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Ruminations on the Road

Relaxing for a moment at the Trees of Mystery

Relaxing for a moment at the Trees of Mystery

I’ve been ruminating about my sexual abuse and the person I used to be for the last few days. I’ve had memories of my past and parts of others’ stories of abuse (real and fictionalized) entering my mind at random times. They’re nothing compared to full-blown flash backs which leave my completely paralyzed until the memory has run its course but they are thoughts and ideas that invade my brain and random and often inopportune times.

It came on fast and strong while I was walking through San Francisco. Ruminations are not new for me but they are something I haven’t had an issue with for a few months. Memories and ideas by themselves are not harmful but they can be distracting, and at times distressing. I told myself, “Ok sweetie, calm down. It’s ok that you’re having these thoughts but you’re scheduled to speak in an hour. Perhaps you should focus on that.”

I got through my talk just fine, but that random invasive thoughts continued to enter my brain whenever I had down time. As I was driving north towards Oregon, I tried to step back and look for themes running through the memories. I noticed my thoughts had underlying issues of anxiety, rejection, vulnerability, being attacked, and craving comfort. I grew up in northern California and I wondered if being near the places and people that are connected to the time of my abuse and the maladaptive behaviors I engaged in to cope with it was stirring me up emotionally.

I wonder if the thoughts will subside the further away I get from California. Perhaps I’m getting emotionally agitated because The Undeniable Tour is almost done and I have so much crammed into the back half of this trip. I guess time will tell.

Minimalist Travel Update – Doing Laundry on the Road

Golden Gate Bridge!

Golden Gate Bridge!

A few days ago I wrote about what I’m doing to separate my dirty clothes from my clean clothes during The Undeniable Tour. I roll my clothes to save space in my bag. At the end of each day, I flip my shirt inside-out and roll it up with my socks and underwear I wore that day and put the bundle back in my bag.

I did my laundry on Day 8 of the tour while I was in San Francisco. I had worn each article of clothing I brought with me except for my bathing suit and my yoga pants. I took those out of my bag along with my blazer and sweatshirt and took my suitcase down to the laundry room.

Rolling my laundry worked out great! As I tossed each bundle into the washing machine, I held on to the edge so it unrolled as it went in. I loaded the machine in about a minute and I had no issues with laundry sticking together.

I will definitely keep doing this for the rest of my trip. Rolling my dirty clothes keeps my luggage tidy so I can easily and quickly get ready in the morning, which is a huge asset when you’re living in a hostel and have to get dressed in the dark if you’re awake before your roommates.

Minimalist Traveling – Managing Laundry

All Smiles in Santa Monica

All Smiles in Santa Monica

I am on The Undeniable Tour and living out of a suitcase and a backpack for two weeks. I only packed what I knew I would need for a week with plans to do laundry at one of the hostels where I’m staying.

When I packed my bag, I rolled most of my clothes which makes it easier to maximize the space in my bag. Rolling takes up significant less space than folding. One of the downsides of rolling your clothes is you can’t have a clean clothes and dirty clothes pile in your bag and it might be hard to determine what you’ve worn – especially things like socks. I didn’t want to create a mess when it came to sorting out my clean clothes from my dirty clothes come laundry day, so here’s what I did at the end of each day.

  • Take off shirt from the day and flip it inside out (inside out = dirty; right side out = clean).
  • Lay shirt flat on the ground.
  • Put dirty socks and underwear on shirt.
  • Create a mini bundle of dirty clothes by rolling up shirt with socks and underwear in it.

My suitcase is still filled with rolled up clothing, but come laundry day it should be easy to manage because all I have to do is shake out each bundle with an inside out shirt into the washing machine and turn it on. That’s my master plan at least. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve been traveling with rolled up clothes for decades. I’m surprised it hasn’t dawned on me to roll up bundles of dirty clothes before. It’s definitely made it easier to get ready for each day because my dirty clothes are segregated from my clean ones.

Traveling definitely helps me see what things I really use in my day-to-day life and makes me question if certain things actually add value to my life or if they’re just taking up space. And for those of you who read my Burning Books post, I started the tour with 6 books. I’m currently down to 3.

When You Come to the Fork in the Road…

I love the Yogi Berra quote, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” It’s a reminder to me to keep moving forward whether that’s physically, emotionally, or professionally. When I knew I would be passing through Pasadena, I knew I had to stop to see the actual fork in the road.

Fork in the Road, Pasadena, CA

Fork in the Road, Pasadena, CA

This this is freakin’ huge! It’s at Pasadena Ave and St. John Ave. in a residential area. It’s so unassuming that it’s easy to miss it.

If you want to see what weird stuff is in your city or wherever you’re traveling, check out Roadside America.

My trip to Pasadena is part of The Undeniable Tour, which wouldn’t be possible without my awesome sponsors.

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Burning Books

No, I’m not advocating the burning of actual literature, but it is one of my sub-themes for The Undeniable Tour.

These are the Books that Started The Undeniable Tour with Me.

These are the Books that Started The Undeniable Tour with Me.

“Burn your books” is something I got from the movie, “Wild.” Reese Witherspoon’s character walked the Pacific Crest Trail and started out with way too much stuff in her pack. It was so cumbersome that she could only walk 5 miles a day. Along with cleaning out the superfluous stuff in her pack, an experienced outdoorsman advised her to tear the pages out of her books as she was reading them so they wouldn’t add weight to her pack. I’m doing something similar for my trip.

As I was packing for my trip, I put 6 books in my bag. Yes, the aspiring minimalist took 6 books on a 2-week trip. But I swear there’s method to my madness. Two of my books are copies of Flash Mob Law which are gifts. They won’t be coming home with me.

The other 4 books are from my “Read Me” box. When I finished my “packing party” I had a banker box of books that I’d been holding onto because I wanted to read them eventually. I made myself a deal – I had 1 year to read these books. If there’s a book in the box at the end of this year, I can’t be that motivated to read it so I should get rid of it. I threw 4 of these books in my bag. Most of them are thin and paperbacks – easy to tote around in a suitcase or backpack.

I tend to read a lot when I travel – it’s a great way to fill down time. I think every hostel I’m staying at has a book exchange where you can leave books you finish and grab new free ones if you’re so inclined. Instead of actually burning my books when I’m done reading them, I’ll be leaving each one behind wherever I finish it. I like that I’ll be passing along my books to fellow travelers.

My first book is Lilith’s Love by Dan Shuarette. I won this book at Podcamp AZ years ago and I’m finally getting around to reading it. I’m only about a quarter of the way in but I’m enjoying it. Check it out if you’re interested in vampire fiction. (And I’m someone who has no interest in Twilight.)

Hopefully I’ll finish all my books on this trip and I’ll be going home with a lighter bag than when I left.

How to Get a Job at a Small Law Firm

I had the pleasure of participating in my law school alma mater’s Small Firm Week. One of the activities was an event featuring eight small firm lawyers who each had had table and a small group of students got to have lunch with them. It was a great way for students to meet local lawyers and learn about what it’s like to work at a small firm. For those of you who don’t know, I gave up my solo practice to become one of nine lawyers at Venjuris. I only use Carter Law Firm for professional speaking and writing.

One of the students at my table is interested in bankruptcy law and he asked me what he should do to try to get a job at a small firm. Here’s what I told him to do. This is also what I wish I did more of when I was a law student:

Social Media Camp 2009- Social Media for the Job Search by Dean Meyers from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Social Media Camp 2009- Social Media for the Job Search by Dean Meyers from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

1. My law school’s career services office maintains a list of all the law firms in Maricopa County (where Phoenix is located) that includes each firm’s practice areas and how many lawyers work in the local office. I told him to get a copy of this list.

2. Go through the list and find all the bankruptcy firms. Then do some research on the lawyers who work at each one and try to identify which ones might be people that you would want to have as your professional friends. I actually told him to look for lawyers that he would want to hang out and drink with. Networking is all about building your professional social circles.

3. Reach out to the lawyers you want to meet and asked them to lunch or coffee, or even just a 20-minute meeting in their office. (Lawyers are busy.) Ask them what it’s really liked to work in their practice area and if they have any tips for getting a job.

Notice I didn’t say ask them for a job. They will probably ask you if you have a summer job lined up or if you have secured a job for after you graduate. It’s a given that most law students are looking for a job. Unless a firm is advertising a job opening, asking for a job the first time you meet somebody is like trying to sleep with a person on the first date. It’s too forward and aggressive. I’ve heard some lawyers don’t go to the networking events with law students because they don’t like being hit up for jobs.

4. Instead, you want to foster relationships with the people you hope will be your friends when you graduate and pass the bar so they will think of you when they hear of a job opportunity. There are many firms that never advertise when they’re looking to add an associate. They just ask their network if anybody knows anyone who might be a good fit.

At the end of lunch I asked the students at my table for their cards, and I was surprised that none of them had business cards. Every law student needs a business card. You may be able to get them through your law school or there are plenty of places you can get them online. It just needs to have your name, your email address, your phone number, your school, and when you’re graduating.

I have a terrible memory when it comes to remembering names, but I use a contact database where I keep track of everyone I meet and where I meet them. Had the students given me their cards, I would have added them and they could have been on the list of people I would look up and recommend if I heard of a job opening or internship. But they didn’t give me their cards, so they’re not in my database, so unless they send me an email I will probably never have contact with them again.

Minimalist Packing for The Undeniable Tour

The last time I wrote about incorporating minimalism into packing for a trip, I was only going to be away for a weekend. I could write out the list of all the activities I would be doing and determine exactly what I needed to bring in terms of clothing. I ended up using every garment I packed.

Now I’m getting ready to go on a two-week road trip that spans from San Diego to Seattle, with temperatures that are expected to range from the mid-40s to the mid-80s and weather that includes sun and rain. This is also a trip that includes five speaking engagements, other professional meetings, a handful of meetups with friends, and working out. How do I pack for that?

The good news is I will be staying at hostels that have on-site laundry, so I really only have to pack for a week, and bring enough layers to accommodate the weather. I looked at a few videos online by minimalists who are on the road a lot and people who live out of a backpack while traveling for suggestions. Here is a partial list of the things I will take with me:

  • My Hustle Your Face Off shirts - made by Brand X Custom T-shirts

    My Hustle Your Face Off shirts – made by Brand X Custom T-shirts

    2 pairs of jeans – 1 pair that’s heavier weight for colder climates

  • My Legal Rebel Chuck Taylors – for speaking
  • Hustle Your Face Off” shirts – for speaking/meetings
  • Black blazer – for speaking/meetings
  • Hooded windbreaker
  • Zip-up sweatshirt
  • Legal Rebel Chuck Taylors

    Legal Rebel Chuck Taylors

    2 tank tops

  • 2 short-sleeve shirts
  • Running shoes
  • Yoga pants
  • Running shorts
  • 2 or 3 running shirts
  • Bathing suit
  • Pajamas
  • Undergarments and socks

Since I’m going to be staying mainly in hostels, I will be taking a few specialty travel items like a padlock (to lock my backpack in a locker when I don’t want to carry it around), and extension cord, a camping towel, and gallon-size bags. I learned the hard way that it is important to have what you need to get ready for a day in one place for convenience and courtesy purposes.

When I stayed in a hostel last month, I didn’t lay my stuff out for the next day as well as I could have because my roommate and I realized that we were setting our alarms for the same time so I expected there to be no problem with turning on lights and making noise. Unfortunately, we were in a four-person dorm and we got a third roommate around 1:30 in the morning. I felt bad for our new roommate because I needed to turn on the light and dig around in my suitcase to take a shower, get ready, and pack my things while she was trying to sleep.

My plan for this trip is to put at least my shirt, socks, and underwear for the next day in one bag, my toiletries for the morning in another bag, and drape my jeans and camping towel across the foot of my bed before I go to sleep at night so it’s easy to grab what I need to hit the shower and get dressed in the morning.

I’ve never incorporated minimalism into my travel plans look quite like this, so I’m curious to see how well it works out. My goal is to pack lightly and still be comfortable at all times.

Rosie’s Schedule is My Schedule

Rosie my Beautiful Pirate Pup

Rosie my Beautiful Pirate Pup

For those of you who haven’t been following recent events, my basset hound Rosie was recently diagnosed with glaucoma in her right eye. Apparently it’s a common problem for this breed, particularly female bassets around age 6 or 7. (Rosie turned 7 in October.) When we couldn’t get the pressure in that eye to go down, we were forced to surgically remove it. She had already gone permanently blind in that eye so the surgery eliminated the pain caused by the glaucoma.

The surgery was a success and now I am the proud owner of a “Pirate Pup” as I like to call her. She’s been doing great since the stitches came out last week. Now that we’ve taken care of her right eye, our focus has shifted to making sure she maintains the vision in her left eye as long as possible.

Rosie is currently on 4 different eye drops. Two of them are available as a combination drug so we will be dropping down to 3 medications soon. Three of Rosie’s medications have to be administered every 8 hours. The other medication is a little more complicated – she has to get it every 12 hours, the second dose of the day has to be given by 6pm (according to her doctor glaucoma attacks are most likely to hit between 6pm and 10pm), and it has to be stored in the refrigerator. She also has an emergency glycerin kit. If she ever goes completely blind, I have to mix 50mL of glycerin with milk and pour it down her throat.

Footnote for my fellow science geeks: Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) + Gylcerin = Spontaneous purple flames. Neat Stuff!

So now Rosie’s schedule is my schedule. It’s pretty easy to stick to her medication schedule on the day she comes to work with me but I have obligations where she can’t come with me so for now she has morning medications at 6am and 8am before I head off to work, and then she gets medications at 4pm, by 6pm, and before I go to bed. If I ever want to go to bed early, I’ll have to set an alarm to wake me up at midnight for her last doses.

Did I mention each eye drop has to be given at least five minutes apart? Otherwise each medication won’t be absorbed properly. Lucky for me, Rosie is much better about getting eye drops than taking pills.

From what I can tell, this is going to be our schedule for the rest of her life or until better medication comes out or she loses the vision in her left eye. It’s an adjustment but I’m ok with that. I think we’re all on board with the program of making sure she can see for as long as possible.

Still Don’t Officially Know What’s Wrong with Me – and I Don’t Care Anymore

I love my running shoes.

I love my running shoes.

I am officially over my medical mystery. I don’t even want to think how much time I’ve spent in doctor’s offices and hospitals or how much money I’ve spent on medical tests related to my chest pains, dizziness, fatigue, and night sweats. And we still have no idea what’s wrong with me.

My cardiologists (all three of them) determined I have a hole in my heart but it’s a congenital defect that shouldn’t be causing my symptoms. My primary care doctor drew nine vials of blood and ran every test he could think of – CBC, thyroid, hormones, Epstein-Barr, other random illnesses – and everything came out negative or normal.

I’m annoyed that trying to do the right thing and take care of myself yielded no actionable results. It disrupted my marathon training and left me unprepared so I couldn’t finish the race. I feel like I wasted my time and I am frustrated that I don’t have any answers except what’s not wrong with me. I’m done doing this process of elimination. I’m ready to call it and apply Occam’s Razor. I say I have reoccurring costochondritis, fatigue from the fact that I work myself into the ground on a regular basis and have depression, dizziness from low blood sugar from my eating disorder, and night sweats caused by anxiety. I changed my linens and took the blanket off my bed so I’m cold when I tuck myself into bed at night, but it seems to be decreasing my night sweats so that’s good enough for me.

My Race Shirt for Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

My Race Shirt for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

I’m ready to say “fuck it” and get back into cycling and running. When I go on The Undeniable Tour for two weeks, I plan to go running in every city I stay in. I am a much more balanced person when I work out on a regular basis.

Just in case some things really wrong with me and they just haven’t found it yet, I still don’t leave the house without my Road ID strapped to my left wrist. That way, if I collapse or something, my bracelet will contain the information the emergency medical team should know about my medical history.

Will I try to train for another marathon? I’m not sure. I workout more consistently when I have a race on my calendar and a training program to follow, so I’m looking for a race to train for – either a 10K or a half marathon. I’m contemplating doing a half marathon trail run in June. That could be really fun. We’ll see what happens.

Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert for President 2016

American Flag by Uhuru1701 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

American Flag by Uhuru1701 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’ve been listening to NPR so I’ve been doing a decent job keeping up with who has launched a steering committee or otherwise looks like they’re considering running for President of the United States. And so far, I’m not impressed. I haven’t seen anyone who I would want to vote for; nobody seems to have the “total package” for what’s required to be the political leader of this country.

For full disclosure, I am a registered voter.  I think I’ve missed one election in the 17 years I’ve been eligible; it was a minor school board issue and I don’t have kids. My right to bitch is fully intact.

I am registered an Independent – the largest political non-party. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 42% of Americans self-identified as politically independent.   This tells me that a lot of people are unhappy with both political parties. This is why I’m a registered independent – I think Republicans and Democrats are too extreme. I agree with each party on some issues and completely oppose them for others.

Because so many Americans are unhappy with both parties and so far, all the potential candidates are inadequate, 2016 is the perfect year for an independent duo to challenge for the presidency. I believe Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert could run as a successful campaign and be effective leaders. I am completely serious, and yes, I’m aware that it’s ironic to be this serious about a pair of comedians.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by Cliff from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by Cliff from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Stewart and Colbert could do what a lot of potential candidates are doing right now and start a steering committee or something to collect funds which don’t have the same restrictions as campaign fundraising through something like Kickstarter. I don’t think they would raise money as quickly as The Oatmeal did for his Exploding Kittens game, however, I think they could raise a lot of money. A lot of people trust these political comics a lot more than traditional politicians – just recently a poll said people trust Jon Stewart more than Bloomberg and The Economist. These people are known for saying it like it is, and calling out the ridiculousness of others’ behavior.

With other presidential campaigns, the vice presidential candidate is often forced to campaign with the presidential candidate because they don’t have as much influence on their own so it’s not worth it to separate them to cover more territory. But with a Stewart /Colbert ticket, they could divide and conquer and get massive crowds everywhere they go. The challenge for them would be can they fund this type of campaign.

I could see a Stewart /Colbert ticket having a daily podcast or at least a weekly one, YouTube videos, and taking full advantage of social media platforms to campaign and reach more people much more effectively than other candidates have in the past.

Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show this year and at last I heard he is unsure what he is going to do next. I think he should run for President. I know he doesn’t identify as a politician, he’s someone who makes fun of politicians. And I think that’s what makes him so appealing – he’s not a career politician, he’s all about restoring sanity to the country, and he appears to have a good heart. I’d rather have that guy in the White House then someone who is self-centered, riding a party platform, and doesn’t seem to really understand what’s going on in the USA or the rest of the world from the perspective of the average person.

I’ve never worked on a political campaign or financially supported a presidential candidate, but I would support a Stewart/Colbert ticket. I think if these guys ran, we would get the biggest voter turnout in recent history. We would get more people watching the debates – those debates would be hilarious.

I am one person with a blog. I know I have no influence over these guys, but I hope the people who do are telling Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to give serious thought to running. As the Klingon proverb says, “Great men do not seek power; it is thrust upon them.” As long as you keep being sane and thoughtful, where you lead, we will support you.