Category Archives: mid-life

How to be 50: How to Know What’s Cool

By Charlotte Latvala

One of the most disconcerting things about turning 50 is that inevitable moment when you realize – perhaps in the midst of your Yoko Ono impersonation at a party – that you have completely lost your ability to judge whether something is amazingly hip or not.

After all, many once-cool things have plummeted from grace. Aluminum siding. Margarine. Bill Cosby.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If it was un-cool when you were growing up, it’s probably super cool now. Such as….

  • Broadway. Then, it was something corny and old-fashioned your parents forced you to go see. Now, Hamilton.

Cats are always cool. 

  • Filming your cat doing weird stuff. If you followed your cat around with your 8 mm as a teenager, you were quite the dork. Now? Still a dork, but possibly one with 20,000 followers.
wall of sound

Vinyl is a work of art. 

  • Vinyl. So passe, once CDs came out. Now? Vinyl is the gold standard of vintage cool. (You’re kicking yourself for getting rid of those three Boston LPs back in 1998, aren’t you?)

Whereas cassettes are just confusing. 

  • Cassettes. Which are apparently the new vinyl. Eight-tracks and picture discs will follow accordingly.
  • Arena rock. Who knew that Journey would have such a long shelf life? We’d love to stop believing, if only we had the choice.

A hippy’s preferred mode of transport on his way home to his tiny house.

  • Hippy life. In the eighties, what could be less cool than an old hippy, clinging to her memories of Woodstock and bralessness? Now, hippies are back. They are “crunchy.” But still hippies.
  • Tiny houses. In our day, bigger was automatically better; the bigger the square footage, the better. Now, dollhouses are chic.

They almost predate electricity. 

  • Crockpots. Filled with disgusting sloppy Joes in the 1970s, they have now been rebooted as “slow cookers” and touted as a way to cook healthy homemade meals without actually doing any cooking.

This is a modern man. 

  • Beards. No normal person in our day wanted to look like a lumberjack or the cough drop guys. Now the Grizzly Adams meets Kris Kringle look simply will not go away.
  • Thrift stores. Who used “thrift” as a verb way back when? Hippies, that’s who. Case closed.





Filed under hipsters, humor, life advice, mid-life, Uncategorized

How to be 50: How to Send Your Kid to College



Your destination. Eventually.

As August drags on and college gets closer, remember that this is a transition for the whole family. But mostly, it’s a transition for you, and four years of Party Central for him. Here are some fresh new ways to tackle this age-old rite of passage.

  • Waste your money on a few last-minute motivational plaques that he will never look at.
keep calm

Vandals will soon replace the second verb anyway. 

  • Refer to move-in day as “Doomsday.” Include it on your calendar, preferably written in tear-stained black letters.
  • For extra drama, take up a few old-fashioned mourning rituals before your child leaves. Send all your friends black-edged photos of your kid. Wear a black armband. Better yet, put on sackcloth and ashes and stand in the town square rending them.
victorian mourning

Yep, that’s you. 

  • Film yourself blubbering incoherently and post on any social media that your child has a chance of seeing.
  • Use this time to reflect on what’s really important, i.e. knowing that the privilege of plastering your kid’s college decal on your car will cost you more than all the cars you’ve ever owned put together.
kent mom

That’s one expensive decal. 

  • Sneak a favorite sibling into your kid’s luggage as a quick pick-me-up when homesickness strikes.

Just like home. 

  • In the car, ask tearfully if he wants to play the license plate game, “one last time.”
  • On campus, be sympathetic to other parents going through a tough time. A good ice-breaker: “Isn’t it terrific that the college doesn’t hold felony convictions against freshmen?”
  • Adopt a spirit of friendly competition. Challenge the parents of your kid’s roommate to a series of zany activities, including competitive bed-making, clothes hanger bingo, and who can say, “Wow, this dorm is way cooler than anything we had,” more convincingly.

Ready, set, hang! 

  • When you hug your child goodbye, whisper “You’re dead to me” in his ear.
  • The second you get home, post 10,000 baby pictures on social media. It will be like he never left.

Because this is how you still see your college kid. 


Filed under college, mid-life, parenting, parents, Uncategorized

How to be 50: How to Survive Summer



Sun-In, and sunlight, and you’ll be blonder to-ni-ight. (Because in the right light, blonde and grey are indistinguishable.) 


At 50, you know that summer’s not the non-stop party you were told it was by Seventeen Magazine and Sun-In commercials. We fifty-somethings tend to get cranky when confronted with bugs, humidity, and carefree beach music from days gone by. (Can we please stop pretending there is any reason to ever hear John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John croon “Summer Nights” again?)

To get through this often onerous season:

  • Avoid unnecessary social events. And when your kid asks you why you didn’t come to his high school graduation, pretend you can’t understand the question.
grad robe

Come on, it’s hard to remember every special occasion in the summer. 

  • Develop a chlorine allergy. Pools are for small children and teenagers. If you’re ever overcome with the desire to leap headfirst into cold liquid, I suggest a gin and tonic on the rocks.
moscow mules

Or this, whatever it is. 

  • Take afternoon naps, Gone with the Wind style. Flounce and pout first to make the experience more authentic.
  • Take refuge in the library. Libraries are full of books, to be sure – but they also smell really good. Especially in the summer, with the air conditioning cranked and the water fountain set on mega-cold.
  • Cherish the good things. Like air conditioning. And soft-serve ice cream. And co-workers on vacation for extended periods of time.

Remember, things could be worse this summer. You could be the guy in the fez costume. 

  • Stop shaving. NO ONE WILL NOTICE. Just like in winter. You’re 50, for crying out loud. No one’s examining your armpits.
  • Likewise, let your lawn grow wild. Tell any pesky neighbors or local officials that you are developing a “wildlife habitat,” and make a lot of vague statements about “the environment.”

You say weeds, I say protected species. 

  • When you run into the inevitable construction zones on your way to work, shout inspiring messages in Latin at the road crew.

Carpe this diem, baby. 

  • Mark off the days of July and August in scratch marks, classic prison style, on your kitchen wall.
  • Do your best to get the chorus of “Summer Nights” out of your head, where it has been implanted for the two minutes it took to read this.

    Sorry, readers.




Filed under humor, mid-life, summer, Uncategorized, vacation

How to be 50: How to Make Flying Fun

By Charlotte Latvala


As we approach 50, the thought of standing in line for three hours at airport security seems less and less appealing.

At our age, we just don’t have that kind of time to waste.

And yet, life often calls upon us to get on an airplane. Of course, everyone hates it. But you hate it more if you have memories of flying in the 1980s, when airline security consisted of a friendly nod, and you were presented with a hot meal and a pillow no matter how short the flight was.

Here’s how to make the waiting and the actual travel more bearable in middle age.

  • Be that zany adult with Pokemon or Disney stickers all over your luggage.

You’re never too old for Pikachu, are you? Well, yes, but don’t let that stop you.

  • Bring a cozy piece of home with you. An empty bottle of gin and a bathrobe slung over your arm makes an interesting conversation starter.
  • Adopt a new persona, complete with a jaunty hat and an accent you haven’t completely mastered.
croc dundee

G’day, Mate!

  • Announce that you are writing a novel, and anyone who gives you $10 “gets to be in it.”
  • Sing chestnuts from the turn of the century. Nothing breaks the tension with strangers like a rousing chorus of “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal.”
erie canal

Everybody now!

  • Involve small children in an energetic game of “Duck, Duck, TSA Agent.”
  • Carry a cane. Wave it erratically while wheezing and telling kids to get off your lawn.
  • On takeoff, perform loud, Lamaze-style breathing. When the airplane has reached a certain altitude, shout, “Now everyone: Push! Push! Push!”
  • Mid-flight, stand up and start belting “Defying Gravity” on your way to the restroom.
defying gravity

Would you prefer “Let it Go?”

  • Exclaim loudly over the wonders in the air mall magazine. Point each one out to your seatmate and ask “Can you even believe this exists?”
  • Make an origami animal out of your airline sickness bag.

He who knows origami never lacks for friends.

  • Matter-of-factly ask the flight attendant if she knows how long lice can live on a headrest, and then say, “Well, you may want to disinfect this one before the next flight.”
  • Ask for an exotic cocktail, and then act offended when the employees can’t deliver. Threaten to report them in a Yelp review.
moscow mules

You’re so much cooler than your fellow travelers.

  • When you exit the airplane, say, “Well, that was nothing like ‘Lost.’ Next time, I’m driving.”

lost plane



Filed under flying, humor, mid-life

How to be 50: How to Get out of Stuff You Don’t Want to Do

By Charlotte Latvala

One of the wonderful things about turning 50 is that you no longer feel obligated to participate in unpleasant social functions.

But simply shouting “Hell, no!” won’t win you any friends when someone asks you to chaperone a high school event or coordinate the neighborhood garage sale. So the next time some busy-body suggests you lend a hand, pitch in, or do your share, just… Continue reading


Filed under humor, mid-life, middle-aged, self-help

How to be 50: 25 Things You Won’t Miss

By Charlotte Latvala

Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1981.

Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1981.

It’s tempting, now that you’re 50, to wax nostalgic about the good old days. After all, back in the 1980s your metabolism was 10 times faster, you could remember all the members of The Smiths (not just Morrissey and Johnny Marr), and you were blithely unaware of the hazards of genetically modified foods.

All that, and you could function amazingly well on four hours of sleep.

But was the past actually better? Well, do you really want to go back to the days when you had to carry your mobile phone in a sack as big as a diaper bag? What about schlepping a diaper bag, period? And how about these other not-so-good memories? Such as:

Continue reading


Filed under 1970s, 1980s, humor, lists, mid-life

How to be 50: How to Live Vicariously through Your Children

By Charlotte Latvala


If you have children, it is your God-given right – no, it is your duty – to live your life through them.

Otherwise, why do the little fiends exist?

Ok, we’re being facetious. They exist to fetch wine and hummus when you don’t feel like walking all the way to the kitchen. But by 50, you deserve more. Whether your children are 13 or 30, they should fulfill every desire, whim, and wistful longing you ever had.
To begin:

Continue reading


Filed under humor, kids, mid-life, parenting, self-help

How to be 50: How to Retire


By Charlotte Latvala

Retirement? What? you’re saying – I’m only 50, for crying out loud. And although you’ve heard those urban myths about people retiring at 50, you’ve never met anyone who actually has.

Still, the Big R is kinda, sorta looming. Mathematically, you’re closer to retirement than, say, having your first legal drink.

And because you’re the sort of 50-year-old who’s reading How to be 50 instead of Forbes, you probably need some friendly advice about facing this major milestone.

First and foremost: You can’t just stop working.

You need money. You need a plan. You need a dream.

But mostly, you need money.

How to be 50 can’t simply write you a check. But, as usual, we do offer some handy shortcuts: Continue reading


Filed under humor, lists, mid-life, retirement, self-help

How to be 50: How to Relate to the Kids

By Charlotte Latvala

Featured image

No doubt you come in contact with kids (i.e. “anyone younger than me”) every day.

Who are they? Co-workers, Starbucks baristas, the smartly-dressed youngster who’s appraising your house for a re-fi. Suddenly, the world is filled with baby adults who look like they wandered off a Disney Channel sitcom.   

How do you converse with them, these pink-haired entry-level youngsters? Here are your options: Continue reading


Filed under hipsters, humor, mid-life, middle-aged, self-help

How to be 50: How to Survive Menopause

By Charlotte Latvala

Featured image

Menopause. There it is, the elephant in the How to be 50 room, as well as the bane of half the Earth’s population.  


It’s important. And it isn’t.

We almost hesitate to bring it up, because “menopausal woman” is a walking stereotype – a complaining, face-fanning, moody mess – and we here at How to be 50 believe that we are more than mere prisoners to our hormones. (Plus, talking about menopause is the least interesting thing in the world, barring presidential debates.) To make the dialogue more lively, why not… Continue reading


Filed under humor, mid-life, middle-aged, women, women's issues