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On living in a cave

Quite some time ago, I gave up on being a well-informed citizen. I think it started when my parents became more and more polarized in their political opinions, my father becoming more conservative, my mother more liberal until they were both just more…INSANE. The crazy shit they said highlighted just how hard one has to work to find unbiased sources of information, and just how easy it is to get sucked in by rhetoric. They felt so passionately about things they were so painfully wrong about! But was I willing to work to make sure I was always well-informed? When I did, it just made me depressed and tired. The more you know, the angrier you become, it seemed. And what’s the point of being angry if you’re not going to ACT? And I am a million miles from being an activist. So I took to living in an information cave. I don’t watch or listen to or read the news, I don’t tweet or facebook or whateverthefuck new social media option is available (something about bath salts?), and if it weren’t for YOU people, I’d never find out about anything. Truly. Horrible things happen in the world and I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THEM. This is an amazing luxury.

But it’s not a responsible way to live. I mean, the government could creep on me and take away my rights and shit. So on New Year’s Day I suggested to Mr. Bunny that 2013 be The Year of Me Coming Out of My Cave.

Don’t do it, he said. Turns out he envies my obliviousness. He loves the fact that I am protected from many of the horrors of the world. Obviously I know enough about current events to know, like, TIME TO VOTE FOR PRESIDENT or whatever, and he tried to convince me that this is good enough. Unless I want to be angry and sad all the time. I thought about how frustrated I used to be by the anger + inaction combo. Well, maybe I’ll pick one issue and actually DO something, I suggested. But how to choose? Child hunger? Education? Civil liberties? Environmental issues? Just contemplating the list is upsetting. So I tabled the subject for the moment. Instead, I resolved to be kinder to my children. We saw how well that worked.

So, third time’s the charm. I have selected a new resolution for the year. 2013 will be the year that I master GEOGRAPHY. My knowledge of geography is appalling, like I don’t even quite know where all the United States are. Proof.

photo

Okay, I could have guessed a bunch more, but these were JUST the ones I was 100% confident about. I showed Mr. Bunny and was like Think you can beat me? And he was like, Yes. I know ALL the states. And it turns out he really does. I married me a smart one! And yeah, it’s pathetic. But I know a lot of other stuff, like brain anatomy, a lot better.

I figure in 12 months I can master all 7 continents and the countries therein, and perhaps even a smattering of major rivers and seas and other doo-dads, and maybe even some basics like is the population of Tokyo greater than the population of New York.

Good news, Canadian Friends! I have honored your nation with the first of my brain cells, and have already mastered several of your thirty-six cute little provinces.

No, for reals, I just did my test on North and Central American and I am kicking ASS. Except spelling doesn’t count. And…I decided to punt on the Lesser Antilles.I could get bogged down in that shit forever.

NA

2014! The year of the Lesser Antilles!

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. SRB #

    Try the “Countries of the World” quiz at sporcle.com – You even have to spell them correctly! Though it’s not completely up to date, it will make you simultaneously feel super smart and compelled to shoot yourself in the face. I’ve come within 4 countries of beating it, but West Africa bests me EVERY TIME.

    Good luck! MWAHAHAHA.

    February 5, 2013
  2. CJ #

    ha! So funny that you posted this!. Before A’s birth, hubs and I bought a map of the Us (the old school roll down kind from grade school walls) because we sure as hell couldn’t name most of the state capitals and the New England area states on the map. I vowed to be a smarty pants mom when it comes to US geography. I mean, where the hell are the smokey mountains anyway? HA!

    I do plan to start learning countries and when I do, watch out world! 🙂

    February 5, 2013
    • OMG, I don’t know where the smokey mountains are. *Cries* It’s hopeless.

      Of course, if someone told me, I could now at least be I KNOW WHERE THOSE STATES ARE.

      February 6, 2013
  3. When you get to Seychelles, wave HI to my brain. It left me all alone and it is spending time in the sun there, having all the exotic coctails it can get, which is a lot. I will never get it back to exercise…

    February 5, 2013
  4. Nice! Perhaps you will inspire Sugar, who is abysmal at that sort of thing. As in, when we were driving from Massachusetts to North Carolina in one day, I remarked that we were nearly to Virginia. Yeah, she groaned, but then we still have to to New Jersey. And I was like, where were you for the six hours we already spent in New Jersey, and also, wtf? At least she had the sense to realize how much prettier everything gets the second you cross the NC border.

    Meanwhile, she has taken to reading the international news, and then I, who am sort of well-informed, or at least think I am, find myself completely flummoxed by casual remarks at dinner over unrest in places I last remember hearing about in sixth grade, the year of the fierce teacher who accepted no grade under 100% on our geography tests. I had to come back on the first day of summer break to retake the South America one, I think because I mixed up Guyana and Suriname. We did have some great mnemonics, as I remember. Shake Djibouti, shake shake Djibouti….

    February 5, 2013
    • Guyana and Suriname! I know where those ARE! But Sugar, please, stop with the international news. That’s just showing off.

      February 6, 2013
  5. I’m awful at geography…. Maybe I’ll come out of my cave someday soon too. Envious and proud of your progress – it’s only the 2nd month of 2013 – you will have smashed this resolution by Easter!!

    February 5, 2013
  6. Glad you are paying attention to our 36 provinces, Bunny. You know what’s important. CANADA is important. You can retire now, you got all the provinces right.

    February 6, 2013
  7. Misfit Mrs. #

    I can rock that Midwest belt, but East of the Mississippi I am lst. Oh how times have changed. I make the Mr. tell me the news. It’s the only way I stay current and stay in my own cave. Very proud of progress. Can’t wait for the formerly known bits of Russia. My one tip was to keep the ‘stans straight, Uzbekistan oozes from the river that borders it. Seriously helpful shit.

    February 6, 2013
  8. I suck at geography and have no desire to improve – I am super glad that Australia doesn’t have 50 states! (I had to Google how many states you have… Sad). It is an admirable goal.

    I already have projects enough to fill at least 12 hours a day, and only about 2 hours a day where I can actually do them. But one day when I have time (ha!!) I’d like to take up my calculus studies again. Yes, I am a nerd.

    I enjoy my cave. Like you, the news makes me angry/depressed. Plus I don’t have time to keep up to date in any case!

    February 6, 2013
  9. Oh my…so many things to respond to here!

    Happy fellow cave-liver right here. I simply don’t have the energy to get worked up about things (it’s saved me from a few internet wars over the last year or so, since I look at them and go “eh, can’t be bothered” whereas previously I’d get involved and get all worked up and unhappy and it was not pleasant).

    I’m pleased to see you got my home state (WI), and also that I’m not the only one who sucks at New England geography. Many Europeans don’t know where Wisconsin is, so I usually gloss it with “north of Chicago, south of Canada”, and then they nod knowingly.

    You know, when I was a kid, I thought geography was about learning what state/country went where, and the names of the continents, and stuff. It always mystified me that you could study geography in college, or that it could be a profession. I mean, once you’ve memorized all the countries (and there’s only something like 250 of them), what’s left to do? It’s not like countries arise or disappear all the frequently any more. I think most people could handle the current rate of about one per year, in terms of learning the changes.

    February 6, 2013
    • THEY CHANGE? Shit. 2015: The year of learning what changed.

      February 6, 2013
  10. Since I’m essentially a pacifist, I also feel the need to turn off the news every time it mentions violence, i.e. after a median of five minutes. Not-quite-four is a little young to be explaining war, torture, and death. (“Some people made a very bad plan and hurt each other and it was not a good idea….”)

    We had to memorize all the states- and their capitals!- in 7th grade; I promptly forgot them. I’m still pretty shaky on the deep South and the upper Western Midwest. I know, shameful. Also… there are *lesser* Antilles? WHAT?

    February 6, 2013
  11. You’re going to be unbackable favourite next time you play Trivial Pursuit. I am routinely flummoxed by the blue questions and it is embarrassing. All we learned in geography was cloud names and rainfall patterns and the occasional foray into earthquakes/volcanoes. TV is the only reason I know anything about American states and their capitals. Thank god we only have seven(ish).

    February 6, 2013
  12. Ana #

    Dude! You pretty much missed all of the states I’ve lived in (no one could possible miss TX). I was pretty hopeless with the midwest (never been anywhere but IL) until my MIL got B a puzzle with the states in it…she didn’t know where any of the states went so the whole week we were visiting she would call me down to help with the puzzle. Now I’m a rockstar at the US States. I need a puzzle of Africa now.

    February 6, 2013
  13. I did this very thing once! I decided that surely, at least, if nothing else, I could remember the names of the countries and spent a lot of paid employment hours gazing at maps of Africa and so forth. Sadly, I now realise you have to keep revisiting the stored information. Otherwise it ‘s gone gone gone, in my experience.

    However, bent on this course as you are, I must recommend the 32 counties of Ireland. Only 32! And some have funny names like Tipperary. And then if you could list them so I can learn them too, that’d be GREAT. :-/

    February 7, 2013
  14. Yay for setting manageable goals!
    Also there’s an awesome essay by Barbara Kingsolver (I’m pretty sure it’s the first essay in her book, Small Wonder) about how hard it is to live in this era when we can learn about all of the horrendously awful things happening all over the world, but we can’t really do much about any of them. No wonder we want to hide in a cave.

    February 9, 2013
  15. Yay for states and provinces! My problem is everything east of Poland: because I am OLD, when I was in school it was just a big wash of red on the map, labeled USSR. Geography lesson? Done and done. Kids today have it way harder, lol! I bet they even have to learn to spell Kyrgyzstan.

    I hear you about living in a cave. I try to stay informed, but it just seems like everything is awful all the time, and I just want to shut it all off and go back to making shit up in the kitchen.

    February 11, 2013
  16. Kate #

    You should play Sporcle on the internet. It is addictive and competetive. We all can list all the states in U.S against the clock now. We are Irish! Really good for geography.

    February 12, 2013
  17. I can sing the 50 states in alphabetical order. That may be the extent of my geography wizardry. This is a noble goal you have… I’m constantly feeling like I should know more in the way of internationally politics or geography or something. Perhaps I should set a smaller goal first… hey, anyone know of a song with the countries in alphabetical order? 😉

    February 20, 2013
  18. Here’s a little geography quiz for the Middle East:

    http://www.rethinkingschools.org/just_fun/games/mapgame.html

    It makes me feel more informed.

    February 23, 2013

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