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.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Boston, politics, writing, love

First, please note that many of the things I hoped would not happen in my last post regarding Boston marathon bombing are either (a) are happening or (b) are gearing up to happen.

Having said that, saw a heartening stat that most Americans now would rather risk terrorism than give up more liberties.  Good sign.  However, rampant racism and using this horrendous event to try to thwart immigration reform is just inane.  Plus the fact that we can't pass gun control legislation in this country, even now, because politicians are bought and paid for by NRA and are therefore voting against the vast majority of Americans is equally depressing.

Every time I think politics in this country has hit a nadir, it manages to surpass itself...again.  Thanks for the memories 'legislators'.  Sigh.  Anyone else in NYC up for trying to secede?

So, there's that.

Then there's the fact that I had an informal reading on Saturday at my apartment of my newest stage text (a part of my larger William James project:...whatever God is) and that rocked the house.  By that I mean the actors rocked the house.  The text needs some work...but seeing it, hearing it and getting feedback from these great actors and some trusted friends, made it Very clear what needs to happen next and what decisions I need to make about development, etc...  So, thank you Andrea, Marietta, Jeannie, Julie and Nicole - with valuable assists from Paul and Paulette!  So great to have other voices and bodies in the room besides me...a relief actually.

I'll be applying for some development time/grants in hopes of being able to create the piece, which I want to do in collaboration with others, because the themes of loss, transformation and spiritual experiences in relation thereto is something a lot of people share and I want to bring in others' experiences, in the same way James did in Varieties of Religious Experience, which I'm pillaging for this text (along with Book of Job)...James is a genius by the way, waaay ahead of his time, even preternaturally feminist in his ability to listen to and not pathologize female experience.  In some ways his views were blinkered but - rarely for a philosopher in 1901-2 - not deaf to women's voices.

So, I'm rewriting that text now...

In other writing news, I thought I might have enough polished pages of my grandmother book to send to an agent who is interested in reading them, but first sent those pages to a trusted writing mentor, Jill, who gave me feedback I need to take on board first.  At first I was sad (because while I fear I'm a fraud I always hope someone will tell me I shit gold), but then realized her suggestions were good and that I want to do something with this book that I have not thus far managed to do, namely, write something which is complex but also more accessible than my other work.  So, I'm going to take suggestions from people, like her, who are excellent writers who have completed books that have been published, awarded, etc.  Because they might know more than me (shock, horror).

My beloved Canadian and I are physically separated right now, which just sucks, but he should be able to come down to NYC again in time for my (gasp) 50th birthday, so that'll take the edge off...However, even separated, our love continues to grow, which is just wonderful, and I know that this love has a lot to do with the groundedness I feel in relation to my writing and creativity in general.  Plus being back in NYC, which I always find grounding...though as I write this my eyelid is twitching a bit, so it all may be a giant illusion.  However, whenever I'm away from New York, after a time I start getting unhappy, then very unhappy.  I wish I loved another more peaceful place, but I don't...so that's that.

Spring is springing, green buds appearing, grass growing, little birds flying about, warm cool breezes lovely air...Inwood lovely.  Pictures soon...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Requiem for Boston

Because I was in NYC for 9/11 and remember the stupid shit that was said and done by people from outside of our city on that day and for years to come (up to the present(, here are some things I hope for Boston tonight and for the next weeks and months to come:

Mostly, above all, that whatever happened at the Marathon finish line today is first and foremost seen as a human event where human beings were actually hurt and not as a political symbol to be used by anyone anywhere ever.

That there is not an instant theme song and name for the event that gets played over and over again on every goddamn network.

That images of carnage are not replayed every five minutes while reporters, lying, say they wish they did not have to show these images, when of course as everyone knows "if it bleeds, it leads."  Please spare Boston the disingenuous shows of mock sympathy.  And please spare your children and everyone else PTSD.

Please, no one outside of Boston write poetry about this and send it to your friends in Boston.  Just don't do that.

Please, don't use this as a metaphor for some personal problem or existential angst in your own life.  It isn't.  It's an actual event that happened in real life to real people.  It is not - I repeat - not a metaphor or a symbol for you or anyone else.

That you in Boston are allowed to grieve or do whatever you need to do the way you need to do it.

That whatever happened and whoever is found to be responsible, that this is not used as an excuse to execute hundreds or many thousands of other people.

That you can heal.

I am so so so sorry this happened to you.  No one deserves this.  No one.  Anywhere.  Ever.

Love and blessings,
a New Yorker





Monday, April 15, 2013

Back in NYC just in time for sad anniversaries (or T.S. Eliot was right about April)

So, I'm back home in NYC and glad to be here though am missing John terribly.  I will end this post with some photos from Brockville, because there were some truly spectacular sunsets and moments on the river.

But today and tomorrow are the hellacious anniversary days - the one-two punch of wedding anniversary-miscarriage - that I kind of dread.  The day I was married to my soon-to-be-ex-husband (divorce papers wending their way through the weirdly-endless-considering-we-don't-disagree-on-anything British court system) in London was bright and sunny - full of hope - my pregnancy announced (we thought safely after 12 weeks), happy families and friends all around.  There were the moments of weirdness with in-laws and such, but then when does that not happen?

There was the spotting of blood that night at the hotel and me thinking, hmmm.  Then there was the train ride to Cornwall the next morning.  There was a little bit of blood, then more...then more.  I was freaking.  We kept heading towards Cornwall on an endless train/bus excursion.  What were we thinking?  I wonder now.  But on we went.

We arrive in drop dead gorgeous Cornwall and get to our self-catering place.  I go to the bathroom and there is more blood and I am truly freaking.  There is the emergency room.  There is me looking out the window in the cab at the sunset on the ocean saying "It's so beautiful here" over and over again before we get there.  There are the nurses looking sad.  There is the brusque doctor.  There is the weary sameness of it all for the professionals.  Just go home, they say.  And it'll either come out or it won't.  We aren't really a hospital here.  If you need a hospital you need to go to Truro.  I despair.  We go back to a place we don't live and I don't even have sanitary pads.  Bill has to go upstairs and ask our landlord.  The wife of the landlord sends down stuff with him and her sympathies.  She too had a miscarriage.

I will discover this as time goes on - practically every woman you know who has been pregnant and/or has children has had a miscarriage.  One in three pregnancies end in miscarriage.  You don't find this out until you have one and join the silent grieving club.  Why the silence?  Why the shame?  Why does no one Talk about it?  Such a miasma of secret grieving.  I wonder will women ever be on par with men until we get to grieve our losses as loudly and without shame?  Soldiers die and everyone cries.  Miscarriages happen and everyone is silent.  It's a mistake, an accident, a sign of divine disapproval.  Something did Not happen.  You can Not conceive.  Something is Wrong with You.  There is the endless self-doubt - what did I Do Wrong?

There is the moment the little sac that should have become a baby comes out.  There is the confusion about what it is.  There is a lot of crying.  I cry.  Bill cries - something I've never experienced - his tears.  There is so much fucking blood you cannot even imagine.  And pain.  So much pain.  And despair.  Then shock then some weird calm.  Maybe I'll get pregnant again.  It'll be OK.  The next day the Virgina Tech mass shooting happens.  All that is on TV is mass killing.  The sun is out and it is relentlessly beautiful.  I try to take hikes and pretend I'm OK because I'm afraid of being alone with my pain.  But I am bleeding and bleeding.  There are weeks and weeks of blood that follow and growing despair and more hospitals and hospitals and hospitals...for weeks, months, years...Much of this when alone because Bill is traveling for his work.

Then not getting pregnant again.  Then there is the anger, growing, that I ever was given the hope that I could have a child at age 43-44.  Then - insanely - there is the hope - sometimes it seems cruel - that I could get pregnant even now.  There is desire and hope.  That is all.  My body will not cooperate.  Cannot.  Will not?  What is it?

So many dysfunctions of shape of uterus and such, it's endless.  And now?  Now I am 49 about to turn 50.  Who do I think I am to even try?  Crazy of course.  Going to an appointment with a gyn tomorrow to see how crazy.  Weird coincidence that the appointment is 6 years to the day of the miscarriage.

Now, after all this, I have found my one true love, who I had always hoped existed but despaired did not but shockingly he does and in a weird twist of fate we have found one another - which is more than either of us dared to dream - but we are in fact 49 and 53.  This means the chances of having a child are slim to none even though it's something we both want so much.  Life is so strange and this is why I do believe T.S. Eliot was right when he wrote "April is the cruelest month."  Because the great beauty that arrives and all the hopes that come with it cannot last forever.  All bright light casts a shadow.  That doesn't mean the beauty is a lie or the hope is a lie.  It simply means that all great love sets us up for great loss, there's no way around that.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not complaining.  I am deeply grateful to have found real love, to know what it is in this life and experience all that it means.  I would not trade it for anything.  Speaking of which, below is a hilarious photo that John took of us with a timed camera.  That is our last night at the B&B in Brockville.
here we are laughing at our own jokes...someone has to....

So, yes, dark is the shadow side of light but on the other hand if I only look at that aspect, I lose the enjoyment of the light.  So, once again, after allowing myself to be happy and having it yanked away so violently, I am allowing in the light again.  With a big difference this time.  The person who I'm letting in loves me unconditionally as I do him.  Not only have I never been loved unconditionally before, I don't think I ever Have loved unconditionally either.  It seems there is a symbiotic process here - or some kind of alchemy.  Whatever it is, I'm grateful for it.

Plus, and this is the weirdest outgrowth of the time in Brockville, I am now having really good ideas about my grandmother book and am raring to go with it for the first time ever.  John thinks it was research being in a small town and essentially being a 'mall wife' for 6 weeks.  I was cooking and such.  John was working at a mall.  I did some writing but it did feel weirdly house wife-like.  Also, I am not a small-town girl, so there was a sense of claustrophobia (not because of being with John but being in this small town where I could not do and be the things I can do and be in NYC).

So yes, the sense of compassion for my grandmothers' restricted lives is much greater and more experientially based, especially for my grandmother who I've had the hardest time cozying up to because she was so cold.  A sense of judgment that has lifted and feeling instead her sense of necessity in keeping her shit under wraps and under control and how threatening anything  that could elicit any real emotion (including classical music, anything out of order, Evangelical Baptism or a pubescent girl) was to her.  So not only did I finish a draft of a play and apply to a bunch of places, I was also - without realizing it - feeling my way deeper into the book.  This makes me very happy because it gives a sense of purpose to some time that had felt in the moment pretty drifty and vague...

Plus, there are pictures!  Here's some of them...from my last days in Brockville.  Because of exhaustion, I will let these images end this post:

my favorite photo from the whole time - that's NYS across the river

another drop dead gorgeous Thousand Islands sunset

same sunset...the colors are just astonishing to me








Monday, April 1, 2013

Nostalgia, Memory, Small Towns & Snow (or: Blame Canada part 2)

So, it's been a while since I wrote anything here.  Why?  Well, in part because I've been trying to wrap my mind around Brockville, which is a small town-city both so similar in ways to places I grew up in New England and experienced in England (old school) that it feels familiar and yet being in Canada is wildly different.  I am aware now that this is the longest time (a month) I have spent in a town this size since I was a child.  As readers of this blog will no doubt have surmised my childhood was not very fun so the memory resonances are not the greatest.  Among many issues I had as a child, one was continually being the "new kid" at various schools in small to medium sized towns where there were very codified sets of dress, behavior, expressions, etc. that I would of course not know and/or to which I could/would not conform because of either (a) not knowing said codes and/or (b) having parents or caretakers of some nature that were not of this place so having no access to required clothing, attitudes, accent, etc…

If the above paragraph does not make it clear why I live in NYC, nothing will.  In a place like NYC, (and in my experience so far on earth, only in NYC), can I be who I am without any editing necessary and be accepted as such because really, who cares?  The place is huge.  There's room for whoever you want to be.  I realize more and more that in many ways it's a city of misfits.  There are exceptions of course including those I refer to as fair weather New Yorkers who are there to succeed in something and having succeeded or not at a set task leave for the suburbs or elsewhere as soon as possible.  There are people born there who wish they hadn't been and would leave if they could.  Then there are the rest of us, those drawn to this city because it's big enough, beautiful enough and multi-faceted enough to contain the restless misfit soul.

So what has this month been like?  Well, I've finished a draft of a stage text, sent out applications for jobs and funding, publications, etc., sent off final paperwork for divorce in UK (with minimal fuss, though with annoying delays due to international nature of things and whatnot…but that's basically done, and now it's a waiting game) and the rest of the time is spent time with John, my beloved Canadian, when he has time between work and dealing with some complex matters that are best not written about here.

I've also been taking lots of photos and video….The St. Lawrence River, which I can see from where we are staying, is gorgeous.  The sunsets while cold as shit have been beautiful.  John, who is an excellent photographer, has been patiently showing me how all the bells and whistles work on my digital camera.  As anyone who has ever tried to teach me anything can tell you: this can be trying.  He assures me I am not as grouchy as I know I am…bless him.  But slowly, slowly I'm learning.  Also collecting video paintings for: what?  I think probably the stage text recently completed as draft…but maybe something else…I'm still in divining rod living mode…feeling out next steps one at a time…

The nostalgia element of things here has to do with the weird echo of childhood, but also listening to music with John, which at times (when listening to e.g., Genesis, Talking Heads, etc.) brings us both back to our teens and 20s and this odd way in which we can envision having met one another back then (there having been at least two times in our younger lives wherein we were tantalizingly close - but not quite intersecting) so there is this odd parallel world in our not-memory (yet this not-memory has an inexplicable resonance) in which we met then and have been together since that time.  It's really hard to describe this, but it's quite precise and strong.  Of course in reality we could have driven each other nuts if we had met earlier and the people we are now we are because of past experiences, so it's a weird thing to contemplate, but somehow impossible not to have some weird nostalgia for a past we did not live…

Meanwhile, in real life, we have been together for four months and this month has given us time to get to know each other a lot better in real time and space, which has been invaluable and kind of amazingly great.  There have been bumps and learning curves but we have dealt with each of these events with grace and without causing each other any undue anxiety.  We seem to be able to focus on whatever the presenting issue is and move on.  I've never found it so easy to communicate with a partner like ever.  It's a revelation and a truly positive one.  This is why I secretly (not so secretly) believe if we had met earlier in our lives we would have fallen in love and still be in love.  There is a very deep sympatico that is so effortless that I have a feeling it would have been there from the beginning no matter when that beginning may have been…but that kind of thinking is clearly impossible to 'prove' and of course presents the even more problematic issue of non-acceptance of my actual past as it was lived…so the only truly affirmative way of looking at this is to say: yes to the whole thing...

So in lieu of continuing to whitter on in such bizarre hypotheticals, I will leave you with some photos of my time here.  Where, for the record, it's still Really Cold…But at times also astonishingly beautiful… All of these photos are taken during various sunsets, which bring to mind Artaud's observation that "the setting sun is beautiful because of everything we lose by it."

St. Lawrence Park


reflection in river of sky and trees from Block House Island

sunset reflections from Block House Island

seagulls of Block House Island with Canadian Air Force plane