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 as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While was blessed for the opportunity, after four years of being an adjunct, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in NYC 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. As of 2018, I also started leading writing retreats to my beloved Orkney Islands. If you ever want two weeks that will restore your soul and give you time and space to write, get in touch. I am leading two retreats this year in July and September.

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 now work full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, editor and writing retreat leader. 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

In 2017, I launched a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. You can also contact me through that site.

In May, I directed my newest play, On the edge of/a cure, and have finally updated my publications list, which now includes an award-winning chapbook of my short-story White shoe lady, which you can find on the sidebar. I also have become a certified yoga instructor in the Kripalu lineage. What a year!

And FINALLY, I have created a website, which I hope you will visit, The Unadapted Ones. I will keep this blog site up, since it is a record of over 8 years of my life, but will eventually be blogging more at the website, so if you want to know what I am up to with my writing, teaching, retreats and so on, the site is the place to check (and to subscribe for updates). After eight years I realized, no, I'm never turning into One Thing. So The Unadapted Ones embraces the multiplicity that comprises whomever I am, which seems to always be shifting. That may in fact be reality for everyone, but will speak for myself here. So, do visit there and thanks for coming here, too. Glad to meet you on the journey...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

'...down there where the spirit meets the bone.'

So, it's been now close to eight weeks since I fell down the last step of a subway stair and sprained my ankle, which I then discovered (four weeks later) was broken.

I have written about this a bit already, but this is an unprecedented amount of time for me to not be able to move at will and as the healing process drags on, so do the lessons I am learning pile up.

I have learned a lot about vulnerability and about internal sense of terror, and waking up in a state of emergency and how to talk myself down, about how much I have relied my whole life on an idea of myself as someone who could run away when necessary, even if at times in my childhood I was paralyzed - either mentally or physically - unable to move.

I have had nightmares about people leaving me. I have had nightmares of being humiliated. The thing is when you can't move well it's like being in a nightmare in real life where you can't move even if there is danger. In real life, I have not been threatened in any way. All that has happened is John, my wonderful husband, bringing home all the groceries, doing 99% of the cooking and cleaning and being wonderful. A few friends have come round periodically. I do hobble down and up the four flights of stairs at least a few times a week just to see the outside and sometimes get to a local meeting of friends for an hour or so.

But underneath this reality is a history, that history acts in a way not dissimilar to the way tectonic plates can rub up against one another to cause an earthquake. In other words, it's not always predictable and the stresses can cause major disruption on the surface.

The good news is the fracture is healing - almost fully healed. I find the fact a bone can heal moving on a cellular level, because that implies perhaps I can heal from past trauma. However, the way the bone has healed is through being very gentle, and the only way to be gentle is to be still, and to be so still brings up the terror...which - each time it arrives and I can remain still and nothing happens to justify that terror - can in fact Also be healing to my psyche. Those parts of the wounded soul that suffered stress fractures and sprains, that were never allowed to heal, not properly - where the only option I had was to keep going, try to outrun the pain, outrun the Goddamn pain, never let it catch up, dammit and eventually - just - shut - down.

This shut down place is a kind of cold emptiness. This is the place I tried to run away from as a young teenager, it's the place I was dropped into when doing long art projects by myself and is why I ran to theater, where I could be with other people, have fun, do something, relate to others in a structured way and not have to be stuck with my own shut down cold empty place.

So, guess what I'm also dealing with aside from the terror? You guessed it, the cold empty place.

Now, all of this has been around the whole time. Guiding me, making me move this way and that, unconsciously mostly - sometimes masquerading as ideas, sometimes as 'intuition' (which I do believe in - by the way - intuition - but this isn't real intuition - it's a kind of life-like looking facsimile - Very close to the original, but not the original - that masks premium-grade rationalization like a motherfucker), etc.

And for the past close to 8 weeks, the jig has been up. There has been nowhere literally or metaphorically or any other way to run or hide. Just me and the cold emptiness, beneath which is the terror.

Fun times.

BUT - and I don't Think this is Pollyanna of me (but who knows) - there is a gift here - I Think. Which is each day I sit through this, a muscle is developing. That muscle is the: not running away muscle. It's the one that may allow me to Live Through This as it were. Going through my old diaries and journals early on in this process of being immobilized accelerated that challenge. BUT - here's the thing - I just kept at it. Perhaps if my ankle had not been sprained and foot fractured, I would have had the opportunity (along with the obvious motive) to run screaming out of my apartment and into the park or wherever. Anywhere. Just. Go. Don't Feel This. It's Too Hard.

But I couldn't. So I didn't.

While I am now a bit more hesitant to send out my book because there is now more 'raw' me in it (in form periodically of excerpts diary entries going back to 1973 through to 1992), something else more important has happened.

A couple days ago, I realized internally, not because of anything that had happened on the outside, because I haven't really shown much of the revised book to anyone yet, but internally - amidst all the confusion and crushing self-doubt mingled with unremitting shame and self-hatred - there was a small, still voice that said: the book works.

The book works.

This probably doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but to me this is Huge. I backed away from it, in the same way I used to back away from my watercolors after making tiny changes and hating it, and then would turn around startled and realize: oh. wow. that painting is good.

This was like that.

The book works. The structure, the one I know has and will continue to cause agita to the vast majority of agents and publishers, perhaps all of them, it works. Because it does what I want it to do. It is the book I would want to read. It reveals my grandmothers gradually, layer by layer, like an archeological dig - and just like such a dig, you have to connect the dots yourself and you may be wrong or right and with each layer your assessment of who these two women are or could have been will shift.

There is no 'hook' other than there are two women's lives lived in the 20th Century, two lives the types of which we rarely if ever see and never in this level of almost forensic detail. When Dick and Jani are alive at the same time (in the book), my life is interwoven a bit here and there. The fact I am their granddaughters should be abundantly clear.

Dick and Jani were opposite in character, and yet both fierce. I live in the shadow of the conflict of their competing ferocities. I had no role models of the 'feminine' as one would be led to believe it exist in the (primarily male generated) popular culture. Maybe no one does. Maybe that's a big pack of lies that many of us are brainwashed into thinking is real.

I don't know.

But Dick and Jani are not particularly cozy women. I find them both darkly hilarious, and I doubt most women's lives, if narrated honestly are 'cozy' in the way we are led to believe. In fact I would even venture to say that the kool-aid of the feminine we have been asked to drink has something much more to do with the terrorizing of women like Catherine in Taming of the Shrew than a 'natural' state.

I have not had children, but I have been pregnant and lost a child. That wasn't cozy. No one I know who has ever told me about labor says it's cozy. It's fierce. Mothers are fierce. What does this have to do with this milquetoast idea of soft voices and doilies? Not much.

And neither are Dick or Jani. And neither am I. And neither is my mother, or any women I know well.

So how does this relate to healing? Well, healing isn't for 'pussies' (to use the lovely lexicon of our current election season). To be still is hard. To be gentle I find almost excruciating. Non-violence is probably the most hardcore way to live of all. (I aspire but do not claim this non-violence mantle to be clear - but it is a goal).

I don't know how to end this post, but I think I will use the epigraph for Dick & Jani. It is apt:

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.

- Miller Williams

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