Tuesday, February 1, 2011


A few weeks ago I was sitting at school with Grocery Gal, discussing Top Chef preparations when one of our professors came over to us and said he had googled himself and found a conversation we had about him online. We were both slightly horrified and then realized he was referring to a certain innocuous but embarrassing blogpost of mine that had mentioned him by name. I didn't ask him why he had googled himself, but thought about it this week while googling myself. I was working on internship applications and was trying to recall some work I'd done years ago and conducted a lazy Google search using only my name. The first three pages of hits yielded sites of others who share my exact name and I was fascinated to learn how similar their interests were to my own.

1. The Professor
A PhD. in Edinburgh: lecturer, researcher and writer. "An urban cultural geographer...interested in community-based cultural festivals, creative industries and the analysis of government policies for socio-economic funding and development." Did I mention she graduated Princeton?

2. The Doctor
An Ob/Gyn, focusing her career on women's health.

3. The Designer
An award-winning book cover and graphic designer.

4. The Academic
A graduate student with a study interest in Jewish identity and memory in contemporary Latin-American literature.

5. The Athlete
A NJ high school student who fences for the women's epee team.

6. The Artist
A photographer with a photo credit of this Philly paper's coverage of a local food co-op.

7. The Writer
A media journalist and critic, linked here for covering Ruth Reichl's Gourmet magazine.

I certainly never thought that my name was unique. Since high school I've been known by my last name because there is often more than one Rebecca in my group of friends. But seeing my same first and last name shared with many other accomplished women was somewhat startling. I also noticed that the themes that emerged - academics, writing, art and design, health, food and culture - were broad enough, and yet struck eerily close to home. (The fencing one is striking as well because my father was a high school fencing star who attended Columbia on a fencing scholarship and later competed in the NCAA. It was also amusing because I get personal emails from this girl's mother who regularly confuses her daughter's email address and mine.) Reviewing my Googlegangers interests, experiences and professions, I can't help but think they all reflect different aspects of my own personality and that someone we are somehow all parts of the sum total, the Platonic ideal, the full potential of what a "Rebecca F."can achieve. I consider contacting each one of them to verify that we are indeed as connected as I believe, that there is truly something in a name, a deeply spiritual cosmic meaning to sounds and letters and words that links us in ways we do not understand. More importantly, I wonder which Rebecca F. will I be?
The academic, the writer, the artist, the athlete, the critic, the health professional, the foodie already exist. And having applied for graduation, it's a little too late to start another career path. In the meantime, as I continue to work on applications for next year and consider what my next step will be, I can rest assured that there are Rebecca F.'s who have come before me, and there will be many more who come after me but it seems that I am in good company. I am reminded of the rabbinic saying in Hebrew "tov shem tov mishemen tov" which means that a good name is better than good oil. I am proud to take part in this pantheon of "good names," and I can only hope that I can leave an imprint so that one day my personal Google hit will appear on one of the first 3 pages of results.

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