Some of you know that I am reasonably good at navigation. Other than an occasional east-west problem (which I really can’t explain), I can find my way around.

This stems from a terror of not knowing where I am, or how to get out of where I am into more familiar territory. My mother had me navigating on family road trips almost as soon as I could grasp the concept of a map, and it’s always been exciting to see where you are in relation to where you’ve been. She also has a history of losing the car, or not doing so well on small-scale navigation- a story (sorry, mom) :

A few years ago, I was home for a summer vacation, and we went to a play at the Guthrie theater (the new one). We left from a slightly different door than we came in, and she had a small tizzy where she said “I don’t even know where the car is! This is gonna take forever!” and I said “Mother, I’ve been your daughter my entire life. I CAN ALWAYS FIND THE CAR.” And I did. And she glared at me suspiciously and said “Do you mean to tell me that you developed your navigation skills OUT OF SELF DEFENSE?” and the truth is that yes, I did.

So, really, I’m not finding Central London that difficult. I studied Google maps EXTENSIVELY before I left. I Street-Viewed the route from the train station to the dorms (not that it helped that much, because GETTING to the point where the street view was useful took a little work). I even google-street-viewed the route to the hotel in Paris from the Metro station. And that was a trip, let me tell you, internets.

Today we had a three hour break between the end of class and the beginning of the panel discussion. I wanted to go to the Museum of London again to finish seeing everything, and another classmate wanted to go, too. So we went. I got us there with no difficulty and got us back to school with no difficulty. She was like “How do you do this thing!” and I was like “Skillz, I has them Also I hate being lost. So I avoid it as much as I can.”

(To be completely honest, it’s not a difficult navigation problem. You leave school, turn left, and walk a bit, and there are.)

Now, the frusterating thing is when people (and it’s usually guys) who palin don’t believe that I can possibly know where I’m going or how to get there. There were a couple of knuckleheads who decided I was WRONG AND WRONG about how to get out of St. Pancras, and then ended up having to jump a wall while I jumped the taxi queue. And then they got all patronizing about it when I was like “you were twelve kinds of wrong.” (“YOU WERE ALSO WRONG.” “Really wasn’t.” “I AM CONVINCED THAT WE WOULD HAVE ENDED AT THE ASS END OF THE WORLD.” “Your conviction means nothing IF YOU’RE WRONG.”) (And I was right, too. Believe you me, I KNOW THE SHORTEST ROUTE HOME FROM ANY POINT IN THAT STATION.)

I hate new people. I really do.

(But I’m not bitter.)


(Sorry, mom.)


Anyway, armed with a good map, a reasonable set of observation skills (street signs tend to be on building, not ON THE STREET AS GOD INTENDED), some memory of where you’ve been, a bit of fearlessness (the worst thing that can happen is you have to ask someone directions OH NOES) and not being unwilling to admit you’re wrong and turn back (which also leads into being willing to not worry too much about looking stupid (though I have been known to make the block on a backtrack when I want to avoid looking too stupid)) you too can navigate London. Or even Paris!