Dear Justin Bieber…Canada Called. You Can Go Home Now.

Pop culture, for the most part, is really not my thing.  I am a 43 year old mother of a 4 year old son and no teenage daughters, which is why I can proudly say I know nearly NOTHING about Justin Bieber.  I don’t know any of his songs, and I wouldn’t recognize his voice from the sea of other disposable pop songs.  According to recent news stories, he seems to be just another spoiled kid with WAY too much money, privilege and popularity, and he’s using his wealth and fame to be a horrible role model for his fans. Until recently, he was a blip on my personal radar, just another over-groomed pretty boy I would occasionally see on the poster rack at Wal-Mart, or hear about on a commercial break on TV in relation to the Teen Choice Awards, or something of that nature.  When it comes to teen pop celebrities, I could care less than less.

But this week, I have to admit I have gotten somewhat riled up over Justin Bieber.  Several friends of mine posted a news story on Facebook within the past few days, relating to Bieber’s arrest for drag-racing in a Lamborghini in Miami Beach, intoxicated, at 4:00 in the morning.  He mouthed off to the police officer, who noted that he was obviously under the influence (did I mention that he is 19 years old?), and was subsequently arrested.  The photo associated with the article?  His mugshot…he’s smiling.  I don’t know about you, but if I was in that much trouble at 19 years old, I would have been wetting my pants and sobbing as they took my picture, praying that my parents would NEVER find out.

That’s me…but I’m not Justin Bieber.  I read in a follow-up article in our local paper (yes, it made our small-town newspaper) that his bond was posted at $2500.  The person paying that bond is only responsible for 10% of the amount, which means that for $250, he was back out on the street after driving 55-60 mph in a 30 mile zone, driving drunk underage, and committing criminal recklessness and disorderly conduct.  Somehow I suspect if I had done those things, I would NOT be out on the street for $250.  And to open up another can of worms, what if the offender had been an unknown (read: “non-famous”) 19 year old Hispanic or African-American youth? Would they have been free to happily return home for $250 after such a crime spree?

I found it especially noteworthy that he was smiling in his mugshot…I thought that was peculiar at first, but then after a few days I noticed how many people were talking about the incident on social media, and it occurred to me how much free publicity this kid had scored for his antics.

There was another news story that I heard on the radio recently about Justin Bieber visiting the Great Wall of China.  Apparently Bieber was on a press tour, and when they got to the Great Wall, the poor, exhausted, yet seemingly healthy and fit teenager didn’t have the energy to climb all those steps, so he sat in a chair and had his bodyguards carry him up the steps.

Celebrity overexposure is a big problem in our society, and I don’t see it curbing anytime soon.  Americans are insatiable for star gossip, and we can’t get enough, so why should anyone take away our candy?  After all, it’s much easier to digest than REAL news, because at the end of the day, E-news doesn’t really affect us, and it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of world events.  This misdirected attention means that we often miss genuinely significant world events…for example, during the massive civil uprising in Egypt in June 2013, American “news networks” had us all glued to the George Zimmerman trial.  I would wager that most Americans were completely unaware that the events in Egypt even happened, but I bet we all know the verdict of the trial.  Admittedly, there was a lot at stake in terms of racial profiling associated with the trial, but did we have to have FULL coverage of the trial, to the exclusion of all else?

Even if you do your best to ignore it, you can’t always avoid hearing about what flies around in so-called “entertainment news”. You see stories posted on Facebook, on the headlines on magazine covers in the check-out lines, or you hear stories on the radio when in a store. It’s easy to shake our heads and mentally chastise these so-called pop-culture idols (and I confess I am doing just that over Justin Bieber’s ill-conceived antics), but we also have to keep some perspective.

I may be old-fashioned, but I feel that with fame comes a certain amount of responsibility.  I do think that there decent people in the celebrity realm who are crucified for relatively minor indiscretions…things that perhaps even we ourselves have done, but as non-celebrities, we’re allowed to make mistakes, especially if we don’t get busted.  We as a society tend to want our celebrities as flawless in their personal lives as they appear to be on the outside, and when they mess up, we publicly flog them for it.  My husband recently said it well…we want our celebrities up on pedestals so we can knock them off.

But there is a big difference between an indiscretion in an otherwise un-newsworthy life, and living your life as if your fame and wealth makes you untouchable.  And it seems that there has been a rash of young celebrities in the past 15 years that have made a lifestyle of going down the proverbial rabbit hole of crime, drugs, infidelity, etc…we’ve had endless stories about Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, McCauley Culkin, and a host of “reality TV stars”.  And even though I rather pride myself on not knowing which Kardashian is which, or why Snookie, Jon & Kate, or any so-called “Real Housewives” have any business being famous at all, I do appreciate knowing who some of these people are in popular culture because I am a parent, and my child is going to be exposed to them, whether I like it or not.  And I don’t want to be one of those parents who is completely out of the loop.

So many young celebrities who are idolized by kids/teens choose to live self-indulgent, reckless and flamboyant lives with no regard for their young, impressionable fans. They seem to forget that in the age of social media, every time they burp it ends up on Twitter.  And if I were the parent of a young daughter who idolized one of these bulletproof teen stars, I’d have my work cut out for me in terms of explaining how they should only be an example of how NOT to act.  I’m not a prude…I have done things in my life that I will NEVER tell my parents about, and I feel fairly certain that I haven’t made my last mistake in life.  But I do feel that when an entertainer markets themselves to young fans, with their fame should come a sense of responsibility to be a good role model. And if they can’t manage that, they should have a parent or a manager guiding them.  And if they don’t have THAT, maybe we shouldn’t keep making them richer and more famous.

So Mr. Bieber, you may fancy yourself as this generation’s James Dean, but it’s time to get over yourself.  Sure, you’re allowed to make mistakes like any teenage kid, but if you keep making a complete arse of yourself, I truly hope that the authorities get sick of arresting you and ship your sorry butt back to Canada.


Is It Spring Yet?

Winter is NOT my thing.  I can’t stand being cold, I don’t like when it gets dark at 5:30 in the evening, or the dreary grey/brown that cloaks the woods behind my house, and I hate coats and gloves.  I get restless and snippy from cabin fever, and all I can think about is summer.  I get this disdain for winter from my mother…she dislikes the cold as much as I do.  We both thrive in the heat, and shiver below 70 degrees.  In our perfect world, the yard would be filled with palm and citrus trees, and our houses wouldn’t need furnaces.  “Sweater weather” would be when the temperature dares to drop to 60 degrees.

But hey, I live in Indiana, and anyone who lives in the northern half of the US must deal with the cold reality of winter.  I was born and raised here, so this is nothing new…every November I brace myself to the fact that I’m going to be cold for the next 5-6 months.  And I suffer through it, looking forward to that first little peek of green that blesses my yard in early April.  My problem is that I want to start looking for that peek of green in early January, as soon as the Christmas tree comes down.  And friends, that makes for a LONG winter.

My solution in the past has been to drown my sorrows in a sea of amaretto-laced hot chocolate, stay in my pajamas, and look at loads of pictures from my trips to the beaches of Florida and Mexico.  This year has been harder, though, and it’s BECAUSE of the beach.  My husband and I celebrated our anniversary on December 6th by taking a much-needed vacation to south Florida, our first vacation since our son was born.  We had just moved to a new town a few months before our wedding, so we never took a honeymoon…we just didn’t feel like we could get away.  Then our son was born, I became a stay-home mother, and then we REALLY couldn’t get away. But this year, we did…and it was glorious.  A whole week of sun, sand, surf, and summer clothes in December…heavenly!

Then we came home, leaving 84 degree days and warm, breezy nights in Florida for a bitter cold snap in Indiana.  When we left West Palm Beach that sad morning, it was 79 degrees at 8 am…when we landed in Indianapolis a few hours later, we were greeted with a 17 degree snowy afternoon with wind chills in the single digits.  Not good for someone who claims to have salt water in her veins, and visions of palm trees dancing in her head…the first bitter blast of cold was quite a shock after a week in the tropics.  It wasn’t particularly cold when we left Indiana, but when we came back…yikes!  And so far, this winter’s been pretty unfriendly.

So I’m faced with a choice…I can sulk away the winter (tempting, but not much fun), or I can start looking forward to spring in a proactive way.  I love to garden…my mother has two green thumbs and 8 green fingers, and can grow anything.  She’s a fearless gardener, unafraid to prune, snip or relocate her green babies as she sees fit, and it nearly always works out.  So I grew up watching her beautiful garden flourish and thrive every summer, and even now, she is 79 years old and still grows the prettiest flowers in her neighborhood.  I have very fond memories of helping her do little daily gardening tasks.  She is my inspiration – I’ve learned so much from her over the years, and our shared passion for summertime and gardening has given us a deeper bond.

I love my flowers, yet my love of gardening has grown new tendrils over the past few years…organic vegetable gardening.  My husband and I are members of a local community garden, and the mission statement of the garden is to grow produce without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.  Since joining the group two years ago, I have learned so much about the detrimental effects of chemicals and GMO crops on the environment and the human body, and have gotten very serious about growing and preserving natural foods.  In addition, I have a beautiful opportunity to instill this knowledge and love of growing our own food as naturally as possible into my young son.  I am painfully aware that many children think all food comes from a grocery store.  Many elementary school-age children can’t even tell you that french fries come from potatoes (unless, of course, you’re talking about the ones from McDonald’s…still not sure what THOSE are made of…).

So this winter, I am dealing with the cold, grey days in a different way.  I’m thinking of it as “summer prep time”.  I’m going on line and ordering heirloom, non-GMO, and organic seed catalogs (my favorite thus far is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,, and hunkering down with them as I plan a layout for this year’s garden.  I’ll draw out my garden plot and plan my planting dates, and if I order my seeds by the end of January, I’ll have them in time to plant them in my little peat pots by early March, and put them in my portable greenhouse in a south-facing window.  Then I can spend the last 6 weeks of cold weather nurturing the little green sproutlets into healthy plants.  By May 1st, I’ll be planting them in my garden plot.

Someone once told me a joke when I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work:  “How do you eat and elephant?  One bite at a time.”  A silly joke, but applicable to nearly any overwhelmingly large or lengthy task…say, like, getting through an Indiana winter when you’re a summer person.  Break it down into little, manageable tasks or time blocks, and just get to the next one.  So I’m going to try that with this winter…plant the seeds, water them, water them again, and watch them grow.  And when that’s done, I can stop asking…”Is it spring yet???”