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, May 30, 2014

Many blessings, gratitude & relief

A quick update to tell you that my Indiegogo campaign successfully funded the writing of the book and - even more importantly - today my beloved Canadian received his visa for living in the U.S.!  We got up at the crack of dawn to go to the U.S. Consulate in Montreal where Everyone was - wait for it - Really Nice.  I just feel I must say this, because - well - that isn't the usual image one has of immigration officialdom - but from the guards to reception to the various clerks and fellow visa-seekers in the waiting area, it was a revelation in terms of basic good cheer and helpfulness.

So, it's been quite a week.

I will be posting soon a list of all those who generously donated to the cause of giving voice to unheard female voices in 20th Century history in the form of The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani.  Right now in Montreal exhaling with John…speaking of which, will also be posting pictures from Montreal Botanic Garden.  Montreal is kind of great, btw…keep forgetting I'm not in Europe when I'm here.  Just fabulous.

More later, but for now, just this post with all the good news.

Thanks to all of you who have supported both the book and John and me.  What a wild ride.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Only 14 hours left to contribute to The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani

 It's the last 14 hours of the campaign to fund completion of my book!!!

Because of a generous matching funder, we need to raise only $1,000 as of this moment to reach the goal!  While this will be a challenge in 14 hours, it is doable, so please, if you haven't already, check out the link, and if you like what you see, consider contributing.

There are lots of great perks.  For as low as $25, you can receive the first copy of the book and some perks on the higher end ($250 and above) include ways of adding your own grandmother/s into a larger website that will include others' family histories. and receiving personal writing coaching from me for your own stories or books.  If you - or someone you know - would be interested in any of these, please do send them the info soon.  Even if you can't contribute yourself, getting this to someone who could today, would be a Huge help.

Here's the link to contribute to the campaign: http://igg.me/at/theautobiographyofdickandjani/x/1049846

I am writing this blog entry in haste from Montreal, because this week my beloved Canadian husband also has his visa interview to live in the U.S., so it's all happening!  So, please send blessings and prayers of swift and successful completions our way!

Thank you all to have already contributed!  Those who have not remained anonymous will be getting a big, giant shout out from me on this blog (after campaign) and in the book itself (when it's done).

Just a moment to say, the donor list is an extraordinary group of people who I would love to join, and not just 'cause they donated to this project.  The people I know are astonishingly creative, accomplished and just plain old fabulous human beings.  I am going to take a leap and figure those folks I don't yet know are the same.

On a personal level, this group reaches back to friends I've known since a summer theater program I attended at age 14, through to high school, college, many countries lived and worked up to and including people recently met and people I've not yet met.  This feels great!  More on this later, but gotta post this now!

Blessings and gratitude for all your support in all ways.

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?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Born Deleuze or ways of 'constructing a problem' & 'woman-becoming'

So, like, John found a great quotation from Gilles Deleuze & Claire Parnet - in response to my last blog post about issues with History as about Big Events and Big Actors and hesitation over sub-categorizing of History...so I'm gonna put it here with a brief response to the response (because it's 2am, and I don't know where all my brain cells are...)

"The art of constructing a problem is very important: you invent a problem, a problem-position, before finding a solution… The aim is not to answer questions, it's to get out, to get out of it… Getting out is already achieved, or else it never will be. Questions are generally aimed at a future (or a past). The future of women, the future of the revolution, the future of philosophy, etc. But during this time, while you turn in circles among these questions, there are becomings which are silently at work, which are almost imperceptible. We think too much in terms of history, whether personal or universal. Becomings belong to geography, they are orientations, directions, entries and exits. There is a woman-becoming which is not the same as women, their past and the future, and it is essential that women enter this becoming to get out of their past and the future, their history. There is a revolutionary-becoming which is not the same as the future of the revolution, and which does not necessarily happen through the militants. There is a philosophy becoming which has nothing to do with the history of philosophy and which happens through those whom the history of philosophy does not manage to classify." (1-2)

"Dialogues II" by Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet. Essay One: "A Conversation. What Is It? What Is It For?"

I like this because it is in being categorized As Woman (as Other) where all the problems begin. What I want to do with my book is enter into "the becomings which are silently at work" within the lives as lived by Dick & Jani, so we can see and experience these women, not as Other but as Of Us Now.

I hesitate at the idea of "getting out" of past, future & history, if it means letting go of something not yet owned (women acknowledged as within history), and think this is a weakness here, but it is worth attempting a re-framing of Dick & Jani's lives (all our lives and so-called history itself) outside of the traditional ideas of Historical. Imagination has a role here, and at some point my brain cells return, I will go into that. 

But for now...

Cliff notes version (with only 5 days left in campaign): will write philosophical-creative-becoming-nonfiction-fiction for food!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why I distrust the term Women's History or any [fill in the blank with sub-category] History

As most anyone reading this already knows, I am writing a book about my grandmothers, both born in 1916 (before women could vote) but who cut very different paths through the 20th Century.  Their voices, and voices of women like them, have not been listened to or accounted for in official 'history' - so, therefore, I am meant to call what I am doing 'women's' history, right?  Wrong!

While I love all the attempts to redress the balance for women (who aren't even a minority for fuck's sake and in fact are the Majority...as everyone knows but likes to ignore...kind of like poor people, who are the Vast Majority on earth at this moment in time, something like 6:1)...and people of color, gay people, disabled people, people from countries no one's heard of because they are poor and probably don't have any natural resources we can exploit, and people who speak obscure languages.  I love hearing voices that have not been heard.  I love reading about people who no one's ever listened to before.  But I really HATE when these stories are put into condescending sub-categories.

There is something implicitly ghettoizing in this maneuver and it somehow seems to allow the 'normal' version of the subject - in this case history - off the hook.  The regular history class can be taught as per usual - focusing on wars and a few white guys with a token black guy and woman thrown in to prove diversity - and the rest of it pawned off in sub-categories.

This is wrong.  So wrong.  Because then you have gay people reading so-called gay history, women reading so-called women's history, African-American's reading so-called African-American history, etc.  The list is endless and insane.  It's insane because without gay people, women and African Americans, 'normal' U.S. history would not exist.  We are simply not getting the whole story.

A perfect case in point that begins to rectify this imbalance is Jill Lepore's Book of Ages, which is about Jane Franklin (Ben's sister).  Through shreds of evidence and letters Jane wrote, Lepore manages to tell the history of the American Revolution from the ground level.  The reader can see, feel and hear what it was like to be there and live this turbulent time.  I don't know about you, but when I studied history in school, it was all about dates and wars and some political documents, but never about life on the street, in people's homes, domestic arrangements, etc.  There was no real sense of who could read and write or why.  Statistics flew around about this, but no sense of what this meant or felt like as it was lived by most people.

Lepore wrote a great piece in the New Yorker about writing this book on Jane Franklin that her mother had suggested years earlier she had resisted writing, in part because she didn't want to be ghettoized as a "female historian" writing "women's history" - she has made her name writing about the Big Names in American History - in other words: men.

Now, I don't have anything against men, or knowing the big events, but I do have something against the minimizing of efforts and lives that are out of the immediate spotlight, because let's face it the Vast Majority of All People Live Outside of the Spotlight.  So, if you think about it, just focusing on those who are there is a really skewed version of events.

As the journalist Mark Shields once said on the PBS News Hour: they never report the planes that land.

That one sentence is genius and gives you an idea of how much we do Not take into account, not only  historically but even in the daily news.  The quotidian moment is where most of us live most of the time.  We need to include that in our understanding of our histories to understand who and where we are now.

Perhaps this seems worse in the U.S. since we always like to tell ourselves how special we are, etc., and there is perhaps more of a pressure to be in the spotlight accordingly, but this idea - like so many of our fabulous delusions - is spreading globally.  There are many young people throughout he world now who want to be famous - not for anything special - just to "be famous."

There's something wrong here and we've brought it on ourselves by focusing on the 'big events' rather than stopping, listening, learning from people who are less visible, less audible, the 'not famous' - from whom we can discover life as it is lived now...and going back into history - in my case to my grandmothers - but in your case to whomever in your past - and doing some research and deep thinking about who they were, how they lived and what made them tick, will do more for your understanding of history than a hundred Big Event books.

This is what is meant by 'micro-history' of course (which I've blogged about previously) and that term has been active for a while, especially in feminist circles...but I think it can be applied to so many categories.  Worse off than 'women' for example would be the 6 billion or so desperately poor people who are on earth with all of us right now.  How much do we know about these people?  When are they interviewed on the news, except for when shrieking after yet another tragedy where a building collapses or a tsunami kills a million people?

We have to pay attention to what we are paying attention to and to whom.  As Joseph Chaikin put it so well in his book The Presence of the Actor "The question isn't what I want, but what makes me want what I want."  To paraphrase that here: the question is not what do I care about and who do I listen to and respect, but what makes my attention go in that direction?  What could I learn if I shifted my POV?

I feel this so strongly because of the work I've been doing on my own book, and especially researching and attempting to sink into the POV of my less glamorous, more restricted, grandmother, Dick, and also finding out the less well-known aspects of my feminist grandmother, Jani.  I have to continually bring myself to ground level, attempt to see the world from their eyes, in 1916, in 1921, 1935, 1942, 1957...etc...I know fiction writers have been doing this for ages, so it's not news, but I'm mixing imagination with research, so there's another level here (not just flying off into fictional ungrounded by fact but nor restricting myself to standard verifiability protocols).  I call this now molecular history (see last post).

A great example of fictional history recently is Hilary Mantel's Cromwell Trilogy (tho waiting for number 3 still!)...a way of seeing British history as anything but the dry listing of kings and queens.  In finding the humanity in this most complex person, she also seems to school us in the history of capitalism undermining monarchy - without once bringing that idea conceptually.  If there could be such a thing as a lived history of capitalism struggling to break through monarchy, this'd be it...and it's breathtaking. Seriously, read her now, if you haven't.

There are formidable examples of what I am speaking of here...but I'm taking this whole idea to another level: speaking of, from the voices of, women who were never famous or lived near or with famous people. I believe their voices are so important Because of that, and because this specifically female voice of the 20th Century has not been heard.  There have been many fictional men from that period who lived 'normal' lives and from whose POV we've seen the 20th Century, but not so many women who were not famous or infamous.  This is my humble attempt to rectify this imbalance.

Hope to hear from any of you toiling in these fields, too.  You are out there, I'm fairly certain.  The time has come to get underneath the official story to tell the whole story.  No One person can do that, but we can put out our feelers, hack through the weeds...blaze a trail and find one another there...

[and yeah, there's only 6 days left in the campaign, so if you want to help me finish this book I've been working on for 3+ years, here's the link: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani

Monday, May 19, 2014

How's 'molecular history' grab ya?

OK, so the folks who contributed to the discussion about micro-history have earned a collective ‘prize’, because all of them have contributed to a deeper understanding on my part of what ‘micro-history’ has meant, can mean and how it relates to this project (The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani aka "my grandmothers book).  You are all invited to my place for dinner to convene for my famous lentil stew and an ongoing conversation.  Jane, who instigated this conversation by asking the question about ‘micro,’ is also invited as chief provocateur.

First to give credit for a suggestion for a totally new name, ‘granular history” – a real writer's choice from a real writer, Christian - who notes that granular data is that collected at the level of individuals, that granular also implied grain and of course ‘grannies.’  I love the poetry of this, but have not landed here…however, it got me thinking in the direction of evocative terms that are not only about size 'micro' but also substance...I also just thought of course of grainy photographs...like this one...(a personal favorite...)

Dick, Jim & George: 1939 - this picture just haunts me in all the right ways

hmmm...maybe I will go back to this...but for now...

Comments about micro-history from Robin and a historian, referred to the history of the term, which gained traction in the 1970s-80s amongst European academics and implies histories that either included people who were not ‘major actors’ but also not ‘major events.’  Or “asks large questions in small spaces.” 

Robin looked up the definition of micro, which was “conceded with minute detail” (which, she noted, hardly means insignificant) in contrast to small, which was "not great in amount, number, strength or power" (the last one was what struck her).  Therefore micro is not about small but about 'minute detail.'

The historian mentioned a book I know I should read, Nina Gelbert's King's Midwife.  She suggested this because the author discussed how difficult it was to write about a person who can only be discovered in traces.  While I have a lot of stuff about both grandmothers, there are also a lot of gaps I need to fill, so this is valuable to consider.

John, who contributed the most in-depth analysis, saw an analogy to micro and macro-economics, quoting the comedian P.J. O’Rourke who said “microeconomics concerns things that economists are specifically wrong about, while macroeconomics concerns things economists are wrong about generally.”  In other words, one has to do with money on the ground and the other has to do with theories of economic flows, models, etc. 

John goes on to say that "the distinction being made with micro-history is much more complex than the economic model would suggest, because economics looks for necessary relationships that can be mathematically modeled and history is about contingency. Right from the start of your project, the differences between Dick and Jani's lives illustrates that micro-history is not about correlations, nor about differences-in-degree that can be measured: it is about choices and consequences, about the differences-in-kind that compose historical events and times....

"...Macro-histories show how people are caught up in the sweep of history, but micro-histories show how each person makes choices that distinguish them as individuals over and above the general flow of the historical. The "big names" of state sponsored macro-narratives may have changed the course of the historical, but in micro-histories individuals are changing themselves and distinguishing themselves from the dominant narratives of their time...

Further "...micro-histories create an ever larger sense of the historical: far from trivializing history, the micro-historical gives back to history the complexity proper to anything temporal in nature.”

So, given what we have seen in terms of grand narratives, I’m all pro-the micro in this context. 
However, John also drew a parallel between the way micro & macro works here and 'molecular' & 'molar' works in the French philosophers Deleuze & Guattari.  I am not going to summarize their work here, because that would be silly...but...

This led me to consider a phrase I now like ‘molecular history' – because molecular is a level that can only be perceived with a micro-view - but, as we all know, nothing exists without being created by molecules.  If you could see any object at the molecular level, you would see how vital even a seemingly inanimate object is. This ironically, gets us closer to the complexity of the reality on the ground as it were.  Plus, molecules cannot be considered trivial in any way and are bound by strong, yet mutable, bonds...kinda like, well, life...

So...Whaddya think?? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Only 12 days left!

Hello dear readers,

I'm up in Maine visiting my mother so don't have a lot of time to write a long post, though I will eventually consolidate all the interesting answers about micro-history.

This is simply a plea for help: With only 12 days left (until May 27 when campaign ends), we need to raise $3,900 to reach the goal for the campaign for The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani.  This is possible, but a challenge.  So, I need to ask your help. If you can donate, it'd be great if you could do that now - donations can start at $1 and Any Amount helps!  There are great perks at all levels and I've added one now - if we reach the goal, everyone donating at All levels, will be invited to a draft completion party in NYC!

If you don't have a dollar to spare, and believe me I've been there so I understand, you can still help by spreading the word - through email, facebook, twitter, whathaveyou…Everyone who donates time and/or money becomes a part of this project and this journey.  I'd love to have you along for the ride.

Here's the link: http://lnkd.in/dVGW_Jf

If you want to know more about the book and me, here's a link to a wonderful Q&A done for my alma mater Wesleyan University's newsletter: Wesconnect

We all thank you:

1916: Jani on left with her mother Ida & Dick aka Betty on right at photo studio



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Does 'micro-history' imply something small?

Quick update: getting lots of interesting answers to this question: keep 'em coming!

A new question that has come up in a discussion online about this project is about the term "micro-history" and if it somehow diminishes the subject. Does 'micro' imply minor? (Micro-history is a term that was coined to describe biographies of people who are generally not famous but are somehow emblematic of an historical period and that focus more on the social & political realities of the time. You can read my guest blog post about this on Women Writer's online journal.)

I mulled this over for a bit, because I can see the issue there and a possible connotation of 'micro' is small and less than. However, I think 'micro' also has a connotation of the possibility of careful looking to perhaps see something small and invisible to the naked eye (as in micro-scope). However, I am also interested in the 'macro' view as well, so began to wonder if a new word is necessary.

So, I leave this with you to mull over along with me - and I'm happy to hear suggestions - for new words that can describe a project such as this, which closely examine two lives in an historical context, using both research and imagination as guides. If anyone comes up with something I use, I'll come up with a special gift for you. I haven't a clue what that is yet, but I will. Promise (!)

In other news, we are in the middle of the campaign, but now with only 15 days left! So if there is anyone you haven't told about it that you had meant to or if you wanted to donate but haven't, this would be a great time to do that! I've heard these middle period of campaigns tend to be slow, so that's normal, but as get to the 1-2 week range, I'm hoping we can get closer to the goal. The link is here.

Thank you again for your support and for being part of this journey, whether by reading this blog or supporting this book or both. I remain moved by each and every contribution received so far. I promise you that no matter what, I will complete the book, but it would be great to be able to have the whole summer to finish the research and a draft for the agent. I'd love to see the book published in time for my grandmothers' centennial (2016). There's a goal I will work tirelessly to achieve!

Below are twos photo of Dick (right) & Jani (left) in the 1930s, when they were probably about 16. I love these two photos, because they are both beautiful and enjoying their new sense of self...even if that sense would be threatened or hidden away by circumstances over the years...here they are gorgeous and knowing it. Dick in a dress she designed for herself and Jani in a dress I am fairly certain her mother would have made for her (because Jani had no patience for that kind of thing).

early 1930s: Jani on left in Toledo, OH &  Dick on right in Seymour, CT

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Micro-history & Lack of Sleep

Some more good 'campaign'-related news!  I was invited to guest blog over at Women Writers online journal.  The piece focuses on the term micro-history, which I first encountered in an article by Jill Lepore from the 1980s "Historians Who Love Too Much."  A micro-history is distinguished from a biography by generally focusing on less well-known individuals, whose lives are in some way emblematic of a period of time socially and politically.  This term helped me frame The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani outside of the personal nature of writing about my grandmothers.

Check it out at Micro-history: Our Grandmothers, Our Selves

The crowd-funding campaign to help me finish this book is now 58% funded at the half-way point, and am continuing to contact folks and find people who are interested in this project who may want to support it financially and/or help spread the word.  To anyone who has already given of time and/or money: thank you, thank you, thank you!

I almost lost it last night when I sent out a newsletter update thing that stopped midway and had to manually send out the last mails.  It was 6a.m., I'd been up all night and the dreaded red notification arrived saying some addresses were deleted.  It was because I had too many old email addresses that weren't working anymore.  Dear Chimp Mail people: NOW I KNOW.

Then, this morning the intercom system starts making a mosquito-like sound that wakes me up.  I call the superintendent who informs me there is a guy fixing it.  Said guy comes up to my place, is confused and then disappears.  The super, Joel is pisstified.  I call the management company.  Someone comes back - many hours later - and Makes The Horrible Sound Go Away.

Result: I've had less than 5 hours sleep and therefore am a bit - well - slaphappy.  Remember that word?  That was a good word.  Let's bring it back: slaphappy.

OK, you get the picture...so I'm going to sign off, but first (in the immortal words of my mother and me: "one more thing" - which is what she thinks will be engraved on her tombstone...mine will say "she tried") I want to add these pictures of Dick & Jani.  They show a time period when their lives began to seriously diverge in the early 1940s...but also, check it out, they would only be in their mid-20s in these pictures.  In other words, the same age as the young women in Girls are today.  They look so much older.  I have to remind myself all the time how young they were.  And wonder about why we now just keep looking younger...are we less mature?  Do we need a longer kidulthood to navigate global late-capitalist weirdness or like what?

But here are Dick & Jani in the early 1940s: before Hiroshima, before most people knew about Concentration Camps - after WWI so there was a knowledge of crazy - but not the knowledge of Deep Dark Absolutely Incomprehensible Crazy aka Pre-Universal Irony aka a world I cannot possibly imagine and yet Must in order to write this book.

Jani in first public divorce battle & Dick, Jim & George at Westpoint 1941

Wish me luck!  I really, really want to give voice to these women.  Jani left behind lots of writing and Dick left behind lots of pictures with handwritten notes on them.  I knew them both, but the further I sink into this, the less I know...and that's a good thing.  The only place to be.  If I thought I knew anything, the book would die on the vine.

Thanks for following the journey.  It means the world to me that you do.

p.s. Jani's hat is the same style as Rosalind Russell's in His Girl Friday with Cary Grant.  1940.  About a female reporter (which she - Jani - was for a bit after Bob - her then husband - left for his training and deployment) and her charming, caddish boss.  Coincidence?  I think not.

p.p.s. The picture on right is when Dick, George & Jim were still the Bukoskis, before George had to clear a security check to be a secretary on the Manhattan Project (the office part that actually was in Manhattan) and became a "Barclay" so his name wouldn't sound "too Red" - NB: for my younger readers - Red meant Communist then, not - like now - Red State as in Tea Party as in - well you know.  The color Red has certainly changed meaning as well...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Good news from the 'campaign trail'!

As you know from my last post, I'm in the middle of a crowd-funding campaign for my book The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani.  The good news there is that in 18 days we've raised $5,560 funded!  Hooray!  The glass is a little more than 1/2 full, but of course there's still that 44% to go, which - if you've ever done this kind of thing - and I haven't until now - you will know is quite scary.  There was a great rush of donations at the beginning, which have leveled out.  So, I suppose this is a bit of a plea to any of you out there who are thinking of supporting this project, to do so soon.  It'd be nice when the clock's winding down in a couple weeks to be close to or over the goal. There are folks contributing now who I don't know, which is fabulous, and there are many of you who read this who I don't know, but you have deeper background into how this book has evolved.  If you want to see it completed - sooner rather than later - this would be great time to show your support!  And if you can't give money, help spreading the word is great, too!If you'd like to hear something about this project from someone else, here's a nice shout out from the Lao American writer Bryan Thao Worra at his blog at On The Other Side of the Eye:
http://thaoworra.blogspot.com/2014/05/indiegogo-project-highlight-amazing.html

I want to give a shout-out of my own to the early-bird contributors to the campaign - without you, I would surely be freaking. As I have told many people, starting this campaign - asking for money to complete a project I think is vitally important but nonetheless is still asking for money - was like walking into high school naked.  Every time someone donates, I feel like I'm getting back a piece of clothing.  So, thank you for making me feel not so exposed.  I am so moved and humbled you have supported telling the tale of Dick and Jani.

In other news, my beloved is in Canada waiting for his Embassy date at the end of the month.  It truly sucks not having him here.  Hard to find a way to relax and let go of the roller coaster ride that is a crowd-funding campaign when living by myself.  I do have ways to do that, including going out to take a walk on a lovely Spring day...so think that's what I'll do...speaking of Spring: here's a photo of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens about a week ago:



Japanese Garden in Brooklyn Botanical Gardens