Thanks for your responses! I feel a lot more confident about writing about Rachel now. Once we settle the name issue, I'm good to go (unless you have any special plans for the character).
- While it's true that the Ellis Island story is oft-told, it's a myth:
although many immigrants did change their names, it did not happen during their processing at Ellis Island [...] Hard documentation for name changes done by officials at Ellis Island is basically non-existent.
Name changes are usually in the direction of Americanization: e.g., that page's example is "Focht" which the bearer changed to "Ford." But changing "ch" to "cj" doesn't help anyone pronounce it in any language (Polish "ch" is like the "ch" in "Bach", and "cj" to my English eye looks like it represents the "ckj" in "whackjob" which is quite far from the Polish original. "cj" also makes the name look even more alien (un-English as well as un-Polish) which is why I thought it was odd. I could believe "Wakowski" or "Wacowski" - neither is correct Polish, but both make sense as Americanizations.
Google has just ten results for "Wacjowski", and in most of them it's obviously a typo for "Wachowski," as the pages are about the famous filmmakers.
As someone with an amateur interest in Polish, I'm driven bonkers by a Polish-like name that's slightly off!
I'm inclined to treat "Wacjowski" in the original episode as a typo and to spell the name hereafter as "Wachowski," if you don't mind. Please let me know if you are OK with that.
This situation reminds me a bit of the "Yukio" problem. "Yukio" is a male name in Japanese; "o" means "man" and is written with various kanji for "man": 夫, 男, 雄. For some reason in 1982, X-Men writer Chris Claremont named a female Japanese character "Yukio," and I think the idea of "Yukio" as a girl's name in English-language stories originated. I finally realized just now after years of being bugged by the name that "Yukio" might be a mistake for "Yukiko" which is a girl's name ("-ko" is a girls' suffix).
At first I reluctantly used "Yukio" in the 2008 episode I wrote introducing the Family Swap concept because I valued continuity over Japanese, but I then introduced the feminine name "Yuki," which seems established now. ("Yukiko" is still possible, but "-ko" is now out of fashion in Japan and unlikely to be in the name of a teenage girl born in the early 2000s.)
Yeah, I'm obsessed by names, I know ...
I believe these stories should be as realistic as possible aside from the existence of magic. I was impressed by the research you did on phone theft; it's an example of the kind of realism I'm looking for (and am not that great at myself).
- "I was thinking about when Rachel was in high school"
OK, she's eighty-six, then. I was confused because I thought she was watching a game between eight-year-olds, and thought "that age" referred to "these young ones" on the field (a high school field, but no high schoolers were playing). But it's possible that "these young ones" could have been high school girls walking by the field. So what you wrote still stands even as is. Whew!
- I meant it to be sophomore, junior, freshmen...but the order you note is how I actually wrote it.
I was trying to think of an alternate order of those three in which Rachel would be going up and down only one year, but I don't think there is one. Here are all six possible orders, with 1 = freshman and 3 = junior:
123 - going up by one year; no down
132 - up two years, down one
213 - down one, up two
231 - your intended order: up one, down two
312 - down two, up one
321 - the order in the episode: going down by one year; no up
Regardless, your general point still remains - until now Rachel's changes were not drastic compared to those of, say, Athena.
I think I'll go with what you actually wrote, as I like the contrast between a gradual loss of years over a couple of days to a sudden gain of decades.
I just realized someone might ask, "How can Rachel swap with a grandmother if grandmothers aren't 'girls'?" My two-word answer: Golden Girls.
Having read this site since 2005, I remember the rebranching/continuity-fixing note days!