only in the light of day did i realize once again i received another failed chinese haircut. i just want the boy's regular, which nobody here in china seems to be able to cut. everyone has to put his or her personal flair into my hair, which i really wish they wouldn't. if they want to experiment, do it with their own hair. maybe they've been instructed by their boss that for the cheap haircuts (which is what i always get), they purposely have to do something wrong, to push the customers into getting the more expensive haircuts. this time, the top is sort of okay, but i didn't realize the stylist removed my sideburns. that's not entirely accurate, he shaped them into tiny daggers instead, so i look like i'm trying out some goth vampire look.
on the bus XL sat behind me, sitting next to this guy she regularly sits with. i don't know if he's married or single, hard to tell. however, i immediately got up and found a new seat at the back of the bus. listening to them talk will just make me jealous, because if XL is having fun, i think it should naturally be with me and not with anyone else.
of course - OF COURSE! - nobody said anything about my haircut. maybe it's too regular, so there's nothing to be said. perhaps that a good thing, because if it was awful, people would definitely talk. or would they? maybe it's china being china, never publicly comment on anything when you can just say nothing instead. the only person who did end up making a comment was XL, whom i bumped into in the document control printing room. she said it looked good, i said i almost wore a hat this morning. it also seemed like she might've gotten a trim as well, but when i asked her i didn't get a clear answer.
i wore my other new pair of pants, the RMB$100 cotton blend navy blue khaki with the teal lining. they're good winter pants, not sure if i can wear them during the sweltering hot days of chongqing though. if i end up staying that long that is.
i learned wangyan does indeed have a backup key to yuwei's apartment, which means i can totally retrieve my badminton rackets. she wanted to give them to me sunday night, but i told her i wouldn't be available. saturday night? nope. finally i told her the truth, that i'd be going to shanghai this weekend. i think she was impressed that i have the resources to just go to shanghai for the weekend.
on a whim, with no expectation of success, i asked XL 1) if she was free for dinner, and 2) if she still had some apppetite for maocai. to my surprise, she was free tonight, and she was up for maocai. i told her i'd take her to a maocai place she'd never been to before, and she'd been to most of them already. "in old changshou," i told her, which drew the immediate complaint that it was too far.
i was finished preparing the binder full of documentation by 3:30. i felt drained, and didn't want to the anything until it was time to go home in another 2:30 hours. i also had a little headache in the back of my eyes. and i was sleepy.
by late afternoon, work was dead to me. i had neither the energy nor the motivation to do anything office-related. the good news was my cold finally seems to be waning. i can go very long stretches without any coughing or nose blowing. in a few more days i should be completely fine. not soon enough for shanghai though, i will arrive in less than perfect shape. regardless, i still need to conserve my strength. i will be so drained by this weekend, i may end up getting sick again next week! that'd be terrible, but my parents said they brought a suitcase full of american cold medicine, so at least i have that to look forward too should the unfortunate happen.
there was no water in the bathroom again in the later afternoon. i found out the hard way when i went to wash my hands and realized i wouldn't be able to rinse off the hand soap gel i'd already pumped into my palms.
after work i sat with XL on the bus. the members of her department probably noticed but didn't say anything or ask questions, china style. as if that wasn't obvious enough, we got off at the same bus stop (the first stop), where she was picking up a book from a friend. it was a guy friend, and she seemed to be borrowing some kind of computer science exam study guide. speaking in chongqing dialect but enough that i could still understand, i think she invited her friend to come with us to eat maocai, but he had the wisdom to decline her offer (plus i think he was working at the time in a sign store). since we were at the terminal of bus 104, we grabbed it and headed into old town, despite the fact that XL was still complaining it was too far.
so i learned a few more things about XL: she's been with on project since inception in 2012. she never trained in shanghai, but she was one of the first few people working in our current office, back when half of the office was still empty (not even office furniture). probably no one at work has worked here longer than she has. she said her major wasn't english (which i find hard to believe, since her english is very good) but rather welding, or welding theory. i don't know if she's trying to prank me. also when she first started, she lived in chuanwei for 4 months (that's why she has an old changshou bus card), paying for her own single apartment because the company wouldn't pay for her because they considered her local even though her home is 4-5 hours by bus. when they started placing new workers in new changshou however, she complained and they finally gave her staff benefits, which included a paid apartment (although with a roommate). also during the first 4 months she actually worked in the admin department with mrs.gu, before the head of contracting mr.zhuang noticed her english proficiency and wanted her to promote her to contracting.
as i took her to the maocai restaurant, she continued voicing her doubts. but when she finally saw the place, i didn't hear her complaining anymore. this is by far better than any of the small maocai restaurants back in new changshou. i didn't realize it, but it's actually the same chain i ate at twice in chongqing. after using the bathroom, XL helped me pick out the vegetables while i focused on the meats. the total was RMB$66, typical for 2 people. the restaurant supposedly had free wifi has well but when XL tried it on her phone it didn't work.
we ate and chatted, never once an awkward moment, always something to talk about. i asked her about things to do in shizhu but she didn't know of any places. she did offer up some local tujia dishes. she never heard the full story of my complicated family lineage so i told her what my grandparents did when they were in china, before they all fled to taiwan.
after we finished, we visited a stationery store so i could pick up some stickers (to cover up the ZTE logo on my china cellphone) and some magnets, before deciding to walk home to work off the calories. we went via the bend that took up behind the qi'an bus station. maybe it was just accidental, but we kept on lazily bumping into each other while we walked, more so than any other person i've walked with.
approaching new changshou, i finally told her: i won't be at work tomorrow because i'm leaving for shanghai first thing in the morning. "you win!" she said. "i win?" i asked. she said she was officially jealous. that sort of made me feel guilty. i never really considered the fact that taking a weekend trip to shanghai is just not the sort of thing a typical chinese person - earning a chinese salary - can afford to do. i felt like i was involuntarily flaunting how well off i was, which wasn't my intention at all. if i can i'll try to get her a present (XL has never been to shanghai, this is my 3-4 time, depending on how you count).
i walked her home before returning to my own apartment. it was already 9:00, and i had to get up at 4:00. i'm still not sure how i'm going to get to the airport. i guess i'll just wing it and see how it goes.