of course loren wasn't coming into work this morning. not after the performance he gave last night, feigning an impending illness. i was surprised when he called. "you don't have to call, i know you're not coming into work," i told him. but he kept up the subterfuge, complaining now it was a stomach bug and he spent last night with diarrhea. i told mr.lee exactly what loren told me. minutes later yuwei told me she wanted to move our farewell dinner to tonight instead of tomorrow, because wangyan is leaving for the weekend tomorrow and she wants to come to dinner with us to send off loren. so i called loren back. "do you think you'll be well enough by dinnertime, 10 hours from now?" i asked him, already knowing the answer. he said yes. so yuwei told mr.lee we wanted to change the date, but unfortunately herbert can't make it tonight because he's going out with the other filipinos for a farewell dinner before each of them return home for christmas break. so we moved the dinner back to saturday, and i called loren to tell him the change.
with loren not in the office, this was a preview of what the work place will be like once he's gone for good after the 19th. a little more quiet, but things are winding down anyway due to the end of the year and people are either leaving for good or on vacations, so it's naturally a quiet time of the year.
i got a text from my bank, telling me i have new funds in my account.
i just realized i've been working here for more than 4 months now. time went by pretty fast, especially if everyday seems the same. not only that, but i've been out of the country (USA) since july, which means i've been gone for 5 months. i didn't think i'd stay this long. my original plan was to work for 2 months then leave. but it's interesting here. not so much the work, but the people, and of course the food. and when i do have time to get away (like sundays), i try to make the best use of my time. my weekends are exhausting but i really do just live for the weekends. 6 days of working just so i can have a few hours sunday to go out exploring. what i'd really like is to find someone who can join me on my adventures. the closest i've found is lihui and occasionally mrs.gu, and neither of them have my stamina for adventuring, willing to sacrifice the only day of the week where one gets to sleep late and go out and do stuff.
i asked xianglian out to beijing duck dinner tonight. she gave me the "okay" sign via QQ chat. i replied with "thumbs up." she narrowly passed my test where i invite a girl out for dinner three times. if after three consecutive times she refuses, i will never ask her again unless there are extenuating circumstances. she was already on her last try.
i asked zouyan if she could use her girl spy powers to see why fengya hates me so much. "nobody hates you!" she said. i never told her it was fengya, but she was able to deduce who it was from the evidence i gave her. "you have to keep this a secret," i implored. "you really like her," she told me, but i told her i didn't. i just wanted to know why fengya just abruptly kicked me to the curb one day when i thought we were getting along pretty well. "sometimes things just don't work out," zouyan told me, perhaps privy to some info i didn't have. that wasn't the answer i was looking for. what i wanted her to say was, "fengya hates you because she likes you too much but already did the math in her head and realize things would never work out and preemptively began to hate you instead." it's gotten to the point where she won't even make eye contact with me anymore, just walking by me in the hallway as if i'm not there. that is some serious cold-shouldering. this level of avoidance some serious dedication, so maybe i should be honored instead by this reverse attention. once loren leaves, i'm seriously thinking about relocating my desk to someplace else. maybe she's a sadist and derives some sort of sick pleasure in making other people suffer, but i can't stand sitting so close to someone who willfully ignores me at every opportunity. to say our relationship is broken is an understatement. everyday i fantasize about erasing all the photos i have of her, just to erase her from my memory. to think there was a time when i actually liked her! i really dodged a bullet there.
parts of yanjia will lose electricity tomorrow, which means the place that usually caters our lunch and dinner would not be able to make our meals. instead company buses will take us around 11:30 to a restaurant outside of work. this has already happened once before, but back when i was in western sichuan. it'll be nice to experience a food field trip myself. yuwei told me to fill up a bucket up with water when i get home, because sometimes electricity loss can also bring about water loss as well.
after work i caught up with xianglian and sat together on the bus as we made our way back to town. i'm still not feeling any sparks but she's a fun person to hang out with and hopefully she feels the same. we chatted about western wedding traditions out of all things: engagement ring versus wedding ring, how a traditional wedding is organized, etc. she told me she was in a bad mood, i didn't ask why (figured the bus wasn't the right place), but thought maybe it had something to do with her mother's poor health.
we went to the 4th floor of the chongbai mall for beijing duck. she thought it was my first time eating there (she'd eaten there many times before) until i told her it was actually my second time. fortunately there was no other coworkers dining there tonight, so there will be no office gossip about our date. we got one of the smaller 2 person tables along the side of the wall. i figured we'd just have beijing duck, but we ended up ordering a lot more: scallion pancakes, duck soup, fuxifeipian, 2 different types of greens (for the soup) and some mushrooms (additional soup ingredients).
i asked xianglian why she was in a bad mood. she gave me a generic answer of typical everyday stress. i didn't want to push her, but i could feel she needed someone to talk to and a minute later told me she was worried about her mother. she took her mom to a chongqing hospital a few weeks ago (during her vacation) to get some tests done. there was nothing wrong with her stomach, but as they were leaving, her mother told her that her pulse is actually very low, around 40 beats per minute, and she gets light-headed and occasionally headaches. so now xianglian will use up her end of the year christmas break vacation to take her mother to the shizhu hospital for more tests.
besides her mother's health, we also talked about my perception of china. i said it was crowded, dirty, and people were rude, but being impolite isn't necessarily a bad thing, and quite liberating in fact. she had a good laugh about my story of arriving in hong kong after 3 months trekking through china, my clothes dirty, clinging onto cheap duffle bags stuffed with souvenirs, with not a single hong kong dollar in my pocket. "what a dirty china person!" the people of hong kong must've of thought of me.
after dinner (RMB$140) i escorted xianglian home, which is along the way to my own place. i thought about inviting her out for a walk (it wasn't that late, only 8:00), but it was cold, and i figured she'd want to go home and rest. besides, we're getting together again on sunday so she can teach me how to make sichuan kimchi.
originally i was going to wake up early tomorrow (like 5:30) and take the bus into fengcheng market in old changshou to look for chinese santa decorations. if i found them that meant i wouldn't have to travel to chongqing sunday morning. but the problem is i don't know when the stores in changshou will be opened, or even where they are. might as well save some time and just go to chongqing sunday morning, i have other errands to run there anyway. if i go early enough, i can make it back to changshou by noontime, maybe grab some lunch with xianglian.