Oma

1987 oma and frau schmid

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.

Why Don’t You Send Your Wife

2008 liam in mini life jacket

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.”
Silence…
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.

Dhiddhu

2006 lunch on dhiddu

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.

Emerging

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.

Not all those who wander…

2006 shipyard briefing

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.

Enough

1988 teenager on school trip

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.

Significant

i'm significant

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.