grrrlz in white dresses with blue satin sashes

It's hard to believe May Day is in a week! May Day is absolutely my favorite holiday, it's just a wonderful day to sit in the sun. In case anyone is still seeking a dress, here's a little shopping guide of strategies for dress-finding, especially if tried-and-true methods like the King of Prussia Mall or Suburban Square haven't been fruitful or aren't appealing:

(disclaimer: I wear dresses pretty much all the time so I don't know how well I can speak to other festive May Day options)

Option 1: look online!

Here are some good options, which represent a pretty affordable price range (I'll go approximately low to high): Rainbow, Forever 21, asos, Ruche, LuLu's, Modcloth, and Shabby Apple all have dresses I really like. I also have a Pinterest board for May Day dresses, which is kind of embarrassing but potentially helpful.

Option 2: thrift stores!

Thrift stores are my favorite and probably source 70% of my wardrobe. My favorites around here are the Bryn Mawr Hospital Thrift Shop, which is right across the street from Wawa and is seriously a great place. Philly AIDS Thrift is also great if you're in the city. You can also find great vintage stuff on Etsy if you look around!

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thrifted dress. photo by allie levitan.

Option 3: sharing is caring!

I think this is a very underutilized option. Hopefully y'all are already keeping tabs on your local free boxes, but the thing about Bryn Mawr is that so many people around you get a new white dress every year. There is a real surplus of May Day dresses that I believe is untapped. Check in with your friends to see if someone has a dress they could lend you or perhaps one they don't want anymore. If you don't want to be someone else's twin, you can modify a dress in fun ways. A dear friend passed on a lovely strapless white eyelet sundress to me and there just wasn't enough going on for my taste, so I recruited a pal from the Art Club to help me give it a little ombre flavor. It was a lot of fun

ombredress from audrey. photo by prianna pathak.

May Day can feel like prom with all the dress panic, but no matter what, you'll have so much fun/cry forever at the step sing!

Any shopping sources I missed?

Favorite Study Hacks

Y'all, I was not always a star student. I have had ADD for as long as I remember, and while I know that this doesn't mean I'm not a smart or capable student, it does mean that my brain doesn't fit in to a typical classroom and study environment quite as easily as a neurotypical person's brain does. My learning disability is part of who I am and I love and appreciate my whole self, and one of the awesome things about having ADD is that it has made me really intentional about studying. Medications don't do that much for me anymore and all I have to rely on to fill the gap between how I learn and how I'm expected to learn are what are called coping mechanisms-- behaviors that I've developed to help me fit in to an environment where I'm a little different. Finding good coping mechanisms has been necessary for me to succeed as a student, and I think even neurotypical folks can benefit from what I've figured out. Here are three of my favorite online tools for studying:

1. Timers: This is definitely the most important study hack I've figured out. One of my favorite patterns is setting a timer for five minutes and promising to write 100 words in five minutes, then taking a five minute break. I can sustain this pattern for around two hours and then maybe I switch to reading or something that's less intense for me than writing. Another favorite pattern is setting a timer for 25 minutes and working for that period of time, then taking a five minute break. Every couple of breaks can be fifteen minutes long. I find this pattern quite sustainable and usually do it when I don't need to work as quickly as the 5/5 pattern. I'm not sure how it is for other people, but for me writing 100 words in 5 minutes is very quick and takes a lot of concentration for me, which is a limited resource.

My favorite link for this is: http://tomatoi.st/

2: Rewards: Having something to look forward to is a great motivator. Candy, breaks, recreational reading or Youtube-watching, visiting friends at their carrels, and visits to a fountain are all great rewards, as well as a full night of sleep and deep feeling of satisfaction. I love Written? Kitten! as a reward system. Every 100 words you write, it shows you a new picture of a kitten! You can also switch out kittens for any keyword that will search Flickr. (Did I invent Written? Butts!? Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't.) It's also a great way to see concrete progress. I'll often say to myself, "In three kittens I'm going to bed."

Here's the link: http://writtenkitten.net/

3: Noise: Having the right music, sound, or silence can really change how things go for me. Sometimes this means being mindful of my environment-- Lusty has a different, social white noise vibe than Carpenter, where you can practically hear the books snoring. I really haven't found any consistency in what is best for me, but I have figured out that switching up what's in my ears can really give me better energy if I'm not getting anything done. In addition to switching up the ambient noise situation, it often helps me to play around with different music or different kinds of white noise. I have two favorites in particular. One is Ravi Shankar and Phillip Glass's Meetings Along the Edge. I can't explain why but this piece really, really helps me write. I play it on repeat. My other favorite is listening to ambient noise like rain or a crackling fire (or both, if I want to feel like a lumberjack writing novels in my log cabin in the forest by my wood stove on a rainy night.) Here are the links to my secret power song, a website that puts YouTube videos on repeat, and a great website for background noise.

http://www.noisli.com/

http://www.youtuberepeater.com/

Good morning, Baltimore! (aka a very exciting announcement about my future)

Last year I was in West Virginia at Mountain Justice Spring Break. I was standing on the back porch of the building where we were staying looking out over the Appalachian mountains. We had just listened to some fantastic folk music from the area. I was really loving West Virginia. Standing on the porch, watching the sun set over the misty mountains, I thought to myself, "Do I have a future here? Will I live here someday? Is this going to be where I go on my mission?" I had a very strong feeling like was going to go there for my mission, and since then, but I didn't tell anyone about it because I didn't want to jinx it.

For a little background: growing up as a Mormon, becoming a full-time missionary for a year and a half during young adulthood was always an option I knew I would have. Many people don't consider this strongly until the late teenage years, but I have always known that it was something I wanted to do. When I entered college, the minimum age for me to go on a mission was 21, so I decided to leave right after I graduated from college. The fun/scary thing about a Mormon mission is that you have no idea when you're applying where you'll go. Aside from my little premonition, I knew it was as likely that I would be sent to Japan as it was that I would be sent to Idaho.

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Come Monday, I opened my mailbox as I had been doing about twice a day all week and I found a very, very exciting big white envelope. Inviting lots of friends and loved ones over for the big mission call reveal is a fun Mormon tradition and I love being able to get my Bryn Mawr friends involved in fun Mormon traditions, so I sent out the bat signal and invited everyone to join me in the London room that evening. I opened my call with shaky hands and read the letter with my assignment aloud. As soon as I saw the words on the page-- "Maryland Baltimore Mission" I felt deeply at peace. That's exactly the right place for me, I thought. Still, there was a little bit of surprise. The most reasonable guess anyone had made was that I would be sent to Germany, as I already speak German, but this didn't match my premonition or any of the guesses my guests had made. One of my friends there who is a veteran mission-call opener and one of only three Mormons in attendance encouraged me to look at the map inside of the packet in my big white envelope. The map shows the broader area with all the different places I will be moving between during my mission and it encompassed-- guess where!-- West Virginia as well as Virginia and Maryland. I feel so excited and I feel a renewed confidence in my intuitive skill set. I will be so, so sad to leave Bryn Mawr but knowing that my next stop is exactly where I need to be makes it a little easier.

Possibly Belated Bryn Mawr Chop

Traditionally it's frosh who cut their hair off dramatically, but I guess I wanted to be nontraditional in my head-shaving activities. I have had long hair for a while and I was just feeling ready for a change. Here's me before:

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photo by my friend Nate LeBaron, who takes amazing pictures

I decided to try an intermediate undercut while I'm still young and wild:

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Finally, Hell Week came and I decided that the most fun and festive time to go for the big shave. I missed the green days of rowdy performances freshmawr year, so I decided to make an occasion of it-- it went on my grandhellee's schedule to shave my head and I gathered anyone who wanted to join in the campus center. If nothing else, I hoped the peer pressure of a crowd chanting "shave it off!" would ensure that I would stick to my bald guns.

Here's my grandhellee, Angela, shaving my head, taken by my wonderful bud Isabel Andrews.

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I love the bald life! Showering takes five minutes, I don't have to do anything with it in the morning, and I love the breeze and sunshine on my scalp. I'm reminded of an occasion a few years ago when I had the opportunity to see Morton Feldman's amazing String Quartet #2 performed live in Phildadelphia. This piece lasts for six hours and, as per much of Feldman's music, is very slow and meditative. The FLUX Quartet, who were performing the piece with impressive stamina, were stationed in the middle of the cathedral that served as a performance space and the audience was sitting in chairs arranged in a circle around the performers or milling around the space. I remember looking across the room to see two men standing on the other side of the quartet, one of whom was rapturously rubbing the other man's buzzed head with both hands for quite a long time.

At the time I was confused and even slightly uncomfortable, but now that I've been walking around with a buzzed head for a few days, I understand both of these men absolutely. I love how often other people come up to pet my head and have been very impressed at the positive consent practices I've seen from other Mawrtyrs. So far it's been a really fun change.

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(library selfies: a grand tradition)

 

Will waffles be my Valentine?

Y'all, I am in love. I am in love with waffles. This is basically me now:

I've been asking my friend's lately, "How bad will it be for my health if I eat a waffle every day?" but to be honest I don't want to know the answer.

Waffles are my true love right at this moment, and the Haffner waffle machine is filling my life with romance. In honor of this special day, which is first about celebrating favorite foods and second about Hallmark making money (I think someone mentioned there was a part about love but I really don't feel like I have authority to confirm or deny that), I'm going to share with you my favorite waffle topping recipes. See the tiny instructional card next to the waffle iron for the base waffle instructions:

Chocolate Caramel Waffle:

Go find:

- chocolate chips

- caramel sauce

- optional: whipped cream

- a tall, cool glass of 2%

As soon as you remove your toasty waffle from the iron, dump a lot of chocolate chips on there. It's important that you do that very first so that the chocolate has plenty of time to get melty. Swirl on some caramel in an appealingly plated fashion and top it with whipped cream. Take your waffle to a nice sunny table and don't talk to anyone until you've finished it. Important note: check your mouth for chocolate afterwards.

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Cinnamon Sugar Waffle: 

Gather:

- butter (usually I get one pat per quadrant plus one more to supplement)

-sugar

- cinnamon

Have a friend babysit the cooking waffle (honestly you might need someone to help you finish it as well so a partner in crime is important) while you scurry around and mix up some cinnamon and sugar, which is approximately equal measures of each ingredient. Butter the waffle the moment it comes out of the iron in order to give adequate melting time. Give it a minute to get melty and sprinkle generous cinnamon sugar on there. Enjoy with your co-waffler.

Waffle Sundae:

You'll need:

- ice cream

- whichever fruit-based items are out there (I like the blueberry and cherry pie fillings)

This is even more food than the last two so a bud to share with is extra important (plus sharing is great!) Take your waffle, plop some soft serve on there from the machine, then plop a fruit-oriented topping on top of that. Try to get to eating quickly to minimize meltiness/sogginess. Note: you can and should add ice cream to the above recipes as well.

If you're indecisive like me, you have every right to put different toppings on each quadrant or each half.

Enjoy! Exercise caution, unless you're me!

Foolproof Guide to Choosing Classes

You may have really had your life together during preregistration, but now that you're back on campus everything is different and you're doubting your choices. Here's what I've learned this shopping week about how to choose classes:

Step 1: Look through all of the courses listed in the Tri-Co course guide and click on every single class that interests you remotely

Step 2: When you have 235 tabs open, click through them wildly, realizing that you will need to get four bachelor's degrees in order to accommodate all the classes you wish you could take

Step 3: Panic about having too many options and immediately eliminate anything before noon or that meets on a Friday

Step 4: Realize that you still have 142 options

Step 5: Cry

Step 6: Shop 100 classes, realize that at least one of these classes is the Most Interesting Class Ever and is taught by the #1 Rockstar Professor of Your Dreams and that you absolutely need to take it. Unfortunately, you are not alone and the class is so packed there are students sitting on the floor

Step 7: Keep going to that class until the #1 Rockstar Professor of Your Dreams gets tired of asking you to leave. Keep in mind that when a professor says that you absolutely cannot take a class, what they really mean is "Unless you cry."

Step 8: Choose the rest of your classes by putting all the syllabi you've collected in a big bag and selecting a lucky-looking frosh to pull three of them out at random

 

Congratulations! This is going to be a great semester for you.

Rest in Peace, Brother Williams

I got the news sometime last week in an email from my dad. I haven’t talked to anybody about it, mostly because death is dark and heavy and everyone, myself included, has things that are more immediately pressing on their minds. Death has not been a big part of my life so far, which I’m very grateful for, but this semester with the passing of Professor McKim-Smith and now with the news of Brother Williams passing away I’m learning what death looks like for the living, what it feels like to forget for a few hours and then remember out of nowhere the absence where there was once presence and feel like the wind was knocked out of me a little. It’s hard to talk about things that hurt but I would love to tell you about Brother Williams, a very important person who was uplifting to our community and who taught me things I’d like to share.

His first name was Gary, though I never would have called him that. To me he was Brother Williams, and he was a vital part of the religious community I grew up with. There was a lot about him that I don’t know: how many kids he had, what his career and schooling were like, what he did in his spare time. We never talked much but he taught me, and I think everyone else he was around, what we actually needed to be learning at church. I’ll be attending the congregation (we Mormons call them “wards”) where he served and attended again soon and I can’t imagine what church will be like without him. At least, I don’t like to imagine it.

Our ward is a big one with plenty of growing families so on Sundays we open the back of the chapel up to create overflow seating in the church gym. Every Sunday, Brother Williams would greet people entering church through the gym doors, handing them a program, helping them find a stretch of chairs long enough for all of their children, and wishing them a happy Sunday. I’m sure other Mormons will know what I’m talking about, but sitting in the overflow seating can carry some social stigma: usually it means that you’re late or that your kids are unruly, maybe both. Having come from a wonderful family full of energetic little ones who have been quite difficult to get in their Sunday best and out the door on time, I knew the overflow seating well. Now those kids are a little older and my parents are more often successful at getting them to church in time to find a pew where we can all fit, but often when I’m visiting home I’ll wake up after everyone else, take a spare minivan to church 20 minutes after services have begun, and sneak in during a hymn or a break between speakers.

Every time I arrived late to church, from the time my family moved into the neighborhood associated with this ward, I have psyched myself out and expected to be greeted by punishing stares, scrounging for a program, and a judgmental congregation and greeter probably wondering why I can’t get it together to be somewhere five minutes away from my house on time. Each time I arrive late to my home ward, I am reminded that this vision was somewhat delusional and definitely borne out of the judgment I felt towards myself, because every Sunday, regardless of when I arrive, I have been greeted by Brother Williams, who probably only knows me by general clan based on the kinds of screaming kids I carry out of the chapel, smiling at me like I’m exactly the person he was excited to see when he put on his tie. Brother Williams seemed to have some magical quality that conveyed to everyone around him, myself included, that we were okay, that we were just where we needed to be, that God loved us for our snooze-button mornings and fidgety kids and so did he. He seemed to focus his efforts not on those who more normatively fit the “model community member” mold, arriving fifteen minutes early with coloring books and quiet youngsters, but to those of us who needed him to remind us not to worry about other peoples’ judgment. Maybe his magical quality was just a deep, accepting, and uncomplicated love for everyone who walked through those doors, and perhaps the knowledge that giving and receiving the kind of love he had to offer us is probably the reason why going to church matters.

I also remember Brother Williams interacting with children. Bringing your kids to church can be exhausting, and the back of the gym, which is clear of chairs, is often where parents go to dance their babies around and play on the ground with wiggly toddlers. I have watched Brother Williams take countless babies from the arms of tired parents, inviting them to take a seat by themselves for a little while, while he entertained their adorable but tiresome child. He always seemed to have a sandwich bag full of raisins at the ready. I remember distinctly watching my then three-year old sister grow fussy in church until Brother Williams arrived on the scene with his trusty bag of raisins, smiling and feeding them to her until she settled down. Not only was he gentle and patient with every single child, he also seemed genuinely happy, even honored, to be part of helping parents and children get through church. Brother Williams exemplified a sacred power that is so vital to the Mormon community, which is the sanctity of the quotidian. Mormons know that a casserole on someone’s doorstep can be the holiest sacrament, that shoveling the driveway of a neighbor with a bad back can be up there with walking on water, and that driving the carpool to youth activities can be an incredible pilgrimage if these things are done with the kind of love Brother Williams exemplified in his divine program-distributing, his sacred smiling, and his holy raisin-feeding.

Feuertrunken

This semester I'm doing chorale at Haverford, which is awesome. Because the art history department is pretty centered at Bryn Mawr, I don't often get the chance to get to Haverford for classes. Most of my academic bi-co career has been oriented around music, which has been great. Our first performance was on Saturday in honor of family weekend and of Dan Weiss's inauguration as the president of Haverford. Sidenote: totally amped to have a fellow art historian as Haverpres.

We were singing the last movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony, which is a piece that I think is best described as epic or intense. It's based on an effusive, uninhibited poem written by Schiller, one of Germany's greatest poets. I'll admit that Beethoven's 9th has never spoken to me, but I've really come to love it by learning it. I've been singing in church and school choirs basically since forever, but this is kind of a new experience. The choir itself is much larger than any I've ever sung in, and we have more musical accompaniment than I'm used to. I would say the most striking thing about my experience on Saturday was singing behind an orchestra for the first time. It made me feel both bigger and smaller as a singer, and overall I really loved it.

Here are my three favorite things about singing behind an orchestra, in no particular order:

1. Listening to them warm up and tune their instruments. There's something about the pleasantly discordant sound of an orchestra before a performance that fills me with an excited anticipation, like the feeling of an airplane about to take off, any and all Christmas music, or this fanfare. I remember going to the ballet as a child, which was one of my favorite activities, and feeling so excited and impatient as the orchestra warmed up in the pit. In this specific case, I could hear tiny strains of the piece we were about to sing and play together as they played bits of their parts which added to the feeling of anticipation.

2. Watching the bows dance around while the violins and violas pluck. They look like tall grass in the wind or festive people dancing at a party.

3. Watching the conductor manage an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. A secret about musical performances that involve conductors is that they're dance as well as musical performances. What was really exciting about this was seeing our conductor's face-- usually if a conductor is facing me they're conducting a small choir or a church congregation, which means simple songs and no instruments. B9 (can I call Beethoven's 9th that?) is an emotionally tumultuous piece so our conductor was key in conveying what our mood as musicians should sound like with his face, which was fun. There was also something great about seeing him right as the piece was ending. We've all been working hard since school started to get this right, and he just looked really happy and satisfied.

Oh, and obviously I loved getting applause at the end of our performance. I guess that goes without saying.

Marina Azombavic & a Poem

Confession: I LOVE Halloween. Love it. I'd like to share with you what I'm sure will be the first of several costumes. I wore this one tonight (Friday night), to the Halloween a capella concert and the afterparty. I was dressed as zombie Marina Abromavic, or Marina Azombavic, if you will. Art history puns are perhaps the only thing I feel naturally talented at. Everything else has come through arduous labor and probably after a lot of time lying on the floor of the Lusty Cup complaining loudly to the longsuffering and supportive patrons of said Cup.

Other than going to the a capella concert, I also went to the Self-Love Open Mic hosted by the Body Image Council and co-sponsored by Fem-Co and Sisterhood. I've been trying to do things every day that scare me a little bit, respecting my boundaries while pushing to expand my comfort zone. In the spirit of this effort, I read a poem at the open mic that I'd like to share here:

The Things I Carried

for three days during which i did not shower

i carried a rose petal in my ill-fitting Target brassiere

the rose was significant, i had thought, i can’t tell you why now

 

for a full minute i carried a cherry pit

wedged between my left breast and my underwire

i spent this minute digging through flesh, blushing,

wishing that cherry pit hadn’t been so slippery

 

i carried a seething mass of expanding and shrinking flesh,

infected like a tiny planet

carried it in my face for a full year until

a man replaced it with dead gold

 

every day i carry tube after tube of

fire and ice

cherries in the snow

siren

and i carry it alone

Magical Montreal

Fall Break is amazing so far. Often I feel like I build up my breaks and vacations and I end up being disappointed by them because my expectations are unrealistic, but somehow this one is hitting all the right notes. I'm managing to achieve all my goals so far, which have included:

- a road trip to Montreal with my wonderful friend Isabel (projected to include poutine, art, and blasting girl power tunes on the drive)

- a night on the way back at a cabin belonging to a family friend of Isabel's in the mountains of Vermont

- extreme makeover: dorm room edition, because I am extremely messy and my room has not been entirely habitable lately

- a good healthy Call the Midwife marathon

- a weekend in Pittsburgh to enjoy PowerShift, a youth activist conference of epic scale, hopefully with a few art breaks incorporated

and, a very important goal I try to maintain during spring and fall break:

- no homework allowed (boundaries, breaks, and self-care are important!)

I ship out to Pittsburgh in the morning, but other than that I've hit all my other goals:

My Midwife marathoning has been more than satisfactory (season 2 is finally on Netflix) and has been especially fruitful on the bed that I made extra cozy with fresh clean sheets, another comforter, and an extra layer of foam over the mattress. Honestly, sometimes all I want is to be a nun who delivers babies.

Three long suffering friends took breaks from their thesising to come by and take shifts keeping me company, eating cold pizza, sitting on my extra cozy bed and providing good conversation that got me through my extensive tidying.

I am secretly yearning to look over readings for my Native Studies course again, but I've reserved Sunday afternoon to start gearing up for the week of work. Other than that, I'm quite successful in my commitment to really take a break.

The drive through Vermont was really wonderful. I absolutely adore any chance to drive somewhere beautiful, and the autumn leaves in the mountains were truly breathtaking. We listened to Tina Fey's Bossypants, which translates beautifully to audiobook.

As for Montreal, I believe a picture says 1,000 words.

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