About Sarah Kate Neall

Sarah Kate Neall is from Signal Mountain, Tennessee. When not mourning the long-ago loss of her Southern accent, she tries instead to convince people that they should call her by her double name. She lives in Washington, DC.


As a high schooler, I laid out my uniform every single night before school. When, at the school where I teach, spirit days for Homecoming Week dictated that teachers dress as they did in high school, I got to thinking about my first habit.

Painting of a GPS uniform by Maria Matthews. Courtesy of biddingforgood.com

The uniform dresses came in any color, but each had the same basic elements: collar fastened with a thin black grosgrain ribbon, front pockets, seemingly innumerable, non-functioning buttons. The best were the hand-me-down belts, cracked leather worn soft and pliable from so many mornings and afternoons encircling waists.

The night before my first day of school, I laid out these items with a thrill. A shiny-faced eleven-year-old with braces and a too-tight ponytail, I was like. so. excited. Budding type-A, list-making, control freak that I was, I channeled that fuzzy euphoria into the practical act of planning. Dress, shorts, belt, bow, running shoes, socks, all on the desk chair, now a limp scarecrow, woefully inadequate to absorb the force of my enthusiasm, but helpful toward actually getting to sleep that night. Laying out the ensemble expressed my excitement, could not diminish it, but somehow contained it. Continue reading