Veronika Sprinkel was born into this world with ten fingers, ten toes, and a twinkle in her wide, precocious eyes. Quickly, Veronika’s free spirited lust for life surfaced — her early years spent stargazing, fort building, freaking out at ghost stories, and hosting living room danceathons during episodes of Solid Gold.
In the fifth grade, Veronika turned on her parent’s home stereo unit, to hear (as if in slow motion) Slash’s opening riff on Welcome to the Jungle. A shimmering neon rainbow bolted through her body — Veronika had never felt so alive, so present in such a sensibly organized universe. For in this moment, Veronika fell in love with music, knowing with no uncertainty that she was destined to be on stage, sharing her voice with the world.
But trouble was afoot in the Sprinkel home. Dad was a hard-core rageaholic, and Mom, equal parts controlling, manipulative, checked-out. Together, they’d concocted a set of expectations, detailing the daughter whom Veronika was to become. These expectations were based fundamentally, on their own set of conservative, white midwestern values, and offered zero room for error. It goes without saying that these expectations explicitly ruled out any option for serious creative interest. Time marched on, and as Veronika insisted on pursuing her passions, punishments became more and more severe.
When Veronika was fifteen years old, Mom left her at a friend’s place in Detroit. It was a balmy summer’s eve and Veronika watched as her mother’s Nissan sedan disappeared into the dusky industrial horizon. Veronika was on her own and for the better part of a year and a half, she bounced around Rock City, from broken down couch to sofa bed. Surviving on a steady diet of King Cobra malt liquor, chili fries, and Seven-Eleven slurpies — and engaging in, shall we say, some rather questionable forms of enterprise — Veronika took with her little more than a few articles of clothing, favorite CDs, a VHS copy of The Wizard of Oz, and her voice.
On a fast track to becoming yet another teenage statistic, Veronika realized her options were slim. Doubling down on a hunch that her natural given vocal abilities might just save her life, Veronika auditioned for the Interlochen Arts Academy and got in. At Interlochen, Veronika underwent two years of intensive operatic training. Up there in those northern Michigan woods, perhaps the most important lesson Veronika learned was the difference between “troubled” and “talented”.
Veronika graduated (much to the surprise of her family), and headed west to continue classical vocal training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, Veronika began singing with regional opera companies, while simultaneously diving face first into local metal and avant-garde performance scenes. Also during this time, Veronika befriended a neighbor, whose father founded Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa. This relationship opened Veronika to a thrilling new world of food and beverage. Spark to unknown passion struck.
Six years later, all within a three week period, Veronika’s experimental metal band broke up and her beloved voice teacher passed away after a sudden heart attack. Veronika saw little reason to stay in San Francisco — she again, packed one bag, and chased her dreams east to an urban jungle called New York City. Arriving in New York, two weeks after the horrific attacks on 9/11, Veronika had exactly sixty-one dollars to her name. Working tirelessly, Veronika established herself as a promising young Mezzo-Soprano. Gigs began rolling in, and over time Veronika’s resume read impressive. From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem as if Veronika’s dreams had finally come true.
On the inside things looked a little bit different. The business of music was crushing Veronika’s soul on a somewhat regular basis, and with it, the life sucked out of her music-making. Singing became a twisted game of politics, with every move hopefully getting her closer to the next gig. Veronika was lost. Exhaustion ensued. A wall hit. Then, on what was to become Veronika’s final European tour, after auditioning for Opernhaus Halle, she located the nearest trash can and threw her music away — Veronika saw no reason to hold on to it.
The following morning, Veronika flew from Leipzig to San Francisco, San Francisco to New York. Tying up loose ends, Veronika purchased a one-way ticket to Denver, and again packed that one bag. Once settled into her new home, Veronika’s only plan was to lay low and allow the dust of her past to settle. In this process, Veronika became the lucky adoptee of a New Mexican street-dog, whom she lovingly named Pablo. Veronika began diligently studying wine, along with the intricacies of human behavior. With this newfound comprehension, she started writing, taking photographs, and poof: Veronika Sprinkel Ink. was born.
After so many years of abuse, adversity, anger and fear, Veronika has grown wary of humankind. Wary to a point where it’s all too easy to view all people as toxic, vapid, ego-driven creatures whose only interests lie in what and how much they can take for themselves. If this is in fact so, why do we bother even trying to connect? Why don’t we just plan to make our way through life in a solidly constructed bubble built for one? Protected, safe, never to be placed at risk by our own vulnerability.
But, no. There has to be a deeper, more intelligent truth. Something that, if we listen, will reveal our utmost potential. Something to challenge Veronika’s pessimisms. Something to illustrate the fact that some people are out there, choosing to live their lives in ways which serve to refine humanity.
The World According To Veronika Sprinkel, is an online collection of true stories about people doing things which make this world a more beautifully interesting place. Question-askers asking questions typically ignored or overlooked. Happy reading, wandering, or whatever it is you’re doing here.