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.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
A quarter century lived by grace
Or as Raymond Carver said in a poem about his life after drinking and drugs: all the rest is gravy.
So in these past 25 years of gravy, given to me by the grace of what I usually call something along the lines of God or Higher Power or That Thing That's Way Bigger Than Me That I Totally Don't Understand But Somehow Seems to Have Saved My Life (hence the use of the word: God...or God/dess depending on how gender-specific I feel I need to be that day...)...and which also takes the form of lots of human beings who have found a way, like me, to not keep killing themselves with alcohol or drugs...and in whom I believe resides this God business...
In these past 25 years, I have done a lot. And I've decided to break it down today into sheer numbers and lists, perhaps in oblique honor of Georges Perec who liked to do such things (though with considerably more panache than I'm about to...).
So here goes:
Lived in 3 cities in 2 countries (lived on Pacific, then both sides of the Atlantic).
Rented 15 apartments/flats.
Visited and worked as an artist, performing/writing/teaching, in at least 14 countries.
Founded and ran two theater companies: in NYC (1994-1998) and in London (2004-2011).
8 plays published (3 in anthologies).
All plays produced in multiple venues, directed many of them, though not all. Some have won awards, fellowships, grants. Some have been written about in major journals.
Directed plays by 6 other writers and at least 4 created by groups.
Performed in three solo multi-media performances, two of which were commissioned, one of which was published.
Taught as professor/lecturer at 6 universities/colleges in 2 countries.
Taught drama at one high-school and two high-school summer programs.
Led labs from 1997-2001 in NYC and 2004-2011 in London to create new theater techniques with artists from at least 8 countries.
Led workshops in these theater techniques in at least 14 universities, 6 international conferences and 6 professional venues.
Awarded fellowship to do a PhD in 1987 in US and fled after 3 weeks. Awarded another fellowship in 2004 in UK and did complete in 2010 (miracle).
Given papers and presentations at 12 international academic conferences.
Been married twice, currently separated.
Was present at last breath of my father and was present for the dying days though not the death of a family friend who was more like family than much of my family.
Been pregnant twice, neither carried to term. No children.
Flower girl at one friend's wedding. A reader at another friend's wedding.
A reader at too many funerals. Every gay man I knew in the 1970s, aside from my step-father David, died of AIDS (except for one who died of cancer).
Taken thousands of photos everywhere I have traveled.
Watched many shows in many cities, theater, performance art, dance - some amazing, most not so much. Gone to galleries and museums in many countries. Seen cinema from all over the world. Listened to countless hours of WNYC and BBC news, music and talk shows. Sometimes, even, watch TV. Watched multiple seasons of Yankees and Knicks games.
Written innumerable words, which comprise at least 3 unpublished novels, none of which are entirely complete. Have projects sitting on multiple burners. Deep frustration about this.
Written innumerable journals and two blogs, one private, one public.
Spent countless hours in church basements listening to others talk about how not to act on the compulsion to drink or do drugs, and even more importantly, how to live. Sometimes, I speak, too.
Been on boats in oceans and seas, including The Atlantic, Pacific, Adriatic, Mediterranean, Arctic Circle, seen icebergs being born and floating out of Disco Bay...seen colors of green I didn't know existed in the Orkney Islands and watched huge orange balls of sun set over the Hudson...heard silence in the midst of traffic in NYC and the sound of feet sound like a symphony at a subway intersection, watched the Thames roll along beneath what the Kinks called a Waterloo sunset, seen startling amounts of stars in clear skies, walked hundreds of miles of sea cliffs, beaches and hiking trails, seen hundreds of baby birds on a cliff face, heard the whistling sound of raven wings when alone on the ice in Greenland.
Spent many hours on planes, buses and trains. Relatively few in cars, because I don't drive.
Had transcendent moments in theaters, watching actors do amazing things that only actors can do and had many not transcendent moments in theaters wishing I was anywhere else. As Rauschenberg said "You can't have risk without risk."
Written a lot of poems, though far fewer than when I drank.
Filled up pads with drawings and some paintings.
Spent thousands of hours on the phone with friends and family sometimes connecting, sometimes avoiding, sometimes helping, sometimes hurting.
Short prose writing published, some academic.
Worked 12 years as a legal secretary, which necessitated learning reluctantly to type on a computer.
Written many grant proposals and applications, some of which resulted in funding/project commissions.
Innumerable lab showings, collaborations and strange little projects that pop up in the oddest places.
Adopted 4 cats - 3 of whom circa 1990 all died old, 1 of whom is young, adopted in 2011.
Have had the love of many wonderful friends, and no I can't count.
4 yoga retreats.
1 meditation retreat.
16-17 years of daily meditation practice.
10 years in total of therapy.
One life-changing spiritual experience that made me know that no matter how much I want to intellectualize it, there is a God and I got to see It even if for only a few seconds. That's why I'm still sober today. That was a gift.
So, here it is, the life that I could have easily lost many years ago...so far. I hope and pray for many, many more years, because I am a really slow learner. There is so much more I want to experience and do. For instance:
Complete and publish at least one of my multiple not quite finished book projects before giving up and starting yet another one.
Find a relationship that works after I am truly OK with myself, so I will then finally know how to give and receive love (this is the one that seems like the way harder one right now...)
Do more yoga
Start my own theater school.
Figure out my new camera, which scares me irrationally. And in general not get so scared about things that come with a user's manual and take more than 2 minutes to figure out.
Finally finish unpacking and stop moving.
Give up the idea of finding home so I can accept wherever I am.
Be more effortlessly giving for no other reason than to be generous.
Be less concerned that I "get mine."
Stop comparing myself to others.
Stop being angry at people who are more successful than me.
Remember all the things I have to be grateful for rather than dwell on things I don't have.
Love more. Love more. Love more.
Live. Dance. Breathe.
Thank you all my lovely friends and family for lifting me through some very dark times of late. Thank you God/dess for revealing yourself to me when I'm about to give up. Without You I'm nothing....