Sunday, March 4, 2018

Pink and Green in Pain

I started this blog as a distraction from my woes, especially my constant, physical pain. I just wanted to post pretty outfits, and maybe write a bit about vintage style. But, over time, I began to write about much more serious topics, like the child sex trafficking that caused my disability, and the ableism I face every day of my life. 

People like my "heavy" posts. They read them more than they read my light ones. I find myself thinking I should only write heavy, serious posts. Sometimes doing so is a wonderful, cathartic thing for me. Sometimes it's a burden. I need to remember that this blog is my hobby, the one that's supposed to be a fun distraction, not a weighty responsibility.

So, with that in mind, a post almost entirely about a pretty outfit, to help me forget that, lately, my life consists of relapses and learning to walk again, and another relapse, and learning to walk again - again.

Beau and I took these photos last December when I had only just started using my scooter again after months of being too unwell to do so. It was hard, and I needed two canes instead of the one I'd used before August.

Since then, I've had another relapse and am yet to even try my scooter, or the two canes thing. I'm using my walker even in the house - again. In fact, I got a new walker, and it's much better, but I hate that I have to use it.

Of course I hate it.

Dress: Cherry Velvet; Boots: Keen; Blouse: Eloquii; Stockings (not tights): Sock Dreams; Gloves: Reitman's; Brooches, earrings, cape, and jacket: vintage
So let's just talk about the outfit, shall we?

This outfit is basically exactly the same ...

... as this outfit, which I wore here and here in obviously better days. (You can see this dress in summer here.)

The dresses, by Cherry Velvet, and the blouses, by Eloquii, are identical in style ...

... with the blouses in different colours, and the dresses in different prints. That's all.

To both, I added a vintage, wool cape, this one in a warm tone, to go with my warm-toned outfits ...

... and this one in a cool tone to go with my cool-toned outfits. 

Although I receive a lot of compliments on my capes, they are not mere fashion statements. Regular coats, even long ones, fall open over the legs when I sit down. For someone on wheels like me, this is freezing cold. Capes take care of that and they look incredible.

There really is nothing that beats wool, though it's virtually impossible to find anything that's 100% wool nowadays. Unless you're very wealthy, you have to go vintage for that. Wool is incredibly warm and durable. As long as you keep the moths away, it holds its warmth, shape, and colour for decades, if not longer.

It protects the wearer quite well from rain, though, yes, it has an interesting smell when wet. I kind of like the smell.

My bigger potential problem with wool is its weight. My blue one is fine but this one is really heavy! It's not so bad when I'm wearing it, but it's really hard to get on and off. With my disability, I can barely lift any weight at all. Even a glass of water requires two hands, so you can imagine how a heavy wool cape can impede me.

I also haven't yet found a solution to the way it gaps in the front, letting in cold and wet alike. I had buttons and button holes added but they're not strong enough for this tough wool.

Since I had only just started walking outside without a walker, I was also having trouble using two canes, especially with armholes instead of sleeves. That level of coordination doesn't come naturally and requires conscious thought with every step. 

It's yet another disability learning curve: one of the many thing that make up the backstage struggle of the disabled.

A lot of people disabled by chronic pain feel obliged to hide their pain when they are in public. Then some of them get angry when others don't realize how much pain they're in. I'm not sure why they feel the need to hide it. I don't. 

Or I think I don't. But maybe I do, unconsciously. Maybe I just think I look prettier when my pain doesn't show. Maybe I feel less vulnerable. I don't know.

And, of course, I do try to focus on the things that make life better. Here I'm listening to a Northern Flicker and trying to figure out where it is in the trees above me. Do I look happy? Do I look like I'm not in pain? I don't know. I might, I suppose.

What I do know is that, for every photo of me looking like I'm walking well ...

... there's a photo that shows that I'm not. 

For every smile ...

... there's a haunting photo of pain and PTSD. Which is the real me? Both, I guess. 

I could do without the pain, but, as it worsens over time, I'll do my best to have fun with the new fashion opportunities that come with it.

So let's talk about the fashion again.

Clearly, this dress has a retro feel about it. All of Cherry Velvet's dresses do, and you all know that I like me my retro style outfits.

Since I already had this dress in another print, when this one came on sale, I was able to buy it without worrying that I couldn't return sale items. 

I think the cut is flattering to my zaftig figure.

The box pleat in the back causes the a-line to flare out more than it otherwise would ...

... so it nips in nicely at the waist and below the breasts.

The neckline is decidedly weird.

Weird and fun.

The pretty, floral, pinky, salmony print makes this dress more feminine and less edgy than the other one I own, with its boldly coloured geoprint.

Pink and green look lovely together, so I obviously wanted to play up that combo through the rest of my outfit. If I'd just worn pink accents, the green in the dress would have been drowned out, so the large swaths of green in these full sleeves and this pussy bow seemed important.

I also wore green eye shadow.

With the green blouse and green eye shadow, I was now free to go wild with pink everything else. Light pink lipstick would have made perfect sense except that it looks terrible on me. It makes me look like a ghost. Instead, I layered Burt's Bees, frosty, pink, Guava lip shimmer, over their much deeper, almost burgundy, Fig lip shimmer. That worked ...

... and harmonized well with the creamy, pink enamel of this brooch ...

... which obviously went well with this equally creamy, pink, enamel brooch. 

The floral print on the dress was strong enough not be overshadowed by these crazy, pink, floral, vintage earrings. 

Aren't they strange? They're fun strange.

My pink, leather jacket made sense as I layered for the weather. I can barely zip it up now, especially when I'm sitting on my scooter. The constant weight gain that comes with my worsening disability is very frustrating, if for no other reason than that I keep outgrowing my clothes. I hate that!

I eat a very healthy diet so the only way for me to lose weight in a healthy way would be for me to exercise, something I did even to excess before I was disabled. Obviously, that's not an option these days. I keep thinking my pain levels will improve enough that I'll at least be able to go for short walks, if only on my treadmill. Then, maybe I'll lose some weight. But I don't improve. I just get worse.  I hate that.

For now, the pink jacket remains unzipped.

And I use two canes: pink and green. When I go out, whether I'm using one or two canes, people often exclaim, as if it's news to me, "Your cane matches your outfit!" to which I reply, "I know! Of course it does, darling. Obviously."

The burgundy gloves may not match all this in some people's minds, but, in mine, they do.

And just to play it all up more, I added purple stockings, boots in almost the same colour as the gloves ...

... and a purpley burgundy cape to match.

And while we're on the topic of bold colour combinations that work, isn't this house amazing? It's one of my very favourites in our neighbourhood. (You've seen the yellow one beside it here.)

It's a really lovely block, in a lovely neighbourhood ...

... and includes this fun purple house too. Stucco is not my favourite ... 

... but it's utterly ubiquitous in Vancouver. I seldom pose in front of it because, well, yuck, but it's usually at least in the background. It's unavoidable, both on houses ...

... and on garages.

Check out that view of downtown! And do you recognize that white and brown, cement, starburst fence? You saw it before, here.

Our alleys are, apparently, unique, but I'm so used to them, I've never thought to mention them before. They afford a nice privacy in our backyards as they don't directly abut other people's back yards. They also afford the privacy of keeping your garbage, recycling, and garbage behind the house, away from the sidewalks. 

It all seems quite sensible to me. 

Aside from when I lived in New York City in the late 90s, and Toronto in the early aughts, I've lived in this neighbourhood for 28 years! Needless to say, it holds a lot of memories for me. That big house to my right, for instance? I refer to it as The Stack O' Lesbians since so many of the queer women I know have lived there at some point. This includes my ex's ex. Awkward!

British Columbia is nothing if not mountainous, so it should come as no surprise that Vancouver is very hilly. I do sometimes find the hills a bit scary on my scooter, especially going up: I feel like I'm going to tip over backwards! 

Going down isn't as bad. 

Speaking of going downhill, I wish I could say I kept getting better after we took these photos in December, but I didn't. About a month ago, I had another "set back," or "relapse," or whatever you want to call them. The pain was the worst it's been in 10 years. My despair knew no bounds.

Things have been better for the last two weeks, relatively speaking. I've talked to my physiotherapist and my doctor about trying new approaches to reducing my pain and increasing my mobility, and that's giving me some hope.

But I'm still using my walker, even in the house. I'm not yet well enough to use my scooter, let alone to take myself out on my own. The lack of freedom is maddening. The pain is maddening. The whole damned thing is maddening.

I try hard not to blame myself, not to think, "I must be doing something wrong. This decline must be my fault." I'm doing everything I'm "supposed" to do to take care of myself. God knows how much worse I'd be if I weren't.

All I can do from here is my best, hoping and trying for better days ahead, and dressing well either way.

(I'm sharing this with Not Dressed as Lamb, Elegantly Dressed and Stylish, Style Nudge, and Not Dead Yet.)