Jessica Leigh Lebos
What Does "JLL not Jill" Even Mean?
Updated: May 16, 2019
Hiya, I’m Jessica Leigh Lebos - yes, it’s three names.
Prounounced "Gesika. Lee. Lee-Boze."
I'm a working writer and journalist, so in addition to how it's pronounced, what my name *looks* like is important. What can I say? I like to take up space. I've had a byline for more than 20 years, back before the Internet was a sparkle in some brainiac's eye. I decided to take my husband’s last name when I got married in 1998—not that I really wanted to lean into the patriarchy, but frankly, my maiden name was even harder to spell. (It's cool, he got my tattoo.)
Also, I thought three names would make me sound more Southern. When we moved our family to Mark's hometown of Savannah, GA, it was pretty obvious I'd never really fit in. But that hasn't stopped me from trying. In fact, I like to introduce myself at cocktail parties as "southern by marriage" so people have to forgive me for wearing patchouli and putting sriracha on my barbecue. (Um, it’s delicious, and I can’t be disowned for it—it’s in the pre nup.)
My writing career continued full force in Savannah, first at skirt! magazine and then at Connect Savannah, where I served as Community Editor from 2011 to 2018. At Connect, I also wrote the weekly Civil Society Column, covering social issues and my own abundant Southern faux pas, which became the foundation of my book, Savannah Sideways.
That's when I realized the whole three-name thing could be kind of burden, what with all that correspondence that comes with having a public opinion about things. So I shortened my email address and signature to "JLL"—I mean, obviously, right? But sometimes—actually, pretty often—some people didn't read the byline, and to those rushed readers, I was "Jill." It became a longstanding joke in the newsroom, and also in my own head. It's still my favorite inside joke with myself to order a decaf coco milk macchiato for "Jill" at Starbucks.
The confusion continues among readers of the various publications to which I contribute. But no matter, I know exactly who I am. And I forgive easily, since forgetting names and acting a'fool are my specialities. You can call me pretty much anything and I'll answer—you can even call me late to dinner as long as you're cooking.
Cheers ~ JLL (not Jill)