So, it's been a while since I've written. Lots going on: writing, teaching writing, applying for work, going through endless visa process for/with my beloved Canadian husband.
But, in the meantime, my beloved step-father Tom's memoir was published and is now available on Amazon, so I want to give you the link here: Seeking Adventure, Finding Home. If you are interested in how someone combined a deep spiritual and social justice sensibility with tackling real-world problems (in places as far flung as Columbia, South Africa and Bangladesh - and as strange as the Providence, RI & D.C.), then this is the memoir for you. If you are also interested in how someone can hurl themselves around the world in the first part of life but then find an even deeper happiness as he got older by 'retiring' to renovating a farmhouse in Maine, and finally - after physical disabilities became too much for even that - becoming witness-in-chief of a pond outside his condominium in Brunswick, Maine (along with working at a soup-kitchen, taking classes at local colleges and being part of a very active James Joyce study group), then this is also the book for you.
Here's the promo postcard designed by my very own Canadian:
One of the astonishing things about Tom's death was that it was clear he was transcending the wheel of suffering, because he had lived a good life in all the possible meanings of the phrase. I wrote here about the waves of love I felt from him as he took his last breath, holding his feet, with his beloved Ganesh statue behind me in the ICU.
He was not perfect, nor did he aspire to be, but he was a loving and vital human being who used every one of his many talents to make the world a better place. Now, that, is a life worth celebrating.
I am lucky in that he was my stepfather long enough for me to appreciate this about him and that before he died we had worked through residual issues (not unsurprising for a teenager and her fourth father...). His generosity to me from the beginning of his relationship with my mother in 1980 was kind of breathtaking. The need my mother had for that kind of love, a man who would be her champion in every way, was palpable, and I - as the daughter who had attempted to carry that weight for a long time - was mightily relieved when he came along to take it off my back.
My mother in turn offered him a kind of love and nurture he so desperately needed and so they accomplished what they both happily referred to as a "successful mutual rescue project." This is the kind of happy ending one wishes to see in the real world. I feel so grateful I had a front row seat. It took me many years to take on board the life lesson staring at me for over 30 years, but eventually I, too, found the love of my life, and so the (happy) story continues.
My mother and I, with the help of men like Tom and John (and our own ceaseless work on ourselves in various ways too numerous and in some cases embarrassing - I'm talking about me here - to mention), have slowly but surely turned the direction of the enormous toxin-filled ship of - no exaggeration - hundred of years of generational alcoholism and dysfunction away from the inevitable grounding on the proverbial shoals of self-destruction (in which many innocents also drown for the sin of just being near the cyclonic force - to mix the 5th metaphor), to a more gentle shore. A place where the toxins can be unloaded, perhaps stored somewhere safe even, in hopes they won't hurt anyone else, ourselves included.
My beloved cousin Darcy and her amazing husband James in the way they are with each other and how they are raising their two wonderful children Simon & Leo are also charting a different course out of the dangerous fog within which our inheritance wants us to get lost.
I am so lucky to be alive and so is my mother, but more than that - in this life - this very life - without anything given to us to start - except arguably in a weird sideways cosmic pincer move, one loud, angry, raucous, politically astute, feminist, hell-bent-active alcoholic-but-loving-in-her-own-crazy-ass-way woman (my grandmother, her mother, Jani, who fought and clawed to gasp air even when she didn't even know what it was to breathe) - we have found a way out of the predetermined path of self-destruct on which we had been set.
Tom was a huge part of this healing project and I celebrate him here. I miss him so much I can barely let myself feel it most of the time, but I am equally grateful he was in my life.
One person's love can make that much difference. Know that. Act on that. With that power you can really change the world - not just the wallpaper. For realz.
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.