It's been a week since I last wrote, probably the longest break I've taken from this blog. I needed it. Had to apply to a bunch of places for teaching work - which seemingly endless task will continue this week. I had a realization: I need a job, as in a full-time job, as in not adjuncting, not just freelancing - a real job, teaching preferably so the PhD doesn't have to seem entirely meaningless, on which status it now flutters. I also would like to not be continually plagued with money anxiety. I feel a bit like I'm giving in to something, put perhaps at 48, it's just adulthood. I've given permanent adolescence a long run. Wouldn't trade it. But right now, would like a break in the action so I can catch my breath, have some health insurance and maybe afford a decent apartment. Crazy talk, I know.
So, what's the good news? I'm teaching my Cutting It Up workshop on Saturday at The Brecht Forum and so far a good sized group has signed up for it, including folks coming in from Washington D.C., Boston and Philadelphia. This kind of blows my mind. People are making a trip into NYC to take my workshop. Perhaps it's because it coincides with Easter, Passover and Spring break, but for whatever reason, I'm delighted...especially since we thought the group would be really small because Passover and Easter coincide this year. Oddly enough the first day of Passover is on Good Friday, which just seems like some sort of existential joke between the Old and New Testament God/s or something...Kierkegaard would get a laugh out of it anyway. Can't speak for the Jewish scholars simply because it's not my patch. Anyone want to comment on that, please feel free.
Was asked by the extraordinarily supportive Martin Denton to do a guest blog post on Indie Theater . This is about the workshop and how this work relates to my writing. If you're interested, you can link to it here. That probably helped bump up the numbers for the workshop. Speaking of which, if you're interested in the workshop itself, come on by on Saturday or if you can't make it April 7, come on by May 12. Would be lovely to meet you!
It is now also - praise Jesus Allah Buddha Mohammed Vishnu Kali and Whomever Else Desires Praise - spring break this week. I am beyond exhausted, so am grateful for this.
However, I have enjoyed teaching this week. My acting class, as always is a joy, but a surprise was my interpersonal communications class - when two different students today handing in their research papers said - and I quote - "Thanks for this assignment, I really enjoyed doing this work." Please re-read that. Please understand where I teach and feel the miracle. I almost cried.
After months of grading short essays, driving the students insane by requiring writing (not to mention driving myself insane by needing to mark all these essays - in homework, on tests, etc.), there was this unsolicited response. I was floored, in a good way. Just when you start thinking: what's the point? Why do I do this much work? No one cares. No one even seems to be listening in class. I wonder if perhaps I may be the most boring teacher on earth, etc., this happens and it seems, at least for one afternoon, all worthwhile.
Beyond that, I feel I am beginning to find my footing in these unfamiliar classes, beginning to allow whatever passes for the 'real me' into the classroom. Last autumn I was so scared that while I was present, I felt like a cardboard cut out of a teacher - someone following rules others had laid down and hoping no one would find out that I was only 2 pages ahead (which last autumn I was - not that I lied to anyone who hired me - they knew that - so at least I didn't have to worry about the administration - I just felt for the students).
I love teaching my own work so much, however, that this Saturday just seems like a 6 hour play date to me, not like work at all. That is an amazing feeling.
But I also feel that this dragging students along into maybe actually, for a moment, enjoying writing has value, too, even if that work is much more taxing and definitely feels Like Work.
The other good news if you want to call it that is that I really Felt this past week that the grieving, sitting through all the emotions surrounding, the separating from B and our impending divorce is like detoxing from alcohol and drugs. In other words, the marriage was a state of being, one that was clearly getting increasingly toxic and so to move away from it is going to feel as disorienting as getting sober. That process can take years and I believe this process will also take years. I don't know when I will be ready to get involved with another person, because I really, really, really need to find a way to believe in myself as OK - by myself. I don't mean by that that I don't want to be with someone else again, because that's not true. I simply mean that I want to go into any new relationship as a whole person.
I am a whole person, that's not the problem - it's my perception of myself as Not a whole person that is the problem. The part of myself that feels I need to Perform in all ways to deserve to draw breath on this planet and certainly in order to be with another person. This is gut wrenching work and means going through what I am increasingly seeing as emotional DTs - wherein strange hallucinations appear and there be dragons. Of course there not be dragons. The dragons are dream figures. I know that once I can see them that way, but in moments they seem quite distressingly real.
A few days ago I called and regaled my mother for about an hour with said dragons, which she did a brilliant job of helping me see as shadows - not by haranguing me or saying "hey, those are dragons, you fool!" but by listening and helping me see this myself. I have good friends who help me this way, too, and for whom I do the same. Without these friends and family, I know this journey would be impossible.
These people who love me, one of whom also includes my cousin Darcy who I finally got to speak with last week, keep me sane and let me know there is love and allow me, in moments, to feel loveable, when I'm about to throw in the towel on myself. I don't mean by that I am suicidal by the way, because I'm not. It just means a kind of giving up that would mean not physical death but living life in a husk-like way, skating on a surface of wafer-thin ice...therefore always afraid of really skating, hovering at the edge of the pond, clinging to branches of trees, hoping not to fall into the ice-cold water...mixing metaphors and never really resolving them kind of like this sentence...OK, forgive me. You get the idea. I'm too tired to mop that one up.
In fact, I'm too tired to keep writing. But did want to post something. I will eventually post some lovely spring photos from Central Park but too tired to upload those right now, too...
Oh speaking of which, my sublet is coming to an end on June 1, so I'm looking for a place to live - in case any of you out there are in NYC and know me - just a heads up on that. Was hoping to stay here this summer and not have to move again but them's the breaks with subletting.
Have cat, will travel...somewhere within NYC...that is affordable. Wish me luck.
I close out this post listening to a chance-operations version of Handel by Gavin Breyers (sp?) thanks to Jonathan Schaffer's 'New Sounds' on WNYC, which was preceded by a piece by Alvin Lucier that used dolphin sonar locators. Sometimes life is just so good.
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.