The sixth in a series looking at U.S. life and culture through its idioms. View previous entries.
To pin (something/someone) down = to get exact or specific information on/from
There were a few things I was sure I was before coming to the United States: blond, big, and Uruguayan. However, all of these things, which were part of my identity, seemed to blur and fade upon my arrival here.
The first time I ever stopped to think consciously about fitting my ethnicity and skin color into a category was on the plane from Uruguay to Miami, when I was asked to fill out a customs form (if you ever travel to the U.S., you will have to fill in one of those). It gave me options for Latina, Hispanic or White. I didn’t know which to pick and eventually made a random decision to placate a less-than-patient agent at the airport.
After having been in this country for about five months, I have since given the question a lot more thought than I ever thought I would.