What’s in a (blog) name?

Descended from a Southern family with a long history of double names (Annie Lou, Mary Catherine, Anne Heaton, etc.), I was destined to have a double name myself. When I was younger, it was the bane of my existence. I found my name quite long to spell when first learning to write, and the pre-teen embarrassment around having to explain that “It’s not just Mary, it’s Mary Patton” more times than I could ever count was mortifying.

Nowadays, I’m grateful that I get to stand out. In a world where everyone is jockeying to build social capital and memorable identities, I don’t have to try that hard. My name always makes for an interesting conversation starter, although it’s almost always the same: “Mary Patton. No, not just Mary, it’s Mary Patton. Yes, like General Patton. No, we aren’t related. Yes, I also have a middle name and a last name. No, there’s no hyphen, but yes there is a space. Yes, I’m sure that’s my first name, it’s not just Mary. You can also call me MP”. I’ve even had one friend tell me that all he remembers from our first meeting was my yelling “PATTON! P-A-T-T-O-N!” over and over again in his face in a loud club all night.

My name has really grown on me over the past few years, although (much to my mother’s chagrin) I go by MP quite often. When I left Tampa, Florida to attend Georgetown in DC for college, I began introducing myself as MP, since there weren’t as many Southerners and it helped to avoid a lot of confusion; most importantly, it averted the mishap of people calling me “Mary”, which, in my book, is akin to calling me “Bob” or “Jacqueline”. It’s just not my name.

It’s always comforting for me to come back home to Florida, where my friends and family still refer to me using the long “Mary Patton”; it recalls memories of my youth, and feels like my base identity. Yet I’ve also developed an attachment to “MP’; it seems hipper, cooler, and represents my time in DC and living abroad in East Africa. Although this could have easily led to a case of Multiple Personality Disorder (ironic that my last name starts with D?), I instead feel an affinity to both names. I imagine it’s similar to mothers who maintain their first-name identity but also answer readily to “Mom”; both appellations are correct, they both embody their personality, yet they each convey slightly different characteristics or evoke slightly different responses.

So when I finally decided to embark on the monumental task of creating and maintaining a blog, it only seemed fitting that both names be incorporated. It wouldn’t be fair to come up with a name that only included “Mary Patton”, or had some cute play on words with the name “MP”; no, it had to be both, as confusing as it may be.

Over the last two years living in Rwanda, I’ve had some amazing, terrible, embarrassing, and definitely confusing experiences, and I regret not having documented them sooner; but, as they say, better late than never! And I feel now is a good time to begin as I prepare for my five month backpacking journey across Southeast Asia and India… something tells me it will be a good starting point. So there you have it; welcome, and enjoy!

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