Short Shares: Heimlich, courage and Trump the mumpsimus

I try not to throw anything away when I’m writing, whether I’m working on an article, blog post or poem. I save sentences or thoughts that don’t make the cut for the piece I’m writing because I never know if I might need them in a later draft, or if they might come in handy for another writing project. I call them “leftovers.”

While my writing leftovers would be as popular on my blog as eating leftover liver for dinner, I do like the thought of sharing leftover ideas. Specifically, things that caught my eye online and elsewhere throughout the week. Things that I really wanted to blog about, but either ran of out time or need to think more about and come back to later.

From time to time, I share these “things” together in a blog post and call them “short shares.” Here are my short shares for this week.

num 1

dr heimlich
Dr. Heimlich demonstrates his life-saving maneuver on TV-talk show host Johnny Carson. He invented the procedure in 1974.

Dr. Heimlich, the doctor who invented the maneuver that saves people from choking, used it himself to save a woman in his nursing home. Heimlich is 96 years old and here’s the kicker: he has reportedly never before used the procedure to save a life. How cool is it that he finally got the chance? OK, not cool for the choking woman, but it must have been quite a fulfilling moment for him. Talk about coming full circle in your life. Check out his story on CNN.

Heimlich’s technique has saved an estimated 50,000 lives in the U.S. since he invented it in 1974, but I suspect it must be more. How could they keep an accurate count? I used it twice on my daughter when she was a toddler. Once when she was choking on a grape and once on a Maraschino cherry. Did I need to? I don’t know, but my mom instincts wouldn’t wait. I’d had training and went auto-mode. Thank you, Dr. Heimlich.

num 2


There is a fabulous and supportive writing group in the adjoining town called RASP, or Redmond Association of Spoken Word. Founded in 1997, I’m sad to say I’ve only recently discovered them, but then again, my creative writing habit is relatively new.

They host writing circles at the library, a monthly prose or poetry reading/open mic, and once a year they put on a full-day event called “Poets in the Park” that attracts writers from all over the region. I attended last year as an observer. This year, I hope to volunteer.

Last night, I participated in the RASP open mic for the first time. It was terrifying, but rewarding. I shared two poems in honor of Memorial Day, poems I’d written about my dad. It was a moment of courage that I couldn’t find at the previous month’s open mic. I hope to summon it again in the coming months, and I will share my poems here after I cross another big hurdle: finding a publisher.

num 3martha brockenbroughIn addition to an open mic, the monthly RASP event features a reader of prose or poetry. This month it was the amazing Martha Brockenbrough, an accomplished and award-winning author of many novels. Her most recent YA, The Game of Love and Death, is a Kirkus Prize Finalist and on the ALA Top 10 Booklist for Romance and Youth.

She spoke to us about her writing process, read from the first chapter of Game, and answered our questions. Two things will stick with me.

  1. She rewrote her latest novel 31 times. She didn’t give up until she was happy with it, and it took 31 times to find her happy. 31! And then, she began the rigorous editing process with her publisher, Scholastic.
  2. She introduced us to the word “mumpsimus,” which she used in her 2008 book, Things That Make Us (Sic). I’ve put the book on hold at the library and can’t wait to see where she used it, but until then, let me just say how much I love this word. Mumpsimus.

I love the sound of it. Say it out loud.

“Mumpsimus.” Isn’t that fun?

I love the meaning of it, too. defines mumpsimus as a noun, meaning “adherence to or persistence in an erroneous use of language, memorization, practice, belief, etc., out of habit or obstinacy.” Or “a person who persists in a mistaken expression or practice.”

Donald Trump is a clearly a mumpsimus. And his followers? They are mumpsimuses. Particularly the Republicans who are overlooking his words and deeds, but supporting him as the nominee anyway.






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