Tag Archives: bully

You Are the Pilot of Your Journey

I will concede that a person could *own* too many books (in relation to the size of the space in which they have to store books) but I fail to understand how anyone could possibly *know* too many books. In my opinion, most people don’t know enough books.

Some time ago (April, 2019, according to the date on the original file), Professor Gwen Tarbox asked me to comic-ize this Facebook status written by Professor Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. I previously comic-ized another of Professor Wesley’s Facebook statuses—I don’t think she can help writing poetry, even on Facebook—and I readily agreed. And then I made the file size too big (I think) and the drawings too complicated and it was taking hours and hours and I was working from these really old and not necessarily focused photographs and I just sort of…gave up?

My life was really complicated around that time and it’s only just sort of settling (obviously, few of us are really settled in this pandemic, but I guess we’re adjusting to the new normal) and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley recently published a new book of poetry, Praise Song for My Children. I haven’t read it yet, but I did acquire a copy (persuaded my public library system to buy it) and it’s the next thing I’m going to read. (I’ll link to my review and to Amazon after I read it for people who want to know more/buy their own.) Anyway, having the book in my hands (combined with the fact of pandemic) reminded me that there was this half-finished comic. And it still took like 3 more hours to finish. It’s way too much detail for a comic, and I don’t think most readers will even be able to zoom in (but trust me…too much detail for the format) but I guess that makes it exceptionally beautiful.

I do want to publish more comics. Probably not in this style. I’d like to develop a more cartoony one that takes less time.

If I was in the Patricia Jabbeh Wesley business (the way I’ve been in the Bonnie Jo Campbell business) there could be no end to these. There’s a lot of material. This wouldn’t even be one of the posts I would have chosen myself, although it’s got some good stuff in it. This guy thinks that shaving your eyebrows makes you beautiful? Not to mention the part where she’s been married for decades and has adult children…what makes random dudes think that women care about their opinion of their appearance?

I must also add that my eyebrows are just as bushy as Professor Wesley’s. Possibly moreso. However, I am also married and my husband has never spoken of my eyebrows to me. I assume he likes them.

Maybe this is playful banter and I miss some of the subtext but this guy doesn’t actually sound like a friend to me. Professor Wesley’s retort reminds me of the lady telling Winston Churchill that if he were her husband she’d serve him poison and Churchill replying, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.” And then, hilariously, his comeback is that she’s too smart and knows too much? How is that an insult? I’m guessing she is proud of the number of books she’s read and the level of education she’s achieved (I met her in grad school: she was finishing up her PhD when I was working on my master’s). I don’t know anyone who cries when you call them smart. The only thing people like that cry about in regard to their educational level is their student debt.

Anyway, comic.

Dragon Comics 59

The real-life girl was promoting the idea of giving the cartoon girl a flame thrower in panel 4, but I feel that negates the message of the comic.

The real-life girl was promoting the idea of giving the comic girl a flamethrower in panel 4, but I feel that negates the message of the comic.

People who meet me as an adult don’t necessarily believe that I am a true introvert, and many of them are surprised to learned that I was, for many years, a friendless outcast silently suffering an endless campaign of bullying. I was one of those super-hated kids who got it from both sides, the boys and the girls, in public school and Hebrew school, physical and emotional, and furthermore, there were a couple teachers who I felt were pretty mean for no good reason. Sure, I was probably an insufferable know-it-all who talked about weird and esoteric topics and didn’t realize that others judged me on my external appearance, but what I really would have liked was to be left alone. Like many super-nerds, I made it to college (I graduated high school early and started college literally 2 weeks later; that’s how desperate I was to get out, even though the bullying subsided by sophomore year), worked out some social skills, and suddenly found that the haters were in the minority and I was a relatively well-liked dragon.

Still and all, when the girl started complaining that she was being bullied in school, I suffered a couple weeks of PTSD with her. When I was a kid, there was no response to bullying from school administrations. I doubt they could have done much; when 50% of the 7th grade is involved in perpetrating terror, it’s not like they’re all just going to stop because you tell them. Once, a boy punched me in the nose on the school bus and my mother called his mother, which had no effect on his behavior, and there was nothing else to do. That’s not the case now. Most schools brag about their zero-tolerance policy for bullying, and while anyone who knows anything about children can roll their eyes with the knowledge that adults can’t keep a promise like that, at least they actually try.

Ben’s Bells is a beloved Tucson institution, working toward the goal of strengthening communities through kindness awareness. They have a lot of programs, and offer effective kindness education to schools in the region. Most school participate, include the girl’s. When the bullying began, her parents and I tried to offer her some tools for standing up for herself and getting away from her tormentor, but she wasn’t able to wield them effectively, so I contacted her teacher, who immediately brought several administrators on board, sent the girls to the school’s dedicated kindness counselor (can you imagine? how different would life have been 30 years ago?), and immediately ended the problem. Just like that.

So, I didn’t give the girl a flamethrower, because you don’t have to fight fire with fire. It’s actually more effective to overwhelm it with water: compassion.