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


Friday, January 31, 2014

I am writing and teaching writing and that is all

I have not written on this blog for a while because I am fully engaged in my grandmothers book.  I work on it 3-7 hours per day depending on if I need to teach or do something else that day.  I've been ordering my grandmother Jani's files and reading her massive amount of writing (3 drafts of books, one complete, 2 incomplete, articles, correspondence, poems, stories, projects, etc.)  It was left in a mess so just getting dates right (while reading through some very personal material) while also figuring out her handwriting on her mountains of legal pads...is a journey.

John has been a great help keeping me grounded and making sure I have food and am somewhere near sane.  Our love continues to grow, though why on earth he puts up with me is beyond me.  Seriously, when doing this kind of work, I am no fun.  He claims I still can be.  That's probably why we're together and so in love.

I am also teaching writing again at Fordham, which is lovely and also grounding...in the present.

Last night, I saw a friend from high school, Sue, who I haven't seen since the 80s.  She lives in California but was visiting and we finally connected after all these years.  Here's a picture of the three of us: John, Sue and me at the W. 4th Street subway stop.  We lived one year in the same weird little George Washington slept here clapboard house at a tony boarding school (I was there on scholarship - see early blogposts for examples of my true dorkitude at that time).  Sue was someone with whom I connected in my senior year when I was quietly imploding.  We were both having a hard time.  I don't think we ever talked about that but somehow intuited another struggling soul.  And here we are now - lo these many years later at the subway station that was nearest my first apartment in NYC in the early 80s.  We're older, more mature and have been through a lot.  But here's the really true fact.  We're alive and that's good:

yes the dreaded 'selfie' x 3, but there we all are - Sue looks as gorgeous as I remember her in '81

yes we are still this silly happy with one another - and feeling so grateful to be together now
Other bits of news include having had a reading of an excerpt from my on-going, never-ending, someday to actually appear in the world William James project...the excerpt was illuminating, especially the conversations it generated.  Hoping now to find the right place for this to happen.  More on that as I know it.

The biggest news for me is once again Jill Lepore-related.  Her book about Jane Franklin is genius and is giving me the courage to keep going with my grandmothers book, knowing by her example how important it is to give these neither rich nor famous nor infamous women voice.  I think, given her definition of it in an article she wrote about the subject, that what I am doing is perhaps closer to 'micro history' than strictly biography or fiction.

The courage to keep on going with a project I have now worked on for over 3 years with no end in sight (research alone is taking me ages) and knowing I will continue thinking and rethinking it...that most of the hundreds of pages already written are destined for the trashcan...etc...is necessary.  What I can't believe now is how willing I am to do all this groundwork, the ordering, the endless tasks of figuring out dates and details, etc.  It's like a weird detective story (which is what Lepore says the best micro histories are) and I'm no Sherlock Holmes...just a kind of bumbling I'm not sure who or what...but it's happening and this sense of quiet accomplishment is growing inside me.  Shhhh.  Don't say it out loud a voice says in me...but well there it is...

So, back to work now...it may be a while before I post again.  My goal is to get most of the documents written by Jani read by the end of February.  I've read a ton, but there's a ton more.  However, NOW, it's all - basically - in chronological order....please wish me luck.  Send blessings, prayers, vibes, dances, whatever you believe in...that I may push through onto the other side...




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy (slightly belated) New Year!

Happy New Year!

This was the first time the year passed and I didn't think: oh thank God that's over.  I will always have affection for 2013 (the year I married my beloved!).  I am happy to greet 2014 as well.

Having completed my portion of the editing project mentioned in earlier posts, I'm now back focused on my grandmothers book (hooray!).  I've worked many hours most days since Jan. 2 and am happy for that. The good thing about the crazy amount of hours worked and the levels of concentration needed for the editing project is that I now know what I'm capable of doing and can bring that same focus to my own work.  Also, the editing project gave me the discipline to motor through times of discomfort and tedium, which for a book project this big, with the level of research involved, is necessary.

I have done some writing about the 1940s and read (and chronologically ordered) my grandmother Jani's many opinion pieces, letters to the editor and articles by and about her that range in subject matter from an attempted rape (wherein she fought back and the man ran), which led to her successful fight to see rape laws changed in Wisconsin, issues of sexist grammar, racist and sexist basal readers (she taught remedial reading at an inner-city Milwaukee high school in the 70s), 3-mile Island, NOW, teenage pregnancy, her (unsuccessful) race for city council, violence in schools, teacher's wages, bank fraud and more...this was all from 1971-79 btw (she died in 1980). This does not include her many speeches, longer form articles, three (at least) books in progress, many short stories, hundreds of poems and piles of correspondence.  The correspondence, poems and stories range from the 1930s onward and include matriarchal genealogies from her and her mother, many hundreds of photos, newspaper clippings about marriages and divorces (hers), etc.  Boxes and boxes, people.  aka: a lot.  And this is just One grandmother.  I have discovered this past week that she was as liberal with the truth in print as in private correspondence.  This appears to be a family trait.  I find I feel ashamed of this even when I haven't indulged in this level of deception myself.  In fact the biggest challenge in this whole process is to maintain some level of detachment from my grandmothers' various, pretty obvious shortcomings and not take them all on board as if they are my fate.  Historical codependence perhaps?  

Speaking of which, my new writer hero is the historian Jill Lepore.  I wrote her after reading her piece in The New Yorker about writing her new book about Jane Franklin (Benjamin's sister).  I told her about the grandmothers' book (including above issues) and she suggested I read her journal article 'Historians who love too much' which is brilliant...and helpful...in it she discusses something called micro-history, which is distinguished from biography in that it focuses as much if not more on the social-cultural-political milieu around the person/s (usually not as famous as traditional biographies) being discussed.  I found this helpful, especially as I had begun to describe to myself the poles of the grandmothers book as oscillating between the price of rebellion (Jani) and the soul crushing cost of conformity (Dick).  This in the context of being female in the 20th Century (born before women could vote) and not wealthy (so economic imperatives to marry/go along to get along especially having grown up in the Depression are strong). Breaking the rules was dangerous.  Not breaking them was stultifying.  So, while there is a vast store of personal knowledge, details and whatnot, it all is unfolding within this larger political/economic/gender/philosophical context, which is the context in which all of my writing and theater work has unfolded since 1983.

So...in honor of those who have previously, continue to  and will carve out the poetical-political-philosophical sphere....I leave you with some gorgeous photos taken by John (my beloved Canadian husband & photographer) from my favorite New Year's Day ritual: the St. Mark's Poetry Marathon...


Jonas Mekas, filmmaker, poet, artist - 91 years old & still the coolest guy in the room

Philip Glass - after playing a lovely solo on piano - yes that close & what a treat

Clarinda MacLow - very talented dancer/artist all round great human being (& college friend)

Patti Smith - always the star attraction - always supremely human & always Herself
This year the force of nature also known as Anne Waldman (founder of marathon) stole the show with
a volcanic eruption of words/sounds/screams/cries/visions & nightmares of floods inspired by climate change

There simply is no better way to bring in the New Year than in the middle of St. Mark's Church surrounded by supremely awake, caring, angry, loving human beings.  Hundreds of poets and their admirers.  I felt so safe there, like everything was going to be OK.

John and I volunteered early in the day at the reader's desk, which was a great experience, too.  I can't recommend this enough.  Another reason, among the millions, to love NYC.

Blessings to all for the New Year - may you find your way to your deepest, truest Self-as-becoming... I've had some senses this past year of true connection to everyone around me - seeing, even in the subway filled with people, some type of divine energy manifesting in multiplicity.  I wish this for you, too, because there's nothing better than feeling blissed out in a crowd (without drugs, I hasten to add) and truly awake.

Sometimes everyone just pisses me off, too and I worry about money and shit (just so you know), but I do have those connected moments, which make me feel like this life is just part of a great Dance about which we know only a little...and what could be more wonderful?