Spent the earlier part of the day surprising myself by working on The Autobiography of Dick & Jani. I actually started writing a forward and/or proposal. Something just clicked and I started.
I then typed up one of Jani's particularly heart-breaking letters, handwritten to her parents after the break-up of her second marriage, which involved getting beaten up on the streets of Vienna by her husband, finding out he was having an affair with a 'girl from Vienna' (who he married after Jani, and is my step-grandmother), deciding to leave her daughter (my mother) with her husband when they get back to the U.S., even though she tells her parents in the same breath that he doesn't have much of a 'feeling' for her, while claiming she (my mother) is thrilled to be coming home. So confused, so scared, so angry, so attempting-bravado about a job she thinks she'll get at ABC (which she did not get), how she needs to take the luxury liner back so her face will heal before she sees anyone and so she can have her 'last bit of luxury for a long time' and how this all could be her big chance to do something on her own.
Sadly, for the record, for whatever reason, she ended up back living with or near her parents in Toledo, Ohio, which in the letter she vowed would not happen, and then married her third husband, Earl - another disaster in the making.
What I have realized upon contemplation of both grandmothers is this one big thing: neither of them had a maternal bone in their bodies. They felt like they had to play along with their roles as mother-wives, but it did not suit either of them. The introduction to the book I have written so far has to do with this square peg in a round hole dilemma. There are many reasons for this and neither of them are 'pure victims' of course, but it has occurred to me that a major unspoken fact is this: some women are not cut out to be mothers. This may or may not have to do with some kind of disease or whatever, but it may also be that in the same way all men are not alpha males attempting to rule the jungle, maybe all women are not maternal. And if that is the only/primary role you perceive is open to you at the time, then what?
Or, equally, if you do want to have children these days but also want a career and a career can only function in the traditional male trajectory that does not include breaks for having and rearing children, then what? Yet another square peg in a round hole.
It's not about which choice you make, it's about having choice and paths that are designed with only one route in mind. As my grandmothers were going through this from 1916 onward, the choices were far fewer and the pressures even greater than now to make the wife-mother thing work. But, now, we have the new impossibility: Doing It All. Whichever way you slice it, women end up a lot of the time as the square pegs trying to fit into a game board primarily designed by and for men. And perhaps women, too, women that are happy to fit into the traditional frameworks. So perhaps the more accurate way to say it is: it's a game board that operates off some ancient coding and has been refined by the people in power - not only political power but also aesthetic power - in other words, who rules the words that are spoken, written and published. As this power shifts, so too does the game board.
Slowly...very very slowly...
So that was the first part of the day.
Next was remembering that the Murdoch Empire was going down in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in Parliament today. And watching that was pure addictive fun. Yes, I know that is probably a really shallow way of looking at it, but when the guy who started the station (FOX) in the U.S. that has arguably done more to destroy the fabric of any kind of civil discourse in my home country gets a pie in the face, you just have to dance around the room in glee. There is no other human response.
Especially when Murdoch's wife then slugs the guy who throws the pie. It's just so many chickens coming home to roost at once it's a delirium of joy.
Plus watching what I love the Most about the UK - that one of the most powerful men in the world has to sit through being grilled for hours by obscure members of parliament on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. And of course the pie.
In case you have been living in a closet or don't follow UK news, one of Murdoch's papers here was found guilty of hacking into the phones of many, many people, but when they were celebrities no one cared that much. But, when it turned out that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked, that finally made the public rise up as one. Milly Dowler was a 13-year old who was abducted and killed, and the reporters were hacking into her mobile's voice mail and deleting messages to leave room for new ones - which gave the family false hope she was alive and the police completely confused about what or who to investigate. This is clearly sub-human behavior by anyone's standards. And that story has ripped open this scandal again and brought to light issues of paying off police for hush money and for information and reporters and editors from Murdoch's paper then getting jobs with the police, and Cameron hiring one of them, all of them having dinner and drinks with each other, etc. A real mess...
I can only hope that this ripping open up of the musty closets will bring about the change it has the potential to make happen. Especially the little cabals here embedded in the news, police and politics. We shall see. But in the meantime, it's great stuff to watch - pure theatre, mixing Dallas, Jerry Springer and every horrible gossip column Murdoch's empire has inflicted on us for Years....
Later, I did go and meet up with friends and have dinner, so did not spend endless hours glued to the radio (I don't have a TV, which in moments like this can seem like a real challenge, I must confess), but just had to mention it as it's transfixed this country, as well it should.
I will be very happy if this scandal reaches the US with enough force to eventually bring down FOX News - the TV station predicted uncannily accurately by Paddy Chayevsky and Sydney Lumet in 'Network' - a movie you Must see if you have not. Made in the 1970s, it is not dated in the slightest - even the clothes styles are coming back so rent the movie.
My whole adult life I have had to live in the cloud of FOX and the hell it has wrought. I can only pray now that the wheels of justice will grind as surely as they have ground slow. I know it's my own idea of justice but dear god/dess the US left deserves a break from the right wing lunatic fringe battering it from every angle all day, every day, subsidized by cynical corporate interests stoking populist rage against the people least guilty of hurting the people who are made angriest by them. God, it's depressing and these days even scary....
Emotionally, it's strange because I am somewhere between grief-stricken and oddly lucid. I cry every once in a while and then just kind of move on. I am very glad to be writing my book again. I am very sad about the content of it but know it's truthful even if painful. It looks like it's time for personal as well as political skeletons to come clanking ungainly out of the closet....It's all change....and that is good...
Still don't know where to live and all the practical stuff, but following the silver thread...hoping, hoping it'll lead to clarity soon enough...or maybe clarity is over-rated and is just about control. Maybe it's time to stay open to as many possibilities as possible...
or...as the old song goes (cue Christopher Walken in white suit with demonic-yet-weirdly-attractive grin about to do a soft shoe number)..."Let's face the music...and dance..."
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.