Thursday, June 21, 2007

How I got my name

The first Internet forum I ever got involved in was RfM.

I hardly knew what an Internet forum was in those days, but I read a bunch of the archived threads and wanted to join in the conversation. To do that, I needed a handle.

For a couple of seconds I thought about picking something Mormon-related. But that was the one constant shared by everyone on the board, and I figured it would be better to go with a name that highlighted something unique about me. So I decided to take my first name (Carol) and translate it into French. Thus chanson was born.

Over the next couple of years I as used this same handle on a bunch of different forums (fora?), I discovered a couple of amusing things: (1) not everyone speaks French, and (2) "chanson" -- as a username -- looks a lot like C. Hanson. I thought it was kind of funny that people made that assumption, so I figured "Hell, let's roll with it!"

In a lot of ways my novel grew out of my online adventures, so I decided to use my new identity as my pen-name. (Or nom de plume if I'm sticking with my snooty French-isms.) I threw in "L" as a middle initial partially because my real initials are C.L.H. and partially in honor of Lynn, the main character of my novel. It's fiction -- not autobiography -- but my pen-name is fictional as well, so maybe it's the real autobiography of the fictional author...?

A funny side note is that that means my fictional pen-name in full should be "Carol Lynn Hanson." Of course that immediately calls to mind Carol Lynn Pearson, and you might think I did it on purpose. But you would be wrong: it's pure coincidence. I don't have any connection with Carol Lynn Pearson except the obvious (we're both women who write about Mormons from a Mormon perspective). She's also something of a mother-figure to the LDS gay community -- see Connell's fabulous story for a bit of what I'm talking about -- and sometimes I like to imagine myself in a similar role. (I don't know if any actual gay people think of me that way, but perhaps I'm sending them a subtle motherly vibe.)

My real name isn't much of a secret -- if you follow this blog, you've probably figured it out already. I don't post my real name here though because I use my real name professionally. I have a new Java book coming out in a little more than a month, and when my professional contacts google my name, I want my Java books and other professional writings to come up, not this... ;^)

Then there's the other part of my Internet name: my blog title "Letters from a Broad..." Peter Walters (who I met through exmo-social) came up with the name. For the first six months of this blog's life, it was a column in the (now-defunct) student paper the Utah Valley Monitor (which Peter founded).

I liked this name from the beginning because it reminded me of when I was a kid and the same ridiculous pun got me included in a boys' club (they wanted to be the "Traveler Society of America and Abroad" but for that of course they needed a broad...). I can't tell if it's feminist or anti-feminist of me to have decided to go with (and stick with) this blog name. Really, I don't mean anything by it, and it kind of weirdly seems to fit the theme of the blog, so I'm planning to stick with it.

Sometimes the names people use on the Internet seem more real than people's actual names. Your Internet handle is something you've made up for yourself, and it usually means something -- it's not just something chosen for you by earlier generations. On the other hand, it seems like most serious long-term internauts end up just using their real names eventually.

And you -- does your name have a story?


Anonymous said...

Love it. Thanks for the background. Until this moment I was one who thought that chanson was just short for C. Hanson. The French translation of Carol to Chanson was a total and pleasant surprise.

BTW, your book will come out just in time to catch the iPhone craze. Sweet.

"mel" is short for my email alias at work: "melggren". My hiring manager has my same first name and really wanted to be the only one with that name in the org and wanted me to voluteer to go my melggren ... I thought "hell no" but then volunteered to meet him halfway and go by mel. It has really grown on me and my own daughter has taken to calling herself "mel jr". But mostly because my given name means "gift from god" which I never liked even when I was a believer.

Anonymous said...

Hey - btw - I got the chanson thing - mostly because of the 5 years of French I took in high school. I've forgotten 99% of my french, but the french word for song I had not forgotten.

I keep meaning to blog about why aerin, I will one of these days.

As far as another of my handles, alexandra kollontai - she was a famous bolshevik feminist. When I first started going by that handle in 1998 (whew, that was some time ago) - I thought everyone would recognize her name. Only a handful of former Russian or Finnish people actually have (she was one of the first female ambassadors, to Finland from the USSR).

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Mel!!!

That's a good story too!!! Like me you have a new identity related to that whole whole first-initial-last-name thing...

Hey Aerin!!!

I'd be curious to hear where you got "Aerin" from -- I don't think you've already told me...

"Alexandra Kollontai" is definitely a tricky one. I can tell you right now I wouldn't have gotten the reference without having it explained to me.

Anonymous said...

very nice story about your name.

I used to be in forums and such under my real name, but because of my outspoken political ramblings which offend some people in the right wing. They were calling my old military unit and sending very rude emails and screaming rants to my former commander.

So I changed my monikor to CV (for combat veteran) and made myself as anonymous as possible.

Brother Zelph said...

I like it. An internet handle is a name we choose to identify ourselfs, unlike our birth name, which is given to us from our parents, a nickname that is given to us by our friends or a new name that is given to us in the temple. I choose Zelph because the entire story of Zelph in Mormonism represtents a paradox and contradiction-either the Book of Mormon is wrong, or Jospeh Smith was wrong. It can't be both.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey CV Rick!!!

Wow, people you know were getting harassed by people who don't like your online discussion? That sucks!!! A good reason to stay anonymous...

Hey Zelph!!!

Are you saying that the story of "Zelph the White Lamanite" contradicts the Book of Mormon? Maybe he was an albino or something... ;^)

Lynet said...

My sister and I have given ourselves 'King Arthur' names for years -- probably because my parents were going to call me Guinevere but didn't! 'Lynet' is the way Gerald Morris spells the eponymous damsel in 'The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf', which is itself a delightfully humourous retelling of a story by Thomas Malory (in which she is Linet, the Damosel Sauvage), and which has also been retold by Tennyson ('Of Gareth and Lynette').

Incidentally, the corpse in the first Agatha Christie novel I ever read was called 'Linnet Doyle' -- a fairly common version of the name among the Victorians.

beatdad said...

I just use my real name because I am not creative enough to come up with one.

My blog name, beatdad, comes from when I started work early in the morning then come home and fall asleep while reading to the kids.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Lynet!!!

Wow, that's a fun allusion!!! Further evidence that people's chosen Internet handles have interesting stories behind them. :D

Hey Wayne!!!

That's a good one -- I'd thought you were a beatnik or something... ;^)

JulieAnn said... mom liked my name and my beautiful cousin who was a ballerina shared it. SO my name was born (right after me). LOL Mom was a little disappointed when the only ballet I could do was position number one before I ran out to play baseball. Plus I was too short and stocky for ballet. Much more suited to roller derby...

I use my real name on my blogs because I am conductiong an experiment to see how much I can put myself out there and still go to the grocery store without getting tomatoes thrown at me. So far, so good.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey JulieAnn!!!

That's a great experiment!!! Have you had any strangers recognize you from your book and/or blog yet? (I haven't, but of course nobody reads my blog here in Bordeaux...)

Unknown said...

You timed this post perfectly for me. I referred to your blog recently and wasn't sure if I was typing your name correctly or not (I typed CHanson, knowing very little French).

I have gone with my real name, cause like Wayne, I'm just not creative in that arena. I spent a little time in China, so I sometimes us my Chinese name "Ma xinbo". My Chinese wife laughs at (mostly because Ma means horse), but I still like it cause it's about all I can write in Chinese!

Anonymous said...

Well, as you know, I thought your name was C Hanson, and the chanson bit was just a serendipitous bit of loveliness given your locale.

Yes, I did used to believe in miracles, why do you ask?

My handle is dumb - I was all anxious to get on the late, lamented VFTF b/c there was an argument going that totally floated my boat. So, without thinking much about it, I just used a variant on the title of my favorite book. I realised later that I probably should have used something that had a religious (or anti-religious) overtone or allusion. Alas, I'm not that smart. So now I'm just sticking with it out of habit. Sort of like work and the rest of life. :-)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Mike!!!

Horse seems like a good nickname, particularly if it entertains your wife... :D

Hey Wry Catcher!!!

I've always thought your handle was an amusing literary play on words. :D

birdchaser said...

Hey, just found your blog here by searching for Vanity Plates of the Nephites. So, a shout out from a friendly ex-Student Reviewer. Cheers!

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Birdchaser!!!

Were you on the Review around the same time I was? Do you know there's an email list for Student Review alums?

birdchaser said...

I was the religion editor when you and John were there. My text+John's art=Vanity Plates of the Nephites.

I was on the SR email list way back when, but haven't kept up in recent years.

C. L. Hanson said...

Ah, that's cool!!!

Blogging is such a fun way to keep in touch.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I chose my online name from a moment in my history as a teen: I was working at Albertsons, and there was discussion of a party, and someone said of me, "Sister Mary Lisa wouldn't DRINK! She's too pure!"

Not sure if I shoulda used it for my blog persona, as it has nun connotations, but it's here to stay. I was thinking of making up sml t-shirts.....


C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Sister Mary Lisa!!!

True, at first glance I thought you were actually a nun -- a blogging nun ;^) -- since the exmo bloggers occasionally interact with the Catholic blogs. Still, the name ends up having some fun irony to it... ;^)

Th. said...



Smorg said...

What a cool way of devising a handle/nom de plume! :oD

Mine is really a family nickname my idiot brothers imposed upon me to fit my childhood personality. They thought I resembled Smaug the evil (and quite reeky) dragon in Tolkien's The Hobbit. I just doctored the spelling a bit as an act of rebellious. ;o)

By the way, if you don't mind an off-topic question, can you enlighten me on what a 'sister trainer' is? Is it like a female version of a zone leader missionary?

Cheerio from California,
Smorg :o)

PS: Still working on part 5 of my Mormon saga. Just have to shelf it for a while while slaving to get my real life work done by next week's deadline. :oP

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Smorg!!!

You have a pretty cool name, too!!

As far as I've heard, the "trainer" is a new missionary's first companion after leaving the Missionary Training Center. So the trainer is the senior companion who trains a freshly-arrived new missionary. I assume the term is the same for the guys and the girls.

The male missionaries have a hierarchy of leadership callings:

Assistant to the President (AP, highest missionary calling in the mission) > Zone Leader (ZL, manages several "districts") > District Leader (DL, manages [I think] two pairs of mishies, including himself and his companion) > senior companion (manages his own companion).

I think that every pair of missionaries has a senior companion and a junior companion. I assume that the hierarchy between the two companions exists whether they're "Elders" or "Sisters" -- so a Sister Missionary can be a senior companion or a trainer. However, I think they have to report to the male hierarchy for every leadership position above "senior companion". I don't think the sisters are allowed the role of "DL."

However, I didn't actually serve a mission myself. If you'd like to know more about sister missionaries (from the post-Mormon perspective), there are several former sister-Missionaries in Outer Blogness. I recommend starting with this post.

Smorg said...

Thanks a bunch! I have been looking for ex-sister missionaries online but they don't pop up as easily as the currently serving ones (I've been indulging on posts by a couple of mishies I've actually met... It's fascinating getting to read how they would talk to their families. They really illustrate what Marx must have thought about when he said that religion is opium for the mass).

Oh, the 'sister trainer' I'm curious about doesn't seem to serve the way the normal mishies do. She goes on split a lot... It seems rather than staying in one area proselyting, she travels from pair to pair (sometimes exchanging with a member of the pair and sometimes just coming along as third)... And the mishies look up to her a lot (I can see why even if she isn't out-senioring them. The lass is quite a fascinating personality :o) ).

Thanks a bunch again! I'm going off to check the ex-mishie blog out. :oD

Christine Marie K said...

This blog is so awesome, you are so fresh and full of life attitude - I love it! Quite a fascinating person young lady!