Yeah I know it's a line from the Eurythmics, which dates me as ancient ...
I came home, put on some music, Vivaldi - that innocuous - lay down on the rug and started crying. I hate music right now. Whenever I put it on, I cry, because it puts me in touch with the dreaded emotions. The second anniversary of my father's death is coming up on Saturday...quickly followed by the day B and I got together for the first time and of course now he's gone. So, it just sucks.
At first I thought the emotional weight was more about the separation, but that's not true at all - it's more about my father. Or both, or like who cares...it sucks.
I don't know what to do on Saturday. I asked a friend to spend the day with me, we'll see if that's possible. I hate asking things like that of people, but I did it - by email. OK, not the best way but the best I could do. I'm not on my way up to Kripalu like I'd hoped, because right now I fear it's too expensive plus I am sick to death of traveling.
Weirdly enough last night while I stared at the idiot Iowa Caucus, a whole corner of my neighborhood burned down, literally 2 blocks away - which included my local pet food store, laundromat, bank, hardware store and yoga studio. All of it - gone in a huge blaze. It's sad to see so many small business (aside from the bank) wiped out. Plus on a purely selfish level disorienting - where should I bring my laundry now, buy my cat food, do yoga and find a place to get money and deposit it...of course it being NYC these questions can be answered relatively easily and will only involve walking a few more blocks here or there, but still it's just so odd.
Going to my writer's meeting tonight, the train stopped because there was 'a person on the tracks' - I don't know if that's the equivalent of the London tube 'person under a train' announcement (which was announced with disturbing regularity I should add), but right after seeing the burnt out skeleton of a corner of a city block, it wasn't the thing you want to hear.
On the bright side, I'm reading Mary Karr's Lit, which just gets better by the page. I am both energized, inspired and somewhat envious reading it. Envious of her ability to talk about her chaotic life so beautifully and sharply, thanks to her poet's ear, lack of self-pity and giant soulful heart and also relevant to the dead father thing - the fact she had a meaningful relationship with her biological father - instead of having to sort through a variety pack with the original variety missing, except as a vapour trail. Her father was a stone alcoholic so I'm not talking about hearts and flowers, but it was a real relationship and with my father that never happened. I chased after him as a child without much luck. He made some attempts to connect with me - sort of - when I was an adult, which I batted away, angry at that point. Then just when we were trying to connect, he had a stroke and couldn't talk, then when he could he was aphasic and I later found was getting high throughout the whole supposed recovery process, so like that couldn't help matters. Pot heads. I am sorry if you are reading this and like pot, I fucking hate what it does to people over the long term. It makes people recede, gradually, so slowly it's like trying to watch the earth turn, but just as inexorably, it does turn and the person is gone, gone, gone....Like my father, like so many people.
I know it's fashionable these days to say marijuana is so great and it's a medical thing and blah blah blah but I say bullshit. I've seen it slowly destroy so many people, including, obviously, my father. Alcohol is just as bad, if not arguably worse and certainly messier, but I don't hold with the idea it's healthier or innocuous. Maybe there are people who can smoke pot the way those of you who can have a social drink do that and if so, hooray for you. But I've seen too much damage people...believe me, I know what I'm talking about here.
And of course I'm angry about that because the sadness and the loss is just unbearable. Un-fucking-bearable. To have not had a father and then watch him die is just horrendous. I'm not the first and won't be the last and I'm lucky I suppose to have had any relationship with him at all, but there are other things, too, that are even harder to talk about and perhaps won't be spoken of on this blog. But it's not pretty, I'll leave it there and let you fill in your own blanks.
I've forgiven him, that was the gift I was given by showing up at the hospital. I wrote about that last year and the story of that has been published in a collection, which when I receive a copy of it, will tell you where you can get it if you're interested. But after forgiving him, all the suppressed emotions came pouring out, having been frozen as resentment in some nuclear bunker of dissociative lock-down...so when the forgiveness came, next were the tears and the rage and the nausea and the fears of certain kinds of weird things I can't bring myself to talk about yet publicly and damn it was hard...and led probably to the end of my marriage as all this came tumbling out and I went from Julia-light to Julia-full on...not exactly what B had signed up for. That makes me very sad, too. To think that 'all of me' is a problem or too much for someone, etc. Another motivator that got me back to NYC. The place where no one can be too much of anything. Thank Christ and All of Her/His Disciples for that.
So, for better or for fucking worse, I am fully accounted for now. And to some people that's a good thing and to some people it's a scary thing and you know what, I just don't have the time for people who are scared by me anymore. It's just so boring and kind of sad. I mean I'm not scary. I may be strong sometimes, crumple sometimes, be needy sometimes, be self-sufficient other times, have a sense of humor and sometimes deploy sarcasm (shock!) and even - gasp - use big words, but like who cares? If I was male, none of this would even be the teeny tiniest issue. I don't know why it's taken me so many years on this planet to truly hip to the level of molecular sexism on the planet, but damn it's dull and frustrating and just kind of Exhausting to deal with - ya know? I'm not blaming all men for this and I know women, too, who are misogynist, but damn when can we finally shitcan this bullshit? It is so last millennium...and the one before that...and the one before....
So to end on a positive note about my father in regards to this - the little time we did spend together when I was young, he taught me chess, gave me model battleships and chemistry sets, took me to art and science museums and never, ever told me I couldn't do something because I was a girl. The only sexism I ever encountered within my family was reverse sexism when my grandmother Jani got angry at me for dropping trigonometry because she thought I should be a physicist, since there weren't enough female physicists.
Arguably, I suppose, no one gave me 'girl' training. And maybe that was a good thing. Though I suppose some would argue it wouldn't have hurt to 'embrace my femininity' or whatever...not sure that would have helped much. But looking back at clothes I wore as a young adult, especially when with my first husband, I kind of wish I hadn't dressed with the moral equivalent of sack cloth. There are reasons for that, but it's sad to see - no celebration or awareness of my body at all...It's been such a painful journey to embrace my physical self - with steps forward and back and all around the track...
So much loss, so little joy. I have to believe that is changing now. I really hope so. After the rain, generally sun...and fresher air. No guarantee the rain doesn't return of course, but nor do I have to drown in it. But accept it, I must. However, it's nice to be back in a physical climate where the rain does not come all the time...
Grateful for the heat in my apartment now as it's bitterly cold outside, but so toasty inside between that and the lovely coat I bought on super-sale in Maine, I'm good. Grateful, too, for enough money for food, clothing, rent and the love from good friends and family. Grateful, too, to be home, where I can't be too much of anything, even if sometimes I miss the real live social safety net of UK, which believe me I do...still, for now, I'm supposed to be here. God/dess help me. (And no, I don't mean Rick Santorum)
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.