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Star Trek

Star Trek Saved My Life

Captain Carter, circa 2001

Captain Carter, circa 2001

I credit Star Trek, in part, for giving me a reason not to commit suicide in the darker days of my teens. I was hooked from my first episode – a syndicated episode of The Next Generation on a Saturday evening. From that day on, Star Trek gave me a weekly respite from my life where I often felt alone and I expected to be treated badly. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had many dreams about walking the corridors of the U.S.S. Enterprise and being a member of her crew.

Watching the Star Trek gave me hope. It instilled the idea that the future was going to be better, and that there would be people who confront hard issues with strength, conviction, and grace. It gave me hope that someday I might have a community of people who know that I was an abused child, who understand my pain, and who would stand with me and for me.

Star Trek taught me about loyalty and integrity. The crew of the ship is devoted to each other and the mission. With each challenge they faced – whether an enemy combatant or a crew member facing a personal dilemma – no one went into battle alone. Their crewmates put their lives on the line to support them or called them out when they were wrong. They showed me what true friendship looks like. I’d never seen that level of devotion before. I was used to being used, ignored, or people who allegedly cared about me bail at the first sign of trouble. The Star Trek community (including the actors, writers, and fans) taught me even though I felt alone and dealing with emotional turmoil to daily basis, that I wouldn’t feel bad forever. It gave me hope to survive, that there would be a day at the time where I would thrive and be surrounded by people love and accept me as I am, and who wanted the best for me without selfish thoughts for themselves.

At the Star Trek 30th anniversary celebration, a woman sang “Somewhere” from West Side Story. I knew I had to do this song when I studied voice in college. To me, this isn’t a ballad between young lovers from feuding families, but an anthem for all the outsiders who are looking for love and acceptance. The feeling I put into this song is the same feeling I get when I walk into a convention – a rush of love, acceptance, and comfort. I don’t have to explain myself there. I can look at my fellow Trekkies and everyone just gets it.

I could go on and on about what Star Trek means to me, but I think the best way I can end this post is by saying thank you. Thank you Gene Roddenberry for creating this amazing program that sparked the beginning of this community. You gave me an emotional anchor from which to cling and rebuild. For that I will be eternally grateful. Thank you to everyone who put their hearts and efforts into continuing his vision. I never feel alone in the Trekkie community. Special thanks to Leonard Nimoy who appointed himself the honorary grandfather to anyone who needed it. You are dearly missed.

Happy 50th Anniversary of Star Trek to us all.
Live long and prosper.

Trek Friends - We met at a Star Trek Convention over 1-7-01 Weekend.

Trek Friends – We met at a Star Trek Convention over 1-7-01 Weekend.

Gotta Love the Klingons

Gotta Love the Klingons

Day 50/90 – Hitting the Ground Running

Day 50 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I hit the ground running this week.

This is the view from my desk. I'll be seeing it a lot this week.

This is the view from my desk. I’ll be seeing it a lot this week.

I knew I was going to have a busy week with client work – I mean really busy – even for me. If I didn’t have a spreadsheet of all my cases it would be hard to keep track of them all. By nine o’clock this morning I felt that if you weren’t on my to-do list this week, there’s a good chance you’re not going to get on it ‘til next week.

I’m pleased so many people want my help. This may be one of those weeks where I have to keep my door closed, put my cell phone where I can’t see or hear it, and can only schedule phone calls and let all others go to voicemail. It might be the only way I can give each project the attention it needs and to avoid other distractions.

I saw this awesome tweet today, inspired by the legendary Captain Jean-Luc Picard:

That’s going to be my week – working through my to-do list, one thing at a time.

I’ve also borrowed a tip from Jason Zook – I have a digital file of my daily to-dos that extends for weeks, but each day when I get to the office, I start by writing the list of what I want to accomplish before I leave for the day on a sticky note. (If I can’t fit my list on a sticky note, I’m trying to do too much.) There’s something about writing this list by hand that feels more organic and helps me find my focus to start the day.

Just gotta keep putting one foot in front of other.

In case you missed it: Day 49 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Simple Pleasures.

Day 49/90 – Simple Pleasures

Day 49 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I went for a bike ride and took a nap.

Rosie is my Role Model for Napping

Rosie is my Role Model for Napping

I treated myself to an awesome 14.5-mile bike ride this morning on the canal and through Papago Park. The weather was gorgeous. I need to make it a priority to get out and ride more often.

One of the things that made the weather so great was the previous day’s rain brought down the temperature. It also made part of the trail pretty muddy. I ride a mountain bike and those tires were covered with mud. The ground was so muddy at times that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to maintain speed and fall, so I walked part of the way home. When I got back on my bike, the centripetal force of my wheels flung bits of mud into the air. Did I mention I don’t have fenders? There’s nothing quite like taking a chunk of mud to the face. I was covered in sweat and mud by the time I got home.

After doing chores and running a few errands this afternoon, I was sleepy. I stretched out of my couch and grabbed an hour-long cat nap. When I bought my couch, I picked one with naps in mind – deeper cushions and soft velour-esque fabric. I’m sure there’s a rule that says insomniacs shouldn’t take naps, but screw that. I was really tired.

Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that make a day awesome. As Captain Kirk said, “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.” I think that describes my weekends to a T – time for relaxation and recreation.

In case you missed it: Day 48 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I took some time for self-reflection.

Will I Minimize my Star Trek Autograph Collection?

I’m reading (& loving!) Everything That Remains by The Minimalists. I’ve been trying to minimize my life since the beginning of last year. I did a big clean out last year and I’m doing another pass this year. As I read The Minimalists’ new book, I felt the urge to clean out my glove compartment, use up perfumes  that only have a few drops left in the bottle, and get rid of things I don’t actually use anymore.

I really enjoyed reading about Ryan Nicodemus’ experience embracing minimalism. He packed up his entire apartment as if he was moving and then for 21 days he only unpacked the things he needed. At the end of the 21 days, with few exceptions, he sold, donated, or threw away everything that was still in boxes.

I don’t think I would ever do something this extreme, but it made me more mindful of what I actually use on a day-to-day basis and what takes up space in my life and mainly collects dust. One of the things I started thinking about was my Star Trek autograph collection.

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection

I love Star Trek. I’ve been a Trekkie for over 20 years. I’ve collected 46 autographs from various Star Trek actors from conventions, eBay, and sending requests for autographs directly from the actors. When I was in college, I put them in cheap frames on my dorm room wall but now they’re in plastic sleeves in a binder on a shelf. Some of my favorite autographed photos are DeForest Kelley (died in 1999), George Takei, Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, Whoopi Goldberg, James Cromwell, and Mark Allen Shepherd (Morn from Deep Space Nine). Reading The Minimalists’ book made wonder what value these autographs add to my life. They sit on the shelf and I rarely look at them.

Last year, I started minimizing my Star Trek collection. I’ll admit I still have most of my Trek items I want to get rid of because it hasn’t been a priority to make an appointment with my comic store to see what they’re interested in buying. It’s important to me that my Trek items find new homes with fans who will enjoy them rather than donating them to a thrift store. I wonder if I should bring my autograph collection with me to see if they’d be interested in some of those too.  Twenty-two of my autographs came with certificates of authenticity; I’m not sure how much the value drops without a certificate.

If I part with my collection, it wouldn’t be about the money. It would be about getting rid of things that add no value to my life. When the space around me is clean and uncluttered, I feel more relaxed and it’s easier to focus.

Reconciling my Personal & Professional Lives – or Not

A friend recently suggested I write a blog post about how I reconcile my professional life with the fact that I do flash mobs and wear pasties. My initial thought in response to that was “I don’t.”

Ignite Phoenix After Hours #3 - photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Ignite Phoenix After Hours #3 – photo by Devon Christopher Adams

For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a lawyer by trade, I do flash mobs with Improv AZ for fun, and yes, there are times when I appear in public wearing pasties instead of a shirt. I’m also a runner, a basset hound owner, a Star Trek geek, and a singer. My standard “uniform” is jeans and a t-shirt but my closet has everything from business suits to miniskirts and tank tops to ball gowns.

When I say that I don’t reconcile my professional and personal lives I mean that I’m not a different person in personal and professional settings. Wherever I go, I’m always me. There may be topics I don’t bring up in certain settings, but if they come up, I’m fine with it. There’s nothing I do in public that I wouldn’t own in any situation.

When I was first getting involved in social media professionally, I asked if I should have separate Twitter accounts for my personal and professional lives. The audience responded with an astounding “NO!” They said that people want to know the whole person so there’s no reason to separate the personal from the professional sides of my personality. They said that some people will seek me out because I’m different than others in my field – and that has totally been true! I had one person schedule a consultation with me after his daughter saw me at one of my speaking engagements. She told her dad that he’d like me because I swear.

Have there been repercussions? I wouldn’t call them repercussions as much as natural consequences. There are people who are turned off from me because I’m bold and don’t conform to the traditional lawyer stereotype. And that’s ok. On the flip side there are people who like that I’m different and that my personal and professional lives are integrated. It’s so much easier to be one person instead of trying to maintain separate professional and personal lives.

The only thing I do keep separate is my Facebook page. If you’re not my friend in real life, you don’t get to be my friend on my personal Facebook page. My Facebook page is where I put things that only my friends find interesting, but I’ll still own everything I post if anyone asks. If you’re not my friend in real life, you’re better off liking the law firm’s Facebook page and following me on Twitter.

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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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SALK Day 19 – Why I Love Star Trek

Today’s sponsor is my dear friend from high school, Sara Shea.  She asked me to write about why I love Star Trek and how it continues to be relevant in my life.

I started watching Star Trek with The Next Generation when I was 13.  I saw my first episode on a Saturday night while I was waiting for Mom to finish making dinner.  It only took that one episode for me to be hooked.  Watching the show became a fixture in my schedule through adulthood.  I also sought out other Trekkies.

I was often a withdrawn, angry, and lonely child.  My experiences with people taught me that most people could not be trusted and that it was every man for himself.  I had seen the dark side of humanity and I believed that that was how everyone was.  I had learned that trusting people led to being hurt and so it was better to be alone and trust no one.

I fell in love with Star Trek because of the interpersonal relationships between the characters.  Each person was vastly different and yet all of them were accepted with their talents and their faults.  I admired the level of devotion between them – they never abandoned a friend in need.  They also had integrity. My experiences had taught me that people will be deceitful and hurtful if it benefitted themselves.  On Star Trek, I saw characters who did what was right – even to their own detriment, and they protected those who could not protect themselves.

Watching Star Trek gave me hope.  It gave me a different perspective for seeing the world, to have hope that people could behave better than what I had previously seen and experienced.  It taught me that the battered and weak could become strong and empowered.  Star Trek gave me examples to emulate, of people who can support the unpopular but right argument.  It’s a hard thing to do, and often a lonely position to be in.  Star Trek was one of the things that taught me that I have a responsibility to be that person.

There have been many times in my life when I felt like a freak – for being a geek, bisexual, and at times outspoken and aggressive.  Star Trek showed me that being different didn’t make me a freak; I just bring something different to the table.

I love going to Star Trek conventions.  I love the overwhelming feeling of acceptance that I feel the second I walk into the convention hall.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet forward-thinking smart people.  For many of us, Star Trek is not just a show.  At the risk of sounding cultish, it’s a way of life; it’s a special perspective on the world.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I’ve made the pilgrimage to Riverside, Iowa – the future birthplace of Captain Kirk.

The signature of all of my emails is a quote from Star Trek: First Contact: “Don’t try to be a great man.  Just be a man, and let history make its own judgment.”  I love this quote.  It is constant reminder that my job is to work hard and have integrity.  It’s not my job to decide what my impact on others will be.  I give the attribution to the character, Zefram Cochrane.  It’s not a blaring announcement that I’m a Trekkie, but it lets my fellow Trekkies know that I’m one of them.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Sara Shea.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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This Week’s Non-post Post

The purpose of this week’s blog is to tell you that there’s going to be a real blog next week.

I’m sorry kids, but I’ve had no inspiration this week, and what few ideas I have are being brutally bashed by my overtaxed mind.  My friend gave me a slew of great law-related ideas to write about.  I tucked them away for future use.  Today it feels like everything I do is law related – working at my internship, applying for judicial clerkships, and contemplating my future in the legal profession.  I know that not everything I do is law related, but it feels that way today.  I need a mental break from writing about the law.

Captain Kirk said, “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”  He is absolutely right.  I am, therefore, giving myself the week off from blogging.   I’ll be back next week.  Instead I’m going to go sit in my backyard, with my feet dangling in my pool, and relax while watching the stars.

So I don’t feel like I’m not completely neglecting my readers, I’m sharing the lyrics of my law school theme song:  The Beauty of Your Dreams.  The music was written by Joan Szymko and the lyrics were adapted from the writings of Eleanor Roosevelt.  My choir performed this song years ago.  It helps calm me down when the world gets stressful.

I will make a prayer to ask what I can do,

I will make a prayer to ask for courage to follow the light

as it is given to me.

You gain courage and strength and confidence

every time you look fear in the face.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Life must be lived!

Cast out fear and face the unknown.

Face the unknown with courage

and integrity and a high heart.

Believe in your dreams,

believe in the beauty of your dreams.

The future belongs to those who do believe

in the beauty of their dreams.

See you next week.

– Ruthie

Geek Quest

I want to find my people in the legal world, and by “my people” I mean my fellow geeks.  As it’s been told to me, getting a job after law school isn’t about what you know, but who you know.  This isn’t new information.  One of my mentors said at the beginning of my professional career that 85% of getting a job is networking.

I am a geek
Image by Julia Roy via Flickr

The second year of law school is the time to make contact with the firm you want to work for after graduation.  Ideally, you work for the firm during your 2L summer and get an offer at the end of the summer for a job after graduation.  I want to work for a firm that does intellectual property (IP) work.  My goal is to meet lawyers who are geeks like me.  I want to meet other geeky IP lawyers who can’t change the fact that they’re geeks and make it work for them as lawyers.  I want to work for a firm where geeks are accepted and applauded.  I sent an email to an IP lawyer in Phoenix asking for his recommendations about who I should meet.

My IP lawyer friend said he doesn’t know any geeky IP lawyers and that all the geeks he knows are scientists and engineers.  His only advice was most firms give their lawyers “great latitude to do whatever you want outside the office, as long as you do excellent work.”  I was a little sad to hear that an IP lawyer, of all people, didn’t know any geek lawyers.  I refuse to believe that there aren’t any geeks out there…it will just take some effort to find them.

On a happy note, I was so relieved to meet a lawyer who truly had passion for practicing law, and it wasn’t about getting rich.  He spent over an hour with my fellow interns and me talking about how important it is to not sacrifice your soul, personality, or hobbies for the sake of your career.

So my quest continues to find my fellow geeks.  I want to meet lawyers who understand the joy of celebrating science holidays, who understand the importance of making the pilgrimage to the future birthplace of Captain Kirk, and who understand why I want to have a koosh ball on my desk instead of a paperweight.

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