Category Archives: Memoirs

Seeing More Clearly

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From 2005 to 2009, I divided my time between serving customers at the dive center and guiding them in the Big Blue. Being back in central Europe at the moment, I know more than ever that life is infinitely better the more ocean I have around me. Things shift back into perspective. And I am reminded of what is truly important. Apart from being a universe of boundless beauty and tranquility, underwater is also where I began to see more clearly…

Watching coral reef life became the perfect metaphor of human daily life. For example, tiny fish who defended their territory taught me how important it is to stand up for yourself no matter how giant the opposition may seem. The myriad of reef fish and other critters in all colors of the rainbow mirrored the infinite diversity of life on land… of human life… Nothing was perfect. Life was even cruel, unpredictable.. Yet to a neutral observer like me, hovering motionless only a few feet away, observing quietly, this was the most delicate and beautiful web of individuals I had ever seen.
Then, there was the interaction amongst divers. Developing a stronger sense of self first was crucial to being able to take care of others.
When I became an instructor, teaching underwater taught me even more about life. The SCUBA instructors’ mantra “stop, think, act” turned out to be great advice no matter the situation or environment. Because, when something goes wrong during a dive or in life, it’s never just one thing but a multitude of smaller and bigger difficulties and challenges that need to be addressed and navigated. Prioritizing is key. Step by little step, we remove one obstacle after another and what seemed insurmountable at first all of a sudden becomes manageable.

Add Oil

5 Senses goup

My latest contribution on TheatreArtLife. Remembering when I immersed myself in a Hong Kong Chinese theatre production. I worked backstage, with barely a clue what was going on. It was an unforgettable experience. Because, as I mention in the short story as well, there is nothing more valuable than opening your mind, letting go of everything you think you know, and thoroughly exposing yourself to living and working in a foreign culture.

Two More Awards for Paralian

IAN Awards

Today, it was announced that Paralian won not just one, but two more book awards. This makes five altogether!
Over the moon doesn’t even begin to cover how delighted I felt when I saw the email this morning. Over the galaxies was more like it (and this after I had almost deleted said email, thinking it was spam).
Both latest awards have been bestowed by the Independent Authors Network. Thank you so much for this honor!

1st Award is 2nd Place in their main category,
“Book of the Year”!!!

2nd Award is for “Outstanding Non-Fiction”

I am especially glad that these two as well as the last award were ‘mainstream’ book awards. Finally, Paralian was recognized as a high quality non-fiction book, an outstanding memoir – not just in the LGBT niche but in general. And rightly so, because this is an entire life journey. It’s always been important to me to emphasize that my story is not just about being transgender. It is a big and important part of it, yes. But at its core, Paralian is a story about being human, facing adversity, and finding your place in this world.

As JJ Marsh wrote for Bookmuse UK a little while ago “It is the extraordinary tale of an exceptional life. Any one of the barbed wire fences Klenk has overcome might be enough to define an average person, but this journey is as far from average as can be imagined.
Born into the wrong body, adopted by dysfunctional parents, battling spasticity, marrying for convenience, living as an agnostic with Mormons, undergoing gender reassignment, suffering heartbreak and embracing career changes while digging deep for a true identity, this is an epic journey. An odyssey.”

Paralian is a true story everyone can identify with if they just dive into the adventure and open the book to the first page…

The Perfect Moment

2006 lunch on dhiddu

The perfect moment. Sunshine. A group of delighted scuba divers whom I had guided throughout the morning. Jackfish. Chilli Sauce. Sand as soft a velvet. Palm Trees. A blazing azure sky and turquoise sea all around us.

I enjoyed myself. Enjoyed to guide, coach, and drink in our surroundings with all my senses. It didn’t really matter who we all were that day. Social status, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and all those things tending to divide us, gave way to simply breathing in the untainted tropical air and enjoying life together. Just for a little while, yesterday and tomorrow became so insignificant as to be non-existent.

When I Found Home

devils tear liam and hanna

When I found home…

“Our relationship had grown like a table coral – and still did. Tree-like, it fanned out, each tiny branch connecting to others to build a magnificent structure – tough and brittle at the same time.
Both of us knew how easily such a delicate formation could break. For the first time, however, I was confident to have found a partner who was as committed to our common cause as I was. We were different in so many ways, yet together our universe expanded. We challenged and supported each other in equal measure.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 33)

… And five years later, we’re still braving life’s turbulences together.
Thank you for being the beautiful soul you are. Thank you for being in my life.

Happy 7th Anniversary to The House of Dancing Water

russian swing practice

Today’s post is dedicated to the entire cast and crew – past and present – of The House of Dancing Water in Macau. The show is celebrating its 7th Anniversary. On the 16th of September 2010, we introduced our creation to the world. An island of magic, fairy tales, water, and light.

The show is still running strong.

I devoted four years of my life to this adventure. One thing, above all, I have learned, thanks to my amazing show family: with dedication, vision, and passion, everything is possible.

Here is a little excerpt from Paralian about my experience:

“The learning curve of my Macau years had been exponential. While listening to coaches and performers over the years, what had struck me the most was their decision-making process. The key to executing a stunt perfectly, and more importantly, safely, was commitment.

During Russian Swing for example, pushers and fliers would push together in perfect harmony, bringing the swing higher with each concerted effort. The swing needed to be high enough. At the same time, too much momentum meant loss of control. It was the flier who needed to feel for the perfect moment, to enable him to soar through the air in the most magnificent arc while remaining in control. When the flier felt this moment arrive, he would loudly call, “Up!”

Both pushers and the flier would put everything they had into one last, strong, synchronized push. Only a few seconds later, the flier would let go and get catapulted high and wide, performing a series of spins and turns. In the end, he would land gracefully in the water.

Acrobatics is characterized by many such moments of no return. In this example, the flier needs to commit. More than anything, he needs to believe in himself without any doubt. Once he shouts, “Up!” he cannot change his mind. The momentum of the swing has grown too powerful to resist. Stopping the swing at this point can mean injury, or even death.

From the very first day of my exposure to acrobatics and coaching, I saw them as a metaphor of life. Once you commit to something, you need to forge ahead with confidence. And, more often than not, going forward is far better then turning back.

Many acrobatics acts also require diligent teamwork and a trust so deep, you literally put your life into someone else’s hands. No matter how confident you are, without pushers who are just as committed as you, dedicated to a common cause, you will not fly far. But even a solo act is never truly solo. If no pushers are visible, then the successful performance of the acrobat rests in the hands of the technicians who have prepared his equipment and assisted him behind the scenes.

I treasured such insights with all my heart. Working in close proximity to individuals who risked their very lives for their profession on a daily basis, made me appreciate more than ever how important it is to believe in ourselves. We need to be clear in our intentions, make our decisions with conviction, and overcome fear. We need to trust others, too. They’re out there, the pushers with common goals, just as we can become pushers for someone who needs us. And whatever our circumstances, we need to live life to the fullest. No doubts. No regrets.”

Congratulations and happy anniversary to us all! Let’s keep reaching for the stars and do the impossible!

What Would an Ocean Be…

2005 free diving in maldives

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” by Werner Herzog is the quote I chose for the beginning of Paralian.
Because this is life. No matter what our backgrounds.
There is no sleep without dreams. No growth without challenge. No clarity without ambivalence. No happiness without heartache. No light without darkness. And thankfully so. Were life more easy, foreseeable, and bearable, we’d be the poorer for it. It is an intricate balance, monster and all…