Having an Original Idea… Is There Such a Thing?

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The “Before” of my Instagram edited photo

Hey everybody, I hope you had a great week!

Today I want to talk about something that’s always on my mind whenever I’m writing: having a completely original idea.

Basically… It’s impossible.

At some point, any creative idea you might come up with most likely has already been done. It might have been by someone more well known, or someone who with a small group of followers, but chances are they already have done it. They may even have done it in a more creative, and overall better way than you (Sorry, that’s just the pessimist/ realist in me coming out 😂).

Does that mean that you should completely abandon your idea?

No.

Now, you may be wondering, “Why should I continue with something that’s already been done? I can come up with an even better idea!”

I mean, if you can do that, then go ahead and do that. What I’m trying to tell you is to not simply abandon an idea because someone else has already done it.

I’m going to use an example from two well known authors; Kristin Hannah (Her most recent book The Nightingale might ring a bell), and Elin Hildrebrand (Her newest book Summer of ’69 comes out next week on June 18th).

*Before I continue, I want to mention that there may be spoilers for Night Road by Kristin Hannah and Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand. I’ll let you know at the end of this section when you can start reading again, if you don’t want to be spoiled*

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SPOILERS START HERE

Both of these author’s have written a story about a group of friends, where there is a set of fraternal twins, towards the end of their high school years. When they are driving home from a big bonfire celebrating the end of the school year, the group of friends end up in a car accident. One of the twins dies (In both books, it’s the female twin), and the remainder of the book deals with the aftermath of this night and how it affects the surviving twin, the friend, and the twin’s mother (in both books, the mom’s are single mom’s).

SPOILERS END HERE

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Sounds like practically the same book, right?

That’s what I thought when I first read the synopsis for Sumnmerland.

Although they have similar concepts, Hilderbrand and Hannah differentiate their books through the characters development and interaction with each other and the story, the way the story itself is written, and even the character perspectives in the story (Hilderbrand has “Nantucket”, the island this story is set, as a sort of omnipresent narrator during certain chapters). Another major difference is that the timeline in both books are hugely different; Summerland takes place during the year following the events from the summer, while Night Road jumps ahead many years in the future, when the friend group are now adults. Hannah and Hilderbrand also have different settings for their stories; Summerland takes place on Nantucket Island (her stories usually take place somewhere on the East Coast of the United States), while Hannah’s stories always take place in the Pacific Northwest.  If I remember correctly as well, the friends in Summerland were finishing their junior year of high school, while the friends in Night Road were finishing their senior year.

Even though both stories have the same concept, Hilderbrand and Hannah still make their stories different enough where it doesn’t feel like you are reading the same exact story.

And that’s the key.

If you want to make an idea original, you don’t need the idea itself to be original, but the execution of it needs to breathe a bit of fresh air into it. In the case of writing, the author’s writing style, setting, character development and voice can all be tools used to make a not so original idea, into something interesting and new for the reader. Finding inspiration from another creative is not inherently a bad thing, but failing to make it your own is.

Another example I want to use is actually with my own writing.

66b06590-9304-4604-9cb8-27bf391cd0df_1.c8190eaf0cb2a4bac7bfb11a2e75794eA few years ago, I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (if you haven’t read it yet, stop right now and go read it! Not because it will help in understanding this post, but because it is an amazing book, and you are missing out, my friend).

Anyways, the main character perspective that you are following in this story, is Death itself. Death follows the life of Liesel, a little girl living in Germany during World War Two, and Death acts as an outside narrator commenting on the actions of the characters involved in Liesel’s life, and humanity as a whole.

It was such an interesting perspective to me, that when I started writing my own story, I thought, “Why not use Death, as a character in my story, to help understand the world I’m trying to build?” .

Now, that may sound like the same thing, but while the entirety of The Book Thief  follows Death’s perspective, my story uses a dual perspective, switching between Death and my other main character, Olivia. For me, I think this helps reader’s understand how the Afterlife works better in the story I’m creating, by viewing the Afterlife through the perspective of someone experiencing it themselves (Olivia) and the perspective of the being who actually runs it (Death). Even though Death is a character in both stories, the character itself serves different purposes in both cases.

Now that I gave you a couple examples, I want to say that I know it can create an inner conflict within someone when it comes to the “idea” of any creative project. Making sure it’s the best, that no one else has done it before, etc., but it shouldn’t get in the way of actually creating. Run with your idea, and see how far it takes you, because who knows, maybe it will take you to an even better idea. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to creating something, just because it’s not 100% original, since there are very few, if any, ideas that fall under that 100% originality category.

We all find inspiration and use elements of this inspiration in our creations, and there is nothing wrong with that, as it’s all a part of the creative process. Give credit where credit is due, and don’t be afraid to share who inspired you. Who knows, maybe your creation will help inspire someone else in the future.

Before I go, I want to share a tweet that I read recently, since I think it’s relevant to this whole ending spiel. And if not… well, I’m sure someone needs to hear it today:

 

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys next Tuesday for a new post!

Have a great weekend!

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

Instagram: @eclectic_erin87

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/eclecticerin87/

 

Book Review: The Search by Nora Roberts

*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*

Hello everybody, I hope you had a great weekend! Here’s my review of The Search by Nora Roberts!

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Synopsis:

Twenty-nine year old Fiona lives on the island of Orcas, up in the Pacific northwest, where she runs a canine search and rescue unit, while teaching training courses for dog owners, whether it’s one on one behavioral lessons or training to become of the canine Search and Rescue unit. Before she lived on Orcas, Fiona had fallen into the clutches of a serial killer, but managed to escape before he ultimately killed her. Unfortunately, he still took away someone she loved as revenge, and Fiona has been dealing with the grief for the past seven years.

Then comes Simon.

Simon is new to the island, a woodcutting artist, who is rough around the edges and an interest for lots of the women on the island because of his good looks. He goes to Fiona for training for his new puppy, Jaws, and from there, a whirlwind romance begins to develop. Around this time though, a prodigy for the serial killer who went after Fiona seven years ago emerges, and there are signs pointing to Fiona being one of his intended victims. Now, Fiona must deal with the circumstances of this new development as well as her budding romance with Simon.

 

Plot:

The plot itself is well paced, with a good amount of intrigue, and the climax of the story had more impact than in the other two thriller type books from Nora Roberts I read before. The only problem I have with the climax is the confrontation between Fiona and Eckles came across a little cheesy when I first read it. After I thinking about it though, it makes sense Eckles acted the way he did, based on the way his character is portrayed throughout the novel. Even though the plot is interesting and is a strong aspect of the story, The Search is more character focused than plot focused book.

 

Characters:

In the beginning, Fiona didn’t want to feel victimized by her past trauma, and is accepting the grief from losing her special someone as a result of this trauma.  In doing so, she built a wall around herself, even keeping her loved ones at a distance to maintain her independence. As her romance with Simon develops, Fiona learns how to not only handle her, but how to let people in and help her. He reminds her that she is not alone, and she doesn’t need to push people away when they want to support her.

The romance between Fiona and Simon develops organically and provides a good backbone to the novel. Simon as an individual character did get on my nerves a little bit, but it is how his character is written, so he is definitely a well written character. I also liked Fiona enough where if she was happy with Simon, then I wanted her to end up with him in the end.

In addition to all that, I  like how Eckles (one of the villains of the story) is developed, for the most part. I think he is given a decent back story that explains what made him the way he is in the present. Some parts of it probably could have been developed more, but I don’t think it has too much affect on the overall story. The exploration of his need to become notorious, through him wanting to write a tell-all book, to his confrontation with Fiona in the climax of the story, added an interesting aspect to his character. In the end,  the characters are well developed enough to drive the story to a satisfying conclusion.

 

Writing Style:

When I read The Witness, one aspect I remember is how weird the dialogue read for me sometimes. I assumed it was because the main character was a genius who lacked social skills, but I noticed it here too. For the most part the dialogue was fine, but there were times when I was reading it, and in my head it sounded stiff and awkward. The books from Nora Roberts that I really loved was the Bridal Quartet, and now I want to re-read those books to see if they have the same issues. I don’t know if it’s something that’s more apparent in her more thriller leaning books, or if it’s just how her dialogue is written in general, but it can take me out of the story at times. Other than that, I liked how Robert’s set the scene of the story, developed the characters, and paced the plot in relation to the character developments.

 

Overall Thoughts:

In the past few months, my boyfriend’s mom has lent me three Nora Robert’s books: Shelter in Place, The Witness, and The Search. I would categorize these three books as Robert’s more “thriller/suspense” novels, as opposed to her pure romance novels. However, these novels still focus mainly on the romance of the main character, with the “thriller/suspense” aspect of the novel serving as an underlying subplot to the novel. Out of these three novels, I like The Search the most out of all of them (probably because of the amount of dogs in the book, I’m a sucker for dogs 😂), followed by Shelter in Place  and then The Witness.

I enjoyed reading The Search overall, and read at least one or two chapters everyday (the chapters themselves were abut fifteen to twenty pages each, so I would say I read it in good time). The story itself was interesting, and the characters weren’t my favorite characters of all time, but I liked them enough to have be invested in their story. I also enjoyed reading about Fiona’s work with her dog training and the search and rescue unit. At the end of the day, I would rate The Search a 4.5 out of 5 stars

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

Instagram: @eclectic_erin87

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/eclecticerin87/

Blog#5: Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane

Hey everybody, I hope you’ve been having a good week!

A_Cinderella_Story_-_iTunes_Movie_PosterLately, I’ve been in a super nostalgic mood, which tends to happen when summer starts up (for whatever reason). Earlier this week, I watched one of my favorite movies as a kid (A Cinderella Story because I was obsessed with Hilary Duff), and listened to some Aly and AJ songs, like Rush and No One (they played during commercial breaks on Disney Channel all the time). Then I started thinking all the books I read when I was younger, such as Gooseberry Park, the Ramona Quimby series, any Judy Blume book (the first two that come to mind being Are you there God, It’s Me Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing). Then when I was in middle school, I loved the Daughter of the Moon series, the Sweep series and The Looking Glass wars.

harry-potter-seriesIt’s weird how all these books, movies, and music was such a big part of my life, when now it only pops up in my brain every once in a while. Even in high school, I was a big fan of Harry Potter ( A Very Potter Musical anyone?), and my obsession with Doctor Who started gaining traction, continuing well into my college years. Now though, I don’t follow them to the same degree or passion that I once did. It makes me wonder what things I am interested in now that I’ll look back fondly on in five or ten years time, when I’m not as big of a fan anymore.

300px-Versions_of_the_DoctorThis also got me thinking about how much I like re-reading books. Especially when I was younger, I loved going back to a book I enjoyed and experiencing it all over again. If some time had passed since I last read the book, it seemed just like I was reading it again for the first time, with maybe a better idea of what is happening in the story. There are also certain times of the year where I like reading specific books or genres. For example, during the winter, I love reading fantasy books, and would re-read the Blue is For Nightmare series every winter when I was in high school. Then, during the month of October I would re-read the Sweep series (a couple of times I did during the summer too, just depended on my mood), but I also read books that center around more spooky or paranormal themes (in October? Who would’ve thought?). There are also the “summer reads”, which usually include romantic contemporaries or what I would consider more of the cheesy horror novels.

Now that I’ve gone off topic a bit, let’s bring it back to the main point here.

Over the past couple of days, it’s become more apparent to me, how much I re-read books, as I’ve been cleaning my bookshelves (it’s been a while since they’ve been cleaned and they’re really dusty). While I was traveling down memory lane, I also decided to separate the books that I haven’t read yet, just to see how many I have.

The answer is A LOT.

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All the books I haven’t read yet

Even though I love to revisit the past to remember all the good times, it’s important to not forget there are plenty of good things happening now. In the case of my books, there are so many potential new favorites for me to find, new lessons to learn, and new worlds to discover. Despite the fact that I don’t have the same passion or obsession for the things I used to in the past, doesn’t mean that I never will again. Maybe I need to just stop looking to the past to bring me that same happiness, as I’m not the same person now as I was in the past. Time comes and goes, people change (whether you realize it/ want to or not), and life has just as many short lived, temporary moments as there are constants. People come and go from your life, things you own now may be given away or sold in the next few years, and that’s just something to expect from life.  By accepting change, and maybe even trying to embrace it, I could end up finding that new series for me to love, or that new movie that brings me happy. In the end, change is going to happen anyway, whether I like it or not. 

Anyways, that’s about all I have for today’s post!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

See ya Tuesday!

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

I now have an Instagram for Eclectic Erin! Follow me @eclectic_erin87

Also, I now have a Facebook Page!

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Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*

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Hey everybody, I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Here’s my review on Leah On the Offbeat 🙂

Synopsis:

Leah on the Offbeat [which I may refer to as just Leah during the review] follows the characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda [which I may refer to as just Simon during the review], but this time from the perspective of Simon’s best friend, Leah Burke. Leah feels different from her friends, as she is the only one being raised by a single mother and doesn’t have as much money at her disposal as her friends do. She also hasn’t come out to anyone, except for her mother, despite having known since she was eleven that she is bi, and the fact that her best friend Simon, came out publicly the year before. For the last year, she’s had a crush on someone who she really shouldn’t be, on top of dealing with other insecurities that she has about herself, such as her body and her skills in drumming and drawing. It’s the end of senior year, and Leah is just trying to get through the last few months of high school with graduation and prom, when drama seems to be trying to tear her friend group a part.

Plot:

The plot basically follows the cast of Simon through the last few months of senior year, as the rising tension and stress from leaving high school to start college manifests itself in every character in some form. There is prom planning, questions about dream colleges, and what life after high school is going to be like in general. Leah specifically explores her feelings for somebody who she couldn’t before, as unforeseen circumstances popped up, making Leah question that relationship. She also is figuring out how she wants to pursue drumming and drawing, even though she doesn’t think she’s good enough to warrant anyone having any interest in her concerning those hobbies. There is also the question of her mom’s relationship with her new boyfriend, Wells, which Leah doesn’t believe will last. Leah takes us through Leah’s journey of slowly becoming more confident in herself as she prepares to finish one journey and begin another one.

The plot itself was very quick pace, and easy to follow, so I was able to finish it in a matter of a couple days. If you’re looking for a quick read as summer is beginning, I would recommend Leah on the Offbeat.

Characters:

I want to start off by saying that Becky Albertalli does a great job including a diverse cast, which brings up a good discussion around issues they may face as a group. When I read Simon, the characters were all lovable in some manner, and I would say that in Leah, that kind of changes a little. Each character is seen a little more in depth, and their flaws and hardships come out a little more in this novel. One reason for this is because Leah is more cynical than Simon, and may even notice these things more, plus there is more drama occurring within the friend group itself, as opposed to in Simon, when the main conflict was occurring within Simon himself.

I liked reading from the perspective of Leah, as it was interesting to see how she interpreted some of the events from Simon, and how that affected everyone during their senior year. The only problem I had with reading from her perspective, was how negative she could be. There was a little bit of character development towards the end of the book, but for most of it, she could be negative to the point of whiny and judgmental, which made it a little harder for me to enjoy the story.

Writing Style:

I love Becky Albertalli’s writing style, as it has the right youthful sound for a YA story. She uses a lot of pop culture references, especially Harry Potter, so if you’re someone who isn’t really into that, I would probably not pick this book up. Personally, I think the Harry Potter references were a little too much for me, as I liked the books, but I’m not obsessive about them. However, I remember back in high school I was more into Harry Potter, and had a lot of friends who loved it (basically, it reminded me of when I was in high school 😂). I like how she integrated modern technology and pop culture into the story, as to me, it enhanced the story, as opposed to “Oh let me throw in some stuff that will make my story sound more modern and like I’m trying to make my characters seem like teens”.  I think she also does a great job voicing teen characters, as she doesn’t make it seem like an adult trying to emulate a teen, but let’s the characters speak for themselves. If you are into YA books that have that more youthful voice in it, and can be a quick read, then you would love Beck Albertalli’s writing (Although I would suggest reading Simon first before reading Leah).

Overall Thoughts:

I enjoyed the book for the most part and found it to be an easy read (I bought the book Friday and finished it Saturday night). It was fun, and the only issue I had with it was that Leah could be almost too cynical and judgmental at times, which put me off the book at points. Besides that, I thought it was a good second book for us to continue following the stories of the characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and would recommend it if you enjoyed Simon. Overall, I would give Leah On the Offbeat 4/5 stars.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a good rest of your week!

 

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

Creative Dumping Ground #9

Hey Everybody! I hope you’ve been having a good week 🙂

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve done a Creative Dumping Ground post, so here we go! This was actually a challenge that I participated in on Prose, and I thought it was fun to do, while also getting to go through song lyrics to create a story.

Here’s the original challenge: https://theprose.com/challenge/5544

And on that note… here we go!

Update (7:03pm on Thursday 05/30/19):

This is so much harder than I remember it being… we will see how this goes. None of it sounds like it will make any sense… but we will see, we will see.

Update (8:18pm 05/30/19):

Wasn’t having much luck, so I decided to have a glass of wine to see if it would help, or just make me fall asleep.

Update (9:28pm 5/30/19):

Finally finished! Here is the final product! (Though it may be pretty rough). It originally was going to be one poem, but I thought it sounded better as two different ones. One thing that made this difficult is  whenever I was trying to read through the entire poem, I would start singing the song lyrics in my head, which made absolutely no sense because… well they’re different songs. Anyways, we’ll see if I change anything else before posting.

Update (1:15 am 5/31/19):

As of right now, the two poems now became three poems… let’s see if I keep turning each poem into a smaller arrangement of itself 🤣😂

Update (1:35 am 05/31/19):

I think I finally got these to something I like… at least, I like them better than before😂 I also feel like I’m going to regret being up so late because I have work at 9 am tomorrow. Ooops

That’s what happens when you can’t sleep I guess.

 

20190304_121919-1Poem #1

I know about what you did and I wanna scream the truth

Divide me down to the smallest I can be

You’re the pain and the medicine

When all you got is nothing,

There’s a lot to go around.

Now I’m breaking at the britches,

But in the end,

It doesn’t even matter.

 

Song Lyrics (In order of appearance):

“Green Light” by Lorde

“Uma Thurman” by Fallout Boy

“Save My Soul” by Jojo

“In The End” by Linkin Park

 

 

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Photo by Iarlaith McNamara on Pexels.com

Poem #2

I felt I was invincible, you wrapped around my head

Be mine or you will burn

But I’m glad to be a real nightmare,

God have mercy on her

So, save me your prayers.

God have mercy on me.

You can’t save me.

 

Songs (In order of appearance):

“Chlorine” by Twenty One Pilots

“Hellfire” from the Hunchback of Notre Dame

“Nightmare” by Halsey

“Save My Soul” by Jojo

 

 

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Photo by Isabella Mariana on Pexels.com

Poem #3

Whatever happened to the young man’s heart?

My heart would bleed.

Everyone’s pointing their fingers

‘Cause these words are knives that often leave scars

Be a fighter

Always condemning me

When you gonna wake up and fight?

I’m tired and angry,

We all know that life ain’t fair

And nobody knows what I believe

Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore?

I believe.

Don’t sell yourself short, you might be bulletproof

A moment is all we are

Swallowed by pain as he slowly fell apart

Then who the hell was I?

 

Song Lyrics (In order of appearance):

“45” by Shinedown

“The Way We Were” by Carrie Hope Fletcher

“This is Gospel” Panic! At the Disco

“Cut the Cord” by Shinedown

“Sound of Madness” by Shinedown

“Nightmare” by Halsey

“Bully” by Shinedown

“Get Up” by Shinedown

“One More Light” by Linkin Park

“Skinny Love” by Bon Iver

 

After reading through them, the first two sound a lot better than what I had before, but the rhythm and flow of the third poem seems to be a little off to me. But that’s all part of the challenge, sometimes you can make it work so that it’ll sound great, and other times it’s gonna fall flat.

On that lovely note, thank you for reading, and I hope you have a lovely weekend! 🙂

I will see you again on Tuesday!

-Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

 

Summer Adventures 2019: San Diego Zoo Safari Park (AKA The Wild Animal Park)

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Map of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Wild Animal Park) for reference throughout this post

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great holiday weekend!

This may seem like a random post to publish, but I want to try out something different for my blog. As summer is coming up, and living in San Diego, there are lots of fun things to do here, as either a tourist or a local. I decided that now would be a good time to not only visit these places, but also document them for this lovely blog. If anything, I’ll look back on these posts for all the fun memories.

Now, let’s get to the main event!

Last Friday, a friend of mine from high school came down to visit, and brought along with a friend of her’s from college. We (My friend, her friend, my boyfriend and I) all wanted to do something fun together, and my lovely mom, who as a member, receives four free guest passes for either the Zoo or the Wild Animal Park, let us use her guest passes so that we could go to the Wild Animal Park (thank you, again). Before I continue, I know that’s not officially called The Wild Animal Park anymore (It’s now the San Diego Zoo Safari Park), but it’s the name I grew up with, so that’s how I’m going to refer to it.

Anyways, the four of us were, for the most part, there the whole day (we arrived around 9:30 am and left around 4:30 pm), and had some awesome animal sight seeing experiences. From seeing baby giraffes that are only a few weeks old, to watching the cheetah run that they hold at the park every afternoon, it was fun all around.

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The first thing we did when we got to there was head straight for the tram. Especially during the busiest times for the park (weekends and holidays) the tram gets packed really quickly, so it’s always best to head there first. During this tram ride, we got to see three baby giraffes. Two  of these giraffes were adjusting to life in the enclosure after being kept in a safe area for a couple months after their birth, as the San Diego weather has been a lot colder and rainier the past few months, and not the climate that the giraffes are used to acclimating to. The other baby giraffe, along with its mother, was spending its second day in the enclosure after being born a few weeks earlier. We also saw only one white rhino hiding in the shade, some vultures, and various species of deer and sheep.

After we exited the tram, we headed over to the elephants, which are one of my favorite animals to see, as they’re always so active whenever I see them. During this visit, there was a baby elephant rolling around and playing in the shade, as it was starting to get a little warm. Apparently, the zookeepers aren’t filling the elephant’s pool until the baby elephant learns to swim, as they want to make sure that it is able to swim as the pool itself is very deep. Another fun fact is that their enclosure is going to get remodeled in the near future, and the theater area next to their enclosure is going to be taken down and used to expand the elephants home even more.

After seeing the elephants, we decided to head up to Tiger Trail, where they were holding an event they called The Tiger Talk. One zookeeper talks about the Sumatran Tiger’s at the park, and their conservation efforts for them, while the other zookeeper basically places food for the tiger around the enclosure so that visitors can get a close up view of it. They have a few tigers there, and the tiger who we got to see during the talk was eight year old Joanne. The photos below are courtesy of my friend and my boyfriend, as all the photos that I ended up taking were dark due to the lighting.

After the Tiger talk, we had lunch, and then went to the new exhibit, Walkabout Australia. At this point, the exhibit houses red necked wallabies, western gray kangaroos, southern cassowaries, matschies tree kangaroos, magpie geese and various plants from Australia. There is an enclosure ready for more kangaroos, but it isn’t occupied at this point. One part that’s really cool is a grassy section where you walk along and get closer to the wallabies and kangaroos. As this section isn’t a petting zoo, you aren’t allowed to pet the animals or stray off the designated walkway, and the animals always have the right of way when they’re crossing over the path. One of my favorite things about Walkabout Australia is the Bonsai Pavillion, which is a bonsai tree garden that has a calm, peaceful vibe (especially at a place that can be quite crowded).

After going through Walkabout Australia, we ventured through Condor Ridge, where we learned about how condors help get rid of diseases (except West Nile) when they eat animal carcasses, because of the how they digest their food. We also got to hold a condor feather, and flap it about to demonstrate the heaviness and resistance of the feather. One of my favorite parts about visiting the Wild Animal Park, is how passionate and interactive everyone who works there when it comes to talking about the animals, whether they’re a zookeeper or a volunteer. They always have interesting anecdotes and facts that adds a little something more to each exhibit.

After we left Condor ridge, we wandered around, until ending up at the Gorilla Forest. The gorillas had just eaten and were getting ready to take an afternoon nap. In fact, one gorilla grabbed a mat and was dragging it across the enclosure into the shade to lay down on. Then as we read through the bio cards that they have posted for each gorilla, I found one gorilla that shares my birthday (although it was born in 2011, so its quite a few years younger than I am). We also found a few gorillas that had been born in the 70’s and 80’s (I don’t know why I didn’t notice that before), and could be identified by the silver hair on their backs.

Once we saw the gorillas, we got ice cream, as it’s always a tradition for me, whether I’m at the Wild Animal Park or the Zoo, to get soft serve ice cream. I don’t know why, but the soft serve there always tastes delicious (maybe because it gets hot after a long day there). They also have other treats, including a pineapple float (similar to a rootbeer float, that my friend’s friend ordered) made with pineapple soft serve and Sprite, served in an actual pineapple.

When we finished eating our food, we went back towards the tram to go watch the Cheetah Run. The Cheetah run is held every afternoon at 3:30 pm, and not only do we watch how fast an actual cheetah runs (once or twice, depending on how the cheetah is feeling that day) but, we also learn more about cheetahs and their conservation efforts, as the cheetah population has been in heavy decline over the past one hundred years, to the point where extinction is becoming more of a reality each day. For example, in Kenya cheetahs are an issue for farmers because they’ll come after the livestock for their food, which lead to cheetahs being shot and killed to protect the livestock. Then, a program was introduced where farmers are provided free dogs to bark at the cheetahs and chase them off, and help reduce the number of cheetahs being killed for that reason. Since cheetahs are built to run as fast as they do, they lack the muscle build to be strong and actually fight with other animals, so their flight or fight response is to run away. The Wild Animal Park has also been assisting in efforts to identify the other reasons why cheetahs have been dying out so rapidly.

20190330_132647-e1559078688335.jpgOnce the cheetah run was over, we wandered through the African Outpost and The African Loop, and make our way back to the entrance to leave. On our way out, we went through another one of my favorite parts of the Wild Animal Park, the Lemur Walk. The Lemur Walk is an enclosure where you can walk through and see the lemurs up close and personal (This time we saw three of them).

 

Besides that, I think that’s all I have for today!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you on Friday with another post!

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

Book Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*

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Synopsis:

Vivian [Viv] Carter is a junior at East Rockport Highschool, located in a small town in Texas, where the football team reigns supreme and act as though the rules don’t apply to them. With the football team yelling “Go make me a sandwich!” during class when a female student would answer a question (with little to no consequence), to the dress code aimed mainly at female students, Viv has had enough. Inspired by her mom’s days as a part of Riot Grrrl, Viv starts up the “‘zine” Moxie as a way to encourage the female students at East Rockport to fight back.

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Plot:

I think the plot of the story is interesting, and it’s nice to read a story where the student body takes issues into their own hands, especially when it seems like school authorities (mainly the principal and vice principals) aren’t doing what they can to make the school a positive learning environment for ALL of their students.

The plot of the story revolves around the incidents at East Rockport High School that cause Viv to use Moxie as a way to fight against them. The first couple of incidents that spark the creation of Moxie are football players yelling at girls to make them a sandwich in the middle of class, with no repercussions from their teacher and during the first pep rally of the year, the star football player wears an inappropriate shirt, with once again, no repercussions from the teachers. After becoming fed up with this behavior, Viv takes matters into her own hands and starts Moxie, which she distributes throughout the school in secret to protect her identity. The rest of the story follows a similar structure, going through the same back and forth a few more times (and the situations escalating in severity) until the very end of the story, where there is a major event that brings the student body together, and results in some real change in the school.

Overall, I can understand why there might be some inability to read through a novel like this and believe that there are school administration that would do this. I was lucky enough to have had some great teachers in school, as well as some not so great teachers, but definitely nothing to this level. However, I have heard horror stories from my friends and acquantinces about teachers who, in all honesty, really shouldn’t be teachers. Just because I had a mostly positive school experience regarding my teachers, doesn’t mean that everybody does. This would be my main point of contention with the plot, but once again, just because it hasn’t happened to me, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

Character Development:

I think Viv as a character was a good choice to have narrate the story, as she is the quiet shy kid that no one would suspect would start such a movement. It may sound kind of cheesy to some people, but as someone who can identify as being similar to Viv when I was in high school, I wish that I had the guts to speak up about what I believe in, especially when I was in high school.

All the other  characters in Moxie  seemed to be developed enuogh to help carry the story along, for the most part. The only character I wish was more developed is Viv’s mom’s boyfriend, John. Viv talks about how much she doesn’t like him, and that he’s a terrible fit for her mother. She talks about how much her mom has changed, and how Viv would never expect her mom to date someone conservative like John. I wish that there had been a moment between John and Viv where they could begin reconciling and building up a relationship, as that could have been an interesting character arc in the novel. There were points where I almost just wanted Viv’s mom to break up with John, because I felt like he was kind of a passive character in the novel that didn’t bring much to the story for me.

Writing Style:

The writing style in Moxie is very reflective of the story being told in the voice of a sixteen year old. In other words, the writing wasn’t too over the top, and because of that, the story flowed very nicely. One aspect I really like is how Jennifer Mathieu includes inserts of the ‘zines and the Moxie posters. Including a sample of what the zine would look like added to the atmosphere of the story.

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One of the sample pages of the Moxie ‘zine.

Overall Thoughts:

Moxie is an entertaining read that also tackles important issues within the feminist movement such as the racial disparity within it, and the importance of having a movement that is inclusive. Feminism is meant to support ALL women, no matter who they are or what they look like. There are also links and resources provided at the end of the book if you want to research feminism more, learn more about Riot Grrrl, or even if you want to be a apart of the Moxie movement, there’s a link for that! (https://moxiegirlsfightback.com/… just in case you were interested).

To be honest, I loved reading the story, and don’t have too much else to say about it, besides the fact that YOU SHOULD READ IT. 😂

Anyways, I give this story 5/5 stars overall.

Thank you, and have a nice weekend!

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About the Documentary MissRepresentation

CW: Eating Disorders such as anorexia and bulimia

Hey everybody! I hope you all had a good weekend!

This week, I decided to switch things up, concerning my posting schedule. Typically, I post about writing topics/book reviews on Tuesdays, and then Friday is open for posting anything. There is something I’ve been wanting to discuss though, and I don’t want to wait until Friday, so I decided to just post about it today.

Now that I’ve rambled on long enough, let’s get to it!

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Image from Converse.edu

Last week I watched MissRepresentation on Netflix. I thought the film was thought provoking and provides a good stepping stone for discussion on how detrimental negative media portrayals can be for women in society. I also think the general message and the purpose of the documentary is overall positive in intent.

However, since it was released in 2011, any of the studies referenced are from around 2009/2010. I thought it would be interesting to compare how these statistics changed in the past nine or ten years (whether it was for better or worst). There was one problem though…

MissRepresentation does not cite the sources for a majority of the provided statistics.

This became more apparent during my research, as I kept finding articles sharing these statistics, but not their source for them. I went on to the documentary’s website, looking for a page that states the sources for these statistics, and once again NOTHING. At first, I thought maybe it was included in the end credits (It is Netflix, so when the credits roll, they turn into a smaller screen on the top left corner of your screen while suggesting another movie you should watch). So, I sat through the credits a second time (making sure it was in full screen), hoping to find something, but once again… nothing.

Every time I wrote any paper for school, I had it drilled in me to cite my sources. Seeing this lack of care in MissRepresentation really frustrates me, as it is a large scale production, that markets the film for teachers to use in the classroom as a lesson plan.

I found it interesting as well that not many of the articles that I found discussing the documentary brought up this point (Which also had me thinking that maybe I had missed something and was just going crazy by this point).

Until I finally did find one.

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Screenshot from MissRepresentation

Back in 2014,  an article by Benjamin Radford (Writer, and skeptic whose topics span from paranormal investigations to media literacy), was posted discussing this very topic, where he even stated that the website for Missrepresentation used to include a page that laid out the sources for these statistics, but it was later removed. He speculates in his article that this could possibly be due to the fact that there have been statistics stated in MissRepresentation that are actually false. Radford points out that the statistic, “65% of American women and girls have an eating disorder” is false, stating that the percentage is closer to 1%-3% (It jumped out to him at the time because he has spent a number of years researching eating disorders). As there wasn’t a source provided for this statistic in his article, I decided to do a quick google search, and according to the website ANRED (Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders), about 1% of women suffer from anorexia and about 4% of college aged women suffer from bulimia (with 50% of those who suffered from anorexia eventually developing bulimia or bulimic patterns). Further down the page, ANRED does say that it is difficult to determine the exact number of people who suffer from this disorder, because those who have it are going to be secretive and deny having it, but states that The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders estimates around eight million people in the United States suffer from some form of an eating disorder (or about 3% of the population).

In other words, nowhere close to 65%.

Note: It’s important to remember that obviously statistics used in a documentary from 2011, one used in an article in 2014, and now the piece I’m writing may vary as there is a time difference… but for there to be such a huge decrease from 65% of women suffering with eating disorders in 2011 to just there being about 1%-3% in 2014, and 1%-4% in 2019 seems highly questionable. It’s also never specified if this statistic is supposed to be worldwide, or focuses solely on the United States.

Now, you might be wondering why I care so much about this documentary, even though it’s about eight years old and there are plenty of other resources for information about this topic. What makes it an even bigger issue is that there are important figures as well as researchers and professors from universities in this documentary, so you would assume that they are credible sources on the topic. The information they provide themselves can be credible, but this information would be overshadowed by incorrect statistics inserted throughout MissRepresentation. The main issue here isn’t the topic itself, more so that MissRepresentation is just one example of a much larger problem when it comes to spreading information in this day and age.

From what I’ve noticed in my own experience, many articles and videos try proving points with little to no evidence. Or in this case, they provide evidence, but not the source of this evidence. Knowing the source of statistics is important because of the potential bias that can lay there, whether it’s from whoever is conducting the study, or even biases within the parameters of the study itself (sample size, background of those participating in the study, etc.).

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It’s easy to spread misinformation now, and when it gets spread around enough, it seems as though it is true, even if there are legitimate criticisms proving otherwise. It’s also gotten to a point where people may not believe factual evidence, not because it isn’t true, but because it’s not what they perceive to be true. Personally, I can easily get caught up in the emotion (and yes bias) of a documentary, which is why after I watch something such as MissRepresentation, I research dissenting opinions. That way if there are issues such as the lack of citing statistics, I keep that in mind during my research, and keep an open mind to other sides of the topic.

Now I know this is a lot to get out of a documentary that I watched on Netflix; after all, I have a tendency to overthink things. However, with how easy it is to spread incorrect information, I believe media literacy is an important issue to address. Especially, since it can be detrimental to a thorough discussion of important topics in the long run. Try to maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when performing any research, since not everything you see on the internet is true.

I know this is a lot different than what I’ve previously written about [besides my last post: Blog#4: Let’s Talk about Alabama ;)], but as it’s been on my mind lately, I’ve been wanting to talk about it more, and get other opinions on the topic. So, feel free to comment below and tell me (respectfully, of course) if you agree or disagree, as it’s an important conversation to have!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a lovely rest of your week! I will see you this Friday with my book review!

 

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

 

PS: I recommend checking out ANRED, for more in depth discussion and statistics around understanding eating disorders. Also check out The National Eating Disorders Association at https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ for more information.

 

Sources:

Radford, B. (2014, September 17). ‘Miss Representation’ and The Importance of Good Statistics. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/miss_representation_and_the_importance_of_good_statistics/

Eating Disorders Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.anred.com/stats.html

Blog#4: Let’s Talk about Alabama

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Image from: https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/miss_representation_and_the_importance_of_good_statistics/

This week, I was looking for something to watch on Netflix (like you do) and I came across the documentary MissRepresentation. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a documentary from 2011 that discusses the portrayal of women in media and society affects women’s influence and power in areas such as politics (There are some questions I have about the sources of the statistics in the documentary, but it definitely was an interesting watch).  After watching MissRepresentation, I wanted to consume more feminist type content, so I read Moxie  by Jennifer Mathieu (Book Review coming soon).

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Image From: Amazon

Vivian Carter, who is tired of her school valuing the football team over other students, tired of sexist dress codes, starts a movement called Moxie to fight against these issues. Moxie discusses a lot of feminist issues (as well as racial issues within the feminist movement; more on that when I write my review),  which after this week with the abortion laws passing in Alabama, is more relevant than ever.

I’m going to start off by saying I don’t believe the government should be legislating what a women does with her body. It’s one thing if they’re working on making procedures safer for the women receiving abortions, but another thing to tell a women that they cannot have an abortion based on the beliefs of a certain group (especially as the states passing these laws aren’t even making exceptions for rape victims or incest). Also, if we had better sex education in schools concerning the importance of safe sex (and abstinence is of course always a choice, but it’s not the only choice), there could be more of an impact on decreasing the amount of abortions in the country, if that is the main concern. However, it gets to a certain point where the debate on abortion seems to be less about being “pro-life” and more about controlling what a woman can do with her body.

In short terms, if you don’t want an abortion or believe that they are wrong, don’t get one.

Now that you know where I stand, let’s return to the main topic of this piece.

This May, both Georgia and Alabama passed laws concerning restrictions on abortions. Earlier this month, Georgia passed the “heart beat” bill, meaning that once a fetus has a heartbeat, it is illegal to perform an abortion, unless the mother’s life is at risk. In Georgia, if an abortion is performed, the person who performs the abortion can face up to 10 years in prison. One of the main problems that is being brought up with the heart beat bill, is the fact that a fetal heart beat can be felt as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, which at this point, a lot of mother’s don’t realize that they are even pregnant yet.  Alabama’s new law is even more strict, in that abortions are banned in all instances, except for in the case of the pregnancy being a danger to the mother or the fetus.

Before I go any further with this, I want to note that the government of Alabama realizes that this legislation is currently unenforceable under our current laws.

However, Alabama is also straight forward about what they want to accomplish with this bill. According to state representative Terri Collins (R) (one of the sponsors of the legislation),

“This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.” (Cillizza).

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Image From: USA Today

Alabama and Georgia aren’t the only two states passing more restricting legislation on abortion. In this year alone, at least three other states besides Georgia (Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi) have passed fetal heartbeat bills, while Utah and Arkansas have passed bills restricting abortions to the middle of the second trimester, or around eighteen weeks. In most areas, abortions aren’t performed after twenty four weeks in pregnancy, or the end of the second trimester (unless it is a danger to the mother or fetus).

With the current U.S. Supreme Court having five conservative judges and only four liberal judges, anti-abortion activists are more persistent in overturning Roe v. Wade.  As Alabama Governor wrote in her statement concerning the new abortion law,

“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable,” Ivey wrote. “As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.” (Kelly).

So the question is, now what do we do?

One of the most beneficial things you can do is to educate yourself on abortion, and learn why the other side believes what they do. It’s easier to debate and have discourse on a topic when you know what your opponents arguing points are, and know how to counter against them. It’s also important to remember that although there are a lot of men who are passing these laws, there are just as many women doing the same. This is easy to forget about it with some of the current discourse happening; I know on Twitter, I’ve seen many posts with the pictures of all the white men who are supporting this bill. And, it’s true that that is a sad reality, but it’s even sadder when you remember the the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, and one of the sponsors of the bill is Terri Collins (also a woman, in case you weren’t aware). Essentially, men aren’t the only ones supporting this bill, and that needs to be kept in mind when you are doing your research.

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Image From: Getty Images 2019 via The Cut

The second thing is to keep the conversation going, and let your voice be heard. Talk about it on social media, write letters or emails or make calls to your government representatives. If there are marches or protests, don’t hesitate about participating in them if that’s what you want to do.

Finally, if you’re in the financial state to do so, you can donate to organizations who fighting against it, keep up to date about any sort of events they hold, and support them any way that you can. For more information on organizations that you can support, and what else you can do, visit: https://www.thecut.com/2019/05/how-to-help-alabama-6-week-abortion-ban-georgia.html

That’s all I have for this week everybody. Thank you for reading, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Erin

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

 

Sources and articles for further research:

Cillizza, C. (2019, May 15). What the Alabama abortion law really aims to do. Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/politics/alabama-abortion-law-roe-v-wade/index.html

Kelly, C. (2019, May 15). Alabama governor signs nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion bill into law. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/politics/alabama-governor-signs-bill/index.html

North, A., & Kim, C. (2019, May 09). The “heartbeat” bills that could ban almost all abortions, explained. Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/4/19/18412384/georgia-abortion-heartbeat-bill-ohio-2019-iowa

Parenthood, P. (2018, April 26). How far along can you be to get an abortion? Retrieved May 17, 2019, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/how-far-along-can-you-be-to-get-an-abortion

Where abortion restriction stands: The states that have passed laws. (2019, May 16). Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.axios.com/abortion-restriction-states-passed-laws-8326c9aa-6631-4bd1-b02b-c6ba6cd0a335.html

Wright, J. (2019, May 15). Women Who Miscarry Could Be Criminally Investigated Under Georgia’s New Abortion Law. Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a27454956/what-does-georgias-abortion-law-mean-women-who-miscarry/

 

 

Book Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*

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Synopsis:

Marin is a college freshman who, after dealing with a summer full of trauma,  leaves her old life in San Francisco behind when she moves to New York for school, cutting off contact with anyone from her life back then. Now her best friend, Mabel, is coming to visit her, after months of silence. With this visit, Marin has to tell Mabel the truth about what happened last summer, and finally face the past that she’s been running away from all this time.

Plot:

Since the story is heavily character driven, I don’t have as much to say about the plot. We Are Okay is told through two different points in time: one being Marin’s flashbacks to the summer before she left for college and the other being the present day during Mabel’s three day visit. I think the flashbacks in the novel are done well, and they help drive the story forward, as it makes sense for Marin have these memories resurface as she prepares to tell Mabel about why she stopped contacting her after Mabel left for college.

Characters:

In my opinion, Marin is a character that is very well fleshed out, and we see both the good and bad in her. She genuinely seems to care about learning to overcome her past, and this need to do so becomes stronger as the story progresses. This is why Marin’s grandpa is such an interesting character. During the first half of the story, we get to see Marin’s grandpa through her “rose-tinted glasses”, as you would say. This realization of her grandpa’s flaws, and essentially not being who she thought he was, is the turning point for Marin during the flashbacks of the past summer. In the present day, she must now come to terms with this fact, and this process becomes a major part of Marin’s character development.

One character I wish we could have seen more of was Claudia, who is the owner of a pottery shop in town, where Marin applies to work. Marin had shopped there before, and compelled by the pottery work, decided to take Mabel there during her visit. At that time, Marin knows that she needs to get a job to help with school, so she asks Claudia about working there. This could have been an interesting story line to see develop, as Marin and Claudia get to know each other. During the second visit to the shop, Marin specifically notices the pain in Claudia’s eyes, and they both talk about being from .

Writing Style:

I want to start this off by saying that I love Nina LaCour’s writing style, because she has a way of making you feel as if you were learning profound life lesson’s along with Marin, without it coming across as cheesy or boring you. I always loved reading YA type stories, but there are times when reading them when the writing can come off as cliche, especially when it comes down to the protagonist learning important lessons.

Her writing style also kept the story flowing at a good pace, and I never experienced any moments that were jarring enough to take me out of the story.

 

Overall Thoughts:

Even though I think that the book ended at the right moment in the story, I almost wish there was a second book. It would be interesting to have a second book that takes place maybe during spring break of Marin’s freshman year, and have her maybe go back home to stay with Mabel’s family. Then, she could go to her grandpa’s friend’s house and go through the belongings that were left behind, leading to her learning more about her family. I would also want to see the development of Claudia and Marin’s relationship as they work together during Marin’s spring semester. Then we can learn more about Claudia and her backstory, as well as see how this relationship affects Marin’s processing of what happened with her grandpa.

Overall, I give We Are Okay  5/5 stars.

 

Erin 🙂

 

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord