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.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perfect days in NYC: discovered String Orchestra of Brooklyn & an apartment

Have had some lovely days here in town and today the heat broke, so was particularly lovely.  Went to my friend Eva and Stu's son's first birthday party in Prospect Park, which was lots of fun.  Saw friends I haven't seen in ages and gave my well-received present of clothing that I had been particularly pleased with finding (hipster orange plaid shirt with orange cargo pants - tres Brooklyn).

Then I went to Fort Greene Park to have the revelatory experience of seeing the String Orchestra of Brooklyn (hilarious acronym: SOB) perform Beethoven's 5th Symphony, outside and for free.  It was the least yuppie classical music situation I have ever had the pleasure to experience.  And they were Good!  I know they are technically amateur musicians, etc., but this was a special performance.

I was joined there by my new friend Nina and her friend Koren, who is now quickly becoming another friend.  We had a blast.  The sky was perfect blue, sun setting, a cool breeze, beautiful music played with heart and what more could you want?  Afterward we decided to take pictures of each other, which started because Nina needed a new photo for her Linkedin page, but as she is a professional photographer, she then took photos of me and Koren.  I took some photos of that interchange and the orchestra, which are below.

The beauty of the time with Nina and Koren was we all - 40-something single women - somehow managed to access our inner 12 year olds.  So great.  I don't think I've laughed like that in ages, just giggliness.  No drugs or alcohol involved, just a great day, great music, serendipitous moments and admitting to instantaneous crushes on various members of the orchestra and/or noticing how a trombonist was crushed out on a French horn player (I'll never tell who said what to whom).  I was transported back to my days in Band...learning clarinet (I still have my clarinet!) and playing - not incredibly well - until I was about 16.  Band was in middle school and then quartets and such a little later.  When in Band at Middle School I had a crush on the 1st Clarinetist whose name was Robert I think.  I wanted to be the 1st clarinetist as well but mostly stayed 2nd.  I also remember marching in a dismal rainy Memorial Day parade in Waterford, Connecticut or maybe New London, with music attached to a mini-music stand clipped onto my clarinet...I was about 9?  Ah memories of geekiness...endless, it's just endless...

But here are some photos from the lovely day:

Nina taking Koren's photo after the concert.

we were right next to orchestra -
gentleman in orange jacket was sideline conducting
 - smiling arms waving, lovely
just so you can see the crowd - this was when orchestra was playing with younger students

Beethoven's 5th - SOB Brooklyn style - Fort Greene Park (it used to be dangerous...)


July 15: Woody Guthrie's family celebrating his 100th in Central Park
(because I forgot to post about that...)

Yesterday was a banner day, too, because I was offered the apartment I wanted up here in Inwood, so I can stay in my beloved new hood.  I am so delighted that soon I won't be subletting and will be able to have my own furniture and my own rent-stabilized lease (if you are not from NYC, what this means is: the increase on your rent is regulated each year by the city, so you can't get gouged if neighborhood suddenly becomes popular, etc...in other words it's a guarantee if you can pay the rent when you get it, you can pay it as the years go by...).  I lost my last rent-stabilized lease back in 2006 because I was in London.  I do not plan to make the same mistake twice.

The apartment is on the 5th floor of a walk-up so I'll never have to join a gym but it is a real one-bedroom, which I so wanted and there is a real kitchen with counter space and new appliances.  All this for less rent than I'm paying now.

This is because I am moving (drum roll please) East of Broadway.  I wrote a long post about the idiocy of the West/East Broadway divide a couple months ago so will not repeat it, other than to say because I am not freaked out by living "East of Broadway" my rent is going down and my space is expanding considerably.  I'll take the trade.


Friday, July 13, 2012

For the record: I'm writing & RIP Lol Coxhill (1932-2012)

I'm kind of silent on the blog because I'm actually writing my grandmother book every day now.  Not lots of time because I have a seemingly endless stream of crap to deal with at the same time: money stuff, housing stuff, etc.  I have a move coming up on September 1 and still trying to figure out where that will lead me.

Had a lovely evening having a total 80s flashback by listening to George Clinton and his Funkadelics on the river at Battery Park City.  Beautiful night, meeting my new friend Nina's friends.  Very nice.  Also struck by how many couples there were like everywhere and feeling pretty lonely in that regard.  Well, let me rephrase that: very lonely in that regard.  It's been a year since B and I split and I've been really good about not getting involved with anyone during that time because I knew I needed the time.

Not sure if I should be anywhere near anyone even still and I am enjoying my friends and the freedom of singledom...but sometimes, well, I wonder...will I lose touch entirely with this side of me?  I guess time will tell.  It's not like anyone is in hot pursuit, believe me.  I'm probably sending off death rays anyway.  I don't think I even remember how to flirt.  But then again I never really did flirt.  Oh the whole thing is dire.

I think I'll stick with the book and my cat for now.

On another note, a wonderful musician named Lol Coxhill died this week.  He played the wildest free jazz on his soprano sax you could ever imagine.  I met him in London at my friend Sarah's 40th birthday party.  I was feeling particularly blue - comparing and despairing, feeling like a failure, wondering why my work wasn't as successful as some other people's and why did I have to be such an experimental whack job etc., etc. when Lol began to play.  The piercing yet gorgeous sounds he made hit some part of my soul, or was it simply my body or was it the ever-elusive body without organs Artaud was on about...no matter - away went the despair and in went these sounds.  I was brought from despair to the sweetest kind of joy - the joy of recognition of some kind of music - not a melody, not something you can hum and indeed nothing you've ever even heard before but you know it.  I was not alone.

I pretty much ran up to him after he played, and happily for me Sarah introduced us without telling me until after the fact that he was a legend.  So I got to talk with him artist to artist without feeling like an ass.  My favorite thing he said when we were talking about the relation of our work to the 'normal' (his to melody, mine to narrative drama) "I can play everything you know, all the traditional jazz stuff, but I don't want to."  I laughed and said "Yes, I know.  I'm the same way."  I hoped from that conversation onward that we'd have a chance to play together someday.

He was even beginning to falter physically back then, I think it was 2005, but he would go anywhere to play with people he liked or solo.  I had the great, good fortune of working with him on a piece of mine in 2008, a solo piece I was creating for a crazy show on a bus in Colchester as part of a project called Rules & Regs wherein artists are invited to created work in a month using given rules as parameters.  Somehow I ended up making weird guttural sounds and wearing a Clint Eastwood mask after trying to levitate an old London red Routemaster bus...as you do.  And for some reason, I thought, right: Lol.  He'd be perfect for this, and he was and he got it.  He kept asking me who I gigged with and if I had any records.  I hadn't even performed anything in years and had never done anything remotely like this in my life, so was overwhelmed by his compliments.  But that was Lol, always crazy generous, loving anyone or anything that took things to the edge, walked over the cliff, jumped and let the universe pick us up.  During the intervals before and after performances he had a tendency to wander off and I would go find him.  He was listening to his own music...sometimes voluntarily and by then not so voluntarily.  But no matter what his state, his music was perfect and he, too, wore a Clint Eastwood mask and was delighted to be involved.

This is a man who was asked by Jimi Hendrix to play with him back in the day and right to the end showed up for the monthly London Improviser's Orchestra shows at Cafe Oto.  He was a complicated guy and I don't know the ins and outs of his relationship with lots of people but to me he will always be a super-hero and I only hope he and my stepfather Tom hook up wherever they are to unite in mischief, joy and creative havoc wherever they are.  Another wonderful soul I am grateful to have met and as Sarah says his existence was/is a wonder.

Here's a picture of Lol and one of me doing 'You're Dead' as part of Rules & Regs in Colchester 2008. Pics were taken by Seth Kriebel:

me wanting to be Clint in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - in UK

Lol Coxhill: jazz superhero (1932-2012)



Monday, July 9, 2012

Back home to: loss, heat, writing, Wimbledon

I'm back in NYC, have been for a few days.  Not writing here because it's basically just a time of grieving, getting some basic stuff sorted out and doing some writing when I can.  Came back to a heat wave so it's hard to be very productive.

I am happy when I can focus for brief stretches on the grandmothers book.   Also nice to see friends and such.  However, it's just the slog of loss right now more than anything else.  That and looking for another place to live as of September.

Sometimes loss just leaves silence in its wake and this is one of those times.

The only thing I've been able to say that seemed to make sense to anyone recently is this: life is fragile and love is strong.

I feel quite alone in many ways right now in terms of not "being with" anyone, it's been over a year now.  Realized that the same day I went up to Maine to see Tom in ICU was the same day last year my husband suggested we separate.  Raw, cold times.

The love that is strong is something else.  Something between certain people, something in certain groups even...a connection.  That rare thing.

Am I capable of this in an intimate relationship?  I don't know.  I seem to be able to connect as a friend and with some family.

I am lucky in that I have some most excellent friends, some of whom I've known for 30 years or more and some very close family.  So I'm not trying to bring in the violin section.

I just hope someday I can find a way to have a partner in a true partnership.  Don't have the best track record, let's face it....so, barring that, at least I hope I finish this goddamn book.  Until I do, I'm not sure my life is my own.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure my life is my own period (Brits: full stop).

Oh and on a lighter note, I loved watching Murray play his match at Wimbledon against Federer.  He lost but he lost with heart and played each point like it was the last and the first at the same time, even when the tide turned on him.  That was an amazing amount of presence.  Federer is just some kind of space alien sent down to earth to play tennis.  But Murray, how can you not love that guy now?  A real human being.  Lovely.  I was another one who cried when he gave his speech at the end.  I felt like an idiot but I cried.

My lovely cat is sitting beside me being insanely cute.  I am now officially a cliche.

Good night.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Peace on a New Hampshire lake on Independence Day

I've been blessed these past few days with some gorgeousity...right now writing from the deck of my friend Marietta's place in New Hampshire, right on a lake - hearing the gentle lapping of the water, smelling the pine trees.  Amazing.  I think of myself as an ocean person, but a dock you can just walk off and swim in bath warm water that is super clean is great and soothing.

A couple days ago I went with my cousin Darcy to Peaks Island.  I brought her to the cottage where I spent childhood summers and the rocks below where I spent many hours.  It was a drop dead gorgeous day.  She, like me, loves sitting still and that is what we did, just looking out at the view, and lying on the rocks...for well over an hour.

Darcy feeling it on the rocks...

view of Pumpkin Nob and Long Island (Maine) from the rocks

view of the cottage from the rocks - I slept on sunporch...imagine!

Darcy on the ferry from Portland - pretty rock-n-roll, I think.


When we approached the cottage a rare crow made an appearance, which I think may have been Tom, since his bird was the crow.

The times I have been at the cottage in the more recent past have been with people who found it hard to sit still and so I did, too.  Was so lovely to be with someone who could absorb it in the same way I do, simply because we are temperamentally suited to such things.

With Marietta up here it is much the same.  She, like Darcy, does not need lots of stimulation or To Do stuff.  We write, sit, talk, whatever.

This morning, I woke up and went down to the dock to meditate, then when I was done, Marietta was getting up.  I went for a swim and then we had breakfast.  We talked for a while, then she went to take a nap and I went down to the dock to write in my journal.  Life's tough.  I hope you feel sorry for me.

I thought there was no WIFI but found some so now writing here.  Last night, though, I did not have internet access so began writing the grandmother book again in the still stillness of midnight by the lake (well, earlier there had been fireworks - day before Independence Day - which it is today...and the fact Mitt Romney is here in this town I am trying to ignore...and because we are on a separate lake than him, we can...happily, we skipped the parade, which would probably have meant getting frisked by Secret Service or something...eww.)

Going back to Maine later today to have dinner with my mother at a great lobster place on the water, and tomorrow back to steamy NYC.

Ever since the Memorial Service for Tom I've felt quite peaceful.  I feel again like I did after he died, which is that his spirit is quite near and even inside me.  This is how I felt after my grandmother Jani died.  It's very specific.

I don't know if this feeling will remain with me in NYC or not.  Sometimes this feeling of such peace and stillness can feel pretty remote there.  While I feel at home and even in some ways peaceful in the city, there is something about the woods and the water in remote New England towns and islands that is its own thing that is hard to replace.

The Memorial Service was lovely by the way.  Sweet and sad and funny.  Songs were sung, the weather was beautiful, the river visible, the room full to bursting with people who loved Tom.  Children and grandchildren spoke, We Shall Overcome was sung in honor of when Tom and a group of black and white people sung it together in apartheid South Africa...that was the song I could barely make it through I was crying so hard...it came right after what I said (last post) so that added to it.

But a sense of something special having happened and all of it so heartfelt.

Now to enjoy my last hour in this peaceful spot....and I have made you all a video so you can see it:








Sunday, July 1, 2012

Memorial for Tom

Tom's memorial service today at the Maritime Museum was very beautiful.  I will write about it all more at a later date but this was my contribution (said through many tears and with a few asides):


How is it even possible to sum up 33 years of life with a person?  It isn’t.  This is the merest sketch of a relationship so profound, so entirely unexpected and serendipitous it defies easy description.

When I first met Tom, I was 16 and my mother had just told me in a ride home from boarding school that they were getting married.  This came as a bit of a shock and not one that pleased me.  So, for a good few years, Tom had a surly, know it all teenager with low self-esteem on his hands, which is not pretty.

The miracle is that he didn’t abandon me no matter how hard I tried to push him away (mostly through a campaign of passive resistance in the form of The Eternal Sulk).  Nor, crucially, did he put up with all my b.s.

In other words, he modeled something of which I had little experience: boundaries.  I did not respond well at first.  But eventually he won me over through sheer relentless generosity and goodwill.

I cannot list all of his generous acts without taking up the rest of the service, but one moment stands out because it seems so ‘Tom’ as I knew him and also marks the time when I began to trust him.

At a particularly low emotional ebb at college after directing a particularly grueling show, and after having applied for then rejected the opportunity out of fear of going to study art in Italy, Tom and my mother took me out to brunch.  Out of nowhere, Tom said: So, do you want to go to Florence after all?  And I said, surprised by my own answer, Yes!  My mother attempted to interject with some practical concerns but Tom said, “No, it’s OK, we can handle it.  She should go.” 

I did go and that year changed my life in many ways.  I had never left the U.S. before and was able to travel throughout Europe, learn photography and experience a whole new world, which was something of course that Tom was passionate about doing himself.

While I had had achievements before I met Tom, in many ways my world was very small.  His presence in my life expanded it in so many ways, I cannot conceive of where I would be now without him.

I will fast forward to the recent past for time’s sake.  When I finished my PhD in 2009 on how theatre can be an act of philosophy, he and my mother both read it – a miracle in and of itself.  But Tom went even a step further and read the philosophers cited in my thesis in order not only to understand my work more but also to allow these ideas to affect his own already considerable spiritual/philosophical journey.

And of all the places we met, this in adulthood was probably the most profound.  As anyone who knows Tom knows, this was one of his most special gifts, the ability to hear, listen and really see you.  Even if there were conflicts initially – and we did have conflicts – that was not the end of the conversation.  He would make the extra effort to understand before judging.


On every level, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, this was deeply important.  It’s such a rare gift to have anyone in your life ever that you feel really gets you and it’s even more rare for that person to be a step-parent.

And of course emotionally the most important role he played in my life was as a father.  While I spent many years resenting this, in the end I loved him for it.  I had so wanted my own father to play this role, but he simply could not.  Somewhere along the road to accepting this, I accepted Tom.  Had he ever abandoned me along the way, I don’t think that would have ever happened.

I am so honored that I was there when Tom died and was in the room to feel the waves and waves of loving energy come towards me from the foot of his bed, so strong it almost moved me backwards.  But I am so sad I could not tell him when he was still conscious how much I loved him back.

But because some part of me believes he is here with us now, I will say here: I love you, Tom.  I know you are with me in my heart even as I rail against your absence from your chair in the study.

No one else would try to read French post-structuralists and buy me a stuffed lion named Harold to greet me in my bedroom after my second marriage began to unravel.  No one can ever replace you.

But go well. 

I know only this and that is that you are free.  This knowledge gives me great comfort and joy as you did in life and do even now.  You are off the wheel of suffering because you did the hardest thing of all: you lived a good life as a real human being.

Thank you for showing us how it’s done and thank you to the Universe for the great good fortune of you.