Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)
People movin’ out, people movin’ in
Why, because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run, but you sho’ can’t hide
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I’ll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on
Well, the only person talkin’ ’bout love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher
Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation,
humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball Of Confusion that’s what the world is today
Every single line in this song is relevant today. Need I say more? Now listen to the damn thing, share it, and tell a friend, to tell a friend, and have them send it to their aunt Karen’s iPhone. Teach aunt Karen how to use Spotify! Where else are you going to find your daily news with a dose of comic relief, a dash of existential uncertainty, and a kick-ass Playlist? This is your chance to be at the front of something big. The stock market is tanking. Don’t you want to be able to say that you shared the #PlaylistfortheApocalypse before it went viral? You do not want to be in the “long time first time” queue when people are having that conversation, do you? So jump on now.
Seriously, I hope you’re enjoying the Playlist. I hope this is not turning out to be an Apocalypse for you. I feel in some ways like each day is a mini-apocalypse for me since this all began. You see, I’ve been trying to save the world since before I knew what salvation meant. I inherited this from my mother in two ways: First, and most importantly for my mom, it was important that people “hear the gospel.” My mother and the church culture I grew up in told me that we were all born with some cosmic debt owed to a holy and righteous but angry god and if we just accept Jesus’ human sacrifice for our sins, his death could be the substitution for our cosmic debt. Secondly, my mother – and later the Reformed tradition that I came to be ordained in – taught me that we need to be in the business of “saving” people – flawed human beings, saving each other – from the complex network of structures that keep us all oppressed in some way.
So, where were we? Oh, yes! My daily mini-apocalypse. I became indebted to Uncle Sam in order to college and Study religion. Then it was Seminary to become a pastor. I was trying to help myself – and the world – climb out of our cosmic debt. Somewhere between my mom’s death, coming out as bisexual, and an agnostic atheist or a mystic Christian (it depends on the day and who is asking, either way, I’m a heretic, haha), I also stepped away from church leadership. For the last couple of years, I have been working a series of underpaid customer service and manual labor jobs while I try to “figure my shit out.” Well, I felt like, for the first time in years I was on the verge of “having my shit together” when I heard the words novel coronavirus and Pandemic strung together for the first time.
I had just accepted a new position at a nonprofit, working with disadvantaged youth. I had one paid four-hour training session before Michigan went into Stay at Home Orders. I thought I was totally screwed. I could not work. But I could not file for unemployment. Then, at the end of March, I got a notification in the actual paper mail. I was informed that an unemployment claim I filed in December had been reevaluated and I had to call to certify. For the whole month of April, my daily task was trying to certify my claim – both online and on the phone. Two days ago, finally, success! I was approved for unemployment plus the extra $600/week through the CARES Act.
But, this morning I found out online (after waiting for a deposit that never came) that my claim is being reevaluated again. Meanwhile, I am stuck at home for 10-12 hours every day while my wife is working (the perks of being an essential worker). My kids are with their mother. My parenting time with them has been reduced walking with them around their mom’s neighborhood, six feet apart, with masks on. I want to snuggle with them on the couch and catch up on Marvel’s Runaways with my son and Party of Five with my daughter. I can’t even hug or kiss them right now!
When I say each day is a mini-apocalypse, it’s because I know that other people have it much, much worse than I do. Somehow, that notion has never provided me with much comfort. I hope I have a job when this is all over. I hope I have some form of income before then. But in the meantime, I know how fortunate I am to have a partner with a job, a steady income, and good medical benefits (that I hope to god we don’t need for COVID-19 related disaster). We will probably get through this time (nothing is ever guaranteed).
I guess I don’t suppose anymore that any of us can ever really “save” anyone, existentially, financially, emotionally, or otherwise. But, I hope I am in the business of helping people – community: us helping each other – navigate the complex network of structures that keep people oppressed. I think the best way I can do that – with or without a Pandemic – is through my writing.
I have a memoir I am working on. If you like these posts full of daily news with a dose of comic relief, a dash of existential uncertainty, and a kick-ass Playlist, then I think you’ll love the book. My daily routine for keeping sanity these days is to work on these posts for my anonymous, faceless, followers. A few “likes” on Social Media and site statistics tell someone is there. When I am done with the daily posts, I put whatever remaining energy I have into Playlist: A Memoir. It’s a reflection on finding love, self-worth, and a passion for life after leaving the Christian faith behind. The “lens” for looking back and forth from Childhood interactions with my mother to the present day is a Playlist I made the last night she was verbal, a few days before she died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Someone somewhere will call it “a triumph” and “a celebration of the human spirit’s resilience” or some shit like that.
Until that’s ready, for however long this national ball of confusion drags on: Whether you’re in Quarantine or an essential worker in Michigan, a barbershop owner dealing with reopening in Georgia, working on the front lines in a hospital or doing your best to wash your hands and stay safe at the office, I’d like to go with you! And hopefully, when this is all over, I’ve finished a book I have been dreaming about and conceptualizing forever, but didn’t feel I had time to work on until now. I don’t need a Kickstarter campaign. But I will ask one favor, if you’re enjoying the music or finding any comfort, solace or mere comic relief in the daily posts, then please listen to the Playlist, read, comment, and share #PlaylistfortheApocalypse