Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pan Am, and other Mad Men style shows

I have always had a fascination with the 1960s. It was just a decade rich in contradiction and diversity. I love the style (as evidenced by my most recent purchases from Modcloth. More posts on that later). I love the people. I love the history.

So it goes without saying that I am a huge Mad Men fan. But with the show in hiatus for the next foreseeable bit, I am sort of excited about the new show Pan Am. My friend Brittany brought this show to my attention on her blog, Where the Hart Is. Click the link to follow her!

If it weren't for my debilitating fear of heights and flying, I would make an excellent stewardess, oops, I mean flight attendant. I think I love the sixties for that whole romanticized American Dream (which we all know is kind of bull). But I would have loved serving martinis in a pillbox hat.

In case your next question was "Melissa. Where, can I find one of those adorable Pan Am flight attendant bags?", I am already ready to answer that. Pan Am brand still produces them and you can find them on their website here.

They have different styles to suit your carry-on needs for your out of town trip with your business man lover.

Let's have a viewing party, ladies! Martinis and Manhattans all around!!

Green-Eyed Haters

Whenever I displayed any signs of jealousy as a child, my mother always told me "Melissa, Green isn't a pretty color on you." (Which is absolutely absurd, because I know for a fact that emerald green is in my palette.)


Part of my reason for popping back in the blogosphere is to make my life better and to re-evaluate all my ugly parts (as well as my adorable ones).

It's so easy to fall prey to the sin of envy. Do I think it's a sin? ABSOLUTELY. How can we be so blessed with gifts and be blind to them. "I used to cry that I had no shoes, until I met the man with no feet." Besides being a disturbing bit of advice (No SHOES?!?!?! EEP). I didn't fully appreciate the value of the wisdom. I still don't.

A few years ago, I worked in a summer stock theatre with a girl whose name I shall omit. She was pretty and talented, but not well-liked. (I shall refrain from giving my opinion on whether or not that disdain was justified) We played similar very small ensemble roles (we played sisters) and I listened as everyone moaned and complained about my "sister". And I am ashamed to admit fault because I never stuck up for her, even though I occasionally agreed with them.

Some years later, I decide to look her up and -lo and behold the girl is now in a long running Broadway show in a principal part. I asked myself "How the heck did she manage that?" And the answer was simply...while others were around her nay-saying, she put her nose to the grindstone, never let it get her down, and auditioned and auditioned.

Well, naturally my first human response was one of complete jealousy. I was in a similar role as this girl so I contrived that I must at least be as talented. But I think in the end it comes down to that silly old Edison quote about genius being so many parts perspiration and a much smaller percentage inspiration. So despite my jealousy of said vapid girl, she has displayed a quality I absolutely admire. I have never been a person who really threw myself 110% into anything. Especially lately. I have goals and am working to achieve them...but in the meantime I am dallying.

We each of us have a purpose in life, but I am beginning to realize it isn't up to us to decide.I think the true mark of a successful person is the one who goes wherever the door opens, gets back on the horse, and if-at-first-they-don' get the idea. For some reason it has always been incredibly difficult of me to relinquish control of my life. Hopefully, I can follow her example.
It's the time to stop wanting what others have and start making yourself someone people hate.

But I will say that green looks fantastic on me, especially jewel tones.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ballet Beautiful Week 2.5 and Vintage Shots

So I have been doing the ballet beautiful workout three times a week. You can check out ballet beautiful here. I will say I have noticed a big difference in my hips. I have lost about 5 pounds. This workout is that good. I should add here that I have also been walking. I'm beginning to notice the loss in my face. Here's a pic from me two nights ago.

Matt tells me I'm starting to look anorexic..and as someone who has dealt with eating issues in the past, I have to make sure I am really careful. But I also know that I need to be careful not to gain weight because I am of a short stature. (5'0. Currently at 117 pounds.) So it' s a slippery slope.

Being as self conscious as I am, it didn't make any sense when I decided to do some vintage style shots in a bathing suit for my photog friend Kory. Kory's an amazing photographer and he was game for doing something to build his portfolio. (You can check him out here if you live in the Louisville area.) I am slightly narcissistic (name somebody with a blog who isn't) and thought a vintage shoot sounded like fun.

So body issues be damned, I took a few shots. Here's one.

Kory made me feel totally at ease and even sort of pretty.

So I put it up on facebook.

It wasn't up for a few minutes, when a guy friend of mine messaged me and said. "Wow. That's an awful picture of you. No offense."

I guess he thought he knew me well enough to tell me the truth, but I am a female and, wow, did my self-confidence take a giant kick to the nads. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem issues her whole life, if you say something derogatory, I will turn back into a shy, weather-beaten teen. I am sad to say I totally did...and it ruined my night. And it sucks that I let it do that.

I think it is part of being a woman: One minute you're a lioness and the next you can feel like a weak kitten. I'm not putting the photo up to fish for complements...I am putting it up for the same reason I took it down. It makes me insecure. But, damnit, I like the photo.

So in short, ballet beautiful works quickly but is a pain in the ass (literally) and also (some) guys can be totally thoughtless.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse

I'm deeply depressed by Amy Winehouse's death. I hate to see any one with so much potential, gone before they've had a chance to explore their greatness. It happens so often in the industry. Many joke that there is a "27" club of people, whose star burned out at the age of 27. Although, one could counter that with the fact that many of those in that select group (Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain) struggled with addiction and depression, I think that the main part of being really talented is the empathic ability to really FEEL emotion. That's what a vast majority of artists tend to be insane, I think. (Yes, that's a generalization. No, not every artist is crazy.)

But in some weird way, Amy's death will serve her legacy well. She will be remembered for her great music. She was a truly talented woman. I'm sad she couldn't overcome the demon that addiction is. But I'm thankful that her music will stay with us.

Friday, July 22, 2011

As Long As You Love Me And Have The Right Stuff, We'll Keep Comin' Back Again

I was so stoked to pretend to be twelve years old again as I attended the July 20th show of the NKOTBSB tours. If you missed that whole era or if you live under a rock, the concert is a tour combining two of the most popular Boy Bands of the 1990s. New Kids On The Block were incredibly popular around my kindergarten years and Backstreet was a fixture of my middle school, early high school years. The music was simple and catchy, rhyming "heart", "apart", "girl", and "world", and the boys were handsome.

And I was in the middle of the the firestorm: Posters, T-shirts, Dolls, Cassette Tapes (Wait. What's a Cassette Tape?") I was convinced that this was what love was; Five Boys serenading you and telling you that they would wipe away your tears and "I'll Never Make You Cry." It all seems sort of embarrassing now, but in truth I still blush at some of the thoughts I had. But the BSB were a big part of my childhood.

You see, there were five best friends growing up: 2 Emilys, 2 Christinas, and Me. There are usually five members in a boy band. We were best friends and each girl had her own specific boy. The girl's personality tended to line up with the personality of said boy band member. Mine was Howie (and he's still the hottest). And the idea, was to claim your boy member, collect posters and trade for others. That Math was simple. As 2Gether (a tongue in cheek boy band from the 90s) once said U + ME =US.

I have so many fond memories of the summer of 1998. I was getting ready to start High School. Emily A's family had a pool and we would watch TRL with Carson Daly in the afternoons, lounge about and eat sandwiches and chips. And the five of us would talk about the Backstreet Boys. I mean...occasionally we talked about other things...but the conversation invariably came back to who we were going to be when we grew up and married our respective BSB. Because that was just the way it was and the way we knew it would be. So we would lay on our floats, put lemon-juice in our hair, and drink our Capri Suns and daydream.

We were just a bunch of Summertime Girls....wearing Abercrombie & Fitch.

Sleepovers came and went. Years passed. Some got married. Some had kids. One is a pharmacist. Another girl teaches band. I'm still sort of bohemian transient with a nice collection of designer shoes. Distance has mostly kept us apart. But the tour brought some of us back together. We made a pledge to go see them, actually almost ten years to the day we saw them last time.

We made our way to the convention center and suddenly we time traveled. And there, all around, were groups of women...some a little older from the New Kids Generation, those of us a bit younger who were teens during the Backstreet Boys. They were dressed in their old New Kids Gear form the 80s. Some wore side ponytails or Chuck Taylors.

Emily A made the poignant observation that the biggest difference between this concert and our first in 1998 was the lack of our mothers and the fact that we could now drink beer. This thought excited me momentarily, but I didn't feel like fighting the lines. Then Emily K. also pointed out that the price of concert shirts had risen almost 20 dollars. I bought one anyway.

The show itself was a blast. One of the New Kids rightly pointed out that there were two generations of people there and for some, they had time-traveled to 1989. Others, like my friends and I, we had made our way back to 1999. And for us, we were again 13 years old and super excited to be breathing the same oxygen as the Boys. In front of us sat a mother with her two daughters. Hilariously, the girls were wearing Justin Bieber shirts. Whenever Donnie Wahlberg sang, the woman would leap to her feet and begin yelling. Her daughters looked at her with a mix of horror and amusement, as if to say "Mom?." Maybe they were struck with the sudden realization that "Mom" was a person once, a teenager who sat in her room with tape player, dreaming about the day she was gonna meet Donnie Wahlberg and he was gonna pull her on stage at a concert and serenade her.

One of my co-workers asked me why I would want to see middle-aged men dancing and thrusting like they were still 18. "Isn't that depressing?" he asked. I disagreed. There were women all over, just like us, who do the daily grind and maybe have forgotten who they were at a young age. They are now "Mom", or a professional, or both. And just for one night, they could remember who they were and hopefully carry a bit of that kid with them for another day. So no...I didn't find it sad at all.

After the show, I walked out on my own as my friends decided to leave to go back to their normal jobs and their spouses. I decided that I needed to do something I had always wanted to do. I made my way behind the coliseum and crawled through a large shrub. I could have taken the side walk around, but that seemed like I wasn't trying hard enough.

I finally came upon the Mecca. The tour bus. I knew that some of the members had already left....but I knew that little girl I used to be (had she had a parent willing to wait after the show) would have stood out there for a days if she had the option. So I waited and waited, and when I had given up hope.

Brian came out. Now there was a huge gate between us so the only photo I captured was of his leg...but after a moment of walking his mother to her car... he came over to the group of about 10 of us waiting.

And he said "Hello."

I said "Thank you for the great show and the memories."

He may have not heard me over the chirping of the other girls. But he smiled and said he loved us and waved goodbye! And then disappeared.

I felt ecstatically happy for a moment, then a minute of sadness. I missed my younger self. But I do think she would have been extremely happy to know that while she didn't get to marry a Backstreet Boy...she would get to meet one up close and personal after years of seeing them at events across the way. So I walked back to grab a taxi, smiling and for a minute I could visualize my 13 year old self jumping up and down in my room at the thought of the idea.

Plus I haven't quite given up on Howie, just yet...

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Moment When... and your ex have both moved on. You've both realized the other has moved on, but no one really acknowledges it. You might play it down a bit to spare the other's feelings.

But then you realize you've got a good thing going for you. And so does he. And there's this moment of mourning and then a moment of happiness.

So you both congratulate each other and wish each other the best. There may have been a path you were walking together at one point, but it split. No point in placing blame about what happened. It's been almost three years since you had the talk and you sat in the floor and cried and held each other. Three years since you both put up walls. And you think you're probably not gonna find that love again.

Then you see the guy who has been your friend for so long and realize that maybe there was something more to it. And maybe your ex found the same support in a girl with a nice smile. Maybe you cross his mind. Maybe you don't.

You avoid the serious talks. The questions about what could have happened, if you had been more patient....if he had stayed around. It's just a awkward hug for luck, a wistful smile and then you send them on their way. And you're happy. I mean, really happy.

But there's a momentary loss. You feel a sting of grief and panic, because it is the end. And you thought you were gonna marry this man and have a family. And you hate absolutes. Life ebbs and flows. Then, after the wave of sadness, there is forgiveness. You can forgive yourself. You can forgive him. And you really do want him to be happy.

Then the panic subsides, and you can see a crystal clear image of what is right in front of you. A boy who will run out and get you cold medicine at 4 in the morning. A boy who carried boxes upon boxes of shoes and clothes without complaining about the sheer amount of clothes. A good boy.

And so you lock the other in the back closet of your mind. And you wrap your arms around the one you have.

"Now. Everything. Begins."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Memoriam - The Phones of Melissa Ratliff

It takes a brave phone to serve as my phone. It's a dangerous, thankless job in which they will be dropped, drowned, lost, or stolen. Many have given their lives in order to serve my social needs and many have fallen. I just want to take a moment to pay homage to the phones that I have lost along the way.

*Cue The Lee Greenwood*

1. There was of course the Nokia 5110. My (and everyone else's) first phone.

We spent so much time together. Me losing you on high school field trips. Replacing you. The countless hours playing snake and the final ultimate death you came to when I dropped you down the stairs of my sorority house freshman year, shattering into multiple pieces of plastic. You were buried in the dumpster and my first taste of loss was tragic, but it would sadly not be the last.

2. The two silver Verizon phones, whose names I can't remember and will be henceforth referred to as the "Unknown Phones". I was excited for my shiny new phone when, not two weeks into having you, I left you in a classroom in the Fine Arts Building. I hunted and searched...but you were MIA. Verizon very nicely offered to replace you...and after I had, I found you again in the exact same classroom. So then I had two of you. I thought this was excellent...until I lost one in a rain puddle and the other met a similar fate in the toilet. Verizon was not so nice about the third replacement

3. Pink Motorola Rzr.

Remember when everyone wanted a Rzr? I do. And I had one. Oh how I cherished your girlyness. How I cried the first time I dropped you on the steps of my apartment. Oh the texts I sent. You lasted a long time, my friend. Through a trip to Europe, lots of travel, and lots of drops that I thought would be fatal. But somehow you survived....albeit it chipped and cracked. You were finally retired after your screen stopped working. You were the best of the best, and I salute you.

Gone but not forgotten.

4. Blackberries number 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (No. I'm not kidding.)

Blackberries. You were weak. And yet there was something about you that kept me replacing you. Through loss of balls (That's not a euphemism), broken usb ports, and frozen screens you were the weakest of servicephones. Yet I kept giving you chance after chance. Once again you have failed me with the Blackberry Torch. I have learned my lesson...but I know being my phone isn't easy. So I forgive in pieces (Pun intended).

5. The iPhone

Given to me as a freebie, I couldn't complain about the iphone. It was a great phone, but it sucked my phone bill dry. And then out of the blue, The screen stopped working. I was gesturing wildly with the phone in my hand, cracked it, and the screen went blank. I was sad, you didn't die a hero's death, but you served the greater good.

6. Other miscellaneous phones I have forgotten. I know there are many that have just stopped working or have disappeared. But I cannot remember you all.

We must not dwell on the past, we must look forward to the future. A future where my clumsiness will be no more and I can walk without dropping my mobile or without breaking the screen while using my hand in an animated fashion.

I am looking towards a bright new future. And I am looking for a few good phones.

Or just one, really...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ballet Beauty is Pain

I saw the Black Swan last Christmas. It was a beautiful, albeit deranged film. It's a modern day look into madness that you really only saw in theatre or Hitchcock. But while I appreciate the storytelling, I am always in awe of dancers.

Mainly that's because I have two left feet.

There's a certain contradiction to dancing. Ballerinas must look frail and simultaneously have the strength of an athlete. I always coveted the slender ballet figure: muscular, yet dainty. Short of devoting a full year to extreme exercise, I had heard that Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman had gone through a workshop program taught by an NYC dance studio called "Ballet Beautiful". The program is taught by a former NYC Ballet ├ętoile who now runs the program. "Ballet Beautiful" was developed to give women the appearance of a Ballet body without the 20 required years of dancing.

I decided to try the fifteen minute workout video, sort of arrogantly, because I just assumed I could hop right in. Fifteen minutes later, I was lying in my Target sweat pants, on my yoga mat. Every muscle in my arms, abs, and butt were burning.

The workout does a lot of isolation exercise, which are great alone, but if you independently do cardio along with the program, will result in weight loss AND tone. It's a dream come true, IF you can do it. I managed to do part of it again last night and it's very intense, but just two days later my abs are already tighter and my butt is still stinging (That's what she said?)

So all and all it's worth a shot. There are classes available online at a slightly higher price than the 15 minute work out videos (which stream to your computer for the low price of $8). I'm a little baffled as to why there isn't a DVD series yet. I think it would do well.

My Review: On a Scale of 1 (Lazy Bones) - 10 (Oh sweet Mary, mother of God, this must be what childbirth feels like). I'd rate the video about an 8, but the more you do things like this, slowly it becomes easier and easier. The instructions are easy to follow, but she does move pretty quickly.

All in all. Worth it. I will keep you abreast of the results.

Here's a video about the program and Natalie's Black Swan transformation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I have the distinction of being one of those unfortunate late 20 somethings who have to wear a uniform to work. It wouldn't be bad for just one job. But no. It's 2 jobs. I have decided to acquire numerous jobs this summer because I have the benefit of still having summers off from school. If you had told me at 22 I would still be working jobs with name tags and uniform polos, I probably would have cried.

It's not that I am ashamed of working in the lower echelon. But there is something depressing about having a closet full of potential...and instead donning scrubs or a baby blue polo with black pants.

I might feel differently if I was given a cuter uniform. Maybe a Flight Attendant circa 1960. Pillbox Hat and Gloves anyone?

There is something so limiting and depressing about unisex uniforms. There's nothing unisexy about it. So I focus on make up and hair...or some days I don't...because who am I trying to impress? The members of the museum?

My second job uniform (I work as a hearing screener on the Mother-Baby Unit of a local hospital) is relatively simple. I wear UK Blue Scrubs. I get called "nurse" at least five times a day, to which I usually respond "Nope. Try a salary about 40,000 dollars lower."

So, optimistically, I will be able to one day have a job where I don't have to beg for an xsmall unisex shirt. And I can wear something other than my Black Mary Jane shape-ups (which have not shaped my tail up at all...)

I have a feeling that all my salary will go towards wardrobing at that point.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day

Yesterday was Independence Day. It's a holiday where we celebrate our freedom by having a mock war with big explosions. From the 2nd of July on at twilight, I could sit outside and listen to the sounds of the rockets with their red glare. If I took my age out of the equation and squinted really hard, I could pretend I was in Sarajevo circa 1993.

It was a few weeks ago that my best friend, Kristie, had mentioned that a band that I actually knew and liked would be making a FREE visit to Louisville's waterfront park. Kristie is that friend who loves good music, probably knows the name of that song you are humming, collects vinyl and can be found at the local concert hall. She is judging you for what you are listening to and makes no apologies for it.

So Kristie, myself and Matt made our way down to the water front among the funnel cakes and beer tents. We made it a few minutes into the set and boy did they rock it. Fitz and the Tantrums are the kind of band that will be huge in a year or so and then everyone will complain about how they became too mainstream. They have a Motown meets Bowie kind of sound and a sassy tambourine songstress. They were amazing live.

Afterwards, Kristie and I had an opportunity to meet the band. They were so down to earth and rock-starry at the same time. The sassy tambourine songstress complimented my hat and I in turn chatted to her about her modcloth dress. We both LOVE modcloth. (If you haven't checked modcloth out, I recommend it highly) They signed Kristie's vinyl copy of their album. We took a picture, which I will post once I find the cord for my camera in the abyss of my bedroom.

In the mean time catch the coolest child you will ever see dancing his diaper off to Fitz and the Tantrums rockin' cover of "Sweet Dreams"

Welcome Back to Blogging

I first and foremost would like to thank Casey Anthony for inspiring me to blog again. At this point you're probably wondering what the hell I mean by this and it's simple. My last blog was a place where I could talk about nothing and that was ok. I blogged about everything from shoes to Mad Men to politics. I missed that safe place of expression. After a few missteps and a lot of bad life decisions, I closed the blog. I needed a hiatus and a period to hit the reset button.

If you know me, or if you don't, you know I am a huge law/crime show person. I eat that stuff up like it's cake. (I also love cake) At one point in my life I wanted to be the lawyer. I took the LSAT and did "fairly" well on it. But the idea of law school was daunting and I already have two degrees and am working on my third. I like to learn, but I think at a certain point it becomes a little ridiculous. Right now I am working on a combination BA/MA in French. The reason? I just wanted to master a language and I don't have enough discipline to work on it on my own.

What does Casey Anthony have to do with this? The trial brought me back out of my blog seclusion and I decided that it would be a great idea to follow it and communicate via a trial blog. I did. Then I remembered how much I loved blogging.

It was on my facebook where I was defending the jury's unpopular decision in the Casey Anthony trial(which is another blog entry on why I think it was a competent decision to find her not guilty. Reasonable Doubt. No proof she had murdered anyone. Not Guilty doesn't necessarily mean innocent. Yadda Yadda) that one of my friends told me that he disagreed with me, but saw my reasoning. He then said something great "You're wrong kid, but it's for all the right reasons."

I looked back over the last year and a half. How many mistakes have I made? Both professionally and personally, I counted a lot. So maybe it was time to forgive myself and move on. Every step or misstep I made was all part of my life journey and I can begin again.

So here I am. Re-energized and ready to recount my ridiculous adventures of life. It was a necessary growing period...but I am ready to start all over again.

And as for my Casey Anthony fascination, I don't know what I am going to do now that this trial is over. I need someone else to judge from the comfort of my chaise longue.