Category Archives: Books

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 Day 9: Adventures in Autism

With the way I’ve been feeling lately I’ve not really seen the point in doing anything and that includes writing, though I doubt myself when it comes to writing a lot anyway. I don’t find it easy to let other people read what I’ve written, especially when it’s fiction. Every once in a while I think what’s the point in writing anything when most of it is destined to go unread by anyone but me. Today I was provided with a very good reason as to why it’s important to keep writing a certain kind of story, that is the autism themed ones. Earlier I got sent a link to a post about a very offensive book about autism. A book which I’m not going to name, though I don’t really need to, the details will unfortunately make it clear. For there aren’t many books written by such a despicable human being who somehow manages to combine self centerdness, child abuse, hatred of disabled people and eugenics. The worst thing of all is the book isn’t fiction.

Before I read the link I thought “great another autism book written by one of those parents” but didn’t really expect it to be any worse than the many terrible articles and books I’ve read in the past. I was wrong, very wrong. I’ve read several articles and tweets about the book, enough to know that I’m not going to be able to read it without physically destroying the book in the process. I wish I could say I’m surprised, but not that much. It’s all too depressingly familiar. You live in a world where a parent of an autistic child murders that child and they are somehow the one who gets all the sympathy – then you can’t be surprised about stuff like this. Even so being sad their child is autistic is one thing, openly mocking them and writing a book in which you call them names and share their personal information, that is so far beyond the line it defies description. To think a few days ago I was ranting about the tv show The A Word and how terrible his parents are. In doing so I said “I’m so glad Joe is fictional because the thought of a kid having parents like that in real life is unbearable.”

Well, now it’s the other way around. I wish this boy were fictional. I wish as his evil mother thinks that autistic people like him and me didn’t have feelings and thoughts, that we didn’t understand that people like her hate us. What’s most disturbing about the book (I know, try and pick) is the review from a newspaper praising it for it’s “refreshing honesty.” You mean you’re glad this parent wrote this book saying how disabled people like her son are a burden, that they shouldn’t reproduce, openly making fun of them and terrorizing them? Are they glad because they think that way too but the constraints of civilized society prevent them from openly expressing their views? And now that a parent of a disabled child has said it they feel like it’s validated their views somehow? I’m so disappointed that Jon Stewart had anything good to say about this book, more disappointed than I can even put into words.

Anyway, the point I was going to make before getting lost in my rant is that without even actually reading it that book reminded me of why it’s important for people who actually understand autism to write about it. My stories are always realistic in that sense and sometimes that means they are a little depressing, but I write about the good and bad sides of autism. I don’t shy away from writing about difficult stuff and I don’t oversell the positives. My own situation has provided me with a perfect viewpoint as to how autism can mean very different things for different people. But when “those parents” rant at you about how you don’t understand autism because you’re high functioning they fail to realise that. Somehow their “normal” brain doesn’t register the fact that an autistic person like myself is highly likely to have at least one autistic sibling. Point that out and they’ll probably foolishly assume they’re “high-functioning” like you. Same as they foolishly assume that being able to type makes you capable of everything you need to do in order to function in the real world. With all their stupidity and rigid views maybe they have something wrong with them.

All that ranting and I haven’t even mentioned football once, that doesn’t happen often. It’s not like nothing has happened on that front today either, two coaches sacked in one day. Well only of them of them officially, Dortmund haven’t officially confirmed it yet but that’ll no doubt happen in the morning. It’s no surprise and I don’t mean because of the terrible streak Dortmund have been on lately. I’m not enjoying someone else’s downfall, just enjoying being right and winning my bet. They should have kept Thomas Tuchel. Ironic thing is in winning today Bremen helped me win my bet. All the same I would have preferred they not win, it’s put even more pressure on Freiburg tomorrow morning to beat Cologne. Thanks to Bremen winning Freiburg drop back down into 17th place. With only two match-days left it’s looking like it’s going to be another Christmas spent in the relegation zone.

Advent Calendar Day 4

I don’t have a title for today either but that’s not because I couldn’t be bothered to come up with one, more that the sticker and cards I got provided no inspiration. It’s fitting I suppose, getting a player I dislike on what is usually the worst day of the week. I didn’t like Sebastian Rudy when he played for Hoffenheim and I still don’t like him now that he plays for Bayern. It’s not because Monday is the start of the week that I dislike it (though obviously that doesn’t help), it’s more that the routine I’ve fallen into on Monday’s is not a helpful one. I didn’t have to get early today so I decided not to, but ended up waking up at 6:00am anyway, and after that getting back to sleep wasn’t easy. So even though I caught up on some sleep I may as well not have bothered. Thanks to that and yesterday I have something of a hangover, not alcohol induced of course – I don’t even drink. No, it’s more of an anger hangover, the lingering side effects of rage. And now I’m angry at myself for even being angry in the first place.

It never occurred to me before but my appointments are usually on Tuesdays, and now that’s got me thinking as to whether or not that’s why Mondays never go very well. I don’t suppose I’ll have to worry about such things for much longer anyway, after a few months they always kick you off the list, regardless of whether you’ve gotten any “better” or not. This is just like anything else in life, it doesn’t matter what you do or say, the outcome will be the same anyway. And even if you do tell them truth, that doesn’t help either. You share your thoughts of death with them and they judge it to be serious or you actually try to hurt yourself then you’ll get seen by what they mockingly call the “crisis team.” And they are the most useless human beings you could ever hope to encounter. So much so that it makes you wonder if that’s part of their plan, to be so useless that you never bother seeking help again. Or to think even darker it’s to ensure that you see there really is no help there and everything really is pointless. So much so that death is the only realistic option. If only I wasn’t such a coward that is. Because that’s what I’m really angry about, that I could have done it and I didn’t. Right at the last second I changed my mind and I don’t know why.

I did accidentally get an answer to a question I didn’t even know I was trying to answer though. It’s weird how you’re reading the exact right book at the time you need to. After seeing The Snowman I decided to read the book again, partly to cleanse my mind of the disappointment that the film was. Also because I couldn’t remember the details of the plot to work out how much of the details they’d changed or streamlined to make the film work. The chapter that gave me the answer was when Katrine pays Arve Stop a none too pleasant visit, she almost kills him in fact. She almost ended up strangling him and in the process explained to him what the rushing sensation he felt was, that the oxygen deprivation he’s experiencing actually feels good. I answered my own question without even realizing it, the book didn’t give me the answer, just made me see that I had done so. I wrote about that in my death story, about a feeling of not only relief but something more akin to pleasure when the scarf is tightened. A few days ago when talking about stories and writing someone said (well typed if you want to be pedantic about it) that the best stories are often true. I guess in that story there’s a lot of truth and that explains not only why I have two versions with different endings but why I’m so fixated on the one where he doesn’t die. It’s not because I’m glad I’m still alive, more that it’s my expression of anger at that fact. It’s why I’m so fixated on writing about him being angry about having failed and still being alive. In one way or another it often feels like I’m the last one to know about my feelings or why I’m thinking/writing about a particular subject. I will admit one thing, it does feel good in a way to be posting on here again. Even if I am just ranting and feeling sorry for myself it feels somewhat of a relief to be honest somewhere.

Advent Calendar Day 1: King Jogi

Things haven’t exactly been good on the writing front (or any other for that matter) so taking on the challenge of posting every day may not be the best thing to do right now. Not least because the challenge is incomplete anyway because for reasons I don’t understand it proved impossible to get a Freiburg calendar. At first that gave me the perfect excuse not to even bother trying doing this, though I didn’t really need an excuse. The same excuse I use for everything else these days probably would have sufficed, that is the excuse of “I can’t be bothered.”

But seeing the contents of the DFB advent calendar I decided I had to at least give it a shot, even more so when behind door number one I got Jogi’s sticker and Manuel Neuer’s card. In place of the Freiburg calendar I had to get something and seeing as how the Bayern one was too expensive and there’s no reason to get a Dortmund one anymore I took the only logical option, I went with Matze and got a Borussia Mönchengladbach one. Though on that count I was to be disappointed because the Gladbach one is not like the Freiburg one at all, there are no cute little faces behind the doors, just wrapped pieces of chocolate. As for Freiburg whilst I may not have them in chocolate form this year I won’t be abandoning them, even though it looks like they are destined to spend Christmas in the relegation places again and relegation itself is looking more and more definite with every passing weekend. It’s not a lot of fun watching them at the moment but I’m not going to abandon them just because of that. I could never envision following another team anyway, so no matter what I wanted I’m with them.

Ever since I got back from London I’ve been saying I’d write a post about the trip and the game, and post pictures of the autographs I was lucky enough to get. Not to forget the pictures I got of Jogi which are even more precious. But like so many other things I just let it slide. It’s not just that I don’t care about anything, it’s that I can’t even pretend I care. So since I got back I’ve pretty much done nothing. Unless you count of course writing extremely depressing stories late at night when I should be asleep, that I have no problem doing. The helpful insight I got from someone on that count was “maybe you’re writing depressing stuff because that’s how you feel.” No really, because I hadn’t worked that out. Just how stupid do people think I am? Anyway that sounds suspiciously like the beginnings of a rant so I’ll stop that there. Point is I haven’t done a whole lot, I’ve kept up with my Jogi videos but it doesn’t feel the same anymore. It feels like I’m just doing it because I don’t know what else to do. Which is pretty much how everything else feels too.

I’ve tried to resist the temptation of simply sleeping all day but it’s not easy, especially when I can’t get a decent amount of sleep at night. So that I don’t get stuck thinking obsessive thoughts I’ve been spending a lot of time reading, that’s probably the only good thing to come out of all this. The fact I’ve started reading like I used to again. I can’t even remember the last time I got through ten books in a month. That was my target for November, to read ten books. Just so I didn’t feel like a complete failure and that I could at least do that.

Though even that has slowed down over the past few days. All of a sudden out of nowhere everything just came to a shuddering halt, reality once more making it’s presence felt and reminding me that life sucks and this is the way things are. Almost like the universe is putting me back in my place, reminding me not to be too happy after all the excitement of the London trip. It doesn’t seem like it at all right now but I had been trying hard not to feel sorry for myself. But the truth is things have been slipping and I can’t ignore it anymore. Stuff is piling up everywhere, both in a physical and a virtual sense. I dare not even look at my main e-mail inbox anymore because from the few times I have been brave enough to take a peek I’ve seen the ever growing piles of increasingly irate messages.  I should have known something was really wrong when I stopped opening, sorting and otherwise dealing with my sticker collection. When I don’t care about or have energy for simple repetitive tasks like that then I know I’m really in trouble. But still I keep collecting things because what else would I do? I don’t know how to do anything else. It’s not like I’m going to go outside and make friends or something, there is no real life to be had. It’s the collectibles and the stories or nothing. Maybe if I wait this out they’ll make me feel happy again, like they used to do.

A Step in the Right Direction

I’m not sure why I decided today would be the day I break the bad habit I’ve let myself fall into of not writing anything, if it’s out of guilt that I’ve not posted something with actual words for over a month or if it’s something else. There are several other reasons which could be conributing factors, the sudden and unexpected change in my mood being one of them. The main other one being the reconstruction project I’m currently engaged in which turned out to have an unexpected silver lining. I’m still surprised at how I reacted to that; to the news I had to start over what has essentially been a three year project and that part of it had to be done in just under two weeks. I didn’t freak out about it, just got down to work and made a plan. I think that might have something to do with the improvement in my mood. It’s been so time consuming that Ive had little time to wallow in my misery or think about anything else, having something to focus on has been most helpful. I’ve been warming up to the idea of writing something for the past few days, indeed the words for the prompts of the past two days would have worked perfectly for me. But I didn’t want to force the issue, whether it’s a blog post or a story listening to your instincts is important, if it feels right you’ll just know. Hopefully some of those same instincts will return for other purposes too and I can get back to finishing some of the stories I’m in the middle of.

I haven’t gotten much of anything done lately, the reconstruction project aside. Other than keeping up with the Bundesliga which I couldn’t even think of giving up nothing else has seemed important. It’s not like I haven’t had ideas for stories, just no motivation to write them down. It’s far easier to play out scenarios in my head rather than wrestle with getting them down on paper, in much the same way it’s easier to talk to characters in my head than to real life people. And when I do talk to the latter it’s always about my obsessions these days which probably isn’t a good sign. Apparently that’s a sign of anxiety but then I’m almost always feeling anxious about something so that’s not really helpful. Then again I don’t have much time for so-called professionals right now. I’m pretty sick to death of them and their so-called knowledge of autism. I know they aren’t all that useless but it’s not always easy to remember that. Last week’s events helpled a little on that count, it’s not often I get to meet a professional who I think could actually be helpful. Talking to them is other step in the right direction mentioned in the title. Because not only did I do something I was not entirely sure about but I did so by myself. And that is new for me, going to an appointment like that without taking a trusted adult. Whether it turned out to be useful or not just getting out of the house was a good thing, I’m spending far too much time inside these days.

This week I got that out the way first, going out on Monday so at least I didn’t have that to beat myself up about. I had to make myself go as usual but it was worth it, no matter how bad I feel turning down the opportunity to see a Franco Nero film at the cinema is not an option. Had I known the exact plot of the film beforehand I wouldn’t have gone to see it but it’s a little late for that now. Seeing a film about making the most of life, death and coming to terms with your own mortality probably isn’t the best thing for me to be watching right now. And given my reaction I’m going to say it wasn’t such a great idea. I’m still kind of embarassed about that, I hate people getting upset and I hate it even more when that person is me.

The thoughts which appeared in my head during the film were even more troublesome. Why I would suddenly start thinking of that story again I don’t know. I’ve still been thinking of death over the past few weeks, that hasn’t gone away. But I haven’t been actively thinking of carrying out such an act. Strange thing is it’s not Matze I was thinking about, rather it was afterwards, what would happen to his parents. I don’t know if this is just me working out such things in my head so they make sense to me, or if it’s me talking myself out of it. Or perhaps I’m just curious what happens afterwards, this might be me answering the question the psychiatrist put to me. He asked me what I thought came afterwards and I didn’t have an answer. I know he meant for me but obviously I’m thinking about other people too. Two thoughts in particular got stuck in my mind during the film, would his parents be angry if he didn’t leave a note and what they would dress him in for his funeral. Morbid thoughts I know but I couldn’t help it, they really did come out of nowhere.

What it means for me I don’t really know, I haven’t let myself think too much about it. I’m trying to balance the need to keep busy whilst not pushing myself too hard and doing too much. Because I’m very aware this seemingly good mood I’m in could disappear in an instant, I need to be prepared for that, for everything to come crashing down again.The last post I wrote was about that, keeping my expectations of myself reasonbly low. That hasn’t changed any, I still need to be careful of not expecting too much. At least after what happened at the weekend I won’t be pressuring myself to socialise more, thinking I could change my routine that way is just about one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever had. On the matter of good ideas my current choice of book probably isn’t the best either. The Robert Enke book has been on my mind the past few weeks, it’s only logical I suppose. I’m trying to work out if I’ve got anything worth living for and in doing that I can’t help but think of him. I can’t stop myself from wondering if he couldn’t find a reason to stay alive how am I meant to? Weird thing is he committed suicide on the 10th November 2009, and the second chapter of the other book I’m reading starts on the 10th November 1938. It’s even stranger because the book Winter Men is set in Germany and it starts with the death of the main character and you soon learn his brother killed himself. What interests me is Gerhard thinks he’s the coward for not doing the same thing, more to the point he envied his brother for being able to. It’s strange because suicide is seen by some people as the coward’s way out. I agree with him, I don’t think it’s cowardly. Carrying on living a shadow of a life because you’re too scared to do anything on the other hand, now that’s cowardly. I spend all my time losing myself in other people’s stories so I can run away from the fact I don’t have one of my own. All that time spent creating stories for other people and I can’t work out what I should do.

Advent Calendar Day 22 & 23: The Missing Day & The Book Thief

I really needed today to go perfect, after spending all day yesterday catching up on sleep and the week’s previous events I needed one perfect day at least. I’m happy to say it started out good and for once stayed that way. With getting the two premium packs of FIFA 365 cards in the post I was worried that might turn out to be the high point of the day, a case of starting good but not ending up that way. And to make it even better I got a Philipp Lahm card in the second pack:

20161223_191030-1 philipp-lahm-fifa-365-2016-17-fan-favourite-cardI started writing this post on Friday after I got back, I didn’t get very far though. I was a litle more tired than I thought, so today should actually be yesterday. The point still stands though, the day did go fine.  There were a few minor things I got in a flap about but most of that doesn’t seem so important now. The main thing being the newly configured Christmas market, I read in the news about extra security measures and all that but didn’t really know what that would mean here. It just caught me by surprise, half the stalls not being where I expected them to be. I’m not complaining of course, I understand why, they don’t want any stalls closer to the road than they have to be.

As for everything else I think I’m too tired to be obsessing over anything. Just the other day I was reading about some idiot online who doesn’t believe that social anxiety is a real thing and that people who claim to have it are just nervous really. That it’s normal to feel nervous in new situations or a little uncomfortable at times. There was so many things wrong with what they think I’m not even going to bother to go into it, I don’t want to ruin my day. But there are two points I want to make, I would give anything to just be a little nervous. And secondly anyone who thinks that way should consider this, in a strange way I’m grateful to be so tired today simply because I can’t think straight and thus won’t obsessing over anything that happened yesterday. That’s not to say those things won’t come back and bother me later though, in fact I can guarantee they will. It’s not just about feeling uncomfortable sometimes, for me it’s never feeling comfortable, no matter how well I know someone or how much I trust them. It’s always second guessing myself, always doubting if I’m saying or doing the right thing. It’s the fact the simplest of conversations require so much thought put into them that it’s easier to just never talk at all. Like I said there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to just be a little nervous.

Forget about the bad stuff for now, as well as the cards there’s something else I got yesterday. Everytime I get a little extra money in my pocket I spend it on books, and yesterday was no different. Two of them I’m particularly happy about, not just because of the subject matter but how nice the covers are. I don’t normally take pictures of the books I buy but I’ll make an exception here, they are two delightfully Germanic covers:

20161223_190929-1On the subject of books that brings me to the second topic in the title, my annual re-read of The Book Thief. The plot point which bothered me last time still bothers me a little, yet I want to read it anyway. It’s not so much I don’t care, more that the positives outweigh the one negative point. Reading it again is like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time, like a good friend you accept it’s flaws as being part of them. It’s one of those books I feel like I can never get tired of and each time I read it I get something new from it. I think it’s a very fitting book to be reading now. Not because it’s about Germany, where it takes place is not really relevant to what I’m thinking about, it could be anywhere. It’s the people that are important, not the place. It’s foolish to think that the Holocaust is some uniquely German thing, all people are capable of that level of hate and of acting on it.

Time and time again I’ve tried to work out why it’s one of my favourite books. If it’s because the story is being told by death or because it’s set in Nazi Germany. Actually whilst both those things play a part neither of them are the main reason. I think I know now what that reason is, it’s Liesel’s foster-father, her Papa Hans. And no it’s nothing to do with his name, though I will admit it’s really hard to type Hans and not Hansi. It’s what he does for Liesel, the way he helps her as best he can make sense of the world. It probably doesn’t make much sense to him either but amongst what’s going on he takes care of her, teaching her to read and so much more. I could do with that right now, someone to explain all of this, to make everything make sense. That’s part of it anyway, the other thing is the words themselves, the very topic of the book. But it’s not stealing books which I’m thinking about, rather stealing words.

The Book Thief made me realise it’s something I take for granted, being able to read that is. I never considered what it would be like to find that hard or be unable to read at all. I taught myself to read at a young age and have never liked or needed to be read to. The importance of being able to read can’t be understated, yet it’s not all there is. Reading is one thing, understanding what you’re reading is another thing all together and what I worry about the most. Not just with the written word but in conversation too. There’s one particular event in The Book Thief which really sticks with me, one line which I can never forget. “You can steal a book but you can’t read one.” And it’s how Liesel solves her problem which makes it so memorable to me. Unable to read the book in front of her she starts reciting from memory a chapter from The Gravedigger’s Handbook. Reciting but not necessarily understanding, that’s why it sticks with me. So much of the time I feel like I’m saying and hearing things but not really understanding them. I’m never really quite sure about what I’m saying, or if it makes any sense. It feels like words are my best friend and my biggest enemy at the same time. I hate them but I need them.

That’s enough about books and words for now, just one more day to go, today is the final day of the calendars. At least I don’t have to worry about how the final post will go, I have that all planned out and there won’t be a lot of words in it, there’s no need, the pictures will speak for themselves. But before that is the previous two days, day 22 & 23. Day 22 saw striker Harvard Nielsen make his appearance in the Freiburg calendar and he was followed by Christian Streich who needs no introduction. I won’t have any problem picking  a good picture or GIF of him that’s for sure. And in the Dortmund one was Raphael Guerrerio and Marco Reus:

20161223_190702-1Christian Streich & Amir Abrashi - 1.FCK v SC FreiburgChristian_Streich_celebrates_Freiburg_v_FurthChristian_Streich_goal_celebration_SC_Freiburg_v_1_FC_Union_BerlinChristian Streich - SCF v RBLChristian_Streich_celebrating_promotion_2015_16Christian Streich & Alexander Schwolow – SC Freiburg v Heidenheim 1SC Freiburg - Meister der 2.Bundesliga 2015-16 - Christian Streichchristian_streich_and_nils_petersen_celebrate_sc_freiburg_v_eintracht_frankfurt