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


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm writing again - with momentum - hooray!

So, after two years - a little more than two years - of writing my grandmothers book or not writing it as the case may be - the whole time beating my head against the wall in terms of structure - an amazing thing happened last week.

I started working on the book again last Monday - dreading the impending sense of doom that usually accompanies this writing process, in part because of the material itself and in part because I have not been sure of the structure.  However, I felt it was time to tackle it again - especially since there is an extraordinarily patient literary agent waiting to read some of it.  I don't mean that she's waiting for Me, but simply that I told her a while ago I could send something, then my life fell apart (summer of 2011) and that was out.  I asked her again recently if she was still interested, which to my delighted surprise she was, then decided to send some pages to a couple trusted writer friends first who were supportive but honest in terms of the structural problems.  I knew they were right.

So I put it aside again.

Then last Monday, I dragged the Thing out again, realizing I had to make up my own damn mind about what it was or wasn't and no one could tell me that.  This - interestingly enough - came about after two different events that I believe have contributed to this new state of affairs.  One, the most obvious, is the fact I just got married to the love of my life.  This is definitely part of the new energy, because I feel a love flowing into my life toward me and from me toward John that somehow underpins even the worst feelings the subject-matter can generate.  The fact we got married is also part of it.  You would think I would be cynical about this after two failed marriages, but I'm not.  It also helps that this feels like the first time I've ever been married for real - with no disrespect to the previous two partners intended - this is simply a different creature altogether.  I didn't know if I would respond this way, but happily everything about my relationship with John has been extraordinary and outside of any previous experience, so not surprising the being married part is, too.

However, and this is the weirder piece.  When I was having my annual dinner with Renee (see June 2011 post) who I see if I'm lucky once a year when she is East, Lee Breuer of Mabou Mines happened to sit down at a table near ours on a hot sticky Brooklyn night.  In 1994, I was a resident artist at Mabou Mines, (an avant-garde theater company that's been around since 1970 in NYC), so reminded him of who I was (vague recollection registered in his face, but dim - I know the feeling of knowing you should remember someone but you can't - so did not take offence - that plus the fact I looked and acted somewhat differently then).  I was happy to bump into him, however, so I could finally tell him the story of how after seeing a reading of one of his plays (Ecco Porko - he reminded me when I mentioned the year and the surround), which included people seated in a circle and a glorious sense of uncertainty as to what would happen next - plus the inimitable and now sadly deceased Fred Neumann playing the eponymous role - that I realized - after coming home - OH, I can do anything!  What I do doesn't have to look like anything else.  There are No Rules.  That day I began writing what became my first stage text Word To Your Mama.  I was able to thank Lee for that moment, because his imagination stimulated mine, which I believe Paul Eluard said is the sign of great art - that it makes you want to make more art.

So, it is interesting to me that on Monday (the day after just chatting with Lee), I started up the grandmothers project with a sense of: you know, this has gotta be what I want it to be.  I can't keep worrying about what it's supposed to be.  I did some writing, felt the usual level of depression, stopped.  Then meditated and prayed to That Which is Greater Than Me But Doesn't Have An Adequate Name (which sometimes I call God simply out of laziness) and said, something along the lines of: OK, Look...so I can't seem to move this way or that - all doors seem closed in any paths I have traditionally taken, You seem to want me to write this book but then I feel like I will be swallowed alive by quicksand when I try to write it.  So, Like, What's Up?  WTF am I supposed to do?

(Yes, that is the way I 'pray'.)  The answer came back, along with a feeling sense to accompany it: I'll get you through this.  I knew it was true, S/he would.  Then I fell asleep.

When I woke up from a nap, I had a breakthrough idea as to how to structure the book, which I knew was right.  Because for once the idea expanded rather than contracted the feeling sense and my imagination regarding the project.  Ever since then, I've been motoring along.

Today for example, I worked for about 8 hours.  Much of today and yesterday was spent organizing the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of photos I have from both grandmothers.  I had to do this before continuing because when I go for one and can't find it right away, I end up lost in a swamp of photos from multiple decades and seeing papers and getting distracted.  This very technical problem is one reason I end up feeling like I'm being swallowed up by quicksand.  I now have two bulging expanding files with photos and news clippings sorted by decades and sub-decades.  There are still some unsorted photos and some I've sorted by guesswork based on hair styles and clothing choices...but seeing it all come together is kind of amazing.

I started the day by surprising myself and writing a short story.  The execution was not as great as the idea was in my head (shocking I know), but I tried.  That felt good.  This had nothing to do with the grandmothers book, btw, just something I suddenly wanted to try.

Because it's about 9000 degrees out in NYC staying huddled inside with my AC and sorting photos all day did not seem like a bad idea.  Nor was it.

I'm so excited by this turn of events, I'm even writing about it on the blog.  A solid week of writing, with momentum building rather than subsiding seems miraculous to me...it's been a really long time coming.  I feel like instead of trying to jam jigsaw pieces together that Almost fit but not quite, the pieces are finally falling into place.  So nice.  And I feel so proud that I didn't give up on the project.  (Though if you read my 'prayer' above, you will realize the giving up or not giving up part didn't seem like a choice so much as a command...)

The writing also makes John's absence bearable.  I'm not happy he's in Canada, but when I'm fully engaged like this in my writing, I don't just sit staring at his absence.  He's got a full plate of stuff with which to deal in Canada so he can eventually move down here in a graceful way so my being fully engaged here takes the pressure off of him, too, which I think is good.  It also shows me that his love, our love, is strong enough that it can weather distance.  Even if it's uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful being apart for both of us, we are finding a way.

Speaking of John, I'm about to have my nightly Skype call with my beloved Canadian, so will wrap this up now... wish me luck with my writing!  Oh, and I'm about to run out of money soon, so if you are at all intrigued by the grandmothers project, feel free to send money (!)  I'm not really joking, though I suppose I should put together a Kickstarter campaign or something.  But for now, just think of me as a literary panhandler: "Will write for food."  Sponsor me!  Be an arts patron!  I'll be grateful and you will go to Heaven!  Honest.  Plus you'll be thanked in the book (you know that back page part where authors thank everyone - one of those people could be you)!  What more could you possibly want?




Friday, July 5, 2013

I've really done it this time....

Yes, that's right kids, I got married.  Again.  Third time's a charm (!)  This time to my beloved Canadian at City Hall in NYC...so I married my beloved in my beloved city.  Or as he likes to call himself: my last, best husband.  Pictures to follow at end of this post, never fear.

We got married on July 1, which as any Canadians out there will know is: Canada Day.  That's like their July 4, except different.  It's about confederation rather than independence...but still involves fireworks.  John reasoned that if we got married that day whenever we were in Canada for our anniversary we'd have free fireworks - plus he got the day off work so could travel down to NYC to marry me.  Seemed like a plan.

We have been engaged for a long while now, but I have not mentioned any of this publicly for a number of reasons including my pending (now completed as of 6/20) divorce in the UK.  Once that divorce was completed, John and I were free to marry, which we did as soon as we could.  All of this happened quite quickly and was in process from about my birthday onward, which is why I was keeping radio silence on the blog.  We have begun immigration paperwork (a long and winding road of 7-8 months - the realities of post-9/11 life in the US) so John can move down from Canada.

In the whacky world of US immigration law, my now-husband had to go back to his home country after we got married so as to file paperwork so he can get a visa to live here.  There are less legal ways to do this and people generally get away with it, but we chose to go the ultra-legal way...which means of course it'll take us longer.  Because the law is written in such a way that it's actually easier to break it than follow it.  I doubt any immigration reform will address this, but kinda wish it would.  We have a great immigration attorney, however.  A fellow named David Katona (in case anyone's looking for one) who is known for high ethics and only taking people who he knows are getting married for real.  We are hoping this coupled with the entirely obvious fact to anyone who looks that we are getting married for real will speed along the application.  However, the word speed and US visa application are not synonymous and unlike in the UK where there is a possibility of expedited service for a fee, there is no such thing here....

So, wish us luck!  There is one possible visa that if it comes through on time John could move down in 4-5 months, but due to weird technicalities that one usually doesn't come through on time before the other one wends its leisurely way through the Montreal Embassy (a known site of visa gridlock for obvious reasons)...

OK, so back to the fun part, the wedding!

First of all, in case you are on the fence about how to get married, let me assure you that a NYC City Hall (technically City Clerk's Office) wedding is as good as it gets if you like the idea of being surrounded by lots of happy people of every possible description about to get married.  We took this route for efficacy's sake but it turned out to be an incredible experience in and of itself.  While we are going to have another ceremony after John settles here wherein we can plan and invite people, write our own vows and all that, this one turned out to be far more special than we could have dreamed.

The many reasons for this are: the aforementioned NYC experience, which now - happily - includes gay couples - so it's kind of like if you took everyone out of an average subway car and lined them up to get married.  This is a great feeling.

The next reason was my extraordinary friends, 8 of whom showed up with only 4 days notice on a Monday at 1pm: one friend, our witness (and my chief friend/ally-in-life), Julie, who came in from East Hampton for the day, two other friends, who I am referring to as bride saves (steeper qualification than bride's maids), Alyson and Rachel, who took half days off from work and managed to make me a bouquet, adjust my dress, take photos and help me shop (Rachel) and do my hair, make a Just Married Sign and be an amazing support (Alyson) and both of whom carried the rings for John and me.  Other photographer/videographer friends included Nina (professional photojournalist - you will see some of her photos below), Robyn (international editor and excellent friend), Elinor (beloved friend and ally), Christian (friend since 1986 - mentioned in this blog back in October 2011 when we went to Occupy Wall Street marches together - chief witness to my life since then and all round amazing human) and Diane (lovely friend who happily for me just finished the semester teaching and took a great video of the ceremony).  Without these extraordinary people, this event would have been special and wonderful because John and I are so in love, but it would not have been So Astonishingly Special and Wonderful.  Because of them, we were not only two people in love who knew we had finally found the one true love of our lives, but we were two people in love surrounded by a loving Community of people who wanted to share in this most precious moment with us and who enhanced that moment with their presence.  (Photos of all mentioned will appear below, never fear!)

Then, as if that wasn't enough, we ended up with James Mitchell, the extraordinary officiant who was profiled on Valentine's Day in the NYTimes.  You can read the article about him here.  He loves his job and perfectly captured the joy and solemnity of the vows with his oracular yet friendly presence.

We had found perfect rings in Portland, Maine at Cross Jewelers that frame our jade engagement rings (photos below).  Then, I found the wedding dress and shoes at Second Time Around on the Upper West Side - in about 5 minutes (Nanette Lepore dress and Prada sandals for $200 - amazing).  We found John's tux at Century21 - a Kenneth Cole for $250.  Only in New York...

OK, so that's the surround.  But here's the thing: I was getting married - as mentioned prior - for the third time.  This fact alone is incredibly embarrassing (and oddly in line with my family heritage - which makes it even more embarrassing).  But it's true.  So, how - many of my friends who have known me for a while naturally wanted to know - do you know this is a good idea?  You with such a bad track record of marriage.  And why on earth are you marrying someone so quickly?  Are you (they want to say and almost say but do not quite say) mad??

So, for these friends, here is my answer: I wondered some of this myself, of course, but then I meditated and sat still.  Every time I prayed or went to seek counsel from my trusted ally-friends who have some of the same challenges I face in life and with whom I have sought a spiritual solution to same (original typo was soulution, which I kind of like actually), I got the same answer: this is your one true love who has shown consistently through actions as well as words that he loves you unconditionally and without reserve.  You love him the same way.  There is no reason not to let this happen and receive this extraordinarily miraculous gift of true love.

I told John when he proposed to me (about 2 weeks into our meeting) that I wasn't sure because while I may have another marriage in me, I know I don't have another divorce in me.  In case you haven't gone through a divorce, let me assure you, it's soul-crushingly painful.  If, like me, you said vows meaning them, the idea that they can be severed comes as a rude shock to the system.  I am now of course glad both those divorces happened because it has allowed me to find and marry John, but if I could have my choice, I'd rather never have married either former partner, simply because now that I know what a real marriage feels like, those former marriages feel deeply unreal.  I am not blaming either former partner for this by the way.  I'm the one that should have known but didn't.  True love is so unique and rare than until you experience it, you don't know you haven't experienced it.  It's that simple.  So it's not a blame thing, it's just the facts.

However, now I know what it feels like to say vows and have them said to me at a time and in such a way that it feels almost redundant.  That commitment to each other started almost immediately and shows no signs of abating.  Instead, we simply feel more and more committed to one another as time goes on.

Because of my experience of having a miscarriage the day after my last wedding, I was also shit scared that something horrendous would happen on July 2.  But it didn't.  I was so scared before the ceremony because I felt perhaps I was missing something or making a mistake that somehow I couldn't see, but then as soon as we said the vows and went to Nha Trang restaurant (Vietnamese place around the corner) to settle in for a late lunch, I knew it was all right.  My friend Julie says I have never been or seemed happier since she's known me and I know she's right.  The photos show the face of someone I barely recognize because I don't remember ever smiling this broadly or feeling so at ease with another human being with whom I am in an intimate relationship.

What makes John so special, among many things, is that when I remembered the miscarriage experience while sitting on the sofa waiting our turn in line to get married, I could whisper this fear into his ear and hear loving words back, be held a little closer and given support I needed so much in that moment.  From that moment on, I knew it was all OK.  And it was.

Finally, as you will notice, I have - for the first time ever - changed my name.  John and I both have changed our surnames to Barclay-Morton.  This is a huge step for someone who had three stepfathers and was married twice all without changing her name.  This is the outward sign of the deep love we feel for one another and the way we feel our lives are intertwined forever.

Even now that John has gone back to Canada, I can feel his presence strongly.  Last night he appeared to comfort me in a dream, so I know it's very deep this feeling - not simply a conscious choice but one that has penetrated my whole being and becoming-in-the-world.

July 1 our wedding day was also the one year anniversary of the memorial service for my beloved stepfather Tom.  I did pass this by my mother who said she felt Tom would be deeply happy for this confluence of dates.  That he and his patron saint-god Ganesh would be delighted.  My Ganesh, given to me by my mother, sits in front of me now on my computer, along with a stone given to me by a friend and a little porcelain frog given by another.  I am truly blessed, surrounded by love on all sides.

My mother was very sad not to be at the ceremony, but she is fully in support, having met John in Maine and happy to have him as a son-in-law.

Below are some pictures to give you a flavor of the day (photos by Rachel, Elinor, Christian & Nina):

love this cheesy backdrop at Marriage Bureau - feel so proud to be a New Yorker importing a Canadian
beginning of ceremony with bride-saves Alyson & Rachel


friend & witness Christian - since 1986 - seeing each other through It All


we've got a ticket to marry - woohoo: C714


'showered with blessings' - butterfly umbrellas purchased in Montreal at butterfly exhibit

with James Mitchell City Hall officiant extraordinaire

John & me with my grrrl posse: Robyn, Alyson, Diane, Elinor, Julie, Rachel, Nina

Julie being our witness - officially(!)

the ring bit - which was just lovely

my ring..as I was saying vows to John

I have never seen a photo of me looking happier - after telling John about my fears before ceremony - you can see why he's the man for me.