Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lemons and Lemonade: a G:TB Movie Review

FoG:TB Shlara's been promoting the heck out of 50/50, the newly-released Seth Rogen/Joseph Gordon-Levitt film, so we figured we'd let her tell our readers why.  We think you'll enjoy the hell out of this.

Shit happens.
Last year, my shit was cancer.

I never use the words “victim” or “survivor” when talking about my situation—it just doesn’t feel right to me. I had cancer, and now I don’t. No need to share the gory details. Even when I was in the middle of it, I didn’t want to have cancer consume my life, but it certainly was the dominant theme of my life and it absolutely affected how people interacted with me.

It’s been hard for me to explain or describe the whole ordeal beyond “it’s surreal.”  Then I saw a screening of '50/50'.

Bingo.

Now, I don’t have to explain it because Will Reiser (the screenwriter whose own life inspires the story) so honestly and beautifully articulates it in this movie.



My experience isn’t exactly like Adam’s (the 20-something guy with cancer) but the mood and feelings and tone in the movie accurately capture how I felt and how I think my family and friends felt—it was enchanting, and raw and so real. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is brilliant as Adam.

Even if you or your BFF have never had cancer, you’ll see some of yourself in one of the main characters. Because, at this point in life, we’ve all had to deal with some serious shit. Some of us were thrown for a loop at a very young age like Adam. And we’ve all had to find a way to cope—slogging through the melancholy haze and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Like Adam, I worked to keep my life as regular as possible—I created a “no melodrama” zone for family, friends and coworkers in my presence. For the most part, everyone was compliant—there was an occasional alcohol-induced crying jag or random awkward comments like “I know someone who had that and they died.”

Many of us in the G:TB universe tend to use humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism when faced with adversity, like Adam and his buddy Kyle (Seth Rogen). Or we channel our emotions into “safe” places like passion for sports teams.

My treatment coincided with football season last year. (Go Steelers!) One of my doctors is an obnoxious Ravens fan. So, each week NFL trash talk became a regular part my appointment—the other doctors and nurses would chime in too, and my mom, who is the biggest Steelers homer, would just taunt him mercilessly. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) In one of those “live life to its fullest” flashes, my mom & I decided to go to Dallas for the Super Bowl. It was an awesome trip, despite the Steelers loss, and I was more excited to share the stories and photos with my doctor’s office than anyone else—because they lived through the whole season with me.   What I didn’t realize then, but I know now, it wasn’t about the season, it was about the journey.



The people who know me outside of G:TB comments can verify that I’m a private person—I rarely put myself out there and I definitely don’t like to call attention to myself. That had to change once I got my diagnosis—everybody was all up in my business...and I had to let them in…which, at times, was scarier than the cancer itself. But it is, by far, the best kind of lemonade you can squeeze out that pile of lemons.

And, I’m a better person for it.

So, do yourself a favor and go see '50/50'. You will not be disappointed.

25 comments:

Whitney said...

Wow. I try to give Shlara her space, but next time I see her it's time for one of those Whitney bear hugs like at homecoming after a number of beers when I see you and you kind of humor me but kind of resist and definitely look around to see who's looking.

In all seriousness, I have had my fingers crossed for you and continue to hope for the best. And I will pass along the movie rec to my stepdad, who is battling cancer himself.

This post is a nice dose of perspective for, say, Rob, who doesn't want it this morning but probably needs it. Hang tough, little buddy.

TR said...

Unfortunately, 50/50 describes the results of me having two parents deal with cancer.

But it's always good to hear the success stories. Congrats on your recovery, and wishing you 50+ years of being one of the only women in the world to read this blog.

KQ said...

Nicely done Shlara. Way to step outside your comfort zone, especially in a 'safe' environment such as this. I tip my hat to you, and as someone who has watched too many people I love fight this disease, thank you.

Shlara said...

Thanks guys.
And sorry about the Sox Rob.

T.J. said...

Shlara, love the post. Looking forward to an awkward hug next time we drag you out to Bungalow's in Shirlington.

Kristin T said...

You're aces. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Danimal said...

good stuff...timely - will check it out. and congrats on your victory - may it be permanent.
and thoughts to 5 year old nephew finn who at this moment is sitting in a hospital in fairfax dealing with it like a champ. just a quick positive thought then back to your normal dipshittery. thank you.

rob said...

eh, 2003 me would still be breaking shit after last night. now, i'm just mostly annoyed. powerful anti-depressants are helping.

mr kq said...

awesome shlara. can we hire you to teach our daughters the "no melodrama" zone?

zman said...

Nice post Shlara. I promise to give you an awkward hug (and maybe I'll even work in a pat on the tush) when we meet.

I wish I still lived in Boston so that I could wallow in stuff like this completely NSFW rant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGWomEdeJuc&noredirect=1

Donna said...

Really great comment. And I guess it's time to fess up that I pretty regularly read this blog as well as Dave's. Y'all mostly crack me up. And this post is definitely the best ever!!

-Donna D-R (that's formerly DeSarro, Monroe 3rd, oh, so long ago)

TR said...

Clearly, Donna never read my nasal polyps post...

Whitney said...

Donna - great to hear from you, and glad to know you follow along with the madness of blog Gheorghe. At least you can attest that Dave hasn't gotten a whole lot weirder since he was in 1988.

T.J. said...

Why is my Mom getting involved in this...

rob said...

whitney, you write that comment in another language and translate back to english?

hi donna!

hi teej!

hi teej's mom! how did you get out of my closet?

Dave said...

yikes-- i hope i am as brave when i get cancer (which if you don't die young of something else, is apparently inevitable). my mother-in-law is hanging in as well . . .

Mark said...

Wow. Shlara made a comment a while back (it involved breasts) that led me to the conclusion that she had battled (or was battling) cancer. I had no idea it was such a current situation. Great post.

If are paths are ever to cross again, well, drinks on me.

Mark said...

Not well drinks, mind you. Top shelf.

Whitney said...

Rob, my comment was a subtle comparison to the play/film The Madness of King George. Stupid, yes.

True fact: The original play The Madness of King George III was truncated to remove the "III" in American theaters so as to avoid the culturally inept American movie-goers believing it to be the final part of a film trilogy a la Rocky III or Police Academy III.

Shlara said...

Thanks for all of the kind comments. And I had no idea that this disease has impacted so many people in this crew.

Thankfully there's a GTB to promote snark and laughter.

rob said...

whit - i wasn't referring to that part of the comment

Whitney said...

Sounds like Shlara has a few inappropriate hugs coming her way.

Which is actually great, but, and maybe it's just my 19th bowl of loudmouth soup talking, maybe we should up the ante and extend to our awesome G:TB friend a good rogering. What a great post it would make. I'll throw my hat in the ring, but I thnk there are far more eligible studs on our payroll...

Whitney said...

Sorry. That was Igor typing.

Dave said...

i use a clip from "madness of king george" in class- i can't wait to tell the kids why they left the III off the title (these are honors kids and they'll find it hysterically funny . . . they are that nerdy).

thanks whit.

i just checked in on "the wheelhouse." nothing new (except that I am an idiot).

Donna said...

well, Whit, glad to be "in the loop of conversation" to some extent...I really do find y'all funny a lot of the time. Still off-color and definitely irreverent, which is something I especially enjoy being (wait for it...) a Presbyterian (USA) ordained minister and Professor of Religion! :-) My husband, too...we're the annoying, progressive, liberal, academic, super NERD types...anyhow--Dave is also definitely as weird as in 88...just the updated, "old" version, right?! Best to all of you these days -DD (now, DDR)