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. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.

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 a new book recently completed.

I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.

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. You can also contact me through that site.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

magic and loss

Ok, so like the internet isn’t working at my house and the phone line is scratchy.  I find the number behind a box that I need to call and am talking to my new best friend in India through a wall of static.  And I’m thinking, as I imagine you do too at these moments: how did we get here?  How is it that I am so dependent on a plastic box with blinking lights and a handset that calls itself a phone.  But even more disturbing is the internet-addiction/necessity.  I do everything through this now, pay bills, check the weather, make train reservations, everything.  And I have to leave tomorrow on an airplane and I have to wait for some indeterminate time between now and two hours from now when an engineer on God knows what continent will perform ‘a test on my line.’

This is just all wrong, and I know it is, which is why I waited way longer to get internet at home than most people (2002) and a mobile phone (2003).  I don’t like this dependence one bit, but of course without the internet, this blog would not exist, nor would I have found my new/old relatives I will be meeting at the end of the week.  I envy my friend Spencer, the poet, who I believe still to this day has not connected to the internet and still types his poems on a typewriter.  He is right and I am wrong...but then again I also haven't been in touch with him in years...

Envy…a word that has made a couple appearances so far this week…hmmm…And this usually only happens at times when I am doubting myself to a large degree, as some who have commented have already discerned.  Like most people probably, when I am contented with my life, I seem to be envy-free.  However, I do find it an interesting emotion, because in some cases in my life, it’s prompted radical change, when I’ve realized that my envy of someone else is being prompted by the fact I am not acting adequately on my own behalf.

I used to be less afflicted with this disease, and I can pinpoint when it got worse to a decision I had to make in 2002 that I am more at ease with now and was at ease with at the time, but then boomeranged badly and unexpectedly on me.  Do I mention this now or not? I suppose I will, though I fear the wrath of angry people.  In short, I had an abortion, after much soul searching and when I was pregnant for the first time ever at 39 in the early days of my relationship with my now-husband.  At the time, after talking with a number of close people and praying a lot, I kept getting the deep internal message: let it go.  Lying in my bed one night, I even had a very strong and frightening premonition that the pregnancy would kill me.  So I went ahead and had the abortion.  At the time, it felt like the right thing to do, right up until the day a friend showed up at our apartment who was about my age and pregnant about the same amount of time I would have been had I kept the baby.  I was startled by my reaction when I went into my bedroom and started crying. 

I found out because of the abortion that I had a deformed uterus and probably would have miscarried anyway, and was told I needed to have an operation if I ever wanted to get pregnant again.  Fast forward a number of years, and I am in London and having this operation, which has complications, so that the whole thing felt futile.  Then miraculously, I did get pregnant, a pregnancy we announced at our wedding, as I was 12 weeks along at that time.  Then, the next day on the first day of our honeymoon, I had a miscarriage.  This was one of the worst days of my life, and tragically happened the day after one of the happiest.

Now four years later, after yet another operation after the miscarriage, as I was told the first one was done wrong, I have not gotten pregnant, and my birthday is coming up and I am turning 48 years old.  In other words, this probably ain’t gonna happen barring a real act of God and this makes me unbearably sad.

I have gone to therapy for this and healing and rituals, all of it, so please know I am not asking for advice as to how to cope with this, I’m just saying that sometimes I do regret the abortion, as the pregnancy may have come to term because all of this is so mysterious.  I also found out years later from my amazing therapist here that it is common for incest survivors (of which I am one) to feel a pregnancy will kill them.  I did not know this in 2002.  I wish I had known.

I am also angry with my husband, because he does not grieve the way I do over this, and how could he?  But it still makes me angry.  And I think that lingers in our relationship as much as I wish it did not.  Again, believe me I have done every conceivable form of emotional and spiritual work on this, so please no advice.  It is just a fact.

But for some reason this morning, all of this hit me hard, and I don’t know why.  Maybe because my birthday is coming up and the inexorable aging process continues.  Maybe because I am going to meet this new big family and have no children to add.  Maybe because my father was an only child and my mother was an old child of her two parents and I am the only child of my mother and father.  Even with their many marriages, they had no other children.  And there is a sadness with this ending.

And all this adds a pressure on my life – to redeem it somehow, to make something happen that matters as much as having a child matters and I’m not sure I can do that.  I’m not sure anyone can do that and this makes me very sad.  And I know I cannot live under that much pressure and I need to allow that to move, etc., etc., believe me.  But it’s there and it drives me.

And this from someone who was married for years to another man who did not want children, and who had kind of accepted this as a fact of my life.  And so my other sadness is: I found out way too late I wanted children and how much, and I wasn’t frankly emotionally ready to have children until too late either.  I know a number of other women in this situation, along with women who are trying much later to have children through all possible means.

I decided early on I would not go the IVF route.  I don’t know why precisely, but something in me was repelled by it on a visceral level.  This is not to judge anyone else who does this, as I know many who have.  I have a thing with hormones, couldn’t even take the pill because it made me suicidal, the hormones I had to take for the first operation almost put me over the edge.  And even the pills I took to calm down my menstrual bleeding when I was anaemic made me semi-crazy.

So here I am on this rainy, grey London day crying and writing, and knowing now that there is a reason the stupid internet stopped working – so I would stop futzing and I would write this down instead.  I love the Hindu ideas of multiple gods working for many things and if we can assume they multiply with innovation, I thank the gods of the internet for helping me today, or perhaps it’s the trouble-maker trickster Ganesh working his/her mysterious ways.

I will attempt to post this now in a window of internet functioning…I will also soon publish an actual photo of myself on my profile and come out from behind my self-imposed shadows.  If not today soon.

Tomorrow I travel to New York City and begin the odyssey of meeting new/old relatives related to my paternal grandfather and perhaps my grandmother as well and researching my maternal grandmother with my mother’s boxes of her stuff in Maine and my cousin Darcy’s in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  I may post before I go but if not, you’ll know why it’s delayed.  

My first stop will be at my best friend Julie’s place, she without whom this past decade would be inconceivable.  She is one of those people who when you see them you can breathe freely and fully.  I cannot imagine a better place to be going.


  1. Your post today really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks for telling me that, Bea. I'm both glad and sad it resonated with you. Glad there is a sharing and sad that it is within the field of loss.

  3. I have no words that feel right but have read your last two blogs and they have reached my heart. Travel well and go gently.

  4. Thanks Isidora, as a friend in NYC has written in an email, she believes the repeated losses I have sustained these past few years means there is "something new and beautiful wants to take hold inside you, inside your spirit...I am sure there is a new beginning breathing itself into life inside you. " I believe/hope she is right but fuck it is painful right about now. blessings.