The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

Starfleet uniform

Minimalism and Gift Giving

When I decided to pursue my minimalism project this year, one of first questions I had was about giving and receiving gifts from others. As a general rule, I like to give people practical gifts – things they’ll use and enjoy. I don’t believe in dust collectors, so much so that I haven’t been able to figure out what kind of shwag to get for my law firm because I don’t believe in giving people useless crap. In terms of giving gifts, I often give people consumables like gift cards to places they like to go out to eat.

Project 365 #49: 180211 Never Too Late by comedy_nose from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Project 365 #49: 180211 Never Too Late by comedy_nose from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

When it comes to receiving gifts, I’m a big believer in writing a list. I’ve been writing a birthday list that turns into my Christmas list every year since I was probably 10. I will tell you exactly what I want – including the size, color, and a link to where you can buy it. I have a t-shirt registry at Brand X Custom T-shirts where I’ve pre-designed the shirts I want and all a person has to do is call them to execute the order. And I ask for mostly practical stuff – I’m that person who will ask Santa for underwear and postage stamps. I also like to ask for experiential gifts. I’ve regularly asked to go on adventures since I was 15 – like flying an airplane and taking a hot air balloon ride – instead of getting tangible gifts. This year I’m asking for trapeze lessons and a gift certificate for my masseur.

(Yes, for sake of full-disclosure I ask for stuff I just want. I’m pretty sure I don’t need a new Starfleet uniform, but I really want Uhura’s dress from the new Star Trek movies.)

The challenge I run into is with people who don’t shop from the list. If I didn’t put something on the list, more often than not, I’m not going to like it. I’ll appreciate the gesture, of course, but historically I’d put it on the shelf in my closet for 6 months before giving it away to charity. Something in my brain says I should hold onto it for a period of time even though I don’t want it, I’m not going to use it, and it’s only going to take space. For this holiday season I’m giving myself permission to immediately give away any gift that does not enhance my life. It can enhance someone else’s instead of collecting dust.

A friend made a good suggestion that if someone doesn’t know what I want but they want to give something, they can always give a gift to charity. I  guarantee you will make me smile by taking whatever money you were thinking about spending on me and giving it to the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue, Arizona Women in Tune, or the Phoenix Innovation Foundation.

One thing I’m not sure about is how to communicate the fact that I’m trying to be more of a minimalist to others. I think when people know that you’re not into stuff that they’ll be more likely to think about getting you’re a gift card to your favorite lunch place or coffee shop, movie or concert tickets, or asking what you would like. I’m not an ultra-100-possessions minimalist, but at the same time, I’ll tell you what’s on my list or give you suggestions if you ask me.

Bonding with my Fellow Geeks at Phoenix Comicon

It’s Phoenix Comicon this weekend! I feel like Geek Christmas is upon us. I love going to geek events because from the moment I walk in, I know I’m surrounded by people who “get it.” We don’t have to explain why we love what we love, we just get to enjoy it with our fellow geeks. This weekend, we’re taking over the Phoenix Convention Center. It’s going to be a fun time.

Ruth Carter at Phoenix Comicon, Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Speaking at Phoenix Comicon 2012 – Photo by Phoenix Comicon and Devon Christopher Adams

I’m excited that the powers that be at Phoenix Comicon have asked me to be part of two panels this year:

  • The Legalities of Fan Fiction and Fan Art – Saturday, May 25th at 3pm
  • Comic Creator Rights – Sunday, May 26th at 10:30am

The variety and array of events at Phoenix Comicon this year is huge! I spent a good chunk of last weekend going through the schedule and building out my conquest. Here’s what’s on my docket besides my talks:

Friday, May 24th

  • Deep Space Nine: 20 Years Later – I’m a huge DS9 fan so I’m super excited for this.
  • From Bullying to Harmony: Understanding and Dealing with Bullying – great panel for this audience.
  • Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown III – this is definitely one of the best events at Phoenix Comicon.
  • Awesome Hour with Wil Wheaton – If I haven’t turned into a pumpkin yet.

Saturday, May 25th

  • Hit Phoenix Public Market for lunch before going to Phoenix Comicon.
  • Klingon Language for Beginners – I’ve always wanted to learn Klingon. I tried to learn with the tapes, but I only picked up a handful of words.
  • Trek Fandom in the Valley – I’ve been thinking I want to do more with the Trek community.

Sunday, May 26th

  • Wheaton and Scalzi, Together Again – I’ll go if I’m not conned out by this point. Given that I’m a massive introvert and don’t particularly like large crowds of people, I probably will be.

There are some sci-fi speed dating events. It might be interesting in doing this, but given that a lot of people go to cons to hook up and that’s not my bag, this might not be for me.

Of course there is also the vendor room at Phoenix Comicon too. I’m always on the market for a good geeky t-shirt. The challenge is finding ones that aren’t printed on super cheap itchy shirts. Having custom shirts made at Brand X has turned me into a bit of a t-shirt snob. I’d love to get a Star Trek or a Wheaton’s Law t-shirt.

I’ve lost at least 20 pounds since my bought my Starfleet uniform so now it’s too big for me to wear. Seeing the new Star Trek movie has inspired me to get a new one. I’d love to have Uhura’s dress from the movie for when I’m feeling sassy and a gray-and-black jumpsuit from Deep Space Nine for every day wear. I’m also on the lookout for a morphsuit too – probably in royal blue, though it would be fun to get one in black and pretend to be people’s shadows.

I’m really looking forward to getting my geek on and bonding with my fellow nerds this weekend. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta