anne_mikolay_2012_120Unless you live under a rock, you've heard about the NSA's surveillance program and the ensuing heated debate. Apparently, the government has been monitoring Verizon customers' phone calls, emails, and tweets. In this post-9/11 world, the motivation behind the government's actions is not incomprehensible, but as one of the millions of Verizon customers being spied upon, I'm not quite sure I understand.

My telephone calls, including time and location, are now on file somewhere in Big Brother's files. Why? Who am I? I'm just a middle-aged lady. Writer. Artist. Wife. Mother. Average American. I get up in the morning and do pretty much the same things day after day. I grocery shop, clean, walk the dogs, work. My telephone calls and emails (I'm not cool enough to tweet) reflect my less than extraordinary life. I have no ties to foreign countries (unless a few emails to my sister when she was overseas count) and have never been on foreign soil. It's a bit disconcerting knowing there's someone looking over my shoulder, but I have nothing to hide. If the NSA wants to read the texts I send to my sister while she and I watch Project Runway in our respective homes, be my guest. If they want to monitor how many times I call my favorite girlfriend in the south, let them. Have at it, NSA. Enjoy  my mundane existence.

In contemplating this new image of our government as peeping Tom, I comprehend the opposing viewpoints. Personal liberty is now compromised in the name of national security, but desperate times require desperate measures.

That's what I thought yesterday. Today I feel differently.

Fox News reports that in a recent speech not meant for the public, General Petreaus revealed that newly manufactured microwaves and dishwashers carry a government chip which, when accessed, can help peeping Tom predict when homeowners will use these appliances and exactly when people will enter their kitchens. Defenders of NSA surveillance, please tell me why the government needs this information; how can the kitchen routines of average Americans thwart terrorism? Admittedly, I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, and I may be missing something here, but government chips in my kitchen appliances are too sci-fi for me. What's next? Tracking devices in my shoes? 

NSA, allow me to save you the trouble and expense of installing tell-all chips inside my possessions. Here's all you need to know about me: I'm married with kids. I write historical fiction, paint pet portraits, eat more chocolate than I should. I leave my dishes in the dishwasher overnight (sometimes in the sink) and rarely use the microwave. In case your eying my television set, this summer I'm watching America's Got Talent and Touched by an Angel reruns. And before your surveillance equipment invades my bathroom (heaven forbid!), I prefer Charmin to Angel Soft.

That's me in a nut-shell, NSA, so kindly remove me from your list of monitored Americans and restore my fourth amendment rights.