Jottings from a pocket notebook

Photo2596 (2)Yes, English teachers get spring break, too. A few days in to mine, all I can say is that the bulk of the items on my ‘to do’ list are not getting ‘too done.’

RobertBurns‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.’

Robert Burns must’ve had a few spring breaks like mine, but I don’t look great in a kilt.



Sometimes, people…

I understand the appeal behind the idiom of ‘beating a dead horse’ – (figurative) beating can be very cathartic.

But continuing to yell “Giddyup!” while doing it?

Dude, you got issues.


Lessons learned and re-learned

potholesSometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Me? I tend to be the guy with the shovels full of hot asphalt filling pot holes on a cul-de-sac.

On the plus side, I don’t need GPS to get back out quickly.


Kids, DO try this at home:

Rogets thesaurus“Umm…what?”

Favorite recent not-understood-observation-by-my-students on their classroom decorum, usually delivered following a deep sigh on my part: “An entire shelf of thesauruses over there, and yet – there are no words.”

Sometimes, there just aren’t.


‘Thank you for your support and concern’ department:

“Mr. Lucker! What’s up?!”
“My blood pressure.”

This is a not uncommon exchange in our school hallways during passing periods. Usually, it is at the start of fourth period, as my third period class of 35 seniors can be a real group of peasant’s donkeys; my fourth period seniors know this, and most empathize.

BPUsually the kids just shake their heads, smile, walk into class. But, once or twice a semester, one kid will actually HEAR
, and stop, a look of concern crossing his face (it’s always a male student, oddly) and some form of the following ensues:

“Mr. Lucker, your blood pressure really bad? You should see a doctor about that. My granddad had high blood pressure. He had a stroke…and died!

“Same thing happened to my grandma.” chimes in student number two, equally concerned.

“Thanks, guys. Nice to know that someone cares. My blood pressure is going back down, but now I’m really depressed.”

“Ummmm? You’re welcome?”


Like, in an elevator, and you can’t place the tune…

I recently heard a cover version of a common wedding and graduation song played by a Mariachi Band; they called it Photo2594 (2)‘Tacobell’s Canon.’

That joke is obviously Baroquen.

Yeah, I know. There are no words.


Post-it-Notes and scrap paper notations from throughout the year that were scrunched up and stuffed in my pants pockets and forgotten about. The ones that didn’t go through the laundry.

One of my favorite overheard  lines of the year: A guy was sitting in a New Orleans restaurant nursing a beer and waiting for his order, complaining that the beer was cheap but wasn’t very cold, when the waitress walked up with his po-boy and said, “Here – wash your beer down with this.”

Things to ponder in the coming year:
There is no ‘I’ in team, there are no carbs in coffee.
Meringue’ is what sits atop a pie; ‘merengue’ is a dance. Both involve elaborate whipping techniques, both are more entertaining with partaken in with a partner.

When I pull underwear out of my dresser drawer, I feel like I’m headed off to camp: my name (well, DAD) is written in bold, indelible Magic Marker on all the tags.

Such is life in the household when you have a teenager who is now taller than you, and wears some of the same sizes in certain apparel. I’m guessing in the next year, my youngest son, soon to be thirteen, will add further to the labeling and sorting dilemma.

One of us is going have to change brands, styles or laundry.

Around here we don’t sort and our laundry as much as we collate and calibrate it.

Speaking of matters familial, one night, while still only fifteen, Will made a statement about something that made no sense to the rest of us. His response to our blank stares and silence?

“I’m thinking ahead here. My paranoia is getting the best of me.”

I know my kids are really getting older when…
I had to bribe soon-to-be-thirteen Sam to play ‘Auto Bingo’ with me on our recent trip home to Minnesota.  Kid won two bucks, really got into it. We had a good time. Well worth the investment.

One of my favorite students is a tall, lanky African-American junior who is an average student, but really picks up on nuance and subtly better than most of his peers.

I stand in the hallway outside of my class during every passing period, and ‘Alan’ almost always greets me at the doorway with a bump-ready fist or a handshake, and a hearty, “Yo, Mr. Luckerwhat’s up?!” to which I one day responded, “My blood pressure.”

This got him to stop in his tracks, think for a moment, and as the light bulb came on over his head, he smiled, shook my hand and his head, replying “Dawg…” with a chuckle as he took his seat.

This has become a near daily ritual, and depending on his mood, the ‘Dawg’ now takes on different inflections and meanings: ‘Dawwwwwg’ with a guttural growl of agreement indicates ‘I hear you man.’ “Dawg!” with a yelp of surprise says, ‘You can’t be serious!’ Dawg…?’ in questioning tone means, ‘What did those ninth graders do now?’

He won’t be in any of my classes when the new semester begins, but I hope we will see each other in the hall from time to time, and that he continues to dawg me. Pun intended.

One of the things I miss about not working in the food service area of the grocery store was getting to take po-boy orders, and hollering them out to the kitchen while I stuck the order on the wheel.

This was especially true when there were a large number of elderly customers around the counter area, because they would always giggle when I hollered out, “Six inch hot sausage – dressed!” as I rang the bell.

Old people are funny when they giggle…just because a bell rings.


Just for kicks, one day I ran my blog homepage through a translation website – just to see what it might look like, should any of my Norwegian relatives or long-lost members of my Russian lineage track me down in cyberspace; it has an interesting look in Cyrillic.

It was all fun, but I really liked seeing my blog in Italian. In Italian, I am known as ‘maestro.’

I kind of like that. ‘Maestro’ Mark Lucker. A big ‘thumbs up’ for the romance languages.

Oddly, though, my blog wouldn’t translate into Dutch or Greek – I am apparently incomprehensible to those cultures. This is ironic, as many of my English readers say when reading my stuff, “It’s all Greek to me!”

Now that statement will probably land me in Dutch for perceived political incorrectness.

Let’s hear it for my last official puns of 2011.

Happy New year to you and yours, from me and mine.

Til next year; Ciao, kids!