i woke up 10 minutes earlier than usual, at 6:30. i can't believe i've been waking up early for almost a year now! my normal wake-up time back at home was 9-10am. i've never considered myself a morning person, but through necessity, i've learned to adapt. because i got up earlier than usual, i had some time to fry some eggs for breakfast. i should up my breakfast game. how about some home fries? if i can make my mornings more interesting, maybe it'll make it easier to wake up. however, at this point, i don't have too much problems getting up. if anything, i will naturally wake up around 6:30, even without setting the alarm. one up for circadian rhythm!

i saw XL standing outside the bus. she looked at me and instead of turning away, gave me a quick good morning wave. she climbed onboard the bus a few minutes early. perhaps that was my cue to follow, but i wasn't so sure after yesterday, and during that time, somebody else (her roommate) sat next to her.

i don't know why but i asked xianglian this morning if she was dancing tonight. "not sure," was her reply. "too much dancing, you need a day to relax," i said. "you have some ideas?" she said. i told her i was afraid to suggest anything because i've been rejected too many times. "i don't know if i can take another rejection," i confessed. "okay, no rejection tonight," she told me. the fact that whether i'm in a good or bad mood is entirely dependent on my interaction with one person is a strange feeling. i told her i'd think of something for tonight.

lihui wasn't at the bus stop this morning, but instead showed up for work 2 hours late. ah, too good to be true! i thought maybe this week for once he'd have a perfect attendance record. he did however bring me a container of natural honey from a beekeeper friend of his father. he said he brought back from his recent vacation 20 lbs. of honey, and that the beekeeper had maybe 8-10 more similarly large containers of honey. i taste tested it immediately, a little watery, and a dash of fermentation. there were sugar crystals in the honey, which means a high sugar content, so i'm sure why it might be fermenting. anyway, i don't think it'll last long because i'll probably eat it all very soon.

during my lunch break i went ahead and ordered my plane ticket to zhangjiajie in hunan: one way, total RMB$494 (US$79; ticket RMB$370, tax RMB$50, gas fee RMB$60, foreign credit card fee RMB$14). the distance from chongqing to zhangjiajie is 530 km, or about 330 miles. domestic flights here in china are amazingly cheap, but the airlines operate in classic china style, which means frequent delays and even cancellations (if not enough people are riding the plane, sometimes they'll cancel the flight). the last time i was in china 8 years ago, it was a pain to buy plane tickets (you had to visit a travel agency); but now in this internet age there are easy bilingual travel websites (ctrip.com, elong.com) to easily buy tickets online. i only bought one way because i might want to return to chongqing via bus/car, because i heard it's more scenic. and i will also leave zhangjiajie, wandering around hunan a little bit, one of the chinese provinces i've never been to before.

a little bit before we got off from work, xianglian texted me asking what i was planning this evening. she reminded me that changshou was scheduled for a water outage beginning at 10:00 tonight, so my plan of a dinner and a stroll would have to be abbreviated to just dinner since she had to get back home and do laundry before the water ran out. i haven't seen her all weekend, the past two nights she's been busy, our joint vacation plan was cancelled, and now the only night she's available, our time has to be cut short. what else can go wrong? but dinner was still dinner.

xianglian picked a crowded bus to get on so of course we had to sit in separate seats. after we got back into town, we moseyed to the chengdu maocai place. it was crowded and we could only get a half seat by the entrance, which we took, before switching to a better table once that became available. XL let me pick the maocai ingredients first, before she came around to choose her own favorites. that's when we saw zengfei, there with a boy who was probably her boyfriend. i was too out of it to pay that much attention, i had my own drama to take care of first. XL and i sat side-by-side, waiting for our order to come. it was pretty awkward, neither of us saying anything, like we both didn't want to be there. i had my reasons to be quiet, i hadn't seen XL in so long, it really felt like she was a stranger. once the food arrived though and we started eating, our conversation picked up.

the exact sequence events i can't quite remember, even though it happened just hours ago. XL said she's been doing a lot of thinking and that the main reason why we can't be together is because i'm going back to the US in less than 2 months. i told her i didn't worry too much about thinking, that i was just following my emotions, doing what made me happy, worrying about the future when the future comes. she said it'd be better to end it now instead of later, when it'd hurt more. i asked her if she could imagine a scenario where she spent most of her time in the US but returned to china every year for extended vacations, but she said no, that she could never leave her parents. i told her maybe in 2 months our feelings might change, and i might either consider staying a bit longer in china, or she might consider living for a while in the US. she said she couldn't live with the guilt if i ended up staying in china because of her, since she thinks the US is a much better place than china. it seems like in her mind she's already played out our relationship to the end and it doesn't finish with a happy ending. i told her we could still be friends, but maybe a little more than that; she asked if her friends set her up on dates with other guys, would i be upset, and i said yes. much more was said, but the thing she wanted me to know, the crux of her talk, she wanted to postpone until maybe saturday night, the next time she'd have time to meet me (since the next 3 nights she's having dinner with coworkers and contract groups). but i told her to just tell me, so she did. we can still meet socially, but in groups; no more private dinners, no more private strolls. she looked at me and said i'll probably never speak to her again. i told her no, but i did find it funny, that regardless of language, regardless of country, when a girl says "we have to talk," it never ends well for me. a bit stunned, i paid for dinner, then we walked out (by that point the restaurant was empty, zengfei had already left). we parted ways.

i didn't feel bad but things quickly turned sour in a matter of seconds. all that well wishing soon faded as i wanted nothing to do with her ever again until the end of time. stages of grief, here we go! yeah, i was angry, but maybe if i got a chance to speak with her again saturday night, i might persuade her otherwise? but what's the point. i have the worst luck when it comes to the ladies! striking out, country after country! i couldn't go home right away, i needed to walk it off, but then i remembered in 2 more hours water would be shut off, so i still made my way home.

so tonight the girl i was never going out with dumped me. this is a new and old experience, all at the same time. at least she had the courtesy to break the news to my face instead of just ignoring me (which is what i'd do). i've decided my strategy will be this: instead of ignoring her, which is what my heart is telling me to do, i'm going to be just as nice to her as always, and we'll see how she deals with it. i'm still going to keep on inviting her to dinners, and asking her out on strolls, and maybe she'll reject all my advances, but i'm hoping to wear her down. and all the while my china countdown clock is ticking, and come the end of june, i will be gone, getting my real vacation on in western china with my tibetan friends, before finally finally finally returning home.

my next step was to immediately go online and ask sunmeng if she was busy tomorrow night and if she wanted to hang out after work. with her everything is easy, she said yes, even told me she'd treat me to dinner.

by 10:30 we still had water, but when i checked at 11:00 it was finally off. i don't know how long this is going to last but hopefully water service will be back by the time i wake up. otherwise, thursday morning is not going to be a happy place.