Doing the same thing but in different places

Hanna Brooks Olsen
4 min readDec 8, 2022

It’s a weird time to be a writer because there are vanishingly few places to write.

Photo by Abigail Ducote on Unsplash

A version of this originally appeared in my ~newsletter~ .

Every time I move apartments, I take a moment to try to remember my last shower. In the hot, steamy cubicle, trying not to slip and fall into what would become my porcelain coffin, I look around and think “this is your last time doing this, here on the 10th floor of this cinderblock apartment complex, temporarily useless and unreachable to the world.”

And then without fail, I forget.

Trying to call these memories back now — on D street, in Maple Park, on 8th Avenue — it’s like my brain knew that writing them was not actually that important. Because it’s really not. Every North American shower is basically the same save for a few minor differences. Sometimes it’s a hotel where the floor is suspiciously sticky. Sometimes it’s in a KOA bathroom with flip-flops on. Sometimes it’s the best part of a day and sometimes it’s in such a hurry that you can barely feel your hair get wet. If there’s hot water, plumbed right to your house, it’s a miracle that we just expect to work every single time.

It’s the same thing in a different place. It’s the same feeling in a different time.

After 20 (!!!) years of writing professionally to some degree of another, that’s sort of how the work hits these days. I’m here, hunched over the computer, doing basically the same thing but in different places. Today I’m writing about educational policy. A few years ago, I’ve written about the minimum wage. Years before that, I wrote about exercise equipment and skincare and live music. The same but also different.

Same me, different topics. Different physical spaces — right now I’m at a sports bar on a Tuesday afternoon watching soccer, but I’ve written in a freezing office in New York City and on an airplane to San Francisco and in a double-wide trailer in rural Oregon — and different digital spaces, too.

The internet is a big place and, evidently, a nomadic one, too.

I, along with all of the writers I’ve met in the last decade, am getting slowly backed away from our little clubhouse of Twitter, where we met up to meet jokes and share…



Hanna Brooks Olsen

I wrote that one thing you didn’t really agree with.