Friday, September 23, 2016


Oh, great. An existential crisis. This is clearly what my week needed.

I'm feeling something at the moment, but I'm not quite certain as to what. Either I'm (a) mad at myself, (b) sad for myself, or (c) mad at myself about feeling sad for myself. No matter the answer, it's a fairly ridiculous and selfish mindset to be in.

As I type this column, two important things are happening to friends both named Chris. In New York City, it's election day - and one of my closest friends from college is running for New York Democratic State Committee. Meanwhile, across the sea and around the world in Nagoya, Japan, another of my closest friends is mere hours away from fatherhood, as his wife is scheduled for a c-section within the hour.

These are big deal events. Milestones in a person's life. The kind of accomplishments that define someone.

So what's MY biggest accomplishment of late? What's MY milestone? Well, I finally made the move from #35 to #34 on the X-Box Rock Band leaderboards. I'm the 34th best in the world at humming into a plastic microphone on a video game designed for people half my age. AWESOME! YAY ME!

I'm not jealous of my friends. Well, okay, maybe I'm a LITTLE jealous of my friends. But I don't begrudge them their accomplishments. It's always amazing to see people I care about getting married or scoring fantastic jobs or moving to exotic places, especially when my biggest memories of these people involve sitting around living rooms, watching TV, playing video games, and generally not doing a whole lot with our lives.

But sometimes it feels like I'm STILL not doing much with my life. I'm still in that same living room, playing the same video games. (Admittedly, I now have a MUCH better TV, so don't tell me I haven't evolved.) In our clique of friends, I was always the DJ, eagerly playing records at every party and get-together. I'm still moonlighting on the weekends as a DJ, but the clique I'm spinning records for these days could be the CHILDREN of my clique.

People evolve. Life happens. And just like the small panic attack I had during my recent office move, my initial instinct to change is always to greet it with hostility and disdain. Thankfully, though, it's a brief reaction, and then I settle down while two important things happen. (1) I get excited for my friends and their milestones and triumphs over adversity, and then (2) I realize that my own life is going pretty well after all. Don't cry for me, Argentina. The truth is I really like being me.

Let's look at my friend Chris out in New York City. He's spent the past nine months knocking on doors and campaigning non-stop to become a Democratic State Committeeperson. It's an unpaid position, and kind of a thankless one at that. Out there, committeepeople are in charge of determining judicial candidates, representing their districts at state conventions, and are basically the local boots on the ground for other Democratic candidates in need of support.

Chris has made headlines in his campaign because he's running on a shoestring budget without accepting large campaign contributions from donors he might feel beholden to. Instead, he's doing things his way, and he just knocked on his 14,000th door. And his reward if he wins? He gets to start all over again, knocking on doors in support of other Democratic candidates and urging his district to get out and vote come November. Knowing Chris, I'm sure he thinks it's all great fun.

Me? I'll take a pass on the door-knocking, thanks. I know how well I respond when a stranger knocks on MY door, and I'm sure the average resident of Brooklyn has an equally short fuse. Thanks, but no thanks. Campaining one-on-one like that would require internal fortitude and patience that I just don't possess.

Then there's my OTHER friend Chris, who randomly answered an online ad for English tutors in Japan a few years back. He's now been in the Land of the Rising Sun long enough to meet, marry, and procreate with his wife. But no sooner were the couple celebrating the surprise pregnancy when she developed complications that have kept her on hospital bedrest for the past three months, leaving Chris to handle all baby-fication duties on his own. Now imagine that task while living in a country whose language you barely understand.

Had that been ME, you might as well just place me in the adjacent hospital room, because I would've had a nervous breakdown faster than you could look up the Japanese word for "crib." I'm not anti-baby in the slightest. I think kids are awesome and having my own would be the adventure of a lifetime. But let's be honest -- I can't tie my shoes, can't swim, can't snap my fingers, and can barely care for two cats. Putting the life of a tiny human into my hands might not be the best call.

So I might be jealous of my friends from time to time, but I've got a great life. I've got a job I love going to and a house I love coming home to. I might not be running for office or extending the Brown family line in any real hurry, but hey, that gives me time to DJ, play video games,  watch bad TV, and have loads of free time. Heck, my friends might be jealous of ME sometimes.

But best of all, I'm just glad to have friends. Whether they're down the street or continents away, I've got a clique I can lean on and people who make me laugh, and that's all I need in life.

As I typed this column, two important things happened to friends both named Chris. One lost his election bid, but NOT by a landslide, and he's already looking forward to the next one. The other just provided our clique with its newest member, Alana Hatsuko. Mom and baby are doing well, and we've yet to see 4 horsemen riding through the sky, so it appears Chris' spawning did NOT herald the end of days as some feared. Now to get them to move back here, otherwise that's gonna be a long commute to babysit.

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