After a couple days of upending sadness and feeling like there was nothing I would like more than a stiff drink (which if you have been following this blog you would know is definitely not an option) or something even stronger (also not an option) or anything to just take me the fuck out of myself, and in which I instead sat with all these crappy-ass feelings, did stuff I needed to do and met with people like me who work on all this stuff for free by sitting around in relatively uncomfortable chairs drinking bad coffee, now I feel as light and good now as I did badly just a few hours ago. It always strikes me as a minor miracle when this happens. Any time I just sit with pain and grief, this is the gift. I am particularly lucky because I have folks I can share this stuff with and I'm aware that is not true for everyone. It's available to anyone, but lots of folks don't take advantage, which is too bad.
My new weird addiction is Yogi Tea...I have in my cupboard: Relaxing Mind (yes, seriously, I am that much a victim of advertising - however, I am drinking it now and it is damn fine), Bedtime, Pomegranate & Green Tea, Detox and Egyptian Licorice.
*** interruption: I am listening to WNYC that reported yet another random shooting Somewhere in America - does it even matter where? Dear God, I knew there was a lot more gun violence here, but I forgot how depressingly regular it is. This is a very violent country in so many ways - guns being in some ways but a symptom...Not to mention the cops who kill people, oy...***
Now back to our regularly scheduled blog: tea. I have other kinds as well, in other brands, including Chai (spiced tea), Rooibos (red teat), Earl Grey, Oolong from Xiamen, China...you name it. I'm a tea freak. If the UK did nothing else to my life, it made tea even more important. And ya know what? That's just fine.
Speaking of UK in the US, you cannot imagine (if you don't live here) how crazy people are for Downton Abbey. I don't simply mean watching it, I mean talking about it, parsing it for this and that, discussing its structure, characters like they are relatives, loving it and hating it - wondering about the class system, hating it, loving it...loving the seeming stability, hating themselves for loving it, etc...and this is not me talking to myself, these are actual (and numerous) conversations I have had with people. I think at least in the Northeast the cultural obsession between US and UK works both ways.
But back to my own writing, I turned in my contribution to The Delicate Cadaver last night at the deadline (see sidebar for details). After enjoying writing the first draft the night before, when I was doing rewrites I suffered a mini-crisis of confidence, but then had to remind myself we all only had 48 hours and that this is something I've never done before. Jeff who is coordinating it, assured me it looked vibrant and exciting (which was a relief, because I had lost all perspective by the time I had sent it to him). I will be so intrigued to see what this project looks like when all the scenes are put together. A friend reminded me that this is also probably freaking me out because I have So Little Control over the final manifestation - I usually direct and write, and have never given my writing over in this way - well, no, that's not true, I did for a project in Norway, working with another director-writer, but that had a very different feel to it and involved very complex negotiations involving taste and goals. While there were certain rules in this instance, the ultimate decision about the writing was each writer's. I think I'm so chill and into collaboration and then one of these things happens and I have to face my fears of loss of control, which are profound...and, to be fair, considering my past experiences, completely understandable.
Still, I'm kind of tired of it all - the control freak thing feels like it's way past its sell by date. At the meeting I was at tonight, we were reading about the concept of being willing to allow a power greater than ourselves to remove our 'defects of character' - in other words ways in which we act that don't work well - for others and for ourselves (like oh say being a control freak). The action involved here is simply being entirely ready to allow this to happen. Which is careful wording - it's not being entirely ready to go in and route out all your own shit, it's about allowing Something/Someone else to do that in His/Her/Its own precious time. Which most likely has little to do with your own idea of when this should happen.
Tricky for a control freak, very. But necessary for all that, because that is the main issue...Ha.
And don't you know, it was after coming from that meeting and going to the Whole Foods and indulging in my tea hoarding addiction that I came back home and felt this sweet relief. Sometimes the only thing left to do is turn it over, not cling on to whatever it is, including what I've read described as "arrogant self-criticism." If I could have a neon sign over my head with an arrow pointing toward me to warn others, it would have flashy lights around it reading "arrogant self-critic."
Just heard Lenny Kravitz on New Sounds saying "my greatest strength is my greatest weakness" and yes, yes, yes, that is true, too. I've heard these so-called defects also called assets that have been somehow distorted, which is true...or they can also be assets when used properly. Some level of self-criticism, if it's constructive is OK even admirable - when used to beat oneself over the head senseless, not so much. If anyone tried to talk to me the way I talk to myself, I would take them out. I would never dream of talking to anyone else that way. So why, you may ask, is it OK for me to abuse myself so uninhibitedly? Answer: it's not.
Kravitz also talking about his music doesn't fit into boxes, and how there is an obsession with putting things in boxes, and I couldn't agree more. That is the same with my work, which is theater-art-poetry-writing-even sometimes video...which makes people either say definitely "that's Not theater or ask: What is It? Or my favorite, what do you Call it? Why can't it all be theater I wonder aloud over and over and over again...or if someone does similar work but wants to call it Art, why not?
Time now to enjoy the lightness of the evening and thank my friends and God/dess and all that is good in my life for being manifest...plus of course tea, and enough money to buy tea, not to mention copious amounts of heat in my apartment, a purring cat and the love of friends. Speaking of which, Tamara, if you are reading this, your prediction I would soon find my 'light body' has come true much faster than I thought. Bless you for your prayers, you and everyone else's too. Back out at you.
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.