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 as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While was blessed for the opportunity, after four years of being an adjunct, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in NYC 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. As of 2018, I also started leading writing retreats to my beloved Orkney Islands. If you ever want two weeks that will restore your soul and give you time and space to write, get in touch. I am leading two retreats this year in July and September.

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 now work full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, editor and writing retreat leader. 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

In 2017, I launched a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. You can also contact me through that site.

In May, I directed my newest play, On the edge of/a cure, and have finally updated my publications list, which now includes an award-winning chapbook of my short-story White shoe lady, which you can find on the sidebar. I also have become a certified yoga instructor in the Kripalu lineage. What a year!

And FINALLY, I have created a website, which I hope you will visit, The Unadapted Ones. I will keep this blog site up, since it is a record of over 8 years of my life, but will eventually be blogging more at the website, so if you want to know what I am up to with my writing, teaching, retreats and so on, the site is the place to check (and to subscribe for updates). After eight years I realized, no, I'm never turning into One Thing. So The Unadapted Ones embraces the multiplicity that comprises whomever I am, which seems to always be shifting. That may in fact be reality for everyone, but will speak for myself here. So, do visit there and thanks for coming here, too. Glad to meet you on the journey...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

in praise of archeologists & Kate Vargas

Just a brief update to say I continue to work steadfastly on my grandmothers' book.  The research part is taking a huge amount of time.  I keep thinking I see the end, then...it's nowhere near the end.  I ams sometimes told that I should "just write the 50 pages" and send it to the agent, etc. but I keep feeling I must continue reading all that my grandmother, Jani, wrote before I do so.  While it is sometimes a slog, in the middle of that a gem will pop out, a connection will be made, another idea shines through, some structural understanding, some emotional penny will drop.

I am trusting, for better or for worse, in this weirdly methodical (for me) organic process.  That may seem like a contradiction in terms, but as I get older, the more respect I have for archeologists.  The people who just sit there patiently brushing dirt off things ever so delicately layer by layer in hopes of finding another piece of a gigantic puzzle - one that most of them know they will never definitively solve, but move forward nonetheless.  You can't just go ransacking around ancient sites and hope to find a treasure.  Because, even if you do find that treasure, it will be out of context and you might have damaged other perhaps less obviously valuable bits of information that - if discovered - would have been more valuable than the glittery object you're holding in your greedy, impatient hand.

As someone who spent so many years working with cut-ups and random chance operations (which I still love by the way) to be working this way seems so strange and yet in some other way weirdly healing.  Like there's a faith there is something to find after all.  Not that it'll be 'definitive' or The One Great Truth, but it's there...this understanding of another human being...or two...and a different time period in which I did not live.  It feels weirdly - dare I say it - mature.

If nothing else, I am getting a much greater sense of my grandmothers, and in so doing have found myself reaching back further to their grandmothers...the sense of feeling backwards towards history, finally embracing my heritage, which is not without some big dark holes (visible, invisible, palpable, almost like air).  Linking historical events and people, finding common threads, realizing how close we are, so much closer than I suspected.

When I do give myself the permission to write, it feels fabulous.  But I am keeping that in check, so I can continue the reading and the notes and the perambulating in my brain and heart.

Throughout all this my lovely husband, John, has been extraordinarily supportive, even when I've kind of lost it, which I do...on a fairly regular basis.  Sometimes crying, sometimes just acting in an um well not so great way and sometimes just exhausted...and sometimes, even, well, happy.  He is the true love of my life because he can handle this.  I've never been with anyone who could.  My gratitude for him in my life is beyond all else.  (And happily his visa process is moving forward...finally...so in a couple months, hopefully, we'll be in Montreal for his green card interview - which will be almost the end of a way longer than expected road...)

I have two Ganesh statues, one brass, small on my computer base (from my mother) and one larger, reddish color, a writing Ganesh looking at me with piercing eyes in the corner of my desk.  Ganesh the trickster, the creator and remover of obstacles...of course he's writing.  I just wish I had those extra arms....


On a different note, my friend Kate Vargas debuted her album Down To My Soul at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on Thursday and damn but did she kick ass.  But don't take my word for it.  Here is a link to one of her songs 'Throw the Devil Back' here.  You can get the album at that site, too.

Also playing with her was the lovely and talented Andrea Wittgens, another extraordinary singer/songwriter.  Below are two photos John took on Thursday.  Give yourself a treat and listen to these ladies' music.

The divine Kate Vargas at Rockwood Music Hall (photo © John Barclay-Morton)

Andrea Wittgens playing with Kate (Andrea's got a Pandora station: check her out!)
© John Barclay-Morton
So, like, do I have the most gorgeous and talented friends or what?  Yet another blessing in this life.

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