Welcome to my blog..


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

When I started this blog in 2011, I was 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 met in 2011. 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 is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features 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 2012 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.

I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. 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.

This past year I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House this past summer.

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.

For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani

I have recently launched a Patreon - which is a way for folks to support my work as a writer and artist - for as little as $1/month, you can be my patron! Any gifts small or large are gratefully received and will give you access to my work and the process it takes to get it to you.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

David Berry's memorial on January 20

For those of you who responding to my blog post about my stepfather David's sudden and unexpected death, I am posting the invite to his memorial, which is on January 20 at 7pm at the LBGT Center on West 13th Street. All are welcome.

Yes, it's the same day as the inauguration. We are aware of that. This is the time we could get the space we wanted, which is a lovely space, and we are all certain David would find dark humor in the timing. We his close family and friends are going to spend that day remembering someone who made a real contribution to the world, and spent his life denouncing Emperors without Clothes. So perhaps now you can see the poetry here.

If you want to commemorate a great man, who touched many deeply with his plays and his person and was - of my multiple fathers - the one who raised me from childhood and introduced me to theater and writing, you are welcome to join us.

I wrote a longer post about him earlier, if this comes as a surprise, or you want to know more about him. There is also an obit in the New York Times.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Acceptance is not Acquiescence: It is. Thank you.

So, there's this thing going around on social media, Facebook specifically, wherein we are meant to choose a word for the year. Kind of like a resolution I suppose or a hope.

The word that came to me was Acceptance.

And when I thought of typing this on FB, I could see the flood of people yelling at me that I was 'normalizing' the situation (aka the orange one, etc.) and realized that there was no way I could choose this word without writing about what this word means to me in real terms, instead of what it is misunderstood to imply.

Acceptance to most (American) minds implies something along the lines of weak, passive, submissive, not fighting, wussy, whathaveyou. Whereas for me it means a discipline that can only be cultivated with strength of heart and soul that confers a kind of power and clarity of action that mere willfulness or bloodymindedness does not.

Oh how we love the stubborn, the bloodyminded, the willful, the violent, etc, etc in this country! And as has been proven many times, we have a real soft spot for narcissistic psychopaths.

Fun times.

However, what I am certain is needed now is not more of the same hurled back, but instead the moment, the breath, the time to first accept. Accept what? Well, I dunno, reality for starters.

If I become aware of something I don't like and act against it reactively the chances of my succeeding are very small. Or, I may succeed, but most likely it will be a Pyrrhic victory that will redound badly on me in the end.

If on the other hand, I take a moment or however long I need to accept the reality of whatever that is, including the reality of my situation and what I do and (equally important) don't have the power to change, then I have a chance of choosing an action in response that may be effective.

My default setting - and I don't think this makes me unique - is: awareness, action yesterday! This is tempting. It makes me feel like I'm doing something, but what am I doing? Who knows. It's a reaction. It usually doesn't work.

Let's take the election for example. I have to accept, whether I like it or not, that DT will be president. I can scream and yell all I want, them's the rules. Even if he did steal it somehow. Whatever happened has not been proven yet, so he's gonna be president. There is no such thing as my president or your president, there is only the president, and he will be it. To use the language from the Tea Party, who invented the 'not my president' trope for Obama is...unwise. Also just kind of pointless. The president is not a teddy bear or bff. The president is the president.

That's a start.

Second, the fact that millions of people voted for this dude. This is something a lot of people on the left including most of the cosseted commentariate (Studs Terkel warned against this cosseting - he saw a day like this coming where reporters and papers would stop reporting news that mattered to the 99% and then lose track of reality for anyone not doing well or in certain urban areas rich in information and access) refused to acknowledge. The reality of people that have been forgotten. These people were not forgotten by some like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but they were poo-pooed as - wait for it: 'populists' - the bad word if you are urban liberal educated, populism being just code for classist assumptions about folks usually referred to as 'poor white trash' outside of polite conversation.

So, a guy who could give a flying fuck about these people wins their vote, not because he's going to do jack shit to help them, But Because He Acknowledged They Exist.

That was a start.

Ignoring people you don't like does not make them go away.

Let me repeat that.

Ignoring people you don't like does not make them go away.

You can call them all the names you want. Still. Not. Going. Away.

So, here's the thing: and this is what acceptance means to me, we have to get in the same damn room. My grandmothers, the ones I wrote about, the ones who if alive would have voted for Trump and Clinton respectively, were never in the same room. They would not be in the same room.

There's the rub.

Is it all on 'our' (aka the left's) side to do this?

Absolutely not. It's on everyone.

Are there stone racists and people who are not pleasant involved?

Yes.

Do you have to put yourself in a dangerous situation?

No. Absolutely not.

Do we have to accept that there are people in this country (on all sides) that believe things so different from ourselves it seems as if we live in different countries, even different time periods?

Yes.

Do we still need to find a way to get into the same damn room?

Yes.

Why?

Because until we can accept one another as we are, we can't get anywhere. And I don't mean by that acquiesce or submit. No. I mean accept the reality of the situation, which is generally - especially when it comes to people we don't actually know in real life - way more complication and nuanced than we believe when we want to shove people into little stereotype boxes because that's ever so much easier than confronting or attempting to communicate with an actual, living, breathing human being.

Does this mean everyone is reachable?

No.

Are there violent, no good creepazoids who are probably not worth the time of day?

You betcha.

Are they the majority?

Doubtful.

So, we need to find a way to accept ourselves, each other and the full reality of this country as it actually is, because no, in fact it was not a different country after DT was elected. It is the same damn country. We are that fucking weird.

(And our voting system is that fucked up, too, granted - but still the rules have been in place all along and Obama managed to get elected twice.)

Are there aspects to our country we might have conveniently forgotten because it was - let's face it - easier than accepting them?

You bet.

Do we know they are there now?

Oh yeah.

Is it all pretty?

Nope.

is it real?

Yes.

So, we have to address what is real, not just try to put people back in boxes again or think that if we tell people not to say mean things they aren't thinking them. This is probably the greatest fallacy we have been laboring under for like a while, that if we can shame people into appearing to be non-sexist or non-racist or not homophobic or whatever, then they are reformed.

I think we now know that was a wrong assumption.

So, while I clearly do not advocate any such prejudices or hatreds, I do advocate finding a way to listen to each other without shutting each other down (again this would have to be done by all sides), so we can fucking hash this shit out. For real.

Idealistic?

Sure.

Necessary even so?

Absolutely.

We also have to FINALLY talk about class for real, and not assume when we are talking about race we are talking about class, because this is not true. There are in fact disenfranchised white people. They are way less likely to get killed by police and such, but poor white people are well and truly fucked nonetheless, especially since most folks don't even acknowledge they exist, including half of the poor people themselves. I get the whole issue of privilege. I do. But there are many different kinds of privilege and class is one of them. One of the ways the GOP keeps poor and lower middle class white people on side is by convincing us we aren't poor. It's ludicrous, and saying that it's all people of color on food stamps and such, which is ludicrous, but when we conflate race and class, we play into the GOP's hands.

So for me acceptance is about all this. Accepting the facts on the ground and that there are all these wildly different perceptions.

This is true on a personal level as well. If I find a part of myself I don't like, I can't just talk myself out of it. I have to accept it first. Only once I accept that this part exists can I begin to ask for help to have it relieved.

And now, here, I believe the same is true. I can't make DT or his minions go away, any more than I can singlehandedly push back late-capitalism or patriarchy in its death-star supernova, but I can accept these things and through accepting how they work, begin to act accordingly.

Accepting myself is key because I have to know what I can and cannot do in response. I have to know my energy levels, endurance, mental and physical abilities, etc. I cannot talk myself into being 23. I am 53 so have to choose my battles. Very carefully.

How does the word 'battles' work with the word 'acceptance'? Well, once I accept the situation, and understand the holistic complexity of it, I may want to work to change it, at least my response to it. But no matter what I do, I need to understand - as the Bhagavad Gita says - I can take an action, but I do not control the result.

All I am in charge of is right action in accordance with my deepest self.

In order to have a prayer of doing that, I have to know who my deepest self is, which means practicing self-awareness without judgment - which sounds easy, but is really fucking hard. I have to let go of all the IDEAS I have about who I am supposed to be or not supposed to be, all my little schemes and designs and listen for the still, small voice and act from there.

And also accept that that won't happen all the time either.

So acceptance is my word for this year, my prayer. I turn my life and my will over to powers greater than myself every day. Powers I do not understand but have had experience of in my life, too profound to deny, that have in fact saved my life. The fact I cannot explain this does not make it any less real. But the key to that power is acceptance.

That is a paradox, but it is true at least for this wildly imperfect human on this earth on this day in this lifetime.

So.

Acceptance.

p.s. I should add by way of full disclosure that what I am accepting today is that I am hopping mad about a lot of things personal and political and one of the things is grief for my dead stepfather who I know died in part in response to this fucking election and it just breaks my heart because it was so avoidable, but there it is. So acceptance for me isn't even particularly pretty - what I have to accept inside is sometimes a fucking shitstorm, but so be it. Because like I don't have a fucking choice. It is.

Which reminds me of my favorite prayer I heard once in London in 2003, an African prayer:

It is. Thank you.

It is. Thank you.

It is. Thank you.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

St. Mark's Poetry Marathon & The Resister Project

There are some amazing events I have been asked to participate in this January - beginning on New Year's Day. In real life I would be very excited about all this, and in some ways I am. Grieving for my stepfather has robbed me of enthusiasm, however, these events are going to be life-affirming, fierce, joyful and important, and they benefit excellent causes, so do come along if you can.

I am deeply honored be reading this year at the 43rd Annual St. Mark’s New Year’s Day Poetry Marathon at St. Mark’s Church on 10th St & 2nd Ave. in the 5-6pm slot. Here’s link to this amazing event, which was begun by Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg: https://www.poetryproject.org/events/43rd-annual-new-years-day-marathon-benefit-reading/

Starting January 5, I will be reading as part of the The Resister Project produced by The Dirty Blondes at Kraine Theater on East 4th Street in January. Dates and specifics of schedules all plays and readers here:  http://www.thedirtyblondes.org/the-resister-project.html Proceeds will go to ACLU. 

In both cases I will be reading excerpts from THE AMAZING TRUE IMAGINARY AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DICK & JANI. At St. Mark's it will be an excerpt that I structured like John Cage's Lectures on Nothing, using found text from the 1950s, both news and personal documents that I found in Dick's papers.

For The Resister Project, I will be reading excerpts that highlight Dick and Jani's political differences, because their lives as women who were born before women could vote during WWI and who would be 100 and 101 if alive today, embody the opposite sides of the political chasm into which we now find ourselves staring. If alive, Dick would have voted for Trump and Jani for Clinton. They are both my grandmothers, so I feel this schism on a visceral level. Clearly, I ended up on the lefthand side of the equation, but am deeply aware of the other side of this divide. I will be reading in their voices most probably from the 1960s, when a certain part of this divide cracked open, even though it goes back way further than that. I know it's an unpopular opinion these days on the left, but I believe understanding the roots of this are important and listening to all sides is a good idea, as is a sense of history when the present seems as if it is a surprising  development (even if it isn't). The details of other plays and such can be found at link above.

If you attend any of these events, do say hello. I'm not the most fun person ever these days, but appreciate hugs and kindness.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rumi on grieving

I may have posted this before, but I'm posting it again, because this poem by Rumi that I have tacked up above my computer is saving me again.  Probably because of reading it this morning and letting it sink in, each line, I had a moment today, walking up the stairs from the subway to go to a writer's meeting, of grace - the kind of moment when you feel you are being carried.

I am praying for acceptance every day now. Of it all.


Here is Rumi (Coleman Barks translation):


This being human is a guest
house.  Every morning
a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and attend them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, still,
treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Welcome difficulty.
Learn the alchemy True Human
Beings know:
the moment you accept what troubles
you've been given, the door opens.

Welcome difficulty as a familiar
comrade.  Joke with torment
brought by the Friend.

Sorrows are the rags of old clothes
and jackets that serve to cover,
and then are taken off.
That undressing,
and the beautiful
naked body
                     underneath,
                                    is the sweetness
                                                that comes

                                                            after grief.


* * *



p.s. In case you want to hear my words and live in or near NYC, you can go to St. Mark's Poetry Marathon on New Year's Day. I'm reading in the 5-6pm slot - would normally send out newsletter about that but can't bring myself to do that right now, so announcing it here. It's a lovely time. Come along if you can.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Let there be light

Whichever holiday you celebrate today, let us all bring in the love and light. Here's our tree from last night in Maine. My favorite, Christmas Eve, when it's dark and the lights are twinkling. Bulbs from many generations young to older. Missing people not here, especially this year David, my stepfather who died last Friday suddenly and without warning. But glad to be together with our little family, this year John and me and my mother, Robin, and her cat Maggie. Friends of hers will join us for dinner tonight.

As the song says "these are the good old days" - cherish them, each other, all of us.

Blessings to you and let there be light.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

My stepfather David died on Friday suddenly and without warning

I usually can write about grief, even poetically. This time it's harder. This time the loss is abrupt and without warning. This time it is my stepfather, David, who died on Friday of a massive heart attack. This time I didn't get to say goodbye. While he was not married to my mother anymore, he is the one who had been in my life since age 3, who brought me to theater and writing, who enlarged our lives that had been made small because of my first stepfather, who was a deeply disturbed human being, someone I could best describe as a Methodist Artaud, signaling through the flames of his own suffering, unable not to take those nearest him down with him.

David came along in 1969, and suddenly - from my point of view - I was only 6-7 when my mother and he got together - they had met earlier in 1966 (but my mother was still with the first stepfather) - the world got bigger and brighter. Instead of crying, my mother was smiling. Instead of liver, we ate pizza and could drink exotic liquids like Pepsi, even eat...Oreos! My first stepfather had been a whole foods Nazi. Some of this was good: eating organic vegetables from our own garden, etc. but some of it was really bad: forced eating of liver being a main one and no sugar - at all. This very forced-feeding practice was the centerpiece of a writing exercise I did at Kripalu this past week in fact...maybe will add that later. But the point being, David came along, and even though he was damaged and sad from Vietnam and having to take care of his younger brother and sister because his mother had just died young, as had his two fathers, all of alcoholism basically, he also had great artistic passion, and so brought me to the theater.

Oh, so big deal, all kids get to go to the theater you might say, but not so much in back of beyond Maine and also most kids don't get to go to theater rehearsals and sit next to the director and help him time the scenes while watching her future stepfather rehearse his part in You Can't Take it With You and have the extraordinary experience of walking onto the realistic looking living room set and then see that the stairs that looked like they went upstairs from the front, when you went to the back, went back down. This was an astonishment - pure magic to my six year old eyes.

Or be rattled to the core when there was a blackout and an explosion sound, so disturbed in a luscious way - the way only live theater can do - that I remember trembling while eating a reheated chicken pot pie in the back with all the actors who treated me like their special little friend. I was part of this big family of happy adults. I had never seen happy adults before this. That could play and laugh and cry and be warm and fun. And this was all - I should add - a community theater production. So these adults had other jobs in the real world, but this was how they spent their evenings, preparing for shows. I sat next to the director riveted by his power and how he had people move around and timed everything. I loved working the stopwatch for him. I would have gone to the moon for him.

The other huge part of my life that expanded was being able to stay at the cottage on Peaks Island, Maine, that tragically the family had to sell recently, but where I spent many summers - on a sunporch looking out to the Atlantic. That beauty saved my life over and over and over again. An ocean, the tide, the sunrise, the moonrise, the sound of waves crashing against the rocks over and over and over again.

All of this after living in isolation and fear from the disturbed first stepfather - moving around downeast Maine, having no friends my age, and just being basically scared. I wrote a lot apparently - poems in magic markers I gave to my mother, and played with imaginary friends, but I had no fun place to go.

We then moved to Connecticut and David and my mother worked in the arts, him at the NTI and she at American Dance Festival at Conn College. In the midst of meeting all these wonderful artists and seeing work by all the luminaries of the avant-garde in the early 1970s who passed through both places, including Peter Brook, Joseph Chaikin, Living Theater, even Richard Foreman at the dance festival - not knowing who any of them were and wondering what the hell was going on but all of it leaving a deep imprint...then in the midst of that beauty and strangeness a horrific period of time where I was left with a caretaker who also went nuts - for real - and I've written about all that so not gonna do it again, but it was David who saved me from her. His sister who had been living in this deeply weird situation with me was able to extricate herself and go get him. My mother at the time was in NYC. If you saw my play Autograce in 2014, you saw a version of this incident, and the scene in which he entered the house and got me out.

There was a lot that devolved from there, he was deeply affected by that episode as well and it exacerbated his PTSD from Vietnam and no one knew what to do with me so I ended up at my grandparents on the Cape. But then a couple years later, once David had written a play that would end up on Broadway, GR Point, and that was moving forward and my mother and he had recovered enough to bring me back, we all lived in a house in Providence, RI. David had accepted he was gay - that was a drama, because in the 1960s you weren't allowed to be gay, and in the 1970s only a few people were and they usually weren't Vietnam Vets with plays about that experience headed for Broadway, so it was all very confusing and hush-hush on the public level, yet privately we were living in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous like all the time. I was Safi.

But again, surrounded by lovely actors and dancers and people in the arts of all kinds, and I was drawing and making theater and writing, even if I was a bit distrustful of the whole disco fever whirling around me. And of course that world crashed out around us - first my mother and he divorced because it was too much for her, for them both - and she flourished professionally and so did he and they stayed friends, and I went on to a boarding school and started directing plays - not surprisingly I suppose - and writing and all that but mostly: plays.

My high school graduation was hilarious - I introduced my mother, then when I realized how impossible it would be to introduce David (ex-stepfather) with his lover and my mother and her fiancé (future stepfather) and her father and his second wife (my step grandmother) and David's best friend from college who was a mentor/uncle person to me, also gay but not David's partner, and David's half-sister, Barb...etc. etc., I just said instead this is my mother, Robin, and Tom and David and Peter and Robert and Lily and Barb and Walter...etc.

This was in 1981. About 10-20 years from then this would not have seemed unusual. Trust me when I tell you in 1981, this was not a common sighting. However, I knew, even as I made dark humored jokes about it all - we all did - that for all the chaos - and there was chaos - it was special.

Then AIDS came along - was coming along - and pretty much all the people I had known growing up in the 1970s around that time died or were dying of AIDS. Miraculously, David was not one of them, nor Walter (who was his friend from college and such an important stable figure for me growing up - even though he like everyone had his own demons and addictions). But we mourned deeply and for what seemed like fucking forever.

In 1981, I ended up going to his university, Wesleyan, which was something I never thought would happen - but did for a variety of reasons. Our lives remained intertwined, through out various theatrical and his screenwriting endeavors. We had times of being very close and times when we were at severe odds, emotionally and artistically. But never did we lose respect or love for each other.

His biggest honorific to my mind was referring to me as troop. This was a term of respect, because he knew I too had been through the wars. He always said coming into the apartment where I was with Mrs. Levine, the caretaker, had reminded him of a battlefield. This was not the only one either, and he knew that. We both struggled to deal with our damage through art - writing and theater. We succeeded and failed. We were harsh critics of one another and each other's biggest allies.

He tried to warn me about my first codependent marriage. I hated him for it. He was - for the record - absolutely right. I will never forget one of the many moments wherein we stood or sat somewhere laughing like teenage girls. This was while I was getting divorced from my first husband who had dumped me for someone younger, telling me that on the day I found out my first play was to be published. I had the anthology and handed a copy to David, saying, "Here, this is the thing that cost me my marriage." And he said, "Good trade."

It was cold and windy, we were on a sidewalk in NYC after some event or other, can't remember which, and we laughed so hard I practically peed myself.

That is the David I love so much. I love all of them, and of course the little me misses the one who saved me, and that is a part of the firmament that will never be replaced, but the times we made each other laugh, so hard and so much people probably thought we were stoned, but after a certain point in time (another long story) we weren't. It was just the absurdity of life, the one we shared for fifty years.

I can't remember what it was, but something happened yesterday, as I was walking to a meeting clutching my bagel and coffee, and I thought or said something to myself that I knew would make David laugh and I could see him, I swear to God, see him laughing in front of me, those eyes twinkling and that impish grin, and I hope that will always be the case. I can't bear to be without that laugh, anyone who knew him knows what I mean.

I will leave you therefore with two photos that encapsulate our times together. One (semi-fictional) from Autograce (Stephanie Willing and Derrick Peterson in 2014) and one from 2013 of us at Elephant & Castle (that John Barclay-Morton took - it was the first time he had met David, and he, too, was charmed). David gave me the ring that is visible on my hand in that photo, that I have worn every day since.

Goodbye David, I can't believe you're gone. And in some ways I just refuse to.


















Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks in Dark Times...

Apparently, the first official Thanksgiving was declared by President Lincoln during the Civil War.

Well...

Here we are. Thanksgiving in 2016 with the country probably more divided than it has been since then. I know there were other times when it was divided, and maybe those were worse. But it's pretty bad now. And I have never had the dubious privilege of living in stomach knot twisting fear of a President-Elect, as I am now.

Things that have come out these past few days include: a professor watch list where students can accuse their professors of having too much of a liberal bias. When I saw that at first, I laughed. Ever since then, though, I have had a stomach so full of knots it is literally eating itself. I am not joking. I am still writing, was able to do yoga finally, and am meditating, including breathing exercises. Some nights I can sleep and some nights I cannot.

This is Trump's America for me so far, even in one of the - if not the - most liberal borough of the most liberal city in America that voted against him by over 90% (that would be NYC - where he is from...let that sink in).

OK, so there's that, and many others have it far worse than me.

So what am I thankful for? The list is almost endless, but I'll do one anyway (and the order does not signify the importance):

1. The ability to write - even through this.
2. The fact that so far I have not self-destructed in ways I could easily do, but have not.
3. The love in my life, including my beloved Canadian, my mother, my friends - some of whom I will spend tomorrow with in the most diverse neighborhood in the US (Jackson Heights, Queens). One friend, Christian, I have known for over 30 years. We have seen each other through many phases of our lives and I will be delighted to spend Thanksgiving with him and his beloved, Ricardo, and a few of their other friends.
4. NYC
5. NYC
6. NYC and the people herein - overall the people with whom I relate the best and have been acting in heartbreakingly kind and generous ways with one another recently - and I trust will continue doing so. Sometimes there are assholes, but they are not the majority.
7. Kindness - when I see it and feel it.
8. Autumn leaves and the blue blue sky
9. The People's Republic of Inwood (my neighborhood)
10. Artists, writers, theater people, dancers, musicians...everyone who creates things in response to dark times, either as witness or to soothe or to imagine a different future...or simply to dream, or create delightful respite.
11. Paragraph writing studio and all those with whom I share my writing either in silence or at readings
12. Various FB groups in which I do same and the people in real life I have connected with who have given me faith in my writing and humanity in general.
13. National Novel Writing Month (now) that helps motivate me to write every day, and the fact I have done that this month: written every day.
14. New and old friends who have graced my year in so many lovely ways: Suzanne, Adam, Shawn, Christian, Suki, Wendy, Francelle, Julie, David, Marietta, James, Ilana, Aurvi, Carle, Peter, Susan, Sarah, Sharon, Russell, Jane, Pam, Maryan, Allan, Sauna, Kat, Alice, Nina, Andrew, Kate, Nathan, Spencer, Andrea, Veronica, Fran, Gina, Jenny, Ellen, Olivia, Leah, and others I'm sure I've forgotten...and those who have stayed close on FB even from afar, like Fi, Kirsten, Therese, Catherine, Sean, Bennett, Renee, Alison..
15. Scholarships to two very important writing conferences, which made it possible for me to attend what would have otherwise been impossible and the help people at those conferences gave me and friends I met there, too many to mention all...
16. The many people with whom I meet in various rooms to keep ourselves sane.
17. My students who remind me why I'm here...for real. These are some amazing young people, and maybe because I'm not a parent myself, I find in them such joy and love even. Hard to describe that alchemy, but while the pay is far too low, the rewards in this way are rich indeed. While our present may not seem too promising, I guarantee you, the kids are alright. Assuming we don't blow up the planet, they will be there to create something great once we fade away. Of this, I am certain. This is the source of my hope. If I wasn't teaching, I don't know how I would feel. So, I am grateful that I am. I am grateful I can use my skills as a writer and teacher to help them learn how to express themselves in the clearest, most elegant way possible. I do this, so you will listen to them, because their voices and ideas should be taken seriously.

And on that note, I will end. On a note of hope for the future, because God/dess knows we have at least four years of needing to try to withstand a storm that I can only hope we will withstand. My hope here is that many are awake to the need to keep our Constitution intact and I can only hope we won't be duped by a false crisis or goodness knows what. When I do not feel hopeful, I fall into fear and despair, and I cannot live there. Americans have a genius for hope. We are probably stupid with it in many ways, and the rest of the world - rightfully - looks at us most of the time like we are kind of nuts, but for all that, I do hope we can withstand the ultimate stress test that is upcoming of our country and how it was founded. Well, not ultimate, there was the Civil War, which I really hope we aren't going to end up in another one. But I mean stress test as in: can we get through this Without a Civil War. I pray and hope so. I also hope we can make it through without becoming a totalitarian capitalist state like China. These are my hopes.

I also hope that I will have the courage when needed to stand by not only my own beliefs, but also all of my friends - and strangers - who are in groups that are or may be targeted in ways large and small.

But for today, I give thanks to all of you out there who are willing to listen to all sides, who are tolerant and loving of everybody, including those with whom your disagree. I wish for our whole country (and I come from both sides of this political divide so I mean the Whole Country) a way to hear and listen and respect and love one another. I hope that all those who feel unseen, feel seen, those who feel silenced, find a voice (that is not filled with hate or that silences another), that we can reach across the borders and find a way forward.

This is my dream. This is my stupid-ass American hope.

I love you all. I really do. I am that weird.