I am still going to bed late and getting up late, which used to be my schedule but hasn't been for a while so feeling a bit discombobulated. Did my writing first again today, which is good news. However, it's the horrendous editing bit so is about as much fun as splitting rocks. It's a short story I wrote, edited and sent out and know in my heart of hearts is too bloated so paring it down to re-send out. I don't know why I should be doing this now, but so far that feels right. Really want to be working on first draft of grandmother book, and will get to that but know I need to work on my editing chops...so wish me luck.
About to listen to Joan Didion on WNYC, so maybe will learn something - again - from the master. Speaking of which, I'm reading Mary Karr's Lit now and damn that woman can write. But it's more than that, there's soul, too and stuff I can basically understand in terms of coming to Ivy League-like places from white trash type places - along with the psychosis of having a mother who wants her to succeed and felt trapped in Texas. I gave this book to many people over Christmas, for good reason. Her story resonates with so many of us...too many of us, but that's OK. At least she wrote it. No small thing.
Didion is talking about Blue Nights, her book about her daughter's death. She says it is not a narrative but more a meditation, a reflection. Her brutal honesty with herself is always astonishing to hear and gives me courage. These two magnificent women make me feel what I am attempting is possible, even if I'm not sure precisely how I will pull it off on my end. So, thanks Mary Karr and Joan Didion, once again for showing us how it's done.
Saw two friends from college, Bennett - who is visiting from LA - and Cobina - who lives in NYC but because we both teach can't ever find time to see each other during school term. We were all directors and now two of us write and teach/make theater and Bennett makes work and is a creative director at an e-card company. Tonight we were at Cobina's house with her extraordinarily precocious children and lovely husband. I see through their teenage eyes how much older we are now. But somehow it doesn't bother me, because when I meet kids like this who are so great, I feel that all is well with the world somehow and perhaps our generation at the very least is doing a pretty good job as parents. The funny thing was reminiscing about times we spent together 25 or so years ago in front of the teens, knowing they must have been rolling their eyes internally (too polite to show it of course), though they did seem interested, too. They adore 'uncle Ben' who is quite entertaining (and is Sister Unity Divine as a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence in LA but wears LL Bean clothes on most days...but never stops being fun and wildly-kid-friendly - that is if you have been raised to be queer-friendly, which they have...so that was nice to see, too - a new generation not freaked out by gay people - hooray!)
However, sometimes (not tonight but at other times) I will see a particularly cute small person, like at St Marks last night and just start crying, because if I had not miscarried I would have a 4 year old right now, and sometimes that just hits me full force. I never know when this will happen. I don't know if I'll ever be able to let that one go entirely. I feel better around kids now than I ever did, though, and I am glad of this. I suppose I'll just be whacky aunt/friend Julia...not to mention the teaching...but sometimes I'll be honest it makes me really sad that it doesn't look I'll ever get to be a parent.
Speaking of which, below is a full picture of Ugo the Rescue Cat (and substitute child/boyfriend - yes it is that sad). I managed to transfer this picture from my phone to computer. Hopefully you can see how lovely he is.
OK, so why did I title this post strange days? Because they are strange. My last post was picked up by Poetry Project and others, so many people looking at it. Glad there is so much interest in Jonas Mekas, that is heartening.
The anniversary of my father's death is coming up and I find myself noting the age of many of these folks (poets, writers, artists), and so many, like Joan Didion who is 75 and Jonas Mekas who is older, are in the same age-range as my father if he had not died. He also loved avant-garde artists and writers, so I get these emotional twinges seeing these people who are also ageing - but also have a body of recognized work...and wishing, wishing, wishing my father had stuck with his artistic work rather than frittering his talents and energies away on pot, drinking and taking self-righteous stances against this and that. But that in the end is crazy-judgemental of me, because I was not him and his journals I have read like a litany of confusion and pain.
I think this desire is partially my own pride. I wish I had had a father I could look up to or rely on or something. He wasn't a bad man but he just couldn't do anything really or commit to anything or anyone, not really, and that just seems so profoundly sad.
So as this anniversary is arriving - on January 7 - I find myself still not sure what to do but don't want to do what I did last time, which was work myself silly through it.
There are lots of practical things I need to get done and find I have zero motivation for any of them so am torn between the "just get your ass in gear" voice and the "rest - you're exhausted" voice. I also need to be working my body more, that I know. By that I mean yoga and stuff, not horrible driven stuff.
Weirder still, my downstairs neighbour is alternating between coughing loudly in a way that indicates he has some kind of chronic condition and singing drunkenly. When did I get cast in a Tennessee Williams play?
I think the temporary answer to the do/rest conundrum is to wrap up this post and go to sleep earlier than last night. Ugo is resting finally having had a case of the cat-crazies, so perhaps I should take his lead...
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.