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. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.

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 a new book recently completed.

I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.

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. You can also contact me through that site.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

St. Mark's Poetry Marathon & The Resister Project

There are some amazing events I have been asked to participate in this January - beginning on New Year's Day. In real life I would be very excited about all this, and in some ways I am. Grieving for my stepfather has robbed me of enthusiasm, however, these events are going to be life-affirming, fierce, joyful and important, and they benefit excellent causes, so do come along if you can.

I am deeply honored be reading this year at the 43rd Annual St. Mark’s New Year’s Day Poetry Marathon at St. Mark’s Church on 10th St & 2nd Ave. in the 5-6pm slot. Here’s link to this amazing event, which was begun by Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg: https://www.poetryproject.org/events/43rd-annual-new-years-day-marathon-benefit-reading/

Starting January 5, I will be reading as part of the The Resister Project produced by The Dirty Blondes at Kraine Theater on East 4th Street in January. Dates and specifics of schedules all plays and readers here:  http://www.thedirtyblondes.org/the-resister-project.html Proceeds will go to ACLU. 

In both cases I will be reading excerpts from THE AMAZING TRUE IMAGINARY AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DICK & JANI. At St. Mark's it will be an excerpt that I structured like John Cage's Lectures on Nothing, using found text from the 1950s, both news and personal documents that I found in Dick's papers.

For The Resister Project, I will be reading excerpts that highlight Dick and Jani's political differences, because their lives as women who were born before women could vote during WWI and who would be 100 and 101 if alive today, embody the opposite sides of the political chasm into which we now find ourselves staring. If alive, Dick would have voted for Trump and Jani for Clinton. They are both my grandmothers, so I feel this schism on a visceral level. Clearly, I ended up on the lefthand side of the equation, but am deeply aware of the other side of this divide. I will be reading in their voices most probably from the 1960s, when a certain part of this divide cracked open, even though it goes back way further than that. I know it's an unpopular opinion these days on the left, but I believe understanding the roots of this are important and listening to all sides is a good idea, as is a sense of history when the present seems as if it is a surprising  development (even if it isn't). The details of other plays and such can be found at link above.

If you attend any of these events, do say hello. I'm not the most fun person ever these days, but appreciate hugs and kindness.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rumi on grieving

I may have posted this before, but I'm posting it again, because this poem by Rumi that I have tacked up above my computer is saving me again.  Probably because of reading it this morning and letting it sink in, each line, I had a moment today, walking up the stairs from the subway to go to a writer's meeting, of grace - the kind of moment when you feel you are being carried.

I am praying for acceptance every day now. Of it all.


Here is Rumi (Coleman Barks translation):


This being human is a guest
house.  Every morning
a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and attend them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, still,
treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Welcome difficulty.
Learn the alchemy True Human
Beings know:
the moment you accept what troubles
you've been given, the door opens.

Welcome difficulty as a familiar
comrade.  Joke with torment
brought by the Friend.

Sorrows are the rags of old clothes
and jackets that serve to cover,
and then are taken off.
That undressing,
and the beautiful
naked body
                     underneath,
                                    is the sweetness
                                                that comes

                                                            after grief.


* * *



p.s. In case you want to hear my words and live in or near NYC, you can go to St. Mark's Poetry Marathon on New Year's Day. I'm reading in the 5-6pm slot - would normally send out newsletter about that but can't bring myself to do that right now, so announcing it here. It's a lovely time. Come along if you can.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Let there be light

Whichever holiday you celebrate today, let us all bring in the love and light. Here's our tree from last night in Maine. My favorite, Christmas Eve, when it's dark and the lights are twinkling. Bulbs from many generations young to older. Missing people not here, especially this year David, my stepfather who died last Friday suddenly and without warning. But glad to be together with our little family, this year John and me and my mother, Robin, and her cat Maggie. Friends of hers will join us for dinner tonight.

As the song says "these are the good old days" - cherish them, each other, all of us.

Blessings to you and let there be light.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

My stepfather David died on Friday suddenly and without warning

I usually can write about grief, even poetically. This time it's harder. This time the loss is abrupt and without warning. This time it is my stepfather, David, who died on Friday of a massive heart attack. This time I didn't get to say goodbye. While he was not married to my mother anymore, he is the one who had been in my life since age 3, who brought me to theater and writing, who enlarged our lives that had been made small because of my first stepfather, who was a deeply disturbed human being, someone I could best describe as a Methodist Artaud, signaling through the flames of his own suffering, unable not to take those nearest him down with him.

David came along in 1969, and suddenly - from my point of view - I was only 6-7 when my mother and he got together - they had met earlier in 1966 (but my mother was still with the first stepfather) - the world got bigger and brighter. Instead of crying, my mother was smiling. Instead of liver, we ate pizza and could drink exotic liquids like Pepsi, even eat...Oreos! My first stepfather had been a whole foods Nazi. Some of this was good: eating organic vegetables from our own garden, etc. but some of it was really bad: forced eating of liver being a main one and no sugar - at all. This very forced-feeding practice was the centerpiece of a writing exercise I did at Kripalu this past week in fact...maybe will add that later. But the point being, David came along, and even though he was damaged and sad from Vietnam and having to take care of his younger brother and sister because his mother had just died young, as had his two fathers, all of alcoholism basically, he also had great artistic passion, and so brought me to the theater.

Oh, so big deal, all kids get to go to the theater you might say, but not so much in back of beyond Maine and also most kids don't get to go to theater rehearsals and sit next to the director and help him time the scenes while watching her future stepfather rehearse his part in You Can't Take it With You and have the extraordinary experience of walking onto the realistic looking living room set and then see that the stairs that looked like they went upstairs from the front, when you went to the back, went back down. This was an astonishment - pure magic to my six year old eyes.

Or be rattled to the core when there was a blackout and an explosion sound, so disturbed in a luscious way - the way only live theater can do - that I remember trembling while eating a reheated chicken pot pie in the back with all the actors who treated me like their special little friend. I was part of this big family of happy adults. I had never seen happy adults before this. That could play and laugh and cry and be warm and fun. And this was all - I should add - a community theater production. So these adults had other jobs in the real world, but this was how they spent their evenings, preparing for shows. I sat next to the director riveted by his power and how he had people move around and timed everything. I loved working the stopwatch for him. I would have gone to the moon for him.

The other huge part of my life that expanded was being able to stay at the cottage on Peaks Island, Maine, that tragically the family had to sell recently, but where I spent many summers - on a sunporch looking out to the Atlantic. That beauty saved my life over and over and over again. An ocean, the tide, the sunrise, the moonrise, the sound of waves crashing against the rocks over and over and over again.

All of this after living in isolation and fear from the disturbed first stepfather - moving around downeast Maine, having no friends my age, and just being basically scared. I wrote a lot apparently - poems in magic markers I gave to my mother, and played with imaginary friends, but I had no fun place to go.

We then moved to Connecticut and David and my mother worked in the arts, him at the NTI and she at American Dance Festival at Conn College. In the midst of meeting all these wonderful artists and seeing work by all the luminaries of the avant-garde in the early 1970s who passed through both places, including Peter Brook, Joseph Chaikin, Living Theater, even Richard Foreman at the dance festival - not knowing who any of them were and wondering what the hell was going on but all of it leaving a deep imprint...then in the midst of that beauty and strangeness a horrific period of time where I was left with a caretaker who also went nuts - for real - and I've written about all that so not gonna do it again, but it was David who saved me from her. His sister who had been living in this deeply weird situation with me was able to extricate herself and go get him. My mother at the time was in NYC. If you saw my play Autograce in 2014, you saw a version of this incident, and the scene in which he entered the house and got me out.

There was a lot that devolved from there, he was deeply affected by that episode as well and it exacerbated his PTSD from Vietnam and no one knew what to do with me so I ended up at my grandparents on the Cape. But then a couple years later, once David had written a play that would end up on Broadway, GR Point, and that was moving forward and my mother and he had recovered enough to bring me back, we all lived in a house in Providence, RI. David had accepted he was gay - that was a drama, because in the 1960s you weren't allowed to be gay, and in the 1970s only a few people were and they usually weren't Vietnam Vets with plays about that experience headed for Broadway, so it was all very confusing and hush-hush on the public level, yet privately we were living in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous like all the time. I was Safi.

But again, surrounded by lovely actors and dancers and people in the arts of all kinds, and I was drawing and making theater and writing, even if I was a bit distrustful of the whole disco fever whirling around me. And of course that world crashed out around us - first my mother and he divorced because it was too much for her, for them both - and she flourished professionally and so did he and they stayed friends, and I went on to a boarding school and started directing plays - not surprisingly I suppose - and writing and all that but mostly: plays.

My high school graduation was hilarious - I introduced my mother, then when I realized how impossible it would be to introduce David (ex-stepfather) with his lover and my mother and her fiancé (future stepfather) and her father and his second wife (my step grandmother) and David's best friend from college who was a mentor/uncle person to me, also gay but not David's partner, and David's half-sister, Barb...etc. etc., I just said instead this is my mother, Robin, and Tom and David and Peter and Robert and Lily and Barb and Walter...etc.

This was in 1981. About 10-20 years from then this would not have seemed unusual. Trust me when I tell you in 1981, this was not a common sighting. However, I knew, even as I made dark humored jokes about it all - we all did - that for all the chaos - and there was chaos - it was special.

Then AIDS came along - was coming along - and pretty much all the people I had known growing up in the 1970s around that time died or were dying of AIDS. Miraculously, David was not one of them, nor Walter (who was his friend from college and such an important stable figure for me growing up - even though he like everyone had his own demons and addictions). But we mourned deeply and for what seemed like fucking forever.

In 1981, I ended up going to his university, Wesleyan, which was something I never thought would happen - but did for a variety of reasons. Our lives remained intertwined, through out various theatrical and his screenwriting endeavors. We had times of being very close and times when we were at severe odds, emotionally and artistically. But never did we lose respect or love for each other.

His biggest honorific to my mind was referring to me as troop. This was a term of respect, because he knew I too had been through the wars. He always said coming into the apartment where I was with Mrs. Levine, the caretaker, had reminded him of a battlefield. This was not the only one either, and he knew that. We both struggled to deal with our damage through art - writing and theater. We succeeded and failed. We were harsh critics of one another and each other's biggest allies.

He tried to warn me about my first codependent marriage. I hated him for it. He was - for the record - absolutely right. I will never forget one of the many moments wherein we stood or sat somewhere laughing like teenage girls. This was while I was getting divorced from my first husband who had dumped me for someone younger, telling me that on the day I found out my first play was to be published. I had the anthology and handed a copy to David, saying, "Here, this is the thing that cost me my marriage." And he said, "Good trade."

It was cold and windy, we were on a sidewalk in NYC after some event or other, can't remember which, and we laughed so hard I practically peed myself.

That is the David I love so much. I love all of them, and of course the little me misses the one who saved me, and that is a part of the firmament that will never be replaced, but the times we made each other laugh, so hard and so much people probably thought we were stoned, but after a certain point in time (another long story) we weren't. It was just the absurdity of life, the one we shared for fifty years.

I can't remember what it was, but something happened yesterday, as I was walking to a meeting clutching my bagel and coffee, and I thought or said something to myself that I knew would make David laugh and I could see him, I swear to God, see him laughing in front of me, those eyes twinkling and that impish grin, and I hope that will always be the case. I can't bear to be without that laugh, anyone who knew him knows what I mean.

I will leave you therefore with two photos that encapsulate our times together. One (semi-fictional) from Autograce (Stephanie Willing and Derrick Peterson in 2014) and one from 2013 of us at Elephant & Castle (that John Barclay-Morton took - it was the first time he had met David, and he, too, was charmed). David gave me the ring that is visible on my hand in that photo, that I have worn every day since.

Goodbye David, I can't believe you're gone. And in some ways I just refuse to.


















Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks in Dark Times...

Apparently, the first official Thanksgiving was declared by President Lincoln during the Civil War.

Well...

Here we are. Thanksgiving in 2016 with the country probably more divided than it has been since then. I know there were other times when it was divided, and maybe those were worse. But it's pretty bad now. And I have never had the dubious privilege of living in stomach knot twisting fear of a President-Elect, as I am now.

Things that have come out these past few days include: a professor watch list where students can accuse their professors of having too much of a liberal bias. When I saw that at first, I laughed. Ever since then, though, I have had a stomach so full of knots it is literally eating itself. I am not joking. I am still writing, was able to do yoga finally, and am meditating, including breathing exercises. Some nights I can sleep and some nights I cannot.

This is Trump's America for me so far, even in one of the - if not the - most liberal borough of the most liberal city in America that voted against him by over 90% (that would be NYC - where he is from...let that sink in).

OK, so there's that, and many others have it far worse than me.

So what am I thankful for? The list is almost endless, but I'll do one anyway (and the order does not signify the importance):

1. The ability to write - even through this.
2. The fact that so far I have not self-destructed in ways I could easily do, but have not.
3. The love in my life, including my beloved Canadian, my mother, my friends - some of whom I will spend tomorrow with in the most diverse neighborhood in the US (Jackson Heights, Queens). One friend, Christian, I have known for over 30 years. We have seen each other through many phases of our lives and I will be delighted to spend Thanksgiving with him and his beloved, Ricardo, and a few of their other friends.
4. NYC
5. NYC
6. NYC and the people herein - overall the people with whom I relate the best and have been acting in heartbreakingly kind and generous ways with one another recently - and I trust will continue doing so. Sometimes there are assholes, but they are not the majority.
7. Kindness - when I see it and feel it.
8. Autumn leaves and the blue blue sky
9. The People's Republic of Inwood (my neighborhood)
10. Artists, writers, theater people, dancers, musicians...everyone who creates things in response to dark times, either as witness or to soothe or to imagine a different future...or simply to dream, or create delightful respite.
11. Paragraph writing studio and all those with whom I share my writing either in silence or at readings
12. Various FB groups in which I do same and the people in real life I have connected with who have given me faith in my writing and humanity in general.
13. National Novel Writing Month (now) that helps motivate me to write every day, and the fact I have done that this month: written every day.
14. New and old friends who have graced my year in so many lovely ways: Suzanne, Adam, Shawn, Christian, Suki, Wendy, Francelle, Julie, David, Marietta, James, Ilana, Aurvi, Carle, Peter, Susan, Sarah, Sharon, Russell, Jane, Pam, Maryan, Allan, Sauna, Kat, Alice, Nina, Andrew, Kate, Nathan, Spencer, Andrea, Veronica, Fran, Gina, Jenny, Ellen, Olivia, Leah, and others I'm sure I've forgotten...and those who have stayed close on FB even from afar, like Fi, Kirsten, Therese, Catherine, Sean, Bennett, Renee, Alison..
15. Scholarships to two very important writing conferences, which made it possible for me to attend what would have otherwise been impossible and the help people at those conferences gave me and friends I met there, too many to mention all...
16. The many people with whom I meet in various rooms to keep ourselves sane.
17. My students who remind me why I'm here...for real. These are some amazing young people, and maybe because I'm not a parent myself, I find in them such joy and love even. Hard to describe that alchemy, but while the pay is far too low, the rewards in this way are rich indeed. While our present may not seem too promising, I guarantee you, the kids are alright. Assuming we don't blow up the planet, they will be there to create something great once we fade away. Of this, I am certain. This is the source of my hope. If I wasn't teaching, I don't know how I would feel. So, I am grateful that I am. I am grateful I can use my skills as a writer and teacher to help them learn how to express themselves in the clearest, most elegant way possible. I do this, so you will listen to them, because their voices and ideas should be taken seriously.

And on that note, I will end. On a note of hope for the future, because God/dess knows we have at least four years of needing to try to withstand a storm that I can only hope we will withstand. My hope here is that many are awake to the need to keep our Constitution intact and I can only hope we won't be duped by a false crisis or goodness knows what. When I do not feel hopeful, I fall into fear and despair, and I cannot live there. Americans have a genius for hope. We are probably stupid with it in many ways, and the rest of the world - rightfully - looks at us most of the time like we are kind of nuts, but for all that, I do hope we can withstand the ultimate stress test that is upcoming of our country and how it was founded. Well, not ultimate, there was the Civil War, which I really hope we aren't going to end up in another one. But I mean stress test as in: can we get through this Without a Civil War. I pray and hope so. I also hope we can make it through without becoming a totalitarian capitalist state like China. These are my hopes.

I also hope that I will have the courage when needed to stand by not only my own beliefs, but also all of my friends - and strangers - who are in groups that are or may be targeted in ways large and small.

But for today, I give thanks to all of you out there who are willing to listen to all sides, who are tolerant and loving of everybody, including those with whom your disagree. I wish for our whole country (and I come from both sides of this political divide so I mean the Whole Country) a way to hear and listen and respect and love one another. I hope that all those who feel unseen, feel seen, those who feel silenced, find a voice (that is not filled with hate or that silences another), that we can reach across the borders and find a way forward.

This is my dream. This is my stupid-ass American hope.

I love you all. I really do. I am that weird.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

No idea what to say...

I have wanted to post about all that has transpired since the election. I have been angry, sad, scared, self-righteous, confused, knowing, not-knowing, wise, stupid, dumb, brave-feeling, cowardly-feeling...

I have wanted to say this caused that or that caused this because I believed it. I have tried, probably in vain, to help my students. I have been writing my new book. We will see where that goes, but it is the only thing I know that I am doing.

I am writing this post because feel I should write something to acknowledge the reality we are living in right now.

My reality is going in and out of PTSD responses and crippling anxiety attacks. But because I'm a workaholic first, middle and last, you wouldn't know it unless you happened to live with me, because I suit up and show up for teaching, I make sure I write every day, etc. I look 'fine.'

I am so not fine.

But I am not alone in this.

That is really all I have to say. I know there are more profound things to say. There are action-things to do. There are arguments about safety pins to be had. And much more important things too.

Right now, here I am...working on a book, teaching, not self-destructing in ways I suppose I could be, intermittently able to be present for some people, but with nothing to say.

And - in honor of John Cage - I am saying it.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A very tired post...

So you know the news by now - the thing happened. The bad thing.

Here's the other thing, though: I'm going to keep writing and making art and creating. I'm not leaving the US. Wanna know why? It's my Goddamn home, that's why and no freaked out cheeto is running me off.

I have a lot to say about how this panned out and it's 2:45am in NYC and I'm not gonna say all that.

Just gonna say I love you all. I still haven't had a drink for 30 years and gonna stay that way.

My grandmothers - who I've written a book about as most of you know - that took six years - lived through WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War, Vietnam, Korea, assassinations, riots, all kinds of crazy of the 20th Century - even disco. And they lived. One of them lived through 3 violent marriages, got her teaching degree and becomes a feminist teacher in her 50s and 60s in the 1970s in inner-city Milwaukee.

So, don't give up. Keep making your work, keep loving who you love, keep helping who you help and look out for your more vulnerable neighbors, friends, loved ones...

I don't know how we're gonna do this yet, but we are.

I love my fellow and sister New Yorkers right now so hard. We know how to live in this city with everyone. We are not perfect, but we get along at a basic level in a place that should make that impossible.

Don't give up.

Gotta go crash now.

Later I will perhaps post some excerpts from DICK & JANI about Dick, my conservative grandmother - the one who - if she were alive today would be 101 and have probably voted for Trump. She wasn't a total racist, horror-show, but she came from a certain background that would have led her to him. I will definitely read from them on Saturday...if interested, come along to KGB Bar around 7pm for the ducts.org Trumpet Fiction series. I am going to pick excerpts from the book in relation to this election. The division in our country has been laid bare, and my heritage is in the fault line.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Yeah, alright, I'm voting for Hillary

Before today's revelations that the other person with a major party nomination thinks it's OK to "grab [my/your/their/our collective] pussy" because he's famous and so that's cool and therefore "[we/they] like it", I had made the decision to vote for Hillary Clinton.

As anyone who knows me or knows this blog knows, I have been - and still am - a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter. I cried when he didn't get the nomination. For many reasons.

However, here's the thing, of all four nominees for President (including libertarian and green), there is only one person who is qualified to be President and that is Clinton. I am not a fan of hers. I am not happy with how Bernie was treated by the DNC. I don't think she will be nearly as left-wing as many progressives have convinced themselves she will be, and she might bring us into yet another war and may not renegotiate trade deals that are disastrous. All this is true. However, what is also true is that the other major candidate is not only a sexist shit-head, he has zero qualifications for the job he is seeking. As in: 0. None. Nada. Zip. Zero.

Let's use the other candidate's favorite analogy: business. OK, so in business, you need to know your field and do well in it, right? Hiring the right person for the job is important. So if President is - say - in his lexicon CEO of the USA, then we - the electorate - are the Board of Directors. We hire that person. So, if I'm looking at a resume, I want to see that this person has some, you know, Experience in the field. So, let's review:

The business in this case is politics. Hillary has been Secretary of State for four years, a US Senator, and had the catbird seat of First Lady for this actual job for eight years. She also is a lawyer and has done lots of advocacy and oversight work in her industry - which is - as a reminder - politics.

The other major candidate has no experience in politics other than presumably buying political favors and figuring out how to game the system so he pays no taxes into government. This means he has learned how to fleece this industry, but has no experience trying to make it work. He does not prepare for things like debates and says whatever he wants. He has no diplomacy skills in a job in which diplomacy on the world stage is paramount not only to our security in the US but the whole world's.

The other two candidates have never held elective office. Johnson doesn't even know where or what Aleppo is, and Stein thought Brexit was/is a good idea. Let's face it, they are not ready for prime time.

I did - in case you are wondering - vote for Nader a few times, but unlike any of the above, he has actually gotten legislation passed that is the reason you can ride in a car and not get killed in an accident, because his laws mandated seat belts and other safety features. Nader is also the reason you can breathe the air and drink the water without dying. He lobbied for and got passed Clean Air and Clean Water legislation. In other words, Ralph Nader has arguable done more good for this country than any leaders combined in a while, but he's not running.

Neither is Bernie Sanders. He, too, was qualified. Eminently so, and he would be talking - with reason and solutions not bombast and empty rhetoric - about the problems of working class Americans, trade deals that favor corporations, raising minimum wage, getting government out of hands of Wall Street, etc., etc. But he is not running. He has asked those of us who supported him to vote for Hillary Clinton.

This is not why I am voting for her, though. I am voting for her because she is THE ONLY candidate running who is qualified to take on the job.

I'm not even getting into the issues here, just basic qualifications.

As to Trump's supporters, I hear you and know you think he can solve a lot of intractable problems and cure your anxiety about your deteriorating neighborhoods and jobs and sense of this country as a great place. I get that you think because he talks in a certain way and is definitely Not a politician in the traditional sense therefore he can get things done. But there is a problem with your plan. He isn't the re-set button you crave. (Like the meme: can we turn the US off and on again - which like who doesn't want that, really?) But, he won't be a dictator (because happily even if he does get elected, we still do have a Constitution - hooray!). So, even if you want him to do all the things he says he wants to do (and if you listen carefully you will hear that a lot of those ideas change and are in fact contradictory), he has to work with Congress - where no one will like him. No one. Not GOP, not Democrats. No one. For international issues, he has to work with world leaders. None of whom like him, except for maybe Putin and today's North Korean dictator. This dude is a lot of things. Team player is not one of them. No matter how fly you are, you have to find a way to work with people to do politics. Both Sanders and Clinton have worked in the trenches to make bills better (not what they wanted) and to do what they can. They both have decades of experience with this. Trump has: zero.

Do I wish I was telling you to vote for Bernie? Yes, I do. But again, he's not running. And even if I'm not a fan, I do know Hillary can do the job.

As another friend of mine said wisely, the best way to look at this election if you are truly progressive is not as if we are voting for an advocate (we don't have one with Bernie gone) but for our adversary. Do you want an adversary who at least believes in Some of the same things you do, such as equal rights for women, people of color, different faiths, immigrants, LGBT, etc. so you don't have to fight all those battles again? Someone who believes climate change is real versus someone who thinks it's a hoax (she types on a mid-70s day in October with the fan on in NYC)? Or do you want an adversary against whom you will have to re-fight even basic battles, such as a woman's right to choose, a gay person's right to marry, a black person's right to vote, etc., etc...

Looking at all these issues - along with the grotesque tape of Trump today bragging about grabbing women's 'pussies', leads me to say: I will be voting for Hillary. I am not 'with' her or whatever, but I will vote for her. Even in safe NYC, I will vote for her, because as yet another friend said, it will be important that she wins by a good margin or else there will be conspiracy theories and violence and all sorts by people who think she stole the election from the other candidate. While again I was not a fan of how the DNC skewed the primaries towards her, the fact is what they did isn't any different than what Kennedy did in 1960 to win his primary against Stevenson (look it up) and everyone thinks he's God.

I may add I am also not a fan of Bill Clinton being back in the WH who, I imagine, has said things as lewd, as Trump claimed today in his own defense. However, the fact is it'll be Hillary as the President, not him, and therefore we have a chance of having someone in office who doesn't think women are primarily to be fondled and used as so much play-doh.

That'd be nice.

Save your pussies (and uterus and well all of your whole body come to think of it)! Vote Hillary!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

MERDE! this weekend (17 & 18) as installation-performance on Governor's Island - join us!

Just a reminder that it's this weekend (and this weekend only), Sept. 17-18, that for the first time in a while a theater-performance-type-experiment thing of mine will appear live and stuff: my newest stage text MERDE! directed by Patrice Miller with Olivia Baseman, Tyler 'Tad' Dagostino, Roy Koshy and Melissa Nelson in the Dysfunctional Theater Collective house on Governor's Island (a short ferry ride that takes you far away from Manhattan). All are brave and beautiful collaborators. I hope you will come to see what they have done...

We will be in the whole house (Nolan 8B). Shows begin at 2 and 4pm, but if you're late, just come on in and explore. You can stay for the next one if you want...no two will be the same, and you can't possible see it all in one go. It's all free and we'd love to share this with you...

Here's an interview over at Indie Theater Now, that includes details about times, etc...

If you'd like to donate (tax free) to help us defray expenses, we'd be delighted. You can click here for that.

Below are some pictures from open rehearsals last weekend in the house. Isn't it gorgeous?? Governor's Island was a Coast Guard station and now artists take over houses during the summer and do weird and wonderful things in them...come for your friends, stay for the whole wild and wooly experiment in re-inhabiting abandoned spaces...


Roy and Melissa

view from one of the rooms - people performing out of sight but audible

Olivia and Tad

Patrice, Olivia and Roy

Melissa, Tad, Oliva and Patrice (Roy in part on left)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

15 years ago...

I posted what I wrote 15 years ago - well for an event a week later at The Present Company Theatorium - when it was the 10 year anniversary and was published in a literature/social studies book by Prentice Hall here.

I will post it again this time around. This anniversary is hitting me hard. I am struck by our vulnerability - as in all of us - our fragility as human beings, and the lack of control we have over so much of our lives in reality.

I will be reading this as part of a remembrance ritual we will be doing on Governor's Island. The piece I have written that will be performed in the house next week - and we are rehearsing this week - is 'Merde!' that I wrote in response to the anxiety I could not shake after the terrorist attack in Brussels earlier this year. You can read my interview about it here.

In my experience these events shake us to our core, without our permission.

I hope to share one of these days with you as we explore that territory further...in the best way I know how, together in a room that we inhabit and bear witness to one another...

But for now, here is what I wrote 15 years ago. I cannot believe it has been that long. But it has.

Julia Lee Barclay
(written for reading at The Present Company on September 18, 2001)

T.S. Eliot’s words in Four Quartets:

“Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.  And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feelings,
undisciplined squads of emotion.  And what there is to
   conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot
    hope
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under
   conditions
That seem unpropitious.  But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.  The rest is not our business.”

Someone else’s words.  That’s what I thought the flyer for this event said.  If you want to read someone else’s words.  And I was relieved, and thought, of course, someone else’s words.  Not mine.  Who has words for this?  I don’t.  I flipped through T.S. Eliot, some of it held, but not all.  Flipped frantically through Yeats, and most of that didn’t hold either.  I looked through my library last night of poems and plays and fiction and remarkably, none of it held.  I thought, that’s it, it’s all done.  We have to start from scratch.  I’ve never felt that way about any other event.  The words don’t hold up.  Ancient words even.  Not a dent.   I so wanted to find someone else’s words, to comfort, soothe, explain, reconcile, anything.  I don’t want to be left here typing electronic dots on a screen.  There is only one phrase from Yeats that keeps racing through my mind “the best lacked all conviction and the worst were filled with passionate intensity”.  And then I don’t know where I stand in that dialectic either.  I confront my own self-righteous indignation at other people’s self-righteous indignation.  My friends and I make cookies for firemen.  Singing in the Rain seems like the best film ever made.  Then I talk Middle-Eastern politics and think I’m enlightening people.  Then I see a wall of hand made fliers with pictures and names of the missing, thousands of them, on the walls of Bellevue from the M15 and cry, having just given a plate of cookies to a rescue worker who’s been at ground zero for four days and is hungry.  He is talking to the bus driver about being called up to serve as an army reservist.  His eyes are moist with exhaustion.  He is absurdly grateful for cookies.  I am absurdly grateful he took them.  I look away and have no words to say to him but “thank you.”  I fear he will die.

All the stories, endless stories - I saw it on television, I saw the gray cloud coming towards me, I saw it on a roof, from the train, from the bridge, from the Promenade, from the Avenue, heard it on the phone, felt it in my building, was covered in ash, surrounded by midnight, pushed down the stairs by the blast, knew someone, know someone who knows someone who.....

Then the theories, endless theories - this means global capitalism will prevail, this means we will be nuked, this means “they” must pay, this means we are finally paying, this means we will be better people, worse people, more scared, more strong, more something - always different from what we were on September 10.  We now supposedly love more, hate more, are in shock, are grieving, need counseling, don’t need counseling, should not watch TV, should watch TV, should talk to people, don’t have to talk to people....

Then the first reactions - need to see people, wish we were in love or are glad to be so, cling to the familiar, attack Muslims for no reason, protect Muslims from those who attack them, yell at our credit card companies, go to work, stare at useless letters typed onto useless computer screens, understand people in Beirut who stayed in their bombed out city and cling to New York City as home, flee the City and wonder why anyone stays, try to get back to the City from out of town, cry, panic, feel comforted, pray, meditate, do yoga, go to church, go to AA meetings, drink ourselves silly, scroll through email, talk on the phone, wonder when to breathe, tell jokes, cry, hug people for dear life, listen to stories, tell stories, look into people’s eyes, stranger’s eyes, for the first time...

“Slouching towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born.” (Yeats)

“And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.” (Eliot)

At least there are clues left in the books, a burnt and charred map, some of it obsolete but not all.  I hope to scratch through this maze with all of you here now, make tunnels, chart through the tunnel, rebuild the next world, not throwing away all of the old but letting go of what no longer fits.  We aren’t alone.  We never have been, and I am not alone and never have been, because where I am is where I am not.  And where we are is where we are not.