Confession: I’m a Snoop

I guess that’s why I like to read memoirs.

My husband always drives the car when we are together. I like being the passenger because I look into every window that has a curtain open or shade up. I don’t really want to visit the house or the business. I just want that quick exciting glimpse into some place I have never been. Then a story or character description flashes through my mind before I look into the next window!

Another way I know that I’m a snoop is how fascinated I get by even the most distantly connected ancestors on my family tree. When I see an antique photograph or locate a document or bit of information for the family tree, I get incredibly nosy about the lives of the people involved.

For instance, I noticed that my great-great-grandmother’s brother’s middle daughter lost her mother when she was 6, and I began imagining what it was like to be a 6-year-old in 1900 whose mother has just died. I found out through a newspaper article in 1902, that their house burned down that year. In the article it said that the oldest girl ran the household and took care of the kids.  In 1902, the oldest was 14, so she would have taken on those duties at the age of 12. That means that the middle child had her mother “replaced” by a 12-year-old sister. All the ramifications of that began to set up a storyline in my mind.

It gets worse. I am addicted to reading other genealogy blogs where I get fascinated by the lives of other people’s distant relatives.

When I read a novel, I am taken away on an enjoyable experience, but when I read a memoir I am satisfying a craving for spying. Am I Gladys Kravitz, spying at Darrin and Samantha’s window on Bewitched?

 Anybody else want to ‘fess up to being a snoop?

51 Comments

Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing

51 responses to “Confession: I’m a Snoop

  1. Nothing wrong with looking into family history 🙂 but wow I can’t even imagine how tough that must of been :O

  2. Why yes, you are Gladys Kravitz! And what’s wrong with that?! Now I want to go read more about the girl being raised by her 14-year-old sister.

    • I’m working on her history for my family history blog. She worked hard her whole life, as a nurse and raising 4 kids, but she was a very admirable person, according to what I’m learning from her 80-something son. He himself had a good career, too. Maybe her older sister functioned as a model of hard work when she stepped up at the age of 12.

  3. You know I’m a snoop. I’m intensely curious about the lives of others.

    • Yes, I think we encourage each other in our snooping ;). It’s sure fun! What is hard for me to understand, though, is when somebody is not curious.

  4. Oh, my gosh, that’s me, completely! I get totally immersed in the surreptitious gathering of information about others. I observe small details and put together impressions and stories in my mind as to what’s going on with them.

    I get wrapped up in profiles of my friends’ friends’ on Facebook!?

    For instance, I love to ride my bike around the neighborhood at dusk, hoping for lights on in windows. I just like to see what people are up to. Is that creepy? I don’t know. I think maybe it’s because I had dollhouses as a child? Always having that type of domestic imaginative play growing up (think Barbies) becomes a habit of thinking perhaps.

    I am an introvert by nature, so most information I gather is my observation. I would never point blank ask people questions about their private lives. Of course, observations alone can lead to assumptions–but an overactive imagination stems from a creative mind 🙂

    Your post made me smile 🙂

    • Hi Emilly. Haha, re Facebook, I know! I LOVE dollhouses, even have a board on Pinterest of dollhouses. I never made that connection, but there is definitely something in that. Wow, you’ve really given me something to think about! I think my doll collection is even related to this . . . . I love your bike riding–that’s great! Thanks for stopping by!!

  5. So yeah, the window thing? Don’t they want me to look if they have no curtains? I have sheer-to-no curtains so at least I “give back” to the curious around me.

    • This is my first good laugh of the day, Jaye. I mean GOOD laugh. Giving back. I am so stingy. I live in a fishbowl, but keep begging my husband to keep the shades shut (and he keeps opening them and thinks I’m goofy). Well, yeah, I KNOW what other people are running around doing–looking in my windows like I’m looking in theirs!!

  6. I think you are not alone in your “snooping.” I think that word is too harsh. I would say you (and I, and many others) have a healthy curiosity about life. I enjoyed and identified with all your confessions.

  7. OMG! It’s official, we are related, Luanne! Can you imagine being in a NYC highrise apartment and looking into all the window across the way…not in a perverted way of course. 🙂

    • Hehe. Exactly! Hubby and I looked at a high rise condo in L.A. a few years ago and he looked out the living room window and said in a very disappointed voice, “Look at that, I can see right into their apartment.” I said, “Oh, really? Where?” and ran to look. 😉

  8. I love family history, so I really don’t feel that is bad snooping. Reading about your ancestors and wondering what trials and tribulations brought them through is helpful to all of us who think our lives are so rotten. We learn to count our blessings and really appreciate what we have. My grandmother used to call me meddlesome though. I would dig through drawers and peek inside cabinets when I visited. That was a healthy curiosity, I think.

    • I love the image of you digging through your grandmother’s drawers and cabinets! And that word “meddlesome”–fabulous!
      On a related topic, I have always drawn the line at looking through cabinets when I go to someone’s house, except for one time. The house was the most pristine house I had ever been in. The decor was perfection. I was in my 20s and very intimidated, so I looked in the bathroom cupboard. Disgusting mess. hahaha. That made me feel better and taught me something. But Grandma’s cupboards? Those belong to the grandkids ;).

  9. Love this an love Gladys!!!

  10. PS- I eavesdrop in restauraunts! 😉

  11. Thank goodness I’m not the only person who enjoys walking at dusk so I can get a glimpse into other peoples’ houses! For me, it’s the decor that fascinates: wall color, lighting, furniture, pictures and vases and stuff. It’s sad how many rooms (and homes) are dominated by large-screen t.v.s, though. 😦

    • Jennifer, yes, those TVs are so demoralizing!! I like their decor, too. Sometimes I am so surprised at how lovely a house is inside. But, as you say, so often, there is that big TV and a couch and not much else.

  12. I think I’m a bit of a snoop too, even though I am not really interested in genealogy. Modern families are my interest, and they can offer as much drama as comedy sometimes.

    • Joan, modern families are fascinating. Drama and comedy both, absolutely. What are the ways you like to observe them?!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  13. When I was a child visiting my grandmother I used to snoop into her bathroom, lock the door and snoop into her medicine cabinet. Also, my older cousin (male) lived with our grandmother and I used to sneak his girly magazines into the bathroom.
    It gets worse. I also liked snooping into my relatives drawers.
    I guess i was just a bored and curious 10 year old.

  14. Snooping? I like to think of it as ‘intense curiosity’ even ‘neighbourly concern’ as I go for my evening walk in the ‘burb 🙂 As for sitting in coffee shops for hours on end listening to other people’s conversations and constructing from these flimsy exchanges entire histories well, that’s just me being a writer exercising the imagination 🙂 Great post Luanne.

    • Hahaha, yes, “neighbourly concern” is the most accurate description, certainly. 😉 Yolanda, this is a hoot. We need these reasons why we watch and listen!!!

  15. Ha! I love this! I’m a big snoop. I tend to be a people watcher + a neighborhood watcher. You could mention any neighbor at any time + I could tell you what they did that weekend. My family has gotten used to it over the years… I just love knowing little details of people’s lives… even if they’re strangers!

    • Caitlin, so funny! I’m starting to think that this must be an occupation for everybody who writes. That’s it–even if they are strangers. It doesn’t matter!

  16. When I was living in the city I loved taking the dogs for a walk just as it was getting dark. All the houses were turning on their lights and people cooking in kitchens, kids running home for dinner – it’s like every house was it’s own universe and I just loved it! Yes, I’m a Gladys Kravitz! 😀

    • Dianne, I love this also because in addition to the snooping you’ve captured that feeling of that time of day when families are coming together and people are bustling!

  17. That photograph of Mrs. Kravitz is not you! You are curious and interested in knowing more. Remember your science and your history classes? It is all about how we round up the facts and learn more through exploring our environment! You are definitely exploring as your husband drives down the road, Luanne! You are also discovering interesting things about family members while you are researching ancestry. I do feel for that little one of 6 having lost her mother and getting a ‘bossy’ sister, instead! Sad times when those things happen to children.
    Loved this post, used to enjoy “Bewitched,” and feel the nosy neighbor’s picture was so funny to include in this post!

    • Hehehe, Robin. Yes, exploring! That’s a great way to view it!!! 🙂 That’s how I felt about Theresa losing her mother at that age and having to answer to a big sister who is just a no-nothing kid. Of course, I feel sorry for the oldest sister, too, and when I work on her story I will be overcome with that sympathy! But right now I’m “exploring” Theresa’s life. I feel a kinship with her for several reasons, although I was the oldest child in the family. Bewitched was fabulous, but I really think I liked the scenes with Gladys best!!!

    • When Tabitha was born, I felt the tone of the whole show change ‘for the good,’ Luanne! I felt that Samantha became confident, Darin was much more understanding and his mother in law still drove them all crazy! Did you like Paul Lynde’s role? For some reason, I did! He played an Uncle, not sure why but wasn’t he a ‘klutzy’ warlock? Didn’t he accidentally mess up his spells? His laughing may have irritated my Dad, I remember his saying that he “sounded like a hyena” when he laughed!

      • I loved Paul Lynde in EVERYthing he did! I’m pretty sure my parents thought he was obnoxious, but I loved him because he was like a big kid!!!

  18. I love this Luanne, and I do confess, haha! I have always been fascinated in learning more about people, their lives, the why, who, when, and the what! I used to love talking to my dear Granny (she lived to be 94) about her life and the family memories. Maybe that’s why writing memoir is so great, it really does feed that need to know more! Love the Bewitched photo…great show that 🙂

    • Please enter my confessional, Sherri ;). Yes, the “why, who, when, and the what”!!! Oh, I would love to read your Granny’s stories. Are you writing them all up? 🙂
      Bewitched was such a great show. I miss shows like that.

      • Haha! I need to don’t I?!
        I’m not writing my Granny’s stories up yet as I have this need to write up the memoir I’m working on now, which is something I’ve needed to do for over 30 years, but I do fully intend to write about my family at some point. There are so many fascinating stories to be told and that’s why I’m so glad to have found you here because I see that you have such a passion for family memoir. I will learn a lot from you Luanne, I just know it!
        And yes, those shows were the best weren’t they? How things have changed…

  19. I’m right with you there Luanne, I’d always been fascinated with the story of others, that’s what writers do I guess, investigate, imagine and write! Great post! 🙂

  20. I understand being snoopy! I constantly find myself being coerced to peek into open windows, (from a distance of course). The mystery of how others behave is an inviting temptation. I just can’t shake it. You must be a people watcher, I know I am.

    • Hahaha, jenn, so funny. Yes, coerced! It’s such a temptation! Of course, I heard a different opinion when my daughter read this post and comments and said, “So basically you guys are a bunch of stalkers.” Yikes! So coerced is really a great word. Yes, we’re coerced, so it’s Not Our Fault. 😉

  21. Cute! You could call ir snoopy, or just being extremely curious about the lives of others, a wonderful trait for a writer.

  22. I think writers tend to be snoops … it’s how we get material 😉

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