Good Morning, Hexlings,
Tomorrow I take a plunge into an icy lake. I will be wearing some kind of pantsuit because the reason I will be plunging into an icy lake is that I was asked by one of my new friends from the local chapter of the Pantsuit Nation organization to participate in an event called the Polar Plunge. It’s a local fundraising event that is held in support of the NYS Special Olympics and is aimed at raising money to support the SO. A lot of people participate. One of my colleagues at work has done it for a few years. Her name is Amy and she has a granddaughter around your age whom I hope you will meet when you come to town.
If you were here, I would put you in tiny neon pantsuits and then our whole family could plunge together, but I’m going to have to go it alone on our behalf. I bet an Icy Lake Family Polar Plunge would be all the rage and garner some impressive donations. I made a donation on behalf of our family, but I didn’t really try to rally friends and family for donations. I’m not comfortable asking people for money unless they are family members, and I reserve fundraising efforts for rare occasions (like when my little hexlings are doing it). When you start asking people for money, things get awkward, I feel. That’s why I would never be a salesperson. I’m not of that corporate mindset. And if I have learned anything from the recent events taking place in our country, it’s that I need to remove myself further and further from that “snakeoil salesman” moneybags mentality that Trump and so many Americans share. I may always be poor and dependent on others for survival, but I’m no longer ashamed of that.
The Icy Lake Family: does that sound silly to you? I don’t know what to call our family yet. We need a family name. You are McFaddens and we don’t share a last name, so I don’t think calling us the Mason Family works. We need another word. I’m sure we’ll come up with it in time, but for now we will be The Lake Family (the “ice” is implied).
Which brings me to why I am writing you this morning. I wanted to let you know that I have spent some time revisiting the issue of my middle name– the L word that has the craziest set of circumstances behind it known to witches!
Remember how I came up with the middle name ‘Lake’ in 2015, when Momma Si told me I could have the name changed in the divorce documents and I had about ten hours to decide? I liked that middle name. It’s a good word, and a good name, and it suits me, and I love how my whole name looks on paper and I love how it sounds when I introduce myself. That’s a name I gave myself and I like it. The only reason I questioned keeping it was because of the circumstances under which I made the decision to name myself Jessica Lake Mason. But I have given myself some time to recover from those circumstances, and now that I have healed from the humiliation and hurt of those circumstances, I feel calm and good about the name that I chose. I don’t take on any of the bad karma of the unthinkable online situation that took place regarding my naming process. All I know is that I chose that name because I liked it. I was deciding between Pine and a couple of other names, and Lake is the one I chose. There surely are other Jess Lakes out there, ones from swamps in the south, but I am the only Jessica Lake Mason around and I am from the arctic region of the northeast. I love that I am the only Jessica Lake Mason. That was one of the main reasons I chose that name. I wanted to have a name that I liked (the sound of) and that others did not have so that when I publish poems and books, I would have a notable name. I also wanted to bear the name Lake for symbolic purposes. For those reasons, I have decided that Jessica Lake Mason is still and will always be my name.
Remember how you two came up with the middle name ‘Lilyrose’ for me a couple of months ago, when I asked you to name me. I like that middle name. It’s a good word, and it’s floral, and I like it for all the reasons I explained in the “My Lily and My Rose” letter I wrote to you, and I like it most of all because you gave it to me. So I am going to keep it. Jessica Lilyrose Mason is and will always be my name.
I have resolved the naming issue with a solution that causes me contentment. I am Jessica L. Mason: Jessica Lake Mason and Jessica Lilyrose Mason. The L Words are interchangeable. Lake and Lilyrose. For professional purposes, I am Jessica Lake Mason, and for personal purposes, I am Jessica Lilyrose Mason. To the two of you and to myself and to our L Family, I will always be Jessica Lilyrose Mason. To us and anyone else, I will also be Jessica Lake Mason. And so we will be The L Family. L for Lake and L for Lilyrose (Lake Lilyrose). Hurray!
As far as legalities are concerned, I’m not too concerned with them. For legal purposes, my name is Jessica Lake Mason. I don’t have the time or the money or the will power to go through an official name change right now. The last thing I need in my life right now is to stand before a judge explaining why I should be a Lilyrose and a Lake instead of just a Lake. There will likely come a time when I will engage in name-changing rituals, legally, again, but now is not that time.
Just know that the L in my name is transmutable. It is a compact of meaning, and it can hold both the personal and the political, the Lilyrose and the Lake. That’s what makes our L magical: it can change its shape to adapt to us. Sometimes we will be the Lake Family. At other times, we will be the Lilyrose family. Still, at other times, we will be the Lilac Family. And at other times, we will be the Lavender Family. We might even be the Lollypop Family, the Lamby Family, or the Lexical Family. Maybe someday we’ll even be the Literal Family! But we know we’ll always be the Love Family and the Lucky Family. And when we want to hide or play hide and seek, we can adopt the mysterious veil of the L and simply call ourselves the L Family. It’s all about the sub-stit-u-tive magic of our L word!
We’re a magic family and a magic family deserves a magic name.
I don’t know many families with magic names. But I do know one. The Golden Girls. Members of the Golden Girls Family had different last names but they are most well known by their family name: The Golden Girls. You were formally introduced to the Golden Girls over Thanksgiving, when we watched a few Youtube videos of episodes and then rented one. That was fun for me. The Golden Girls was one of my favorite television shows when I was a kid. I used to watch it with your Great Nana. And with your Aunt Missy. We all loved it. To me, they were the ideal family. Four women living in a house together. They had it all. Fun, family, friendship, and cake. A family that special’s gotta have cake!
They went through all of the ups and downs of life together, and they were there for one another. They bickered and they bantered, but they were loyal and true, through and through. I saw them work on their problems together. When one went to jail, they all went to jail. Except for Sophia, who bailed them out! When one was sad, they were all sad. When one wanted to dance, they all danced. Except for Sophia, who stood in the corner, making fun of them!
They had distinct, unique personalities, but they complimented each other wonderfully and they formed a fabulous personality as a unit. When I was a kid, to see four women living together, getting along swimmingly, WITHOUT MEN was unheard of! I had never seen a family like that before. They were the first all-female model of family I had ever seen. Even now, I don’t have a better example of the kind of family I wish to be and have than the Golden Girls. Which is why I am insisting that you give them a chance. I only have to insist because Sophia, I mean Darah, you are resisting it and being just like your Nana by claiming that you can’t stand it (remember how she made fun of Star Wars? That was her way of expressing her love for it!). Elan, you are a big fan already. You love it so much that want me to acquire the whole collection of seasons. I’ll do what I can, because I love it that much, too.
When I watched the Golden Girls as a kid, I liked them all. Melissa and I used to talk about who we liked best and who we thought we were most like. That was fun for us (the whole “If I were a Golden Girl, I would be _____” conversation). I always liked Dorothy best, but it was more like I had a crush on her than that I was like her, at the time. I think I wanted to be like her, but I had concluded I was more like Blanche and Rose. But now I think I’m a lot more like Dorothy than I used to be. And I still love her! I love all of them.
Why is it fun and helpful to engage in such an exercise in association? I think it’s fun and helpful because it’s an act of introspection and empathy. For the same reason that reading is so important, watching films, attending plays, and viewing other forms of art are so important: because they allow us to develop empathy for others by seeing others in ourselves and by seeing ourselves in others. We develop character and a sense of who we are through exercises that allow us to enter another world and see through the perceptions we’re exposed to while in that world. Not all fictional worlds are equally healthy to enter, but the act of engaging with fiction is one that builds intelligence and empathy, in addition to creating fun and entertainment. You both have been doing this since you were little, and I have encouraged you to do this because I believe it is good, not bad, for your mental health. You are building an imagination and I know I have been and will always be an integral part of the development of your imagination. That is one of the things of which I’m most proud, as your mum: my special ability to encourage, stir, and nurture the development of your imaginations while simultaneously teaching you about acceptance, adaptability, empathy, and forgiveness. My parents encouraged my imagination by allowing me to be myself: to sing and dance and put on plays. They mostly encouraged my imagination by just letting it do whatever it wanted to do. And that’s what I want to do for you. Let those big hexling imaginations SOAR, my angels!
It’s fun to watch the Golden Girls and to think of parallels between our L family and the Golden Girls family. We talked extensively and humorously about which Golden Girls our personalities aligned with most. We agreed that none of us is an exact match for any of the characters– we share dominant traits with certain ones, though. I have come up with a little Golden Girl theory for our family to apply.
The theory is that each of us is ALL four golden girls. We are four-in-one. But we have a leading Golden Girl, and an Order of Golden Girl association, just for the fun. This has NOTHING to do with looks (ahem: Dar) and everything to do with personality. Plus, remember that it’s just a parody. The Golden Girls is a comedy; it’s meant to be laughed at. We’re not really the Golden Girls, we just have the ability to laugh at some of the funny aspects of our personalities by laughing at the caricatures of the Golden Girls. Make sense?
Darah – Sophia/Dorothy/Blanche/Rose
Elanah – Rose/Blanche/Sophia/Dorothy
Jessica – Blanche/Dorothy/Rose/Sophia
The Missing Fourth – Dorothy/Rose/Sophia/Blanche
That’s us, as The Golden Girls.
I don’t watch TV much, so I think it’s still my favorite show! When you come to town, we’ll watch together and we’ll laugh, maybe with Missy and Nana and Harper. By the way, Missy’s favorite was always Sophia, which is fitting because, in my mind, in terms of personality, she, like you Darah, is most like SOPHIA.
Melissa – Sophia/Dorothy/Blanche/Rose
(Attention: Darah– you and Missy have the same Order of the Golden Girls, according to my Golden Girl Sorting Hag (Hat).)
I’ll do a couple more:
Gramma Sue – Rose/Blanche/Sophia/Dorothy
(Elanah, you share a leading Golden Girl with Gramma Sue!)
Nana – Sophia/Dorothy/Blanche/Rose
(Darah, you share a leading Golden Girl with Great Nana!)
Harper – Sophia/Rose/Blanche/Dorothy
(Darah, for now you share a leading Golden Girl with Harper. And, Elan, her Rose is a close second. Though she is still young, the Sorting Hag (Hat) put Sophia in the lead based the faces she makes, the food she refuses to eat and throws off the tray, and the fact that she likes to pound things. Rose was a close second because she has a very innocent side to her that balances out that Sophia take-no-prisoners approach. Blanche came third because Harper loves to kiss everyone. On the mouth.)
We have FOUR Sophias in our family so far! Whoa!
One of my very favorite things about the Golden Girls is that they are ALL storytellers. The show is largely composed of the girls telling stories to each other and commenting on the stories. They are their own little golden girl news network. An all-female network of superb storytelling. Kind of like an early version of The View, but far more fabulous. Blanche tells stories about her many romantic exploits and about Big Daddy (she tells stories about life in the south but it should be noted that somewhere during the show’s run she finds out her great grandmother is a Jewish woman from Buffalo, NY), Dorothy tells stories about Shady Pines (usually in sarcastic lines that come off more as commentary than narrative, since sarcasm is her storytelling specialty), Sophia tells succinct and brisk stories about Sicily (“Picture it: Sicily, 1922”), and Rose tells flowery, whimsical, wordy stories about her hometown, St. Olaf (“When I was a little girl, back in St. Olaf”). We, like the Golden Girls, are a storytelling family. Each of us has her own way of telling stories and her own ongoing storytelling theme, but we all support each other in constructing the endless storytelling entertainment that defines our family
Okay, I think that’s enough Golden Girl sorting for this Sorting Hag for one day!
Remember that I earned my status as the Golden Girl Sorting Hag when I spent a week with Rue McClanahan at a singing retreat when I was fifteen. Tell you the whole story later…!!!
Long live the Golden Girls and long live THE FOUR: Estelle, Rue, Betty, and Bea!
I have to get ready for POLAR SATURDAY. After I take the Polar Plunge I have to change my clothes and head to another polar event: I am going on the Polar Express train ride in Medina with Harper and Company. I wish you were going to be with us on the Polar Express, but we’ll make up for it when we ride the North Pole Express in Attica in late December! Toot! Toot!
We’re so lucky we have each other. That makes us winners. I love my L Family.
Mummy J Lilyrose Lake