Should the sheer excitement of being alive start to pall -- unlikely these days, I'll admit -- I can suggest a reliable way to get your heart pounding again: Google yourself.

It's not as if you've never done it before. People once compelled to find their own name in the new phone book now need to see their name on the screen.

It's a rite of passage, similar to the preteen's urge to look up four-letter words in the dictionary. Finding definitions isn't the point; the point is to see That Word sitting there on the page like a respectable citizen.

When I was 12 and taking my own turn at furtive dictionary browsing, the unabridged tome that sat on a table at the foot of the stairs was ideal. In the event of unexpected parental appearances, I could shoot upstairs or continue through the house, first flipping an inch or so of pages left or right to hide the evidence.

Escape hatches also come in handy when searching your own name. You do risk looking self-absorbed, like a bridesmaid pretending to enjoy photos of a cousin's wedding, but really scanning each shot for pictures of herself. More than that, though, you might embarrass yourself should your quest turn up unexpected content, even if the information is misleading.

I might as well admit I recently searched my own name recently. The first three sites and the first five photographs to come up were of other people with my name, which goes to show how humbling electronic snooping can be.

One person not only has my name -- and a third name to boot -- she uses it when writing professionally. (Travel stories are her specialty, if you want to look her up.)

Since I flatter myself that I also write, sort of, I immediately felt a kinship with this person, whose work is all over the internet.

Our name -- with her third name -- is everywhere, above stories that incorporate such top-tier phrases as sparkling sapphire, scenic jewels and continuing volcanic activity -- three words I may never have typed in succession before now.

Here and there among the websites of people with my name who aren't me are, in fact, portals to me. For instance, in a weak moment, I joined LinkedIn, so I suppose I can be found there.

But frankly, I've never managed to wrap my head around LinkedIn. Yes, I'm a member, or I'm in it, or I'm registered (You see? I'm too confused to express my LinkedIn confusion), but I don't go there. I don't "link" to others. I don't participate. (Aside to LinkedIn: It's not you; it's me.)

Eventually, I arrived at what appeared to be my first online mention. The feeling is like finding a single Valentine at the bottom of the box. "You darling!" I say, grasping the mention to my bosom, and then I realize it's a professional search site: "Court records!" it says. "Arrest records! Bankruptcies! Traffic violations! Early Las Vegas!" No, wait, that last one was the travel writer.

It goes on: "Mortgage records! Court appearances! Reverse phone lookup! Obituaries! Blazing fast results! Start searching now!" Why, in this environment, I cut quite the dashing figure. I could be a spy, a double agent, a person of interest.

And then, next to my name (though I know it's not really me) I see something truly thrilling: "(She) kills them with glamour, bright colors and sheer mischievousness." I kill them?

Never mind that "glamour, bright colors and sheer mischievousness" refers to a human homograph (spelled the same but with different meanings) and I -- this Margo Bartlett -- would never in a million years be described that way.

"A couple more clicks and I'll find something really exciting," I think, and wouldn't you know it, it's dinnertime before I even pick up my breakfast-cereal bowl. On top of all my other crimes.

Write to Margo Bartlett at