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.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wrong again...hooray!

So, first off, after spending the day with Great Uncle Ed, who at 87 is a better driver than most, btw, I have some interesting news to report.  First, turns out he and the Marchetti's, the family that includes Pam the family historian, are staunch union Democrats.  The flags have to do with their military service (both Ed and Dennis - Pam's husbands - were Marines), and traveling through Seymour, Ansonia and Derby with Uncle Ed, allowing myself to see it through his eyes, and hearing all his veteran stories, I could begin to understand better the Flag Thing.  See bumper stickers on his car below:

While I'll never be a big military person, I began to understand that for him, a WWII vet, the military was about doing something bigger than him that was important and that his concern was not about American foreign policy asserting itself all over the globe for the benefit of capitalism, etc., but instead for the men and women who serve, get killed or are left injured and such.  Like his devotion to the electrician's union, it is about being part of something that works, and people that look after their own.

Madelyn, his sister (see picture of them both) is a staunch Republican, as is cousin Patti (who is more of a laissez-faire republican - meaning she wasn't going to get into any fights about it).

Great Uncle Ed Bukoski and Great Aunt Madelyn (Napyshank)

Patti, aside from that, not only has created an enormous garden in the front and back of the house she shares with her parents, with garden gnomes, but also an 'Oriental garden' with Buddhas and such (see picture below of both):

a little clutch of gnomes - Patti's garden is an acre deep installation 

Patti's new Buddhist garden with stones in front from Scotland and Milford
cousin Patti who hates having her picture taken...but allowed it sort of

Patti and I share many things, however, even if politics and love of gnomes are not among them: we both catch insects in glasses and let them free outside the house, we both love thunder and lightening storms, we both get each other's way of thinking, in fact she was able to finish 90% of my sentences, she has tried meditation and yoga and likes Buddhist thought and while liking ideals of religion cannot deal with the church bit.

And as for that: please note that Madelyn, Ed and Madelyn's husband Steve, still all go to mass every week, the men seem to prefer the Saturday evening shift and the women the Sunday shift.  Patti brings Madelyn to church but does not go inside.

Madelyn reads Bill O'Reilly books and I get the sense Sarah Palin may be a figure that is liked here.  Patti believes that she does not do well (Palin) because she doesn't know how to play the political game, for instance.  However, Madelyn wishes she had known about me when I was growing up so she could have been there for me as a child.  So there you have it.  Politics that I cannot understand coupled with generosity.

Great Uncle Ed insisted on buying my lunch and brought me all over, including to the Bukoski gravesite.  I tried to talk politics with him but he demurred, and I think now that is because he was probably afraid I was a Republican, which I find beyond funny.  His way of not answering questions is to say 'yes, yes' and then change the subject.  He appears to be selectively deaf, and I think if I get to 87, I will attempt this as well, as I think if you reach 87 and can still drive, you deserve to decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

great grandfather George Bukoski and second wife Frances' headstone - Marge Bukoski is in newer grave.

As he hobbled back to his car using his cane, I cried.  It reminded me of watching Papa (his brother George - who's nickname was 'Sonny' I just discovered) leave our house - watching their maroon Buick drive away when we lived in Gorham, Maine, the thwack of the screen door and me crying by myself, afraid to show my mother or my first step-father (also named George - just to add to confusion).  I've always been so afraid of hurting others' feelings, even at age 6.  I thought I was supposed to be happy to be 'home' but was so sad to watch their car leave the driveway.

As I was still with Patti and Madelyn, my crying was brief, as I didn't want to show them I was crying.  Earlier in the day, I went through the same thing when I watched a bridal party leave the hotel.  This made me cry as I don't know if my second marriage is falling apart or not.  Great Uncle Ed showed up at the same time so I dried my eyes and smiled, then went to the bathroom to cry and came back smiling again.

A phrase both Ed and Madelyn repeated often "We didn't have money, but we had everything else."  And from Ed "Kids have it harder these days."  They will also bemoan kids saying I want, I want, but there's a realization that something's missing.  They came from a family of 15 people and most of them only have one child.  But it's more than that, a sense of community, not in the PC BS way of talking about community, but in the way that it existed before anyone had to say the word.

I still don't know why the disconnect happened between my grandparents and them.  But some things are clearer: they did not know I existed. Madelyn says she's been in touch with everyone else.  They were shocked to see a picture of my father with long hair (70s) and simply knew nothing.  This makes me think that my grandparents were ashamed of how things went with Jim (their son, my father) marrying my mother when she was pregnant and such, but also - because the split happened before then - that they wanted to break from the Bukoski name/clan/religion.  Or Nana did anyway.  They were very scared people my grandparents and this Mr. North boss person was clearly dominant.

My grandfather's father worked at Farrel-Birmingham as well, as a crane operator.  Because of that, he got some kind of lung problem that they are calling asthma or bronchitis but sounds even worse.  He had to stop working in the mid 20s and died in 1937 (which was a year before my grandparents got married).  Uncle Ed said because of that they all worked and did stuff to give money into the household.  This would be way before the days of workman's compensation.  So how they made ends meet sounds like nothing short of a miracle.

See the photo of the house they all lived in (15 kids - 2 parents) below (still in the family...rented out now - and other houses bought on land surrounding).  They picked vegetables in the fields, made toboggans out of sticks and refuse to sled in the snow, had newspaper routes, shined shoes, whatever.  It's a world long gone, at least in the U.S. now.

Bukoski homestead in Seymour - apparently my grandfather lived in the attic room.

I will let a number of photos speak for the rest of the day now, as my most excellent friend Renee will be showing up soon, and I want to have time to take a nap before her arrival.  I have not seen her for years, since my father had his first stroke in 2003 and I ended up shipwrecked at her place in Oakland, where she and her husband and two kids were shipwrecked due to visa issues which meant they had not yet moved to Canada.  We looked at each other and laughed (as described in an earlier post).

I look forward this time dearly, as she is also the kind of friend with whom it feels no time has passed even when it has.  The perfect person for this moment, for so many reasons...

the old Seymour High School - where my grandparents went and presumably met - now a senior center/recreation place

Great Uncle Ed - hero driver.
Great Aunt Madelyn in her very Catholic kitchen - husband visible watching TV in next room
view from garden - below trees is pond once owned by brass company that used to smell but now is clean as factory is closed - Uncle Ed was quick to point out the positive side of factory closures was clean fishable swimmable water

I notice from the Great Uncle Ed example that those who find reasons to feel lucky and grateful no matter what seem to live longer and happier.  That may sound like a bad self-help book platitude, but to see him motor around and hear his stories about traveling and helping out veterans and being connected to this person and that, and working at the Hilton Hotel for 39 years including the '68 convention in Chicago, you can't help but come to this conclusion yourself.  He misses his dead wife, wishes his son had more opportunities and is under no illusion about the state of the world, but still has an open heart, 87 years on.  That's impressive.

"We don't care what anyone's done, we never have.  We don't interfere in each other's lives.  We're all Bukoskis.  We are so glad you found us.  We want to welcome you to the family." (Ed)

Well, OK, then.  How could I resist?


  1. Lovely insight into America and family splits. They seem like lovely folk. And then I start thinking - maybe we put far more sinister reasons behind family breaks, fragments, losses and project secrets and dark stories into them. Aren't we just all human, with good sides and not so good ones, getting by in life as best as we can. And yes sometimes we miss the opportunity to connect or re-connect but life just sometimes and simply gets into the way. There is something open and accepting in your experiences there and I like that. I want to hold onto that and be less judgemental about family stuff in my family!

  2. Thanks Isidora, and I think it can be both - some family situations are easier to be open about and with than others. Sometimes very real damage is done and sometimes, as appears here, there may have been some damage done back when but I have nothing to do with it, nor does it appear anyone alive does either. I think forgiveness and acceptance takes many forms, and the first thing perhaps is to accept ourselves as human beings and then feel in to the rest...but yes this experience has been healing and revelatory on many levels. To have for instance Ellis Island immigrant records for my family is amazing, as that looms large in the cultural memory of Americans. I also have relatives who came over in the boat after the Mayflower, the Arabella, so like most Americans, I'm a mutt. This is why it's so ridiculous when Americans talk about limiting immigration and immigrants. As if. The last attempt to keep immigrants out circa 1500s failed very badly, and I think this one will, too.