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Popes and Pubs – Karis Taylor

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Since resigning myself to the fact that I will never be the Holy Roman Catholic Church’s pope, I have begun toying with the idea of becoming an Oxford Don. C.S. Lewis was an Oxford Don, and he got to sit in leathery, smokey, dimly lit pubs with his friends and discuss magical stories with them. I want to do that. I got to visit the Inklings’ favorite pub, The Eagle and Child (or as they knew it, The Bird and the Babe), which inspired my erudite aspirations still further. Indeed, I was so inspired that I decided to come up with the perfect name for the pub that I will frequent when I do become a stodgy old professor smelling of books and foreign tea. I’ve been writing down names in the margins of my Once and Future King copy as they come to me. They are all %100 original. Here are some of them: “The Worm and the Kettle”, “The Hat and Spaniel”, “The Fawn’s Foot”, “The Shrub and Rug”, “The Wig and the Whale”, and “The Fiddler and the Estonian Princess”. I might have some difficulty actually finding a pub with any of these names exactly, but hopes and dreams are such noble things, and nothing is ever impossible.

The other brilliant thing about England besides their pub names is their curry. London is a kick in the trousers because it doesn’t matter what ethnicity your bus driver, waiter or businessman is, he or she will have a British accent. Yet regardless of the accents’ assimilation these cultures have brought to this big English city the most tasty recipes. Last night I ate something that I can neither pronounce nor spell but I will remember forever. I think there was lamb in it, and chutney. Second only to the food was the service. After being scorned by almost every continental waiter I was grateful for our small town-Irish-vegetarian server (who seemed to be quite taken by Miss Katie Mott, I might add).

Since we fly off tomorrow, I think it fitting to write that this Europe trip has been a glorious experience for which I am eternally grateful, and I am sorry to leave, but I know that Europe has not seen the last of me.

Sunflowers – Karis Taylor

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When I was eleven years old I painted Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Ten years later, I stood in front of the real thing at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich. How can I express how important this moment was for me? When I painted it before, I worked from a glossy little postcard. My art teacher told me to apply the paint thickly. She should have told me to slather color on without thought of wasting paint, letting my tormented artistic genius, starving for the sake of beauty pour her soul onto the canvas (just like Van Gogh did). Standing before Sunflowers, I realized all over again how wonderful this Europe trip is. We get to see, face to face,  “the real thing”. I would have given anything to bring my eleven year old self into the room, with her canvas and paints. But maybe the whole reason I appreciate it so much now is because for so long all I knew was a postcard. All I knew of Europe were the books I read, and now I’m driving through countryside and seeing old buildings that I’ve carried in my imagination my whole life. It is incredible. I am so thankful–this is something I never dreamed I would get to do, and now this experience is as real as “the real things”.