I’m dreaming of a … Penguin Christmas

Some people are dreaming of a white Christmas, and I’m dreaming of penguins. Two years ago right around now we were setting off for Antarctica and the ultimate Penguinland. What impressed me the most about penguins? It’s that they have no problem diving off a cliff into the freezing ocean, that they can propel themselves back out like little torpedoes and that a friendly slap with a flipper is reciprocated with a similar friendly slap and there’re no hard feelings. (And of course, how they manage to find their nest in the penguin megapolis of South Georgia, how they give beak kisses to their spouses and steal pebbles from their neighbor is a whole different story.)

Anna Bob St Andrew's Bay








Apparently I’m not the only person in awe of these fascinating animals. UK-based John Lewis department story has scored over 20 million views of their 2014 Christmas ad featuring penguin love.


Here’re penguins heralding in Christmas in South Korea.


And this is what it looks down there in South Georgia right around now… where it’s almost Penguin Christmas time.


Koala Cuddles

All the news I need to know I learn from Facebook…. This morning I came across a photo of Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin holding koalas before the start of the G20 summit in Australia.

It turns out that the Australians specially trained koalas to give gentle and loving hugs to the world leaders (probably in hopes of promoting love and not war).

Apparently koalas spend 10 minutes a day learning to hug and get a day off every three days.

The biggest tip when holding a koala is to pretend you’re a tree…


Judging by this photo, Putin’s koala is thinking, “Get away from me! I’m an endangered species!”


On running into Mr. Big

My relationship with Mr. Big started in the kitchen. I hated him. Well, not him personally, but the whole idea of Sex in the City. It was the year 2000. I was living in St. Petersburg and considered the fact that they broadcasted the word ‘sex’ on national television right after the evening news the last step in moral degradation.

Several years later, my sister came to visit us in the US. On a road trip up the Highway 1 in California, we were looking for a place to spend the night. This was before having an Orbitz app on my phone. We started with Holiday Inns and Best Westerns and soon discovered that they were full and what was even sadder, way out of our price range. Mentally preparing to spend the night in the car, we came across a motel that had a room under $100 but it was the kind of place where you slept with your wallet under your pillow. We checked in anyway and stuck a chair under the door handle. The idea was that even though it wouldn’t stop an intruder, it might buy us a couple of extra seconds to react.

That evening, since it was too scary to outside, we turned on the TV with three channels and it just so happened that Sex and the City was on. I started to protest but it wasn’t exactly like there were a lot of options. By midnight it turned out that most the women’s issues that I had been trying to figure out on my own had been already deciphered and presented in a TV show. I watched the rest on demand when we got home.

A decade later, yesterday, I ran into Mr. Big at the JCK jewelry show. He was at one of the exhibits. He was there as himself, actor Chris Noth, and everything inside of me went back to those days at the hotel and across the world. It’s crazy how things work out sometimes.


chris noth jck

Since Turning 33

losing my headIt just so happens that I like the number 3 and all of its derivatives. Some of you might know that our house is number 6933… So when it looked like turning 33 was becoming a real possibility, I started to get quietly excited but had no idea about the wild ride it was going to be. Just for the past three days:

–          Spent an afternoon at the adult toy expo. Unless I come next year, will probably never see so many sizes and colors ever in my life, even if at some point I turn 99. Thrilled that things are moving away from imitations to sleek little devices with USB storage…

–          Spent several afternoons at a business analytics event trying to wrap my mind around the concept of big data. My mind has stretch marks now and even a few tears.

–          Got a parking ticket for not displaying my registration. Turns out I’ve been driving since Dec without the right sticker…

–          Met with my boss at a piano bar. We sang I feel so emotional, baby!

–          Got a beautiful bouquet from our family. Got emotional.

–          Bought a dress. Enough said.

As my friend a photographer says, #whatesleispossible?

Garbage Disposal Juice

I call it garbage disposal juice. That’s what it tastes like. Tiny pieces of food that get regurgitated in small volcanoes that used to house your wisdom teeth into delicious brown goo. It comes out in little globs, brown and squishy, making you wonder what they used to be in their original state. Turkey? Mashed potatoes? Chocolate? No, not chocolate. That is supposed to melt in your mouth.

At night, during the day and especially in the morning your four personal garbage disposals are in full throttle. Need your fix? Just make a sucking motion with your mouth and the good stuff comes oozing out. Or give your tongue a permission to do what it’s been wanting to do all along, which is to go poking around in places where it doesn’t belong. The tongue might argue that it’s its own territory we’re talking about and it’s entitled to survey the damage and that it’s tyranny to keep it away. So don’t. It’s pressing and poking will delight your taste buds with fresh bursts of sumptuous rot.

You wonder if there’s a good reason why people keep their distance from you at the checkout line. You chew gum but still wonder. The gum also pulls out little goo globs, which add an new dimension to the peppermint flavor.

You try to go on a liquid diet and tell yourself that it will be an easy way to lose a few pounds. Liquid diet lasts until dinner.

As a responsible individual, you tell yourself that deriving pleasure from this is wrong and try to keep your mini volcanoes clean by swishing them with warm salted water. This only produces more juice, but this time its flavor profile is intensified by salt. After all, the rules of cooking still apply. Salt makes things taste better.

In the meantime, you experiment with pain drugs and wonder why you didn’t as much as smoke pot as a teenager. That question rises again and again as you sink deeper into the second season of Breaking Bad. Here’s a taste.

Dreaming Never Hurts

japanese chins sleepingA couple of weeks ago, after a day of asking several dozen strangers about something I had a very vague idea about I had a dream. It was my birthday and President Obama and the first lady were scheduled to make an appearance. If this part wasn’t strange enough, the party was held at our old apartment on the 12th floor.

The secret service people staked out the place. Then the President came. He took off his bomber jacket and a ski mask and said, “Happy birthday, Anna. Unfortunately, I can’t stay long but here’s Michelle.”

This is where my brain goes into overdrive… Since it’s such a rare opportunity, can I interview her? A tiny little bit? Can I record answers? Can I put them on YouTube? Do I have to get permission? What questions to ask? I came up with a list…

When I woke up, my temples were throbbing. I turned on the TV and there she was on the news, talking about her wardrobe. I felt like I was having an out of body experience.

Since then I’ve dreamt about interviewing a guy who has a space capsule in his back yard and going on a ride-along with a bomb squad.

Can’t wait to see what the pain pills prescribed by the dentist will produce tonight.