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.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rest stops, T.S. Eliot & Van Gogh

Sometimes, it's time to rest. That involuntary understanding crashed over me suddenly a few days ago, the day after the anniversary of my miscarriage in 2007 (the day after my wedding at which my then-husband and I had announced the 12 week pregnancy). I miscarried in Cornwall, in a self-catering apartment, on the first day of our honeymoon on a gorgeous evening. The whole way to the hospital in the taxi, I just looked out at the coastline, sun setting, royal blue with little strands of pink and purple, saying over and over again, it's so beautiful, it's so beautiful.

I may have written this here before on another anniversary. I don't know.

The point is, this year it hit me hard, I could feel the sensation of the physical loss in my body and I could no longer continue editing the book. A friend who has also miscarried and like me is now past child-bearing age with no children had a kind of brilliant insight. She said: editing means cutting, right? Yes, I said. Well, maybe it's too hard to lose anything right now.

Yes, I said. Yes, you are absolutely right.

So, I've been resting. Someone else had the insight a while back that rests are part of musical notation. So, this is a long rest stop. This rest is getting to look like John Cage's silence piece (4'33"), except for a lot longer.

On the other hand, it's the first long break (that hasn't included other work, applying for other work, taxes, etc.) that I've taken for well over a year, and by long, I mean since Thursday.

John, my beloved, and I have had the time to do a few fixing up things for the apartment. On Sunday we took a long walk in Central Park, punctuated by a visit to the Met to see the astonishing Plains Indians exhibit. A few photos of my photos below were all taken in or near Conservancy Garden (near 105th Street & 5th Ave.) - these are the first photos I've taken with my real (not phone) camera since November 2014:

Central Park Conservancy Garden - April 19, 2015 

Central Park Conservancy Garden - April 19, 2015 

Central Park Conservancy Garden - April 19, 2015 


I am not sure when I will get back to editing the book, but I will. All I know right now is: I can't push it. Spring takes a toll on me. It's beautiful but T.S. Eliot, the miserable sod, was right: "April is the cruelest month." Or, as another friend of mine said once, even more succinctly "April is a liar."

There is all this beauty and all this loss. That is always true of course, but perhaps because April - when there is life popping up all over so improbably and yet so inexorably after such a long, hard winter - seems so promising, that when there is loss associated with it, that loss seems somehow crueler. In my case, aside from the 2007 miscarriage, April's abrupt losses also include deep history - all the way back to 1966 when my mother and father split suddenly (because my father was violent and my mother needed to get away) and I was left with my grandparents - and then many other traumatic and disruptive events after that (some of which in adulthood I perhaps brought on myself as some kind of reenactment).

In any case, it's a hard time, so this April I'm turning into the curve, allowing for the grieving, giving up on the muscling through routine. As I mentioned to John the other day, all the regrets in my life have to do with my attempts to muscle through - tasks, relationships, ideas, projects - that I knew in my heart I should let go of or at least take a break from.

This book is too precious to me to do that with and my life is also finally too precious to fuck with - and yes I know I have dangling prepositions and I don't even care (!)

Finally, I should mention that this April I finally feel some sense of safety and security - John is here with his Green card and not about to head back to Canada with no firm return date (like last year), and I can make it financially for another few months. This means I have the space to feel all the grieving that I have had to heretofore repress. So, April showers bring May flowers and all that - if you'll pardon the hackneyed metaphor.

The good news is I am open on many levels, including - as one recent night - to the realization that my book is worth a damn. I've been working so closely on it, I lost track of that fact, and so this rest has at the very least reminded me of that - which is no small thing.

When we were at the Met, we walked through the room with the Van Gogh paintings, by accident, which astonished me afresh. The below paintings (photos by John Barclay-Morton) made me cry. Seeing them live, I was able to feel the beauty in motion in stillness, how the colors and textures leap off the painting. I have always loved Van Gogh's work but never felt it like this before. If it takes rests for this, so be it. That level of connection to beauty and deep joy - even over centuries - is worth it. Indeed, what else is life for if not this? Except of course love, but this is a form of that...

Van Gogh at the Met in NYC - photo by John Barclay-Morton

Van Gogh at the Met in NYC - photo by John Barclay-Morton





Thursday, April 2, 2015

This is what I feel like when editing...

For #TBT (Throwback Thursday for anyone not overly socially mediatized...), I posted this photo taken by my father of me circa 1972. Yes, that's a dictionary and yes, aside from being older, this is what I look like when I'm writing, reading, thinking, focusing and/or editing. Some things never change.

your humble blogger: circa 1972



Have begun the editing process on The Book, and it's the same usual one up, one down in terms of days and how I feel...today was like molasses and I felt about, well, 9...