Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall for the Birds: Autumnal Fashion in Hard Times

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fall is my season. It suits my colouring; I was born in October; my earliest memories are of the Fall; and it's my best fashion season. So this post is a Fall fashion post, with a generous smattering of reflections on my ongoing struggles with ableism and survival, because they are both so dominating my life right now.

If you read Sublime Mercies regularly, you know that life hasn't been very good to me lately, to say the leastLife at the moment really is unbearable. It's not a life anyone would want to live. Mostly I've just been hanging on my fingernails, working toward and hoping for a better but very uncertain future. When I went to my doctor to tell her just how poorly I'm doing, she said the fact that I'm working so hard for a better future puts her mind at ease about me: my future focus proves to her that I'm not suicidal. I knew that too, but it's good to hear her faith in me. 

While living this virtually unbearable life, I'm doing what I always do: I cling to the little things. 

Like a new pair of shoes! I haven't been able to wear heels since I became permanently disabled nine years ago. I know these shoes aren't really high heeled, but they're the closest I've been able to manage in all these years and I'm crazy excited about them. I mean, just look at them! They're gorgeous. I love their 1920s/30s vibe, and I love that their soles are shock-absorbing rubber so they don't send shocks of pain into my back with every step I take.

So this outfit was based pretty much entirely around the shoes ...

... and the yellow bangle that, Tiffany, an Instagram reader sent me - just because. Wasn't that sweet? 

(As an aside, I went to therapy in this outfit. My therapist is not even slightly into fashion but she's charmed by my interest in it and sees it as a very healthy, therapeutic hobby. When I told her I'd built my outfit around my shoes, she was astonished that anyone would do such a thing. She said it sounded like a lot of work to her. I told her that it's a lot of fun!)

I never realized what an autumnal colour mustard yellow is but it is, isn't it? I'm becoming a little obsessed with it.

Dress: Mod Cloth; Shoes: Cobb Hill; Sunglasses: Reitman's; Diamond earrings: Bespoke; Right Hand Ring: Birks; Yellow bangle: a gift from an online friend; Pendant, gold chain, and orange bangle: vintage
So, obviously, this dress, with its autumnal yellow and orange was a match with the shoes and the bangle. You've seen this dress before but styled for cooler weather. This time, I styled it for a warmer day.

It's zigzag pattern is echoed nicely but not exactly in the lovely, Art Deco influenced design of the shoes, both back ...

... and front. I'm crazy about mary-janes, especially t-strap ones. I feel like I'm walking around in about 1930 and I like that.

Yes, I'm pigeon-toed. I have been ever since my disability really took over. It seems take a little pressure off my sacroiliac joints, the dual axes of all of my suffering. Anything that helps, is fine by me, and I don't think it detracts from this Fall outfit, do you?

Probably the biggest reason I think of Fall as my season is my hair: not quite red and not quite brown, but a true auburn. It seems to me that my hair, combined with my hazel-ish eyes and freckles, creates the very definition of a person with autumnal colouring. 

I got the hair from my father, who began losing his very young. He was a true narcissist and could never once look at me without vocalizing his sorrow that he no longer had that same hair. Given that he was such a nogoodnik, I take a kind of pleasure in knowing that I've still got it.

But, man, it is uncanny how much I look like him, especially as I age. I guess this feels normal for those who grew up with their parents, but, since my father was almost entirely absent since I was toddler, this trick of genetics never ceases to feel like a kind of freakish magic, not only when I see it in my own face, but also when I see other related lookalikes as I go about my daily life. My younger stepson looks so much like Beau, it's crazy!

But back to the dress and the day. I can't wear this dress without getting compliments on it and, to be honest, I expect them because, seriously ... 

... it's beautiful

I'd spotted this huge mural a few days earlier and stored it away in my mind for a future photo shoot. It was a natural match for my dress ...

... both in its colours and in its repetition of its own zigzag pattern. 

My least favourite part of it though is this cyclist. I felt like he was mocking me, putting his strong, abled back into his riding, while I still struggle mightily to walk at all. I am improving though. In the last few days, I've been walking around the house with no mobility aid at all!

And, hell, my walker is blue, so it compliments my dress. That's why I didn't feel the need to wear any blue accessories. (This also astonished my therapist. She loves that I think of things that would never occur to her, and see the world in a way that is utterly foreign to her.) 

There was blue in the mural too ...

... which made me think of the gorgeous Steller's Jay that's been marking regular, noisy visits to our balcony for the last few weeks. Here he is having a nice drink of fresh water. It's been really interesting to see how many new bird types we get now that we put out a dish of water for them each day. We'll probably abandon this practice once the rainy season returns, and pick it up again next summer.

I added my cool, new, gold plated, Star of David. As you know, I've been really upset by the rise of racism and antisemitism in the last year or two and my distress has only increased since the recent neonazi rally in Charlottesville. It became very important to me to find just the right, gold Star of David pendant. (I already have a silver one.) 

I had to do it on a budget though, since I haven't received any income whatsoever since June. Thus my choice of a gold-plated one, rather than a gold one. I usually won't touch anything but gold and gold-fill, because everything else is likely to tarnish, but I didn't feel that I could wait for this, so I did the best I could. It did indeed arrive tarnished, but a quick and careful polish shined it up beautifully, and didn't remove any of the gold, as I feared it might.

This super cool, disco inflected, 3D pendant from the 1970s was designed by Baron Von Furstenberg, one time husband of Diane Von Furstenburg, whose wrap dresses I covet with my whole heart. But my own, 70s inflected dress is a great match for the pendant too.

I also love this gold chain that Beau bought for me. I love its delicate femininity. 

I adore yellow gold, regardless of whether it's en vogue. I pile it on whenever I feel like it, but it does work particularly well in the fall, doesn't it? 

Then I added these cream coloured sunglasses to match the cream base of my dress. 

Orange and yellow bangles were an obvious choice. Look how the orange one glows in the sun! All four of the bangles that Tiffany sent me are very comfortable. I can't really describe it but they just feel really nice on my arm. They're also big enough that I don't struggle to get them over my substantial hands. 

Don't these ones look amazing with this mural?

I felt a sort of affinity with the birds on the mural. 

Year after year, with the more I learn about birds, they give me more and more entertainment and comfort. I really care about them. For instance, I took this photo after a long dry spell and noticed that the crow on the right looked kind of dry and mussy, like the weather had really been getting to her. I hoped she would soon feel better. Maybe she was just moulting as Fall approached.

I think whoever made this mural meant for the birds to be ravens, with the large blue one on the upper left being the mother of all the others. Ravens (along with many other creatures, like salmon, bears, and hummingbirds) are central to the traditions of the west coast Aboriginal cultures here. They tend to play the trickster role occupied by coyotes in other areas. The raven is often depicted in Haida art as providing the world with the sun.

But, honestly, these particular birds look more like crows than ravens to me. 

My affinity for these crows has something to do with their hard-scrabble life: mostly ignored, often reviled, digging through our garbage for food, searching daily for fresh water to help them survive.

My life has often felt like that. There were times, many times, when I scrabbled through garbage too, for furniture, clothing, books, and, yes, even food. Lately, with my ongoing struggles with my insurance company, I've felt dangerously close to that life again. 

Beau says this photo makes me look like I have wings. I think it makes me look how I feel: a crow among crows - beaten down, small, almost sacrificial. Not sacrificed to any divine being but to the god of money instead. 

As I began writing this post, I kept thinking of an old Yiddish song that has spoken to me since I was a child

On a wagon bound for market

There's a calf with a mournful eye
High above him, there's a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky

All the winds are laughing

They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer's night

"Stop complaining," said the farmer," 

"Who told you a calf to be?
"Why don't you have wings to fly with

"Like the swallow so proud and free?"

Calves are easily bound and slaughtered

Never knowing the reason why
But whoever treasures freedom
Like the swallow must learn to fly.

All the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through

And half the summer's night

Even as a child, I knew I was the calf. The winds - those who could have helped me - were indifferent to my plight. I never learned to fly. How could I, brought so low, bound for market, and literally crippled by pimps and rapists?

Lately, I've been feeling like that again. This time, the market is the profits made by insurance companies

The winds are their workers, and my workplace, and my union, laughing high above me ...

... blaming me for my inability to fly. 

I'm exhausted.

It's been a really long haul and it's not over yet.

I'm parched for relief ...

... in constant pain, and trying to find my way forward.

For now, it is as always: surviving by paying attention the little things, like welcome cooler weather, new shoes on an autumn day ... 

... taking care of my birds ...

... and remembering that there is always Beau. 

But it's still a long road, and it would be so damned nice if the big picture to be good too. At the moment, it isn't.

I can only sustain myself on the little things for just so long.

(I'm sharing this with Style Nudge, Not Dressed as Lamb, High Latitude Style, Fashion Should Be FunElegantly Dressed and Stylish, Adri LatelyRachel the Hat, Tina's Pink Friday, and Not Dead Yet.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. You look awesome in this shirt dress. The ravens are so cool. I like them.