I'm back in the City that refers to itself as The City - without irony. I had a hard time leaving the warmth and love of my cousin's family home, and I forgot to mention, I was staying in the boys' toy room - where there is an extra bed for guests and mountains of Legos, stuffed animals (Brits: soft toys) and many random toys for boys. Therefore the stuffed tiger my step-father gave me fit right in. Leo came in one day and asked me, whose lion is that? I said, mine. He said, cool. And walked away. One night, I gave it to Simon as protection from the cat-people he had seen on Dr. Who. Leo brought it back to me the next morning. Leo - keeper of the lions.
I feel at home here again, like usual, though having had such a dose of family love, I feel I need to transition, even here in my good friends' apartment. I will be going to a writer's meeting that I went to when I lived in NYC tonight, so that should be quite grounding and will be seeing a very good friend (who is partially responsible - by her example rather than advice - for the fact I am now blogging) tonight at Union Square. All I can do I suppose is take these coming days as they say One Day at a Time.
I had my necessary bagel with lox spread. Even though I don't eat wheat, for those I make an exception. Oh, and I saw a colorful chalk drawing on a sidewalk (a normal occurrence) with a new 21st C. addition, the words chalked below: You can follow me on Twitter @ __________.
Ah for the days of Keith Haring and chalk drawings with mystery. For any mystery, like ever again. For any act that is not an act of self-promotion...artistic acts I mean. I know millions, billions of people do all kinds of amazing, kind, generous, Anonymous things all day long, that we don't know about. But it seems to me that we who are artists are caught in this endless cycle of self-promotion. And if we don't do it, we are told we are being lazy or elitist or stupid.
I battle with that impulse regarding this blog. I started it to explore the transitions in my life, and continue to use it that way, but also find myself listing it and telling people about it. However, I don't - yet - use the label function because I tell myself I don't want to be self-promotional...and then the other fact is I don't even understand how it works. Where integrity meets ignorance - welcome to my life with technology.
I have been spending the whole day battling tears, so please excuse me in advance if I go off on some self-righteous rant or other - these things seem to follow each other as night follows day (follows night...). But now having said that of course all I feel is sad and without words.
Do I give in to this or battle through? Well, time to go to the meeting, so will leave that question in the air and see if I end up sobbing my way up Broadway...probably not, but you never know.
Had a good writer's meeting, seeing some folks I haven't seen for a while, which was comforting, including a number of folks in the midst of break-ups, separations, divorces...must be in the water these days. Then down to Union Square to meet my good friend where we chatted over nice salads and pomegranate iced tea. On the way back uptown on the subway platform at Times Square, two guys playing When the Saints Coming Marching In on trombone and trumpet. Don't know if they were from New Orleans, but in the sweltering heat that is a NYC subway platform in July, it felt like New Orleans. I gave them some money, as did a lot of people. They were good and fit the mood. Some other folks were dancing spontaneously on the platform.
On the way downtown to meet my friend I had been noticing all the dark side, the tired people, the meth addicted woman, looking liker skin was hanging off her bones, shivering in the heat, the rats crawling on the tracks, the next hundred thousand young people, fresh faced and ready to conquer the world - even them looking dragged down by the heat. Then the refrigerator blast of the subway cars themselves, and this seems so NYC to me - stifling heat then blasting cold...there is nothing moderate here. People tapping feet, talking fast, either conked out or high on a buzz that could be anything from an idea to a show to a rehearsal to a conversation to drink or drugs or ice-cream or coffee or Anything...the constant sense of buzz and possibility and the sense that Something can be grasped at any moment and the many victims of the search for the golden ring strewn about with darkened eyes and haunted looks.
I realized something on that trip downtown - the reason everyone older believes their youth was a golden age or at least a more innocent age, is because they themselves were more innocent. Americans, god help us, are so self-centered, we take this to the national level and talk about our loss of innocence over and over again. I seriously doubt, for instance, any Native Americans, would believe any of the immigrants in the 1600s or so were innocent, and you can extrapolate from there. Nostalgia works on this principle and perhaps it's even better if the age you are nostalgic for was before you were born or just when you were too little to really remember. What could be more innocent than what you could not affect? It is untainted by your own knowledge, your own mistakes, regrets and sadnesses.
I don't believe anything was ever 'simpler', not really. Not in the senses that matter most. So what if we have more gadgets and widgets, that doesn't make us more complex, it just means we have more stuff. If anything, in many cases, this stuff makes a lot of stuff simpler - communication for one thing. Better? Maybe not always but perhaps in some ways, yes.
Innocence is over-rated I think, and doesn't exist even as a concept except in retrospect. If any of us was ever truly innocent, when innocent we would not be aware of it. The concept itself implies its loss.
I say this because I was thinking when writing the stuff earlier about the current chalk drawing on sidewalk and bemoaning the loss of Keith Haring and mysteries that I was about to fall into some deeply suspect nostalgia.
Having said that, I do wonder when it was that more people started saying, I'm so lucky I got here earlier when I could buy/rent etc. this place for cheap or whatever, rather than, I remember when we were all so much poorer or our family had less. Is the cut off post-WWII? Is that when the high-water mark for achievement existed? And then from the 1960s on, it's been a bigger struggle for most folks? I know the economics are that in US and UK anyway, the 1960s was zenith of income equality and permeability of classes, etc. and since then the gap has re-widened. Almost to Victorian levels in the UK and it seems like that in US too. Interesting, no?
So maybe this too fuels the nostalgia? The sense there was a time and a place where things were more equal and certain aspirations were not laughable or only reserved for a tiny minority? A time when ideas of equality were not considered half crazy...or is that me just being nostalgic?
In any case, enough musings, must post and go to bed, the better to face my dreaded journey back to London tomorrow. This does not, by the way, to my many friends in London who may be reading this, mean that I am dreading seeing all of you. I am not. I am dreading the fact my whole life is about to change and I don't know how and I have to start dealing with the nitty gritty details of it all...etc...
So I bid you Good night and sweet dreams from the sweltering muggy heat of The City....
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.