yin yang dragon


In the 13 (!) years I've volunteered at this elementary school, I've worked with 4 people who, in my opinion, should not have been allowed around the children. One of them was an incompetent teacher who left the district of her own volition after 1 year of misspelling common words, misidentifying common polygons, and utterly failing to maintain order in the classroom; 1 was an incompetent, unpleasant, garbage person library aide, who was so awful that the principal had me doing extra, secret work to get her fired (but in the end they just eliminated her position); 1 was a mentally ill volunteer mom who stopped volunteering after I refused to sympathize with her constant complaints about volunteer work and finally said, "If you can't find a way to make this job joyful for you, maybe you should stop doing it," and was so overtly bonkers that when she tried to come back the next year, the librarian sought me out to ask my opinion of her and then declined her help after I gave it.

And then there was Performance Mom.

Performance Mom lasted almost 2 1/2 years. This woman had some deep-seated class issues that she really should have addressed prior to volunteering in what is essentially an inner city school. She was completely incapable of understanding her own privilege (she actively denied having it) and couldn't see that she, as a person who had literally NOTHING else to do besides drive her daughter across town 5 days a week (open enrollment) and then hang around the school ALL DAY, and then take her kid to activities after school, and spend the entirety of every weekend driving her child to enrichment activities, should have perhaps a modicum of sympathy for children whose parents who lacked her material resources. She delighted in revoking kids' library privileges and didn't seem to understand that a $2.50 Scholastic edition was NOT worth teaching kids who probably didn't have books at home that they didn't deserve books at school either, that books weren't for kids like them. She literally said, "That's my tax dollars." Even though she didn't work. She was the self-appointed arbiter of behavior, policing the hallways and offering criticism whenever she identified an offense. Whatever she could do to make herself feel more important, more special, more worthy than the other moms, that's what she did. She talked about nothing but her daughter and all the very important things she did for the school, without which the school could not function. I never once heard her mention a friend, her husband, or any activity that didn't revolve around her kid, except to relate how intelligent she was and how she could do something else with her brains and her degree, if she wanted to.

She thought she was a real friend to children, but my observation was that the kids were all scared of her. I almost reported her a couple times, most notably when she didn't let a first grader have his library book because she didn't like how he was holding it. She literally took it out of his hand and said he couldn't have a book this week, even though he'd already checked it out. I didn't report her because I hate getting involved in small group dynamics, and the librarian, who also acknowledged that some of behavior was inappropriate, didn't report her either. She did a lot of his work for him, and he's kind of lazy, and frankly, I'm pretty sure he was afraid of her, too. He knew that she was regularly doing things she shouldn't be doing—he told me he knew she shouldn't be doing some of the things she was doing—and I told him it was his job to manage her, and he said he didn't want to start anything either. So I guess we were both equally guilty.

The other thing was that I knew she was already on the principal's radar and had been spoken to about how a person should behave when they volunteer in an elementary school. Sadly, she didn't get it. I only know because I related what, to me, was an amusing anecdote about watching some 2nd graders flying a junk paper airplane in the breezeway and then asking them where they were supposed to be and having them laugh and say, "Class," and then going there without any further action on my part. When I told her this story, she got very haughty and informed me that volunteers were not allowed to tell children to go to class, because she had gotten called to the principal's office and chastised for doing so. There's no doubt in my mind that she did so in a bitchy, rude, entitled way, because normally, nobody would report an adult to the principal for telling a kid to stop screwing around in the halls and go to class. In 13 years, I've never been called to the principal's office to get bitched out, although I have been called in because they were trying to offer me a job (and also, that one time the principal wanted to enlist my help in secretly getting that person fired).

A couple weeks ago, she came into the library and started telling me some story about making the class contact list and why wouldn't this one kid's parents just give her the information and she just needed the computer for a minute. Something about the story sounded wrong but I was doing actual work with the children and not really paying attention to her. Later, I mentioned it to my husband and he said, "That sounds like a FERPA violation." I almost reported her again, but it was right before break and I forgot about it. And then shortly after that, the librarian mentioned that Performance Mom had had a fight with the principal and would not be volunteering anymore.

I was overjoyed. By this time, we weren't working together anymore, but I had long felt that she shouldn't be allowed around the kids, so this was great news.

Wednesday I was leaving the school and she was standing across the street waving at me. In the past, I have TOTALLY hidden so I didn't have to talk (listen) to her, both in the school and at the grocery store, but I was out in the open and couldn't hide. Plus, she was right by my car, so when she flagged me down I went over to say hello.

She immediately launched into a story about how her daughter wanted to ride her bike to school next year, and she was therefore teaching her to cross the street properly in advance of this milestone, and that's why she was standing in the parking lot across the street instead of hanging out in the school harassing other people's kids like she used to do constantly.

"Isn't your daughter in 5th grade?" I asked. I knew her daughter was in 5th grade. I also knew that her daughter was classified as "gifted and talented." I was also pretty fucking sure that her gifted and talented, 10-year-old daughter knew how to cross the street and that she, Performance Mom, was actually so cowed and ashamed that she was refusing to set foot in the school (or else that the principal had strictly told her she wasn't allowed in). She mumbled some nonsense about needing to observe her daughter's ability to make eye contact with drivers. I tried to talk about my stepdaughter in response, but she immediately changed the subject.

"I guess [the librarian] told you why I'm not volunteering anymore?"

"Not really," I said, "Just that you and the principal had a disagreement."

She laughed. "That's one way to put it." Then she started rambling on about FERPA and how RIDICULOUS it was that federal law protected students' personal information. Then she started to reveal the REAL reason she had been poking around in the computer, not to compile a class contact list, but because another studently had purportedly scratched her daughter's trombone.

THIS BITCH VIOLATED A FEDERAL LAW OVER A SCRATCHED ELEMENTARY BAND INSTRUMENT AND SHE STILL THOUGHT SHE HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG! If you Google "privilege and entitlement," there should be a picture of Performance Mom whining about this trombone. I mean, she wouldn't have even gotten caught, but she found the phone number of a kid whose parents had deliberately NOT shared their phone number and then CALLED them. To, I guess, demand that they buy her a trombone? I'm not clear on what she thought was going to happen when she talked to the kid's parents, but what did happen was that they called the principal to complain about her casual violation of their child's privacy and rights. She's lucky they didn't press charges.

I didn't get the whole story because, thankfully, at that moment her daughter, who is a lovely little person despite her mother being a full-on nutjob, appeared. I should note that Performance Mom was so caught up in her outrage over being censured for violating federal law that she had actually turned her back to the street to best engage my attention, and had not even seen the kid come out of the building, let alone watched to make sure that she crossed the street appropriately. I changed the subject to address the child and her adorable hat, and then excused myself to go feed my friend's cats, because I a) did not need to hear another word of her story, b) was not going to fake sympathize with her, c) didn't need to tell her what I really thought of her, after 2 1/2 of carefully hiding that opinion, and d) figured that her daughter was probably pretty embarrassed over the entire situation and didn't need to rehash it in the parking lot after school.

Part of me would like to tell her what I think of her privilege and entitlement, but I figure the principal did a good enough job. Anyway, she's gone, hallelujah. I've long tried to look at people like her as the universe teaching me patience, but she was utterly the worst, and really, what I've actually learned, is that people like her get their comeuppance eventually. 
yin yang dragon

Pretty Low

I just passive-aggressively attended a party. That's something I would do. And then I wanted to brag about it, but not in any forum anyone else there could possibly see.

As you know, I have volunteered at the same elementary school for 12 years, and they've had the same office manager for something like 3 times as long as that, and she's retiring on Tuesday. One of the teachers invited me to her retirement party, at another staff member's home. This office manager is a nice lady, so I made her a cute card:

It's a pastrami sandwich on pumpernickel rye swirl with a dill pickle. She liked it. I'll probably put it in my RedBubble shop eventually. So, I mean, I did want to give this lady something and make an appearance at the party. But the real reason I wanted to go was that, per usual, there is another volunteer at the school who drives me up the wall. She's in my space all the time, she does the work I like to do before I get to it, and goes around congratulating herself on how important she is while complaining that she doesn't get enough accolades as a volunteer. Meanwhile, she has massive class issues that affect her interactions with the kids and she has absolutely no life beyond being a helicoptor mom. She never talks about having friends. She never talks about her husband. She never talks about books she's read or movies she's seen or ideas she's had, except as they pertain to being a helicoptor mom. All she does is take care of her kid. She plans out all her kid's enrichment activities. I once saw her with a schedule for the local book festival and thought: hey! She actually does have some interests. But, no, she was scheduling out her daughter's entire weekend, in 30 minute blocks. I've even tried to ask her about herself and she's one of those people who simultaneously take pride in having no interests beyond her child while complaining that mothers cannot have interests beyond their child. They totally can, lady! Those 20 hours a week you spend at this school? You could use some of them to make yourself less boring! Or not.

Being the petty person that I am, one of my primary reasons for attending this party was so I could casually mention it in conversation while she's within earshot so she knows that she didn't get invited. And I did. Because telling people how important you are isn't what causes them to assign you value. It certainly doesn't make them want you around.

I mean, seriously, don't spend your entire morning shelving library books and then the entire afternoon complaining about how many library books you had to shelve. A) you didn't have to shelve any of them. That was a choice. And B) I *enjoy* shelving books and I wish you would stop doing it so there would be some books for me to shelve.

Meh. I'm petty. It was amusing to watch all these teachers getting drunk on a Saturday. 
  • Current Mood
    bitchy bitchy
yin yang dragon

We all sink down here

Here's my biannual heartbreak.

As some of you know, I was persuaded to publish one of my books in the Kindle store, and, eventually, in a print edition. It was a lot more work than you'd expect, and of course ever since then, people have been pointing out typos to me, even though I edited that book 50 times. You cannot edit your own work. Because you already know what you expect it to say. You don't see the mistakes; you see what you intended to write.

Anyway, despite what people say about publishing your work in the Kindle store, the book had been doing fairly well since its launch. I was selling a few e-books a week, which is not bad. I thought word of mouth and the reviews I'd gotten (7, all 5-stars) and the blurb in the shop was selling the book for me. But after a while I started to wonder where all my royalties were going, because it wasn't my bank account. And I kept looking and looking. And eventually I realized that T had (with no knowledge or recollection of doing so) set up a pay-per-click ad campaign 6 months ago, one whose budget had apparently increased every month. And, as best as I could tell, all my e-royalties got rolled back into the ad campaign. (I did get a check for the print versions, which covered the cost of the ISBN with enough left over for a fancy pizza.) And, saddest of all, while I was selling a couple books a week, the campaign was costing us about 3 times what it was earning.

So that's not really a return on your investment. I do have a friend I could consult on this subject, if/when I have money to invest in an ad campaign again, but right now we can't afford to drop $100 a month to sell a dozen books at a profit of negative $7 per book. Or however the numbers work out. We had to cut off the campaign, just one of a many money bleeds we have noticed since our monthly income dropped below our monthly expenses. The whole point of launching the book was to generate additional income, but instead, we're out about $300 that we didn't have to start. Plus, now I lose the thrill of checking my Kindle dashboard an seeing that I've sold more books. Something tells me that I will not sell a dozen books a month without advertising. I guess it's heartening that people did buy it when they saw the ad, but what if you can't afford advertising?

I know this woman who works as a music publicist. She told me (and this was several years ago) that it cost $20,000 to sign on with her firm. If I had $20,000, I bet I could figure out how to publicize myself.

If you happen to be seeing this, and would like to read what is really a pretty amazing contemporary fantasy novel, despite having a few typos, you can get a print or digial version from Amazon. I'm still selling merch out of my RedBubble shop, mostly stickers, on which my margin is somewhere between 19 and 49 cents. And I get paid on Patreon, and for stuff I publish at Best Children's Books and at Book Riot, but, despite the fact that I librarian I know told me I was probably one of the greatest contemporary artists alive and the fact that I'm creating art and writing just about 40 hours a week, I'm not paying the mortgage with these income streams. 
  • Current Mood
    depressed depressed
yin yang dragon

What shall I say to LJ?

First of all, my book The Hermit is now available in paperback and I have just about made back the $100 I spent on an isbn. I know I paid too much, but there were reasons. It's a great book if you want to read about a kick ass female protagonist battling an otherworldly monster. You can buy it on Amazon:

$15 for paperback
$5 for ebook

I made a pathetic attempt to publicize the book to people I already knew via email and got spanked by Google for being a spammer. Thanks a lot, Google. If you're interested, this is the information I was trying to share, basically informing people about my various projects and offering links to get into them.

We drove from Tucson to Chicago and back for Thanksgiving, with stops in Magdalena, NM, Denver CO, Hiawatha, Kansas, and Cedar Rapids, IA on the way up, and Little Rock, AK, Memphis, TN, and San Antonio, Texas on the way back. Pretty epic. We were on the road for about 16 days. We didn't count our mileage but I'm guessing close to 4000 miles.

And since I'm on LJ, I'll just add that there are a LOT of assholes on Reddit. I mean, there are a lot of assholes on earth, but Reddit seems to have a way higher concentration of assholes than the average population. Fuck you, Reddit. You think you're something special, but you're just a large collective of assholes patting each other on the back.
yin yang dragon

I published a comic

Exactly what it says on the tin. I wrote this comic and then someone liked it well enough to print it and here it is now. You can buy it by sending $5 and your shipping address to my PayPal account at littledragonblue [at] yahoo [dot] com. And not to obnoxiously name drop, but I have it on good authority that the cartoonist Lynda Barry has a copy, and that she is "excited" about it. Since I finished this project, I've gotten 2 PAYING commissions for other comics. I've also had a paid wedding shoot for a cosplay wedding. The bride went as Daenerys Targaryen, the groom was steampunk Han Solo, T went as Henchman 21, and I was Delirium of the Endless.

Here's a mini rant, completely unrelated to my professional success, because it's weird to me to post on LJ without being sad or complaining:

A friend posted a video of some rednecks making this ridiculous sandwich. It consisted of an entire loaf of bread, 2 cups of cheese, an entire package of bacon, a couple POUNDS of sausage, and a pan full of onions and peppers. I made a joke about it being a 5,000 calorie sandwich and some (genius) (American) human "corrected" me: "No, it's probably only like 1500 calories."

Mind blown. This is why we have an obesity epidemic. In the video, the rednecks split the sandwich 4 ways, meaning if they each had a beer, they had probably exceeded their recommended daily allowance of food for the day. But this woman could somehow look at that quantity of food and think: oh, 1/4 of the sandwich is a healthy, 375 calorie snack. I had to look it up to make sure I wasn't insane, but I was not insane. A loaf of bread alone is more than 1000 calories, and 2 cups of cheese is also about 1000 calories, so just as a grilled cheese it's already exceeding 1500 calories without even counting the package of bacon, at least 1000 calories, and the mass quantities of sausage, at least 2000 calories. I'm not even going to bother adding up the vegetables. Only in America, folks. You want to know why you're fat? It's because you have no idea what a serving of food looks like.

I also saw a video someone posted of a "pizza pot pie" that looked easily like a 5000 calorie meal. It's actually hard to NOT consume too much if you eat out. You have to consciously tell youself, "This is 2 (or 3, or 4) servings of food, and I should not eat all of it." A lot of people honestly believe that a pint of ice cream is 1 serving. It's hard to eat healthy amounts of food in this country.
yin yang dragon

I was down in it; now I'm up about it

For the last 5 weeks I've done basically nothing other than write this comic book, which is now going to be published, and seems to be generating some kind of buzz among the kind of people who would get excited about something called "graphic literary criticism" about a serious contemporary short fiction collection by an award-winning writer. I think I sent the last files to the printers today. I haven't shared the cover anywhere else. Nobody reads this page anyway. But lo5t wanted someone to post something as a test. So here is something I've posted.

If you'd like to read more about this project, you can check out my blog: QWERTYvsDvorak.com
yin yang dragon

Laughing Last. And First. And in between.

Without getting too deep into the details, I'm laughing my head off at this dumb bitch. She is so threatened by my friendship with her boyfriend (who I've known longer than she has) that she's basically forbid him from ever hanging out with me. The thing is, if she hadn't done that, we would have gone on just being sort of casual friends and not really thinking about each other much. But her psycho response has basically had the opposite effect of the one I presume she intended. We rarely see each other, but least once a week, this guy starts texting me for hours on end, telling me all the stuff that's going on in his life, his hopes and fears, the books he's reading, the movies he's watching, all the getting-to-know-you growing-closer stuff that you do with really good friends, to the point that we now have a pretty solid relationship, one in which I am privy to the details of all this chick's petty little insecurities.

That's right, Potato Princess (I'm going to call her Potato Princess). Your campaign to keep your boyfriend from being at all involved with me has resulted in us becoming much more involved. Plus, now I know all your dirty little secrets. I know the stuff he doesn't like about you. You literally created a situation in which the boy you have attempted to rein in now complains about you to the very person you have tried to cut out of his life. Normally I don't engage in that kind of longform texting except with people I'm already really close to. But in this case, I went along with it just to spite her.

Because I am feeling bitchy myself, I will point out that Potato Princess is the secondary in a polyfidelity relationship, i.e., her boyfriend is married to another woman. But somehow, the fact that he might want to see me a couple times a year is the thing that's threatening to her.

Even more hilarious is that she's younger than me, and prettier, and has a fitter body. So that fact that I'm threatening to her makes me feel great. I can say prettier in an objective sense, although frankly, whenever she looks at me she gets this constipated church lady sucking a lemon face on, so I guess my proximity actually makes her less pretty. We have a lot of mutual friends, so we end up at the same gatherings on a fairly regular basis. She always pretends she doesn't know me or can't see me. I always go out of my way to call her by name and give her a big friendly hug, because I'm passive aggressive like that.

It's petty as hell, yes, and yet somehow reassuring. Middle aged, married lady here. Potato Princess, every little thing you do in response to my existence just makes me feel that much better about myself. Guess I still got it. 
  • Current Mood
    giggly giggly
yin yang dragon

Time for my quarterly entry

I exist. Yes.

This weekend I spend mostly at Tucson Comic-Con, which I attended for free, thanks to my handy dandy press pass, which I got for being awesome, and also because I'm a regular contributor to Panels.net. When I wasn't at Comic-Con, I was at a party or the All Souls' Procession. So I've been busy.

Here we are at All Souls'. Apparently I am the only person in the world who can take a decent pictures with my camera. Consequently, I don't have any good pictures of myself. But good thing we got that guy selling cookies under a canopy in our family picture. I knew I shouldn't have expected much when the guy didn't even know what a viewfinder was. But *he* asked *us* if we wanted him to take a picture. Why do people who suck at photography volunteer for that?

Here's another rhetorical question. What's up with people who enthusiastically ask you to PM them and then never write back? You could have saved me the time of composing the message and the weirdness of wondering by NOT asking me to send you a direct message. Sheesh.
yin yang dragon

lol LJ

I still read my f-list a couple times a month but it's 90% pictures of bugs, so...you know.

But since I'm here: omfg there are a lot of ignorant bigots in the world. It's so weird how most of them claim to be Christian while actively filling the world with hate. The presidential election is always hard for me. I want to secede from reality.

My blog is starting to pick up steam. When I post my comics on Reddit, they got 100s of hits. I wrote one last week that is apparently still being shared on Facebook. Over 1000 people read it, which is more than I can say for any of my other writing. One day, something will really hit, right?

QWERTYvsDvorak.com if you want to check it out.

I'm busy all the time: making art, taking care of people.