Category Archives: Books

Halfway Back to Normal

Almost there now, the Bundesliga is back and in full swing. Now all I need is for the 2.Bundesliga to resume and everything will be back to normal. Freiburg play their final pre-season friendly this Sunday, their first game back at home. They’ll be playing Amir Abrashi’s former team Grasshopper Club Zurich. It’s their final test before the league resumes and they play Bochum on the 5th February. I’m grateful they’re playing on a Friday the first week back, it’ll take a while to get used to having to get up early on the weekend again.  There won’t be any time to waste in readjusting after that, Freiburg don’t play on a Friday for the next three weeks afterwards. They won’t be playing on a day which isn’t Saturday or Sunday until March when they have a midweek game right at the start of the month. By then everything really will be back to normal, more of the DFB Pokal, the Champions League and the Europa League. Not to mention the international break in March. There will be plenty of games to watch, too many in fact. But then it’s better to have too much to do than too little. One game I am really looking forward to is the clash with RB Leipzig on the 7th March. Once again the tie gets the honour of being the game of the week and thus they play on the Monday night.

Tonight the second weekend of the Rückrunde kicked off with Mainz playing host to Gladbach. Both of them were looking to bounce back from a defeat, Mainz in particular needing a win after only taking one point from their last three games. They certainly worked hard for the three points they collected tonight, keeper Karrius in particular having another excellent game. His save in the 71st minute was nothing short of outstanding, so good was it in fact that I needed to make a GIF of it:

Karius_save_Mainz_v_GladbachHopefully when Freiburg’s season resumes I can get back into a good routine in regards to sleeping patterns. Because in truth this week has been something of a disaster. Not only do I not remember a great deal of it but I’m not happy with how much I’ve gotten done either. I’m sure if I’d gotten more than one good night of sleep along the way I could have done more. I’ve had plenty of ideas story wise and I’ve made lots of notes, I just don’t feel like actually doing anything with them yet. So I’ve only gotten started on one of them, I have nine pages so far of “Hansi’s Busy Day.” Other than that my major achievement of the week is collecting all 100 steel ingots in Fallout 3. I’m also thinking about the video I’ve got planned in celebration of Jogi’s birthday next week, it’s close to completion. I’ve got about a minute left to find pictures for. The one for Hansi’s birthday is already done ironically, given his birthday is towards the end of the month.

Getting that finished is my number one priority, everything else can be dealt with afterwards. I know I should be trying to think a little more long term but it’s just not possible right now. This week getting dressed has been enough of a challenge, I’m not looking for extra ways to put pressure on myself. I’m trying not to beat myself up about the fact that I don’t think I’ve gotten out of bed before 10:00am this week. The one day I know I was up in the morning doesn’t count because I’d been up all night, so it was a question of still being up rather than getting up.

I think I may have done a little too much last week and gotten a little too excited about the return of the Bundesliga. I probably should have skipped seeing The Hateful Eight. I’m certainly paying the price for it now.

The one advantage to being too tired to do anything means I haven’t really talked to anyone. Which in theory should mean I have nothing to obsess over right now. But I do thanks to the internet and my own impulsiveness. Though I’m trying not to see if that way. Instead of focusing on it as just a mistake to obsess over I’m trying to see it as something I can learn from.  Whether I did anything wrong or not I don’t know and I have no way of being sure. I have to make my peace with that. I did what I did and there’s no going back on it. Working out if I’ve done something wrong or not and just what that might be is not what I’m trying to work on. What I’m trying to work on is that sometimes the answers you seek aren’t there, sometimes you just have to let it go.

One thing I can’t stop thinking about is an article someone mentioned online, about asylum seekers being made to wear wristbands in order to receive food and being threatened with being reported to the authorities if they didn’t comply. Apparently the practice has been stopped now and the company in question has apologized. I find that of little comfort because they only did that after it was reported on in the media. If it hadn’t been brought to their attention no doubt they would have continued with the practice. Whilst the idea in itself is somewhat troublesome it’s not what I found most troubling about the whole thing. What bothered me the most is the comments I read online. It’s troublesome that many people don’t see a problem with it. Not only do some people not see a problem with visually identifying people in such a way but even suggesting they should just be grateful they’re being helped at all.

It’s troubling they can’t see how dangerous it is, that separating people out that way is never a good thing and can easily lead to other more troublesome practices. I found it disturbing personally because of another similar idea a while back in relation to disabled people. A local politician got this harebrained scheme about how disabled people, particularly those who don’t have visible disabilities should wear some kind of identification to identify them as such. When they were of course roundly criticized for it they claimed not to see the problem, claiming that it would be helpful for other people to know, like if they were in a situation they needed help and couldn’t tell people they had a disability or that they required assistance. I don’t buy their explanation, not least because what they describe already exists. I have something to serve that very purpose, it’s an autism alert card which has on it all the relevant details plus emergency contact information should it be required. The point is it’s a card I keep in my pocket, I use it when I choose to. I don’t wear it round my neck or have it pinned to my jacket for everyone else to see. Because in no world should anyone have to do that, to tell everyone they encounter about their disability or that you even have one. It’s your right whether you chose to disclose it or not, you don’t have to tell everyone you meet. Their crazy idea would take away that choice.

Not to mention it could have disastrous consequences. In a perfect world no-one would get picked or on or pushed around for any reason. Meanwhile back in the real world ideas like these wristbands and wearing identification of that sort can be a short cut to getting more attention than you’d like drawn to you. The last thing you need is another reason to stand out. I know that from personal experience at school and college. Whatever school I’ve gone to I’ve found that being associated in any way with the special needs class puts a target on your back that it’s impossible to get rid of. Personally I’m not bothered about that or ashamed of it any way, I wasn’t then and I’m not now. I really don’t care and if someone was willing to judge me on that basis then they’re not worth knowing anyway. What I do care about is getting hassled.

The other reason I can’t stop thinking about it is because of a book I just finished reading called “Ajax: The Dutch, the War.” It tells the story of Dutch football throughout WW2 and beyond, it also looks at the relationship between certain clubs, the role Antisemitism still plays in Dutch football and how political changes in Holland affect such things. One of the most interesting topics the book addresses is whether or not the Dutch were good or bad during the war. Like other countries in Europe they had a system set up to deal with collaborators and to assign appropriate punishment to those deemed to have worked with or for the Germans, particularly when they didn’t have to. One of the myths about Holland during WW2 is that they tried hard to save their Jewish population and also that the population was heavily involved with the Resistance. In actuality the Dutch were surprisingly efficient about co-operating with the Germans and their efforts to help got them a special mention by the Germans in correspondence regarding the operation. Despite the reality the myth was somehow propagated that  the Dutch were good. In truth the majority of the Dutch population was not particularly good or bad. For most people life simply carried on as normal.

It’s a fascinating read and I’ve learnt a lot from it, not just about the Dutch clubs and the culture of Dutch football but about politics in Holland too. Also I learnt a few new things about WW2, particularly in relation to Denmark. I’d heard the oft repeated myth that King Christian wore the Jewish star in solidarity with the Jews. It’s a myth because the star was never imposed in Denmark. But there is a bit of truth in the myth. What actually happened was that King Christian said he would wear it in the event it was introduced. Trivia aside there was another interesting point the book made. Denmark saved the majority of it’s Jewish population, helping them escape across the Sound to neutral Sweden. And the ones they didn’t get out of the country they still helped, making sure they stayed at Theresienstadt instead of being sent to a death camp. But Danes don’t like to talk about it or make a big deal about it. The book mentions a quote from the first major book written on the subject which praises the “special character and moral stature of the Danish people.”

Unsurprisingly Danes were embarrassed by that kind of talk,  it is quite over the top. What bothers me about it is the idea that saving someone makes the Danes or anyone else special for doing that. The idea that helping out a fellow human being is in some way special or remarkable. It should be normal, but I know that’s a very naive way of seeing things.

Getting back to the point, the author mentioned the Danes to make a comparison. His point is that the Dutch for years told a false story of having done all they could to help the Jews, yet the Danes did actually do it but they didn’t like to talk about it. In a way I do understand why the Dutch or anyone else would have liked to tell themselves they and their fellow countrymen did something to help. It’s certainly more palatable than the truth. To admit to yourself that you didn’t even try to do anything. From that perspective it makes sense someone might not want to be honest about the past. A review I read criticized the book for being too angry and too over-critical of the Dutch. I don’t agree with that at all, but if the author were a little angry I think it’s understandable. After all why wouldn’t someone be angry about what happened during WW2, I know it made me angry to read about policeman willingly helping German soldiers rounding up people. Not because they were threatened, not them or their families. Nor were they threatened with being sent to a camp or to work in Germany. No, the only punishment which awaited them was losing their holiday time. If that doesn’t make you angry then I think you should question why that is.

Worst Case Scenario

Worst Case Scenario

Of all the awful possibilities, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to you today? Now, what about the best?

Beyond the internet going down I’m not sure there is a worst possible thing that could happen today. Despite the disappointment of yesterday and the fact I haven’t seen The Hateful Eight yet I’m in a surprisingly good mood. Though I think what I woke up to has something to do with that. A dream about Manuel Neuer and a Germany program in the post, what more could I want? Even better the program is from the Luxembourg friendly back in 2004, a game which was played at Freiburg’s stadium. I have the ticket, the program and a video of the highlights. Now all I need is a copy of the full match. I don’t hold out much hope in getting one, but never say never.

As for the best possible thing to happen today. Well there are a few of those. Top of the list would be to wake up and find that my dream about Manuel Neuer was not just a dream. A little more realistically would be for my package from the DFB Fanshop to arrive today. I don’t normally like surprises and I don’t really want any more this weekend, I had all the excitement necessary from watching Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool scrape a replay in the FA Cup last night. The lack of Bundesliga has left me resorting to English football to fill the gap. Despite liking hearing Klopp speaking English in his pre-match interview next time I will watch the German broadcast. I’d forgotten how annoying I find English commentary. If I hear the phrases “it’s their cup final” or “the magic of the FA Cup” one more time my thoughts may turn to ways which to use said trophy as a murder weapon. But my package coming today instead of Monday would be a pleasant surprise. It would be the kind of a surprise to make me a happy  and only slightly anxious flapping wreck instead of just an anxious one which is what The Hateful Eight did.

Back to more unrealistic possibilities, I wish I could wake up and find out that all the problems about The Hateful Eight have either been solved or just don’t exist. I’m no longer so worried about it all and I’m not quite so anxious, now I’m angry instead. I guess that’s progress of a kind, moving up a stage at least.

It’s not all bad, not at all. I have two new books winging their way to me. And for once I didn’t go over budget in buying them. I actually kept a little in reserve for this eventuality. On someone else’s recommendation I bought The Girl in the Spider’s Web. I was close to changing my mind when I read through the reviews but then I read there’s an autistic character named August. Ok, so now I’m sold. I also bought a book titled A Man Called Ove. He’s a seemingly miserable man who’s disliked by everyone and complains about everything. Definitely sounds like the kind of thing I would want to read.

Two new books, a Manuel Neuer dream and a FIFA Street marathon, I really can’t complain. Especially when my team contains Jogi, Hansi, Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Mesut Özil.

November – the month of Nils

I’ve been putting off writing this post all month, telling myself that I didn’t have enough time. That wasn’t really true, I could have found time. I just didn’t want to. I didn’t want to put down on paper (well virtual paper) my thoughts about this month. But I had to, for three reasons. Firstly if I didn’t Nils wouldn’t get a month named after him and if there’s anyone in the Freiburg squad who deserves a month named after him then it’s him. Secondly it would bug me, the incompleteness of it, every other month has a post, which means November needs one too. Regardless of whether or not I wish I could wipe all memory of the month from my mind. But I can’t do that and I can’t pretend it didn’t happen which is the third reason for needing to write this post. Pretending it didn’t happen won’t help, I need to accept that it did and writing this post is part of doing so.

It’s strange how it all worked out, at the start of the month I wasn’t that enthused by the prospect of the international break which is odd in itself. They are after all my favourite times of the year, but not this time. It was partly for football related reasons, I just didn’t want to have to wait two weeks to see Freiburg play again. As things turned out the break was good for them, they put an end to their streak of three games without a win. It wasn’t so good for me. How it went is mostly likely related to why I’m not at all looking forward to the next one which thankfully is not until March, so at least I’ve got some time to work all of this stuff out. At the start of the month I was musing over what would happen if I put a stop to my current obsession, if I were to pack up my collection. I sort of feel that way right now but for different reasons. One thing is the same however, I’m not sick of them. Not Freiburg, Jogi, Hansi, Matze or Manuel. Not any of them. It’s not that. It’s just if I’m not interested in them then I won’t be bothered by what’s currently bothering me. I’m trying to think of this logically which of course when it comes to obsessions and special interests simply does not work. The strangest thing of all is I worry a lot about pretty much everything, but never before have I actually been given a reason to really worry, to really be afraid. And the most confusing thing of all is it wasn’t myself I was worried about. I’ve never experienced that before, being so concerned with someone else’s feelings and their safety. I realise that must make me sound like a bad person who doesn’t think of others. But it’s true, I never have been so scared for someone else. I’m still trying to make sense of that part of it.

Obviously other stuff happened in November but everything is overshadowed by all of this. I would have had an easier time of letting go of it were it not for the reminders at every turn. Some of them coming in the most unexpected of places. Like asking Nils Petersen about it in an interview he gave before the game. Now if I had been watching an interview with one of the players in the Germany squad then I would have expected such a question, hence why I actively avoided any of those videos. But Petersen wasn’t there, he wasn’t on international duty. Why ask him about it? Freiburg were meant to be my escape from it all, and it should have worked. Because at the moment they have no German internationals in the squad, not in the A team, they of course have plenty of players in the youth ranks.

Since then I’ve just been pretending none of it happened, which of course is not the way to go. Not only was I pretending that it didn’t happen but that I didn’t feel the way I did. After wanting to talk about it I then avoided doing so, even when I could have. I’ve finally had part of the conversation I needed to have back then, plus I wrote several pages working through it all which I think helped somewhat. But it was the conversation which was most helpful, admitting and saying out loud that I was afraid for them. For reasons I don’t entirely understand that was important.

The month started out with me in not such a good mood, partly because I was still obsessing over a mistake I made, an error I made in a social situation. That situation is never going to be resolved and truth is it doesn’t really matter. I’ve made mistakes like that before and I’ll most likely make them again in future, that is if I ever allow myself to talk to people I don’t know that well again. Point is such things don’t really matter, not in the grand scheme of things. There are after all things which are so much more important to worry about. Words aren’t meaningless, most certainly not, but in this one case they are.

Seeing as how I ended up with quite a bit more free time than I anticipated I got to watch a few more films than I expected. First up was Burnt which I only saw because Daniel Brühl was in it. I didn’t like the film that much but then I didn’t expect to, I just wanted to see Daniel doing something different, he didn’t disappoint, he rarely does. Spectre on the other hand was disappointing. I’m just glad I’m no longer a fan of Christoph Waltz, were I still a fan of his I would have been hugely disappointed. In both the film and his performance. Usually I hate the film but like him, not so here. I also took the time to revisit an old favourite, James Spader in Two Days in the Valley. Some things never disappoint and James Spader is one of them, the film is quite good too which is a bonus because I’ve sat through many a bad film in my Spader quest. It’s right up his street, a creepy psychopathic hitman. And of course even though he’s the bad guy I still root for him, every single time. Along with Burnt and Spectre I also saw Bridge of Spies at the cinema which as forgettable in just about every way possible. My film of the month would have to be What we do in the Shadows, it’s quickly becoming my bad day film. The film I watch when I don’t know what else to do, when I need cheering up. I wish I could explain why I like it so much, I’ll have to try and do that some time. So far all of my attempts have failed, it’s hard to put into words and to pin down just why it amuses me so much.

Naked Among Wolves is also worth a mention. I watch a lot of Holocaust and WW2 related films, too many in fact. After watching so many and finding fault with a lot of them it’s hard to imagine coming across one that’s any good or that stands out in any way. This one did, though it may have been because of the time I watched it at and the reasons I watched it. I picked it thinking it would make me feel something, it didn’t work that way. But the film stuck with me, the main point of the story. If we can’t even protect a three year old child then what are we. Sometimes you have to sacrifice one person to save more, but they couldn’t do that, not here. They risked an uprising which had several thousands of people’s lives at stake, because sometimes the little things do matter. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter most of all.

Reading wise it was not a good month at all. I read just two books but I did enjoy both of them though in very different ways. Oddly enough they were both connected though it wasn’t deliberate. The first was Savage Continent, it’s a book I’ve had in my collection a while, since January in fact. I kept meaning to read it and just never got round to it. Part of the reason I kept putting it off is because I knew it would make depressing reading. Which makes it odd that I chose to read it in the middle of November and to keep reading it. It’s about the aftermath of WW2, about how it wasn’t the neat picture of reconstruction that some documentaries and books make you think. It certainly wasn’t how certain governments portrayed it and a lot of thing got swept under the rug. Not just the way Germans were removed from Poland, Czechoslovakia and other countries but how some of those countries treated other minorities. One fact is made clear the war did not end on VE day, not for a lot of people. In Poland for example there still fighting going on in relation to Polish troops and Ukrainians. It’s a fascinating read, if not a thoroughly depressing one as you would expect.  Only now do I think I understand why I kept reading it. I wonder if I kept reading it because it was a reminder that bad things have happened before and will happen again. That what happened in France was a terrible thing to happen but it was just one of many. That bad things happen but you can’t hide away forever. I don’t know, it’s just a theory, I’m really not very good at making sense of such things.

The other book I read was Grobar Partizan: Pleasure, Pain and Paranoia. It’s about a man who for work moves to Serbia and it charts his journey of picking a team to follow whilst he lives there and of watching said team, he chose Partizan Belgrade. Like I said it’s related to the previous book in that the book whilst being about football is also about politics and how the two of them are connected. It’s kind of an odd concept, for sport to be so politicized. It’s not something I’m at all familiar with. It’s certainly not the case here.  Here most fans are so apathetic they don’t do anything about rising ticket prices, sure they complain and grumble but most people don’t actually do anything. But in Serbia it’s very different, there’s a very different relationship between certain sections of fans and their clubs. It’s not necessarily a good thing either, whilst the author admires some of their dedication to their club and recognises some of the positives he also doesn’t shy away from noting the negative sides of the situation.

Football wise of course it was not a particularly good month, for one thing the football was not really about football, not in relation to international games anyway. As for the play-offs for Euro 2016 I got neither of my wishes, Freiburg defender Mensur Mujzda and his Bosnian compatriots will unfortunately not be going next summer and neither will Denmark, which also ruined a second dream I had in relation to the group draw. I would have loved it for Denmark to get drawn with Germany again. On a Freiburg front they played three games in November. First they drew 1-1 with Duisburg in a game they obviously should have won. After the international break they beat Paderborn 4-1 in an outstanding performance. In their third and final game of the month they also took all three points but their performance was overall rather forgettable, they got lucky. They didn’t deserve to win, not really. As disappointed as I was with their performance I have to admit it was kind of a thrill, winning with a last second winner like that. The game whilst being a derby was not a classic, not by any means. It was in actual fact a rather unpleasant watch, but that last second goal, it was special. And I’m happy that it was Karim Guede that scored it, very happy. I just hope next season that Freiburg will once more be facing Stuttgart in the Baden-Württemberg derby. Not that facing off against KSC and Sandhausen wasn’t fun, it was. But I want revenge for that 4-1 defeat at home last season.

Collectible wise I got quite a few good additions, some great tickets both for my Freiburg and my Jogi collection, a signed Nils Petersen trading card and finally the most special piece of all, a match worn SC Freiburg shirt of one Matthias Ginter:

Nils Petersen - signed SC Freiburg Match Attax cardIMG_20151222_190515IMG_20151222_190704

 

Advent Calendar Day 22: Weihnachtsgruß von Joachim Löw/King Neuer

Behind door number 22 in the Freiburg advent calendar was Spanish defender Marc Torejon. As the title suggests I finally have Manuel Neuer’s DFB card and he was well worth the wait. And joining them from the Dortmund calendar is Henrikh Mhkitaryan:

Manuel Neuer - DFB 2015-16 card 1 Manuel Neuer - DFB 2015-16 card 2 Henrikh Mhkitaryan - Dortmund advent calendarAs well as these I also have Christmas greetings from Jogi Löw, from a short but sweet little video from the DFB site:

Weihnachtsgruß von Joachim Löw 1 Weihnachtsgruß von Joachim Löw 2Yesterday I was angry, today I’m just confused. I can make no more sense of why I was angry today than I could yesterday. At least I’m in a slightly better mood, the weather has something to do with that. It’s been raining all day long. I didn’t wake up angry at least which is a good thing. Though I didn’t manage to get to sleep by a decent hour, in bed but not asleep. That’s not so good but I don’t have any real complaints about that because of how the time was spent. I couldn’t get to sleep so easily so I turned to a tried and trusted method. I wrote a Matze adventure, at best it would help me to figure out why I was angry, at worst it would at least give me something to do with said anger. It didn’t help me work out why but it must have helped on some level because I did fall asleep eventually. It is a shame however that I spent the whole day asleep, had I not done do I would have had the place to myself all day.

Last week I was confused as to what day it was because of my odd sleeping patterns and because of the DFB Pokal. Now I’m equally confused though I don’t have football to blame, at least not in quite the same way. One way it is to blame is that there’s no countdown to match-day, because there isn’t one. Not yet anyway, for the Bundesliga it’s at the end of January and the 2.B the beginning of February. Last night after I’d finished writing the post I was working on and decided that an early night was best all of a sudden I wanted to stay up all night and I had plenty of ideas I could have started working on. But I didn’t and I can’t help but wonder if staying up would have been a better option. Truth is it probably wouldn’t, it doesn’t really matter. Stay up and it would have felt wrong and I would have been annoyed with myself, spend the day in bed as I did and the same would still be true. Whatever I do these days it feels wrong.

In fact I’m not sure what I’m doing right now is right. Today or tomorrow depending on your perspective, to me it feels very much like tomorrow because of how late I got up, I’m going to see Star Wars and to finish off the last of my Christmas shopping. I have no idea where sleep fits into the equation, if at all. I don’t even know if I’m tired or not. I’m not really sure how I feel or what it means. My head feels strange but then it has done these past few weeks. All I can think is that I wish I could cancel, maybe still do the shopping part but not the cinema part. I’m not particularly enthused about being in the presence of another person nor having to focus on a film for 135mins. I wish I could stay at home and half watch several films whilst typing up more story notes. That’s what I plan to do when I finish this post. I have Big Hero 6 on right now, I still don’t like the film that much but Baymax is still awesome. The scene at the police station is comedic genius, the tape and then Baymax acting like he’s drunk because he needs charging, funny beyond words. And him sitting there holding the cat, “hairy baby.”Like I said too funny for words.

I may not know how I feel or if I’m doing the right thing right now, or what to do about the final sticker for my Road to Euro 2016 album but I do know one thing for sure. The Book Thief is definitely the book I’m going to read next. I can test my theory as to whether or not the plot point which bugs me does so enough to compromise my enjoyment of it. After how trying The Man from Berlin has been it’ll be a nice change of pace, reading something which is very familiar. Plus it has a very pleasing easily readable feel to it anyway which will help. I’m down to the last eighty pages of The Man from Berlin now, all the pieces are starting to come together. I know who the killers are and for one of them I know the reason why. But I still don’t feel like I know the main character any better or understand his motivations. It just all feels very generic and it doesn’t do it’s setting any justice. The Kite Runner for example got me interested in Afghanistan and created a genuine enthusiasm for the country and it’s history.  And whilst I didn’t like the main character at all I was at least invested in finding out what happened to him. Not so with Gregor Reinhardt, I really don’t care. The only thing driving me to finish the book is my need to complete everything. Maybe The Kite Runner should be next on my list after The Book Thief, I haven’t read it in a while. Over Christmas I usually have a video game marathon but I’m not very interested in gaming right now. I think a stack of books is the way to go. It’ll be the better option I think, reading doesn’t give my mind the opportunity to wander like gaming does. Plus it’ll be good to have some screen free time and to make some headway on my ever growing to read pile. I got an unexpected gift today in the form of some extra Christmas money. I could be responsible and put it in the bank or I could visit the second hand book-store and pick up a few random and interesting titles. Obviously it’s the latter I’ve decided upon, I can be responsible in January. Right now I want to buy some more books.

Advent Calendar Day 21 – The Final Sticker Decision

Behind door number 21 in the Freiburg calendar was midfielder Florian Kath. Joining him from the DFB calendar is the card of Christoph Kramer and from the Dortmund calendar is Erik Durm:

Christoph Kramer - DFB 2015-16 card 1 Christoph Kramer - DFB 2015-16 card 2 Erik Durm - Dortmund advent calendarI’ve done everything I wanted to do today and I’m still not happy, I don’t know why. Nor do I know why I’m so angry all of a sudden, though I suppose there’s a clue to be found in the fact that the time I was no longer in such a good mood coincided with the time I was no longer by myself in the house. No-one’s done anything specific to annoy me, I’m just angry with everything. I’ve tried lots of ways to distract myself and so far none of them have worked. Having run out of options I’ve decided an early night is best, well midnight is not so early but these days it’s certainly early for me.

I don’t know if something specific is bothering me and I just haven’t worked it out yet or it’s just because of the approach of Christmas which I’m finding unsettling. Of course there’s also the fact to consider that tonight was the final night of the first half of the season. Paderborn drew 0-0 with Fortuna Düsseldorf. I missed most of the first half and going by what I heard at half-time and saw for myself in the second, I didn’t miss much. I still have mixed feelings about no football for the next month or so. I might have to resort to watching the Premier League at this rate, question is if I did that who would I pick, Klopp and Liverpool or go with Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Arsenal?

I wish the holidays were over already, not just because I can’t wait for the Bundesliga to resume but because I want things to get back to normal in other ways. I wish other people didn’t like to spend quite so much time together and that they weren’t quite so noisy about it. I know I sound like a bah humbug but I’m finding their presence a little challenging to deal with. It’s nothing to do with the holidays, I feel that way all year round. It’s just made worse by how unsettling Christmas is as a whole. And then on top of that there’s the whole surprise present element, I never should have gone along with that. It’s nice for them and it’s obviously important to them but it’s not good at all for me. Their words on the matter earlier today don’t help any, “I just hope you like what I’ve got you.” So no pressure then. I wish they had thought that through before saying it to me. Maybe this is the thing that’s on my mind and I just haven’t realised that yet.

Everything is just all so strange right now, even stranger is the weather. I hate that it’s still warm, it’s a most disturbing aberration and a very troublesome one. I hate warm weather and it’s not making me any happier.

Seeing as how I’ve decided an early night is best I figured having a good book to hand will be of some help, just in case sleep doesn’t come so easy. Right now I’m reading The Man from Berlin which is proving to be a little less exciting than I thought. On paper it sounds perfect, a murder mystery set during WW2, it takes place in Sarajevo, has Nazis in it and the main character is a military intelligence officer. And yet I’m not so much enjoying it so much as reading it simply because I have to know what happens. I’m not the kind of person who can skip to then end of a book and just read the last chapter or the last page. Either I finish it or I don’t. I will persevere with this and finish it but I doubt I’ll be reading the second one. In fact my mind is already on what I’m going to read next.

Next in my to read pile is Ajax, The Dutch, The War which is about football and the Holocaust in Holland, more specifically about the Dutch team Ajax and their story under the Nazi occupation. I know it’s not a very cheerful book to be reading around Christmas time but that makes no difference to me. The other book I’m considering reading is an old favourite, The Book Thief. I’ve read several times by now and don’t really need to read it again. But I read it last Christmas and the one before that, at this point it almost feels like a tradition in the making. So what’s stopping me? Well just one little plot point which has been bugging me ever since it was brought to my attention, the fact that the child of a Communist being unable to read and never having been taught to do so is simply unbelievable. The question is should you let something like that ruin an otherwise incredible book, should you let it bug you that much? Is it just me being a pedant or is it really an issue?  One thing I know I’m being a pedant about is the fact I’m bothered by my copy of Ajax being an American copy. The reason for this is it says soccer instead of football, I know it’s stupid to be bothered by such a thing but it makes no difference to how I feel.  Shame it’s too late to send it back.

On the subject of being a pedant I wonder if I’m being too much of a perfectionist in regards to the decision I have to make, I have in my possession the final sticker to complete my Road to Euro 2016 album. The sticker in question being number 326, Kari Arkivuo of Finland. Problem is the left corner is noticeably creased. He wasn’t easy to get but I suppose I could get another if I were patient enough. But I don’t know if I’m being ridiculous or not. If I decide to keep him then I would get to mark the album as finished in 2015, if I don’t then I won’t. I’m also wondering whether or not it’s unreasonable to ask people if the sticker they are sending is in perfect condition or not and whether or not they’ll send a picture of it before you agree a trade. I wouldn’t ask for such a thing all the time but when you give them five in exchange for one, surely they should accept such a demand.

Whatever is on my mind I wish I could just work it out already, or do whatever it is I need to do. If that involves breaking something so be it. I just hate being this unfocused. I’ve read through this post several times to check for mistakes and each time I’ve found misspellings and missing words. I hope there is something I’m annoyed about and I just need to work out what it is. Because if this is just a reaction to Christmas then it’s not so simple to deal with. Even if I knew what was bothering me I can’t talk to anyone, I don’t exactly feel capable of stringing a sentence together right now. With this in mind having plans two days from now is not the greatest thing to be happening. Most of the day will be taken up by the film and Star Wars is 135mins long which is helpful. If it weren’t Christmas I would cancel, but I have to give them their gift. Last time I went out and I wasn’t in such a good mood it went terribly, though I maintain that my initial reaction was appropriate and their behaviour was over the line. But perhaps if I had been in a better mood I would have been more focused and thus able to walk away from the argument. So I guess just avoid any real conversation, see the film and find some excuse to come home straight afterwards. That should work to stay out of trouble.

October – the month of Oliver

Naming this month was a little tricky, coming up with a name wasn’t difficult. The problem is he’s not the only Oliver. The one it is named for is Marc-Oliver Kempf who is more than ok in my book. Problem is there’s another Oliver whom I’m not too fond of, not because he left, it’s where he went that’s the problem. Obviously I’m not happy with him leaving but I could eventually get over that, him going to H96, that I can never get over. But I couldn’t come up with another name, and I didn’t think it was right to change it just because of that. I mean it’s not Marc-Oliver’s fault they happen to share a name.

I’ve been putting off writing this post for quite some time, that much is obvious given that it’s about October and it’s now December. I didn’t know the reasons why until I started looking through that month’s posts. Now I have an idea as to why that might be. October was the month in which Germany wrapped up their Euro qualification in none too perfect fashion. As for their game against Ireland, well the less said about that the better.

From a Freiburg perspective they got knocked out of the DFB Pokal. Not only them but the two other teams I was rooting for as well. Freiburg played five games in October and won just one of them, a 5-2 victory over Greuther Fürth. One win, two losses and two draws. The KSC game I can’t complain that much, if it had gone either way it would have been a fair result. A 1-1 draw is a fair result. It just really smarts, you figure a goal that late in the game has to be the winner but it just wasn’t meant to be. I’m more disappointed with the Braunschweig result, a own goal by Mujdza kicking off their comeback. That wasn’t just unlucky, that’s game they should and could have taken control of.

It’s not just for football reasons that I would prefer October remain forgotten, I made plenty of mistakes which I’d rather forget. Mistakes which are predictably social related. It’s for that reason I shouldn’t forget about them, I should remember them because they serve as an excellent reminder of why I should limit such situations. That is I should limit the amount of situations in which such problems could occur. In this instance it was partly my own fault. I should have just let it go. I know I could never make my peace with the situation but I was never going to get any answers either. There was going to be no good outcome. One thing is for certain I wasted far too much time obsessing over this. Time which could have spent on far more constructive activities. It shouldn’t take so long for me to realise that I’m obsessing over something and that I need to put a stop to it.

Sometimes time can help, letting some time pass before you attempt to make sense of it can be useful. I don’t know if that’s the case here, now I look back at what happened and wonder not only how any of it could have happened but just why I cared so much. The best thing to do I think is to accept that none of it makes sense to me and most likely never will. It’s most likely always going to be that way, jumping from one social related crisis to the next.

I didn’t watch many films in October but one I did watch was “The Hour of the Lynx.” It’s one I wish I really hadn’t watched, not because it wasn’t a good film, to the contrary, it was an excellent film. Just a very depressing one which really got to me, enough to write a post about it which isn’t something I do often these days.  As for what else I watched I also went to the cinema to see Michael Fassbender in Macbeth. For one thing I was glad I’d read the play because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have had any idea what was going on. I did not enjoy the film at all and honestly it’s one of the few films that I’ve seen at the cinema which I seriously considered walking out of.

The other films I watched in October were Sicario, Secretary and Killer Joe. The latter I want to watch again before I make any comments on. Secretary however I do have something to write about.It’s not the first time I’ve seen the film, more like the sixth or seventh time I’ve seen it by now. I rewatched it because of a conversation with the only person I’ve met in real life who not only gets my fascination with James Spader but actually shares it.

They mentioned to me that we disagreed about the ending. I thought they meant that I thought it’s not real, which I’m not sure it is. I think it’s possible that the ending is just her delusion in her dehydrated state. Because I’m not sure that Edward could or would let another person in that way. But that wasn’t it. The point we differed on was whether or not they were both satisfied with the ending, with being together, assuming that it’s real that is. Because the real fun is not at home, it’s at work. Being left at home would not suit Lee at all, knowing that Edward is going to go off to work and that her replacement will be there. That’s the only place he can be himself, where he can have any kind of relationship. Writing this I’m not sure on what we disagreed, on who thinks what. Because thinking about it I don’t think either Edward or Lee is happy with the new situation. If it was real then it’s like he felt obligated to save her.

I’m starting to feel like I should take notes in such conversations, these days I can never remember what was said, or rather I can remember that but not who said what. When I don’t want to remember I can recall exactly what I or someone else said, and when I do want to remember I can’t. I’ve been a lot more distracted and unfocused these past few months. It’s most unusual, the winter months are usually my favourite time of year. When I come out of hibernation so to speak. This year has been all over the place, in lots of different ways.

I didn’t read many books either but one I did read made me very angry, the book in question being The Rosie Project. The source of my anger was when Don talks to the woman who’s responsible for putting together the presentation he’s giving about the genetics of autism. They have a conversation in which she expresses the view that the boys have to alter their behaviour so as to form relationships. But she commits a far bigger infraction than that when she criticizes him for using the word Aspie in his presentation. It’s easier just to quote the section in question:

“You know we never use that word, Aspies, We don’t want them thinking it’s some sort of club.” More negative implications from someone who was presumably paid to assist and encourage.

“Like homosexuality?” I said.

“Touche.” said Julie. “But it’s different. If they don’t change, they’re not going to have real relationships – they’ll never have partners.”

So many things about that make me angry it’s difficult to know where to begin. But how about we start with the fact that she’s presuming to speak for them, she’s not autistic and more to the point, she’s not them. How can she presume to know what they want, if they’re even interested in relationships or any of that. How does she know that they have to change in order for someone to like or love them. I find that insulting, like she’s saying no-one could love them as they are. How about another autistic person for one thing. And this is the thing that makes me angriest of all, who the hell is she to say whether or not they should use the word Aspie or not. She has no right to decide such things, to define how they should see themselves. And why shouldn’t they see it as some sort of club, god forbid we should feel like we belong somewhere. I don’t even remember if I liked the book or not, but then that’s not really important because I only read it for research purposes. Not because I’m interested in pursuing a relationship with a NT but because I wanted to familiarize myself with a such a concept in order to give me a little more perspective on writing a relationship like this. I wanted to know how much compromise such a relationship should involve and to see what the problems would be.

I didn’t get a lot of reading done, I only read two other books Who Invented the Stepover and Star Trek Academy: Collision Course. The latter is a favourite of mine and is one of those books I read when I don’t know what else to do. Whether or not Spock is meant to be autistic is irrelevant, point is this book is one of the best portrayals ever. It details how someone like Spock might think and also provides some excellent descriptions of sensory overload from an autistic person’s perspective. Who Invented the Stepover is a trivia book and provides many interesting football related facts from all over the world. And yes Jogi and Hansi are in there,because of their by now famous blue sweaters, there’s even a picture of the two of them looking rather fetching in said sweaters. Given the title of the section, “Best-dressed Coach” I’d consider it a travesty if Jogi wasn’t mentioned in some way.

IMG_20151221_122338That’s not my favourite thing about the book however. What I liked most about the book is Freiburg related. When I read the question “What is greatest relegation escape act of all time?” I knew Freiburg would not escape a mention in the answering of this question. I was not disappointed, in answering the question the story of their survival at the end of the 1993-94 season is told. Funnily enough the story also involves Nürnberg and Bayern. So in the same story you have a Jogi, Hansi and an Andreas team. In fact Andreas Köpke played in the game mentioned below.

The gist of it is with three games left to play Freiburg were four points and one goal behind 1.FCN in 16th place. Here’s the first incredible element of the story. After not winning one solitary game in four months, they then won their last three games. A fact which meant 1.FCN needed from their last three games one win and one draw. A draw they were in the process of getting against champions Bayern when a phantom goal occurred. Long story short they protested against the result of the game and they got a replay. They then lost said replay 5-0 to Bayern and were relegated on goal difference. The following season Freiburg achieved the feat of finishing third in the Bundesliga, whilst their local rivals VfB Stuttgart languished in twelfth. Then as is their way two seasons later they were relegated finishing in 17th place. Stuttgart on the other hand were at the time under the guidance of Jogi Löw and finished in fourth. His first season in charge and his team get relegated. Funny how things work out. Even more ironic is on the final day of the season Freiburg played KSC, another one of Jogi’s teams. The next season it was KSC who found themselves relegated.

Back to the topic at hand, to finish my favourite collectibles of the month. I got lots of great tickets including the two Germany ones for the month but it’s a Poland ticket which is actually my favourite of the month. For I not only got a ticket but a VIP one and a rather awesome case to go with it:

IMG_20151221_122733IMG_20151221_123057IMG_20151221_122830My favourite Jogi related collectible of the month was obtained by accident in that I didn’t buy it because of him, I didn’t know he was in there. It’s a program from Freiburg’s game with St Pauli, and on the first page is an article detailing their past encounters, an article which features pictures of both Christian Streich and Jogi from when they played for Freiburg:

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Advent Calendar Day 8: The Two Lukas’s, Two More Books & The Sweetest Story Ever

Behind door number 8 in the Freiburg calendar was right winger (and occasional striker and right-back when needs be) Mike Frantz. In the DFB one there was a most amusing coincidence, behind the door with Lukas Podolski’s face on it was indeed the card of Lukas Podolski. A fact made even more amusing because in the Dortmund calendar was Polish defender Lukasz Piszczek. A situation made even funnier because of course Podolski was also born in Poland but he grew up in and chose to play for Germany:

Lukas Podolski - DFB card 2015-16 1 Lukas Podolski - DFB card 2015-16 2 Lukas Pisczezk - Dortmund advent calendarAs well as having two of Lukas I also have two more books to add to my collection. This was not entirely planned, just yesterday I was writing about how I think I have too many books but that didn’t stop me from picking up these two. One about ancient Greece and the other about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It’s technically three if you count the one I got in the post but I don’t count that one. For two reasons, firstly I didn’t know it would arrive today and secondly it’s been on my wishlist for over a year. The book in question being Berlin Noir, consisting of three Philip Kerr novels, March Violets, The Pale Criminal and German Requiem. I don’t know whether or not I’ll find time to read it between now and Christmas but regardless I had to buy it now. I felt like I’d just keep putting it off. I’m meant to be reading The Man from Berlin but I’m not making much headway with it. I’m not sure if it’s the book or if it’s me. A few days ago I finished reading Savage Continent and it was a very intense read. Maybe I need to take a break before starting on another book, especially one that touches on such dark themes. I would say I should read something lighthearted but I’m not sure I could find something that fits that description.

This is exactly how my collection got like this. You stop off at the bookshop just to see if they have something you’ve been looking for or to see what’s new in stock. You do so full well knowing that as long as you have cash in your pocket you’ll find it impossible to leave without buying something. Truth is if I hadn’t bought those boxes of stickers last week  I could have bought six or seven books today, and I still wouldn’t be completely satisfied. There’s always something else to read, something else to learn about. I suppose in a way that’s a good thing, that I still have some enthusiasm for something.

Right now I feel guilty because I’m not getting a lot of reading done and it’s not because I’m spending too much time watching football or playing Playstation, though I will admit the former does take up a lot of time. But it’s not the main thing coming between me and my reading time, because I find it easy to switch off from football, to not think about it for a little while. Or at least if I am thinking about it then it’s not dominating my mind in quite the same way as the real reason. Which is that for the most part I’m too wrapped up in my own adventures to be following someone else’s. This is part of the reason I have little interest in reading fiction right now, even when the book in question has Nazis in it like The Man from Berlin does.

I’m not sure what if anything I should do about this state of affairs, whether or not I should simply allow it to continue like this or try to change it somehow. I’m not sure that forcing myself into reading is a good idea. But then equally I’m not happy with reading just three books a month. I think that’s part of the problem, that I’m trying to quantify this, that I think it matters how much I read. Surely what you read is just as important as how many books you get through. I’m a little frustrated I guess that I no longer get through at least two books a week. But I’m being harsh on myself, I wasn’t writing anything back then and had a lot more free time. So it’s not really comparing like for like.

When it comes to obsessions I’m not sure what’s best, whether or not one should be reined in, to attempt to create some semblance of balance. If it’s a good thing for one thing to be dominating so much. I’m not sure if I have much if any choice in the matter. There’s an interesting exchange on related matters from the film The Prestige that I like to quote:

Angier: “Haven’t you followed your obsessions?”

Tesla: “Yes, for too long. I am their slave and one day they will choose to destroy me.”

That used to freak me out, it doesn’t anymore. Because now I know the pattern. I know that at the end of every special interest or obsession I kind of self destruct. It’s just how things go. There’s no point wondering what things would be like if I didn’t get so obsessed and focused on one topic to the complete exclusion of everything else because then I wouldn’t be me. I follow my obsessions partly because I want to and partly because I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know who and what I’m supposed to be. I have some idea what other people want from me, I know what they want me to be. And I know I can’t live up to their expectations, I can’t be what they want me to be.

Not because I don’t want to but because I really can’t. The two conversations I had today in relation to the story referred to in the title is a perfect example of this.  The story originates from my dislike of the new Champions League album, I decided to turn my rants about it into a Jogi adventure. It’s not just about the sticker album, it’s about lots of different things changing and about him missing Hansi. It also has little Matze in it which means there are some sweet moments. It’s these moments which were the focus of the conversation because such things aren’t like me at all. For one thing everyone is of the impression that I’m not particularly fond of kids, which I have to admit is sort of true.

Both people who read it liked the story and both came to similar conclusions, firstly that it’s not at all like me and secondly that it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever written for Jogi and Hansi. This kind of sweetness and sensitivity is not particularly evident in real life so when people read these kind of stories they are seeing a side to me they didn’t even know existed. And what frustrates some of them is that it doesn’t seem to transfer to real life. That whilst writing such things has caused me to become more aware of feelings and in some ways to better understand my own, it’s not had any effect on my ability to express them or to demonstrate any kind of attachment to some of the people in question. I understand that it hurts their feelings in a way. I get that it hurts them to think that I have more of an emotional attachment to my football team than I do them. That I can talk all day long about how much I love Jogi, Hansi, Manuel, Matze or any of my other favourite players but I can’t express or show in the way they’d like such feelings for real people. I don’t have a simple answer for them or really any kind of answer at all. Actually I’m not even sure what my point is. Maybe my point is that I know I can’t provide that kind of emotional fulfillment for another person and that I don’t expect them to provide it for me, not that I’d be capable of receiving it anyway. That I’m well aware I have to seek it elsewhere, hence why I have such a great attachment to my characters. I don’t know, maybe this is just more random ramblings on the subject or maybe I’m actually making some sense for once.

To completely change the subject today went about as good as it could have gone. Especially considering I only got three hours of sleep last night. In spite of that I got up just in time to record the Christoph Waltz film I wanted, though I hadn’t meant to watch quite so much of it. I was meant to be getting to ready to leave but there was something oddly alluring about him in this particular film. I’ve not been a fan of his post Django stuff so far but I’m finding his older German roles to be quite interesting. It was however I have to say a slightly surreal experience, seeing Christoph as Father Christmas. One good point about the film is that whilst he was his usual slightly sinister self I didn’t detect a trace of Hans Landa which I so often find in his later characters:

I think that lack of sleep played a part in how the rest of the day went, as did the fact I’ve not been spending a lot of time outside in recent weeks. All day long I’ve been on edge, feeling like I’m being watched and jumping at the slightest noise. Hearing people laughing has been one of the things that’s set me on edge today. I don’t know why, nothing has happened lately. So it’s most likely just the lack of sleep and not having spent much time outside. Also a source of anxiety was my worry that the person I was meeting would not show up. I had no rational reason to think this but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. To the point where I wished I’d stayed home and watched Gladbach’s game instead. This is what I hate about being so anxious, it makes people think I don’t trust them. That I don’t trust them to show up, or not to be too late, or to believe them when they are telling me something. Except it’s not me, I’m not choosing to be this way. I don’t like it either.

Now it’s all over and done with and I’m glad I didn’t stay in tonight. I’m happy I got to give them their presents and that they’re happy with them. I’m happy they like the books, more importantly I’m pleased they liked the card I made. But then how could they not when it had these two pictures on the front. I think this picture of Jogi may just be the sweetest picture of him in existence:

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I saw two films today, The Night Before and then Black Mass. The first was not so good though I did enjoy seeing Michael Shannon in it and he had a bigger part than I anticipated. It’s always fun to see him get to be something other than the crazy bad guy. He may have been a little off here but he wasn’t crazy and he most definitely wasn’t a bad guy, he was an angel in fact complete with wings. I just don’t think the humor of the film appealed to me. I get that it was just meant to be a lighthearted Christmas film, but I just found it too juvenile for my tastes. I also think it dragged a little and that some aspects of the plot didn’t really fit the tone of it. Or maybe it was just that they were less engaging than the other characters. For example I didn’t think much of Issac and Betsy’s parenting worries, I just didn’t like a lot of their scenes for some reason. Like I said I’m not sure it was my kind of film to begin with. Michael Shannon on the other hand as their old science teacher Mr Green, well to riff on a Dude quote a little, he really tied the film together. He was my main reason for seeing the film and he did not disappoint.

Black Mass did also not majorly disappoint and neither did Johnny Depp surprisingly. The film tells the story of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger who became an FBI informant. Crime and mobster films like this are dime  a dozen but this one is worth seeing if not just for Depp’s performance as the truly terrifying Whitey Bulger. It’s not a great film but it’s still worth watching. The acting was great but the plot is a little lacking. I feel like they could have got more story into the two hour running time, perhaps show a little more detail as to how he rose to power. In fact a little more detail and focus in general would have been welcomed.

Same as always after such an evening I find myself unable to sleep. This time however it’s also part of a bigger problem, I’m unable to shake the problem I’m having with sleeping at nighttime. I can’t manage more than two or three nights in a row. It’s been almost a month now since the incident which caused all this happened and it’s showing no signs of changing. I thought the league resuming and getting back into the usual routine would fix it but it hasn’t had the effect I hoped it would. It’s been made worse by the nightmare I had two weeks ago involving being chased by rifle-wielding terrorists. I still don’t really understand it or, it makes no sense to me why I should react this way or have such trouble dealing with it. I mean I wasn’t there, I wasn’t in any danger, the team was. In fact I wasn’t even in the same country as them. It makes no sense at all and I have no idea how I’m meant to handle it, if I’m supposed to do anything or if I should just wait it out. How can I do anything when I don’t even understand what it is?

Advent Calendar Day 7/Too Many Books & Other Random Thoughts

Behind door number seven in the Freiburg calendar was American midfielder Caleb Stanko who recently made his first team debut in Freiburg’s 4-1 win over Paderborn. The DFB calendar is particularly special today because not only is it door number seven being opened but Jogi is on that part of the box. It would be tempting to think his card may be lurking behind the door. No such luck, that would be rather obvious, a little too obvious. In there instead was defender Erik Durm. In the Dortmund one was midfielder Moritz Leitner who spent last season on loan at VfB Stuttgart:

Erik Durm - DFB 2015-16 card 1Erik Durm - DFB 2015-16 card 2Moritz Leitner - Dortmund advent calendarAfter yesterday I could have done with a little cheering up. So it’s a good thing that there was something very special to greet me in this morning’s post, several things in fact. My Jogi collection is creeping ever closer to completion for I now have a photo-card from one of the Swiss teams he played for. I also got a signed card from his time at Eintracht Frankfurt, plus two signed Match Attax cards, one of Vincenzo Grifo from his time at Hoffenheim and on one of former Freiburg keeper Roman Bürki:

Joachim Löw – FC Schaffhausen signed photo cardJoachim Löw – signed Eintracht Frankfurt cardVincenzo Grifo - signed Hoffenheim Match Attax cardRoman Bürki – signed Freiburg Match Attax cardOn the subject of completing things my list of Christmas related tasks is almost done, I’ve gotten the card finished and I have the final book ready to wrap. As far as the things I have to make I just have a few more things to print and I’m done. The only thing left is to actually give the people in question their gifts and to purchase and put together the gingerbread house. There’s also the question of Jogi, Hansi and Matze’s Christmas adventures to finish but that’s not on my list of things to do. I think I should be able to get it finished in time but I don’t want the extra pressure just in case I can’t. It’s proving slow going at the moment, truth be told I’m not sure I’m in the right mood to be writing something like this. My Need for Speed related frustrations are not helping any on that count, though I’m not sure if it’s the game I’m angry at or if I’m just a little more easily frustrated than usual right now. Either way I think taking a break from it is for the best, my PS3 controller already has a crack on the side thanks to last night’s frustrations. I keep playing and it may end up going the same way as the XBOX controller and that wouldn’t be good at all, because I have neither a back-up nor  money to buy another right now.

What I do have it plenty of books to read, I’m starting to think I may have too many in fact. I spent a large part of yesterday attempting to find my copy of The Man in the High Castle. I’m planning on watching the show and I thought since it was quite some time ago I read the book that re-reading it would be a good idea. Or it would have been had I been able to find it. I did eventually locate it, hidden behind Dresden. Whilst looking it made me think about just how many books I have and what I should do with a book once I’ve finished reading it. I just keep everything unless it’s something I really hated, then I put it out for recycling.

Different people have many different opinions on the matter. Some people like to keep almost everything and like having a lot of books. Completely opposite is people who only keep their favourites and believe in giving books away, because to them an unread book is a wasted one. I see their point but I don’t like parting with anything. And it’s not always easy to decide if you’re going to read something again or not. My problem is not helped by the fact that the majority of my books are non-fiction, meaning for almost all of them I can make the argument that I should keep them just in case I need to look something up. But the problem with that way of thinking is that you end up with a lot of books this way, so many that searching and finding for what you are looking for can be a very trying experience. So much so that you may as well just google it if you can.I know I have too much stuff, not just books but DVDs and other random collectibles. But doing something about it is easier said than done.

One thing I’m sure won’t be added to my collection when it comes out is series three of The Bridge and not just because I’m a little short of cash right now. More because I’m finding this series a little disappointing. Danish shows like this tend to end after the third series and I don’t think it would be a bad thing were this to be the end of The Bridge. I’m just not finding it as engaging as the first two series and whilst I do like Henrik I miss Martin a lot. I’m also not liking the story with Saga’s mother, whilst I do want to know exactly what happened to result in her sister living with her and how their parents ended up in prison, it makes for very difficult viewing.

Reading Habits/Starting Over

I’ve been meaning to write a post with the first part of the title for a while, but like so many other things it just fell by the wayside. Lately if it’s not about Jogi, Hansi or Freiburg I have little interest in writing about it. But given the problem I’m having with one of their adventures right now, it seems like a perfect time to write about this. Back then I was thinking about how your reading habits relate to what and how much you write. This post will be a little different than I originally envisioned, for the simple reason that I really haven’t been reading all that much.

The past few months I haven’t been reading as much as I like, with each passing month I promise myself I’ll do better next month. I’ll set more time aside, make more effort and it just doesn’t happen. Usually I consider it a wasted day when I haven’t gotten any reading done, a week is wasted if I haven’t finished at least one book. But now it’s rather different, instead I measure whether or not it’s been a productive week by how many pages I’ve written and the quality of those pages. Reading time isn’t even second best on my list of priorities, it’s even further down.  It comes beneath typing up my notes, proofreading and watching football.

It’s as if each book is just a distraction from my own stories, which probably accounts for the lack of fiction I’ve read recently. And which also might explain why I’ve been watching so few films. Keeping track of another narrative whilst trying to keep all your own stories straight just isn’t possible.

On the subject of books being a distraction I really wish I hadn’t read Das Reboot, or maybe at least just not now. I thought it would be an interesting read and it is in a lot of ways. Especially in regards to tracking all the connections between the development and progression of German football over the past ten years, most of the roads in one way or another lead to Baden-Württermberg. So many of the key players in the story are from the south-west. Jogi Löw, Hansi Flick, Jürgen Klinsmann, Oliver Bierhoff, Ralf Rangnick, Jürgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and a few others I’ve probably forgotten.

What I didn’t like so much was the behind the scenes stuff at the World Cup last summer. I don’t know why exactly, I just feel like I don’t need to know that stuff. One thing I most definitely did not mind reading about was the disagreement between Jogi Löw and Hansi Flick on the subject of the importance of dead ball situations. I already knew about this but the book provided a few more details that I was previously unaware of. For example the fact that Löw would bet his assistant several bottles of wine or a dinner that the team wouldn’t score from a dead ball situation. It was also interesting to learn that Löw’s former team SC Freiburg played a part in him being convinced that he was wrong. The reason being that Hansi Flick noticed that SC Freiburg have an above average success rate at free kicks and corners. So he enlisted the help of their assistant coach Lars Voßler and some of those ideas were adapted for the national team. I do like random bits of trivia like that.

There is also something about the book that greatly displeased me in relation to how Toni Kroos was described. Apparently he’s a very cool customer, not someone who gets worked up and who shows his emotions. When I read the beginning of the description in question, the first thought in my mind was please don’t mention autism in anyway. Low and behold that’s what they did, saying that his coolness, detachment and the way in which he seems so self centered equates to a kind of footballing autism. Yes, because that’s what autism is, being detached, not feeling anything, or showing any emotion and being self centered. It’s such a lazy and inaccurate comparison to make, it’s completely unnecessary.  They made their point just fine without mentioning autism.

And now to the second part of the title, a few days ago out of nowhere I got the idea into my head that I wanted to delete the story I’ve been working on. That I wasn’t happy with how one particular chapter went and because of that the whole thing had to go. I needed to start again. I didn’t do so, though it wouldn’t have mattered if I had done. It’s not the only copy and besides that I still have the handwritten first draft for at least half of it. I resisted doing so, because I wasn’t sure that rashly deciding 47 pages that I’ve spent close to a month on is all of a sudden meaningless. Not when I don’t understand why at least. So I made a list, to try and work out what I was unhappy about. In the process I found that actually I wasn’t that unhappy with it, and what I thought was wrong with it wasn’t. I think I need to take a break from it, to think about something else for a while. I may have spent so much time thinking about it that I almost ending up convincing myself that it was all wrong when in fact it’s fine.

I like to try and write something every day, I never have a minimum number of pages or anything like that, that’s too much pressure, but I do like to try and get something down on paper. Even if it’s just notes for a new idea. Today and tomorrow I’m going to try something a little different. I’m not going to have any such expectations. I’m not going to beat myself up for not reading or writing anything. Nor am I going to watch any football, at least none that’s live anyway. I’m going to reserve my energy for the Baden-Württermberg derby this coming Friday. SC Freiburg play their neighbours Karlsruher SC, it should be a most interesting game. Not only because of the local rivalry but because as Amir Abrashi pointed out in his post-match interview on Sunday, being top of the table means as long as that’s so, they’ll be hunted, the team everyone wants to beat. Two other things to bear in mind, in the other Baden-Württermberg derby against SV Sandhausen, Freiburg won 4-1. Plus KSC are struggling at the moment, a fact which could work both for and against Freiburg. For them in the sense that it should in theory make them easier to beat. Against because it may make KSC that little bit more resilient. It may give them the edge and make them want to win all the more. Not just for the points but because a win in a local derby like this would be good for morale, and god knows they need something like that right now.

I’m not going to do anything that requires me to follow a schedule or to be somewhere at a set time. I’m going to try and have at least one very lazy day and catch up on some sleep. No expectations, nothing. No stressing out about anything. I think the most I’ll do is dig out Fallout New Vegas and spend some time wandering around the wasteland. That’s always a good thing to do when I feel like this.

Conversations with Mr Winzlinger/Obsessing about Obsessions

Matchdays: The Hidden Story of the Bundesliga explores the history of German football, more specifically that of the Bundesliga. Unlike Tor! The Story of German Football ( also an excellent book) which offers a more comprehensive history, this book instead tells the story of the creation of the Bundesliga and it’s subsequent development over the years by focusing on one man, Heinz Höher. A man who in his time has been a player, manager, sports director and youth coach. A man who really has seen it all. The creation of the Bundesliga, playing and management experience in the first and second division, promotion, relegation, playing the mighty Bayern, European football and player rebellions. Not to mention a plan (successfully carried out) to freeze over the pitch at Bochum with buckets of water so as to get a game with Schalke postponed. They didn’t actually freeze the whole pitch, they’d underestimated just how cold it was and how impossible their task would be. So they settled for icing over the penalty boxes and hoping for the best.

The book has plenty of other funny little stories like that. Along with providing many amusing anecdotes it’s also very much a story of the other side of football. Of the game behind the game. It offers some insight into the effect the game can have on people, and on their family too. Good and bad. It doesn’t gloss over the more troublesome aspects of the game, it talks about the aspects of the game that can be easily get lost and be forgotten about in the glitz and the glamour. It’s a reminder of what a madhouse football can sometimes be. Towards the end of his journey through said madhouse, Höher eventually learns in some way there is more to life than football. Yet at the same time he knows that football is still his one true addiction, not love but addiction. His own words.

This is one of the things about the book that really interests me, that and the Mr Winzlinger mentioned in the title, but I’ll explain about him later. The idea that someone could love something that takes so much from them, that asks so much of you. Thinking about the subject brings to mind an exchange from the film The Prestige which I can’t forget:

Angier; Haven’t you followed your obsessions?

Tesla: Yes, for too long. I am their slave and one day they will choose to destroy me.

It’s a subject I think about a lot. In fact I probably spend as much time obsessing over the meaning of obsessions as I do on the interests themselves. I envy Höher in one way, because he’s had one driving interest almost his entire life. It must be great to be focused on one thing like that. I feel like Tesla does in a sense that my obsessions own me and one of them will be, in one way or another my downfall.

Occasionally my choice (and I use that word loosely) of obsessions fascinates me and more often that not these days, frustrates me at the same time. Mostly because I keep trying to apply some kind of logic to it. Which is a problem because you can’t always find a reason, there’s not always one to find. Some things just are.

It’s not just me that gets frustrated with such things. I know other people do too. My previous fascination with Christoph Waltz and the film Inglourious Basterds whilst not being entirely welcome (because of the Nazi aspect) was at least somewhat tolerable. My fascination with Niki Lauda and F1 (partly thanks to Daniel Brühl) equally so. The latter had the advantage of actually making some sense. It was very easy for people to get why I would find a character such as Lauda so interesting.

My current interest less so. I see their point. It is a little curious, the idea of me having any interest in a team sport. More than that the idea I would have any kind of interest which is any sense collective. Which requires one to actively or even passively belong to a group of some kind. It’s not helped by the fact that I don’t have any kind of real explanation for them. I don’t know why this interest or why the pieces came together when they did. I never do know why.

One thing I know for sure is right now at least, I’m a little sick of the whole process. Of the way in which something quickly becomes the center of my universe and then anywhere from nine to twelve months later I get tired of it and it gets abandoned. Sometimes I think I should just go back to my video games, should stay away from reality completely.  That I should stop trying to really do anything or be a part of anything. It would be so much easier to reside completely in fantasy worlds, to not talk to other people or even be around them, to not insist on getting out of bed when everyone else thinks I should. To go back to a vampire schedule. That’s the thing about football that’s both good and bad. Good in the sense that it doesn’t allow that option, if you want to watch live games then a lot of the time you need to be awake in the day. Bad in the sense that it’s exhausting keeping it up.

In that sense it’s my own bad luck that it was Freiburg I fell for and not Bayern or Dortmund. They’re easy to follow, even Köln would have been easier. With them, especially the first two I could follow them and still not worry about keeping a regular schedule. But not with Freiburg. Maybe I should just stop thinking about the whole thing. Which is of course easier said than done. I did try to pick a team by being logical about it. Of course it didn’t work. You can’t pick a team that way, it’s like falling in love. Rules and logic don’t apply. It’s not something you can make happen.

And now to Mr Winzlinger, he’s not a real person. He was a character of sorts, someone Heinz Höher would talk things over with at night when he couldn’t sleep. I find this most intriguing, I always wondered if other people did this too but never actually asked anyone in case it sounded crazy. Mr Winzlinger got me thinking about a conversation I had two weeks ago, about the difference between autistic people and NT people. To be more precise, the difference between people who aren’t quite NT but aren’t actually autistic either. I didn’t have an answer for them. I couldn’t think of what it was that’s the dividing line between a person having autism or not. I wasn’t sure there is one thing, one defining trait that separates the two. I may have an idea now, for me it may be that ability to live completely in my own head. To not need other people, to not need to be with them or around them. The way in which I get focused on one thing to the complete exclusion of everything else. I just don’t seem to need other people in quite the same way. I’m happier with fictional characters than I am with real people. I guess because they don’t make quite the same demands of me.

I don’t even know if what I wrote is entirely accurate. I do know that I spend a lot of time avoiding other people and even more time worrying about having to talk to anyone, and about making mistakes in that regard. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the autism ends and the anxiety begins. I’m not sure if they can even be separated like that.

It’s not just about not needing other people, it’s also about how much hard work it is to be around them. Even if you do enjoy it sometimes, so much of the time it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth it. It’s partly my own fault. If I wasn’t so obsessive over everything it would be less of an issue. That’s the answer to what is one of the most annoying things about autism. That inability to let things go. I take things so personally and am ridiculously competitive over certain things.

I’m not even sure what my point was, or if I even had one. There’s something on my mind related to all of this, something which has been on my mind since the weekend. I wonder if it’s because I’m starting to think about the fact that the person who’s friendship I value the most, we’ve always had pretty similar interests. It’s only in the past year that I’ve had an interest which they not only don’t share but don’t understand. And maybe now I’m starting to wonder if that fact is going to ruin everything.

Just like with the obsessions, I’m trying to be logical about it. Thinking about the pros and cons of having friends. Mostly I can’t stop thinking about what a relief about what it would be not to have to worry about it all. I can’t figure out what would be worse, potentially being lonely or having to deal with all the extra anxieties and worries that having friends brings.

But then whether I have friends or not, I’ll still be worrying, just about something else instead. And whether I have friends or not I’ll still in someway feel lonely. Because no matter who I make friends with, whether they’re NT or autistic, I still feel like I’m pretending. Like I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. I can’t escape that feeling, I don’t know if it’s real or not, if I really feel that way. But I can’t get away from it.

Now I remember what my point was about Mr Winzlinger. I have my very own version of such a person. Though for me he doesn’t have a name, and I obviously don’t use him for planning training sessions and discussing tactical plans. Nor does my version have a name. No, he’s not called Hansi, not even Hans-Dieter. He doesn’t have a name, he never has. He’s just the friendly and ever present German. My point was I’d rather talk to him than anyone else. Because I don’t have to talk out loud to talk to him. He doesn’t leave me feeling like I’m an idiot because I don’t understand what he’s said. Because he never confuses me. I never have to ask him to repeat himself. There are no social rules to abide by or break. I never have to worry if I’ve done something wrong.