When did you last laugh heartily and what about?
Jennifer Sonntag: Yesterday I laughed about myself after I confused body lotion with shampoo. Being blind and being in a hurry do not mix well…
What have you always been wanting to do and why have you never done this so far?
Jennifer Sonntag: I have small romantic dreams that have nothing to do with publicity and prime time. I used to think life would feel very exciting through modeling, writing, TV appearances, or public speaking. But these things are not my personal means to reach happiness. I am blind and sometimes I feel totally crazy to wish for and dare very normal things. They become way out because one needs to find creative solutions to overcome barriers. The simplest things feel like extravagant hobbies, like sports challenges. I would really like to have my own, wicked witch's wild herb garden with a warped hut and everything I need to live my "dark passions". But gardening is not easy for blind people. It is comparatively easy to write books and interview celebrities.
Cycling is also overwhelming since I cannot do it alone. The joy-rides with my seeing partner in our parallel tandem mean more quality of life and learning to trust to me. I cannot do this very well because I am a control freak. Also, now and in the future, we want to turn the erotic texts from our book "Liebe mit Laufmaschen" ("Love with a dent") into sensual charcoal drawings, together with other artists. This is also not the easiest hobby for a blind woman. I have not touched drawing utensils since I have gone blind because it painfully reminded me of losing sight. Now I try to approach the topic "sensually" by experimenting with different techniques.
Which person has influenced you most?
Jennifer Sonntag: I am constantly developing so there are always different people. Music and its heroes have always played a big role for me. I stumbled over a lot on my way from punk to gothic. Luckily, I have outgrown Sid Vicious. Some people surely have been heroes one given time in my life, because they helped me climb the ladder of knowledge, but I do not have their posters on my walls anymore. People who inspired or influenced me are often those who have written books or about whom was written. They were and are often unconventional and a little unfathomable (symbolically speaking) women with dents in their lives, because the perfect never appealed to me. In this regard, "being influenced" is always also an active process, because I decide for myself who is relevant to my "inner light switches". There are for example artists like Brigitte Reimann, Anais Nin and Frida Kahlo who left their marks on me. In real life, I look for people who are somewhat weird and somewhat different and who have something meaningful to say.
In my family, there were my parents and my grandmother, all of whom strongly shaped my understanding of safety, trust and reliability. As regards my partner, I appreciate him communicatively, creatively and emotionally. Even when passionate relationships often burn oneself, too. But to me, nothing is less impressive than boring people. So this supposedly is the price to pay.
You have the chance to become the German Federal Commissioner for the Disabled. What would you do first?
Jennifer Sonntag: Wine testing in the Unsicht-Bar ("Unseen Bar", German bar with no lights to create the sensation of eating, drinking and meeting people without seeing for people who can see; the staff are blind people). I would invite all kinds of people with disability to talk about the things that move them, totally uninhibitedly and unpolitically.
No, seriously: Demanding tasks would wait for me and first of all I would need a good overview and thorough training. And then I would already be in the middle of research and details because I would want to avoid superficial politics at all costs. They can cost a lot of money and by very pointless. I would expect ringing ears because my screen reader would read a gigantic agenda first and I would plan to do too much at once. So, my first action should be to boil a calming tea? I have great respect for this job! Verena, you are doing great!