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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

so little time to write...

Just realized that since I decided I was allowed not to write in this blog everyday I've become kind of lax. This is a shame, but also given everything I'm trying to keep up with in my life, understandable.  However, if I am attempting to keep a real-time record of all this transition, I should be writing more I suppose.

But I guess this much can be said: I'm busy now.  I went to a conference on Thursday night and Friday called BlogHer for women who blog and want to get published in book form.  I was hesitant about attending, but met an editor who was encouraging about my grandmother book (The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick and Jani), so yet more reason to get back to that.

I am hoping once the first 5 week session of teaching is over this will be humanly possible - that and beginning to feel at least a little settled in my new-old-new city.  I still feel odd, but as I've only been here for 3 weeks, I suppose this makes sense.

I am loving watching the leaves change in the park outside my apartment building, I am sad to see some of the more obvious poverty on the subway, like the guy begging for money tonight who had no shoes, and others who have hoods over their heads not to be intimidating, but seemingly out of shame.  There was the big rat I saw on the sidewalk and some people who were hanging out looking like probable drug dealers.

Then there was all the amazing music on the subway platforms, men - mostly though not exclusively - on keyboards, drums, whatever...finding ways to play in the most unlikely places, seemingly content to do so.  Someone else singing.  All of the music good.

There is the strange feeling underneath all of my sadness and freakedoutedness that all is well and even a surge of happiness.  This is the precise opposite of how I would feel in London, which was even when I was happy underneath would be some sense of doom.  I don't think this was true the whole time I was there but for the last year or so it was.

On the other hand, I feel, especially when contemplating the horrendous issue of unaffordable health insurance, a nostalgia for Europe in general and the idea of a real social safety net and a way of life that is not so harsh - forever rewarding those who do well financially so generously while being so careless of those who do work that is perhaps not so well compensated or are struggling to find any work at all.

I am nonetheless glad to be here, but realized yesterday when I was looking at a bunch of people hanging out after a show at The Brick Theater in Williamsburg that I would never be Just American either.  I felt somehow apart, even as I was enjoying seeing and talking with old friends and meeting new folks.  I discovered living in the UK how American I was, but now, back home (I guess), I am somehow something else, a strange hybrid, and cannot sink back into my comfy American-ness.  Neither am I British or European.  I do not know what this makes me.  An ex-expat?

Maybe this sense of strangeness will vanish over time, it probably will, but right now I feel as I feared I might when journeying back - like I belong precisely nowhere.  And I don't mean by this that I will never feel at home again - well, I hope that's not what I mean - but I am somewhat amazed by the extent of the sense of alienation.  Perhaps it is simply me.  I don't know anymore.  I mean really - I don't know.

The weird corollary to this experience is that I have these amazing connections with individual people. Perhaps because I am in a kind of alienated bubble, when there is a connection it seems all the more vivid for that.  Today speaking with a woman I've met through mutual friends, I spoke for a long time about some projects and ideas, all of which emerged from sharing some pretty deep personal history.  That was truly exciting.

So too was the encouragement from/connection with even if brief the editor at the conference and another woman I met there who is my age and with whom I connected.

Something I do notice: I'm trying to do too damn much every day and have to find a way to simplify.  I am trying to start up so many things all at once and all that will happen if I keep doing this is: I will continue doing too damn much for a long, long time.  The illusion ever receding into the horizon of the simpler time...

A lovely woman at the conference Dominique Browning, who's written a book one the topic of Slow Love, said one of her principles, which I heartily endorse, is: mono-tasking.  I believe the whole computer/internet instant access thing has seriously impinged on our ability to do this, and I know for me definitely it has.

So here's to mono-tasking and taking the time to enjoy what I do have, where I do stand, the people I do have in my life and the air I do breathe.  Now.

Speaking of which: now I am quite tired though and must go to bed.


  1. After living in Colombia for three years in the 1950s I always felt different, and I was. And I am so glad I kept taking occasionaljobs overseas after that because each time I felt I was gaining real understanding about myself and my American culture.
    But you know this more than most because so much of your work is to help us (and you) get new perspectives on our assumed truths. I really believe that no person who asks "why" is ever comfortable, nor should we be. This is not a comfortable world.
    Having said this, I now find in my 80s a deep feeling of being "home". The expat is still examining, questioning reality...but he is home because he has found his acceptance of himself. Don't ever worry about getting old. The beauty of age is that the body tells you clearly is is really OK to do one thing at a time, to seek peace for yourself, and be a lover.
    Ganesh says hi,

  2. Thanks Tom, all lovely insights and words. It's true about comfortable and not.

    I think the age thing for me is bittersweet now because I can't have children now and - as you know - did try. Having a hard time not feeling like a failure over that.

    On the bright side, took a lovely walk with Julie around the hood here in Inwood - old growth forest, wetlands and two rivers...a gorgeous day and astonished, still, this is Manhattan.

    But also as getting closer to what was supposed to be the day I would have given birth in 2007 if not for miscarriage, very sad too, not to mention separation, etc...

    Sometimes it's easier to accept things and sometimes harder even if it is necessary no matter what...

    But your words are soothing and I am grateful for them.