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  • It’s for Life

    the thing i was born to do

    Very early on, I started writing short stories and poems. It seems, I have started writing my first book at precisely the right moment… and in the process am finding meaning. I love how writing makes me happy, while at the same time enabling me to give something back to the world. It’s for life. I don’t think I will ever stop writing now.


  • Gliding through the Depths

    2005 liam and whale shark cake

    The ocean – vast, energetic, calming, countless shades of turquoise and blue, salty, invigorating, and simply enchanting. For many years, I had been less than beautiful whenever I immersed myself, looking much like a drowning poodle. When I finally became an Advanced Open Water diver, something clicked. In a matter of days, I went from wearing nine pounds of weight to zero. I will never forget the freedom of being truly weightless, silently gliding through the depths. In my room, I was greeted by a whale shark cake. One of my best friends in Switzerland had contacted the hotel in the Maldives and asked them to bake it for me. What a beautiful gesture of support from afar! I ran to the kitchen to organize plates and soon my fellow diving students, our instructor, and I celebrated our success in style.


  • The Bright Red Sweater

    2005 liam and babas dad

    Sometimes we meet people for only moments, and they inspire us our whole lives. In 2004, I met the gentleman in the red sweater at a birthday party. He was the retired dad of the birthday girl, and had just hit seventy years of age. Being a true Swiss mountain boy, he had never left his home country until he reached retirement. Not long after his last day at work, when he was sixty-five, he informed his family, he would go on a trip. The adventurous senior packed a small backpack and took a plane to Sydney. Not speaking a single word of English, he followed a group of teenage backpackers to a hostel. An idea formed in his mind, and a few days later he asked them, if they wanted to buy an old car together and drive through Australia for a few months. They could help him get around. He had been a mechanic his entire life. In exchange for their help, he would make sure their car survived the trip. They all ended up exploring Australia for many months, in a rusty old van, having the time of their life together. During our short conversation, my friend’s charming dad had us all in awe with his tale. Whenever I am scared to face the unknown, I remember this friendly, positive, old man in his bright red sweater, and off I go, happily plunging ahead towards new horizons.


  • The Road Not Taken

    2003 road not taken

    In 2003, I asked one of my friends to transform my entire apartment into a work of art. I gave him the poem “The Road not taken” and trusted his imagination. My friend came up with an intriguing graffiti, transforming the walls of my entire home into a colorful wonderland. His visual story culminated in this piece, on the living room wall. Robert Frost’s poem crossed my path when I was just fifteen. I believe in the road not taken. I believe in seizing the moment and exploring life. Sometimes great, sometimes hard, I wouldn’t want to miss any of the experiences I was fortunate to make so far.


  • An Aspiring Writer

    2014 sleeping with the boys

    Being a writer is fascinating. At first I was only able to write in total quiet and isolation. The slightest distraction threw me off balance. Now, I am more focused. I am getting more done. My writing is developing and I can see a stark contrast between the first few chapters I wrote and the subsequent ones…
    My dream is to keep writing, get ever better, and hopefully in a few years be able to live full time as a writer. There is so much I can imagine writing about. I love reading fiction, but concerning my own writing, I am more interested in reality – people’s lives, struggles, and courage.
    My notebook accompanies me wherever I go – either in electronic form on my iPhone, or in the form of Hemingway’s favorite notebooks. Thoughts come and go, some of them seemingly important… but if I don’t capture them immediately, they slip my mind as quickly as they materialized seconds earlier. Sleeping in, and cuddling with my loved ones in the morning helps to get me off to a good start. I have incredibly vivid dreams since I started writing.
    A few hours of reading a book follow. Being a writer, I am still the crazed bookworm I always was, easily devouring three books a week.
    My own first book is slowly shaping up. I am writing parallel on my 2nd and 3rd drafts. It’s a good life and I am profoundly happy.


  • Home

    2006 on snorkel boat with gayoom

    Homelessness has always been a blessing and a curse. Growing up homeless in body, family, and country I often felt a great longing inside of me, a loneliness beyond words. No amount of time spent with people could extinguish that. Over the years much of my nomadic existence was a search for home, a search to belong. In the end home was inside of me, and in the people around me who made a difference… and home was in the ocean. No other place, no matter how comfortable I felt was ever truly home. It is the ocean, the endless shades of turquoise and blue that slow my heartbeat to a confident, peaceful pace. I cannot think of anything more invigorating and soothing than diving beneath the surface, feeling the Big Blue with all my senses. Then I move on, in search of new encounters, too curious about the world to be able to remain at peace. Eventually peace will have to be inside of me so I can carry it with me wherever I go. I would say I am about halfway there…


  • The Mighty Columbia

    2004 Columbia River

    The Columbia River holds great significance in my life. Here was my first home away from home. I wrestled with black widow spiders and rattle snakes. I bought freshly caught salmon from Native Americans. I learned how to drive a car. On this river’s banks I found first love after my gender change operations. Above all I learned that instead of black and white, our world is made up of thousand shades of grey. At the mighty Columbia is where the nomad in me awoke.


  • 2002 tired in hoelloch

    At one point we all switched off our torches and sat silently in the dark. I could feel the weight of the mountain on my shoulders, breathed the dense earthy atmosphere around me with heightened senses. Since then I know that I need the open sky above me, need to feel a fresh breeze caressing my skin. Life is trial and error. We need to explore in order to find our way.


  • On Top of The World

    2008 on bus el nido to sabang

    Traveling eight weeks through Micronesia and the Philippines my friends and I came to Palawan. We took the local bus from El Nido to Sabang and spontaneously hopped on top, following the locals’ example. For nine hours we sat up top, the wind whipping into our faces. My ass hurt like never before, being perched on luggage or metal rods all day long. We focused forward to not be beheaded by low hanging branches and power lines. The cars in front of us whipped up clouds of dust that clung to our skin. The bus raced through forests, and along dusty mountain roads. Local children screamed in delight when they saw us sitting on top, waving at them with huge grins on our faces. Everything smelled earthy and fresh. It was an unforgettable, vivid experience. I felt so incredibly happy and alive!!


  • 1996 leather jacket times

    My math teacher in high school once asked me why I wore leather jackets in his classroom; what was I protecting myself from? I laughed at his question and answered something stupid. Truth is that for a very long time I needed the strong smelling leather around me. I was too homeless, too desperate, and found solace behind the walls of my leather shell. I was always strong, always a survivor. The only difference to then is that now I am conscious of my strength. I feel comfortable and safe within myself.


  • writing and editing 1st draft

    Very true. As much as I am telling myself to enjoy the process, it is a daunting task. I am moving along at a snail’s pace whereas writing my 1st draft flowed like a powerful river. Well, I have always loved a good challenge, so on we go.


  • 1997 boob operation

    My friends had amazed me with their frequent visits and heartfelt gifts. I had received flowers, poems, a pink stuffed animal pig, and most importantly an overwhelming amount of love and support. As the little pig watched over me I slowly came to through a very thick fog. Psychologists had warned me that the actual moment of waking up to my body being radically altered combined with the pain might be quite a lot to handle. I instinctively looked down – and all I felt was relief and happiness. Step by step the walls of my life long prison began to crumble…


  • Widening Horizons

    First Draft Sneak Peek No. 4

    Something had shifted in my life. Taking care of my parents had awoken a need for responsibility. I became active in a local bird watchers club. When I was fifteen I founded the youth section of the club and we became part of a nationwide German environmentalist group. I spent my free time organizing weekend events. We did cleanups in our local forests, guarded falcons nests during the nights to deter poachers from stealing the young birds and selling them to Arab sheiks. We built fences along highways to help frogs cross the streets safely during their migration. We watched and identified animals and helped people convert their gardens into natural habitats. My group wasn’t big but we were a dedicated little gang. During school vacations I went camping throughout Germany. It felt good to belong. Within this group of environmentalist nerds who dedicated their free time trying to make a small difference I did not seem quite so odd.

    During this time I came in contact with other cultures for the first time. One year the environmentalist society organized a summer camp between youth activists from Germany and Malta. I was enchanted by the intense two-week experience. My heart opened and I knew I needed to make the whole world my playground. Germany alone was far too small to be satisfying. I sensed beauty, and magic. Thankfully, after all that had happened, I was still curious about the world and keen to socialize with people.

    My strange childhood with its constant uprooting and emergencies had molded me into an individual with advanced social skills. I cared deeply, approaching others with non-threatening compassion. I instinctively knew how to fit in, sensing how to make people feel comfortable, make them laugh and feel safe.


  • two roads-robert frost

    I remember many years ago first reading this enchanting poem by Robert Frost. It lodged deep in my heart and has become one of my major inspirations. Less traveled by it is dear Robert.


  • 2004 finished tattoo and scars

    For a long time my scars made me feel very self-conscious. For many years I dreamed of getting a tattoo. After my surgeries I waited even longer than planned to approach a tattoo artist. I didn’t want to get a work of skin art for the wrong reasons. Rather the tattoo should mark the occasion of celebrating my body as it was. Finally in 2002 I approached a tattoo artist specializing in Polynesian designs. While we plotted and designed, she asked, “So do you want me to hide your scars?” I was so happy to be able to reply with conviction and with a smile, “No, that will not be necessary.”


  • Arrival in Paradise

    First Draft Sneak Peek No. 3

    The staff accommodation set up was very amusing. I was reminded of Alcatraz as Judith showed me A-Block, B-Block, and C-Block as each small accumulation of staff rooms was called. My solitary confinement dwelling was located in C-Block, a long L-shaped building with many small doors, leading to very small rooms. Judith and her partner Rowan had secured an air conditioning unit for my little sanctuary. Some other people were bound to leave soon. I hoped to scrounge a few pieces of furniture and decorations from them. As I stood in the doorway of C-7 I realized that there wasn’t much need for decorations since there was hardly any space for them. Each of our rooms was about six square meters, with barely enough room to squeeze between the queen-sized bed, night table and wardrobe to reach the bathroom door.

    The bathroom was a tiny but cozy space, about three square meters, with a simple shower head sticking out of the wall like a periscope, an old toilet bowl, a small sink, rough crumbling walls, and a corrugated iron roof covering only half of the space. The uncovered half of the bathroom was open to the equatorial sky, the ground left in its original sandy state. A tropical tree grew inside the bathroom, opposite my narrow shower area, the branches reaching far above the C-Block roof. I was enchanted and felt instantly at home.

    Over the months I realized that as idyllic as it may be to have a tree growing out of your bathroom, it was essentially a convenient natural ladder for assorted island wildlife. Surprise visits from lizards, snakes, rats, gigantic cockroaches, and birds became a regular part of my life. I learned to open my bathroom door cautiously at night, ready to jump backward depending on what critters would be illuminated as soon as I switched on the bathroom light. I also learned to pee and poo in record time since you never knew what would crawl over your feet or fly into your face as you sat contemplating the stars, going about your private business.


  • Thankfully Pneumonia has departed and it is time to get rolling again with my 2nd draft. In part it was good to be forced to come to a complete stop for 4 weeks. I realized that I had become too obsessive as I often do when I focus my energies. I need to strive for that delicate balance between passion and obsession.


  • The last four weeks have turned flu into bronchitis into pneumonia… bringing all writing work to a complete stop. As so often I am reminded of one certainty in life – plans are great, but rarely ever work out exactly as intended. No matter what though, delayed it may be, but my book will be written and published xxx


  • Journalistic Endeavors

    First Draft Sneak Peek No. 2

    My work thrived on feelings and impulse. Ideas toppled all over themselves in my mind. I started burning through piles of material, shot hundreds of photographs, compared, evaluated, and developed my projects on the go, through trial and error, following my gut instincts.

    An epic fail occurred when Andreas sent me on a quest to explore my journalistic capabilities. I picked a refugee camp of Albanian intellectuals who had escaped persecution and found shelter in Switzerland. The Albanian families did their best to survive until they would hopefully get the green light from the Swiss government to enable them to stay legally in Switzerland and acquire a work permit. For now their hands were tied as they tried hard to not be overcome by fear and desperation.

    I felt mortified having to photograph them. I spent days amongst the families, listening to their stories, admiring their courage and resilience. We talked way into the night when an armada of cockroaches started to take over the rough shelters where the families were housed. The intellectuals told me about their meaningful lives as college professors, poets, politicians, and thinkers too far ahead of their time as well as too radical and threatening for their political environment.

    Andreas kept asking me about my photographic progress. I never photographed. Since the camera hadn’t been a part of our encounters from the beginning, I felt like a traitor, the camera a red-hot piece of molten iron smoldering away in my bag. One day before my final deadline I downed an entire bottle of Baileys, then went to the refugee camp and photographed all day. Still drunk I rushed to the Academy darkroom, developed the films and hoped that I would be able to get at least a handful of presentable prints out of the foggy journalistic endeavor. When I finally opened the developing canister to examine the film I stared at roll after roll of empty film. It dawned on me then. I had been so drunk that I had never removed the lens cap. The refugees had either not noticed or exhibited extreme self-restraint in watching my comical attempts at being a journalist. After I left they must have collapsed with laughter. At least I could rest assured that I had brought some involuntary humor into their otherwise dreary daily routines.


  • Pottery Perseverance

    First Draft Sneak Peek No. 1

    Navigating through my early childhood already foreshadowed the man I would become. I persevered and solved problems with determination. When my parents went to the opera one evening, I played ball inside our vast penthouse apartment. Konrad was fond of enormous decorative vases that wobbled precariously many times as I ran past them. Konrad and Hildegard often cautioned me and mentioned how expensive the in my mind useless pieces of furniture had been. In the absence of my parents the impossible happened and my soccer ball collided with the biggest, most expensive vase in our living room. For a moment it seemed to simply wobble and settle back to rest in the same space, but then it fell in what seemed like slow motion, hit the stone fireplace and shattered into hundreds of pieces. I had battled with my mother over abstract trifles all through the week. Now I wondered what a true disaster would bring out in her if trifles had aggravated her so much already. To my young mind, the expensive, broken vase was a disaster of grand proportions. I sprung into action and raided our house for solutions. Several minutes later I returned to our living room armed with several packages of super glue. I checked the kitchen clock and calculated that I had roughly four hours before I had to face the wrath of my parents. The vase had been half a meter in diameter and approximately one meter tall. I tackled the pile of shards in front of me like any other puzzle game I had solved over the years. For hours I stared at pottery shards and carefully put the infamous vase back together piece by piece. As the hours passed I felt greater urgency and doubled my efforts. Towards midnight I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time as I contemplated the result of four hours of intense concentration and dedication standing in front of me. I could see what looked like hairline cracks all over the finely sculpted work of pottery yet to the unaware eye my father’s most priced pottery possession looked as proud as ever. Noticing the late hour I ran and hid all evidence of my crime under my bed to discard safely the next day. Then I turned off all the lights, raced to my room and jumped under my blanket.


  • 1988 speech in parliament

    While in high school I used to sign up for many writing competitions. Once a year the parliament of Southern Germany challenged young writers countrywide. I signed up for their competition every year, then did nothing until two days before the deadline, wrote frantically for the last two days and nights, then ran to deliver my essay in person minutes before closing time. To my eternal surprise I won first price each time. One year the competitors were invited to a day in parliament. I was allowed to give a speech about my essay for the other students. So many years back… I am sixteen in this photograph… Now I seem to have come full circle, except that my work ethic has improved dramatically since then. I think this is what I am meant to do. I am meant to write, give speeches, inspire, and offer my unique view of the world we live in.


  • what we become

    A day to remember forever. I just completed the first draft of my very first book. So far it all adds up to 249 pages and 127,228 words… yet it is a living entity, a part of my soul, so much more than just words and numbers.

  • 2002 hat and suit

    Twelve years ago, helping a friend with a photo shoot. Limitations exist only in our heads. You are what you settle for.


  • 240 pages into my 1st draft and Chapter 17 is done! Only one more Chapter to go. OMG!!! I am really doing it, I am truly writing my first book!! Incredibly happy!

    first drafts


  • The Biggest “Thank You” to My Crowd!

    Yesterday my Indiegogo campaign came to its end. It ran for 59 days and it was the very first time I tried crowd-funding. It turned out that my crowd-funding was about so much more than just money.

    From the first day onward until the very end people contributed every day. I asked all my friends to like my page and share it with their friends, and many of you did – multiple times.

    In the end even though many of you helped me in a fantastic marketing effort, not one person who didn’t know me personally contributed.

    We collected 10,117 USD – and it all came from YOU my friends!

    As the campaign neared its end, some of my closest friends donated as much as three times, which completely blew me away. People who barely had enough money to make it through every month themselves insisted on contributing, and many of you wrote me beautiful messages, lifting my spirits, cheering me on, making me realize just how very lucky I am to have you in my life.

    Because of your incredible efforts I will be able to pay a professional editor for my book. PayPal and the credit card companies will take 10% of the cut, but I will still be left with a bit more than 9,000 USD which is pretty much the exact amount I will need to pay him. He will go over my 2nd draft and then the corrected 3rd draft, helping me shape my at times somewhat crude writing style into something much more awesome. The rest of the funds needed I will have to borrow, and hope that I will become rich and famous one day to be able to pay back all my debts.

    Like the rest of my life writing my first book has become an incredible journey, and like the rest of my life it is all about the people I meet on the way.

    I am happy that my memoirs are now not just my book anymore. It has become an effort of friends, an effort of the coolest crowd I can possibly imagine, and all of you my friends will live on in this book – for better or worse 😉

    Thanks for being there! I don’t know how to thank you enough and will try to honor your efforts by delivering a piece of literature that will be remembered for a long time.

    Stay tuned, and follow my updates on either one of these three places:
    My book’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thefortunatenomad
    WordPress blog: https://liamklenk.wordpress.com/
    Tumblr blog: https://liamklenk.tumblr.com/

    At this moment I am almost done with my 1st draft and am looking at about 240 pages. I hope not a single one of those pages will end up being boring.

    Biggest hugs and thanks once more. For your support, your love, and trust. You have truly blown me away my friends. Life is beautiful!
    Liam

    liam big


  • Call me crazy, the last two days were productive: Pushed through Chapter 15, then realized that I needed to split it. Am now finished with Chapter 15 and 16, heading straight into Chapter 17… Yeehaa!

  • 2014 Jungle Garden

    This morning it’s family time. We’ll be planting flowers in our small island jungle garden. The rest of the weekend will be dedicated to sitting amongst the green, the colorful flowers and write write write…


  • 2010 Macau Pool

    Writing about four of the most intense years of my life. My mind is filled with images and emotions, heaven and hell, Jekyll and Hyde… it was a fabulous roller coaster ride for while it lasted. Amazing encounters. Never felt more happy, never more unhappy. Exponential growth and breathlessness.


  • The Fortunate Nomad Teaser

    2011 Eyes

    The Fortunate Nomad Teaser

    The 1st teaser for my coming book on Vimeo. Memoirs that will have you at the edge of your seat, touch your heart, and inspire you!


  • 1990 Columbia River

    Graduating from high school in the US. For a few years I really tried to come to terms with the body I had been given. Years later I understood that you can’t separate your soul from your body, no matter how hard you try. My time in the US was life-changing and made me curious for more. I stayed one year and afterwards Germany seemed to have lost all its appeal… It was the beginning of a nomadic life, exploring countries and people, that I wouldn’t trade in for anything.


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