Category Archives: Obsessions/special interests

Happy Endings

Happy Endings

Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?

I’ve attempted at some point or another to give up many of my obsessions and special interests, or at least entertained the theory of doing so. A year or two ago I toyed with the idea of not having an obsession at all, of not letting one thing be the center of my universe to the exclusion of everything else. All of it is rather foolish thinking because thinking like that makes it seem like I have any choice in the matter. When truth is there is no choice. It’s just the way I work. Even if I did have a choice it wouldn’t matter, I need them, I need to have a special interest of some kind. I’m not lonely but if I didn’t have a special interest to keep me company then I would be. I need something to focus on.

Last month I was thinking of what would happen if I gave up my current special interest. Not Freiburg, just Jogi and Hansi. I didn’t want to let them go, it’s not because of the time their adventures are taking up. It was because of what happened in November. Since then I’ve realised how wrong that would be. To allow an interest to end unnaturally that way. They have to run their course, to come to their natural end. And so far there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for them. They are proving to be quite the marathon obsession. Which is good because I don’t want to let them go yet either. I’m not done with their story yet. With Matze’s introduction I have a lot more chapters to write yet.

As for how I attempted to give up previous obsessions, I would always try to go cold turkey. I’m an all or nothing kind of person. That much is obvious. I know all obsessions have to come to an end, I know in this regard there are no happy endings. But I’m making my peace with that. I’m starting to be ok with the fact that things do change, that things don’t last forever. I’m trying my best to not worry about the inevitable end and to just enjoy the fun and madness whilst it lasts.

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Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.

Much to my mother’s disappointment I think in one way or another I was always destined to be a sports fan of some kind. I grew up around two sports mad uncles who introduced me to football and Formula 1 and there was no looking back. My mother can’t complain, I mean I have three brothers, what did she expect?

Though I have to point out she’s not complaining quite so much now. Not when she gets to spend some time watching Jogi, Hansi and Thomas Tuchel. Getting her interested in the game itself, absolutely impossible. But at least now she doesn’t have to pretend quite so much to be interested.

I’ve followed a football team before, both club and country. Germany were the first country I showed an interest in but they weren’t the only one. Not so long ago I also retained a fondness for Denmark and it has to be said still do. But I never followed a Danish league team or even considered doing so. To that I went to the Bundesliga which admittedly was not the only logical choice, after all they speak German in both Austria and Switzerland but that wasn’t going to work.

It would surprise no-one who knows me that in trying to pick a team to follow I attempted to use logic to decide. A very stupid thing to do because such things are more than about logic as the process showed me. I made a list of the German teams whose existence I was aware of. If I remember correctly Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Gladbach, VfB Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt were all on the initial list. As were Paderborn. Freiburg were on there but not in the way I’d like, they were on there as more of an afterthought. In a I’ll watch them when I can kind of way, because they were a Jogi team. As it turns out they had their own ideas about that.

Which is an accusation which gets thrown my way quite a bit in real life, that I only fell in love with Freiburg because they are the home team of Joachim Löw. Such an accusation has no basis in fact because it was actually Bayern I picked first. But I quickly realised it wasn’t true love, that I wasn’t particularly upset about having to miss a game here and there. And that truth is I’m a bigger fan of Manuel Neuer than the club itself. I’m more of a reluctant fan than a true one. Bayern for me are a Hansi team. But they aren’t my team.

That honour goes to Freiburg and to them alone. I made my choice on the 22nd November 2014, that day they played Mainz and drew 2-2. It was a scenario which I’ve since become accustomed with, of them taking the lead and then throwing it away just a few minutes before time. They can be frustrating that way sometimes. The same weekend I saw Bayern defeat Hoffenheim 4-0. It was during their game that I made the decision, at some point during that game I realised I was bored. When Bayern play more often that not it doesn’t feel like a competition. It’s pointless predicting who’s going to win, it’s more like guess the score. That’s not always the case, after all last season they lost to all of their closest rivals and this season to Gladbach. But still it didn’t feel right, I could watch Bayern every week guaranteed in high definition with no problems whatsoever, same for Dortmund. Yet it wasn’t right.  I’m never bored when Freiburg play, I never feel like I don’t care about the result. It’s their stadium I dream of when I daydream, it’s their fan-song that I know the tune to and am slowly learning the words to. It’s three Freiburg shirts I own, not three Bayern ones. Well I own three I can wear, I own two other very special ones. One which I bought as a lucky charm of sorts, the so called promotion shirt. And another which is just as special, it’s a match-worn shirt of former Freiburg defender Matthias Ginter:

IMG_20151002_232153IMG_20151002_232251IMG_20151222_190515IMG_20151222_190704Though Bayern are still a part of the story and I don’t mean because of Manuel Neuer. As luck would have it one of my favourite Freiburg players Nils Petersen is a former Bayern player who scored his first goal for them in a 7-0 victory over Freiburg. You just can’t make this stuff up. Truth is whether Nils Petersen had stayed or gone back to Bremen he would forever more be a legend, you don’t score a winning goal against Bayern in the 89th minute and get forgotten about. I know the victory is overshadowed by the fact they were relegated the following weekend but I can never forget the excitement of that weekend:

On the subject of videos, Manuel and Jogi, Christmas greetings from the two of them courtesy of first Sportschau and then the DFB:

To get back to how I fell in love with Freiburg that Mainz game wasn’t the first one I saw, though in a twist of fate the first I did see had the same score-line, a 2-2 draw with Hertha BSC. A little painful now given that’s where Vladimir Darida ended up. I’m happy to say that Freiburg at least won the reverse of the fixture and strangely enough Jogi was at both games. But the decision wasn’t made till the day of the Mainz game. It wasn’t a really a decision as such, more of a realisation. I mean if I were serious about being a Bayern fan how come I didn’t buy any shirts or at least some kind of fan t-shirt, I think I knew that really they weren’t for me.

Following a football team is a most curious business, equally curious is the perceptions of other people as to how and why you “chose” your team. In the first few months of being a Freiburg fan I got a lot of stick because firstly no-one had ever heard of them and secondly of course the accusation of it being part of my fascination with Jogi. So it was no surprise when they were relegated from the Bundesliga last summer that I was asked if I was going to go back to following Bayern. A question which I tried my best to answer politely. Naturally the answer was no. I wasn’t going to abandon them just because they got relegated. I know a little of their history, I know they’ve gotten relegated quite a few times, it’s a part of who they are. They can sum it up better than I can:

Schwarzwald Stadion 2With two people in particular I mind I have to point out the flaw in their logic, they say I picked Freiburg because they are a Jogi team yet they frequently say that these days I like Hansi more than Jogi. That makes no sense, if I liked him more, which I have to admit some days is true, then how come I’m not a Bayern fan? The answer, I just didn’t fall in love with them. It’s not often I use those words, not in real life anyway, but I never hesitate to say that I unreservedly love Freiburg. I don’t love them any less because they got relegated or because they had to let Roman Bürki leave or because they aren’t the autumn champions as most people assumed they were going to be this year. I love them and for me that’s enough. Normally I need some kind of reason for something, I always need to make sense of it, to deconstruct it so I can know the how and the why. Not here, not with them, watching them makes me happy and that is all I need to know. I appreciate the uncomplicated nature of it, there’s not much in my life that’s uncomplicated, a fact which is sometimes my own fault I have to say. And whilst watching them is not always an easy task, whilst I sometimes have to go troublesome lengths to see them play, they are always worth it.

They are perfectly suited for me, I don’t need to explain why but I can. One of the reasons is that they are a club with a very realistic outlook. They know who they are and what they stand for. They know what is and isn’t in the realms of possibility. They know they’re not Bayern and they don’t waste any time trying to be something and someone they’re not. This can be summed up perfectly by Christian Streich’s response to a question after the 1860 game on Sunday. He was asked if he was thinking of returning to the Bundesliga the following season, he said no, that he’s thinking only of the Bochum game after the winter break, that’s tough enough.

Now that more than year’s gone by and I’m still sticking with them I find myself on the receiving end of a different kind cf comment from the football fans I know in real life. A comment to the effect of “well at least you’re not a Bayern fan.” I take it they mean at least I just didn’t jump on the bandwagon, that is I didn’t just pick the most popular or the biggest team in the league. Like I said it’s a curious business. Especially when the comment in question comes from a Liverpool fan.

One final thing I have to mention, only now do I realise how important and ironic it is that Freiburg played Mainz the day I decided. Mainz is of course the first team Thomas Tuchel coached. It’s Thomas Tuchel who is now in charge of Dortmund, it’s he who took Roman from Freiburg, a fact which I most displeased about at the time. He has another former Freiburg player in his side too, Matthias Ginter. Two facts which mean I spend as much time watching Dortmund as I do Bayern. I know you’re not mean to like both but I can’t pick between Matze and Roman on one side and Manuel, Philipp and Thomas on the other.

What I should have said was one final relevant thing to mention because there is one more thing I have to include in this post. It’s not strictly relevant to the topic of today’s daily prompt but it most definitely belongs here. A while back as a bonus question one of them asked if you kept a notebook beside your bed and if you did to note down the very first thing you thought upon waking the next morning. That night I went to bed thinking of Manuel Neuer but ended up dreaming about Sebastian Koch. Leading me to wonder what I had to do in order to dream about Manuel. Turns out the answer to that question is thinking about Hansi Flick being in Israel. That and a very late night. I finally got my dream about Manuel Neuer but I’m not sure it’s the one I wanted. A dream in which Manuel Neuer is my one true love, sounds great, what’s the catch? The catch is in the dream I had a child with him. I blame Matze for this, as sweet and fun as he is I blame him. Bringing a child into Jogi and Hansi’s story has proved a lot of fun, that I can’t deny. But now it’s creeping into my dreams, not so much. There’s no real life message for me to take from that dream. Just a reminder to finish Matze’s Christmas adventure. If there is one thing I’m sure about it’s that children are not part of my own adventure.

Advent Calendar Day 16: The Right Roman/The Time & Space Problem

In the Freiburg calendar today was Immanuel Höhn who’s not to be confused with Jonas Fõhrenbach, I’ve never confused them in a game but I did with their pictures and only just realised my mistake. With Jonas I have an excuse, he’s new to the senior team. I have no such excuse with Immanuel.

There was however no confusion with the Dortmund chocolate wrapper as the title suggests, I finally have the right Roman. It’s also very fitting that today is the day I got the card of defender Mats Hummels in the DFB calendar, because today is a Dortmund day after all. From a Roman point of view it’s all the more important to me personally, I’m hoping that he and Matze as former Freiburgers can make me feel a little better and knock FCA out later tonight.

Mats Hummels - DFB 2015-16 card 1 Mats Hummels - DFB 2015-16 card 2 Roman Bürki – Dortmund advent calendarEarlier when I was thinking about who today’s DFB card would be and wondering if they’re saving Jogi’s card till last it occurred to me that I’ll never get a Hansi card from an advent calendar. Not unless I made one myself, I wish I had come up with this idea a month ago. I would have done so for this year, not just for myself but for the other two people I know in real life who are fond of both Jogi and Hansi. Now there’s a fun project, making pictures for the wrappers, perhaps a trading card as well. And making chocolate, foil wrappers and then the pictures on top. This is definitely going to be a lot of fun. I may not be able to make it for a whole year but I can certainly plan for it, and maybe in a few months make a prototype.

In one way it’s a good thing I didn’t come up with it now, I have more than enough to do and I’m not even keeping up with that. This week is about three things only, the DFB Pokal, writing and sleeping. Anything else is irrelevant, until Sunday that is when Freiburg play 1860. It’s most likely not a good idea to let an obsession dominate like this but it’s better than the alternative, than wandering around not knowing what to do. On one hand there’s no room in my head for anything else and there’s no time for anything else but at least I know what I’m doing, I know what’s happening and what’s going to happen. Plus one advantage is that when I go to bed I fall asleep pretty quickly, something which doesn’t happen most of the time. The downside is that no matter how sleep I get it never feels like enough, but then it rarely does.

I just want Christmas over and done with, not so I can get my hands on my presents quicker, not even because I want to hurry up the return of the Bundesliga. No it’s more because I want to get back into some kind of routine. It’s impossible to do so with Christmas thus I haven’t wasted any time trying. The disadvantage however to not trying is that there’s plenty of room for my obsessions to have free reign.

I never thought I would have this problem, that the thing keeping me awake at night is a notebook. I’ve had similar problems before but they involved games or TV. I never thought that instead of almost falling asleep in front of the TV with a Playstation controller in my hand that I’d be doing so with a pen and notebook. Thinking about this I remembered all those conversations online about games, the people who say that games are for kids, that ruin your life, make an addict of you and that serious grown ups or people who have a life don’t play them. And someone who stays up half the night playing games always gets mentioned and used as an example of how pathetic they are. Well I’ve stayed up all night for many reasons, playing games, watching TV or football, reading a good book and because I’m writing something that I have to finish there and then. Is it somehow better or more worthy that I stay up all night writing instead of playing games? I don’t think so.

To get back the topic of being unsettled Freiburg losing to 1.FCN on Sunday did not help. I wasn’t arrogant enough to just assume they would win, I would never do that even when I’m close to 100% certain they will. It’s not just the fact they lost but how they did. Two cases of bad luck and both of them involving the same player. As luck would have it that player is the one I got mixed up with Immanuel Höhn.

On Sunday night partly I think because of the result of the game I made a somewhat rash decision, for once it wasn’t one which involved money and it wasn’t a bad decision, just a slightly surprising one. Feeling a little off after the game I decided I needed something to do, something to focus on. Preferably some kind of repetitive task, so with that in mind I decided on putting all the blu-rays from my football archive in the case I bought. But I didn’t do that, I changed my mind. Instead I cleared one of my shelves of DVDs, removed them from the cases, put the discs in the case and threw out the cases. A surprising decision because whilst I’ve been convinced of the logic of such a decision for a while I’ve been resisting doing so. Partly because I didn’t want my room to change anyway and partly because I’m quite partial to DVD cases. I like seeing them all lined up on the shelf and I like going through them. Apparently I changed my mind, deciding all of a sudden it’s a good idea and one I can make my peace with. It didn’t take long to make best use of the space. After some moving around I now have a sticker shelf and a place to put all my German books, newspapers and press clippings. Not to mention that I finally got to clean up the ever growing pile of books from the floor.

I haven’t got rid of all the cases for my DVDs, only about 300 of them. I think there’s at least another 250 plus an unknown number of blu-rays. The blu-ray cases I’m keeping, I like those too much. As for the remaining DVDs I suppose I’ll repeat the process, except for my German and Danish collection and any special ones. Having made progress on this front I’ll soon have no excuse to avoid sorting through my books. Though this will be a lot more difficult. I’ve already started thinking about ones I don’t need to keep and ones I could give away. I’ve made no progress whatsoever because with almost every book I look at I think of the time I last read it, of the memories associated with it, of the time I bought it. It’s a lot harder to get rid of books that I bought in person. Though some of them I would never get rid of anyway. Like “All That I Am” for example, this has three very good reasons why I would never part with it. Firstly it belongs on my German shelf, secondly it’s a great book and thirdly I bought it on a very special winter Saturday. That is the day it snowed and I saw Django Unchained for the very first time. Every time I pick up the book I remember that day and the other two books I bought with it, HHhH and The Killing 3.

Sorting through my books is going to be a most difficult project indeed. I think I should start first with books I bought and never read, ones I’m not so attached to. It may make it easier.

On a related note whilst I was sorting out the DVDs I realised that I might as well tidy up my desk as well. A task I’ve meant to get to all year, I’d almost forgotten what it looked like so long has it been since I’d seen it. I found some most interesting things there, an issue of Der Spiegel from January, the remaining piece of last year’s Jogi themed wrapping paper and a note for The Dressing Room Adventures which was sadly undated. I would have liked to know the day I came up with that idea.

Today is a Dortmund day but also as it turns out a Darida day, that is Czech midfielder and former Freiburg player Vladimir Darida. How ironic, in the summer he moved to Hertha BSC and tonight they are playing 1.FCN, the team Freiburg lost to on Sunday. As I’m typing this 1.FCN are currently 1-0 down to Hertha BSC courtesy of a Darida goal in the 32minute.

Yesterday was Bayern’s day but it’s not the game which served up the most excitement, though I have to say Xabi Alonso’s goal was a work of art. There may have only been one goal but it was a very special one. The most exciting thing last night was the laser show, which unfortunately they didn’t show all of but some of it is better than nothing. And it was worth it just to see Manuel Neuer in a Santa hat:

Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 1 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 2 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 3 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 4 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 5 Manuel Neuer - Santa hat 6

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:

joachim-lc3b6w-e28093-sco-deu-press-conference-7 hansi-flick-dfb-interview-06-08-2015-13

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?

What makes you happy?

Several different people are always in one way or another trying to help me figure out what I should do with my life. Though none of them seemed to have noticed that I really have no interest in doing anything. Because try as I might I can’t see myself as doing anything other than what I’m currently doing. Ironic as it is for someone who likes to write fiction, when it comes to real life my sense of imagination is not that good. Just like I have trouble predicting how other people may respond in any given situation so I have trouble imagining myself in a situation which isn’t actually happening right now.

They make helpful suggestions, they come up with ideas related to my current special interest and they keep doing so when my interests change. And the question that inevitably gets asked is “What makes you happy?”

I always have trouble answering this question in any meaningful way, in any kind of big picture way. Living outside of my own head and taking note of the world around me is not something that always comes easy to me. To quote Leo from The West Wing “I like the little things.” It’s true, I really do. From other people’s perspective in some sense I suppose I’m too easy to please. Which is ironic because quite a bit of the time I get accused of the exact opposite, of being impossible to make happy. Especially when it comes to getting gifts. But if only they listened to me or paid attention then maybe they wouldn’t have got it so wrong. Sometimes it makes me wonder if anyone knows me at all.  Like last week when someone was returning something of mine that they borrowed. They happened to come in when I was watching the Bundesliga highlights, at the time I was excited because I’d gotten some extra footage of Jogi at Darmstadt’s game. In their eyes I was too excited about having gotten an extra five seconds of footage. But like I said I like the little things. And given that the person in question is someone who I’ve known my entire life, I would have thought they knew that too. I don’t expect them to understand, but I’m surprised that they found it curious, that they aren’t used to such things. It makes me wonder what else they and everybody else aren’t used to. What else do they find strange or weird but not say anything about? Is it possible that the people you’ve spent your entire life with don’t know you at all?

I get that NT people don’t understand, that’s kind of a given. But I thought I wouldn’t have this problem with other autistic people, that problems like this wouldn’t happen. Making friends with someone who has a similar mixture of autism and anxiety I thought we wouldn’t have such problems. I was wrong. I wrongly thought it meant I could talk about things that I didn’t and couldn’t talk about with anyone else. After all I listened to them talk about such things, so it should have been ok for me to share too. But it didn’t work out that way. I deeply regret having done so, having told them what I was scared of. I never tell anyone such things and in having done so I feel like a real idiot, though I don’t understand exactly why. One thing I do know, ever since then I haven’t trusted them.

With their suggestions about ways in which I could branch out in relation to my current special interest they proved how little they know me anyway. It was no doubt intended as a helpful suggestion but it wasn’t one they’d given any thought to. The idea was not  bad one, to the contrary, it’s quite a good one actually. Just not for me. I know people do that online, make their own commentary for games and live stream it. But why would they think it was a good idea for me?

In a perfect world I’d love to do such a thing. But then in a perfect world I’d have no problem with talking out loud, with getting my words out and saying them in the right order. And in a perfect world I wouldn’t sound quite so strange. But of course the world is far from perfect. The suggestion hurt my feelings. Whilst it was intended to be helpful it felt like it was a reminder of just one more thing I can’t do. And I really don’t need anymore of those. Coming from anyone else I would have gotten over it eventually and decided it was thoughtless but not too hurtful. However coming from someone else who is also autistic, it hurts just that little bit more.

After this and a few other comments I felt like I couldn’t trust them anymore. Like I had to watch what I said to them the same way I did with everyone else, not just what I said but how I acted. Now it feels like there’s no-one I can talk freely with, no-one I can just be myself around. Maybe there never was, maybe it was just an illusion, I was just fooling myself. Whichever is true it’s exhausting having to put that front on all the time. But then what if I were to truly be myself around other people, what would that mean?

I once made the mistake of telling someone this, that I felt like I couldn’t be myself around anyone else. And they said it hurt their feelings that I meant them too, that I even felt that way about someone I was related to. I understand how it hurt their feelings, really I do. But what about my feelings? What about how I feel, knowing that people wouldn’t like me were I really to be myself around them.

Because truth is, if I spend more time being myself around them then it would mean interacting with them a lot less, with everyone in fact. Starting to talk with other people was one of the worst things I ever did. I wasn’t always like that, when I was a lot younger I was for the most part quiet and barely said a word. I didn’t even lecture people about my special interests. I wasn’t a little professor type Aspie when I was a small child, I was more of a live in my own head kind of person. I could talk, I just didn’t. I was a lot happier back then and a lot less confused. I didn’t have to worry about what other people were thinking, whether I’d said something wrong or not, or if I couldn’t understand and follow a conversation. I didn’t have to worry about any of that. Two of the worst things I ever did, starting to talk to other people and learning and understanding the concept that people had thoughts in their head that were different to mine. Ever since I learnt that I’ve found it difficult to stop obsessing over what other people are thinking, how what they say might not be what they are really thinking. It makes it impossible to trust anyone, and it makes other people question our friendship because I’m seemingly incapable of putting that amount of trust in them.

Which brings me to the question, what would make me happy? Right now I think nothing less than a full scale retreat would make me anything close to happy. Though I think happy is maybe not the right word for it. I think relieved would be more the right word. Relieved not to have to speak aloud, to find the right words, to make sense of what someone else is saying, or just generally to tolerate the presence of another person. More and more these days whenever I’m with someone else I can’t wait until they leave. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to listen to anyone talk about anything. That ability to listen and to make sense of the words just isn’t there.

When I dropped out of college the second time I spent the next three months doing nothing but playing video games. I slept in the day and played video games all night. I didn’t see anyone else or speak to them. I barely even saw the people who live in the same house as me. The way the times worked out I was getting up as they were going to bed. Later on the psychologist suggested I did this as a way of avoiding other people, so I didn’t have to face them and worry about hiding how I was feeling. I’ve written about this before in a post entitled “Don’t forget these days”, about how odd it is that when confronted with other people you do everything you can to put an act on, to convince them you’re fine. When really a part of you wants not to do this, you want them to see that something isn’t right.

I don’t know if it’s what I really want but it feels like it is, like that would be wonderful right now. There’s not any games I’m particularly looking forward to playing, indeed I’m not particularly enthusiastic about video games in general right now. It’s just the thought of escape that’s so appealing. Of not needing to be anywhere, of being able to sleep whenever and for however long I like. But something tells me this is not such a good idea. Partly I’m worried that were I to do this, it would be hard to break the habit. Which would be most troublesome if it turned out to be not what I wanted. Or to be a little more honest about it, I think I’m scared that if I allow myself to stay in bed that I’ll never want to get up again. It’s kind of like the Stalingrad metaphor I used in one of my stories, about the soldiers who were attempting to flee the advance of the Russian army. They had to keep moving because if they stopped they would die there, they just wouldn’t have the energy or the fight necessary in them to get back up again. They would sit there and freeze to death, not because they wanted to but because they really couldn’t move another inch. Sometimes, actually most of the time it’s a whole lot easier to give up than to carry on fighting.

I’ve felt like that every morning these past few days, asking myself if I really have to get up. I suppose that’s one reason I don’t want to part ways with my current special interest. Because if I do, what reason would I have to get up in the mornings? Or to be more precise the afternoons these days, either way the point still stands. I’m worried about running out of reasons to make myself get out of bed. When of course the real question I should be asking is, why is it so hard to get out bed to begin with?

It really is a most tempting prospect, not to concern yourself with the outside world at all. Not to talk to other people, not knowing what’s going on, not even keeping up with football, nothing real at all. Nothing but the story of whatever game you happen to be playing. I wonder if I was truly happy during those three months and if so why. Is that the key to happiness, complete detachment from reality? Because making contact with reality means plenty to worry about and lots to be stressed out about. It can’t be a coincidence that the time I was the least stressed out is when I had nothing to do with the real world.

Only problem is I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of my current interest. I’m not sure I want to start over again, not now. But then I don’t really know if that’s true. I don’t know for sure if it’s because I would miss Freiburg, the Bundesliga in general, Jogi and Hansi, and Manuel Neuer of course. Or if it’s because I just don’t like change and once I’ve gotten locked into something it’s really hard to get out of.

One thing is for sure, I’m not feeling quite as optimistic as when I wrote the post mentioned above. The title of that post came from a book called “A Life too Short.”It’s about Robert Enke, a German goalkeeper who had depression and ended up committing suicide. Those words “don’t forget these days” were what was written on the last page of his journal. This is how I ended that post:

“Don’t forget the good things, the things that make you so happy is what I tell myself. One day is just that, one day. How you feel today will not be potentially how you feel tomorrow, or even an hour or a minute from now. I list all the good things there are, all the things that are important to me.  And try to remember all those little moments, all those wonderful little moments that came about in an otherwise terrible day.”

Right now it’s not easy to convince myself that there’s any truth in that. Right now all I can think is that those little moment aren’t enough. That everything which goes wrong overshadows all of it. I’m not quite sure what makes me happy right now. It feels like nothing can. I’ve been excited about Arsenal’s trip to the Allianz Arena ever since the draw was made, and even more so since the first leg of the tie. That game is tonight in fact and I got my wish as regards to what channel it’s on, in spite of that I’m having difficulty mustering up any real enthusiasm for it. I hope it doesn’t turn out like Sunday did. Then I woke up not really looking forward to the game, but I thought it was just because I was tired, that I would be happy once I’d woken up a bit more. It didn’t work out that way.

Earlier I was reading a discussion online about whether or not life is really worth the effort. One person made a good point in saying that the worst mistake they ever made was making their happiness reliant on another person or a relationship. Happiness should come from within, it shouldn’t be dependent on someone else or something else, on factors you can’t control. I especially should not let any part of my happiness be dependent in anyway on other people. Because it’s a sure fire way to being miserable. I get things wrong so much of the time that it’s the worst idea possible to be reliant in anyway on such a thing. So what should I allow to make me happy?

It seems as if none of the things that make me happy recently are real in any way. Football related videos, my Jogi and Hansi collection, my Bundesliga and die Mannschaft collection, football stickers and other random collectibles. Do they really make me happy? Are they enough? Does it matter that I seem to have no interest in living in the real world?

I should be asleep right now, in fact I’m supposed to be getting up in about four and half hours. But I can’t sleep, I feel sick with worry at knowing what’s coming. I don’t know which aspect of the day ahead worries me the most, which part it is that I’m most worked up about. If it’s getting dressed in outside clothes, spending time with someone else or if it’s just the idea of going out at all. But if I want to see Spectre than I have no choice about that part at least.

Instead of sleeping I’ve been reading Sherlock fan fiction, to be more specific autistic Sherlock stories. The past few months I’ve been beating myself up for not reading enough books, with my latest discovery I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. A lot of it makes for very addictive reading. One of them in particular was interesting, Sherlock is talking about how he sometimes he can’t figure Watson out and people in general, that people are too unpredictable. Watson comments that people have a habit of being unpredictable when you think they’re absolutely predictable.

Very wise words, and very helpful ones to me right now. Watson’s point is at the center of my latest social errors. The problem is that people acted in a way other than what I expected them to. Because when I chose my course of action I only saw it from my point of view, I thought I was seeing it from their point of view but I didn’t. It’s all logical to me, but then they aren’t me, they don’t know what I’m thinking. If I can’t deal with that, with people acting in a way other than what I expect than obviously any kind of social contact is out of the question. I’ve read a lot of books about autism, I have two shelves worth of them, but I never understood the relationship between autism and imagination. I didn’t understand why it was part of the diagnostic criteria, and I argued vehemently against that part of the criteria applying to me.  Now I get it, both in the context of social imagination and in a larger context. This is what it’s about, being able to have an idea of what someone else may be thinking, of how they may react to your actions or comments. It never occurred to me they would react in a way differently to what I had in mind, to how I thought they would. It really threw me when that did happen. And now it’s un-fixable. It’s not the fact that I can’t talk to them that gets to me the most, it’s the fact that I can’t correct my mistake. I hate being wrong, I really hate it. I know it’s probably not right that it’s my first concern rather than the former.



What’s the best idea you’ve ever had? Regale us with every detail of the idea — the idea itself, where it came to you, and the problem it solved.

There’s three ideas in contention, the first is having a blog at all, the second is the decision to make the Löw highlights from all of Germany’s games and the third is the creation of the Löw adventures.

The first however was not really my idea. I would never have come up with the idea of having a blog by myself. So I can’t take any of the credit for that. The second is an idea entirely of my own creation and is a very important one. But it’s not the most important of all, though it is connected. For without those videos,  without seeing how terrific Jogi and Hansi are together I might never have come up with so many stories about them.

I can’t share every detail of the idea because I don’t really know. I know when and where. It was a daily prompt in fact that kicked the whole thing off. A daily prompt titled “Trio no. 4” which told you that you could write about anything you wanted. As long as it included a speeding car, a phone call and a crisp, bright morning.

Seemingly from nowhere I started thinking about Jogi and Hansi, about how amusing I found it about him getting banned from driving for speeding. That led to thinking about him driving over to Hansi to confess his love for him. The idea felt like it came out of nowhere, but that’s not entirely true. Just a few days before that prompt appeared I had a conversation with someone about how great they are together. So the idea was there, it was just a case of the right circumstances. Of the right ones occurring to allow the idea to grow. And here’s the result, the first ever chapter of the Löw adventures.

As for what problems it solved, it’s created as many as it solved. But I don’t mind, if you’re going to be obsessed with something and have it take up all your time then this is as good a thing as any. It’s solved a few problems I didn’t even know existed. It’s given me the chance to express feelings I didn’t even knew I had. I had no idea I had any interest in such things, who would have thought it, that romance in any way would appeal to me.

More importantly it’s given me the opportunity to make sense of a lot of things. As my friend pointed out to me last week, writing about a relationship, seeing it from both their perspectives must help with empathy and the problems I have surrounding such things. They’re right, it does help. It’s odd in that I end up writing things more from Hansi’s perspective than Jogi’s. I would have thought it would be the other way around, Jogi after all is the strange one. But thinking about it, it makes sense. I learn more seeing things from Hansi’s perspective, considering how Jogi’s quirks for lack of a better word affect him and how he deals with it all. It’s funny, the person in question last night sent me a link about Sherlock fan-fiction, and a lot of the themes explored are ones I’ve covered myself. Particularly freaky was a chapter which involves Watson discovering Sherlock stimming, freaky because I’ve written something which involves that exact scenario. The article certainly made for fascinating reading. And has potentially given me an idea for future projects, Spock and Kirk.

I must have learned something from it anyway because last week when we were discussing the idea of taking a trip, they commented that they’d be getting dragged to a lot of places they have no interest in, like the football museum in Dortmund and all the stadiums I want to visit. But I said that I’d be willing to compromise a little, that as long as they aren’t planning on dragging me to any art galleries then I can compromise. The look on their face indicated they thought I was kidding, as if they were waiting for the punchline. But no, there wasn’t one, I was serious. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t really want to do, when you care about someone you have to do that. If nothing else Hansi has taught me that.

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.

Missing Words

I’ve not been writing on here as much as I’ve intended lately, I thought with the summer break I would have gotten a little more done but it did not turn out that way. In retrospect that was rather naive of me, to think that I would be any less obsessive during the short break between the end of the season and the start of pre-season preparations. It is however a good thing that I put off writing this post, not least because I’ve changed my mind several times as to what the main point of it was. Also because upon coming up with the title I realised that I could fit together a few different ideas under it. First is missing words in the sense that I’ve not been writing about what I want to be writing about. I’ve gotten plenty of Löw adventures done, but little else. In fact I filled half my new notebook with first drafts for several different chapters which is strange because I don’t usually hand-write stuff that much, not in such quantities anyhow.

I feel kind of guilty, as it feels like I’ve abandoned my other project in favour of this one. As much fun as the Löw adventures are, it’s the other one I should be working on. I understand why I’m reluctant to get back to it but that knowledge has proved unhelpful so far in working out what to do. I think the reason is that now I’ve gotten Q and Hansi out from underground, they are out in the wasteland and it’s not like down below. It’s chaotic, there are no rules and anything can happen. That’s the problem, such a big environment, so many possibilities and all of it so unstructured,  anything can happen out there in the desert. Whereas before they were underground, trapped in a dictatorship. That’s easier to write, there are rules, a rigidity to it that was pleasing in some way. And I’m supposed to be guiding them through it all. If I don’t write it, they don’t get anywhere. How many obstacles to put in their way is just one question I have to answer. Plus it’s a lot harder to write now that Hansi can talk, it was so much easier when it was one way traffic, when he had his thoughts and Q did all the talking. A fact made easier because Q doesn’t talk unless he really has to.

Oddly enough, or maybe not, it’s the lack of structure that’s so comforting about the Löw adventures. With the other story lack of structure is bad thing, here it’s a good thing. That’s no doubt why I keep choosing to work on it at the expense of everything else, there’s less pressure when you don’t have to worry about keeping everything straight, about making it all fit into the overall narrative and when you don’t have to worry about the end because there isn’t one.

The other two things the title refers to are both related to social situations. First is the issue of knowing what to say to people. I’m no good at small talk of any kind and I never know what to say to people. Not just in situations like that but in most situations it seems. Unless someone is asking me a direct question or I’m allowed to talk about my special interests then I don’t know what to say. Which isn’t so much of a problem in real life, I don’t talk to a lot of people and most of the people I do talk to are used to me being weird, so it’s not really an issue. It is an issue for me online, I didn’t really care before but for some reason I do now. I don’t know if it’s because of the stickers or the videos but it bothers me now. I don’t get it, the comments are about something I’m interested in and I still can’t respond. Maybe it’s because I don’t see the point of it, because by exchanging comments in that way it’s a kind of shared enjoyment and I don’t really do that. Maybe I’m just not built for it, for that kind of interaction. Maybe this is just one more shred of proof that you can learn all you want about the theory of social interaction, gain a theoretical understanding of how it all works or is supposed to work but you can’t pretend to be part of something you’re not. I can’t even work out how to respond to someone thanking me, I spent several minutes thinking about it and still couldn’t come up with a satisfactory response, everything I wrote seemed stupid so in the end I didn’t write anything.

The third thing the title refers to, and this is the thing I meant to write about a while ago but just never got round to it is the problem I have with not hearing or understanding what someone else is saying. The source of the problem is that for some reason I have a really difficult time in admitting that I’ve not understood something. Whether or not it’s because of me being a perfectionist and hating to be wrong, or if it’s just part how hard I find it in general to ask for help of any kind, I don’t know. There is one aspect of it I know I’m worried about, I’m worried that if I did ask people to repeat themselves and I had to ask more than once, that they would get annoyed with me and eventually get sick of me for needing to do that. I guess I’m trying to figure out which is more annoying, doing that or my current way of dealing with it which is to not say anything, try and usually fail to figure it out and just carry on in my own random way. When I do that, most people assume I’ve forgotten what we were talking about and reference my randomness and wandering attention span. I don’t correct them because it’s just easier to let them think that and sometimes it’s actually true anyway.

One other thing on my mind is kind of connected to my first point, and that’s how obsessive I’ve been these past few weeks. I’m running out of excuses for things not to get back to normal. First it was because of pre-season, then it getting used to the new schedule of the 2. Bundesliga and all the new players, now it’s Pokal week. Well, this coming Friday I should in theory be all out of excuses because the Bundesliga begins, the 2nd returns and some sort of normality should ensue, that’s the theory anyway. I’m not so optimistic about the reality of it. Thanks to said obsessiveness I’ve now added another collectible to the collection, a brand new away Freiburg shirt from the 1992-93 season. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve already spent plenty of money this summer and that was without even going outside. Maybe if I’d gotten more sleep I wouldn’t make such reckless decisions. I did the exact same thing last weekend, except it was shorts then.

If it weren’t for the 2010 DFB Pokal final being repeated at 3:00 in the morning, it would have worked out fine, but I saw it was on and had to try my luck. Last time it was on, I only managed to see the first 15 minutes or so. This time I got to see and record the whole thing, which was great because Manuel Neuer is funny when he lifts the trophy and because Jogi Löw is there handing out the medals. What’s really stupid is the fact that I know it was reckless and wrong, yet I’d still do it all over again. It was a price worth paying, no-one else thinks so but I do.

I don’t know why I keep trying, clearly right now I want to resume my vampire schedule and ignore the outside world beyond the Bundesliga. If that’s what I want, should I allow myself to do that? It wouldn’t interfere with any of my responsibilities because right now I have none. Just why and for who am I pretending for?

The Illustrated Man


Do you have a tattoo? If so, what’s the story behind your ink? If you don’t have a tattoo, what might you consider getting emblazoned on you skin?

I don’t have any tattoos, I don’t really like them, not because I have anything against them, it’s just I’m squeamish when it comes to needles so getting one is not really an option. I think that’s a good thing given how impulsive I am and the number of interests I go through, because if I had a tattoo for every major special interest I’ve had over the last few years I’d look something like the illustrated man. And each one could tell it’s own story, it’s own tale of madness. A tale which regardless of what I say or believe, regardless of what happens in between almost always ends the same way.

I do have a few ideas as to what I would get as a tattoo. First would be this fantastic poster of Nils Petersen:

Nils Petersen - bannerSecond would be the SCF badge:

SC_FreiburgMy other two ideas don’t involve pictures at all but words. The first would be the words “Jogi tanzt mit Hansi Flick.” I had to fit them in somewhere. As cool as that is, it’s not my favourite idea, that would be the quote from Inglourious Basterds: “I think this may just be my masterpiece.” That’s amused me greatly, I can’t explain why because I don’t know why. All I know is I like it a great deal, it’s perfect in a way I can’t explain.

The Löw/Flick/Mannschaft Obsession: One Year On

With the one year anniversary of the World Cup victory approaching I thought I’d write a little on the topic, partly because I can’t write what I actually want to write about right now. One of the things I want to write about is a little too depressing and too close to reality right now and the other just isn’t coming together. I have all the pieces, I know how I want it to go, I can see it but I just can’t get the pieces to fit yet. I can’t seem to find the right words, I guess it’s just a question of finding the right moment.

As the title says, it’s one year since Jogi, Hansi and all the others became my favourite Germans. A whole year later and I still have no idea how it happened, or why. Despite that I have learnt something new, something related to a precursor to all of this. With TK I considered the World Cup stamp I got as a result of buying a photo card from one of his films a precursor for Die Mannschaft. As I did the fact that he was in a football related film. But it turns out there’s a precursor from way before him, way before any of my favourite Germans and Austrians. Way back to the first German I encountered or paid any attention to, at least in terms of films anyway. That is Daniel Brühl, it was his film Goodbye Lenin that started my German film collection. How fitting it should be that Daniel who is of course a big football fan himself, should be the German who technically started my collection. He’s not the first German I liked, you’d have to go way back to Jürgen Klinsmann and the 90s for that, but Daniel was the first one in the beginning of the phase that saw of all of this actually turn into something. Something that become more than just books and DVDs, an interest that for once was based around something more than just collecting things.

All of my thoughts of precursors and how everything fits together has so far been restricted to my special interests, I hadn’t given real life any thought. I hadn’t thought about how it fitted into that, how it fitted into the big picture. Least of all I hadn’t thought about how it fit into the friendship that seems to be falling apart right now. Euro 2012 was the last major tournament, back then our friendship was just being cemented. I was still in the grip of my Scandinavian obsession, to be more precise, the Danish phase of it. So naturally I was rooting for Denmark at the tournament and as a result of Germany beating them 2-1, I didn’t get to see much more of Germany’s games. A misplaced loyalty on my part obviously. At the time I didn’t talk about football with them, I knew they had no interest in it. But it wasn’t a problem, we had plenty of other things to talk about. Now things are different, football is mostly all I can think about. And the few other things I can think about aren’t of any interest to them either, but then there’s not a lot to be said about football stickers I guess. In a sense it’s like it began with one tournament and ended with another.

When I wrote the post charting the progress of Die Mannschaft, I was annoyed that I couldn’t properly track the progression of it all. That I didn’t have dates and detailed notes, all I had were a few scattered notes and the list of things I’d bought online. I have no such problem now, I have notes a plenty, most of them dated. And collectibles, pictures and an ever growing stack of DVDs of Germany matches. I have all of that but I’m still no closer to an explanation. They don’t fit, none of them do, they don’t fit the pattern. It’s all different, and thus really should be wrong, but it isn’t. In being wrong they are somehow right. If the pattern were to continue as it always did, then a new obsession should come along in August or September. But how can a new one occur when almost everything I do, read or write about is related to them. Thing is, I don’t want that to happen. Last time around, I was getting bored with TK, and before him I got bored with CW too. But here, I’m not getting bored and I’m not running out of stuff to collect. That’s the key to an obsession’s longevity I think, there still being collectibles to get. And with Jogi, Hansi and all the others, the list is never ending. Which can only be a good thing. It would be nice to have an obsession stick around for a while, like how it used to be.

As well as not running out of things to collect, I’m also not running out of stories for them. Something else which is quite important and which ties in with my next point. In making Die Mannschaft the center of everything, I thought I was taking a step closer to the real world. I had no intention of creating another universe, of creating more characters, of having anymore fiction. And yet that’s what happened, in a very different way to how it always happened before, true. But it still happened. It wasn’t intentional but that doesn’t matter either. What matters is, it did happen, once a universe has been created, it can’t be uncreated.

On the subject of alternate universes and the different kinds of obsessions, I still like very much what I wrote back then about TK, I don’t know why exactly but I feel it belongs here too:

“Sort of random, whilst adding a few things to this, I think I may have found the phrase that describes the TK phrase kind of perfectly, his was a zombie obsession. Why? Because it didn’t require any thought or intellectual effort on my part, it was merely about escaping reality and indulging in feelings I would rather crush to death with a nice heavy history book. That’s why the early stages were so pleasant and the end so troubling. It didn’t require me to live in the real world. My current one does require that, which is why it’s so difficult, but also perfect.”

It took a little while to figure out why I wanted the above quote in this post. Then thinking of something I said on Thursday I worked it out. When talking about the Löw adventures and how they bring out a different side to me, I explained that one of the things I like about them so much is that I can use them to work stuff out, to make sense of things. Usually things about other people that confuse me. Somehow it helps, seeing it from both parties perspectives is useful I suppose. Advanced social stories is what I called them. In a sense, despite the fact that it too is an alternate universe of sorts, it’s not pure escapism. It’s not just about escaping the real world, it’s also about understanding things, about dealing with things that I’d normally run a mile from. Instead of burying feelings and thoughts that make me uncomfortable, I’m trying to make sense of them.

To get back to the topic of patterns and new obsessions, the time when things should change is strangely enough right around the same time that the new season begins. And the next time that a change usually occurs, that is around January, will see the return of the Bundesliga after the Christmas break. I never thought of it like that before. That is kind of cool, like my interests followed the pattern of the season without even knowing it.

There is one final thing I have to mention about my first post that charted all of this, as hard as it is to believe, Hansi Flick is not mentioned once. Not directly or indirectly. I’d like to say that changed pretty quickly, but I can’t say such a thing for there’s no truth to it whatsoever. In truth it wasn’t until January that he became a special interest of equal standing with Jogi. Interesting, that does in a way fit the pattern. It wasn’t a new interest, true, rather it’s an extension of an already existing one but it still fits. Another point of interest to me is the fact that when I wrote about him in a very amusing post titled “Jogi Löw schreibt zurück”, I wrote his name as Hans-Dieter Flick. That’s not something I do often these days, indeed it’s not something I did often before either. From what I could find so far, only five times have I done so.