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.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

what a gorgeous day

The only problem with having a full, gorgeous day is that writing about it at the end is difficult because I am so tired, but in a good way.

I started the day with meditation as usual, then began to look at old photos of my grandmothers' lives and began reading some letters of Jani's.  I got to the letters my mother had warned me about wherein my grandmother (Jani) simply makes up a whole past for herself out of whole cloth to impress - I suppose - a man she seems to have been in love with and good friends with at the same time.  It's impressive in it's brazenness - the lies.  The closer she gets to her age at the time, the closer the details come to reality but the further away, especially her whole childhood are complete fiction.

I've been writing back and forth, and am writing back and forth as writing this blog with David Shields (who wrote the most excellent 'Reality Hunger,' which if you haven't read it yet, do) about this issue of truth-value in non-fiction and our relation to fiction vis-a-vis non-fiction...meaning there is no way to 'tell the truth' in non-fiction without fictionalizing.  On the other hand, as I was just writing back to him, as a child who lived through a veil of lies and half-truths, some of which was masking some pretty extreme abuse at times, including a babysitter who fabricated a whole story about me being evil (which she probably lifted from The Exorcist, which had just been released around the same time - sad, cheesy but probably true), I also hesitate at the door of Extreme Relativity.  On the other hand, I equally hesitate at the door of Simple Truth.  So, this is all food for thought, and Shields' suggestion, which I loved was "to wade in deeply into the layer after layer of unknoweabilty, mystery, fabrication, etc. Everything else is a bad simplification."

The idea of foregrounding the questions, not ignoring them or solving them 'backstage' I like a lot.

I also love the fact when I got confused about all this, I just decided to email the guy who wrote the best book on the subject and that he had the grace to write back.

And that's the kind of day it's been.  I then wrote my first review, which should come out soon on nytheatre.com.  I went to see a show with Martin Denton, the editor of that site and decided to wander around the East Village after, ended up at a meeting of folks like me but who were all strangers at the time, was asked to share my story and then made a connection there with a lovely woman named Eileen who also meditates.  We meditated together at her place, which was just wonderful, and then made plans to go see some theater stuff together over the next couple of days.  She too is in a transitional place in her life.  Not surprisingly, I keep finding people like this these days.  But it's always good to meet someone who seems like they are not falling apart even if going through a rough patch.  So feel blessed to have met this new human.

Speaking of which, my plane-mate, Rochelle, also got back in touch, so we will be going to see a play on Monday together.  It's great all these new connections, because I'm open to it right now.  There is something so magical about this time, even with the attendant anxiety, because I can just tune right in to whatever is in front of me if I let it happen.

I then had dinner with my lovely friend Nicole who I've known, first as an actor with whom I worked and then as a friend since 1999.  She and I share many preoccupations and challenges both personally and artistically, and I find her to be a deeply courageous soul who I love to see.

Then on to see another FringeNYC show, which I will write the review for tomorrow, as I'm now deliriously tired.  I saw that show with another amazing friend Chris, who I've worked with, again as an actor and then got to know as a friend since 1996.  She is convinced, as am I, that I'm being taken care of throughout all this 'transition time', and her faith in that is deeply comforting to me.  Basically, anyone's faith right now is deeply comforting to me.  Because as good old Lou Reed once sang "you need a busload of faith to get by, oh yeah" and I tend to agree with him.  I'm not even an ounce as cool as he is, but I do like the lyrics.

And so, good night, god, goddess, whomever, bless you....I'm off to sleep!


  1. Julia, it's interesting that your mother quite consciously made up these lies. . .and is being quite open now about them being exactly that. My father often "reminisced" about stuff that had happened before he met my mother, before he grew up, when he was very small. He would do this in an odd tone of voice, as if he were reciting something learned long ago, never to be forgotten. But if anyone asked him about a specific detail, or to clarify something, he couldn't do it.All of his stories were either about Something Unbearably Awful or Something Extraordinarily Wonderful and Perfect. And I don't believe them.

    There are certainly family lies, aren't there ? and probably lies that whole societies partake in. Memory a minefield in any case. . .even before you get people re-writing it for all sorts of complicated reasons of their own.


  2. hi there,

    thanks for this but have now edited sentence in post to make clear the person lying in the letters was my grandmother, Jani, not my mother. My mother was given the letters when Jani died, and when she started reading them, was astonished to see the stories she had made up out of whole cloth.

    There were family myths and lies, but I think more unconscious, when I was growing up and not necessarily so blatant. Though there were some that were pretty blatant. However, these letters are written by my grandmother.

    This confusion alone shows how easy it is for stories to start and spread and unwanted ambiguity to ensue. There are lies everywhere, intentional, unintentional and the ones I am probably telling myself right now...so hard therefore to write 'the truth' isn't it?

    Always ever an approximation I suppose or foregrounding the difficulty. I am a child of this family of lies, which means I cannot be immune myself...not that I think anyone is...

    But still and all it's important to allow in reality, especially the reality of my/one's experience...something about embodiment I think...still sorting through this...

  3. Dearest Julia,
    As I used to tell you so many past lives ago,
    "What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms--in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical and obligatory...Truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that is what they are."
    My love and support as always,