Reporting In…

That New Schedule, Yeah…

So on the 11th, I announced I was going to try a new schedule. Basically an Assignment of the Week (AotW). One chapter from The Hired Gun or one short story in the Kapalaran Universe, starting Monday and hopefully finished before the end of Sunday.

Yeah…

Well. I did it, sort of.

The good news is that I managed to integrate one-on-one time with my darling girl, newly back from a trip to see her grandparents in San Francisco. We went to a local park with some of her friends, then swimming and also saw the Avengers: Infinity War.

I also had five cleanings as well as yard work (check out my post on that here), and I managed to write (in between all of this darting about) over 5,000 words on Not Quite Human – a short story for my email subscribers that will eventually be put into the Kapalaran Universe Anthology.

And as I closed in on 5,700 words, I realized I wasn’t done with this story, not even close, and I had run out of time.

My blog, my rules, right? So I’m posting it for July’s short story, but it is now  Not Quite Human – Part One.

And I dust my hands off and declare my first weekly assignment complete!

I’m looking at the rest of the summer and thinking, “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.”

But you know WHY? Because I spend far too much time on Facebook, checking my stats on Amazon KDP, and obsessing over how to best spend the money we are setting aside for renovations to the future rental houses.

In other words, until I stop doing that crap, I’ll fall behind in my writing.

So next week? If you hear from me and I’ve got a ton of excuses? You’ll know why. It’ll be because someone is not taking her job seriously enough.

Earnings for the Month

But here is what I do know. I’ve been muddling about, trying to learn about AMS ads (Amazon Marketing Services) and how to write ad copy, book excerpts, and generally understand what makes my potential readers click that Buy button.

And while I’m far from understanding it, I have been absolutely delighted to watch my KDP report recently. This month is shaping up to be an amazing month. I’m currently at the third highest amount I have had since beginning to actively market my books back in November. And I’m only halfway through the month!

It’s a drop in the bucket compared to other authors and what they are doing, but check this out:

  • Books sold so far this month: 28
  • Highest ranking on Amazon: 13,734 (that’s out of MILLIONS of books) for Get Organized, Stay Organized
  • Income to date: approximately $135 (page reads fluctuate in worth, and some of the books sold are not showing up in my earnings yet)

I’m excited. Things are moving forward, moving up, and that means I really need to write more, learn more, and market more. I’m getting there, slowly but surely!

 

Broken Brain and a Hard Left

Congratulations, You’re Certified

Maybe that should read certifiable. Yeah, that would be more appropriate.

Seven months ago I decided I wasn’t done. Wasn’t done with what, Christine?

Wasn’t done having/raising kids. I had felt that way for a while, but it really hit hard last year.

In truth, I’m just past the halfway mark with Em. At eleven, nearly twelve, she is itching to dive into the angst of her teen years. And I’m also post-menopausal at the early age of 47 (okay, okay, I’m almost 48), so I am pretty sure I will not be giving birth to any more kiddos.

That said, I wasn’t ready to be done with child-rearing and we set off on the adventure of becoming foster parents. Lots of paperwork, rectal exams (kidding, but only sort of) more paperwork, background checks, more paperwork, in-depth interviews, training where the instructor told us they would pee in our shoes, destroy everything we loved, kill our beloved dogs, and set fire to the house, and finally MORE paperwork.

I’m NOT kidding.

The process started in early October and ended with us signing on the dotted line with the state at the end of the first week of April. And exactly one week later, Little Miss entered our lives.

It’s been three weeks now and, whooee, what a ride it has been!

Baby Brain – It’s REAL

I have…

  • Lost sleep
  • Lost weight
  • Gained weight
  • Lost it again
  • Run over a traffic cone and dragged it two blocks before it thankfully came out from under my van
  • Forgotten how many breakables I had in my house (and still have, only now they are teetering precariously feet above toddler-sized hands)
  • Forgotten how many drawers, plants, and water features can be screwed with in my house
  • Installed latches on insides and outsides of most of our doors
  • Discovered that Little Miss is disproportionate – wearing 12-month size bottoms and 2T tops
  • Remembered how awful tantrums can be
  • Discovered that loose eyeshadow does not vacuum out of the mattress but damn, it looks great on cocoa colored skin – she glowed!
  • Been befuddled by WHY a child would not want a poopy diaper changed (she is getting better about this, though)

We have finally, FINALLY settled into a reasonable pattern of sleeping, eating and existing. However, just looking at the little tyke can be exhausting. She moves so fast!

Back on Track

Week 1 was upheaval, pure and simple. Week 2 was filled with cleanings I had no time for in the three days I struggled to get her to the required doctor’s and WIC appointments. Week 3 saw a wash over of several appointments I still didn’t have time for and now, I’m finally looking at a reasonable schedule again.

Five glorious mornings to devote to writing!

Next week is almost as good and my goals are to work on The Hired Gun and get it done. I hope to have it done by the end of summer, fingers crossed!

Chapter 2 of The Hired Gun

In case you didn’t sign up for notifications (click here it’s painless) or see it on Facebook. Chapter 2 of The Hired Gun is up and ready for your reading pleasure. I’m going to (hopefully) be posting a chapter a week and getting this sucker DONE.

At the end of it, I’m going to ask you, my loyal readers, to consider leaving a review of the book on Amazon. Tell others what you thought of it!

Close One Door, Open the Other

I’m taking the advice of friends and family and closing the door on a person who has been in my life for nearly 30 years. I have finally recognized that truth is not something she is interested in or seems capable of. Instead, she spreads her paranoid version of reality and intentionally inflicts pain. The love that I have felt for her is not returned. That is toxic – and not just to me.

No one needs that. I see no need to ever open that door again. I mourn the grandchildren I may never see but know also from reading her rhetoric that they would be poisoned from the first time she spoke of me. I have fought enough uphill battles in my day. Let them believe her or not, it is not my place nor my duty mission to fix it.

We are in agreement, none of us wants anything to do with the other. And like my ex-husband, I am profoundly relieved at the thought of never, ever having to interact with her again for any reason.

When there is nothing but pain – on either side – then that is a dead-end relationship.

But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

In the midst of a migraine and back pain and just misery over the situation, I realized something important…

I have a beautiful life.

I was reminded of it yesterday evening as I lay down on a yoga mat outside on my back porch. Zoe Keating’s “Into the Trees” played on my laptop.

In the five years that I have lived here, I’ve never done that. I’ve rarely gone onto the back porch, but it felt so nice, so peaceful.

The sun had slipped below the horizon, the temperature was perfect, the air was fresh and cool on my skin. I could hear the sounds of the city, the steady hum of the highway, and voices of others enjoying the beautiful weather. My husband came out and ran through a martial arts form as I stretched and breathed, the trees danced in the slight breeze and the bats flew overhead searching for insects.

I realized how lucky I am. I have a devoted, loving husband, I have a daughter who makes me proud every day, and who is truly loved by friends and family. Two amazing people who love me as much as I love them. I have an adorable human being in my life, a little foster daughter who will turn 2 1/2 years old on my birthday. She has the most beautiful shade of chocolate skin and a bright happy smile. Her middle name is my first name and she is left-handed, just like me!

How long we will have her, we do not know, but I have opened my arms and heart to her and have been rewarded by her smiles and sweet baby kisses and hugs. She and Emily remind me every day how fascinating the learning process in children can be.

I look forward to returning to homeschooling, but I also look forward to keeping in touch with a small army of her teachers who have truly made this year of public school so enjoyable.

I don’t have a perfect life. I challenge you to find one who does. But I have one that brings me happiness hand in hand with sorrow. I try to let go of the sorrow and focus on the beauty – it is what makes life worth living.

 

Tick Tock, With Copious Amounts of…

So I’ve been experiencing no small amount of pain recently. I clean houses four days per week – writing doesn’t pay like cleaning houses does, so until it does…

Anyway, it has been building for a while.

Back pain, hip pain, knees and joints and what I have surmised is plantar fasciitis in one foot.

I’m a hot mess.

This, combined with the onset of planting and working outside weather, led to a dearth in writing.

But I hope that is about to change.

I’ve been tackling this in phases:

  • Phase One – Change my diet to a diabetic-friendly one

This has meant learning plenty about how starchy vegetables and high-carb foods affect my blood sugars, altering total serving amounts, and more. It also has included, take a moment to mourn with me here, removing most sources of sweets from my home.

  • Phase Two – Less is More

Reducing the amounts of food I eat, eating slower, and drinking plenty of water. I’m a “go, go, go” person – so I tend to inhale my food quickly and then look for more. Food has always been a form of solace for me, so giving up the two big bowls of homemade ice cream has been a tough one. That said, I’m still working on this phase, still attempting to slow my eating down, and eat less.

  • Phase Three – Body Care

All of this is body care, it really is, but I have made the commitment to seek medical care in the form of Direct Primary Care with Dr. Allison Edwards of Kansas City Direct Primary Care. I met with her yesterday and will see her again next Wednesday. I’m going to get the necessary labs so we can ascertain where I’m at – am I diabetic or still pre-diabetic – is my cholesterol still high?

I’ve also bought several massage packages. Thanks to messing up my knee quite effectively when I was young, my entire body seems misaligned and some days are worse than others. Recently, they have been pretty bad. Muscles are overly tight and sleeping or waking, I’m in a significant amount of discomfort.

  • Phase Four – Sweat (and Hopefully LOSE SOME WEIGHT)

As if I don’t sweat enough cleaning houses or dealing with hot flashes and night sweats, my ass needs to be on a treadmill, moving, for at least 30 minutes a day, preferably 60. I hope to also incorporate some yoga/flexibility poses into all of this. I can’t stand walking on a treadmill with nothing else to do, so thankfully I have a “treadmill desk” that Dave built me years ago. I set the laptop on it and do my best to type away while walking at a steady pace.

At nearly 220 pounds, I need to lose around 40-60 pounds to be at a “healthy” weight. I don’t buy into those ridiculous standards that say a woman of my height needs to be no more than 130 pounds – that’s fucking nuts – but I do need to weight less than 200, by a long shot.

So I’m hoping that the exercise, combined with the exercise I get when cleaning, combined with better food choices, combined with LESS food, all lead to a significant weight loss. So far? Nada. But a girl can dream.

And that leads me back to writing. Because in case anyone is confused at this point, IS the point of this particular blog.

Last post I outlined what still needed to happen:

Chapter 17-Breathe You In – Still need to write this entire chapter

Chapter 18-Painful Memories – I have some significant fixes to make here as well

Chapter 29-What Has Gotten Into You – Needs minor fleshing out

Chapter 34-Welcome to Amsterdam – Is around 2/3 complete

And I have now begun in earnest on Breathe You In. While walking on a fucking treadmill. While hurting and feeling grumpy and overly warm.

Feel for me here.

Which is all a longish, roundabout way of saying, “Due to other pressing issues, I haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked.” Which is, unfortunately, the story of my life.

Time for Radio (and Net) Silence





I hate feeling guilty. I find it rather…counterproductive.

Lately I’ve been wrapped up in work (cleaning houses, meh), several decorating projects (drapes/portieres – all hand sewn) and too much time watching television. Well, listening to television as I sewed away.

And it is Christmas, we are hosting a party on Saturday, and all of that other nonsense.

Yet, despite understanding that there will be times when I’m not writing, not updating my three blogs, et cetera – still I found myself filled with guilt as I walked downstairs to get my morning coffee.

The internal dialogue was pretty intense, and filled with the idea that so much television in the past two weeks has killed the creative process.

This is why I’m not publishing more books, folks. It isn’t just the fact that I’m going in a dozen directions at once, is that I waste my time feeling guilty about it. That internal voice says, “You aren’t really a writer, otherwise you would be able to write simultaneously while juggling all of your other projects and NOT watching TV.”

My family thinks that I’m intense and driven as it is – if they heard some of the crap my internal voice was saying to me on a daily business they would thank their lucky stars that I wasn’t THAT person.

Anyway, the whole point in this is to say that I’m taking the next two weeks off. No weekly newsletters, probably little or no blog posts, and come the new year I’ll jump back on the riding horse and give it a couple of good kicks in the side.

I really want to write books – and publish them – in the new year. So I’ll be making goals, and hopefully sticking to them. More on that later.

/rant on

p.s. I’ve been writing this on my laptop and I have to voice a word of complaint. I HATE the touchpad and disable it as soon as I can on any laptop I own. If I don’t then I’ll be typing merrily away and then suddenly POOF! whatever I have written has gone apeshit and disappeared, moved or levitated off of the screen when a finger accidentally brushes the touchpad.

This laptop apparently thinks it is being helpful, or maybe Microsoft thinks it is being helpful, but shortly after ANY Microsoft Windows 10 update I have to go in and RE-disable the touchpad which has magically turned back on. I despise this.

It is the equivalent to someone coming up and shoving a pen into my right hand and telling me to use the proper hand to write with. I’m fucking left-handed, you moronic computer! Now leave the touchpad OFF!

/rant off



Neil Gaiman is Right





I’ve written nothing for well over a week, possibly two. Instead, I’ve created more house projects (or worked on the dozens already begun), scheduled a holidays party for the 19th, and watched an egregious amount of television (Continuum and Hemlock Grove, to be specific) and felt the beginnings of full-blown panic over my writing, or lack thereof.

And as I was further practicing avoidance this morning, surfing Facebook and checking emails, I ran across this article from the Huffington Post with Neil Gaiman which addressed whether writer’s block is real or not.

“I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but I absolutely believe in getting stuck,” Gaiman told HuffPost Live on Monday. “The difference is one is imposed on you by the gods, and one is your own damn fault.”

Yup. I’m right there with him.

“If you turn around and go, ‘I am blocked,’ this is just something writers say because we’re really clever. It sounds like it has nothing to do with you: ‘I would love to write today, but I am blocked. The gods have done it to me,'” he said. “And it’s not true. Cellists don’t have cellist block. Gardeners don’t have gardener’s block. TV hosts do not have have TV host block. But writers have claimed all the blocks, and we think it’s a real thing.”

So completely and totally agree.

The kicker was when he shared his strategy for getting past a stuck spot:

“I always like to have another story, another introduction, another work, and I’ll just go and work on that, while somewhere in the back of my mind I’m churning over why I’m stuck and what went wrong and figuring out how to go forward,” he said.

This was a vindication of sorts. I have so many friggin’ projects going at one time it isn’t funny, but it is a coping mechanism. If I feel stuck on one, I move to the next. And the next. And the next.

Sometimes however, it just feels like too much. As if all of the “I don’t know how to proceed with this” catch up to me and I can’t stand to look at another one. That’s been these past two weeks.

Narrowing My Focus




At the beginning of the week I tend to focus on blog posts. By Wednesday I have accrued enough, typically, that I can finish putting together the weekly newsletter and setting it in the queue to deliver at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning.

At this point, I look at my week and think, “Well, I’ve got Thursday and Friday, and time on the weekend to get some serious writing done.

Thursday rolls around and I sit there…

I squirm…

I click on Quicken and review bank balances and stress over looming shortages…

I manage to type a few lines in a story, some story, before…

Well, crap, what happens next? I need to actually have some details here and more storyline would help.

I stop, frustrated, and visit [fill in blank with time-sucking computer location – Facebook/Pinterest/News sites/etc]

I manage to write a couple more lines and obsessively check my word count. i realize I have a looongg way to go and suppress the urge to gnash my teeth and wail at the injustice of the manuscript not writing itself. I think of my daily house zone, today was dining room and art room, and mentally beat myself up for not having it cleaned already.

I do a little “research” and find myself paging through Facebook…AGAIN.

I’m taking Facebook, Candy Crush, and email off of my list of open programs on the computer or my cell phone…

Maybe that will help me focus. And then again, maybe it won’t.

I need to give up the stuff that is taking too much of my time away from writing.

I need to narrow my focus even more than I already have.

Somehow…




Oh look, I’m out of water. Time to go fill up my cup…

Learning Curve With Scrivener





Scrivener Learning Curve

So I made the plunge into Scrivener the other day. I found the idea of it rather appealing – instead of scrolling through a manuscript each time I want to edit a certain section – instead I just go to the section.

It is sort of like a database for writers. You can add all of your files…Excel, Word docs, et cetera…into it for one stop editing and writing. And when your manuscript is ready to go, just hit Compile and it will put it in the correct format for uploading to Kindle, or as a manuscript for editing, et cetera.

It is, however, taking up vast swaths of hours as I import, adjust, and learn the ropes. As a result, I’ve done little or no writing in blogs or manuscripts.

Juggling of Projects? 

I envy one-trick ponies…I really do. At the moment I am in discussions on a possible non-fiction book project with an individual who recently received international news coverage. I can’t say too much more at this time other than, I would really like to work with this person and tell their story. I’ve sent a copy of my book The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale and hope to do a book that is part memoir/part call to action. One last tidbit…it would shed light on the prison industry in our country.

In addition, I’ve been chewing over the idea of writing smut for a while. I’m diving in, in a matter of speaking, and have set up a website and more as I work through ideas and more. Smut sells, folks, and I would love to make more than a latte’s worth of income on a monthly basis. More on this as things develop.

Lastly, now that I’ve finished my main learning curve with Scrivener, it is time to finish G5D (Gliese 581: The Departure). Yeah…working on that…sort of…

Interview With Unblocked

I meant to write a full post about my interview with Unblocked – a new podcast on writers. Charlie, who I have known for years through homeschool co-op interactions, interviewed me as her first guest. I was quite impressed by her list of questions – having been interviewed before by a variety of podcasters and on the Walt Bodine Show back in 2008, I can tell you that Charlie is definitely up there. She was well prepared, thoughtful, and sparked conversation on some great topics. You can find her website here, and listen to my interview as well as others.

Thanks Charlie for having me on your show!




The Big RESET





resetbutton1

The new season of The Walking Dead premiered last Sunday. I have been an avid watcher of the show since its inception – just four episodes – that had me riveted, heart pounding with fear and dread, as the characters struggled to understand the world around them.

A few days before the season premiere, I tuned into NPR where they were discussing the popularity of the show. Why was it popular? What kept audiences coming back for more? 

Several opinions were put forth, but the ultimate reason was not. Perhaps it isn’t politically correct or acceptable for us to examine what I believe is the REAL reason so many people find The Walking Dead to be appealing (if that’s even the right word).

For me, and I think for many others, it is the ultimate reset. You push that big red RESET button and everything, EVERY THING, changes. The rules of the world we live in, with its laws, its courtesies, and its unspoken compromises simply ceases to exist.

My daughter Danielle has pointed out repeatedly that our primal minds can only really recognize a total of about 300 individuals. After that, all the rest simply become “those others.” In a world filled with seven billion souls, that’s a whole heck of a lot of “others.”

I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War. I was a teenager when the movie Red Dawn (the first rendition) came out. To my eyes, and to many others, this was not a far-fetched notion. We were just waiting for the other shoe to fall. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in the late 80s gave only a brief respite before the first Gulf War, then the Twin Towers bombings and the second Gulf War that followed rapidly behind.

Our media focuses on crime and sensational headlines to sell air space and keep people reading online and in print. And my gut reaction to all of it has been to write dystopian fiction, to dream of the big reset, and wonder just when those streets will run red with blood.

We never imagine though that hitting that big reset button will probably kill us off. No, we think of “the others” and imagine ourselves walking through the post-apocalyptic, dystopian, zombie-ridden landscape – alive, fighting the good fight, surviving the best we can.

So there you go. My thoughts on the big RESET. Thoughts? Opinions? Disagreements?




Frame of Reference




 

Today would have been a great day to get some writing done on Gliese 581: The Departure. I had nearly four hours, alone with my thoughts, but despite several attempts, it simply was not happening.

That’s okay, I’ve got a fall-back…well…several.

I spent some time journaling. I try to do this every day, but usually manage about four entries per week. And then I decided to pick up a book I had barely delved into, The Circle by Dave Eggers.

After two hours of obsessive reading, I’m nearly halfway through the book and let me say, it’s giving me some serious mental shivers.

I am struck by how random events in our lives connect in the oddest of ways.

This has been a bit of a tough week for me – a family member had said some pretty hurtful things and it took me a couple of days to process it all. Truth be told, I’m still processing. Thin skin, by the way, is not a bad thing. I might feel a lot of emotion, but the opposite would be far worse. I would prefer to feel hurt, recognize it as a warning that I was around someone who is toxic, and allow it to help me establish boundaries where boundaries so obviously need to be laid.

My eldest and I have talked it over, this issue with the family member, and it has brought up some memories from more than 20 years ago, when she was young and I finally got the courage up to leave my first husband. There was no small amount of verbal and emotional manipulation in that relationship aimed towards me. Note on this for future reference – Be NICE to your meal ticket, not mean. Eventually, the meal ticket gets tired of being trod upon and goes away.

As I explained to my eldest, “I had no frame of reference, no differing opinions, only the one message – that I was the one who was flawed, I was the one who was failing – as a mother, a wife, a daughter, and as a human being.”

When you are surrounded by that message, when you have no other to go on, it is a very difficult thing to extricate yourself from the situation. You might entertain the sneaking suspicion of wrongness, but in the face of no other message to the contrary, what else can you believe? And I think that, given enough time in a situation like that, enough years of that kind of mental control or manipulation, you could spend the rest of your life wondering who is really at fault – you for failing to be the person your partner or family member expects you to be, or (again) you for allowing them to carve you into something you are not?

Dave Eggers is doing an excellent job weaving a “circle” around the protagonist Mae that mimics this very same experience. A Facebook friend recently directed me to the term “gaslighting” and its description isn’t too far off from what is occurring in the book, albeit under friendlier pretenses (so far).

Returning to my story for a moment – this same family member used the term sociopath to describe me on at least one occasion, and when I challenged it, the person craftily replied, “Well, I don’t know that you aren’t a sociopath.”

That messed with my head for a while. So much so that I mentioned it to a psychologist I was seeing at the time. He laughed at me. A lot. Note: Sometimes psychologists can be jerks. And when he finished laughing he explained, “The fact that you would even wonder if you were, or be concerned about it, is evidence that you are not. Sociopaths could care less about what others think.”

Whew, not a sociopath. Well, that’s one mental condition I don’t have to worry about suffering from!

Now back to the book. I’m very curious to see where this story leads, and how The Circle ends because it is Big Brother meets Facebook meets Social Design on steroids. It is creepy, unsettling, and a look at a plausible reality in the near future. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

And as for that family member? There comes a time when we can choose to spend time with the people we hold in high esteem, and avoid those who we do not…for our own personal, emotional well-being. And that is the route I am taking…for reals this time.




What We Do and Finding Time to Breathe

What We Do

My dad recently sent me an email with “what we do” in the subject line. He wrote…

Hi Junior,

A friend pointed out this article to me. Basically, it explains the power the storyteller has for causing real physical, mental and emotional changes in others. It is very thought provoking and credible look into the effect stories have on listeners and readers:

http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/once-upon-a-time-how-stories-change-hearts-and-brains/?utm_source=Aeon+newsletter&utm_campaign=96c8c57d9f-Daily_newsletter_January_12_20151_12_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-96c8c57d9f-68662081

Love,

D a d

I read the article and immediately thought of Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss. It was my favorite story as a small child. I cannot imagine how many hundreds of times we read it. And the message that I have carried with me in my life came from that book, “do what you say you are going to do, be faithful, be dependable, be responsible.”

If you have not read the story, I recommend that you do. No matter your age. There is a lesson here in perseverance, loyalty, love and more.

I will not lie and say that I have always been this. Horton is my hero, someone I aspire to be every day. But I fall short, like anyone else, I’m human after all.

But I have to go back to this article and say, that yes, as a storyteller I am trying to change the world in my own small way.

I want people to read the two War’s End books and feel the fear and pain, but also revel in the healing that can come from the love of family and friends. I want people to read it and walk away with the understanding that no matter our family unit, when we find and create love, when we commit to and rely on others, that is when we can choose to truly live our lives and make the most of the situations we find ourselves in.

Finding Time to Breathe

Sometimes, all of the priorities that are warring for my time and attention are just way too much. Lately, it seems that everywhere I turn, there is a mess. Or something I must do, have to do, besides writing. The dining room table is covered with stuff, the kitchen is a mess, there is laundry to wash, fold and put away. I don’t even want to think about the catastrophe that is our homeschool room or my front bedroom (spare room/sewing room and the closet door which houses all of our medicines).

So as usual, I’ve got the familiar refrain of “I’ve got so much to do around here I can’t even think about writing!”

It just seems like there is this unending list of crap that needs to be done…now.

I’m going to take a day or two to try and get on top of the pile before tackling my writing projects again. Homeschool room, here i come!