“Is Harcourt de Tourville your real name?”



The second most popular question:

“What brings you to Belgium?”



The third?

“How fast can you do this?”



Harcourt de Tourville is not the name on my passport. Legally, I still have my ex-husband’s because I followed American tradition and became Mrs. Van Whatever. When we divorced in California (on good terms!), I had 40 credit cards, a driver’s license, two library cards, etc. Why bother going through the rigamarole to change it; it was my identity for years at this point. Plus, every time I landed in Zaventem, said “Goedemorgen,” the Rijkswacht flipped open my passport, saw my Flemish last name, and waved me through–not one question about how long I was staying or how much money I had. Why mess with a winning formula?

Then there’s the kidlet. Kidlet had 11 years of America before she said “Later, chumps,” and packed her bags for B-Land. Me? I’m happy anywhere. Kidlet? The entire planet is parking next to Antwerp. So rather than live 14-hour plane rides away from my one & only kidlet, I said, “Fine, I’ll live in Antwerp.”

But what can an American do in Belgium? Oprah says “Be authentic.” Authentically, I wanted to be a singer, but that would give you tinnitus. Stand-up comedian and winemaker are also out. Hooray for writing in English! With enough writing, degrees and research chops to back me up, and years in advertising & marketing (hey, we all have skeletons in our closets), Harcourt de Tourville was born.

Where does Harcourt de Tourville come from? It’s a family name originating from Normandy. I just dusted it off. When I’m home, have six weeks and $138, I’ll probably get it on my passport. For now, it’s a business name, which makes sorting mail easy-peasy. Anything with Harcourt de Tourville is marked urgent, and I’ll actually return your voicemail.

How fast can I do your project? Usually pretty darn fast.