My discipline hasn’t improved any, but it’s been another year since I started this blog, and that requires some signs of life. Even if it’s exhaling.

This isn’t the post I meant to write next. That one’s going to be better than this. I’m just going to try and summarize.

I didn’t successfully write a post every month last year. That was the goal. When I make writing goals in January, I lose momentum sometime in the summer. There’s not much that’s different about the summer, nothing that would make me lose focus on writing anyway. But it happens, and I haven’t overcome it yet.

This year, I didn’t make any writing goals.

I moved into an apartment by myself last July. It took a little while to get used to, but it’s a place for myself. I could probably do with some more furniture in the bedroom, and I never got the chest that I was going to use as a coffee table, so even now it’s still a work in progress.

Last week, I re-upped my lease. I’ve got at least another year to get it right.

Work is going well. The 10-man startup I joined a year and a half ago now employs about 30 people and 3 dogs, and we’re still growing.

I am a content editor, which means I read the stuff we write and make sure we use the right words and that those words are in the right order. My boss wants me to get smarter and start thinking about whether we’re writing the right stuff in the first place. I’m trying to keep people honest, myself most of all.

(I don’t know for sure if I would write more on my own if I had a different job. I know that when I come home at night, I would rather play video games and relax than spend more time staring at words and a blinking cursor, but I think if I was more disciplined I would manage to write anyway.)

As far as I can tell, I’m in good health. I do a seven-minute workout every day dictated by an app on my phone. The app prescribes a seven-month challenge, and it gives you three hearts. Skip a day, lose a heart. Lose three hearts, the challenge is over.

I’m sitting at 151% completion of the seven-month challenge.

I can cook for myself, and I gradually (very gradually) teach myself to make new meals. Enchiladas are the best thing I can make. I should eat more vegetables. On weekends, I have dessert, and Cheerwine is the only drink that I will go over my soda quota for.

(Last weekend I spent $21 on ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s was 2 for $7 at Harris Teeter. That much will last me six weeks. It was a good investment. Promise.)

The election changed my outlook in a lot of ways, but most of all it confirmed what I had been feeling for a while, that I wasn’t doing enough. Throughout this year, I’ve been trying to get more involved.

I’ve attended a handful of rallies, some large, some small. The largest, the Moral March in February, made me feel like part of something. It felt like witnessing a movement and adding my voice to it. The smaller rallies made me feel tiny, too tiny to matter. I think it’s important to attend both kinds.

I also attended a town hall put on by my congressman. He’s a Democrat, and he has the easy job of holding positions I agree with with no power to do anything about them. Most of the people who got up and asked questions did not seem to understand what a US House member can and cannot affect, but I went so I could see who would show up and what they were worried about.

It’s not easy to get politically involved, though. It’s difficult to resist when you also have to be at work five days a week. It’s frustrating to feel like the only meaningful show of protest is to give money to the organization of the day.

For a while I was making daily phone calls to my representatives. I put their numbers in my phone, D.C. and local offices. The DeVos confirmation has sapped a lot of my will to leave voicemails (especially to our intransigent Senators), but I know it will be important to get back in the habit now that the Senate is taking up the AHCA.

The most significant change I’ve made is not political, but personal. Since December, I’ve been volunteering at the LGBT Center of Raleigh. I hold down the Wednesday night shift. Having a consistent schedule makes it easier for me to balance volunteering with work. While I’m at the Center, I greet folks and answer the phone, or I help them with the library if that’s what they’re there for.

Volunteering at the Center is a way for me to make Raleigh both larger and smaller. I want to give back and get to know a side of this place that didn’t exist for me before two years ago. At my own pace, of course.

I’ve gotten to know some of the other volunteers, mostly one girl who also consistently works Wednesdays. We’ve bonded over the Indy Week‘s crossword and a shared love for Zarya.

Out! Raleigh 2017.jpg

I was looking forward to meeting more people while volunteering at Out! Raleigh this past weekend, but unfortunately the festival was cut short. About an hour after I got there, word spread that the city was shutting down the event due to high winds. They were worried about tents blowing over and hurting people.

It took time to pack everything up, and I was there until the crowd dispersed, so I’m glad I volunteered, and I’m looking forward to future events.

A couple of weeks ago, a video crossed my feed. It was by a YouTuber who plays one of the games that I’ve put a lot of time into. In the video, he walks through a park and explains to his followers why he is moving from Los Angeles to Seattle.

He had originally moved to LA for a career in film production, but he ended up supporting himself via content produced for YouTube and Twitch broadcasts. Someone who isn’t familiar with this new type of broadcast career might think it’s a dream job to play video games for a living, but it’s a ton of work. While you’re not playing, you’re editing videos, and that eats into your free time. You have to maintain a rigorous upload schedule if you want to get enough views to survive off of ad revenue.

This guy wasn’t leaving his apartment very much, and most of the relationships he had with people from his previous career had fallen away. He began to feel isolated.¬†You can go a bit crazy without enough non-colleague human contact.

People left comments on his videos talking about how irritated he seemed, how angry he looked. He explained, in the video I watched, that this lack of human interaction was the cause, and that he was moving to Seattle because he knew that he had friends and a community waiting for him there.

His video stuck a nerve with me because I long, more than anything, for that stable sense of community. I want access to a healthy mix of my friends and other people who like the things I like, who care about the things I care about. I haven’t had that feeling since I left school, and I didn’t even have the feeling every day I was there.

I don’t know where my Seattle is, though. I have friends all over, but they’re scattered, not collected in one place.

I haven’t given serious thought to moving. I’m bound to Raleigh by my job, and I’m bound to North Carolina by a desire to make it a better place. But I think if I had even an inkling of hope that such a community for me existed elsewhere, I would do what it takes to get there.

As it stands, I’ll keep trying to make that community here, and hopefully the rest will flow.