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. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.

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 having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.

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


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Creating breathing space & recognizing family

So, I was going to rush around today like the proverbial headless chicken, but decided against that.  This happened because my body needed rest and during meditation I remembered a technique taught to me by a wonderful man named Josiah Hincks, which he learned from Eugene Gendlin, called 'focusing.'  Gendlin wrote a book about his invention, so I suggest you read it for proper details, but the basic idea is that instead of retracing the well-worn grooves of your own worry-machine, you step back and look at the feelings attached to habituated ideas until you can feel what the feelings actually are and what they may be telling you.  This requires surrendering your ideas of what any given feeling or thought indicates, in other words your own private gallery of cliches.  Finding the 'handle' - the name for the feeling that resonates and expands rather than contracts inside you - is a key element here.

(As I typed the above, the salsa machine just cranked up outside my window.  I live in a Dominican neighborhood in NYC and this is just part of life.  My initial response is shoulders up annoyance, because it is Really Loud...Then I breathe and remember: I chose to live here.  If I don't like it, I can leave - well, sort of, I can't afford the rents anywhere else, but still...the point is...the neighborhood majority consensus is that this is fun, not annoying...however, at times like this, I feel very stereotypically white, Northern European, speaking of cliches...)

OK, so back to my more relaxed day (ha ha!) and focusing.  This exercise does work and I was able to wend my way through some things that were bothering me into a more relaxed idea of how to walk through this day.  Which has led to this moment to write in the blog, which has been laying fallow for a while.

A brief recap of events:

I spent a crazy-wonderful time getting the syllabus together for my writing class at Fordham.  Some people thought I was downright nuts for spending so much time creating a syllabus for a composition class, but I did it anyway and am Very glad I did.  The first class went well because of it, and I could talk the students through the syllabus knowing it made sense as a whole and was not a series of episodic exercises signifying nothing...as it were...I want them to go on a journey, because writing is that if it is nothing else.  You can't write if you can't think and there are aspects of thinking that are impossible if you can't write.

I like my students very much.  I'm teaching the adult class in the evening, so most of the students have life experience, a level of maturity and focus because of this.  There is a wonderful diversity of backgrounds and I expect the experience of hearing their voices to be a rich and rewarding one.  My dearest hope is that they can learn from each other as much as me, and my most cherished hope is that they will all become better writers by the end of the class.


I did do a little work on my grandmothers book, but this has had to go on back burner right now for a number of reasons, including trying to get some other writing into various journals, etc.


(OK, cancel the salsa party bit, I just realized looking outside, this is a block party of some sort, but led by people in suits, so I think it's a Christian thing.  That would account for the sort of sappy sound of the music, which was missing the usual hip-swiveling bass-beat.  Wow.  OK, so like I'll be leaving soon, and pray to my God/dess that this event ends before the wee hours of the night...the big advantage of Christian stuff, one hopes, is that it will not attempt to compete with after-hours clubs...)

This past week, I spent with my beloved Canadian husband, including a gorgeous day at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (what an amazing place - I've been there before, but as with so much, when I am with John I feel I'm seeing more beauty than usual or somehow giving myself time to Notice - what a gift of love).  It's so hard to only see him a few days a month, but we do try to make the best out of it when he's here.

In other news, I am in the middle of a theater conference here in NYC, one event of which I am not attending right now, because of the aforesaid desire to not race around.  But will be finishing this post up soon in order to go to some other stuff this evening.  'Theater as Theory' is the conference theme and we invited participants are meant to respond to performances this weekend with performances and/or papers, talks, etc. of our own next weekend.  I like this idea very much.  My Ph.D. argued that theater can be seen as an act of philosophy, so obviously I sympathize with this conference's agenda.  I'm glad, too, to see something like this here in the US, as most of it I saw was in UK.  I fear events that are more theory than theater, but them's the chances you have to take when walking this weird road.

(OK, heard a mic check, so this could be a revival meeting OR perhaps a political rally - elections are on Tuesday for our primaries...as you can tell, by all this muttering on my part, I don't speak Spanish, so am guessing, using non-verbal signs...from the 5th floor...)

So, will keep you informed as to whatever performance I may do in response next weekend, dates and times, etc.  There are a lot of interesting folks attending, so there should be some interesting work.  The events will be open to the public and at Glasshouse Project in deepest, darkest hipster Williamsburg, but if you can stand the block glasses and day-glo skinny jeans set, it may be worth it.

Finally, before I forget, yesterday I was so moved by a Rosh Hashana service I was invited to by a dear friend who was giving a sermon about redemption using her own personal experience.  I cried through the whole damn thing.  I've never been in a synagogue before, and I'm here to tell you, they are Gorgeous.  The whole service was moving, my friend's part especially, but the rituals involved, the remembrance of the dead, the Kaddish, the lighting of candles, the Ark, well...it's just breathtaking. I was able to simply sit and cry about 9/11 in a way I have not had the space to do so anywhere else, watching two families who had lost their dad/husband/brother in the towers light candles in remembrance of their loved ones and other members of the congregation who had also died that day. A simple, profound and deeply human gesture.

This was a reform synagogue so some of the rabbis were women and much of the language in English translation is gender-neutralized.  Therefore, I was able to hear the message of needing to hold hands to move through the darkness.  Such a heart-healing idea and one that is deeply in synch with my own spiritual practices that involve an interconnected community.  I am stunned by the Humanity of Judaism, which seems to somehow embrace our frailties rather than run screaming from them or ask us to somehow, become impossibly divine ourselves.  The idea of "god-wrestling" (meaning arguing with/struggling with as Job does, e.g.) is sanctified and I love that.

So, I thank you my dear friend, Elinor, for sharing this day with me and your whole family for embracing me.

I am also a theater director, so could appreciate, too, that the Days of Awe (i.e., Rosh Hashana: New Year to Yom Kippur: Day of Atonement) are damn, good theater.  I could see the seeds of much of American theater in this service, including musical theater (lots of amazing singing) and dearest to my heart, the experimental theater of Richard Foreman.  I knew he considered himself a religious theater-maker and identifies strongly as Jewish, but seeing the aesthetics of the synagogue and the rhythm of the service allowed a whole new part of his work to land for me in a deeply emotional, spiritual place.  So, kids, if you're into Foreman's work and have never been to a synagogue, go.  It'll make a lot of his work fall into place.

So, now to a theater conference in Williamsburg...to see what there is to see...Life continues to surprise at age 50 and long may it continue (both life and its surprises).  I don't have actual children, so watching young folks make their new scene and work is heartening for me in a special way.  This is my family, these are my 'off-spring' (and ancestors) - these god/theater-wrestlers - those who search without ceasing because what we are looking for is always just that little bit out of reach...Complacency isn't an option.  Usually there is little to no security in this life, but there is great freedom without which we would perish.

I'll know you when I see you on the road.  And you'll know me.  I look forward to our meeting.


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