Maybe you've seen this link before, the game in which you drag and drop the U.S. states into their proper location. My parents sent it to me this week and suggested I let the kids try it. Kids, schmids. I spent a ridiculous amount time trying it myself, battering my self-esteem and calling into question the credentials of every social studies teacher I've ever had. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person–so how is it I am 36 years old and cannot locate New Jersey within 287 miles?
(I did, however, in a dazzling display of mediocre geographical skills, positively nail Texas and Florida. The lesson in that is that you wouldn't want me as your navigator unless you're driving through a state with a significantly identifiable hump.)
Here's my theory: unless you're a geography buff, you tend to be most familiar with the areas in which you live or around which you've traveled at length. For example, I can get a spot-on perfect score on any state that contains an SEC school. I once lived in Chicago, so I can correctly place the states that border the Great Lakes. I've traveled a lot around Colorado, so I can usually get the western states in their spot.
I'm of absolutely no use in New England. It always surprises me to realize how far east Pennsylvania is, and I couldn't even begin to tell you how Connecticut, Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Vermont all fit together.
I'm not much better with the Midwest. I always get Ohio and Iowa mixed up (even though they're nowhere close to each other–it's all those dang vowels in the name). And it always surpises me that Illinois touches Kentucky; it just doesn't seem like it should, you know?
And I couldn't tell you why, but it feels to me that Oregon should be on top of Washington, not the other way around. I know, that makes no sense. But I'm a geography-by-emotional-intuition kind of girl, a trait which, you can imagine, my husband finds especially adorable on long road trips.
So, do you think I'm right? Do you American readers have parts of the country you can place perfectly, but other parts that confound you completely? And if so, which ones? And is there anyone–anyone–out there who actually understands how New England fits together?
(By the way, it took MANY tries–and a conscious effort at leaving my Oregon/Washington emotional baggage at the door–but I finally managed to score a 90%. It was the best I could do. What was your score?)