So I was writing some notes after reading more writing of Jani's and also some about/by her son, and seeing these patterns that they/we fall into of seeing things only from our own convenient POV. And I begin to wonder if it's possible to get outside of that? Some notes I wrote about the book I'm trying to write about my grandmothers:
So, are we all the mode of transport (when a pedestrian, cars and bikes the enemy, when cycling, cars and people the enemy, when driving, people and bikes the enemy…etc.), hopelessly locked into our own POV or is it possible to bust out?
T's childhood diaries remind me of mine...his insistence his daughter coming home from college is hard to cope with but an understanding he is like an angry unforgiving child when spreading ashes of his grandmother's. Somehow all the letters start seeming to skip generations, sound eerily familiar...the creaking sound of the end of uniqueness - a sense of the familiarity of different people's stories...many are relatives it is true and there are some definite family diseases running around, but I wonder, are they unique? In essence?
Is the real work perhaps and always forgiveness...no perhaps not forgiveness but acceptance? In other words, it is so easy to see in others who hurt us agency and in our own case a sense of - if not victimization - perhaps powerlessness? In other words, anyone who has been to therapy will know the sound of the therapist's assurance that this or that thing we did or said 'could not have been any other way'...but if that is so for us, why would it not be for others as well?
I am beginning to feel, rather than just think, all of my judgments slipping away...even of people who have hurt me very badly.
As I am writing this, Leo is playing with toys on the floor, and I find myself feeling comforted rather than annoyed by that. Again, it's so nice to see kids who are allowed to be kids. What a relief. And then there is the noise and kind of undercurrent of a song, which is somewhere between charming and annoying. I wonder if I would have been a very good mother in the end....
But it's fun being 'Aunt Julia' because I get to have all the good bits.
I've been hiding out in the air conditioned house all day because of heat. At some point will have to venture out at least for a walk. On the other hand, because of this self-imposed home stay, I have gotten a lot of reading and thinking done (plus watching Andy Murray crash out of Wimbledon again - poor guy).
But back to the larger point - I feel I am beginning to get a sense of where I fit in the cosmic soap opera a little bit better now, and as with the best moments in my life that have had the most life-changing effect - it is shifting my perspective radically. Also, I am beginning to comprehend and feel my age. Not in a creaky way, but in the sense of knowing I am not a young person anymore, that I have lived and matured and there is another phase of life in front of me now. I wonder sometimes if this is how far more normal people feel at like 22, but I've always been a slow learner.
There is also a sadness underneath all of this, and it's not just because of changes in my life now, but because of the weight of the sadness of so much of the lives I am reading about. I can also see the alcohol-soaked pages dripping with a kind of foggy sloppiness as well. I am ashamed of this and feel I am not supposed to talk about it for many reasons. But I am going to keep working to let this story come out, as I get the sense it is the secretiveness of these family cycles - not 'my' family - just family cycles period, that helps them maintain.
I remain obsessed with the idea/l of somehow getting down life as it functions, as much as possible, rather than the neat, clean bow type stories we hear/tell/read/see/create most if not all of the time. How can I tease it out? Make it show it's ugly-beautiful little head in a way that is perhaps accessible to more than 10 of my post-structuralist-oriented friends? I am still struggling with this.
I know if I wrote the way I have written my stage texts, it would feel liberated and easy, letting a million fragments flow...but after the death of my father, it just started feeling somewhat like a cop out - like I have to somehow allow in all those voices but in a way that is more direct somehow.
The trick is how to do this without getting bogged down so hard I can't think straight. There is a sadness that can somehow feel so quicksand-like I am afraid I will suffocate inside it. But for some - perhaps masochistic - reason I am sitting through this sadness and continuing along. Is this ridiculous? I don't know.
It looks like I have not been shortlisted for at least one of the teaching jobs I applied for, by the way, so my brilliant ideas about escaping larger questions about my short-term future at least for now have failed again. I'd like to think this is so I can stay focused on the writing, but we'll see.
I am at this stage more focussed in terms of pure writing on this blog than on anything else because just absorbing all the Jani letters and writing feels like a lot in and of itself. Someone suggested, when I mentioned turning this blog into a book, that I call it 'Somewhere in Transition' - which struck me with the force of revelation that the blindingly obvious often does. Of course, it's about now and what this time actually feels like in real time.
I feel the instant pressure then for the bow and the happy ending. Can't do this without that, can I?
What good's a journey without a great final destination? That is, if you're reading about it, taking your precious time to follow the story, these thoughts, etc.
Anyone out there who wants to comment on this, I'd love to hear thoughts - are you interested in process? Hearing/reading about it? I imagine you are somewhat or else what on earth would you be doing reading this in the first place.
But in the larger (?) sense, would you read a book about it? Would you be interested in the how of moving through or would you want/need a certain structure that focused it in a certain way, with a certain arc and point of view beyond that of the endlessly diverted brain of your faithful correspondent?
I usually find structures emerge eventually, maybe one will here too...if anyone sees it in these blog posts now, please do tell me. I'm already grateful to Masha for having the genius idea of calling the book the same name as the blog.
Like I said, slow learner.
Looking forward to hearing back from you...and apologies to those of you who have written comments that I haven't responded to directly. I've been traveling and coping with lots of stuff so if I don't have a good response, I'm leaving it. However, the comments are all appreciated.
Cousin home, children getting feral, gonna go now and post this post-haste (oh I didn't just make that horrible pun, did I? I did....I did....)
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.