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.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

First night at new apartment

So I'm here and Ugo's here and we're surrounded by boxes and - well - chaos.  I am afraid my new duvet cover clashes with the sofa and then think: oh how silly to think you can have a separate office while combining and bedroom and living room and then think: you are not becoming Martha Stewart, you are Martha Stewart's idiot cousin.

This before I have unpacked mind you.

Meanwhile, Ikea seems willing to make good for some of their errant ways.  We'll see.  If they do, I will tell you, because it's only fair to tell the good stories as well as the bad.  And the fact is the furniture, now that it is assembled, is working beautifully and I could not have afforded it otherwise.  The bed seems comfy.  Will know more after sleeping on it.

What I have done that makes me feel more at home is: put away some pots and pans, made tea in my new kettle (on the stove kind - Brits: it's hard to find the electric kettles you have when in NYC, alas) and am playing with my cat.  At first he just hid behind the boxes, a sentiment to which I could relate.  I just felt I was supposed to be more 'adult.'  Now he's following me around.  He's only lived in a studio so the amount of rooms confuses him.

My desk is covered in stuff so I'm typing on the dining room table.  My study, the much vaunted study, is now a mound of boxes awaiting organization.  As of now, the most organiz-y thing I've done is put my underwear in the dresser drawer and made my bed (with clashing duvet cover - horrors).

I also realize I don't have any music source.  Not really sure what to do about that anymore because music seems to come from mysterious sources and I don't own an iPod.  I do have my trusty transistor radio so can listen to WNYC, and my computer can play music but somehow the speakers I bought for it back in London got lost in the shuffle.

So much more stuff I need to find/acquire.

But now, really...to sleep.  But first a shout out to my friend Nathan who hauled the last boxes of my stuff up the (4 flights of) stairs with me.  Not bad for two people breathing down the gun of 50.

OK, but now, yes, to bed...where I will probably just cry.  I did that earlier today when packing my old place.  This feeling everything business is kind of crazy.  I sometimes am nostalgic for the dissociating days when I could just go numb and then act like a lunatic weeks later to some innocent someone or find a way to implode.  Ah the good old days....

Sleep....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Last night in my sublet...and how I turned from radical artist/writer into Martha Stewart

So, I don't know how this happened, but I have boxed myself into moving tomorrow.  All of my stuff save a few things are in my new place, including furniture from Ikea, Housing Works (A NYC-based thrift store (Brits: charity shop) that focuses on helping homeless people with AIDS - they have amazing stuff donated and I got a gorgeous desk and sofa from them - just amazing - hint to NYC folks: the East 77th Street store is the best one - donations are kind of incredible) and the generous folks that make up Freecycle (the virtual version of leaving stuff out on the curb - if you don't know about it, check it out - it exists in London and NYC and all over)...plus an embarrassing amount of Stuff (pots, pans, pillows, sheets, kitchen stuff, bathroom towels, shower curtain, bath mat and Whatnot) from Home Goods, a discount place that carries mostly designer stuff but on deep discount.  Home Goods is like crack when you have to furnish a place from scratch and don't want everything to look like it came from the local Dollar Store (which by the way is furnishing the whole rest of my house with excellent and dirt cheap stoneware and kitchen/bathroom/trash can/dish rack, ladder, etc...stuff)

The other major contributor to my new place are the folks at Home Depot...air conditioners, bamboo blinds, curtains and lamps...to be delivered tomorrow...

The furniture all arrived (thank you...Finally...Ikea) and assembled, some by friends and me and other stuff with drawers by two nice men from a place aptly called StressLess...a good deal New Yorkers if you look at your Ikea needs-to-be-assembled-bed-with-drawers and it makes you cry...call on Alex at StressLess and let him send you his helpful young men.

As you can see from the above, I have devolved into the land of Thrifty Martha Stewart...Thrifty in that I am doing this for bargain basement prices but Martha Stewart because I am choosing each and every item that gets into my new place and most of it, aside from the amazing rocking chair from Freecycle, is something I've needed to buy.

But what I wanted to say tonight is: I am spending my last night in the sublet that I have called home since October 1, 2011 and that seems weird.  The reason there needs to be a firm date is that my cat is involved.  When he moves, I move and tomorrow is the day my friend Nathan can help me move my more delicate stuff, which includes Ugo the Cat and of course, well, me.  I can't keep wiffle waffling back and forth between the two place.

My desk is still set up here.  I spent all afternoon wandering around Hunter figuring out what had happened to my appointment certification so I can get paid once I start teaching next week, getting my syllabus printed out and envying those who have full time teaching gigs so they get paid for all that time.

On the other hand, I don't need to go to staff meetings, so there is that.

Also, once I am finally set up, and my study is up and running, I am going to have the Precious Time I need/want to write.  Also SPACE.  I devoted a whole room to be my study and made the other room a combo bed-living room.  All of my books will be on one wall, desk (gorgeous Norwegian mid-century) on another and a plywood/filing cabinet (Freecycle/friend donation) combo as another work surface.  A great chair and the aforementioned rocking chair.  Oh and a drawer system (thanks Ikea) for all my research materials.  So now if I don't finish the book, I'm just an asshole.

So, of course, now I am fucking terrified...of moving, of writing, of having what I want, think I want, do I want it?  What the fuck....?!  Etc.

I fully expect to be sitting among all the unpacked boxes in the office crying my eyes out tomorrow night and assuming I've made a terrible, terrible mistake.

Which is why it's cool that the day after that I have a meeting to go to with lots of folks like me who come from similar backgrounds and can talk of such things and get the love and support I really, really need right now...not to mention the Courage to just walk through this.

Now, many of you don't know this, but most of the comments left on my blog at times like this, signed in cryptic ways were from my stepfather, Tom.  The one who died in June.  At times like this I feel his loss so acutely.  This is the moment he would smile or say something encouraging and tell me I wasn't a fruitcake for trusting myself and my sense of a Higher Power (I hate that word but all the words are so loaded...maybe I will steal another friend's word for this, which is simply: Grace).  And I can trust the feeling I am being held, taken care of and will be OK.

Of course I see him and hear him anyway, Tom that is, and in some ways even more so now, kind of like when my grandmother Jani died back in 1980...which is right around the time Tom came into our lives.  These are powerful times when a beloved person dies, sacred times...listening to the divining rods as much as possible...sometimes well and other times, not so sure.

Not sure of much of anything anymore, a symptom of ageing I suppose...maturity?  Maybe or just getting the crap beaten out of you by life and realizing: oh, duh, it's not My Show...something like that.

So, goodbye sublet, you have served me well...and it's now time to take ownership of my big, beautiful, sunny one bedroom that is on the 5th floor of a walk up so I never have to join a gym, like, ever.

Wish Ugo the Cat and me luck, I'm scared shitless....like usual.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Nightmare that is Ikea & the Surprising Joy of some FringeNYC shows

So, remember my last post about going to Ikea back on - oh August 6?  Well, guess what.  I still haven't received all the items I bought.  It has been a logistical nightmare.  There is a lovely customer service woman named Michelle who is doing her best, but the fact remains: I still don't have all my stuff.  There's a bunch of un-assembled furniture in boxes in my new place and I regret very much having shopped there at the moment.  I have so far not freaked out on anyone, which is a miracle, especially since their contracted movers (Urban Express: BEWARE) forged my signature on a document saying everything had been delivered, which it had not.  Michelle, the customer service lady, checked the signature against one that was definitely mine and discovered the discrepancy.  But that whole episode was just the beginning.

I am very glad I have a month to move in because I am needing it.  Also, my Verizon router went back to the warehouse because they had the address wrong.  I'm hoping it returns in time for my install date.

Sigh.

On the other hand, I went to see six FringeNYC shows in order to review them for nytheatre.com.  You can find the reviews there, but if you're still deciding what to see: go see Wake Up! - an amazing show created by a multiracial cast of young men about race now - as funny as it is sad, dangerous, uncomfortable and kind of brilliant and Flipside - a devised piece about the drug war now and in the past - incredible, mature piece using lots of Boal and Brechtian theater techniques - well.  A good but imperfect show is Bumbershoot.  If you go to nytheatre.com and enter those titles, you will see my reviews.  The others I reviewed are Girl's Liberation Front (good show for young people, especially girls - imperfect but a couple stand-out performances and new female writers), We've Been Here Before (dance which made me feel we had indeed been here before) and Pare, which weirdly romanticizes domestic violence and made me feel like I'd been transported to the bad old days of the 1950s or was stuck talking to a friend for an hour about her physically abusive boyfriend that she just can't leave because she loves him so much and he doesn't mean it, he's just had a rough childhood.  Yikes.

On a happy note, I left my wallet in the restroom at Bus Stop Cafe in the West Village before the aforementioned show, realized it was missing only a couple hours later consequently, ran back close to hysterical to see the waitress waving at me and smiling saying "We wondered where you were and hoped you'd come back to get your wallet!"  I tried to give her money as thanks, but she refused it.  So, please, if you are in the West Village, go eat at Bus Stop Cafe.  The food's good, too!  And they've got the most honest staff around.

I am now taking the night off from moving stuff.  And everything else.

Here's some photos that show some of what I love about this city (Ikea not included and in fact the Ikea I have been dealing with is in New Jersey, so we can't hate NYC for that...).

What I love below is the light and the multiple ages and layers of architecture...in the middle is Inwood: black-eyed Susans...


Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm moving and that's eaten my life...almost

There's been such a long break in blog posts because the last one was about getting a new apartment, and this whole month is about moving into it - from a furnished studio to an unfurnished one-bedroom (happily in my beloved Inwood).  This means I need to decide on Everything on my own from flatware to a bed, wireless service provider to window blinds, how to ask for what and when from the super, what kind of towels to buy, dishes, desk, sofa, table, to TV or not to TV...etc.  And when to do what.

I am doing it and the experience is alternatively thrilling and overwhelming.  I've never had to do this on my own before, not from absolutely nothing.  Sometimes walking through stores I see what I want, sometimes I feel terribly lonely and sometimes it's both.

Before all of this, I had an amazing experience at a weekend Zendo retreat in combination with another spiritual practice, on a mountain in the Catskills.  Zen, if you don't know (I didn't) is Hardcore.  It's like the bootcamp of Buddhism...or perhaps more accessibly: the severe Protestant side of Christianity.  Tibetan Buddhists being like say the Catholics on the other part of the spectrum.  If I had known what it was before I went (for some reason I just said yes - which is not like me, but I knew I needed a break), I probably would not have gone.

However, having gone through the experience and followed all my responses, I am glad I did it, even if I don't agree with all their tenets.  It's a great experience to allow oneself to immerse in something foreign and then come out of it and feel the results, which were quite marked in terms of greater calm and a heart opening.  This came as a surprise to me, because I was silently growling at a lot of the practices (like highly regimented eating practices, too complex to summarize here).  However, because my other practice allows grousing about whatever, in those contexts I grumbled loudly after each experience, especially chanting stuff I didn't know what it meant, and because that was possible, the whole experience was possible.

The other interesting event was that a yoga teacher could not make it and I volunteered to step in and teach two one-hour yoga classes.  I'm not technically a yoga teacher (and told everyone this) but I've studied it for many years.  Using the basics of Kripalu yoga and some other things I've learned along the way, I led two classes that went very well.  I was moved at people's responses and it made me wonder: hmm, is there something in this, too?  Not sure what to do with that information now, but it's good to know.

Meanwhile, I am seeking teaching work when all I  want to do is to sit down and write, but that's on hold until the move is over.

Sadly, I don't have a desk/work surface yet.  Thought I did but I don't.  I know what I want but haven't found it yet...here's hoping.

The window security gate went in today.  Was surprised it wasn't there already, but it wasn't, so I bought one and had it installed.  This being Inwood and everyone knowing everyone else in my new hood ("East of Broadway" aka "The Dominican Republic"), this took all of about 3 hours from thought to completion.  I have realized something important (and blindingly obvious): if I am to live where I am moving with even a tiny bit of neighborly success, I need to learn Spanish.  I think I am the only person in the building who does not speak Spanish and many residents speak no English.  However, they seem quite nice so I want to communicate.

I also love that folks - whole families - ranging in age from children to older people - congregate outside on the sidewalk in their lawn chairs and shoot the shit.  Old men sit around a card table and play ritual dominoes.  Younger men hover and watch them.  It feels Very safe.  And like I wish I could speak Spanish so I could communicate better than smiling inanely as I bring another thing up to my new place inside their building.

Waiting patiently and then impatiently for a few details to get sorted like the brand new stove to get turned on, but because I have the luxury of setting up the place about two blocks from where I am now, it's not urgent yet.

The next Big Thing is the Ikea delivery tomorrow (which follows the Ikea Heart of Darkness in Paramus, NJ experience - shared stoically with my new neighbor and friend Russell who stayed in remarkably good humor considering).  Imagine if you will spending 9 hours in Ikea trying to decide what and what not to get for an Entire apartment (I did not, for the record, succeed, though I got probably 2/3 of what's needed in terms of big stuff).  The whole place is set up to make you want to buy too many things and wonder only after you've paid for it and the delivery, etc.: how on Earth am I going to assemble all that crap?  Answer: you call your friends and start asking for help.  Some of them say yes and you are relieved

Or, when you have stood for over 1-1/2 hours in line to check out and get delivery set up and realize the Last Bus Back to NYC has probably left: How the hell will we get out of New Jersey?  Answer: drug addled Taxi Driver meets Boardwalk Empire driver who gets you home in spite of himself and his basic inability to - well - drive...and for once in your life you bless the fact GPS exists so people who don't know how to take the right exit off the George Washington Bridge can still get you home...

So in summary: my artistic project for the month is: set up a good workspace.  My 'dramatic' problem is whether to put bed in 'living room' and use 'bedroom' as study or not.  Yes, I know, those are not real problems.  They are luxury decisions, and when I remember that, I'm way better off.

I will not bore you with more stories about moving, but will leave the post with some photos from the past couple of weeks' adventures....

Ikea - desolation at empty bus stop: 11:15pm, Paramus, NJ

amazing view from my friend Jill's sister's roof in Tribeca - one night spent chilling in luxury

Lake at the Zendo, to the left was the guest house where we stayed

Tabula Rasa 1: my future study

Tabula Rasa 2: my future living/bed/dining room or something...

Inwood Park graffiti (or: why I love this place).

Another reason to stay in Inwood, this view never gets old

Ikea Heart of Darkness or Apocalypse Paramus (never again...)