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.

I am now directing again, my newest play, On the edge of/a cure, and have finally updated my publications list, which you can find on the sidebar. Someday, I will have a website, but for now, you can find a lot about me on here. Thanks for stopping by...

Friday, March 23, 2018

Briefly...

Hi all,

Just writing to say I am writing. I am writing now - after many years of writing for public consumption here, stage texts, many FB posts, and two books - for myself. A very private project. I don't know if it will ever see the light of day.

However, that is the mode I am in, so not sure how many blog posts there will be for a little while.

The outline of what I am doing is a deeply personal excavation project. I need to kind of protect the space around it in order to do it.

I will periodically announce things here, and who knows, maybe write some posts, too, but there is a shift, it feels right, and wanted to give you who have read this page a heads up.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

31 years of not killing myself one day at a time....

I have not been blogging much because I've been working on some new writing, something that may in fact never see the light of day but seems to be important for my psychic survival.

Somehow this relates to being 31 years sober as of yesterday. Because while I do talk about this process periodically, it's mostly something I do in private.

I can say this about that however: it requires a continual excavation of the self and a commitment to helping others do the same, to find a way to walk through each day without a drink or a drug to dull the pain. Or whatever else one might want dulled.

I am exhausted and not sure why I am writing this now, but today was a gift, was able to share some of what I have learned with a dear friend, go to yoga and feel my heart and how tight it is right now, how my shoulders are protecting it, how they probably always have been, how painful that is and how compassionate I need to be with myself even so. There is good reason for that protection. It is tempting to be disappointed in myself that I still hide out, still fear people, still fear a lot of things. But that is as ridiculous as being disappointed in anyone else for being afraid, which I rarely am, not if they are aware of the fear anyway.

Sobriety is a paradox of both having to become aware of my darkest and most vulnerable parts, but also somehow give them space, not reject them, because that causes denial or dissociation. It seems to be for me these days about holding space for infinite complexity including massive contradictions and conflicts within myself. I am committed to not exiling parts of myself because they are not convenient or are embarrassing or whatever. This can be challenging and sometimes a pain in the ass to be honest.

However, as I walk through this journey day by day, both internally and in some cases within my writing, I feel I land more firmly on the earth, touch down even to the ocean floor of my own psyche, that vast silence filled with strange creatures and detritus thrown from the surface that just kind of landed there.

I have some deep frustrations with some external situations over which I have limited control, some shame over certain career achievements not having been reached. So much shame I don't really want to say that out loud, fearing judgment. But since this is all about being transparent with myself, it seems absurd not to say it.

But the larger fact is for all this, I don't want to drink or take any substances today, and I'm not acting out in other ways to ease the pain or confusion. Sometimes that seems like a ridiculous thing to say out loud after 31 years, but since I am aware of people who have gone out drinking after 10-20-30 years sober, and some who have died as a consequence, it's not a small thing.

Long term sobriety is not glamorous, it's life experienced - everything all the time - with the volume turned to 11. As I have said before - life without shock absorbers...and no windshield.

However, there are moments like today when I can talk to a dear friend such that my experience of this walking can give relief, maybe shed light, or other times I can talk to someone who is new to this life and help them stay sober another day. Then all the muddling through and the seemingly at times absurd lengths I go to be honest with myself and others that frankly at times seems to verge on self-destructive, has meaning.

I wish I could say which way to go forward with my life was crystal clear. It's not. I have lived one day at a time for so long now I don't think I know any other way. Each day is about being more or less in tune with a sort of internal divining rod that I let guide me.

I do meditate every day. I try to do some yoga and walk. I write most every day. I try to be a decent human being. This year I'm also doing a fair bit of political work for obvious reasons, like - you know - survival, but am grateful for having found a way to do that that is both relatively simple and incredibly effective.

I hold space for others who are going through tricky changes and who are discovering their voices - in life and art. I spend a lot of time - that I love - working with other writers - as a teacher, coach, editor and friend.

I wonder what has happened to my theater work as a director, I seem to only be writing now for the most part. I kind of miss the rehearsal room but my internal divining rod has led me away from that for the lasy while. Will it lead me back? I don't know.

So much I don't know.

But I am sober. I have walked through a lot of life this way, more years than I was alive when I hit my bottom at 23 - a horrifying sense of not even existing in some way - not to mention not being able to even get drunk anymore. I wish I could tell you it's all been a glittering triumph or that I was a paragon of mental health, but that would be a lie. It's been a journey, one that still continues. A bumpy ride at times, other times exhilarating and seemingly effortless, some years full of grief and low level depression, and some moments even now, 31 years later, when it feels like there is a trap door that has opened up beneath me that I tumble down wondering when I will hit a bottom, seemingly lost and thinking: wait, what? I'm 54, shouldn't I be you know More Together Than This?

I try not to take these moments of confusion, which at times are painful, out on anyone, but sometimes I do, mostly the people closest to me of course. One of the things I am examining so closely now is how I navigate such things and why. Imprints from a chaotic childhood as an only child amongst multiple caretakers most of whom had wildly different value systems from one another and most of whom were not really meant to have kids but there I was - the proverbial inconvenient truth. Sometimes consequently, I feel safest when alone, because only then do I have to account to no one. That is an illusion of course, because it's not like all those people and experiences just vanish when I'm by myself.

Alcoholism amongst other things is a disease of isolation, it wants you alone in a room and dead. So, this is one of my primary conflicts, both desiring being alone and knowing at times I need to resist that urge. To allow others to see me in more vulnerable states, which I find so shameful, especially fear.

I was told when I began recovery: you need never be alone again. I did not understand it then. But I do now. I might feel lonely. I meet be alone, but I am not alone. I am connected to so many people and to whatever powers this internal divining rod and a sense - astonishingly enough and more and more - of a place amidst the cosmos. Hard to explain that and won't even try at close to 4am, but it's a great piece of knowledge - not as in facts but as in something far deeper.

Finally, also, a sense of happiness seeing people younger than me agitating for a new and better world. I remember so vividly being that age and agitating my heart out, but it was the Reagan era and no one listened. What a joy it is to see these young people be heard. It gives me great joy. My friend Spencer once said he felt that those of us who don't have our own children have a certain love to offer the world and young people specifically that those with children have to reserve for their own kids, and I feel that now more than ever. I feel an optimism for the future that I have never felt before. I don't know if I'll be alive to see it in full flower, because when I mean future - I mean Future as in 30-50 years from now, but there is hope.

I mean to do my best to help keep the world alive for this new generation to take over. I used to joke with my theater work I felt like those medieval monks who hand copied the Greek and Latin texts in monasteries to keep them alive until those ideas finally fueled the Renaissance. And I see now it's not just the theater, it's my whole life that is this, living and creating, in hope for this new world that now seems possible - a tiny glimmer on a horizon - one that I will make whatever is left of my life's work to not see extinguished.

What does this have to do with sobriety? A lot actually, because in staying sober and helping others do the same, it's the same kind of thing. Passing on what I have been given, keeping alive something that is only kept alive by free action of people who are never paid, except in the gift of our own sobriety, our own lives.

But now I have rambled enough for the time being. Thank you for reading, for bearing witness, for holding space.