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March, 2013:

Minimizing my Star Trek Collection?

I always think about Star Trek this time of year. The future birthday of Captain Kirk is in March; First Contact Day is in April; and this year we have the next Star Trek movie coming out in May. I’ve already asked my friend and fellow Trekkie Scott Movie Mantz to let me tag along to the premier.

A snippet of my Star Trek collection

A snippet of my Star Trek collection

Star Trek occupies a very special place in my heart. Some people say The Godfather has the answer to every question. For me, it’s Star Trek.

When I was a kid, Grandma Lou would send my parents cash to get us Christmas gifts from her. I think my parents always gave us the money so we could get whatever we wanted. I always saved mine for the summer. I went to gymnastics camp and one of the activities was a trip to Great America – one of Paramount’s theme parks. I spent every cent at the Star Trek shop on postcards, t-shirts, figurines, and stickers.

Starfleet Academy sweats

Starfleet Academy sweats

When eBay came into existence, it opened a new world for my Star Trek collection. I remember bidding until the last minute for the Women of Star Trek t-shirt. That thing was awesome. I did a lot of bidding on autographs of the Star Trek actors too. At last count, I have 46 autographed 8x10s. They used to hang on the wall, but now they’re in protective sleeves in a binder, on a shelf with my Star Trek Encyclopedia and Hamlet in Klingon. (I love that I have a book in Shakespearean English and Klingon – 2 languages I can’t understand.)

When I started my minimalism project, it made me think about my Star Trek collection. I’ve gotten rid of quite a few things over the year, some of which I regret, but most that I don’t. A significant amount of what I have is in a box. It makes me wonder how much good it’s doing me in there. Depending on how much shelf space opens up, I might display more of it. I think I’m going to get rid of a fair portion of it too.

I love this shirt, but it's too big now.

I love this shirt, but it’s too big now.

When I lost weight in law school, I shrunk out of all my Star Trek attire. I have the Starfleet Academy sweatsuit that was always too big for me and now it’s really too big. I was really bummed last spring when I realized I’m too small for my captain’s white dress uniform jacket. (I want to replace that because I liked wearing it and being called “Captain.”) And there’s also the cheeky, “If you’re wearing a red shirt – run!” t-shirt that makes me smile but is too big.

There are other pieces of my Star Trek collection that may be leaving too, like my mini lunch box and The Original Series Pez dispenser set. I have a feeling my Klingon dagger will be part of the collection that I keep. We’ll see how many pieces from my collection that I used in this video will survive the clean out.

As I’m cleaning out my stuff, most of the things I don’t use or need will be given away to charity. I don’t think I can do that to my Star Trek collection. Instead of giving those things away, I think they will be re-homed to other Star Trek fans, people who will appreciate them.

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Minimizing My Life

I mentioned earlier this year that I wanted to simplify my life and part of that plan was doing a major closet clean out of everything I don’t wear. I was recently inspired to put a lot more energy into and expand this project.

I attended an amazing session at South by Southwest (SXSW) called How Minimalism is Changing Entrepreneurship. This session had an amazing panel featured minimalists Joshua Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus, Courtney Carver, and Joshua Becker. They shared how being minimalists improved their professional and personal lives.  It helped them promote what they valued and remove things that detracted from that focus.

I know that I think more clearly and I feel more focused when my space is less cluttered. I get more work done in less time when I have fewer distractions. During the session, my head was buzzing with ideas and I was frantically writing notes on how I would put these ideas into action when I got home – like turning off my email and alerts on my phone when I’m working on other projects.

The bottles & travel mugs that were cluttering the cabinet.

The bottles & travel mugs that were cluttering the cabinet.

Incorporating minimalist ideas into your life takes self-discipline. While I was at SXSW I was thoughtful about which free shwag I picked up. One of those items was a Nalgene bottle. I wanted to get it to replace the plastic bottle I’d been using. When I got home and was looking for a place to put my new bottle, I realized I had a shelf filled with travel mugs and reusable water bottles that I’d gotten for free. I pulled them all down, put them in a bag, and put them in the closet with the rest of my items I’m donating to charity. I filled my new bottle with water and put it in the fridge to chill. (Yes, I’m using it.)

The thought of cleaning out my life has been so overwhelming that it’s prevented from cleaning things out in the past. During the minimalist session, I started breaking down areas of my home into manageable pieces. My plan is to tackle one section, drawer, or shelf every week. I wrote it all out and it will take me about six months to get through it all, and I’m ok with that.

Garments that have been removed from my closet since January 1st.

Garments that have been removed from my closet since January 1st.

My first project was to clean out my closet rod. I’m in the process of cleaning out my wardrobe by reversing each hanger until I wear the garment it’s holding. When I flipped my hangers, I removed 21 items from my closet because I knew those were items I probably wouldn’t wear again. I put them in the hall closet in case I was wrong. I went through everything that’s currently in my closet and tried on everything that I didn’t know for certain if it fit. I’ve lost 12 pounds since I started law school so some of my clothes were just too big. And there were some items that just didn’t fit my personality or my life anymore. I also found some garments that I thought were too big but actually still fit. I removed another 20 garments from my closet and put them in the hall closet.

I have no plans of becoming a complete minimalist who only owns 100 possessions or someone like Andrew Hyde who gave up everything except 15 things. I just want to get rid of things that serve no purpose in my life anymore. It might be hard to get rid of things that hold sentimental value, but it’s just stuff. Giving an item a new home doesn’t take away the memories it has for me and it’s not doing anyone any good if it just sits in a box.

I’ll keep you in the loop on my progress.

The Minimalism Project Update – One Month Later

I Met Charlie Todd!

I’ve known about Charlie Todd and Improv Everywhere since he uploaded Frozen Grand Central to YouTube in 2008. I was fascinated by their creativity and boldness from the start. I went back and watched all their videos and read all the blogs from their missions – it was captivating. I subscribed to their YouTube channel and I joined the now-disbanded “Urban Prankster Network” online.

Charlie Todd and Me

Charlie Todd and Me

Charlie and I have exchanged emails and messages over the years after I helped co-found Improv AZ and I started digging into the legal issues surrounding flash mobs and pranks. He was always friendly and helpful, but since we lived on opposite sides of the country, we never met in person.

A few weeks ago, I got a note from Charlie saying that he was debuting his film “We Cause Scenes” at SXSW. The film follows the story of Improv Everywhere from the beginning to where it is now. I love this story because Charlie didn’t start out trying to create this group. He was just a guy who was having fun with his friends and he embraced the opportunities that allowed it to grow into his career. I was so excited. I immediately put his film at the top of my SXSW to-do list.

I met Charlie about an hour before the film in the convention center. When I saw his familiar face, threw up my arms, and screeched, “Charlie Todd!” I gave him a big hug and chatted for a few minutes before claiming my spot in line. It was so great to meet him in person but because we’ve been conversing for years, it was like seeing an old friend.

The movie was fantastic. If it comes to your city, go see it. It’s a great story.

During the Q&A after the movie, Charlie announced that Improv Everywhere was doing an MP3 Experiment in Austin. I of course rearranged my schedule so I could go. We were given a place, a time, an MP3 to download, and we were told to wear a certain color shirt and bring an uninflated balloon. You’ll have to wait to see the video to see what we did, but we had a blast. It was so great to do a mission with my prankster brothers and sisters.

I give my friend Jeff Moriarty a lot of credit for helping me become the person I am today. If he hadn’t organized the first No Pants Ride in Phoenix, there never would have been an Improv AZ and I wouldn’t be a flash mob attorney and blogger. Watching Charlie’s movie reminded me that I have to give him a lot of credit too. He was the one who came up with the idea for the original No Pants Subway Ride and he was the one who decided to invite the world to participate in 2009. If he hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have given Jeff his launch into the official prank/flash mob world.

So thank you Charlie. Without you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

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Kiss-in at the New Chick-fil-A? Maybe Not.

I was driving through my neighborhood over the weekend and I saw that the nearby Denny’s that closed down recently is going to be turned into a Chick-fil-A. I wasn’t surprised to see that the Denny’s closed given how popular the nearby “Gay Denny’s” is.

My initial response was “Eeeewwww.”

I’m not a big fan of fast food so I’m not happy that we’re getting another fast food place in the area, but I was really unhappy about the prospect getting a company with a homophobic reputation in my neighborhood. I wished there was some type of protest we could do to keep them from coming, but given the extent of the construction so far, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Jamie & Lisa at the Chick-fil-A Kiss-In

Jamie & Lisa at the Chick-fil-A Kiss-In

My next thought was I think I have an obligation to kiss a girl on the new Chick-fil-A’s property when they open. I posted it on my Facebook page, and a friend suggested I play “I Kissed A Girl” on a boom box while I’m doing it. I thought that was pretty awesome, and probably more appropriate for an all-ages audience than the equally awesome “It Gets Better” by Rebecca Drysdale.

I was starting to think having a kiss-in to protest the new Chick-fil-A at 16th Street and Camelback in Phoenix is a really good idea. One of my reporter friends even said she wanted to cover it. I was starting to get kind of excited about this idea when my friend sent me a link to an article that said Chick-fil-A has stopped supporting anti-gay organizations. Wow – they did a really bad job of letting people know that they changed their affiliations.

So maybe we don’t need to have a kiss-in at the new Chick-fil-A. I still don’t support them opening a store in my neighborhood because they either are homophobic and don’t want to broadcast it or they didn’t do their research when they decided where to donate their money.

I’m sure we can find another cause to protest if we need another reason to have a kiss-in.

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