“How are we going to get her out if we can’t see her?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but in the days, weeks and months before the “mobbing” began, at least, before the events that make me realize that what was happening was more than malicious gossip or the nastiness of a neighborhood that combines unfriendliness with money, those who would be involved in mobbing me were preparing.

At least a year before, those living around me had begun to actively work in concert, if not to make my life so unpleasant that I would leave before the mobbing, to curb my expression of basic rights in a manner that allowed me to best hear the mobbing harassment and that would protect their access to me.

The summer before the mobbing started, the same people would begin to yell whenever I would open a door or a window. This consisted of the three houses closest to me, two of them so close that they would provide access to my every room for monitoring and harassment in the coming months; the third belonging to someone in the local neighborhood watch who had constantly complained about me and made bizarre accusations about me to my landlords and, presumably, to others. They would yell to each other that a window was open, they would yell that they would call the police even though it was not quiet hours. They would come outside and throw their trash cans around or turn on outside music so that there would be a price to having my door open in the summertime heat.

At the time, I thought it was just another attempt to suppress my civil rights, to try to stop me from exercising the same rights to open my doors and windows on hot nights that they exercised–these people seemed to leave all their windows open and they were putting in fans and ventilation systems too. On one side, the neighbor even had a worker painstakingly recut the siding of his house to change the position of a venting fan that was directly opposite my side door. The vent was raised up to the height of the window in my door. I didn’t know it at the time, but those things had meaning for me.

During this period of time, I became aware that the neighbors on one side were watching me through my windows, at least, I could hear them commenting on what I did in the kitchen. It would start whenever I was at my kitchen sink, which was near the side door and directly under the windows of the third story of their house. One day when I was making buckwheat crepes, the girlfriend of the owner and one of her friends appeared to be openly watching me from their own windows and commenting on everything I did.

It was bizarre. I grew up in a liberal area where people have a live and let live attitude and suddenly I was being spied on in my kitchen, apparently by my neighbors.

I parried.

I showed them how to make crepes. Step-by-step, I beat the eggs into the batter, I heated the skillet and added the oil, I waited until the edges of the crepe bubbled and browned and turned it over, and I plated the crepes with a dollop of blackberry jam. With each step I carried the batter, the skillet, or the plate to the sink, displaying it under the window with a flourish. The response, still audible, was somewhat confused.

Within a few months, the spying on me, the watching, was clearly happening from the houses on both sides of me. I did not know it then, but I was being “monitored” and I began to realize that the “monitoring” had likely been silent and ongoing for some time. I use the word “monitoring” not only because the mobbers used the term, probably to make sure I realized what they were doing and would leave my home, but because “monitoring” is a legally defined word for a type of stalking.

I complained to the Seattle Police that my neighbors were openly watching me. The officer who came told me that it was legal, and civil, to watch people in their homes, at least to some extent. But I’m pretty sure we were already way past that.

One day I put window film up on my windows, the ones that the neighbors seemed to be looking into. The kind of film that allows you to see out but does not allow them to see in. The was an immediate outcry from one of the neighboring houses and a voice I thought to be one of the neighbors said, “How are we going to get her out if we can’t see her?” ▪

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