Time passes

1963

1962 aged 15

I’ve been reminded of my age recently and it’s made me think about what it means, to me, to be 68. I am officially elderly, but except in some ways, it sure doesn’t feel like it. I am noticing that I get tired much more easily than I used to. Once, I could walk all day when out photographing on a trip somewhere. Carrying a bag of camera gear on my shoulder, too. It would have weighed up to 5Kg. Now, I’m 30% – 50% heavier and my back muscles hurt, so I have to sit down and rest frequently. I can only walk for an hour or so, unfortunately. If I could lose weight and do more walking, I’d be fine, but …

In my twenties my mind was pretty sharp, in the sense that I could cope with maths and physics concepts, almost visually “seeing” equations and formulae in space in front of me.

Gma Me EH Bev

1964 aged 17

I started work at Channel 7 in 1966 at age 19 and also started seven years of part time study at Tech College. I well remember on one occasion in about 1980 needing to know whether flux density in a magnetic circuit followed a power ratio or a voltage ratio in logarithmic terms, i.e. was it 10LogB2/B1 or 20log B2/B1 ? I solved this by using my uni physics to deconstruct the formula right back to MKS units and somehow working it out on paper. And I was right. How I did it, I don’t know. There’s no way I could do that now, so that’s definitely a lost ability, to break things down logically and deduce an answer. But it’s not something I need to do now anyway.

1967 aged 20

1967 aged 20

Me Chris Aug81n

1981 aged 34

A noticeable difference is how well I write. By that I mean I’m pretty good at this type of writing. I’m no creative writer. I haven’t written any books, except for the 11 photo books I’ve done, which have some text. But I sure can bang the words out. Once I start, it just flows. For the 50th anniversary school reunion last year, I needed to produce material for the magazine I was making. I wrote 40 pages (A5 format) of autobiography of my life since school, about 20 pages of Life at the Hut (the boys’ hostel), and another 18 pages of what I remembered about life at school in Northam. I also wrote a three page humorous poem, a two page serious poem and added another three pages of previously written material.

Dieng temple group 89 (2)

1989 aged 42, at Dieng, Java.

I have a lot to say and my memory is very sharp. I remember the things I remember, of course, and other people will say, “Remember such and such, or so and so …” and I don’t remember, but that’s very normal, I think. It so happens that my typing speed matches my thinking speed, so it just flows onto the keyboard, which is handy.

1992 tokyo

1992 aged 45, at the Tokyo Tower

I think my mind is kept sharp by several things: first and best is using this computer. There’s never a dull moment, as things go wrong and problems need solving. This is aided by the years and years of experience at solving these kinds of problems. I deliberately chose the hard path with PCs, reasoning that I had to learn. And I did. I became a computer guru at work. Luckily, in my opinion PCs are much easier to use and troubleshoot than they were in the late 80s and 1990s. There were so many limits then, so many work-arounds to be used, so many traps to fall into. I’m not saying it’s easy now, but it’s much easier.

ATN Marc 3Mar94a.tif

1994 aged 47, at Channel 7 in Sydney

Another thing that I think keeps me sharp is always doing the mental arithmetic, rarely using a calculator. Every day, every single day, I mentally retrace my steps and write down every cent I spend in a note book. Then I check the grocery items, one by one, remembering and checking, then I do the addition of the till receipts, making sure I haven’t missed anything and that I’ve got the list right. This also acts as a simple diary. I can go back over it years later and remember certain things.

Me portrait June 2014

2014 aged 67 – showing the weight gain.

Another aspect is that I’ve done so much travelling! I’ve been to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia (Bali and Java), Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, USA, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland … my memory fails me now, I might have missed something. I’m very happy about this experience and it helps tremendously when I read books or watch TV – I can say, “I know that place, I’ve been there.” Nice..

Later: yes, I did miss a few countries: Hong Kong (twice), Austria (twice), Fiji, Vanuatu (New Hebrides then) and New Caledonia (Noumea).

One bad thing is that I never married, or found a partner. Something went wrong early in my life (I know what it was), which made it impossible for me to get close to anyone. Big regrets, there, I can assure you. I’m 100% straight, no problems there, but there’s always been a barrier. Work kept me company and my dogs were great company from 1998 to 2013 but all that’s gone, passed on, and I must admit, I’m lonely as hell. That’s a bad aspect of getting older.

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2 comments on “Time passes

  1. Suzanne Marley says:

    Good post Peter !
    Sad to hear you feel so lonely but so pleased you are comfortable enough with yourself that you can be so honest and open.
    What I love most about this post is your true to form blunt delivery .

    I sometimes dress as a woman . . Photo!

    It was as direct and factual as you always are in conversation . No seeking of acceptance of approval , just a btw here is something else I do .
    Which isn’t to suggest this can have been an easy thing to do , I’m just very happy for you that you are in a place in your life where you can both dress as you choose and openly say you do.
    So no approval required, acceptance always.
    And as a woman who never wears any make up myself, I am impressed with your mastery of those dark arts : )

    Hugs, Suzanne .

    • Pete says:

      Hi Suzanne. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your comment. Yes, you’re right, it wasn’t an easy decision, and in fact I removed a much more comprehensive first draft (which I put to air for a few hours yesterday) when I had second thoughts. I cut it down from about a page of text and eight photos to just that one.

      I’ve reached the stage of “to hell with it” about this. Years ago i read Richard Feynman’s book, What Do You Care What Other People Think, and that phrase has stuck with me. There is so much public talk on TV and on the web about trans matters these days, especially on SBS that, I think public attitudes have softened in recent years.

      As I said, I started going out in public in 2006 and I carefully but deliberately spread the word among my friends, on the basis that keeping it secret has been very, very difficult all my life. This is a terrible, awful secret to have for men, and especially for married men with kids. Yet it is very common, much more common than generally known. Only two of my male friends had a bad reaction, and one has removed himself, but he was a bad drunk and a racial abuser, so no loss.

      Among women, total acceptance. It’s been great. Not surprising, really, we “women” are generally more open minded and accepting.

      Re the makeup, yeah, not bad, eh? That was a particularly good day. I’m blessed with the smooth skin gene, so it’s easy. I can get away with very little makeup. I’ve learnt a lot about transforming and “passing”. It doesn’t take much to make the switch. I’ve been told several times that I’m “undetectable”, i.e. I pass easily. No sweat, so to speak.

      I could write a book about all the steps in this process over the past nine years, including many funny stories. I have many more photos. I might post a few more and gauge the reaction, if there is any.

      Note: at the moment I have a beard and moustache, so it’s obvious I’m not doing anything. It’s very difficult to work up the courage to do it again.

      Once again,thank you very much for your lovely comment.

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