In Memory of Clouds

Memory is a strange, fluid, ethereal part of the human mind, and we are constantly reminded memory is flawed, perhaps tragically so, yet we rely upon it, swear that it is true, even as we search for some lost item, convinced it is somewhere it clearly is not, and was not, at least not this time. 

But time too, is something we both worship and ignore, like a god we know that one day will kill us, yet we spend time staring off into space, wondering what to do with it before our death comes to us, when our time is finished. 

Yesterday’s dawn brought me clouds low and fast moving, and clouds above them, two different colors, the contrast exciting for I remember seeing clouds like this when I was a small child. I was in the city pool, watching the clouds, standing in cold water up to my shoulders, amazed at the two layers of atmosphere which both held clouds. We adults tend to forget that children experience life as a series of wonders, the planet and life still alien to them, the colors still a mystery, the names of so many things still unknown, and perhaps unknowable, and there in the cold water of the early summer pool, I had no idea if what I was seeing was common, or rare, or had never happened before.

What I was certain of was school was out. School was prison, it was torture, humiliating, and to have three months of my life free of school was like learning to fly. And there, in the water, a liquid world of weightlessness, and pure pleasure, I looked up at the clouds, more water, and full of delight at being alive. The sharp sense of cold from both the wind and the water, the sight of clouds moving above, the feel of bareness of my feet on the concrete of the pool, and there in that moment, memory formed and stayed forever. 

Or did it? 

But now the pool is gone. Crushed and buried on site, the vacant lot seems tiny in comparison to what I remember, the poles that held the lights are gone, the tanks that cleaned the water are gone, and nothing remains. Children, very young children, have grown up to have children of their own, and they too have kids now, and some of those children whose bare feet paddled them around in the water have been long since dead. Their memories circled the drain of life, like the last time the pool was emptied, and now, nothing remains of those moments of wonder they might have experienced.

Was it ever real? How much has been transmogrified by time and polluted by remembering, and therefore changed in some way, until like a painting touched up too many times, only a template of the original remains, but no one notices. Yet the sight of clouds under clouds, clouds over clouds, scurrying away, different colors, different winds, still delight me. I still feel the cold water, the cold air of early June, the feeling that just above me, out of reach, was something beautiful, wonderful, magical, and transient. It was glorious. It was exhilarating. It was incredible.

It was life. 

Take Care,


Those Who Can, Teach.

The lockdown proved parents were unable, or unwilling, to teach their children. It proved that the public school system is day care, not education. Parents, by and large, had no idea how to interact with their own kids for more than a couple of hours at a time, and people were totally lost without having a job to escape their parental responsibilities.

Test scores across the board have tanked. Students didn’t absorb as much information from remote learning as they did in the classroom, and to be fair, their parents were not, and they are not, qualified to teach. 

            You might think there’s an object lesson for parents here, that they would come to a fuller and deeper, and undying, appreciation for the work teachers do, and for the school system that provides their children an education, and provides parents an escape from their own failings to learn, and their own inability to interact with their children when it comes to teaching those children anything greater than how to operate a microwave. 

            But of course, you would be wrong, horribly wrong. 

            Since 2021, the year after prevention of the plague became a political issue and not one of public health, local boards of education have been swamped with people, usually parents, who suddenly have time for education, as long as that education exclusively consists of banning books. The same people who could not improve their children’s reading scores at home are now seeking to get rid of books they themselves have not, or cannot read. 

            Like the plague, suddenly education is a political issue, but not for the betterment of schools, or students, or math, science, reading, language skills, or any other subject, oh no, it’s all about banning books. 

Those who can, teach, those who cannot, politic. 

Take Care,


The Unicorn on a Unicycle

Memory, in your brain, in the human brain, isn’t like memory in a computer. I once read we do not store memories at all, but store the scaffolding of it, and rely on external input to fill in the blanks. This doesn’t make sense at all, until you think about the number of times you’ve remembered the words to a song, but only after hearing the song on the radio. You couldn’t have written them down, but now the song is playing, you’re singing along just like you were a very long time ago.

Dreams are worse, in as far as remembering them goes, for they are not reality, sometimes not even based on reality, so there’s nothing there to grab to build on. They are here, somewhere, in your brain, then the dream is gone, and you cannot remember anything but how it made you feel.

I started getting up and writing down my dreams, back in the 1970’s, when I was in high school, and that helped me remember them. As is usual, the effort you’re willing to make to do something will define how well you do it. But most people ignore their dreams, consider them transient things that happen, and afterwards, only a vague unease exists.

Last night a dream began, ended, and as it was gone before any sort of writing could be done, I cast my line into the darkness trying to snag an image or feeling, or anything that night help. A house, in the darkness, lights on, and that was it. I knew who lived in the house, a woman I have not seen, literally, in decades, and right now I’m having trouble remembering anything about her at all. Wait, it’s the house she lived in with her husband and kids, and I want to say I know where the house is, but I cannot.

You would recognize the house where some character on television lived in, the rooms, the kitchen, but you know it’s a set, not a real structure, and in your mind there are places that actually exist but you’ve never seen them in their totality. Ever been in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant? Ever been on the roof? You go home with someone for the first time, you sleep in their bed, and leave the next morning, and if you see that person again, they show you their garden in the backyard, and it’s a surprise to see the rest of their living space, just as it was a surprise to see their body for the first time. Interesting tattoo you have there, why did you get a unicorn riding a unicycle?

But then the person is gone. This person you were once joined at the hips with has eased out of your life, and you’ve eased away from the backyard and bedroom, and now you are a memory, and so is that person. There was a fight over money or infidelity, or there was nothing there but heat to begin with. Or you were unable to keep from being weird. That happens.

Now, years later, something sets off the scaffolding and the memory is recreated, flawed and patchy, holes in the details which your mind dutifully fills in, and destroys the memory in doing so, but you still, even if you know this as a fact, accept the memory as whole.

We cling to the scaffolding of memory, not the memory itself. The memory doesn’t exist, it never has, and it never will. We accept this, unconsciously, subconsciously, for it is all we have ever known, literally. Dreams lack this, so we allow them to pass into the ether, and even though I suspect the two are closely related, we will declare one a crop, and the other a weed.

The house, the woman of decades ago, the memory of the past is an illusion created in my mind, and after I am done writing this, soon now, it will recede again, a coin flashing and reflecting as it sinks deeper and deeper, until forgotten.

Take Care,