I Hung Out at Liz Brooks's Apartment

The weekend started with my weekly trip home to work at the store as usual, but I had to rush home Saturday night to attend a murder mystery dinner party. Then on Sunday, I have my last softball games of the year, the last hurrah. I didn't want to have to go home Saturday late at night and then have to schlep back into the city bright and early the next morning. I had to leave my apartment at 8:15 am to make a 9:30 game the week before since you have to switch trains on weekends so I was hoping not to have to do that again. Liz (of the I hang out with Liz Brooks fame) was gracious enough to let me crash at her apartment on Saturday night. She gave me her keys at the murder mystery party. Her mistake was leaving me in her apartment unchaperoned.

Sunday - November 18, 2007

It turned out my game was moved to 1:30pm so I had the morning to kill. I went to my games, had obligatory post-game dim sum, and didn't meander back to the apartment until around 7:00pm. Tin foiling her apartment was actually Plan C. Due to circumstances I won't mention, Plan A and Plan B were scrapped in favor of Plan C (it's good to have contingency plans). I went next door to ask her friends/neighbors if they had a camera that I could possibly borrow later. I walked back from the murder mystery dinner with them so I could get in the building. I had already explained to them on the walk over that I'm probably going to do something to Liz's apartment before I leave since she was foolish enough to leave me there by myself for extended periods of time. They said they had a camera and can't wait. I didn't tell them what I was up to, but it's always nice to have the blessing of her landlords when you embark on something like this. Now, foiling isn't exactly a novel prank. However, I might be the only one persistent enough to attempt it myself without a crew.


Since I'm a wrecking crew of one, I figured I could only manage to finish one room. I debated between the living room and the kitchen before deciding on the living room. Liz won't really miss her kitchen, but she NEEDS her tv! I surveyed the living room with all the things I had to foil, then decided it's best to just not think about it and get to work. It's going to be a long night and I need to mentally prepare to last. I have to foil a living room by myself. Getting discouraged will be my nemesis. If I start fretting over an item or the daunting task of what else is left to foil, I'll never finish. When in doubt, move on to the next item. Just when I started foiling, my phone buzzed. It was Liz. I had called her earlier wondering what I should do with her keys, but she didn't answer. I guess she was calling me back. I can't answer her call now that I'm in the midst of desecrating her living room! It's a good thing I don't pick up my phone anyway. She'll think nothing of it.



I quickly learned how difficult tin foiling was. Long flat surfaces are deceptively hard. You think because the surface is smooth, you can just cover it, but foil doesn't adhere to vertical walls. Every item was like its own annoying puzzle. All you have is a roll of foil to work with, a set width and somewhat unlimited length. I know what you're thinking--just tape it on, no big deal. THAT'S CHEATING! I have principles dammit. Besides, it would be wrong to leave sticky tape residue all over someone else's stuff.


Eventually the dim sum wore off and I was starving. I could see a Wendy's and a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut outside the window. They called my name and their signs shined brightly in the dark night. Oh how I desperately wanted to answer their calls, but I knew I couldn't leave or I'd lose foiling momentum. Finally, I went over the kitchen to see what time it was. The microwave read 3:00. Damn, I need to get the hell out of here already. I sped up the pace and eventually ran out of foil. I missed the boxes on the side of the room, a shelf, and the hat painting but at 3:00am and out of foil, I'm ready to call it a night. Besides, the room was shining radiantly already. I am a bit mad at myself for not foiling the hat painting. Problem was, I had already foiled the couch. With the painting being so large and the couch off limits, it was now out of reach. I can't even go back to foil it.

Since it was too late to go next door to borrow the camera, I decided I'll go home and come back tomorrow with my own camera to take pictures. I packed up to head out, but was greeted by the loudest creaking door ever. Given how late it was, I panicked and pulled the door to make it close faster but it only creaked even louder. Here I was trying to sneak out, but probably woke up the neighborhood instead. As I waited at the Path station for my train home, I noticed all the clocks in the station said 2:34 am. SON OF A....Liz never changed her clock to fall back! Dammit, the night was till young.

Her living room

Monday - November 19, 2007

Having gotten home really late since the trains only run every half hour in the wee hours of the morning, I lingered around at home dreading having to go back in the city. I told a few people of my late night escapade and they were clamoring for pictures, which I still don't have. Around 5:00 pm, I was still sitting at home in Hoboken and I told the peanut gallery that with every passing minute, I'm losing my motivation to go back in the city. It turned into an online pep rally or something. Next thing I know, I'm eating dinner and packing for another extended night of foiling at Liz's apartment. They wanted me to foil the desk and her bathroom too. "But you've come so far," they said. "Don't stop now. Keep going!" Again, with the limitations of a one man wrecking crew, I could only get so much done on my own. I picked the bathroom. They demanded updates and a live webcast of my activities. I said if I could find her webcam, I will see what I can do.

I realize there must be something wrong with me having spent six hours foiling the previous night to go back for more. Not only is it really tedious, but I'll now be stuck in the confines of a bathroom for hours on end. On top of it all, I had already foiled the couch so if I were to even sleep at all, I'd have to sleep on the floor. Yet, they were right. I have come so far. A good scheme requires sacrifices to be made for the bonus laughs. It'll be a long night of going nowhere that's ideal for the makings of a Snickers commercial. I'm packing my brother's good headphones.

Shelf with miscellaneous items

With a replenished supply of foils, I went back to the living room to finish the boxes and the shelf of miscellaneous items that I missed the previous night. I pulled stuff out of the shelf and started foiling. I started thinking what sort of food items might be in all these little foil pouches I'm making if I were to put them in an oven. A potato or a pie perhaps? Do you put pies in foil pouches? Wouldn't it be nice if you could put a pizza in here? Wait, a pizza can go directly in the oven without a foil pouch. Mmmmm...pizza. I think I'm hungry. *Stand up to look outside the window* Wendy, you red-headed stepchild! I can see you taunting me! Curse you, pigtailed girl! Curse you!

Wendys Taco Bell Pizza Hut

My food daydream got interrupted when I got to a small cylindrical glass item. I was about to start wrapping when I noticed stuff inside. "What's this?" I thought as I picked one up. EWWWW! It's an ashtray! Those are smoked ciggie butts! Well...I guess they're going to have to each get wrapped individually too. I definitely didn't prepare for this when I left my apartment for Round 2, but then I just started laughing. We used to joke that our friendship is based on our mutual unwilligness to go whale watching with each other in the rain. I can't help but think foiling someone's used cigarette butts has to constitute as some new deranged form of measuring your friendship. In those dire times when you need to reach deep for a favor, you'd say, "Dude, but I'm willing to wrap your smoked cigs in tin foil for you!" It's like taking a bullet for someone, but completely impractical and senseless to begin with.


Living Room


Having completed the living room minus the Mr. Hat painting (grrrrr...), I moved on to the bathroom. It had its own set of challenges, particularly pliable cotton towels and bathrobe. I suddenly flashbacked to my engineering orientation class from freshman year. Engineers solve problems. That's what they ingrained into our young minds. These are all problems. Figure it out! Yes, I'm glad I got an engineering degree so I can work on solving the finer problems in life, like how to foil a bathrobe. Oh, my professors would be so proud.

Towels Bathrobe

Next, it was on to the shower. I removed the showerhead from the hook to let it hang so I could have two free hands to foil the shower cable. It wasn't even halfway down when jets of water nailed me directly in the head and torso. I jumped back a bit freaked because I thought I accidentally turned the shower on, but the water stopped almost as immediately as it started. I realized it's because the showerhead is now below the faucet point so it was the leftover water in the system coming out. Dammit! Oh, wouldn't you know? The towels are already foiled. I didn't pack a change of clothes either because I didn't really plan on sleeping. Now not only do I have to spend many hours in someone's bathroom, but spend it drenched! I hate myself.


Tuesday - November 20, 2007

I foiled until 5:30 am, but still a lot to go. I had watched Taco Bell/Pizza Hut take out their trash and turn their lights off. I'm ignoring Wendy's because we're in a fight, but she doesn't know it yet. I grabbed my camera and snapped some pictures. Then I hopped on her laptop to write an email update to the peanut gallery with with the photos I had promised. I couldn't but feel guilty that I'm using her computer to provide photos of her tin foiled apartment. It's like adding salt to injury. I don't even have to go home to send people these pictures. After sending out the email, I decided I was out of gas and needed a nap. I knew Liz was going back to Boston on Wednesday, thanks to insider information from her sister. That means if she needed stuff before she leaves, she might possibly be back today so I needed to finish. I crashed on the floor for a quick nap with plans on getting up at 9 to finish up. I slept for a bit, then got up to check the time. It's 9:03 so time to restart the day. I hopped back on the computer to see if Liz was online so I could ask her what she wanted me to do with her keys. I noticed the computer said it was 8:06. GODDAMMIT, I FELL FOR HER MICROWAVE CLOCK AGAIN! Great, that means I only got two hours of sleep in. I tried to nap again, but just couldn't anymore. Native Americans used to listen to the ground to track buffalos and apparently such techniques are still good for tracking the neighbor's kid throwing tantrums.

I hopped back on the computer and saw that Liz was online so I messaged her to ask what she wanted me to do with her keys and if she was coming back to her apartment today so that I can be sure to have her keys back in time (read: so I know when I need to flee the scene of the crime). She said if it's not a problem, I could drop it off with her doorman. Haha, not a problem at all! I'll just drop it off on the way out! She had no idea I spent another night in her apartment and that I'm really chatting with her from her computer. Then I got disconnected and couldn't reconnect, probably because her entire living room is now one big interference with the wifi signal. I went back to work on the bathroom.

Shelves toilet paper

Sink Toilet

After more work on the bathroom, I went to snap off more pictures to update the peanut gallery. I got back online and sure enough, Liz asked, "Where did you go before? Hiding from UFOs?" Ha! Oops. My computer in Hoboken is on and my away message there says "I'm hiding where the UFOs can't find me", meaning her apartment. So when I got disconnected from her apartment, all messages get re-routed to my computer in Hoboken so she gets that away message. I told her I got disconnected and couldn't reconnect so I stepped away from the computer (which was true). Then I tried to ferret out information on her plans for the day to see if she was coming home sometime today. When I learned she was not, it was a huge sigh of relief. I can take my time to finish now.


Then I noticed she was having connection issues so I offered to go over to fix her network problem and give her back her keys in person. She said she'd love it but didn't want me to have to go all the way up there just to do that. I said, "No, I insist! I owe you (at least) one." I've gone out of my way to hang out with her toilet all night and to sleep on the floor. I think I can manage a little trip uptown for a network housecall. I think spending multiple hours holed up in her bathroom bonding with her toilet also constitute as some new level of friendship building. I can't believe I spent that many hours inside a bathroom, and none of it constituted a shower. I couldn't wait to go home to shower. I warned Liz to pardon my appearance. It's been a rough morning.

I cleaned up her apartment and took my time to simulate the time needed to travel from my apartment in Hoboken into the city. Meredith asked if I was hungry and I think I answered something like, "I am, but I just want to go home and shower." I realized I didn't really answer her question, but I am running on fumes and haven't eaten since 5 last night. Anything out of my mouth may not make sense at this point. A bit out of it, but I was still together enough to fix the network problem relatively quickly. I had lent her my spare router before so she gave it back since everything seems working now. I couldn't squeeze the router back in my bag because of all the crap I had with me. They were wondering what the hell is in my bag. I started taking stuff out to rearrange my bag so I had room to fit the router. Taking up the most room is my brother's headphones. It comes with a giant wooden box. Also taking up a lot of space are the amplifier for the headphones and my overnight lunchbox. I think I've explained to her my overnight lunchbox so she SHOULD have known when she saw it that I spent the night somewhere. They couldn't quite understand why I had headphones in a wooden box and an amplifier for headphones. "Seems like a lot of work," she said. "Don't you have smaller ones you could bring?" I said, "Yeah, the smaller ones are in the front of my bag." That just confused them more. I added, "Yeah, you don't want to know where I was. I'm just going to go home now and shower."


I walked back down to the 33rd St Path station. One of the Port Authority cops pointed at me and said, "Can we check your bag, please?" RAWR! Of all days to get randomly screened! Come on, I have a big ass bag but I hardly fit the racial profile of terrorist. So I walked over to the table and plunked my bag down. Having just carefully rearranged it earlier, I must now watch the cop undo my handiwork. He took everything out and examined it while asking me to explain what they are.

My bag
My loaded bag o stuff

Cop: "Is this for wireless?"
Me: "Yeah, it's a router."
Cop: "What is this thing??"
Me: "A headphone amplifier."
Cop: "Really? It's pretty big and heavy to be an amplifier for headphones."
Me: "Yeah, they're big headphones."
Cop: "I don't even want to know what this is."
Me: "The big headphones."
Cop: "In this big wooden box?"
Me: "Yeah, that's their carrying case. You can open it. They really are just headphones."
Cop: "*shakes box* Okay. Tin foil...Lunchbox?
Me: "Toothbrush, contacts, and the likes."
Cop: "May I ask what you're doing with all this stuff?"

Front pocket
Stuff in the front pocket

Stuff inside bag
Stuff in the back pocket

I thought about all the random stuff in my bag--giant headphones in a wooden box, headphone amplifier, a lunchbox full of overnight essential, rolls of tin foil, camera, and a wireless router. You wouldn't go through the hassle of bringing headphones in a giant wooden box and using amplifiers with them unless you planned on listening to music for a long time. The funny thing is, there really is no better explaination so I told him the truth. I was packing to be comfortable for a really long night of tin foiling my friend's apartment. He laughed and thought it was hilarious. I was free to go. Of course, he couldn't fit everything back in my bag to zip it so I had to take everything back out again and re-pack the bag for the third time.

I walked through the turnstyles and headed for the Hoboken bound train, but was confused at the sight of the Jersey City train on the other track. "That's weird," I thought to myself. "They're running the lines separately again now? I thought we get packed like cows on weekends." Then I realized it's not Sunday. In fact, it's Tuesday so the trains are running on weekday schedules. I'm only two whole days off. It's been a long weekend.

Photo Index | Liz Comes Home >>


What was Liz's reaction?
At 5:15pm EST on November 29, 2007, I received the following email from Liz:

subject: habitat
message: YOU R DEAD!

Details of Liz's reaction is documented in Part 2.

How many rolls of tin foil did you go through?
Six rolls of 50 ft and 4 rolls of 75 ft.

How long did it take you?
Round 1 = 6 hours. Round 2 = ~10+ hours. I slowed down and lost track of time once I found out she wasn't coming back yet.

What's that can?
Ashtray with smoked cigs.

What's on the back of the door?

Why didn't you sleep on the bed?
Sleepovers are for couches and floors. Besides, I was a soaked mess after the shower incident. It'd be just wrong.

Let me get this straight, she was nice enough to let you stay there....and you tinfoiled her house?!
Yes. My friendship is an acquired taste.

Moral of the Story:

Don't leave me alone in your apartment with keys for extended periods of time.

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