This will be - by my standards - a short entry. I spent the day seeing two friends, one who I've known for 30 years and another for 25. This is Proustian time. This is the joy of getting older, you get to have really old friends. Not as in the friends are 'old' but the time spent together and knowing each other, witnessing each other's lives really racks up, and there is something really comforting about that for me - who comes from such a fractured past and has so much upheaval in my life right now.
I also met with a new/old colleague/friend who is a theater director. I never met her at university, as far as I remember, though we probably did at least see each other wandering about the carpeted halls of the concrete bunker that was the Wesleyan Theater and Dance Department building (another brutalist architectural thing from the 1960s when everyone thought that was a good idea - until the recession of early 70s hit and managed to curtail some of the building, so we ended up with these almost great but somehow weirdly foreshortened facilities (e.g. fly space on one side of the stage but not the other). But, the theater spaces were way better than anything I've directed in since - which is usually some version of box, store front or warehouse space....). But even though we did not remember each other from then (she was a few years ahead of me), we had common references and could muse over old professors and then when discussing our work, we understood each other. It was quite easy to communicate, and I got that she got what I was doing - in her own way, which is natural, but she got it. That too was comforting. With any luck I may finally have found a director who is (a) not me and who is (b) willing and able to take on some of my texts. Here's hoping.
I wonder why I have not taken photos here in NYC, and the only reason I can come up with is that (a) NYC is the most over-exposed and photographed city on the planet so who needs more and (b) I'm from here and would feel way too touristy carrying around a camera. But we'll see if I change my mind tomorrow.
I also sat in two parks for extended periods of time today, which was great. The first was Washington Square Park - a place I have walked through many times and met people in, but never sat by myself. It was so great to do so and watch people go by, overhear conversations such as "And so she's dating her ex and - oh my God it's 6 o'clock" and watch the the usual parade of contented, wealthy, very poor, very directed, very distracted, very happy, very sad, muttering, singing, chatting, sighing, young, old, wheelchair bound with guitar on back - chess players - young ballerinas in leotards taking photos of each other doing leaps, recent college graduates with mortarboards and gowns and well-dressed families in tow, and see sun blazing on the central water-fountain and shady side benches, squirrels everywhere, small birds chasing each other, pigeons and the huge arch over which is written (something I never noticed before) a quote from George Washington - something I should have written down but didn't - about acting in a wise way and God controlling the event. Do you know, only when I saw the quote did I realize it was called Washington Square Park after George Washington? Something as obvious as the sky being blue that I just never even thought about.
I also thought - I never let myself have this time just sitting here when I lived here.
The next park was Union Square, where Christian - my friend since 1986 when we had just graduated university and latched onto each other for a year in San Francisco (living a cozy female to gay male-ship like two playful kittens who huddled up to each other for warmth before we ventured out alone into the world) - and I demolished two crazy rich cupcakes and drank coffee even though it was 9pm at night. We were solicited by two fellows wanting money - one with a series of pen on cardboard puns he tried to make a joke with but then just said finally, man, it's been a hard night, could you help me out? and another guy dressed in full purple suit, hat and cane who did a song and dance routine. Christian gave them both money. I just laughed.
We saw Christian evangelists trying to save some homeless people, who looked disinterested in being saved but interested in any food or whatever might be on offer so were nodding their heads obediently. There was a slightly frenetic guy running back and forth, a young couple sitting across from us, a Jews for Jesus woman who tried to hand us a pamphlet, which asked anxiously if we thought Jesus got Stoned????
You can't sit for long at Union Square without someone wanting to talk with you. Not so Washington Square Park. Each place has its own personality and demands somehow.
There were the subway rides, too, with the mix of tourists from Europe, young actors talking craft and strategy, young women reading serious books, a probably homeless guy muttering about how we were all going to hell for sinning and laughing at the same time as muttering our damnation, an older black woman in an emerald green skirt suit who thanked someone very imperiously for letting her sit, people of every color, age and reading material ranging from crap to literature and in multiple languages, and now too the Kindle, the great destroyer of all beauty, flattening out the reading experience to a screen. I know it's more convenient but I don't like it. I love paper that is vulnerable, can rip and tear and smell like a book, that can be bound, fall apart, be loved and cherished, held and touched. To me reading is a visceral experience. I can't help it.
And of course here I am writing a blog, right? And you are reading this off a screen so WTF am I saying? Well, if it helps, know that I hope to somehow bring this writing into book form. I'd prefer it to be a paper book, but at the same time this blog, this strange oddity, is the most consistent thing in my life right now. I don't know a damn thing about my future, but I do know I am writing here every day. So there you go, a massive contradiction. If you plan to continue to read this blog, plan on such things. This is a human story, not a tidy present wrapped in a bow. I've yet to meet one person on planet earth not embodying massive contradictions. I used to think I could avoid them - we have a word for that: pride verging on hubris. It has taken me all these years to join the human race. I don't think I have to go into all the reasons for that, by now it must be obvious...
Tomorrow I have another day of seeing old and new friends, and also my (ex)stepfather David (the writer). I am quite tired so will end here though there is always more to say...
Don't you love my idea of 'short'?
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.