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.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Part 2 - Watching the dance contest of Saturday Night Fever

OK, so just watched the dance contest sequence from Saturday Nigh Fever.  The first one, our heros Tony and Stephanie basically fall in love in white - her with one of those flouncing 70s dresses that were never a good idea but were wildly popular, Travolta in The White Suit.

What I forgot was the Puerto Rican couple that comes afterward - dressed in red and clearly better dancers.  The horror on Tony and Stephanie's faces as they realize they are being outclassed.

I actually have to wait for after the commercials now to tell you what happens next, because I don't remember.  Maybe the fact I watched 34 (!) years ago has something to do with that.

Oh God I think I'm going to faint because I'm so old...

** Ugo the cat update during commercial break: he has been out and about this evening, was able to pet him and even give him a tummy rub...he is now under the sofa again...but he's getting ever more comfortable and exploring little bits of the house more and more **

Back to the movie - Tony gives first place statue they one to Puerto Rican couple because he knew they were better and sees the contest was rigged.  Even he sees the racism.

He tries to force Stephanie to have sex, which she fights off then watches the young woman who has been trying to sleep with him basically get gang-raped by his friends, one of whom ends up falling off the Verrazano Bridge - a friend who was not part of the rape and is fairly clearly in love with Tony, too - not overt gay content, but implicit.

All of this would have gone over my head I'm fairly certain.

Travolta had been on Welcome Back, Kotter, which I would have watched and began to think of again when teaching at Bronx Community College.  Welcome Back, Kotter was a show about a high-school teaching in the Bronx who had left the Bronx but comes back to teach - hence the 'welcome back' part. Travolta and others are his difficult to handle high school class.  Hence the comparison in my own mind...

Now Tony - having huffed away from his friends after one died falling off the bridge - is on the subway - with graffitti - it's the 70s!  I think he may have made it to Manhattan...yes, and let's see what happens now...Stephanie lets him in and now...a commercial...

US commercials: everyone looks Way Too Healthy and Happy.  It's kind of disturbing.

And we're back and they decide to be 'friends' but it's obviously more than that...

Moral of the story: if you find your way to Manhattan life gets better.

This was the 1970s, just as a reminder, so Manhattan would have been affordable.

OK, very tired now so gonna leave it there.  I watched the movie mostly to see what on earth I was being exposed to circa 1977 as I'm sure weird bits of it have stuck.  I was looking anywhere for clues about how to live.

For what it's worth, I'm still in Manhattan, even if on the edge about to fall off and the only buses up here have a B for the Bronx...And of course Brooklyn is not now what it was then...


  1. Oh, yes... Those weird and nutty disco years. Haven't danced since then, but occasionally when one of the songs plays, there is most always a wry smile (even though it was also such a time of so much upheaval). Something about being able to move, move, move.... Stopped going after my promotion. Didn't think it would pass The Board, if they were to find out -- you know, gay bars and all that... But ya had to love the dancing.

    No wonder you were confused...

    Just about "everyone" was aspirational back then. It was in the air and for many it actually was achievable in one way or another. Such a different world, even if we were so "over our heads" in plenty of ways.

    Manhattan was more affordable in the '70's -- however, when making $10K or less per year, it still seemed like Oz, with lots of violence and homeless people. Wanted to be there, but frightened by it at the same time.

    We survived. Though certainly not in ways we thought... Hopefully, though, with at least some compassion, maybe even a bit of wisdom.

    "Peace 'n Love", Robin

  2. It is a brave mother that admits to her disco years! Hurrah for you! Didn't realize you stopped going after the promotion, tho...but then I think at that time I was in the Weirdest World of All: Boarding School on Scholarship.

    I think the movie brought back that energy, too, it was clear about all the dangers and violence, but I forgot - too - the positive side - as you say "something about being able to move, move, move" - even if that wasn't my experience it was around me. And something about Dennis and his dog King and him teaching me how to draw...all that...the dark And the light...strange times indeed...

    And so much polyester (in the movie that is...) Oh, and forgot to mention, the club in the movie is called 2001, which is eerie, since there are so many shots of viewing Manhattan from outside of it and the Twin Towers...which of course go away in: 2001.

    Never thought of the resonance of 2001: a Space Odyssey in this way before but now, hmmm...interesting.

  3. The club was call 2001! Now that truly is weird. Kinda like life then... Travolta, btw, has a house in Maine that he flies to (he has his own landing strip!).


  4. I must be one of the few people who didn't see Saturday Night Fever when it came out. I saw it years later. . .and found Tony's preening rather creepy, to be quite honest ! Am I the only heterosexual woman who doesn't find Travolta (then, at least ) pin-up material ?

    Baffled face.


  5. Oh dear, let me explain, I don't and never did find Travolta attractive, it's the movie I find riveting and the accuracy of the portrayals of class, aspiration and weird 70s innocence/violence...

  6. also, in fairness to anyone who did find him attractive at the time, it was 1977 - seeing the movie years later gives you that perspective on that time that hardly anyone had at that time...at least that's what I remember lo these many years later...

  7. julia, I hear what you're saying. It's a very dated film. . .and fascinating for those reasons.