Category Archives: Autism

The London Trip: Operation Jogi Autogramm

Whatever the last post of the year was about I wanted it to be Jogi related in some way. I should have written this post after I got back but somehow never found the time, and with today being the 31st I guess it’s the perfect time. I still can’t believe that it actually happened, that instead of being in my room watching that stuff on TV I was actually there. I just wish I could have gotten more pictures and video. Unsurprisingly I’m not too good with a camera, turns out twitchy people and cameras don’t mix. The cold didn’t help either, nor did the fact I was trying to keep hold of so many things at once. Should I go autograph hunting again I will definitely be better prepared next time. Still I did at least manage to get some good pictures of Jogi and video too. Unfortunately I didn’t get one of Matze, he was standing right in front of me. Whilst he was signing the shirt I could easily have snapped a picture right then but I guess I wasn’t even thinking . I was a little awed by the fact he was right in front of me and he was so much taller than I expected.

As important as getting a Jogi autograph was getting one from Matze was definitely the best part of the whole experience. That’s probably the one moment of the trip I’m actually quite proud about. It’s not a word I use often, not a word I like either. But that’s how I feel about that moment. The reason being it’s one of those rare moments in my life when I spoke up for myself and it paid off. Had I not called out Matze’s name as he walked to the bus he would have carried on walking and I never would have gotten his signature, never would have got to see him standing right in front of me.I got quite a few signatures in total, Mario Götze, Julian Draxler, Lars Stindl, Per Mertesacker and a few others I can neither remember nor identify. And not forgetting one from the DFB president and Oliver Bierhoff. As for Jogi I didn’t get one signature, I got three separate ones. One on the very special piece of paper I wanted signed (a list of every Freiburg game I’ve seen going back to September 2014), another in my book and this is the best one of all, my match ticket.

Despite not getting off to a very good start overall I think the trip went well, there’s definitely room for improvement and a few parts of it I wouldn’t want to repeat under any circumstances but the positives outweigh the negatives. Getting lost in London wasn’t fun at all, it was scary enough the first day in daylight when I had a vague idea where I was, the second time was terrifying. Yet it has it’s good points, I was alone and had no-one to rely on. So if I was going to find my way I had to ask for directions and figure it out. How I managed to do that I still don’t know.

The second day went better than the first, I spent the afternoon before the game waiting outside the team’s hotel and it paid off. I got a few autographs before the bus left (though not Jogi, he went straight to the bus) and watched the bus leave. I almost missed kick off because of having to rush back to the stadium but it was so worth it. Now on that point I had planned ahead, my hotel was close to the stadium so I had just enough time to drop off my stuff and get to the game. The part I was most anxious about turned out to be not so good. I was anxious enough about the prospect of queuing to get inside, I could have done without getting spat at by a no doubt drunk England fan who mistakenly thought I was a German. Same as I could have done without the Auschwitz chants on the underground on the way there. But they were the exception to the rule, almost everyone else I encountered was nothing like that.

On the subject of meeting people that was one of the big surprises of the whole experience for me. Now the social side of things didn’t go so well in one regard, but there were enough unplanned encounters to make up for it. Whilst waiting outside the hotel I got to meet and talk with several different people. It was cool being just a fan among other fans, not being the “weird” one for a change. And I even got to meet a few Germans, though some of them curiously enough seem to be baffled why I’m a fan of Jogi. Being the only fan of his there after the game certainly worked in my favour though. Then all the attention was on the players but I was waiting for Jogi, convinced that I wasn’t going to miss out this time around. Normally in social situations all I do is watch, this time I was able to make that ability work for me. I watched and waited, and finally got my chance. For once in my life hyper-awareness worked in my favour and did something other than make me anxious.

The day after the game I was meant to go on a pre-booked tour of Wembley Stadium. I didn’t end up doing that, having decided the night before there was something much more fun to do. And that was going back to the hotel in search of more autographs and pictures. I am so glad I did go back because that was when I hit the jackpot, getting the cutest pictures of Jogi ever. Getting an autograph from Lars Stindl made it worth it too. And the best part of all, I got to meet Uli the Sky reporter and get an autograph, that was unbelievably cool. I got to talk to him about a few things and one very important subject in particular. The night before I managed to catch up on some of the news online, seeing his report on TV I heard him mention Hansi. As it turned out Hansi was actually there, Uli confirmed that part. But he wasn’t staying at their hotel and I didn’t get to see him. Still it was cool just knowing he’d been there.

Many things didn’t go as planned and a lot of things could have gone better, but none of that matters. There will always be things that go wrong or don’t go exactly to plan, this trip was proof that things can still go right afterwards. This trip cost me a lot and I don’t mean financially speaking, it really wiped me out in terms of energy but it was worth it. Even the delayed meltdown/stress reaction when I got home was worth it. I’m already thinking about another trip, about going to Germany next time. Before that seemed the very definition of impossible, I’m not going to lie, it still feels a little daunting now. But less so, the prospect of it no longer seems quite so terrifying. And even if it is scary, the rewards are worth it.

Jogi footage – London 11/11/17

Advent Calendar Day 22

Just one more day and I get to do the best post of all, well part 1 of 2 at least. Jogi may not have done as many half-time interviews as usual this year but I’m still sure I’ll need two posts to put together the best of his pictures and videos from this year. Plus Hansi will need a little space too anyway. Maybe then I can finally get around to uploading some of my pictures from the London trip. Whilst I was out and counting down the hours until I got back I was convinced it was the 23rd today for some reason. I guess that’s what happens when there’s no football on, I’m even worse with knowing what day it is than usual.

Today wasn’t a disaster but it wasn’t exactly a lot of fun either, I do like trains but I also like and more importantly need to know what’s going on and what’s going to happen next. I get that not everyone (even those with an autistic child/family member) does the whole list and written schedule thing but I would have expected to at least have been given an outline of the schedule, to at least know what events were taking place and when. I find not having that information very unsettling. Were it someone I didn’t know that well it wouldn’t be so bad but when it’s a person who just a few weeks ago commented “you need routine a lot more than I do, don’t you?” Bearing that in mind I didn’t think it would be an issue. It doesn’t matter now anyway, I got through it. Though the day did remind it’s a very good thing I don’t get driven places very often, 60 minutes in a cramped confined space with other people is not my idea of fun, or even my idea of a tolerable situation. I spent most of those 6o minutes trying to sit still and resist fantasizing about opening the car door and escaping. And no I don’t mean that in a death wish kind of way, I mean that in a I don’t think I can keep still longer kind of way. I spent most of the day observing more than doing anything else, not that I’m really complaining about that, I like people watching. It’s always interesting to meet a fellow autistic’s family, I like seeing if autism has a genetic basis in their family or they’re just a genetic aberration of sorts. Now I’m done for the holidays, that was my last social time, now I get to catch up on some sleep and curl up in bed with a pile of books. That is what Christmas is made for.

Advent Calendar Days 20 & 21

It’s not quite the case that Christmas is cancelled because Freiburg got knocked out of the DFB Pokal on Wednesday, but it’s certainly not the way you want the first half of the season to end. Then again it’s not the fact they got knocked out, more by whom and how. Losing to Bremen was bad enough but doing so because of a goal which wasn’t a legal goal, well that’s going to hurt for quite some time. It’s funny, ever since the season started I’ve been bemoaning the existence and use of VAR and on Wednesday night I was angry because it wasn’t in use. Had it been in use it might have affected the outcome of Gladbach’s game against Leverkusen too, and the player who elbowed Matze in the head would have been sent off like he should have been. Though I’m not sure the VAR would have helped in the peculiar situation of the diving coach. That was truly bizarre, Leverkusen’s coach seemingly taking a dive after a Gladbach player almost clattered into him but just avoided him the end. Definitely the funniest moment from this week’s games.

But there’s point obsessing over it, they’re out and that’s that. I guess I should see the good point of the situation, it’s one less distraction from the all important task of staying in the league. First up after the winter break is Eintracht Frankfurt, a fixture that holds some very good memories indeed. Back in 2015 that was Nils Petersen’s first game as a Freiburg player, first game, first hat-trick. He didn’t take the penalty though, Vladimir Darida did that.

As much as I’m looking forward to that game I don’t really want to be thinking about January right now. Thinking so far ahead counts as thinking big and that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t want to think big or make plans, all I want is for just a few months to have a nice quiet, peaceful existence, nothing more. I’m not making any new year’s resolutions and it’s not only because I see no point in doing so, more that for a while I don’t want anything to happen. Last year I got sucked into thinking everything was fine in December and then everything fell apart in January. So I don’t want the same thing to happen again, I don’t want to make any assumptions.

On the subject of things happening I made a decision earlier this week which surprised myself, not only me but the other relevant parties as well. I don’t know if it came out of nowhere or I’d already subconsciously decided this but either way I made the decision for the next appointment to be the last. It’s not entirely for the reasons I stated on Wednesday though. It’s not because I think I don’t need to talk anymore right now. Actually it’s the opposite, I’m tired of talking. I’m tired of having to go there knowing I won’t really tell the whole truth anyway. And I know that’s partly my fault, it’s just not easy to be honest and trust someone when for years you’ve gotten used to the fact that’s not an option. To borrow a quote from one of my favourite shows The Bridge, “my plan is not to have a plan.”I just want to read books and sleep. Mostly I just want to be left alone. I don’t know if it’s people I’m tired of or rather the pretense I feel like I need to put on in order to be around them. Either way I really wish I didn’t have somewhere to go tomorrow. I wish I’d been brave enough to say no when I was invited. I should be grateful I have friends yet right now I just want everyone to go away.

I want nothing more than to stay inside and lose myself in books, to just escape from reality completely. That’s one of things I talked about on Wednesday, how books are a better distraction for me than anything else. Playing Playstation is a good way to pass time but not to occupy my mind in quite the same way. No, playing games is more like anesthetizing yourself in a way but books are something else. At least that’s one good thing about the past few months, I set myself the target of reading 75 books this year and I’m one off reaching that goal. I just finished reading Going Underground, a book which features an autistic detective. I know, I shouldn’t even be reading books with autistic characters in them when they’re written by NTs because I invariably end up ranting about them. And this one did frustrate me a little, though not as much as Rubbernecker did. I suppose the fact the author actually has an autistic son has something to do with that. One good thing about the book is the writer takes the time to make it clear that Jonathan is an investigator, not a policeman. That’s important because the idea of someone like Jonathan being a policeman is absurd.

I am though unhappy with certain aspects of his character, like the fact he doesn’t seem to understand humour at all and that he’s completely oblivious to popular cultural references. I know some people with autism either don’t get or just don’t do humour. But I hate it when an autistic character is portrayed that way because it’s so stereotypical and it reinforces the view the general public holds that autistic people don’t get jokes. And even more importantly sometimes you come across parents who actually believe their child can’t be autistic because “my son is nice, friendly, intelligent and has a fantastic sense of humour.” Yeah, none of that precludes a person being autistic. I find that so offensive, the implication that we’re all unfriendly, stupid, unfeeling people who have no sense of humour whatsoever. Similarly I find it equally offensive that somehow autistic has become shorthand for “socially awkward/pedantic/weird/obsessive/mean/critical. Basically some NTs are using autistic as a synonym for any trait they don’t like or consider to be a negative trait. And that’s the other trait I wish writers would use less of when writing autistic characters, emotional detachment. Lots of autistic people have the opposite problem, feeling too much. They might not be able to actually express that however.

At least I knew the other book I was reading wouldn’t let me down, Bernie Gunther never has, well not so far anyway. I just finished book seven, Field Grey. From what I read of the reviews it seems to be a book which divides opinions. I have to admit it is the most challenging of them so far but it was interesting, I didn’t find the couple hundred pages of interrogations boring. I liked seeing the puzzle being pieced together and learning what happened to him after the war ended. Though it got a little confusing in the end with all the double crossing, I will admit that. It hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm any, I can’t wait to start reading the next one. I can take some comfort from that, the fact I’m looking forward to something.

Advent Calendar Days 18 & 19: Still no Matze

It’s only Tuesday and already I feel like I’m out of words, and just about everything else for that matter. There’s no reason I’d be looking forward to or enjoying Christmas anyway, but still, it’s not a good way to feel. It’s the same story as always, spend time with other people, have a good time and end up paying the price and deeply regretting it afterwards. To think that last week I was daydreaming about what it would be look to be more “normal” and to do regular people things. Of course that was just a daydream, not at all close to reality. It hurts even more when another autistic person tells you they “admire they way you can retreat within your own little world and choose not to interact with other people when you know it’ll stress you out.” It gets even worse when they go on to say how they wish they could do the same and stop pushing themselves to interact with people even though they know it makes them anxious. I don’t know if there’s a criticism implied in there but it sure feels like there was. Regardless the first part hurts no less and it doesn’t make any sense either. Not least because they think retreating within yourself is a choice rather than a defense mechanism. It’s definitely not something to envy. I had an NT make a similar comment once and that hurt too, but it hurts more coming from someone who should understand.

I suppose it’s a good thing I got this far before the whole thing started feeling like a chore. Now I’m only doing these posts because leaving something unfinished bugs me. I’ve opened 19 doors now and still no Matze, I don’t think he’s in there. I think only the most popular players are in there, not necessarily the current squad. That would explain why Andre Schürrle is in there. Which just makes all of this even more disappointing. First no Freiburg advent calendar and now no Matze either. I know, that’s a pathetic problem to have but I’m grateful to have such things to deal with right now. I would like nothing more than a month without a real life major problem to deal with. December wasn’t such a month, I’m hoping January will be. It would be nice to have some peace and quiet for a change. Though with the way I feel at the moment peace and quiet feels like it might not be enough.

All this negativity I feel like I have to mention at least one good thing. Well tonight was DFB Pokal night, part one of two. I got three out of my four predictions right, so that’s not so bad. The three I got right were Paderborn, Mainz and Schalke. Unfortunately I was wrong in regard to 1.FC Nürnberg. Obviously tomorrow right I’ve predicted Freiburg to beat Bremen, at least I hope they do anyway. It’s the same with Gladbach, more hope than anything else, I don’t want Matze to get knocked out after all. Whether they can actually beat Leverkusen is another story. I know the league is one thing and the cup is another but Leverkusen did beat Gladbach 5-1 earlier this year, so that doesn’t leave much room for hope. Similarly I don’t hold much hope for Heidenheim pulling off a surprise and beating Eintracht Frankfurt. As for Bayern and Dortmund, who the hell knows.

The other positive I can glean from the past few days is the fact I’ve been reading more. Being separated from my tablet helped on that count. With less time to read internet forums on various subjects I had to find another way to occupy myself late at night when I couldn’t sleep. It’s good in another way too, read less nonsense and you have less to get angry and rant about. Well, that was the theory anyway. Then I went and read Rubbernecker and found something to rant about after all. Yet another book where an author equates Aspergers with “lacking in empathy and sensitivity.” There’s plenty I could rant about, I won’t because I’m too tired for that. But there is one point I have to mention, namely that the book concludes with the point that essentially the key to happiness for an autistic person is learning how to act normal and doing that, making the NTs around you happy, giving up your special interest and worst of all learning how to tolerate people touching you because that’s one of the normal human things you need to be able to do. Like I said, way too many things to rant about. So many that I feel more sad than angry about it; sad that people still think this rubbish about autism.

Advent Calendar Days 13, 14 & 15: The Missing Days

Last year I missed one days post and had to do a double post the next day, but never did I miss two days in a row. I somehow managed that this time around, too many late nights and not enough sleep catching up with me I guess. It’s been a very slow few days and I don’t feel like writing anything at all. I did however get two pieces of good news today, first finding out that the final series of The Bridge will be on TV at the start of the new year. And second that the DFB have confirmed their preparation plans for the world cup, having finally decided on where they’re staying. Not in Sotschi which is what Jogi apparently preferred but near Moscow in a place named Vatutinki. They also named their first friendly opponents, Austria who they’ll play on the 2nd June.

Advent Calendar Day 12: The Day of Petersen

I wish I could come with a better title, Nils certainly deserves one. Also because the title makes it sound like I got Nils’ card in the DFB calendar, something which of course is never going to happen. Maybe Christian Günter will be in there one day but not Nils. That doesn’t matter tonight anyway, they didn’t win a trophy or promotion but you wouldn’t know it from the players and Christian Streich’s reaction. It was a big game, three points would see them out of the relegation zone. For some reason at home they don’t lose against Gladbach and tonight was no exception. It may not have been a performance as terrific as the one which saw them beat Gladbach 3-1 last season but it was good in it’s own way. They only scored the one goal and that was a penalty but it so easily could have been more. I’m kind of glad it wasn’t though, it would have made a dent in the goal difference which obviously is important but I would have felt bad for Matze. Gladbach aren’t having a very good week, last weekend they got a penalty wrongfully taken away and scored an own goal. And this week Jannik Vestergaard isn’t any happier, the penalty was debatable to say the least. And once again it showcases how annoying and intrusive VAR can be. It took them close to a minute to stop the play and tell the referee. If they are going to keep VAR they need to make it more responsive and communication needs to be better. In the end  don’t think it would have mattered, the way the second half went I think Freiburg would have won anyway. That won’t make Vestergaard feel any better of course.

I could rage against everything that went wrong today and all the things I screwed up, not least about the fact I need to take better care of my stuff. This time it’s my tablet and the USB port needs replacing. Being without it makes me feel like I’m missing a part of me, I’m so used to it being at hand it actually feels like an extension of me. Having a laptop in front of you is just not the same at all. But it’s my own fault and now I have to pay the price, not just the cost of the repairs but the waiting. I keep going to get it thinking it’s there. It’s only been 24 hours and it’s like I’m going through a withdrawal of some kind. One thing is for certain I’ll be careful not to mention this to any so called “professional.” Lest they give  me yet another lecture about being “overdependent on technology.” You know because normal people aren’t over reliant on technology at all. I’m not going to rant about that or anything else. Freiburg won, Nils scored a goal and just as importantly I got the Jogi video I was expecting to get today.

Nils scored the only goal of the night but he was far from the most important man on the pitch tonight, in fact everyone but Alex was. He for once didn’t have a lot to do, which makes a pleasant change for him I suppose. Of great importance tonight was Çağlar Söyüncü. This was a game made for him, several times he got partake in the monster tackles and interventions he thrives on, earning himself a much deserved equally monster hug from Christian Streich after the game. Apparently some Premier League clubs are interested in Söyüncü, I hate to say it but I can see why, he would be great in the English league. But he’s not going anywhere, not yet.

Nils Petersen goal – SC Freiburg v Gladbach 2017/18

SC Freiburg v Gladbach 2017/18 – last ten seconds and celebrations

Sometimes I think maybe things are predestined, today of all days I get the sticker of Jonas Hector and the card of Marco Reus. The connection of course being Peter Stöger who up until last weekend was Hector’s coach at Köln and is now Reus’ coach at Dortmund. There’s another interesting connection in the sense that tonight was his first game in charge of Dortmund against Mainz, the team of former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel. As well of course as being the former team of current Dortmund player Andre Schürrle. Well Dortmund won their first game with the new Peter in charge. As for Köln tomorrow night will be their second league game without him and there is no way in hell they are going to win it or even draw with Bayern. Last season they got a very respectable point at the Alllianz arena, a feat which is the very definition of impossible now.

Advent Calendar Day 11: Vampire Mondays

Despite getting out of bed whilst it was actually still morning today didn’t go as I wanted it to. Even though I was out of bed and doing what I was supposed to be doing it didn’t feel right, half the time I felt like I was still asleep and the rest of the time I was wishing I were. It was only late in the evening that I actually felt awake, something which doesn’t bode well for my efforts at straightening out my sleeping patterns. I’m doing everything I can to resist a nocturnal schedule but evidently the rest of me does not agree. Come night time that old familiar feeling returns, a feeling of invincibility almost. Like I can do anything and I have a million and one ideas. Which of course I don’t actually do anything about, that’s all anything is these days, ideas and thoughts. Hardly anything is real anymore, most things don’t get beyond my head. I plot stories, come up with ideas for posts and projects. Yet I don’t do any of it. When it comes to writing stuff down the words aren’t there anymore. And when they are it’s not right, the stories are more complete when they’re in my head. Like something gets lost when I try to put them down on paper.

Things aren’t happening as they’re meant to and these posts are no exception. I thought I might use them to get back on track. And of course I had plenty of ideas, like digging some stuff out from my archives and making videos for the players whose cards and stickers I got on that day. Something which never materialized, not because I forgot about the idea. It was just the thought of all that work, what is usually fun felt like a chore. Almost everything feels that way these days. Forget about actually getting anything done by the time you’re out of bed, showered and dressed it feels like that’s half of your energy gone already. Yesterday was a lot of fun, maybe too much fun.

Not a lot happened today, other than what seems to be the now mandatory Playstation marathon (the game of choice being Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood this time) the main event today was the Champions League draw. Bayern have got what on paper is a not so difficult draw, having been drawn with Turkish team Besiktas. I find it funny myself, because Besiktas are from RB Leipzig’s group. The best of the bunch though is obviously Real Madrid v PSG. I don’t care about the Ronaldo v Neymar competition though. What I care about is German being pitted against German, well Germans since PSG have two in the form of Julian Draxler and Kevin Trapp. And of course Real Madrid have Toni Kroos. I can’t really root for either, I don’t like PSG because of where their money comes from yet I can’t root for Real Madrid because I can’t stand Ronaldo. As for picking who I like better, I don’t know if I can do that. My first instinct is to say Julian, though I think that might be Matze’s fault. Either way it’ll be brilliant to watch, I just hope that Julian actually gets to play. On the subject of Germans being pitted against one another the draw of Chelsea and Barcelona does just that. This time it’s Antonio Rüdiger against Marc-Andre ter Stegen. And this is the point where I say I’m staying neutral. Between those two I really can’t pick.

Despite the excitement of the Champions League draw the highlight of today was a new video for my collection, not Jogi of course (I’ve never gotten one of him from a 2.Bundesliga game – besides they’re in Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup) but Stefan instead.

Stefan Kuntz at Fortuna Düsseldorf v 1.FCN 2017/18