Some of us in Inwood feel so lucky to have been spared the hell of places like Hoboken or the fires in Queens and/or slow tedium of life without power or basics downtown that we're beginning to almost feel guilty. We just keep getting days off from work and time with our local friends.
So, I'm now hosting downtown friends uptown, so they can have a day with whacky stuff like lights, a shower, internet access and cooked food. The first one tonight is an old friend from college, Spencer, who arrived a few days ago from Spain and is staying at a friends' amazing house downtown. All great except a hurricane showed up, he has no phone, power, etc. So, while we had hoped to sneak in a couple hours during his busy schedule meeting publishers and drumming up support for his project in the Honduras working with orphans on creating a book of poetry (more on that later), instead we met at a cafe on the Upper West Side (he walked from 10th to 96th Street and I started by bus then got a livery cab from 204th), went to a writer's meeting together and another friend from college drove us back up to my place where we had the luxury of many hours to catch up after not having seen each other in 25 years. He read me some of his newest, extraordinary poetry, which was quite a treat.
Tomorrow, we will be joined by friend Nina who has been stuck in her place alone downtown without power for days. As she said, the novelty of reading by candlelight and her new intimacy with neighbors is wearing off and now (because she is freelance and works out of her home), she needs to just start working again. Plus have a real shower.
The good news is: apparently my Housing Works thrift-store fold out sofa works. I have ordered an air bed but that hasn't arrived yet. Was originally for my mother's visit over Christmas but wish I had ordered earlier so could bring in more power outage refugees.
This is my little way of helping out.
I am being much less productive but having a lot more fun, so there you have it. And what a gift to have time with friends, old and new.
The day before was spent with local friends, walking through Inwood, hanging out at Darling Cafe with the many blinking souls happy to be outside, with their little children in tow, wearing such combos as tutus, striped stocking, polka dot rain coats and little blue wellies or golden waterproof shoes, all of us happily drinking fancy things like cinnamon roiboos tea and soy lattes. We walked close to the park but not inside because not allowed. We took photos of downed trees, everyone smiling at each other, knowing how lucky we all were to be alive and so comfortable. The evening was spent in Riverdale watching a silly movie and eating pizza with another friend who kindly picked me up and drop me off in his now-much-desired-yet-not-usually-considered-necessary-in-NYC: car.
However, there is still the sense of the devastation downtown, the photos of the ravages of the fires and flooding, knowing the grinding frustration of so many and seeing the weird subway map for tomorrow. Blessings, first of all for the MTA for getting any of the subway up and running this fast given the fact the Entire system was flooded. But this map, with downtown invisible can only remind many of us of 9/11, and the sense of injury. This time a hurricane, which you can't blame personally (thank God/dess for that) but the sense of devastation nonetheless. And Gov. Cuomo saying - wisely - that we have to learn from this storm because there will be more like it, we are vulnerable now. Yes, Virginia, there is a climate change.
Hurricane Sandy seeming to be fulfilling Jung's prophecy that whatever you repress comes back to you as fate. Climate change not discussed during this election because we need "jobs" aka dirty energy aka climate change issues a luxury item we can't address. Then along comes Sandy to say: not so fast. I'm here, I'm pissed off and I'm not Going Anywhere.
Like all disasters involving high winds and tides, it cleans out the cobwebs of denial of so much, offers openings desired and profoundly not desired. Loss of people and place, rearrangement of literal and spiritual and emotional furniture.
Prayers and blessings to those of you who have had horrendous losses and to those of you who have found new joys and rest. We're all here and Sandy has reminded us that we are lucky to be so, this gift of life is nothing to take for granted and none of us really owns - well - anything.
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.