Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cake Review

Let me first start out by saying, this movie is not for everyone. I didn't think it was for me until about the last half of it. I was in the theater thinking, “Oh my Gosh, this IS everything I didn't want it to be. And I was heartbroken. But then something told me to just keep watching. That it would get better. And it did, and when I walked out of there, I said to myself, “Kimi you need to see this again. Knowing what you've gained from watching this movie once, you can only gain more from watching it again. So I did. And I started to analyze Aniston’s character, and compare her to myself. I thought, “If you had been through everything that she’s been through in this movie, the guilt alone I believe would drive you to suicide. Having to look in the mirror every day, and see the scars that show you that you’re still alive and your son isn't, would just make you crazy. She doesn't know what to do with herself. She feels as though life is no longer worth living. And she has driven out every person in her life that means something to her because she has lost the one person who she felt needed her the most.
          She has lost everything and she doesn't know if she will ever get it back. Or if she even knows how to get it back. And you don't realize the magnitude of the things she's lost until much later in the movie and then it's like a light switch just went off, and you think, or at least I thought, “OMG I get it now.” She has pushed everyone out of her life other than this Angel of a housekeeper, who for some reason stays around, despite the verbal abuse and the constant pressure from her entire family to quit because she sees what everyone else refuses to see, and she won't give up on Claire’s character. But through the movie, you see little looks into the past, of the woman that Claire used to be, through her sense of humor, and you learn that she was a very successful lawyer, she was happily married, she had the American Dream. And then one minute changed her life dramatically. She feels as though she can't move on, because she feels like moving on means forgetting... And as the movie goes on, you learn more and more about her and her life and you realize why she does the things she does. Some parts in the beginning may not make sense, they didn't to me, until I watched the entire movie, and then I thought back, she makes those bad decisions, because she’s looking for love and acceptance in all of the wrong places, because she thinks she has no One. This alone, gives you a peek into her emotional state throughout the movie and her vulnerability that she has placed upon herself.
After watching this movie, knowing full well that it was going to get some bad reviews, I specifically looked to my chronic pain support group that I had joined on facebook. Now let’s be real here, we all know I just joined groups like this to read everyone else’s posts and to read about their coping strategies etc. And I had read a post a few days before that said oh this movie is coming out and I want to see what everyone thought about it etc. And so I read some of the answers, and they were very mixed. As I was expecting. But a lot of them said, “I don’t like how this movie focuses on her drug addiction and not her chronic pain.” Now when I watch movies I analyze them, which is part of the reason I watch them multiple times within the first few days. I thought, “Well, there are many angles at which I can approach this statement. But then I thought about it. Yes it’s true, it only shows her in her support group once, and it shows her taking pills probably a dozen times or more. But if you really watch the movie, from her wincing at each step she takes, to how she has to lie flat in the car, everything she does shows you what terrible pain she’s in. I didn't think they needed to keep telling you. And quite frankly, a lot of the reason she is the way she is in the movie is because of the drugs.
          All throughout this movie you see different people who really care about Claire’s character, try and “break their way through” unsuccessfully. Claire has closed herself off so totally because every day she has to look in the mirror at herself and realize and relive all over again the horror of what she had been through. She is reminded through the physical scars, but also in every step that she takes. I used to feel that way too. I felt like every step I took, every word I wrote, every word I spoke, was another reminder, that I wasn't the same person anymore and was never going to be that person again. I said in my last post, I used to look in the mirror all the time and literally start crying because I felt like the girl staring back at me and myself were two completely different people. And Claire is faced with this and the overwhelming guilt that she is alive and her son isn't. And by doing so she has caused a huge divide between herself and the people she once loved the most. Everyone has given up on her except her housekeeper, Silvana. Because she sees what everyone else doesn't see or what everyone else has given up on, because they feel Claire has given up.
          I feel like Nina’s character was almost put in the movie as a catalyst to show Claire what she was really capable of. She reminded me in a very remote way (lol you'll know why I say lol if you see the movie) of my mom. She was always there; giving me tough love when I needed it, but also there to show me that I could do it, all I needed was a little reassurance. I remembered when I was watching this movie my first day of my PT, OT and speech. When I was told to pick up a pencil and write my name, and then I could barely pick up the pencil, or when I was told to get on the treadmill and my leg felt like I had a lead weight on it every time I picked it up, I just cried, and my mom was there to wipe my tears away and say, “I’ll be right here with you,” I knew she was never going to know what it was like to go through what I was and am going through, but that’s the way I want it. I love her too much to ever switch places with her if that was even possible, even though I know that she would switch places with me in a heartbeat, but I always tell her I would never let her.
          Honestly, with every time I see this movie, I learn more about it, and that just makes me love it even more. And I think it takes seeing it sometimes 2-3 times to see that. I’ll be brutally honest, when I walked out of that theater the first time I was crushed, I didn't feel as though I liked the movie, and something told me to go back and see it again. I think it was all the unknowns that were in my head at that very moment. But having Jennifer Aniston, one of the most famous women in Hollywood, do a movie on such an unknown medical condition, is a Godsend. It’s just going to make people more aware, but also it’s going to help the people who are aware of it, but maybe don’t understand it. Maybe it’s going to help the husband of the wife with chronic pain, who thinks his wife just wants sympathy, or maybe it will help the sister of the girl with chronic pain, who thinks she is faking it to get attention. Who knows? But I truly loved this movie, and I can’t thank Jennifer Aniston enough for doing it! I don’t know if she knows how truly amazing she made the chronic illness community feel with this movie, but I only hope that she got out of this movie what she was hoping for.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I've recently come upon the movie “Cake” with Jennifer Aniston. I saw that it was about a woman with chronic pain, so obviously I was intrigued. Honestly, my first opinion before I really researched what I could on the movie was, “Why would someone make a movie about something so depressing?” But then I thought about it. People who have this, (I don’t even know if it’s fair to call it a stigma, because let’s face it anything with the word pain in it kind of signifies something negative,) usually do denote a bad stigma towards it, and therefor don’t talk about it with other people. In my case, I don’t want to make other people feel awkward. Because I know how you tend to sit there thinking, “OMG what do I say so I don’t sound like an idiot; I have to say something so it at least looks like I care?” And then you either say nothing, keep nodding, or you say something that makes you look like an idiot.  I started to think about my journey through chronic pain and where I am today. And yes while my smile may fade in and out at times, if I’m stuck going to the doctor once a month for the rest of my life, I know I have gained so much more than I have lost. That being said, I don’t want people to think I’m constantly in this cheery happy mood all the time, because trust me I’m not. However, when I’m out with people, I do admit that I do tend to put my mask on, and be happy, because I don’t want to burden other people, and I’m 25 years old, who wants to stay in on a Friday night, even if you do feel like crap? I tend to have my “I feel sorry for myself, contemplative” periods of time, when I’m by myself. It’s really true when people say, “I do all my crying behind closed doors then when I open them, I’m back looking like Aubrey Hepburn.” And you have now heard it from a chronic pain sufferer herself. It’s true! At least in my case it is. 

When I saw that this movie was going to come out, I started watching the trailer and researching like crazy. I honestly wanted to see if the trailer truly did it justice. Because come on I’m Asian, I’m not going to spend like 15 dollars going to a movie, getting popcorn and a drink if the movie is going to suck. Right after I saw this trailer for the first time, I had two overwhelming thoughts in my head. One being, “OMG she does such a good job I really want to see this.” And of course because my brain is the Jeckyl and Hyde of brains, the other half said, “This trailer is the epitome of what you have worked so hard NOT to become why would you ever want to see this?” And I can’t answer that, at least not until I see it. But after watching the trailer about 100 times, and watching every little mannerism she uses, and after watching many YouTube videos about why she wanted this role so bad, I can say with a lot of confidence, “I can’t wait to see this movie even if it does illustrate what I have worked so hard NOT to become.”  It’s like she said, ‘Chronic pain is such an invisible condition, and most chronic pain people crave normalcy, so they try to live their lives completely normally.’ But that has a backlash. Then people think there is nothing wrong. So it’s this endless cycle. I try not to have too many of those I feel so bad for myself times, because I do know I am going to be dealing with this for the rest of my life, however long that might be. So I see it as, don’t complain about something you’re never going to be able to change. But it’s because I had a normal life at one point; that’s the reason I crave it so much.

I felt like I could really connect with Claire’s character. Even just by watching the trailer. I did like I said look this up on YouTube, and basically watched every interview that Jennifer Aniston did for this movie, and she said that you could begin to see through the movie just shards of Claire’s personality before “the accident”(I still don’t know what that accident was all I know is it was an accident). And I felt for a loooong time that every time I looked in the mirror the girl looking back at me was so different and broken than who I thought I was, or was supposed to be. But I would see it too, little shards of my “previous personality” coming through in different situations and I’m slowly beginning to realize that they were there the entire time, it just took a little bravery on my part for them to come out again. A lot of my college friends are saying, I can’t imagine you any different, and it’s not really that I was different, it was just that I was more carefree, I was more innocent, because quite honestly nothing “Really Bad” had ever happened to me, and I think while everyone looks at the phrase, “yeah I grew up” and gives it a good connotation, it doesn't always happen that way. Yes I grew up, but I was faced with a lot of decisions no one ever has to face in their lifetime and I was faced with them when I wasn't even a legal adult yet.

I kept pushing away any feelings that I had about this at all, because I was so focused on graduating high school on time, because I came back senior year and I was basically a year behind, and so I just kept focused and whenever anything would come back to me like a flashback I would just push through it until my nerves were so desensitized that I felt like I couldn't cry about any of it, and I didn't, not until six years later. And that put a lot of stress on my relationships with other people as well. It was like that “elephant in the room” except I was the only person who could see the elephant, all my friends could see that I was stressed about something but none of them knew what it was because I wasn't going to talk about it. And it was this way for a long time, but I slowly began to realize that it’s not always as painful as you think to talk about it. And sometimes it’s healing. You never know if you know how to swim until you jump in, and I jumped. I may not have had a life jacket on, but as you can see I’m doing pretty well……….