aging, compulsions, Los Angeles Times

Pardon My Lack of Modesty


Award for my blogs, “Norine’s New Life@80.”
Photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2018.


I took delight in entering a contest at age 86. Why? If I won, a celebrity host was not going to show up at my door with fanfare and a check. There would be no coverage in the Las Cruces Sun-News. I only received a paper award (that I promptly framed).

So why did I do it? Because I could. The idea amused me.

Shortly after arriving in New Mexico in 2012, I joined the Las Cruces Women’s Press Club. The other members were friendly and fascinating in what they had accomplished. Writing an eight-year column in the Los Angeles Times gave me the credentials for membership.

Someone once asked when I first realized that I was a writer. It was between the ages of ten and twelve when  I had two uncles serving in the military during WWII. I felt compelled to let them know what was happening at home. The bigger thrill was receiving their letters in return. My uncle Max, who was stationed in India, promised that when he returned to Los Angeles, he would bring me a monkey.

With high expectations at the end of the war, I watched as hundreds of soldiers poured out of Union Station. I figured Uncle Max would be easy to spot with that monkey on his shoulder. Alas! There was no monkey, and I was so disappointed. It took many years before I forgave him — and maybe I never did?

I loved reporting and in high school took journalism, where I won a Reporter of the Year trophy then advanced to becoming Associate Editor of the school newspaper, The Blue Tide. As much as I was enamored with journalism, I never considered pursuing that as a career. In retrospect, it’s probably because college girls’ ambitions in 1949 were mostly limited to becoming teachers or nurses, the latter simply out of the question for me.

To this day, I love writing. As we used to preach in the Cal State University Los Angeles English Department, “Writing is a dialogue with one’s self.” Sometimes I write something and when it appears on my screen, I think, Wow! That’s so true. It was buried inside of me all this time.

Despite being the author of many books and scholarly articles, the award from the New Mexico Press Women stoked my desire to write more. And even on days, when this 86 year-old aching body finally drags itself to the computer, pain lifts as I explore the day’s topic. Best of all, if need be, I can write from my bed and still find pleasure.


Norine Dresser is a folklorist who still gets excited about a new blog theme.

Visit her Gallery of Folklore and Popular Culture:

25 thoughts on “Pardon My Lack of Modesty”

      1. I figured uromastyx was something you ate at your lunch, so I Googled it and saw “uromastyx diet.” Now I must ask — did they taste like chicken?

  1. If not for the boundaries of conventuons, you could/should have been sitting beside Walter Cronkite during big 20th century moments…
    That would have been one giant step for womsnkind…Yet your giant talents shine through every circumstance to bless all you encounter. Your boundless energy inspires me out of lassitude every day!!!
    You are a wonder and a joy! Live, VA

  2. Congratulations, You are GREAT and awesome, you had a lots of positive impact in others and in my life that I was blessed. I am always grateful to have the pleasure to know you and Harold. Norrinieeeee, do not worry about the body aches, my Doctor told me if you wake up without the aches it is very dangerous.

  3. You deserve ALL the awards, Norine. I still can’t believe how you kept us all amused and informed during your hospital stays. A true showman, er showwoman, er whatever gender you wish to be. Is that why you went in the hospital? Don’t answer, your secret is safe with me. But thank you for sharing your immense talents with your fans. You are a natural writer and make us all proud to know you.

    1. Thinking about posting while in the hospital provided a kind of keep-me-sane activity. It’s a dreadful place to be. Nowadays, each room has a white board with vitals listed and a slot that reads: Patient’s Goal. Duh. Almost all of them read: To Go Home!

  4. “Writing is a dialogue with one’s self.” Sometimes I write something and when it appears on my screen, I think, Wow! That’s so true. It was buried inside of me all this time. – I love this. I’m going to use it in the fall with my freshman class. 🙂 My mantra last semester (last fall was): Take Risks! It was funny, I kept saying it in passing but then people wrote it on the evals and I was like, DUDE, they LISTENED.

  5. Yes, I think it’s a very apt description of the process. I’m pleased you are enjoying teaching writing. I did too, except for all the papers to read on weekends. And I also hated giving grades. I’m glad that’s all history right now. And if you are enjoying the teaching, that means that most of the students are, too.

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