Nancy Lecourt, our academic dean, has never bought a teacup in her life. She has, however, an array of teacups that would make you gasp, in particular an orange seashell set that glistens under the spotlights in her built-in dining room cabinet. They are the kind of orange you would want to touch as a child, and even now if you're that kind of adult. She would let you feel the smooth orange rim with the soft pads of your fingers, carefully of course, but she would let you, because she understands about that and all the other truly important things in life, like making time for tea and telling the truth.
"I'm very proud of my writing, the only thing I'm really proud of… anything I write I'm kind of proud, of my prose style. The one thing I'm vain about."
Nancy loves to laugh, loves the absurd, the ironic, the clever-and it shows in her writing. She also loves the honest, the true, and the sincere, which also shows. The most common place to find Nancy's writing is to pick up a copy of Spectrum, the journal of the Association of the Adventist Forums. This is the writing she is the most proud of. Since she became academic dean she has not written as much, but she still tries to be creative. She's slowly rewriting everything that comes from her office to sound like her-quirky, fun and Lecourtian. "If I'm not creative I get bored," she says.
Many years ago when she was 11 she was bored and didn't know it. Nancy grew up in L.A. and "the smog was just terrible. It was just ugly and there was no color. Everything was gray and fake, malls and billboards and freeways." The year she turned 11 her father took a sabbatical from teaching at Mount Sanitori College in Southern California. They bought a VW camper and drove all around Europe for a year looking at all the old buildings and all the vibrant colors and it seemed real to her, like something out of a picture book. I imagine her with a short brown bob, jeans, her small face peeking out of the motor home window as she saw bright red store signs and women in yellow and orange skirts, leafy green trees, all passing by and the distinct smell of smog replaced with something else- food and nature and life.
Later on she went to school in France, married a Frenchman, and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where she bought her groceries in French, hung out with her baby, fed swans and ate chocolate. Later she discovered Northern California and the green hills of Angwin and stayed where the colors were vibrant and the air smog-free.
The first time I met Nancy I did not know any of this. I was 18 and in the third college class of my life. She came in with a strong step, wearing a sleeveless black dress with buttons that ran all the way to the hem. She announced who she was and I thought, I am either going to love this woman or hate her.
Some people hate her. At a dinner once this girl admitted to harboring what she saw as a healthy fear of Nancy. Some people would say that's wise; I'm not one of them. Most people hate to hear the truth about themselves. Writers especially like to believe in their own brilliance, but Nancy always tells you if your story is boring. If you don't want to hear the truth don't visit her and yeah, maybe a healthy fear is a good idea.
The thing about Nancy is that you can't be dull or deluded. You have to be innately interesting. You have to be a little weird, just a little off compared to the rest of the world (and okay with it) and then you two will get along. Why? Because she owns a silk scarf with little garden gnomes peeking out between flowers; because she wears purple tights in the winter; because she doesn't kill spiders; because she has a laugh that starts off low but heightens into a genteel cackle; because she has a cat called Luke Squeakwalker; because she likes alliteration; because she's written several children's books; because she likes to do yoga; because she gardens and bakes; because she sits every weekday behind a big desk in Chan Shun making PUC a better place.
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