Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Gilmore Project: "The Deer Hunters" (Topic 1 of 2)

The Project:

The Gilmore Project is an experiment in composition form. As a huge fan of the show Gilmore Girls, I have watched and rewatched the episodes several times over. During my last full viewing in early 2018, I noticed myself watching the show differently than I had in the past and realized that there was a lot of personal reflection being stimulated by the events of the show as well as the music and cultural references. As a result, I decided to start a journey in blog form...exploring each episode and how it resonated with me personally. 

Disclaimer: If you have not watched Gilmore Girls but plan to, you'll want to watch each episode before reading these posts. There will 100% of the time be spoilers. I'd be doing this wrong if there weren't. That's the nature of the beast.

As is the nature of an experiment, sometimes you have to change your approach along the way. I've altered the format for this episode's post to see if I like it a little bit better. This may or may not result in a method that sticks. I have a feeling there will be a few more evolutions of structure as I go along.

The Episode: "The Deer Hunters"

Lane: "You hit a deer?"
Rory: "No, I got hit BY a deer."

Rory gets a disappointing grade on an English paper. As a result, she panics and studies incredibly hard for her upcoming Shakespeare exam. After oversleeping following a late night cramming session, Rory is hit by a deer on her way to school. She winds up arriving late and is not allowed to sit for the exam, which is to count for 20% of her final grade in the course.

There were two primary topics that I noted during this episode. Because I tend to get a little wordy, I'll be breaking this episode into two separate posts, each addressing one of the two topics.

Topic #1: Rory Gets a D

Lorelai: “I hate when I’m an idiot and I don’t know it. I like to be aware of my idiocy, to really revel in it, take pictures. I feel we missed a prime Christmas card opportunity.”
Rory: “I’m sorry.”
Lorelai: “You should have told me.”
Rory: “I couldn’t.”
Lorelai: “You couldn’t tell me? You tell me everything.”
Rory: “It was too humiliating.”
Lorelai: “Oh, honey. You once told me that you loved Saved By the Bell. What could be more humiliating than that?”

Rory is used to being a stellar student. Learning seems to come fairly easy to her and she's always been a bright girl. But Chilton poses new challenges. When she receives a "D" on her English paper (her first D ever), she is understandably concerned and disappointed. 

This situation is one that I can so easily understand. I was a pretty good student in high school and--though I did study and it did take me some effort--I graduated with a 4.0. I expected that college would be more difficult, but I expected that my academic success would continue to a relative degree and had not really prepared myself for the possibility of low grades. That lack of mental preparation slapped me square in the face in the middle of the first semester of my sophomore year. 

Physics 2. Ouch. I had excelled at physics in high school and did fairly well in my first semester of physics in freshman year. I knew it would be a bit of a challenge, but the subject suddenly (apparently) went well above my head. I landed a couple of D's on tests and squeaked my way out of that class with a C. It felt like I was such an amazing disappointment.

For a student used to getting A's and maybe the occasional B, a D resulted in such an overwhelming feeling of utter failure. Like Rory, I went through a period of panic following the initial red marked exam. I was frequently reminded by others that "C's get degrees", but that mantra wasn't one that made me feel any better. I just felt stupid. This led to a spiral of feeling overwhelmed by a complete inability to learn the materials that needed to be mastered. Though I did get out of the class with a passing C, I think the panic resulted in a certain feeling of defeat that followed me throughout the semester. I somewhat gave up. Perhaps I could have actually learned the materials better and gotten myself a B, but there was a spiral of misery that led to the idea that physics...well...it just wouldn't be for me.

You'd think that I would have learned from that experience, but apparently...for me...it's never easy accepting anything less than a B. In dental school, I struggled with more than one subject and being away from home and my family compounded the feeling of despair that resulted from the challenge. I frequently called home in tears - to which my dad responded by consistently handing the phone to my mom..."She wants to talk to you." 

I've never been one to deal with stress gracefully. Some breakdowns were worse than others. My mother will often regale others with the story of how I phoned one night so completely inconsolable that she nearly purchased a very expensive airline ticket to come see me the next day. Yet, when she spoke with me on the phone a mere 24 hours later, I had bounced back from my meltdown and was doing just fine. She emphatically asserts that she would have strangled me if she had indeed spent the money just to find me fully recovered.

Lorelai's concern over Rory's panic and frustration results in a discussion over whether Rory is going to Chilton and striving for Harvard admission for herself or for Lorelai's benefit. I absolutely understand this concern as well. Though I didn't really stop to consider it very well along the way, I can now look back and find a good source for debating within myself whether my approach to education and a career were really because they were what I wanted or because I felt that I had something to prove to others. I still can't really give a firm assertion one way or the other, but I am inclined to think that my narrow focus wasn't really based on what I felt would make me happy.

As a result, I'm more inclined to encourage Darian (and likely will do the same for Brecken and his soon-to-arrive brother) to explore his options and really try different courses out. I've been pretty persistent with letting him know that he doesn't have to know what he wants to do in life yet. He's a teenager. He still has time to figure it out. I fully support the idea of taking general grad courses for the first year (and maybe even the second year) of college. It's much better to have to stretch yourself to a fifth year in order to get a degree in something you love than to try and hurry to finish just to be stuck with a career you don't enjoy. Life is short; do what you love...love what you do.

That's not to say that it will all come easy or that there won't be moments of feeling like a failure, but it shouldn't be that way the majority of the time. Oh...and yes, there are professions that provide a bit of a better lifestyle than others. But, when it really comes down to it, money isn't everything and sometimes being comfortable and happy isn't dictated by your financial status.

The Gilmore Project continues...


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