Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fishbowl Living

The unthinkable has happened and yet more noxious substances have hit the fan. For months there has been a vacant apartment directly across from us, separated by our backyard and the one that belongs to the other building. Today we noticed that someone had moved in. He has set up his laptop in his window which has a perfect view of our bed, and he either works from home or doesn't work at all because he has been stationed at his command post all day. He is terrorizing his neighbors and doesn't even know - or care.

I closed our window coverings which I usually keep open during the day because I like the sun flooding the room, my many plants need it, and it also provides extra heat which is nearly always helpful in San Francisco. The apartment is claustrophobic with everything shut, and there is really no other place to put the bed. I feel like a zoo animal. Big Brother is watching us, 24/7.

My gentle husband suggests that we buy a BB gun, a great idea in theory but neither of us wants to live in prison. Then he decided to stare back at the guy for as long as it takes to discomfit him. I suspect it will take forever as people generally select a place for their computer and keep it there. I considered painting a giant middle finger and propping it in our window, or setting up one of our computers there in the spirit of fighting fire with fire. Maybe dancing around the room naked, although that could be counter-productive. I have always heard that the people of Samoa settle disputes by hurling rocks. Does anyone know a nice rock-throwing Samoan who would help us out?

Let's just say that I won't be sending any Welcome Wagon baskets over there, unless they are outfitted with a timer. Meanwhile, I need to research the Peeping Tom laws.


littlepea said...

Do this: Go over there with a pie. Act kind of crazy-nosy and mention how excited you are that he's in the neighborhood and happy you are to have such a great view into his place so you can see all the comings and goings in his house. Say "I bet you have a lot of girlfriends, the last tenant was a male escort so that was fun to watch from my bedroom." Ask him if he wants to hook up a soup can on string communication line with you because you're on the hunt for a new BFF. His desk will be moved and curtains will be installed 5 minutes after you leave his house.

I will not comfirn or deny that a slightly different version of this has or hasn't worked for me in a past apartment.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sweet Pea,

I can hardly write for laughing. I read your comment to Flip who is guffawing, too. You are brilliant! From now on, you can handle all my business - all of it. Please. You are the Master. I bow to you. You will have a shrine here with fresh gardenias on it every day.

Is it ok if I cheat a little and put arsenic in the pie?

furiousBall said...

go over there with a blowdart gun, knock, when they answer the door, pretend to shoot them with a dart, make the "thuuuut" sound. then say, just kidding, turn and walk away. you win.

thailandchani said...

I'm thinking Rear Window!:)

Bob said...

put up a set of shear curtains. light (and heat) comes in but no peepers.

Anonymous said...

Dancing around naked will ensure that he NEVER leaves his post. Maybe you could wave every single time you pass by the window?

meno said...

Nothing intelligent to add after little pea. That is brilliant. Just be sure to let us know how it turns out.

The CEO said...

I wonder if littlepea is available on a contract basis?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Have you met my friend, Sweet Pea? Sweet Pea, have you met my friend Furious Ball?

With you guys in my corner, I am feeling suddenly optimistic. I may even be able to do without the friendly rockin' Pacific Islander.


He is not Jimmy Stewart, even in his dreams.


Will you be my decorator? You've got the chops.


I thought that might be a problem. Back to the drawing board (and into my clothes.)


She looks so adorable but is really quite the evil genius. Of course I'll keep you posted - I'm sure it will be too good not to share.


I hope so for the good of the world. And I'd love to be her manager.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I was going to offer the services of the squirrel mafia but we've never done well on the west coast. They say it has something to do with someone called "lil' pea". Can you imagine?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


The Squirrel Mafia! Now I'm really impressed.

I can see how Li'l Pea would be a tough nut to crack.

Warty Mammal said...

Mmmm. Lace curtains? One-way film applied to one's window?

This is just the sort of problem that makes me nuts. I do like my privacy.

Pea's suggestion is genius, of course.

nick said...

Little Pea has the right idea. Go over there and point out that you can see everything that's going on in his back room (cue male escort story), you don't want to intrude on his privacy so maybe he should put up some blinds/curtains? You could even hint at a few weird things you've already seen.

Mind you, if he can see into your bedroom during the day, does this really matter? As long as you can close the blinds or whatever when you're going to bed. But yes, some lace/net curtains, ghastly as they are, would preserve your privacy.

meggie said...

Being related by marriage to a 1/2Samoan, I would not rely on any culture/custom info you have been fed. Believe me, it is a moveable feast, & can differ daily. The only solid factor/knowledge we have gained, is, that it involves the free passage of money from our banks/wallets into their sweaty & very needy grasping apperatus- ie hands. This is of course a oneway passage, & said monies may never ever need to be accounted for. Do never have the temerity to ask as to the destination of said monies.

You may be screeched at with vehemence,& vitriol, for being qn uncqaring ar$hole, & various other unflattering guieses.
I do hope you battle with Aliens is more successful than our's was.

meggie said...

Of course you can see how stressed I was, at the whole scenario, but the spelling mistakes in my previous comment!

the walking man said...

Your neighbor probably likes the location for the same reason you do...sunlight. Put a mirror facing his window in your window to give him some extra, the bigger the mirror the more light he will get.

Though the pie idea is by far the best.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I love her suggestions. The only problem is that the building across the way, which fronts on a different street, is very large and gated, though I could probably figure out which apartment it is if I could get in.


It still matters because he sits at his window all day and evening and we feel violated.


Most of my info about Samoans came from Margaret Mead's books, although the rock throwing story I heard from Flip and others who have lived in Hawaii.

Your in-laws sound appalling. No culture has a monopoly on bad behavior.


Quite apart from producing a nasty glare, the mirror is used in witchcraft to repel bad neighbors. No, I"m not a witch, but I have one just the right size.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

"Susan's Angels" are ON IT!

Way to go Little Pea, Van and Walking Man!

I think you should do all of their suggestions, pie, blow dart and mirror.

Can I just tell you, there is no way you could fail with the devoted and geniously devious friends here that have got your back.

The only thing that I could think of is to alternate these two things: when you are away, set up a camcorder on a tripod that is blatantly and obviously pointed straight at his window, when you are home, you and Flip can take turns standing in the window with a camera pointed straight at his window.
You don't have to actually take photos, but the action might unnerve him enough to move his computer and put up some curtains.

Your "Susan's Angel's Team" (LP, Van, WM) are your best bet! They ROCK!


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

...or, you could introduce him to Skank Blossom and then you wouldn't see either of them for a while.

*wicked grin*

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


My angels are the best, no question.

Believe it or not, I had the same thought and almost wished that Skank Blossom hadn't moved out several months ago. ALMOST. Nothing could be as bad as she was.

BroLo said...

He might be writing a blog about his crazy neighbors, e.g. "Get this! Today, she put a large, hand-painted middle finger in the window that faces my home office."

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I had no idea it was you. I'll take it down immediately.

PeterAtLarge said...

I'm thinking if you could simply mirror his every action, he might get the idea. This guy clearly needs to see himself from someone else's point of view. Pie might be good, though, too.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm thinking pie a la slapstick, ie. flung in his face. A cream pie, maybe creme de l'arsenic aux hemlock.

(And this from someone who carefully removes insects from her home without harming them.) Apparently my avowed non-violence is a thin veneer. Not that I would act on the impulse, but it's titillating to consider.

The Fool said...

I don't think I could handle city living, especially this sort of thing. Up here, the population rounds out to about 1 person per square mile. Really. Most of us can shoot a gun in our backyard and not disturb anyone. This would be Hatfield-McCoy material. Good luck!

Jo said...

Two words -- privacy film. "Privacy films help create privacy for you and your family. Frosted privacy films are translucent and allow light to pass through while providing 24-hour privacy. Mirrored privacy films provide daytime privacy. They allow you to see outside, but stop others from seeing in during the day. Black static cling films are also offered to provide daytime privacy and reduce the amount of light that comes into a room. Privacy films also block 99% of UV rays."

If you Google "window privacy films", you will find all sort of them.

Littlepea's suggestion would be a lot more fun, though.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

No fool,

That sounds like the perfect ratio. I lived on a 450-acre piece of land in Western NC with no neighbors until the owners of the property allowed every inch of it to be clear cut by lumberers so they wouldn't have to work.

It should be noted that the Hatfields and McCoys did not live in an urban setting but if you really hate someone, the entire world is too small.


I haven't Googled it yet but it sounds like the film used on auto windows. An interesting idea!

Thank you for a practical suggestion which won't get me jailed or shot.

On a limb with Claudia said...

Wow, you've had such a tough time in that neighborhood. And I bet he has no idea you are annoyed. I wonder if you might change your curtains to something filmy but would let the light in....


My desk is situated in a window, but I keep the blinds mostly down because of the heat/cold/ sucky insulation on 100 year old windows.


heartinsanfrancisco said...


He has an idea. Today, I forgot about him and walked into the room naked from my shower to tell Flip something. Suddenly I noticed the guy staring at me and made Flip close our shades pronto. (Flip reported that he was picking his nose with one hand; we don't know what his other hand was doing.)

The shades are white linen
surrounded by filmy drapes. The triple bay window is a southeast exposure and I have many plants, so for years I've kept them open all day. Now I have to be mindful of my attire and adjust them constantly. Unfortunately after this morning's little sighting, he'll probably be even more vigilant, if that's possible.

Anonymous said...

How icky. I hate feeling like I'm being spied on, and it certainly would cut down on my walking around naked time. I think the rock-throwing Samoan is an excellent idea.

Jocelyn said...

Littlepea's comment is a scream.

There is much you could do to mess with this guy, including pretending to dismember a corpse behind the closed shade and letting the shadows do the storytelling. You could hold up a bowling ball covered by an old mop as the poor victim's head.

Jameil said...

I think you could do the neighborly thing and use a ladder to climb up to his window whilst holding a freshly baked apple pie. When he opens the window, tell him he can only have it if he agrees to relocate the position of his computer.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


So do I, but unfortunately, I don't know any talented rock throwers. And the walking around naked is definitely history.


This has the ring of authenticity, almost as though you've done it before or perhaps even make a practice of beheading bowling balls. It could serve as an effective warning, as could three witches with a boiling cauldron shrieking "Double, double toil and trouble." We'll work on this.


That kind of neighborly could get me locked up, not that the idea lacks charm. Have you ever climbed a tall ladder hefting a steaming pie?

nick said...

So how's it going? Have you tried any of these brilliant ideas yet? How about a catapult and something heavy enough to break his window?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


No, I had an auto accident last night and while everybody lived through it, it puts petty annoyances in perspective.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


That's so unbelievably creepy!! I just had a shiver and chills go up my spine - Yuck!!

He has to go. Pronto. That's just wrong on every level. *shiver*

Poor Hearts. Quit fooling around and get a cannon (I'm not talking about a camera, either).
Blow him out of the water.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

...kay, just saw the accident bit.

Are you alright?


heartinsanfrancisco said...


Bodily, yes, thanks, but my confidence took a hit because it was my fault. Long story. (It explains my recent absence at your travel contest, btw.)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

To err is human, dear sister lady, and that's why you have good insurance.
It will all work out. No one was hurt, and that's the important thing.

I am so relieved that you are alright. Rest, a hot bath and some good wine should set the world right again.
And chocolate. There is that, as well.

~HUGS~ to you.


heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you, as always, for your good thoughts.

As it happens, I did lay in a stash of chocolate. It makes everything better. :)