Proving God w/ Clouds: Possibility #2 [There IS Something Weird About the Clouds]

Possibility #2: 

There is something weird about the clouds, in that there are what I perceive to be atypically formed patterns which are structurally similar to iconic symbols relating to myth, religion, and/or diverse human language. There may be scientific (meteorology/atmospheric sciences, physics, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, theology) value in my observation of micro-patterns in cloudforms, not to mention a potentially significant social and cultural impact.

Potential Outcomes: 

Well, that would be very interesting.


  • All of the factors that impact my potential as an artist also impact my potential to connect with scientists and other experts who might be able to help me to determine if there actually is something strange about the cloudforms I have documented and to help me to figure out how such cloudforms might come to be, given the known variables of wind, water, air debris, light, atmospheric pressure and electromagnetic fields, gravity, other physical and elemental factors. 
  • I am not a trained in any discipline other than psychology and sociology. My research experience is limited, as is my existing knowledge of work and theory in most scientific fields.
  • I am not a physicist. 
  • See above re: disorganization of work. Lack of scientific process in documentation undermines the validity of the work as a scientific endeavor. 
  • Mental health stigma may possibly invalidate my voice and perspectives. 
  • The culture I live in may be deeply critical of some of the things I have publicly expressed about structures and systems of profit and power as they relate to human rights and human potential, as well as the rights of the planet and non-human living things.


Again, help. Please. There may be scientists and theorists who know a lot about clouds and the anthropology of cloud-watching who might be really excited by the fact that a person who is not a trained scientist noticed something, became curious, and stayed curious. 

There are patterns in nature, right? Is anyone studying patterns in cloud formation – both macropatterns and micropatterns? Are there reaction-diffusion mechanics at work in the atmosphere? Are there tesselations and cracks in the sky?

Is anyone studying patterns in clouds as they may relate to religious iconography and symbology across cultures and time?

There are many, many people all over the world that may strongly agree with my perspectives on the multidimensional costs of exploitative capitalism and our economies’ impact on the quality of life on this planet.

If you have ideas about this project, information you think I ought to be aware of, or would like to offer sincere and non-exploitative, not-shady assistance, please email:

Thank you for your time and attention in considering Possibility #2.

Visual Thinking and Sense of The Real

C. 1990

She waited for her friends to come pick her up. It was raining and they were late. The river was grey and brown, rough-textured with falling water and a steady wind from the east, from the ocean.

Sitting and waiting, nervously considering the possible explanations for her friends’ lateness, she wondered if they had gotten in an accident, and then involuntarily pictured the whole tragic scene – wet metal twisted, a tire still spinning, the underbelly of the vehicle exposed, hiss of rain on a hot engine quickly cooling. Frozen in a stricken sadness, she willed herself not to think about wrecks, and strained to hear the dogs bark, the sound of tires on the wet dirt road. When her friends arrived a few minutes later, she almost couldn’t believe they were okay. There had been no wreck. Nonetheless, the heavy sadness stayed with her, made her quiet and awkward riding in the backseat, still thinking about wrecks and how weird it was that her friends had no idea that she had been almost convinced that they’d been in an accident.

Ideas or imaginings that make her feel something are hard not believe, because they exist in her mind and in her body with the same detail and sensation as things that are real. Her feelings are her nervous system being scared, or excited, happy, calm, etc. The sensations she calls feelings are caused by her nervous system reacting to what she is experiencing.

She is a visual thinker. This means that she imagined the wreck that never happened, she saw the car crash, the slip of tires on pavement, crumpling metal, windshield buckled in like a spider’s web in wind, the sharp impact of a face against a dash board. Sometimes her nervous system doesn’t know that what she imagines isn’t real, and so her heart races, her blood vessels constrict, guts clench, and the chest constricts with a feeling of crying seizing in the throat.

It was of no importance that she’d never been in a car accident, that she had never seen – at least not up close – a bad wreck, had only glimpsed the mangled car bodies on the side of the interstate, in the closed lane.

She had seen plenty of wrecks on television, in movies.

Once, on the bus to the Catholic school, someone swore they saw a foot, a severed foot, laying in the road by a wrecked red car, but she didn’t see it, except in her mind.

For years before she’d ever been to New York, she could picture being in the city so thoroughly that she had to remind herself she’d never been there, pause a moment if anyone asked what cities she’d been to. 

Her head is full of things she’d never experienced seeing – car wrecks, war zones, the devastation of floods, the anger of men in dark rooms, the creeping stalk of late night streets, cities lit at dawn, the tangled of interstates coming alive while people on the other side of the world bake under the midday sun, speaking different languages, living in refugee camps, steam rising from the earth, the stink of the slaughterhouse, quiet halls of rest homes, bombs going off, rivers always flowing, waterfalls plunging into the dark, mountains asleep as the edge of glacier falls heavy into the ocean, unseen and heard by anyone but the bears, blithe seals giving a brief shudder before sliding back into the water.

All of this is happening all at once, a rapid-reel flashing of scenes and thoughts running in the background, a sense of seeing, witnessing.

It’s made up though, her imaginings of these things she has never seen in real life. It’s all based on television and movies and pictures in books, stories she has read. 

She stopped watching television in 2001, in the days immediately following the American event of 09/11/2001. Taking the dog for a walk around the NE Portland neighborhood she lived in, she found herself picturing the President’s face, the buildings falling again and again, the people and the smoke.

She could feel it in her body – terrible, stunned, and close – almost like she was there, like it was real to her beyond the news reports of what was happening several thousand miles away.

PROVING GOD WITH CLOUDS: I Was a Big Loser [Backstory and Context, Spring 2010]

My belief that I was noticing and witnessing elemental communications from something like God gave me a far-greater purpose than being the total loser that everyone seemed to think I was – the selfish, ungrateful wife who wanted to get a divorce, the person who was laid-off from work, the one who “wasn’t thinking about the kids” – who was being selfish and immature, crying too much and not trying hard enough to get her ‘act together.’

When I think back objectively, I understand that I really wasn’t that much of a loser, but at that point in my life, I deeply believed that I was, in fact, a huge failure as a human being and this belief was reinforced by criticism and hostility in extended family relationships during the process of a bad divorce.

American history and economies create a toxic and transactional culture full of power and control dynamics and run-through with traumatic experiences in core relationships and maladaptations to not having our basic needs to:

  • be seen in a way that is dignified, worthy, valid
  • to not be harmed, exploited, or abused by the people and institutions we rely on to support our human existence and nurture our individual potentials.

It was almost cliche when my mental health history and brief, relatively minor parenting transgressions – (getting upset and tearful during confusing conversations that turned into arguments in front of the kids, being late to drop them off at school some rare morning or another because one or the other of them was refusing to leave the house and those things can take a minute, spending time on artwork when I was supposed to be helping my daughter learn how to read even though she didn’t want to sit down with me and look at the boring books of phonetics, simple sentences) – were brought into divorce discussions.

I had thought – hoped – that everything could be amicable, copacetic in the process of uncoupling. However, that ended up not being the case.

There began to be discussion of custody lawyers specializing in mood disorders, and one of the other mothers from my son’s class called to let me know that people – other parents from my children’s classes – were being told to keep an eye on me, that I was unstable.

The drawing-everyday-for-a-year blog was getting even further off topic – pictures that twisted and folded onto themselves in semi-disturbing surrealist mash-ups of figures and fish.

These were not the sort of pictures a well-adjusted mother should draw.

She definitely shouldn’t draw a recognizable and unflattering caricature of an extended family member, and if she is foolishly bitter enough to draw such a picture, she probably shouldn’t post it to her weird blog that was not the sort of blog that any normal mom would have, a blog that was – unbeknownst to her – being surveilled by concerned family members and a handful of parents of elementary school age children who had known her since their kids were mutually tiny people playing at parks and preschools, kindergarten.

She could feel that people were thinking things about her, that there had been conversations.

It was literally palpable – the different person I had become to almost everyone, as though the moment I stepped toward the space where the other mothers were talking in a loose, easy circle, a force-field went up, and the awkwardness of this new person I had become slipped over me like a cage as I saw that they did not want to talk with me.

I began to just wave my hand a little as I passed by, to or from taking my children to the door of the building, the door of the classroom. Then, as the school year finally came to a close, I just smiled a half-smile and gave a half-nod, no real eye-contact as I dropped the kids off in the morning.

I began to simply cease to exist as anyone that anyone talked with, and stood alone, waited alone at the end of the day for the bell to ring and the doors to open and my kids to come back to me, to get to come home.

Proving God With Clouds: Introduction

Some situations that end up being pivotal in our lives begin in ways that don’t initially seem important at all.

True, there are some stories that shift dramatically at evident turning points – a winning lottery ticket found crumpled on the sidewalk, a phone call in the dead of night, worry flashing across a doctor’s face as she looks over your test results, etc. A moment, people say, that they’ll remember forever as the moment their life changed.

This is not one of those stories; the moments that changed my life were not big, obvious moments – at least not at first.


Had I been presented all at once with the idea that slow-formed as the days dragged through June and July 2010, I might have lost my mind a lot sooner, or – alternately – resolutely clung to my ideas about what was what, what was real. I’d have dug in my heels and rolled my eyes at the idea, an idea that would surely have seemed dismissable, absurd – crazy!!! – had it been suddenly plunked down into the middle of a usual day.

I probably would have simply gone about my business, staring straight ahead and keeping my mind on the list of things to do, places to go and people to see, people to be.

If I had immediately known that what I saw would, in only a matter of months, create an enormous rift between me and the rest of the world, pulling the threads that held my reality together and supplanting the experiences of simple, everyday life with outlandish, urgent visions of a world that other people seemed unable to see, I would have had to think long and hard about even briefly entertaining the idea as it emerged.

Nobody could have told me that studying cloudforms would – ultimately – result in me sitting in the back seat of a police cruiser with my hands cuffed behind my back. I probably would have never looked up, had I known.

archive image

If you click here or on the image above you will be transported to a lengthy scrap of what I was thinking about 01/01/2010, and – from there – you can see what else was going on in 2010, a year that included numerous events that reconfigured my life as I knew it, up to and including the sadness, frustration, and shame of losing legal custody of my children due to concerns about my mental health and my ability to make good decisions.

Cloud-watching and fumbling around with different ways of thinking about the world, different ways of seeing the world, created huge (and probably avoidable) upheavals. 

While I regret that my children had to endure a single moment of not being sure what was going on with their mom, not knowing if I was okay and if – by extension – if they were okay, if their little home-world was okay, I am still immeasurably grateful to have had the experience of genuinely believing – with a clarity that was more certain than any clarity I had ever felt, a clarity like truth – that I was witnessing some force like God drawing pictures in the clouds, trying to tell me something about how deeply, anciently alive and beautifully interconnected everything truly is.

In that way, I suppose my life did change in a moment, a moment that an external observer may have seen as a woman alone in her yard, aiming a camera at the sky and crying like she’d never cried before.

However, as much as I believed, I also couldn’t entirely believe. I didn’t know what I would be believing in if I did believe. I cried as much for not believing as I did for believing, for wanting to believe and finding myself again and again as the skeptical jerk who needed a stupid scientific explanation for awe-spurring wonders and mysteries.

Why can’t I just accept that it’s beautiful and that it’s a mystery and go about my life?

Why do I need to know how it works, how its possible, why I see what I see? 

This is not a story of a person’s finding their way to God through spending contemplative time in nature, or anything like that.

This is the story of a naive and ignorant demi-genius with a mental health diagnosis who has a pretty solid track record of fucking up her life and letting people down despite trying very hard to do the ‘right’ thing and to be a decent human being, who – when in the midst of her life falling apart in new and unprecedented ways involving a not-great marriage, upset children, a dead dog and a lost job – happened to be spending a lot of time looking at the sky with her heart breaking all over the place.

She noticed something, and became curious, began to pay attention and wonder about the workings of things.

This is a story about questions, and about the circuitous path toward answers that may not even exist.