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. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.

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 having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.

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


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Last post from London...at least for a while

Movers arrived, albeit 7 hours late, and I did final packing for the plane.  The lateness of movers finally pushed me over the edge and I thought I was going to break down completely but did not.  Thanks to friends who stuck around and showed up in and between the saga, especially Cath and Sal.  I am very lucky in the friendship department.  Not so much with the movers, who had misspelled my name on the labels, etc.  My confidence is at an all time low with them, but I had no choice at this stage but to hope they would rectify everything and the stuff will make it eventually to NYC.  It's nerve-wracking.

Said goodbye to more dear people in my life and just feel like I will never stop crying.  Also said goodbye to Bill, my husband from whom I am separated and that was about as much fun as I'm sure you can imagine it was.

Weirdly enough today, another rabbit appeared, this one a white albino rabbit to compliment the black one.  Others witnessed it, thank God/dess or I too would doubt my sanity.  While I freaked out all day, they placidly munched grass and plants in the back garden.

So, the boxes are out of my hands - all 53 of them - and now I am off to bed.  Up early to fly to NYC via Iceland (!)  Good night and please wish me safe passage and I wish you many blessings.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Packed and waiting for movers

I'm basically packed, movers show up tomorrow morning.  I am mortified because they insist on packing the stuff so everything is in hectic piles rather than neat little boxes.

Today heard the rabbit but saw three large black crows, which are powerful and strange creatures when close.

Packed and arranged things all day long, going through bits of paper covering many years of my life and running into two sets of wedding photos.  I feel like a semi-tragic sit-com consequently...or just kind of pathetic.

On the other hand, I've plowed through and basically ready for the movers.  Wish I had someone here with me but forgot to ask people until yesterday and most folks are busy on a Thursday morning, which makes sense.

Hoping I can sleep now.  After all was basically done, I sat on my bed and cried and cried.  Again.

Leaving is hard, it doesn't matter where you're leaving to...and so many goodbyes, and to having a back garden and crows when meditating and the NHS and lots of good friends.  I will have amazing friends in NYC, too, people I felt horrendous leaving 8 years ago.  So it's not just a tale of loss and woe by any means, but still there is loss, too.

Wish me luck with the movers, these kinds of things pretty much terrify me.  Really scary stuff doesn't but things like: movers in my house messing with my stuff truly freaks me the fuck out.

OK, to bed now in hopes of sleep...

Monday, September 26, 2011

packing induced radio silence

I have so much packing to do right now, and even worse, not packing, to do I don't think I will be writing much here for a few days.

The movers have to pack the stuff, which is making it harder as I can't throw things in boxes and have scads of loose papers.

Filled four huge garbage bags with clothes tonight - will give to charity shops.

Finally finished most all paperwork today, but that took the day, so in barely controlled panic about the remaining organizing.  I also can't figure out what clothes to pack or ship, etc...

The house looks like a bomb went off and no nice packed boxes in a corner to give me a sense of anything happening except chaos and piles of things...plus can't figure out how the stuff, when packed will even fit in my new place long enough to figure out what should go in storage.  Hoping I can somehow mark boxes as they are packed, but not sure it will be that logical.

Anyway, you can see why my writing this for three days in a row could get tedious.  I'm exhausted now so off to bed.

Hard to believe that for about 3/4 of the day I felt calm and like things were going smoothly.  As promised in previous post, I will always find something to worry about, and this post does not disappoint.

To bed...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moving and saying goodbye

It's about paperwork, throwing out paper, saying goodbye to people I love and crying a lot, finding home for some beloved furniture I cannot bring with me...and throwing out yet more paper.

Did I mention the paper involved?

There's a lot of paper.  Just threw out 5 bags full in about 1/2 hour.

From now to Thursday morning, it's a straight shot of packing and taking some short breaks to meet with good friends.  And a few more pieces of paper and phone calls.

The syllabus is done, the paper is given, some personal commitments have been fulfilled and now I just have to hope: wired money makes it from one bank to the other, the person subletting me his studio does not spontaneously combust, that the movers show up and aren't some weird online fraud with people who answer the phones (unlikely, but my fears no no end right now), that my plane makes it to Iceland and then to NYC without any major issues...like the vast majority of planes do...

That I can actually sleep sometimes rather than just Fucking Freak Out about...whatever...because here's the sad truth.  What I'm worrying about is 99% of the time a total red herring.  I know this because when whatever the thing I was worrying about is resolved, Voila as if my magic: something Else to worry about.

The rabbit is still here, just by the way - that is comforting.

My landlords are happy for any furniture to stay, which is great, so if friends want some things OK, if not, no worries.  That is good.

Now, it's time to chill out as I did some pretty intense personal work today after having a Lovely going away party the night before hosted by my amazing friends Bib and Alison.  Was heartbreaking saying goodbye to some people and I envied in advance Bib's huge house (which she shares with many others), as I will be moving into a very Small studio.  But it's right next to a park!

I have another lovely friend in NYC who booked a car for me from Newark to her house the night I arrive, which is great.  I am threading the needle between the need to budget and the need to make it through this thing without my back out.  As my stuff may take 5-10 weeks to follow me, I need to bring enough stuff to last.  So that means extra bags...

OK, so enough babbling...I forgot to post yesterday so just wanted to check in.  Thanks for reading and be well...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Final day of conference

Took a yoga class this morning, so missed early sessions of conference, but was there to hear a last paper and be part of a final discussion.  It had a good international feeling, and so feel glad to have participated in it.

Then saw some friends and came back home to begin working on the syllabus for the class I will be teaching soon at CUNY.

My heart was pounding cartoon like last night, and I realized that was because I drank too damn much coffee.  Today cut back and feeling better.  Also, yoga was good to remind me that breathing is possible and a good thing.

Oh, also wired money to NYC and that was weirdly stressful.  everything has a sense of unreality to it and I find myself wondering: will the movers show up?  will the money make it to NYC?  will my sublet be there?  will I ever finish packing?

Etc.

But I feel relatively peaceful in this moment, so instead of continuing to rehearse my fears will give myself a moment to feel the calm sense of having gotten a lot done, knowing the rest will get done and all is well.  Even if I do freak out anyway.

Can't summarize conference now, but will hopefully write about it later.

Now to some peaceful time with myself after a day of relentless socializing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Postdramatic Theatre and the Psychic Backstage

Have been at conference for over 12 hours and am fried.  Paper and presentation went well, as did a lot of other people's - very interesting, very international group of people.  High quality, low pretension, excellent combination.

A friend and member of Apocryphal told me today "You're you again."  I know what he means.  It's been a long fucking time.  A really long time.

In case you are interested in postdramatic theater and political theater, here's part of my paper.  The citations are all screwed up because I cadged most of it from PhD thesis, so if you are really interested, get in touch with the British Library and they can get you a copy of the whole thing...The writing in this blog, but also the paper below is subject to copyright and I ask you do not replicate it anywhere without my permission.


Postdramatic Theatre and the Psychic Backstage (excerpts)– Julia Lee Barclay © 2011

Who were Brecht and Artaud before they became 'Brecht' and 'Artaud' and can this kind of question lead to a new type of politically engaged theatre?  Whilst more overtly political theatre, in the epic tradition, concerns itself with how power operates in the realm of what can be seen and understood in a rational, materialist form, the postdramatic theatre, in the way it operates in my own and other theatre companies identified by Lehmann, opens a door into the psychic backstage of thought, experience and pre-existing social structures.  What I propose to show in this presentation is how engaging with the way the gears of the machine are constructed, even more so than the visible parts of the machine itself, can be a political act.   

I propose a politically and philosophically-engaged theatrical practice that tessellates the Brechtian and Artaudian traditions, wherein the undermining of the meaning-making machinery with its implicit questioning of universalizing language structures does not have to be done only by an appeal to bodily experience, but can engage that meaning-making machinery itself.

My first encounter with the tension between the Brechtian and Artaudian line of influence was directing Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade (1965).  The conceit of this play is that the Marquis de Sade is directing a play about the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, which he has written for the inmates of Charenton, where he himself is incarcerated, in Napoleonic France. When I directed this play in 1986 at university, I wrote a thesis about the challenge of remaining true to the Artaudian undercurrent represented by Sade and the mental institution and the Brechtian analysis implied by the alienation techniques, such as signage for each scene, interventions into the ‘action’ and the lines given to Marat (Barclay 1986). Whilst Weiss later in life chose a Marxist interpretation of his text and resisted Brooke’s more Artaudian staging, the play itself does not fall on either side of the line easily. The uneasy tension set up between Brecht and Artaud (which arguably echo the tension between Marx and Nietzsche) continue to pervade my work.
           
The first show I directed at university was The Serpent, written by Jean-Claude van Itallie, and created by Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theater.  One of Chaikin’s goals for this production is relevant to the way in which the dual influence of Artaud and Brecht can be successfully tessellated:

         I think the theater could erase and repudiate the icons. It could do this by making them visible, by showing people they are the face of a body, and by showing the body of which they are the face.
                                                            (Chaikin 1984: 96)

The Serpent was called a ceremony by The Open Theater and works with the mythologies/icons of Judeo-Christian religion as they related in the 1960s to current political crises, especially the eternal sense in the US of losing its innocence, as it related to the Garden of Eden story.
           
My practical research (in labs in NYC and London with Apocryphal) into unearthing the “reality grid of right-now” relates to Chaikin’s strategy of repudiation of the icons by “making them visible.” The desire to show people that “they are the face of a body” relates directly to Artaud’s desire that theatre connect the audience to forces larger than themselves, whereas “by showing the body of which they are the face” relates directly to Brecht’s desire that we see clearly that of which we are a part and therefore help sustain and create. This then links back to Artaud’s concern that:

...rarely does the debate rise to a social level or do we question our social or ethical system. Out theatre never goes so far as to ask itself whether by chance this social or ethical system is iniquitous or not.
(1981: 30-31)

The cut-up method offers another strategy for getting outside of the strangle-hold of what Burroughs refers to as the “Word Virus” (Burroughs 1986: 47) and can make manifest the linguistic mechanisms of reality-creation. Burroughs says in an interview after talking about how when on the street we are always seeing in cut-ups, signs, newspapers, overheard conversations, sounds, visual material:

Either-or thinking is just not accurate thinking. That’s not the way things occur, and I feel the Aristotelian construct is one the great shackles of Western civilization. Cut-ups are a movement towards breaking this down.
(Burroughs & Gysin 1982: 5-6)

Burroughs’ cut-up methods perhaps answer a call Artaud makes for theatrical language:

To make metaphysics out of spoken language is to make language convey what it does not normally convey. That is to use it in a new, exceptional and unusual way, to give it its full, physical shock potential, to split it up and distribute it actively in space, to treat inflexions in a completely tangible manner and restore their shattering power and really to manifest something; to turn against language and its basely utilitarian, one might also say alimentary, sources, against its origins as a hunted beast, and finally to consider language in the form of Incantation.
(Artaud 1981: 35 emphasis mine)

Like Burroughs, Artaud sees the need to use language in alternative ways to save language from “its origins as a hunted beast.”

...

Another example of a way to tessellate Brecht and Artaud is the use of what I refer to as  'the grid', which is engaged to activate language, gesture, objects and the performance space itself in a way that owes a debt to the lineage of Artaud, Cage, Burroughs/Gysin and Foreman but for the purposes of engaging such overtly political 'grids' as gender, class, religion and race, in a way that owes a debt to the Brecht, Beck/Malina, Chaikin and Gómez-Peña traditions.  In my work in NYC and with Apocryphal in London, the cutting-up technique happens into live performance wherein written and spoken text, as well as gestures, sounds, space and objects are “split up and distribute[d]...actively in space.”

I will now ask for a few volunteers to demonstrate one way in which this can work (did levels of address workshop, then….

Implicit in this work is the idea of the witness, each player – as you just saw – is witnessing their own actions as well as acting.  This relates the grid, which is arguably a more Artaudian concept, with the eyewitness of Brecht, in which he gives instructions for the actor to report an event as a witness to that event.  Theron and I will now attempt to demonstrate this with a brief reading from Apocryphal’s final production, Besides, you lose your soul or the History of Western Civilization.  The text was inspired by the last line of interview with an FBI guy who said torturing people was a bad idea because you get bad information and ‘Besides you lose your soul’ and Hans-Thies Lehmann’s observation in a talk at Central that the individual soul was a Western construct.

....
[You can get a copy of Besides, you lose your soul...by clicking on title in publications list on blog. ]




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

conference...

no words from me, but I heard lots today at Postdramatic Theatre as/or Political Theatre Conference...finishing paper tonight, before that saying goodbye to more people.

In case you want to know the fun times we have in academic conferences, here's the abstract for my paper (and now you can understand after a day of such things, why I would be tired...and I haven't even given my paper yet...):


Whilst more overtly political theatre, in the epic tradition, concerns itself with how power operates in the realm of what can be seen and understood in a rational, materialist form, the postdramatic theatre, in the way it operates in my own and other theatre companies identified by Lehmann, opens a door into the psychic backstage of thought, experience and pre-existing social structures.  I will discuss how engaging with the way the gears of the machine are constructed, even more so than the visible parts of the machine, can be a political act. 

I will propose a politically and philosophically-engaged theatrical practice that tessellates the Brechtian and Artaudian traditions, wherein the undermining of the meaning-making machinery with its implicit questioning of universalizing language structures does not have to be done only by an appeal to bodily experience, but can engage that meaning-making machinery itself.

An example given will be Apocryphal Theatre's use of 'the grid', which is engaged to activate language, gesture, objects and the performance space itself in a way that owes a debt to the lineage of Artaud, Cage, Burroughs/Gysin and Foreman but for the purposes of engaging such overtly political 'grids' as gender, class, religion and race, in a way that owes a debt to the Brecht, Beck/Malina, Chaikin and Gómez-Peña traditions.


good-night!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beyond tired...

Rabbit still in backyard, hopping and eating grass

Over 1000 books from Apocryphal's show Besides, you lose your soul - handpicked by Lucy, Bill and me - donated to Amnesty - sad to see them go.

Started wrapping mind around syllabus for new class and talked to a lovely woman who taught it.  Feel like a moron because American system so different from British system, all my questions sound dumb, which I know because I remember the American system, enough to know that much.  She tolerated me.  I am grateful.

Have newly re-colored hair and nails - (keeping priorities straight!)  While hair frying to proper color, looked at syllabus for class.  This made sense at the time.

Have something like outline for paper on Thursday - need to focus on that though...tomorrow.

Had dinner with Karen, one of the the conference organizers and a friend.  I wished I had more to give.  I spent all day wishing I had more to give.

Had to deal with Council tax.

Scanned moving documents and sent them.  This took a Long Time.

Will be glad when this part of life is over...wish I could have hired elves to come back here, pack and have emotions, I think I mentioned that before...

Beyond tired.

Finally, to bed....


Monday, September 19, 2011

the never-ending too brief goodbye

In brief - boxes, boxes, boxes.  Today, over 1000 books in boxes taken down from loft to ground floor to give to Amnesty International tomorrow.  So, now, saying goodbye to my theatre company and our last show.  More sadness.  A big shout-out to my friend Sean for taking them out of the loft and to the ground floor.  Heroic effort.  He was rewarded by a visit from Mystery Rabbit.  I felt much better that I was not the only one to see the rabbit.  We agreed s/he is in a good place in the back garden - seems happy as a - well - rabbit.

Then, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork...for international move - you cannot imagine or maybe you can - if so, you will know: it's relentless.

Then banks, banks, banks...why this thing, why that number, how to wire money, why different codes...

Then tube - long ride - meeting with friends - good, then dinner with Antonia - illicitly at a Global Restaurant that we Dare Not Speak its Name, but the only one we could afford near Sloane Square - scary place that, but I won't go on...also tried to enjoy it.

Back home, totally fried, off to bed.

In between all the above, tears, tears, tears...

On the other hand, soon-ish this too shall pass.

I wish I had more time to say goodbye to some folks, though...well, you know who you are and you'll just have to visit NYC - tragic, I know.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

breaking up is hard to do...

Until I got back home tonight, thought I was doing OK considering my husband was here earlier in the day so we could discuss furniture, dishes and how to split books and things given to us as gifts.  I was sad then, but met with friends and felt better, saw another friend, Alison, play improvised jazz with her new Berlin-based group at The Vortex, which was lively and exciting.

But when I came back home and the shipping news was on Radio4, I lost it.  It's these little things, stuff I've enjoyed here and that Bill and I enjoyed together that just make me sad.

I cannot emphasize enough at the same time how I know I'm doing the right thing going to NYC and how much I need to be home-home and be an ex-expat, but separation is hard, not to mention saying goodbye to some amazing friends.

I apologize for the repetitiveness of these posts, but as I've committed to the daily blog, so be it.

I did manage earlier in the day to figure out how to structure my presentation for the conference on Thursday.  The short version is, I already know the subject, because it's both what I do and what wrote a whole bloody PhD these about, so like - don't need to freak out.   And can work off of outline rather than Paper.

Also, I'm being invited as much as an artist as an academic, probably more as an artist, so will give that practical work equal time.  What a relief.  Will write more about that later but just too sad tonight.

More paperwork awaits me tomorrow, including for the move itself, but tonight I'm off to bed to cry my eyes out again.  Then I'll feel better.  Then I'll cry, then.....

And ... one of these days you're gonna wake up singin', so hush little baby and don't you cry....

Be well and good night.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The mystery rabbit revealed and more paperwork

See photos of rabbit below, the one in my back garden. S/he continues to munch on grass, and as you can see, is not particularly frightened of me. S/he appears to live beneath one of the sheds, and according to my step-father Tom, rabbits are a symbol of rebirth.

So, we'll call it a good thing.

Saw some friends tonight for the last time before I leave, which made me cry.  This leaving business is really hard, even if I know I'm doing the right thing.  I have lived here for eight years and have some deep connections.  All births and rebirths are painful I keep reminding myself.  And my friend Julie reminded me of the deep anchor place of the decision - below the waves at the ocean floor, and she is right.  This feels like the first decision I have made in years.

So tired of day of paperwork - some thinking about paper for conference - but seemingly endless amounts of things to sort practically, so continued that, then saw some friends and had dinner with my friend Jennifer, who I don't know when I'll see again.  We chatted about many things and thus begins my long series of goodbyes.

I am exhausted in all ways right now, so will show the rabbit and head off to bed:


rabbit munching grass in front of her/his new squatted garden shed


I cleverly sneak up on the rabbit - who is not impressed - to take photo

Who is this rabbit?  Where did s/he come from?  Escapee? Symbol of rebirth? Both?




Friday, September 16, 2011

mystery rabbit appears

So, I finally called to book my international move from London to NYC, having had to cry twice out of fear and sadness before doing so.  When I finally could call, I had a lovely conversation with the moving agent at which point suddenly a black rabbit appeared in my back garden.  Not a wild rabbit, a black fluffy rabbit with big white eyes.  And no I was not drinking or under the influence of anything.

The rabbit sat there - looking at me with one eye - I guess - then ate grass, hopped around, ate some more grass, etc.  This was almost cartoon-cute, this rabbit.  I decided it had to be good luck, because it is the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese calendar and I was born in said year.  So, mystery rabbit = good.  I am also on the lookout for signs in the neighborhood for missing rabbits, as I am fairly certain this is or was a pet rabbit...on the run.

The rest of the day was spent at banks, calling various utility companies and getting a blood test done, while I still have the NHS to take care of me.  And oh, am I ever going to miss That.  We're talking care at point of service, no money taken, fully covered, etc.  The shift to U.S. healthcare system is going to be deeply traumatic.  I already know that.  Was talking to some other expats today and every one said the same thing: the reason I'm staying in the UK is the NHS.  If not for the NHS, we all agreed, we would have been bankrupted by various things we've needed to have done.  So you can understand my fear of letting this go for now.

On the other hand, I am glad to say I can keep my indefinite leave to remain if I come back and forth enough, and the banks here will forward my mail to the U.S. so hurrah for that.  I can go back to NYC but don't have to cut ties, which is just perfect for a million and one reasons big and small.

It was also a beautiful, sunny day today, which made everything easier.  Ah, and I sorted out where the Besides, you lose your soul... books will go, which is to Amnesty International.  This was the last big production I directed, and included a floor covered in over 1,000 pre-WWII books about literature, philosophy and history.  These were carefully chosen but I cannot keep them.  Amnesty has a bookstore, and as one of the main themes of Besides was the ethics of torture, it made sense to donate to them.  And they'll pick them up - a plus.

So I am, as usual these days, happy in moments, elated even, then crying and fearful - rinse, repeat...

I have to write a paper tomorrow to give at a conference this coming week.  Somehow need to get my head out of changing my entire life and into a paper on postdramatic theatre and the psychic backstage.  Please wish me luck.  This will follow another series of phone calls to more utilities and banks.  But it must be done so I have the crucial time to re-read it and make revisions...More on that as it develops.

So, to mystery rabbits, moving house and postdramatic theatre...never a dull moment.





Thursday, September 15, 2011

Accepting imperfection...sort of...

Had my last therapy appointment today with a woman who has helped me tremendously over many years.  I was telling her that I felt in many ways since I moved here to London, I've been drifting and the first decision I feel like I've made in a long time was to move back to NYC.  She said, well maybe you've needed to be drifting to do all the work you did on yourself.  And I think she might be right.

But, still, it's nice to feel I've made a positive decision.  Everyone who I am talking to here, even folks who say they will miss me, are happy for me because they see the change.  One friends said, my God your energy is back, you're back.  And that is how I feel.  It's been a long time of grieving - a really, really long time - over deaths and losses both old and new, and it's such a nice feeling to actually feel effortlessly happy again.

There is still underneath it all some panic - or not underneath - actually more like a haunting or a shadow. The core of me and the base is happy.  It's these other things that are a surround.  I feel the resonance of an anxiety attack I had before I went to NYC and that scares me, but I seem to be not going back there and happy for that.  I do feel sad about the separation and I have some fears about being back in the U.S. of course.  But now that I know I'm not trapped here, I'm finding parts of London to enjoy again, which is nice.  I don't want to leave feeling all negative about it, which is how I have been feeling for a long time.

Spinoza has a theory that I will now botch, but the cod (Americans: Readers Digest) version is: some bodies enhance each other and other bodies diminish each other.  It's not even about one being 'good' and another 'bad' but their relationship to each other.  And what I think now, looking over these past years in London and with certain people, that these relationships can change so that a body that used to enhance can diminish and vice-versa.  It's a dynamic flow really and perhaps it means allowing for those shifts rather than clinging on to old ideas.  I say this but as I heard someone say once and is true for me: anything I've let go of has claw marks on it.  Usually, in my case anyway, out of fear of letting go of the familiar and into the new or in the case of this upcoming move the new-old, but even that's different.

As another friend reminded me, you can't step into the same river twice, which is true and not true.  The water flowing will be different and my relationship to the river will be different, but I can go back to the same river bank...or as good old Edward Albee put it in Zoo Story "Sometimes you have to go a long way out of your way, to get back the right way correctly."

As to the getting back: I have begun the practicalities thing - finding a mover, changing my address with banks and all that.  I keep giving my new address in a state of disbelief, hoping the place will be there when I get back to NYC, wondering, will it?  There's no real reason to doubt this, but I still do.

Tomorrow will be paperwork day London version, leaving rather than entering the country, closing accounts, giving notice, changing addresses.

And I am sad because there are people here I love very, very much and I wish I had more time to say goodbye properly and I fear I don't.  So you all have to visit me in NYC - OK?!

I'm so grateful I got the teaching job so quickly in NYC but am sad, too, that the time is so squished now. On the other hand, the part of me that likes to rip off band-aids quickly, doesn't mind.  An extended thing would also have it's problems.  But, another 2 weeks would have been nice.

I am beginning - with a stress on the word: beginning - to really, really accept that no matter what I do, how I do it or how much therapy or any other kind of recovery type stuff I do, no matter how many yoga classes I take or meditation sessions I sit through, there will always be something and I think perhaps my desire to Find Out Everything and Fix It All etc. is just a kind of gussied up version of perfectionism/control freak-ism.  I want to KNOW...etc.

Still jet lagged, not as bad as yesterday, so I have moments of clarity, but only moments, so will wrap this up now and head off to early bed.  I have dark circles under my eyes, which I always think I means I have a dread disease and usually means in fact: I'm tired.  Gasp.  So, to bed, to bed...


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm in London in jet lagged haze

Just this:  I arrived this morning, took an hour to get through immigration, two more hours to get home and then of course bed not made and things needed to be washed, etc.

Was able to rally after long nap and get some details about moving sorted out but not many.  Talked with some friends and met with more later, but almost fell asleep throughout.

Now about to fall asleep and hope to be back somewhere near London time.  I could not sleep on the plane.  Watched films I now cannot remember.  Was grateful as ever to land safely.

It's weird being back and was sad on the way in but then talking to people about my decision I find myself to be quite cheerful.

On the last day in NYC dropped off all my paperwork at CUNY - Bronx, and got an ID card made.  Was surprised to see that in my picture I actually look happy.  I have not looked happy in a photo in a long time.

But now, to bed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Paperwork all day literally

Step 1: sending off application
Step 2: Social Security Office for replacement card
Step 3: starting a bank account
Step 4: filling out ENDLESS paperwork for CUNY job

somehow this took all day long, and aside from dinner with a friend and a late night meeting with some other friends, was my day...that and preparing to leave tomorrow.

I felt the sadness of my separation from my husband when having to answer questions on forms about marital status and emergency contacts.  I see my engagement ring, which is in a small pouch with my British money and I cry.

Paperwork and grieving.  Not the happiest day ever.  But with friends it is possible.

I am so not looking forward to flying to London tomorrow and packing, preparing for a conference and saying goodbye to lots of people I love, including my husband.  This will not be the happy part, not one bit.

Can't write anymore, too tired.

Be well everyone and wish me luck bringing paperwork to CUNY and somehow packing and getting out of here on time, too.

But now: to much needed sleep.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/11 - present tense

Started today watching the memorial service downtown on television.  When people started reading out the names of people who died, I felt sad, but then as the ceremony continued I started feeling like I was watching another family's funeral.  As I did not lose anyone directly in the 9/11 attacks, I realized I needed to stop watching the television and tune into my own life and feelings, which is what I did.

I walked with my friend Julie to meet other friends and we all talked about what we needed to talk about that day.  I then came back to the apartment and continued to work on an application for a teaching job for next year, and then had a long talk with my friend Masha, who I met on a bus from Long Island to Manhattan a few summers ago, and who happily has become a friend.  She works in and between artistic and theoretical and real world and academic world, so we always have a lot to say.  She was originally not going to come uptown on the subway because there were so many scary stories about what might happened (which she heard, as per usual, from people who were nowhere near NYC), but fortunately she did make it, and of course all is well.

We talked and ate diner food, then talked and walked on Riverside Park, looking at the - still weird to me as I have the 1970s toxic green-brown color seared in my memory - clean Hudson River, sat on a bench and talked some more about life, love, philosophy, writing, integration of emotions, body and ideas and the usual detachment among academics and how frustrating that is.

I then came back here, almost finished the application, was called on by friends Louise and Anne and went to eat some food and talk about family mythologies, stories and where we were all going next - as we are three well-travelled ladies - though Louise and Anne way more so than me - as we navigate our way through life.

Back here again and finished application, and glad to have done so.  Have the usual feeling that it isn't good enough, but I've learned that no matter what I just have to send stuff out.  I was reworking the thing to death and hope I didn't kill it.

I feel somehow whole today and like I can let lots of things go.  I feel profoundly unafraid.  Though I was scared earlier in the day, as it became clear we were safe, at least for today, I was relieved and then when I entered into my own life again, I was able to feel OK.

I am of course sad with the memory of the events of 9/11, but a fellow named Matthew Freeman wrote on his blog something important - that the private event we experienced in NYC was shared uncomfortably with the world and became '9/11' - and that public symbol bears no relation to the actual feelings, experiences and memories that we who were here have of that day.  Those, he said, are private and are ours.  I commented on his blog, because I think that is a profound observation, so beautifully said without the anger and self-righteousness with which I would probably have enhanced the sentiment.  You can read his post here.

And finally, if you want to read No One the play I wrote in November 2001 in response to not only 9/11 but also the US' violent response, you can read that here.

Good night, practice peace however you can, and breathe from the inside of your own experience whenever possible.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11/11 - No Words...still

I wish the terrorist threat for tomorrow in NYC, real or imagined, didn't freak me out, but it does.  I need to find something peaceful to do tomorrow and will do, but it has to be something without flags.  The friend who was coming up has been warned off the subway so may stay home.

I am sad that the NY Times site about where you were on 9/11 and what you feel does not include 'sad' as I mentioned yesterday.  I've decided for tonight to simply re-publish what I wrote after 9/11/01.
You can link to the published version from this blog under publications.  It's called 'No Words' (published in - of all things - an American Studies textbook by Prentice-Hall).


The memory of that time just makes me want to cry.  I didn't let myself cry at the time, too afraid my grief would be used for propaganda purposes and determined no one would do that.  I hid my grief and fear from myself.  I am owning it now.  But it's taken a long time.  I think we are afraid of sadness as a rule.  It's not aggressive or sexy.  It's not fearful and asking for protection.  It just is.  It's vulnerable and so we avoid it.  At our peril.  Instead yelling at people, getting annoyed, harboring resentments or just taking it out on ourselves.

So don't laugh at those of us who are still feeling grief.  There are reasons for that.  And if you don't feel anything about it, that's OK too.  


Below is the long form version of No Words as I read it at The Present Company Theatorium, which was on Stanton and Essex.  There was a large group of us, who had gotten to know each other at The Present Company and through FringeNYC, which was created by that company.  We were all in shock, and a lot of people read some beautiful stuff.




No Words: September 11, NYC
Julia Lee Barclay
(written for reading at The Present Company on September 18, 2001)

T.S. Eliot’s words in Four Quartets:

“Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.  And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feelings,
undisciplined squads of emotion.  And what there is to
   conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot
    hope
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under
   conditions
That seem unpropitious.  But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.  The rest is not our business.”


Someone else’s words.  That’s what I thought the flyer for this event said.  If you want to read someone else’s words.  And I was relieved, and thought, of course, someone else’s words.  Not mine.  Who has words for this?  I don’t.  I flipped through T.S. Eliot, some of it held, but not all.  Flipped frantically through Yeats, and most of that didn’t hold either.  I looked through my library last night of poems and plays and fiction and remarkably, none of it held.  I thought, that’s it, it’s all done.  We have to start from scratch.  I’ve never felt that way about any other event.  The words don’t hold up.  Ancient words even.  Not a dent.   I so wanted to find someone else’s words, to comfort, soothe, explain, reconcile, anything.  I don’t want to be left here typing electronic dots on a screen.  There is only one phrase from Yeats that keeps racing through my mind “the best lacked all conviction and the worst were filled with passionate intensity”.  And then I don’t know where I stand in that dialectic either.  I confront my own self-righteous indignation at other people’s self-righteous indignation.  My friends and I make cookies for firemen.  Singing in the Rain seems like the best film ever made.  Then I talk Middle-Eastern politics and think I’m enlightening people.  Then I see a wall of hand made fliers with pictures and names of the missing, thousands of them, on the walls of Bellevue from the M15 and cry, having just given a plate of cookies to a rescue worker who’s been at ground zero for four days and is hungry.  He is talking to the bus driver about being called up to serve as an army reservist.  His eyes are moist with exhaustion.  He is absurdly grateful for cookies.  I am absurdly grateful he took them.  I look away and have no words to say to him but “thank you.”  I fear he will die.

All the stories, endless stories - I saw it on television, I saw the gray cloud coming towards me, I saw it on a roof, from the train, from the bridge, from the Promenade, from the Avenue, heard it on the phone, felt it in my building, was covered in ash, surrounded by midnight, pushed down the stairs by the blast, knew someone, know someone who knows someone who.....

Then the theories, endless theories - this means global capitalism will prevail, this means we will be nuked, this means “they” must pay, this means we are finally paying, this means we will be better people, worse people, more scared, more strong, more something - always different from what we were on September 10.  We now supposedly love more, hate more, are in shock, are grieving, need counseling, don’t need counseling, should not watch TV, should watch TV, should talk to people, don’t have to talk to people....

Then the first reactions - need to see people, wish we were in love or are glad to be so, cling to the familiar, attack Muslims for no reason, protect Muslims from those who attack them, yell at our credit card companies, go to work, stare at useless letters typed onto useless computer screens, understand people in Beirut who stayed in their bombed out city and cling to New York City as home, flee the City and wonder why anyone stays, try to get back to the City from out of town, cry, panic, feel comforted, pray, meditate, do yoga, go to church, go to AA meetings, drink ourselves silly, scroll through email, talk on the phone, wonder when to breathe, tell jokes, cry, hug people for dear life, listen to stories, tell stories, look into people’s eyes, stranger’s eyes, for the first time...

“Slouching towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born.” (Yeats)

“And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.” (Eliot)

At least there are clues left in the books, a burnt and charred map, some of it obsolete but not all.  I hope to scratch through this maze with all of you here now, make tunnels, chart through the tunnel, rebuild the next world, not throwing away all of the old but letting go of what no longer fits.  We aren’t alone.  We never have been, and I am not alone and never have been, because where I am is where I am not.  And where we are is where we are not.


Friday, September 9, 2011

writing and watching balls batted around today

Watching the Yankees while writing, I confess to you, dear readers.

I spent most of the day writing for a deadline so am not going to write much here, except to say I am glad I decided to keep it simple and get the writing in as I had promised myself I would.  It was about the tricky subject of irony and so difficult to get right.  Not sure if I did.  Considering how much else I'm doing right now, it's a minor miracle it got written at all.

I also saw some friends, and my friend Julie, in whose place I'm staying, was in town with her husband and we had a lovely dinner.

Ah and I watched intermittently as Andy Murray beat Isner in the US Open.  This is a holdover from the UK, as I technically 'should' have been routing for the American, but having watched the travails of Murray (who is referred to in Britain as 'the Scot' or 'the dour Scot'), I was rooting for him.

So basically a day of writing, watching balls being batted around and dinner with friends.  Can't complain.

Tomorrow is all about another application.  Then eventually have to face the tricky issue of how to commemorate 9/11 on Sunday.

Angels just tied the game, it's 1-1 now.

Back to 9/11.  I know I am very emotional about it, and the terrorist threats, real or imagined are somewhat unnerving though you couldn't pry me out of here with a fork on the day.  That day affected me and my work a lot.  I think on Sunday my post will be a re-print of a piece I wrote days after the attack.

I do not want to be anywhere near a flag or anthems, just FYI, maybe it needs to be private, I don't know.  One friend coming up to escape downtown madness and we will have lunch and walk.  I may join another friend at her yoga studio.  That kind of thing.

I feel a bit foolish and like most people here are probably over it already as everyone else has lived here the past 8 years I have not, but I have not and it's only now I can begin to feel the impact of that day emotionally.

I am not talking about politics here folks, just to be clear.  No, I do not support the US wars all over the place or nationalism, etc.  But what happened here was real, painful and hard.  This is the aspect that affected me the most.  At the time I think I felt its importance as an event and felt the need to strategize my feelings so as not to be overwhelmed by propaganda.  I know that will not happen now so the grieving is coming up.  Weirdly in the NY Times map of  'how do you feel now', they offered: angry, fearful, neutral, hopeful but not sad.  I thought that was odd.  And typical.  You can be angry or scared but not simply sad.  Sad doesn't mean war or revenge or pre-emptive measures, it just means sad.

So right now, I feel happy and sad.  Happy to be coming home, sad at the memory of 10 years ago and sadder still that there is the 'credible terrorist threat' business.

So I sign off with the Yanks-Angels game tied 1-1, bottom of the 6th.

Good news, Obama and now toast

So, I got the job and will be teaching 'interpersonal communications' at Bronx Community College - twice.  They have a system wherein the classes are taught in 5 week intensive bursts.  So, those 10 weeks in total will be busy but everything happens within them, which is a bonus.  Also class size is limited to 20, which is great.

The amazing thing about this job, besides the fact it happened to quickly, is that it is a walk from where I will be living, across a bridge.  I got to see the 'East of Broadway' part of Inwood today and enjoyed it very much, reminded me so much of what the Upper West Side above 96th Street used to be like in the 1980s, Latino, lively, taco stores, cheap furniture, dollar stores, music everywhere and people seeming generally quite happy.

The students at Bronx Community College are the New York version of my students at University of East London, so I am glad of that as well.  Diverse, lively and striving against pretty steep odds - a good mix.  There's also surprisingly nice bits of architecture throughout the campus, along with the requisite horrendous more modern, now just kind of sad looking architectural mistakes that abound on campuses the world over.

I am very grateful to have gotten the work, though am feeling somewhat overwhelmed by how much I need to turn around in a short period of time that now also includes a syllabus.

I have received more invitations to speak with heads of departments elsewhere and am very gratified with this response, which makes me feel better and better about my decision to move back to NYC.

However, after the interview and trying to get a bank account and not having the proper paperwork and realizing half of my life is still in London, I just turned into toast and realized I needed to eat and stop.  Paperwork will happen, and I simply cannot do it all at once.

So, I ate, watched Obama speak to Congress - and realized once again that the reason I have liked him is that he is reasonable in the face of such total fucking insanity.  I know he's no left wing firebrand, but damn compared to the vaguely - well - really scary looking Tea Party people sitting ramrod straight and angry, and the mostly bored looking apathetic Democrats in his own party, he looks like a superhero.

No one probably watched the speech though and a bunch of people will comment on it that care, most people will ignore it and the Republicans will make damn sure the economy stays in bad shape so they can get re-elected.  Apparently all the Republican candidates had to take some kind of pledge that climate change is a lie as is evolution.  They all did except for one - who will now be marginalized as the Dennis Kucinich of the Republicans and not allowed to play in their reindeer games.

And I'm coming home!  Even with this...ahhh, welcome baaaack....but at least I'm here and can say and do stuff about it.  She said bravely...

Luckily I went to meet with my sane friends, am suitably tired now go off to bed...




Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Simple, peaceful, rainy day

Today was about practical things and emailing lots of people at universities, while it rained a lot outside.

It's funny how the weather is different between London and NYC.  Here, when it rains, it rains a lot, like all day.  In London, it rains a little, then there's sun, clouds, sun, rain then sun...etc.  I think the weather in NYC is more committed.  I know that sounds strange but it's the only way I can put it.

On the other hand, I've lived in London during 3-week long grey skies, so in that sense, it can commit.

I have a job interview tomorrow, which fact alone seems kind of astonishing, and am preparing for that.  I have sent CVs out to almost every college in NYC and environs.  I am getting some interesting feedback, one being this interview.  This process has taken over three days.  I am especially gratified that a few teaching artists and academics that I really respect, but who have never before met me, have responded  based solely on my sending in a letter and CV.  I have such a hard time seeing what I have accomplished and these moments are markers for me.

I wrote a reference for a friend and colleague, sent out CVs, watched the Yanks lose in the 12th or 13th inning on TV, brought laundry to be done, shopped, went to a meeting of writers, had dinner with two friends, got a manicure and pedicure and now printing out maps so I know where to go tomorrow.

My delightful time alone in this oasis of an apartment comes to an end tomorrow, and I am so grateful to have had the time.  I wish I could have just spent the whole time writing, but all these other practical matters needed attending when I made the decision to move to NYC.

I am getting wonderful responses to this decision both internally and externally.  I feel weirdly peaceful now - a sense that I love of being in a groove - like a kind of enclosed air pocket that contains me but does not isolate me.  Sometimes - well usually - it takes a few bumps and bruises to get there, sometimes it takes breaking a sound barrier, but where there (here) I love it.

Long may it continue.

Now to changing sheets and listening to the rain....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Too much transition: haikus (sort of)

I am very tired
don't know how to do it all
but it will happen

***

Was an expat now
will be an American
in America

***

So much to leave be
hind and am sad scared happy
arriving here home

Feeling well and truly blessed today

Last night after writing my post and wandering around like a cat on a hot tin roof, switching various media on and off, I ended up listening to Jonathan Schafer's New Sounds on NPR and lying on the carpet doing yoga and crying, so scared about moving and changing my whole life.  But I was able to comfort the small child who was crying and say - it's OK you're allowed to be frightened.  It's OK.  That is a miracle, because when I was little being scared was not OK, and this is the sign of my growing adulthood that I can now comfort that scared child and not be ashamed of my fear and sadness.

I then ended up reading letters and writing of Jani's from when she was dying of cancer and writing stuff from and with that in the Dick and Jani book.  This felt right.  Was hard and good to do.

Then today, I continued the process of sending out CVs and cover letters to various universities, and much to my pleasant surprise, received a response from one place and will have an interview this week.  If it happens, I will say where, but it is quite close to where I will be living, so that makes it even seem more fortuitous, plus the schedule works with mine as teaching doesn't begin until October 3.

So, miracles abound.  I signed my sublease today, so I have an address and a place to live as of October 1 in New York City - my precious and beloved island.

I then had dinner with my wonderful friend Nicole, we ate Tibetan food and talked and talked and talked and sat near Union Square behind the incredibly misguided Andy Warhol sculpture (of him in cheesy shiny substance of some nature...I didn't even like Warhol and I think it's horrible).  Why on earth be ironic about the king of irony?  How sad is that?

OK, but we sat there anyway and had a good talk about many things personal and political and everything in between.  She is one of the bravest and smartest people I know and I love her dearly.

I'm going to keep this short as I may want to write my book later and don't want to burn out here...

So, be well and thanks to those of you who have given me confidence and to That/Her/Him which is looking after me, that is much larger than me.  And thanks to Matthew M. today for calling my move a bold one and applauding the voice that said 'jump and I will catch you.'  Soon after that, I got the contact for the job just as I was getting worried I was making a terrible mistake.

And all of you friends of Bill and Lois out there, you are phenomenal and have carried me through this in ways big and small and I know you will continue to do so.

Gratitude for all and good night.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

immigration and coming home...new and old

I've had a mixed day of real estate and writing - pondering where all my books will go in a small studio (that woke me up in a panic at 4am).  Yes, that's right, I woke up at 4am panicked about where I would put my books and papers.  Do you see where my priorities are?  I then realized that God invented storage units for a reason, so I could breathe again.


This much I have recently discovered in my searching for a place to live: Inwood is kind of great and reminds me of old school NYC, open air cafes, kick ass live jazz playing, a real mix of folks, lots of different languages, bodegas, donut shops, cafes, galleries, grocery stores, parks, gorgeous buildings and the air smells a lot better.  And it's still part of Manhattan.  Not bad, not bad at all.  As I have been living at the end of the Victoria line in London, it somehow seems fitting that I'll be living at the end of the A train in Manhattan.  


I am also working on writing for another project that I can't really write about here as it needs to be unpublished writing and blog posts count as published.  But suffice it to say I'm continuing on the trail of irony-itis and seeing where it goes.  I will be submitting what I'm writing now for paying work, which is why I can't go into it more here.

I will however, show you a photo of some of the papers and photos for my grandmother project, because I find other people's process stuff fun to see, so will see if you do, too.

(clockwise from top left) Jani's baby photos and her letters,
Dickie, my grandfather and father on album of Bukoski family photos
and genealogy papers of Bukoskis/Whitbecks (both given to me in June) 


The above photos and genealogy also reminds me of the Ellis Island heritage of NYC and it is strangely moving and humbling to realize I had relatives who just shipped themselves over here on a boat (either in the 1600s or 1900s) probably not having a clue how they would make a living or what they would do when they got here.  That's impressive.  Me, I have to make sure I have some money and a CV ready, get to take a plane and have a moving company schlep my stuff.  Not the same really, is it?



Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Landing on your feet"

This is what a definition of my day would be called.  I found a lovely studio apartment in an area of NYC called Inwood - it's at the end of the A train - the very tip of Manhattan, near a very American place called The Cloisters, which is a reinvention of the Middle Ages through piecemeal elements put together and replica - it's part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Europe-world.  Hilarious (if you are actually from Europe) but also kinda great.  Only here would some rich dude decide to bring parts of Medieval buildings over to the US:

From the Met website:

The Cloisters, which celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in 1998, is named for the portions of five medieval French cloisters—Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Froville—that were incorporated into the modern museum building. The result is not a copy of any particular medieval structure but an ensemble of spaces, rooms, and gardens that provide a harmonious and evocative setting in which visitors can experience the rich tradition of medieval artistic production. 



OK, but back to where I'll be living - a few blocks away - the building is Art Deco, for real.  I forgot to take a photo of the facade but will soon, because it's breathtaking, if you like that architectural period and I really do.   The funniest thing, speaking of Europe-world, is that the building does floors European style, so the apartment is on the 2nd floor, which usually means one flight up, but is two flights up, so I suppose I've found the perfect transitional space...and we're all about transition this year, in case that ain't perfectly clear yet...

The studio itself is very small, but nicely done and it's furnished, which for me right now is perfect, because that means I can leave all the furniture behind and not pay for its shipment.  It's an indefinite sublet, which means after 6 months I can stay or go, so it's great for that reason, too.  And if that's not enough, the person renting it seems quite nice.

So, I am feeling quite blessed today, especially as the neighborhood feels quite safe, and as it's on the A (which is an express train), the trip from there into midtown or downtown is not very long.  But, the truly amazing thing is that there is a view of the park, which is around the corner.  If you walk up the hill on the park, you can see the Hudson River on the other side and there's even a salt water marsh.  It's amazing.  One of the things I was kind of not looking forward to leaving London was the loss of all the green spaces.  Not anymore!  I'm in the middle of green space.  Amazing.

I was offered the place right away, as I'm a good fit for this situation, and that's just great.  The rental starts on October 1, so I'll be back in London mid-September, writing a paper for a conference, packing, giving the paper, packing some more, giving my stuff to a shipping company and winging it back to NYC.  Wow.

Wow.

And I am thrilled.  I cannot even explain how happy I am.  This morning began in tears, because I was feeling my separation again and what I will have to do to leave London.  And that sadness is real, too, but in feeling that, this then came about.  The endless sadness I've felt for the last few years is lifting.  And that is a great feeling.  So, there's room to grieve what needs to be grieved, but there is also space for happiness - finally.  And for that I am profoundly grateful.

Yesterday, I did finally send out a few CVs, but have a lot more ahead of me on that, plus a writing project I need to submit soon, so I will end this post here...

Except to share some photos with you...subway modern art (unintentional) and some art on a wall that seems relevant...with text by Alice Walker...








Friday, September 2, 2011

weird day

A day that starts on the phone with your therapist in London, when you are in NYC is probably going to be a weird day, and this one did not disappoint.  Stuff came up, as it does, and then that made it hard to focus on the Tasks At Hand, etc., etc.

However, after some drama involving a family member who shall remain nameless, I had a good talk with my step-father Tom and then managed to finally send off a couple CVs to some places I would actually like to work.  I have some ideas bubbling away and that is good.

I also decided to go officially look at an apartment - this one in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - the price was right, the place itself was cute, but there were two young men in the foyer on their phones just kinda hangin' around.  Now, seeing as they were not actors or doctors on call, my vast experience - which is actually quite extensive - with living in such buildings is these guys are drug dealers.  This being the New, New York, they were quite polite and I would say even amused by my presence.  However, I think the time has passed when I would be happy to live in a building inhabited so casually by dealers.  I have done that, it is called being in your 20s and an artist living in NYC.  So, that one's not gonna happen.

Then I come back to a note from a broker that an apartment I was interested in is available but you have to have an income 40x the monthly rent.  Ha.  I say.  Ha.

OK, so Welcome Back to New York!

Perhaps, I am delusional - no, let me rephrase that: clearly I am delusional and thought once I made up my pretty little mind that I'd move back that that seas would part and all would slot into place.

Um.  No.

In other words, I'm moving back to actual New York, not fantasy New York, and that's OK.  Also, it was the first place I checked out officially.  So...there's hope.  She said bravely.

After this traumatic experience I went to meet with some friends and had dinner with a woman I met at a writer's group, had a lovely Thai meal and came back here.  I'm feeling some anxiety rising in me, so I will focus on chilling out tonight, maybe watching some therapeutic tennis or baseball and go to bed early.

There is a lovely place I go on Saturdays to be with some folks I find to be deeply sane and look forward to that.   I need it to ground me.

I know I'll be OK, that's the funny part, but I also know I need to take good care of myself as there is some part of me that is fragile and precious that is emerging and I need to protect.  That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn't.

So, goodnight everyone.  Wish me luck and send me good apartment and work finding kinda prayers and thoughts or whatever you believe works...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

OK I've jumped - now I'm hoping You will catch me...

I just sent the emails I have been waiting to send, but not sure if I should send, but now have sent - telling the people for whom I might have worked in London this autumn that I am instead moving to NYC.  I have now officially taken the plunge.  I feel scared and excited and a little nauseous, because I know behind all this there is grief still to be felt about what and who I will leave behind, and that can sometimes take the form of nausea.

I have made the decision and it is a leap of faith because as of this moment I have no place to live and no job here, though I have some leads and ideas for both.  I feel as if I am in mid-air and I do hope the message I keep getting from the Universe: leap and I will catch you - is for real.

I have spent the day writing a template for the letters I will be sending out tomorrow to various universities and colleges in NYC and environs with my CV in search of work.  Earlier, I was talking to a guy at a cafe about the kind of work I do, and he was excited about it and said I should start teaching the tools and techniques I've developed in labs as a class, and I realized, you know what, he's right.  It's time to stop giving it away for free.  It's time to start developing not only paid workshops but classes and begin teaching this stuff for real.  So, I will develop that as well.  I've also been told about the arts in education programs and that I should propose stuff for that, so I may indulge my love of teaching teenagers again in this way...And it is this kind of thing that keeps happening.  These conversations that open up possibilities and then another one and another one.  It's amazing.

This is definitely my city, I feel at home and inspired here.  Everyone seems friendly, and I keep having amazing conversations with both old friends, new friends and complete strangers in cafes, elevators, airplanes, buses, wherever.  What more could I possibly want (aside from a lot of money so I don't have to worry about money anymore - that'd be nice...even just enough money - doesn't have to be millions - just enough to get by....)?  But really, this is amazing, and I am on a new adventure.

My friend Julie said to me today: you sound excited, and I said yes I feel excited and this is the first time in a long time, and she said, yes it has been a very, very long time.  It's been years, folks, as she could attest - she who has been through every twist and turn of a lot of grieving over some very real losses over the past few years. It's been Years since I've felt this excited about anything.

I feel many years younger, healthier and just all round kind of great.  I know there is still sadness to come and I know I will miss my dear, dear friends in London (and you all are Amazing) but I also have faith they will visit me in NYC (won't you??) and I know I will be in London again, too.  I'll be there in the middle of the month in fact for a conference and to pack up my stuff.

I will also miss my husband, but we are separated anyway and he travels half the year, so it's best - we both agree - that I be somewhere I am happy.  It's time for this and we both know that.

So, there you have it folks, I'm a New Yorker again....probably as of October.  Wow.  Wow.  What a gift.  I'm back, I'm home, I'm fucking delighted!

And as a way to close this post, a photo taken on the subway tunnel coming out of the F train:

NYC: subway map as accidental psychogeography



scribbling away....

I did a lot of writing again today (by hand in the crappy notebook), so much so that I got very little practical work done, if any.

I went to a writer's meeting and told them my story, and had some interesting discussions afterward.  This made me grateful to be where I am today, healthy and with options.

One of the things I discussed was coming out from the bunker I had to hide myself within from a very young age.  The emergence of all of me has been not without growing pains, but damn it's good to be able to say to a room full of people that I own my whole self and know it's true.

Lovely hearing how happy some people are that I'm coming home to NYC.  Some friends have been warnings of financial issues here and such, which I know is because they believe they have my best interests at heart, but it's quite comforting to have others just be plain old happy I'm coming back, which is how I feel.  Still lots and lots of details to sort out, including where to live and how to make a living, you know the little things, but I do know in my heart of heart of hearts that this is the next right step.

I'm kind of delirious from all the writing and staring at screens, so gonna keep this one short.  This is my 101st post, I've been posting every day since May.  It's kind of hard to be honest, but it's been an interesting journey.  I hope to integrate this journey into some kind of book, already I can see places in the Dick and Jani book where excerpts may fit into it.  Real time documenting I think/hope has its own rhythm and interest - a 'common place' as my friend Sarah told me they called it back in the day - a place you wrote about everything going on from intellectual to prosaic.  So this is my 21st century common place.

Oh, and I watched some US Open Tennis today too.  Oh I do love tennis and baseball.  It's my version of heavy narcotics.  I can't take heavy narcotics and I can't drink, but I can stare at balls being bashed around.  So allow me my little pleasures, please.

And of course if you know of any writing, directing, teaching, etc. jobs out there, please tell me, not to mention good rent deals, sublets and the like.  Tomorrow I will begin the March of the CVs out to every college, university and educational establishment within range.  My friend Marietta and I are already plotting out the next moves with my latest play We live in financial times, Part 1: Blackberry Curve and I got re-excited about some theater stuff talking to my friend Alyssa at her place the other night.  So great to finally be in a place and space where I can just let it rip...

Plus, the writing!  It's going in so many directions I could never have predicted, which means usually it's going somewhere interesting.  The sense of vacuuming up huge amounts of information continues along with a continuous interrogation of the writing process itself, memory, family mythologies, history and so-called non-fiction.  Nice.

Sure to be a major motion picture, isn't it obvious?