Essay Online

Search History

I am coming unglued.

By Vanessa A. Bee

  • October 10, 2022
In our Search History series, writers expose the disparate webpages in their recent past.

I want to make my browser history available to all my potential friends and lovers. Not because it has substantive value, but because new acquaintances could use it to evaluate the level of unhinged-ness for which they should be holding space at this time. I say level of unhinged-ness, because this is a matter of degree in all relationships. 

I know that a database of my internet searches probably already exists. I know there are scholars who would probably love to explain to me why three-quarters of my Instagram feed now consists of creepily precise ads and how the fault rests squarely with Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and the nerds who cofounded Google. But in this column. we’re keeping it fun, we’re keeping it cool, we’re keeping it light! I’m making a database that’s more social than exploitative.

vanessa a bee home bound

I respect you too much as a reader and as a potential friend and/or lover to not lead with the fact that I have typed in those cursed words enough times for the search engine to generate a quick-access icon that takes me straight to the juice. I’m not proud of it! But at the time I am writing this, fewer than two weeks stand between me and the publication of my first book. I am coming unglued. Is the book going to get coverage? Is it reaching enough early readers? Will it resonate with the people for whom I wrote it? 

Google lovingly pulls up the same damn results it showed me yesterday: eight or nine Goodreads ratings, three trade reviews, an array of bookstore and library pages, and, to my dismay, a list of reference books about horses. The equestrian material was most definitely written by another Vanessa Bee, but Google continues to attribute it to me despite my multiple customer service reports. (Girl, if you’re reading this: I beg!)

[redacted name] divorce

Someone I went to grad school with posted a funny meme in an Instagram story, a quick haha of the “single on the town” variety, which I thought nothing of until, minutes later, it occurred to me that this acquaintance had not posted photos of their spouse in a hot minute. So, I did what anybody would in my shoes: immediately searched their name for the mention of divorce, with no success, then spent four uninterrupted minutes scrolling down their Facebook feed in search of a crucial pandemic announcement, and when that failed, combed their respective Facebook friend lists to see if the other appeared. The results: Gone! Poof! Nada! Mystery solved and Godspeed to all parties involved.

prevent overnight leaks

Few things sadden me more than finding my nine-month-old with dried piss on his right flank under a humid pajama onesie and a slightly foul-smelling wearable blanket. Technically, I’m not the one finding the leaks. My husband handles wake-up time during the week. But it’s still a jarring update! It makes me imagine accusations that I’m a neglectful mother, even though I generally have healthy self-esteem about motherhood, and even though overnight leaks are a fact of infancy. Most importantly, the baby gives nary a hoot and just seems happy to hang out again after an eleven-hour stretch apart. After clicking through a few links, I conclude that we should try sizing up in diapers. 

covid vaccine near me

I still cannot believe Joe Biden, for-real-for-real, declared the pandemic over when I personally know several people who contracted the coronavirus for the second or third times this summer. Denial as policy! That’ll end well. 

Who knows how long the vaccines will be offered for free, so I am mapping out options to get the bivalent booster as soon as possible — preferably two weeks before my in-person book tour begins. Moderna still being That Girl, though, means the District of Columbia’s supply of that specific adult booster has dwindled fast. Eventually, I track down a pharmacy in Columbia Heights that assures me a Moderna shipment is on its way next week and make a mental note to drop in.

baingan bartha 

My husband and I are ordering Indian cuisine from one of our favorite spots in D.C. — Pappe restaurant hive, rise up! — and I am in the mood for something light and vegetarian. Unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me remember if “baingan bartha” is the name of that beautiful eggplant dish. (It is.)

cousine bette

As the French-citizen-in-residence of my friend groups, I usually get a request for recommendations when one of them is imminently shipping off to Paris. Given that I am not from Paris, any number of online resources would probably generate more hip suggestions. But I am flattered by the ask and loath to be replaced by some cooler French friend, so I do what I can to help. When my friend taps me in this time, I want to tell her about the small museum and garden that I visited in the spring. The house belonged to one of those canonical French writers I have never read, though my husband has and finds him brilliant. Thinking, thinking… ever since I contracted COVID — days after this museum stop — I swear my memory has declined. Suddenly, a kernel! Cousine Bette was one of his titular characters, wasn’t she? The search engine spits out an exasperated list of links. I text my friend back: visit the honoré de balzac house … for cool unexpected tiny museum.


Vanessa A. Bee’s debut memoir, Home Bound: An Uprooted Daughter’s Reflections on Belonging, will be published tomorrow by Astra House.