The last couple of days I have begun to type up the work on the Dick & Jani project from my notebooks. Of course, this means I am editing and rewriting, so have only made it through a few pages, but that's OK. It's a relief to begin to see what I have written over the course of the year. Today, after meditation, it was the first thing I did. This feels so right, even though I am of course wildly self-critical about what I have written and all the usual self-doubt stuff that goes with writing. I can't believe I didn't think of typing up what I have already written before, but perhaps because I am now not sick after a month of being sick, more seems possible.
The other reason this writing is important is that I am waiting to hear back from a residency I applied for to work on this project. I did not want that decision to play a part in whether I continue with this writing or not. Professionally is another way I can get way too caught up in others' opinions, the positive just as much as the negative. I can get swayed way too much, no matter how much I say otherwise. It nestles somewhere at the base of my skull and worms its way subtly into my decision making, never announcing itself directly but more like a CIA double agent...nonetheless it can have an effect, especially if I get caught up in waiting for an external decision.
I did the work for my acting class and had an interesting class bringing in exercises loosely based on Kristin Linklater voice work via two actor friends. What I did not realize until today is that (a) she was born in the Orkney Islands (my favorite place on the planet) and (b) she taught The Open Theater back in the day, which was probably soon after she arrived in NYC in 1963. I have given the students Chaikin's Presence of the Actor to read so all this full circle stuff is making me happy.
What I love about my Hunter students is that they can spend well over an hour working on relaxation exercises of various kinds, taking it on faith that this will help their voice, which it does and did. They may giggle through certain exercises and gain and lose focus, but they try. I am amazed each day how little resistance there is to these various ways of working, which are in many cases quite sophisticated and not the most direct route from point a to b. It feels like such a privilege to teach them and to be given that trust.
Today walking across Central Park because of the change in time there was sun - hooray - not to mention many crocuses and daffodils and a sweet, sweet smell. I know this is probably way too early for it to be this warm, but true confession: I love it. Maybe because I've been in London for 8 years where spring begins in February, it doesn't seem too early to me.
I may have written this before but I am struck these days by how sensitive I am now to seasonal change. Others who are my age and older agree that as you get older for some reason you feel it more. Is it because we are old enough to realize there will not be infinite springs? This is only my 49th spring and I would be incredibly lucky to experience that many more. This is a limited time offer. Mortality, especially after you lose a parent is more visceral, too, so perhaps all of this growth out of death, which leads to fruition, then going out in a blaze of color to death again bit also has more resonance.
Whatever the reason, I am happy to be experiencing it, noticing it and being glad for it. I find my dread of the spring is diminishing. It may return, I don't know. I am glad today that I am enjoying it.
Having the writing to go to when I get up makes me happy to get up. I am not as anxious. I also don't feel as overwhelmed. This must have something to do with the meditation I am doing. I am grateful that after years of doing meditation in a way that was OK but not as disciplined that I find myself teachable again. It's as if I was cutting tomatoes with a dull knife that has recently been sharpened.
Here's hoping this trend continues, though I hesitate to say even that lest I somehow tempt fate.
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.