One of those only in New York stories: a friend tells me about this local doctor who friends see when they don't have insurance, because he only charges $60 (same as the vet, FYI). I go there today, without an appointment, because he doesn't take appointments - he just has office hours. His office is one minute from my apartment. I wait all of 20 minutes or so and after a bunch of too-ing and fro-ing by Dr. Ward (who is, as my friend Shannon described: old as rock) and his secretaries who also translate for him (from Spanish to English) and write the prescriptions, I am seen by this lovely old doctor who looks and acts like the Norman Rockwell drawings he has in his waiting room.
He chats with me about the neighborhood, has the short term memory of a goldfish and yet is a weirdly comforting doctor. I know this sounds contradictory, but probably in part because of the presence of the highly competent Latina secretary/nurses, I felt I was in good hands.
It's nice to be treated like a human being. The first thing he did was try to get to know me, how long I lived here and in London. His daughter lived in London for four years and now is the editor of Glamour in NYC. That kind of thing. All the time looking at me, listening to my rasping voice, seeing the blood vessel that popped in my eye because of coughing (which he assured me would heal soon, so "just don't look in the mirror for a few days") and after looking in my eyes and my throat said you'll be OK and prescribed penicillin and cough syrup. He kept telling me how nice the building was that I live in (I agree) and asked me questions a couple of times, but that was fine. I asked him if I had strep throat. He said no, just a little bronchitis, but I'm treating you like you do. In other words, cautiously. He handed me a bunch of his cards, said for the 2nd or 3rd time, we've only been here for 51 years! and said to come back if I didn't get better soon.
The secretary/nurse wrote up my prescription, but as she was about to write up the one for the cough syrup, I remembered to ask, does that have alcohol in it? Yes, it did and codeine. I demurred. She asked if I was allergic to the alcohol, I said, yeah, kind of...the fact is I haven't had a drink or a drug for 25 years, and I made the mistake of taking Nyquil the other night just to fucking sleep, but forgot it was 10% alcohol. About 10 minutes after taking it, I felt almost whoozy, I did fall asleep but coughed remotely anyway...like someone else was coughing and then woke up with what felt like a hangover. My body is not geared up for this for a lot of reasons, but now that includes the sheer amount of time clean and sober. People look at you funny when you say stuff like this, and of course that prompted a coughing fit.
That's the other thing, some of these coughing fits feel as emotional as they are physical. I keep thinking of the band called Soul Coughing. I am aware that when I feel any anxiety, I start coughing. But then again as soon as I start coughing, I feel anxious, and it spirals...again the meditation is helping me try to breathe as soon as possible, but you get the idea with the broken blood vessel and all that like these fits can get pretty violent, to the point I hear and feel my vocal cords vibrate. It's just weird.
I was given another suggestion and bought that instead, but of course like all the so-called Incredibly Expensive cough suppressants, it didn't do jack. So, well, here I am.
Back to the basics: herbal tea, meditation, and taking horrendous penicillin.
I hope I can stagger to my class tomorrow. I had to cancel today's. I am going a little stir-crazy in this studio. I've basically been here 24/7 for a week, aside from 20-30 minute walk/shopping trips. I'd really much rather be teaching acting...any day.
I am so embarrassed when I get sick. I think it's some ancient New England Calvinism embedded in my bone marrow - some idea that you're good when you are Well and when you are Sick something is Wrong with you, and not just physically (see above diagnosis of the coughing - newer age-ier version...yes?) Why can it never just be: I'm sick. That's another thing Salzberg talks about a lot in her meditation book - getting rid of the "add ons", the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening. By focusing on that I am quite clear that I attach a pile o' add-ons to every feeling, sensation, thought...it's quite humbling paying attention to this.
OK, speaking of which, I am tired and instead of fighting that or not going to bed for fear of coughing fits, it's time to go to bed....
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.