Flash Dark

In fourth grade I had an assignment I can no longer remember the specifics of, wherein I wrote about my imaginary invention – a Flash Dark.  It’s the exact opposite of a flash light and can be used to point a cone of darkness into any space.  My teacher told me that’s called a shadow, but I told her it was darker than that.  She gave me another exasperated look and a C minus. I didn’t yet have the physics background I would need to explain how to go about sucking all of the light out of a space. Decades later and I still don’t, but I’ve since met people that can do it merely by showing up.

My mother told me even if it were possible, it wouldn’t be a useful invention to anyone. Over the years she came to use Flash Dark as a code word for things I thought were a good idea, but that she just couldn’t see any use for. Curiously, she did not apply this to my marriage at 18 years old to a boy I’d just met, but right up until her death still referred to my second husband as a Flash Dark. She wasn’t wrong.

This morning I wonder if my mother noticed the influx of Dutch speaking souls up there in her heaven, and I wonder if it prompted her to take a peek at what’s going on down here on Earth.
If she did, she no doubt noticed the buildings all around the planet that have been lit in the colors of Belgium’s flag as a show of…something for the people of Brussels after their terror attack yesterday. Black, gold, and red lights. I don’t mean UV black lights that would undoubtedly leave us all scratching our heads as to how bodily fluids got all the way up there, everywhere. I mean to say they are literally shining a lack of light.
And then I think about how devoid of any comfort or peace this gesture must be to those affected and I realize my Flash Dark has been brought to fruition.

Feels More Like Passover


I bet you didn’t know all those roads that lead to Rome are, in fact, covered with the same material the ancient Proverbians used to pave the road to hell: good intentions.

And mama,  my intentions were the best.

This whole journey was intended to be the next stop in my search for passionate people doing the thing they’re passionate about.   My first stop was kind of a bust,  if I’m being honest – which I’m almost ready to do – so I had high hopes for attending Easter mass with the Pope.  I observed Lent for 35 of 40 days, attended mass 6 times (half of which were in Latin, because it only counts if you suffer),  and just to give you an idea of how serious I actually am about this, I followed the rules.  Well, The Rule, to be specific.

What rule?  The one on the Vatican website that instructs the faithful masses how to get tickets to the Papal Masses.  Per their requirement, we downloaded and completed the request form.  We faxed it to the Prefecture of the Papal Household because this organization is notoriously not an early adapter of anything, and we have, per instruction, been patiently waiting since November 12th to receive the Golden Ticket by post.  Except in this case, the Golden Ticket is merely a confirmation that our fax request was received, along with instructions to take said letter to Vatican Will-Call* on the afternoon before Easter to find out if any tickets were issued.

So here we are, folks. Two mail deliveries left before I slip the star spangled bonds of America and begin the European leg of my passion quest and I think it’s pretty safe to go ahead and call it.  Under normal circumstances, I’d probably be scheming a plan to crash the mass, but the documentary I just watched on the Swiss Guard has convinced me to just accept this as the universe’s way of rearranging my adventure for me.

So besides church, what exactly does a traveler do in Rome on Easter Sunday?  I’ll keep you posted.



*Yes.  The Vatican really does have a Will-Call.  And a fax machine.  If you’re feeling nostalgic for the 90’s, I recommend you fax them your favorite comic strips every morning (+39 06 698 85863).  If they can’t get around to sending me a confirmation letter, they probably won’t send the Swiss Guard to your house to ask you to stop.




c9db983b835068660fcf859b38727152-1.jpgToday I kidnapped my girly friend as soon as she got off work.  I had to drive her over to this beautiful little piece of property my realtor found this morning.  I can’t tell you where it is because you might win the lottery before I do and buy it.  I can tell her where it is because if she has such great fortune she will let me sleep on her front porch every night so I still get to enjoy the view.  Plus, the spring bulbs are in bloom, the trees are just about to burst open, and I figured this was far better than taking her a bouquet of flowers to celebrate some great news she got yesterday!

We walked the land and portioned off pieces for the garden and the chickens, then decided the pair of alpaca can be free-range.  We fraternized with the neighbor’s faithful guard dog, who might be chow / golden retriever mix, and is probably a girl on account of the way she squatted to pee.  She told me what the house I’d build ought to look like, because she’s good at those things.  Then I drove her back home.

Just seconds before turning onto her road, something hit me; not in the literal sense,  but may as well have been.

“What day is this?” I asked in the middle of jabbering about other things.


“I mean the number!  What number is this?” I was getting excited.

She told me today is the tenth.

March tenth!

Ya’ll, this is the twelfth anniversary of when I was supposed to die any minute!
And then it was going to be maybe in a few weeks.  And then during child birth.  And then, because doctors are sure about these things, sometime within the next 5 years, for certain.

And for the first time ever, I forgot the anniversary was approaching!

A dozen years ago I was put on a medication regimen that not only stabilized my (low) heart function, but exacerbated my ADD.  I think both effects can be credited with saving my life as I’ve clearly been too distracted to die.

I’m frequently humbled by the tribe of heart sisters I’ve made all over the world – women who’ve had the same diagnosis and handled it with far more grace than I could ever muster.  And last year I wandered into the wilderness of Montana only to bump into a heart brother, too.  This disease has given me far more than it took, so here’s a little toast to all the wonderful people cardiomyopathy has brought into my life, and a spill to all of the superfluous and poisonous things it has removed.  And may next year I forget the date all together.