It’s funny how we do this; try to wrap up an extraordinary experience with some words about how much it meant, how it changed us, how we do not know what we would have done without it. It is performative. It is overdone. It is self-indulgent. I’m doing it anyway.
I should start by saying that I am not a spontaneous person. The phrases “lighten up,” “relax,” and “it’s all going to work out” have been hurled at me many times, happily, angrily, assuredly. The tone does not make a difference; I. Need. A. Plan. I’m “up for anything,” so long as the logistics make sense and I have the money and I’ll be home in time to get a decent night’s sleep. Going with the flow? Never heard of her. So it surprised no one more than myself when I applied, was accepted to and decided to attend Florida State.
When I came here, I thought I would join a sorority, go to theme parties and up my Instagram aesthetic. 1/3 of those things happened (follow me @bernvcca) and instead of joining a sorority, I eagerly answered an e-mail about a sketch comedy group that was looking for writers and actors. There, I met Aubrey Burrough and Houston Barber, both of whom were welcoming to my wide-eyed freshman babbling and who, a few months later, created The Eggplant. When I found out what they were doing, I begged them to let me do PR. The joke was on them; I had not even been accepted into the major yet. Nonetheless, I figured out how to create and order stickers online, and voila, my first unpaid internship was complete.
Everyone attends college hoping that they will find their niche. There is some club, some group, some cause out there that needs their fire, their touch, who will embrace them and nurture them into the person they were always meant to be. My niche was created for me by Aubrey and Houston, and I got to partake in its construction.
There are pros and cons to creating your own niche. If you are like me and total control is your kink, it is awesome, because you decide how great it will be and how much you will be part of that greatness. When Aubrey and Houston began really working to make us more ~official~ I was as nosy as ever, poking my head in to find out what was going on, wanting to be included and helpful. With that enthusiasm came more responsibility – I was asked to be Co-Editor with Aubrey after Houston graduated.
Again, a grade A control freak, I love to be in charge. But things with The Eggplant have never been steady; Aubrey and I were still figuring all of this shit out as we went along, dealing with website problems, critical readers and emerging social issues that needed to be discussed. I will always be grateful for the experience of being dragged through the mud by the FSU Pride Student Union for an article we wrote about Caitlyn Jenner. Thinking about that article makes me cringe, but I feel so lucky to have had Pride and multiple staff writers keep us in check and let us know that we fucked up. And that’s always been the case; navigating the college satire space while also being the ones who spearheaded it and get to decide what is right and what is wrong.
Through this I have had to look deeper within myself and within others for those answers. I was not censored from much growing up; I saw my first R-rated movie when I was seven and my parents were always very open with me when it came to discussing politics and world issues. Although much of my early introduction to comedy included the more-problematic-than-we-care-to-admit Saturday Night Live and Real Time with Bill Maher (fuck that guy), I’m now a firm believer that comedy can be sensitive to the needs of others. “Political correctness” is a term used to demonize the concept of just not being an asshole. I’m sorry it took so long. I’m here now. I have been for a few years, ready to repent.
In the last year, along with my new Co-Editor, my best friend, the light at the end of every seemingly endless tunnel, Rona Akbari, I have faced more challenges than I could have ever imagined back when I was trying to decide between circular and square stickers. This is where I get emotional and talk about the state of our nation for a hot second. Our worst nightmare happened; he is in the White House. I will not say his name because he is not my president. I will say that on the evening of November 8, I sat in front of a TV screen along with most of my staff, expecting a night of memes and victorious live tweeting. By 10 PM, we were all broken. There is no other word for it. The glow that normally radiated whenever we were together, covering a big event, vanished quickly. I did not know if we would ever fully get it back.
At our next meeting, we talked about how we were feeling and where we were to go from here. One of our writers, Chris Roland, reminded us that we could not be complicit. We were going to be better than our national news sources and not normalize the travesty that had taken place. I do not know if we have been, but damn if we haven’t tried. With virtually every article we have published about 45, we have received a comment asking us to cut back on the political material and go back to talking about FSU. If you have left one of those comments on one of our articles, I’m here to tell you that we do not give a fuck. Many people have told us that we are mysterious and have called us out for not using bylines, but let me assure you that we are not faceless satire monkeys, here to give you a giggle about football when you should be paying attention in your Macroeconomics class. We will call everyone on their shit. We will call you on your shit. Need I remind you what we did to James Fletcher Dilmore, president of the College Republicans? Nothing has been normal since June 16, 2015. Jimmy Fallon and the rest of your faves who did not and do not take this seriously are responsible for whatever 45 does to this country over the next three years. This staff and future staff will be there to cover it all, whether we get 20 likes per article or 200. Don’t act like you forgot.
This publication has given me more than I will ever be able to pay it back for. It has helped me find my creativity again. It has developed my leadership skills. It has taught me that I don’t need to be right all the time. It has introduced me to people I will brag about knowing for the rest of my days. It is my own cozy bedroom within my home away from home, my corner of the universe.
Thank you to Aubrey and Houston, for having the courage to create something and giving me and so many others a place to belong.
Thank you to Dodge Williams, Chelsea Holmes and Melissa Miranda, the OG Eggplant staff, whose encouragement and warmth helped me transition from resident sticker queen to staff writer, and whose senses of humor still stick with me today.
Thank you to Mike Kelly, Stephanie Paulive, Andy Herrera, Kelsey D’Auben, Christine Goodwyne and Garrett H. Each of you were part of my Eggplant journey and the opportunity to work with different groups of staff writers, including all of you, made me the writer and leader I am today.
Thank you to Cory Ruchlin, Brendan Little, Mallorie List, Jesus Hoyos and Liz Mai. My senior year began with recruiting all of you onto this staff, a process that brought me laughter, joy and positivity in a time where those concepts were difficult for me to wrap my brain around. I’m so excited to not have to correct your grammar anymore.
Thank you to Andrew Bryant, Chris Roland and Riley Horan for always calling me on my shit and for being my real ass Wrigleyville Cubs Playboys. Fly the W, baby.
Thank you to Seren Markovich, Meagan Johnson and Gil Damon, the future of The Eggplant. Thank you for letting me know you, if only for a moment. I can’t wait to see all that you do.
Thank you to Sydney Otis, Eggplant’s new Editor-in-Chief, for your dedication to this publication and its success. I’m so grateful for all that we have shared and created here, most of all a lifelong friendship.
Thank you to Sydney Schaefer and Evan Garcia, Eggplant’s biggest fans and two pieces of my heart that I’m not sure how I lived without before.
Thank you to Rona Akbari, the fiercest, most iconic woman I know. Being your friend has reminded me that I can be both sweet and unfuckwithable. I am me because of you.
Thank you to my father, Chris Bernucca, for passing the writing bug down to me and teaching me just enough about sports that I can pretend to know what I’m talking about down here.
Thank you to my mother, Delfina Bernucca, for being unapologetically yourself and always reminding me to be the same. Thank you for keeping me humble – or at least trying to. Thank you for being the part of me that still gets excited whenever I see a lizard scurry across the sidewalk in front of me. Rest easy. Te amo.
Thank you to Allie Loiselle and Cameron Wilhelm, who tie for first place every year in the category of Best Friends I Could Ever Ask For, even 1,200 miles away.
Thank you to all of my friends and family all over the country, who have kept up with my journey here at Florida State and ask me about The Eggplant every time I see them. Y’all do a great job of reminding me how cool this is and how lucky I am.
Thank you to Patrick Nieto, Jordan Obi, Joe Deleeuw, Rachael Chesnover, Dr. Patrick Merle, Perry van der Meülen, Rebekah Entralgo, Alex Marcroft, Caitlin Peshek, Dayli Vazquez, Olivia Tantillo, Cooper Barrett, Emily Turla, Chariton Kerby, Tabi Cervantes, Sara Gomez, Rachel Epstein, Wesley Paez, Danielle Dean, Nequiel Reyes, Miqolae Smith, Jada Womble, Perry Kostidakis, Chandler Reeder, Candace Tavares and Farah Karimipour. This place is better because you left your mark on it and so am I.
Thank you to Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos for creating the bop of the century and the soundtrack to my final semester of college, Slide.
Thank you to Florida State for the scholarship money, the free mental health counseling and the Chick fil A on campus. I am only all that you have given me.
So long, friends. You’ll see me real soon.