Why I Suck at Geography

6 Feb

I do.  I’ve been trying to hide it for years, but it’s the bold, dirty truth: I suck at Geography.   Of the United States, to be specific.

The thing is, I moved a lot when I was young.   In 1st grade I went to a local Christian school, where they taught Geography in 2nd grade.   But I moved to a school in the next town over for 2nd grade and there, they were going to teach geography in 3rd grade.   Just when I was ripe with anticipation for 3rd grade, I bopped back to a public school in the town I just came from… where unfortunately they had just taught Geography in 2nd grade. 

I know it must seem silly.  You must think that I have run into U.S. Geography plenty of times in my life and that this constant interaction should suffice for competency in the subject.   Well, I haven’t, and it doesn’t.

I did, however, study South American Geography in 8th grade.  I got the downlow on all those big bad countries and capitals – and meanwhile found out for the first time in a conversation in the same grade that Washington D.C. was not actually in Washington State.

Some time ago, Dave came home from the local art store with gifts in tow.   He came bearing a huge smirk and a placemat that sported a map of the United States.  He knew I was embarrassed about the situation and thought that if I ate off of a picture of it (because I eat so often) that I would eventually be a wizard at it. 

But that placemat, paired with the one listing the U.S. Presidents in chronological order (gotten for himself) made my dining room look like a preschool.  So I tucked it under the bar.

When I was in college, a friend (let’s call him Bart) was disgusted with my lack of competency in both geography and history that he sent me links to online games to help me learn the states and capitals.    Unfortunately, I was in the midst of my World of Warcraft addiction at the time and was much  more interested in the geography of Azeroth.

Now, I’m not a complete moron- I’m aware of states and capitals out of sheer frequency of encounter.  But I have to admit that if you handed me a map of the U.S. and asked me to fill in the names of states, I would probably jumble together the order of the ones between Pennsylvania and California.  Above and below those, I’m not too shabby.

I could have easily sat down and made a point to study them, and I have many times.  But honestly, I just get so bored and tend to wander onto web pages like “Most Frequently Misspelled Words” and “Most Common Grammatical Mistakes” instead. 

So I’m sorry, America, that I still tend to struggle with where exactly everything is inside you.   But sometimes when I think about it, the earth is all our land and borders are silly, manmade invisible lines as if drawn down the middle of two siblings’ sides of the bedroom.   So maybe I can just say that I’m not that into learning where the borders are because I choose to disregard the validity of their claims.  Is that hippie of me?  Or is that just an excuse for sucking? 

Perhaps a little of both.


14 Responses to “Why I Suck at Geography”

  1. theteachingwhore February 6, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Funny! There are too many states. I wonder if you had grown up in Canada you would remember the provinces. Aren’t there only 10 of them?


    • Jackie February 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

      10 and three territories. And I got that covered in 6th grade. I’m pretty much a Canadian queen. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!


  2. travelingmad February 6, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    LOL. Funny post. I think your excuses are some of both.

    I only know the names of all the states because we learned a cute little song about them in the 4th grade. It was called 50 nifty or something like that (very helpful). But I could in no way fill in a blank map without a lot of guess work!

    Glad I’m not alone. Thanks for sharing.


    • Jackie February 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

      Oh, man – there’s a song for it? I can learn anything if I’ve got a song. I’ll google it right away 😉 thanks!


  3. Lori February 6, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    My roommate and I solved our geography dilemma (That we didn’t know the geography of anything outside of the Americas very well) with this bad boy: http://www.amazon.com/World-Map-Vinyl-Shower-Curtain/dp/B0009MK89M – but instead of it facing out (so that anyone who comes into our bathroom can see it), we use it as the shower liner and the map is on the INSIDE, so you can study it while shampooing your hair. The second, outer curtain is a respectable, cloth curtain and our guests are none the wiser (except those who stay over and shower at our place).

    We proceeded to ask our friend from Turkey if Turkey is part of Asia or Europe, or even the middle east for that matter. Turns out, it depends. Go figure.


    • Jackie February 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

      That is an absolutely amazing suggestion, Lori. Seriously, I think I’m going to do this. Thanks!


  4. Kendall February 6, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    You know how on the United States maps in grade school Alaska was always in a box off on its own? It wasn’t until I was 18 or so that I discovered it was not an island. My sister said something about driving to Alaska and I replied “And how would you go about doing that? It’s not like they have a Chunnel!” Lori’s right. The shower curtain map is the way to go! Discreet, practical, informative.


    • Jackie February 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

      LOL There are a lot of Americans confused about 1) how many states there are and 2) Where Alaska and Hawaii fit in to the mix. I’m stoked about the shower curtain idea. Thanks so much for paying me a visit 🙂


  5. Blockader February 7, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    I avoided Shakespear that that way. It was taught in grade 10 until the year I got there when it was changed to be part of grade nine. So when it’s asked, to be or not to be? I just shrug and answer, “umm, Maybe”.


    • Jackie February 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      LOL well maybe you’re lucky – you haven’t had the chance to make up your mind about Shakespeare, whereas millions of other students made up their minds that they hated it, thanks to terrible teaching methods for such a wonderful subject. Perhaps one day you’ll give it a go? Maybe a Shakespeare shower curtain is in order. Shower curtains are now my solution for everything.


  6. pegoleg February 7, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    The shower curtain map is a great idea! And what about the multiplication tables on those anti-slip runners on the floor of the tub? The Declaration of Independence worked in soap-scum on the tiles (important bits underlined in hair for emphasis)?


    • Jackie February 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

      lol yes, thanks Peg – my shower will be a paradise of learning.


  7. Ker-Bear February 8, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I have to laugh… a month ago my mom made a comment about how unfortunate it is that a wedding we’re going to is in April, not May. You see, the wedding is in South Carolina. The May trip is to Missouri for my niece’s wedding. My mom thought it would be SUPER if we could just drive down South once. Check your map, SC & MO aren’t exactly neighbors!

    But I can only expect this from the lady who previously headed to Kentucky… got to VA, spent the night & proceeded to end up back in PA the next morning. Missed the signs that said North, I guess. So yeah… her sense of direction is non-existent. The 2 of you shouldn’t travel together! 🙂


    • Jackie February 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

      haha awww that’s exactly like my problem. how embarrassing 😦


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