it's 1:00 already and i have to wake up at 5:30 tomorrow morning to go to chongqing for the day. so no time to write, here's the quick version, with hopes that i can come back and flesh out these notes. today was a weird but good day.

* mrs.gu and i make plans to get together next sunday to visit the gelan market day, the last weekend market day before the chinese new year. i discover that chehong is actually from ba'ke, or at least her paternal grandparents are. she seems assumed that i would go out of my way to visit her small town just to see the ganji.

* chat with hongya in the afternoon (she initiated), making plans to meet at guanyinqiao tomorrow after at 1:00 in chongqing for either lunch or coffee. i'm reluctant to go but i have to see her at least once for the sake of formality.

* i show lihui photos of both hongya ("she's fat!") and grace ("she's not bad.").

* in the late afternoon i chat with sunmeng. although she sort of dislikes lihui for reasons i still don't know, at one point they were kind of friendly, because he confided in her that he likes lisusu, one of the girls from the document control department (who recently changed into the cost control department to replace the two missing liu's), but she doesn't like him. i would've never guessed, but now they're sitting practically next to each other. i can't say anything to lihui about it though, because he told sunmeng in private, and he would know she told me if i asked him about it. sunmeng also told me that she will probably stay in changshou during chinese new year, returning to nanjing instead in march. when i told her i'd like to visit nanjing one day (apparently i heard girls there are just as pretty as chongqing girls), she told me that her uncle is actually the nanjing police chief, and when they go out everything is free.

* guo asks me out to dinner after work. instead of making something up ("i'm going out to dinner with my friends") i tell him the truth, that i'm going home to make a salad for dinner. he hasn't asked me to dinner since october, so why now? oh, i know, because there's nobody left in his department! and even though fengya has changed her seat next to guo, i don't think they have a good relationship anymore because i've seen them go home a few times, always separately now. without any additional coworkers, it's nearly impossible for guo to invite fengya out to dinner without it seeming inappropriate. whatever the reason, i have a good memory and i won't be dining with him anytime soon after he ditched me a few months ago.

* lihui is itching for mao cai again but i have my salad date and nobody else will go with him. after we get off the bus, i see him talking with pansusu's secretary. they're going to go see the pretty cigarette shop lady, and i tell them i want to see her again as well. apparently she's been speaking with chehong, because she knows i've been visiting ganji market days. i tell her its a very traditional chinese custom, one that will eventually disappear once every town has a supermarket. afterwards both of them are about to go their separate ways, when i tell her she should have dinner with lihui since he's been asking everyone and everyone's refused. she agrees, but i think she thinks i'll be there as well, but at the last second i say good bye to them and tell her i'm going home to eat my salad. old bait and switch! i hope she's not mad come monday. maybe another dinner is in order, one that i won't bail out on.

* i go to the chongbai supermarket to look for some chicken breasts. i run into zhouke, who's shopping for weekend groceries. while browsing the meat department, i run into fengya. she's surprised but a happy surprised, one that i haven't seen since probably september. instead of avoiding me, she strikes up a very friendly conversation, asking me what i'm looking for. she directs me to the frozen chicken breasts. surprising myself, i ask her what she's doing. she tells me she was thinking about buying some mantou buns, and was waiting to meet up with another girl to go do some clothes shopping. that's so weird, first guo and now fengya? what's going on? former friends who became my enemies are now my friends again? or maybe it's a matter of necessity, since i've become sort of important in their lives now that most of their friends are gone or will be gone soon. maybe they should've thought of that before ditching me. i know the mature me wants to forgive and forget, but the angry me wants revenge. i end up buying some sweet and spicy barbecue chicken instead, since there's no cooking involved. the butcher chops up the chicken for me into smaller pieces.

* back at the apartment i visit yuwei to deliver the badminton rackets she wants to borrow so she can play with her son and wangyan tomorrow at the gym. although i wouldn't mind hanging out with wangyan, the calculus on this outing is yuwei's self-confessed bratty son age 6. but when i met him at her apartment, he didn't seem so bratty. i also said hi to her mother.

* after finishing chopping up my salad ingredients, i realize i don't have a big enough bowl. so i decide to go back out to the supermarket once again. however, i take a detour to the se7en men fashion store nearby to check out their suits. a complete suit with shirt and tie costs RMB$1000 at least. the suits are in typical chinese style, which means either unusual fabric (e.g. shiny) or weird patterns. i just want something simple. while trying on different jackets, i chat with one of the young women working there. when she asks me where i'm from, that opens up the floodgate to my twisted lineage. i demonstrate to her my poor chinese, but it's when i speed read some english that got her impressed. i asked her if she was working during chinese new year, she said yes, but they get to go home early. i imagine chongqing to be the case as well. working retail sucks the world over.

* at chongbai supermarket (2nd visit), besides a large porcelain bowl (RMB$15), i also buy another deep dish (RMB$19), a frying pan (RMB$55), and a tin of cookies (RMB$9, i just want the box for keeping me food mouseproof at the office). i bump into 2 pretty girls in the elevator. i lie and tell them i just moved into the building, because otherwise it seems awfully weird that after 5 months i finally buy a bowl and a pan.

* i finally have my salad while QQ chatting with grace (she initiated). from the few chats i've had with her i'm starting to like her very much, but i still really don't know what she looks like other than that one photo and another small buddy icon image. i've been putting up more photos of myself on my QQ zone page as a subtle hint that maybe i like to see some of her as well, but she has no QQ zone presence (although if we become wechat friends, i could see her wechat photos, i'll ask her next time). logistically though, say we do finally meet and discover we're both attracted to each other, how's that even going to work? i work 60 hours a week in changshou with virtually no free time, she's all the way in shanghai. plus i have an expiration time that returns me to boston once my time is up. there must be some nice girls in chongqing as well, ones that don't require me to travel halfway across china to visit.