Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zonker Cousteau

Yeah, so I'm no better with posting titles than I am with any other kind. This one is the result of a Doonesbury comic I read in high school in which Zonker pops his head out of the kiddie pool in the backyard at the D'bury commune (I ... think ...) and cheerily quips, "C'est moi! Zonker Cousteau!"

I figured a "c'est moi" post must somehow be in order.

Plus with the vanity. So.


Okay, I'm a forty-one year old woman in Richmond, Virginia, and I'm a secretary for a local utility and a novelist for (currently) significantly less pay. For many years, over a decade or so, I worked in the financial services industry, and my last employer moved from this town to another for a plum of an arranged marriage with a little family firm in Missouri (ahem). Since they made the arrangements, this was a happy thing for Former Employer. They've since had arrangements made on them, which has been frustrating I hear - but I left financial services at just such a time as to make my concerns more an intellectual than a deeply personal issue.

I have nothing but respect, and a certain selected affection, for Former Employer and some of the people there, but count myself fortunate beyond all bounds to be part of another company now. I was blessed beyond all reason in my position, and the people I work with - and, even more recently, with a move to another building, with a physical location for my job which is essentially a park on the riverside. It is beautiful. Counting Canadian goose bums in the water, and bunnies by the path to the parking garage, has probably contributed more greatly to a 2009 thus far spent in more contentment than I have a right to than any amount of Zoloft or anything else could.

Contentment with wildlife has been a guiding force in a very good year. Which is something I'm grateful for, as this year started in a way which wouldn't have occasioned any expectation of positivity for it.

Yet again, I am grateful.


I grew up in a middle class suburb in the 1970s, in the former capital of the Confederacy. I'm not ashamed of my Southern heritage, but I'm not interested in becoming a navel-gazing novelist of the sort who expects to write The Next Great Southern Novel either. I waxed loudly sarcastic in younger years about going to "beautiful downtown White Flight high" (my school was named for a noted segregationist), and certainly cried beautiful tears at the election of President Obama. But I am the child of a good old-fashioned Southern Babdiss woman, and I am more than capable of respecting those politics and values unlike my own.

At 25, a very nice man consented to marry me, and I loused that up. It took four years, but our starter-marriage amounted to about two actual years of married life and a slow burnout on the way to divorce. He's a good man, and - years later - one of my best friends. Another thing I am grateful for.

My brother has a vastly more interesting job than I do, and has Been Places and Done Things. For a long time, I felt the judgment of others, that my own life had been pedestrian by compare; but I've grown into some appreciation of the place I occupy, and I apologize to noone. Life is safe, stable and kind. Et voila! I am content with it.

I have a fine house, a wonderful dog, a car to get me wherever I need to be. A job I am so happy to have. I have a performance review in about twenty minutes, too. Get that off my plate, and I will be even happier.

There's love in my life, but no man here to muck around with me in it. This is disappointing, but not the crashing blow many might think it to be. I'm not dead. Neither is he. And I, even more than my dog, am the living embodiment of "hope springs eternal."

Everyone is welcome to clam up regarding their opinions about that.

Life is GOOD, and I'm good AT it. I'm a regular marvel, frankly - and simply owning that realization isn't necessarily easy. Gratitude is perhaps my most motivating factor.


I have friends who amaze me constantly. Brave and beautiful. Delicate and pungently funny. Generous beyond even bearing it. Constant and comfortable. There are so many different kinds of people in my life. But I am no less than blessed, and joyous, in ANY of those who are so kind as to love me. If smart people - if such *good* people - think well of me, I am humbled; and hope only to live up to it.

The family around me, too - brilliant, indelible nieces. Salt and sugar and sweat and perfume, my closest relatives; people who don't understand, but who deeply love, one another. My mother, still so close by. My father watching over us all. My brother working hard on another coast too far away - but for all the right reasons, and doing no better than we could ever pray for him to be. Family members, too, who were made rather than born - my dearest friend, her brothers, her father, her little boys and husband.

People are the best reason to consider life a magnificent place to be.

People are the most fascinating thing in the world.

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