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coffee, back pain and self-care
singapore sunset
I have to open by saying, i swear to fucking God, if cross-strait politics takes away my 85°C Daily Café over a massive nothingburger that happened 10000km away, i am going to flip my shit.

In case you all haven't read the news, Tsai Ing-wen - Taiwan's president - dropped into a local branch of 85°C while she was visiting Los Angeles last week. Chinese internet trolls decided that this was enough of a reason to mobilize a massive shitposting campaign against the Taiwanese coffee chain. Weibo got all up in arms, then all the local delivery platforms pulled their listings, then their website was hacked... But when they did the standard thing that all companies do when confronted with this nonsense - release a mealy-mouthed statement in support of "One China" - Taiwanese internet trolls started attacking them from the other side. Now their stock has cratered. It drives me nuts that a bunch of neckbeards can fuck a company in the ass over pretty much nothing. Meanwhile, because this is such a sensitive issue, no serious politician on either side can step in to stand up for the regular workers who just want to serve up coffee and donuts, or for their customers who just want a goddamn coffee that doesn't cost the same price as a fucking doctor's consultation.

Speaking of doctors, here is my update on last week's hospital visit. The doctor was right. He said to me that the twang in my shoulder wasn't related to my numbness and that it was two separate injuries, but i didn't believe him. Still, i dutifully adjusted my lifestyle as he suggested: i quit drinking alcohol every night, i forced myself to stand up and take a walk every now and then at work, i became more conscious of my posture anyway at the keyboard, i started lying on my back to sleep, and i flipped NSAID pads in the air like pancakes to try land them on the remote part of my back where the pain was.

A few days later, my back still hurt and my right foot and fingers still had pins and needles, but the pain had subsided enough for me to realize that there were in fact two separate pains: the one in my upper back around my shoulder that made it hard to breathe and move my arm; and another one in my lower back, exactly at the point where you would expect to hurt yourself in such a way that would render your legs numb. I wonder if perhaps the first injury made me sit or lie in weird positions that caused the second one? Anyway, the status is: everything still fucking hurts. But now i am NSAIDing my lower back, and will continue that till the pads run out. At which point i hope to feel my toes again.

A side effect of not drinking every night is that i have a tiny bit more motivation to get off my ass.

I wanted to get a sailor tattoo after my boat trip from Greece to Taiwan last year, but i never felt like i was in the right place. Actually, Taiwan would have been the perfect place, being both the Austronesian mothership and having a pretty rad tattoo scene anyways, but i didn't stay there long enough. In mainland China there are tons of people with tattoos, but because the CPC doesn't approve, the actual businesses are hidden away. The other weekend i headed to a couple to check it out. It was pretty difficult to find them - both online and in person. Two places i tried to visit had closed up shop already, and i started to wonder if i'd spend all day alone wandering empty floors in sketchy highrises. I eventually found one that was still in business, and it is high fucking class. Remove your shoes. (They give you slippers.) No books of flash or loud music, just Apple Macs and Billie Holiday. Sit in an armchair. Drink tea. The joint was like a bespoke tailor, all mannequins and cigars and suits and ties. But also lesbians and gym bunnies and hip-hoppers.

I am finally getting the neck tattoo i have wanted for years.

My ex partners and most of my friends always advised me against it because i don't know why. But now i am in my late 30s i figure what the fuck. Plus, i am jealous of one of my TV girlfriends. That is, Camina Drummer of the Expanse. Well, she's my TV girlfriend, but her buddy Naomi Nagata has the best tattoo. The Belters in general have dope tattoos.

Anyway, that will go down next week after working with the artist last weekend to draw something up.

The other thing i did last weekend was get my hair done. I haven't been to a salon in 18 months. My hair was beat the fuck up and bleached almost completely blonde at the ends from the sun and the sea and a year of using "all in one" shampoo/conditioner/soap products stapled to the wall at seedy hotels.

Actually, i still use "all in one" shampoo/conditioner/soap today because i got used to it.

I think the guys washing my hair sobbed at its condition.

It took some guts to go into a salon here because... well, here i go again stupidly trusting expat websites... because every expat website is filled with horror stories about how Chinese hairdressers don't know how to cut or color foreign hair and mess it up completely. "Go to Hong Kong!" Fucking Hong Kong, i give up. Anywho, i just went to the salon directly downstairs from my apartment. I doubt very much they have ever had a foreign customer. I told them that under no fucking circumstances were they to use 30 or 40 volume to mix my color. I probably sounded paranoid as all hell, but that was my big thing. They basically said "well, obviously". Wash, color, cut - nothing spectacular on the cut, just a trim - and that was that. Now i am back to a straight copper.

Of course, now i know they won't fuck it up, i am more inclined to go back and ask for the full Fifth Element do next time around.

I guess i should see how my work reacts to a neck tattoo first. This is the first company i have worked at in over 15 years that isn't a tech company, so it doesn't look like everyone just rollerbladed off the set of Hackers into the office. We are the stuffy IT department of a supply chain management business. I am probably the coolest person in the building, which is sad, because these days i am so very far from cool.

To wit, i am going to finish off my flash cards, do some stretches, read the news, then go to sleep.

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I guess being able to identify the separate pains is a good sign. Do you think getting some massages would help?

I do! Especially because these particular pains are exactly in spots that I can't easily reach myself. I know there is a huge massage industry in China, but that's another of those intimidating things. I think a lot of massage parlors here are aimed at giving happy endings to Hong Kong businessmen, so I need to find somewhere that has more of a physio focus. I'll probably give it a shot if things don't improve in the next week or two.

I just remembered. There's this French Canadian guy I follow on youtube who lives in China right now. Before he moved to your city, he was living in Shanghai. While he was there he started having some numbing issues from spending too much time on his computer editing videos. He was so desperate he went to see a Chinese doctor. Like the more traditional kind. They did this weird treatment to him where they lit a match in a jar and stuck the jars to his back in various places. It would suction onto his skin and leave a weird mark. It was interesting to watch because he videoed the whole thing. I guess it's kind of related to acupuncture. Eventually he had to go to a "real" doctor though haha. I'd link you the video, but I don't know if you can watch it from behind the great firewall.

I've long heard of "cupping" because I have lots of hippie friends who eschew evidence-based treatments in favor of snake oil. What I didn't realize until I moved here is that after you have been cupped, your whole body comes out in bright red rings, like you've been attacked by an octopus! The first few times I saw people walking around the street like that it was very disconcerting.

does "the full fifth element" mean leeloo tangerine? because that would be something to see, and i mean that in a positive way. also, you realize that mentioning your tattoo means you'll have to share a pic of it once it's done, right? :D

It sure does! It's been a long time since I had "cool" hair, although admittedly the furthest I've ever gone is cherry bomb red and goth chick purple. I always thought the Leeloo Dallas Multipass look would be wild because it so boldly clashes with everything.

Interesting side point... I know in the media this is a problematic Asian stereotype, but it really does seem like wild hair colors are more acceptable over here. For example, the hair dresser completely straight-faced asked me if I wanted silver or green streaks. Green! Of course, like everywhere, the majority of people don't color their hair, or they just do natural colors, but unnatural streaks don't seem to have the same sort of punk/kid connotation like they do in the west.

I'll try take a selfie when the tattoo is done, but it'll be tough to get the angle since it will be all round my neck. Plus my house is really dark and not conducive to good pics. Most likely it'll just pop up in my next "top of a mountain" sweaty selfie 😉

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