Lucy and I had a big adventure yesterday -- a solo train trip/overnight visit/photo shoot in New York City for Figure magazine, where they love them some big girl author. Here is what I have learned.

1. It's remarkable how people's peripheral vision deteriorates on a crowded train. There we were, plodding down the aisle, Lu in her stroller, me with backpack and diaper bag, no empty pair of seats to be found, and everyone we walked by made like they couldn't even see us. Nobody said, "Hey, let me move over and sit next to someone so the two of you can sit together." Nobody said, "Would you at least like this one seat next to me?" Nobody said nothing, until we'd set up camp on the floor, at which point the Very Busy Businesswoman taking up two seats with her laptop, Blackberry, cell phone and pager, looked at Lu and said, "Oh, what a CUTIE PIE!" I wanted to say, "You know what would make her even cuter? A freakin' SEAT!" But I didn't. Things cleared out by the time we made Metropark, and on the way home, two guys actually offered to give up their seats by the bulkhead so that we could park the stroller. Thus, I am not ready to despair of all humanity quite yet.

2. There is crack in Elmo's fur. Or something equally addictive. After the debacle of the last plane trip, Adam and I purchased a portable DVD player and a judiciously selected handful of DVDs for use on long car trips or future plane or train travel. There was a little Baby Einstein, a little Baby Mozart, and one Elmo's World. Lucy is addicted to it. "Ahl-mo, Ahl-mo, Ahl-mo!" she will shriek, when confronted with any television set, computer screen, or the DVD player itself. If I try to play another video, she'll reject it with the repeated plaint of "Ahl-mo, Ahl-mo, AHL-MOOOOOO!" until I cue up the little furry red guy. Big Bird doesn't cut it; Cookie Monster won't do. What is it about Elmo? I haven't got a clue.

Remember that "Far Side" cartoon, where a guy's talking to his dog, saying something like "Now, Ginger, I expect you to behave yourself while we're away, and Ginger, you're going to be a good girl, right, Ginger?" and all the dog hears is "blah blah blah blah Ginger, blah blah Ginger, blah blah blah." When we got to Penn Station, I loaded Lu onto her stroller, then got my coat and my backpack and her diaper bag, and the whole time she was saying "Shoe! Shoe!" I was pretty distracted, and I said, "Yes! Shoe! You have pretty new shoes with flowers on them!" Heh. By the time I'd located the elevator and gotten us onto the street, I realized that she was saying "shoe, shoe, shoe," because she'd kicked one of her pretty new shoes off, and had only a sock on one foot. It was sort of like Gary Larson in reverse. She was trying to say, "Mama! Attention! My shoe! I have lost my shoe! Please recover my shoe!" only all she could say -- and, hence, all I could hear -- was "shoe! shoe! shooooooe!"

Bottom line -- we had to make an emergency stop at the Foot Locker. Lu is now the proud owner of a very small pair of pink New Balance sneakers. Guaranteed un-kick-offable. On sale, too!

4. I have learned nothing from America's Next Top Model. There I was, face full of makeup, hair in ringlets, photographer and stylist on hand, techno music pumping, trying with all my heart to remember what Miss J. told Toccara about how to look less busty. Was it walking toe to heel? Heel to toe? Lean forward for a longer line, or lean back? And what did Tyra tell Ann about how not to look like she has dead eyes in her photographs? Whatever it was, I couldn't remember it. All I could recall were Janice Dickinson's greatest hits, including "in this picture, you look like you have a penis." Not helpful at all.

The good thing that came out of the shoot -- the Philadelphia-based photographer, who read my blog in advance of our meeting, not only thinks I should enter Shoeless Lu in the Stonyfield competition, he's even offered to take her picture for it. Five thousand dollar savings bond with free topping, here we come!