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!


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:

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:

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.

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.


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.