Friday, March 25, 2016

On the Road: Fashion, Death, and Distraction

I really struggled with what to do with this post. I'd meant it to just be an amusing trifle about wearing motorcycle fashion on my mobility scooter. But then came the news that my father had died -- in a motorcycle accident. Suddenly, these fun images took on a dark tone.

The irony is that, when people see me in my scooter, they often assume that I was in some kind of auto accident. The reality is that my back was injured by child abuse in the home to which my father abandoned me. That was no accident.

That's my father in the front there, in 1963, maybe in Harlem, maybe L.A..
And now he dies in one.

I can't say I'm grieving because I lost him a long long time ago. Indeed, I never had him; I never had a father in anything but the biological sense. His death has left me with a confusing jumble of negative emotions. I can't make sense of them yet, let alone put them into words. But, if I could put them into words, I'd be speaking ill of the dead. I'm okay with that. But, not in this post. I'm not ready. Instead, I'll tell you a few of the positive things I inherited from the man who was my father.

Mostly though, I want to use this post as a distraction from the way I've been feeling lately. I'm not on the run from my feelings, and all roads keep leading back to them, but everyone needs relief and breaks from pain. One of mine is fashion.

So: the positives, and then some distraction.

Boots: Keen; Cane:; Jeans: Reitman's; Bracelets: a gift from Beau; Right hand ring: Birks; Earrings, necklace, sunglasses, shirt, and jacket: vintage 
I did inherit a lot from my father. First, there's the physical stuff. Virtually everything about my appearance comes from him, from the wrinkles on my forehead...

... to my hair ...

... to my highly mesomorphic, muscular body...

... prone to a little belly, exaggerated by an over-arched lower back, the medical name for which is Lordosis.

It is this spinal curvature that made my back more likely than other children's to be injured by the gang rapes in my childhood, the ones to which my father abandoned me. Thus my chronic pain.

I got a lot of personality traits from him too. Though my maternal line started out Jewish a long time ago, my father's entire family is Jewish so I feel like I get my ethnic, cultural, and religious identity from him.

He and I shared a deep, unconventional spirituality, that caused us both to find it impossible to adhere to any conventional, organized religion but to be attracted to religion nonetheless.

We shared an interest in literature and writing.

We shared an extremely rebellious and iconoclastic nature. Fitting in in mainstream society is abhorrent to me and was abhorrent to him. As far as he was concerned, I was mainstream though. My rebellions were, I think, more subtle than his, and therefore hard for him to recognize as such.

And, oh my gosh, neither of us were anything if not highly opinionated and entirely unable to keep our mouths shut, even when we should.

If this made us outsiders, all the better. Who would want to fit in, given the world as it is?

But here I'll stop with the positives because there are no more. His rage at the world and his own childhood somehow justified his cruel abandonment of his children in a hell past all description. He never loved me and he told me so. That is not me. I did not inherit his ability to casually reject those who did not conform to his plans for his life.

Instead, my own rough childhood -- and my spiritual faith -- led me to an often painful empathy for the suffering of others, and a lifelong dedication to social justice.

But enough about all that! Let's talk about the fashion.

I found this glittery pink shirt at Value Village and was sure I'd pair it with frothy, A-line skirts. Some day, I'm sure I will.

But then I saw how Debbie styled her sparkly shirt on her style blog, Fashion Fairy Dust, and decided to copy her. I credit her entirely with the inspiration for my outfit in this post.

I think you can see what I mean.

If I was goings to sparkle, I felt I'd go all out with it, with the glitter of tiny diamonds, pink cut glass, and faceted gold.

To this, I added the sparkle of the rhinestones on the cane I last used at my wedding. Of course, I got compliments on it because it's a fabulous cane. (For those of you who are disabled, I will add though that it's not very sturdy. I don't feel it gives me maximum support.)

And then I added gold eye shadow and eye liner. Isn't it pretty? I think it suits my hazel eyes and the reddish highlights in my hair.

I did try a cardigan with my outfit, as Debbie did, and it looked great, but it was too cold for me to wear it out.

Instead, I opted on cutting some of the sweetness of the outfit by wearing my moto jacket. I think it balanced out the tougher quality of the jeans and boots.

At 6'1", Beau doesn't like to look tough because he doesn't want to scare anyone. Therefore, even though he looks really hot in his leather jacket, he seldom wears it.

On the other hand, I, crippled, female, and 5'4", love to look tough, or, if I fail at that, at least to think I look tough. And I always think I look tough when I wear my moto jacket.

I learned this pose from John Travolta and one of my high school boyfriends.

See what I mean? (My God, were we ever that young?) I'm going to send him these two photos. I know he'll get a kick out of it.

Speaking of cool, which we clearly were, check out my boots!

I'd actually been looking for brown boots to go with my warm-toned outfits but, when these red ones went on sale, I sent Beau an email asking, "Should I go for it?" His answer was to simply order them (with my credit card). I'm glad he did.

I have wanted a pair of rich red boots since I was thirteen and first saw the punk kids wearing cherry red, Doc Marten's laced all the way up to their knees. The colour just knocked me out. Yet this is my very first pair of red knee boots.

As soon as I saw myself on the scooter, in the boots ...

...and the moto jacket ...

... I knew I wanted to play up the biker chic look a bit so, obviously, I had to go with these sunglasses.

Just like Ponch from CHiPs.

And here again I'm stopped short, catching my breath: my father died on a California highway and I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks talking to the police of the real life CHP. It's been very hard. 

See how all roads lead back to my jumble of emotions about my father's death?

But let me soldier on, please! Allow me my distractions from literal and figurative pain.

My biker chic fun on my outing continued when I ran into (not literally) my good buddy, Mario (whom you've also seen here in one of my favourite posts).

We quite deliberately posed like biker pals of yore... But, oh! Easy Rider makes me think of the hellish hippies who raised me or, in my father's case, abandoned me. Watch the commune scene in Easy Rider and you'll get a little sense of my childhood.

But I'm trying for distraction ...

Just like so many bikers, Mario and I even have the requisite bellies of real bikers.

I've been very down on myself about my belly lately, falling into the common trap of hating myself for something that is in no way a measure of my worth as a human being. In my case, it's also something that is pretty much beyond my control: I can't lose weight safely because my disability prevents me from exercising enough to do so. Because of my belly, I felt very insecure about how I looked wearing this tight shirt and tight jeans.

But Beau thought I looked super sexy in it. Bless him!

So I decided to be brave. I'm still not sure though. 

I remain sceptical.

But I'd rather be sceptical about the success of an outfit than spend too much time mired in my whirling emotions these days, so I'm giving you this outfit post despite my doubts about it.

Thanks for giving me a reason to distract myself. It helps.



  1. Wonderful writing and insight, as always. So many complicated feelings come up when a (neglectful/abusive) parent dies. You will work though it because you are not afraid to feel. Looking gorgeous, both you and Beau, in leather jackets, and for you, a sparkled tee. Thanks for sharing, xo


    1. "You will work through it because you are not afraid to feel." What an interesting thing to say. I'm going to take it as a compliment. Thanks.

  2. Gosh, this is one serious post! I was going to say I'm sorry for your loss but I won't because your father sounded like a monster. What I am sorry for is the fact that you had to endure such torture at his hands. But let's not dwell on that right now (who am I to judge anyway?!). I like that you've tried to be positive and I love that you're an awesome style blogger, despite your disabilities. You are clearly an inspiration!
    The sequin top is totally cute and I really don't think you should beat yourself up about having a little bit of a belly. Most of us do - we are meant to have some shape, after all, right?! And if your husband thinks you look sexy, that's what matters. Keep up the fabulous posts, I shall follow you wherever I can to see up to date!
    My post today just happens to be me pretending to be a biker chick!!
    Suzy x

    1. Very few people who knew my father or anything about him said, "I'm sorry for your loss." I've been grateful for that. And go ahead: judge. We need more people judging those who harm children. That might end the problem. So if, as you say, I'm an inspiration, then I'm hoping I inspire you to judge where judgement just might save a child's life.

      You know, I think I'm a style blogger not despite my disabilities but because of them. It's a form of therapy for me. And you're right about the belly: I am a middle-aged woman, after all. It's natural!

  3. Not my first time here (so I'm aware of your past from your posts), and I'm not even going to attempt any kind of words of sympathy, but I will send you good vibes. *vibes* I hope you got them. :)

    Then! Look at this fabulous outfit! I scan through Patti's "Visible Monday" group and much of it is bland to me - I saw you and wow! I had to come visit and tell you how awesome you look! Love the top (you DO look sexy!), the moto jacket (so badass), the red boots! I have multiple red boots and love every pair. Rock on, my dear. Good to see you, so very visible!

    1. Sheila, your comment about my not looking bland really stuck with me. That's a great compliment. Enjoying being different is indeed a trait I shared with my father, despite his many faults. Thanks for the good vibes and the idea to get even more red boots. Yay!

  4. You look good, Charlotte. I'm impressed with how you process these surprise visits from your past. Hugs

    1. What a surprise it was! I'm still processing it, of course. Thanks for telling me I'm doing a good job with it. It's not easy.

  5. You look great, Charlotte. Once again, I am impressed with how you process things, this time from a surprise visit.
    I have a pair of slouchy suede cowboy boots that are my red boots. I've had them for years and occasionally pull them out just to look at them. They will be part of what my son will have to get rid of after I'm gone because I probably won't ever get rid of them. Boots in general are a favorite of mine, but I tend toward the ankle suede type with jeans/cords.
    Excellent post Charlotte. You and your outfit are beautiful!

    1. I've got some great ankle boots as well. Sadly, in my rainy city, suede is pretty much out of the question, especially for cold weather wear. I know what you mean about not getting rid of favourites. I have a whole box full of high heels that I can no longer wear but can also not part with. Maybe one of my step-sons will date someone who wants to wear them. I can hope.