Neck, back and shoulders please

Neck, back and shoulders please

For my entire adult life, I’ve been on a quest. I have found some fellow seekers who I can talk with for hours about it, and some who can’t understand it whatsoever but encourage me all the same. The eternal search for the perfect massage. 

For those of you who haven’t dedicated your time, money and Google searches to this, let me fill you in:

There’s the luxurious massages – day spas, beauty salons, herbal tea, foot soaks, perfumed towels, a therapist who doesn’t talk other than to ask if the pressure is satisfactory, and a small mortgage required to finance your 60 minutes of bliss. The massage will likely put you to sleep and work out your sore points simultaneously. It’s magic. 

If the bank denies your loan, you’re a fan of sites like GrabOne or you’re allergic to perfume, there’s the middle of the road experiences – nice facilities, private rooms, the risk of a therapist who talks about their political beliefs, and a reasonable price. You can usually count on a pretty decent massage. 

If you’re desperate, disorganised, don’t want to spend much money or just feel the need to break up your shopping trip with a bit of a sit down and a rub, there’s the quick and dirty (not that kind of dirty) mall massages. Public viewings during your chair massage with cloths over your clothes, or an awkward curtain booth with a ripped serviette to put your face on when you lie down. No risk of your therapist talking too much but their hands may smell strongly of fish. The massage itself could be really good or an infuriating waste of money. Thankfully it won’t have cost you more than a dollar a minute. 

Last week I ducked in for a classic mall neck, back and shoulder massage while at the mall. I’d tried this particular place a few times and found it consistently good. 

All was going well, even though it was no East Day Spa. About 25 minutes into my allocated 40 minutes, my senses were startled by an awful smell. Face down, trapped on the table, I opened my eyes to see my therapist flapping the curtain back and forth. She had obviously farted – let one slip that was the definition of silent but violent – and surprised even herself with how potent it smelt. 

The not-so-subtle curtain wave did nothing but push the particles further towards my face and my arms were stuck by my side so I couldn’t even reach through the table to block my nose. One has to breathe which is rather inconvenient at times such as this. 

Neither of us said a thing and the massage carried on. Feeling grateful for PayWave, I quickly paid without making eye contact with her and drove home wondering why these things don’t seem to happen to other people. 

Who said quests were simple, right?

That time I burnt the house down

That time I burnt the house down

They say when you turn 21 you have reached adulthood, ready to be given the key to a future full of opportunity. I celebrated my coming of age by inviting friends and family to a party, as you do. The invitation gloriously displayed a photo of me with undies on my head. Seemed most appropriate to me. We partied, my sister’s band played and people said really nice stuff. My South Auckland friends didn’t want me to miss out on the classy tradition of receiving a mirror-backed key to hang on my wall, symbolising my newfound independence. Glory be.

Days passed and the key started gathering dust. As is common in your early twenties, I moved flats more often than I did the dusting. I shifted house (this particular move is a whole other story in itself that I can’t go into) and shortly after settling in I received a very  unexpected phone call.

“Emma, I am calling from the Avondale Police Station. We require you to come down to the station tomorrow as you are a suspect of arson at your last residence.”

With much hesitancy and nausea, I phoned my boss at the Christian charity I worked for (and still work for) and explained that I would be in late because I’d been summoned to the Police Station for questioning. Maybe it had been premature to give me any kind of keys – symbolic or functional.

Never had a short drive felt longer than my trip to ye ol’ station. I was greeted at reception and escorted upstairs by the detective who asked me while we walked, “so I see you’re a nurse?”. I’ve never been a nurse, unless you count the many sessions of doctors and nurses that my brother and I played as kids, so I set him straight but it didn’t feel like a positive start. “Why did you lie and say you’re a nurse then?” he asked, already suspicious.

I was questioned intensely in a small room by a big detective for just over two hours.

Someone, apparently me if he’s to be believed, sawed through the metal pole of the washing line at the flat I had moved out of two months before. Yes, that’s right – sawed through the metal pole – something I must have learnt how to do at Girls Rally. But wait, there’s more. They/I used said pole to smash through the ranch slider and start a fire in the lounge that burnt the entire house down.

He explored my motives for burning down this house that I had been the last person to live in (along with my two flatmates who, by the way, didn’t get called in). He wanted to know the names of every person who had ever visited us at this flat which formed a written statement that was seven pages long. By the end of two hours I actually believed I might have done this crime. He was either really good at his job or I was guilty.

Part way through the interview/interrogation, he left the room to confer with another detective. As he walked back into the room, he stopped and pointed at a rolled up piece of white paper on the floor. “Is that your joint?”, he asked. “Ah, no, I think it’s rubbish…a receipt or something”, I answered.

As those words came out of my mouth, all bodily fluids tried to exit my body quickly as I recalled that the classy glassy mirror wasn’t the only gift I received for my 21st. Another friend decided I should celebrate my freedom with a classic West Auckland gift – a joint that I had later tucked away in my wallet. The very same wallet I had with me at the station. EEEEEEKKK.

Thankfully they didn’t require a bag search and let me leave, not without telling me I would need to come back for further questioning. I never did receive another callback or any closure on who did actually burn the house down. I’m still 99% sure it wasn’t me.

A few months later, having cleared my name and able to look my boss in the eye again, I was running a training session at work on how to use the telephone system. The fire alarm went off and we congregated out the front of the building, confident it was an inconvenient drill. The fire engines arrived at which point lots of heads turned. Mid-banter with my colleagues, our receptionist came running up to me saying that the firemen had requested to speak with me specifically.

You’ve got to be kidding me. Dreams of hanging out with firemen were supposed to be much more romantic than this. They asked what I had been doing in the upstairs meeting room and whether I had been smoking, as the alarm was set off from the room I was in. Sweating as though I was in a fire, I once again set the record straight with the authorities and awkwardly shuffled back to my colleagues. They later discovered that water had leaked through the ceiling and set the alarm off. Gaaaahhh.

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire…we don’t need no water…LEAVE ME ALONE.

Birthday wisdom from Emma, aged 12

Birthday wisdom from Emma, aged 12

What better time than my 32nd birthday (well, truth be told it was yesterday but I was too busy getting massaged and visiting the cinema to write a blog post. Actually, why has no one ever combined those two activities?!) to tell the story of my 12th birthday, a whole 20 years ago – an eagerly awaited visit to Sizzler restaurant, followed by all the fun one could want at the Time Out Entertainment Centre. A twelve year old me’s dream (these days I’m far more cultured, darling) about to come true.

Much to my dismay, I developed a bad cold just in time to threaten my enjoyment of all you can eat “food” and machines that eat your tokens and make loud noises. At times like these, a girl needs her Mum and her magic remedies. Out came the garlic and horseradish pills and we were on our way to good times in Wairau Park. I felt so proud taking my best friend out for such an impressive celebration.

We dined like queens at Sizzler (only the finest for this Westie) and loaded up on treats before walking over to paradise – Time Out. Ca-ching!

Having made it past the grumpy teller, tokens in hand, eyes on the prize and snot under control, we set out to dominate (and take silly-cute photos in the photobooth). Before getting very far I had an unpleasantly sudden urge to use the facilities. “I’ll be back in a second” I said to my friend.

I made it to the toilets and chose the very end one in the row of four. I’ll keep my description here brief – bum wees. Excessive BW.

Simultaneously traumatised and relieved, I stood up and flushed. Turns out I had hit the birthday jackpot on this machine. What was inside rose, and rose, and rose until it was no longer inside, but rather covering the entire floor of the row of four loos.

What to do? I was only twelve so didn’t have the best life skills for situations like this, although let’s be honest – twenty years on I’m still coming up short.

I considered my options, of which there were only two. Tell a staff member and then leave. Or just leave.

I went with the latter and ran out of the toilets, found my friend, cried and called my parents to come and pick us up. I was so mortified. That poor grumpy teller’s day was about to get a lot worse.

My friend was supposed to stay for a sleepover but had to go home because I was sick. Worst birthday ever – struck by a stomach bug.

Or so I thought.

Until about 10 years later when this story was retold and Mum confessed that she had given me a waaaaay higher dose of garlic and horseradish than was recommended.

What’s the moral of the story? Snot is definitely the preferred excretion for birthday celebrations. You’re welcome.

Sticky situation

Sticky situation

An invitation to Parakai pools reminded me last night about the time I developed a urinary tract infection following a teenage stint on the waterslides at Waiwera. According to the doctor, it’s pretty common due to the high-velocity body-slash-water dynamics. Unless they were simply trying to reassure me. Either way, I promptly declined the invitation to return to the pools for fear of the dreaded UTI.

If you consult my ever-growing book of dilemmas (the unwritten version, currently only available in a live audio book, for six installments of only $49.99**) you won’t get too deep before stumbling across an even more embarrassing experience that reinforced my severe dislike of slides, and what’s more, camps.

Cast your mind back, if you will, to age twelve. Form Two, in all its glory. I don’t know about you but this was one of my favourite years. I loved Intermediate School, that is until we went to camp – several days away with your friends – doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Early on in said camp, a mudslide was established down a very steep bank at the campsite. By mudslide I mean a long strip of plastic that ends in a small, shallow pool of murky, muddy water.

Tween by tween we each took turns at throwing ourselves down the slide, aided by some lemony-fresh dishwashing liquid. Good ol’ kiwi summer fun. Harmless!

My turn arrives and I slide ‘n’ squeak my way down in front of the crowd. All limbs still intact, I reach the bottom of the hill and squelch speedily into the mud. Unfortunately I picked up an unexpected hitchhiker upon landing…

Of course it was me that hit the jackpot and landed right on top of a stick in the most unfortunate place! I dislodged the stick and emerged from the mud, with a small stream of blood running down my leg.

In pain and suitably mortified, my teacher sent me off to the showers to sort myself out. To make matters worse she followed me to my cabin and said she’d need to inspect the damage! As if being twelve years old isn’t awkward enough as it is.

For the rest of the camp I wasn’t able to join in any of the activities, lest anyone forget my moment of glory. I vividly remember the camp gossip – two kids were having sex for the first time, meanwhile I’m stuck in my cabin wearing a sanitary pad due to a muddy stick up the foof!

Needless to say I’m not so fond of camps. Or slides. Or slides at camps. Or sticks. Or slidy sticks. Or sticky slides.

[**Let’s be honest – most days I’ll dish it out for free, sometimes in front of far too many people, before I even realise it’s happening.]

My friend has this problem

My friend has this problem


I feel somewhat rude piping up with a post now, having been virtually silent for months, but I couldn’t possibly let my spreadsheet of ‘dilemmas to be shared’ get out of control. After all, a dilemma shared is a dilemma halved-slash-relived-in-front-of-too-many-people, right?

Having previously regaled you with stories of a romantic nature (or not so romantic as it turns out), I’ve decided it’s time to delve into some medical mishaps. (Heaven forbid those two tracks should one day intersect. They’re bound to but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!)

Foolishly resisting the temptation to use the old “a friend of mine had this terrible thing happen to her” trick, I think a safe place for us to start this new chapter of dilemmas is as far away from the bodily zone with the most potential for embarrassment – I’m sure you can figure that out, and no I don’t make a habit of talking about my body in zones, I simply couldn’t think of an appropriate name to capture all of the ins and outs that occur within that area.

Anyway, let’s begin with the eye.

Like many of you readers, I imagine, I am short-sighted. For many a day I made good use of the invention that is contact lenses. That is until one day a very sneaky (side note: sneaky is one of my favourite words), sneaky contact lens suctioned itself onto my eyeball. I don’t mean the usual sitting on my eyeball, I mean really stuck and non-floaty.

In a fairly calm state I stood in front of the mirror and used my fingers to try to remove the lens. Without success I tried this from various angles, using different techniques, for over an hour. Lift it up from one side and peeeeel it as far as possible off the eye. Remember to breathe again and try from the opposite side.

With mild panic setting in and a steady stream of pain borne tears, I called for help but alas – this lens wasn’t budging for anyone.

Next scene: Accident & Emergency

Having explained my issue to the nurse on duty, she set out confidently to remove ol’ sneaky. She flipped my eyelids inside out and armed herself with heavy artillery – cotton buds. Dry balls of cotton wedged onto sticks of plastic. The eye’s favourite visitor. The lens was scraped and shoved from side to side but still no movement.

Enter: Doctor

Perplexed and having exhausted all ideas, the nurse handed me over to the doctor. New cotton buds, same techniques. My eye was traumatised, as was it’s owner. Try as he might, Doc couldn’t understand why this contact lens was not moving.

Exit cotton buds, enter brains

Suddenly activating his brain to challenge this plan of attack, the doctor said “hang on a minute”, dropped his tools and ran away. Thankfully he returned, this time with some eye dye and a contraption to look up close at your eye.

“This will sting, okay?”


“Now, let’s have a look. Oh dear.”

Oh dear? Doctors shouldn’t say that out loud.

He continued, “ummmm, it appears there is actually no contact lens on your eye.”

That’s right folks, there never was a contact lens stuck to my eye. Turns out that for several hours I had tugged at my cornea, ripping it as far as I could, over and over, which unsurprisingly meant that the entire front of my eye was scratched.

Maybe it’s just me, but who knew that contact lenses could roll to the back of your eye?! I thought it was stuck but it was actually just hiding. That’s even more sneaky than first predicted.

As if I wasn’t embarrassed enough as it was, I was adorned with an eye patch that quite obviously wasn’t a pirate costume but rather a badge of bung.

My eye patch brings all the boys to the yard.


Also, the sneaky little thing never did pop out to say hello again so technically I have eyes in the back of my head.

Geese, Trucks and Transgender Issues

Geese, Trucks and Transgender Issues

Today’s post hopefully speaks for itself:

I just received a notification from the online dating site I use that someone sent me a ‘Smile’. Not exactly cause for excitement, but sometimes you just gotta work with what you got.

I logged on and read his profile – and I quote (sorry if you’re reading this sender-of-the-smile, it’s just too good not to share):

“I AM A VERY SHY BLOND.LOVING AND KIND.I LOVE CATS,LIONS.GESSE.DUCKS.ANIMALS.PHOTOGRAPHY,FASHION.I LOVE AMERICAN TRUCKS AND MUSIC. I LIKE FASHION CLOTHES.LIVE AT MY LAND LADYS and her freind WITH 20 CATS.STUDY ADOPTION AND GENDER,,TRANSGENDER ISSUIES.quiet reading,freindly and loving.i am not fake,i am very honest.straight up and very shy.have a mother theresa heart and love jesus”

I don’t think I’m being too picky, right?!

Romance, if you know what I mean…

Romance, if you know what I mean…


It’s been far too long since I have written a post and I can assure you it’s not due to a lack of dilemmas. Truth be known I have a backlog of stories to write and each new day presents multiple opportunities for fresh material. Oh for the day I would have to use my imagination to come up with a quandary!

One of the many times I have asked myself “did that really just happen?” was on the drive home from Date #2 with a guy I had been surprisingly impressed by on Date #1 (at this stage the requirements for me being impressed loosely hang on the absence of zombies or chainsaws and the fact that they were born sometime before Mmmbop was written). Having enjoyed our conversation over coffee the first time we met, we arranged to meet for dinner another night that week. 

Date #2 also kicked off well with a glass of wine and the usual “how was your day?” exchange. Said glass of wine almost fell to the floor though when my little charmer said:

“So, here’s one for you. I’ve been in the biggest drought known to man…(pause)…if you know what I mean“…(longer pause and awkward eye-contact, during which I become acutely aware of the fact that we’re sitting sandwiched between two other tables, close enough for them to hear every winsome word)

He continues:

“It’s been about one year now. Oh, except for the one-night-stand I had with this girl who totally took advantage of me, so that doesn’t count. We met at this party and [blah blah blah WAY TOO MUCH DETAIL of that night’s encounter, the following day’s discomfort and the resulting broken heart]…”.

Perhaps encouraged by the fact I hadn’t stabbed my eye with a fork and left the bar, he carried on without even offering me a chance to respond:

“So yeah apart from that it’s been about a year and I just don’t know what to do with myself. I get so lonely I sometimes go up to a bar on K Road by myself, get really drunk and hope that someone will come home with me but I usually end up going home alone and banging my head against the wall in my apartment.”

I have omitted Section 3.4A of the emotional essay which introduced the high-school sweetheart turned baby-mamma turned lover turned leaver turned I-don’t-know-why-she-left-I-still-love-her-why-did-this-happen-we-could-make-it-work-she-stole-my-heart, purely for the sake of saving your precious time. Actually there were two of those girls, of course.

You get the picture, but I’d better tell you how it ended:

  • He paused his download to ask “WHAT ABOUT YOU EMMA?”
  • I replied with something to the effect of “I’m not going to sleep with you”
  • He said my reward will be in heaven
  • I sculled back my wine as quickly as possible
  • He said he’s never met anyone so amazing and has told me things he’s never told anyone and he really likes me but needs sex now more than anything else
  • I tried to end the conversation/counselling session and leave
  • He said “Such a shame, Emma. Feel free to ring me anytime if you want to come and watch me surf or something”

I sincerely hope my reward is in heaven for enduring evenings such as these. God bless the internet.