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 🙏🏼🕉♈️

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❣️❣️

Leaving Neverland

Reflecting on life in the Bay Area
Reflecting on life in Neverland

One month ago I crammed my Subaru to the rafters and Dos Gatos Locos and I left “Neverland”.

(Aside: I frequently refer to the Bay Area—and San Francisco in particular—as Neverland, because it always has been a place that allowed for play and experimentation, no matter what your age or background. Up until a few years ago the “Neverland” aspect of life in the Bay Area was benign: There was a sort of “take a penny, leave a penny” community spirit. Neverland started to become malignant a couple of decades ago, as dot-com money came in and dispassionately began wiping out communities and the security that comes with community, and worsened considerably over the last ten years.)

So anyway, I started to write about leaving Neverland about a year ago.

Check that.

I’m pretty sure that I began writing about this four or five years ago. Because I knew then that I had stayed at that party for too long, but I was so emotionally paralyzed that I couldn’t even think of moving. Hell, the thought of even going to the grocery store could send me into a full-on stress meltdown.

But even a year ago, when I tried again to write about leaving the Bay Area, I just…couldn’t. And it was frustrating because I had visions of this E-P-I-C journal/blog. But it just wasn’t happening.

Sans the epic-inspirational-internet-sensation journal, I started making my way across the country. The first three days of the trip provided plenty of time for me to bounce around against all of the surfaces of my mind, while I drove. Somewhere between Amarillo, TX and the Oklahoma border, I realized that the reason why I couldn’t write about the process of “conscious uncoupling” from the Bay Area is because I need distance.

Miles and time.

So now I’m good on the miles part, but the time? Hrmmmmm…

I’ve made it a priority of my yoga and meditation practice to leave enough space to process the experience of living in the Bay Area, with the understanding that this is a big job. I was there for more than 24 years: the longest that I’ve lived anywhere in my life.

It was never easy, especially since I don’t come with the backing of a trust fund or a six-figure tech job. I did make a life there, though. I began collecting those pieces of myself that I had dropped, like breadcrumbs, throughout my childhood and young adulthood and I started to form MY life. But the stress of trying to keep a roof over my head in one of the most expensive housing markets in the world eventually suffocated the fire I had built. All of those pieces were still there, only now they were buried under layer upon layer of protective anger, which grew worse over the last several years in the Bay Area.

Around the time of the Great Recession about a decade ago, the atmosphere in the Bay Area thickened with a hostile stench, like sewer gas in San Francisco. Just like there are corners of San Francisco that don’t smell like sewer gas, there are pockets of human kindness (and I certainly tried my best to keep that part of myself in the light). But it’s hard to feel anything other than anger towards an area when every day I saw working people who were homeless (the lucky ones at least had a car they could sleep in), in a city that criminalized being broke. A place so malignant with a sense of entitlement that tech bros wrote open letters to the mayor bitching about homeless people.

So, yeah. Safe to say these first weeks away from the Bay Area will be spent peeling away more of those layers of anger. Those layers will go in one stack. There will be other stacks: for the great friends I made there, the fun times, the heartaches, the art, the education.

All of it was necessary for me to get here.

And as I shed the layers that stifled me, those important pieces of myself will breathe again, and that oxygen will fuel the fire from which my creativity and brilliance will rise.

To be continued…

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.

Strange Limbo

I am at the point in my planned relocation to North Carolina where I’m marking my remaining time in the San Francisco Bay Area in weeks, even days.

Today I sent my property manager notification of my intended departure date (we had talked previously about my plan to move, so it will not be a surprise). As I had given notice at my job nearly two months ago, with this notification I have completely let go of this life in the Bay Area.

Before I sent my notice to my property manager today, I was thinking about it and, quite unsurprisingly, felt some jitters in my gut. After all, I’m letting go of “security”. It’s kind of daunting until I realized that none of this belongs to me anymore.

As I wrote the letter I noticed that those jitters had gone away and I wondered if they would reappear as I got closer to hitting “Send”.

I sent the notice hours ago: still no jitters.

I find myself in a strange limbo where I’ve released the bar I’ve held onto for nearly a quarter of a century—the bar that is no longer mine—so that I can reach for the next bar that the Universe is sending for me.

I am not afraid.