So Your Real Home’s in Your Chest

“Oh, you’re not really from DC.” I was sitting at the dinner table at my Lisbon hostel, chatting with a group of my fellow travelers. She was another student, from California but in Copenhagen for the spring. “You just go to school there.”

She had a certain point—and to be honest, I mostly said I was from DC because it was easier than explaining to Europeans where Oregon was—but at the same time I was a little bothered by the assertion. The man to my right had introduced himself as Matt from Brooklyn, but he had only moved to New York about six months prior. I had been in DC for nearly four times that long, even considering the few weeks each year when I left to make the trek back west and the months I’d been in France. At what point did DC start being home? Continue reading →


My Bus

I’m waiting at the bus stop—my bus stop, as I sometimes think of it. Well, not my bus stop, since my bus stop is right outside my apartment, but my other bus stop. The one I waited at, two nights a week (sometimes three times), all summer long, often the only one there because there really aren’t so many people waiting for a bus out of downtown at 11 o’clock at night. My bus stop.

It’s funny. I’m coming from a completely different situation, transferring from the metro after getting drinks with some friends further up the red line. Usually when I’m at this stop, I’m coming from work—this is the most convenient bus stop to the restaurant where I used to staff events. As I sit and wait, I dig out my headphones and feel the familiar weariness settle in, the feeling that comes from being downtown at 11 p.m. on a Thursday but also the weariness of having spent six hours smiling at people as they get on the elevator, which I haven’t done for months now. They’re weariness echoes. The ghost of weariness past. Continue reading →

Please, Call Me “Ma’am”

Yes Ma'am, No Ma'amWhen I was a freshman in high school, I walked into first period one day to hear a senior girl angrily recounting to her friends something that had happened at the grocery store the day before. She was so mad, she said. She couldn’t believe the cashier would say that to her. His offense? He had addressed her as “ma’am.”

Growing up in Oregon, “sir” and “ma’am” weren’t really part of my vocabulary, but it hasn’t escaped my notice that most women on the west coast don’t exactly take kindly to the title. A friend remarked on Facebook a while back that she wasn’t sure how to feel about being “ma’am”-ed; a high school ex once asked me what I would do if someone called me “ma’am.” (“Um… I don’t know, probably nothing?”) When I surveyed some friends, I got plenty of negative reactions to the word (including this gif). The internet is full of articles by and about women who hate the phrase. One of my favorite singers even brought it up on Twitter recently:

And yet I just can’t bring myself to hate it. Continue reading →