When it comes down to it, I’m kind of a cheapo. Almost everything I buy is mulled over, considered and reconsidered, sometimes for days. Before my fortunate discovery of Costco, I would take a ridiculous amount of time to buy the simplest things like toilet paper and paper towels. I’d figure out which brand was cheapest, then which size package would give me the best unit price and last the longest. Talk about a waste of time.

But there are things that I’m very willing to spend money on. Together with my husband, I could probably open up a pretty lucrative gear store for used equipment. We choose to spend our money on stuff like that and the way I see it, every dime saved on paper towels is one more that can be used towards equipping our outdoor adventures or going into our TSP (travel savings plan).  I’m not a huge fan of excess, and since the Fasolak/Brower merger two years ago, I’ve slowly worked on whittling our stuff down to the necessities. But I feel that there are certain things that you really can’t have too many of. As long as it’s all getting used, it’s not excessive, right?

Shoes- I’m not talking fashion shoes here, people. Who do you think I am? I only own one pair of black heels which my dog has (mercifully) chewed up, and I have a simple pair of black flats that I wear on occasions when I have to “dress up” (whatever that means).

I love my shoes. I have several pairs of running shoes (all minimalist in design, because, yes, I believe firmly in “less is more”); my bright yellow trail runners (appropriately covered in mud), my two pairs of toe shoes, my flats for work where toe shoes are banned, my slightly cushioned flats for those long road runs when I need just a little more protection from the pavement, my ones with carbide spikes in the soles for running on the ice in the winter.

Then there’s the hiking boots; the falling-apart Old Trusties that I can’t get rid of because I love them so much. The ice climbing boots which my feet freeze in but are the only women’s specific boot I’ve been able to find. The XC ski boots. The BC ski boots. The climbing shoes; all three pairs, only one of which is remotely comfortable to wear, none of which I can seem to locate for some reason. The cycling shoes with the clippy pedal attachments (ironically called “clipless”) that I’m scared of. The neoprene boots for kayaking, winter wear, and soggy breakup protection.

And, perhaps the most coveted of all, the ones that match with anything and have held up for years and years (in the last 10 years I’ve only had to replace them once), my Birkenstocks.

We’re talking functional, (mostly) comfortable footwear that you can do so much more than just look cute in. To me, that’s a worthy obsession.

 Nail Polishes– Now, this one I really can’t explain. I’m not much of a girly girl and I tend not to do things that are frivolous and unnecessary. Painting your nails is all of the above. But when the uniform comes off on Friday afternoon, I often find myself running to the bathroom to pick out a color. If it’s a long weekend, even better; I can switch colors half way through. Admittedly, my collection probably really isn’t that big. But every time I walk past a nail polish display at the store I’m drawn to the colors like a moth to light. So what if I already have five shades of purple? This one’s different.

Books– I love books. There are worse loves to have, right? Between work and play, I really wish I had more time to read, but a lot of times I’ll stay up way past my bedtime absorbing the pages of my latest libro. I like all kinds of books. Mostly I like non-fiction, but who doesn’t like a good action book or murder mystery now and then? I do have a small collection of books that are my all time favorites, but that’s a topic for another time. We have a used book store in town which I think is the greatest invention of all time. And if you bring the books back, you get store credit towards more books. It’s like a library pass where you don’t have to bring the books back if you don’t want to. Mega score.

Climbing tanks– My climbing tank collection hasn’t grown much since I’ve lived in Alaska. I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve rock climbed up here, and I can count on one finger how many times it was warm enough to wear a tank top. But when I first started climbing I couldn’t get enough of these colory, printy tops.

 Every time one went on sale in a color or pattern I didn’t have, I’d buy it. They never come out with the same colors or patterns and it seems like they just keep getting better and better. Realistically, there’s no need for all these tank tops. But I will say that when I’m in the right conditions to use them, I use them all. I go climbing and show off my fabulous arm muscles, get an awkward tan, look adorable while I’m flailing my way up a climb, and then throw on some deodorant and a sweater and look cute for dinner, too.

Climbing hardware– A sizeable portion of our gear room is taken up by slings, ice screws, carabiners, quick draws, and a trad rack. When I first met Jaymie, he had a massive rack. I’d just started climbing, so mine was small, but it grew to a pretty impressive size too. When we got married, we merged our racks, so now we have a ridiculously large rack that we share. We’re really proud of our rack.

We have a pretty decent rope collection too, although the majority of them probably need to be retired and made into rugs, dog leashes, and other such functional objects that don’t require them to catch a person falling down the side of a cliff. I’m starting to get the suspicion that Jaymie has slight separation anxiety from his ropes though, because he hangs on to them for dear life even though he’s too wary of them to actually use them.


The way I see it, I could have much worse things that I buy too much of. Having lived in small spaces since I moved out of my parent’s house all those years ago, I’ve learned the value of only having what you need. But “what you need” is different for everyone, I think. At least I don’t have an obsession with Star Wars figurines or something, right?