All posts by ericakarels

The Joys of Home Ownership

Last July my fiance and I bought our first house. It’s a 2000 sq. ft. 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home with a very large fenced in back yard on a busy road in Bloomington. I have really enjoyed the homeownership experience so far but there are responsibilities that come with home ownership that didn’t even cross my mind before we purchased the house. I have rented for so long that I took simple things for granted that became my responsibility as the owner of a property. Below are a list of things that may seem like no brainers, but I forgot about until I had to start doing them. For anyone who hasn’t purchased their first home yet… here are the things you have to look forward to.

genMid.4713728_0When something breaks you have to fix it or you have to pay someone to fix it

Shortly after we moved in our dishwasher stopped working correctly. Previously, I would just call the landlord and not give it another thought. However, I now own that dishwasher. After trying to fiddle with it without really knowing what I was doing I finally gave in and called a repair man. He came out and after looking at it could not tell me what was wrong with it and told me it was working fine. It still doesn’t function properly and I am probably just going to have to get a new one.

Even something as simple as changing light bulbs was more challenging than I thought it was going to be. There is a large chandelier above my staircase that is extremely high above the ground and even difficult to reach with a ladder. About a month ago, every light but one had burnt out and somehow I had to get up there to change the bulbs. Eventually I figured out how to do it but it was a real challenge.

There are things you have to do every single week/month/year

This may sound a little ridiculous but I didn’t think about things that would have to be added into my weekly routine that I would have to make time for. Some things are time consuming like cleaning the gutters and some are small things like wheeling out the garbage and recycling cans every Sunday night. You also are responsible for things like changing furnace filters, getting your carpets cleaned, and replacing big ticket items like siding, windows, and appliances if they are no longer efficient or in working order. Home ownership can be a real time commitment and you shouldn’t purchase a home if you don’t have time to do the upkeep.

If you have a yard your workload increases significantly

If you have a yard there is something you have to do as a home owner in every season. Mow the grass, rake the leaves, and shovel and snow blow. All of these things take a lot of time and require a lot effort. There are also other side projects you have to do like plant grass seed and keep your yard clean. If you choose not to do these things there could be real consequences like fines from the city.

These are just a few things that I am faced with as a homeowner. As I said some things seem like no brainers and are things you would expect but I was not prepared for the time commitment it takes to own a home. However, once you adjust your schedule to fit in all the things you have to do as a home owner it is totally worth it because you get an awesome place to live and build equity.




13 Reasons Why – Is it glorifying teen suicide?

If you have been on the internet since March 31st, 2017 you have probably heard of the show 13 Reasons Why. The show that depicts the life of Hannah Baker, a high school student that takes her own life and leaves behind a series of tapes that tell all the reasons why she did it. If you haven’t seen it then please don’t read on – SPOILERS AHEAD.

13 Reasons Why is now the most successful show in Netflix history – people are addicted. The show immediately had me hooked. I had never seen anything that had a story line quite like it. Every episode made me want to keep watching but as Hannah’s story continued to unfold it became harder and harder to watch. In the last couple of episodes Hannah watches a friend get raped at a party, gets raped herself, and finally commits suicide. Many critics are applauding the producers for not shying away from depicting these graphic situations but others are saying it’s too much and are accusing the show of glorifying teen suicide.

It has gotten to the point where schools have now gotten involved all of over the country and are sending home letters to parents warning them not to let their children watch the show due to its graphic content.

13 reasons

I personally think it does the opposite of glorify suicide. I think shows glorify suicide when it is only talked about, not shown. Typically cinema will show what happens before a suicide and the aftermath, but not the act itself. I think by not showing the suicide, it romanticizes it. The scene from the final episode of 13 Reasons Why is extremely real and graphic and shows people just how painful and how very real suicide is.

Overall, I think the show does a great job highlighting very real issues that people tend to shy away from like bullying, rape, suicide, and depression. I think it also does an incredible job of accurately depicting how high school students act and what they really do. Too often you see a very unrealistic depiction of high school students – they all look way too old and do things that high school students would never do in real life. Watching 13 Reasons Why reminded me of me and my friends in high school and what it was really like.

Below are some articles talking about the controversy surrounding the show. Definitely worth a read if you enjoyed it!

Why Schools Are Warning Parents About Netflix’s Series 13 Reasons Why

The Complexities of the Death Penalty

Do you agree or disagree in the death penalty? What are your reasons for this? The Death Penalty is a polarizing issue- similar to abortion, gay marriage, and other hot button issues. Most individuals feel fairly strongly about this issue and it is fairly divisive among party lines. Growing up in a conservative area, many of my family members and peers supported the death penalty and identified as Republican. When I moved to the cities, many of my new liberal friends violently opposed the death penalty .


I was quite surprised when I found an article on conservative-leaning media outlet, Fox News, opposing the death penalty.

The article entitled “Why capital punishment kills the best parts of us all,” written by Dr. Keith Ablow, discusses the moral implications for opposing the death penalty. Traditionally, the main reasons for opposing  the death penalty are concerns innocent people are killed, a disproportionate number of people of non-whites are killed, and a disproportionate number of poor people are killed. However, Dr. Keith Ablow cites the main reason for opposing the death penalty is religious. “Is my opposition to capital punishment because of the fact that even a person who has committed almost unthinkable acts still might find God and prove that good can overcome evil?  I do believe that redemption is possible, no matter how heinous a person’s past. ” Essentially, Dr. Ablow proposes that enforcing the death penalty is negating the power of God to rehabilitate individuals.

This article puzzles me for a variety of reasons. I’m not quite sure I agree with his beliefs that every person is capable of rehabilitation. Some mental health issues are incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to cure. Personality disorders are often viewed as untreatable in the mental health community and there are limited evidence based practices available to treat even some of the symptoms. In regards to horrific criminals- individuals that have killed and raped dozens of people, it is difficult to imagine these individuals could be rehabilitated. Furthermore, by allowing this individual to live, doesn’t it impose or presume that his/her life is more valuable than the dozens he has taken away? I am not a religious person, but it is hard for me to believe that God would approve of these serial criminals and their actions. I personally believe that the death penalty should be used sparingly and only in extremely limited situations and circumstances.

The other point I found concerning regarding this article was not only his opinion on the death penalty but his rationalization for his viewpoint. The way he discussed the injustices of the death penalty to people of varying races and socioeconomic backgrounds as a secondary, not a chief reason for opposing the death penalty was appalling to me. The author of this article seems to disregard the logical reasons for opposing the death penalty in favor of more moral/religious reasons.


I stand behind my belief that the death penalty is the just action in certain circumstances to protect the majority and empower victims of heinous crimes. The separation of church and state is necessary for a diverse county such as ours, and I would urge others that the implications of this article are dangerous. If we allow our own perception of “God” to dictate our beliefs on the death penalty, it leads to a rabbit hole of conundrums- including who’s personal definition of God do we honor in these cases.

Can ‘Nashville’ Survive Without Rayna James?

Nashville has been one of my favorite shows for the past couple years and 4 seasons that it has been on. Just to give a little bit of background on the show for those who don’t know what it is about, it follows two famous country artists lives. One is Rayna James (played by Connie Britton), a mother of two with a complicated love life and the other is Juliette Barns (played by Hayden Panettiere), a young new comer that strives to be as famous as Rayna James and would do anything it takes to further her career. There are also smaller characters that the show has developed over time including Rayna’s family (daughters Maddie and Daphne and husband Deacon) and on and off again love interests Scarlett and Gunnar. Between seasons four and five, the show had a network change. Previously, it was on ABC but was cancelled. After the fans of the show rallied and demanded that it be picked back up, the rights were bought by CMT and the first half of season 5 as aired on that network.


The Death of Rayna James:

Recently, Connie Britton’s character Rayna James was killed off the show. Connie Britton wasn’t overly clear about her reason for leaving but said that it had to do mostly with the fact that she wanted to challenge herself creatively and open herself up to new opportunities. There seems to be a pattern of her doing this with other shows including American Horror Story and Friday Night Lights. Connie Britton said that she has full confidence that the show will continue to be successful without her but the fans aren’t as convinced, especially after fighting so hard to keep it going after season 4.

In the article above, author Jennifer Lind-Westbrook poses the question on every fans mind after one of the two main characters has left the show – can Nashville survive without Rayna James?

In the article she gives her opinions on what she thinks the show writers, directors, and producers should focus on going forward in order maintain the success of the show. She outlines four specific things:

  1. Move on from Rayna’s death quickly and put more focus on her immediate family characters in the show
  2. Have more music in the show
  3. Bring back Juliette’s old personality (recently her characters moral compass has been more on track since a near death experience)
  4. Start going more in depth in other character’s stories such as Scarlett’s and Gunnar’s romance

Although I do agree with some things she said I think that most of these things will just hurt the show. Rayna’s character was the guiding moral compass of the show and she provided support and advice to every character in show at some point or another. I think the recent change to Juliette’s personality was strategically done by the show creators in anticipation of Rayna’s departure and having her go back to her old ways would only hurt the show. They were trying to make Juliette’s previously not so nice character into someone that modeled the characteristics of Rayna. I think they need to bring some new characters in, preferably some bigger hollywood names, to maintain interest in the show instead of focus even more on the current cast. I think what would really keep viewers interested is if one of the new cast mates started going after Juliette’s career in the way she went after Rayna’s in the first couple season’s of the show. This would bring the show full circle and further develop the main character. However, only time will tell what will happen with Nashville on CMT.

The Death of Retail

In past couple of years we have seen many big box and mall stores filing for bankruptcy and closing many locations, if not shutting down their entire operations. So far in 2017 bankruptcy and closures have been announced for stores such as Gander Mountain, Macy’s, Payless Shoes, WetSeal, and American Apparel. If you look back on the past several years, stores such as Sports Authority, Sears, JcPenny, WalMart and Aeropostale all had to close hundreds of doors. So why is that? Why are the chains that once thrived struggling to keep their stores open?


The way I see it there are two reasons – Millennials and the Internet, more specifically, Amazon.

Millennials are reshaping retail trends. They are making less money, drowning in student loan debt, and aren’t interested in fancy labels. When a millennial is looking to spend what disposable income they do have, they are spending it on experiences. This includes things like traveling, concerts and other entertainment, and the latest technology. As someone who is part of the  millennial generation I can say that if I had $200 to spend I would much rather buy a plane ticket to somewhere I’ve never been, than something like an expensive dress. I like to have the latest phone, but the latest line of clothes from some designer doesn’t interest me. Millennials, myself included look for cheaper clothes options that are more basic and won’t go out of style. I will usually only buy something designer if it is from a second hand store such as Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor and I’m getting it at a much more discounted price than purchasing it from a department store.

I shop on the internet for clothes much more often than I shop at a store. It is more convenient and it gives me the options to find deals and discounts that I wouldn’t find in a retail store location. It is no wonder that while all these large chains are closing hundreds of locations a year, Amazon’s sales are skyrocketing year over year. I know that personally, I am ordering things with my amazon prime account weekly and it ships right to my door in two days. Why would I ever go the store to buy anything?!

In the next several years it is expected that the trends that we are seeing with so many retail stores closing will only increase and internet and Amazon sales will only increase.

Below are some links that talk about what stores have filed filed for bankruptcy and have closed locations and a really interesting blog post on how Millennials are causing this shift in retail. Enjoy!



The Need for Feminism

It seems that these days the word feminism is thrown around like a dirty word. Feminism has a negative connotation that it cannot seem to shake. However, at the core, I believe that the principal idea is bridging the gap between Men’s Rights and Women’s Rights. There are likely hundreds of various definitions and interpretations of what feminism is. I would encourage my classmates to view and learn more information.

The reason why I believe there is a need for feminism is that there is still a significant discrepancy between the privileges/rights of men and women. These discrepancies originated in a society in which gender roles were vastly different. For example, in the 1950’s it was common for the man of the house to be the only one working and it was his responsibility to provide for his family. Because of this and other various sociocultural reasons, men earned a significant amount more than women, were promoted faster, and hired at a much higher rate than women. In modern society, the emphasis on the male being the sole breadwinner has shifted and women comprise of almost half of the workplace.  Using this example, it is strange to me that our gender roles have shifted- yet income and career opportunities have lagged behind comparatively. Almost every job I have held, I have made a smaller wage than my male counterparts. Despite being equally qualified and doing the exact same work. I simply cannot wrap my head around this. How can two people, that are alike in every way with exception to their gender, be compensated so differently? What makes my work, as a woman, less valuable?

I need feminism because I cannot walk alone down a street in downtown Minneapolis at night without an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Many of my male friends have the luxury of not fearing for their safety in these kinds of situations. In the United States and worldwide, sexual and physical abuse is more likely to be inflicted on women. If we as a society truly valued men and women alike- would we be treating our women so poorly? While safety cannot always be guaranteed, why should it be a privilege for only some? Am I less deserving of feeling safe as I walk home?

There are many reasons why I as a women, need feminism. I needed a movement, a cause to sink my teeth into and to truly validate my human experience. I need feminism because I will not settle for being treated as less than and denied basic human rights because of my gender. I would encourage you all to reframe your thinking about feminism and think about what it truly means to you- in context with your loved ones. Feminism is not limited to an ideal/philosophy for women. It is for fathers, brothers, husbands. It is for everyone.