(Kinda like “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief…” only different.)
About a month ago I had a bit of a laugh as well as a bit of a shudder as I realized anew that Google tracks queries.
Sometimes I think there should be some kind of flag that shows up on your computer searches, if you’re a writer. Some kind of universal symbol that says, “NOT A WEIRDO. I SWEAR!” I mean, so what if I need to look up something that knocks people unconscious? Don’t look at me like that when I’m researching flunitrazepam (Rohypnol). (Which, for my purposes, was utterly useless, and darned disturbing to read about.) And if I spend too long on a page describing blunt head trauma, well… I could be a nurse. Right?
How about all the times you catch me eavesdropping?
I need a T-shirt then. “NOT A STALKER. DISINTERESTED IN YOU PERSONALLY, JUST BORROWING YOUR MANNERISMS.”
Being shy works to my advantage these times — most of the time I don’t get caught eavesdropping. I have my head down, my hands and eyes engaged with something else. Also: bathrooms are really good places for eavesdropping, and women seem to forget that all those stalls make a great echo chamber. (Apparently in bathrooms, most men don’t speak at all. Or, at least they don’t make eye contact. I’m going to go with E. Lockhart’s vision of being a Fly on the Wall…) If you can stand to hang out in bathrooms, you do hear the oddest things. But, especially in the bathroom… don’t get caught just hanging out. That whole “WEIRD” label is really hard to shake, no matter that you promise to put the people to whom you are listening in a book.
The Patriot Act really put pressure on librarians to record what patrons were checking out, so they could suspect everyone of everything. Librarians: can I just tell you how sorry I am about that? I totally understand that you sometimes want to tell SOMEBODY about the weird people asking you completely random questions (My buddy Jac at the Seattle Library gets some SERIOUSLY weird ones), but I so appreciate you not calling the Homeland people every day on all the writers you meet.
Okay, so I’m not silly enough to try to check out The Anarchist’s Handbook, despite the fact that this is my Constitutional right — (you can read it online, of course, so don’t bother worrying your librarian – just keep in mind: GOOGLE IS WATCHING), but a great reference book, Hallucinogenic Plants, by Richard Evan Schultes (Golden Press, NY, 1976) now lives next to my Everyday Life in the Middle Ages — owned and on my shelf, so I can leave my “NOT A JUNKIE” shirt at home.
It just got to the point where it was too hard to prove what I was not.
(What? I sound PARANOID??? And? Is that a drug-related …oh. Never mind.)
Some days, it just occurs to me that it’s really weird to be a writer.