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The Stressful School Day of Hazel Cherieshnya, part 1

The Stressful School Day of Hazel Cherieshnya, part 1 published on 14 Comments on The Stressful School Day of Hazel Cherieshnya, part 1

Now that it’s autumn in-universe, the Goth Kids are back in school! Time for the next part of their subplot. Plus some sidelong worldbuilding about “the kind of classwork you get in a fantasy world.”

Over on the But I’m A Cat Person reruns, I’ve annotated through the first appearance of the Excitable Teenage Furries. Which reminded me that I repurposed their designs for Leif & Thorn, waaaaay back in the Fish Story arc, and could always use them again.

So now Fox is officially a trans boy in this canon too. (He’s of Sønheic descent, but he’s a Ceannic national, so he went ahead and picked a regular Ceannic name.)

Oh, and Hazel has a canon last name, because I couldn’t sidestep coming up with one anymore.

Teacher (offscreen): Students with an affinity for Nature spirits: if you can coax them to do a demonstration, you can get extra credit.

Everyone else, don’t worry! You’ll get a passing grade as long as you can show you understand the theory. Any last-minute questions before the bell? Too bad we don’t have any full-fledged magical girls in the classroom this year . . . then we’d have some real fireworks . . .

Foxglove: Hmmph!


Hazel: Hi, Tilda?

Foxglove: It’s Foxglove now.

Hazel: Right. Foxglove.

Foxglove: Look, Hazel — I don’t think you’re a bad person, okay? So I could forgive you — for that thing you did — if you make a really good apology.

Hazel: . . . I’m sorry I forgot to call you Foxglove?


Foxglove: Well, if you’re just going to make fun of me, then I’m sorry I even asked!

Hazel (thinking): . . . I knew I have trouble hitting the right tone sometimes, but I didn’t know it was this bad.

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Ooohh No. Is a certain someone stirring shit with Hazel’s other friends because she couldn’t get the members of her former circle of friends to ostracize Hazel? Crap-baskets.

Oh. THAT. I was just confused about what’s happening.

At least, if we’re lucky, it’s that. I went with Foxglove being passive aggressive over an imagined slight, which is just as intractable, except that without even a known source that isn’t Foxglove, there’s no possible way to figure out what the imagined slight is.

This is why I’m an advocate for direct communication. It sure is convenient when the people around you can read between your lines well enough you don’t need to learn to communicate yourself, so long as you can read between their lines or understand when they didn’t put stuff between their lines, that you don’t mess things up yourself. But the problem with it is different people are different, and so long as we’re assuming people are writing between the lines, there’s literally dozens of things you can take any “between the lines” communication to actually mean, and have it be something it would mean for some actual person. Until you know someone, any correct reading between their lines is essentially random. It does tend to select people who write between the lines in similar ways, but it adds a filter that blocks out who can be friends just because you can’t communicate, with no real path to fix it. It doesn’t mean that they’re bad people, but you treat them as if they are, which causes both of you a lot of unpleasant feelings for no good reason.

When you have a dispute with someone, you cannot just assume they know what it is, regardless of where your idea of the dispute comes from, because it can all be in your mind or fabricated by someone else. The someone else doesn’t even need to be malicious, because they can be confused like this, too.

Hang on. As I recall from the X-Files, Foxglove is a toxic plant that contains digitalis. Am I reading into this, or is the name meaningful?

I kind of hope that they never get that apology. That behavior of demanding that someone else just know what it is that they did to piss you off? No that’s never ok. If you want someone to apologize for something, and presumably not do it again, you say what it was. Unless they literally JUST did it this is passive aggressive bullcrap.

Even if they just did it, it still could be passive aggressive bullcrap, because imagined slights can happen at any moment, and the other person will have no idea unless it was an actual slight. (Yes, an imagined slight can be an actual one; it just takes misreading a hostile action as an at least slightly different hostile action.) Though, even if it was an actual slight, the differences between the imagined slight and the actual one could cause any apology to not be accepted.

To be clear, *anyone* can imagine a slight that wasn’t actually there. Passive aggressive people are different in that they trust the imagined slights more than the spoken words and friendly actions. The world of the passive aggressive person is a hostile one, because it’s easy to take actions that are not aimed towards oneself and pretend that they are, and to misread actions that are aimed but fumbled. Once you start down that road, you identify people who “obviously hate you”, and then all of their actions get imagined as attacks against you. If this sounds paranoid, you’re right.

I don’t think the facial expressions match though. Dude looks like he’s pretty hurt, not so much angry. Check the expression in the last panel, does that look like someone that’s necessarily storming off in a rage? Or a teenager trying to process some very hurt feelings?

yeah, this character is really making me want to reach into the comic and lecture them on … many things wrt communication and reasonable expectations. and the “really good apology” manipulative bullshit just makes me want to swear at them.

I like the ‘teen-agers miscommunicating’, when paired with ‘adults communicating well’. You aren’t born knowing how to communicate. I defiantly get the feeling that the teen-agers involved are learning from the mistakes. Thorn talked to Hyacinth about, don’t talk to opressed people about how opressed they are if they don’t want to. And then Hyacinths parents talked to her about manipulative bullies.

I didn’t plan these two arcs to go together, but I was pretty happy when those parallels came up!

You have the adults talking their way through the minefields of corporate cult trauma and dystopian surveillance-fueled slavery, and meanwhile you have the teenagers getting tripped up by petty interpersonal drama-mongering. Which is about what you can expect from them – they’re just kids! – but the way they figure out how to get through it, they’re building up the skills it’ll take to get through bigger stuff later. One storyline is the training-wheels version of the other.

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