Category Archives: Personal Blog

Entries from my personal journal

A Fable

Once upon a time there was a little game designer, and every day she went to sleep early because she was a very sleepy person and that’s when she got her best work done anyway. She would fill up a big glass of water and set it next to the bed so that when she woke up in the middle of the night with the dread-thirst, she could drink the glass and return to her work (sleep).

But one day, some blustery wind and a neighbor’s dance party threw her sleep schedule into tatters and shambles, or perhaps shatters and tambles. She worked very hard to get it back in line, but still had some rough problems with waking up at the wrong times in the night.

The little game designer woke up one night with the dread-thirst at a very unusual time, earlier than usual, but when she reached over for her glass of water, she paused. Her cat was sitting there on the bedside table, watching her intently. The little game designer blinked, puzzled, since normally the cat was to be found at the foot of the bed.

Then, casually, as though this was perfectly routine, her cat leaned over and began drinking out of her glass of water. A long, thirsty drink. He licked his lips and walked back onto the bed, curling up to sleep. Very casual. As though this was a perfectly normal order of events for him.

And nothing was ever the same after that.

Dog and Cat Phases – A Personal Post

Disclaimer: this post was written very late at night when the portal to subconscious Lisa brain was open. Sometimes weird, emotional stuff comes out when that happens.

I think it was my senior year of high school, and I was sitting on a swing in the park next to my friend, Nicole, while she explained her philosophy on categorization of love. Not romantic love, as you may expect high school girls to talk about, but love of people in general, of friendship and acquaintances.

Continue reading Dog and Cat Phases – A Personal Post

2013 Review

This year was full of many adventures and exciting times. I feel kind of like it was a ramp-up, and that 2014 might explode…but for good or for awesome? Only time will tell. Here’s a few memories from 2013.



At work, we finally revealed the project that I’d been working on since Resistance 3 shipped, that being Sunset Overdrive. It felt great to be able to share the trailer with the world, and I worked on many things for the first half of the year, both exciting and challenging. However, during the summer, I made a transition to working on something else that was more of a process experiment. I will be able to talk about that in more detail, soon, but the second half of 2013 was incredibly refreshing and fulfilling, work-wise. I continue to be ever grateful for Insomniac and my job as a game designer. Meanwhile, I’ve turned up the networking knob a bit for 2013, partially under the encouragement of Nick, and have been more active in reaching out and connecting with my fellow game devs, through the internet or Game Dev Drinkups or whathaveyou.



Mr. Davis has had some ups and downs this year. He had to have some teeth pulled at the very beginning of the year, and then had a frightening bout with pancreatitis which has unfortunately turned into a chronic condition. However, in his normal day-to-day life he remains happy, and continues to be a valued source of unconditional love in my life.



Nick and I moved in together this year! So far it has been wonderful, and Mr. Davis is also happy about the arrangement. Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve had a lot of insights this year, and forged deeper bonds with friends and mentors. Whenever I review it in my mind I feel an overflowing of love and gratitude, and I’d like to take part of 2014 to express these feelings in a more overt way. Financially, I continue to plug away at the student loan, and if all goes as planned, it should be gone by the end of 2014! Hobby-wise, playing League of Legends and watching e-sports has only been on the rise. As far as games played, I’ll save my top 5 games of 2013 for another post.


Side Projects

I got involved in more out-of-work projects this year, including a few game jams and my first solo Ludum Dare. I also buckled down and participated in National Novel Writing Month, which is something I’d always meant to do but put off. Not only was I successful, but I opened some manner of portal in my brain and a giant story is trying to squeeze its way out. I have been honestly surprised at how consuming the experience has been. 2014 will see it out into the world. In other side projects, I made an effort to work more non-fiction into my reading rotation, and feel like I’ve absorbed all kinds of interesting new bits of knowledge as a result. Mentoring continues to be a part of my time, both through Game Mentor Online and through connecting directly with students via my various alma maters, as is photography at the animal shelter.



This year I felt like I was more successful than ever with consistently riding my bike to work. Nick and I also established a frequent hiking habit which has been beneficial. And ever since moving into the new apartment, I have been walking a lot more on a regular basis. I feel really good about myself right now, but have an antsy urge to get harder/better/faster/stronger, just because. I think it is a desire to channel the blossoming of energy that I’ve felt grow inside of me this year, possibly as a result of all the side projects.


I have a sensation that 2014 is going to be full of creative energy and positive relationships, and I am excited and curious and wiggling with anticipation for whatever surprises it may have in store for me.

Blue Light Dreams

Now and again, I have a weird sleep issue that I call “Blue Light Dreams.” It goes like this:


1. I’ll be having a dream which I usually don’t remember

2. I’ll wake up with sudden urgency and start carrying out some task of great importance that my mind is convinced is 100% real. This can be something like “the tunnel in the ceiling is open, now is our chance to get through!” and will end up with me literally standing up on the bed and hoisting up Davis so we can climb through the nonexistent tunnel in the ceiling that I’m scrambling to find.

3. A few moments later I’ll realize that I’ve woken from a dream and whatever I’ve just been acting out is actually ridiculous. Davis usually makes his confused “Mrrr?” sound.

4. 99% of the time these outbursts involve me seeing a blue light. Like in the previous example, I will have seen a bright blue light in the corner of the ceiling which is the signal that the tunnel is open. This looks like a reflection off the wall of a bright blue LED.

5. My brain will make up an excuse as to what the blue light was to get me to go back to sleep, but it’s always something that doesn’t make any sense when I go back and think about it. It’ll be like “oh it was just my clock” (my clock has a green light and usually is dimmed) or…and this is my favorite… “oh it was just the indiglo from my watch” (noting that I have not owned a watch, let alone a watch with indiglo, since high school). But in this state the excited part of my brain accepts whatever excuse the other part has come up with for the time being.

I hate when these Blue Light Dreams happen, because when I settle down from them, I get really anxious and distressed. I’m definitely awake when they happen, but I’m doing something just completely bonkers-crazy and absolutely thinking it is real. It’s like a brief little glimpse into what being a madman is like, and it scares me (I just had one now, and I can’t get back to sleep, which is why I’m up late writing this post). The blue light part is weird but consistent, and it has become a false reminder. Like I wake up and see a blue light and it reminds me that this is a familiar situation. But instead of reminding me “hey you just woke up from a dream, remember?” it’s more like “there’s the blue light! It’s a sign! You have to get up and figure out what it’s for RIGHT NOW and it’s VERY URGENT and DON’T FORGET TO GRAB THE CAT.”

Then, at the moment I should be thinking like a normal person again, I do another weirdly crazy thing – the made up excuse that doesn’t make any sense and the calm acceptance of the excuse as reality.

I’m really not sure what’s going on with these incidents – I’m certainly awake when they occur, and though I often act out with great energy I don’t do anything violent, and at most disturb Davis from sleep by grabbing him and picking him up suddenly. They seem harmless other than the fact that they make me feel like a crazy person, which is scary and distressing. And then sometimes it makes it so I can’t get back to sleep.

Stupid Blue Light Dreams. Does this happen to any of you?

Another Risotto

Tonight I made some “let’s see what I have in the kitchen/garden” risotto that was different enough from my last risotto recipe to warrant its own post. A note on the butter: I bought some butter from the farmer’s market that was “European style,” which the vendor explained meant it had more fat in it. It’s pretty freakin tasty. Anyway…


  • 1-2 Tablespoons of butter or olive oil or a combination
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 2 cups rice
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • A few tablespoons of shredded havarti cheese
  • A few small, fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste



  1. Heat oil/butter in a large pot
  2. Toss onion, carrots, garlic, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes on med-high heat, stirring occasionally
  3. Add basil, parsley, and thyme and stir to coat
  4. Add rice and cook until it starts to brown, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn
  5. Add wine and cook until absorbed by rice
  6. Add stock 1 cup at a time and stir until absorbed by rice before adding next cup
  7. Remove the pot from heat, add the rest of the butter and shred in the havarti cheese (not too much, just a bit for flavor)
  8. Toss in fresh tomatoes

Grasshopper Hunting

Davis and I have developed a ridiculous new nighttime routine. It begins when we hear the chirping of the nocturnal, basil-eating grasshopper just outside the patio door. Davis runs to the door and I scoop him up and take him out on the patio. There we scout the garden and the neighboring bushes, waiting for the next chirp or waggling of antennae to give away the basil-eater’s position. Then comes the ridiculous part. The grasshopper is revealed! Davis bats frantically with his paws while I wield him this way and that, lifting him and aiming him towards the fluttering grasshopper as it darts about, trying to escape.

Davis seems to understand that the grasshopper is located too high for him to get from the ground, and so is perfectly fine being hoisted all around through the air while he tries to catch the culprit with his paws and teeth. The neighbors may think us crazy, but so far we have managed to capture one grasshopper with this method (it was subsequently brought into the apartment and devoured – I’m usually a live-and-let-live kind of person with bugs, but grasshoppers that eat my basil are a different story).

A strange sensation of awareness

I experienced a somewhat bizarre sensation tonight on my bike ride home from Nick’s.

I was riding through the empty library parking lot just before my apartment, and I looked left and right before crossing the entrance like I always do. Now, whenever I look left and right before crossing a street, I always try very hard to remember to intentionally look forward as well.

This comes from a Kempo swim clinic I used to go to years ago, where we were taught stealth swimming among other things. You do a sort of slow, exaggerated freestyle stroke and llean left and right as you do so to scan your surroundings. My soke always emphasized to pay attention and look forward while doing this as well, because it was easy to scan to either side and completely block out was directly in front of you. A handy skill for combat swimming to notice the archer directly in front of you, but also for crossing the street so you don’t block out the car coming straight ahead while repeating the childhood mantra of “left, right, left again”

ANYway, as I was doing my safety scan, something about the openness and emptiness of the lot made me lean very far around and scan everything around me. It felt really odd, like looking across a panoramic picture. It was as though I suddenly felt aware of the fact that the world existed 360 degrees around me, that there was so much more outside the cone of my forward vision that I never really thought about before. This sounds ridiculous when you break it down like this, because of course I’m “aware” of the world at large (I was spending a lot of time today playing GeoGuessr, afterall), but that kind of awareness is like a slightly abstract mental construct I carry around in my head. Being suddenly physically aware of the total space around me felt different, slightly alarming, but altogether pleasing.

I’m assuming this sensation is a goal people try to achieve when being “mindful of their surroundings” in a meditative sense, and I just somehow tripped and stumbled into it. I suppose I have an experience target to shoot for now!

Lentil Curry


I made one of those “whatever I have in the kitchen” curries tonight, and it turned out pretty tasty! I’m attempting to reconstruct it here, but I might be off on things like spice amounts. I do remember it being pretty mild, so if you want more punch, add more spice. It was also a relatively dry curry, so if you like yours more “saucy,” add more liquid (stock, water, cream, or even crushed tomatoes might be tasty). You can also use vegetable or chicken stock instead of beef, I just have a ton of beef stock that I’m trying to use up.


  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 potato, diced
  • A few leaves of kale, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 small-medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • grated ginger
  • a handful of spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp amchur/dried mango powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsps garam masala
  • 2 tsps tandoori masala
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • salt to taste
  • rice for serving


  1. Add lentils and water to a saucepan, bring to a boil
  2. Add potato and kale to lentils, reduce heat, partially cover with lid and simmer for 15 minutes
  3. Strain lentils and return to pan, set aside
  4. In another pot, heat up some oil, then add onion, garlic, carrots, spinach, and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium high heat
  5. Add spices and stir, coating all the vegetables. Cook for about a minute or so more until fragrant
  6. Add lentil mixture to the pot and stir
  7. Add stock and stir, then cover partially and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes (give or take)
  8. Salt to taste, add more spices if needed.
  9. Serve on rice.