Brand new leopardskin

Last week was a bear, for me, for many. First, the US election stunned.  Aware of the promises of the President-elect, I reflected on my family's experience as immigrants, which ranges from the present—my own—and also those of five preceding generations, my forebears and those of my extended family who arrived in desperate circumstances from Ireland, Russia, Germany, France.

Then, I had a serious, expensive, heartbreaking computer issue. (Isn't it weird that a PowerBook can break your heart?) Le Duc had thought he'd backed up my computer but that big data storage key was empty—and I lost almost everything, which led to marital tensions.

Leonard Cohen died, and though he had spoken eloquently of his readiness in a moving New Yorker interview by David Remnick, I was bereft.

Other worrying matters piled on. A dear friend suffers from the return of episodic depression, a son struggles to secure enough paid hours to survive, my father-in-law was admitted to hospital in dwindling health.

Reader, I caved and bought a leopard-print coat.

Though secondhand, it was pristine. I buttoned it on and felt much better—even though I looked like Cyndi Lauper's mother. Thanks to a substantial padded lining, I can wear it till our bitterest cold sets in. It does need to be dry-cleaned, but the cotton velours print is forgiving.

Le Duc was amused; he quoted Dylan, in whom he has been immersed since Bob received the Nobel:
"Well you look so pretty in it
Honey can I jump on it sometime?
Yes I just wanna see
If it's really that expensive kind..." 

It's not "that expensive kind": $69 all in. That coat is not going to change history, bring back a bard, or provide my son with more stable work. But it did make my friend, whom I met for Sunday brunch, grin. (Good news there: she has excellent treatment and is confident she'll recover.)

In years past, during of jump-out-of-my-skin stress, I have bought something as "therapy". (Stupidest: an unconscionably expensive face cream no different from Nivea.) Then I'd feel even even worse, guilty and furious with myself. So this coat countered my consumption habits and my usual colour choices, black and navy.

And yet, I have no remorse. Could it be that just sometimes something you wear helps? Or is it that it's leopard?



Unknown said…
Good for you. I am glad it helped raise your spirits. After a recent unexpected stint in a French hospital plus other stressful incidents as soon as I was discharged I headed straight for a "posh" hairdresser in St. Tropez for a complete hair make-over (luckily they had a winter promotion). I could not believe how happy a haircut could make me feel.
Paula said…
A little treat is food for the soul. Last week was horrible for so many. Enjoy that coat. It looks great on you. May the episode of depression pass quickly.
Gretchen said…
I echo Paula. You are such a support for so many-family, friends, and readers-a beautiful coat at an incredibly good price is a tiny scaffolding for your own will and efforts to continue supporting others. Wear it as a reminder that there is good, and joy, and love, and keep on sharing.
Haha! I had to laugh reading your post as I just recently resorted to retail therapy too, in response to personal challenges as well as those on the world front. My therapy involved purple Fluevog Skins boots, as described on my blog....I guess the Donald is gonna be good for business after all. ;-)
materfamilias said…
Just back from Florence's Profumo Santa Maria Novello with soap dishes for our new bathrooms back home and a bar of soap for each. I've been very careful sticking to budget this trip, but yes, sometimes, a wee treat gives just the push needed to continue the climb back into the light. . . Your leopard coat looks fabulous on you -- Cyndi's Mama should be so lucky and gorgeous! ;-)
Sometimes we all need a bit of a lift - and the fact that you are very aware that it doesn't solve problems - just gives you a wee break - means that you are not deluding yourself in any way or are in danger of destroying your budget. It is a wonderful bargain and it looks fabulous - I am quite envious as I love a bit of leopard print! Enjoy it - and I'm sure seeing you wear it with confidence and style will bring a smile to more than one face out there!
Unknown said…
I love every single one of your posts, and can relate all too well to a pile on of heartbreaks and worries. I am sorry for yours.
I have been more of a spender in the past few weeks than I have in the past few years, buying things can, indeed, make us feel better. Bu we have to be aware of what we are about.
That pretty leopard coat sounds like a small indulgence with lots of comfort, good for you.
That coat is the perfect tonic to a rather difficult week...
I so empathize with your computer issues...I feel so overwhelmed when I have a computer issue, I cannot cope and have to turn it over to the experts!
It was sad hearing the news of Leonard 's demise...I grew up with his music and his deep voice can transport me back to my youth.

Hope your week will be a better.
Leslie M said…
To answer your last question, can it not be both?
Duchesse said…
Jo: It sounds as if you are out of the woods and I am glad to hear that. And yes, a visit to the hairdresser has a similar effect.

Paula: It is not my depression, its a friends, but her distress does affect my mood. Thanks.

Gretchen: Oh that is such a kind thing to say.

Widow Badass: I had been looking for a fiver lining, or even a silver thread, and you supplied it!

mater: Oh I love SMN, their Melograno is my favourite splurge soap. What a joy to buy it in Italy!

Margie: This was not a big expense but oh dear, I could use that rationale for more splendid things if I'm not careful.

Unknown: I have a friend who is in AA and from her I learned that buying can be quite closely associated with impulsivity (and therefore, my friend says, threaten progress.) Anyway, she was told, "If you feel the urge, go to a dollar store or a thrift." Someone else told her to limit it to cosmetics- must have been a man, they have little idea how much you can rack up!

hostess: I did just that, and he got me back up, but I lost a great deal of my archived work. The Universe is saying, Now You Are Well and Truly Retired.

Leslie: Thank you for that; I see that it can!

Life triumphs and your grin says it all. Judicious retail therapy can be life affirming.
Susan B said…
That's such a great find!! I've been searching for years for a leopard print coat that isn't too heavy for our climate and doesn't swallow me whole. I think you'll get a lot of enjoyment from wearing it.
Susan B said…
And I'm so sorry about your computer can be devastating to lose work, photos, emails, etc that exist only on our hard drives!
Francie Newcomb said…
Feeling with you, Duchesse. Also sad about the great loss of Gwen Ifill, to compound a really bad week. You were brilliant to find that leopard print coat and it is just the tonic needed. Hugs.
I have a velvet coat that was the result of a down week a few years ago. Love it and it is still a source of joy. Having another bear of a couple of weeks here myself (also with a friend in depression but now she is in the psychiatric hospital hopefully getting some much needed help), crazy relatives, etc....maybe I need to hit the stores again, also? Little treats do boost the soul.
Most of us have more than enough clothes, but sometimes we have to listen to that voice inside us that calls out to us for a treat. Sometimes it's chocolate, sometimes it's a new CD or book, but SOMETIMES, it's clothing. I think you've done a wise and self-caring thing, and I applaud you for it.

Sending comfort to you in the face of life's trials,
and hugs too!
Yes, terrible week, though the collective mourning for Leonard Cohen and celebration of his life and work was cathartic for many of us. I rode my bicycle down to little Parc du Portugal dues south of where I live and ran into a great many people I know, including his longtime friend the sculptor Armand Vaillancourt (the companion of the legendary Suzanne way back when). He is five years older than Leonard and still going strong. I'd like to add the anniversary of the attacks on le Bataclan and other targets in parts of Paris I know very well. And the approach of effing winter...

I was somewhat luckier as my MacBook also had to be rebooted and I have all my files, but in no order and I am having a terrible time reorganizing them, and I did lose my address book. These things are very important for a freelancer.

Where on earth did you find that - a consignment shop, a private sale, a charity shop that recognizes their quality donations? I love it, but being lagatta, it would be hard for me to wear something in even faux cat fur, though I love that particular type of velour.
Wendy said…
That coat is amazing! I think one reason you feel no remorse may be that you got a wonderful deal and it will get a lot of wear. Leopard is the new black!
Thanks for this post. I, too, have had a lousy week (major changes at work and the election). I keep thinking it's all just a dream/nightmare.
Paul said…
You should take your hard drive to an expert, because sometimes they are able to recover what we think is lost
twelve said…
My dear, a leopard coat like the one you have thriftily found, is both luxurious and comforting during your recent trials. Lucky you!
I can see you wearing it with some lovely strands of pearls underneath on a black turtleneck. I think i would like to see you with a slightly brighter red lippy.
Enjoy away! Deb.
LauraH said…
You do NOT look like Cyndi Lauper's mother! You look chic, lively, energetic and rather sassy. Hope your spirits have recovered along with your files.
Kristien62 said…
Your coat is a wonderful antidote to a trying week, and it looks fabulous! You really do look stunning in that coat.

My cure for what ails ya' is lipstick. And I bought another this week. Not that I needed one, but a simple lipstick purchase always lifts my spirit. The funny thing is that most of my lipsticks are very similar. Still, it is a cheap way to perk myself up.
Duchesse said…
unefemme: I lost decades of work, but admit the clients who received that work have not asked for copies- so that's some comfort.

Carolyn: Normally I cringe at the term "retail therapy", but I have to admit, it can help.

France: Yes. Gwen Ifill was a terrific journalist.

Nelson Bartley: That's what we hope for, an enduring sense of joy, not just a quick single jolt. Fond hopes for your friend's recovery.

Janice: Thank you, and now I can say I donated four old coats that were just sitting there, not worn out but not in good shape. I replaced on with the leap and the other, a puffer whose fur trim was ravaged by moths, with a similar one but with no fur.

lagatta: Montrealers' memories of Leonard are sweet and sorrowful. (Many here have some connection; my co-grandmother babysat his son). Coat was bought in a secondhand boutique.
I know you hate winter but I do not... at least until a snowstorm in April!

Paul: I did take it to an expert and for awhile it looked possible, but then not. What I lost is not worth the very substantial cost of going to the level of forensic specialists. (If I were still working, yes.) Fortunately I had thought to e-mail all my passwords and other essential info to myself before a recent trip, so at least there's that.

Twelve Riches: I agree, I have a cache of deeper lip colours I take out in fall- wasn't wearing them in that shot. And no matter how I put it on (base, lip brush, the works) a deep colour seeps off me in 20 minutes. The only way I can wear them is to use the paint-on type like CoverGirl Outlast, but it's too drying for everyday.

LauraH: Such a departure and one I would not have made if a hefty price tag were attached- a stripe is as far as I go, usually. Thanks.

Kristien62: I too just love lipsticks as pick-me-ups, see you at the counter! Fortunately Revlon satisfies me. Also, tiny decants of perfumes- but the lipstick cure is immediate, I have to order the decants.

djo said…
I'm making an effort to reach out to others who inspire me as I navigate these dark times in US politics. I took Leonard Cohen's and Gwen Ifill's passing very hard. Thank you for this and all your are simply a darling person!
twelve said…
Weird that there are two commentors who have the same name of Twelve Riches. I know, because i am one of them, and i did not write the one about the detailed lippy application. Hmmm.
Mardel said…
Generally I am not a fan of retail therapy, but acknowledge it can do wonders, especially when one indulges in something that sings, like your coat.
Duchesse said…
Twelve Riches @ 4:57: es, odd.... you might want to change your password.

Mardel: Nor am I, the fizzy lift goes flat so soon. Retail therapy is definitely out of character and I think its rarity might be one of the reasons why it worked.

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