Certainly, I can!

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it. — Theodore Roosevelt

As a long-time patron of bookstores, I possess a passion for books, authors, and reading in general, and thus the ideal qualifications for this position and any other at your stores . . .

Crap.  Another hour wasted writing cover letters to local bookstores.  My recent attempts at schools and libraries have failed; desperation has driven me to scan ads for sales clerks or coffee barristas.  Yet even these opportunities are not without their challenges in today’s economy.  For example, Borders and Barnes & Nobel both require resume and cover letters, not to mention forms and questionnaires.  Most employers require your life story before even considering hiring.  And mine at the moment is not exactly a contender for the Pulitzer. Continue reading

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Word Families

bookopen2Every family possesses a language all its own, independent of its own nation, region, or race. Here in the U.S. despite the fact that we all (supposedly) speak the same tongue, we rarely understand one another. As Mark Twain reminds us during one of his visits to France: In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language. Perhaps French families teach their children a different form of the language then our American textbooks teach us.

Our family is no different; in a house of eight kids (give or take several) and two frazzled adults (not to mention aunts, uncles, cousins, and a multitude of friends), our home rivals the population of a small mid-west town. As such, variations in language emerge everyday to confuse and bewilder those foolish enough to believe that vocabulary should remain static. The following represents only a small chunk of aberrations of speech typical of the Murphey family:


A – (noun) abbreviation for ass or mule, an irritating individual

Etymology – a truly worthless substitution used by Mother Murphey in order to insult someone like my brother Sean without being crude (i.e. actually saying the word ‘ass’). Though the insult endures despite the replaced terminology, Mom still affirms that it is a much politer method to degrade an insufferable twit.


Mo-gift – (noun) a gift or present given to another solely for the benefit of the giver (presumably because both individuals live together)

Etymology – derived from the Christmas gifts given by my Aunt Mo, such as a blender to her husband, an iron to her daughter, and a Steel Magnolias DVD to her son


Ijit – (noun) A poor driver (i.e. one who drives too slowly, cuts others off, sidles between two lanes, drives without headlights in the rain, or generally reads, texts, shaves, applies makeup, picks nose, cleans car, or checks email all while driving)

Etymology – typically an ijit applies only to others never the speaker regardless of how many infractions he or she commits while condemning others.


Warsh – (verb) to clean, wipe clear

Etymology – origin unknown; however, Mom affirms that this word is quite common across the country (none of my college friends can confirm this despite their state of birth). Often mispronounced by the general public as ‘wash’ (note the absence of the ‘r’); after years of usage, this word earned several younger Murpheys poor scores on their Spelling Bee’s

See Also: Warshington D.C., Warshinton state, General George Warshington


Moth-van-bush-wooken – (part.) to shove up in one’s face

Etymology – created by Pat’s good friend Matthew, who irritated by the tendency of ESPN newscasters to make up words (i.e. winningest) wished to illustrate just how easy it is to report the sports when proper diction is no longer required.


Which-come – (noun) a missing object; a lost tool or instrument so well hidden that its very name eludes the speaker

Etymology – My family’s word for anything we cannot remember: “Ok, so we have our hammer, nail gun, and the jigsaw . . . where’s that whichcome I left here?” “Your iced tea is behind you, Dad.”


Japanese porn – (noun) manga or anime

Etymology – Sigh. Ok, so one little misunderstanding and my hobby deteriorates into an activity for freaks or deviants . . . anyway, term derived by Murph’s brothers and sisters after browsing through some Love Hina comics he had received for Christmas. Despite my constant and continued protests, this appellation continues. I am so sorry Mr. Miyazaki.

Shopping Blues

The lights flashed and flickered into darkness as Mom finished her fifth catwalk down the aisle. I sighed yet again, noticeably upset that I had traded in a beautiful lightning storm for women’s shoes. As I understood it, Mom needed a third pair of Asics to replace her current “good pair” which she would wear down to Florida next week. Her original pair, though perfect for sporting around the house, could not be seen outside the house lest the world mock her for unclean running shoes.

The Plum shoe . . .My simple male logic, which clearly made no sense of the previous two sentences, decided to stare aimlessly about Kohl’s department store in the hopes of finding something pretty, shiny, or in lingerie. Finding only two of the three in the shoe department, I decided to return my attention to Mom, who had just finished fitting another pair of purple (the box said plum) shoes. She jumped off the bench and strode down the aisle again.

“How do you like them?” she asked.

“Um . . .” I always attempt honesty first. This seldom works but typically results in several funny awkward moments. “Actually I like them, better than those pink ones with the bland gray color.”

“Really?” Mom says in that tone which tells me I had just failed that test. “Because I really like the pink ones. They’re less noticeable.”

“But the purple ones have more room right?”

“Purple? What purple ones?”

“Plum,” I sigh. “The . . . plum shoes you have on.”

“Oh, yeah. They are more comfortable, but a little more expensive.”

“So what? Just buy them,” I advise. This is typical bored-guy logic at work here, the “if you like it, let’s get it and go” perspective that reminds her irritatingly of her husband.

“He’s always rushing me,” she would say and then wonder: “Why can’t you be more patient like when you were little?”

When I was growing up, I would love to go shopping with Mom. We would first visit the bookstore, where Mom would buy me some story or comic and then enter one of the major department stores to shop for the younger kids. There I would find myself a nice hidden nook, a nest among the children’s clothes to read in peace. Mom would spend hours looking at bibs, tiny plaid shorts, and one-piece overhauls with mooing cows, checking sale prices and muttering to herself how big all her children had become. Rarely did she shop for herself. Yet, when she did I would inevitably find myself a corner, gather several fashionable dresses and petite slacks discarded or dropped from their racks and nestle myself for a few hours of silent study.

Mom of course loved this. Not only did she have a shopping buddy who was willing to go with her, but this shopping buddy did not mind one bit whether she spent all day analyzing outfits and arguing prices. Nowadays however as I’ve grown in size some, escaping to a corner beneath women’s apparel to read, hoarding pillows of female apparel would earn me several bizarre stares and perhaps a police-escorted invitation to leave the store. Pervert!

Thus, I am left sitting in the shoe department, my book burning a hole in my pocket and watching my mother parade down the aisles in an assorted variety of Skittle-flavored running shoes. The truly ironic thing is that my style of shopping mimics Mom’s . . . that is, in the proper venue. Later this week, as we prepare for a long roadtrip south to Florida, she will come ask for a ride to the bookstore and a quick scan of their magazine department. The sound of her impatient “Are you done reading yet?” will be music to my ears.

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow