Books have always meant the world to me. From as early as six years old, I used to read three to five books a week. And I’ve never stopped. Back in the early days, my grandma would laugh and say, “Slow down child, you’re devouring them, not reading them!”
This passion of mine has always run deep. Reading enables me to dive into another world, another life, another dimension…
Then I started writing my own. No one ever told me how to, but I found myself moving forward instinctively. Having read thousands of books over the years, letting my own story flow from my heart into the file on my computer felt as natural as breathing.
I’m far from done, too. I need to get this first one published… and then I want to aim for the stars and write many more. Hopefully they will measure up to some of the brilliant literary works of art I’ve immersed myself in over the years.
In the fall of 1995 I was still two years away from my gender alignment surgeries. I hid my boobs as well as I could. I practiced looking grim and – I thought – manly. I wore my hiking boots wherever I went. Looking back, I am surprised I didn’t wear them to bed as well.
So much has changed since then. I am amazed by how complete I feel now, how utterly free from having to fulfill the stereotypes of any gender. I am happy being the unique little man that I am.
I can’t imagine a life without art – be it reading a book, going to an exhibition, watching ballet, dance, opera, theater, a movie, or listening to music… Then there is the joy of writing, photographing, drawing, painting and sculpting the odd piece myself. My entire spirit lifts whenever I invest myself fully in these endeavors.
As it did the last fourteen months while writing my very first book. Looking back on that particular creative process and holding the final draft of my manuscript in hand, I am a bit in awe. How did I manage to do all that?
The next few months will show if what I wrote is good enough. I hope I will find a publisher who will share my enthusiasm. Keep your fingers crossed xxx
In 1985, I went to a summer camp organized by a German environmentalist group. I met many Maltese youths there and one of them became a friend for life. I was fourteen at the time and, all of a sudden, the world wasn’t just a small disk anymore.
My friend and I visited back and forth for quite a while. Our friendship enriched my soul. Later Malta became a milestone for my sister and I. Then, in 2003, I went back to the charming Mediterranean island to tackle the life-long dream of becoming a scuba diver.
Today, thirty years after my first, very formative, Maltese encounters I have moved to Malta for a new beginning. A magic circle is closing.
Today was the day: first day at work on the island of Malta for this ‘Fortunate Nomad’. Everything had happened so fast… one day interview on the phone in Germany… only three days later already in Malta… I was full of doubts when I went to my new place of work, hadn’t slept all night and wondered what I was getting myself into.
And then, I did what came natural. In the morning, I simply said, I wanted to wait with signing anything, then took the first chance that presented itself to speak very openly with the HR representative about all I wasn’t sure about.
Soon, she was able to clear everything up very satisfactorily. I gladly signed my contract. Now I am ready for this new adventure and it is time to find a little cozy haven to rent in one of the small cities close to my new work place. I see lots of flowers on our balcony, a cozy couch, evening walks at the sea side and, of course, yet another chance to meet many interesting people and broaden my horizons.
On New Year’s Eve in 2014, I celebrated with my Spanish friends in Macau, delighting in their tradition of eating a grape per second in sync with the midnight countdown. We entered into 2014 with the taste of sweet, mashed up grapes filling our mouths, accompanied by our heartfelt laughter and the hope that only good could come from such a joyous beginning.
2013 had been a hard year. I thought 2014 could only get better. It didn’t. I wouldn’t say it was a bad year as such. I wrote my manuscript and embarked on one of my greatest creative endeavours to date: I wrote my memoirs. I lived on an island with my loving, incredibly supportive partner and two puppies who would snap wide awake at 6 a.m. every morning and coax me out of bed with their long, slobbery tongues. As much as I groaned each time, their enthusiastic presence was a gift beyond measure.
On the other hand, 2014 was a struggle for survival. It was a challenging year that brought me to my limits in every respect. Hong Kong (the metropolis our little island belonged to) took its toll on me. I never could get used to the local culture and the abundant environmental pollution. My health deteriorated as bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia chased each other in rapid succession. 2014 was a year of extremes and, because of its intensive nature, spiked a learning curve like never before.
The closer we got to the end of 2014, I thought about what the next year might bring.
I hope I’ll be able to continue finding my purpose and be able to give something back to the world.
As Nietzsche once said “One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star.” There are so many possibilities. There is so much chaos. And I can feel them rising, the stars of creativity, of compassion, of energy and transcendence. As it always is, my mind is full of plans, hopes, and ideas. I have finished my manuscript and am now beginning to send it to literary agents around the world. All the while my partner and I are going to try and make a new home for ourselves somewhere on the planet. Hopefully, I will find work soon. Whatever happens though, I am going to try and not expect too much from 2015. While working hard, I’ll relax as best I can and let the stars come forth as they may. I am so very curious as to where my journey will lead me next…
Yesterday, it started snowing in Southern Germany. Lots of snow. I haven’t seen this much since childhood. When I woke up, the world around our lake was covered in a blanket of fresh snow. It was fantastic to walk through this winter-wonderland. I must admit, it got too cold pretty fast and I escaped indoors. But not before taking a few minutes to throw the white fluffy stuff around and delight at how the cold crystals tickled the skin on my neck.
Just in time for the festive season, I have finished the remaining small corrections to my manuscript today. It is now truly ready to be sent out to agents and publishers around the planet.
As for life in general, my partner and I are enjoying the magic of a Central European Christmas. Just two days ago, we were in Zurich’s main station. The tree glowed almost otherworldly in its ethereal beauty. Moving on through the famous Bahnhofstrasse, it seemed as if all stars of our galaxy had descended to Earth and found a new home between these splendid, old buildings. Merry Christmas and much happiness to you all! xxx
“I’m going to run off to an aquatic show in Macau, China!” I told my teammates in the Maldives in 2009 with a bright smile on my face. The next day, my staff picture in the dive center was lovingly decorated with this charming red clown’s nose.
It’s been a hell of a ride since then. In no way negative, but definitely lots of ups and downs and what feels like an exponential learning curve. What will 2015 bring I wonder? More red noses? Or other adventures?
Exploring the Indian Ocean as a snorkel guide in 2005, I was happy. I still remember the soft sand, like a flowing, velvet carpet under the soles of my feet; the bright equatorial sun; the crisp, clean, salty air; and the many hues of turquoise and blue. Hermit crabs scuttled everywhere. Manta rays glided by as casual as a taxi might pass you in a large city. Most of all, I loved living on an island, surrounded by ocean as far as the eye could see, away from the often mind-numbing hustle and bustle of our “civilized” world.
It is done! As of tonight, my 5th draft is finished. All that remains for now is to read through the entire book one more time, do some minor cosmetics and check transitions between chapters. Then, just in time for Christmas, after fourteen months of continuous writing, my manuscript will be ready to be sent out to agents and publishers. Keep fingers crossed my dear friends! I’ll keep you posted of any new developments.
I am only days away from finishing my 5th draft.
For the moment, I am keeping my working title, ‘The Fortunate Nomad’. But I am seriously thinking of something more metaphorically connected to my story. I want my readers to envision aquatic environments rather than camels and desert. ‘The Blue Line’ seems a good option. Like a life-line, rivers, lakes, oceans, and pools have been with me every step of the way.
Here a photo from the very beginning. Even back then it was very difficult to get me out of the water.
Two days ago, I was “on stage” for the first podiums discussion of my life. It was a very good, fascinating experience. Best of all, it moved something within me and gave me pause. Amidst differing opinions, I recognized my own stubbornness and realized my discussion partners and I all wanted the same, even had similar histories. We had just somehow taken slightly varying paths. These winding roads seemed to have led us to the same idealistic goals: to be ourselves no matter what and to make the world a better place, for everyone, if only slightly.
Listening to various stories and notions, I also began to question, “Where does my strength come from? Why can I overcome hardships that might break others? Do I have stubborn genes?”
Don’t get me wrong. I often pondered committing suicide in the past. I often battled depression and despair. But I would somehow manage to grab myself by the ears and pull myself out of the swamp – over and over again. And I would berate myself, “Liam, stop this nonsense and stop feeling sorry for yourself. It doesn’t lead anywhere.”
Overall, I think, I was able to deal with the transgender-related issues in my life in a reasonably positive manner because I saw them in perspective to everything else that was happening. (By the way, the picture shows me nineteen years ago when I was twenty-four.) Brazenly put, my life was a “shit-storm”, and in relation to all else, being a transgender man was just one of my bigger problems. I am an orphan; had a heavy case of spasticity as a child and could barely walk; my adoptive mom is a paranoid neurotic who turned my childhood into a minefield; and I was married twice under rather traumatic circumstances. I could continue. The list of challenges is long.
Nevertheless, self-pity or giving up was and is not ever a solution. A sense of humor is essential. And recognizing that everyone we look at has their own story to deal with. As cliché as it sounds, we are not alone in our pain.
When I look at myself and at my gift of compassion and understanding towards others, I am almost glad life kept throwing obstacles in my way. My soul definitely grew because of it. And the more happens, the more I survive, the more I know I can survive anything – WE, dear friends, can survive anything – except, of course, our inevitable death.
Here is to life! Let’s make the most of it.
Just yesterday, I talked with another transgender man from Zurich, Switzerland. He asked me: Do you seek out other transgender people wherever you travel? And he proceeded to explain to me how much is wrong with the world; how we trans people are not understood as who we are; how society needs to change and embrace us; and how disrespectful it is to call us transsexuals…
I was reminded from the bottom of my heart why I usually avoid these encounters. I avoid them as I would avoid any other form of fundamentalism. It is unhealthy, judgmental, and paradoxically disrespectful by its very nature.
I love people and I love life. I love human beings in all shapes, colors, and forms. I love them for their diversity, their passion, their goodness, their stubbornness and their fallibility.
Why should I consciously seek out other trans people during my travels? Why should I limit myself to such an extent? Why should I not just walk the streets and open my heart towards any encounter? I have been blessed by meeting so many unforgettable characters already. Even the people in this picture, representing ‘only’ a four-year period of my life, are as diverse as they come. Crossing paths with them has changed my life forever – for the better. If you are going bald, will you henceforth travel the world only looking for bald people?
Yes, there is a lot wrong with the world, and there always will be. Human nature is what it is. But we can choose to look at the bad and see a threat in everything – or, we can choose to see the good and make the best of everything.
It is hard for human beings to understand what they do not know. How can someone who hasn’t been born in the wrong body ever really know what it feels like to be stranded in your own skin, like a traveler in an airport without a valid passport? How could I be so arrogant to ask them to change their entire world view just for me? How could I judge them? We all have very different journeys and are battling our own challenges and demons.
I have dozens of examples of what is hard to comprehend from my perspective. For example, I have trouble understanding strictly religious people. Or I don’t understand people who spend their entire lives in the same village. But it is their life, not mine. They have a right to their own freedom of mind. Who am I to say what is right or wrong for them? I don’t think anyone helps their cause by being judgmental or wagging a finger. We don’t help matters by taking ourselves too seriously.
What truly matters is respect and to let each other live the lives we have chosen to live. We don’t have to understand everything, and we can’t expect others to do so. We can only try, to the best of our abilities, to embrace each other the way we are.
Addressing the matter of being called transsexual: it doesn’t really mean much of anything. It is simply a way for people to try and give a label to someone like me, who was born in the wrong body – a body I needed to thoroughly change to become who I truly am. “Trans” essentially means to go from one thing or place to somewhere else. It can mean across, beyond, or changing thoroughly. “Sex” in English is simply another word for gender.
Problems seemingly horrendous for any of us, might not be as big as they seem. Many people are suffering, trying to fit in, trying to find themselves. We shouldn’t blow things out of proportion. I was being told, transgender people can get attacked or lose their jobs for being different. Yes, they can. But someone might also get attacked for being a foreigner, a christian, a hippie, a homosexual, a soccer fan rooting for the ‘wrong’ club, or maybe for simply being a student, wearing the ‘wrong’ clothes to school. I once got beaten up just because I asked some young men to be quiet during a movie. They had no idea I was a trans man.
People all around our planet lose jobs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are replaced by someone younger and cheaper, or maybe they don’t even get the job because someone doesn’t like their skin color or personality. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. We all face obstacles. I will not seek blame in others but take responsibility for my own actions. And if people tell me it can’t be done, I will try again and again until I find a way.
You don’t have to be transgender to find a multitude of problems in your life. And even if you are trans, 95% of your troubles will most likely be caused by things unrelated to your gender history.
Important is to remember our humanity. And to forgive each other for our shortcomings. Life is supposed to be hard. It is, in part, what makes our existence so beautiful and desirable.
I will keep doing what I have always been doing. I will try not to judge others. I will reach out and let myself be fascinated by the lives of my peers – and in my heart this term includes literally everyone. I will accept other humans as the beautiful people they are.
I will keep checking myself, for we all harbor prejudices, and sometimes those of us on the fringe of society are more prejudiced then your average Joe. I will keep positive and believe in the good of people – because I see evidence of it all around me every single day.
If we want respect, we have to first give respect to others. Some people believe, the only way to change the world is to make yourself heard, to force the issue. Sometimes, maybe, it can be necessary. But overall my life experience has shown me a far better way: life your life well, kind and compassionate and lead by example. You will touch the lives of those around you, creating a ripple in the ocean called humanity… and who knows where we will go from there… Anything is possible.
A few days ago I passed by this beautiful old farmhouse. It was my very first home in Switzerland. I shared our half of the house with five amazing people who showed me what family and friendship are all about. We inspired each other, and were there for each other. Even though I stayed for only one year, I learned more than ever before.
I spent the last few days visiting family. it’s funny how we react to extremes. My dad grew up surrounded by family as far as the eye could see – parents, uncles, aunts, cousins… Since then, what he craves most is simply to be alone.
I grew up having hardly any family at all. I have come to love my independence but, unlike my dad, I am aiming for a healthy balance. I feel happy connecting with relatives I have always liked but never had much opportunity to spend time with. Listening to their stories inspires me and makes my heart soar.
This last weekend, three generations sat together and watched Super 8 movies of family events reaching as far back as thirty years ago. Photographs can never live up to moving pictures. Seeing my grandma talk animatedly and smile was amazing. I wanted to reach into that silver screen and pull her out for just an instant to smack one last kiss onto her warm, wrinkly, old cheeks.
Seeing myself was interesting as well. I wore clothes way too big, in an attempt to hide my burgeoning bosom. Quite frankly, I looked a bit like a balloon.
Far more interesting however, was to see my posture, my smile and mannerisms. It confirmed what I already knew: I haven’t changed much at all. I was homeless in the wrong body, but I was always Liam. I still laugh the same, love the same, move the same… but since those childhood and teenage years, I have come home in every sense of the word.
Lounging on the couch with my partner and my relatives, hearing everyone laughing and seeing them point each other out in the movies was a grand experience.
I was humbled by the open-mindedness of everyone as well. Here they were, right next to me in my adult, male shape and form, and every so often my wonderful aunt or someone else would exclaim happily, “Ah look, there you are Liam.” all the while pointing at the big-boobed teenaged girl on screen.
Is there anything more beautiful than to be accepted exactly as who you are?
This is my workspace for today, and all while visiting treasured friends in Zug, Switzerland. I am now working parallel on my 4th and 5th draft. Lots of revision to be done. I am still amazed by how crap my 3rd draft was…
My lecturers at the art academy taught me well many years ago: Don’t be satisfied with your work too quickly. Even if it seems to be good enough – revise, revise, revise. But then of course, you need to know when to stop so you don’t overshoot the mark. Happy Sunday everyone. Sending you sunshine from gorgeous Zug!
This picture was taken only days after I came out at my workplace and announced, “I am actually a man and would like to be called Liam from now on.” Everyone embraced who I was. My employer gracefully ignored my big boobs and sent me to the tailor to get my very first tailor-made suit. All thumbs, I never managed to tie my own ties. But, thanks to the lovely ladies at the ticket office who helped me every day, I was just a short step away from looking as dashing as James Bond.
This is my oma (German for grandma) with her best friend. Oma left us on 26th December 1996. Today, she would have turned 105 years old. Whatever happens, she will always live on in my memories – and in all of yours, I hope.
My book will be dedicated to her. Everything you will read will be in large part thanks to Frida Klenk – my amazing, irreplaceable oma. Throughout my youth she was always there for me, lifting me up with her gracious heart, her strength, her smile and her undefeatable optimism. Happy birthday Oma! Thanks for helping me grow into the positive force I am today. I am sending you the biggest hug imaginable. I love you.
For a while, I was male in body but still female on paper. If I had to apply for any kind of official documents, people would usually look at me and say, “Why don’t you send your wife?” I would turn red like a tomato, stammer, and would hate every second of our exchange.
A few days ago, I needed to make some phone calls to order divorce papers from years back. So my conversation with the friendly registrar on the phone went like this…
Me: “Hello, can you please send me a copy of my divorce papers from 2004?”
Registrar: “Sure. May I ask, who was your wife at the time?”
Me: “I was.”
Registrar: “I am sorry, I don’t get it.”
Me, laughing: “I am sorry for confusing you. I had a sex change but back then, I was Mrs. William. I was the wife.”
Registrar:”Oh, I am sorry.”
Me: “Don’t worry about it. So now I am a man. But can you still send me those papers as they were then, listing me as female?”
Registrar: “I am still a bit confused, but yes, I will get right on it.”
Me, chuckling: “Thanks a lot. Have a great day!”
Registrar: “Thanks Mr. Klenk, you too.”
She had sounded so honestly puzzled and been so sweet about it, I couldn’t stop giggling for a good half hour.
And then it occurred to me: I don’t mind anymore. The process of writing my memoirs and reliving so many incredible experiences must have helped as well. I feel completely relaxed and unconcerned. I am at ease with who I am. Yes, I am transsexual. Yes, I do not fit the norm. Yes, I have had a crazy odyssey so far. Some of it was incredibly hard to deal with and survive…
Thank you universe, for every single second of this precious life. It has made me who I am. Thank you with all my heart.
Nature is where I find myself and where I find balance. I can think of nothing more enlivening than my toes playing with the tender blades of fresh grass, or my feet sinking slowly into velvety, warm sand. This photo was taken during my time as a guide in the Maldives, eating lunch on a beautiful, uninhabited island called Dhiddhu. But we don’t have to go that far to be happy. Every drop of rain, every singing bird, every single leaf shimmering with an emerald glow in the balmy afternoon sun, makes our life worth living.
Once more, re-writing my chapters is taking much longer than I thought it would. I realize, I need to be patient, no matter how urgently I should be finished and start looking for work. I will keep dedicating my time, and let this (for now) final draft take however long it needs to take. Much needs to be improved. But I can feel it: the butterfly is slowly emerging from its cocoon… and you WILL see it take flight, honest, colorful, and distinct.
Surrounded by turquoise oceans teeming with life, I often pondered one of my favorite quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost.” I had sometimes been lost before I had wandered. Ever since I had started exploring the world and myself in the process, I was definitely far from lost.
Adolescence was difficult to say the least. I tried to fit in. But I wasn’t girl enough to be able to connect with other girls and I wasn’t boy enough to be accepted by other boys. So I decided early on to try and find virtue in being a loner. I immersed myself in books, wrote poems and short stories, pondered about Schopenhauer and Kant, and ordered books from Native American reservations, at one time even learning a Lakota dialect. My favorite pastime on weekends was helping frogs across the street or rescuing falcons from Arab sheiks. I was lonely as hell, friendly, smiling.
Kill them with kindness, I thought. Be yourself. Eventually, you will find your way and they will accept you. In these early days, it never occurred to me that I was already well on my way, just many years away from understanding an important truth: being me is enough.
As an adolescent, I was convinced that everything is important. Every move I made, every decision I pondered, every breath I took had to count for something and be a positive or at least a very profound statement. Naturally, I also expected the same from everyone else. Looking back, I can’t help but chuckle and feel slightly sorry for all of those whose path I have crossed. I am sure, I wasn’t horrible to be with, but my expectations were so high, they could never be reached.
Maybe my quest was so intense because, in the first twenty years of my life, nothing seemed to work out. My body wasn’t what it was supposed to be. Life had a way of throwing challenges at me faster than I could blink. Giving up wasn’t an option so I analyzed and anticipated each twist and turn in my life like a general, ready to dispatch his troops but needing to find out where to send them, for best results. I was on constant alert, trying to spot problems and conflicts before they arose, so I could take preventive measures and come out victorious.
I still take things way too seriously. I still care. Most likely, I still care way too much about everything, but I have also learned to sit back and relax. I have learned to laugh about myself. I am smiling right now, chuckling about how important it seems to compose these three little paragraphs. And yet, I am happy to write them and would want to do nothing else at this moment. I am smiling about my use of the word “victorious”. I can do my very best, and I will continue to do so, but who knows what will happen. And what’s a victory anyway? It’s a big planet, a gigantic universe, an unpredictable, beautiful life. I trust more now. I trust those around me. Most of all, I trust myself to be able to deal with whatever may come. Sometimes not accomplishing something is exactly what we need, even if it breaks our heart. Sometimes, losing something proves to be the best thing that could ever have happened to us. I don’t worry about failure anymore. If I have my heart in the right place, then nothing will be a failure. It will all be part of my odyssey, every experience to be treasured.
This little dust speck is waving to the universe, happy to be a part of it for a little while.
Home is all about the people you meet on your journey. It’s the quintessential meaning of life.
Additionally to relationships and friendships lasting a lifetime, I am humbled and awed by many encounters along my way.
I remember a friend from Bangladesh who still works on the same island in the Maldives he has worked on for the last twenty-five years. Like many, he is far away from his home and family, allowed only one vacation per year. After all this time, he is still living in staff quarters with more than twenty men to one room. He has one of the kindest souls I have ever known.
I remember meeting new workers from Bangladesh on their way to the Maldives, terrified on the flight, breaking the bathroom doors on the airplane because they couldn’t read pictures or symbols to figure out how to open these doors they had never seen before. Lining up at immigration, they held on to each other for dear life.
Or I remember an eighty-year old man in Macau, working in a parking garage, who stopped me every time to ask if I could teach him a bit of English. One time he pointed to a dirty shopping bag and looked at me with curious, smiling eyes, wanting me to teach him the slogan printed on the bag: “I am a plastic bag, treat me responsibly!”
I remember so many encounters in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa, the humblest people often teaching me the greatest lessons, reminding me how precious life is and how little we truly need, to live a good life and make a difference.
I am very happy to announce I just finished the 3rd draft of my book! Just in time too, since today my bags are packed and I am moving back to Europe. Germany and Switzerland at first, then who knows…
September will be spent working very hard on the 4th draft. In October, the search for an agent/publisher will begin in earnest.
The last weeks and days have been fabulous in so many ways. My partner and I have said goodbye to our friends in Macau and Hong Kong. I am humbled by all the love and kindness given us. Thanks so much my friends. I am so lucky to have you in my life. We will meet again!
As of now, there is no way of knowing where we will find a home and work, and when. It could be anywhere and it could take a while. A hard blow was when we had to give away our beloved dogs. To make sure they will be safe and well taken care of, we found our boys a new family. Buzzy and Ricky have been with them for two weeks now and are very happy. For my partner and me it was a heartbreaking experience. We felt as if we had to give away our own children and missed our clumsy boys so much. During the first few days of our separation, our home felt horribly cold and lifeless. We couldn’t stop crying and were ready to storm into our boys’ new home to kidnap them right back. Now, seeing how content they are with their new pack, we still miss them painfully, always will, but we rest assured in the knowledge that they are happy and loved.
Today we are leaving. Writing and living on Lamma Island was amazing. It was an intense, hard, magnificently creative year, and most likely one of the happiest years of my life.
And off we go towards uncertainty!
Beginning of October 2013 I took a chance, left a very unsatisfying job in Hong Kong and decided to go after the dream of a lifetime: writing my memoirs.
It’s been a very tough year. Against all odds – no luck with jobs and no income – my partner and I decided to stick it out on Hong Kong’s idyllic Lamma Island. Underneath the jungle-like foliage, with no cars and only few noises of civilization to distract me, it was the perfect place to focus on a creative project of this magnitude. I spent a good thirty to forty hours each week writing.
Now I am nearing the end of my 3rd draft and will push on one more time to finish a 4th draft by the end of September. Currently I am looking at a good three hundred pages of inspiration, passion, humor, and suspense.
It was the gamble of a lifetime. Finally, after having invested it all, my partner and I have come to the end of the line here in Hong Kong. I am the luckiest man alive to have found a partner with a sense of adventure who also has boundless faith in my abilities. She has never given up supporting my dream of writing this book.
At the end of August, we will finally leave the Asian metropolis and head towards Central Europe for starters. We will try to find a new home, jobs for us both, and hopefully an agent and publisher who will believe in my book as much as I do.
As tough as it has been, it has been amazing to creatively work on a personal project I care about with all my heart. This time of facing all my memories, shortcomings and fears, without a doubt constituted eleven of the most intense and happiest months of my life.
I deeply believe my book has the potential to inspire and change the world just a microscopic little bit. Hopefully for the better.
Thank you so much for all your support so far my friends! Please keep spreading the word. I will, of course, keep you posted and hope you will be one of my readers. I promise you will not regret the wait.
Frogfish. They are amazing: camouflaging themselves as sponges, striking at lightning speed by extending their jaws with one of the fastest muscle reflexes in nature, and last but not least, they are breathing through gills in their legs.
We named this little man Pinocchio. He was a clumsy little fellow. Needing a base to hold on to and blend in with, he picked the one sponge on top of the reef that grew in the middle of the strongest current. He held on for dear life, getting whipped around for months, before he got the message and went in search for a less stressful home.
On one dive, I enjoyed the luxury of staying with little Pinocchio for an entire hour. I just hovered in front of him, enjoying his otherworldly handsomeness. He never moved, just blinked at me every now and then. One of the many magic moments in my big blue home that I will never forget!
My dear grandma Frida. In the picture, I am sixteen and Grandma is seventy-four. She was the steady rock of my childhood. Frida survived two world wars. The love of her life got run over by a train, shortly after they married each other and had a child. In the very conservative Germany of the 1930s, she raised the little girl all by herself, then found another man who was very kind to her, married her, and gave her another child – my father.
Her daughter was taken from her due to a surgeon’s error. He was supposed to simply take out the appendix of the young woman, but in the process cut her liver, causing her untimely death.
Frida’s then only son married a woman who, due to her many neuroses, made my Grandma’s life a living hell for many years to come.
No matter what happened, however, Grandma stayed strong, positive, supportive, with unshakeable good humor and compassion. She was my sanctuary. No matter how much trouble I had, getting accepted by my peers, Grandma let me know without a doubt, I was a good person and worthy of being loved.
In her eighties, Frida broke her hip bone and in a gradual decline lost her good health. One evening, we sat together and looked out the window at the full moon. Already only skin and bones, barely able to lift her fork, she gazed out the window with a smile on her face and said, “Isn’t it a beautiful world we live in?”
My amazing Grandma, her strong heart and soul, will always remain my greatest inspiration.