Start spreading the news, I left yesterday

Well, I’m in New York.

I know.

I didn’t mention it earlier because I have this whole pessimistic thing going on where I don’t really believe something is going to happen until it actually happens. (I’m working on that. I really am.) But yesterday morning I woke up at the crack of awful, my dad picked me up, drove me to the airport, and I boarded a plane for New York City. (Please say “New York City” like they used to say it on those Pace picante commercials because that’s how it’s playing in my head.)

Actually I boarded a plane for Dallas first. Once I landed in Dallas I caught the airport tram to haul myself and my extremely overpacked carry-on bag to Gate A39. All was well and fine until they announced that my flight to JFK was now departing from Gate A14. You wouldn’t think that A39 would be that far from A14, but you would be wrong. Especially considering the fact that I was carrying a sound machine in my purse because I am a high maintenance traveler and don’t think I wouldn’t haul my body pillow through the airport if I could get away with it. I enjoy the comforts of home. And the sound of soft rain falling when I sleep.

Eventually American Airlines finally committed to a gate and I got in line to board the plane. I always start to get a little nervous when I board the plane because WHAT IF THERE IS NO ROOM FOR MY CARRY-ON BAG? And what if I hold up the entire boarding process of the plane while I try to figure it out? Fortunately there was an entire open luggage compartment and I mustered all my strength and possibly threw out my back trying to lift my bag. However, once I got it up there it appeared that it would only fit horizontally. So I left it that way. But then I realized the guy behind me was giving me the dirtiest look you can imagine because my horizontal bag didn’t leave any room for his bag. It was an unintentional error on my part and I started to apologize, but before I could even get the words out of my mouth he shoved my bag to the side, turned it horizontally and stored his bag next to mine. All while giving me the stinkeye.

Looking at him, I quietly said, “Sorry, I didn’t think it would fit that way.” But what I wanted to say was “Dude, settle down. It’s just luggage.” I don’t think he saw it that way.

I spent a large part of the flight reading various periodicals. I wish I could say that if you have any questions about the budget deficit or how the federal reserve rates are influencing the economy that I know the answer. The truth is that if you want to know about Kate Gosselin’s attitude on Dancing With The Stars or how Sandra Bullock is dealing with all her marital woes, then I am your girl. When it comes to current celebrity trivia I am en fuego.

After I arrived in New York, I caught (hailed?) a cab driven by a fellow named Harjab. From what I could tell Harjab appeared to be having some sort of spat with someone and spent most of the thirty minute cab ride yelling into his cell phone and then hanging up. Then he’d answer the phone again, yell some more, and hang up. All while driving across the Queensboro Bridge and nearly steering us right into a lane already occupied by a city bus. But other than my life span being shortened by about ten years from sheer terror, Harjab eventually got me to the hotel.

I checked into my room and immediately took a shower because two planes plus New York cab plus eighty degrees equals ick. Refreshed and relaxed, I stretched out on the bed and came to two conclusions about why I could never live in New York.

1. I have a tendency to get carsick. If I had to spend even a few minutes a week being driven around in stop and go traffic while riding in the backseat of a hot car, I’d never survive. On the plus side, it might be an effective diet plan.

2. While I was laying on the bed, I began to hear loud drumbeats right outside the window. I thought there was some kind of street musical going on or something and I was all OH NEW YORK! You amuse me with your street music! But then I looked outside and saw several men yelling through megaphones, six drummers drumming, ten lords a leaping and the biggest fake rat I’ve ever seen. (Not that I’ve seen that many fake rats in my day, but this one was like ten feet tall and standing on two legs.) It turned out to be some sort of construction workers strike or something like that even though the rat confused me for a minute and I thought maybe they were protesting The Tale of Despereaux. All I know is I’d hate to be the guy in charge of bringing the rat every morning.

But then last night I ate some of the most delicious pasta I’ve ever had in my life, walked by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and took in the sights of Madison Avenue, and all was forgiven.

New York, you’re a little loud but you make up for it with a lot of style.

And ten foot tall fake rats.

You have questions, I make up answers

I’m sitting here trying to come up with some kind of lead in for this post, but am only drawing a complete blank. So I’ll just say that there have been a few questions that have come up and I thought today would be a good day to answer them. I can’t promise it will be interesting or enlightening because there’s a good chance I have no idea what I’m talking about. But it’s rare that I let that stop me.

1. Several of you have asked about my new Shark vacuum.

I bought the Shark Ultralight Multi-Vac from Target. According to the instructions, it can turn into three different types of vacuums. However, I had enough trouble just assembling the dang thing in the first place and I’m not even going to pretend like I’m going to turn it into a hand-vac for small spills. If I have to drag the thing out of the closet, then I’m going whole hog on the vacuuming.

Before deciding on a new vacuum, I extensively researched various models on the internet for at least five minutes. The Dyson sounded great except paying that much for something that only cleans and can’t be worn on your feet seems like the equivalent of buying a shovel made out of gold. I chose the Shark because it was fairly inexpensive as far as vacuums go and I only have four small-ish rugs in my house.

I am a fan of The Shark. Not only because it has a cool name, but because it has a clear canister where I can see all the dirt and dust that’s coming from the floor. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but it feels like instant gratification (mixed with a little bit of horror) to see all that dirt and dust while I’m vacuuming.

(I feel the need to make sure you know that this is not any kind of a paid endorsement or anything. It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other if you buy The Shark. I believe in the freedom to choose our own vacuums.)

2. Other people have asked about the photo apps I’m using on my iPhone.

Listen. I have no idea what I’m doing here, but I’m enjoying messing around with the different photo settings and occasionally I’ve even managed to take a decent looking picture. One of the apps I’ve been using is called Camera Bag. Someone recommended it in the comments a few weeks ago and I fell in love. After you take a picture, Camera Bag gives you all kinds of different ways to change it up.

All of these photos were taken with the Camera Bag app.

These photos were taken with the Hipstamatic app. It comes with different lens and film options. Honestly, I’m still figuring it out. It can make things look really cool or just absolutely creepy and when I use it to take pictures it’s a little bit like a box of chocolates.

The truth is that I’m really tired of my little point and shoot camera and want to move up to something a little nicer. I’m not ready to take the plunge yet because I know it will take more than five minutes of research to figure out which one to buy and a lifetime for me to learn how to actually take great pictures with it. So in the meantime I’m just using my iPhone because I always have it with me.

3. No, P was not the pilot of the helicopter. The pilot just didn’t show up in the pictures thanks to my stellar photography skills.

4. No, I’m not watching Celebrity Apprentice. Donald Trump gets on my nerves. I’m sure he’s a lovely person, I just don’t want to watch him on T.V. (Says the girl who watched every episode of Growing Up Brady.)

5. I haven’t started painting my kitchen yet. No one actually asked that, but I like to keep you up to date on everything that’s not happening around here. I’m praying for a rainy day so that Shorty won’t have anything to do except float and tape the cracks in my kitchen.

And this has nothing to do with anything, but I went to watch American Idol on the DVR last night and the description of the show came up on the screen. It said, “American Idol starring Ellen DeGeneres and some other people”. Is that not the laziest piece of television writing you’ve ever encountered? I believe someone has lost their passion for their job.

I hope y’all have a lovely day.

I’ll be singing On the Wings of Love all day

Oh, did we have a big day yesterday and not just because it was the season premiere of Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. Although really? What else could I have possibly wanted to make my quest for the perfect day complete?

Not that I was really on the quest for a perfect day because what are the odds that a day will come when I am able to watch a marathon of Real Housewives of NY while eating chips and queso in bed and not gain even a single pound?

So about a month ago, P mentioned that it was time for another helicopter hunt and he asked Caroline if she wanted to go with him. And she has spent the last thirty days telling anyone who will listen that she is going to ride in a helicopter. She’s also spent the last thirty days waking up first thing in the morning and asking in a voice not fit for 6:30 a.m., “IS TODAY THE DAY I’M FLYING IN THE HELICOPTER WITH DADDY?”

P also asked me if I’d like to go up in the helicopter but my response was slightly less enthusiastic than Caroline’s. I believe my exact words were “I wouldn’t go up in that helicopter if Jesus were the pilot”. Which I guess means I’ll never have one of those bumper stickers on the back of my car declaring that God is my co-pilot. And for that I believe that God and I are both very grateful.

But I did want to go down to the ranch and experience the whole thing. I just wanted to do it on the ground where sane people like to stay. And also people who made the mistake of underestimating their fear of heights at the Rodeo Carnival and walked around feeling seasick for three hours after deciding it was a good idea to ride the Tower of Doom.

However, I am a strong believer in not passing down my fears and phobias and general oddities to my child. It’s why I’ve spent the last six years trying to act like carnival workers and people who are double-jointed don’t completely freak me out. And why I force myself to occasionally play something on my iPod besides Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits.

Ruby, don’t take your love to town.

Sure enough, we arrived at the ranch and there was a real live helicopter. With a propellor and everything. I felt a little bit like I just stepped on to the set of The Bachelor because they do love them some helicopters.

(I believe this post may serve as confirmation that I am addicted to reality television. If I mention Flava Flav, feel free to stage an intervention.)

P and Caroline walked up to where the helicopter had landed. Notice their matching safety orange shirts.

They surveyed the situation.

They climbed into the helicopter. I began to pray without ceasing.

What? They get to wear headsets? I would have totally considered doing it if I’d known there were headsets involved.

Truthfully, the headsets wouldn’t have made any difference because a chicken can’t change her spots or her feathers or whatever. (I’m resisting the urge to say I’m the coward of the county but everything comes back to Kenny sooner or later.)

And they’re off. Flying high upon the wings of love.

I spent the next ten minutes experiencing mild to moderate nausea until they were safely back on the ground. Judging from the look on Caroline’s face, I think it may go down as the highlight of her six and a half years.

After the hunt was over and we all ate some lunch, we hopped into my granite countertops and Caroline drove us around the ranch.

The wildflowers are truly unbelievable. There are only about three weeks a year when South Texas is this beautiful so I took about a hundred pictures to document it. (And, yes, I’m still experimenting with iPhoto apps.)

I asked Caroline if she wanted to change into the pretty pink dress I’d brought along so we could take some pictures in the flowers. She looked at me and said, “NO WAY, JOSE.”

So I’ll just have to treasure these precious memories of her in an oversized safety orange t-shirt.

After our wildflower safari, Caroline had a little target practice. There are three less water bottles in the world courtesy of her superior marksmanship.

And then it was time to go home. Even though she wasn’t tired AT ALL. NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT TIRED.

Or maybe just a little.