Monday, 31 January 2011

Stage fright

I have a very long history with this certain characteristic called stage fright. I think it comes from the fact that I've never really considered me important enough for people to give me their full attention. If I dig deeper it also comes from the fact that I always expect mean words from my audience. Something about how I look or how I present my subject. Sometimes I do it too fast (usually), sometimes I do it too quiet and people are always nice enough to tell me. But those comments that I speak too fast or too quiet makes their way into my mind and messes with it. Yes, I know that I speak fast when I have everyone's attention. That's the reason I speak fast; to friggin' get it over with, so that I won't have everybody's attention, cause I don't want it. I never wanted it.

But that's not completely true. I've had dreams like any other child. Dreams of being famous, making the headlines, being a popular actress or singer or model or just someone for other teenagers to look up to. A rebel maybe. Those dreams might also have something to do with my extremely common name or my (in northern Europe) extremely common looks and colours. Because everytime I played alone as a child I was always the centre of attention and I was always famous or special in some way. And in my games I loved the attention.

But for real I can't stand it. A room full of people watching me gives me the creeps. Why are they all watching me?! Why am I so important?! That's the one part I don't like about celebrating my birthday. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable having the full attention of my family and extended family at my birthday celebrations. But it scares me to stand up in front of people I don't know very well or whom I don't completely trust; i.e. a school class. I shiver, I wanna rush out crying, my voice trembles if I force it to speak in an understandable manner and I hardly ever remember my presentations. Even if I learn all the text by heart the day before and can do a perfect presentation in front of my mirror, it never works out when it has to. I've never been as happy as in 12th grade when I got an A on an oral presentation. That's when I truly felt I had accomplished something special in school.

This is the speech (Swedish)

She's an overnight sensation
in the mirror on her wall
She gets a standing ovation
at every shower curtain call
And she becomes a pop star 
in the safety of her car
And then she falls to pieces
at the karaoke bar
She's perfect
until the lights go on
And then it all goes wrong
cause now she's not so perfect

Except for the obvious hardships of having this phobia while in school, I never met anyone who tried to help me. All my teachers' general opinion was that 'to get rid of a fear, one has to face it' - thus, more oral presentatios. It most certainly didn't help. My problem was discovered in second grade and starting my second year at university I could actually do an oral presentation without having my voice tremble and still in an understandable manner. That's 11 years! Thanks for the support. The fact that I was already the bullied one in second grade didn't help improve my presentations or my self-confidence.

Today, still, I feel the urge to run and hide everytime someone says I have to introduce myself to a large crowd or make an oral presentation or simply being at a place at a time when it's all about me. Like meeting the boyfriend's parents or some of his friends or some new people. At these occasions I'm usually on the edge of my seat the first 5 to 10 times until I can relax around new people and start making conversation and not just listening to it and smile politely.

To conclude all this I have another phobia to add to the other two already known to the public. I'm now seriously scared of clowns, pigeons/gulls and people.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

USA: roten till allt ont

Jag läste läsarnas kommentarer till den här kolumnen och blev väldigt upprörd. Inte undra på att hela världen är högervriden och helt åt helvete! USA har förvandlats till någon form av modell, en förebild som alla regeringar och folk i världen verkar vilja efterlikna. Varför då? Vad för gott har någonsin kommit därifrån? Säkerligen en hel del moderna saker som Microsoft och Apple och mediciner etc, men om man kollar utifrån ett mer långtgående perspektiv? Religiositet? Knappast. Ideologier? Tror inte det. Scientologi. Don't make me laugh. Utseendefixering. Korruption. Omänskliga kroppsliga ideal. Patriotism utan gränser. Beblanda sig i alla små konflikter över hela världen och blåsa upp dem till enorma proportioner. Botox. Beväpna massorna. Listan kan göras ännu längre. Som jag ser det är det en övervägande stor del av dåliga saker som kommer från USA. Den här supermakten som uppenbarligen har rätt i allt vad de gör.

Ja, USA är högervridet och lär inte ändras. Inte det minsta. Inte med sina långa anti-kommunismrörelse mot Sovjet och Kina. Allt som är det minsta vänster är utav ondo. USA är det enda landet i världen som har ren marknadsekonomi (rätta mig om jag har fel). Så USA fortsätter att predika sin högervridenhet i en tid där högerextremismen har börjat frodas, där nynazisterna och fascisterna återigen har börjat frodas. I en värld där olikhet och främlingsfientlighet har börjat bli vardagsmat fortsätter USA att påstå att alla muslimer är terrorister. Är det bara jag som ser att muslimerna är 2000-talets judar och att vi är på väg åt ett himla galet håll igen?

Jag förespråkar inte det här vänsterextremistiska samhället som kolumnisten verkar förespråka, men trots det blev jag arg och lite rädd när jag läste kommentaren om att Sveriges frihet är begränsad jämfört med USA:s. Vi är för tusan extremt högt upp på listan över jämställda länder. Vi har gratis skola och gratis sjukvård. En jävla skillnad jämfört med USA. Vem som helst kan bli vad som helst och ingen blir särbehandlad pga skillnader i ekonomisk standard. Det finns skillnader men de gapar inte så djupt som i USA. Jag sitter och väntar på en revolt i USA. Bara någon form av protest mot det samhälle de lever i, men uppenbarligen är alla amerikaner för ingrott patriotiska för att inse vad som händer runtomkring dem.

Genom att ranta runt om allt det här insåg jag att vänstern och sociolismen aldrig kommer få ett ordenligt fotfäste i våra liv eller länderna runtom i världen så länge USA står och viftar med en enorm blå flagga. Inte innan någon tar det första steget och visar att vänstern kan fungera i längden och inte kraschlanda som Sovjet eller tära på folks frihet som Kina och Cuba så kommer vi fortsätta åt ett dåligt håll och det kommer smälla betydligt högre än det gjorde förra gången. Tyvärr så är alla länders ledare och majoriteten av folket så förblindade av USA:s storhet att ingen kommer vilja ta det stora steg som krävs. Ingen kommer vilja ta den risken som det innebär att vara först med någonting.

Jag är inte bitter.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Thoughts from the fourth pew to the right

Today I was at a funeral together with my parents. One of Dad's friends had died and when asked if I wanted to come with them I said yes. I had met him several times during my childhood. But when I sat there in the church I payed no attention to the ceremony, instead my mind wandered and I found myself wondering why we were doing this. I mean Christianity (and loads of other religions too) claims that all people have a soul, right? And that soul is supposed to leave the body when the person dies, right? So why do we do this big ceremony for the person who is no longer present, nor is his soul present. Why do we honour the body, which is now only an empty shell? Cause you don't think the soul would actually hang around after it left the body, do you? Maybe it has something to do with the family watching their beloved go to the final rest in the ground and tell themselves that their loved one is now at a better place?

I'm also having a hard time believing in any kind of better place. If all the people who have lived on this planet and that haven't been bad enough to go to Hell goes to Heaven, then that means that all the people who made this world this way will all be there. Then how could that possibly be a better place? Cause they succeeded at their second try? Then there are those who belive in reincarnation. I shudder at the thought. Who'd want to be reborn into this world? This terrible, terrible place. I do understand that people are afraid of everything coming to an end and that they need something to comfort themselves with. But I can't. I never had the faith children usually do and I don't belive now either. When you die that's it. Finished. Over. You crossed the finish-line. Congratulations. Your trial is now over. Life sucks and life's hard. Everyone knows that. So why look upon death as anything but what it is - liberation. I'm not suicidal. I'm not pessimistic. I'm realistic and maybe a little cynical.

I know I have a history of believing in more than I can see and touch and I do. Why not? A little magic spices up the mundanity. That does not mean I'm religious or spiritual, I'm just open for the possibility. Possible until proven impossible. That applies for most folklore creatures. That does not apply for gods and religions. Gods and religions are obstructions of the heart. People want to have someone like that. Someone who will always forgive, always welcome you back, someone to blame and someone to ask for advice, someone who doesn't leave you. It all sounds great, doesn't it? But the Chirstian God never applied to any of those to me, and since Christianity is the only reference I have I'll have to go with that. The Christian God is cruel and stubborn. He's morbid and perverted and childish and selfish. He put us on this earth to save ourselves and doesn't lift a hand to help until we're all dead and by then it's too late. So if there will ever be a time for the religious Christians to tell us all that "I told you so" then I still think that God needs to shape up before I'll accept him as anything.

I kind of wandered off topic. But this is pretty much my thoughts during the ceremony. At least it kept my mind off the facts that I was wearing a dress and high-heels and was seated inside a church. Three things that I hate. I didn't mind the colour, though ;)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Call of Cthulhu RPG #3

This RPG picked up directly after the previous one. It's a little longer one and although we've had two RPG meetings playing this story we can't seem to find enough clues to move forward. Hopefully number 3 will be finished by next meeting.

We separate outside the police station. Father Edward notices that Fog follows him to his house and offers to let her sleep on his sofa. At his place Fog knocks over a bookcase and after a cup of tea they both go to bed (Fog spends the night reorganizing the priest's bookcase). They receive a call in the middle of the night from professor Eneri (the occult professor). She tells them that there's a green light and screams from her neighbour's house. We drive over and she invites them for tea. By then the police arrrives and we go outside to talk to them. Eneri makes quite the scene and we go back inside until they leave. When they have left we go out to investigate the house. All of us are armed; Fog with a crowbar, Eneri with her cane and Father Edward with his revolver (awesome priest). On the other side of the front door is a puddle of mud and muddy footprints leading into a room where we find a corpse. The corpse is mummified, but we suspect it could be the body of Eneri's neighbour. There are muddy footprints leading away from the body and to a door. The door is locked but the priest unlocks it and it turns out to be the backdoor. Eneri finds a newspaper article of a massacre in Red Hook district (same district Eneri lives in and we're in at the moment). Eneri recalls that the massacre was at a building called Parker Place and something about a church that abducted children. Father Edward discovers a breifcase full of work papers. The neighbour, Mr Baker, seems to have worked as a house inspector for a construction company called Hamilton and they were checking out houses in Red Hook district. Eneri sends Fog to an editorial office with the article and then calls Cover to ask if he knows anything about anything. But he turns out to be drunk. Cover's lawyer, Kruger, handles the conversation.

Father Edward drives Fog to the editorial office while the police shows up outside the neighbour's house again. Fog ends up making a fool of herself at the editorial office and runs deeper inside the building as the receptionist calls the police. When Father Edward sees her do that he leaves Fog and drives back to Eneri. They talk a little and then sleep for a few hours.

The next day Father Edward and Eneri drives to her office where she has a darkroom to process the photos taken at the neighbour's house. They find a picture of the corpse's right hand where he grips a bunch of earthworms. We also compare these photos to an older one of Mr Baker and establish that it's the same person. Eneri rushes out of the darkroom when she hears a crash from her office. Father Edward stays behind the continue process the photos the way Eneri showed him. He hears voices in the corridor outside the room and the Cover barges into the room with Eneri close behind. Eneri hits him. Cover shoves her out of the room and the priest and Cover talk about what they know about the night's happenings and decide what they will do. Cover and Carling go to the editorial office to find out what Fog couldn't. Father Edward wakes Fog up, who had fallen asleep on the floor in Eneri's office and turned a pile of books over (that was the crash Eneri heard), to find out what she knows. She didn't find anything out. We look at the pictures and Eneri, Father Edward and Fog decides to go to Parker Place.

When we get there it's just piles of bricks from the demolished house. We poke around in the bricks but find nothing of interest. We continue to the church that happens to be nearby. When we arrive to Stone Church we find that it's been plundered. There is nothing left, not even the windows. We look around but find nothing. We enter the drawing-room, which is empty except for a wardrobe that Father Edward opens. There's a dark hole in the floor of the wardrobe and in the hole there's a ladder. Eneri's house is in walking distance from the church and she leaves to fetch a torchlight. Father Edward and Fog wait around for her. She's back within 15 minutes and she enters the hole first with the torchlight, closely followed by the priest with a gun and Fog who accidentally falls down the hole instead of using the ladder. We see a light at the end of the tunnel and walk there. There is the body of a catholic priest on an altar, an inscription on the wall saying : "See the power of the true god" and a pile of odd papers written in different handwritings and languages in a complete mish-mash. Fog panics and runs back through the tunnel. After we have looked around everywhere in the crypt we take all the papers and leave the church to return to the library and investigate the papers. They are pages from occult books written in Latin, German and English (all on one page, complete mish-mash of words, languages and grammar). It would take weeks to translate them, but we put Fog to look for the words "true god" in the texts, since she is the only one who knows all three languages.

That's where the meeting ended the first time. We continued this story yesterday. The guy who played Cover was absent yesterday, though, so Cover won't be in the story this time.

While Fog looks through the papers the others arrive at the library. Fog looks through the papers and finds a lot about different gods, but nothing about a true god. Cover and Carling had investigated the names mentioned in the newspaper article and in the flat of the first guy (some guy with eastern European name) they found him dead, mummified, and a note with a list of houses on it. Houses that were going to be inspected by Hamilton. Eneri, Father Edward and Kruger go out to inspect those houses and Carling and Fog seeks out Mr Wells, who is the last person mentioned in the articles still presumed alive.

We are going to inspect 5 buildings. The first is a very shabby ex department store. We enter. Empty. Dusty. There are footprints in the dust. The footprints run along the walls and along stairs. Eneri sneaks upstairs but it's waterdamaged and she falls through the floor and recieve some damage. There was nothing of value upstairs, though. We continue to the next house. The MacGuffin House is a two-story brick house. There are lights in the windows. The priest knocks on the door and an old man opens the door. The priest fails to come up with a reason for knocking on his door (stupid) and Eneri comes to his rescue claiming to do research for a book. He invites us in and offers us tea and hard cookies. After some questions we find out that some people on the street worships the devil and that a certain Father Washington is their leader. He's wearing a mask to cover his face that had become deformed after the horrible stuff that happened in Red Hook. Father Edward excuses himself for the toilet and checks around the house before flushing and returning to the others. He found nothing of interest.

We leave MacGuffin for the next house. Outside we meet Fog and Carling. They tell us that Wells was being abducted when they arrived at his office at Hamilton and that the people doing it were hooded. They had been attacked by the hooded people and Fog had managed to steal their weapon (a gun and a butcher's knife) and one of the hooded capes. We all walk to Tullio Warehouse. It's an old brick house. The bricks seem to be withered by age and the metal is rusty. It smells bad. We enter. There are a lot of boxes everywhere. Fog finds a hammer with the name David Clark on it (one of the guys from the article, but he was the first to die and was dead in the article). The priest tries to pry open a box. Carling starts to move towards the room furthest in the back. On his way he finds a burning oil drum. On the oil drum he finds symbols saying "I conjure the shining fire". There's a bag of cloth containing some kind of powder. He waves and Eneri and Fog come to him. Eneri puts a dash of the powder in the fire which starts to act weird and make a lot of noise. Carling runs off to the next room. Father Edward manages to open the box. The contents are rotted and smelly. He looks up and notices the others by the fire and walks over to them. The fire turns into a green pillar. Carling runs out of the building and Fog runs to stand by the door for close escape in case something happens. Father Edward crosses himself and clutches his Bible. Eneri puts a plank into the fire which instantly withers away. She tries again. Same result. She catches some cockroaches and put them into the fire. They wither. Father Edward sees the similarities between the fire and the mummified corpse and green light from Eneri's neighbour's house and the mummified body in the flat. Eneri goes to fetch the butcher's knife from Carling. She puts it halfway into the fire. The part in the fire rusts and withers. When she takes it out of the fire it's a clean cut. She also notices that the fire isn't as hot as it should be. She puts the rest of the butcher's knife into the fire and then the fire turns normal again. Suddenly.

We leave for the next house. Carling kept the cloth bag with powder. The windows are boarded. A one floor brickhouse. The front door is not boarded. Next to the house is a back alley. We check it out first but there's nothing of interest. We enter through the backdoor into a store room that has been plundered. The priest opens the door to the front room and is almost immediately attacked by two bums. They both miss and the priest moves to the back. Kruger moves forward to counter-attack. One of the bums hits himself in the head with his crowbar and falls down unconscious. Eneri hits the other one and hurts him. Fog shoots at the door opening and misses twice but hits one guy in the eye. Han falls down and the other bums run off through the front door. We look around the front room but find nothing, which makes us suspicious of the bums. They don't seem to live there.

We decide to move on to the next house but have to wait for Fog to have an anxiety attack. The next house turns out to be an occult shop called The Ving Store. Eneri and Carling enter. They talk a little and after a while Fog enters and asks for books. The owner says that all his books were recently bought up by a man wearing a mask. Fog runs out to the cars and brings back a hooded cape and asks if he was wearing one of them. The owner drives them all away with the warning to not put their noses where they don't belong. We drive back to the library and Father Edward calls around to communities from Eneri's office. No community wants to acknowledge that they know of any Father Washington. Then he calls around to different hospitals asking if they treated any priests with injuries in their faces three years ago. Nothing. Calls around to communities again to see if they are missing any priest (the corpse below the church). Nothing. Eneri takes some of the powder and brings it to the closes chemistry institution for evaluation. When she comes back Fog brings out a jar with mud in it coming from Wells' office. It's the same kind of mud that was in Eneri's neighbour's house.

And this is where we stopped. We had no more ideas on where to go. Couldn't think of anything so we decided to think about what to do until next time. Next time seems to be quite far away in time, though, since people suddenly have lives to attend to and Christmas vacation ends in about a week so people will have school and everything :/