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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Surviving anniversaries and remembering the 70s-80s-90s

By my standards, this is a long time between blog posts.  I have survived a deeply weird week and kind of hellacious weekend of anniversaries.  Saturday was the 5th anniversary of my wedding and Sunday was the 5th anniversary of my miscarriage, both of course for the first time without my husband from whom I am separated and headed towards divorce.

The week before the fun-fest weekend was taken up with a mixture of grieving and dreading the weekend upcoming and filling out applications for teaching and a postdoc.  This was a strange way to spend a holiday week perhaps, but also necessary.  Sunday and Monday were spent grading many, many research papers and reading my acting students' journals.

I spent time seeing some friends and a show, a review of which I will add soon (The Storm by Blessed Unrest, which is definitely worth a look-in).  More later on that in next post as I think it's best to separate the reviews from the personal posts, mostly for the sake of the people being reviewed.

The thing I am most happy about, if happy is the right word given the circumstances, is that I did what I needed to do this week, talked to people to whom I need to talk, connected with myself and didn't bail on my emotions or my work.  I do wonder if perhaps I 'should' have spent the time doing something more like be on a yoga retreat or something, but then was reminded by friends: you know, whatever gets you through the night and if that includes applications for jobs (which you need - a teaching job that is), then so be it.  The only thing I can't do is take a drink or a drug...all the rest is gravy.

One of the people I spent time with, along with older friends, is one of the people who took my workshop, who is around the same age and going through the strange in-between time that I am.  I am beginning to think this may be a somewhat common thing for people my age and in particular my generation.  The one I have dubbed the who-the-fuck-are-you generation - not GenXers, not Baby Boomers... somewhere in the fulcrum...a transitional generation.

I was speaking with another person my age today who is a writer, I've mentioned him before here - he was a boyfriend in high school (only briefly, because I couldn't handle being with someone who actually liked me and was nice - you know the drill: zero self-esteem + being a girl = bad choices, etc.).  He, too, though happily married and doing well is also in a transitional place with his career - stuck in the eternal adjunct-ing world even with five - count them five - published novels.  But hey, why does that matter?  Luckily for him, his wife has been luckier in the academic world, but then apparently she feels somewhat suffocated by the amount of work of her full time teaching and how much time it takes from her writing (which is also published and very well-regarded).

Another friend of mine, also around my age, is a wildly successful director of a mental health facility - doing groundbreaking work, considered a national voice on the matter.  He wanted to be a writer originally and because he spends so much time at his job, he cannot spend the time he wants to writing.

I know many such stories.

There are of course a handful of people in my generation that I don't know that well, but are acquaintances, who are doing quite well in their chosen artistic paths.  I don't know how they feel inside, but of course it is possible to succeed on one's own terms as well.  However, the operative word there is 'handful' as in: not many.  Maybe it has always been thus, probably has...but there's something I sense about people in my generation and have for a long time...

In the same way that we are not identifiable as a generation per se and are not marketed to like at all (apparently we're just too tricky so the advertisers have given up on us - hooray for that), our voices as artists are not immediately recognizable either.  This is not, I hasten to add, necessarily a bad thing, but it makes it difficult for us in the short term (in artist-years 'short term' means: while we are alive or at least not until we are 80+).

There are many beautiful things I have seen written, created and made by people my age or thereabouts, so I do not despair for us, I'm just noting that on the whole we are not as visible as artists who are about 10 years older or younger than us.  In case you have not been following this blog, I'm 48 just to give you an idea of the age-group I am discussing (people about 45-50ish).

I fear this sounds too whiny, so I want to add that I also feel good about being my age, about what I have to offer from this vantage point and that I am glad I can see forward and backward a good ways.  I  was alive and politically aware before Reagan so remember a time when poor people were considered unfortunate and the inevitable cost of capitalism ergo helping poor people was considered a good idea versus from Reagan onward when poor people became somehow diseased, lazy, stupid or whatever - but something that made poverty the poor person's own personal failing and was therefore their fault and theirs alone to shoulder.

I'm glad I lived before that 'reality' became solidified here in the US...which so-called reality we have exported to the rest of the world (see in re: Euro-collapse 'austerity' plans, etc.) even to China of all places, which is sad-hilarious-kinda.

I was tweeting back and forth with a younger colleague in London who was watching 'If..." and telling him that we were shown that film at boarding school in the chapel at Choate Rosemary Hall (not a crunchy granola place, trust me on that) in 1979.  He was amazed that any school would show that film (which culminates in an armed insurrection of British boarding school students, FYI), never mind a high-school....I told him that even more than that my British drama teacher Mr. Symonds complained  that he was disappointed that we just watched and didn't riot afterwards as the boys had done in 1973 when they had shown it then.  (In 1973 CRH was Choate and a boy's school).

Can you even begin to imagine that happening now, like, anywhere?  Anywhere at all?  And that was only a little over 30 years ago.  By then we were considered the more conservative students (not quite Boomers we were the ones who would get 'graduated' out of school into Reagan's America and many people my age became Yuppies of course...though there were the hold-outs like me, who were not happy with The Plan...but we were a minority, it's true...the ones who you see milling around Occupy Wall Street gatherings with the greying hair and warily optimistic smiles).

I then watched the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, followed of course by the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe under that regime...All of this happening so quickly while I changed file codes at an international law firm to reflect the new countries that were popping up daily, while typing frantic letters to these countries in search of Trademark Attorneys to brand the Products of the New Capitalism.

Until we find ourselves here now, the frogs almost boiled to death in the slowly increasing heat - not quite dead of course, just so fucking scared and tired from being almost cooked, that we allow law after law get passed to deny us our basic First Amendment rights while more get passed ensuring fake Second Amendment Rights (a well ordered militia surely including concealed weapons) and denying women the right to control their own bodies (that according to conservatives is miraculously not government intrusion, which just beggars belief in terms of logic).

But worse than all that is the fact that the movie 'If..." could not be shown at a school, because it would be considered too controversial.  There is, along with everything else, this Wonder-breadization of thought, basic critical thought.  While we are given more and more and more products and strange stratifications of these products (how many kinds of nail polish remover does anyone need  for fucks' sake???), our thought process is being dumbed down to the most moronic level.  Add to that the ADD-inducing 'smart' phone (the one that makes you stupid), social-networking, video games and the like, who has time to even have a thought, never mind act on one.

I know there have been some heartening rebellions throughout the world recently, and long may they continue, but here in the Great Super Mall of America, I feel/see/sense again the Great Stagnation.  Even in Britain, where there is more critical thought as a whole, my colleague could not imagine the movie being shown at a school...and he teaches at university.

Pseudo-Health and safety being the operative term that comes to mind to name this state of affairs.  I am not talking here about sensible work safety rules, but the larger issue of cosseting ourselves and each other from anything uncomfortable ever.  It is a pervasive disease.

I feel grateful that when I was growing up this culture of the feather pillow everywhere had not yet taken hold, that for all the pain and weirdness I encountered, there was also a sense abroad in the land that you could handle things, as a young person especially - that ideas were not dangerous but exciting and good, that conflict was good.  I don't mean armed conflict or violence, I mean - gasp - conflict of ideas.  I remember huge arguments with classmates, in class, with teachers, between teachers, etc.  This was encouraged.  It was considered a good thing.

Now, it seems like there is an expectation that you go along to get along, that anyone challenging anyone's authority is a troublemaker instead of someone trying to stimulate thought and - dare I say it - debate.  Now, if you disagree with (or don't recognize) someone, you carry a concealed weapon, say you are Standing Your Ground and shoot them in 'self-defense'.  What is up with that?

No wonder there are so many random shootings.  Who are we to become - automatons with guns?  If so, what do you expect to come out of that?

Ah yes, this rant, this rant makes me know: I am home.  I am back in the US.  It reads like one of my plays.  Here I am, sitting at home, ready to rumble.  Somehow, I find that oddly comforting. 

But, I should also add, I am glad to be the age I am.  Glad to feel for the first time ever that I am OK as I am.  I know that sounds like the biggest cliche horse-shit line ever, but it's true and it's been a long time coming.  I can trust myself.  I am not clinging to anyone else for that knowledge, overtly or covertly.  I am in fact standing my ground, but not with a gun.  Just me.  Just standing here, breathing, taking up some space, and for once, for once not feeling like I have to apologize for that fact.

My cat has come to sit down next to me to remind me - I think - that I have been typing a long time and perhaps he, Ugo the Cat, deserves some love...so will take that cue to stop for now.

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