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Sarah Jane Alexander – Reader Blog 6

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Drink safely; wear a helmet. Photo by Sarah Jane Alexander


As a reward for not getting laid off (although everyone who survived got a pay cut, woo hoo!), I decided to come off the money I had been too scared to spend as the layoffs drew near.

First stop: the liquor store.

I stood in line behind three hicks who were buying two cases of beer and 12 bottles of whisky.

The lady was lumpy with bleached blonde hair. The guys’ unkempt brown hair looked as if it had been growing for quite a while, but not as long as their beer guts. “Is your cigars fresh?” one of the guys asked the cashier.

When I lived in Oregon, I had the Hollywood impression of Californians: Everyone is toned and tanned. Then I moved to the breadbasket of the United States, Fresno County. I didn’t even know California had agrarian regions; I thought all it produced silicon and silicone. Actually, Fresno County is the United States’ No. 1 agricultural county, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department, producing goods including grapes, almonds and milk.

Fresno, the region’s big city, is surrounded by small towns whose populations include not only farmers and farmworkers but gangbangers. Fresno has a wide variety of gangbangers too, as well as everyday people from diverse races and cultures.

Climbing trousers and stoppers were among Sarah Jane’s hell-yeah-I-kept-my-job purchases. Photo by Sarah Jane Alexander


It also has an outdoor lovers’ paradise that was my next stop: REI.

I was supposed to limit myself to climbing tape. But, uh, well, that place is cash quicksand. I also left with two pairs of trousers, one for climbing and one for a regular good time. I returned a week later clutching a 20% off coupon to snag my first cam. Next paycheck, I went happy-wild ordering carabiners, runners, stoppers and a couple more cams.

But even in my self-indulgence, I am helping others – keeping manufacturers and sellers of my objects of desire in business.

Nonclimbers might say that I should hang on to my cash; my co-workers and I have been informed that the future may include more layoffs and mandatory unpaid time off.

But to maintain my sanity, I have to temper fear with living in the moment. I’ll save some money, but I have to keep spending; I need to complete my rack.


Yes, need.

Climbing is my heart, and no one can function without a heart.

If I do get laid off, I’m going to take that rack and center myself on the earth – climbing, climbing, climbing till I find my next direction.

Sarah Jane’s OrganicCape Cod:

  • As much organic vodka as you want

  • Enough organic cranberry juice to smooth out the vodka

  • Splash of organic lime juice

For more from Sarah Jane Alexander visit her website: