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: https://flpcgallery.org

Festivals, internet, technology

Googling God

Googling God photo by Mariah Chase.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Googling God photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.

 

Overwhelming response to a recent post: “God Laughs While Women Plan” puzzled me. Up to that point, 9,000 was the largest number of hits I had received on previous posts, so 31,000 hits was stunning.

Did I have so many hits because I used the word “God” in the title? That’s the only rationale that makes sense. In the past, I thought that by using “Martha Stewart” in a title would bring many hits. I was wrong. I miscalculated again when I wrote about “Marijuana.” I questioned my low number of hits then discovered that I had misspelled “Marijuana,” yet it was spelled correctly in the body of the post. Even when I corrected the title spelling, I had fewer than 2,000 readers.

Using the word “God” in the title is the only explanation for the popularity of my post.

Do you remember the old Groucho Marx show, “You Bet Your Life”? Groucho had a “Secret Word” that, if contestants inadvertently uttered, brought them a $50 bonus.

I have had personal experiences of saying a secret word that struck an unexpected response from another person. When my children were teenagers and I returned to take classes at a community college, I took an American Literature class. In one of my papers, I mentioned “Dostoyevsky.” How was I to know that the class reader, a graduate student from a local university, was a Russian Literature major? As a result of that one word, we became lifetime friends.

The night I met my husband-to-be, we were at a festival on the UCLA campus. While we were dancing, he made me uncomfortable because he held me too tightly. However, when he asked, “Do you like Latin music?” he totally disarmed me. He had spoken my secret words, referring to music I fell in love with at age 14 while mesmerized by a Mexican trio on Catalina Island. I had never discussed this with anyone, so Harold’s speaking these words instantly melted me – even more so when we left UCLA to go to a club to hear and dance to the captivating Cuban rhythms of Rene Touzet.

Latin Music became a motif throughout our lifetime together. And with Harold’s permission, as guests entered the chapel at his funeral, they entered to the Latin beat of the Buena Vista Social Club.

How do readers find blogs that interest them? By Googling a topic. God has a gazillion followers.

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who is curious about how readers discover her blogs.