Why D&D Is Fun

I’m sure you’ve all heard of D&D, and at least a few of you have played it. Mostly, I’m aiming this particular post at those of you who haven’t played and perhaps don’t even understand what it is and why on earth anyone would want to spend time doing this thing.

So, what is it?

D&D stands for “Dungeons & Dragons”. It is a game system involving multiple players with one of them taking on the task of running the game and the rest participating. The leader decides on the setting and the story or adventure and leads the other players through it, while they are each playing a character in that world and react to the situations described.

Each character has a set of traits and skills that decide how good (or how bad) they are at different things, and often dice are used to determine how well the character does at a chosen action. This naturally cuts down on instances of “I win because I said so!” “Nuh-uh!” “Uh-huh!”

Characters come in different classes. This is like saying they have different roles. Some are combat-heavy, like Fighter (does what it says on the tin) or Barbarian, some are magic heavy like a Wizard and some fall between the two. You can also play as different races. This is a magical fantasy world, after all, so you’ll see more than strictly humans. Think elves, dwarves, halflings (picture hobbits from Lord Of The Rings) and the like, plus some things you might not even think of like bird people.

The combination of race and class is great for winding up with a group of very different characters all working together.

Now, that is as basic a description as I could give without getting into stuff like the varying number of sides on a die, magic spells and the difference between a Dragonborn and a Half-orc. I’m pretty sure I’d lose those of you who don’t play if I went that far.

Okay. So that’s what it is. What’s the draw?

In short, it’s fun. But I know that isn’t a very satisfactory answer. D&D is like collaborative storytelling, where you’re all working together to tell a fun and fantastical tale. It’s also like improv theatre where everyone is responding to what everyone else is doing. It involves creativity, puzzle solving, strategizing and occasionally getting absurd.

It’s also about the community of hanging out with some friends and working together while having fun.

And, okay, sometimes it’s about having your Sorcerer just hurl a fireball spell at a problem. Look, it’s cathartic, okay? Don’t judge.

There is a bit of escapism involved, yes. That’s not a bad thing. Honestly, this year when I started playing again after a very long hiatus, escapism is kind of one of the features. My BFF decided to run a game over Zoom and I signed up to play along with one other person I knew from online and two people I didn’t know, but have since discovered how awesome they are.

We’ve been playing most Saturdays since May, and it’s been a godsend. For a few hours each week, I’m not in the midst of a pandemic. I’m Neera, a charismatic half-elven Sorcerer stranded in a world that isn’t her own along with some other folks, just trying to get home.

I get to do cool stuff like disguising myself with magic to look like a feudal lord dude instead of a pointy-eared young woman in order to steal a magical hunk of rock instead of having the group of us fight an entire castle full of guards. Last week, one of my new friends got to cast a spell that let her talk to a mama bear and her cubs so we didn’t have to fight them.

C’mon, doesn’t that sound like fun? It’s totally fun.

I think a lot of people would actually end up absolutely loving it if they just gave it a try.

As always, please do be kind to yourself and others. Talk to that mama bear first.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Let’s Talk About You

The process of blog writing kind of means I talk about myself a lot. Pretty much all the time, really, barring a few posts where I’m talking about something like how to massage the face. Even if it’s just my opinion on something, it’s kind of written into how blogging works.

But this week, I want to talk about you. By you, I mean you, the one currently reading this. Whether you read this the day I post it or a few years down the road (in which case… hi, there, how’s the future?)

First of all, I want you to know that you are appreciated. This is a solid, incontrovertible fact. While I can say that I’m certain others appreciate you, I can absolutely tell you that I do. I appreciate every second that you spend reading my work. I appreciate every time you’ve ever clicked the “Like” button, whether you did that on the actual blog or on the Facebook post. I appreciate any time you’ve taken to comment on a post. All of that stuff genuinely helps me, and I appreciate it. Even if this is the first time you’ve read one of my blogs, thank you.

Secondly, you are important. You matter. Right now, our world is more than a bit crazy, and it can be all too easy to feel insignificant. You are not. You matter, the things you do matter, and you can make a difference. Even if it’s just improving one person’s day, you have the power to do that. That’s a pretty awesome power, use it responsibly, as this one goes both ways.

You are loved. Someone out there loves you. You probably know who most of the people who love and appreciate you are, but I’m willing to bet that there’s at least one person out there who thinks the world of you and you don’t know it. If you find yourself wishing that they would tell you, then maybe consider doing that yourself for someone you hold in high regard that you’ve never told. They may not know, they may also wish someone would just tell them that.

You have your own unique talent. If you’re lucky, you know what you’re good at already. Some of you may not. That’s why it’s good to try new things. But I believe that everyone has the potential to be quite amazing at something. I can’t promise that you’ll discover that you’re a violen virtuoso, but maybe you make the most amazing blueberry muffins. Maybe you have the knack of growing perfect carrots every time.

Finally, you are worthy of all of this. You deserve to be appreciated, you deserve to be loved, you deserve to not only be good at something but to have that talent recognized and celebrated. You may not always feel that worthy of these things, but you absolutely are.

As always, be kind to yourself and be kind to those around you. You deserve it and so do they.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

The Hiding Of Chronic Pain

I want to talk a bit about chronic pain this week.

I, personally, have chronic migraines. On top of this, as part of my career as a massage therapist, I have treated and gotten to know myriad people who suffer from some degree of chronic pain. And what I have learned is that, first and foremost, it’s really hard to tell that they’re in pain.

The thing is, when hurting is a regular part of your life, you wind up having to make a choice. Either you spend your life acting miserable, constantly complaining about how you feel and letting it show, or you learn to hide it.

And the problem with the first choice is that most people, no matter how good-natured, no matter how kind-hearted, tend to have only so much patience or listening capacity for that sort of thing. They mean well. They do actually care. But being there for someone does cost emotional energy, and people only have so much of that. I don’t blame them for this, even the deepest well can run dry.

Most of us know this. We know that we do really need to pick and choose how much of our pain we allow others to see and know about. We have to decide, even if the process is entirely subconscious, how much of our pain we are willing to just endure quietly. Is it fair? Perhaps not, but neither is burdening our loved ones to the point of exhaustion. Math isn’t fair. It just is.

Why am I telling you this? Because sometimes, we come up with excuses for why we’re not doing something. We say we’re tired. We say we have other plans. We say something gentle like “Oh, I just don’t feel like going out this weekend”. Because we think that it may be less burdensome then “look, I hurt a whole lot so I don’t want to go out, but I still want you to go out and have fun and not feel bad about me not being there”. Unfortunately, sometimes that means that whomever we’re making our excuses to will sometimes stop asking us to do things. Or they may even think that we’re avoiding them.

We’re not. So, if you know that your friend, family member or romantic partner has chronic pain, do try to keep that in mind. You don’t need to constantly shower them in sympathy, but it’s still important to remember that it really isn’t you, it’s them.

Furthermore, keep this in mind: they may look perfectly fine, they may sound perfectly fine, they may act perfectly fine. That doesn’t mean they’re not hurting. Personally, by the time my own pain has reached the point where you can notice it, it’s actually reached the point of agony, and I know from all those clients I’ve talked to that I’m not alone. If you know we’re in pain, we’re probably in a lot of it.

So just try to be patient, and try to be understanding. We’d rather be spending time with you, trust me.

And, of course, be kind. Always that.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Things That Won’t Surprise Me In 2020

It’s been a crazy year so far. I mean, yes, the pandemic, but all the other things, too. Murder hornets. The government releasing and confirming UFO sighting videos (note: i mean the acronym literally, I’m not trying to tell you that aliens came a-calling, just that there were flying objects that could not be identified). Dust storms from the Sahara hitting the US. As I write this, there is not one but two potential hurricanes brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.

I think I’ve reached a point where my suspension of disbelief is at an all time high. So here’s a few things that, if they come across my news feed, might not make me do much more than shrug and continue on with my day.

Big Foot comes down out of the hills and wanders into Los Angeles. Just make sure the guy has a super sized mask and keeps six bigfeet away from everyone else, okay?

Psychotic Beavers on the rampage. Well. We already have murder hornets, what’s one more creature with a scary name? Watch out for the big teeth.

Atlantis rises from the sea. Someone should probably tell them to go back down for a few more years, though, until they don’t have to worry about quarantine.

First contact with aliens. Just because I told you that I wasn’t claiming this had already happened doesn’t mean that I’d be surprised if it did. Well. I might question their poor timing, but other than that, not so much.

Snowstorms in September. Actually. This one isn’t so far out there when you live in Nova Scotia. I’ve never seen it, but I think I’ve seen snow in June once. Either that, or I’m remembering a dream. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised, we’ve had some bizarre weather this year.

Tropical Christmas in Canada. Oh, wait, never mind, that one happened just a few years ago. AC and open windows and everything.

Lizard People take over world governments. I’m not naming names, but I can think of a few places where that sounds like an improvement.

My phone develops independant artificial intelligence. So long as it doesn’t try to tell me about 5G, scamdemics or other conspiracy theories, I’m okay with this.

Obviously, I’m kidding. Sort of. Mostly. Still, I have absolutely reached a point where news that might normally have struck me as being really noteworthy is just another thing on the pile. And I don’t even read the news religiously. What strange happenings would you fail to blink at? Let me know in the comments.

(Note: my mother told me to write this one after I made a wisecrack comment along the lines of the Bigfoot one. I was also instructed to inform you all that she told me to do it. This week is her birthday, so she’s getting what she wants.)

Be kind to yourselves, and be kind to those you encounter, even if they’re aliens, lizard people, psychotic beavers, Atlantians or a very confused sasquatch. And especially if they are your suddenly intelligent phone.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

What It’s Like: Guide Dog Training

I will never forget how I got my guide dog. Including filling out the application form. Mostly, though, that’s because I was, at the time, living with a roommate and her two kids and Hurricane Juan had just ransacked our city. We had been without power for four days, and couldn’t get anything done while the kids were awake, so we sat down one night and filled it out by candlelight. And almost as soon as we finished, the power came back on. Because of course it did.

Basically, it was just a form with questions about my eyesight, mobility, living situation, etc. Nothing weird.

Not too long after I sent that off, a trainer came to Halifax to assess me. This involved watching me walk with my cane, guiding me to see if I was any good at picking up on cues that way and taking a look at my living situation to ensure that it was a safe environment for a dog. And that was it. I was then assigned a class in March of the following year, and flew out there.

The school itself was pretty cool. It housed the kennels for all the dogs in training, offices for staff, dorms for the students, kitchen facilities, dining room, recreation area and enclosed area for the dogs to run around. We each got our own room, and they were surprisingly spacious and comfy.

On our first day, we met the dogs, but weren’t assigned one specific dog. We were a class of seven, and there were ten dogs assigned to us. That first day, we met them, got to spend time with all ten, play with them, have them sit with us and learn how to put the harness on.

The next day we started actually working with the dogs. They had sort of matched us up with a few dogs, and we cycled between them. I mostly worked with Aggie, an extremely hyper but very pretty golden lab with this sort of white gold fur and an exceedingly chill and sweet black lab named Bandit.

I liked them both, but I’ll be honest with you, Bandit stole my heart. They warned us not to do that, but I sort of did.

After a few days, they had made their decision on who would get paired up with who, and brought our dogs to us, one by one, while we waited in our rooms. It was almost like a ceremony, they did make the moment seem very serious. They brought me Aggie.

I was disappointed, but it was just a small degree of disappointment, as I did really like her, too. Aggie was a sweet girl, and fun, but hyper and a bit stubborn. Training with her was challenging, but I persevered.

Right up until the first day they had us walk around the block solo. Or, well, solo with two trainers about fifteen feet behind us. Aggie took it into her head to ignore me and wander off in some random direction on her own, and it was the last straw for the trainers. They sat me down and explained that this wasn’t my fault, that they had paired me with Aggie because they thought I was the only one in my class who had the chance to actually make her listen. They told me that they planned to try her once more with the next class, and if that didn’t work she’d be retired and go be a pet. I suspect that’s probably what happened. She’d make a really great pet, but not a guide dog.

I thought at this point that they’d surely pair me with Bandit. He was the other dog that I had worked with the most. However, the day prior one member of our class had decided that this just wasn’t working for him and left the program. He had been paired with Wilson, an adorable chocolate lab that I’d worked with myself once or twice before they shunted him to this other person, and it was Wilson that I was paired with.

Again, I was disappointed, but it didn’t last long. Wilson had this endless capacity to just love everyone and everything he met. The first night I had him with me, he tried to climb into my lap as I sat in my room watching television. He was, at that point, about sixty pounds. That didn’t matter, he wanted snuggles. It pretty much sealed the deal for me.

Working with Wilson was much, much easier. He actually listened and took me where I wanted to go. Wilson had an endless desire to please, and to be glued to my side.

Now, to back track a little bit, when you start learning how to work with your canine companion, it starts off simple: they lead you down a straight hallway, turn around and lead you back. Next, the trainers put up barriers in the hallway that the dog has to weave its way through, with you learning both to follow its lead and actually trust. It’s harder than it sounds. Then, they add a short flight of stairs into the mix so you learn to read the signals.

At that point, you’re ready to go outside. It starts off with you just walking up and down the sidewalk outside the school, then to the end of the block, then around the block with the trainer by your side, then around the block alone, and then you start going on full routes with turns and crosswalks and traffic lights.

Finally, they pile you and your doggo into a van, take you on a wee drive and drop you off somewhere. They don’t tell you where. You need to first find out (by asking) where you are, and then find your way back to school on your own. I know that sounds horrifying, but the van is trailing after you the whole way, so you’re not really on your own. It does feel that way, though.

All the while this training is going on, there’s plenty of time to socialize with your fellow classmates and to take your dog outside to the courtyard and play with them. The month is just as much about forming a bond with your dog as it is about learning how to work with them. There’s also lessons on dog grooming, dog relieving, dog feeding, talks about our rights with the dog… lots of things.

And finally, graduation. Which is an actual ceremony, where the foster families of the graduating dogs are invited, those students with family in the area (or in my case, a mother who just decided to make a road trip to see me graduate from guide dog school), speeches and everything. And a video montage of our training to a Hillary Duff song.

And then… well. Then, I flew back home and started my life with Wilson, my sweet boy. Who grew to 80 lbs, was eternally sweet but not perfect, loved to show off his toys to anyone who would listen, and literally guided me through several big changes in my life. I had him for eight years until he retired, which is fairly standard.

And that is how you get a guide dog.

As always, please be kind to yourself and those you encounter. This year continues to be challenging, and we could all use some kindness. Just don’t forget that that includes yourselves.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

hat It’s Like: Guide Dog TrainingWhat It’s Like: Guide Dog Training

The Altered Ballad, a short story

Narissa stepped up onto the small stage set up in the great hall, clutching her lute nervously as she looked out upon the throng.

Nervousness wasn’t generally an issue when the time came for her to perform. But this night was different.

She had but one set, allotted to her to prove herself worthy of a court position, and she knew which song the crowd wanted. She also knew to make them wait. So she performed a smattering of older classics everyone knew with a few of her lesser known compositions until she had used up almost all her time.

Then, she looked up, as if just realizing something. “Oh! My Lords and Ladies, I suppose upon reflection that there’s one more song you wish to hear. Or am I wrong? I could always close with Amongst The daisies.”

This, naturally, got a roar of negation and she flashed a quick grin, her face concealing how nervous she was. Training would do that. “Alright, alright.”

Then, she held up a hand. “This is a serious song, gentles all. A solemn song. A lament.” Her hand lowered, strumming at her lute. “As you know, I was blessed to travel with the late Sir Henry, Champion of His Royal Majesty, as his bard, making record of his many exploits. I was there the day he died, and indeed, the days leading up to it. This is his last song.”

Her fingers guided the melody of the lute into a minor, mournful chord, and Narissa began to sing.

“Twas ten years or more ago
when last he rode away.
And none have seen his brave face
since that sad gloomy day.

“Bright was his hair, blue his eyes,
his countenance so fair
He left broken hearts in his wake
a fate that I do share.

“On that day, Sir Henry rode
to avenge his murdered wife,
He rode away to Capartan
and there he lost his life.”

Narissa let her gaze sweep the crowd of nobles, taking in their rapt faces. Even the serving men and women had ceased, spellbound. Finally, she saw him. The one she needed to be there. Rage burned in her heart, but she kept it from her face and voice.

“He did not ride alone that day,
I, his Bard was at his side.
I witnessed full that fateful duel
and held him as he died.

“Twas Sir Robert that he fought,
brother of his love,
twas Sir Robert cut him down,
and sent him up above.”

So far so good. This was the song that had become famous throughout the land in the wake of the most popular knight the kingdom’s death.

But the court was about to hear the debut of Narissa’s new, altered ballad, and she let some of the anger bleed into her voice.

“And yet, where does fault lie?
In he who swung the sword?
Or in the villain, foul and bent,
who wispered deceitful words.

“Sir Robert loved his sister fair,
and approved of whom she wed,
it was with grief that Robert swung,
and struck Sir Henry dead.”

It was a pity that Sir Robert wasn’t here, but the events of that duel had left him as a social outcast. Perhaps she would play it for him one day.

“A jealous knight had told him false,
and sought to bring him low.
He sits and drinks here, even now,
his name is Sir Mardow.”

Mardow, shocked, leapt to his feet amidst gasps and a muttering of the crowd, and Narissa strengthened her voice.

“Sir Mardow wanted what was not his,
he wanted Henry’s wife.
He wanted Henry’s place in court,
he wanted Henry’s life.

And so, he killed the fair Eileen,
in fits of jealous rage,
and told Sir Henry falsehoods vile,
so to set the stage.”

Mardow was pushing through the crowd, making for the hallway that would lead him to the castle courtyard.

“Rise up, ye listeners all,
bar the passage out.
Bring down the vile, vile snake,
bring down the evil lout.”

Narissa all but shouted the final line, and as her lute fell into silence, the crowd surged forward. Hands reached for Mardow. Others reached for daggers. Mardow tried to run, and that sealed his fate. And Narissa watched, face impassive.

It was true, then. A Bard really did have the power to shape the opinions and actions of those who heard her song. So long as she got her court position, why, she could shape the very fate of the kingdom.

Sir Robert would be pleased.

(The above was one of the short stories I wrote during June. Yes, the poetry of the ballad is atrocious. I never said it was my best work, but I kind of like this one. Be kind to me. 😛 And, you know, yourself and those you encounter.)

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Deconstructing Ableist Statements

Ableism is kind of insidious. It’s one of those isms that are often perpetuated by very well-meaning people who intend to be kind. I think it’s often based not in hatred or fear, but in a lack of understanding. Well, okay, sometimes it’s fear, I’ve had a few people admit that I made them uncomfortable because of my disability. (And before anyone criticizes this, don’t, I admire the hell out of someone willing to admit their discomfort and talk to me about it so we can work through it)

That’s part of why I write about it with increasing frequency. If it’s based in misunderstanding, then the best tool I have to fight against it is to get folks to understand.

So, I’m going to talk about some well-meaning sentiments that I have encountered. A lot. By good people, by people doing their best to be kind, and not really thinking through what they’re saying. So, if you’ve said any of these to me or anyone else who is disabled, don’t feel bad, don’t apologize, just think about what I’m saying.

“If I lost my sight, I could never cope.”

When people say this to me, they think that they’re complimenting me on my ability to cope. They mean well. I’m convinced of this. But what does it really say? That the blind are, at base level, less able to live a fulfilling life.

It would be like me talking to someone who was 5’1″ and going “Gosh, if I were that short, I don’t think I could cope.”

It’s true that some people are better at learning coping mechanisms than others, but that’s true of all humanity. Also, I firmly believe that we are utter crap at determining what we can, and can’t, cope with.

“I’d rather lose (insert sense/function here) than lose my sight.”

This is the one I really, truly hate. Of the bunch, it is the one I’ve never been able to just shrug off. Is being blind ideal? Of course not. Of course it poses it’s own challenges. But it’s not the end of the world. It didn’t end my life. In fact, I have been far more of a contributing member of society since I lost the majority of my eyesight.

Loss of a sense or function is not a life sentance to misery. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to spend the rest of your life as some poor, pitiable thing that is less than human, but that is what this sentiment makes me feel like you see me as.

“Wow. You hold down a job? You’re so strong/brave/incredible.”

Uh. Would you say that to literally anyone who wasn’t somehow disabled? Unless they were already holding down a job (parenting included, that is absolutely a full time job). But would you say that to anyone else? I doubt it.

It’s not miraculous, though I was more or less led to believe that this was the case. I remember attending a week-long career thing for the visually impaired and blind, and the careers they introduced us to were not particularly aspirational. Or varied. It was not the encouraging, uplifting week they thought it was.

Yes. I work. Part-time, yes, but the reasons for that actually have nothing to do with being blind and everything to do with other health issues. The education for this career was challenging, but the job itself? Not at all.

“You’re so brave.”

This is close to the last one, but I want to talk about it specifically. Blindness in particular seems to have this weird mystique about it. Somehow, we are portrayed as noble martyrs. Poor, brave souls.

We’re not. I’ve known some blind people who are jerks. I’ve known some who are manipulative. Some who aren’t particularly brave or strong. Kind of like humanity as a whole.

At the end of the day, we’re just people.

Now. Here are some things that aren’t awful. Actually, I like hearing these.

“Here, look at this picture.”

People always react with such chagrin when they say this and either realize what they’ve said or had me gently explain it. And I try to be gentle, because I know they’re going to kick themselves about it. (Or laugh, the awesome people laugh)

Showing pics to friends and family is a normal thing. By automatically trying to show me one, you are telling me loud and clear that you think I’m normal.

I am normal. Weeeell. More or less.

“I keep forgetting that you’re blind.”

Good. I want you to. Or, if not forget, then not have it be the first thing you think of when you think of me. Think of me as a blogger, a massage therapist, the person who likes to dye their hair purple, the chick with the unicorn on her bag or just a friend.

“You’re good at (insert thing here).”

So long as “for a blind person” doesn’t come before or after that statement, I love it. If you want to compliment me, do it without any qualifying statements. This one absolutely applies to those outside of the disabled population. “For a woman” “For a gay man” “For a black person”. None of these should be included as qualifying statements. I’m a good massage therapist. Period. End of sentance. Not despite or because I’m blind.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to brush all of this off when you’re not living it. They’re just words, right? Does it really matter?

It does, because I hear this stuff all the time. Seriously. All. The. Time. The more you hear it, the easier it is to believe the undertones. I mean, I’m 44 years old and It’s only in the past year or two that I even started to question the validity of this kind of thing. Because I’d heard it so much, from so many people, that it must all be true.

All of those people meant well. You meant well, if you ever said these things. Meaning well doesn’t negate the impact, though. All I ask is that you think about what you’ve read, and perhaps start catching yourself before you say these things.

Like always, I urge you to be kind to yourself and to those around you. Times are hard. You deserve kindness. So do those you meet.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Inclusivity

I’ve written a lot about the importance of recognizing things like racism, ableism and the like. And it’s true. All the ism’s, all the phobias should be recognized and worked on eliminating.

So I would like to shine a spotlight on a television series that, in my opinion, is absolutely doing it right and having a great time doing so.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a series that ran on NBC, starting in January of 2020, with twelve episodes. The premise is, essentially, that the protagonist Zoey suddenly develops the ability to know people’s mental state/what’s on their minds, but only via an elaborate musical number (including dancers and backup singers) that only she can hear.

It’s hilarious. It’s often touching. And it’s also one of the most inclusive things I’ve seen in awhile.

For a one season, twelve episode show, it has managed to include a wide diversity of race, mixed race relationships, homosexual relationships, transgendered people, both women and men in positions of power, disability, mental illness, and terminally ill characters. Moreover, most of what I listed above fall into the realm of regularly occurring characters.

Let’s address the disabled character. She is one of the only ones on the list that was not a regular character, but even so I think they handled her story well. The character in question was a deaf young woman who was the daughter of one of the supporting cast. Her story showed her attending a prestigious school, kicking serious scholastic backside, and the plot revolved around her trying to convince her father that she was a fully capable individual completely able to follow her dream, which is an issue that many of us with disabilities do, in fact, face. I have, from more than one person who loved me and meant well.

The character was portrayed by Sandra Mae Frank, a deaf actress, and they did give her a song, one which she performed in sign (as did the backup performers), which I loved despite not being able to fully appreciate it. Now, I may not be able to fully understand what life is like for those with severe hearing impairments, but I do know what it’s like to be blind, and I absolutely identified with the character. I didn’t feel as if I was being pandered to, I didn’t feel like we were supposed to pity her, and they showed her intelligence and strength.

I feel like they did the same for all aspects of diversity that they included in the show, though as a white woman, I can only surmise on that score. Even more respect is given for appropriate casting. Alex Newell, who plays Mo, Zoey’s gender fluid next door neighbour and emotional sounding board, is themself genderfluid, in addition to Sandra Mae Frank actually being deaf.

The show is a fun romp that handled inclusivity and diversity as if it was no big thing. As if it were just normal. It should be normal.

Honestly, I love this show and can’t recommend it highly enough. Unless you hate musicals. You won’t like this if you don’t like people breaking into song suddenly. The only jarring aspect is that they do state outright in dialogue that it’s 2020, and what with the writers not actually being psychic there’s no pandemic, but that’s small.

Keep on being kind to yourself and to those you encounter.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Dear Me

Dear Me,

Hello from a year in your future. For you, it’s July 22, 2019. For me? It’s July 22, 2020.

I know you’re feeling a bit under the weather right now. All that stuff with your thyroid. Then that radiation treatment you just got. And right now, you’re feeling a bit sorry for yourself because you’re stuck in a two week long quarantine until you stop being radioactive. Actually, you’re feeling a lot sorry for yourself, stuck inside for two whole weeks. No work, no socialization, no going out.

Oh, you sweet summer child.

Okay, so, let’s start with the good news. The radiation is going to work. I mean. More or less. You’re not really done with this, you’re going to lose some hair, but in a few months they’ll get you onto the right medication, and it will be better. So that’s good, right? Oh. And don’t freak out too badly about the hair, it’s just a bit of thinning, it’ll grow back. A year from now, you’ll see that it’s not important or particularly worth fussing over.

Oh, and your writing career is going to go somewhere unexpected, but I won’t spoil the surprise for you. Just be prepared to go for any opportunity that pops up.

Aside from that, you’ll find the rest of 2019 kind of uneventful. Girl, you enjoy that uneventfulness. Just… just trust me, okay?

2020 sounds like such a great year, doesn’t it? You like to play D&D, and hey, that’s two critical rolls. You’ll even make that comment on New Year’s day. Well. I did. Maybe… don’t. Or don’t make too big a deal out of it, okay?

While I’m giving some advice, can I suggest stocking up on some toilet paper in, oh, mid-February? And hand sanitizer. Oh, and lysol wipes. You might also want to try to sock away a bit of extra money, if you can. But not in cash.

And maybe don’t make any big plans for the year. Especially travel related ones. But you could look into streaming apps that you haven’t tried yet. Only don’t sign up just yet if there’s any sort of free trial. Just, you know, be aware of it. Except Disney Plus, I know you won’t be able to wait on that one. Yes, it’s as awesome as you think it’s going to be.

Try to brace for change. But also kind of brace for monotony. Look. Just trust me on this stuff, okay?

Oh, I forgot something in the good news front. You actually find a new D&D gaming group. On Zoom! Oh, wait, you’ve never heard of Zoom, have you? Trust me, you’ll learn. Hey. You don’t have any spare funds for buying Zoom stock do you? Shame. I joke, I have no idea if they even have stocks. Also, you’re going to join a choir for the first time in over twenty years! So that’s fun, right? I mean. It’s also on Zoom, but it’s fun.

Listen, me, it’s kind of going to be a bit of a rough ride. You’re going to get used to some crazy stuff happening. A lot of it’s bad. Some of it is really bad. Things you never thought you’d live to see. Generation defining stuff. Some of it is super sad. Some of it is going to lead to some changes that the world needed to make, though.

So I guess you can ignore all the earlier advice and just go with this: be kind to people. Be kind to yourself. Kindness has never been more important than it is now. You might want to start reminding other people of that, too.

Hang in there. You’re going to make it through.

love,
Me

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

It’s Still Okay

In many places, restrictions on our lives and movements are being lifted. Many of us who were out of work for months are returning to it. Many of those who worked from home are starting to be phased back into office life. We can go get a haircut, or a massage, or go eat in a restaurant.

Now, I’d never go so far as to say that life is returning to normal. It may never go entirely back to what we used to consider normal, but it is changing.

And hey, maybe we accepted, back in April, that it was okay not to be okay. It was alright if we felt overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, inexplicably cranky or depressed.

But surely, now that things are easing in some areas, we should also be feeling better, right? Wrong.

I’m here to tell you something. Yes, you. You reading this with your very own personal eyeballs. Or your own personal ears, or your own personal fingertips.

It is still okay not to be okay.

If logic helps, then here is some logic: you’ve just been through something you likely weren’t prepared for. Something that impacted your life in extremely personal ways. Perhaps you lost someone, or are friends with someone who has. Perhaps you lost your job. You definitely lost the sort of freedom you took for granted. You can’t just wave away the mental and emotional effects of that.

Also, though restrictions are easing, the grim truth is that this isn’t over. In some places, things aren’t even actually improving even if restrictions are lifting. We might be better prepared for it now than we were in March, and that is a very good thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s over.

So of course you’re not okay. Of course you feel anxiety and sadness.

Less logically… we’re humans. Our response to grief and stress is not a rational thing, so trying to force yourself to be entirely rational in your emotional reaction is so far from unfair to yourself that it might as well be one of those carnival games that hardly anyone wins.

This obviously doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try for emotional stability. Of course we should. We should make full use of every tool in our toolbox to try to cope, as best as we can, and be on the lookout for some new, shiny tools to tuck away in there. We just shouldn’t kick ourselves for not being entirely okay.

I’m not entirely okay. I’m crankier a lot of the time. I get scared. I get depressed. I have far less patience than I should. I’m doing my best not to let that negatively impact anything else, but I still feel those things, and that’s okay.

If you’re still feeling those things, it’s okay. If you’re not, then hey, please feel free to drop me a message and tell me the ways of your people.

In the meantime, and as always, for god’s sake be kind to yourself. And to others.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday