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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

staying still enough to feel the profound exhaustion

It's simple: I'm exhausted...on a profound level.  In some ways this exhaustion is from the past few years, in some ways it's exhaustion I've been keeping at bay since I was a child.  I kept it at bay because it was not safe enough to be tired.  I don't remember ever sleeping very well, though that doesn't mean I never did.  My memories are of restlessness.  The crazy babysitter I referred to back in January 29 post used to keep me up until 2 or 3am and make me scrambled eggs with ham.

Then there's all the moving we did, from the beginning.  Born in Providence, move 2 weeks later to Milford, moved after that from one house to another.  My father and mother splitting when I am 2, and I am left at my grandparents' place.  A few months or so later when I am 3, my mother arrives with new step-father, and we move to Maine.  In Maine we move 4-5 times, that is unclear, but at least: Peaks Island, Bangor, Pembroke, Gorham.  These moves happen within 3 years.  Then we move back to Peaks Island with another father.  Then to Waterford, Connecticut.  We live there for 3 years, interrupted by my 3-4 month stint with Mrs. Levine (the babysitter) in New London.  Then I am shipped to my grandparents in Cape Cod, to live on sofa to wait for father to summon me to San Francisco.  That doesn't happen. Remain on sofa for 2 more years.  Eventually brought back to Providence, where my mother and father no. 3 live.  2 years later, my mother and father no. 3 divorce, and I get a scholarship to boarding school in Connecticut, so go there each year and come back to another place in Providence with my mother, until the last year, when she gets together with eventual father no. 4 and they move to Washington, D.C.  I go home one vacation from boarding school to a place I'd never been in my life.  The next summer, I live in D.C., then go to university, back in Connecticut.  The next year I move to NYC to work in a theater.  The next year back to university.  The summer is spent in San Francisco. The next year to Italy for art school.  The next year back to university and finally graduate.  Then in the autumn move to San Francisco.  Take a breath.  Get sober.  Come back to Connecticut in summer to teach.  Back to San Francisco, to Palo Alto for PhD program, leave within a month, back to San Francisco.  Move in with roommates for about a year, then a studio, then move back to NYC after that.  Within NYC move to 5 different apartments.

Long pause while staying in one apartment from 1993-2003, but within that time lose one husband, live alone then live with man who will become my second husband.

2003 - move to London accidentally and live in 3 different places until 2011.  Travel to many countries during my time there and get a PhD from a university in Northampton.  Get pregnant, married and lose baby in 2007 then eventually in 2011 separate from second husband and move back to NYC in October.

So you can see why I might be tired and why, aside from that one time in NYC, I have little experience being in one place.  Also, during my whole adult life I have been focused on at least two full-time adventures most of the time.  Needing to make money and make my work, the two rarely happening at the same time.  Some blessed years yes but not many.

So now I am doing my teaching and precious little else.  Going to meetings, doing some yoga at home and meditation.  I am beginning on my writing project and will be teaching some workshops.

Still I keep thinking: you should do this and that and the other thing, but - probably due to meditation and a good friend's counsel, I am not.  I am sitting in the profound discomfort of a jonesing workaholic waiting for her fix.

Because of this, I am now in touch with this exhaustion - which feels both physical and emotional - like my whole entire fucking life is catching up with me.  From age dot onward I was a workaholic kid - always writing, poems, numbers whatever, doing something...was not allowed TV so was reading a lot too.  No complaint there, by the way.

But there was no space to grieve any losses, feel any pain.  I did go on crying jags when I was very little and when my mother was around and we were alone, she did comfort me through those.  But I think after the Mrs. Levine episode, I totally shut down.  There was no more room for any feelings.  I don't think I exactly had a rich inner life beforehand but whatever was there was snuffed out, especially by the time I ended up on my grandparents' sofa.

So guess what?  Getting my feelings back kinda sucks.  Doesn't make it any less necessary, but it sucks, it's painful and frankly I don't like it one little bit (as if I had a say in it - ha!).

My tiny little prayer to the universe is that whatever the fuck this process is all about that it is of benefit to others in some way.  I think it helps my teaching and my service work.  I have college students that come and cry to me now, literally, and I give hugs and help guide them through stuff.  I doubt that would be happening if I was cut off from the neck down.  I can hear them and see them, and that is good.  I can help others going through excruciating pain.  That is good.

Saw a Patti Smith documentary late last night and now remember her lyric "Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand."  She has suffered.  She is a mistress of grieving and working through it to create amazing gorgeous gentle angry music, poems, art.  I don't know what I will create out of this.  Haven't the littlest clue.

I have created a largish body of work but feel something new is coming and I really haven't the vaguest what it will look like.  Maybe it's in this writing project about my grandmothers, maybe something else. Maybe it's something completely new.

This is all I believe right now: I need to let it emerge.  As the wise woman said last Friday I cannot sculpt myself.  My higher power's will for me is to become who I am...even if that is always becoming, multiple, shifting...it's who I am now...and now...and now.  The longer I try to control this, the longer I prolong my suffering.  But I can't force myself to let go of this process anymore than I can force anything else.  The paradox.

Time to allow for the exhaustion.  Time for stillness.

I may begin writing here a lot less.  I already am writing less.  I don't want to just churn out words for no reason.  Tonight though wanted to note this process...

Now, to rest...


  1. thank you Julia for this post. I liked it and it spoke to me and I agree rest and stillness ...... ah.......despite the turmoil. Best wishes

  2. No wonder you feel exhausted. Those moves alone, many of them born out of pain and not undertaken voluntarily, for something you actually wanted to do.

    Then (and this is the killer, IMO), no space to grieve for anything.

    I think I lot of people who have had far more stable childhoods, and who have not experienced depression, look at folk like us and often conclude that we are lazy. "Why can't X get motivated ?" etc. Actually we're not : we are simply exhausted.

    That Patti Smith documentary sounds great. i want to read some of her poetry now. Please don't beat yourself up about not creating anything out of this yet. . .You have created before because this is who you are. You will create again.

    I think your students are very fortunate to have someone as compassionate as you on the faculty.


  3. Thanks Isidora and Panther...sadly, I now have to move again after all before June, so best laid plans of mice and men and all that...but at least I know I didn't do it to myself, just the vagaries of being in a sublet.

    But speaking of exhaustion, now off to bed...have had too much teaching work to blog properly. Hope to catch up soon.

    Be well...