Monthly Archives: February 2013

Let’s talk about the day job

Two years ago today (my sister’s 20th birthday), I was standing outside my new office building, waiting to get in for orientation as I started a new job that I hoped would be a lot better than my old job.

There was just one little problem: My orientation was not in that downtown Chicago building. It was, instead, two miles away at a community church. I did not know that.

That day, wrong building. Every other day, it's the right one.

That day, wrong building. Every other day, it’s the right one.

Luckily, my sixth sense had been tingling the night before, and I had e-mailed a collegemate who was working at the new place to figure out where I should be. His e-mail sending me to the right place reached my phone while I was standing outside, and I got in a taxi and to the orientation with a few minutes to spare.

Inauspicious start to my career there, I suppose. But I’ve been there for two years today (which is my sister’s 22nd birthday — happy birthday sis!), and that’s longer than I’ve been at any job post-college, so I suppose it’s time to talk a little bit about my day job, which I don’t tend to except in passing on this blog.

My day job is copy editing for a well-known Internet-based company that has often been in the news the last couple years (for reasons both good and bad). We send a ton of copy out each day to e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and we have to try to keep it as clean as possible, which is no easy task. My specialty is entertainment and sports editing, so I deal with copy that addresses concerts and several different professional leagues. I also occasionally write and handle some related tasks, but my primary job is copy editing.

I’m allowed to work from home once a week, and I usually do so. I don’t prefer to do so, but my commute to work is an hour, 45 minutes each way (in the best of circumstances), and I suffered a terrible case of burnout over the Christmas season, trying to juggle my day job and church work. So to save my sanity, I take the day to work from home. It has helped.

As for the people, they’re definitely a thing that keeps me there. It’s the first post-college place I’ve been at where most people were around my age. We all tend to get along, and we go out occasionally. I’ve been to a couple of their wedding receptions, even. This year will be the second that I’m in my former boss’s fantasy baseball league. Every day, I read the answer and question of my “Jeopardy” calendar, and most days, they get it right with no problem. They all know I’m a church organist and don’t treat it like the odd thing it actually is. Actually, every once in a while I get sent organ-related links, and I’ve even attended an organ concert with a few of them.

Are there occasional issues at work? Sure. What workplace doesn’t have them? But more often than not, I head home at the end of the day feeling fine.

The day job gets short shrift on this blog because, well, this is primarily a blog about my music stuff. So even though it’s not noted much here, don’t mistake it as being a small, unimportant part of my life. It allows me to chat with good folks, teaches me plenty, puts money in my bank account and frees me to pursue my church work on the weekends.

Sometimes, I have a bad day at work. I grouse about whatever and ask myself why I’m there. But then I remember what the job has given me the last couple years. And when I look at things that way, I end up reminding myself: it’s not a bad gig at all.


Proof that older hymns are not necessarily better hymns: “God Bless Our Pope”

Remember this, people who claim that everything after Vatican II stinks and everything before Vatican II was awesome:

Yes, the first line of “God Bless Our Pope” is “Full in the panting heart of Rome.” Yes, that’s a very, very bad first line. (Also, the refrain ending, “God bless our pope, the great, the good,” is bizarre.) And no, my Facebook friend who posted it, thinking it was a good hymn, didn’t seem to realize that that line, which might have been OK when it was written, definitely stinks now.

So keep that in mind. You can complain about “For You Are My God” and its “alien band” all you want, rad trads and everything-written-after-Vatican-II-stinks grouches, but then you have to accept that disasters like this exist that cannot be blamed on the 1960s.

Handy organist tip #5: That sun is so bright, I gotta wear shades

When the sun is making it hard for you to see your music, and you are given the option of placing a large piece of science-fair posterboard behind your music or wearing sunglasses, wear the sunglasses.

See more Handy Organist Tips here.

What I played last weekend: 2nd Sunday of Lent

I only played one Mass this weekend!

7 quick takes: Choo-choo boo-boo boo-hoo

— 1 —

Very rough week on the transit front. For those of you who don’t know, I travel into Chicago from the burbs to get to my day job, going about an hour and a half each way. Last Friday, I was on a train whose door control cables broke, leaving the doors unable to close and thus disabling the train, unless you wanted to travel to Chicago at 80 mph with an open train door you could easily fall out. Then Monday, on my commute home, the train line developed a switching problem, delaying all trains; I got home an hour later than usual. Then Tuesday, there were switching problems outside Union Station, causing my train to be combined with another train and adding a chunk of time and a lot more discomfort to my commute. (This all was so bad, the suburban rail chief actually issued an apology.) Wednesday, I worked from home. But Thursday, I went back into the office, thinking of this:

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Finally, for the first time in nearly a week, I had a normal commute. I can live with that.

— 2 —

That having been said, because of the weather forecast for today, I’m working from home again. The weather forecast was for as much as 6 inches of snow, plus a coating of ice. Now, I prewrote this, of course, so we’ll see later on whether the weather delivered on expectations.

— 3 —

I’m only playing one Mass this weekend, in accord with my new policy of not tiring myself out at least one weekend. Last weekend, I played five Masses, including one where the cantor didn’t show and I had to place a mike in front of myself at the piano and just sing for myself.

Like this. I don’t know how Alicia and all the others do it. Well, they look better at doing it than I do.

Even though they’re not supposed to, though, the congregation clapped for me after I finished the last hymn. Which, actually, I appreciated, norms be darned. But when I got home, I was basically spent for the rest of the day.

— 4 —

OK, complaining over. Let’s talk exciting stuff. I’m totally looking forward to Palm Sunday (um, maybe I should rephrase that) and Easter (I think we’re OK on this one). My plans are to do everything a cappella at my main parish after the homily. If we’re really lucky, we’ll do everything in SATB (four-part harmony), too. The Mass parts are already a cappella, so I’m off to a good start. And Easter is going to be great. I’m planning a Regina Caeli, segueing into “O Filii et Filiae” (in English), all in a cappella . And for the topper, I’m planning on Luke Mayernik’s “A Call to Blessing.” I’ve become a big fan of Mayernik’s work — I think this is the third blog post I’ve mentioned him in, and he actually hasn’t done that much yet. Keep it up, Luke.

— 5 —

I added “House of Cards” and “Downton Abbey” to my Netflix queue, along with “Sleepwalk with Me,” the “This American Life”-funded movie. With any luck, I’ll be able to make some time to watch them soon. As for “This American Life,” I’m interested to see how Part 2 of this episode, about a high school in Chicago that continually experiences the effects of violence outside the school (though, thankfully, rarely at or around the school), comes out. Part 1 wasn’t bad, but you could tell they were building to something. I have a feeling Part 2 will be very, very dramatic, and I’m looking forward to it.

— 6 —

I just want to plug watching the old BBC show “Keeping Up Appearances.” There are more layers to this 20-year-old Britcom than you might think, and it’s a shame the show didn’t go longer (star Patricia Routledge is said to have chosen to end it). There are some pretty good theological lessons to eventually pick up from it, too: Hyacinth, an insufferable social climber, continually focuses on the wrong things and is never happy with the good things she has — which includes the downmarket family members she is ashamed of but for whom she nonetheless goes to bat. The whole show is available on both YouTube and Netflix (may I suggest Netflix), but to get a taste of what the show is like, here’s my favorite episode.

— 7 —

This, from Lamebook, made my week:

Related note: you can follow me on Twitter.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

A beat against drums at Mass

One of the nicest people at one of my parishes occasionally sets up his drum set and plays with a contemporary group that occasionally takes the last weekend Mass. Great guy. Good to talk to. The problem is that drums are a terribly awkward fit for Mass music, so I can’t recommend their use, even at Masses with overly contemporary music. Here are some issues:
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Handy organist tip #4: On going to confession

Confession is a valuable sacrament, of course. I go with some frequency, because the sacrament definitely does me some good. That having been said, I try to avoid going to any pastors who employ me and know me fairly well, for a couple reasons:

1. I don’t want to inadvertently put them in a position where they might accidentally violate the seal of confession, especially if I confess something that leads them to question whether I should be employed there. (I don’t think I’ve done anything like that, but, you know, just in case…)

2. It’s awkward. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t be, and I know they’ve heard seemingly everything, but these folks know the best of what I have to offer, and it’s not much fun to show them the worst, even if they don’t think it’s such a big deal.

Luckily for me, I work in Chicago, and the parish downtown has confessions all day. So I tend to go there instead. As for others, there’s a decent chance there’s another nearby parish with confessions at a convenient time. Or if you can find a spiritual adviser who is a priest, it’s probably better to work with him.