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SXSW

Undeniable Recap of 2013

It’s been an incredible year. I’ve had so many things happen that I had to start keeping notes months ago to keep up with all the awesome things that were happening – personally and professionally.  It’s really hard to pare the list of top events from the year down to the top five but here goes.

1. Seeing my Gymnastics Family at Rocky’s Memorial.  I had a lot of achievements this year, but by far the best day was hanging out with my teammates and coaches from my gymnastics days. I hadn’t seen some of these people in 20 years and it was like no time had passed. It’s unfortunate that it took the death of my coach and mentor, Rocky Kees, to bring us together again.

REG-Reunion

2. Speaking at SXSW.  I was shocked when I saw that I made the list of people who were invited to speak at South by Southwest this year. Over 4400 applications were submitted for 450 slots. I had a blast in Austin at the conference and just taking in the city. Doing my talk on copyright in digital media was an incredible but so was meeting Improv Everywhere’s founder Charlie Todd (and doing the MP3 Experiment with his crew) and running into/inviting myself to coffee with three of the captains from Deadliest Catch.

3. Book Contracts with the American Bar Association.  It was a very busy year of writing. I signed contracts to write two books for the ABA – Flash Mob Law and The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers – so I basically was brainstorming and writing from mid-February until mid-August. And then my publisher asked for a rewrite one of my manuscripts in October so that was another two weeks of whirlwind writing. Flash Mob Law was released in July and The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers is due out in February 2014. I’m really pleased with these books.

4. Minimalism Project.  I was inspired to clean out my life this year – to go through everything I own and get rid of the things I don’t use and don’t add value to my life. Since I started this project, I got rid of at least a quarter of my wardrobe, cleaned out my files and memory boxes, and I’m in the process of downsizing my Star Trek collection. I feel much more clear-headed when my surroundings are simple and uncluttered. I plan to maintain my minimalistic perspective when it comes to bringing new things into my life and continue to regularly examine my life to make sure I’m only keeping useful things around me.

5. Carter Law Firm went Brick and Mortar.  One of the last significant things I did this year was sign the lease for my law firm’s first brick and mortar office. It’s an office space with seven offices – all attorneys – who share a receptionist. Almost everyone is a solo practitioner. I’ve only been there about a month but it’s been great so far. I love that Rosie gets to come to work with me.

International Go Topless Day by Sheila Dee from Flickr (used with permission)

International Go Topless Day by Sheila Dee from Flickr (used with permission)

Firsts in 2013
First trip to Austin
First mission with Improv Everywhere
First time running with a headlamp
First bike ride with my iPod
First Go Topless Day Protest
First road trip with Rosie
First trip to the Google ‘Plex
First bad bike accident – flipped over my bike’s handlebars
First ASU tailgate party
First Arizona State Fair, including a first ride on the Zipper
First trip to Ford Theater
First ASU football game in Sun Devil Stadium
First night parade
First Phoestivus – with airing of grievances
First office space
First ASTYM
First dry needling
Food Firsts: bacon maple bar, hush puppy, brownie in a mug, fish tacos, scrapple, hot pot

Ruth & CharlieCelebrity Sightings in 2013
Best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk
Captain Keith Colburn from Deadliest Catch
Captain Jonathan Hillstrand from Deadliest Catch
Captain Sig Hansen from Deadliest Catch
Improv Everywhere founder Charlie Todd
Bully Director Lee Hirsch
Dr. Drew Pinsky

In Memoriam
Rev. Charlie Coppinger
Jerry Grucky
Rocky Kees

Why I Love Deadliest Catch

The ninth season of Deadliest Catch starts tonight!

I don’t have much time to watch TV, but this show is a staple on my calendar and the only one I make it a priority to watch.

I’m not a fan of fabricated reality shows – things like The Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars, The Real World, and anything involving the Kardashians where we’re watching real people but it’s anything but real life. These people are in irrelevant competitions and you can tell a lot of them are hoping to become famous for doing nothing or get their own show out of the deal.

Me with Captain Keith - Summer 2011

Me with Captain Keith – Summer 2011

Deadliest Catch has real people doing their real jobs fishing on the Bering Sea. They don’t need to fabricate drama because the risk that every day you could die is drama enough. The relationships between the people real, which I think makes for much better TV because we actually care what happens in their lives. And according to the reports, everyone acts the same on camera as they do off camera. They’re there to do a job first, not create good TV. (That comes in the editing.) Apparently there’s at least one guy we almost never see on the show because everything he says contains profanity.

I love watching the captains on all the boats, well except Captain Elliott. They’re hard asses when it comes to pushing their crews, but these big strong (sometimes scary-looking) guys each have a compassionate side. We’ve seen them all shed tears when another boat is in trouble or loses a crew member and they feel guilty when a guy gets hurt under their watch.

And I love that they’re real people. I follow a lot of the captains on Twitter and I saw a panel at SXSW that featured Captain Sig, Captain Keith, and Captain Jonathan talking about how they use Twitter. (Captain Andy was still fishing.) I also got to the hotel before their panel and invaded their coffee time on the patio next to the hotel. They were totally sweet and let me sit with them for a few minutes. I thought about asking them for a picture, but I wanted to treat them like normal people too and respect their down time.

Captain Sig was the best during the panel. His first tweet was “Twitter rhymes with shitter.” He also said that when he gets home from being on the Bering Sea for months he doesn’t want to tweet, “I want to screw my wife.” They all do a good job of interacting with their fans online and letting us be part of their lives. It was fun when Captain Keith was getting his boat ready for crab season and tweeted a picture of the receipt from Costco and let fans guess how much it was.

SXSW was the second time I got to meet Captain Keith. The first time was an appearance he did in Phoenix two summers ago. Props to him for coming to Arizona in the middle of the summer. He was a total sweetheart and signed an autograph for me and one for my friend Stacee who was serving in Afghanistan at the time. I lived with her during my 1L summer with the JAG; we watched a lot of Deadliest Catch because we were living in the middle of nowhere.

I’m looking forward to the new season of Deadliest Catch. For one hour a week I get to feel a sliver of the exhilaration and exhaustion that comes with working on the Bering Sea.  I will definitely have that time blocked on my calendar so I can be sure to see each episode when it debuts if I don’t have other obligations.

Every so often I think it might be fun to be a deckhand for a season, but then I remember that I’m freezing when the temperature drops before 70 degrees, I’m so accident prone I’d be injured the first day, and I’m so small they’d have to put a leash on me to make sure I didn’t blow overboard. Maybe I’m better suited to work on a boat in the summer.

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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