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  • Writer's pictureJulia Lee Barclay-Morton

Still Here...

My yearbook photo in 1981...this is the age I feel emotionally (17 and on the precipice, with waves almost knocking me over but instead making me laugh, trying to figure out who I am)...

I can't believe it's been a year since I wrote a blog post (when I turned 60), and now I am turning 61. The reason for the unintentional radio silence was getting whacked with long haul COVID again after getting a regular cold in August 2023, and before and since working on the memoir in progress, the completion of a full draft of which seems like a goal perpetually out of reach.

To be fair, we moved in October next door to a two-bedroom, which was an amazing thing to be able to do and means I have my own study now, but between the long haul and the move, I was completely wasted. I have been only working on my writing since January, but it's still glacial.

John reminded me that I am Doing what I am writing about in the memoir (recontextualizing my entire life in light of an autism diagnosis in 2021) and so of course it's slow. Not to mention reading and researching, since there is new and older work all relevant to the parallel timeline of the history and the ever evolving philosophical, psychological, sociological and neurological framework of how autism is perceived both internally and externally.

I have written many words, but the time is in the weaving them together. Below is an announcement and link to the recording of an event I did for CASY (Cultural Autism Studies at Yale) in April. It is free on YouTube and can give you a good idea of how the book is coming together. I read a chapter that includes some fascinating radical history of autism from the 1960s-70s in France, during a time when most people regarded it as only a defect, and the children affected as either hopeless or in need of violent behaviorist training. This research also ties back to philosophers important to my PhD and theater work, so it created a kind of full circle I was not expecting, but confirmed my intuition that while I did not know I was autistic, I have been reaching for my neurokin especially through my creative work since forever.

I was also asked by Autism in Adulthood to write an essay excerpted from the memoir, entitled Out of Trauma/Out of Time. If you can't get past the paywall and want to read the whole thing, contact me, and I can send it to you.

Other than this, it's all been about writing and reading and recovering. I am shocked by how little I can do now in a day. I think the long haul COVID and Autistic burnout has created a perfect storm to disable me from my normal ability to work. So, even aside from reframing my identity as autistic, I am reading a lot about disability justice and seeing the world through this new, exciting lens.

Why exciting? Because as someone who has spent her life muscling through and secretly or not-so-secretly judging through who could not, I can't muscle through anymore. So I am finally having to accept that people I had judged as perhaps not trying hard enough or whatever, were and are doing they best they and we can. This is part of the multi-year journey of unearthing my own internalized ableism,while also connecting this impulse to what causes this, namely capitalism and the fragility of anyone in a privileged group who feels threatened by any kind of difference.

I would like to write more about all this in the blog but as with most days, I am tired, and I don't have a lot of extra. I need to save my energy for the book, which I hope to have a draft of at least by the end of the summer. However, the links above will give you a sense of what I'm up to

I will be 61 tomorrow, which just feels weird. I don't know how to conceptualize aging at all. COVID has made time so strange, and my energy which had gotten so much better in 2022 has just tanked again, so that is depressing, but I also feel younger than I am all at the same time. Maybe because the identity framing stuff is so adolescent? Like, this is what most people did in their teens, I guess?

Anyhow, off to take a nap on this humid-ass NYC day, and hopefully find a chair tomorrow that works (long story...if you follow me on FB you know).

Wish me luck on my journey in and through the long dark tunnel of the mineshaft of this memoir. Grateful to be able to do this even though it's slow, and I need a lot of naps...

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