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, December 29, 2011

On the train...


Apologies in advance for any typos...I'm uploading this after very long bus-train journey...

So I survived the Christmas season, hurray!  Now on the way back to NYC and contemplating what to do for New Year.  I know I’m not into a big party, wanting something contemplative…feeling a deep need to connect.  May go to a Tibetan Buddhist retreat in NYC.  Not sure, but I like the idea of a retreat that includes the city, because that’s how I experience it and I also don’t want to leave my poor cat again.

Jan. 7 is looming as well, which is the second anniversary of my father’s death, which was probably one of the biggest turning points in my life.  Last year I was working like a lunatic on a doomed Arts Council England proposal so managed to workaholic-it.  That’s not an option this year.  Well, of course it’s an option but not one I want to take.  The meditation retreat can go all the way through to the 7th, which seems somewhat auspicious to me, all except for the I’m not really a Tibetan Buddhist part.

I’m really not an –ist in general, so that’s always the issue.  On the other hand, there are some interesting sounding things about the teaching, so not sure…obviously, you will know which way I go on that eventually.

The important part is this:  I know I want to connect with my deepest self.  I know it’s there and all deconstructionist tropes aside, I believe in it.  Not in the sense of a ‘character’ with delineated traits, etc., but in the roiling molecular vibrating energy that exists and when I tap into it, through my writing, art, theater, meditation, yoga, meetings, etc., I feel better.  What I don’t know right this moment is where I need to go right now to meet it.

Whether to allow myself to sink into my work, take a moment (or a week) to connect in a more directly spiritual path, whether it needs to be meditation or yoga, etc…These are the most luxurious of luxury problems by the way, but whatever it is, I do want to allow myself to sink deeply into it and not feel I have to hold back in fear of offending and/or losing someone.  The advantage of being single of course is this.  I don’t have to worry about how my actions will impact an intimate partner.  I think perhaps if I am fully honest, I used these partners partly as an excuse…though the fear of loss was real.  It’s so easy to blame someone else, even if not technically blaming…using their existence in some way to explain a lack of a depth of searching in a certain way.

Also, sometimes, given all the academic stuff I’ve read and the philosophies, etc., there can be a hesitation about ‘seeming’ stupid for following certain paths.  I haven’t read Mary Karr’s Lit yet, but did read an interview with her wherein she said the thing she’s done in her life that has shocked and alienated more people than any of her alcohol or drug abuse was converting to Catholicisim.  While I am in no danger of that conversion, I do know what she means.

I did my time as a young teenager as an Evangelical Baptist making a fool out of myself and feeling like an ass after I un-converted, so there is this hesitation, too – won’t be fooled again, etc.

I do have a spiritual path that I can’t write about openly, though it is available to anyone who seeks it.   Some people do write about it openly, but I can’t bring myself to do that due to the traditions inherent in it.  Sounds way more hooey than it is.  If you’re interested, get in touch with me directly, and I’ll tell you.

What I want to be able to do this year, is make work that goes wherever it needs to go, in terms of medium and forms of expression – that I allow to be stupid or foolish if need be, that I stop worrying about all that crap and just let it flow.  I know that’s possible.  I also know I will worry, that I have pride and vanity and cannot pretend to be holier than thou in this regard.

But I want my work to be an offering not a marketplace product and this is always the conundrum for me.  Even reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids, she and Robert Mapplethorpe dress in these very specific ways to make an impression and fit in or somehow offer something to certain art scenes.  And I find even this somewhat dispiriting.  I mean OK she’s talking about when they are 19-22 or thereabouts, and I did my share of deliberate dressing then, too, but I get this sense that certain poses and ways of appearing are necessary to be taken seriously in some art scenes, etc.  I know this actually.  But for some reason, I just resist and resist and resist this.  Why?  It’s not that big a deal and everybody dresses to some degree of conformity or non-conformity to find ways to fit in or distinguish themselves from one group or another.  I do that, too.  It’s impossible not to do this.  I fear there is some hypocrisy in me involved here.  Or maybe just fear that I’m no good at it, and I resent people who are good at it.  Could be that stupid.  You never know.

This all relates to my work, too, because as anyone who’s even read this might gather, I have a thing about getting to the relatively unvarnished truth, whatever that word means anymore – though at this point it’s become such a cliché to undermine the word truth that I’m beginning to feel like resurrecting its tired ass just to be contrary.  Who me?  Imagine.

But what I mean is getting closer, because I don’t think it’s possible to do it completely, but closer to the chaotic, multiplicitous reality of our daily lives, thoughts, feelings, impulses, drives, dreams, nightmares, ideas, goals….because I distrust instinctively Programs and Solutions that Offer A Way to do Whatever or become Whomever…The fact I do follow a series of spiritual steps is a miracle consequently.  I do this for one incredibly simple reason: it works and is the reason, as far as I can tell, that I am alive.  Intellectually, it makes no sense and in fact can be torn down in about 5 seconds flat.  But it works.  Go figure.

So this is what I mean…that is true but I still hold to my intellectual ideas and fancy concepts, etc., and so many people do the same.  So why attempt to iron out the contradictions when it’s impossible anyway?  Why create these fictional story lines to make ourselves feel…what?  Better?  Worse?

Sometimes I think my desires in this regard are hopelessly adolescent and that I should just get over myself and go along to get along – get with the product-creation program.  ‘Brand’ myself…and my God think of that means!  Cattle are branded.  It hurts and involves a hot iron.  And we do this to ourselves?  Voluntarily?  Who benefits?  Us?  Really?  Really?  I’m not so sure.

My brain has now switched off, so will stop writing.  I’m on a train that does not have Wifi so am writing this offline…will upload when I arrive.


3 comments:

  1. My feeling is, to be an "ist" (any "ist") is to imprison oneself more than is necessary. You can take the wisdom, what strikes you as valid, without having to brand yourself.

    Connected to this : groups, all groups, can become oppressive. Even, ironically, the ones that describe themselves as liberating. One person's liberation is not necessarily another's.

    Julia, may 2012 be happy and fruitful !

    Panther

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  2. Thanks, Panther - so glad to have met you via this blog and do one day hope to meet you in person.

    I've had an OK New Year considering...wandering around my beloved city, seeing friends, going to meetings of folks like me...hanging with my cat.

    Didn't go to official meditation places in the end - I think even though I meditate every day, I'm too much of an anarchist at heart for guru-stuff.

    Be well and all good things to you for 2012!

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  3. Thanks, Julia. Yes, sometimes it just isn't helpful to sit and be told what to do/think. There can be an immense arrogance in the person doing the telling, and how dangerous it is when they genuinely believe they are doing what they are doing for your benefit !

    And there are so many people who just want to be told. So that they don't have the fear of being responsible ?

    love, Panther.

    ReplyDelete