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.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Memorial Day, what and whom should we remember?

Memorial Day is commemorated tomorrow in the U.S., which is when we are meant to remember people killed in our many wars.  My grandmother Dick lost her beloved brother in WWII, and this kind of loss is real and is worth memorializing.

George Whitbeck: killed on April 12, 1945 in Kamikaze attack USS Mannert L. Abele - body never recovered

Here she is with her brother before he deployed & was killed on April 12, 1945 in the South Pacific by a Kamikaze pilot on the same day FDR died:

George Whitbeck again & with Dick before deployment in 1940s

Here is the plaque my great-uncle Ed Bukoski showed me in Ansonia, CT in 2011 (when I finally found this lost family of my grandfather's - about whom I knew nothing until years later and with whom he was never in contact after he changed his name - at his boss's insistence - to Barclay).  Ed will be there tomorrow, I am sure, as he is a proud WWII Veteran, age 91:

George Whitbeck's name has mark next to him signifying he is MIA because body not recovered

Dick's life was changed after her brother was killed.  This was a common occurrence for women at that time who lost beloved brothers. She was not killed, but part of her died. However, there is no story about this, no narrative, no A&E special. This is one of the many ways in which the casualties of war are not calculated.

I am struck now, even more so than usual because of the Santa Barbara shootings and the extraordinary Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen (which if you are living under a rock or are not on Twitter, I suggest you go follow now), that we have no day to memorialize all the countless women killed by domestic violence or hate crimes, like the shooting on Friday. In general, the abuse of women (and children) is swept under any nearest carpet in hopes, I suppose, that it will go away, because it disturbs our idea of how things Should be.

We are perhaps too in love with the hero narrative and War is a more glamorous way to die, definitely more photogenic, than being beaten to death. By saying this, I am Not demeaning the sacrifice that anyone has made in any war they deemed worthy to fight or were drafted to fight, but it is worth noting what we don't pay attention to in this world. I can see how lovely George Whitbeck was and what a horrendous loss his death was to his new bride, Marion Palmer, his parents and siblings and the life-altering toll it took on Dick.

Jani and her daughter (my mother), were deeply affected by Bob's experience of having been in the first troops to liberate Dachau. He was one of the troops, as an army journalist, who sent out the first images and brought them home with him. My mother remembers seeing those photos as a little girl.  These are experiences that seer one's soul.

Dick must have known about the atomic bomb, because her husband, George, was a secretary on the Manhattan Project. Did they see the pictures of July 16, 1945, the first test at Trinity?  Did they know what was headed to Japan in August?  How do you even absorb all that?  When was it clear, if ever, the cost?

So, on this Memorial Day, I'd like you to spare a thought for all people, but especially women - your mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers who have been affected by war - and the many casualties of war, at home and abroad.

These kind of questions are what I am exploring in the book, The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick and Jani, speaking from my grandmothers' points of view, using both their own words and my imagination to do so. The campaign to complete the book about my grandmothers  ends on Tuesday.  Please help if you can. There is a matching donor now, so anything you contribute will be doubled up to the goal.

I am doing my best to tell their stories, to capture something about the 20th Century from an unfamiliar and neglected point of view.  Perhaps this can enhance our understanding, help ask questions from a different angle, begin to see history and war not as inevitable but as a series of choices...choices that perhaps if truly understood could be made differently in the future.

But first, we have to listen to the voices we have not yet heard, because without those voices, we don't understand the whole reality, and if we don't understand the whole reality, we can't accept it.  And if we can't accept it, we can't possibly ever change it.  I don't know about you, but I could do without another 20th Century of global wars with the creation of ever-escalating ways to kill ourselves and ever-increasing divisions (yet again - the new boss looks a lot like the old boss, etc., etc...) between rich and poor. Perhaps it's time to try a different way?

Will this book bring that about?  Clearly not.  But, it's my humble attempt to begin this conversation, open up new pathways to see our history outside the Hero Narrative...allowing for a richer, more complex understanding of our lives, how we live them, what choices we exercise and what rules - conscious or unconscious - we break or uphold.  Why does one woman rebel and another cling to her prison bars?  What makes us...well, us?

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