Etiquette v. Efficiency

Well, I resolved the whole, "I WANT MORE HELP FROM MY BOYFRIEND!" thing. I stopped hinting at wanting help while feeling like a nag, and instead created a list of items I wanted him to take care of.

Initially, being this direct made me feel like a raging, demanding mo-fo. I'm not sure if it's a cultural thing, but asking for help seems rude. (On my end, at least. I still like helping other people.)

But magically, in a matter of three hours, 90% of the stuff I wanted done was done.

Watching my to-do list clear up makes me happy. In my heart.

Secret Tunnels

On one hand, it's incredibly awesome to wake up and find your puppy dog burrowing under the covers to snuggle with you.

On the other, knowing that you could roll over in your sleep and either a) suffocate her or b) startle her into biting you kinda sucks.

But really, burrowing is way cute. Way. Well, after you get over the whole "ZOMG THE BOOGEY MAN IS AFTER MEEEEE ... oh, it's just you," feeling.



I freaking love this time of year, even with the stress.

I love the music, I love the pretty bows-n-paper, I love the lights, I love the ornaments, I love sparkling blue-tinged snow at dusk, I love Scrooged & The Disney Christmas Carol (the one with Mickey Mouse), I love spending time with dear friends and family, I love freakish amounts of food (an artery clogging good time), I love driving around looking at other people's decorations while drinking hot chocolate, I love planning gifts for people ...

It's all kinds of awesome.

I just wish I had more time to really relish each and every moment. I would spend weeks preparing it all, if I could.

A smidge overwhelmed

I really need to find a way to coerce ... er ... trick ... er ... convince my boyfriend to help out with winter holiday stuff. So far, I've hung lights, put up decorations, ordered and wrapped a zillion gifts, designed a Christmas card photo insert and printed out addressed envelopes. He has ... uh ... he definitely looked at the photo insert. After I asked. And he ordered a couple of presents online. Which I'll probably wrap. Oh, and he came with me to grab fun Christmas food at Trader Joes and Costco.

I still need to write in, stuff, stamp, and send the cards. Wrap more gifts. Burn and wrap the annual holiday CD. Organize like the Dickens for our impending two week trip. Etc.

His contributions are all helpful and appreciated, but I can't help but want a little more assistance. I mean, I'm working 5 billion jobs and I feel like my personal to-do list is just growing and growing and growing ...

Mostly I just wish I didn't have to initiate it all. It feels like any failure on my part to make a concerted effort to make Christmas happen will result in my most favorite-est of holiday seasons passing me by. Thank goodness I'm going up to my parents' place, so I can sit back and enjoy other peoples' holiday efforts for a little while.

Of course, no one is making me do extra work for the holidays. I just really, really enjoy getting cards and looking at purdy decorations. I figure I should put some effort into making this time of year nice for other people too.


I'm rubber, you're glue

I don't do well when I'm startled. If someone says something horrible in my presence, I usually have no idea how to react. I get flustered and stay silent. Or act like it's okay.

I'm not sure if Los Angeles is making me an angrier person, but I'm getting better in these situations. Every time something cruddy happens to me, I take note of it. I digest the information, let the incident marinate awhile, and come up with a "what I should have done" plan. This makes me better prepared to handle whatever else comes my way.

Speaking of which ...

My trip to Montana last December went fantastically well. I found purpose in life (weird, seeing as I should have been in a food coma) and had a great time hanging out with my family and friends.

Unfortunately, an obnoxious child kicked my good spirits in the nuts.

Browsing the aisles of some chain store in a sterile mall, a 5 year-old turned to her mother, pointed at me, and said, "That lady is UGLY!"*

First of all, holy self-esteem killer! Second, what kind of mother doesn't apologize when that happens?! Third, GAAAAAAAAH!

I wish I'd said something. I didn't. I stayed silent, not sure that what I thought had happened had *actually* happened.

This year, I am prepared for naughty child antics. My response will be:

"Santa is a lie."

*Unlike the demon-spawn and her family members, I have dark brown hair and light olive skin. They were rather Arian. I assume this was her issue with my appearance. I have just enough self-esteem to know I'm not a hideous beast. I think.


Cheeto burrito

Gratuitous doggy pics:

Birthday/Anniversary Weekend Round Up

Brace for rambling. After that: photos.

My weekend turned out infinitely better than expected (no offense, Mr. Boyfriend-O-Mine).

After a lot of worrying on my part (and nagging about making sure Cheeto and Little One were taken care of), my boyfriend picked me up from work on Friday. The kick-buttiness commenced. First we dropped off Cheeto at her old foster mom's house (she's a celebrity dog trainer, apparently, but gives a nice boarding discount to rescue animals). Next we picked up delish Earl Grey tea bobas and pot roast sammiches from the Urth Caffe (you're probably going to notice an eating theme here, btw). Then Mr. Boyfriend-O-Mine asked me to enter our destination into my phone's navigator application.

Our surprise destination: "Cat's Favorite Beach.*" Nicely done, Mr. Boyfriend-O-Mine.

We left early enough in the day to enjoy the sights on our way up to the Bay Area. Traffic moved along nicely, though we passed two separate cars whose engines had caught on fire. Not just smoking fire, actual flame fire. Scary. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get my camera in time.

That camera comment sounds callous, upon second reading. The people in the cars were fine. For the record.

Anyway, we ate dinner at a favorite burrito place in my old neighborhood in San Francisco, stopped in at a Safeway to grab an It's It (which I hadn't had for over 10 years - just as amazing as I remembered) and arrived at the beach at about 10 that evening. I hopped out of the car to find he'd rented a cabin, complete with a fireplace and kitchen. Awesome.

What made this all extra sweet was the fact that I practically grew up at this beach. My family and I spent weeks upon weeks staying in a family friend's beach house. In other words: my boyfriend not only listened to what I had said about these fond memories - he actually remembered. (He's a keeper.)

Morning one involved a breakfast of biscuits & gravy, potatoes and eggs. AND a mocha with whipped cream. Mmm. Then we went for a long walk on the beach, unfortunately spotted a rotting seal carcass being consumed by turkey vultures (sad!), then got caught up in the tide. We retreated back to the cabin just in time for lunch. Yes, lunch. Breakfast was heavy, but I made a point of not eating all of it. Anyhoo, I indulged in a free-range organic beef burger from my old favorite burger stand, a couple of fries and a half and half soft-serve ice cream cone. Heaven. And yes, all diets are off on birthday weekends. Besides, winter is upon us. I need to prepare to hibernate.

Post lunch, we wandered around the tiny beach town and hit up my old haunts - the charming bookstore whose owner hand picks each and every book (I found a coloring book that I remembered filling in as a kiddo) and a supermarket with a surprising array of organic and other nummy foods. Then we went on a drive past a lagoon (gooorgeous AND there were lots of cute duckies) and ventured into a rather secretive smaller beach community. Also gorgeous with enormous trees and lots and lots of green foliage all around.

Next we drove back into San Francisco, wandered around the Palace of Fine Arts, then hunted for Manchurian beef (not the same as Mongolian. Apparently it's a NorCal thing).

Sunday we had brunch at the same restaurant we ate breakfast in the day before. I think I had soup, but it was overshadowed by a really awesome smoothie and a cute dog inhabiting the doorway of the restaurant. We then took a looooong walk on the beach, showered and primped for socializing, and drove to Vallejo to chill with my super awesome cousin. Post chillin', we wen't out with a few other super awesome cousins (and one's super awesome girlfriend) for Chinese food. Post-Chinese food, we went to a super awesome cousin's house and hung out with their super adorable Corgi/Jack Russel mix. Which reminded me of Cheeto, but I made sure I didn't focus on missing her for too long.

* Cat's favorite beach = this place:

Found at my fav. burrito place:

Japanese tea garden goodness:

These guys reminded me of this. "They see me roll on, my Segway, I know in my heart they think I'm white n' nerdy!" Thanks, Weird Al.

Pretty drive near the ocean:
Palace of Fine Arts:


More Japanese Tea Garden:

It's them!
More Beach:
Cool cousin and cute puplet:
Additional Japanese Tea Garden:


An abomination

I was lamenting the fact that my indulgent, budget splurge-y, organic free-trade coffee wasn't doing anything to wake me up when I realized that I wasted a ton of money on decaf. What's the point of decaf, anyway? Le sigh.


November was awesome

Seriously. Awesome.

  • Got published in an online, peer-reviewed journal for a review of The Sims 3.

  • Submitted an interview that took ages to complete.

  • My first paying game writing gig kicked into gear. (Just quest localization, essentially, but still ... yay!)

  • Spent time working with a great consulting group.

  • Was thrilled to see that the IGDA will be offering health care plans.

  • Speaking of the IGDA, I've been hyper involved with them, in general.

  • Kept on trucking as community manager for the QA Special Interest Group.

  • Been cruising along as a Jr. Editor for Gamersinfo.net.

  • Had my birthday and six-year anniversary with the boyfriend. :)

  • Spent time in a cabin by my favorite beach (good job planning, Mr. Boyfriend Man)!

  • Had a fabulous Thanksgiving where I ate tons of yummy food and spent time with lots of yummy people.

  • Experienced a bunch of wonderful, fantastic, super awesome, long-lasting conversations.



Cheeto's first trip to the beach wasn't exactly smooth sailing.

The Ocean: Oh hai!
Cheeto: GAAAAH! *rears up to escape a teeny wave, trips, and faceplants it in the sand*



Boyfriend: I spilled Cheeto's whole bag of food.
Me: Yikes. How much of it did she eat before you shooed her away?
Boyfriend: Not that much. I guess I have to go to the store.
Me: You're throwing it out?
Boyfriend: Yeah.
Me: It's not like she doesn't normally eat stuff off of the floor.
Boyfriend: You think it's okay to put it back in the bag?
Me: She licks sidewalks. So, yes.


Awkwardness Revisited

So, this one time, in middle school...

I went to a school dance at my friend's school and this guy asked me to slow dance and I was surprised so I was like, "who me?" then I felt stupid so I blushed and then my friend's boyfriend's friend asked me to dance later and I was like, "okay whatever" so then my friend apparently gave her boyfriend's friend my phone number so he called me and I made sure to tell him we were just friends so then he called me a few more times to talk and stuff but then later he faxed his friend to tell him to call me and let me know that he couldn't call me because his parents were mad about the long distance calls and then I was like "why are you calling me" and so I had my friend call his friend to tell him that we weren't dating and he shouldn't call me any more so then his friend told him and then his friend called my friend again but he was totally obviously listening in on the call so my friend three-way called me and his friend was like, "why did you break up with him?" and I was like "WE WERE NEVER DATING!"

The end.


Dear World

There should be a law against being busy with work on Fridays.

Hugs and Creepily Wet Smooches,



I hate dog pajamas

My dog is an L.A. dog. She can't stand it when it rains and acts like she's dying when it's hot, so I assume she's going to have trouble when my boyfriend and I drag her up to Montana for our holiday vacation.

Last year, it was twenty degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). Nothing to scoff at.

As such, I'm looking into cold weather dog apparel. Normally I'd mock people for dressing their animals up in frou frou outfits for any reason other than attempting to be ironically amusing (in the hipster-definition-of-ironic sort of way), but seriously - it's freaking freezing up there. She's in Los Angeles where it is never actually cold (despite what the locals say) and she won't have any reason/chance to grow in a thick fall/winter coat. I also don't want to know what salt and ice will do to her small, soft, adorable tiny paws.

I want to find boots and a jacket that are simultaneously aesthetically pleasing, not annoyingly cutesy, and highly functional. Amazon and Google have failed me thus far.

Failure example one (cutesy):

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Failure example two (unattractive to the point of hilarity - he needs a super hero emblem and cape):

Courtesy of K9 Top Coat

Failure example three (not terrible looking, minus the scarf - but not warm looking either):

Courtesy of Drs. Foster & Smith

What to do, what to do?!


Wish me luck

I am a list person. Regardless of the occasion, I find myself keeping careful track of what needs to be done to prepare for (insert any event/holiday here). Christmas planning for this year started on December 26th. I've been sifting through Thanksgiving recipes on Epicurious for months. I think I bought my boyfriend's mom's holiday gift in May.

As such, I'm generally the designated planner. Sometimes I don't mind, other times I get annoyed. Really? You didn't think to look up the directions in advance? Really. It gets to the point where people assume that I'm going to take care of things for them.

I may be paid to plan events for work, but I do not want to be in charge in my off hours. That's why, this year, I told my boyfriend to plan our anniversary/my birthday weekend.

It's risky, I know.

We once ended up at the wrong venue when he bought Nutcracker tickets when we lived in Colorado. He nearly drove us to Mexico when I let him navigate on the way to Montana. Even with a list in hand, he'll forget stuff at the grocery store.

His track record is not good.

I'm forcing this upon him because I have become sick of doing it. Arranging for pet sitters, making plans ahead of time with friends, finding hotel accommodations, carefully ensuring that we don't overbook or underbook ourselves. Writing down elaborate how-to guides for our guinea pig's caretaker. Ugh. It's exhausting. I don't like to be the one in charge *everything* (most of the time).

So now it's his turn. Wish him luck.

Austin GDC Part Deux

A follow-up on my Austin GDC 2009 post ...


I'm still happy I went with All Access, but I have to say that most of the sessions were so-so. There were a few very, very useful ones, of course, but overall I didn't need to drop that much dough this early in the networking game.


The decision to go with a hotel-alternative was a good one. Not only was it ridiculously affordable, the people I met were awesome. I had a walk-in closet, claw-foot tub with separate shower, and ginormous room all to myself. Lovely.

Stifling shyness

The housing fix covered this one for me. Sure, I've made a point of participating in things that make me anxious all my life to try and desensitize myself (theater, speech and debate, choir, etc.), but the fear just does not go away. Luckily, the people I stayed with were wonderful - warm, friendly, inclusive. This made the rest of the trip a breeze. I can't tell you how nice it is to have dinner time roll around and know that you have someone to spend it with.


Um. What?

Boyfriend (fiddling with something behind the television): "Ah man, I have a Rosemary's Baby situation going on here."

Me: *snort* "Um. What?"

Boyfriend: "I'm not sure which cord to unplug."

Me: "Ooooh. You mean Sophie's Choice ... Different. Very, very different. "

Boyfriend: "Oh."



I've been thinking again about what I should be doing with my life. I mean, I love all of my side projects, but I want to see one of them take off. I'm wondering if there's more I should do to make that happen.

Grad school? Which program?

In the meantime, I'm trying out this thing. It's allegedly a very easy to use game maker.

We shall see.


Note to Self: Pen Geek Edition

Uniball Signo RT Gell < Pentel R.S.V.P. < Pentel G2 0.7 mm.

Why Being Tall Sucks (Sometimes)

  • The taller you are, the farther your spoon has to travel from your bowl to your mouth. This increases the chances of drippage, which in turn increases the chances that you'll ruin a shirt or embarrass yourself.

  • Desks are never, ever the right height. Posture suffers, as a result. (I type this as I hunch over my keyboard).


Pet Peeve: Assumptions

I really can't handle it when people assume you're an idiot just because you don't know the exact same stuff they do.

When it comes down to it, everyone started as a newbie. More importantly: nothing is ever obvious.
  • At some point, you didn't know fuse boxes even existed.
  • There was a day when you didn't know the difference between it's and its. They're, there and their. Not to mention serial commas.*
  • Once upon a time, you didn't know the cake was a lie (and I won't judge you for running to Google if you still don't).
We all started out as screaming, needy little pooping machines, so please wait a second before harassing newbies**. Cut them (us) some slack. Please.

You're probably not wondering why I even brought this up. Which is okay, but I'm gonna share anyway. I've had more than my fair share of moments where my actions/statements were met with judgmental glares.


The summer after I turned fifteen, I took driver's ed. License in hand, I hopped into my silver 1984 Chrysler LeBaron (Matilda, may you rest in peace) and lovingly proceeded to try out all the buttons and switches and doodads and thingamawhatsies.

One button's purpose eluded me. I tried it once. Looked around. Got out of the car, inspected all the lights. Turned off the engine. Tried it again.

Lots of effort, no result. I gave up.

Eventually winter came and I had forgotten all about the mystery button. My friends and I piled into the car to go rent some videos and I discovered that fog was blocking my rearview.

"Dammit," I said. "I can't see anything. I wish there were something that could get rid of the condensation in my back window."

The car went silent. After a few moments, my friends began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

Embarrassment and confusion flushed my cheeks red.

"... seriously?" one friend prodded. The others chuckled.

"What?!" I asked, exasperated. I wanted the moment to be over.

"Oh come on...really?" the friend pressed again.


She explained the concept of rear window defrosters to me and pointed toward Matilda's mystery button.

"That's what those lines on your back window are for."

More laughter. My heart sank.

I felt more than a little stupid, and even a touch betrayed. My friends were laughing *at* me. Not because I cracked a joke or tripped over a trash can, but because I didn't know something they felt was obvious.

Many, many similar moments instilled in me a fear of asking questions. Eleven years later, and I'm only just getting over it.

*There's even a serial comma debate. Formal writing prefers one, two, and three. Journalists prefer one, two and three. As much as people may argue about it, there's no hard and fast rule, it's just a matter of druthers.

**Feel free to harass people who really should know better.


An Update: Goals for 2009

Back in February, I outlined my "Resolutions, nay, goals for 2009."

Here's how I'm doing so far:

1. Ride my exercise bike.
Not doing great on this one. It turns out, exercise bikes hurt. I ditched the thing in favor of walk/jogs and just recently found a gym I like.

2. Go to Chicago.
I haven't kept up with this one either. The main idea was to go places I've never been before - which I have succeeded in doing. I went to Austin last month and am set to go to Portland soon.

3. Do a lot of writing.
Sweet success! I'm writing much, much more than I originally anticipated.

4. Play more video games.
Well, I bought a PSP and went nuts on my Xbox 360. So far, so good.

5. Spend more money on myself without feeling guilty.
I've done this too. I also donated a bit to non-profits, which helps me offset the shopping guilt.

6. Open myself up more to love.
That's one heck of a tree-hugging hippy statement. I think I'm succeeding. Lots of awesome, new friends made this year. :)

7. Re-learn French.
Massive fail. I need to figure out a game plan for this one. Rosetta Stone software is expensive, but tempting. Has anyone here had any experience with it?

8. Eat a lot of dim sum.
Mmm hmm! And it shows, which is why I still need to do more of #1.

9. Go to more galleries and museums.
Thus far, this has also been a massive fail. I need to at least go to the Getty for their botanic garden and perhaps the de Yeung in SF. And maybe their Japanese tea garden.

10. At 11:59pm on December 31st, feel very, very happy.
Still workin' on it. :)


Austin GDC Part One: Planning

I haven't been to an out of town conference (other than the ones I've planned) in 6 years, so I was a little nervous about what I should do with myself. Which pass should I get? Where should I stay? Who am I going to eat lunch with? Please don't let me be the awkward shy person that retreats to her room for meals!


My options were as follows:
1) All Access
2) Main Conference
3) Summits and Tutorials
4) Game Career Seminar
5) Expo

This was the scariest decision, in my opinion. I was afraid that getting the cheap-o pass would doom me - socially and in terms of accessibility. Would certain passes brand me as a n00b? I caved and went with the all access, despite the hefty price tag. I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be disappointed with my choice later. Erring on the side of too much to do with my time seemed better than missing out on something awesome.


I initially freaked out about picking a hotel. Where would the people I end up getting along with be staying? How far away from the event center is too far? What if the housekeeper missed the dead hooker under the mattress?

Thankfully, a wonderful friend of mine suggested a hotel alternative - vacation rentals. She assembled a group of what she felt were compatible people, and one of them volunteered to help research our options.

Before I left, I knew we had 3 women and 5 guys in our group and two houses to pick from. And one of the houses was a castle. Literally.

Stifling shyness

I wasn't sure what to do about my ridiculous agoraphobia, so I rented a car to make sure I had an escape route. But that brought up the issue of how much I hate driving in new places. Blargh! And don't even get me started in terms of worrying about wardrobe choices.

More on how these decisions affected my experience coming soon ...



So, Austin GDC was awesome. I had a blast. I'll fill y'all in on details soon. :)


Members only

I love video games, but I'm not good at playing them all. Give me turn-based strategy and I can play at any level of difficulty you throw at me. Give me a game that requires frantic button mashing I'll probably not do so well.

The games for which I lack skills, well, they make me very, very sad. Especially since so many games lock beginners out of content.

This happened to me yesterday.

My boyfriend was sweet enough to pick up a copy of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (yay!). I was very excited for co-op play, so I inserted the disk and watched the cheesy opening sequence roll by (lord help me, they used "ladies" and "girls" as insults to masculinity .... must ignore ...).

Anyway, the options screen finally popped up on the TV and, to my dismay, I had to choose a difficulty level. "Some achievements and content are unavailable at your level," the Xbox said to me.


Just because I lack the ability mash buttons in a logical sequence at breakneck speeds, doesn't mean I'm undeserving of cool content.


Why not decrease the points awarded for achievements for the easy setting? Huh? Why not??!

Meany faces. All of you.

I guess I just have to go back to singing everything on Rockband at Expert level without flinching. So. There.


Apparently I'm a diva

At least when it comes to gyms.

I gave up my membership at the YMCA because the neighborhood was shady and I couldn't talk myself into running around their parking lot after dark.

Now I'm in need of a replacement.

I want:

Enough cardio equipment so I can workout at 6 or 7 at night and not have to wait for a machine.
A circuit room.
Parking under $8/pop (Which is what it costs at UCLA) or something within walking distance of my apartment.

That's it. I don't need a locker. Or a pool. Or a steam room.

Really, it's not a lot to ask, is it?

Apparently in LA it is.


I'm tempted to buy my own equipment, but then I don't get the benefit of weight training. Or room for visitors.


2001 can go suck an egg

The anniversary of 9/11 always puts me in a melancholy malaise. 2001 marked the beginning of a rough time in my life.

I started the year by being dumped. Two friends were in a horrible accident that killed a motorcyclist. I ended up semi-dating a guy who I discovered was on the scene of that accident and lent my friends his cell phone. Broke up with that guy (not because of the coincidence, other reasons). Started dating the friend who was in the accident, and that ended up becoming emotionally tumultuous. Post 9/11 depression hit hard. It was hard to go to class. I didn't really even want to get out of bed. Slept too much. When I was awake I argued with friends about my pacifist views. No, I didn't want to go out and torture and/or kill the 9/11 planners. No war, please. There was a lot of fighting about that.

The next several years brought financial and emotional hardship. Medical problems. Deaths. Ugh.

Fast forward to fall of 2008. Things were finally okay. Ish.


A post on my dearly departed Ginger, a.k.a. a Gin-Blog

Sometimes known as Ginger, Gin-bob, Gin-bob No Pants, Ginner and Princess, my sweet family pup passed away last month.

I miss her lots.

As a result, my writing goes to sh*t when I try to talk about her. I'll put her pictures first, so you can enjoy her. If you happen to want to read a rambling, disorganized block of text, it's waiting for you after the photos.

Squirrel watching prairie dog pose:
An unusual silly face. Normally she hated photos:
I'm not sure why I posted this one, seeing as it's just a picture of our carpet.
Mouthful of snow:
More of that delicious snow:
On a hike with my parents:Snorf snort snuggle snorf:

Big torso, little legs.
When I was really little, I used to pretend I was a dog. I crawled around my parents' apartment barking. I remember filling a little bowl with food or water, putting it on the floor, and eating from it. Later, when I learned to write, I made sure to tell Santa I wanted a puppy for Christmas. Every year, without fail. When I grew up a little more, I bought books on dog breeds and poured over animal supply catalogs, circling the items I felt were good enough for my future potential puppy.

I didn't get one until the Spring of my senior year of high school. I was 17.

I arrived in my Montana hometown in the wee hours of the morning, exhausted from a Speech and Debate meet. It was bitterly cold and snowing like mad. Rather than make me brave the nasty weather, my parents came to pick me up in their enormous old, blue van.

The sliding door roared open to reveal a scruffy, dirty blonde dog. She looked quite a bit like Benji the hunted cut off at the knees, 1/2 Basset Hound 1/2 Skye Terrier. Her bark was all Basset, temperament mostly terrier. But I didn't know that yet.

I got in and asked what the deal was with the dog. I knew better than to assume she was mine.

"Oh, we're just trying her out," my parents told me.

I didn't know what to think. If I let myself get attached, I'd risk emotional devastation if they took her back to the pound where she'd inevitably be put to sleep. I was afraid to love her all the way, but that scruffy face was so. darn. cute.

When we got home I realized that my younger brother hated her*. Not for any logical reason - he just hates change. Any change. Even cute, furry, sweet, loving change.

I assumed she was doomed.

Then a few weeks passed. A few months. My parents never confirmed that she was our forever dog and I was too timid to ask. And then, that fall, I left for college. I had a dog for all of 6 months.

In that time I noticed that she could tell when I was sad. She'd sit near me until she sensed I was okay then would wander off to check on another member of the family. Nightly she'd make the rounds, the tinkling sound of her little license tags the only thing giving her presence away. First she'd check on my parents, padding in on her big furry feet. Sniff. Sniff sniff. With a head shake and a snort, she'd turn tail and head for my little brother's room. Sniff. Sniff sniff. Snort. Then it was my turn. I used to hear her come into my room, just part way. Stop. Sniff sniff. Snort. Once she knew we were all where we were supposed to be, she'd settle in for the night.

Sometimes I'd find her on the couch in the living room, using the low arm rest as a pillow.

Sometimes she'd curl up under my parents' bed.

Sometimes she'd be up on the ottoman by the window, staring out at the squirrels, sitting like a prairie dog.

When we'd go out for walks, she chased those squirrels up trees. I don't mean that she scared the squirrels so that the squirrels themselves ran up the tree trunks. No. Ginger scrambled up the trunk as far as her short little legs and big bodied momentum could take her. She never made it farther up than my head, but it was high enough to be impressive.

She ate a lot of snow. I think it may have been her favorite thing to do.

Small dogs didn't phase her. Big ones? She wanted to take them on. I don't think Ginger realized that she'd lose that kind of a battle. She herself was a big dog on little legs.

Part of her tongue was missing. I wish I knew the story there.

Anyway ...

I got to know her a little, and then I had to leave.

It sucked.

When I came back for Thanksgiving, she greeted me excitedly. I felt loved. Then, when I packed up my car to leave again, she hopped right into the passenger seat and refused to leave. We had to bribe her out with chicken. I didn't want to go.

It seemed that every time I came for a visit, she had lost more teeth. My dad eventually made the joke, "all she has for Christmas are her two front teeth."

My mom tells me that Ginger would let her know when she left something on the stove too long. And when one of the doors was unlocked at night.

She hated being groomed. She took it as a great personal insult that her lowly humans would dare harass her in that manner.

Enough details. I miss her. Lots. She was with us for 10ish years, but was closer to 15 years-old (or more, actually). I really wish I had spent more in-person time with her.

*To my little brother's credit, he warmed up to her. It just took him a little while. I actually don't know if he remembers disliking her.