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, December 4, 2011

Not Just Another Fucking Statistic

OK, so now someone I know has died of this disease of alcoholism and in a particularly horrific way.  She was about my age and leaves behind children.  She was in fact probably the age of my friend Vickie who died of breast cancer, and so this is the weird thing: they are both dead, they both leave behind teenage boys, and the similarity ends there.

One person was surrounded by loved ones and as sad and unfair as it was, she was prepared and so was everyone else as much as that is possible.  She was able to be fully present and accounted for up until she died.

In this other case, this poor woman was not able to be present to herself or anyone else and in the end was killed by the disease that kicked her ass and everyone's around her.  I am just devastated by this.  In part purely out of sympathy for her and those around her and partially because I'm staring at a path I was allowed the grace not to follow, but which could easily have been mine.

Why me and not her?

That is the question that haunts me always.  Always.  It never makes any sense.  Why some people are allowed off the auto-destruction freeway and others are not.  It makes about as much sense as a cyclone or a tsunami.  I would yammer on about being protected by forces greater than me but then what does that imply about the people who do not survive?

Words fail.  Logic fails.

It all just fucking shuts down.

It's devastating.  Devastating like Hurricane Katrina was devastating - there is the natural devastation, horrendous and then the fucked up, dysfunctional way of responding to it.  The whole package: physical, mental, spiritual.  A total breakdown inside, outside and everywhere in between.

I just hope to hell that I remain as grateful as I should be for the gift of my life and never, ever forget how luck I am. I do of course like all the time.  All the Time...but I shouldn't.

What happened to this person could easily have happened to me at any time when I was actively out there trying to wipe myself out - or was that what I was doing?  Wipe myself out or as Jung said was it a low-grade spiritual search?  Is active alcoholism/addiction the attempt to let go of what can be referred to as the 'bondage of self' - not my actual self...but because the disease is so fucked up, the metaphor gets lost and the desire becomes death itself - not directly necessarily but ultimately that is the course.

The complete obliteration of the self by any means necessary.  The utter shame of being alive, the inability to live in one's skin the sheer utter self-hatred...and many times this comes about because of action perpetrated on people when they were children - actions that dare not speak their name for fear of more shame, abuse, violence, or simply the horror of not being believed (see in re: Sandusky, Penn State).  70+ percent of alcoholics are victims of child sexual abuse.  That's huge.  Some people become alcoholics just 'cause, but many have pain inflicted early on plus the genetic predisposition and many other factors besides.

Alcoholism is like conception - we know stuff about it but in the end no one Really knows what causes it, not really.  But like conception, you know it when it's happened.  The parallel ends there of course but still...

I hope this woman now lifted off the earth in horrendous fashion finds peace in whatever form she now manifests.  I hope those souls left on this earth to walk through the wake of her storm can find ways to do that that ultimately lead to serenity and love.  I know first hand how much fucking easier said than done That is and if I could fast forward the switch for any of them, God/dess knows I would and fast.  But I can't.

Anymore than I can do that for myself and my own grieving right now, which while real and sad seems quite small compared to this cyclonic event.  For the simple reason that I am alive and, as far as I know, healthy and as Raymond Carver once said about a similar state of grace "all the rest is gravy."

In terms of that, though, just want to acknowledge that my husband sent back a loving letter in response to mine and while we are saying goodbye for now it is without rancour or drama but with love and sadness.  It sucks but it is not any worse than it has to be and for that I am grateful.  Resentment makes things stick and cling and when I am lucky enough to be in a circumstance where I do not have to be filled with it, I am glad.  Anger to my mind is the not the same as resentment.  Anger is a feeling. Resentment is that feeling stuck, with hooks tearing at my flesh, demanding to be taken out by someone other than me while I keep screwing them in deeper.  It's ugly.  Anger is energizing, at times even pure, if vented and released quite healthy.  I'm not particularly good at that, I should add, but when I can do it, it's always a relief.

And love - where is that?  Still figuring that out, sometimes feel it, know it when I feel it and act on it - but real love - rare.  Real love is selfless and unconditional.  Hard.  Intimacy?  I say I want it but if I've spent so much time with someone I believed was not capable of it to the degree I thought I wanted, then what did/do I really want?  These are the questions I need to ask myself quite clearly without flinching. But with compassion lest I fall into a swamp of self-hatred that does absolutely zero people any good.

But for now: a prayer for S. and those she has left behind.  A prayer of gratitude for this beautiful day. and for all of you who are alive here now to share it.

Be grateful for this day.  Notice it.  Find some beauty somewhere no matter what.  Cry your eyes out if you need to and feel the sense of emptiness and lightness that comes after that can then be filled by something else.  Love something, someone, yourself...love anything, anyone, your cat...

Don't give up.  Just don't fucking give up.  Not today.

3 comments:

  1. Very grateful as ever for your blog, and especially for this post. Thanks Julia. Missing you and sending much love. xx

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  2. Thanks Chris. I miss you, too, a lot. Hope we can reconnect someday in real time and space...but for now glad we at least have this. Love and all good things, jx

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  3. Again you find the ways to say what I can not. For which I am so very grateful. Now I need to allow the grieve and sorrow, for those who will have to find a way to make sense of S's life, and for S -- who had so many natural gifts. And, yes, it could have been my end, too, in some way or other. I pray for peaceful acceptance.

    Love you, Rxoxox

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