A Year Ago

A year ago, I had my DSLR.
A year ago, I had my tripod to hold my camera.
A year ago, I had my nice external flash units.
A year ago, I had fully-charged batteries for the camera and flash units.
A year ago, I had my light stands and diffuser umbrella.
A year ago, I had access to a blank wall.
A year ago, I had my model (o hai, it’s me!).
A year ago, I had that black shirt.
A year ago, I had that red lipstick.
A year ago, I had a great haircut.

A year ago, making this photo would not have been possible.

Victoria Klum Photography

Happy I Don’t Need A Man To Complete Me Day!

I kid! Sort of.

I spent a lot of years feeling like a failure for not finding a lasting connection to someone where we complement each other. There have been lots of misses, but no real hits to speak of.

And I’m (now) okay with that.

First I needed to go through the difficult journey of learning to love myself. Learning that it is OKAY to love myself. That loving myself is not being selfish, but filling my own cup so that I have plenty to share. (Which I do, in my own, socially-awkward way.)

But romantic love? I’m honestly not sure that it’s for me.

At this point in my life marriage would be mostly a business venture. And after working in pension administration for 14 years and seeing some of the viciousness from divorcing couples splitting assets, you’d better believe that, were I to marry, I’LL KEEPING ALL OF THE DAMN RECEIPTS.

So, yeah, it’s possible that I’ve grown too cynical for Love And Marriage.

On the other hand, maybe I just function best as an independent woman. And by that I mean independent of an intimate partner but not independent of my community, my family, my squad. Because the love that I share with them has lifted us all through good times and difficult times. And that’s more valuable to me than a dozen roses and a box of chocolates1.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.💘

1If you were to send me a box of chocolates, though, I would not refuse delivery. 😘🍫

My Fuzzy Valentines
My Fuzzy Valentines❣️❣️

The Raleigh World: One Month In

North Carolina flag
North Carolina

Today marks one month since Dos Gatos Locos and I rolled into Raleigh and began making a new home here. As with the day we arrived, today’s weather is warm-ish and rainy (thank goodness it’s light showers and not nearly the gully washer that greeted us).

We are settling into life in North Carolina: the apartment is coming together and I’ve taken care of a lot of the bureaucratic whoop-dee-doo involved with moving to a new area (I still have some business stuff to sort out). I’m beginning to make some car trips without needing to fire up Waze. I am able to restock cat food and litter and keep my fridge and cupboard stocked without getting lost or resorting to having them delivered.

Most of my weekends have been taken up with setting up the apartment and setting up my freelance business, but I have ventured around the Raleigh/Cary/Durham area a couple of times1. I’ve joined a couple of meetup groups and am making my way as a dyed-in-the-wool introvert through this networking stuff.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Mill House

Other things that I am slowly becoming accustomed to include:

  • having “Miss” appended to my first name: I’m glad I go by Victoria now and not Vicki because I’m not Tiny Tim’s wife and being called “Miss Vicki” used to send me round the bend when I was a kid.
  • styrofoam food containers (quelle horreur)
  • directions: west means AWAY from the (nearest) ocean! Seriously, I need to etch this into my windshield!
  • weather: as much as I mentally prepared for hot, humid weather, I neglected to prepare myself for prolonged cold2. But we weathered *cough* the cold (and the surprise snow storm) and my electric bill wasn’t nearly as high as I had steeled myself for.
  • a winter scene on a nearby street
  • manners3: Last week as I approached the door at Starbucks, I hesitated because the way the light was hitting the area, I didn’t think the guy opening the door would see me and we’d collide. He came inside, saw me and leaped back to the door to hold it open. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. I wouldn’t have thought anything of him not holding the door, mostly because I didn’t expect him to have x-ray vision, so I was a little shocked that he not only jumped back to get the door but apologized for not holding it in the first place. I regained my own manners enough to smile and thank him as I passed through the door.
  • people complaining about rush hour traffic: unlike the Bay Area, I doubt they have to turn on the metering lights at 05:30 a.m. around here. Come to think of it, I don’t think they even *have* metering lights here.
  • parking: as in, you can do that here without driving around the block for an extra six miles or needing to take out a home equity loan to pay for an hour or two of parking downtown.
  • time: Oof. The first couple of weeks here I thought I was doing well with the time change but these last couple of weeks have been a struggle. I also tend to forget that my people back on the west coast are now three hours behind me (so sorry for the texts and FB messages at 06:00 a.m., darlings!)
  • neighborhood farm
    Y’all. These are some of my neighbors🐄🐑🐐🐓
  • peace: I live less than ten minutes from the airport and I rarely hear aircraft. I rarely hear traffic, other than the nearby railroad (and a train is blasting its horn as I type this). And there is a FARM right next door! Instead of 24/7 sirens now I hear goats and a rooster.
  • ease: People here don’t go out of their way to make things difficult. Even the DM-freakin’-V was the easiest and most organized experience I’ve had at a DMV since I left Oregon. I didn’t make an appointment for obtaining the driver’s license or the registration, and both times I was done and out of there within an hour (car registration took 10 minutes).

So that’s a snapshot of the first month of The Raleigh World. I’m grateful that I’m able to ease into this new chapter of my life and that the Boys are adjusting well to their new surroundings.

It’s been a lot change. And I’m just getting started.

Doesn’t matter that I need to get up and do stuff. Clancy is comfortable on my lap, so here I sit.

1Okay, fine: the second excursion was a driving tour of Morrisville/Cary last Friday because I decided to not use Waze for the trip home and I got on the westbound freeway instead of the eastbound. But what the hell, it was a lovely day out and I made a couple of mental notes of places to return to.

2After living in the Bay Area for 24 years, cold is anything under 55 degrees.

3The manners seem to dissolve once folks get behind the wheel of their cars, however. HOLY CRAP have I encountered some asshole behavior on the roads!


In addition to being the one month anniversary of my leaving the Bay Area, Wednesday would also have been my mother’s birthday.

Sort of a strange set of baggage I’ve got there.

And given the cargo of those Relo Cubes, I figuratively and literally carried much of that baggage across the country, some of it out of necessity. What I cannot leave behind I have to integrate into my life in the most healthy and productive way.

As I push to move things along in this reboot of my life I’m learning to let go of the guilt that my mother’s life was so short, and the guilt that I have achieved things that she was unable to.

That second guilt has been the toughest to put down because so much of our life together was me trying to justify to her why I deserved, well, most anything. I still catch myself doing that and playing the old tape about how selfish it is of me to create a life that I want to live.

And yet I had an experience recently that showed me that I’m not the only one who benefits when I’m living in my truth. Even my small acts made a big difference in two lives. Because of that, this work I’m doing, creating the life I need to live, no longer feels so much like an act of rebellion.

Throughout the day on Wednesday I wove in mini-ceremonies to honor her life and our time together and the lessons that came from that (and that continue to emerge to this day). I honored the fact that we BOTH did our best and that we BOTH deserved to live a fulfilling life. She had her reasons for not pursuing many of her dreams and ambitions, but those should not, and will not, divert me from my own ambitions. My road ahead will have some potholes, just as the road behind me did. But I’m hard-wired for resilience and creative problem-solving. If I’ve learned anything about myself over the last 18 months it’s that I may feel like I’m coming apart, and that may cause me to recalibrate, but I don’t give up.

Speaking of potholes.

I painted again, for the first time in /mumbledy/ years. My apartment complex held a “wine and paint” night and getting back in my art is part of living my truth and also I need to get my ass out of the apartment and talk to people.

I didn’t drink any wine though: maybe I should have.

Things went tits-up with this cupcake painting pretty quickly.

So, uh…yeah.

1) I hadn’t picked up a brush in a very long time; 2) we worked with acrylic paint which is VERY UNFORGIVING for us slow painters; 3) the instructor had us paint the cupcake first and the whole time I heard my old art teacher screaming in my subconscious “PAINT THE BACKGROUND FIRST!!!” and 4) hey, at least I got my ass out of the apartment and talked to people! I even remember their names (for now…I think).

Truthfully, I can’t even pick this apart because I remember enough to see how I’d improve the next painting. It may be the least appetizing-looking cupcake in modern history, but it still whetted my appetite to create more. My easel came across the country in those Relo Cubes, and I’ve dug out my sketchbooks and am ready to get some of these ideas flowing out of my head.

Which brings me to my mantra:

The more I do to create the life I want to live
The more accessible to me that life becomes


Turning Life Off And On Again

I’m caught between wanting to establish a routine and needing to power down and reboot.

The routine is important for me and for the cats, so I can establish good habits, and so we all know what to expect from our day. For example, Charlie EXPECTS to be fed around 6:00 a.m. and I EXPECT he will behave like an obnoxious jerk until I shuffle into the kitchen and toss some kibbles in his dish. But when you are this adorable, you get away with being a jerk.

These two
Too much adorable with these two!

And then there’s my body, which is reminding me that the last six months have been the most intense ones that I’ve lived through since my mother’s death. And my body has been telling me to tap the brakes a bit, while I finish processing all of the feelings about being in–and leaving–the Bay Area, the drive across the country, and the fact that I am now living 3,000 miles from where I had lived my entire life.

So, now that the boxes are unpacked and recycled and the apartment is as put together as it’s going to get right now, I’m trying to honor these needs as best I can. Some days that means grabbing a nap. Today that meant researching and writing a proposal. My main priorities right now are making sure I make time for moving my body around, meditating, and cooking fresh meals, because when life starts getting really busy these self-care habits are the fastest ones to get left behind if they haven’t had a chance to take root.

I did manage to get over to the DMV Monday morning to get my driver’s license changed and I registered to vote, so I’m starting to assimilate. I think I have to wait until my permanent license comes before I can get Luna registered. Oh yeah, this happened yesterday:

40005 miles
It only took 13-1/2 years to hit 40k!

Clearly, I need to get out more often.

As the week heads toward the weekend, I have calls to make and a proposal to finalize and send and weather forecasts to review so I can determine whether I need to find a real winter coat now, or if it can wait until next winter.

Speaking of winter, here’s a photo that I took near the apartment a few days after the snowstorm.

snow landscape
In some areas near my apartment the snow took a while to start melting.

Day Three In Raleigh

Yesterday afternoon I unrolled the yoga mats and did my first practice in the new apartment.

I had to get up around 2:30 a.m. to confiscate the Boys’ ping pong ball.

The air mattress may have another leak in it. I heard Charlie digging around on it a couple of times yesterday. We’ll all be glad to get our furniture early next week. It definitely will be nice to have something to sit on besides my Zafu cushion and the air mattress.

I’m glad there is a Harris Teeter grocery store nearby. It may even be bikeable. I picked up some groceries and went to the JC Penney store at the mall across the street for some slippers that I can wear out on my porch.

There is a railroad nearby. Just close enough to enjoy the train whistle, but not so close that I need to hang onto my dental work (*cough*Jack London Square*cough*).

The temperature is in the 20’s. Clancy will climb in my lap or otherwise snuggle close at every opportunity . Charlie has turned into an under-the-covers cat. I’m figuring out how best to program the thermostat so I don’t have a $200 electric bill. Also, I will probably need to buy an actual coat.

Alameda To Raleigh: Day Six


I just drove from California to North Carolina.

With two cats.

And one very understanding and awesome friend.

We got to the apartment a bit after 3:00 this afternoon, but not before driving through the heaviest rain I remember driving in. In the 13-1/2 years I’ve had Luna, I never once had the windshield wipers on full speed. Today I had to use that speed several times (including my trip back from Target).

I’m exhausted and we don’t have internet set up in the apartment yet, so it’s a short update.

Clancy and Charlie were awesome again, though Clancy has some issues at altitude. He didn’t like climbing in Arizona and he complained through the Smoky Mtns.

I’m doing my first load of laundry…IN my apartment, while I tap this out on my phone and drink lavender chamomile tea. Clancy is curled up next to me and Charlie is over ALL of this bullshit and has buried himself under the covers on the air mattress (and he has always hated being covered up!).

Road tid-bits: too tired to remember them now.

I’m grateful for: Corinne, completing this part of my journey, the two sweetest cats in the world, doing my laundry without leaving home, my Subaru, sleep.

An image of a speedometer and odometer that shows a trip of over 2,900 miles

Farewell To My Imaginary Big Brother

When I was little, I was obsessed with The Partridge Family. As an only child, I especially wanted to have lots of brothers and sisters and to be in a band. I would have given just about anything to have had Keith Partridge be my big brother.

Vicster on her first day of school
Me on my first day of school, some time in the early 70’s, with my frizzy hair and my Partridge Family lunch box.

As I outgrew my Partridge Family obsession, it made me sad that teen idol stardom took such a heavy toll on David Cassidy. I’m not sure anything could have prepared him for that kind of hysteria, and it no doubt made for a very lonely life.

I am grateful that he managed to make some peace with Keith Partridge, for a while, and that his failing body cannot hurt him anymore. I wish his family peace as they deal with their loss.

(I still remember every word to this song.)

My Broken, Portland Punk-Loving, Heart

It’s been a rough year for my Portland Punk-loving heart. Over the weekend I learned that Fred Cole, the lead singer/guitarist for one of my all-time favorite bands, passed away from complications related to cancer. Fred, Toody, and Andrew were the fucking BEST. They loved their fans as much as we loved them. Fred always had time and a smile for you. Dead Moon disbanded several years ago, and Fred and Toody went on to form other bands, including Pierced Arrows. Andrew Loomis died last year, also from cancer (seriously, FUCK CANCER!), and with Fred’s growing list of health issues, he and Toody retired from touring and playing live shows.

I send love and light to Toody in these difficult days.

In celebration of Dead Moon, and Fred, I’ve dug up my old blog post from 2004, from when I finally got to see Dead Moon live again, after several missed attempts (I was really beginning to wonder if somehow a portal had closed and I’d never get to see them again!)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

It’s a Dead Moon Miracle!

After more than a decade away from Portland, Oregon, I must say that there isn’t a lot left up there that I miss. Aside from friends and family, I can count those things that I miss on one hand.

First and foremost on that list is the music scene. For all of the press that Seattle got in the 90’s, I think Portland had the better scene (even though it did spawn Nu Shooz and the band we knew as Seafood Mama but became known as Quarterflash when the record labels came-a-callin’). Alas, nearly all of my favorite bands like the Dharma Bums, and the Obituaries (who broke up and later morphed into M-99) have gone, but Dead Moon is still rockin’ after all these years.

Dead Moon tours constantly (their motto–or one of their mottos–is “keeping one gig ahead of a day job”); they criss-cross the United States, they’ve toured Europe and even Australia/New Zealand. And even though they’ve come to San Francisco several times in the eleven years I’ve been in the Bay Area, I haven’t seen them play since I lived in Portland. I’ve always meant to go see them, but something always came up and I ended up not going. Even on a visit to Portland, I was going to go with a friend but she got sick so we ended up not going.

A few months ago, I saw that they were coming to San Francisco again and I marked the date on every calendar I had, AND I kept a post-it note stuck to the iMac. I was determined to see my Favorite Portland Band! As the date came closer and closer, I kept checking the tour page of their website to make sure they were still coming. During the week leading up to the show I not only checked their site, but kept daily tabs on the calendar page at Bottom of the Hill, just to cover as many bases as I could.

Yesterday was The Day. Well, OK it was The Night. Well, to be even more precise today was The Day as they went on after midnight. Knowing that Dead Moon has a large and loyal fan base, and just to be sure I’d have a ticket in, I bought mine in advance on TicketWeb.

I got to Bottom of the Hill just as the first band was winding up their set. As the first band tore down their set and the second band was setting up, the lights went out. “Uh-uh!” I thought to myself, “This can’t happen!” Then the lights came back on, much to everyone’s relief. About a minute later, they went off again. It turns out that a transformer nearby blew and the whole area was out. I finished my Sierra Nevada and wandered outside and looked up and down 17th Street. It was totally dark, and I was totally NOT HAPPY.

I went back inside repeating to myself, “I do not accept the curse! I deny the curse!” I saw Fred wandering around and went over to say hello. (An aside: One of the reasons Dead Moon has such a large and loyal world-wide fan base is because these are three of the coolest, friendliest, most approachable people on the face of the earth!) Fred greeted me with that ever-present smile and I shook my head and said, “You know, I’m trying really hard to not take this personally, but I’ve been trying to get to one of your gigs for more than ten years now and SOMETHING ALWAYS HAPPENS.” I told Fred that when I left Portland, no one told me that I’d have a curse put on me that I’d never get to see my favorite band, ever again! He laughed and said that in all the years he’s been doing this, this was a first.

One thing you learn about Fred Cole very quickly is that he always has a great road story for every occasion. He told me about the guy in Melbourne, Australia who hated rock music and got into the basement of the club they were playing and kept shutting off the power during their set and some guy in Nuremberg, Germany who thought he’d stage dive (off of a 6″ stage!) but ended up tripping over the power cord that ran the whole stage.

He also told me about how they weren’t even sure they were going to even make it from Los Angeles to San Francisco. After over 15,000 miles put on their van this tour, it was giving out Big Time. But, miraculously, the van made it…then this. About that time, Andrew came over and he hasn’t changed, either. He doesn’t remember, but I do: He’s always been one crazy joker and he did the eyeing-me-up-and-down bit (again…he had done that in Portland years and years ago) waiting for me to act befuddled or something. I just looked at him and smiled, and he broke into a grin and said, “I’m just joking!” Yes, Andrew, I knew that!

Pretty much everyone stuck around through the outage. But time was dragging on and it was looking more and more like there wouldn’t be a show. “I DENY THE CURSE!” I repeated furiously to myself. Fred took to the stage and shouted to everyone that they were told it would be another hour or so before the power would come back on and that if it did come on by 1:00 a.m. they’d be able to play (unfortunately, it looked like the second act was S.O.L.).

About ten minutes later, the power was back, and there was much rejoicing!

The second act did manage to get in and rock, though with an abbreviated (and fast-paced) set. Then Dead Moon set up…and it was as if we hadn’t even passed eleven minutes, much less eleven years! It was so familiar, right down to Andrew’s Jack Daniels candle holder on his drum kit (which is front-and-center…Dead Moon perform all at the front of the stage together, no one “sits back”). Andrew came over and lit the candle and I thought, “OH MY STARS! I’M REALLY GOING TO SEE DEAD MOON!!!”

At the risk of sounding like those dorky fans, they played every song I hoped they’d play (they started the set with my two favorites: “Poor Born” and “It’s OK”). The place was packed and rockin’ and I was dancing my fool head off! I was shakin’ things that ain’t been shook in a long, long time (and am paying for it today, lemme tell ya)! For a good hour or so, I was transported back to the much happier times I had in my 20’s in Portland (those times just before my world collapsed around my head).

By the end of the set, I was sweaty, I was exhausted, my ears were (and still are) ringing…and I was so damn happy! I went over to the side of the stage where Fred was dismantling his gear and he saw me. “You broke the jinx!” he shouted. “Yes,” I said, “the curse is lifted, hallelujah!” We shook hands and I wished him and the band a safe journey back to Portland and to hurry back to San Francisco…and that I would definitely be there when they did come back!