"you don't know them," xianglian said to me this morning, surprisingly sitting next to me as we left for work. earlier i chided her for not saying hello while we were waiting for the bus. she seemed to be ignoring me, when it should be the other way around, going as far as to stand with a fellow coworker between us so we couldn't see one another. "you seemed busy with your book," was her excuse (i carried my lonely planet guide to china today). but now i was asking her about whom she was having dinner with tonight. people from her department? contractors? i was curious, maybe i shouldn't be. "you don't know them," she said, "select fun people from various departments." ouch. i'm fun too! but maybe i just didn't know the right people. i told her i was jealous. she told me to talk with admin and get my name added to future VIP events. that sort of groveling was beneath me, i would never do that.

later in the afternoon when i asked mahui about their dinner plans, she was very evasive, but i learned they were having dinner with the cost control department, a farewell celebration for xiaolong's last week in the office. these were the people i didn't know, according to xianglian. except i knew them all too well. xiaolong. zhouke. and my frenemy guo. my former friends from act I of my china odyssey. the only person not there was fengya, who seemed to be on vacation (and because of this, is once again back in my favorite sphere). so of course i was hurt that i wasn't invited. and hurt that xianglian lied to me. to protect my feelings? i didn't think they could be hurt even more. i shouldn't have said anything, but i wanted to confront xianglian with the truth. "have a good dinner with xiaolong tonight," i wrote her on QQ. she replied with a big grin emoticon. that just ticked me off, so i responded back with a big pile of poo emoticon. she didn't write back after that. that's when i realized the truce was broken. my grand experiment of being nice to the girl who less than 24 hours ago broke my heart was not going to work. getting angry and ignoring her feels so much natural.

i filed no new claims today yet i was very busy with impromptu meetings. being busy is good, prevents me from being mopey. after lunch i hung out with a bunch of office girls (including xianglian) huddled together under the awning of the office entrance because it was slightly raining. one of them said she was impressed with how white my shirts were, and how crisp they seemed. "do you get them dry-cleaned?" one asked. another guessed (correctly) that i must iron them myself.

the only thing that saved me from falling deeper into a state of dispair was my date with sunmeng after work. i had to white lie to lihui when he casually asked me if i wanted some CSC after work. the answer was of course yes, but not with him, although we are tentatively scheduled for some korean barbecue buffet tomorrow night.

i went home first because sunmeng said she wouldn't get out from her teaching class until 7:30. it gave me a chance to take a shower, since i didn't take one this morning as the water was still out (that was also my excuse for not shaving, it felt great to have some stubbles on my face again). afterwards i went out and hung around the mall, trying to find the the place where sunmeng worked part-time, a learning program to teach kids english and math after school.

during that exploration i noticed that the BMBL maocai restaurant was opened for business. of course this made me feel sad. maocai was xianglian's favorite, but i would never again get to eat it with her, at least not under her new stipulation that we can only meet in groups.

sunmeng didn't get out from work until almost 8:00. i proposed the new maocai place, but we ended up going to CSC inside the mall instead. going to CSC that late meant most of their main dishes were already sold out. i still managed to get some fried chicken with rice - my usual. midway through our dinner sunmeng suddenly had to stop because she felt light-headed, a condition of her low blood pressure and low blood sugar.

after dinner (8:40) i figured she would just grab the bus back into the old city to go home, but we still had time to walk around, and she said she was curious to see my apartment, which she'd never seen before. she grabbed my arm as i escorted her to my place.

sunmeng ended up staying at my place for more than 2 hours. she seemed playfully drunk, sprawled on my bed, looking over my chongqing and chengdu guide books. there was no mixed signals here as she continued to shamelessly flirt. i played along the best i could but my heart wasn't in it. what i really wanted was someone i could spill my guts out about my failed relationship with xianglian, but sunmeng wasn't the least bit interested in hearing me mope about some other girl. we looked at photos of her former coworkers and she pointed out all the guys (many married upper management people) who sexually harassed her at work by asking her out on dates and making inappropriate comments about her appearance. the list was long and made me think that there's something about construction that attracts the worst kind of humans.

afterwards i waited for her outside until she managed to hail a taxicab back to her house. i returned to my apartment, tired, curious to see how tomorrow's drama will unfold. i have but 53 days left of work.