my weekend begins on friday night, regardless of the fact that i have to go to work tomorrow (saturday). it's already 1:00 but my night isn't over yet. after i finish writing this blog entry, i'm going back outside, find a dark place, and see if i can catch a few shooting stars.

for the first time this week i actually waited outside the bus this morning. xianglian ignored me and made for her married boyfriend. she got on the bus and i followed her, managing to sit next to her. maybe she was just too polite to say no. i could smell her perfume, which used to delight me, but now annoyed me. all the things i used to like about her i now sort of hate. she seemed quiet, i tried to start some conversation but they all fizzled. she went to sleep, or at least closed her eyes. i spent the next 30 minutes feeling terrible.

i don't know what i'm doing but i'm doing it anyway: it will be my 3rd consecutive night where i've gone out to dinner with a different girl. tonight it's LXL, after i learned yesterday that it'll be her 30th birthday in a few days. i saw her when i was coming into work and asked her about it. she said it was actually monday, because her birthday follows the chinese lunar calendar. a short time later i texted her an invitation to dinner. it took her a while to respond but when she did she said yes. an unconditional yes at that, because maybe i thought she'd bring up her friend xianglian, asking me if we can invite her as well. i'd already prepared what i was going to say: "sure, we can invite her, but i really just want to have dinner with you." but LXL was savvy to the recent tension between XL and i, and never even mentioned it. we decided to go to the rice porridge restaurant on the top floor of the chongbai mall, a place i'd passed many times but never visited.

something sort of weird happened to my smartphone today: it fixed itself, no longer spitting out 2-4 error messages whenever i connect to the internet. it must mean all the background updates that's been happening over the past few months have finally resolved whatever bugs that was affecting my android OS.

i spent most of my working time socializing. if i'm not talking with people in the contract department, then i'm chatting up folks in procurement. and when i'm not doing work-related socializing, i'm yukking it up with the people around my cubicle - lihui and wwy. and people are always visiting, whether it's wwy's friend yangfan or chehong, or maybe lihui's friend wangyang, or people just stopping by picking up copies from the printer like mahui. i'm in better spirits compared to last week, but i still get in a foul and depressed mood when i think about XL.

after lunch (ate with lihui and wangyan, our own little lunch club of misfit employees), i saw the contract department go out together in a large group. several people invited me to come out for a stroll. i nodded in agreement, and found them outside a few minutes later. i joined them but immediately felt out of place, and just as quickly walked away. i saw yangfan and xiangmin walking outside and decided to join them before finally returning to the office.

after the break, fuxinhui left for her 2 week vacation back to shanghai. zhangqiwan from the contractor department also went with her, he to nanjing. one of the company drivers was driving them to the chongqing airport.

after work i met LXL outside the buses. XL was there as well, but i ignored her and made a beeline to LXL. did XL know i was having dinner with LXL? she must've, because normally they'd be hanging out, but XL was chatting animatedly with her married boyfriend behind us. LXL told me that she was inviting people to a birthday dinner she was having next monday and wanted me to come. would she have invited me if i didn't invite her out to dinner tonight? who knows. i'm a little hesitant about hanging out with the contract department, especially since XL will be there of course. but maybe some good food and drink can make me forget about my troubles at least for a little while. on the bus, XL sat across from us, but made no effort to look in our direction. her friend fangdan mercifully sat in the empty seat next to her, breaking the tension. like i said, i'm not exactly sure what i'm doing inviting xianglian's friend to dinner but not inviting her as well. it's such an obvious slight, XL has to at least feel something. a few weeks ago it would've been assumed that we'd all be going out to dinner together. but now with this new world order, that doesn't happen anymore. it's strange to think whom i invite and don't invite to dinner can be used to exact some sort of misguided revenge. it's also weird that LXL never brought up the topic. she could've stayed loyal to her friend and demanded that XL come with us too, but LXL made no such request. it makes me think that maybe she wanted to take a break from XL as well. but of course i felt very guilty about it. but then i think about all the times XL made me feel terrible, and i sort of get over it. i wonder if i haven't somehow become XL's frenemy? all cordial and smiles when we meet, but behind the scene i'm sabotaging as i go.

LXL had been to the porridge restaurant before but this was my first time. she took charge of ordering, 2 large bowls of rice porridge soup (one salty - mushrooms - one sweet - chuanbei with pears; and the bowls were actually small-sized), a plate of pig ears, a plate of kongxincai, and a plate of fried buns with sweet dipping sauce. the topic du jour was turning 30. i learned she spent most of her 20's working in tanzania, from age 22 to age 28. she's had 3 boyfriends in the past, but they all ended in break-ups, her most recent the end of last year, when she disappeared for more than a month recovering from both an appendicitis operation and a broken heart. i want to reassure her things would be okay, but she seemed to be in a good place, not too depressed about turning the big 3-0. the evening's focus was mainly on her. a part of me wants to dig for information about xianglian, but her name never came up in our conversations. as for the food, it was okay but not very memorable. the sweet porridge was the best though, never had crispy asian pears or chuanbei mixed together like that before.

i decided to walk LXL home, partly because i wanted some more exercise. we passed by a cellphone store where she got a new screen protector put on her iphone. i volunteered to pay the RMB$30 cost but she was having none of it, until the owner couldn't find any change and ended up taking my money instead. after LXL left, i continued walking. my original idea was to loop around yonghui supermarket, but when i realized there was still enough time to go wander the old city, i decided to hop on the next 104 bus. i was there mainly to check out the bookstore: i wanted to find a US tour guide book as a birthday present for LXL. it was already 8:45 by the time i got there and the bookstore closes at 9:00. 2 inconsiderate patrons were sitting in front of the travel section and made no effort to move when i made it very clear i was trying to look at the books behind them. they only had china travel books though. the only international destinations were hawaii and the maldives. for most chinese, traveling abroad is still a luxury as most countries require a visa for mainland chinese travelers.

i wandered xiexin plaza a little bit before catching a 105 bus back to the new city. i ended up ordering a US guide book online, cheaper than what i'd pay in the store. it's scheduled to be delivered on monday, just in time so i can give it to LXL during her dinner.

now it's 2:30! time for me to go check out some stars...