The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

on mediocrity

September10

Most people read the same books  – as opposed to living the sort of lives that people write books about, or doing the sort of things worth immortalizing in print.

So…

Perhaps reading the same book, or books, is another example of, if not a definition of, mediocrity.

I do value books extolling great things, events, people, or deeds. But, all too often the book of the month, or on the national best-sellers list, is popular because it inspires the masses as a direct result of their own lack of inspiration (or perspiration).

And, it’s only just occurred to me that this might be a great conversation to have with my Haley Anne and what happens in Middle School (and, the concern of many girls when it comes to fitting in or being like other people – as opposed to being something like, well… happy).

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I want to know what Love is

September1

Last week – let’s pin this on Monday – Haley Anne was still thirteen. Long legs, almond-eyed, and a fury on the soccer pitch. I’ll add adored by her Daddy, for good measure. But, that’s hardly news to the loyal followers of this Blog.

Haley Anne has always been wired for independence. She was never likely to hurl herself off of a four-story roof top with a home made parachute like I did at ten. But, she has her own mind and the steely resolve to realize it. She’s been a handful lately getting the sense of herself with all the trials-and-tribulations that come with being a teenage girl in the savage hallways of Middle School. All-in-all I’m quite pleased with her. Joanne takes the brunt and the heat of Haley Anne’s hormone-drenched temperament, while I still have more opportunities than not to be the hero. But, I’m navigating dark waters on any given day.

Mondays… They loom over us don’t they? Whereas Tuesdays are best for police raids, it’s Mondays that herald a week full of opportunity. …This includes life’s unexpected lessons.

Last Monday was the first day of the new school year and Haley Anne is now in the eighth grade. Middle school is tough, and the girls that are found in the halls are often colorful enough to put a New York City Vice Squad on edge. Haley Anne arrived safely home (she actually enjoys the bus) and was full of war stories. Most of them are of middling consequence, to me, any way – and, to yourselves, naturally. And, I was probably more focused on the evening’s soccer practice, and being content with the fact that her dress was evidently well regarded, her classes found without adventure, and her lunch crowd cordial.

We’ll step lively forward with this tale, acknowledging only that the above preamble is insufficient to signal the change of life that has forever altered my own world view. …That aforementioned, and unexpected, life lesson.

Dinner was a quick bite of lasagna before we were off to practice. That went swell as usual. Then home to a few quick emails and bed. Sleep comes fast in my head. The pillow and a death-like coma are quick and easy friends, for me.

But… With her uncanny ability to unhinge me from any deep sleep Joanne shoved my shoulder later that evening with a curt:

“you need to read this”.

What I heard in Joanne’s voice was a mixture of bemused angst (its possible, and Joanne, being English has it perfected). I wasn’t expecting a foreclosure notice or ransom note so I was a bit slow to pull myself together for thought leadership.  However glowing in the dark, and hovering in front of my face was Haley Anne’s iPhone (I knew this because mine is an iPhone 4, while Haley Anne’s is a 3G, and emma Jo’s 3G [minus SIMs Card] has a crack in the screen). All this quickly spun out of my head as I was shocked into alertness by the message:

“I LOve You. Let’s get back together”.

I’m not sure if it was adrenalin, fear, anger, numbing shock, or unrepentent outrage that surged through my body like spinach might Pop-eye from the old cartoons. But, I must have read the message ten times before I simply asked Joanne:

“who the hell sent that to Haley Anne?”

The simple response was:

“_____ – the kid from summer”.

So… Here’s the abbreviated background scenario…

Many of Haley Anne’s friends are involved in some form or another with “boyfriends”. In our household, the rule is NO BOYFRIENDS until our daughters are fifteen years of age. None. That’s it. And, that means the stuff that goes along with boyfriends. Any of it. Period. Haley Anne apparently caught the eye of this young fellow last year, and he launched a deluge of texts at her all summer. Joanne had a series of talks with Haley Anne that I won’t burden you with. But, we were satisfied that Haley Anne understood the rules and we have a clear and binding covenant in our family. I trust my daughter. And, I’m developing trust and faith in her judgment. I’m training her to be a leader in both her thinking and actions.

All along the way, I’m also being trained by my daughters, and life, as seen through their eyes, to be more open-minded and open-hearted.

I drove Haley Anne to school the next day. I asked her along the way if she wanted to talk to me about “_____”. She paused before answering barely enough to gather her breath because she’s a quick thinker, and wit, that one.

“he’s only a friend Daddy. I know what I want; and, it’s not a boyfriend. I just like having a lot of great friends.”

That helped me. And, reaffirmed Haley Anne has her wits about me – or, is a brilliant actress. I’ll submit there is all that afoot. But, here is how I’m handling this matter:

“I love you with all my heart, and I’m more proud of you you each and every day. There is a lot of change afoot. And, I need your help. If you ever think you know what love is, or start to have feelings for some lucky lad, I want you to try something… In fact, let’s give it a go this week… Find a poem that you think and feel is about love. You can’t be wrong. Just try. Just like in football (soccer) – give it your best. You can never disappoint me with effort. It’s all about interpretation. All I really care about is your opinion, your thinking, and your feelings. You can write the poem if you want to. The only rule is that it has to be something you would be willing to read and give to a person you think you love. That might be a test that you are ready to share your heart with someone other than me.”

My voice cracked, just a bit. So, she knew where all of this was coming from.

She was quiet. And, looked at me. I got the simple, slow, gentle nod with the far away look behind the eyes.

I love being a Dad. And, I trust my daughter. I’m putting a lot of faith on the line. I feel great. But, I also have the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I have before a big race or other competition.

Stay tuned.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

it's Revolution at Hopewell Middle School – Part I

March17

Readers of this Blog; and, you are legion, know I’ll not shy away from a good cause. Reasonable examples of this include: Berkeley’s Contribution To Terrorism and Texting and Driving to Death. My heart is on my sleeve daily, and what’s on my mind is, more often than not, in these posts.

Education, my daughters, and adventure are always likely topics.

Nonetheless… Who would have thought; although I should have known…

…my own daughter is a revolutionary.

The winds of change are blowing stiffly through the halls of Hopewell Middle School.

We Home Schooled Haley Anne for almost three years. And, in that period of time, many of my own Jeffersonian ideals clearly rubbed-off on her. Fairness, representation, truth and light to name just a few standards, if you will.

Haley Anne and her sister Emma Jo “mainstreamed” themselves this year. By any definition, they are well-adjusted and poised young ladies. Willfulness is part of all that. But, that’s okay by me because they are full of ideals, and the vigor to realize them.

And, now Haley is clearly influencing her friends.

So… For me, this story begins, possibly in the middle of significant events that began with Joanne calling and letting me know that the schools Principal had Haley Anne’s cellular telephone and was requesting a meeting as quickly as possible.

“Haley’s not home yet. I don’t have any details”, I was grimly informed.

But, soon we learned…

(well, we already knew that) Haley Anne’s (then) Home Room teacher looks to be in her late thirties. However, by way too many accounts, she acts like another thirteen year old. She ignores most of the kids while she sits in front of her classroom computer, with a favored student, and shops Holister online (just so we are clear, I’d rather our kids not be exposed to that for now). The other students are lucky if she gives them enough attention in the form of grading other classes home work for her.

Haley Anne took the position that any amount of time spent in this teachers classroom was wasted. “She doesn’t teach us anything”. And, she was offended by the teachers unprofessional actions that included using words like “deusche” to describe other teachers, and “gay” relative to unfortunate students that raised her ire. She would go so far as to belittle students for not wearing trendy clothes.

Haley Anne had been signaling Joanne and myself that she was not happy with the teacher. And, unfortunately we failed to take her seriously. Even when Haley Anne reminded me that I would not allow her to shop at Holister because of the poor image it portrayed young men and women, and this teacher was shopping on that very site in front of the class, and making remarks out loud.

So, Haley Anne took matters into her own hands. She discreetly (and, the cow teacher would not have noticed anyway) began taking video footage with her cellular telephone. She approached the schools principal with this evidence, but was ignored. So, she instinctively began talking about the problem, openly in the halls of Hopewell (oh, the irony of that institution’s name!). At some point, and during a particularly heated berating of another student, the teacher realized she was being filmed (by Haley Anne and another student). She demanded that Haley Anne turn over the cellular device.

Naturally, being a Cork, Haley Anne stood her ground (she’s also a formidable Defender on her soccer team, and thus, accustomed to stopping foes cold in their tracks). As reflected by many a coward the teacher had little stomach for the righteous. And, I can, with a smile, picture in my minds-eye, Haley Ann’e beautiful brown eyes arched in cold and indignant fury.

Thomas Jefferson would be proud, of this I’m certain, reader.

We did meet with the school’s principal and the woman they call a teacher (with a straight face, no less). All she could muster was an pouty, self-indulgent, and indignant claim that (her own) “…feelings had been hurt”. She did deny that she shopped Holister. That was until I advised her a simple technology and forensics audit could put the question to rest. At that point she sat back in her chair and chose to go quiet while the Principal promised to see what accommodations could be made for Haley Anne.

The teacher in question is now openly hostile and Haley Anne is being censured. For example, she was pulled from a transitional class (homework) where she was surrounded by friends with whom she could go to lunch and dropped in the midst of a group of bullies who openly threatened her. She stood her ground, certainly. But, more on that later.

There is now more to this unfortunate story. And, it will be reported, here. Of that you can rest assured. Please don’t forget to hold me accountable for truth and light in this matter. This is about me being both a father and a Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman.

NOTE:  Regarding scienter… The Principal, as the authority, now understands there is an issue in his ranks. He has no choice but to resolve it, or be damned by it.

I’ll be sending that Principal a copy of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead – and, you know there will be a quiz, in one form or another.

Peace be to my Brothers and sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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