"Liszkay continues to dazzle with fresh and funny characters from beginning to end." -Daniel B. Oliver, author of The Long Road
by Patti Liszkay
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Can you, for example, name all of these states without Googling?
Not that I couldn't name all fifty United States in a pinch, and if you asked me if a state was north, south, east. or west, I could tell you...though now I see that I didn't know exactly how north, south, east or west.
I learned of my geographic ignorance a few days ago when I was indulging in my election season past-time of checking the Presidential polls on Fivethirtyeight seventeen times a day. (Why I still do this I cannot even say, considering how accurate the polls were last time around).
Anyway, there's a page on the Fivethirtyeight site that offers daily a number of possible electoral outcomes based on mathematical probability, or some such esoteric concept. On this page there are maps of the potential outcomes, such as:
It was a moment of epiphany: It hit me that so many of the states were just sort of vague disembodied outlines on the map in my mind, even the states I've been to numerous times; in other words, I might know a place, but I still couldn't find it on a map.
And look at Illinois (which I mentally interchanged with Chicago, probably because that's the only part of Illinois I've spent time in): it touches Kentucky, which is the actual South. And Illinois is likewise just a small edge of Kentucky away from...Tennessee? How interesting, how enlightening, once the light bulb of interest has snapped on.
I've heard it said that most people once they graduate from school don't conquer any new mental horizons such as learning a new instrument, a new sport, a new language, a new art, a new mathematical subject.
However I've decided that this graduate is going to conquer something new: I am going to learn where every United State is located on the map. To this end I ran off a passel of blank U.S. maps and every day I'm going to study and give myself map quizzes until I have all the states correctly labeled. Oh, and I'm going to learn all the state capitals, too, because I don't know all of those either. What's the capital of Missouri? Mississippi? South Dakota? South Carolina? New Mexico? New Hampshire?
Ask me next week.