Posted on May 19, 2014
Writer’s block: we’ve all experienced this frustrating phenomenon, we’ve all spent hours staring at a blank Word Document and a blinking cursor.
At least, I assume we all have. If anyone out there in Internet-land has gone an entire lifetime without any sort of writer’s block, make yourself known so I can congratulate you and give you a giant cookie.
Anyway, before writing this blog, I psyched myself out to the point of a particularly severe bout with this unfortunate affliction.
The reason? This is my last post – ever – for UD’s South College Blog. *Sniff* I want it to perfectly represent everything my writing stands for, state great philosophical truths, and propose a solution for world hunger. All in that order.
Basically, long story short: I had over a million embryonic ideas, but I wasn’t sure if any of them were worthy of being Caitlyn’s Final Blog.
The cycle of thoughts tumbling around inside my head went a little something like this: “I know, I could write about…my first Zumba class of the semester! Or…the stress of finals! Yeah! No. Too mainstream. Hmm…I got it! A how-to piece about surviving a lack of job prospects! Wait…that’s depressing. Uh…leaving my friends here in Delaware? My recent group project about Jimmy Fallon? …Finals?”
Also, the main thing on my mind, besides exams and papers, was (and still is) the Ceremony-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. *Shudder*
So, without further ado, here is one of those initial, budding ideas – which includes its fair share of nostalgia. It’s like a blog within a blog (I’m feeling meta).
When there’s hardly no day, nor hardly no night…There’s things half in shadow, and halfway in light…
When I first walked into the New Amsterdam Theatre, I couldn’t contain my excitement.
The set reminded me of the sensation of holding’s one breath – the empty street was waiting, anticipating a fresh breeze filled with cherry blossoms and the appearance of someone special.
Mary Poppins was my first Broadway show. Even though my Connecticut home is a mere two hours from New York City, my parents were wary about venturing into NYC after 9/11. Hence, it took years of begging, plus the added security of a family friend who knows the city like the back of his hand, in order for a New York trip to actually happen.
As for my high school self, I didn’t care as much about the classic tourist destinations like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building; I was a theater kid through and through. I wanted Broadway.
Mary Poppins blew me away, just like the ever-changing winds featured in the show itself. This musical made a lasting impression – Bert literally tap dances upside-down from the theatre’s ceiling at one point – which carried over into my college existence.
For my freshman year Honors English course, I selected a class that focused on writing about music. For my final paper at the end of that first UD semester, I wrote about the musical stylings of none other than the Sherman Brothers. Crash course on the Sherman Brothers: they wrote “It’s a Small World,” and composed the music for The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, and, of course, Mary Poppins.
That paper was one of my first “college moments.” I stayed up to all hours penning it, and the process is a blur of Mary Poppins music on YouTube, coffee, 3 a.m. jumping jacks…and more coffee.
Fast-forward to this semester, my last one. When I was home (for either Easter or Spring Break, I can’t remember which), I watched Saving Mr. Banks with my mom. Neither of us expected to love the story of P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, and her creative clash with Walt Disney as much as we did. Half of the story is told through flashbacks of the author’s childhood, which takes place in the dry, sprawling Australian Outback. Not only were these scenes of her rough upbringing both fascinating and unsettling – in the same way that one can hardly look away from a train wreck – but it also brought me back to Australia. Ever since returning from my study abroad trip in the Land Down Unda, I’ve longed to go back.
As someone who dreams of being a writer, I sympathized with P.L. Travers and her fight to keep her source material pure – and free from Disney’s corporate influence. But the movie, loosely based on the real-life conflict between Travers and Disney, highlights reconciliation, a give-and-take.
For me, reconciliation is everywhere in my life at the present moment. The past and the future, my dreams and reality: all of it is currently in the process of being reconciled in my mind.
In Mary Poppins, Bert sings the following lines during one poignant interaction with the character Mr. Banks (based on the actual, struggling father of P.L. Travers): “You’ve got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone… Though childhood slips like sand through a sieve… And all too soon they’ve up and grown, and then they’ve flown…”