Tag Archives: football stickers

Longing for Gravity

Longing for Gravity

You are on a mission to Mars. Because of the length of of the journey, you will never be able to return to Earth. What about our blue planet will you miss the most?

Well one thing is for certain I wouldn’t miss other people all that much. I would be fine never seeing anyone ever again, I really would. I probably wouldn’t get lonely either, or rather I would but I’d have no trouble in dealing with it. I’m used to it by now. Imaginary friends are the order of the day once more. It’s kind of my default setting, as is not being able to do anything about it. Too lonely to be by myself but it’s too hard to be around other people. At least if I were on a mission to Mars I would no longer be troubled by such thoughts. I would imagine I’d have far more pressing issues to deal with.

As for what I would miss,  I don’t know if you could watch football on Mars or on the journey. Just in case you can’t that’s the first thing on my list. Things like Lewandowski’s incredible five goals in just under nine minutes against Wolfsburg last year. A feat he didn’t match today, he just got the one. But the pre-match show had a great little segment on it. They showed all five of those goals but in different languages; in English, German, Spanish, French and Portuguese. The Portuguese commentator in particular is brilliant. I call it Lewandowski: Five Goals in Five Languages

Scoreboard - Lewandowski - Bayern WolfsburgI’d also miss good food, like currywurst, spaghetti and meatballs and Nutella. Not to mention stickers, there’s one thing you definitely won’t be able to get on Mars. I’ve traded with people from lots of different countries, by now; for example Russia, Hungary, Finland, Brazil and Romania but never anyone from another planet. I think most people would draw the line at sending stickers to Mars, even if it were possible. That would mean I’d miss out on special stickers like the one below. It’s Joachim Löw’s sticker from the Deutschland sammelt Deutschland album. Unfortunately Hansi’s not in there too which hardly seems fair seeing as how both Jogi and Klinsi are in the 11 Freunde album. Which Hansi is also not in. But at least Jogi’s sticker is cool:

IMG_20160227_205138There is one surprising thing I’d miss and that’s the weather. I wouldn’t have thought that would make my list, seeing as how me getting outside is such a rare occurrence. Surely the weather makes no difference to me, but actually it does. Not least because sometimes it gives me ideas for stories. Two days ago after training Amir Abrashi was interviewed and they were talking about snow. My German is not perfect and Abrashi is not the easiest of people to understand. He’s Swiss-Albanian and to make it more difficult he talks about as fast as he runs, there’s a reason I call him Triple-A and it’s not just his initials and his nationality. So I checked the weather in Freiburg just to double check what I’d heard and he really did say snow. Though happily it didn’t snow today, the sky was clear for their game against 1.FC Kaiserslautern, a game which they comfortably won 2-0.

The other thing I would miss very much is trains, though as it turns out you don’t need to go outside to enjoy those. Last night whilst I was meant to be watching Cologne’s game I came across some very cool videos on YouTube, train journeys in Germany, more specifically Stuttgart, like this one:

June – the month of Jürgen

The domestic season may have ended in May but there was still plenty of football left, the Champions League final at the beginning of the month, the international week just after it, Sami Khedira’s charity match and of course the U21 European Championship. In a month which was technically meant to be a break from football, it turned to be a month of nothing but football. But I’m not complaining, nor am I despairing over what little time I have for other things. It no longer annoys me that I don’t have much time for films or TV. I’m just happy that whilst I only watched five films, I did get a lot of reading done and none of it was football related, not only that but none of it was even German related. Five books in thirteen days, not bad considering how little I’ve read these past few months.

Not only did I not watch many films but I also found no time to go the cinema, I meant to but it just didn’t work out. That isn’t something I want to make a habit of, it’s good to get outside every once in a while to remind yourself that the outside world is still there, even if that does mean going from one darkened room to another. It still counts because you have to go outside to get there. The other disadvantage to not going out is that you aren’t used to being around other people or having to talk to them. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets. I really should try to get out at least once a month, just so I don’t forget about the outside world. Plus there’s the extra motivation of buying stickers, in case I need any extra incentive.

One of the few films I did find time for was Slow West, one of Michael Fassbender’s latest offerings. It’s a western but it’s a somewhat weird one, it has a very offbeat feeling to it. It’s not to everyone’s taste that’s for sure, I liked it but then I do have a weakness for that kind of thing, I like films that are quirky. This year I’ve seen two westerns, both of them a little odd, the first was The Salvation with Mads Mikkelsen. I hope there are more films in a similar vein to come, of course there is Tarantino’s next film The Hateful Eight which I know will be epic. Now there’s a film I won’t need any motivation to leave the house for.

A whole month has gone by and even though I have a rough idea of how I’ve spent that time, it feels like I have little or no recollection of it. It feels like the summer heat is melting my brain. Which is funny because I just finished reading The Zombie Survival Guide. There’s two things I’m thinking about right now that aren’t football related, zombies and Scandinavian crime thrillers. The latter is perfectly logical, in the summer heat reading books set in the dead of winter, if you can’t physically get away then at least you can escape in your mind. As for the former, I have no idea why I’m thinking about zombies all of a sudden or why I suddenly decided to read that book again. I wish I could watch The Walking Dead but what I’ve seen of the first series I hated it, it’s more about the people than about the zombies, too much relationship and soap opera stuff.

At least the football delivered all the fun it promised to, well all except for one game that is. I’d already decided in advance that June would be named for Jürgen Klinsmann, but he really did earn the honour with his USA side beating Germany 2-1. The Champions League final was great fun, even if hadn’t been I would have been happy, two interviews with Jogi and one with Daniel Brühl, how could I not be. And Sami Khedira’s charity match was not only as much as fun I imagined it would be but more, it was simply awesome. Thanks to Khedira I now posses something which I wanted more than anything, match footage of Joachim Löw. It’s not for Freiburg, obviously which is what I really want but it is still cool. The only way that game could have been even better is if Hansi was there too, and there is still time for that, it’s not impossible, such a thing could happen.

Germany may have lost in the semi-finals of the U21 Euros, but they did at least qualify for the Olympics. Not only that but I got some great videos and have plenty to work with if I want to make videos of ter Stegen. Not forgetting of course the real prize, the Hansi interviews and one of them was live on TV. I was very disappointed with the result of the game but having Hansi on TV, live on a Saturday night, I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make my weekend.

The month did have it’s disappointments, the obvious being the news about Bürki and Mehmedi. On that front it just keeps getting worse, H96 weren’t content with taking Oliver Sorg, now they’ve taken Felix Klaus as well. Not a great start to the month, that was literally the first thing I read in the new month, just after midnight. There is one advantage to the summer brain melt problem, not only am I having trouble remembering the good things but I can’t remember anything that annoyed me, there is a silver lining at least.

With Sorg now gone to H96, I now have to come up with a new name for October, unless I keep it for the other Oliver. I finally came up with one for July anyhow, Jonas. And whilst I can’t use Admir for August either, it’s not a problem because I can just name it after one of Freiburg’s new signings; Amir Abrashi. It’s equally perfect that November was provisionally designated the month of Nils (as in Petersen). When I decided that I had no idea how important he would turn out to be, or that he would indeed be here this season. There is now just 23 days to go until the 2. Bundesliga kicks off, that’s only three weeks away. I can’t believe that I can finally put it on the calender already.

It’s just a question now of counting down the days until I can order my new shirt, only eight days to go. I just pray that nothing goes wrong and that it arrives in time for the first game, DHL are usually reliable so there should be no problem. It’s just the last time I got a shirt from Germany, it ended up taking almost two months but that was from the DFB fan-shop, not from Freiburg. As far as names are concerned, I’ve finally made up my mind. I’m getting Petersen on the home one and Löw on the away one. I’m putting off getting a goalkeeper for the foreseeable future, I don’t envision being able to make up my mind anytime soon and I want to see who the first choice keeper is going to be before deciding. There is of course also the possibility of buying a Dortmund one with Bürki one but given the prices of those, that would have to be something to save for anyhow, so no rush there.

On the subject of how I spend my time, a book I just finished reading provided me with part of answer to my wonderings on the subject. The book in question is “Not Even Wrong.” It’s about a father charting the process of learning his son is autistic and how they deal with that. It’s not just about their son, it’s about the history of autism and the author’s fascination with Peter the wild boy. His random musings on autism and what it all means, for his son, himself and the world at large are really quite fascinating.  As are the tales of the people he discovered, like the two brothers in a mental institution, one of whom was a master carpenter and loved ships. He drew his life story and put it up on the wall, just so he didn’t have to deal with people’s questions anymore. People would ask a question and he’d refer them to the relevant panel, genius. There were lots of other such stories too, far to many to go into. But I do have to mention the society that is dedicated to collecting timetables, the Düsseldorf based “Internationalen Interressengemnischaft der Fahrsplansammler.” That did amuse me greatly.

And none of that is of course relevant to my point which was that it helped me make sense of something. Towards the end of the book the author makes the point that it was only by chance that Newton was the Newton of Newtonian physics, that it was only by chance he dedicated himself to something that other people considered important. There are Newtons of many other subjects, all the weird and wonderful things that autistic people get interested in and obsessed with. My point is that for what purpose am I making myself do things I have little or no interest in right now. It’s my free time, well all of my time is free time technically but that’s another story. There’s no point in making myself do things I have no interest in, surely I’ll just end up hating them that way. If I want to spend all day thinking about stickers and spend hours looking at bundles of them on eBay, then what’s wrong with that. Equally if I want to spend a large part of the day making videos, why not.

In terms of sticker albums at least I’ve given up any pretence that I’m not totally nuts about them right now. I’ve got four of them on the way in the post right now: Road to Euro 2016, Copa America 2015, Champions League 2013/14 and Bayern München 2012/13. Plus I hope to pick up the Minions starter pack tomorrow. I’ve completed two collections this month, this season’s Bundesliga and Champions League album. I’ve technically completed the world cup 2014 one as well, but despite the trade being made this month the last sticker isn’t here yet, so it doesn’t actually count.

On a related note I’ve not gotten many collectibles this month, buying Hansi Flick’s training shirt took care of that. I did however manage to pick up a few small but very special items, some more stickers signed by Hansi, some great tickets for my collection, a VIP band for the champions league final, Jogi & Hansi’s VIP passes for the Pokal final and some signed photos.

Another subject he muses on is whether or not he or indeed anyone should be trying to draw autistic kids out of their own world and into the so called real world. His views change on the subject through out the book. When his son first gets diagnosed he figures that they’ll go through all the processes, speech therapy, occupational therapy, special education classes and whatever else is required and after all of their son will be “fine.” But as time goes on he realises that his thinking is faulty, that he’s not trying to get his son back or make him normal. Because there was no before and there is no after, his son was always who he is and always will be.

I think it’s wrong to make someone be part of a world they have little or no interest in, beyond what’s necessary anyway. I recognise that it has to be done to some degree, that there are things you need to learn in order to take care of yourself and survive in the world. But beyond that it’s none of their business. I don’t want someone telling me or trying to teach me socially appropriate interests for example. I don’t want to learn what people my own age are interested in, nor do I want or need to be able to have a conversation with them. There are things I need to know and things I don’t, and that definitely falls into the latter category.

When thinking about this stuff people have to be careful not to impose their view of how they think things should be on the matter. They have to remember that what’s interesting or boring to them, might not be to someone else. I just realised, it’s ironic because that’s one of the things autistic people including myself get called out for a lot, not seeing something from someone else’s point of view. Yet NTs do it all the time without even realising it. Some people need to remember that not everyone has the need for the same amount of social interaction they do. To be specific, they need to believe me when I tell them that I really am happy with spending an entire afternoon by myself sorting stickers, making lists and hunting down bundles of stickers on eBay. Just because you would be bored or lonely, does not mean I am.

I know I talk about how I wish I had someone to trade stickers with in real life or to play football or FIFA with. But I know that stuff is about as realistic as the rest of my thoughts, that is not at all. Because I have no interest in friendship, I’m not even sure I’m capable of it, I just care about the stickers. I may think those things and I may talk about them sometimes, but I also spend a considerable amount of time thinking and talking about building a super villain lair, owning a death star, cloning and various sticker related complaints. Like why is the assistant coach not in any of the albums, of course I’m not complaining so much now that Hansi’s not there but it still applies for the older ones.

One final book related point, a while back I dug out my old copies of the Harry Potter books with the intention of reading them again. I got as far as the fifth one before quitting. I may just be tempted into going back to it because of something I read online. A few nights ago when I couldn’t sleep I was reading online about fan fiction and Harry Potter. One of the things I learnt about in the process of doing that was the existence of fan fiction that envisions Sirius and Lupin being a couple. I’d never thought of there being anything like that between the two of them, but from what I read online a lot of people seem to think that kind of subtext was there. Of course I’m not great at picking that stuff up, so it’s not exactly a surprise that I would have missed it or not considered that interpretation but I find it intriguing. Intriguing enough to bookmark the fan fiction in question for future reading and to reconsider picking up where I left off with the fifth book anyhow.

The rest of the books would make for some easy summer reads at least, that’s the only type of thing I can think about reading right now. It is way too hot to read anything substantial, I think the Prussians may have to wait for some cooler weather for me to get back to them. I’m also tempted to read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend again. I know I just finished it a few days ago, but I really want to read it again. Plus I think I’d like to write a post about it and I don’t remember enough about it to do that, so I have an excuse to do so.

The sticker lord/stickers of the day

I’ve been obsessing over whether or not post this pretty much since I finished the story. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I’ve been giving it too much thought, I like the story, I had fun writing it and after the stories I’ve written involving the two of them, one more won’t make any difference. I gave it to someone to read in real life and they found it hilarious, not just the story but the idea that adults collect football stickers let alone Joachim Löw. I have proof that they do, I do for one, though that’s of little relevance here since the person in question sometimes has trouble seeing me as a grown up which to be fair is an issue a lot of people have. It’s funny because sometimes this person in particular has the opposite problem, based on how I talk they sometimes forget just how young I am. Anyhow back to the stickers, I’ve traded with some definitely grown up people online and I read a fascinating article which proves that people of all ages collect football stickers. For the record, I don’t know if he does collect football stickers, nor do I really care. It was just a funny scenario that I pictured in my head and then turned into a story. But that person’s insistence that the notion of him doing so is absurd makes me really want to believe that he does.

They also expressed the view that collecting football stickers is a “hobby for nine year olds.” Well first off, thanks for the compliment, you think I have the social skills of a nine year old. Given my lack of ability in certain areas such as taking turns and waiting for other people to finish speaking and all the rest of it, you’ve probably put my social age higher than it is. Seriously, when someone says something like that you know for sure that they have never experienced the simple joys as a child of getting new packets of stickers, carefully but excitedly opening them, praying that you will get the ones you need, the excitement when you do and the fun that can be had from going to school with a stack of stickers thinking of the trades you will make that day. Ok, so I spent more time watching other people making trades than actually doing so myself, but still it’s a nice thing to think of.

Before the story, my stickers of the day:

Bernd Schneider - Deutschland - EM 2008Philipp Lahm  - Deustschland - in action - EM 2008Danmark 1992 winners - EM 2008Hansi thought he knew all of Jogi’s quirks by now, he was wrong about that. He had yet one more quirk to learn about. Coming into the living room and seeing Jogi sitting on the floor but unable to see what was in front of him from where he was standing, Hansi had assumed he was working. He knew that sometimes Jogi would like to sit on the floor of the living room with his notes and papers spread out in front of him, for some reason it helped him to think. Whenever he was stuck on something or unable to work something out he would do this and free from the stifling confines of his office he would invariably come up with a solution.

Watching over him from the door Hansi thought of all the times he had come across Jogi in the living room, asleep on the floor with his pen or a piece of paper still clutched in his hand. If it wasn’t for the papers strewn about the floor next to him Hansi would have liked to have lain down next to him, he knew better than that. Instead he would gently put a hand on Jogi’s shoulder to alert him to his presence and to wake him up. When Jogi got up from the floor, Hansi helping him up he would begin to start smoothing down and rearranging his hair. Unable to miss such an opportunity Hansi would raise his hand and help him, tidying up the mess that had been made of his usually perfect hair, trying his best to hide the grin would be creeping across his face. He knew he needed to hide his joy from Jogi, there were two things in the world that Jogi wouldn’t tolerate jokes about, his hair and scarves, not even from his sweet dear Hansi.

Coming up a little closer behind him it wasn’t work related papers that Hansi could see lain out on the floor in front of Jogi, but a sticker book, with a pile of stickers on either side of the book, another pile of neatly stacked sticker backs and an equally neat pile of sticker packets. Now Hansi was confused, this had to be one of the oddest of all of Jogi’s quirks and he had some pretty odd ones. This amused Hansi greatly, the serious, charming, dashing and very grown up Joachim Löw collected football stickers?

He thought of all the times that Jogi had taken himself off to his hotel room when they were travelling, how he had said that he needed to think. He probably really had been hard at work on those occasions but that’s not what Hansi was picturing. He was amusing himself picturing Jogi buying packs of stickers and carefully opening them, his feverish excitement reined in only by his need for perfection which meant that each pack had to be opened carefully and as perfectly as was possible. He thought of the look of despair that would appear on his face if he opened one in a way that wasn’t to his satisfaction.

Hansi stood where he was with a bemused expression on his face, as he stood there he imagined the look of concentration on Jogi’s face as he painstakingly lined up each sticker, well it was a perfect hobby for him that was for sure.
Coming up behind Jogi, Hansi decided to surprise him. As he came up behind him he nestled his face into Jogi’s hair, kissing it as he moved down towards his neck whilst his hand wandered down to the top of Jogi’s shirt where he knew he would find the three top buttons undone. Jogi so focused in what he was doing did not respond at first, it was only when Hansi began to unbutton the next button and move his hand down into his shirt did he seemingly become aware of Hansi’s presence. Then Hansi heard the words he never thought he would hear:

“Not now Hansi, I’m in the middle of something.”
“Something important Jogi?” asked Hansi, unable to stifle a laugh as he replied.
Jogi now fully aware of Hansi’s presence turned around and this only made Hansi laugh all the more. Despite the hurt look on Jogi’s face Hansi was unable to stop himself from laughing. Unable to keep the hurt out of his voice a by now angry Jogi asked “What is it Hansi, why are you laughing like that?”

Hansi tried and failed to stop laughing so that he could explain, but no matter what he did the words wouldn’t come out. In between laughs he tried to speak and eventually giving up he moved his hand up to his forehead to where his non-existent fringe was, gesturing to Jogi what was making him laugh so.

Jogi in his anger and hurt failed to pick up on the message, however when his hand went up to his fringe, as he was prone to do when he was angry, frustrated or feeling nothing in particular at all but just doing what he usually did, there he found what had made Hansi laugh. Without noticing when he had registered Hansi’s presence behind him, he must have done the same thing then, forgetting that he had a sticker still in his hand and now said sticker was attached to his fringe. Hansi moved in front of him, daring despite the furious look on Jogi’s face to get close to him.

“Jogi I’m sorry, I really am” he said as he gently removed the sticker from Jogi’s fringe.

Jogi eyeing Hansi warily still said nothing; clearly Hansi was going to have to make much more of an effort to convince him of the sincerity of his apology.

“I didn’t mean to laugh at you, really I didn’t, it’s just that I didn’t expect to come in here and find you with football stickers. I just didn’t expect that at all. Though come to think of it, it is a perfect hobby for you” continued Hansi.
“And why is that Hansi?” asked Jogi.
“You’re such a perfectionist, all the fun you’d have lining up all those stickers. I bet there’s no-one in the world better at it than you.”

Unable to resist the compliment as Hansi predicted Jogi began to look a little less angry at him. He gestured for Hansi to come sit on the floor next to him, Hansi thinking all was forgiven eagerly joined him on the floor and without asking picked up a stack of stickers and began looking through them. Jogi may have forgiven him for laughing at him but no-one was going to rifle through his stickers, not without permission, not even Hansi.

“Hans-Dieter, what are you doing, did I say you could touch those?” snapped an anxious sounding Jogi as he grabbed the stickers out of Hansi’s hand and immediately began looking through them, checking that they were all in order.
“No but I thought you were inviting me to help” answered Hansi in a bemused tone of voice.
“You can help, maybe, but you can’t go messing up my system Hansi.”
“A system, you have a system? Jogi, they’re football stickers, you’re not making plans for a tournament here.”

Now Hansi was in trouble and he knew it, he quickly tried to fix what he had just said.
“That’s not what I meant, I’m sorry, you’re right, this is important to you, tell me what to do my sticker-lord” continued Hansi, hoping that with his reference to one of Jogi’s favourite pet names for him that he would be able to win him over with humour.
“Ok, elf-lord, just stay away from the stickers for now and do not mess up the order of the doubles pile.”
“You have the doubles in order, but why? You don’t need them anymore.”
“Does that mean they shouldn’t be put in order?”
“Ok, in order they go, will you allow me the honour of doing that?”
“I will my dear elf-lord and if you do a good enough job, maybe I’ll let you open some new packets.”

The disagreement resolved, Hansi moved closer to Jogi, if he was going to spend part of his afternoon sorting stickers, he was definitely going to get something from the arrangement. Getting comfortable on the floor he stretched out, careful to avoid the stickers and the book and lazily rested his head on Jogi’s legs. Not objecting to Hansi’s presence there, the next time Jogi’s hand went up to his fringe, on the way back down he rested his hand on Hansi’s head and ran his fingers absentmindedly over Hansi’s hair.

Hansi knew he was forgiven when Jogi did that, as long as he abided by the sticker rules he would continue to find himself in Jogi’s good books. Hansi had his own game to play here so he did everything Jogi asked in relation to the stickers, even putting the sticker backs in order when he asked, a request he found ridiculous and which almost caused him to lose his composure. But keep it he did because from where he was sitting Hansi was in the most perfect place, with Jogi so focused on the task at hand he had not noticed that button by button, Hansi was unbuttoning his shirt. When he was finished with the buttons, Hansi sat there enjoying the view, his head still resting on Jogi’s legs. He was just waiting for the right moment, for Jogi to be done with the last sticker, for the moment when he could reach up with one of his hands and bring Jogi’s attention to what he had done and to what his intentions were.