Stuck in the 90’s Again

Stuck in the 90’s Again

I truly Love being back at school.  The penny drops and some readings sink in every once in a while, and for just a moment,  I feel like a fucking academic rockstar.


I could spend the rest of my adult life languishing in books and journals and online resources all day.  Words are delicious and reading and writing is a special kind of heaven for a logophile like myself.

Being an adult student pisses all over my undergrad and postgraduate diploma experiences.  I actually want to be there now.  It is the least stressful and in some ways most rewarding part of my life (sorry kids, husband, job and activism) right now.  Probably mostly owing to the fact I know it will all be over by August.  I felt the same giddiness about the first few events I managed when I got back to work, and the first weeks of my youngest children’s lives.  I guess I like variety.

Anyway, what was I on about again?

Ah, yes, so I seriously love being back at school.  I was in the library all day yesterday and today, and I’m up on the all but abandoned 4th floor that smells of books, and ink, and laptop fans and coffee.  This is lucky, as the main floor smells of young people.  You know the smell, like the 7th form common room.  Lynx and sweat and raging hormones.  So much yuck.  Much prefer the musty smell of books to that of millennials.  Nothing wrong with young people, we were all young people at one time or another, I just rather prefer being a feisty middle-aged mother of four.

I have earned my stripes in this life, and have crammed a decade worth of living and adventure into each and every year since striking out on my own (mostly) at the age of 16.

One of the nice things about getting/being older is the reminiscing.  I wouldn’t want to do my teens or twenties over again for all the tea in China (China, CHINA… can’t help myself… Trump memes are like brain worms) but I do like thinking back on my incredibly interesting coming of age.

You’ve heard the saying “youth is wasted on the young” well I think that’s stone cold bullshit.  Youth is not a waste.  It is very important.  Doing dumbass shit and becoming self aware and connected to a bigger purpose than ourselves is a destination only possible through the trials, heartache, laughter, tears, dramatics, awkward sex, fleeting first kisses, epic adventures and learning how to be resilient through all of this shit.


Youth is best spent in a body that can handle the punishment that comes with making many bad (and some fabulous) decisions.  So, it is not wasted on the young.  It is perfectly suited to them.  And they can fucking HAVE IT!

So today’s soundtrack was exclusively 90’s fare.  I listened to Counting Crows, and Lisa Loeb, and then the COMPLETE Third Eye Blind collection.  I was transported to the University of Calgary and our four bedroom apartment in Castle Hall.  They’ve since torn that whole complex that was built for the 1988 winter olympics down.


Chain smoking, beer for breakfast and working a full time job at a coffee shop on campus called (ever so originally) The Coffee Company.  I Loved that job.  I got another “foreign” student friend a job alongside me there.  We’ve all but lost touch now.  Her name was Sarah and she works as an events manager or something in Queenstown.  I see her shit come up on Facebook or Instagram occasionally, but we’ve taken very different paths and don’t have mutual friends anymore.  I see the other fabulous Australian Jess online a lot, we share a lot of political views so I like reading her status updates and shit.

So this trip down memory lane got me thinking. If I could go back and give skinny, insecure, campus bicycle (just about everyone had a ride) Dee some really solid advice it would include:

  • Listen, like ACTUALLY FUCKING LISTEN to that voice that says “that isn’t a good idea Dianna…” but listen MORE to the voice that says: “HEY!  You should DO THAT!”
  • Give less fucks about what people think, most people whose opinions matter to you today will fall into obscurity (even with social media) and be replaced with people who are smart, kind, caring, quirky, wonderful and treat you with Love and respect.
  • Definitely go out with the sweet short guy you’re going to meet in a few years named Steve, and definitely do tell him that you can’t be bothered dating anyone who doesn’t want kids (together you’ll have four)
  • Love the shit out of everything and do not be ashamed.  Your passion and enthusiasm will take you all over the planet, and it will be amazing.  It does run out though, so use up every morsel while you can before it does.
  • Dance and sing and go on a lot of road trips.
  • The freedom you have right now is something you’ll not think of as a gift until it is replaced with the trappings of being an adult and all the responsibilities contained therein, so be free (and wrap up every single time if you’re feeling randy)
  • Enjoy your own company.  You won’t realize how precious and wonderful being by yourself is until your mid 30’s and you almost NEVER get to be by yourself for any length of time ever.  Seriously.  Even going to the toilet will include an audience when you have four fucking kids, so go sit under a tree somewhere and just fucking be, because you won’t be getting a lot of those moments with a young family in tow.
  • Be confident and humble.  You’ll figure it out…

So, seeing as I do not have a time machine to go back and tell me these things, I will instead hope that my kids benefit from the wisdom bred from my many adventures.  Sprinkle on top of this Phteven’s own vast and varied life experience, and the kids will have a lot to draw on if they ever need advice.

So I am going to leave you with a song that my husband and I listened to on countless road trips and adventures together (before and after we had kids) from one of my top three favourite obscure Canadian bands.  Do yourself a goddamned favour and listen to the whole thing, because it is CRAZY how history repeats and some things do not change, while others totally do.

Here’s “Stuck in the 90’s Again” by my main men from Eastern Canada (who are WELL over 30 now BTW)


Thank you for reading.


Soundtrack to Fall Apart and Rebuild

Soundtrack to Fall Apart and Rebuild

I have hit the fucking wall.

So I am going to write a big, cathartic, self indulgent blog about six of the bittersweet songs that I go to whenever this shit happens to me.

So, what is up exactly?

Grumpy and I are wearing on each other and wrapped up in the chaos of heading in the same direction down very different roads.

The kids are all typically needy, except James, who just makes me feel guilty because he’s such a cheerful and easy little soul.

Work is next level demanding because we’re well on our way.  With this level of notoriety and activity comes a whole spectrum of events, relationships and opportunities that nobody could be expected to stay abreast of entirely.

Mother in law is fighting fit, and has a genuine new lease on life since her heart operation. Feeling a huge sense of relief and keen to help her to feel less stressed out from here on in.  I quite selfishly require at least another decade of bickering and snide comments being strewn around.  She is the Dowager Countess of our empire, whatever empire that might be.

And I crave sleep.  Crave it.

This is not depression, this is exhaustion.

In the haze of gratitude, discontentment, frustration and bliss I’ve been drawn to a selection of songs that have been my go to soundtrack for years and years of falling apart, so that I can reconsolidate, take stock, and rebuild when my energies return.

I’ll share half a dozen of these songs now, and an explanation of their significance.

Let us begin with Third Eye Blind.  Why?  because I have Loved them since the moment the first song touched my pale, goth princess ears as I drove my faded lime green 1983 Ford Laser named Dave to work at the Open Late Cafe on Ponsonby Road.  I may have heard them before that moment, but this is a flashbulb memory that sticks.  Love at first lyric between myself and this band…

This song was a huge part of a long and complex sequence of thoughts and events that put my pasty Caniwi ass on a plane from New Zealand and back near my hometown.  I lived in a flat where I was Loved by some, and tolerated by others, and I weighed 42kg that year. And lawdy lawdy I was broken in so many ways… So I did what I always used to do, and I ran away.

I ended up at the University of Calgary for 6 long, exciting, emotional and very hazy months.  I met a handful of people I stay in close contact with today, and this song and album was an anthem for us all.  Much beer was consumed, sometimes for breakfast.  Few classes were attended.  And I was given the irrevocable gifts of friendship and self discovery.  The whole song is fucking excellent and Allie and I used to sit in her room, three sheets to the wind, chain smoking and yelling the lyrics at the top of our voices.  This part always got some extra emphasis:

The angry boy (I’d substitute girl obviously) a bit too insane
Icing over a secret pain
You know you don’t belong
You’re the first to fight
You’re way too loud

I’ve attached a link to the song and you can find the lyrics if you click here.

Next up, is a song I sing to my beloved when he is being an asshole.  He has an almost inexhaustible capacity to be an asshole, so I get to enjoy this song rather a lot!

It comes on the radio and he gets the full air guitar in the car as we go about our business.

Fear not, we are as happily married as can be expected for a couple who spend so much time together.  Despite engaging in our usual flirtations, we’re inextricably linked and will remain so. I still want to punch him in the fucking face daily at the moment.

So he can be a right royal pain in the ass and sometimes he most certainly does not treat me well, and I am guilty of the same.  Sonia Dada’s song: You Don’t Treat Me No Good No More is a classic that actually only makes me happy to be with my Grumpy.  Even in heated moments where I’d turn on my heels and walk away from his miserable self, I can hear this song and I am brought back down to the earthly reality in which we are a functional (or perhaps more accurately dysfunctional) team.

So, here is the song, and here are the lyrics.

THIS song is, was, and will probably forever be my theme song.  I’ve been told I look/sound/act like Lisa Loeb since the early nineties when she dropped her first and biggest hit song “Stay” from the Reality Bites soundtrack.  I’ve always had a fairly impressive girl crush on her and her work.

So this song… well, I am this woman who’s a hurricane.  I want to heal EVERYONE’S heart up… and I am hurrying.

“i’m a lightheaded wonder,” she said,
“don’t you see my mind slow down?
i’m a lightheaded wonder
don’t you see my mind slow down?
slow down

i’ve compassion for strangers,
an affinity for danger –
won’t you be my sacrifice?

This song touches the very deepest part of my hurty heart, as I’ve always felt like I do so much harm trying so hard to help people.  I feel like I am bossy, pushy and my extreme desire to help people can be unwelcome or damaging.  So this song covers all of that, and the skeleton boy by the side of the road is all the people I feel like I have let down in some way.

The song is basically about an extreme extrovert trying to help an introvert and fucking the whole thing up.  I do this.  I don’t mean to, but I do.  I’m a hurricane.

NOW I AM FUCKING CRYING!  Anyway.  It is a beautiful song that I go to often when I am sad.  It is my self indulgence and pity party anthem.  It is also a soft and beautiful song in its own right.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  You can find the lyrics here.

I couldn’t choose between two songs that do the same thing for me.  So I’ll share both of them.

Sometimes, I just need to be reminded that it will be okay.  These two songs tie for the top anthems for reaching in and finding that feeling.

  1. You’ll Be Okay by A Great Big World


  1. The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

If you are sad, listen to either of both of these songs.  It will send some warmth and sustenance your way.

And since that is five songs I will wrap this totally indulgent blog up with one last song (actually and entire album that is quite frankly perfect from start to finish) that I go to.  Carol King Tapestry.

Please, take the time to add this to your playlist, because it is deep, warm, earnest, authentic and feeds the soul in a different, yet inarguably sustaining way every time it is listened to and enjoyed.


Thanks for taking the time to peek into my crazy tonight.

Phteven hates it when I thank people for reading my blog.  But fuck him.  I feel it is one of the simplest and most important thing in the world to express true gratitude, so I will continue to do so.