My Goal of a Personal Uniform

Uniforms, I had one when I was in elementary school. Then, I didn’t love it, but I respected its utility. It was nice to not have to make an additional decision when you woke up in the morning. It was simple: On Mondays and Thursdays, I wore a red polo with khakis, on Wednesdays I wore a white button down shirt with a jumper, and on Tuesdays and Fridays, I wore my gym shorts and a khaki skirt. It was simple and easy. Then middle school came and nothing was easy, especially the intricate calculus required for getting dressed for school each morning. 

By the time 8th grade rolled around, I had established a uniform for myself – jeans, boots, and a sweater (usually some type of wool). It was comfortable and put together. Then, in ninth grade one of my friends told me I dressed “like a suburban soccer mom”. OUCH 

At the time what she said hurt my feelings – a lot, but I did come away with an important takeaway – my clothes weren’t flattering my body type. I have broad shoulders, a large bust, no hips, medium sized thighs, and huge calves. I’m still learning to love my body, but I love all that my body allows me to do: hike, read, write, bake, drink coffee, and so much more. Anyways, that conversation set me down a path of discovering what worked best for my body. I realized that a v-neck sweater with skinny jeans and ankle sneakers (like these) are a great option for my body type. I also really like long sleeve v-neck t-shirts with a vest (like this fluffy Patagonia one or this quilted one) with skinny jeans and ankle sneakers are a similarly good option for me and my body. 

I don’t need to have a super fancy wardrobe with many different pieces. I just need a few basics that I can mix and match. Yes, I realize I’m just describing a capsule wardrobe, but that’s a bit more complicated than what I have in mind. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • 4-5 nice cashmere sweaters
    • I have 2 turtle necks, 2 crew necks, and a couple v-necks. 
  • 2-3 nice crewneck sweaters 
  • 2-3 cotton cable knit sweaters
  • 4-5 nice, comfortable v-neck t-shirts
  • 5-7 pairs of skinny jeans 
  • 1-2 pairs of dress pants
  • 1-2 outerwear vests 
  • Winter boots
  • Summer sneakers
  • A good belt

This can scaled up or down depending on your laundering preferences and budget. This is the wardrobe I’m working towards. I like to do laundry every two weeks, so I tend to have more clothes so I can be extra lazy. The two main ideas behind this “systematic wardrobe” is to 1) eliminate decision fatigue because all of your outfits are more or less the same and 2) only wear pieces you feel comfortable and put-together in. I really love a good sweater, mid-rise skinny jeans and some comfy sneakers. This is what I need to feel put together and comfy. I don’t need to make a fashion statement with my everyday clothes. I don’t need to make a fashion statement at all. I just need to wear clothes that are well-made, durable, comfortable, and sustainably and humanely made and sourced. That’s all you need too. Don’t let others tell you what you should and shouldn’t wear. Wear what makes you comfortable! 

Next week, I’ll show you my favorite for each of the categories I mentioned above. Stay tuned!



My Favorite College Youtubers!

As a high school senior, I am deeply into the throughs of college youtubers. I just love watching “Day In My Life” videos. It just feels so nice to immerse yourself into someone else’s life.

//ONE// Gracie O’Connor

I don’t even remember when I started watching Gracie’s video. She’s just such a bundle of joy. I really enjoy her bubbly personality. I aspire to have Gracie’s positive outlook on life. Gracie goes to University of Alabama.

//TWO// Lottie Smalley

I have been watching Lottie’s videos since 2014. I love her videos so much!! She definitely posts inconsistently, but I just love her so much! I’ve literally just grown up watching her videos. Lottie just graduated from UGA, but she’s going to grad school!

//THREE// Meghan Kelleher

I just discovered Meghan this year, but she’s super fun! I love her sense of humor. She’s just so relatable. I love her clean/declutter with me videos. She cleans like she’s from the SOUTH. If you know, you know. Meghan goes to UVA.

//FOUR// Paige Kaiser

Paige is super fun! She and her roommate, Nadine, are just such a meme together. I also really like her style – I totally steal elements of her outfits to make my outfits more trendy and fun. Also, Paige goes to American University which is a school I’m definitely applying to!

I hope you guys like these YouTubers – they’re super fun. Also, I’m totally looking for more black college YouTubers if you know any. I used to watch Kai Foster’s videos, but she dropped out… so no longer a college YouTuber.



The Libby App: My New Best Friend

I love reading. I love books! I love spending money on books! My parents don’t love my spending copious amounts of money on books. Cha Ching! Normally, the answer would be to go to the library, but my family’s busy schedule didn’t permit bi-monthly trips to the library. So I mostly just racked up fines for books I finished but never returned.

This is where the Libby app comes into play. Libby is Overdrive’s little sibling. On Libby, you can listen to audiobooks, read e-books, and check out other digital content (think, books, magazines, and audiobooks).

Libby is great! I use the app itself mostly for listening to audiobooks. As I mentioned in my review of The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, I enjoy listening to memoirs while washing the dishes. The Libby app is great for this. I can change the listening speed by the tenth if I don’t want to stick to the standard 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, and 2x. I tend to listen at 1.75 speed.

If you’re like me and like to listen to your books on multiple devices: phone, iPad, computer, the app with sync your progress to all of your devices!

The second way I like to use Libby is to browse my library’s collection of ebooks. I can put holds on books then check them out when it’s my turn. Here’s the best feature about Libby: you can delay the delivery of a book you have checked out. I do this a ton! If I’m still in the middle of a book when it’s up to be rented, I can just ask to have the book delivered later – in 1-180 days later to be specific! Also, your books are returned automatically for you, so you never have to worry about fines.

Honestly, Libby is the app I didn’t know I needed. I know this sounds cliche, but my life is so much richer with the Libby app in it. The Libby app facilitates my scholarly endeavors by making it easy and cheap to read and listen to books. You cannot tell me that is the best. thing. ever.

I can’t recommend this app highly enough. It’s just SO GOOD.

Install the Libby immediately! End of discussion. 

Also, in case you were wondering, I’m currently listening to Commonwealth by Ann Patchet and reading The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Funnily enough, it was Commonwealth’s cover art that first attracted me to the book when I saw it years ago. I think it’s so pretty.

What are you reading or listening to?



Why I Love My Peloton

shoes | look delta cleats | shorts (TTS) | water bottle | shirt (similar)

So, I meant to write this post about a month ago. Then, I got stitches on my knee and couldn’t do any “strenuous exercise” for two weeks. Then, I was so intimidated by the bike and the thought of my hard workout distressed me. And I was totally afraid of busting my stitches wide open. I mean, that’s the stuff of nightmares, at least it is for me. 

Today I rode in a little over a month. It felt really good. I can feel my body getting stronger. I’m feeling good. 

Peloton has given me an ultra convenient way to do cardio.

I’ve been wanting to increase my cardio for the various health benefits: increasing lung capacity, lowering chance of contracting dementia or heart disease, having a banging body! (Not a health benefit, but still!) Also, I’m asthmatic, so improving my lung capacity is important to me. The Peloton bike is always there – I just have to hop on and take advantage of all it has to offer. If it’s 11pm and I want to ride, then I can – it’s just that easy. I think this is a really great way to introduce yourself to cardio workouts. 

It’s a low stress way to exercise. 

There’s no one to compare yourself to, unless you want that (in that case, use the leaderboard feature). You can just focus on yourself and not worry about who is doing better than you. It’s just you, the bike, and instructor. I really love not wondering what I look like to the cars driving past or the woman walking her dog. I always feel super self conscious when exercising, so I appreciate being able to work out in the privacy of my own home. 

It’s an encouraging way to push your limits.

One of my issues when running is that I hate it and spend the vast majority of my time thinking about how hard it is and how much I would rather be doing anything else. I don’t have that problem (as much) when riding. This is because the instructor is just constantly encouraging you and reaffirming your decision to start this exercise. It also helps that they’re talking you through the intervals – 2 minutes left, 1 minute left, 30 seconds, etc. – there’s always an end in sight. Also, I finish the ride, and I don’t want to crawl into a hole and die. When I finish a run, I tend to want to crawl into a hole and die. 

It’s a really, really good sweat. 

I’ve never sweated more than when I’m working out on the Peloton. I’m usually dripping when I finish a ride. Just remember to bring a towel!

Ultimately, this is a method of exercising that I enjoy. I love the way my body feels after a challenging workout. It clears my mind and provides me with that lovely post-workout dopamine rush. Honestly, I had a crappy morning, but this ride has made me feel so much better. You should know that I’ve never been the kind of person who works out when stressed or someone who just loves to exercise. I am not that person. I do enjoy doing active things: kayaking, hiking, skiing (badly), but I’m not a gym rat. The fact that I’ve found an actually enjoyable way to do cardio is astounding to me, but here we are! 🙂 2020 the year of surprises…

Full Disclosure: I didn’t purchase a Peloton with my own money. My dad bought one after he had knee surgery and needed a low-impact option for cardio, so I just use his. 


A sweaty Marie

Book Review: The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Can some please explain to me why everyone and their mom loves this book? I just don’t get it. Like, really, I just don’t get it. 

This book felt unspecial and frankly boring. Honestly, I’m glad I read it, so I can say that I read it. But overall, I’m underwhelmed and unimpressed. 

Some back story: When I was younger, I used to go to a camp called Great Books Summer Program. It’s truly one of the best experiences of my life thus far, and it’s where I met some of my closest and best friends. Hello, Eve and Ben! Anyway, one summer I had a literature elective class called  Southern Gothic Women Writers. In this class, I read the first chapter of this book. I enjoyed it. Anyways, fast forward to this summer, and I’m looking for something to read because I’m getting bored of Pride and Prejudice. This where The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter comes in. I saw it while browsing on the Libby app one night, and immediately I rented it. I didn’t even stop to read the synopsis. 

So, I’m reading the book, and about ⅓ through the book I think to myself  “What the heck is happening in the book? Where is this going?”.  I’ll tell you the answer – no where. I mean, the book does have a resolution for all of the characters it follows, but this book was a slow meandering ride to nowhere. Still, as I read, I thought to myself, “Since I started reading the book without reading the synopsis, I want to finish the book without having read the synopsis. I’m too far in. I just have to commit.” This book is why I have a fear of commitment. I committed to finishing this book, and it was a lowkey waste of time. It’s better than watching YouTube but not better than watching an interesting documentary.

Yes, the protagonists are loney. Yes, many of them have traits that contribute to their loneliness in 1920s Deep South. Yes, there is some nice prose in here. But that is not enough to carry the book.

Final thoughts: I’m glad I read this book. I’m also glad I didn’t buy the book. Thank God for libraries! There are some books you read to be a part of the conversation – this is one of them. I’ll be able to take part in the conversations because I’m so cultured. 

A deepy “meh” book.

Shopping Ban Update No.2

First, some updates about Marie Speaks. Posting 3 times per week isn’t super feasible for me right now, so for the time being I’m only going to post once per week on Wednesdays! Thank you so much for reading, and I appreciate your time!

I’m about a month into my “shopping ban”. Honestly, I’m really over buying stuff in general. Like I’m tired of shopping. I have bought  a couple of essentials so far. 


In my original list of approved purchases bras were one of them. Recently, I’ve worn out a couple of my bras, so it was necessary to replace them. I got two of this style

Whitelines Notebook

This is the only school supplies purchase I’m making this year. This was also an approved purchase. I’m planning to use this notebook for my calculus class this year. I’ve used graph paper notebooks since freshman year, and I really like them. However, Staples changed their graph notebooks and now the lines are too dark, and I can’t make out my writings in pencil. That’s why I’m trying Whitelines this year. 


For my brother’s seventh birthday, he asked me to crochet him a blanket. So I bought 5 skeins of the Bernat blanket yarn in Crimson. I’m really excited to start this project. I’m planning on using this pattern from Daisy Farm Crafts, my favorite crochet website. 

Tennis Skorts

This one is a bit of a sketchy purchase. Like did I really need it?!? I’ve been taking golf lessons every weekend and going to the driving range once a week, so I needed some golf club appropriate apparel. Also, this skort is $15 and adorable! Academy Sporting Goods is my favorite store of all time!! When I lived in Texas, I did a solid 75% of my shopping there. 


I recently ran out of hair conditioner. I’m looking to replace my typical shampoo with a co-wash. Of course, I’ll still shampoo but less often and use this co-wash instead. Honestly, as I’m writing this, I’m realizing I still haven’t gotten any conditioner… whoops!


My grandma offered to buy me some clothes for back to school. I know I’ll likely need another pair of jeans, but I’m waiting until it gets closer to the fall to get them. But I did get this belt which is cute, and I think will go well with my sweaters. Again, this is kinda a sketchy purchase, but my grandma did buy it for me, so I guess I didn’t break my shopping ban?!?


I got these *adorable* masks from the Gap. Originally, my school was going to do hybrid, so I needed to have enough for every day of the week. Now my school has switched to remote learning which I’m actually pretty happy about. I think it’ll be nice to have the options though for when I do go out. I’m hoping that once a week or so I can go out to Starbucks or something. There’s one walking distance from my house. Also, I think this glass tumbler from Target is super cute!

Face Countured Masks

Pleated Masks

Athleta Masks

So, there you have it folks! What I’ve bought so far. I’m proud to report that I haven’t bought any stationery or unnecessary clothes thus far! I’m doing this, and I am going to be successful. Or at least I hope.

10 Secrets of Highly Effective High School Students

Successful people have habits. Successful high school students have habits. While they may not be secrets, not everyone knows or understands these important habits. My goal is to share the wealth. Here are some of the most helpful strategies I have learned over my *illustrious* high school career. 

1. Writing it Down

When in doubt, write it down. Your teacher said something you didn’t understand – write it down. You thought of an interesting idea for an essay – write it down. You don’t understand how to do a certain problem – write it down. Keeping a log of questions and/or ideas will help you when you have a chance to ask your teacher. Also, it can shave off time brainstorming an essay when you’ve already come up with a couple ideas. 

2. Using a Planning System

I say system because depending on who you are that may look different. I’m planning a blog post on various different planning systems, but the fundamental underlying idea here is to keep track of your assignments. Don’t be the person who is constantly asking what the homework is. No one likes that person. That person gets ignored. Don’t be that person. 

3. Establishing Positive Relationships with Your Teachers

Your teachers are your friends. Treat them with kindness and respect even if you don’t really like them. For example, I hated one of my teachers (truly the most incompetent person I’ve ever met), but I was still nice to him and he bumped my final grade up from a B+ to an A-. Moral of the story: be nice to your teachers. Also, if your teachers have a good impression of you, they’ll be more likely to give you extensions on assignments and generally make your life easier. 

4. Learning How to Talk with Adults

You have to learn how to advocate for yourself. Once, I got the first step of an 8 part question wrong. Consequently, the rest of the problem was wrong. My teacher took off half credit for the entire problem. I lost about 15 points on an 80-something point test. When I got my test back, I asked him to give me points back on the questions that I got wrong but had the correct process. In the end, I convinced him that my score didn’t reflect my knowledge of the subject. He agreed and ultimately ended up giving me about 10-12 of the 15 (lost) points back on my test. It raised my grade significantly. Being able to have these sometimes difficult conversations with your teachers will only help you in the long term. 

5. Never Being Afraid to Send an Email

This one is two fold: one don’t have a stupid email like That’s just a bad idea. It was fine when you’re ten, but now you’re in high school. Eventually, you’ll likely be using your email to contact college admissions representatives and future employers. Give yourself a professional email. You should aim to include your first name and last name in your email address if possible. If you must include numbers, consider using the last two digits of the year you’ll graduate high school. Second: Check your email. As a high schooler, you should get into the habit of checking your email at least once per day. Lastly, err on the side of formality. Your teacher won’t be offended by an extra “please” or “thank you”, but they will be by the lack of such pleasantries. When in doubt, say it in the most polite way possible and move on. Remember the worst that can happen is your teacher says no. For example, I asked my APUSH teacher if there were any opportunities for extra credit via email. She told me no, but said she appreciated the politeness of my email. That was my worst-case scenario, and it wasn’t really that bad at all. 

6. Finding What Times You Work Best and Modifying Your Schedule Accordingly

I learned in my freshman year that I work best in the mornings. For me, my brain begins shutting down for the day at 1pm. From there, my concentration and pretty much everything else just gets steadily worse. By the time I get home at 4 o’clock on a normal day or 6 o’clock on a day with extracurriculars, I’m exhausted. Generally, I’ll only have energy for less taxing homework such as Spanish vocabulary worksheets, textbook notes, or easy readings for English class. I do this stuff first. Then I’ll try to go to bed as early as possible so I can wake up around 5:00-5:30AM to finish the more mentally taxing homework such as chemistry and math problem sets. I also make sure to always have at least 4 study halls per week each semester to ensure I’ll have at least an hour at school each day to get some work (or sleep) in. 

7. Learning How to Take Organized Notes

This is super important. It is the underlying foundation of your academic career. Students must be able to take their teacher’s words and the texts from the various sources (slide shows, textbooks, readings) and condense it into a useful study guide. Having good notes aids this process. 

8. Using Outside Resources

This is really helpful when you are struggling in a class. For example, in my AP Chemistry class, I always needed extra practice. I used the textbook and found an AP Chemistry test bank pdf online. Now, I had extra opportunities to practice and identify weak spots. For a history class, that could mean looking up timelines or articles to make sure you understand exactly what happened and why. If you don’t know the answer, look it up! Most teachers will appreciate that you tried to find the answer yourself and only came to them when you were stuck. That shows your teacher that you took initiative and care about your studies.

9. Paying Attention in Class or at least Attending Class

Most of us have to pay attention in class to understand what’s happening. For some people, they can go to class, fall asleep and still get straight As. I am not one of those people, at least, not in most subjects. I do love a good nap in Spanish though! Even if you don’t want to, just go to class. Even if you don’t pay attention to the vast majority of the lecture, at least you absorbed a tiny bit of information and got marked present. Sometimes that’s the best you can do, and that’s fine. 

10. Forming Mutually Beneficial Relationships with Classmates

This is so important! You need to make friends in your class. These are the people who you will create study guides with, quiz each other with before big tests, complete projects with, and more. These people don’t have to be your best friends, but they can be extremely useful. For example, I have a great friend, Sophie, who was in my US History class. Anytime I missed class, she sent me the notes from class, and when she was out, I sent her the notes. Over time, Sophie and I have become great friends, but it all really started with having Freshman World History together. 

Good luck!



I Broke My Shopping Ban

I have a confession.

I broke my shopping ban. 

Am I surprised? No, not really. 

Am I disappointed? Yes. 

Here’s what happened 

The First Time

My dear friend, Ben, came to visit and we purchased matching sweatshirts. I still think the sweatshirt is adorable, and it reminds me of good times. I don’t regret this purchase at all. Now, I definitely don’t need any more sweatshirts, but I love the reminder of my friend and the memories we made. Although souvenirs can just be wastes of money, resources, and space, I really like this one and think it’ll contribute positively to my life.  Pro Tip: don’t feel pressured to buy a souvenir for every trip you go on. If you see something you like and it’s practical, then I think you should get it. For example, when I went to Europe for the first time (a big deal for me), I didn’t actually bring back any souvenirs, and I don’t regret it at all. But for a simple trip, I got a sweatshirt. You do you! 

The Second Time

I made another impulse purchase of clothing. This time it was a dress from Target. Ultimately, I ended up wearing the dress (twice so far), and I really like it. It actually did fill a gap I had in my wardrobe for a comfortable, easy to wear dress that I actually enjoy wearing. I know I got caught up in a scarcity mindset because the dress kept selling out, so I let my brain trick me into thinking “I have to get this dress immediately before it sells out again!” Overall, I’m not proud of myself for succumbing to impulse buying, but I’m happy with my purchase. 

The Third Time

I was shopping for some double sided tape and kraft paper for my high school memories scrapbook that I’m making. Those were approved purchases, but my buying a 0.5 Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pen was not. This is the purchase I’m the most disappointed in myself in even though it was the cheapest. I have no need for another black gel pen. At this point, it’s just excessive. The worst part is that I haven’t even touched the new pen! In line with what I told myself earlier this month, I will not be purchasing anything from JetPens next month.

The Fourth Time

The last time I broke my shopping ban was buying these adorable greeting cards from Target. I literally have no excuse for myself. I was upset over an argument with my mom, and I let myself get tricked into emotional spending. I have made use of the cards by writing letters to my friends, but I really didn’t need these. 

The Takeaway

I am far from perfect (ofc) and still working on being a mindful consumer. I want to do and be better, and I’m working towards that. Part of that, is being very specific about my needs. For example, if I have a random thought for example “remember to purchase dish soap” then I add it to my running shopping list in my notes app. That way I always know exactly what I need to buy, so when I’m shopping whether that be online or in person, I can do my business then leave ASAP. This is all in effort to lessen my temptation to buy unnecessary items by decreasing my time shopping and browsing. 

I’m working on being more mindful. I encourage you to do so too!



What You Need to Know to Crush the SAT: Reading Edition

Honestly, the reading and writing part was the easiest for me. It’s also one of the hardest parts to prepare for (or for which to prepare if you’re really into grammar).

My First and Best Tip: 

Read, Read, Read!

You should practice reading high level articles, books, and such to prepare yourself. I’d recommend reading from the following publications

  • The New Yorker
  • The Atlantic
  • The New York Times (specially the Saturday Essays)
  • Foreign Affairs
  • The Council on Foreign Relations
  • The Washington Post
  • The Wall Street Journal

You should also challenge yourself by reading some fiction. Here are some books my English teacher recommended:

  • Wuthering Heights – Bronte
  • Invisible Man – Ellison
  • Infinite Jest – DF Wallace (This one is a beast at over a thousand pages!)
  • The House of Mirth – Wharton
  • Another Country – Baldwin
  • The Recognitions – Gaddis
  • Americanah – Adichie
  • A Gesture Life – Lee
  • The Good Earth – Buck

You may also want to review the SAT vocabulary words especially if you feel that you don’t have a very robust vocabulary.

Here’s a link to a list you should definitely check out by, one of my favorite websites for all things test prep.

You may also want to review grammar rules. Here’s the link to the book my school recommended.

To improve your grammar, try talking like you write. Often, we talk in a modern vernacular, but when we write, we do so in a different academic writing style. By attempting to talk as if you’re writing an academic paper, you force yourself to pay close attention to your grammar. I tend do this to make sure I avoid run-on sentences when speaking.

Good luck and remember the College Board IS the devil.





I Just Discovered Classical Country Music, and I Think I’m In Love


Sony Music Masterworks YOYOMA-album-cover

Not Our First Goat Rodeo, by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile

A few weeks ago, I had the house to myself. And as one does, I asked Alexa to play classical music.

Background: I’ve been really into classical music lately. Since quarantine, I’ve been listening to SO much music – but the constant flow of lyrics was beginning to feel oppressive. It felt like sensory overload – I wanted to listen to music but sans words. Words were too much; they required too much brain power. I can’t be the only one who occasionally feels this way.

Anyways, back to the original story, on like the third or fourth song, Alexa played “Waltz Whitman” by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. The song can best be described as blue grass classic … I think? Honestly, I don’t know the official genre, but I love this song SO MUCH!

It’s just really good. When the song picks up tempo, my heart soars along with it. It reminds me of texting a crush – that rush of dopamine when they text you. It’s just really good! So good.

Also, this is the *perfect* study music. It’s upbeat to keep one from falling asleep and has no lyrics to not distract one. Okay, but have you been writing an essay and ended up writing down the lyrics of the song instead of your actual, you know, essay?!? Cuz, um, same. This is why I try to avoid music with lyrics when studying. 

I looked around some more, and Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O’Connor, and Edgar Meyer actually made another album together.

Appalachia Waltz, by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor

I love these albums because it’s still beautiful instrumental music AND it isn’t reminiscent of the classical music I was conditioned to sleep from my years in daycare.