It's been a while since I wrote because I've basically been unpacking boxes, teaching acting at Hunter and going to very talented people's book parties and readings. Being inspired to finish my book, actually writing the book (shock) and now down to only one box left unpacked. That is the research (photos/letters/docs) for the book. Which I have left to last for two reasons. One is that it's the thing I look forward to the most and two because once it's unpacked any tiny little excuses I may have had for not going 100% forward with the grandmothers book are done.
I also have some small pictures to hang and some of my weirdly endless small box collection to place. But that is distinctly in the hand baggage side of things.
There are a seemingly endless list of small things I still need, but keep telling myself it's OK to get them gradually. But if I don't get speakers for my laptop soon or some kind of sound system I will become sad. However, since the last time I bought such a thing, everything has changed and I'm kind of stunned by 'choice', especially since I may be the only American left standing who does not own an iPod. And doesn't want to own one, more to the point. Went through the 80s without a Walkman, too. Didn't get a cell phone until 2003 or even have internet at home. You get the picture. Irritable Luddite to the end...well, no, not until the end...until I can't get away with it anymore.
The book I heard read last night at KGB Bar that I highly recommended by my high-school friend Dave Maine, who I've written about earlier on this blog (and had not seen since 1985 until Saturday). It's called 'An Age of Madness' and is published by Red Hen Press. He's written a book credibly from a 40-something female psychiatrist-on-the-edge POV, no mean feat. I'm impressed. Haven't read the whole book yet, but can tell from the first chapter it's going to be kind of great. So get out there and read it people.
The other book party I went to earlier in the week was for friend Andrew Erdman who has written a biography of a vaudevillian who was as famous in her time as Lady Gaga is in ours. Another friend tells me she was the inventor of the shimmy-shake. Is that true? Well you'll have to read the book: Queen of Vaudeville published by Cornell to read about this astonishing-sounding and looking woman, also known as the "I Don't Care Girl." In another personal twist, turns out Andrew and I went to the same university for a couple years, so another blast from the mid-80s past...
So, I am inspired, awed and - importantly - happy for these two gentlemen. In the past, I probably would have felt jealous, diminished or quietly bitter. Instead, I'm just glad for the success of two good guys writing about amazing women - one non-fiction, one fictional. Times they be a changing that that's happening. Congrats and well done, you two!
At Dave's reading, I met up with his brother Stephen and his wife and their friends. Stephen and his art school friend Mary were my first ever NYC roommates when we lived above the illustrious Chicken and Burger World in what must have been a totally illegal apartment zoned as a business. We haven't seen each other since then and that was 30 years ago, so it was a true blast from the early 80s past. Oy.
So, like, we've gotten older. But, as Dave pointed out, we are still doing what we did then: writing, making theater, making art...which is kind of great.
I'm wondering if/when I may need to wrap up this blog. Because as I settle into this new place, I begin to feel perhaps 'transition' is ending and instead there is some kind of nesting or dare I say it settling in happening. Not sure yet how to deal with that. Could perhaps start another blog with a new title.
Anyway, it's a thought. This has been an important way of keeping track of changes - and there were So many. But I'm thinking it may be turning soon into a more private writing process and this might be taking energy from that. Not sure yet.
But finally: L'Shana Tova to my Jewish friends. I really love Rosh Hashana. I love the idea of a New Year in the autumn, when the year does seem to start for me, whether because of school or whatever. It always seems like the real New Year. And I love the idea of 10 days of introspection leading to atonement. I'm not Jewish so am probably getting a lot of this wrong, I hasten to add. Just what I gather from the outside. But in NYC the feeling is quite great, a kind of vibe that resonates from a very large community here out to the rest of us shikses and goys.
Now to the final box and the end of the final excuse. Well, other than the fact it makes me nauseous writing and dizzy and stuff. Which friend Dave assures me means I'm "onto something." I really, really hope that's true and I'm not just some dumb masochist who can't write very well, which is what it feels like.
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.