My mind sank right along with the Titanic

Many people got a good laugh this week over a few unfortunate souls who openly admitted on Twitter that they thought the Titanic was simply a movie. I might be among those who chuckled, but then I instantly thought to myself “I wonder what they were thinking about when this was discussed in school?”. It’s a game I play with myself every time it seems I’ve somehow slept through a gigantic lesson on life that the entire rest of the world took detailed notes on. I was 23 years old when I found out Alaska isn’t an island. (If I am just breaking this news to you, trust me I understand your surprise). Where was my mind during that day in Elementary school? Wherever it was it enjoyed it so much, that it traveled back to that sacred spot the same day that we learned about rivers. 

A few weeks ago I was in the car with my sister and two of our children for an ungodly amount of time. I don’t even know which child it was who asked this question because the entire trip blurs together in one gigantic ball of whining/crying/screaming child that morphs in shape between the ages of 1 to 5. Some nameless child, possibly one of mine, asked “where do rivers come from?”. I hate that moment when your kid ask you something you don’t quite know the answer to, but you’re hyper aware of the fact that you should know the answer to it. If I owned a watch there would never be a time I’d be so alerted to the ticking of the hands. Sometimes I admit that I don’t know the answer. Electricity? No clue. Stop lights? Ummm… vague understanding. Batteries? Please stop asking so many questions. But rivers? This one I should be able to handle. Should. Except that my mind seems to go on these wonderful vacations at important lessons throughout my life leaving my body to suffer the prolonged consequences. 

“Rivers come from oceans” I told nameless blob of a child. 

“What?” sister screamed. “Rivers don’t come from oceans! They go to oceans!”

The worst part of this entire conversation is I’m almost certain I had asked my boyfriend a few months before this moment where rivers come from. My mind sailed off and returned only in time to hear the word “ocean”. 

So where does it go, that mind of mine? It has a mind of it’s own, it seems. I thought about it the other day during the quick walking I do that I like to call “running”. The main themes I could come up with are 1) Bugs. I think a lot about bugs and what it would be like to be one. 2) Other people’s lives. Why do their minds get to stay in one place and mine must always leave? 3) Language. Language fascinates me more than anything I recall at this moment. More than a river created by an ocean that surrounds the island of Alaska. 

I love to imagine where words came from. That very moment where someone held up some new found discovery for the world to behold and announced “this is called an earwig”. (Sometimes my worlds collide and I think about the language that surrounds bugs). Then I start thinking of how many people must have been plagued by earwigs before they had such a common nickname. Before I know it, I’m imagining what earwigs are called in Spanish, Russian, French and BOOM I probably just missed the part of life where I find out the titanic was an actual ship. 

In some ways having a mind that travels is a blessing. It’s a never ending adventure sailing a sea of infinite possibilities. But it’s certainly caused me countless moments of embarassment and even horror when I’ve discovered just how important some information is that my sabatical’d  mind has missed. 

None more important than this. 

A few years ago I was at a music festival when Evan’s child sized bladder sent us sprinting for a porta potty.Once inside I flung my purse in the handy purse holder, I depantsed my child with motherly grace, and I plopped her on the pot.

“What’s that?” she asked pointing at where my purse was nestled.

“That’s a spot they give mommies to place their purses so we don’t have to put them on the dirty ground where they’d get all gross” I replied. Evan was just old enough to start identifying letters which turned everything into one gigantic spelling lesson.

“What’s P-L-E-A-S-E’ spell?” she inquired. 

Oh boy. This is my cue to grab my belongings and run before she can pre-school stutter over every letter she sees in that porta potty. I do one quick scan of the germ chamber to find the sign she’s eyeing so I can spit out the words before she lists off every letter in the alphabet twice, mispronouncing half of them. I fling my purse over my shoulder, open the door to the fresh air, and read the mystery sign outloud to her:

It says “Please don’t place toilet paper in the urinal”. 

In the what? Why would they put that sign right above the nifty purse holder? And where was this magical toilet paper free urinal they were mentioning? 

If you were shocked about the Alaska thing, you’re really not going to believe this one. They don’t put purse holders in porta potties. Those are actually a urinal that men pee in. I spent twentysome years of my life, numerous music festials and outings, endless trips to porta potties placing my purse inside urinals. 

Never have I wished I had a sedentary brain more than in that moment. So I’m quick to forgive those who have forgotten a few facts about the Titanic. 



  • Megan, that was hilarious! I can so relate to the traveling brain thing. I especially notice it when talking to attorneys or accountants about serious issues like wills and retirement. I remember on the bus to 1st grade looking out the window and wondering “how in the world do these pictures get from your eyes to your brain?” This was followed by time in purgatory listening to kids stumble over the very boring AND VERY sexist Dick and Jane series!


  • Oh sweetie. That HAS to be the most disgusting thing I’ve heard all day… On the upside, I’m glad Beth was there to yell at you about rivers vs oceans. So when I was accepted to UA Fairbanks, did you really think you’d have to take a boat to come see me? Or did you figure out the Alaska thing while you were younger? I could understand a kid thinking it was an island since whenever there’s a map of the US they float it like Hawaii – usually below California. (By the way, that is NOT where Alaska OR Hawaii actually are…)


    • I figured out the Alaska thing when I was 23 years old and my roommate told me how long it takes to DRIVE to Alaska. I asked him how long the ferry ride is and there was a very long, awkward pause before he said “you think Alaska is an island because of the map, don’t you?” It happens.


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