after wednesday night, i'm still surprised that XL said good morning to me. and especially how catty i was when i found out she was going out to dinner with cost control. onboard the bus though, she sat with her usual bus buddy. i ended up sitting next to ZF, which often times is more interesting because we always seem to have something to talk about. i found out that she's leaving the warehouse department at the end of this month, and transferring to procurement for the final month of june. i look forward to office ZF, no more ugly construction uniforms!

I walked into the office with XL. she muttered something but was talking to a female coworker (wangyang - WY2) a few paces ahead of us, swinging her id badge behind her to try and get her attention. i added WY2 to my QQ buddy list just this week, and she asked me about my recent maocai photos. "how come you can't eat maocai anyway? looks so sad!" she said, with XL right beside me. i hesitated. "is it because it's too spicy?" she asked. i smiled. "yes, too spicy," i replied, not bothering to see the reaction on XL's face.

but i couldn't resist an opportunity to pour my heart out to whoever willing to listen, so once we were settled in the office, i asked WY2 if she wanted to know the real reason why i couldn't eat maocai anymore. after i told her, some consoling words were given and i went back to business. i then asked ZF about the boy i saw her with last wednesday. "was that your boyfriend?" i asked, with oogling emoticon. she said no, it was just a guy she was meeting for the first time. of course i knew she was going to ask me about XL, all according to my plan to milk sympathies from strangers. i told her the truth. consoling words were once again given.

mahui invited me to try some of her homemade rice milk that she made with her soy milk machine. black rice combined with walnuts and peanuts and dates. it tasted very think, almost like a glue, with a hint of sweetness. i'd like it more if it was sweeter but as it was it still made for a great morning energy boost and health drink. maybe something i could look into when i get back to the states.

in the mid-morning i went to go talk to pansusu, who was alone in his office, a rare event. originally i went to go ask him about my demobilization date (june 30th), but then he started asking me about XL. for the third time today i shared my breakup story. maybe by the end of the day, everyone will know! he asked about grace, but i told him the fact that she lives all the way in shanghai is a difficult hurdle to overcome when it comes to dating. i also asked if he wanted to get dinner one of these nights (when i get back from my vacation), and then i asked him some details about venezuela, and expressed some interest in going.

i discovered today that ellen and i share the same birthdate, february 12th. that's a strange coincidence, because her predessor loren and i shared almost the same birthday as well - mine is 1974, his is 1974 but younger by just a day.

after lunch i hung around outside the office. i saw LXL and XL as they came back from their stroll around our building. i chatted with them briefly, but then they went into to take their naps.

it was xiaolong's last day of work and he left after the lunch break. i shook hands with him, he told me if i'm ever in shanghai to ring him up. and with that he left the office, nobody else following him out. i'm pretty sure there's some additional dinner plans later tonight, of which i'm not included. i don't mind as XL isn't there, and even better with FY's mystery disappearance from the office since yesterday.

LH finally showed up to work around 1:30, right during a heated discussion between myself and the head of claims for the owner side of the company. i managed to flex both my english and negotiating skills. while ellen got lost in the fast exchange of words, i was able to keep up just fine. negotiation also requires keeping calm, and i was cool as a cucumber, while mr.lee was all sweaty-face when lluis asked him for advice on how to resolve this particular outstanding claim.

i texted XL in the afternoon, playfully jokingly asking if it was okay to still text her under her new laws. she replied, "of course you can, we are friends if you want." maybe something was lost in the translation, but her phrasing put me in an instant bad mood that i didn't write her back after that.

lihui invited his friend wangyang (the same person i was text-confessing earlier this morning) along with a guy friend of hers from the procurement department. i tried to snag WWY, who seemed interested, but finally told us she already had dinner plans tonight.

the entire contract department disappeared at 5:00, for their team building dinner with the contract department from the owner's side of the company. seeing all of them gone made me seeth with jealous rage. i imagined them all having a great time in some lavish banquet hall, laughing at us chumps who were still working back at the office.

after work i went with lihui and his two friends to the korean barbecue buffet place. the price isn't bad, just RMB$35 per person (all you can eat), but how they recoup their cost is in the drinks, which cost RMB$9 per bottle of beer (we ended up getting 5 bottles). i was expecting genuine korean barbecue but so far i've yet to experience that here in china (whether at the korean restaurant on the top floor of the chongbai mall or in the north korean-settled bordertown of dandong in liaoning). it's called korean barbecue for the style of cooking, not for the food itself. we went to a bank of glass refrigerators to pick out what we wanted to eat. the skillet splattered haphazardly, which was why thick aprons and sleeve guards were offered for all patrons. even then i still imagined to get splattered on my shirt and intermittently flinching from getting hit from stray oil. we quickly learned that the best food to barbecue were the thinly-sliced variety like their 2 different kinds of chinese bacon. thicker items - like spare ribs or chicken wings - took too long to cook. overall i liked the experience, although the food wasn't that great. it also gave me something to do on a night when it seemed like i was trying to compete with the contract department to see who had the better dinner. my favorites were the smoked cured ham and the long thin fish.