Monday, September 13, 2010


So here's a good indication of the progress my brain has made in the ways it works over the past ten months. Back when I was early on in recovery from the brain surgery, I watched the movie (500) DAYS OF SUMMER and it presented all kinds of problems.

The film tells the story of a young man falling in love with a young woman who doesn't reciprocate in kind. She likes him, and they initially have a lot of fun together including sexual intimacy, but she always withholds that final surrender of commitment to anything more.

Eventually he becomes discouraged and they break up. But the movie resolves itself in a quite delightful way that isn't entirely improbable but still magical in the way a good movie story can be.

Even though the story jumped around in time—with cards between each jump indicating which of the 500 days it was of his relationship with the girl "Summer"—I didn't have any trouble following the story of their relationship the first time I saw it only weeks after the operation. I think without the cards marking the division between each jump in time I may have.

But I had enormous difficulty in figuring out where the film was shot. It seemed to be indicating L.A. but the scenes weren't the L. A. I knew, way too many "white" people and not nearly enough of other ethnicities for that city that is minority "white" for one, and also the landscape often seemed like it was being shot somewhere else, etc. That drove me crazy seeing it back then, and caused me such distress it pretty much ruined the movie for me.

I also could not figure out what the other roles in the film were doing, the young man's two best male friends and his little sister, all of whom would comment on how the affair was going etc. They seemed totally extraneous and made no sense to me, entirely unbelievable at the time.

I also was still having perceptual problems so that the busier scenes were way too visually complicated for me as well, because my brain could not fluidly meld the various components of those busy scenes and so they overwhelmed me with too much sensation, too much information, too much to consider and try to integrate into the story or to appreciate as a whole.

But I watched it again just a few days ago to see how it looked to me now, and I got immediately, because the dialogue makes it clear, that it's set in L.A. and understood the main character's sister and two best friends all of whom made total sense to me, and I loved the busy scenes like the partly animated dance number the morning after the first time they make love.

It's a sweet little movie that entirely works on its own terms and I was able to appreciate it and enjoy it with no caveats this time. So, I am totally grateful for having that capacity back working in my life.

There are still ways in which my mind works that are different from before the operation, some which may be permanent and which I've mentioned before (the most bizarre being my sudden attraction to Meryl Streep after the surgery, which still seems to be operative even though writing this I can say I never found her attractive and still don't, but whenever a movie comes on the TV with her in it my mind and body react as though I now do!), and writing and playing the piano are still more difficult than they were pre-surgery, and I notice my vocabulary has changed (interestingly, I use more of the kinds of multi-syllabic, linguistically sophisticated terms I avoided in my speaking and often in my writing most of my life (except when hired to ghost write or do some technical or academic critical writing job etc.).

And, for the first time in my life I sometimes stumble over words when I read them aloud, something I rarely if ever did in the past which made it possible for me to do voiceover work and nail scripts on the first take. I also often encounter blank spaces in my brain midsentence, as if someone suddenly turned the TV off, and the moment—whatever I was in the middle of saying—is permanently lost.

None of these things are that bad, and I know plenty of people who share some of them and haven't had brain surgery. But still, for me, it feels like my brain has been altered in some fundamental ways that I am still getting used to and I miss the old ways my brain worked that were so familiar.


AlamedaTom said...

Great minds think alike? I loved 500 Days of Summer. The whole thing was a treat. I really enjoyed Zooey Deschanel in the lead role. She was perfect in every respect, from the way she looked to the way she played the character. I had seen her in smaller roles before, but this was the first time I experienced her playing a major role. I could definitely use another dose!

~ Willy

Lally said...

I hear ya bro. I thought they were both pretty perfectly cast (I don't always like him, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but so far I dig everything Deschnael has done).

Anonymous said...

We just watched it and enjoyed it thoroughly!

Lally said...

Glad you dug it Cait, it's a fun flick.