Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome to my Free Fa…….THWUMP!!!

      In November of 2010 I began The Chalk with a post entitled "Welcome to my Free Fall".  I had just submitted a letter of resignation, effective June 2011, to my long-time employer and given myself seven months to “create a new livelihood and find a new direction.”

         It’s June 2011, so I thought I should update all three of my readers on what is happening career-wise. You can decide for yourself if there was an authentic change. I’m not entirely sure.

         I rescinded my resignation in late December at the urging of the Director of Human Resources. He was kind and appreciated my intentions for giving the administration so much time to prepare for my departure. I truly wanted to leave on the best of terms. Tom, the head of HR, was protective of me and asked me to hold off on the resigning until I actually had a job (DUH!!!). It was fortunate, because there was not much out there worth quitting for. Instead, my public school system made some big concessions towards making my program better and my life easier. Next year we are positioned to be a very strong program. The truth is, things had to get pretty bad before the administration saw the need to change. Without going into too many details, suffice it to say it was a very tough year at work, punctuated by a dangerously low student-to-staff ratio. Next year will be much better. The concessions that were made are thoughtful. I just wish things didn’t have to hit rock bottom before meaningful changes took place.

         As I looked for work this year, I stumbled upon an opportunity to become a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coach, i.e. a nationally certified riding instructor. Sponsored by Training Wheels, I went through a real meat grinder of the MSF training in early March. I started teaching in April and now spend most of my weekends on the motorcycle range. I can’t believe people actually pay me to ride motorcycles!

         I’m set up for one of the best summers of my life. I’ll spend my summer teaching drums at a local arts camp on Monday’s and Wednesday’s and coaching riders on the weekends. The rest of the time, it’s just me and my son (and possibly Blue).

         So I did not have a wholesale change, nor did I stay stagnant in an untenable position. I’m somewhere in between. 
I’m going back to run my program for another year, but if someone asked me what I do for a living I also mention that I teach and ride motorcycles.

         I’m still searching. In the meantime, I hope that the personal cost of doing what needs to be done for my students is not too high. I don’t think it’s too dramatic to acknowledge that the effort and commitment it takes to be successful with students who have severe emotional disabilities takes its’ toll on caregivers. I’m not a religious man, but….. Lord, give me strength!!

         I think I landed from my free fall. Unfortunately I landed on a cliff jutting out over the abyss. Still looking for a parachute in the right color.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Hero turned villain

Was winning worth the price?

Will the ring become a burden?


I think you are brave

to play your game

To play YOUR game

Again, at what cost?
*My third graders were writing poems and one of my students asked me to write him a poem about the HEAT. This is what I gave him.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What is

      The other day I had an unpleasant close call on my motorcycle. I ride a very tame Honda Rebel. It’s the laughing stock of the Rider Coaches I teach with, all of whom drive machines the dwarf my 1986 250cc Rebel. The chain was pretty loose and it came off the rear tire. I was going fairly slow and had no trouble quickly pressing the clutch and taking the power away from the back tire so it did not freeze up and send me flying. It did not feel like such a big deal at the time, but it was.

       Before heading to Greater Boston Motor Sports (a.k.a the only motorcycle mechanic around) I joked with my wife that I might accidentally buy a new motorcycle. She did not say “ Are you F***************** crazy!! No way can we afford this”, which I immediately interpreted as, “love of my life, you should do this! In fact I insist!”

       When I brought the bike into the shop and my mechanic heard what happened he went green. “Corey you must have very good reflexes”. No, I thought, I just got lucky.  He knew I was a Rider Coach and invited me test drive any bike in the shop. It was like having free range in a museum. I tried a lot of bikes. I wasn’t surprised that I fell in love. I was surprised that I fell for a 2010 Shadow Phantom 750 with beautiful leather saddlebags. I fell deeply in love. I never have felt so in tune with a bike. It felt like it was part of me.

       One little problem. I did not/do not have $7000. What I did have, or at least thought I had (cue foreboding music) was my Grandfather’s 18K Gold Patek Phillippe watch. My brothers inherited Rolexes, and I got the Patek Phillippe. Whenever I had need of money over the last ten years since Grandpa’s death I have struggled with the idea of selling it. Instead I have treated it like a sacred relic, sitting unused but cherished in my underwear drawer[1].  But this was different. I had come to a hard decision, I was going to sell it. It was meant to bring joy to the owner. I think Grandpa would like this use. For those of you who know about these things, a true Patek Phillippe could easily cover the cost of this bike.

       I put $100 down on the bike and spent the next week researching how to sell the watch. Here is what I found out. The watch was an imitation worth about $200. Heart-broken but not defeated I am still going to find a way to buy the Phantom (which I can write off as a legitimate expense now that I drive motorcycles for a living).

       The funny thing is, I think my wife must have seen this coming. The night before I walked into the bike shop sheread a passage from Pemo Chodron to me that helped me deal with just such a situation. In brief, Chodron says that we become overly attached to a story line and we fail to see what is truly in font of us. Better to be fully aware of this moment and the truth of this moment, than become attached to a narrative of what should be. My narrative was that I had this safety net that I could sell if need be. After I went through the very real disappointment of learning the truth, I had to smile and say to myself, wow you bought that story hook, line, and sinker! So now you have to deal with what is.  

[1] You would be amazed how many men keep their most beloved and valuable possessions next to their threadbare Fruit-of-the-Loom’s. 
[2]The Phantom, sans the beautiful leather saddlebags that are on my future bike.