So, here I am taking a train to a ferry to my favorite place on earth...the Orkney Isles to lead a writing retreat, so I should be happy, but I am sad because it is the anniversary of the last two days I saw my cousin alive last year.
While she has been with me in spirit since she died—I have felt her love it is palpable—her loss here on earth I find so unacceptable and cruel.
I am also jet lagged and so am tired, but am also finding this anniversary time deeply difficult. I hate how many people are taken out by cancer, too young. So I am looking out the window and taking photos from the train, and so happy to be taking this journey, while also feeling it is difficult to breathe because of a sense of grief overcoming me like a giant weight on my chest.
That plus the world of political insanity both in the US and UK make it hard to feel happy about much.
I guess I am writing about this here and now on this train because I have the time to allow these feelings, and also as a reminder to anyone dealing with grief that deep sadness about loss knows no linear time line.
I want to say, too, that seeing Darcy a year ago today and tomorrow was such a profound gift. And that today while I am sad, I am forever grateful for that time, and also grateful that today, unlike a year ago, I do not have a frozen shoulder.
In general, I have a lot to be grateful for but cannot shake this heavy feeling. I am struck by the fact that for all of my supposedly knowing better, and how I would say this is irrational to anyone else, that when feeling deeply sad, I somehow judge myself for this sadness, as if it is a moral failing. I know this makes no sense, but I always remember at times like this a friend saying to me a long time ago "I am so ashamed of my pain." I did not understand what she meant. She was in her mid-30s, I was 23 or 24. I now know. I also know it is not necessary, but I think pain plus exhaustion = judgment.
That is OK if I can witness this phenomenon without judgment, and sometimes the way I need to witness is to write it down. I keep feeling like to post this I need to have some kind of happy note, but it's not there, so going to post it anyway. I can say that out the window is lush green, hills and valleys and fields. There is a lot to love about my life now, and I do, but still there is this sadness. Both are true.
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...