I Will Vote

We are entering primary season in a midterm election year.

If you are not yet registered to vote, you can check here for the deadlines in your state and then register over here, or check with your state’s Board of Elections for alternative ways to register.

And once you are registered, be curious about who is running for office–from City Council to Congress–and what issues are on the ballot. Look beyond the party affiliation and see what each candidate actually stands for and how each ballot measure affects you and your community. Maybe you don’t like paying higher income or property taxes, but you do want the kids in your community to get a decent education, or you want to have to dodge fewer potholes on your commute.

If a candidate is an incumbent or has previously held an office, what is his/her record? Does this person vote in alignment with your values? What about the person running against the incumbent? Do you have a sense that she can bring new ideas that benefit your community?

Can you vote by mail? When do you need to mail your ballot in? Where is your polling place located, in case you cannot vote by mail, or missed the mailing deadline and need to drop it off?

Educate yourself.


North Carolina FC v Tampa Bay Rowdies

On St. Gertrude’s Day I got to attend my first North Carolina Football Club match. I had been looking forward to it since I discovered just before moving from California that I’d be living a few minutes from Wake Med Soccer Park.

It also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, which meant many of the #NCFCFam were decked out in Tampa Bay Rowdies colors, making it appear that there were more than the three or four Rowdies fans who made the trip to Cary for the game. I believe the word we’re looking for here is, D’OH!

It was a cloudy and breezy afternoon and the weather forecasts had threatened (rain) showers in the afternoon1. Being from California I know the drill, so I was dressed in layers, topped with my trusty rain jacket and an NCFC/Courage scarf. It turned out to be a really nice afternoon: the clouds blew away about 30 minutes into the game, making it necessary to shed some layers.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of familiar faces on the pitch for NCFC: Michael Harrington and Futty Danso both played for the Timbers. Another former Timber, Michael Nanchoff, was on the pitch for the Rowdies.

Outside of the first five minutes of the game, and a four or five minute stretch in the second half, NCFC looked like the more organized side, dominating play for much of the match. However, they only made good on one of their chances for their lone score by Steven Miller in the 38th minute. In the 62nd minute, Kyle Bekker fed a gorgeous pass to Miller only to see Miller’s shot slide just wide of the post. A few minutes later Bekker had a wide open header just skiff over the top of the crossbar. To Tampa’s credit, they buried the few chances they got (including a penalty kick in the 40th minute).

Through it all, the Oak City Supporters group were in fine voice, chanting for the Boys in Blue and heckling Tampa Bay’s goalkeeper to the point he laughed. Everyone I encountered (even Rowdies fans) was very friendly and I got a nice welcome from NCFC!

I did manage to get a few photos with my little point-and-shoot. It’s really not cut out for sports photography, partly because the screen is impossible to see with the glare from the sun, but mostly it was shutter lag that caused the most missed shots.

National Anthem
NCFC Players lined up for the Star Spangled Banner
team huddle
NCFC team huddle just before the kickoff to the 2018 USL season.
Oak City Supporters Group
The Oak City Supporters were ready to get the party started!
NCFC v Tampa Bay Rowdies
Steven Miller starts the play upfield for NCFC.
NCFC v Tampa Bay Rowdies
An aerial scrum for the ball during the NCFC v Tampa Bay game
Thanking the Supporters
NCFC players made their way over to the Oak City Supporters section after the match to thank them.

1Evidently, even though it’s mere days away from Spring, I need to be specific that it’s rain and not snow showers. Weather be hella bonkers on the east coast.

On DST And Trading Sleep For Success

So, how are we all doing with Daylight Saving Time? Are you loving all that EXTRA DAYLIGHT1?

*ducks under the flying rotten produce*

Yeah, I’m not a fan, either.

So a few weeks ago I found this “motivational quote” and accompanying advice in my planner2:

“I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning.” —Jonathan Swift

And the advice:

“This week, take advantage of the morning’s peace and quiet and challenge yourself to wake up an hour earlier than you usually would. Use this time to exercise, meditate, or journal.”

Of course, this advice is not new. People who consider themselves thought leaders on productivity and success give this advice all the time so that you too can achieve success(!) and riches(!!) beyond your wildest dreams(!!!).

Unless you’re fortunate enough to regularly get plenty of sleep and wake up refreshed every morning, this is really shitty advice.

According to a study released in 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control, 33% of American adults do not get enough sleep.

I may not have been a participant in that study, but I am definitely one of those adults who struggles to get enough sleep and have struggled with it for most of my adult life. During the worst point in my battle with insomnia, I got about 1-1/2 to 2 hours of sleep per night—and that was in 5- to 15-minute blocks (toward the end of that pitiful episode I got a Fitbit and the stats confirmed my estimate). On weekends I might get 5-6 hours of sleep, but I’d be in bed for 12-14 hours to achieve that and I never felt rested.

Outwardly, I appeared reasonably functional: I went to work every day and even commuted to and from the ferry on my bicycle. I know I exhibited signs of stress at work but the job itself was stressful (which fed into the insomnia). I’m sure that I seemed quiet and withdrawn to fellow commuters, which could have been partly attributed to being an introvert, but mostly it was because my mind was so overclocked that having to talk to people caused me physical pain. My short-term memory was fried to the point that I often joked with a co-worker that I would call her to tell her why I was walking in her direction so she could remind me by the time I got there if I was going to the printer or to the ladies restroom. It was good for a laugh but sleep deprivation is really not very funny.

It was, however, nearly deadly. It is a miracle—or a testament to my stubbornness—that I’m alive and writing about this now.

If you experience issues such as an inability to control your emotions or maintain focus, or you have problems with short-term memory or completing simple tasks, you may not be getting enough sleep. If this goes on for a prolonged period of time, you should be evaluated by your doctor 3. If you snore or make gasping noises in your sleep, your doctor should check for sleep apnea, which can be fatal if it is not managed.

The other causes of sleep loss are as varied as the population who suffers from it. We are a 24/7/365-connected-burn-the-candle-at-both-ends-balls-to-the-wall-you-should-have-a-side-hustle-or-two-in-addition-to-your-full-time-job kind of society. We stress out about our jobs. We stress out about the probability of LOSING our jobs. We stress out over paying the rent or the mortgage or how can we afford health insurance for the family or braces for our kids. We stress out about getting sick and the stress MAKES us truly sick and tired.

There are a lot of supplements and over-the-counter medicines that claim to help you sleep and wake up refreshed. I’ve tried many of them: either they didn’t help me get to sleep or they left me feeling drowsy and hung over. If you are taking any medication for any other condition, DO NOT take any OTC pills or supplements without checking with your doctor or a pharmacist. You don’t want to deal with the effects of two drugs not playing nice with each other. Your doctor may prescribe a sleep aid, but if you are reluctant to take medication there are some non-pharmaceutical ways to deal with sleep loss.

  • Try to leave work at work: Ask bosses and co-workers to contact you at home only if it’s an emergency.
  • Stop watching television an hour or more before you go to bed (and nix the TV from the bedroom).
  • Set a consistent bedtime and establish a regular pre-bedtime routine so your body and your mind become accustomed to associating these actions with going to sleep.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption. (I loved having a glass of wine with dinner but had to give that up when I realized that it messed with my sleep—despite alcohol making me drowsy.)
  • Put away the iDevices and laptops an hour or two before you go to bed. If you can’t put them away, make use of the nighttime function of your device, or use a product like like f.lux, which changes the color cast of your screen so your brain isn’t getting bombarded with WAKE UP signals from your screen.

If your lifestyle and workplace allow for it, try to arrange your day so that you are in alignment with your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Oftentimes we fall into our natural rhythm on weekends or on vacation, only to drag ourselves out of that on Monday morning. Much like changing from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time, this destabilizes your system and magnifies any fatigue issues you already have. If you cannot arrange your day so that you can meet your obligations when you are at your most energetic and productive, then try to keep your regular bedtime schedule and routine on the weekends and on vacation.

And for goodness sake, if you are already having problems sleeping and you feel groggy when your alarm goes off in the morning and sluggish the rest of the day, DO NOT FORCE YOURSELF TO GET UP AN HOUR EARLIER BECAUSE SOME JACKASS SAYS THAT’S THE KEY TO SUCCESS! When it’s important to you, you will find that hour (or half hour, or 20 minutes) somewhere else in your day for meditating or exercising4 or pleasure reading or whatever.

Now, please go get some rest.

1It’s impossible to deposit or withdraw hours of daylight. IT’S THE SAME DAYLIGHT, NO MATTER HOW YOU SWITCH THE CLOCK AROUND. Seriously, just pick a damn time and stick with it.

2Yes, I still use a paper planner, now get off my lawn!

3Yes, I did bring this up with the doctor I had at the time. Unfortunately, she was so fixated on my weight, she assumed I didn’t exercise at all (I guess 5 miles of bicycling and 2-3 miles of walking every day for my commute didn’t count). Her actual words to me were: “You seem so sad. Maybe you should take up gardening.”

4Joining a gym (and going consistently) was a non-starter, so I managed to get in an hour or so of exercise every day by using my daily commute to get in a bike ride to the ferry (a little over 2 miles each way, depending on the route I took) and a walk from the Ferry Building to my office (around a mile each way).

As I Was Saying…

“…there is a possibility of seeing some sleet or snow here today. I kind of figured that winter on the east coast does not leave without flipping over another table and smashing a few more bottles on the way out.”

Okay, so here in Raleigh winter just sort of tipped over a couple of chairs and sloshed some wine. The Nor’easter saved its punch for, well, the Northeast. There really wasn’t enough snow to build a snow person, but I probably could have made a snow hood ornament for the car, had I felt like it.

The rain changed over to snow around 3:00 Monday afternoon.

Even though we got just a skiff, it was enough to close down schools early as a precaution, which is good (as one parent put it, you don’t really want teenage/beginning drivers on the road when it’s snowing/sleeting). For the workplaces that didn’t get to close early, the commute home was a miserable mess.

Dos Gatos Locos still aren’t sure what to make of big puffs falling out of the sky. I probably should have brought in a little snowball for them to investigate. Though, come to think of it, both of them lost their damn minds last summer when I dropped an ice cube into their water bowl, so maybe it’s best that I didn’t introduce snow yet.



The snow (ha! Grammarly is flagging this and insisting I change “snow” to “show”. It’s not necessarily wrong; just not what I’m going for here.) ended last night not long after the evening commute. None of it really stuck to the roads nearby, though the wet pavement froze overnight. Our parking lot looked like a skating rink until the sun finally hit it.

The calendar says we have one more week of winter. I guess we’ll pick up the chairs and clean up the wine and hope that we’ve seen the last of its drunken brawls.

skiff of snow

The Raleigh World: Two Months

I’ve sort of ghosted from my humble little blog recently. Sometimes I get so busy living life that I neglect to check in.

So what have I been up to in Month Two? Visits to the Farmers Market and Library, so I can nourish my body and feed my curiosity.

Farmers Market produce
Some of the offerings at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh
Lebanese Lemony Lentil Soup, garnished with chopped fresh spinach

Also, I was considering ways that I might follow up driving over 2,900 miles with two cats, so I’m building a thing.

No, not a thing. A career.

My soul can no longer hang back, quietly wishing I would stop holding myself back and just be a goddamn writer and photographer already. So I’ve set my shop up as Victoria Klum Media and have openings for clients in need of marketing content and/or blog writing, editing, photography, or social media management. I even made myself an employee badge.

Employee badge
Employee Number One!

Naturally, as I’m hanging out my shingle, I realize that my website needs some renovation. Last fall I started refreshing my web development skills, which means I have just enough knowledge to insist on doing this renovation myself. That may slow the project down—especially as I build a book of business—but it’s one of the muses that has been beckoning me over the last several weeks. In the meantime, I have some writing self-assignments in progress and I’ve been joining some Meetup groups so that I’ll be less of a stranger in these parts.

I’ve also been working on a couple of photography projects, which I’ll talk more about in another post. I’ve been wanting to go on some more outings, but it’s been a bit challenging to string together a day or two when it’s either not cold or not raining. Although we’ve escaped the two recent Nor’easters, there is a possibility of seeing some sleet or snow here today. I kind of figured that winter on the east coast does not leave without flipping over another table and smashing a few more bottles on the way out.

Now that they have both horked all over the bedroom carpet, I’d say Dos Gatos Locos are fully settled in. (I’d also say it’s a good thing I made sure to leave room for the steam carpet cleaner in the relo cubes!) We are still working on creating a schedule that works for all of us. I thought I was struggling with the time change but realized a couple of weeks ago that my body has actually reverted to its normal rhythm, nudging me closer to being a vampire than an early bird. I had lived so many years of my life on the exact opposite schedule of what my circadian rhythm is: no wonder my sleep was so jacked for all those years.

Dos Gatos Locos Yoga
Clancy and Charlie are ready to start their Cat Yoga class. I’m not sure if the toy mouse is a prop or not.

Coming up in Month Three: my first North Carolina FC game is this weekend, which I’m pretty excited about. It’s not my beloved Timbers, but it’s live soccer and that makes me happy. I may see if I can make it to the North Carolina Courage game vs. the Portland Thorns the following week.

There’s also my own New Year’s Day coming up, though I’m not sure what I’ll do to mark the occasion. But the biggest thing for Month Three is letting go of the bar one more time, so I can reach for the next bar that the Universe is sending for me, while I repeat one of my favorite mantras:

I’m just getting started 🙏🏼🕉♈️