Took a lovely yoga class this evening with Darcy, and when lying on the floor listening to the teacher Sheila guide us through poses and relaxations, I realize I am transported to the place of yoga. It could be any yoga room anywhere, it's impossible to even remember where I am. I also realized listening to this teacher's voice that she sounded exactly like Laurie Anderson and that therefore Laurie Anderson must come from the Midwest, which makes so much sense for so many reasons - in terms of the soothing nature of her voice, and a sense of homespun urban that she creates in her music and shows.
I wondered laying there with a knee on the floor, or legs over bolsters or listening and not listening to what part of my body to allow to relax, if I should go on the 4 month volunteer yoga retreat at Kripalu, which is an amazing yoga place in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. I was convinced I should, but then stumbled again on the fact that you have to live dormitory style in bunk beds. This always gives me pause. Not the working for the place in order to live there and get all the yoga classes, amazing meals and use of the sauna and whirlpool, no, but bunk beds and the thought of people snoring when I want to sleep. That makes me crazy. So, we'll see.
But the class itself got underneath so much sadness for a while and held me, lightening the load somewhat. Got up today and after a brief talk on skype with my husband about when he will be moving out, I sat down to meditate and just cried and cried and cried some more, while supposedly meditating - so 25 minutes straight of crying, then called my good friend Julie who listened to me cry some more. Loss is such a staggering thing, and for me this new one I am facing is just gut-wrenching. I can tell myself everything about how it's all for the best and who knows what the future will hold and yadeyadeyada, but still it just sucks and feels like pure loss. Pure loss in that there's no one to blame or say anyone did anything wrong, there's just loss. And that is sad.
I then found some new pictures of Jani, including a psycho one of her, my grandfather (her second husband) posing with the children of her first marriage, Ted and Barbara, for a Christmas photo from 'the Grahams' (my grandfather's last name). This is before my mother was born and when the children she had with Russell were still living with her. It is incredibly staged and everyone except Jani looks really uncomfortable, so we can assume, it was staged by her. To add to the weirdness, on the back of the picture is a note she had written to someone, probably her mother, that says that Ted has buck teeth from thumb sucking but doesn't usually look that bad, that Barbara looks just like her, and complaining about her current husband, Robbie's 'fanny' (Brits: in American English the fanny is the bum not what it implies in British English) and saying how much better his body looked in OCD (some kind of officer training camp).
Then there are some other classic photos of her from the 1970s, one including her in a picket line on strike with her fellow public school teachers smoking a cigar, some good publicity shots, a classic one of her behind a podium looking like the imperious Jani I remember - the one with whom one did not fuck, eyebrows raised ever so slightly, nostrils threatening to flare. I can hear her laugh and her voice zinging the unlucky target of her wrath.
She is becoming more and more real as I do this research, closer and closer to life again, as is Nana (Dick). I have to write this book now or else I will be haunted by them until the end of time.
The good news is that today an agent who I queried informally about this project is interested in reading a proposal and 50-100 pages, so that is hopeful. I have many pages but doing all this research will make it necessary to go in and re-do an awful lot, and also a proposal means I have to finally decide on a form. So will ponder this. I am wondering if it may make some sense to come back and live in NYC for August to do so. That's a possibility. I would also need to take the time to write a proposal and sample chapters for the book from my PhD thesis, which some publishers have kindly requested. This feels right, because it means focusing on what I actually want to be doing and how I actually want to make money rather than nosing around in areas that seem second best.
But first I have to sort out many details, and so tomorrow morning I fly back to NYC, then after one night there back to London. Please wish me luck, as I feel I will need it.
And finally a note of gratitude for my time in St. Paul with Darcy, James, Simon and Leo, what an amazing week full of love - including even a friend of Darcy's coming over today because she wanted to get to know me better. We spoke some tonight, Darcy and James and I, and I could convey some of this to them. You should know that Darcy has been battling breast cancer for the last few years. She is OK now, but it's something her mother and many relatives have died of, so she is understandably concerned about a recurrence. She had one, but that should be it, but she does not know, because no one knows. This was one of the main reasons I scheduled the visit originally - to spend time with and support her. And instead, because of the circumstances, she ended up spending way more time supporting me, which is just typical of her. She says she feels supported by me and made me cry by telling me she felt hugely supported by me even from afar when going through her operations. I feel so close to her, which is probably obvious by now, but to know she feels the same way and can feel the energy I am sending her just amazes me.
So if I ever start whining about not having a close enough family, anyone reading this can feel free to send me to my own post here and tell me very kindly to shut the fuck up. What else could that word possibly mean?
So, I do have a family and I feel sad beyond measure to be leaving a place that feels so warm, safe, embracing and loving in the real action-packed meaning of that word. I do not have enough good words to describe these most excellent people. And unless you know them, there's no way I can do them justice so you'll just have to trust me.
There is good stuff here in the middle of America, and I frankly never knew how much until this week. I'll miss you St. Paul, Minnesota, and here's hoping I make it back again soon....
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.