I realize that I make it confusing for people.
First, I was “Alix.” I still am. It’s pronounced like “Alex” a la Alex P. Keaton and not the French way, “Aleeks.” For years, people have asked me about why my nickname is spelled with a “i” when my full name “Alexandra” is spelled in the classical way. My short answer is that my parents thought it would be more feminine, which it is. The long answer goes back to my parents debating about whether to call me “Aleeks” or “Alecks.” The compromise was “A-L-I-X.” Spell it one way, say it the other. I like that it’s a little different. Of course, when I was a little kid in the 1970’s, having a name like “Alix” in any form was way exotic. I could never find my name on a mug or a key chain in Spencer’s Gifts. How I longed to be a “Julie” or a “Jill” or a “Beth.” Sigh.
After I graduated from high school, I moved to New York because I had an opportunity to have a modeling career for one of the big agencies. It was time to think about my name. It’s standard for models to change their names or play around with their monikers because it’s such a competitive business that you don’t want to have the same name as another model. When a kid from Iowa named Christopher started modeling in 1997, he decided to use his middle name as his first name to stand out more. “Ashton Kutcher” was born. When I modeled, I went by “Alexandra-No-last-name.” I probably wanted to sound more grown-up — to shed my childhood identity in the big city. I don’t think it worked.
After modeling for four years, I attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts to try my hand at acting. Since I was a student, I happily went back to “Alix.” Except that I had one teacher who never got my name right all year. He always called me “Alexis.” He must have been a big Dynasty fan. I didn’t really mind, but it drove some of my classmates crazy. They would correct him, “Her name is ALIX!” It never took.
When I call customer service numbers to order linens or shoes or figure out some credit card nonsense, the people I speak to invariably call me “AlexandRIA.” They add an unnecessary “i” at the end. Maybe they all live in Virginia? Or Egypt?
When I began my freelance writing career, I used “Alexandra Flood.” Again, back to being grown-up but even more so now because I had a last name too. After a seven years of writing for magazines and the web, I segued into screenwriting and filmmaking. I wrote and directed an independent feature-length comedy called A Totally Minor Motion Picture. By this point, I was feeling like I should now be credited as “Alix Flood” because it felt the most true to who I am in my day-to-day life. Also, I was an actual grown-up now, so I didn’t have to try so hard to sound grown-up.
To confuse matters even more, in my personal life I toyed with the idea of taking my husband’s last name for about, oh, I don’t know, the first five years (!) of our marriage before I decided that I just wanted to keep being “Flood.” I like his name, but I realized that I didn’t need it, say, for the sake of our kids. It really didn’t matter to them or their schools if their parents had two different last names. Now because I would sometimes use his last name (though I never changed it legally), people will still call me by his last name though I haven’t used it for about ten years. I can understand this. I mean, I was unclear about what I wanted to be called, so it’s all on me if people still aren’t sure.
I have now spent more than five years going by “Alix Flood” professionally. Just to keep piling on the confusion, I have decided to mix it up — yet again — and use my full name “Alexandra Hope Flood” for my blog. I think just as much as my nickname feels like most like the day-to-day me. My entire name feels like a part of myself that I have yet to explore.
About three years ago, I heard a story about a guy who had tried many different careers, but nothing stuck and he was frustrated. He had always made homemade vodka and given it to friends as gifts, until one day someone suggested that he go into the vodka-making business. It was what he loved and it came naturally to him. He was already good at it. And you know what his name is? Tito Beverage!! Really. That was his name. In the interview I saw, he was laughingly saying “My wife says, ‘nomenclature is destiny.’” His homemade vodka is a hit.
The gears started turning. Tito is a guy with a noun as a last name. I have a noun as a last name too. Then my middle name “Hope” is also a noun and a verb, and a virtue. I have always loved it, but I’ve never used it. Then it hit me, my name is “A. Hope Flood.” Without being fully cognizant, Hoping and having Hope is something that I have excelled at. Hope is something that I am just plain passionate about. It comes naturally to me. It’s something that I want to share. I want to give it as a gift to friends. It’s my homemade vodka. My kind of spirits.