The last time the Tampa Bay Times talked to Alix Lauer, she was 17 and the only female on her wrestling team at Northeast High School. She liked the physical challenge and camaraderie of the sport. Twelve years later, Lauer, 30, lives in Orlando and continues to challenge herself. She works as a paramedic and firefighter at the Orange County Fire Rescue Department and jumps out of planes in her free time. Wearing small pearl earrings, a sundress and her hair tied back in a gentle braid, the soft-spoken thrill-seeker who now prefers the nickname Lexi sat down with Floridian's Jessica Floum to talk about fixing muscle cars, getting firefighters to eat fish, and why she doesn't mind giving up some piercings for the sake of her career.
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I've definitely had to be tough to learn to hang with the boys. I like pushing limits and pushing myself. I do things against the grain.
I'm like a girly girl and a tomboy. I like to get my nails done and hang out, but then I like working on cars.
I'm restoring a '68 Barracuda so I guess that's one of my other hobbies. That's my car. She's my baby. It was my dad's car and it's been passed down through the family.
I like to go shopping, decorating and dressing like a girl. Especially by the time I've worn a man uniform all day. At the end of a shift (at the fire station) I'm like: "I just want a sundress."
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I'm actually afraid of heights, but you're so high up there that you don't even think about it.
The feeling. It's beautiful. I'm not stressed about anything else. If I'm having a bad day, it doesn't even matter. The endorphin rush, you're just smiling.
Most of the people I've dated since I started skydiving are sky divers. It's hard to explain: "Hey, I'm going to be gone for the weekend, jumping out of planes." It's nice to have someone you can share that with if you're going to spend all your free time doing that.
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I had grown up dancing, and then in high school I took a break for sports. Then after high school, I got onto the dance company at St. Petersburg College, which is modern, ballet and some trapeze aerial work.
So I was with them for quite a few years, and then I realized there wasn't much retirement or much of a career in it, so I decided to do something completely different.
I went into medical. EMT and paramedic was the quickest way into the field. I found that Orange County Fire Rescue was hiring paramedics and putting them through fire academy so I was like, "Oh, sounds like fun, challenging and something that I'd like to do." So I tried it and ended up loving it too.
I like working under pressure, so there's a lot of times where you just don't know what to expect or things can change really quickly. It's a lot of problem solving on the go. I like that rush.
It was a lot of lifestyle change going to the fire department as far as you can't have any piercings. You can't dye your hair fun colors. I gave up a little bit of lifestyle, but I'm really happy with that. I guess I'd have to do that growing up anyway.
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On my shift at my station, I'm the only girl. I do work with other women; it's just mostly men.
We like to joke around and give each other a hard time. A lot of the attitudes are the same (as the wrestling team). Everybody is down to earth and works hard. It's just that same camaraderie. I still like being on a team. We all have to work together.
I'm comfortable there. I like being out of my element. For the most part everybody is really accepting. There are still some people that have the good old boy attitude about the department, but they're all retiring. It's a dying breed.
They're like, "You're not going to be a pescatarian by the end of your time here." We have steak Fridays, and I actually have some of the guys eating salmon now.