Bravo TV, Psychology, Reality TV, RHOC

#RHOC: How would YOUR Husband Fare on a Show Like This One?

As a lawyer and party planner, new “Housewife” Emily Simpson thought her unique dual careers would provide ample fodder for reality TV…Along with the fact that her sister surrogated her kids following her own fertility struggles. There was also the interesting family she had married into of Persian Mormons.

But what Emily did not expect was for her husband Shane to be attacked so viciously by show fans on social media.

That’s the risk you take when embarking on a project like RHOC: One should expect anything, everything…everyone to be brutally dissected in the public arena. In general today, even people who aren’t famous can be torn apart for writing something divisive, or uttering a phrase without significant forethought. Of course, this only intensifies for individuals starring on reality television shows.

I hate to highlight certain gender stereotypes, but unfortunately some do exist. There are men out there who act as if they’re allergic to arguments women have. I’m married to a man who will take a pass when it comes to my recaps of PTA drama (and yes, there are some men on the PTA…lest you think I’m singling women out too severely) or the cliquish chaos that transpires between parents on the playground. I frequently want to share the deets of a hard day with interpersonal dynamics gone awry…and he’ll suggest I complain about it to my (other) BFF. I hate that and I’ll tell him so in no uncertain terms. I’m not always successful in this regard. It’s as if these accounts are too migraine-inducing for him to endure.

“Ugh can we not talk about those Housewives?!” he’ll ask as I start to divulge a fascinating development regarding Bethenny Frankel. At least he’s consistent: “Ugh, can we NOT talk about reality stars?!” he exclaims, when I bring up anything related to Donald J. Trump.

Emily Simpson’s husband Shane seems to be afflicted with that same malady. Knowing my own husband, and how he would NEVER sign release forms for a reality show, it boggles my mind that Shane somehow agreed to take part in this season of Real Housewives of Orange County.

When Emily hosted a poker party in their home, Shane told her friend Gina Kirschenheiter (the other RHOC newbie) at the end of the night, that she was incredibly loud and needed to leave.

This made no sense to viewers since the party was obviously planned beforehand and slated to be filmed. My guess is that Shane never thoroughly thought things through. Had he done so, he would have either sent the children to sleep elsewhere, where they’d be undisturbed by raucous partiers, or requested that Emily find a special venue for the poker event.

So now, of course, Shane, who is diminutive in stature, is being lambasted publicly as the “little dictator” married to Emily Simpson. Some have questioned whether or not he’s “controlling”. This past episode, we saw him sparring somewhat with Kelly Dodd at Tamra Judge’s party. This was after Kelly confronted Vicki Gunvalson’s boyfriend Steve Lodge (while he was busy chatting with Shane) about statements Steve made to Page Six.

Shane has made it known that he has very little tolerance for “loud women” and drama…..I have to admit to being utterly baffled by this on-camera revelation. Had he never watched the show he’s now on?!

I can tell you that my own husband has walked in on scenes featuring Vicki Gunvalson (RHOC) and Ramona Singer (RHONY), and scurried out of our bedroom faster than a mouse chased by a broomstick. For him, the interactions are stressfully jarring. These are the aunts at bar mitzvahs cornering you about finding a spouse…when you’re only 13. This isn’t something he wants to watch in his leisure time.

It is convenient that we have more than one television in our home so he can find solace in some other program. It doesn’t matter that he has the entire series of MASH memorized and can quote each episode verbatim. If Klinger is on, he’s elated. It’s the same deal with Cheers and Seinfeld.

Try as I may, I’m unable to persuade him to join me for some Vanderpump Rules…or EVEN an episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen when one of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tending bar!

This will bug me at times, though I’ve come to know my mate: I wish we could jointly revel in the hilarity of those harried Housewives, the Ramona eyes, the drunken Dorinda slurs about Lu’s alcohol issues, Bethenny telling Carole to act her age and not her shoe size (or whatever the hell she said – I have PTSD from that), the infamous incident of a prosthetic leg thrown across a dinner table….

I wish that together we could analyze bizarre interactions between ladies whose problems pertain to the one percent. In my fantasies of such spousal interactions, we easily share the same anthropological viewpoints and are able to wax philosophical about Bravo shows….

As one does.

Alas, there are trade-offs in life and in marriages, and I should be thankful that he keeps things tidy (more so than I do), is an excellent cook and baker and most importantly, hands-on dad.

Although my husband isn’t Persian or Mormon, and he’s more likely to come up with an excuse for a trip to Costco rather than confronting my loudest girlfriend from Long Island, there’s no way he’d be able to film a scene that requires listening to recaps of frenzied fighting between filming friends and foes.

We see time and again with each of the Housewives franchises, that the husbands are obligated to listen and weigh in. To his credit, Joe Gorga of Real Housewives of New Jersey has mastered the art. He will, at the very least, act as if he’s listening and then offer some type of solution to his wife Melissa (she seldom takes his “advice”, but let’s grant Joe an “E” for effort). Jim Marchese of the same franchise overstepped his bounds in bellicose fashion and lasted a mere season.

I realize this is a highly unpopular opinion, but I have to give props to Shane Simpson for simply showing up…thus far. I know several husbands who would have found the largest plants or palm trees to hide behind at Tamra’s party before cameras surrounded them, catching instinctive eye-rolls and frantic – but flailing – signals for rescue.

#RHONY, Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY Psychology: Is the Bar Set Low for Your “Bethenny”? (Opinion)

Disclaimer: The following post may be deemed “psychobabble” as it reflects thoughts of a former psychology major, rather than psychologist or licensed mental health professional.

It is a residual learned helplessness from elementary school interactions with mean girls. When we come across someone brash, opinionated and intimidating, it’s somewhat instinctive how we set the bar lower, how we’ll lap up the love we do receive – between thorny barbs that prick us repetitively – like a little lost puppy dog.

As with an A-Plus student, someone like Bethenny Frankel has a podium to stand on so we are at a loss for words during debates. The little girls inside of us, upon recognizing approval from the harshest of critics, prize the praise of a “Bethenny” over the kind words of someone softer and more sensitive.

Because she is one who suffers fools lightly (so to speak), her moments of tenderness and vulnerability stand out more prominently than they would in an easygoing individual, and a fortress of respect surrounds her.

While I did not agree with certain actions of Carole Radziwill this season of Real Housewives of New York (RHONY), – her need to repeat atrocious things said to people behind their backs could perhaps be justified by the fact that cameras were capturing everything – I had compassion for her after witnessing her evisceration by cast mate and former buddy Bethenny Frankel.

No one on this show is without faults and the argument about “setting the bar lower” could be applied to other cast mates too. However, that would entail several other separate, lengthy articles. I’m going to stick to Bethenny in this particular one, while bearing in mind the argument about allowances made for Ramona Singer. We can save that Megillah (and ones devoted to Sonja, Luann, Dorinda…) for another time.

Think back to your days vying for the popular classmate’s attention and wishing you were in “the clique.” Remember laughing at the girl in the back brace who the cool kids were taunting? Would you put up with and participate in that sort of behavior now? I’m sure you are saying “no”, but if you think hard, you have probably made other mental adjustments for rude people.

You may know someone blunt who won’t back down and listen to you finish your points in a discussion – even when what they’re spewing is entirely wrong. It may be because they’re so often right and regarded as the “voice of reason” in other instances.

Despite some aggravation, you say to yourself, consciously or subconsciously, “She’s tough, but has chosen ME as her friend…ME!!!” So you listen and bite your tongue to keep from objecting.

This does reflect a collective self esteem and the desire we have to be appreciated by people we see as accomplished, authoritative and determined. As confident as one could argue that Manhattan socialite and bestselling author Carole Radziwill is, she is not above succumbing to another’s flattery and adoration of her.

Avid RHONY viewer and reality TV blogger Essence Capp observes: “When Carole met Bethenny at Luann’s during Season 7, she was almost ‘star struck.’ She really did seem in awe of her during the early period of their friendship.”

Bethenny called Carole the “cool girl” during that time and Carole (no doubt) loved it. I cannot blame her at all: I’ve been a a part of this type of dynamic in my own social life. Who doesn’t appreciate and value the praise of a highly discerning individual? Bethenny had already set herself apart as being that fussy, fault finding judge whose BS detector was extra fine-tuned.

My husband will say to me “Forget elementary school! That was 100 years ago!” However, it is the experience of playground and classroom interactions, including past swift assessments made by teachers and peers alike, that shaped who we are today. Whether we are willing to reflect and admit to it or not, the social and academic scrutiny in our formative years can affect us throughout young adulthood and beyond.

Knowing this allows us to ask ourselves “Why exactly do I need this person in my life? Why does their opinion of me matter so much?”

Unfortunately, as the Carole-Bethenny breakup attests, it can take a falling out for us to step back and decide what is worth fighting for…and what isn’t.

As I write this, Carole is still tweeting about the fights with her former friend. In doing so, she comes across to many as the Bitter Betty of the duo. Perhaps it’s because she feels that now that she won’t be returning to RHONY, she has nothing to lose and can totally go rogue.

It is best, when there’s no reality show in the picture, to be the better person. In the fashion of those beloved by Bravo who can look scornfully upon the Housewives and laugh at them, Carole could bow out gracefully and opt to “plead the fifth” instead.

Reality TV, RHOC

#RHOC OPINION: Emily Simpson & Gina Kirschenheiter Are Good Cast Additions

Like Kelly Dodd and Shannon Beador before them, Emily Simpson and Gina Kirschenheiter are facing some backlash as the new “Real Housewives” of Bravo TV’s Orange County franchise. Only one of the two is currently a “wife”, but that barely matters to a brand that has basically phased out the 4-letter word’s significance.

Impatient Real Housewives fans haven’t yet acclimated to the personalities of these two ladies who, I feel, are good additions to Real Housewives of Orange County. They don’t hesitate to get into the fray and last night’s episode was testament to that fact when Emily, as the caught-unawares newbie (who probably should’ve known better), found herself defending her husband Shane against Gina, the loud, unfiltered, Long Island-accented East Coast transplant.

Kirschenheiter possesses that same magical ability that catapulted Kelly Dodd from “Be Wary” to “Whoop It Up” on the Real Housewives Richter Scale. Brash, ballsy, having a tough exterior to mask sensitivities…The model of this particular make might just be Dodd 2.0.

Gina will inevitably clash catastrophically with someone in the episodes ahead (probably with Kelly Dodd herself) and compel us to tune in for the subsequent “redemption” season. I’m not in the hater camp at all: She is already serving us a heaping of drama as the inebriated cackler at Emily’s house party who was asked to leave by Shane, Emily’s husband.

Subsequently, Gina stirred things up as she relayed those events to her cast-mates, only to leave them wondering if Emily’s husband is controlling and in any way comparable to the creepy, exed out David Beador.

Emily Simpson, a lawyer and party planner (of all eclectic combinations) told she was blindsided by this spouse scrutiny she’s being subjected to. This is something Reality TV critics would have warned her about early on — had she only consulted us!

It will therefore be interesting to see how Emily navigates the intrusions of her cast mates during filming…and of RHOC fans now watching the events unfold.

We are still in the early episodes of Season 14 and Emily already confronted Shannon Beador about how erroneous any David likeness would be. She proved to have an ally in her corner when Tamra Judge scolded Shannon for picking at a “good marriage” as if it’s a bad scab, knowing from experience how hurtful it is to be on the receiving end of that type of social brutality.

At this point into the RHOC season last year, we were twiddling our thumbs waiting for Lydia and Peggy to mesh – in any meaningful way – with the other ladies. Now, in episode 7 of Season 14, which aired last night, we see a friendship has been solidified between Emily and Gina. The two seem to have formed a Big Brother-style alliance, #NewGirls, as they navigate the Housewives game with its mazes of moods and challenges of ever-changing temperaments.

No one could have predicted that the seemingly toxic, clashing duo of Shannon and Kelly would solidify a bond after discovering common ground. There have been numerous other instances of feuding Housewives who seem to hate one another becoming best friends, once they’re done trudging through the muck and mire….

And all of that annoying stuff Shane would change the channel on to avoid watching.

At this point last year, I was begging Peggy Sulahian’s publicist to clear up misconceptions making the rounds during an immensely aggravating silence. Lydia’s esoteric trippiness – which seemed like an LSD ride to Nowhere Land deserving of a full refund – no doubt led to an increase in Dramamine sales.

Although one woman didn’t want her marriage becoming a talking point and the other was ill-prepared for the demise of hers to be caught in the cameras’ cross hairs, Emily and Gina are giving us more to think about than whether ball can be played in the kitchen (although it’s safe to assume it would be outlawed in Shane’s home).

I’m interested to see the inevitable turmoil the OG gals will suffer at the hands of these polarizing newbies. I’ll tune in to find out what Emily sees in Shane and how she defends him against cast mates that are clearly “not his cup of tea.” I’m also wondering if he regrets signing those release forms.

The fact that I have questions shows I’m far ahead of where I was at this point last season. I see promise in these cast picks and I think Evolution Media has good insight and foresight. Only time will tell for certain, but there’s a reason this franchise is still around and still going strong after more than a decade.

(Photo Source:

Reality TV

#RealityTV: Remember, You’re Tweeting About A TV SHOW, Fans!

Robin Thicke is not the only one to identify where there are “blurred lines”…

When blind items hit the Internet, readers scramble to figure out all possible allusions. Paragraphs that are so murky can be hard to solve…unless a reader is entirely familiar with the situations – and in terms of what I frequently cover, the reality show. Lately, there have been a slew of blind items clearly pertaining to popular reality shows.

It is one thing to see oblique references on the Internet, but what about when targeted information about an individual is blasted out on social media platforms? In recent times, we’ve seen it is an effective strategy for shaming those who are in the wrong, and getting that “news” out to the masses. In this post Harvey Weinstein scandal world, the Internet has been an asset to enforcing the message that a certain type of conduct is intolerable. But what about when the Internet is used by the Harvey Weinsteins to smear victims?

Perpetrators of bad behavior are notorious for ensuring that they have a platform to spin stories negatively – in order to feed the press info that shifts focus away from their own atrocities.“The Internet is a void that everyone is screaming into,” my own father reasons, “Who in the world is listening?”

It’s clear he doesn’t believe that many people are really taking inane reports they read as truths. The problem is that people very easily believe what they read in a blog established to malign someone without merit.

We laugh at individuals who fall for National Enquirer headlines while on line at the grocery store, but we also easily witness how a false story takes off with alarming speed. And my father did not grow up with the Internet, nor does he rely on it for his work, unlike another man his age who sits in the oval office and has taken to Twitter in erratic fashion.

Covering reality television, I recently saw how viewers – more accurately, fans – escalate from discussing who their favorite characters are and trading barbs about what’s seen on TV…to hurling outlandish and abusive personalized attacks at one another.

“I said that I found Kenya Moore of Real Housewives of Atlanta to be frightening,” my friend David relates, “and suddenly I see tweets about me, including a poll, weighing in on how racist I am. I reiterate: The poll was about ME. Racist?! Because I happen to find a reality character frightening due to her intense behavior on a reality show?! How in the world did people make the stretch to ‘racist.’? I was trolled for months by these same multiple accounts. When I reported it to Twitter, an email came back saying that Twitter didn’t find the tweets abusive. I felt completely let down by the social media platform.”

A woman who chose to identify herself for this piece as “Carly” explained her similar vexations with Twitter: “I’m being taunted mercilessly by the same series of accounts because I dared to comment on a Real Housewives franchise. What ensued were below the belt tweets that included personal information about me. These sick individuals had apparently visited my other social media pages to check details. As a single mom with a very young child, I was terrified and immediately set all my accounts to ‘private’. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I contacted a lawyer and asked family members to stay at my house with my child and I for a few days. It’s insane that conversations via social media can lead to this much panic. I am still considering closing my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for good.”Family members have also advised me in the past to “get off social media” when I privately shared anecdotes of that nether world (I now mainly avoid doing so). I think that due to the type of work I’ve conducted over the years, predominantly in the area of marketing, I have to be on these platforms generally for outreach.

In a non-professional capacity, I love to promote the good work of my friends. Facebook and Twitter are ideal for sharing a podcast link or one to an article. It does frighten me to see how fans blur the lines between reality and reality TV on Twitter though. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life. It’s also quite the phenomenon that Real Housewives franchises specifically are the ones to garner this much negative attention and breed such a level of hostility between fans who simply want to opine on a silly TV show.

Why do you think the Real Housewives inspire such a reaction in the Twitterverse?

Would you steer clear of social media if you were personally attacked?

If not, what measures would you take to protect yourself?

I would love to hear from you readers and get your individual takes. For now, try to remember that television viewing is typically described as “leisure time.” It is an experience you are supposed to enjoy and do while you’re relaxing. Perhaps it is best to limit yourself to one screen and ensure that you screen out the rest!

Gender Stereotypes, Women in the workplace, Uncategorized

#Google: Is the “Images” Platform Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes In the Workplace?

A new study indicates that Google images may be reinforcing gender stereotypes in the work place.

As you can see in the above table, images for a certain profession often align with what people perceive to be prevalent jobs for a specific gender. If you were to, say, type the word “CEO” into Google Images, you would find only 11% of female CEOs represented in the results, as opposed to an actual 28% reported in the US Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.

The study goes on to show that if you type the word “journalist,” females are underrepresented by 28% in the search results. When it comes to “bus drivers,” our minds typically conjure up a male image and Google Images represents that in its platform results. Women are underrepresented by 29% in comparison to US Labor Force Statistics data.

AdView analyzed United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics data, along with the results of Google Image searches for a range of job roles.

Psychology dictates that we come to know and understand things based on what we are shown. It is perplexing to think that societal perceptions could be so influenced by a popular search engine – when we are not getting accurate representations from that popular search engine!

More astonishing is this fact: After the search giant’s most recent annual report was released, it was revealed that Google has had a mere 0.3% growth in the percentage of women employed since 2014.

The misrepresentation of genders within job roles on Google Images is particularly salient because between May 2017 and May 2018, Google held 87% of the search engine market share in the US.

The Most Underrepresented Roles for Females on Google images are:

Baker – females are underrepresented by 33% on Google Images

Bus Driver – females are underrepresented by 29% on Google Images

Journalist – females are underrepresented by 28% on Google Images

Hairdresser – females are underrepresented by 24% on Google Images

CEO – females are underrepresented by 17% on Google Images.


#NXIVM: Defending an Abusive Lover

Time and again, I’ve observed people who defend what seems indefensible about a significant other.

Blaming physical or verbal abuse on a boyfriend’s troubles is a popular one, or saying that a medicine caused a behavior so we should cut the person we’re blaming slack.

If you’ve watched any of the videos of Allison Mack talking with NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, you can see she was smitten. I don’t even mean this in a romantic or sexual way at all, but you observe how she is in love with the brilliance she feels that he exudes, entranced by his nonsensical babbling…peppered by somewhat fancy vernacular for good measure.

When speaking with Vanessa Grigoriadis for the New York Times Magazine piece that ran last week, Allison takes credit for the idea of branding the women. She even puts a positive spin on it, equating it to other sororities and female empowerment groups that get tattoos. But the idea of branding is way more painful and torturous than a tattoo. It conjures up an image of cattle. It’s been hard for many to believe that sweet, slight, blonde Allison Mack from Smallville was the one to devise the idea, as well as that of the DOS division (of NXIVM) for sexual slavery.

On the other hand, as they say: Looks can be deceiving. I’m not quite sure what to think, but I do bear in mind that Keith was infamous for his hypnosis and mind-control prowess. Just ask Toni Natalie, his former girlfriend and business partner, who I’ve interviewed in the past. Former NXIVM members add that no major decisions were made within the group without first consulting Keith Raniere, leader and “Vanguard” of the group.

I asked NXIVM expert Frank Parlato for his thoughts and he responded:

“She is taking the fall for Raniere, or rather, trying to take the fall. In my opinion this is well crafted by Raniere. But too late.”

In abusive relationships, men have been known to successfully convince their female partners that they provoked the punch, the slap or the screaming and they deserve to be the target. Allison Mack was under a similar spell, according to the cult’s defectors. I have to wonder where Allison is now mentally: Does she think of Keith Raniere as the almighty Vanguard, or as a highly regrettable ex who got her into the worst predicament of her life?

(Photo Source:

Psychology, Uncategorized

Freaking Out in Our 40s, by the Last Unbotoxed Woman on Earth (for now at least)

cameron diaz

Actress Cameron Diaz claims to eschew Botox, fillers and other artificially cosmetic anti-aging solutions, saying she would rather age naturally.

“Someone mistook me for 21 today!!!” posted a 43 year old acquaintance. Braggadocio earned her 140 likes in under 120 minutes. Comments from others followed about being mistaken for much (!) younger. Facebook feeds our narcissistic desires and I personally “like” that. It works to my benefit, especially since I have an otherwise overlooked summer birthday. My friends in their 30s post about John Hamm, Netflix or naptime between baby feedings. Those who post about work – Well, I probably don’t pay attention – but they rarely have happy endings.

Anyway, the response to the 43 year old swiftly becomes a manic flurry of “me too”s, with nary a 30 or 20something chiming in. I am candid with myself and I know we are all going through some sort of “life crisis.” With options in the modern world like lunchtime surgical nips, fillers and great makeup (contouring!), as well as books by scholars the likes of Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba…we feel minor assurance. We have little stories we tell ourselves. I sit and sip my green tea hoping it will negate yesterday’s aspartame-infested diet coke and New Amsterdam peach flavored vodka, but I already foresee the name of my future sitcom: “The Last Unbotoxed Woman on Earth.” The plan for now is to age naturally. As my sister in law stated so eloquently: “Wrinkles are beautiful. They show you’ve aged.”

I just saw Raquel Welch on the telly (being a woman of a certain age means I can affect a British accent when I choose, just ask Madonna). The woman is absolutely gorgeous, and, we can all agree: “well preserved.” The reality is that not many of us can afford the good kind of plastic surgery, and the bad kind is too readily available. Let’s not enumerate, but we can agree that the very rich have fallen prey to hideous work. Forget face lifts; it is also quite expensive to seek out options such as lipo, lasers and lights.

It is never a one-time deal from what I have surmised. Maintenance is required. I have met a few plastic surgeons and they will compliment you and flirt away (See: the E! network’s smarmy Dr. Robert Rey), but they will never simply let you say “I’m fine with my appearance.” They have a suggestion for anyone and everyone. This, in my opinion, is the reason for “fake boobs” among the gorgeous of L.A. and Beverly Hills. You can’t mess with perfection, but oh, you can if you are a plastic surgeon because perfection does not exist. (I happen to think little breasts are perfect for running and just generally not getting in one’s way, but that’s just me.)

But back to the real people, the ones who aren’t on Bravo. There is no end to the amount of cups you can fill from the alleged fountain of youth. Hearing about the miracle and attached lore of a broth one man formulated to heal his problematic skin, I am in Bloomingdales searching. The price tag for this broth which is now a cream that is eerily scented (fragrances in a miracle broth for the most sensitive of skins?!) and has the feel and consistency of pediatric staple Eucerin, is exorbitant. Two ounces retail for over 300 dollars. I timidly ask if I can try a sample. They are out of samples, how fortuitous (!), but I know I can hit up Amazon and spend 10 dollars for one, yes pay a small price for the samples that are given out free.

Another customer joins me at the counter. She is fully covered from head to toe, face veiled in an abaya, a Muslim traditional garment that is the best SPF money can buy. I try to make out her eyes’ reaction to the insane price. She takes out a 100 dollar bill followed by two more and I know she’s for real. The saleslady makes an inappropriate comment about what terrific skin she must have under there, that it’s a shame she’s all covered up. Racist! I ask my new friend, the abaya-clad customer at the counter, if the miracle broth is worth the mula. She says she swears by it.

The saleslady takes the opportunity to digest my fully uncovered face and examine the pores rather laboriously. “You, my dear, cannot use the cream, you need the gel. You are acne-prone skin!” she announces. I try to explain that I’m 41 and so I am focused on anti-aging too. I say I’m a tad worried the gel won’t address the moisturizing I might need, now that I am getting up there in the years. “Rubbish!” she might as well have said, though she was more Brooklyn than British. She dismissed me with a wave to the Clinique counter. You see, we are all being dismissed, my dear 40somethings, as going through some sort of silly stage akin to a midlife crisis and not really understanding what we need to do for ourselves.

I also realize it is not only skin deep. We are reading all sorts of ludicrous books on feminism that we may never have picked up 15 years ago (for me, it’s Fear of Flying.. I’m not knocking Ms. Jong, but I would not have appreciated it in my 30s). We are determining our identities and one step further and more subconsciously, our legacies.

The “stage” you are at now, if you’re halfway to your 80s, is suddenly under self-scrutiny. Am I happy? Am I fulfilled? Have I written the great American novel yet, the one I was supposed to publish at 25? Yeah, that last one is MY depressing admission. These are all minor aspirations for those faced with greater challenges. Perspective changes in the face of overcoming illness, abuse or worse. How you process the deeper resolutions of making your life great and seizing the day may be altered by a Xanax in the short run, but you’ll later cry in the shower wondering why you can’t connect with your emotions. You will realize it is to your benefit to feel!

For some reason, my friends in their 50s seem to be over the more massive hump. Those initial grays, age spots and wrinkles are so yesterday. They’re busy traveling and posting pictures of bowling nights out with fabulous folks. But I know they must have their fair share of complaints that I’m not hearing —Still, I feel they’ve shifted priorities. They’re busy commenting on Kosovo, not on the Kardashians.

There’s less pressure to impress when they leave the house, having finished the New York Times crossword puzzle (will I be smarter in my 50s too? I hope so!), clad in stylish yet supportive sneakers, hair scrunched in a bun with minimal makeup. Unlike 40somethings, these woman have known each other for a long time and even when they haven’t, they seem to be candid and not self-conscious. When they trade stories about their spouses or dates, the candor need not be candy-coated or apologetic. The air is filled with understanding, cynicism is a part of their regular humor, not a set-in-stone gossip- garnering sign of learned helplessness.

The above is all based solely on observation and what it looks like from inside of 41, looking out. So I ask that you take it all with a grain of salt – or a strand of salt and pepper hair. Turning 40 signified numerous changes for me personally. I’ve stopped caring more than half as much about what others think (while admitting I have a way to go. You don’t know my starting point, in fairness), I definitely take more fashion risks (wide brimmed hats, bright red lipstick), I focus on the time I’m spending with my kids in the suburbs and not the fact that I haven’t been in the city partying freely and unencumbered with friends in eons. My friendships are based on who I bond with best, whether they be 27 or 55. Age is just a number after all. We can have similar life experiences as someone a decade younger or a decade older.

However, I recently reflected that at age 41, I have no friends who are 21. I’m just not sure we would have ample common ground. Beyond taking selfies (which Wendy Williams says we may be a little old for past 40), a friendship with someone half my age would likely begin with a flip of radio stations and end there: Justin Bieber is on the radio? Hmm. Did you know that according to Wikipedia, the singer’s mother was born in April of 1975? I was born in July of 1974.

Chelsea Handler recently admitted that she felt like a pedophile interviewing Justin Bieber because it’s part of his shtick to flirt with his interviewer. Chelsea Handler is a full year younger than I am. So putting these random little puzzle pieces together, it is more logical that I could be Justin Bieber’s mother than that Chelsea Handler or Justin’s very own mothercould.That is disconcerting. If I think too hard about what it means to be in my 40s, I will forget about beautiful glowing JLO, or my friend Brian who looks like a teenager but is a highly sought out international headache specialist at a mere 41. And I can’t forget the human rights activists, the novelists (damn them!), the filmmakers and the people who are living their dreams – and mine!

What it boils down to is that a “crisis” affects those of us who have not yet grabbed the bull by the horns. Some of us are unsure how to, or we feel stuck, but we also feel an urgency to carpe diem. We are not getting any younger. So if you are in your 30s or 20s and wondering why so many “older” people are posting selfies or sharing pictures of their massive hike to the apex of Kilimanjaro, try to be understanding.

We are still living, somewhere between young and old, somewhere maybe prior to, or just post, mid-life, and we fear irrelevance. No one gets out of this crazy world alive, but we’re all here now to make an impact. The greatest fear, in fact, is not actually death since we know death is an inevitability to life. The greatest fear is going through life without making a mark, or leaving a legacy, without diving off a few planes high in the sky, without making someone gasp or smile for a lengthy period. Our 40s may be our last decade to let loose and go wild while our God-given knees and hips are still in-tact. So excuse us if we make absolute asses of ourselves in order to live each day to its fullest and rejoice, but it seems like the perfect time.

(Article previously published on my Huffington Post blog)