The Mask’s Inside, Dummy


Sitting at a café on Geary and 6th Avenue. I’m in San Francisco, dummy. This is the part of San Francisco that tourists don’t come to because Geary looks like a highway and is lined by things like lamp shops, which are uninteresting to the visitor but for people who like to read a little bit in bed before they go to sleep and also sleep nightly in the city, lamps are of a certain kind of appeal and necessity and knowing where to purchase one is even more crucial.

Last Saturday, I want to a masquerade-themed party in Oakland, at my friend’s house where there are trees outside every window and spiders weave webs wherever they can, and there are tubs of things like spelt flour in the basement. Freaking hippies. I made a mask by smearing glue all over a pre-made plastic mask from Michael’s and sprinkling sequins on it. It took about 5 minutes. My primary goal in every craft project is to finish it. I’m not great at crafts.

The party was fun, but it was surprisingly hard to talk to people wearing masks, not being able to see their faces or mouths moving, to calculate if they’re joking or if I went over the line with my last comment. We depend so much on everything besides words, so don’t you forget it. That’s why I thought I wouldn’t get the job at an interview because I was blinking too much. Did I seem nervous? Unprepared? Bizarre and/or inhuman, like the algorithm that controls my blinking was out of whack?

And then at the party I was talking to a girl/woman/lady/chick/gal about why I’d left the field of International Relations. She’s in law school, trying to decide between international law and intellectual property, and she wants to have a career she finds meaningful and help people. And she asked me “what’s Oklahoma like” and I droned on about obesity and chain restaurants before she got bored and wanted to take pictures with everyone else. I was bored of the subject too so I was glad to leave it but I was left with a taste in my mouth like doubt. She seemed so smart and passionate and should I go to law school and do something sexy like maritime law and defend the lives of refugees? Is that even what they do?

She was dressed as what she imagined to be a woodland elf and I got the impression she wanted to be that free-spirited-pixie girl, the one who is brilliant but also fun and spontaneous. Did she even know what it takes to be a woodland elf? Would a woodland elf go to law school and try to figure out what kind of legislation helps the most people? Would a woodland elf even care? Depending on how nerdy you want to go, it’s possible to theorize that because elves are immortal, they would view the suffering of others as so temporary as to not be worth their time. So there.

And my facebook status hasn’t been getting as much traction as I would have liked.

Is it about the journey? Is it possible to get to what you think you want to be, even when it’s proven that most people know nothing until they’ve turned 50 and it seems like it’s too late?

Join me over the next decades and we’ll find out!

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4 thoughts on “The Mask’s Inside, Dummy

  1. Arizona girl says:

    It’s gotta be the journey, seeing as how the where-we-want-to-be seems to change every once in a while depending on what we experience and the people we meet. Right? The trick (and I’m certainly not trying to imply that I’m any good at this) is finding yourself a direction that works and then living for every moment along the way.

  2. Enjoy the journey, play with elves, keep writing x

  3. tomwisk says:

    Em. it’s never too late. some people hit their fifties in their twenties and some hit their twenties in their fifyies.

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