Friday, July 4, 2014

Oh Canada: the mobility scooter edition

Happy Canada Day, hosers! You've seen this dress before, styled more in keeping with its 40s vibe. But today was all about the Canada Day colours.

I'm an ex-patriot American utterly besotted with my chosen land: Canada. I retain dual citizenship, but, barring some kind of apocalypse, I'm not gong back to the States. I like living in a country that acknowledges the existence of other nations, realizes it might not be the best and biggest at everything (including democracy itself), and admits political discussion about the legitimacy of some socialist ideas. Socialized medicine, for example, is a beautiful thing, especially for a disabled gal like myself.

Plus, you know, we've had gay marriage forever, and right wing religious zealots aren't given much of a voice up here.

I know, I know. I can hear all my American readers protesting. I know many wonderful Americans. I'm related to some of them. 

But this is a Canada Day post and I love me my Canada.

Bangle, hat, and sunglasses: vintage
Back to the outfit. Part of why I didn't style it as classically as I did last time you saw it is because it was bloody hot on July 1st. If you know me at all, you know I hate the heat. It makes me feel ill. This probably has a lot to do with how pale I am. I mean, really, the white in this outfit is not just in the dress; my skin adds to the Canadian flag effect too, don't you think?

Ring and brooch: vintage; Dress and bandeau: from JQ Clothing
It was just as hot on this Canada Day as it was last year, which was the last time you saw the little bandeau halter top that's peeking through at the top of this dress. I was just as pleased about the heat this year as I was last year.

I got this hair clip at a corner store. I think the owners had brought it back from their home country which, if I remember correctly, is Vietnam.
I seem to return to my childhood braids on very hot days. 

Braids are somehow cooling. In deference to my age, I generally pin them back now though, to add a bit of maturity to a quite childish hairstyle. I like the "old world," and old fashioned look of pinned braids.

Fabulous bespoke engagement ring: Britton Diamonds; Flower earring was a gift when I was eight; Earrings: vintage
On days of inclement weather or bad back pain, or both, sometimes the thought of wearing a nice outfit is the only thing that gets me out of the house. To paraphrase John Lennon, with back pain like mine, whatever gets me upright and moving is alright. 

Because, as John Lennon also says, "Christ, you know it ain't easy. You know how hard it can be?" 

I'm using a mobility scooter now and I hate that I need it. Most of all, I hate that I need it because a bunch of pedophiles so badly brutalized me as a child that they rendered me disabled. I hate that. Hate hate hate it.

There is more than a little irony in celebrating a country known for its freedoms and human rights -- when I was victim of years of child sex trafficking, of slaveryin that very country. And now, my freedom is still curtailed by the physical repercussions of that slavery.

But I kind of like the above photo. The blurriness makes it look more retro, somehow, and I like me my retro.

Sandals: Josef Seibel
And the scooter is making a lot of things possible for me again, like what I call "scooter shoes," shoes that I couldn't walk in for very long because they don't offer much support, but that are pretty and okay if I'm scooting.

(Back in the olden days, when I could walk well, I had me a lot of high heeled shoes, some so high, I called them "taxi shoes" because they weren't made for walking. Scooter shoes are a variation thereof.)

These shoes aren't anything fancy but they're a lot cooler than shoes that offer more support so I was glad of them.

Hello, Bobby. He loves joining me in the yard these days. He's eighteen and adorable.

I also don't like the way I look in a scooter. I feel like it makes me look squat and rotund. I also think it makes me look "eccentric." Now that I'm visibly disabled, I'm contending with all the stigma around that, including the stigma in my own head. I somehow seem to have this idea that people in scooters don't get to care about style and looking good. I feel that able-bodied people think we move from "well-dressed" to "eccentric" the minute we sit down and scoot. This seems especially true if we like bright colours. I feel more like Mrs. Roper than like Charlotte Issyvoo.

That's absurd, I know, so I'm saying it out loud (okay, writing it silently) to hear how very absurd it is. I'm quite sure that Alicia of Spashionista will have some stern and helpful words for me when she reads this.

Also, I don't like this particular scooter. It's a loaner, till I get my real one. It's too small and has zero shock absorption, so every little crack in the sidewalk bangs the scooter and slams me around and hurts like hell.

Yeah, I'm cranky. You would be too.

Purse: vintage
But I need the damned thing. I've been in more pain for a while and am using a cane all the time again. This one in my purse is a foldable one. I asked Beau to get a photo of my purse and this was what he managed, silly boy.

But he's smart in other ways. That scroll there is chapter four of his PhD thesis, which I'm helping to edit. Having a college English instructor as a fiancĂ©e has its merits, eh? (And that is how the infamous Canadian "eh" is used properly, everyone. Bam!)

So, yes, I hate that I need a scooter. I hate why I need a scooter. I hate how I look in the scooter. I hate the particular scooter I'm using right now.

But I do like my regained freedom. I can dress up and go out all by myself, like a real grown-up and everything! I can have little adventures. I can steal flowers to complete my outfit. I can take myself to a cafe to excise passively constructed sentences from Beau's thesis. 

Hummingbird feeder from the wonderful Wild Birds Unlimited
These days, I would be housebound without that scooter. 

It was being housebound in the past that led to my passion for feeding my birds.

I've become pretty good at attracting the little sweeties. For instance, did you know that hummingbirds are particularly fond of fuchsia? This one gets several visits a day.

Still, hummingbirds not withstanding, I do like to get out some.

I can get all creative...

... and take pretty, Canada Day themed photos.

I can go places on my own. 

That's something.

I can feel a bit more like a capable, independent adult again.

But I still hate it.

It makes me feel reduced, diminished. When I get in this scooter, I often think, "So this is what it's come to," and my heart sinks. Maybe if my disability hadn't been caused by violence and rape, I wouldn't feel this way, but it was, and I do. Who would I be, what would I have accomplished, how would my body feel, if all those horrible things had not happened to me?

I feel robbed.

Sometimes I feel like I look just plain pathetic. A friend recently said that, instead of looking pathetic, I look "like a real trooper, especially since I know how you became disabled. You're not letting it stop you. You're still getting out there and doing what you want to do." I tell myself that over and over when I'm out and about in my scooter: This is me being a real trooper.

But I'm not actually getting out there and doing what I want to do. I want to be able-bodied. I want to be getting around on my own two feet, pain free.

Even Bobby hates my scooter. He knows it means I'm leaving. He sits at the fence and looks woebegone. He greets me when I get home. How cute is that?

As usual, it's those little things, those sublime mercies, that keep me going.

So, also as usual these days, it's with mixed feelings that I bid you adieu and Happy Canada Day once more.

(I'm linking up with Visible Mondays on Not Dead Yet and Hat Attack on the The Style Crone.)


  1. Stern and helpful it is, then ;-)
    It sucks that you're disabled, but it doesn't suck that you can now experience a little more of the independence you used to have before your injury. You really have to start seeing the glass as half full more often.
    When you present yourself to the world in a seated position you have to adjust what you're wearing because the lines of your body are different when you're sitting. It's important to pay attention to hem length. Your skirts should not hang over your knees because it really shortens your leg line. Straighter skirts tend to look better as well. Skirts with a lot of volume make you look heavier than you are. Try to focus the attention towards your face and bustline because that's what people really see when you're using a scooter or chair. You can wear heels now, Charlotte! Just make sure you have a pair of foldable flats on your purse so you can change into them if you need to walk around. As far as bags go you can do a crossbody or a satchel to go in your basket.
    You can still dress fashionably if you're using a scooter. You just have to make a few adjustments ;-)


    1. Thanks for all the advice! Of course, then I stand up where I go so want the "standing up lines" for an outfit. The main reason I wear fuller and lower skirts on the scooter is because otherwise I have frequent Marilyn Monroe moments: skirt flying up. And, with a pencil skirt, I'd have to press my knees together to keep my undies from showing and, trust me, that hurts my back a lot. However, my new scooter may provide new options when I get it. I'm having a larger basket put in the front which might limit upskirt views.

  2. How cute are you in your red and white, with your matching flowers! I love this dress on you. I haven't been able to wear heels for years due to hip, knee and toe issues, so I understand it must be nice to have some cute shoes even for a little while. As usual I feel my comment is too flippant in response to your understandably heavy post. But I comment on the bit that I can :-) And I wish you all the best in editing Beau's masterpiece. I know when Bushy was doing his PhD he was plagued with passive sentences, so your expertise must be a godsend! I do love the piccy with the lipstick in the cafe, even keeping to the theme with your detritus! Very impressive. All the best. XO JJ

    1. "... keeping to the theme with your detritus." Nicely put. And yes, that was done on purpose: red pen, white paper, red lipstick, white mug.

  3. Love your retro looking dress and I think you look adorable. I too struggle with some activities and body parts negatively affected from cancer 12 years ago. I catch myself sending some pretty negative messages to my body on a regular basis. I know this is not healthy but sometimes I just let myself take a dip mentally pulling out before it takes to strong a hold. I once had a massage therapist suggest that I make a practice to "send love messages" to my body so I try and work on that.
    Hope you get your more comfy scooter soon. Maybe you can add some personal touches!

  4. Happy Canada Day to you, it sounds like you really love your adopted country and how wonderful is that? Sorry you are struggling with your new scooter, I am sure I would be cranky(er) too, as you say. You look fab in your retro dress and your engagement ring is swoony! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

  5. Charlotte, I love this whole outfit on you! It seems to fit your bright, fun personality! It is such a flattering style as well. Great look!

  6. Hi Charlotte, a bit new to your site, but i love the polka dot Red outfit and being proud of one's country. The retro look suits you, and I love the accessories, the brooches and hair. I too, deal with chronic pain on a daily basis due to a connective tissue disease that is uncurable called Ehlers-Danlos. I try to do the best I can and enjoy the good days,
    rom the link up
    Please stop by, jess

  7. Very pretty, even a second time. You look fabulous in red, and your non-fashion photos were a treat as well!
    High Summer in a moderate climate ... doesn't get any better than that!
    Glad you had a fine Canada Day.

  8. Happy Canada Day to you! Your red and white polka dot dress has great retro appeal, and you have topped it off with the perfect hat. Thank you for sharing with Hat Attack.

    Looking forward to your new scooter. I can understand your mixd feelings about this transition and all the changes that go along with it.