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, October 27, 2011

Finally a night off and I can write

As anyone reading this knows, I've had a gruelling teaching schedule and have done precious little writing, even on the blog.  This weekend I will be working on tweeking a paper for publication in a book as a chapter.  It's basically the Reader's Digest version of my PhD thesis, so it's great someone wants to publish it, hooray.  However, just finished 4 days in a row of teaching, so won't be getting to that tonight.

I have not yet uploaded photos even from the last day in London when the two rabbits appeared in my back garden, so will end this post with a photo essay of sorts showing rabbits, friends, Occupy Wall Street and Inwood.

Just went to make coffee and put on Vivaldi - yes Vivaldi, don't judge me - it's a rainy day and it's kind of nice - reminds me of peace.

And why I'm - finally - staying in tonight.  To just breathe, be with myself and take naps.  While taking afternoon nap number one, I remembered: oh, I haven't given myself time in ages to simply feel in to what I want to write/do/create.  I've been so crazed with decisions about where/how/what that the simplest but Most Important artistic/creative time has been ignored.

Part of this is external events and part of it is social networking stuff.  I'm not on Facebook but I'm pseudonymously on Twitter - my excuse being that I can get news feeds from there - which is true, but it also can be a 140 character time waster and gets me all engaged with What's Going On - as if that is What's Important - when sometimes it just well isn't - at least not important enough to Know the Absolute Second It Happens or What Someone Thinks The Moment They Think It...it creates a false sense of urgency and has added to the many externalized forms of ADD in my life...many people's lives.

And yes, yes, yes I know there are good sides, too, but as I am an addict by nature, these things can easily play into my internal adrenalizable-hyper vigilance button.   That's also part of growing up surrounded by addiction.  Must be on Alert At All Times for Anything That Might Be a Threat...etc.  And these social networky things plug right into that.  I think in the end I'm just too much of a control freak for Facebook - aside from all the obvious stuff about corporate control and blah blah, I don't want to be 'poked', 'friended' or - dread - 'unfriended' etc...it all just seems too creepy to me, and well invasive - and perhaps we can pathologize that too if we want to due to certain childhood abuse, etc.  But for now, we'll go with: I'm not on Facebook because I'm not on Facebook.

Which, I find greeted with levels of hostility and dismay by some people (not dissimilar to reactions in British pubs I've received for not drinking alcohol), who when hearing I am not on Facebook will sigh, shrug, roll their eyes and signal disapproval in many ways to indicate that I am being a Pain in the Ass.

Oh well, that's a shocker.

On the other hand, do I mind regaling you all with these thoughts, ideas and such on my 21st century commonplace?  No.  Please don't diagnose me.  I do it myself.

I realized yesterday, on a slightly less gazing at my own navel kind of note, that my teaching the kids at BCC is important.  That no, it's not Writing My Big Book, but it's important.  A woman at a writer's meeting last night said something important about her book - that in it a boy showed up - he wasn't meant to be the main character, but he became that because she started following him - she was led to do that.

And I realized, not only does this impulse lead to good writing - it leads to good living.  This teaching is here - it's in my life - it is Not My Plan - but, as with good writing, I need to follow it, live it, do it to the best of my ability and be grateful it is here - that it is not some mind numbing chore of a job, and see where it leads...

As one of my best friends never tires of reminding me: Your life is none of your business.  I may have already blogged that pearl, but it bears repeating - for me anyway.  And as someone who really should be dead by now (and that is not an exaggeration - some of the people I idolized/envied most with whom I went to school are dead from ODs and/or alcohol-related disease), this is particularly true.  By grace, I am alive - have been offered a new life - was offered this many years ago - and am still, by continuing grace, living it.  All I have to do is show up, pass it along when I can and do the next right thing to the best of my ability.  And as someone said in a meeting of BW's friends recently: if Steve Jobs could have cured pancreatic cancer by showing up to a free meeting an hour a day, don't you think he would have done so?

And I want to follow a little plan?  Dear god/dess...who do I think I am??

Steve Jobs, by the way, being a human being (no more or less significant than anyone else except for his death is so Known right now), which I think is easier for people who don't invest in the stock market to understand as we do not have to see his life or death as a matter for our portfolios...I'm just sayin...

Which of course leads on as night follows day to the most cheerful thing in the news: Occupy Wall Street and all of its little babies throughout the world...isn't it just the best?  I think it is.  I know there was some endless anonymous snarky comment on one of my posts about it, but I just ignored it, because what's the point?  It's amazing to me, - as someone who started being politically active when I was 16 and Jimmy Carter was President (!) (after writing a paper for American History about the 1953 CIA undercover overthrow of the Mossadegh regime in Iran at the time of the 1979 US hostage crisis) - that this movement is happening.

I wrote, gave speeches, organized and marched along with so many other people, but we were basically ignored - starting with the Solidarity March on DC in the early 80s, which coincided with Simon & Garfunkle playing in Central Park - guess where all the boomers (aka 1960s radicals) were?  Right, Central Park.  A handful of college students and a lot of union members were in DC (1981).  Then Reagan busted up the unions and everyone Got Happy or Got Really Poor.

So for years, this was the trend...and only now is it - hopefully - shifting...most likely because a lot of well-educated upper middle class white college kids can't find work either - but hey, whatever it takes.

I have a lot of hope for this movement - and was moved to tears when I read the Guardian article about statement of support from the Tahir Square protestors to the Occupy movement.  It really is worldwide and it is being pushed ahead by young and Committed people - whose response to police violence is not withdrawal but to show up the next day in larger droves.  This is amazing, this is the best thing I think I have ever seen politically, like, ever.  And it includes people from every walk of life in the US and has a 54% approval rating in the U.S.A.  Not just NYC and LA, the whole damn country - this is breathtaking.

Because of my teaching up here in the Bronx via upstate Manhattan and concurrent exhaustion, I can't make it down there as much as I'd like, but I have been to some marches and sent my bilingual, uptown students down there as part of an 'intercultural' experience.  And you know what, it worked!  They wrote amazing things about interviewing people in Zuccotti Park and discovering they weren't all lazy, smelly people, but were just like them in many ways.  Most of my students now identify as part of the 99%, especially as a group went down from the Bronx and there's an uptown Occupy movement as well.

This is very exciting.

And I am gradually - each day - feeling a little more at home.  Also finding ways of buying food I like and working out how to live in a studio, glad that - knock wood - noisy upstair neighbors seem to have chilled out.

And gradually, tiny bit by tiny bit a sense of growing confidence in myself...something that feels rooted somehow, not a fake thing to spur me on by the use of affirmations or whatever...something real...

I have a Rumi poem above my computer now - a new-old-new one.

Will quote a little of it here and then go to some photos...

This being human is a guest
house. Every morning
a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and attend them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, still,
treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

- Rumi (trans: C. Barks)



Inwood Park: only old growth forest in Manhattan - legend has it, this is where first NYC  real estate deal happened (European guys bought the island with trinkets - Native Americans 'sold' land that wasn't theirs to sell - perfect!)

Inwood - 207th Street

tidal basin/wetland - check out egret and jigsaw puzzle type view - this is 3 minutes from my apartment.

No. 1 subway platform.

Occupy Wall Street occupies Times Square - my favorite sign so far above.

guy on wrong side of the divide and I think he knows it

my favorite protestor - my GBF Christian - we've been marching together since 1986 - he gave me a crown too which is on my desk - we save and wear when needed - easier than signs plus people take our photos.

Fabulous friend Julie aka Upper West Sider since 1970s stunned by Inwood trees - she'd never seen them

London: wonderful friend/artist Catherine who babysat me All Day while waiting for movers

Transcontinental friend Louise helping out and 2 rabbits (white one appeared on moving day) in my old back garden

subway tracks leading to The Bronx - I love these views - really, really Love them

I'm home....

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