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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

MERDE! this weekend (17 & 18) as installation-performance on Governor's Island - join us!

Just a reminder that it's this weekend (and this weekend only), Sept. 17-18, that for the first time in a while a theater-performance-type-experiment thing of mine will appear live and stuff: my newest stage text MERDE! directed by Patrice Miller with Olivia Baseman, Tyler 'Tad' Dagostino, Roy Koshy and Melissa Nelson in the Dysfunctional Theater Collective house on Governor's Island (a short ferry ride that takes you far away from Manhattan). All are brave and beautiful collaborators. I hope you will come to see what they have done...

We will be in the whole house (Nolan 8B). Shows begin at 2 and 4pm, but if you're late, just come on in and explore. You can stay for the next one if you want...no two will be the same, and you can't possible see it all in one go. It's all free and we'd love to share this with you...

Here's an interview over at Indie Theater Now, that includes details about times, etc...

If you'd like to donate (tax free) to help us defray expenses, we'd be delighted. You can click here for that.

Below are some pictures from open rehearsals last weekend in the house. Isn't it gorgeous?? Governor's Island was a Coast Guard station and now artists take over houses during the summer and do weird and wonderful things in them...come for your friends, stay for the whole wild and wooly experiment in re-inhabiting abandoned spaces...

Roy and Melissa

view from one of the rooms - people performing out of sight but audible

Olivia and Tad

Patrice, Olivia and Roy

Melissa, Tad, Oliva and Patrice (Roy in part on left)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

15 years ago...

I posted what I wrote 15 years ago - well for an event a week later at The Present Company Theatorium - when it was the 10 year anniversary and was published in a literature/social studies book by Prentice Hall here.

I will post it again this time around. This anniversary is hitting me hard. I am struck by our vulnerability - as in all of us - our fragility as human beings, and the lack of control we have over so much of our lives in reality.

I will be reading this as part of a remembrance ritual we will be doing on Governor's Island. The piece I have written that will be performed in the house next week - and we are rehearsing this week - is 'Merde!' that I wrote in response to the anxiety I could not shake after the terrorist attack in Brussels earlier this year. You can read my interview about it here.

In my experience these events shake us to our core, without our permission.

I hope to share one of these days with you as we explore that territory further...in the best way I know how, together in a room that we inhabit and bear witness to one another...

But for now, here is what I wrote 15 years ago. I cannot believe it has been that long. But it has.

Julia Lee Barclay
(written for reading at The Present Company on September 18, 2001)

T.S. Eliot’s words in Four Quartets:

“Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.  And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feelings,
undisciplined squads of emotion.  And what there is to
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under
That seem unpropitious.  But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.  The rest is not our business.”

Someone else’s words.  That’s what I thought the flyer for this event said.  If you want to read someone else’s words.  And I was relieved, and thought, of course, someone else’s words.  Not mine.  Who has words for this?  I don’t.  I flipped through T.S. Eliot, some of it held, but not all.  Flipped frantically through Yeats, and most of that didn’t hold either.  I looked through my library last night of poems and plays and fiction and remarkably, none of it held.  I thought, that’s it, it’s all done.  We have to start from scratch.  I’ve never felt that way about any other event.  The words don’t hold up.  Ancient words even.  Not a dent.   I so wanted to find someone else’s words, to comfort, soothe, explain, reconcile, anything.  I don’t want to be left here typing electronic dots on a screen.  There is only one phrase from Yeats that keeps racing through my mind “the best lacked all conviction and the worst were filled with passionate intensity”.  And then I don’t know where I stand in that dialectic either.  I confront my own self-righteous indignation at other people’s self-righteous indignation.  My friends and I make cookies for firemen.  Singing in the Rain seems like the best film ever made.  Then I talk Middle-Eastern politics and think I’m enlightening people.  Then I see a wall of hand made fliers with pictures and names of the missing, thousands of them, on the walls of Bellevue from the M15 and cry, having just given a plate of cookies to a rescue worker who’s been at ground zero for four days and is hungry.  He is talking to the bus driver about being called up to serve as an army reservist.  His eyes are moist with exhaustion.  He is absurdly grateful for cookies.  I am absurdly grateful he took them.  I look away and have no words to say to him but “thank you.”  I fear he will die.

All the stories, endless stories - I saw it on television, I saw the gray cloud coming towards me, I saw it on a roof, from the train, from the bridge, from the Promenade, from the Avenue, heard it on the phone, felt it in my building, was covered in ash, surrounded by midnight, pushed down the stairs by the blast, knew someone, know someone who knows someone who.....

Then the theories, endless theories - this means global capitalism will prevail, this means we will be nuked, this means “they” must pay, this means we are finally paying, this means we will be better people, worse people, more scared, more strong, more something - always different from what we were on September 10.  We now supposedly love more, hate more, are in shock, are grieving, need counseling, don’t need counseling, should not watch TV, should watch TV, should talk to people, don’t have to talk to people....

Then the first reactions - need to see people, wish we were in love or are glad to be so, cling to the familiar, attack Muslims for no reason, protect Muslims from those who attack them, yell at our credit card companies, go to work, stare at useless letters typed onto useless computer screens, understand people in Beirut who stayed in their bombed out city and cling to New York City as home, flee the City and wonder why anyone stays, try to get back to the City from out of town, cry, panic, feel comforted, pray, meditate, do yoga, go to church, go to AA meetings, drink ourselves silly, scroll through email, talk on the phone, wonder when to breathe, tell jokes, cry, hug people for dear life, listen to stories, tell stories, look into people’s eyes, stranger’s eyes, for the first time...

“Slouching towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born.” (Yeats)

“And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.” (Eliot)

At least there are clues left in the books, a burnt and charred map, some of it obsolete but not all.  I hope to scratch through this maze with all of you here now, make tunnels, chart through the tunnel, rebuild the next world, not throwing away all of the old but letting go of what no longer fits.  We aren’t alone.  We never have been, and I am not alone and never have been, because where I am is where I am not.  And where we are is where we are not.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Please join us on the Island Sept. 10-18

My newest stage text Merde! will be rehearsed and performed in a house on Governor's Island that was curated by Dyfunctional Theatre Collective.

This weekend, Sept. 10-11, will mostly be open rehearsals. On noon at Sept. 11, director Patrice Miller is putting together a ritual of remembrance for the 15th anniversary of 9/11. As the island is off the south of Manhattan, this will be a lovely way to attempt to remember this time outside of the ways we are usually meant to do so. As Patrice said in her invite:

Perhaps you will find yourself in this beautiful city of ours on Sunday, September 11th. And perhaps you, like me, do not feel particularly great on this day in this city. Okay, if you're like me, you hate 9/11 and all of the discourse, flags, and media coverage that fly about. 

This year, I find myself in the midst of a performance workshop on Governor's Island working on a piece that reflects on the intersections of private and personal trauma (Julia Barclay-Morton's latest text, Merde!). I am taking the opportunity to create a ceremony that is inclusive, peace-focused, and creative. Those of us workshopping will be using the ceremony as a little bit of research and development for our piece, specifically looking at the relationships between trauma and ritual. By being with us on Sunday, you are helping us create a piece of performance, as well as helping us redefine what this day can be for New Yorkers. 

As for the play itself, there is a lovely interview about this piece, its evolution and why it's important to me here at: Indie Theater Now.

Invite below:

Merde! (because is there really anything else to say at this point?)

We’d like to meet you in the house, the one we dream of when half-asleep, where our secrets whisper to us from under the stairs and between the books on the bookshelf, where the Freedom Tower is framed by every window. Sometimes what we see makes us scream, hide, seek. This is and is not an installation performance, this is and is not a piece about what has gone unseen, about what has blown up in front of our eyes, this isn’t about Godot or God but it isn’t not about those things either. It is an experiment in speaking, in invitations, in the performance of public and private truths in a house on an island in a city of dreams.

You are invited to join us for Merde!my newest stage text directed by Patrice Miller as an experiment in performance on Governor's Island (a short ferry ride from Manhattan or Brooklyn and a world away).

The first weekend is more about process and the second more about performance. On Sept. 11, Patrice will be constructing a ritual of remembrance to lead off our work that day. This work will enter into the performances on Sept. 17 & 18 of this text that I wrote in response to one of the many terrorist attacks earlier this year, which resonated unsettlingly with having been in NYC on 9/11, London on 7/7, and San Francisco during the 1989 earthquake. Merde! is not about seeing ourselves as victims or a catalogue of events, but an attempt to unearth the deeper causes and effects of violence (overt, systemic, symbolic, natural, human-made), and how these public events reverberate with more personal seismic events, generally hidden from view that perhaps need witness in order to heal. 


Text by Julia Lee Barclay-Morton
Direction by Patrice Miller
Featuring: Tyler 'Tad' D'Agostino, Olivia Baseman, Roy Koshy, Melissa Nelson

Presented as part of the Dysfunctional Collective at House 8B, Nolan Park, Governor's Island

Saturday, September 10th: 12pm-6pm: open rehearsal  

Sunday, September 11th
12pm - Sky to Ground: A Ritual of Remembrance and Process 
followed by open rehearsals until 5pm 

Saturday, September 17th
2pm: showing 
4pm: showing 

Sunday, September 18th
2pm: showing 
4pm: showing


The performances are FREE 
but we do have expenses (insurance, transportation, printing costs, etc.), so if you would like to help us defray our costs, please consider a tax deductible contribution, which you can donate securely here:  https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=6339
All donors will be thanked in our program and websites, social media platforms and such, and we would be happy to also give a signal boost to any projects of yours as thanks!

For more Info about Dysfunctional Collective and Directions:
Presented as part of the Dysfunctional Collective by Dysfunctional Theatre Company at House 8B, Nolan Park, Governor's Island.


I would love to see you there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Glimmer Train thumbs up for The God Thing!

So, some happy news!

My short story The God Thing, which was originally published the The Stockholm Review of Literature was given an Honorable Mention in the Glimmer Train short story contest!

Rumor has it in literary circles, this is kind of a big deal, and I am delighted.

To be honest, I needed this affirmation big time, and I am grateful for it. So, if you haven't already, read the story online. Glimmer Train doesn't publish its Honorable Mention winners, but they do allow you to submit stories that have been published online. Bless them.

Just wanted to share this happy news. That is all.

Brevity is apparently not only the soul of wit but also joy.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

'...down there where the spirit meets the bone.'

So, it's been now close to eight weeks since I fell down the last step of a subway stair and sprained my ankle, which I then discovered (four weeks later) was broken.

I have written about this a bit already, but this is an unprecedented amount of time for me to not be able to move at will and as the healing process drags on, so do the lessons I am learning pile up.

I have learned a lot about vulnerability and about internal sense of terror, and waking up in a state of emergency and how to talk myself down, about how much I have relied my whole life on an idea of myself as someone who could run away when necessary, even if at times in my childhood I was paralyzed - either mentally or physically - unable to move.

I have had nightmares about people leaving me. I have had nightmares of being humiliated. The thing is when you can't move well it's like being in a nightmare in real life where you can't move even if there is danger. In real life, I have not been threatened in any way. All that has happened is John, my wonderful husband, bringing home all the groceries, doing 99% of the cooking and cleaning and being wonderful. A few friends have come round periodically. I do hobble down and up the four flights of stairs at least a few times a week just to see the outside and sometimes get to a local meeting of friends for an hour or so.

But underneath this reality is a history, that history acts in a way not dissimilar to the way tectonic plates can rub up against one another to cause an earthquake. In other words, it's not always predictable and the stresses can cause major disruption on the surface.

The good news is the fracture is healing - almost fully healed. I find the fact a bone can heal moving on a cellular level, because that implies perhaps I can heal from past trauma. However, the way the bone has healed is through being very gentle, and the only way to be gentle is to be still, and to be so still brings up the terror...which - each time it arrives and I can remain still and nothing happens to justify that terror - can in fact Also be healing to my psyche. Those parts of the wounded soul that suffered stress fractures and sprains, that were never allowed to heal, not properly - where the only option I had was to keep going, try to outrun the pain, outrun the Goddamn pain, never let it catch up, dammit and eventually - just - shut - down.

This shut down place is a kind of cold emptiness. This is the place I tried to run away from as a young teenager, it's the place I was dropped into when doing long art projects by myself and is why I ran to theater, where I could be with other people, have fun, do something, relate to others in a structured way and not have to be stuck with my own shut down cold empty place.

So, guess what I'm also dealing with aside from the terror? You guessed it, the cold empty place.

Now, all of this has been around the whole time. Guiding me, making me move this way and that, unconsciously mostly - sometimes masquerading as ideas, sometimes as 'intuition' (which I do believe in - by the way - intuition - but this isn't real intuition - it's a kind of life-like looking facsimile - Very close to the original, but not the original - that masks premium-grade rationalization like a motherfucker), etc.

And for the past close to 8 weeks, the jig has been up. There has been nowhere literally or metaphorically or any other way to run or hide. Just me and the cold emptiness, beneath which is the terror.

Fun times.

BUT - and I don't Think this is Pollyanna of me (but who knows) - there is a gift here - I Think. Which is each day I sit through this, a muscle is developing. That muscle is the: not running away muscle. It's the one that may allow me to Live Through This as it were. Going through my old diaries and journals early on in this process of being immobilized accelerated that challenge. BUT - here's the thing - I just kept at it. Perhaps if my ankle had not been sprained and foot fractured, I would have had the opportunity (along with the obvious motive) to run screaming out of my apartment and into the park or wherever. Anywhere. Just. Go. Don't Feel This. It's Too Hard.

But I couldn't. So I didn't.

While I am now a bit more hesitant to send out my book because there is now more 'raw' me in it (in form periodically of excerpts diary entries going back to 1973 through to 1992), something else more important has happened.

A couple days ago, I realized internally, not because of anything that had happened on the outside, because I haven't really shown much of the revised book to anyone yet, but internally - amidst all the confusion and crushing self-doubt mingled with unremitting shame and self-hatred - there was a small, still voice that said: the book works.

The book works.

This probably doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but to me this is Huge. I backed away from it, in the same way I used to back away from my watercolors after making tiny changes and hating it, and then would turn around startled and realize: oh. wow. that painting is good.

This was like that.

The book works. The structure, the one I know has and will continue to cause agita to the vast majority of agents and publishers, perhaps all of them, it works. Because it does what I want it to do. It is the book I would want to read. It reveals my grandmothers gradually, layer by layer, like an archeological dig - and just like such a dig, you have to connect the dots yourself and you may be wrong or right and with each layer your assessment of who these two women are or could have been will shift.

There is no 'hook' other than there are two women's lives lived in the 20th Century, two lives the types of which we rarely if ever see and never in this level of almost forensic detail. When Dick and Jani are alive at the same time (in the book), my life is interwoven a bit here and there. The fact I am their granddaughters should be abundantly clear.

Dick and Jani were opposite in character, and yet both fierce. I live in the shadow of the conflict of their competing ferocities. I had no role models of the 'feminine' as one would be led to believe it exist in the (primarily male generated) popular culture. Maybe no one does. Maybe that's a big pack of lies that many of us are brainwashed into thinking is real.

I don't know.

But Dick and Jani are not particularly cozy women. I find them both darkly hilarious, and I doubt most women's lives, if narrated honestly are 'cozy' in the way we are led to believe. In fact I would even venture to say that the kool-aid of the feminine we have been asked to drink has something much more to do with the terrorizing of women like Catherine in Taming of the Shrew than a 'natural' state.

I have not had children, but I have been pregnant and lost a child. That wasn't cozy. No one I know who has ever told me about labor says it's cozy. It's fierce. Mothers are fierce. What does this have to do with this milquetoast idea of soft voices and doilies? Not much.

And neither are Dick or Jani. And neither am I. And neither is my mother, or any women I know well.

So how does this relate to healing? Well, healing isn't for 'pussies' (to use the lovely lexicon of our current election season). To be still is hard. To be gentle I find almost excruciating. Non-violence is probably the most hardcore way to live of all. (I aspire but do not claim this non-violence mantle to be clear - but it is a goal).

I don't know how to end this post, but I think I will use the epigraph for Dick & Jani. It is apt:

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.

- Miller Williams