Welcome to my blog..


"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty

I am in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I will be getting to know soon. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog will trace the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that'll feature too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June last year my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island. Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.

A recent addendum as of July 1, 2013: I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC but because of immigration rules that'll be slow. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.

As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.

For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa

Friday, April 18, 2014

And now I'm asking for your help to tell my grandmothers' stories

Hi intrepid blog readers...as you may notice, the link to my Indiegogo campaign to support my grandmothers' book (The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani) that began today is now on the right hand margin of this blog.  I'm pretty happy with the campaign site.

Here, too, is the link to the Indiegogo site (that includes video and longer description of the project): The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani  If you can donate (for which you can receive perks like the book itself, help shaping a story of your own about your grandmothers, etc.) and/or spread the word, I'd be wildly grateful.  As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I have indeed been working on this project for three years.  If I reach my goal, that would give me the time I need this summer to finish the final phases of research and write the first major draft.  However, even if you can't donate, I cannot emphasize enough how helpful it would be if you could spread the word.

Here's the video (because one friend loved it so much, I've decided to post it here, too):



And here's the brief project summary:

I have been researching and writing The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick and Jani, for the past three years.  This book traces the lives of my grandmothers, both born in 1916 (before women had the right to vote), but who cut two very different paths through their lives.  Dick was on the surface a one-dimensional, frustrated housewife (who was anything but), whereas Jani rebelled loudly against the conventions of marriage and motherhood, yet never stopped trying to find love, even after she crashed out of her third marriage on her way to becoming a feminist teacher in the 1970s. 
Dick and Jani's voices and experience offer a fresh perspective on the 20th Century.  Their lives as women who were neither famous nor infamous were restricted, but their witness is no less valuable for that.  Their choices - as women born into modest circumstances but who had outsized dreams - could not have been more different.  Their story is a study in contrasts, between the soul-crushing cost of conformity paid by Dick and the price of Jani's very flamboyant rebellion against the role she was told she should play. 


In other words, their perspectives offer a micro-history* of the time in which they lived and their experience is valuable as a mirror into our own time.   I have come to realize that without hearing and understanding our grandmothers' stories, we are impoverished for lack of deep knowledge of our own history.  This book is a humble attempt to begin to redress that balance.


*[note for geeks like me who like this kind of thing:] I first heard the term micro-history thanks to the historian Jill Lepore, who wrote about it in an article Historians Who Love Too Much, in which this term is used as distinct from biography in that it signifies writing about people who are usually not so famous or exceptional, but whose lives therefore are more indicative of the social and political landscape of the time in which they lived.  Jill Lepore herself wrote an astonishing micro-history recently about Jane Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's less well-known, but nevertheless extraordinary sister.  From Jane's perspective, as Lepore writes it, we see and experience the American Revolution in a way more interesting and ground-level than any history book I've ever read.  My book is an attempt to pull this off for the 20th Century from the point of view of my grandmothers.

***

I'm rarely self-promotional on this blog, but this kind of funding thing forces such awkward behavior on me.  This is frankly some seriously scary shit asking for money and support, but I am committed to seeing it through.  I am surprised by how good I ended up feeling about the project by the time I'd gotten the campaign pitch done, and because donations are already coming in, I know this much: this project will get done.  Because I promised.  That's really all it takes for me.

Thanks go now to my mother's friend Fran who gave me money spontaneously to help with the writing of this book, before this campaign, and whose generosity made me think it was a good idea to try.  Fran wanted to feel a part of the project and of course she is now.  I hope any of you who donate and/or support it any way feel that way, too.

No writer writes alone.

Thanking you all in advance for helping me make this book happen.  I so dearly want to finish it and get it out into the world.  Our grandmothers' voices do deserve to be heard.

***
And a most exciting update: my beloved Canadian has Finally gotten his date at the Embassy at the end of May, so his visa should be finalized then, and we can finally live together - 11 months - count them: 11 months - after we were married.  Amazing.  He's Canadian!  We're in our 50s!  Oy.  But still and all grateful beyond words that it's finally moving forward and to our fabulous immigration attorney, David Katona.  Seriously, he's great.  If you're in NYC and need an immigration attorney, hire him.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Homage to Friendship

I'm sorry not to have written anything for a while.  Life has been full on.  John and I are still waiting out the visa process, which is driving me slowly insane.  A process that should have taken 7-8 months (which is already crazy-long for two middle-aged married people from Canada and the US), has now dragged into its 10th month.  This is not because we are unique in any way, but because of a bottleneck in the system, which is hurting many people, keeping families apart and causing a kind of financial and emotional anxiety that is hard to describe.  There is no there there.  No way to begin a life, just limbo and extended visits, in short: purgatory without known end.  There was a moment where it seemed everything was moving ahead swiftly, but then: stalled again.  It's like being stuck on a freeway for 7 months, then suddenly: oh the traffic is moving, then: oh no, never mind, stuck again. I'm not one who is good with unknowns (known or otherwise thank you Donald Rumsfeld).  So, there's that...

BUT, on the positive side of the ledger, there are friends.  I have been reconnecting with college and high school friends this past month, which has been an extraordinary pleasure.  These were people to whom I was very close at various times and for whatever reason lost touch with or haven't seen for ages.

I am happy to say that in all instances, reconnecting was a joy felt mutually by all concerned.  I was also able to introduce John to this my scattered family of friends, which was great, too.

There is something about realizing you haven't lost people who witnessed you when you were a teenager or even a college student, even if - as I was - you were kind of dorky in many ways, scared shitless most of the time (even at college where you learned a little front - but it was so ridiculous that anyone with half a brain could have seen through it).  Fortunately, the good side of dorkiness is that if someone was your friend then, they will probably still be your friend now, when we are all older and frankly too old to care who is dorky and who isn't anymore.  When all you care about is: do I relate to this person, s/he friendly, can we connect over the long chasm of years and still find whatever we shared lo those many years ago?  Can we still have interesting conversations and then make each other laugh uncontrollably? If so, hooray!  You've made it!  You've won the Life Lottery!

Seriously, people, this is what I believe now.  These friendships that have lasted all this time are testament to a kind of thread of humanity that sometimes I forget about...and a thread of my life that runs through it, even when I feel lost, confused or full of anxiety...which I have done recently for many reasons, mostly having to do with career and finances.

There is the sweeter experience still of having John meet all these friends and find a commonality with them, it gives me the sense we've had since meeting each other that our lives, while not shared until now, were somehow parallel.

Below is a picture John took recently of my friend Bennett and me.  We were close friends at Wesleyan, having met - gasp - over 30 years ago.  He was visiting from LA for his 50th birthday.  We both spent time up in Maine over the summers as children, on the same small island, but being shy children we never met, because I was on the back of the island and he was on the front.  Unlike the tanned, athletic kids who jetted around on their bikes and dove into the freezing water, Bennett and I sat in our respective cottages reading, writing, painting and the like.  When we met at university, it was like finding an old friend who you haven't met yet.  (That's how it felt when I met John, too, though in a more romantic context.)

Bennett & me in NYC - both now 50, friends since 1983 (!) - John took the photo

We shared lots of adventures, including going to Europe for the first time - landing in Paris jet lagged, excited and terrified to be seem American (it was 1984 and not a good look - dollar was high, Reagan was president, the French were not amused, nor the Italians - we were headed in the end of art school in Florence).  We stared at Notre Dame realizing that one building was older and more impressive than any we had ever seen.  We couldn't figure out where to eat or how the money worked.  We were 21.  Bennett is gay, and like most of my gay male friends at the time, I had a terrible crush on him.  For someone as totally incapable of having a romantic relationship as I was then, this was the best possible situation and is why we are still friends to this day.

We have been in and out of each other's lives since college, but I think the photo kinda says it all.  There is something so entirely comforting about having people in your life that were there when you were a total idiot and still love you.  That would be Bennett.

Then there is my friend, Julie (who I met in 2000 at a writer's meeting and became fast friends with after she laughed at the fact that when I was drunk in college I puked on the Artaud section of my thesis).  She has seen me through two divorces, two pregnancies that did not go to term, a bi-continental life for 8 years, a PhD and two weddings, including my third at age 50.  She is the kind of person who when I called her back in 2000, raw from the end of my first marriage and seeing no way out of the pain, would listen to my sadness, my craziness, my raw anger and really, really bad ideas about how to handle all of the above, with equanimity, lack of judgment and - at the same time - clarity.  At that time, quite frankly, she was more valuable to me than I could possibly have been to her.  She held a space for me no one else in my life at the time could have done - because of her age, the work she had done on herself and her exquisite ability to love and listen.

Because we stayed close and I started doing some of the work she had done, I was able to be there for her at times when her life went kind of wonky.  I was and am so grateful to redress the balance.  Now, we are there for each other at the extreme end of anything that happens in either of our lives.  Neither has to worry the other thinks she is 'too much' and or about being judged.  What we do for each other: hold space, listen, offer clarity based on our own experience and show humility when we can't help.  But the being there, the witness, the simplicity of presence.  That is the gift.  That gift is priceless.

John also listens and holds space for me, more than any man I've ever been with, and he offers love unconditional, which is priceless.  What Julie offers after 14 years of friendship is 'time served' - a mutuality of witness and an experience of life with 'no windshield' (aka no drugs or alcohol) for many years on this earth.  This is in no way diminishes what John means to me or who he is.  However, without my friendship with Julie, the whole relationship with John would be impossible.  I had to learn intimacy in a friendship before I could allow myself to love and be loved the way John and I do.

So, aside from the vagaries of the Immigration system, I feel exquisitely lucky.  Remind of how lucky I am when I complain next time, which of course I will...

There are many other people I could write about at length on this blog about friendship, but for today, we will stick with these folks, though seeing my friends Ellen and Carol from high school this past month was another joy.  High school is a whole other territory - tundra-like in my emotional memory, so it is with a certain trepidation I ever meet with people from that period of time.  However Ellen and Carol were bright spots in that ice storm and their warmth shown through.  Whenever I see people like them, I remember how I got through that difficult time in my life.  Friends.  It's that simple.

Oh, and directing theater.  There was that, too.  But without the friends, I doubt I would have stumbled into the theater in the first place.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  Not sure.  But I do know that without my friends near and far, I would be dead by now and that's no joke.  So thank you, all of you, you all know who you are...





Thursday, March 13, 2014

Things to celebrate!

So, it's been a while since I've written.  Lots going on: writing, teaching writing, applying for work, going through endless visa process for/with my beloved Canadian husband.

But, in the meantime, my beloved step-father Tom's memoir was published and is now available on Amazon, so I want to give you the link here: Seeking Adventure, Finding Home.  If you are interested in how someone combined a deep spiritual and social justice sensibility with tackling real-world problems (in places as far flung as Columbia, South Africa and Bangladesh - and as strange as the Providence, RI & D.C.), then this is the memoir for you.  If you are also interested in how someone can hurl themselves around the world in the first part of life but then find an even deeper happiness as he got older by 'retiring' to renovating a farmhouse in Maine, and finally - after physical disabilities became too much for even that - becoming witness-in-chief of a pond outside his condominium in Brunswick, Maine (along with working at a soup-kitchen, taking classes at local colleges and being part of a very active James Joyce study group), then this is also the book for you.

Here's the promo postcard designed by my very own Canadian:

I wrote about Tom on this blog back in June 2012 when he was dying.  That was a horrendous time for all of us who loved him of course.  However, that time was also sacred because I was privileged to be present for him and my mother when he died.

One of the astonishing things about Tom's death was that it was clear he was transcending the wheel of suffering, because he had lived a good life in all the possible meanings of the phrase.  I wrote here about the waves of love I felt from him as he took his last breath, holding his feet, with his beloved Ganesh statue behind me in the ICU.

He was not perfect, nor did he aspire to be, but he was a loving and vital human being who used every one of his many talents to make the world a better place.  Now, that, is a life worth celebrating.

I am lucky in that he was my stepfather long enough for me to appreciate this about him and that before he died we had worked through residual issues (not unsurprising for a teenager and her fourth father...).  His generosity to me from the beginning of his relationship with my mother in 1980 was kind of breathtaking.  The need my mother had for that kind of love, a man who would be her champion in every way, was palpable, and I - as the daughter who had attempted to carry that weight for a long time - was mightily relieved when he came along to take it off my back.

My mother in turn offered him a kind of love and nurture he so desperately needed and so they accomplished what they both happily referred to as a "successful mutual rescue project."  This is the kind of happy ending one wishes to see in the real world.  I feel so grateful I had a front row seat.  It took me many years to take on board the life lesson staring at me for over 30 years, but eventually I, too, found the love of my life, and so the (happy) story continues.

My mother and I, with the help of men like Tom and John (and our own ceaseless work on ourselves in various ways too numerous and in some cases embarrassing - I'm talking about me here - to mention), have slowly but surely turned the direction of the enormous toxin-filled ship of - no exaggeration - hundred of years of generational alcoholism and dysfunction away from the inevitable grounding on the proverbial shoals of self-destruction (in which many innocents also drown for the sin of just being near the cyclonic force - to mix the 5th metaphor), to a more gentle shore.  A place where the toxins can be unloaded, perhaps stored somewhere safe even, in hopes they won't hurt anyone else, ourselves included.

My beloved cousin Darcy and her amazing husband James in the way they are with each other and how they are raising their two wonderful children Simon & Leo are also charting a different course out of the dangerous fog within which our inheritance wants us to get lost.

I am so lucky to be alive and so is my mother, but more than that - in this life - this very life - without anything given to us to start  - except arguably in a weird sideways cosmic pincer move, one loud, angry, raucous, politically astute, feminist, hell-bent-active alcoholic-but-loving-in-her-own-crazy-ass-way woman (my grandmother, her mother, Jani, who fought and clawed to gasp air even when she didn't even know what it was to breathe) - we have found a way out of the predetermined path of self-destruct on which we had been set.

Tom was a huge part of this healing project and I celebrate him here.  I miss him so much I can barely let myself feel it most of the time, but I am equally grateful he was in my life.

One person's love can make that much difference.  Know that.  Act on that.  With that power you can really change the world - not just the wallpaper.  For realz.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

in praise of archeologists & Kate Vargas

Just a brief update to say I continue to work steadfastly on my grandmothers' book.  The research part is taking a huge amount of time.  I keep thinking I see the end, then...it's nowhere near the end.  I ams sometimes told that I should "just write the 50 pages" and send it to the agent, etc. but I keep feeling I must continue reading all that my grandmother, Jani, wrote before I do so.  While it is sometimes a slog, in the middle of that a gem will pop out, a connection will be made, another idea shines through, some structural understanding, some emotional penny will drop.

I am trusting, for better or for worse, in this weirdly methodical (for me) organic process.  That may seem like a contradiction in terms, but as I get older, the more respect I have for archeologists.  The people who just sit there patiently brushing dirt off things ever so delicately layer by layer in hopes of finding another piece of a gigantic puzzle - one that most of them know they will never definitively solve, but move forward nonetheless.  You can't just go ransacking around ancient sites and hope to find a treasure.  Because, even if you do find that treasure, it will be out of context and you might have damaged other perhaps less obviously valuable bits of information that - if discovered - would have been more valuable than the glittery object you're holding in your greedy, impatient hand.

As someone who spent so many years working with cut-ups and random chance operations (which I still love by the way) to be working this way seems so strange and yet in some other way weirdly healing.  Like there's a faith there is something to find after all.  Not that it'll be 'definitive' or The One Great Truth, but it's there...this understanding of another human being...or two...and a different time period in which I did not live.  It feels weirdly - dare I say it - mature.

If nothing else, I am getting a much greater sense of my grandmothers, and in so doing have found myself reaching back further to their grandmothers...the sense of feeling backwards towards history, finally embracing my heritage, which is not without some big dark holes (visible, invisible, palpable, almost like air).  Linking historical events and people, finding common threads, realizing how close we are, so much closer than I suspected.

When I do give myself the permission to write, it feels fabulous.  But I am keeping that in check, so I can continue the reading and the notes and the perambulating in my brain and heart.

Throughout all this my lovely husband, John, has been extraordinarily supportive, even when I've kind of lost it, which I do...on a fairly regular basis.  Sometimes crying, sometimes just acting in an um well not so great way and sometimes just exhausted...and sometimes, even, well, happy.  He is the true love of my life because he can handle this.  I've never been with anyone who could.  My gratitude for him in my life is beyond all else.  (And happily his visa process is moving forward...finally...so in a couple months, hopefully, we'll be in Montreal for his green card interview - which will be almost the end of a way longer than expected road...)

I have two Ganesh statues, one brass, small on my computer base (from my mother) and one larger, reddish color, a writing Ganesh looking at me with piercing eyes in the corner of my desk.  Ganesh the trickster, the creator and remover of obstacles...of course he's writing.  I just wish I had those extra arms....

***

On a different note, my friend Kate Vargas debuted her album Down To My Soul at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on Thursday and damn but did she kick ass.  But don't take my word for it.  Here is a link to one of her songs 'Throw the Devil Back' here.  You can get the album at that site, too.

Also playing with her was the lovely and talented Andrea Wittgens, another extraordinary singer/songwriter.  Below are two photos John took on Thursday.  Give yourself a treat and listen to these ladies' music.

The divine Kate Vargas at Rockwood Music Hall (photo © John Barclay-Morton)

Andrea Wittgens playing with Kate (Andrea's got a Pandora station: check her out!)
© John Barclay-Morton
So, like, do I have the most gorgeous and talented friends or what?  Yet another blessing in this life.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

David Foster Wallace, Philip Seymour Hoffman and the perils of long-term sobriety

There were two things I had in common with David Foster Wallace and Philip Seymour Hoffman before they died - both tragically - in their 40s: like them I got clean and sober in my 20s and in my professional life use my middle name.  (Unlike them, I have not been burdened with fame, though that hasn't been for lack of trying - not so much for fame as much for recognition as an artist that can lead to a sustainable living as same...which I think is what DFW and PSH wanted, too, neither seeming very happy in the Fame Light - because like who Would?  It must be terrifying, especially in this country.)

What is scary to me - and to anyone else with long-term sobriety who also spends a lot of time thinking, creating and putting themselves out there in the world - is that these two men who spent so many years clean and sober in such a dedicated way both ended their lives prematurely.  One on purpose (DFW committed suicide by hanging himself and left a note) and one whose death is still being examined, though it appears to be a drug overdose, most likely accidental.  However, as anyone who has been sober a long time knows, any use of drink or drugs by an addict or alcoholic is, generally, a form of short or long-form suicide.

The reason this is scary is because as much as I would like to think I have it down, or am somehow immune to the disease of alcoholism or addiction, the sorry fact is I'm not.  Not only that it confirms that nothing in terms of recognition, talent, intelligence, general goodness or wisdom, love from a partner or children - nothing external can keep me clean and sober if I decide to go out and drink, use or off myself in some other way.

To give you an example of how slippery this slope can be, here's a personal story.  When I hadn't had a drink or a drug for 23 years, my father died.  I 'dealt with it well' - did all the right things, showed up, felt forgiveness, acted well, felt my feelings, grieved real grief...etc.  Then after all that, there is this voice in my head (which I have named the disease as double-agent CIA guy - who sounds ohhhh, so reasonable at the time...so suave and calm...so intelligent) "Hey, you know you dealt with your father's death so well.  You've obviously healed so many wounds from your past.  You know, that emptiness, that void you were filling with alcohol when you were younger.  It's not there anymore.  You could probably drink now...oh, I'm not saying you should drink, but you could...and of course if it scares you, then don't...but you could."

For real.  That voice.  And that voice will kill you dead...or at least make you drink, especially if, like me - and of course this voice is designed for me - any talk of me being afraid is a red rag to the bull of my alcoholism.  My throat starts getting dry and I feel thirsty.

After Philip Seymour Hoffman died last week, my throat felt parched.  My tongue felt swollen.  That combined with the anniversary of my alcoholic grandmother's death (about whom I am reading and writing)...was horrendous.  Part of it was fear, part of it thirst.  As George Bataille once wrote "a wound desires nothing more than another wound."  The siren call of death.

So seductive, so scary....but here, my friends, is the irony of all ironies.  I am so embarrassed to ever be called out as afraid and yet it is my fear that is my friend.  Without my fear, I would probably go out and drink again, thinking, "yeah, I can handle it."  And that would be death for me.  I know it.  Which is why indeed I am afraid. Thank God/dess.

For those of us with long-term sobriety the final irony is: it doesn't get any easier.  In fact, there is some element of the whole enterprise that is not unlike Wiley E. Coyote having run off the cliff before looking down.  We are in some sense defying gravity.  So, after many years, one's arms can get tired and it's hard not to look down...to strain this metaphor to death...

I attribute my long-term sobriety to one thing only: grace.  I don't deserve it any more or less than anyone else. I certainly don't deserve it any more than Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Foster Wallace or some very close friends and relatives who have died of this disease.  I have taken some suggestions.  I pray and meditate every day, do attempt to be as honest with myself as possible, try to help another person suffering, etc.  But so do a lot of people.  And so did PSH & DFW in their time.

The fact is the desire to stay sober and stay alive is also a gift.

So, this post is a long way of saying how grateful I am: to the gods and goddesses and forces of the universe and Whatever else for giving me this gift.  I hope I help others sometimes - by example rather than advice (God help anyone who I begin to 'advise').  I hope my life on this earth means something to somebody.  That I do something in terms of service, art, something that even begins to give back this undeserved gift to the world.  I try pretty hard not to be a waste of space.  I am trying to do this writing project about my grandmothers that sometimes feels like it is driving me close to crazy.  I think I am doing this so that their voices, and the voices of women like them that have not been heard can be heard.  Am I?  Is it just ego?  WTF knows...but I'm moving forward with it.

I do know there are powers greater than me at work, greater than you, greater than any of us.  How they work, I don't know.  I just know they do. I have felt them.  I have seen them.  I forget them a lot.  When I remember them, I feel like I have a right relationship with life and - as a good friend never tires of telling me - "Your life is none of your business."

Indeed.

Gratitude to you all out there reading this, with a special shout out to my friends who spend time with me and others in uncomfortable chairs, under fluorescent lights in church basements and community halls.  Stay alive, don't pick up and don't give up on yourself or anyone else before the miracle.

Peace out.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

For the record...

I believe Dylan Farrow.  Anyone who is a survivor will recognize her story as true.

Here's a link to Nicholas Kristof's article in the New York Times that links to his blog post with Dylan's letter: kristof-dylan-farrows-story

She has never before spoken out about the abuse claims against Woody Allen.  She has now.

She will probably be judged for this.  Those her judge her are like the people who sheltered Sandusky & such other 'heroes' of sports and entertainment.

Believe the survivors.  Only once this hidden scourge of abuse comes out in the open - including when girls are abused in their own home - will we have a bat's chance of sanity.

Until then, we are living in a dangerous delusion.

No "genius" is worth this.

For the record, too, I stopped watching Allen's films after he married his own stepdaughter, was a physical repulsion more than a decision.  Now I know the full extent of what I was feeling and why.

Friday, January 31, 2014

I am writing and teaching writing and that is all

I have not written on this blog for a while because I am fully engaged in my grandmothers book.  I work on it 3-7 hours per day depending on if I need to teach or do something else that day.  I've been ordering my grandmother Jani's files and reading her massive amount of writing (3 drafts of books, one complete, 2 incomplete, articles, correspondence, poems, stories, projects, etc.)  It was left in a mess so just getting dates right (while reading through some very personal material) while also figuring out her handwriting on her mountains of legal pads...is a journey.

John has been a great help keeping me grounded and making sure I have food and am somewhere near sane.  Our love continues to grow, though why on earth he puts up with me is beyond me.  Seriously, when doing this kind of work, I am no fun.  He claims I still can be.  That's probably why we're together and so in love.

I am also teaching writing again at Fordham, which is lovely and also grounding...in the present.

Last night, I saw a friend from high school, Sue, who I haven't seen since the 80s.  She lives in California but was visiting and we finally connected after all these years.  Here's a picture of the three of us: John, Sue and me at the W. 4th Street subway stop.  We lived one year in the same weird little George Washington slept here clapboard house at a tony boarding school (I was there on scholarship - see early blogposts for examples of my true dorkitude at that time).  Sue was someone with whom I connected in my senior year when I was quietly imploding.  We were both having a hard time.  I don't think we ever talked about that but somehow intuited another struggling soul.  And here we are now - lo these many years later at the subway station that was nearest my first apartment in NYC in the early 80s.  We're older, more mature and have been through a lot.  But here's the really true fact.  We're alive and that's good:

yes the dreaded 'selfie' x 3, but there we all are - Sue looks as gorgeous as I remember her in '81

yes we are still this silly happy with one another - and feeling so grateful to be together now
Other bits of news include having had a reading of an excerpt from my on-going, never-ending, someday to actually appear in the world William James project...the excerpt was illuminating, especially the conversations it generated.  Hoping now to find the right place for this to happen.  More on that as I know it.

The biggest news for me is once again Jill Lepore-related.  Her book about Jane Franklin is genius and is giving me the courage to keep going with my grandmothers book, knowing by her example how important it is to give these neither rich nor famous nor infamous women voice.  I think, given her definition of it in an article she wrote about the subject, that what I am doing is perhaps closer to 'micro history' than strictly biography or fiction.

The courage to keep on going with a project I have now worked on for over 3 years with no end in sight (research alone is taking me ages) and knowing I will continue thinking and rethinking it...that most of the hundreds of pages already written are destined for the trashcan...etc...is necessary.  What I can't believe now is how willing I am to do all this groundwork, the ordering, the endless tasks of figuring out dates and details, etc.  It's like a weird detective story (which is what Lepore says the best micro histories are) and I'm no Sherlock Holmes...just a kind of bumbling I'm not sure who or what...but it's happening and this sense of quiet accomplishment is growing inside me.  Shhhh.  Don't say it out loud a voice says in me...but well there it is...

So, back to work now...it may be a while before I post again.  My goal is to get most of the documents written by Jani read by the end of February.  I've read a ton, but there's a ton more.  However, NOW, it's all - basically - in chronological order....please wish me luck.  Send blessings, prayers, vibes, dances, whatever you believe in...that I may push through onto the other side...