at a meeting so i sat in his seat so i could chat briefly with her. "you know, i gave you that flower to take home, as a housewarming present," i said. "it's not really a house, just an apartment," she replied. i told her a home is where you live. i said her plant needed some sun, but if it died, i wouldn't blame her. "you better not," she said. loren came back and i gave up his seat, even though he gestured for me to come back.
in the afternoon i was also having 2 simultaneous text message chats with 2 girls in the office. first there was sun meng, the 22 year old leaving at the end of november, looking to either becoming a teacher or an au pair. did i mention she has braces? it's not something i often see in china, where crooked teeth are the norm. she talked about her boyfriend today, and i was sort of flirting with her, and i happened to say that her boyfriend should be careful or otherwise somebody might steal her away from him. she replied that nobody would want her anyway, and i walked right into her trap, and told her if circumstances were different, i'd go out with her without hesitation. but instead of reading it as light banter, she took what i said seriously. i figured what's the harm, she'll be gone in a few more weeks anyway, what's wrong with some gentle ego stroking from an admirer? but all i could think about was, what if fengya finds out? she found out i asked sun meng to dinner a few nights ago, maybe sun meng will tell her even more? but what do i care? i haven't chatted with any other girls ever since i decided fy was the best, but now that she's giving me the cold shoulder treatment, she has to realize i'd be pursuing other interests.
the second girl i was chatting with was shirley (from earlier this morning). shirley and i were formally introduced that time lihui invited me to dinner and then randomly invited shirley and her roommate to come along with us. she's a pretty outgoing girl, and i gave her a piece of chocolate for halloween which piqued her interest. she asked me via chinese text message if i can read chinese. sure i can! with a little help from google translate that is (actually a lot of help). so we began chatting in chinese, but it'd take me a minute to reply, because i'd first get her text translated into english, then i'd write back in english, translated to chinese, then double check the pinyin to make sure it's what i'd say. finally i reached a point where it was just too exhausting. "how is your english? my chinese is terrible," i wrote her. it was only then she revealed that she was an english major in college. "then why are we chatting in chinese?" "don't you want to practice?" she said. she also asked how i could speak chinese fluently but be unable to read it. "i'll tell you the complicated story of my background another time," i told her. she asked if i like spicy food. that's usually the cue before someone asks me out to dinner. i smiled and wrote back if she has a restaurant in mind. but she was asking me because she was genuinely interested in my spiciness aptitude, not some attempt to get me out to dinner. i felt a little stupid. but she saved me by suggesting she'd cook me something tomorrow. "of course i'd love to eat your homecooked meal. i'm going to chongqing tomorrow, but i'll be back by dinner. do you need anything?" that's when she told me she meant lunch, not dinner. she usually skips dinner. the biggest meal of the day for her is breakfast, followed by lunch. she then gave me the password to her online photo album, where i looked through several pages of her personal food photos. "we have something in common," i told her, "we love to cook, and we love to take photos of our food." she invited me to homemade lunch next sunday.
i was resigned to eat dinner in the office (on a saturday night no less), but asked loren if he was interested in eating out again for the 3rd consecutive night. he said yes, so after work we hopped on the first bus. yangyi came onboard with fengya, but sat across from us when there wasn't anymore seats available. he asked us where we were going to eat. "where are you eating?" i interrupted him. "and how come you didn't invite us?" i asked. he said he was treating his roommate. i'm not sure if that's true or not. i didn't care anymore at that point, it's been a long a week, i was happy it was finally over.
loren and i ended up eating at the dirt family mutton restaurant. even though we were only a party of 2, we sat at an 8-seat table. the clear broth they brought out was actually semi-transparent; this is different from the mutton restaurant we went 2 nights ago, where the broth was an opaque white. dirt family broth seemed a little watered down, and didn't have a strong mutton aroma. taste-wise i couldn't even tell if it was mutton, and it had a weird spoiled flavor. at least the mutton bits tasted like mutton, but only mildly.
loren talked about company-related gossip he heard through his sources. later i gave him an update on my office extracurricular activities. he said he didn't like sun meng, thought she was fake. and before i even told him shirley invited me to lunch, he said she looked like the kind of girl who knew how to cook.
later in the evening, my mother skyped me to show me live coverage of the red sox world series championship parade happening in boston.