Sunday, July 2, 2017


What to do about this church job.

It needs to be decided and stuck with, one last time -- before fall, that is.

Most of me, most of the time, desperately wants out. But let's break it all down again, with numbers and logic, as well as of course the soul-searching shit.

If I stick it out, I've most recently agreed to conducting three Sundays a month, organizing at least one Evensong, and the ever-looming Lessons and Carols and Advent and Christmas season. I didn't commit to anything past Christmas, thinking I'd probably quit after that.

What I need to make sure NOT to do is tell myself things like "I'm a terrible person if I quit." I'm not. I can quit a job and not be a terrible person. I can also choose to not allow other people's opinions and perspectives and neuroses to be a part of my decision.

What am I losing if I quit? Clearly things like "people's respect and/or friendship" are not things I can quantify or calculate. It is entirely likely that I can retain the friendship of various choir members whose friendship I am interested in, while those for whom I could care less will fall away, effecting neither of us negatively.

So: the money. That would be July through December, around $1000/month. $6000. Not a small sum, by any means. Since starting work at ARUP, my personal combined income (and of course the reduction in diabetes expenses) has allowed us to somewhat aggressively pay off my school loan debt, and at the same time save money much faster. This has been great. Losing this would mean paying off debt and saving money more slowly. I would still be making about $1200/month at ARUP, plus all the lovely benefits. All would most certainly not be lost.

I would also lose the title of choral conductor. How do I feel about that? I feel pretty fine. I'm pretty sure that retaining it only benefits my ego and sense of justification for my master's degree. I'm actually fine with the idea that my master's degree launched my composition career. Still in process of launch, really. Other things I lose, related to the title: doing music regularly; learning (and really knowing) more sacred music; depth of understanding of the liturgical traditions; something about networking with other choral conductors... maybe? That last is only really if I had the time for it. Which I wouldn't, because of being stretched completely to the max.

So what I lose is roughly $6000 and and the various scholarly and networking benefits of being an employed church choir conductor.

All right, what do I gain by quitting? Sanity in my schedule, and regular sleeping. This is kind of a big one for me. I have adjusted fairly well to graveyards, and there's certainly the opportunity to switch to daytime or swing-shift hours. Even if I do that, though, I don't think it would make a huge difference in how strung out I would feel working at both ARUP and the cathedral. I would still never have enough time to adequately plan, and on top of that nagging feeling of doing an inadequate job, I also wouldn't be getting enough or regular sleep. I know this already because of March-May of this year, in which I did both jobs and always felt inadequate and didn't get enough or regular sleep.

So that's really two things; sleep, and meeting my own standards of quality. Sleep is paramount to all other aspects of my health, and I do think my overall quality of life would really start to suffer, which of course would mean inadequate performance at both jobs. And that's something that would grate on me and undercut my already fragile sense of worth. My chronic conditions of diabetes, depression and shoulder pain/headache would all get worse. And as to the standards of quality issue: even if I had all my time for the cathedral job, there's a really good chance I would always be disappointed in the quality, simply because of the limits of job--the limits of our singers, resources, funds, etc.  

Quitting the cathedral, I would gain a simpler schedule, health, and the opportunity to set and meet my own standards of excellence.

I would gain some freedom in how I spent my time. I haven't been to a sacred harp singing since starting at ARUP. I miss that. I miss seeing those people, and having those connections in common with my husband. I miss the music, and the strong inspiration it gives me as a composer. If I had more freedom to choose how I spend my time, I imagine I would some weeks go to scared harp, and some weeks, actually go and sing in the St. Mark's choir, as a choir member. And if the cathedral wasn't a job, I would be free to go or not.

Freedom could also mean months where I use all my free time to compose. This is also huge because composing takes me a long time, and I love it and am ever so possibly good at it, and I feel a sense of mission for it. Funneling more time in that direction will be fulfilling.

Freedom with my time will mean keeping on running. Preparing for some higher mileage races. I like that shit.

This line of thought brings me to one possible last objection to quitting right now: why couldn't I stick it out for six more months, fulfill my previous obligation (which is only a spoken one, to Chris, so far---I haven't signed the "contract"), and start on my new freedom and new life after Christmas?

I guess the answer is: because of my health and sanity. Because I'd rather not start to resent the people, the volunteers, I work with. (Haha! Too late!) Also because if I'm going to quit soon anyway, does it really benefit my employer to put off the inevitable task of finding a different arrangement? Won't it be better for them to start on that right away, especially before the start of the program year? Very possibly, yes.

My counselor once, early on, talked to me about emotional valence--people with mental illness like depression and anxiety tend to have an overall more negative emotional valence. For various reasons. It can be changed. But because mine has been net negative for a good portion of my life, I tend to be influenced by negative feelings, fears, more than positive ones, motivations. When I focus on all the good that would come after quitting the cathedral job, I like this and feel excited and relieved and happy. But I think I've hesitated for this long because the fear of quitting, and fear of the possible negative consequences, and of disappointing people, has more of a hold on me than the motivation for the positive outcomes.

And of the possible people who would be disappointed, it's Chris who is foremost in my mind. I feel responsible for him, a little. Katrina did ask me, the last time I saw her, "Why are you responsible for making his life better? For his salary, for his career?" Well, I'm not. His life is his business. But the more I've seen of his life, how he is barely scraping by, the more I feel he's been wronged, and want to help right the wrongs. I want to help him at the cathedral, so he can finish his dissertation. I want to help him keep getting raises, so he can afford his rent. But the real truth of the matter is--none of that is my fucking business. And were I to shape my own decisions around helping him, inevitably I would resent it all. He most certainly hasn't asked me to help him.

And maybe that's what's happening now. It's now time for me to do what's right for me. Last summer, who knew: maybe the cathedral job was just the thing for me. This summer, with a year of it behind me, it's pretty clearly not the right thing for me.  

It's pretty clearly not the right thing for me.

All that remains is to write a good resignation letter and hope people will still be my friend. If they won't, though... that will be fine.

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