Yesterday, otherwise known in this batshit crazy country as 'Independence Day' (freedom to buy guns & elections while keeping women from their own reproductive health apparently), I did manage to create some of my own actual independence by Finishing The Research for my grandmothers' book! Got through the last of Jani's legal pads (there were many) in which I found many gems, including a book she began called 'A Gift for Julie,' in which she - inspired by the recently-aired 'Roots' series - thought she would write a book 'between fact and fiction' going back to our ancestors...through the matrilineal line (which her mother had traced back to the 1600s - Enoch Buck being the pioneer from Yorkshire, England to Massachusetts). In the opening of Jani's book, we are sitting in front of the fire in a cottage in Maine (which is where we did in fact spend a lot of time in the 70s), while she opens a book that tells this story back to the Stone Age. Somehow it's written in Latin (which touch she added because I was studying Latin at the time), and apparently I am happy about this. (She thought I was way smarter than I am.) Sadly, she only got about 2 pages into this odyssey, but imagine my surprise at finding it at all scribbled in red pen behind yet another speech haranguing yet another group about not having adequate sex education in schools.
So now I am going to breathe, let all this mammoth amount of information (which I have been reading and organizing systematically for over a year) settle and begin writing when it feels right to begin. This feat feels incredible, because when I first saw all the boxes of Jani's writing, I thought: I'll never get through all this (and for a couple years basically picked & poked through the material, until I finally acceded to the need to read it All). But I did. Bit by bit by bit. Then finally finishing this past month - working 5+ hours a day - thanks to crowd-funding campaign giving me money to take the time to do so.
Last summer I spent organizing the hundreds - maybe thousands - of photos from both grandmothers and sorting through the complex genealogies of both. Late summer through now has been reading all of Jani's writing - 5 banker's boxes+ none of it organized). I will of course have to go back through it and will be using some of it, but I have now Read it All, including the almost incomprehensible Legal Pads. Her handwriting is as bad as mine. This is not good. She also plays so fast and loose with the facts of her life - never letting the truth get in the way of a good story - that it's going to be an interesting trick to show that in the book. I don't want to whitewash this part of her, because then she's not her. But it does make a good argument for keeping the 'imaginary' part of the autobio of Dick & Jani - because, well, I have no choice.
Another shout-out to all you wonderful people who donated to the 'cause' - because of you, I can do all of this and spend the summer working on the writing now. I can also give myself the crucial percolating time, too, without having to fritter that away on another money-making job. This is as much a part of my creative process as anything, so I bow down humbly to you all in deepest gratitude.
The other beautiful landmark was on July 1 (also known as Canada Day), which was the first anniversary of my beloved Canadian's and my marriage at City Hall! We spent the day on the Circle Line (a wonderful touristy thing to do) circling Manhattan, including our beloved Inwood. That and a lovely meal was a fabulous way to mark the occasion. We are both so incredibly relieved he is here at last with green card and doesn't have to keep going back to Canada. Such a simple thing that makes all the difference.
On the July 4 after we got married last year, John did have to go back to Canada, which was horrible. However, right after we were married I was able to work in earnest on my book, which shows you the power of our union, even before we could live like normal people (well sort of like normal people...whatever that means). But this is way better.
So, happy Independence, Canada and (in anticipation) Bastille Day...July seems to be a good time for positive, revolutionary change. May it be so for you, too.
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
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.