As you can see from the time of this post, I am back on my late night train...of thought, action and just well, everything...
Have spent the past few days reading yet another brilliant book by Mary Karr Cherry, which details with excruciating brilliance and precision what it's like to go through junior high-school and high-school when you're smart, from an alcoholic family, rebellious by nature and its the 1970s in an oil refinery town in Texas. Read it, just do it. She's got the depth of Salinger without an ounce of privilege, except, as she admits, being white and knowing she was smart enough to get the fuck out. Which, thank the gods, she did...She's my kinda writer - still in awe.
But what got me to the computer this late was a memory of what I wanted to write about but had forgotten - the walk tonight through the subway tunnel that links the 123 train to the L train on 14th Street in which I heard the sound of the violin playing, an atonal violin concerto of some type - classical, difficult and looked up to see a very hip, young African American fellow playing. I smiled up at him and he smiled back - don't know if I make this shit up or not, but it felt like the smile of mutual recognition - as in yes I hear what you are doing and yes I can see you do kinda thing. So I'm thinking, ah yes, this is why I love NYC. Then I get closer to the self-proclaimed (in handwriting that can only be done by the insane - precise, too large, somehow too deliberate and yet clumsy) NY Times Published Poet. He's written this on frayed cardboard pieces in which he also writes that he will write poems for you. He is asleep in the corner, I am fairly certain this is where he lives. And I think - right and this is what I hate about NYC. Not that this fellow is a self-proclaimed genius poet and clearly not sane in any way we could normally recognize, but because he lives in the subway tunnel. That's the problem I've got with NYC/USA in general. Call me old fashioned, but I'd rather see people with not enough money for crazy rents and no way to generate income housed. Call me a Communist even, I don't fucking care. The virtual (in comparison to NYC) absence of homeless people in London shows you too can have a ruthlessly capitalist city AND house people. Shock. Learn from it, people.
OK, but then I keep walking and get onto the subway platform where some folks I can't see are playing percussion, perhaps homemade instruments, not sure - but it's the rhythm, the rhythm of New York, the one you can always dance to whether someone's drumming or not, but that seems to cause a kind of rhythmic beat to emanate from underneath the electric, gas, cable, water, wires, tunnels, subway lines pulsing continuously so that sometimes it seems everyone's tapping, moving, whistling...sometimes crazy, sometimes angry, sometimes wildly generous, sometimes kissing passionately but always moving, moving, moving and then, just as suddenly still - profoundly still and silent. For a moment - then the movement begins again. This rhythm is profligate and can't be captured, and it doesn't seem to happen anywhere else, not anywhere I've been anyway - and in the past decade - I've been an awful lot of places.
And so even though I'm terrified about not having health care and sometimes think I've lost it having wilfully returned to Camp God (see in re Republican primaries), there are these moments, too. So by the time I'm at a meeting talking to some folks who are welcoming me back home and they ask me: did you love living in London, I say the truth: no, no I did not love London. I love New York.
God/dess and all Her Creation help me. You are my only health insurance now.
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
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.