Maybe it’s the holidays and people just being festive and cheerful, but today was a red letter day for me and my mask.

Me and My Mask – Setting up dolls for the Eleusinian Mysteries Altar 2007

Because of my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) I have to wear a carbon filter mask (I buy mine from I can breathe and then decorate them 🙂 ) when I leave the house. This keeps my level of exposure to toxins like perfume, car exhaust, plastics, fabrics and the like, to a mostly tolerable level if I am careful about where I go. No department stores, new car showrooms, or all you can buy malls for me!

Now normally when I am out and about in my mask I get one or two smiles or nods or nothing at all. Mind you, I live in Liberal-ville :), right on the borderline between Berkeley and Oakland, really, of all the towns to live and be seen as normal, this is the place! Every now and then someone will stop me, usually on the Berkeley side of the line, and ask where I got the mask or if it came with the beaded fringe (nope, I added that myself – has to be shiny!) and I pass on cards for the company.

Today it was like everyone SAW me and my mask. The security guard at the pharmacy, the guys in the art supply store, people in line, people in the parking lot, a guy even watched me walk past him and smiled saying “Beautiful”! What the heck?!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind any of this, its just… odd. It felt… inclusive. Not that people steer away from me, well except once a guy did while asking me if I had Tuberculosis, oy. But normally I live in a little bubble of isolation created by my mask and my need to not breath in the chemicals that most people don’t even notice.

Sometimes I let the whole thing get to me. I choose not to leave the house, almost don’t get out of bed, and think that people forget that I even exist. It’s hard to be the hermit crab when I am used to being the show girl. The hermit crab almost won today. After my allergy shots I was worn out and fell into an hour and a half nap. I almost let that be the rest of my day, but I push through and made it out of the house. If I hadn’t left home, I would never have been blessed with an afternoon of cheerful people connecting with me and my mask.

Sadly the mask only keeps some of the toxins away from me, so I still came home drained and aching, but with a smile on my face from all the sweet comments people sent my way. That aught to keep me getting out of bed for a few more days at least.

Blessed Holidays everyone!