Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Name Is Mägi

I wrote this over a year ago but didn't have the guts to post it till now...

Magi means "magic" in Polish, Indonesian, and Norwegian.
Mägi means "mountain" in Estonian.
Magi means "magicians" in Latin.
Magi means "stomach" in Icelandic.
Magi means "nuclear" in Hugarian.

The magical nuclear stomach of a mountain magician - I think that might be me...

I've been a “Mägi” for around 6 years now. The name origined back in 2007 during my time in Switzerland with the cafeteria ladies who I came to adore and got to spend time with as my classmates were in Chemistry class. One of ladies surprised me with a visit in Seattle. They wrote my name on the chalkboard as "Mägi." One day I asked, "Is that mean?" when I saw the name scribbled up there. "Yep!" They said. It stuck - especially after I left Swtizerland.

The topic of this blog is when people still write my name, “Maggie.”

I am not “Maggie.”
When I see “Maggie,” it doesn't feel like me at all. It looks foreign to me, now.
That's not me.

Don't you prefer it when people write your name correctly?
 I find it just as important as pronouncing a name correctly - written communication, these days, can come just as frequent as verbal communication and with just as much importance.

This makes me think of how we ought to respect the identities of other folks. If someone desires to be called Sycamore, by golly, we should call them that. They know their gender. They know their name. Our name can be a part of our identity and that is something we have a say in.

I'm grateful for my mom. When I've gone abroad and away from Seattle, my mom's told me a few times that I can, of course, choose any name for myself. I could go by Rita, Gosha (Polish for Margaret), or Gretle....

But I like Mägi.

I get sort of frustrated when people write my name as Maggie if they've seen me write it as Mägi for six years. I understood there would be a transition period to remember – but I think, by this point,  there's been enough time to remember how to spell my name. I especially get frustrated when it happens on Facebook because my name is spelled as “Mägi” constantly – they know how I refer to myself, I wish they would also refer to myself. Even my parents write “Mägi” now. Unless you've known me since before I was 11 years old, you've known me as "Mägi" longer than "Maggie."

There's also the issue of forgetting my umlauts.

I understand, on the computer, that folks don't always know how to get my umlauts, which is totally fine. Just write out Magi, I don't mind at all. But, in handwriting, why not? They're fun to write. They're like the smiley eyes of a smiley face. Without the “umlauts” I'm just the Magi which I always get a kick out of.

I don't mind variations on the pronunciations of Mägi.

In Portland, Zina calls me Maa-Guy.
I like that.
Others call me Maa – Jai, just like the wise guys who traveled to visit the Mary's boy child, Jesus Christ.

You can call me what you like but, please, please write my name as Magi or Mägi (or any nickname variation on those). I am not Maggie. I have not been for a while. I've spent my entire adult life being Mägi. Please respect that.

The name-spelling change symbolizes, to me, a powerful change that happened to me in Switzerland – a finding of my identity. Maggie is the name of who I was before Switzerland – and I'm not that person any more. I'm not comfortable with who that person was. I can love who I was, but it's altogether a very different human being.



P.S. I also still go by Margaret and am just as much a "Margaret" as I am a "Mägi." Margaret is the name that folks who generally have known me for a while or know me well call me Margaret. I have no objections to it.

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