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Last night I caught the train to Waterloo to meet Max and we took a…

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Last night I caught the train to Waterloo to meet Max and we took a leisurely 20 min walk down The Strand to meet Nate at the Belgo Bierodrome on Kingsway. While we waited for him to arrive I had a Kriek (Mort Subite, they didn't have Lindemans sadly). Nate showed up a short while later and after I had both a Westmalle Tripel and a De Koninck we moved to the restaurant side of the bierodrome (I didn't know they had the full menu at the bierodromes) and ordered 3 moules marinieres and a round of De Koninck. Strangely, the moules marinieres came with cream in it this time (cream!? I hope they haven't changed their recipe). To finish off the evening Nate bought a round of Rocheforts at 9.0% alcohol by volume, but I think he was slightly disappointed that he missed seeing the 13% ABV beer on the menu. I was feeling fine, but I think the Rochefort put me over the edge. It tasted great - but wow. A tad tipsy we said our goodbyes to Nate as it will be the last we see of him since in three days he's moving down to the south of France for several months. He's invited us to come down and visit which we'll probably do early next year when we go to St. Juire. I am a little sad because I kept meaning to catch a few gallery shows with him while he was in London, but c'est la vie, there's always next time!

Max and I walked back towards Waterloo and slipped down a deserted street somewhere off Kingsway and talked for a long time, a good talk that we've needed for awhile. Maybe Belgian beer makes me open up more, I don't know. I've been feeling depressed about being away from my family as I'm very close them (that's a strange sentence, isn't it?) My mother called me on my birthday and we chatted for several hours, like usual. She spoke about how lonely she felt and that there always seemed to be some big geographical divide between us. I wished that I could simply stop by for a visit, keep her company and give her a huge hug. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. I've lived in London for a longer period of time before, the longest was 11 months in 2000 (after 5 months we had Max's grandmother's funeral to attend in France and when I returned to England my visa was extended). These past 9 months have felt longer, perhaps because I know there's no "going home" at the end. We have to divide our vacation time between seeing my family and travelling elsewhere, so it may mean that for most of my life I will only see my family for 1-2 weeks a year - if that. As I said to Max, I feel like I've exchanged one kind of heartache (being away from him) for another (being away from my family).

It's interesting because Max's mum, Jackie, knows exactly how I feel. She left her family in France to live with Philip in England and although there wasn't as much of a geographical divide they made so little money that they couldn't afford to travel back to France for years. Jackie said the 10th to 11th month was when she started breaking down from feeling isolated from her family and lifelong friends, and trying to adjust to life in a new country.

Meeting people that I actually want to be friends with is difficult as well. There are Max's friends and while I love them, they're still more Max's friends than mine. I find there are very few people who I have an easy rapport with in person. Sometimes I click wonderfully with someone and we can talk about everything under the sun for hours, but I haven't found anyone like that in London yet. I want to find people who are equally as interested in the arts and sciences as I am. I have enough people in my life that I can go out drinking and have a laugh with, but I'd love to meet someone who is laid back and passionate about the same things. It also doesn't help that my job right now (office temping) is so erratic - a few weeks here and there with different companies - that I don't get the chance to make connections with people. Currently I'm in a state of indecision about what kind of work path I want to follow, so I'm stuck with temping until I figure out my direction. This winter I'm going to take up a few university courses, so I'm hoping that will facilitate meeting more people with similar interests.

Max and I talked about all this and more while walking and on the train. We've talked about it a little before, but I was becoming increasingly depressed so Max was starting to worry about me. It was good to get it all out clearly in the open because I have a tendency to shove all these feelings down deep and pretend that everything is fine. There isn't really anything that can be done about my situation except adjust and keep in constant contact with my family, but at least Max knows and understands what I'm going through and he's promised to help me through it in any way that he can - even if it's just having a shoulder to cry on.

Later when we arrived home where we ate leftover birthday cake. Everyone should eat birthday cake after an emotional outpouring.
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On August 19th, 2003 09:32 am (UTC), foxbase commented:
the way wendy and i met people while we lived in london was by going up to them and talking to them. i would never usually do that in america, but it was a fantastic way to meet people in london. maybe coz brits are so stand-off-ish, they appreciate a forward american. one time wendy met a group of girls on the train to a concert, all of them were going to the same show in fact. she became good friends with these girls (even though they were all 16-17 and we were a bit older then) we (mainly wendy really) hung out with them a lot those 6 months.

also out of curiousity have you met any londoners through lj? i've been hanging out a lot with a fellow lj-er, whom i have a lot in common with, it's been very cool. i had never met anyone irl through lj, until this summer, but so far so good. just some thoughts :)

i wish we all could take a month of each year to do as we please! what a crime that we can't!
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On August 19th, 2003 04:43 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
That works on occasion, but generally walking up to strangers and talking to them isn't something people do often in London. Because you've had a unique experience doesn't mean that technique works across the board (I hope that didn't sound patronizing or anything, I don't mean it that way..)

I've talked to Londoners through lj, but I haven't met any in person yet. There's a few I'd like to meet, some really genuine and creative people, but I guess there's no guarantee that we'll click in person (time will tell).

I'm sure when I start classes I'll meet some people and if I start doing photography work it would connect me with more creative people. I am tentatively optimistic about the future..

I wish more vacation time were possible too. I think the Germans get something like 1-2 months off a year and Americans get less vacation time than any other country. If Max worked in America he'd lose 2 weeks of his current vacation time, it's insane.
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On August 19th, 2003 09:35 am (UTC), vizzygoth commented:
I've been feeling depressed about being away from my family as I'm very close them (that's a strange sentence, isn't it?)

not at all. it must be tough for you to be so far away from your fam. i can kinda relate, being 2000 miles away and not having the funds to really travel to see my family that often. but still in your case the geographic separation is more extreme, and that has to be a difficult thing to accept. i agree that constant contact is a good band-aid. sometimes after a long phone conversation you can feel as tho you've just spoken with someone in person.

i'm sure you'll find some potential friends in your classes (all depending on what classes you're taking, i suppose). school is good for that sort of thing. ;)


(great photos, btw. i esp. like bieren01--that dress is to die for!)
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On August 19th, 2003 05:01 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Not that I wish this kind of difficulty on anyone, but it's nice to know that people like you and Jackie can relate to what I'm going through. I know it would be hard on Max if we were living in the states right now, there's just no way for either of us to be completely happy with the situation so we have to find compromises.

You're right, it is so important to keep in touch. I'm starting to re-learn the art of letter writing as well, despite my appalling handwriting from spending most of my formative + years on a keyboard. ;)

The classes should be good, I'm looking forward to them and to being around people more my age and immersing myself academically.. I think it's something I've needed for awhile now, but I haven't had the chance to settle down long enough to enroll!

bieren01.jpg was taken inside one of the Belgo bathroom stalls, all of them had photos of retro Belgian women in fab fashions. The bathroom was empty so I was going to take photos of all of them until my camera had a spazz attack and refused to snap any more.

Thanks for the kind words. :)
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On August 19th, 2003 10:41 am (UTC), opalfruit commented:
I'll be your friend! ;)

I'm sure it'll get easier... it takes time to find a niche. You've done so well.

Good luck! x
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On August 19th, 2003 05:04 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Is the " ;) " sarcasm? :P

Thanks, I wish I could just import all my family and friends. It would make life so much easier. ;)

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On August 20th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC), opalfruit replied:
the ;) was to make the sentence not seem like I was a weirdo!

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On August 20th, 2003 03:13 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
fair enough. :)
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On August 19th, 2003 10:54 am (UTC), asphalteden commented:
I understand what you mean completely. Though I live relatively close to my family, when you make the decision to settle down in one place with your spouse (etc) you also have to deal with many of your more transient friends moving away to distant places.

It seems inevitable, and Bianca and I are going through that now--most of our closest friends have moved away, and finding engaging people is more difficult than I'd expected.

Things start to get bizarre when you consider attending mixers to meet new friends!
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On August 19th, 2003 05:17 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
It is difficult when both people are close-knit with their families and friends, so one person in the partnership always has to be away from many people they love. It's interesting that your predicament is because of people moving away from you, rather than you moving away from them. There's no real replacing good friends and I know what you mean about finding engaging people. It's not like I'm only exclusively looking for one kind of person to become friends with, I like all kinds of people.. but it seems finding that good dynamic and easy rapport can be so difficult.

I wish you and Bianca luck! (Mixers? I must be out of the loop, I've never heard of that before..)
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On August 20th, 2003 05:56 am (UTC), asphalteden replied:
It seems in our discrete experiences we are on both sides of the spectrum. I decided to settle down near where I grew up. I don't regret that decision at all--as I have the type of life I believe I have always wanted to have.

Some feel (and it makes sense) that they must move far away from where they grow up to really blossom as adults, (and others move for far more mundane or silly reasons), and others move to be with their lovers. But while all these things happen not to me, but to my friends, it often seems as if I say goodbye to people the year round!

It's tough to "replace" friendships, any way you cut it.

I meant by "mixer" the type of party comprised totally of strangers where you can meet new people you wouldn't normally be exposed to. I've entertained this idea (we have the opportunity to do these things here and there), but have shied away from them so far.

Bianca's fellow ballet/tap dancers have mentioned having a mass get-together--perhaps this is a decent avenue!
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On August 19th, 2003 11:28 am (UTC), heuteistmeintag commented:
i hate you, i hate your big pot of moules, and i hate your mort subite

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On August 19th, 2003 04:43 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
I love you. ;)
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On August 19th, 2003 07:14 pm (UTC), heuteistmeintag replied:
you're beauty and charm isn't gonna get you off the hook this time, buddy!!! having keiek AND moules at belgo is like a double whammy, kicking me on the ground after punching my lights out!
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On August 20th, 2003 02:33 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
I'm pleased to know that you don't hate me anymore. ahh the powers of creme brulee.
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On August 20th, 2003 02:35 pm (UTC), heuteistmeintag replied:
yes, it is incredibly scary how i can be easily manipulated with seafoods and desserts
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On August 19th, 2003 08:58 pm (UTC), bizzong commented:
I was in a similar situation when I moved to Nashville a couple of years ago. I've gotten involved with the Parthenon and volunteering there as a docent. It's been a good place for me to network for friends in the area.
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On August 20th, 2003 02:28 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
That's good you've found a place to meet interesting people (that is an impressive building!) Volunteering for museums or something similar is something that I've considered (for the experience as well as the people), I may give it a try at some point.
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On September 18th, 2003 09:48 pm (UTC), gulch commented:
I can kinda identify with your problem... since moving to Sheffield five years ago, I still don't consider that I have any real friends here. Well, not any friends at all... there's Gill's friends and relatives, and that's it. It doesn't bother me too much, mainly because I get most of my socialising out of the way when I visit London (which I think is also a reason why I haven't made friends here yet) and I can be quite a loner anyway, but sometimes I wonder whether my lack of contacts here is affecting me in some deep way but I'm just so damn self-unaware that I don't realise it.

But I'm about to start evening classes too, so who knows, I might even find some kindred spirits in Sheffield, of all places. Hmmm... I wonder what kind of people do attend "Mushroom and Toadstool identification" classes?

I was racking my brain to think of some of my old Teddington friends who you might click with in a somewhat deeper way than just going out for a drink having fun, but then I remembered that I spent my formative years with my friends getting stoned and sitting around in rooms not talking to one another, so although I know some wonderful people, none of them exactly "do" social interaction in a very rewarding way.

Actually, Ed is somebody you should definitely meet. Ed is from Teddington, but now lives in East London (Aldgate/Whitechapel). And he's an artistic scientific musical renaissance man (in fact, when I was best man at Ed's wedding, a friend who was on his art foundation course and has now made it as a sculptor told me he was convinced that Ed had a Leonardo-like range and depth of creative talent, and despite the preposterousness of any such statement I think he was pretty close to the mark). Yeah, you really ought to meet Ed, and his French wife Anaïs. In fact, dammit, I haven't even met you yet! We really ought to arrange for me, you, Max, Ed and Anaïs (and Gill, if I can get her down to London) to meet up some time (probably over some amazing French food).

And yeah, a month's break per year is a real must - I only just realised that last month, when I had my first such break in many years. It's revitalised me.
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On October 16th, 2003 04:30 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Yes, going back to the states for two weeks made me realize how much I missed being around people who really know me and have for most of my life. It's good you have close friends in London, perhaps I need to import a few of mine. Heck, none of my family have even visited me here yet except for my dad in passing to Italy (I really hope he ends up living in London for awhile, it is possible that he might).

How do you like living in Sheffield? We've talked about the possibility of moving further north in the past, but I've always felt a bit reluctant about it.

wonder what kind of people do attend "Mushroom and Toadstool identification" classes?

Maybe people who love cooking? I thought of joining some kind of classes myself this fall or winter, but with having to move again it will have to be delayed.

haha, I think I'm past my sitting around getting stoned days. :)

I'd love to meet you and Gill (and Ed and Anaïs, if possible) sometime. We have 2 weeks left of holiday this year so we were considering taking a trip up north (Hull area) to see some of Max's family and friends. If we do maybe we could meet up somewhere (of course my sense of geography may be way off, the furthest north I've been in the UK is Boston, Lincolnshire!)

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On October 16th, 2003 06:00 am (UTC), gulch replied:
How do I like living in Sheffield... good question, and oddly enough I'm not really sure of the answer. I mean, I seem to quite like it, but as I mentioned I don't really have any friends or get out much, but then I'm not sure that I would anywhere, that's just me I guess, I do most of my socialising online or in London, and other than that... well, I've got some of the most beautiful countryside in the country almost on my doorstep. It is noticeably colder than London though, which is sometimes a bit depressing - it takes about three weeks longer for spring to arrive up here.

I never made it to mushroom and toadstool identification (long story)... so I may have to wait another term to make friends :-/ shame you didn't get to do any classes - I used to do evening classes in Richmond, and I remember they have (or at least had) an awesome range of subjects on offer there.

Was thinking more along the lines of meeting up with Ed and Anaïs in London, as it's virtually impossible to get them up North too (especially now Ed is busier than ever - he's now making jewellry for Fendi - been working with Karl Lagerfeld, who I always thought was a slimy character but apparently is absolutely lovely, and Ed's been working flat-out in the run-up to Milan fashion week). But if you and Max are coming up to this part of the country, then of course Gill and I would love to see you - my geography's not great either, particularly not to the East of Sheffield, but I don't think Hull's all that far from here (closer than London at least), and Lincolnshire is the next county over from South Yorkshire. Hmmm, yes, looking at this map it would probably take about an hour to drive from Hull to Sheffield, dunno what trains are like. The Earth Centre, where we got married, is near Doncaster, between the two. Maybe we could meet up and go check out Viggo Mortensen.
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On October 30th, 2003 06:48 am (UTC), nomi replied:
it takes about three weeks longer for spring to arrive up here.

I'm not sure if I could handle that. I love winter up until early January, then I'm ready for spring to arrive. It's always late Jan. - early April that my wintertime depression sets in.

wow, Ed must be busy! It's good to hear that Karl Lagerfeld is nice, because even his appearance always creeped me out.

Max and I are taking 4 days in late November or early December to venture up north. We'll go through Boston to visit his grandad, then to Hull where he grew up, and then up to Whitby. The furthest west we'll go is probably near York. We haven't set an exact date yet, but I'll let you know when we do. :)
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