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.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

struggling today...

Hello friends and readers.  I'm having one of those days today where many things seem confused, and I cannot seem to get clarity on what to write, who I am in relation to my work, etc.  I really don't want to admit this at it seems a colossal failure of nerve somehow, but I suppose if I'm going to be honest about this process, then to not mention the confusion part would be pretty well dishonest.

Because I was working yesterday to collect work for what will become a performance/art project, that put me back in that frame somehow, and when that happens I can feel the emptiness of the space where my theatre company used to be.  I am being diligent I think in not racing to fill that space, as I think that's the moral equivalent of jumping from one failed relationship into another one in hopes of avoiding the pain of loss.  So consequently, I am feeling that loss today.  And my biggest concern is: did I jump out too quickly?  Was there something else I could have done to make that situation work?  And then when I think that through, or more accurately, feel that through, I realize: yes and no.  Yes there were steps I could have taken to allow the company to continue and they may have even led to the company thriving but no, I was not willing to do that work, again, for free.  I am tired, very tired of administrative/producing work and it was having a vampiric effect on my energy and spirit.  But as with any important relationship and/or piece of identity, what have you, the loss still needs to be grieved.  And, the truth is, I fucking hate that.  I would much rather glide on through to the next challenge and talk about how wonderful it all is.

Also, grieving leads me to a sense of shame and then confusion.  I remember someone telling me once that she felt shame in her pain, and I did not know precisely what she meant at the time.  I do now.  I think this may be one of the many legacies of abusive/alcohol-fuelled childhoods (speaking of which I am struggling fiercely right now with how much of this childhood I should or not write about here - what are the ethics of speaking one's truth when it may cause another harm?  Especially if that other person was in one state then that differs greatly from now?  Must I remain silent?  Must I write about it anonymously?).  But whatever the cause, it is true, and I have a hard time showing you or anyone else my real vulnerability.  Is that wise anyway in this world of facebook/twitter/blogging etc.?  Should I just settle for the public face and come up with an adequately humorous persona of some sort to present to you?  Is that the more acceptable angle?  Sometimes I think it is, but I resist it nonetheless.

Why am I so drawn to the rough edges?  Why must I always seek out the cracks in the framework?  Is this some kind of disease in and of itself?  Or is it, to mangle a quotation from Cocteau about artistic innovation, an attempt at another form of realism?  See, this is the struggle, always with my writing, my theatre work, anything: how can I show what is as it is?  'As it is' meaning always shifting, changing, becoming, dying, re-becoming, morphing again and then showing itself as a new thought process or emotion (and what are those words anyway - hopeless, clumsy: 'thought' 'emotion'...etc...as if they were different, as if they can be pulled apart from each other and there is some 'platonic pure thought' or 'real feeling' etc...I am haunted by the memory of a Greek friend in Italy - another in the long list of gay men I fell hopelessly in love with throughout my 20s - who accused me of thinking with my heart and feeling with my head... and I wonder now: is that so bad?  Isn't that what we all do?)

So, how do I show what is as it is becoming?  In my stage texts it is through a kind poetic cut-up language, which both addresses things directly and indirectly - pulling from my own thoughts, ideas, memories and found text, ideas, memories, dreams, rants, raves...Here, in this new beast, I am following my thoughts wherever they go, trusting that somehow this communicates to someone somewhere besides me, which so far it seems to be...and I suppose even more importantly that it is somehow moving towards a way of seeing/feeling/becoming that communicates the world as I see it in hopes that someone else may also see the world this way and feel slightly less alone, which is how I feel when I read writing I love.  This writing can be fiction or non-fiction, but there is a sense of intimacy of hearing a thought articulated and/or a feeling or even a way of seeing rendered that resonates either with something I've thought, saw and/or felt but maybe have not been able to articulate or that offers a new way of seeing/feeling/thinking about some part of life.  And I think that's interesting - these two simultaneous impulses - one towards a kind of recognition and one towards an awakening to something new.  But are not these awakenings to something 'new' in a way recognitions as well, in other words 'recognizing' a perception or a way of thinking as true or resonant that had not been conscious but had perhaps been present.  I remember this feeling quite distinctly with - of all things - poststructuralist philosophy - in struggling with the idea of the 'truth' and its existence or non-existence.  When I understood, in what seemed like a flash, the ultimately subjective nature of what I had before considered truth, it was a revelation, but one that obviously resonated with experience.

What I do know: I am grieving the loss of my theatre company.  I am still working out how much of the past and the present I should be putting in this blog along with everything else and I'm scared to death that this makes me some kind of cosmic loser.  The phrases 'Never let 'em see you sweat.' and 'Smile, smile, smile!' come to mind...not to mention the dance mentioned a few posts ago I tried so hard to learn at boarding school to keep up with the rich kids, namely: do well but never appear to be trying.  Clearly 'trying' to learn that should have been a tip off to the fact that I was constitutionally incapable of it in the first place.

Some people never learn.

Oh, speaking of which I had an interesting series of discussions about class with Hazel from Southend yesterday when working on the new piece.  And if the class system can seem horrendous in the US, I think it may be worse here.  To paraphrase what she said 'whenever I speak in a room with middle class people, I get the sense they feel something unclean has entered the room.'  Translation for Americans:  middle class = upper middle class, and from Southend means Essex, means working class and/or aspirational working class (i.e. chavs with bling).  There are many gradations and subtleties within this, but you get the idea.  She is an art student/artist and so the world she will be entering is quite upper crusty and because of her accent, she will have difficulties based simply on the assumptions that will be heaped on her the moment she opens her mouth.  While it's different for me being American, I have a whole other set of assumptions heaped on me here, too.  Interestingly, in working class Britain (e.g., where I live in East London), my accent is taken on the whole as a positive thing whereas in middle class (upper middle class) Britain it means I am intellectually deficient or an incomer.  Hazel was amazed when she went the US that the moment she opened her mouth there, everyone was thrilled to meet a British person.

Ahhh class....the never-ending prejudicial fun fair with free, astonishingly repetitive rides for the whole family!


  1. Hey I champion you on - it's in the emptiness we find truth. The truth is not a universal truth but your truth. In any given moment you can experience that truth as it arises, as it presents itself. And of course we can't hold onto to it because the next moment, tick tick tick tick, is another opportunity for another truth to reveal itself. For me I can meet the truth in silence, in my mindful being present to my reality, from moment to moment. And I can stay mindful and present to every moment by breathing. In and out. And listening, from within. Listening is important. And shutting that sabotaging voice off too. It's an art really! But the good news is; every moment we have a new opportunity to practice listening and Being. Ad infinitum. So we can ditch the blaming ourselves, the judging ourselves. Just have another go. Go Julia go!!

  2. Thanks Isidora, I appreciate having a champion - perhaps you could become a medieval knight-ess?! I do meditate every day but sometimes more mindfully than others. Always a good reminder.

  3. That exploration of class is a rich source--something I've been thinking a lot about. Kate Fox gives an interesting, though not incredibly deep, assessment of class in England in her book "Watching the English." It's wonderful! Also interesting to think of where artists/intellectuals fit into the class spectrum. That's something I would like to have coffee over! I think there's a show in it somehow. Good luck with mucking through the muck. At least the administration is no longer that! That among other things must give a great feeling of freedom. Which is, of course, terrifying.

  4. yes a coffee would be good! I also have an idea for a book about class in respect of the US but now here, too, so probably will need to add that as well. It's a deep, murky well. If you haven't read Angela Davis' excellent 'women, race and class' I highly recommend it. Later today a rant about V.S. Naipaul's idiotic comment about all women writers being inferior to him because of sentimentality and narrow world view will follow...Gender being part of the power mix init.