It was beautiful today so went apartment hunting, had to fill out another teaching application but in between walked to the water. The tide was going out so bay area turned into mudflats with rivulets. Birds walking and swimming, including seagulls, ducks, Canadian geese and a beautiful heron. There was a moment watching the water shimmer across the flats when a breeze made it looked like a translucent blanket of diamonds that was breathtaking. Then watching the millions of little ovals of light from the setting sun on one area...walking back from a point, each path of a bird in the water was lit, so there were lines darting out behind each white gull. There were at least 20 or so birds in the bay, so it made a pattern of indescribably beauty and asymmetry. In these moments, it's hard to believe anything ever bothers me...ever. Especially bullshit about status and accomplishments. When the heron spreads out to its full wingspan and it lands again on those impossibly thin legs, what is there to do precisely? What could possibly top that?
Once again, I recommit to staying up in this neighborhood, because it never fails to blow my mind as I'm waxing poetic about nature that I am standing at the top tip of Manhattan.
Another viewpoint that cannot be topped is standing beneath the Henry Hudson Bridge - seeing the perfect geometry of diamond-shaped squares receding behind one another.
I have taken photos of all of this but somehow enjoy the challenge right now of describing these sights.
The green of the leaves is lush, no tree is yet in full bloom but they are all ripe with green and yellow, dark and light, life bursting out of every corner of the park, the air smelling sweet and then when the tide goes out like a mud flat, but even that smell I like because it's natural, not toxic. However a rat running out from between the rocks and into the water reminded me once again of the city.
I brought another friend on the walk through the woods the other day, and the familiar response: I didn't know this was here. It doesn't even feel like a city. Look at that light. Oh my God it is so beautiful. Is that the Bronx? Yes. Is that New Jersey? Yes. This is what? Where the Harlem River and Hudson River meet. Then the apocryphal tale of the Native Americans 'selling' Manhattan at that stone right there...then the awe: wait these trees were here then? Yes. Why hasn't it been developed? I don't know but I am glad. In the case of this friend: it reminds me of my hometown in Germany, the trees and the smell...an old steel town where the Rhine meets the Ruhr (I think...can't remember the name but that's my best guess)...it's a place, this place, on the edge of meaning as well as place somehow. And the light...oh my God/dess, the light. You cannot believe it.
The conversation then turning to the vagaries of being on the edge of careers, artistic ideas, teaching jobs...the ways in which we think that does not fit into boxes and forms...wondering again if it is a generational thing. Perhaps this is why I am always happy on the edges of places...where land turns to water turns to mud turns to water turns into another river into another state under a bridge where the train whistles to another borough to another town...to another century if you turn around fast enough.
So, wish me luck with finding another apartment up here...was taken around earlier today by a real estate agent, which is always a weird experience, because you know you're being hustled and at a certain point they know you know, but they can't seem to stop themselves. So weird. Hope I can find something on my own through a management company or owner because I feel somehow just too old or whatever it is to play along. Today, the tired song of "if you like this place, you need to act now because someone could snap it up tomorrow" and me saying, with the superintendent present, yeah and then something else will open up, which made the super laugh and nod his head in agreement. No one can keep a straight face anymore. I mean, come on. I'm sitting there looking at a long list of vacant apartments and it's obvious the masses are not moving in on any of them. These are the benefits of getting older and - dare I say it - a little wiser. False urgency appears as what it is: false. Plus the hilarious-sad moment of me telling them - gringo that I am - I'm OK with living East of Broadway - gasp. All the real estate agents, and I mean ALL of them, assume I have to live West of Broadway. He even tried to scare me by leaving me out on the street by myself - which like didn't scare me. He was surprised when I was joking with people on the street. The racism here is just unfuckingbelievable. Even when I said: yeah, I know what East of Broadway looks like, I walk to Bronx Community College (through the dreaded East of Broadway), he still didn't believe me.
Oh and speaking of racism, it turns out one of my students, as I suspected at least one of them would, knew the 18 year old boy who was shot dead in the Bronx by a policeman a couple months ago. Not on the street, in this boy's own bathroom. He was unarmed and the police chased him into his own house because they suspected he might have pot. Which he may have had and may have been trying to flush down the toilet. So now he's dead, feloniously black in the Bronx. The weirdest thing about it is how little uproar there has been. There should be riots, instead there is just despair and a few marches here and there. She is going to speak about police brutality, this student, for her oral presentation. I look forward to it. I had to stop myself from crying when she told me the story. When I saw the news report, I did cry. I saw the photo of the young man and knew he could have been one of my students. To put this in perspective: just imagine if this had been a middle-class or rich white college student who had been chased into his dorm room by cops and shot to death. You can't even imagine that can you? Right, so there you go.
So, like, of course I would love to live west of Broadway to be next to the water and park with a view, who wouldn't? But this is not about that.
The teaching application I sent out today was to teach full time at BCC. If I got that job, I could probably afford to live where I want. But who knows where I will end up in the autumn? I certainly don't.
Just hope wherever it is can be as drop dead gorgeous as corners of Inwood and that I will be able to experience another year as close to the changing seasons...and also the edge of reason, which is the poverty and inequality. Not because I enjoy it, because I do not, but as a reminder always, that the human construction: global capitalism + nationalism + racism kinda sucks.
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. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.
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 having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.
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.