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.

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 in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.

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

Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day: this time for David.

David Adams Berry (1943-2016)


I don't know how to write this. I am looking at this photo and all I want to do is cry. This is David as I will always remember him, the David that I knew when I was a girl and teen. The David that was my stepfather. The one who came back from Vietnam a wreck, not only because of Vietnam but also because he came back early because his mother had died, and he needed to take care of his younger brother and sister.

The David wearing his army hat, the one with the three bullets in it, one for each of his friends that died from 'friendly fire' in Vietnam, the friends that haunted him and propelled him to write G.R. Point, his brilliant play about Vietnam, set in Vietnam and put on Broadway in 1977, too soon for people to be able to appreciate the complexity of his experience there, anyone's experience there.

David was always haunted by Vietnam, and having been born into WWII, that war also haunted him. The family cottage in Maine with the hooks for the submarine nets and him dreaming of U-boats coming into Casco Bay and how he would save everyone miraculously from them - a hero from a comic book no doubt. He wasn't stupid in 1968 when he graduated from university. He knew Vietnam wasn't WWII, but he also knew he had to go or someone would have to go in his place, so he enlisted. He came back the way I remember him: the person who saved me from a very scary situation when that was necessary, and also the person who was pushed into a dark place - what we now call PTSD but then was simply ignored and misunderstood - after seeing where I had been trapped. He always said to me the room he found me in reminded him of Vietnam. That was in 1974. Watergate was happening. Vietnam was 'lost.' We were lost. He was a young man working at a theater company. I was 10. All the other kids at my school had fathers working at Electric Boat making nuclear submarines.

This all happened. Life in the 1970s is impossible to describe to those who were not there, how lost everyone was, how feral we kids were, because all the adults were so so so lost and the world was just coming unglued in every way.

It's easy now to be nostalgic for that time, since the unglued seems to now be superglued into some kind of late-capitalist spectacle wherein we are trapped in a dystopian Disneyland where most people have to live underground to prop up the illusion above and penalties are imposed for taking off your costume. And if you think David would take issue with this description or think I was getting 'too political' in this moment, you would be woefully wrong.

After 9/11, David and I met at a cafe. We both lived in NYC, him in Brooklyn, me in Yorkville. We met somewhere downtown, maybe Cafe Orlin, I don't know. And we both just looked at each other and laughed and cried and knew that we were seeing the same thing, the fake innocence having been pierced by the reality we both knew had been lurking all along thanks to our multiple interventions for oil. The rage at the manipulation machinery being unleashed, wherein any tears of ours for the real wounds of our own city would be used to start another stupid war. Yeah, we knew that, a week after 9/11 in NYC, and yes that is what we talked about.

This is why it is incomprehensible to have to live this life - especially now - without him here. And why I regret bitterly how little time we spent together in the past few years - that laziness that comes from living in the same city but not close by - we'd always see each other 'soon' or another time or whatever. And we didn't and then he died of a heart attack. Just like that. Just like 9/11 except personal. One moment life is one way and the next moment it's another. Just like the friendly fire attack that killed his friends in Vietnam. Just like the moment his mother died in his sister's arms while he was in Vietnam. One moment the world is one way and then just as suddenly, and without warning, it changes.

Grief is not convenient. Grief doesn't give a fuck how you feel or what you want to accomplish. Sudden death is the same, whether it's a heart attack, a bomb, alcoholism or an embolism or people flying planes into buildings, or a miscarriage, there is loss and you are reeling, and there is no sense to be made. And yet you scramble to make sense or others try to make sense for you and most concern is simply people's desire for order being imposed on you - please, they say, as they ask how you are, please don't tear the fabric, please don't make me doubt my reason for going on, please don't be inconsolable. And then there are the other people, the angels in disguise, who don't do that, who demand nothing, who can hold space for all your feelings, but even they - I am sure - get tired, because there is no way to allow in for real the swooshing void that real grief is and demands. There is no way to do that and remain wholly sane, as in functional in this world as it is, this world we have created at least in this country that does not allow for grief, that demands relentlessly productivity and some kind of facsimile of optimism and what the fuck is that but again the stupid Disney dystopia gussied up as 'concern.'

And this for me is my messy Memorial Day, because David was first and foremost a Vet, a Vietnam Vet. A war so crazy we still can't wrap our minds around it, and I imagine Iraq and Afghanistan is the same, but we don't know as much about that because that information is so tightly controlled and we have sent out a force of men and women that are separated so much from the general population, though I teach many of them and I can tell you each and every one of the recent vets suffer PTSD (this is self-reported - I am not exaggerating). And I am so sad about David because I know part of what killed him so out of the blue is the insane political situation in which people who have no military experience at all and have never had to risk even a thumb scratch send young men and women to kill and die mostly to enhance their own profits and say it's for our security, which is manifestly insane, given the fact now we have violence everywhere and these same politicians won't lift a finger to get guns off our streets, which are killing more people than any so-called terrorist (meaning of color of course). And David also was gay, something he wasn't allowed to be in the 1960s in Vietnam, but was and held as a secret, held until the 1970s when he couldn't hide anymore and neither could anyone else and yes it's better for gay people today, but let's face it, it's still no picnic and all the violence unleashed against anyone different, he felt that.

And so many people looked to him to protect them and he didn't have anyone to go to protect him, he who had both his fathers die when he was young, trying to be the big man, the protector from so young, and knowing he was gay in the 1950s and 1960s - just try to imagine this. Try to imagine. All that, all that he brought to his writing and to his friends, so many friends he had, he had a talent for friendship, people loved him fiercely, his students loved him fiercely and he loved them the same way and we are all, all, all so lucky to have had him in our lives.

I think my mother in some ways was his protector, and that is why they were married as long as they were past when it was feasible for obvious reasons. He protected her, too. And it was only when he died that I realized - too late, too late, too late - that as bizarre and Absolutely Fabulous our strange family was - it was a family, my family, the family I grew up in - the one that formed me, and even though my mother remarried an absolutely lovely, humane, intelligent, generous, beautiful human being when I was in college, my life, my childhood, my whole personality was developed during the tumultuous late 1960s-1970s with my mother and David and all the people drifting in and out and all the danger and the joy and the stupidity and of course the end of it all, namely AIDS, which devastated most everyone around us except - shockingly - David.

And here I am and it is Memorial Day and I am writing this and there is salsa playing loudly outside on the street in the summer breeze - competing salsa I should add - and dominoes being plunked down onto tables and young women taking selfies and kids throwing balls and me in my room typing and typing and typing as if it matters, as if it's even possible to talk about grief, as if there is anything but loss.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Now what?

I was writing the below as a FB post, then realized it was a blog post, so here it is:
In case anyone is wondering why I was not surprised when DT won, indeed predicted it, and why not so sure about Dems getting Congress in 2018, it's in part due to having lived with my grandparents during Watergate, and hearing my grandmother say over and over again "everyone does it, he just got caught" and blaming everything wrong with the world from oil prices to speeding cars on the Kennedys. (We lived btw next to Hyannisport, so most traffic violations were their (the Kennedys) fault, just so you know...) Plus she was irritated that her soaps had been preempted by hearings.
The 1970s included this, too. Archie Bunker was not just a sitcom character, and his sons and daughters are alive and well in 2017. Do not overestimate public opinion based on your friends, who probably mostly agree with you. Because like they're your friends.
And honestly, I am thinking a lot about this, in part because I wrote a book about both my grandmothers (the other one, Jani, would be at Women's Marches et al) and so am considering this all deeply, not flippantly. How do we reach across our borders. Seriously. It's easy to dismiss people and wish them ill. But we have a real problem here. I am looking for any serious proposals about this.
Even in All in the Family there were both viewpoints, even if in joke format. Where does that happen now? I don't mean accepting DT by the way - don't get me wrong. I really think he's a monster, or at least clinically a sociopath. I mean accepting how we got here and what to do Now. Berating people who voted for him is not going to get us out of here. And we really Have to get out of here.
I spent years trying to get into my grandmother, Dick's head and write from her POV. It was really fucking hard, sometimes I thought I was losing my mind, but I'm glad I did that. There is pain, there is a lot, there is fear. We all share that, but where and who we blame for this fear and pain and hardship ends up defining our politics. But my suspicion is the only way through this is to get under that to the fear and the pain. To meet somewhere we can meet. I am not sure how to do this. I am as sure as I can be about anything that we must.
And no, I am not asking anyone who feels directly attacked by anyone because of racism or any other hatred to do this. I think I am speaking here mostly to my fellow white people. Because folks, we gotta do something. We can't just be chatting amongst ourselves. That is getting us precisely nowhere.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Our Grandmothers, Our Selves launches and you're invited!

Hi, everyone!

So I haven't been posting because been creating a website (yes, one that I designed myself from scratch!) called Our Grandmothers, Our Selves. I hope you will check it out. There is a blog and forum attached to that site so much of my energy will be directed there as I build this site including many stories and pictures of other people's grandmothers and discuss the issues that come up in doing this kind of archival research.

I'm proud of this site and encourage you to not only look at it, but consider contributing: stories about your grandmothers and pictures, become part of the conversation in the Forum, or propose guest blog posts reflecting on any writing or research you have done about older female relatives.

I think this work is so crucial to our understanding of our history. This also of course acts as a platform for my book about my grandmothers, but along with that, it creates a platform for whomever wants to be part of it, so we can create a micro-history from the grassroots, of the untold stories of the women who have historically not been heard. Without their voices, we can't know our full history, so Our Grandmothers, Our Selves aims to rewrite the archive, one grandmother at a time.

Join me!

Also, for those of you wanting to support The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick and Jani, my agent says engagement with the site and Facebook page, following the Twitter account: @ourgrandothers, etc., will help with potential publishers, because will prove there IS interest in this subject. Believe me when I tell you ageism is a thing and there is a lot of misunderstanding about interest levels in older people, especially women. I think there is a whole pent-up demand waiting to be tapped. If you agree, please help me prove that by participating in the site, subscribing, etc. and also sharing it with your communities.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the site as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. Come join the conversation and help me shape it while you're there!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

"You're on earth, there's no cure for that!"

Yes, the title of this long overdue blog post is from Beckett (Endgame to be precise). I have chosen it because I am considering the obsession we have for curing things. I have been reading an excellent book by Bessel van der Kolk entitled The Body Keeps the Score. It has given me great insight into and compassion for how trauma lodges in the body and can keep us trapped in certain cycles. As I read, I found myself hating myself (and other people) much less and understanding all of us who have been traumatized so much more.

Now, I am in the 'how to fix it' section. Some - many - of the ideas are excellent, and they are also clearly not meant as one-size-fits-all, for which I am grateful. He manages to speak of all of this without pathologizing people, and with great kindness in general. Some of this probably has to do with his awareness of his own traumas and the fact he, too, has worked with some of these therapies. He is a medical doctor, specializing in psychiatry, so the book is rigorous and not too New Age-y lost in the mystical sands of yore or whatever, but he is also somewhat skeptical of the profit-driven pharmaceutical industry and their offers of 'cures' that aren't cures but more like kind of awkward band-aids, that are very useful at times as that: band-aids, but not as cures.

I was cheering along, and happy to see some of the things I do are already patented healing technologies, such as: yoga (for safe embodiment and help with breathing), theater because it's theater and a safe way to work things out, 12-step meetings because people in community helping each other, and body work, etc. He also mentions EMDR (an eye-movement therapy - which he thought sounded hokey until he tried it and did lots of research and discovered it worked - for some - mostly people with adult onset trauma they could remember) and other things I haven't read about yet.

Again, yay, sounds great! (Haven't done EMDR and pretty sure I'd be one of those for whom it would only be of limited use, but may try it some day if/when can afford, etc...fun times in American medical world...blah blah blah...but this is relevant because a lot of these therapies costs a lot of money and are therefore inaccessible to most, whereas All insurance pays for the drugs these days - which makes me rather nauseous, but I digress...)

However, I did pause today, another day of crying over the memory of the miscarriage I had almost 10 years ago, and the way that all grieving makes you feel like a failure and how that probably taps into the April of 1966 when my mother and father split after a violent fight, and on and on and on...and I was thinking as I do every year: maybe This year, it'll be different. Maybe, This year I'll Turn it Around. AKA: maybe This Year I'll be Cured.

And I felt like crap.

Until I stopped thinking that way and stopped worrying about "being better" and just let myself feel how I felt: aka like crap, and teary and irrational and unable to focus and not knowing whether to take my laptop with me or not being enough to push me over the edge of more tears, and then just put the damn laptop in my bag in case I wanted it later and went out to where I was going - a place I can talk about stuff like this - and did.

In this place, you get a period of time to speak without anyone interrupting you. I asked while speaking that no one come up to me with advice afterwards, because I frankly would have lost it. A couple people came afterwards and hugged me and one person started talking to me in a way that seemed suspiciously like she might be about to give advice so I braced myself to flee, but no...that was not it - instead she asked if I could help her with something because she loved listening to me speak and thought I sounded like a healthy person.

In other words: by not trying to pretend to be 'cured' or whatever and in fact living in and expressing my confusion and lack of focus and teariness and rage at God or a Higher Power or WhatHaveYou, I helped someone else.

So, maybe this whole cure thing is oversold, is my point, and Beckett's line is a valuable reminder. Perhaps when we attempt to 'cure' we are instead masking a desire to control and harboring an illusion about immortality? Or some kind of semi-benign (probably semi-comatose) state in which we are 'serene' all the time. I put serene in quotation marks because I don't think that is what serene means. I think serene actually means the ability to be in hell, chaos, turmoil, joy, happiness, peace, craziness, aggravation or equanimity and simply witness it, be there and witness it. That to me is serenity. Or as I heard someone say today instead of "it's happening to me,"saying "it's happening." Not in a denial, pretend it doesn't hurt way - that's just fake Buddhism - but in a fully embodied, present yet holding oneself kind of way...or not. Just fucking freaking out maybe or sobbing or raging or whatever...but not trying to escape the pain.

And maybe - while of course there is some kind of traumatic response that needs to be addressed and I still hold out hope for relief of some of my symptoms and repetition compulsion - maybe...there is a need for a level of acceptance, too, of the messiness of life, of the fact that some losses are just too much to bear in whatever weird little narrow box we have of acceptable in our culture.

Maybe, as Leonard Cohen says, "there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." If everyone and everything was 'cured' where would we be? In the darkness?

This is not in any way to make light of anyone's suffering or the need to seek relief from it. I have no idea what your journey needs to be. Only you do.

However, my gift for the day because of rolling with my reality rather than trying to 'fix' it was to take two short walks in parks - in Central Park where I saw some trees in bloom like a purple azalea and some white maybe cherry? blossoms and saw about 12-15 tourists crowded around a small tree taking photos of an unfazed squirrel. A NYC squirrel. A show off. Behind them rose the bizarre Central Park South skyline that now looks more like a computer simulation than the Deco-inspired New York I pine for when large soulless skyscrapers tower over the few older buildings that remain. But I continued to walk and notice too the flowers and buds and remembered that no matter what - at least for now - spring keeps coming with its relentless life-force regardless of our architectural follies.

Then back uptown and walking in Inwood Hill Park and seeing the pink blossoming tree at the small inlet and watching the graceful white egret catch a fish after standing very, very still for a long time, and out at the point hearing the gentle tide of the Harlem and Hudson rivers lap up on the shore as the sun was setting and the daffodils and crocuses and buds ready to spring out given half a chance and a warm day and looking at the blue blue sky and remembering Cornwall in the UK in April 2007 where I lost my 12-week pregnancy on the first day of a honeymoon the day after the wedding (and also in NYC in September 2001) with the same blue blue sky and crying and crying and then seeing the little kids at the playground and crying some more and thinking thank God/dess, thank you, for the fact I feel sadness rather than anger at the kids or ignoring them or trying not to cry, so I can breathe and smell the soil that is damp and the grass as it is growing and hear and see everyone - and in Inwood I mean Everyone - playing some form of baseball - on a diamond or in a patch of grass or dirt and today - this day - see - for once - kids of every color playing together - and that doesn't always happen - so while I cried I was happy, too.

And the squirrels all running around like little lunatics trying to find the food they had buried in the fall. And all the life everywhere.

So I'm not cured...but I do hear the voices sometimes of the spirits of the two lives that began in me and did not ever make it out alive telling me they are OK, very OK, and that I will be, too, and I cry some more and see the white birds flying in front of the darkening wood, and it's like a painting and they are them and I know that and they are not them and I know that and I am not cured and I'm not sure I want to be.

Friday, March 31, 2017

I have a literary agent now!

So, here's some really good news. After 1.5 years of querying close to 100 agents, I now have a literary agent! This is a big step in the right direction for getting The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani aka 'my grandmothers book' published.

I have much else to say eventually about this and the state of the nation, etc., but since I know some of you who follow this blog are not on Facebook and such things, I wanted you to know.

More soon about upcoming website and hopefully the progress of getting the book to a publisher. But as it is gray and rainy in NYC today, and I am tired after an insomniac night, I am going to take a nap with my cat, who is - as I type - lying on my lap with his head on my arm. He's making a good case for napping...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

30 years is a long time

Honestly, these days since January 20, which was the memorial for my stepfather and the beginning of our Brave New World in the US simultaneously, has rendered me for the most part speechless. I have responded to issues piecemeal on Facebook and such, but here, I cannot find anything to say.

I have had a lot of thoughts and feelings about everything, but because I am afraid that everyone is being so reactive and that is not helping, I don't want to just add to the cacophony.

However, yesterday I celebrated the 30th anniversary of my sobriety and feel I should mark this kind of astonishing milestone somehow. When I last had a drink or drug, Reagan was President, there was a Soviet Union and a Wall in Berlin, most people including me still wrote on typewriters and even if some did have personal computers, there was no public internet; we had no cell phones and used landlines with receivers that were connected to the phone by a cord, and I had a cheap rent in the Haight in San Francisco. I was 23 years old.

The journey from there to here has been a bumpy one - I don't think anyone can live thirty years without bumps. The thing is if you are sober for a long time the best description I've ever heard of that experience is: no windshield. Alcoholics are born without shock-absorbers. There is biochemistry to support this, but that is the effect. Add to that traumatic experiences in childhood on, and you kind of have an addict and/or alcoholic-in-waiting. Some people avoid this fate, but many don't.

I didn't.

However, my drinking story is not that interesting, nor is anyone else's drinking story that interesting - at least not to me anymore. What interests me is finding ways to live sober, without the windshield and without taking it out on everyone else.

This is what preoccupies me, and what I have succeeded at in the technical sense for 30 years (aka no alcohol or drugs) but in terms of living a serene life or whatever, not so much. I mean I have to some degree, and I have meditated for over 20 years, practiced yoga for 16 years, done years of therapy, etc., not to mention going to meetings with people who are struggling to do the same kind of thing. All of this helps. And without all of this I doubt I would still be sober or possess whatever shred of sanity that I do.

However, loss still tears me apart. Another reason I haven't written is the grief over losing David, and then compounded by losing my step-grandmother recently, plus the country arguably, or at least whatever I thought democracy was meant to be. I feel exposed in the rawest way. Sometimes I can cope and sometimes - usually when in yoga class - I can feel deep vital parts of me shifting. I am being shorn of any pretense of pride or whatever, of any sense of "knowing" things. Does this make you wise or just insecure? We will see.

I do feel underneath all of this something is emerging, and I am being forced to surrender to forces larger than me on a daily, sometimes minute by minute basis to move through. Sometimes this can even feel good. A lot of times I feel edgy, sometimes raw, sometimes like everything kind of just itches - not literally - but just - it's uncomfortable.

Sometimes I write about it, but recently I haven't been writing that much either. That field seems to need to lay fallow. It feels almost abusive to try to write now. I have been writing at an almost machine-like pace for years now, and I've hit the end of that line. The good news is I seem to want to be out in the world a bit more.

My fractured foot also has played a large part in my awkwardness this past year. I was unable to move for months without pain and now can move but still can't walk the endless way I used to walk, which was and is my favorite exercise. I feel I became almost agoraphobic, and am now peeking outside of that.

Meanwhile, through all of this, I am sober, and that is a miracle, because all of what I am describing would have been reason enough to drink - a lot. Though to be honest, breathing was enough of a reason to drink a lot most days I drank, so there's that. But the fact I can move through all this massive discomfort that feels like it's probably growth and who really wants that at 53 I ask you? Not me, I assure you, but I seem to have no choice. In fact this endless 'growing' bit appears to be the wages of sobriety. Apparently, if your tendency to mute the effect of all that wind hitting you in the face because of having no windshield is to drink and you stop drinking, or doing whatever else you used to get you through the night, then you are doomed to constant 'growth.'


Sounds so lovely, so healthy, so fabulous, right?


Think about it. Look at toddlers falling over when they try to walk. It's cool, because they are little and people are encouraging them all the time. But imagine doing this - on an emotional level - at 53. You kind of feel - well - stupid. My experience of long-term sobriety is like being a toddler over and over and over and over again - or like a snake shedding its skin, except when the old one goes there isn't a new one underneath right away. That kinda thing.

I'm not complaining - though goddess knows this sounds like complaining - just kind of trying to give you the felt sense of it. Because if you know any clean and sober people, you probably think they are batshit crazy, and you are probably right. Just remember, if we were drinking, game over. We may even on the surface have seemed a little more normal when we were drinking - until a certain point, but then...disaster, not only for ourselves but anyone around us.

For the vast majority of you lucky enough to not be alcoholics or addicts, just remember when dealing with your sober friends that we are wandering around with literally thin skins and everything is hitting us at 11. In my case that includes sounds, smells, visuals, emotions, tastes. It's like living in a hyper-reality.

There are some benefits to this of course, especially if you happen to write, make theater or art or music of any kind. You can be available on levels that are amplified. On the other hand, it can be hard - if not impossible - to turn down this level of sensitivity. I imagine therefore most of us seem hopelessly self-absorbed, and sometimes, yeah, we are. but sometimes, we just Can't Turn Down the Volume on life while it's hitting us like a motherfucker.

At those moments, I tend to retreat. But then can feel isolated and want to come out, but then feel agoraphobic because have retreated, etc. Weird cycles like that.

But I am also exquisitely attuned to the people to whom I am listening, whether in meetings or classes or with friends. I have learned tools over the years that I think makes me a good friend, especially not giving out advice unsolicited and even being cautious when it's solicited. I find most people - including me - don't want to be fixed, but rather want a sympathetic ear.

I do my best to help others who are trying to live without drugs or alcohol. I also do my best to put voices and work out into the world that might not be heard or seen otherwise.

I am not mentioning politics, because honestly, what's the point? Everyone is talking about it all the time, and I have nothing great to add. I only hope we keep trying to listen to one another and don't block off avenues of communication. The rest is too scary for me to even attempt to write about right now. All I know to do is what I have done with the seemingly impossible foe of addiction: surrender to what I am powerless to change and to work my ass off to change the things I can. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but the surrender has to come first, because if I'm putting energy into trying to change what I can't, I have zero energy to change what I can.

Right now, I am glad I live a life based on the concept of living one day at a time, because I could not cope with any of this otherwise without recourse to better living through chemistry.

I miss David so much it hurts. I miss in some ways my youth and ability to believe my own bullshit or was that confidence? In any case, right now I am tired. It is 4:12am. I don't know what else to say, and not sure anything I have said is worth a damn, but here it is. March 4, 2017. 30 years sober and with a car alarm whining outside my window as cars drive by. The car alarm has finally stopped, and so shall I.

Oops, no, forgot the most important part of all: gratitude. Grateful for all the folks who have helped me along the way. Those in and outside of meetings, who have listened when I was freaking and when I was celebrating, when I was angry and sad, when I was triumphant and when I fell on my face, who attended my weddings - yes that's plural - and helped me through divorces (also plural) - who have been there for me no matter what. Whether for a brief time or a long time. Without all of you and all your love, I would be sunk. Also to my higher power that I choose to call whatever - it changes all the time - and sounds so ridiculous in words and yet is there for me whenever I ask and no I can't explain it and yes it sounds absurd, but there it is and part of it is all of you. So, thank you. You all know who you are.

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.