So what does a girl do when she's having a week that includes the anniversary of her father's death and the anniversary of when her soon to be ex-husband and she fell in love in NYC during 10 warm days in January 2002, when is now warm again 10 years later in the same city, but now she's alone?
She puts on Ravi Shankar chants is what. Sometimes she does yoga, sometimes she writes a scene for a delightful project called The Dainty Cadaver (more on that later) and sometimes she just sends out invitations to her staged reading, sometimes she cries and sometimes she plays with her cat.
The other thing she does is take a long walk in the park and stares at the tidal marsh and finds friends who she can talk to about what's really going on. And other times she just gets a manicure and pedicure and has a laugh.
I haven't written in a couple days because I've come to understand how deeply tired I am and how much rest I need. This has been an utterly exhausting year, especially the past 6 months and even this blog has seemed like work. Sometimes it's been a savior, but other times feels like a burden.
Yesterday was incredible, because I allowed myself to have a retreat day, doing nothing, as if I was on a real retreat...up until I got the Dainty Cadaver assignment at midnight, which plunged me into a couple hours of sheer delight writing. This project was dreamed up by Jeff Lewonczyk, co-founder of Piper McKenzie with his lovely, talented wife Hope Cartelli, and will be shown at The Brick, a venue in Hipsterville aka Williamsburg (for the record I lived there before All That, but I won't bore you with my I remember when stories...). As a variation of Exquisite Corpse, the Dadaist game invented at Cabaret Voltaire in which poets would add to each other's lines of poetry without seeing the lines before or just seeing one, Jeff has assembled 18 playwrights, 6 for each evening, with the assignment of writing a scene only knowing the scene before it, and with rules to take a few elements from the previous scene, but beyond that to go wherever we want to go. I was delighted to be asked, then thought (before actually doing it), oh no, what if I can't think of anything and I don't write this way anyway...and then I got my intro scene and had a blast.
Ravi Shankar figures into this, too, but because there is a chance one of my fellow playwrights will read this and they aren't supposed to know anything about the scene before theirs, I will restrain myself from explaining how. Except to say, I went from feeling really, really sad to laughing out loud...so I want to thank Jeff and whoever wrote the opening scene from the bottom of my heart for giving me excuse to go into comedy, cause goddamn did I need that.
If you're intrigued by this project, check out the Brick Theater website and make a reservation, because these shows will be packed out with friends of folks involved, etc. There are 3 nights from Feb 3-5 and my night, which is Sunday afternoon, is February 5. I think it should be really good fun. I saw the other writers in my team, and if I do say so, I think it's pretty strong (as are all the teams truth be told, but I am already feeling Team Pride - Team C - Yeah...Ok that's sad isn't it? You don't have to answer that..)
Tonight saw a piece of theater from Italy called Alexis, a take on Antigone via Greek anti-austerity demonstrations via Italian-speaking dancer-actors. It was pretty good but I've seen so much Euro-theater these past 10 years, that part of me just kinda sighed and thought: yeah, that and now they do that bit, right there's the bit where they talk to us and oh, look, some video...etc. Also I really can't abide theater that says "oh the theater isn't enough" in relation to politics and then just goes on and does theater. I fear I've probably done that myself hence my total irritation. It's annoying, so note to self and others: either Do Theater or Do Politics or Do Politically Informed Theater but don't have an identity crisis in the middle of it and expect me or anyone else to care. Also, don't equate people coming up to the theater space with you to dance with political involvement. Talk to the Syrians about political risk and engagement.
But, to be fair, many folks in the audience really loved it, so if you haven't spent 8 years in Europe watching theater and dance, you should probably go check it out. It's at La Mama as part of the Under the Radar Festival. My friend Johanna, who has very good taste and makes wonderful dance pieces, loved it as did her partner Aaron (who is in the much ballyhooed Gatz - which I'm incredibly excited to see in March!)...so really don't take my opinion very seriously. For obvious reasons tonight I'm just not incredibly excited about Euro-world. However, Aaron did say that his European programmer friends who saw it had the same response I did, which makes me feel a little less like a toad.
After that, Johanna and I had a gorgeous conversation that went from our deeply personal stuff all the way through to our work, as we had originally gotten together to remind each other of our various pedagogies. I am teaching beginning acting at Hunter and she will be teaching dance for actors at her college in Illinois where she's pursuing an MFA, so we are developing our syllabi. She was the choreographer on two shows of mine that were produced by The Present Company in 2003, and we had collaborated really successfully but had forgotten details of each other's techniques. It was lovely sharing out work again and it reminded me of the strength of the work I've created with actors, dancers and artists over the years and she had the same experience vis-a-vis her work, so that was great. I had a temporary freak out of the: 'why I haven't turned my PhD into a book yet or the chapter into an article for the training journal' variety, but re-remembered also when talked to Johanna that I am completely exhausted, because life has thrown me a number of extreme curveballs and all this stuff will get done when it's time. In moments of sanity, I even think: and it will be better for that. If I slow the fuck down and allow myself to breathe - allow these ideas to coalesce in their strongest form. Which I don't yet know.
The resting thing is working. Really well. I even - gasp - wrote a poem yesterday when writing in my journal. I don't know if it will become a real for the public poem but it just happened because I wasn't trying to make it happen. Right now I can't do enough of the not trying bit.
Also, speaking with Johanna I was able to just cry about all this stuff with another person. For many reasons she can understand, and for that I am grateful, deeply. We haven't had a proper sit down talk in over 8 years but tonight were able to be there for each other. So, so lovely.
In case it's not clear, I should say again: the grace note of my life is good friends. This relationship gets short shrift in the traditional lexicon of life, all family-oriented as we are, which is fine as far as it goes, but a circle of close friends is God/dess's very own gift to someone like me who had a fairly raggedy-ass patchwork set of family circumstances (with the distinct exception in adulthood of my mother and step-father, Tom) that were hard to lean back on with anything like full weight but has always had, from about 8 years old onward, starting with my best-friend Kristen, someone to lean on and be there in return. How on earth this happened, why I was given this ability when I was so clearly shitty at most other kinds of normal human interaction (and don't even get me started with how crap I was at anything resembling dating or casual acquaintances) - that is beyond me, but I am grateful for it and to all of you out there who have been and are and will be again even if we are distant now in my cherished circle of friendship. You know who you are and you are all great, beyond great...I really, honestly, don't know what I would do or would have done without you.
I need to get up at a human hour tomorrow to fulfil a speaking commitment, so will leave this here. Ravi Shankar and friends continue saying hindu things. All is well. Ugo is well and I need to do some yoga so my neck and shoulders unlock from their vice grip
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