April 29, 2009

A Rebecca by Any Other Name is Still Weiss-A-Roni

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It’s been a long, strange year for Weiss-A-Roni. The fact that I even started this column at all was a fluke, beginning with a series of horrible, painful mistakes that one could either pinpoint to when I started editorial compet at the Sun, my unfortunate agreement to accept admission at Cornell University or the moment that the sperm and the egg came together to form what would turn out to be the fetus and later baby Weiss-A-Roni. There are any number of potential starting points for this series of rants you’ve been dutifully reading for the past year. Let’s explore.
One of the most miserable experiences of my college career began when I was conscripted to participate in editorial compet for the sun. When this ended, and partially while it was still going on, I reverted to my original plan to go abroad to either Buenos Aires or Barcelona. I would up choosing Barcelona based on its facility with similar semester times and mostly the Cornell Arts & Sciences abroad office being ignorant, worthless and mean. So I frantically sent forms to Brown University, to Cornell Abroad and to the Spanish consulate in San Francisco to get everything together for the CASB program Brown runs with Cornell and a few other universities in Barcelona. In one of my more deliriously happy times, I was accepted into the program, and everything looked up. I even had a third-degree sunburn that seemed at that moment just to be the sun (or The Sun) slapping me with joy. Until I realized that on all the official paperwork that Brown University sent to Spain that was the way I would be allowed a student visa and extended stay in the country, they had just assumed that every time I called myself “Rebecca,” I was just mistaken. Really, they concluded, my name is “Rachel.”
I’ve been called Rachel so many times that I think people just conclude that curly-haired Jewish-y looking people really don’t have a preference between their given name and its apparent synonym. One of my best friends in high school, a girl whose name is, sincerely, Selby Priscilla Nimrod, took to calling me Rachel as a loving nickname. She would leave loving notes on my whiteboard (a tradition I left in high school, college pet peeve #53) that would point to a Reese’s peanut butter cup she’d left on my door handle and said “Rachel, I love you more than Jesus loves you, which doesn’t mean much considering your heritage!” That’s really I guess what people mean to say to me when they call me Rachel. Maybe.
The San Francisco Treat
The real discovery of Weiss-A-Roni occurred during a desk change session in Mrs. Gonzalez sixth grade CORE (English, Social Studies, Language Arts) class in the year 1999. After the hi-top shuffle, I got seated between two stand-up sixth grade boys, one named Carson Finkle and the other Eric Berman. Between the two of them and a high-five, Weiss-A-Roni was born, and whenever I go home and hang out with them and my California people, it’s still what they calls me to this day. I decided to bring back the Weiss-a-Roni for this column, and here it is.
Incidentally, I just did a genealogy project for a SOC class, and I found out my last name wasn’t originally Weiss. I had suspected this and feared it was shortened from Weissensteinbergmanstein, but in actuality, my paternal great-grandfather’s last name when he immigrated to this country was originally “Westlinner.” Baller. I still like Weiss for its ability to rhyme with “nice” and “lice”, but Westlinner … I’m totally going to revert back to that at some point. Westlinner-Roni.
But, to sum up, in the spring of 2008, in the midst of the hell the sun calls “compet,” I decided to quit running for Editor-in-Chief to go abroad. This has colored my experience at Cornell immensely, because the saga that was to follow for the next year was full of love, heartbreak, life-or-death experiences, travelling the world and ending up right back where I started, having accidentally volunteered for this column.
I look at this past year, how rocky it started, and I really think that writing this column for all of you guys was what made me look forward to each coming day. The year is coming to a close rather nicely now and I have a whole collection of nonsense I can put together from a productive and excellent senior year. Wow. Never saw that coming.
So thanks …
To Bro-nny Liebroheem, who calls me “the Rebec”, for literally making me purchase a Blackberry and using it to remain in constant contact with me. For taking me to China, and for helping me survive China. And for believing in me and my potential even when I was trying to push it all away.
To The Rebec Shoval, who calls me “The Other Rebecca,” for being one of the consistent powers of good against evil, and for liking the finer things in life. You’re a great listener and we have so much in common that it’s freaky.
To O-Liv O-ran, for your seizure laugh, and for getting me excited about the Sun when I was most down on it at the beginning.
To Samwich Perlmutter, for being an awesome co-editor with excellent musical taste, and never being too shy to tell me “Dude, you’re so weird.” Never, ever. We ran this place, and you keep watch over it when I peace out.
To Carl Maycotte, who calls me “Beth”: for being so creepy that it morphed into endearing. You gave me so much advice over the years. The Old Guard at its finest.
To Lance Williams, for continuing to be my friend after being behind me when I professed my love for you to several other people. That was awkward.
To Peter Frickararo, for letting me cry on your shoulder and push you around. I’m glad that you were my successor, my neighbor and my friend.
To Julie B, Ann Lui, and Ted Ham: thanks for doing this job. Dealing with me pretty much blows.
To Nate Wasilewski, who calls me “Rebs,” for letting me conscript you as a columnist — you were always a pleasure to read. And for being my most consistent friend in the last five years. If anyone was to come to Cornell with me, I’m so happy it was you.
To Keensoup, who calls me “Becky Beth,” “Reebsoup,” and “Rebex”, someday you’ll get it, but in the meantime keep writing because your talent makes me incredibly jealous.
To Sam Smith, with whom I wrote the infamous Top Mixers of 2007. Without your insight and ideas like “pretty and fat” or “gonorrhea and rainbows”, it might have never come together as one of the proudest most controversial moments of my college life.
To Jackles Stroncek, you’ve been there through my various low points, from the dirty beanbag chair in the Tridelt coatroom to recreating normalcy in the wake of my beating from Chris Brown — thanks for having the same sense of humor as me and helping me laugh at it all.
To Renee Belisle, who calls me “Bea”, you were a great roommate and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. You were the first friend I made at Cornell and I’m glad the universe brought us together.
To Caro Byrne, I am awestruck by your wit. You will be so famous one day but under a pen name like Fanny Pack. But I’ll know.
To Cassie Robertson, for being my friend despite being my roommate, and for always being very real with me. You seem so nice but you’re secretly just like me and I love it.
To Andrew Podolin, for remembering all the creepy details, consistently pronouncing everyone’s name wrong, and sticking by me since day 1 of freshman year. Aren’t you proud of me?
To Sam Elchert, who calls me, alternately “Rebsie,” “Rebso,” and “Rebitch”: my favorite person to slap me awake from an otherwise pleasant nap. Your advice has been my compass, and you’re the most charming person I’ve ever met. I’m so thankful to have you as a confidante.
To Sarah “Raul” Lewis, who never had a nickname for me but who has been my best friend and partner in crime for longer than anyone I know, and the only one who ever seemed to understand why I am the way I am. Nothing I wrote in this column would have surprised her in the least.
To Cecilia Walker, who made this giant Rubik’s Cube that I borrowed for my mug shot.
To Glenn Altschuler, your support and anecdotes have made my time at Cornell not only bearable but enjoyable.
To Ross Brann. When you first met me, you told me “You went to Choate, we should have no problems”, and then I proceeded to spend the next three semesters as your advisee going under credits, taking a semester off mid-semester, and then going under credits again. But you persisted in helping me and when you passed me over to professor Altschuler, I was back on top. I think only you could have been the advisor to see me through.
To my brother, who calls me “Becca”, and my sister, who calls me “Becca Pie and/or “Booker”/ “Becca Booker Butt” (I can’t believe I just disclosed that), for being the opposites of me, and each other. It was nice of you to put up with me when I was little, like the times I wrote on your Bar and Bat Mitzvah posters “I hate you. Hate, Rebecca.” I appreciate the unique situation we three were born into now. Wow. Glad to have you around for the ride.
To my mommy, who calls me “Becca-ree”, who is the most patient and understanding human being I know, even though you laugh at the most inappropriate moments.
To my dad, who on occasion calls me Jessica, which is my sister’s name, or “Darling Daughter Number 2”. Your efforts to try to make me normal always failed, especially because you were never a good role model for that. You’re the one who dressed me up for the occasion of my Cornell matriculation when I was but three years old, and I bet you’re the most relieved that I finally made it through. [FINGERS CROSSED!!!!!]
To everyone who has read this column on Wednesdays (and sometimes Mondays) religiously this year: I appreciate it. There is nothing a narcissist is if not self-conscious and in need of praise. I appreciate you all as much as I appreciate how awesome I am personally. Especially to Peter Davis and Erica Hinsley — you guys really made my day every time you gave me props. I looked forward to writing my column every week for people like you guys, who I’ve nicknamed “Weiss’s Homeslices.”
To the Sun itself, who calls me Betty and who I call Al, you were the most rollercoaster relationship I’ve ever had (thanks to Carlos for copyrighting that metaphor). It is unfathomable to me that this should be the end. The best and worst times of college and my life were spent in 139 W. State Street or corresponding thereabouts from all over the world. You were my purpose at Cornell and everything I’ve accomplished henceforth can somehow be attributed back to the day I signed up to write record reviews. There’s simply no better opportunity to be a part of something awesome and create something people take seriously at Cornell than to work for the Cornell Daily Sun.
Two parting bits of wisdom:
When I was a freshman in high school, every time I told a story what I really got an exercise in sarcasm. “Great story, tell it again,” the Fairfield Country future prescription drug addicts would mock. All I have to say now is … “Well fuck you guys!” I weave a fucking fantastic yarn. Look at this past year. VINDICATION.
When I was nine, my family went on an excursion to a fondue restaurant, whereupon the waiter offered me “anything I wanted” to pair with the dessert course chocolate fondue. When I asked for bread, instead of like, bananas or marshmallows, my dad told the waiter to ignore me and he told me to “be more normal.” I never forgot this. Look at me now, Pops. Just look how you’ve failed. I’m swimming in weird. And there’s just nothing that can be done about it.