Old man, look at my life

I just had a birthday. I won’t reveal my age because I’m hung up on it. Don’t laugh. Some people vape. Some follow the Kardashian’s exploits. I’m hung up on my age. None of it makes sense.

There are more years behind me than in front of me. This leads to an inordinate amount of introspection. Too much! I was dealt a weak hand early on but I played it pretty well. Instead of celebrating that, I choose to focus on my missed opportunities and failings. All I’ve ever been is an office drone. My aspirations never went beyond paying the rent. Why didn’t I have a hunger for something greater? And, please, I’m not fishing for compliments. It’s my birthday vent. Indulge me.

I was on my lunch hour walking up Seventh Ave. A pretty girl was walking towards me in the opposite direction. When we passed, she quickly looked away, as if she’d seen a hideous, old sea monster that just crawled out of the East River. When I was a young man and new to the city, girls would occasionally lock eyes for just an extra beat or two. The briefest of moments. Message received both times.

One box I never thought I’d tick was offspring. I didn’t think I had the emotional or financial capacity. But it’s worked out okay so far. I’m tempted to say I’m a better father to my girls that mine was to me, but that’s setting the bar artificially low.

15 years later, my hair is white. She’s taller and doesn’t require a dribble bib.


I don’t work for The New York Times but I work in their world headquarters. It’s a lovely building designed by the charmingly-named architect Renzo Piano. He also designed the new Whitney Museum of Art in the meatpacking district and The Shard in London. It’s a pleasure to walk in every morning, but the bathrooms are too small and inconveniently located. The neighborhood, 40th St. and 8th Ave., is gloomy. The first one is his fault. Not the second one.

It’s a high-profile building. There are often protests outside and a police presence. Trump paid a few visits during the presidential campaign. Needless to say, he hasn’t been back since. I’ve seen James Comey and Juliette Binoche in the lobby. The day of the Capital Gazette shootings, the building was surrounded by paramilitary troops.

The building has a cracker jack security apparatus. Nobody can sneak by these proud sentinels.

Unless there’s a good Abbott and Costello movie on.

Look who’s back. Right on schedule. We see them every summer.

I’m on a very high floor. They roost near the top of the building to survey their kingdom.

They come up to teach their young how to hunt. Yesterday, while sitting at my desk, I saw two shadows dart past my window, moving straight down. Attack mode. Note that both legs are banded.

My friend did me one better. He looked out his window and saw a falcon on the fire escape across the way eating a rat that was still fighting for its life. The Circle of Life!


The reflection is *not* water. It’s my glass patio table top. I didn’t see it until after I’d taken the pic. Another happy accident.

60 thoughts on “Old man, look at my life

  1. Ah yes, the introspection that comes with getting older. I know it well. But you’re certainly blessed with a beautiful view at your workplace, that’s for sure. Lovely views have been said to enhance our own perspectives. I wish I had a better one of my own.

    • I totally lucked into this view. Believe me, I’m back office. We never get good real estate. I worked for Citibank in the landmark Citicorp building but because I’m back office, I was about three levels below ground. You could hear the subways go by. People who’d been there a long time we’re like vampires. The natural light hurt them.

  2. I love the falcon photos.

    I am coming up to a certain birthday at the end of this month. I have finally got that I like my age and I don’t care about wrinkles. Feels good to finally start to understand that.

    Happy Birthday – I hope you have a good day and year.

  3. Happy birthday, my friend.
    I’m old enough to realise “young and stupid” chewed up a lot of time, but I’m pretty sure it’s a good, strong warp.
    Here’s to another spin around our fireplace.

    (Great sunset, by the way)

  4. Happy Birthday, sweetpea! It surprises me, too, when I think that more of my life is behind me than ahead, but all things considered, we are still here, right? This year, the MITM hit 69 and I’ll be there at the end of the year! (WTF right?) Next year is not only our seventh decade, but fucking 50 year wedding anniversary!! The Krewe thinks we should have a big blow out party celebrating. I think they should pay for it! ;~)

    Love the photos! xoxox

  5. Happy Birthday dude! Older and more of a smart ass. Use your senior status to say as much crazy shit as possible. Gotta keep people

      • I have only been in one of his buildings, shamefully. The High Museum in Atlanta. There was some seriously tight detailing only architects might relish. But what most people do ‘get’ even if they don’t know it is how well scaled he can make spaces. Nothing feels monumental and overwhelming in a negative way. The Whitney does not present well in photographs, but I hear the experience is fantastic. In a style-obsessed culture he’s that kind of anomaly. All this to say, the owner has a huge role in the design of a building. Who knows who’s to blame for the bathroom situation at your office, corporate overlords who are squeezing non-leasable space. an old Italian with little allergy to sharing body functions in public. 🙂

      • I love the Whitney. I think he did a nice job of integrating the outdoor spaces. If you ever find your way into Manhattan I can get you an up-close, inside look at the Times building. It wouldn’t be a waste of time!

  6. Happy Birthday, Mark. For what it’s worth – I would lock eyes with you if we met on the street. But you might not appreciate it all that much since I’m probably a little older than you are. Or maybe not – I have a daughter about the same age as yours.

    Anyway – enjoy what’s left of your day!

  7. Happy unspecified birthday! I hope you’re wrong about having fewer years in front of you than behind you.
    As for the office bathrooms, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were intentionally designed to be uncomfortable and unreachable – a company probably would like to see its employees spending less time in the bathrooms and more time at their desk enjoying the scenery and the falcons.

    • Only the age is left unsaid. The date is 8 July. Same as Kevin Bacon. I don’t care who knows that aspect. And having fewer years in front of me is a mathematical certainty.

      I think you might’ve hit on something with the bathroom placement. I require maximum privacy when I use the privy. Because of its location, I do what’s needed and get the hell out and back to work. What devious plan!

  8. You: another happy accident. Happy birthday, you rat: the circle of life is complete. More or less…which is it?

    • Isn’t EVERYTHING a happy accident? I don’t believe in fate or a mystical hand that guides us. We’re all just pinballs knocking around from bumper to bumper. I wouldn’t say this in public but I’m not even sure there’s a G-d. It’s all an accident.

  9. Much better to be hung up on your age than following the bloody Kardashians!

    Happy Birthday! While ever you’re having one, life is good!

    Beautiful photos of you and your gorgeous daughter! Now it’s you who needs the dribble bib, right? 😉

    Great shots of the birds. Stop worrying about age – you are now a silver fox and every chick is after one of those.

    PS_ You better be watching England in the semi-finals today at 2 pm your time. Tell your boss – TV’s on or strike!

    • But being hung up on your age is as useless as following the Kardashians. Neither will get you anything worthwhile.

      I will take ANY birthday over the alternative, but you’ve got to admit, some birthdays are betters than others. Like, I’d say 25 is better than 65.

      I don’t need a dribble bib yet but it’s only a matter of time before I’m ensconced in some nursing home slobbering all over myself. What a fall from greatness!

      You’re DAMN RIGHT I’ll be watching the World Cup. I’m all in on this, despite having just scant knowledge of the game. I’ve seen about 80% of the matches, thanks to it being streamed at work. I sit and watch football and get paid. In the end, it’ll be Franc v. England just like in ye olde days. They’d *better* win.

  10. Happy Birthday, Sweetie! I did the introspection thing for my last birthday. It left me in a filthy mood. I promise I won’t do it again.
    I think I still catch the eye of men of a certain age, which I find disconcerting – maybe it’s my lack of interest, if only I’d lacked interest when I was younger!

    • Awww, shucks. Thanks. I’m trying to use introspection to my advantage. Filter out the negative. It’s not that easy. I will keep you abreast of my progress.

      Thank Beezus you’re still catching someone’s eye! Pretty soon you’ll end up like me. Hunted! Despised! Shunned! Well..it’s not quite like that but you get my drift.

      Three Lions rule. You’ll see in a few hours.

  11. Happy Birthday Geezer!! I’ve always been one for introspection, mainly because i like to look at my navel but that’s just me… funny how that fatherhood things work out innit? you’re good at it because you had an example of what not to do… and being Croatian on my mama’s side (doesn’t every Clevelander have some eastern European mutt in them?) i’ll be cheering against the Limey’s this afternooon, it’ll be tough cuz i’ve got many Limey friends (i use that term with nothing but affection by the way) and i’ll be the first to admit England v. France would be a better final but i’d still like to see a newbie win the World Cup and besides Croatia have the best uniforms left in the tournament… and i’ve got a football problem, i’m an addict, the boyos even bought me the Panini World Cup sticker book for Father’s Day cuz they said i looked bummed when they didn’t want one, and i actually do it, very Zen putting little stickers in a book, even if i am a geezer (albeit slightly younger) like you, lol!! Happy Birthday again old man!!

    • Ha. Geezer. I think that’s fair to say. I’ve always been able to shave a couple years off the truth but now even shaving years leaves me at a distinct advantage.

      Yes, my fatherhood roadmap was from Superman’s Bizzaro World. Just do the opposite and everything will work out fine.

      Listen, pal, it’s Three Lions all the way. As you correctly point out, who the hell wants to watch Croatia v. France? For their uniforms?! Are you kidding? That only works at the horse track. We want England v. France! Just like in ye olde days. A rivalry as old as time itself. I watched almost every game at work. They tuned the TVs from Bloomberg and CNBC to the World Cup. I got sucked in, despite not knowing jack-all about the game. Seem simple enough, tho.

      • Me old friend Gulfboot Johnson said he created a monster when he introduced me to the game, but i’ll be honest, Croatia matches up well against England, Modric and Rakitic are head and shoulders better than anything the Limey’s have in their midfield, and i’m a huge Dele Alli fan, Kane may be the world’s best striker at the moment and i agree Frog v. Limey would be fun to watch , but this game comes down to match ups and i think Croatia can exploit England in the middle, and since i like Macron maybe i should get on the France bandwagon, (Nick Disaster is all in on France), my kids are asking for Mbappe kits but alas as a West Side Hunky (that word encompassing all those with eastern Euro mutt blood) i gotta go with my Croatian roots, plus i’m a Scot on the other side, how do i cheer for England? you’ve seen Braveheart, Lol!!!

        and to show you what a footie geek i am, last night i had a 45 minute conversation about the brilliance of N’golo Kante and Paul Pogba, about their defensive work and their positioning, the way the got play going the other way, there is much beauty in the build-up and scoring of goals but there is also beauty in the little things that take during a match, i could go on but i gotta get to the telly… C’mon Vatreni!!!

  12. Happy birthday, Mark. Been home visiting my ailing parents and, trust me, it’s going to get worse. I also ended up going through a trove of papers and materials, including photos of old girlfriends that I thought I had thrown away in the spirit of loyalty but it turns out I had just hidden. I also posted online a cast photo of some play at university. This has spawned a Facebook frenzy of nostalgia among my former Drama major friends, including very young photos of myself. It’s consuming and distracting and weird feeling and, like I said, it gets much worse.

    • Thanks for your birthday wishes but I’m awfully sorry to hear about your parents. Your trip down memory lane sounds like an unexpected thrill. It’s good for perspective and good that you kid see it. I hope you post more pics.The lesson for everyone is: don’t throw stuff away!

  13. Happy Belated Birthday! But why are you still looking at girls? If you ask me, the uh… well, I don’t want to say it out loud in mixed company, but the… er, the milf I think is much more alluring these days.

    • It’s not accurate to say I have a wandering eye (total fidelity!) but I still look with no ill intent. It’s an old habit, I guess. Besides, at this point, if someone threw herself at me I doubt I’d know what to do anymore, anyway.

      Thx for the birthday wishes. I’m melancholy. I’ve been young and I’ve been old. Young is better.

  14. Happy Birthday! I’m going to attempt to put the date somewhere and get the congrats in on time next year.

    P.S. I’ve never been ambitious either. I’m not “motivated by results”, “driven by success” and all the other shite you’re expected to mouth in the big surrealist performance art piece that people call work.

    • Aren’t you kind? Dropping in here and posting at your address is a gift. It’s never dull and your freedom causes me an amount of envy, although your freedom comes at a price.

      I’m a lazy bones. There’s no two ways about it. But I think I could’ve lived a better, more interesting life if I had been able to self-motivate. The horse is out of the barn. It’s too late.

  15. I think we got a similar thing going on where we only focus on what we HAVEN’T accomplished. Why didn’t I publish anything? Why didn’t start my own business? Why? This shit must be pretty common because I do it all the time too. I know you’re not looking for compliments right now so I’ll hold most of that back for another time. Just know that I have always dug your page and draw inspiration from you.

    • Why? Because that’s just not us. Many are called. Few are chosen. We’d best learn to make peace with who we are or get off our asses and do something. I’m working on the former, since the latter probably isn’t going to happen.

      Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated.

  16. I won’t guess at your age if you won’t guess at mine. In my case, I’m paying much more attention to the obituaries than I have in the past. It’s not a morbid thing. I’m just noticing them more. Hope you enjoyed your day!

  17. Every man should look as good as you do at this age. Nice pic of the daughter and birds. It’s amazing how everyday can change so dramatically when you get over fifty. Aches and pains appear and then go away without any explanation. All you know for sure is it’s not going to get better down the road. The life of least resistance is the best. We are lucky to have so much, doing so little. I’m realizing what they mean by white privilege, but I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I had no choice. Happy Belated Birthday!

    • I won’t even admit to being over 50 although, clearly… I’ve got a good gene pool. I lucked out on that but I must have been napping when they were handing out ambition. You can’t have it ALL.

      I’ve thought about it a LOT and I don’t think I would’ve gotten quite as far if I hadn’t been white. I think opportunities were afforded to me because of my pigment. Now, to my credit, when I was presented with these opportunities, I made the best of them. So good on me for that. But I wonder if I’d have had the same ones if it weren’t for my lily-white corporate appearance?

  18. Happy birthday! We all do the introspection thing when we reach a certain age (don’t we?), but you come out the other side and everything is fine. At least that’s how it was for me: 40 was difficult, 50 was fine, if odd, and 60 will bring free bus travel – I’m sincerely looking forward to that!

  19. It’s the nature of the beast to sit back and reflect, perhaps to lament, when one reaches middle age. I said something equally profound to my husband and he said, “Middle age? What, do you think you’re going to live to be 120?” Talk about a philosophical-discussion-kill.

  20. Having your daughters later in life is a blessing in ways you may not fully appreciate. i had mine starting at the ripe ol’ age of 24. By the time i reached my early 50’s, they were out of the house, and on their own. Now? They own homes, pay their bills, and are both breeding on their own.

    The day i retired was glorious – but i woke up a few weeks later realizing that not one person on earth NEEDS me for anything. This is both liberating and terrifying. i also realized that i had crossed off the last milestone before death. “Graduate high school, maybe college. Get a job. Get married. Have kids. Kids to their own round of milestones. Retire. Die.” Sure, i could add “move to assisted living and have someone else wiping my ass”, but figure i’ll stick with the basics.

    Enjoying my speedball to the finish line, but i do have moments where i’m feeling a little out of control. That feeling is exhilarating when we’re young and believe ourselves immortal. Now? i’m getting emotional vertigo…

  21. Wow – the falcon photos are incredible. So funny that you get to see that so close in the heart of the city. You could spend ages in the wild and get nowhere near as close. There was a guy on tv here the other day encouraging people to bird watch in urban areas – your photos show why we need to look about at the world in direct vision rather than starring at screens on a world that is far less attractive

Vent Central:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s