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I have many places visited to write and share photos about, but right now I just feel like posting about London. I have a mixed relationship with my adopted home city and now after five years of living here I am only just beginning to feel that it is home and yet I know my time left here is probably limited. I realized recently that I have started taken living here for granted far too often and forgetting to just stop and look, taking scenes like the ones below in, as they have become so commonplace in my life that I barely notice them anymore. I guess that is when you know somewhere feels like home, when you start taking it for granted.

If I had to pick one thing I would miss the most about living in London I would have to say it is multiculturalism. I love the fact that when I'm walking through the city centre I can hear multiple languages being spoken around me, that I can eat food from all corners of the world right down to the most obscure, I can explore the many varieties of speciality grocery stores, and have my pick of the galleries, music, and theatre constantly on display (which I haven't made nearly enough use of, although I do have my reasons). It may seem like a small thing to those who have lived in cities their entire lives, but for someone raised on a small island it feels like an accomplishment for me to live in a city of 12 million people for so long and not have it break me (although it came close on several occasions).

Right now we are collecting our thoughts and dreams and planning our next few years. As I mentioned before I don't believe I'll be in London for a great deal longer, that doesn't mean I am leaving in the next few months, but that my time left here will be about winding down and preparing for the next place. While there are many things that I love about London, there is something missing for me here.. a gentleness perhaps. I've always felt nomadic and start getting itchy to move on and experience a new place and way of life after about 5 years and Macsen feels ready to try something new as well. So our tentative plan right now is to buy a house so we can stop throwing an insane amount of money into the rental abyss, live there for a year or so while we fix it up, and then either sell it or rent it and move to Paris or perhaps somewhere else. It may not end up working out that way, but that is the direction we'd like to point ourselves in and see where it goes. Incidentally, Macsen's parents have decided to sell their Southampton flat and to live in Paris for awhile themselves so hopefully they can scope it out for us first and we can see how they get on. I will be working on my French like I never have before because while Macsen speaks it fluently I don't want to risk feeling dependant or alienated when we move there.

Thank you to everyone who responded to my San Francisco post. Macsen ended up working far too much to enjoy most of the suggestions, but he did some of them and loved Samovar, the Russian/Moroccan tea house (he even brought the tea menu back for me, I need to try "Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy" ). He had a good impression of SF from his week there so we'll visit together someday and check out the rest of the recommendations and meet up with you if you're up for it. He also said something that surprised me, that it was the one American city he's visited that he felt he could live and work in (not before the current administration is out of office though, which I can't say I blame him for). So it is possible that if I need to live closer to my family SF is a serious contender.

It's not easy breaking away from a city, but as I've said to some of you before I leave a piece of my heart wherever I live.

We want to shout:
Small world!
You could almost hug it!
And for a moment we are filled with joy,
radiant and deceptive.

- Wislawa Szymborska

As I walked down by the riverside
One evening in the spring
Heard a long gone song
From days gone by
Blown in on the great north wind
Though there is no lonesome corncrakes cry
Of sorrow and delight
You can hear the cars
And the shouts from bars
And the laughter and the fights

- The Pogues

I feel deflated
Let down by heroes
Walls of silence
Soak up the echoes
Of my ideals
Sold down the river
I blame my own
Naive behaviour
Time again
I'm a complete beginner

- Oi Va Voi

Over the rooftops a plane in the sky
Beat of a bass drum cars passing me by
Under a bridge dark then back into light
A river of raincoats and a forest of faces
Still for a moment then red into green
Slow shuffling shoes whisper sight unseen
Row upon row of houses return an empty stare
Let the daydream for a little while longer

- The Sundays

pod people

Planets crash, the world goes nova, sun explodes, all goes black.
You went off swinging London and forgot to come back.

- The Magnetic Fields

Through the streets, on the corners, there's a scent in the air
I ask you out and I lead you, I know my way around here
There's a bench I remember, and on the way there I find
That the movements you're making, are mirrored in mine
And your hand is held open, intentionally
Or just what I want to see?

Your increasingly long embraces
Are they saying sorry or please?
I don't know what's happening, help me
I don't normally beg for assistance
I rely on my own eyes to see
But right now they make no sense to me
Right now you make no sense to me

- The Kings of Convenience

The devil moon took me through the alley
Down by the kardomah and the centrale
To the mews running through the backstreets
Where the blacks sold fire and sleep
The devil moon took me out of soho
Up to camden where the cold north winds blow
Sucked along by a winter shower
To stand beside your shining tower

This could be our final dance
This could be our very last chance
Just the sound of your voice
Wherever I may be changes everything
And then the worlds right with me
You're my london girl
The way that you walk
You're my london girl
The way that you talk
Just the sound of your voice
And I aint got no choice

The light was going out, the moon was dying
The night was turning to a fine spring morning
The dogs were barking and the kids were shouting
The sun was splashing in a crystal fountain
When the cold winds come to find you
Blowing down from the top of the high rise
I'll come and take you back down to soho
Away from all those mad mens eyes

- The Pogues

people rushing round with no time to spare.
I'm so dizzy I'm neither here nor there,
in this traffic jam I just want to shout
let me off o'this english roundabout
english roundabout
and all the the horns go 'beep! beep!'
all the people follow like sheep
I'm full of light
and sound making my head go round, round.
everyone is cursing under their breath
I'm a passenger, I feel close to death
hopeless situation I have no doubt
stop the madness,
english roundabout english roundabout
and all the cars go'brum! brum!'
and in my ears I feel a hum
the neons blind my eyes
all those tempers rise, rise.
cars and buses go, puffing out their smoke
roll my window down, I begin to choke
I have had enough, I just want to get out
let me off o' this english roundabout
english roundabout.


I'm wandering round and round nowhere to go
I'm lonely in London London is lovely so
I cross the streets without fear
Everybody keeps the way clear
I know, I know no one here to say hello
I know they keep the way clear
I am lonely in London without fear
I'm wandering round and round here nowhere to go

I choose no face to look at
Choose no way
I just happen to be here
And it's ok

- Cibelle

Towers of London
when they had built you
did you watch over the men who fell
Towers of London
when they had built you
Victoria's gem found in somebody's hell

Pavements of gold leading to the underground
Grenadier Guardsmen walking pretty ladies around
fog is the sweat of the never never navvies who pound
spikes in the rails to their very own heaven

Bridges of muscles spanning so long and high
merchants from Stepney walking pretty ladies by
rain is the tears of the never never navvies who cry
for the bridge that doesn't go
in the direction of Dublin

And I've seen it in a painting
and I've seen it in engraving
and I've seen it in their faces
clear as children's chalk lines on the paving

Towers of London
la la Londinium.


I thought that it was just a fluke
When I heard that London Bridge was falling
Now I fall
From dizzy heights and expectations
Why do I hit the ground so hard?

When it's clear to you
I'll be near to you
I will be around
When it's clear to you
I'll be near to you
I won't let you down

I look for the good in everything
It hurts when I cannot find it
I don't want to wear a suit of armor
Do I have to come out fighting?

When it's clear to you
I'll be near to you
I will be around...
I was wishing you would not be let down
I'd hoped you would not be disappointed at all

- The Innocence Mission

Korea festival

Just like a photograph,
I pick you up.
Just like a station on the radio,
I pick you up.
Just like a face in the crowd,
I pick you up.
Just like a feeling that you're sending out,
I pick it up.
But I can't let you go.
If I let you go,
You slip into the fog...

- Kate Bush

people were crowded around them, but I had no idea who they were. turns out
they're the breakdancing team Rivers Crew.
they look pretty talented from the videos I watched.

Walking in the crowded street
Looking for somebody
Stare at all the faces
Making up the crowd

- The Kings of Convenience

Oh Sunday, Monday, Autumn pass by me
And people hurry on so peacefully
A group approaches a policeman
He seems so pleased to please them
It's glad to live at least and I agree
He seems so pleased at least
And it's so good to live in peace and
Sunday, Monday, years and I agree
I agree

- Cibelle

I heard the dandelions roar in Piccadilly Circus
Take a packet of seeds
Take yourself out to play
I want to see River of Orchids where we had a motorway

Push your car from the road
Push your car from the road

Just like a mad dog you're chasing your tail in a circle
Just like a mad dog you're chasing your tail in a circle
It's all in your back yard
You've the whole world at your feet
I said the grass is always greener when it bursts up through concrete

Push your car from the road
Push your car from the road

River of Orchids winding our way
Want to walk into London on my hands one day
River of Orchids the road overgrows
Want to walk into London smelling like a Peckham beggar rose

I had a dream where the car is reduced to a fossil
I had a dream where the car is reduced to a fossil
Take a packet of seeds
Get yourself out to play
I want to see River of Orchids where we had a motorway


Bar Italia

Need a planet without cars and wars,
no wars, no cars, no wars, no cars.
I wish it could be true

- Ellen Allien

The whole world,
which had been
like a festival,

Slowly calmed down.

And those days

became the
gentle time of
what is called
the "Age of the
Calm Evening".

let me show you
just a moment of this brief time
before night comes.

Sitting on the still warm concrete...
The night of humanity
may it be a peaceful age.

- Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

This is where the shadows come to play
‘Twixt the day
And night
Dancing and skipping
Along a chink of light

Somewhere in between
The waxing and the waning wave
Somewhere in between
What the song and silence say
Somewhere in between
The ticking and the tocking clock
Somewhere in a dream between
Sleep and waking up
Somewhere in between
Breathing out and breathing in
Like twilight is neither night nor morning

-Kate Bush

Fernandez & Wells

she saw me photographing through the window and beckoned me in, offering
me free ham. how could I resist free ham? temptress.

Bjartar Vonir Rætast
Er Við Göngum Bæinn
Brosum Og Hlæjum Glaðir
Vinátta Og Þreyta Mætast
Höldum Upp Á Daginn
Og Fögnum Tveggja Ára Bið
Fjarlægur Draumur Fæðist
Borðum Og Drekkum Saddir
Og Borgum Fyrir Okkur
Með Því Sem Við Eigum Í Dag
Setjumst Niður Spenntir
Hlustum Á Sjálfa Okkur Slá
Í takt við tónlistina
Það Virðist Enginn Hlusta
Þetta Er Allt Öðruvísi
Við Lifðum Í Öðrum Heimi
Þar Sem Vorum Aldrei Ósýnileg
Nokkrum Dögum Síðar
Við Tölum Saman Á Ný
En Hljóðið Var Ekki Gott
Við Vorum Sammála Um Það
Sammála Um Flesta Hluti
Við Munum Gera Betur Næst
Þetta Er Ágætis Byrjun

Bright Hopes Come True
As We Walk Downtown
Smiling And Laughing Happily
Friendship And Exhaustion Collide
We Celebrate The Day
A Two Year Wait
A Distant Dream Is Born
We Eat And Drink Til We're Full
And Pay For Ourselves
With Everything We Have For The Day
We Sit Down Excited
Listen To Ourselves Play In Rhythm To The Music
No One Seems To Listen
This Is Completely Different
We Lived In Another World
Where We Were Never Invisible
A Few Days Later
We Speak Again
But The Sound Wasn't Good
We Were All In Agreement
In Agreement About Most Things
We'll Do Better Next Time
This Is A Pretty Good Beginning

- Sigur Rós

not an oxymoron. ;)

an old photo, but a favourite.
the dog looks resigned to his fate, kind of like everyone else on the tube.

you are too distant from me
we're like london and paris
it takes only an hour to get there
but london and paris are in
different time zones
that's why this won't work
we even speak different languages

we don't think alike
we're just like london and paris
not that far away
you just get
on a plane and you're there
but it's hopeless
i don't have
a passport to your heart

- Pizzicato Five

"They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love." - Haruki Murakami

We tire of the city
We tire of it all
We long for just that something more

- Kate Bush

well, I don't care what people say
life is too short to hang around
so I stay so long in a place
and then move on to the next town

oh, sunset city
I've gotta see the world
don't hold me too tightly
don't whisper my name
sad-eyed baby, I'm not that kind of girl
when the dice stop rolling, there's no more to the game
when the time comes to say goodbye...

and in the morning, I'll be gone
for other towns and other lives
I'll catch the first train, bag in hand
and I won't miss you
and you won't cry

- The Magnetic Fields

Każdy przecież początek to tylko ciąg dalszy, a księga zdarzeń zawsze otwarta w połowie...
Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through...

- Wislawa Szymborska

Hungerford Bridge Train Sparks from Naomi on Vimeo.

the trains always spark in the same spot on the hungerford bridge

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On September 19th, 2007 02:08 pm (UTC), gecko_trillam commented:
wow, darling, wow!
thanks so much for the london overview and your thoughts thereof - especially via lyrics!
why will you be moving on to another place?
what do you do for a living?
where did you grow up?

you don't have to answer any of these questions, of course - just curious!

much luck to you!
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On September 20th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: wow, darling, wow!
We'd like to move for a change of scenery and a different way of life and generally we prefer Paris to London, maybe sometime closer to the moving date I will list all the reasons why. :) we have the opportunity to experience another country right now while we don't have any firm commitments anywhere and as Macsen is half French residency would be easy there. I work part time with a publisher which keeps us more flexible, but it has its downfalls. Macsen could work in Paris without difficulty, it's just down to brushing up on his business French and finding a job he feels challenges him (one reason why we never moved to America is he always felt he would have to take several steps back in terms of job progression there). I still have a long way to go before I will feel competent with my French, but I have the best teacher in the world with his mother tutoring me. :)

I grew up on a small island (1 mile by 2 miles) in the San Juan Islands (Washington State) called Sinclair, my parents and I were 3 of only 6 year-round residents. Living there surrounded by nature was an incredible experience and changed us all profoundly, you can read some of my step-mom's journal excerpts from when we lived there here). :)
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On September 20th, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC), gecko_trillam replied:
san juan islands
oh yes, I am familiar with that area. I spent merely a week or so over there with my husband about 11 years ago now. I am still quite moved by the beauty of the area. so peaceful, lovely, rocky - well, you know! ; ) also went hiking in the Olympic National Rainforest, which was an experience in and of itself. this all took place in late October, so it was chilly and crisp and, of course, drizzly.

definitely do what you can now while you have minimal commitments.
you'll find that life comes at you fast.

thanks for the link to your mom's journal! : )
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On September 19th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC), hal_obrien commented:
I know what you mean about going to another city. These days I keep wanting to go someplace Nordic (unsurprising), like København, or Ålesund, or Stockholm, or Kalmar.

If this is far too obvious, apologies, but it turns out the US Foreign Service Institute language learning materials are public domain -- so someone's trying to get them all online. The French stuff is already up. If you're well past that, I understand, but as long as things are available... {shrug}

(They have Swedish and Finnish, but not Danish nor Norwegian. which is weird because, a) the Danes have more people, and b) Denmark and Norway have been our NATO allies for some time.)

Actually, this now reminds of a comment Bjork once made. It was on an interview show, and she's holding up these notebooks where she scribbles her lyrics and drawings, and she tells the camera, "I have a secret code called, 'Icelandic,' so you'll never know what's in here..."
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On September 19th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC), heuteistmeintag replied:
Re: Learning
if i'm not mistaken the population of Denmark is about 5.5 million, vs 9 million Swedes.

besides, if they are our allies then they can speak English :-p
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On September 20th, 2007 07:50 am (UTC), hal_obrien replied:
Re: Learning
"if i'm not mistaken the population of Denmark is about 5.5 million, vs 9 million Swedes."

Turns out you're right. My apologies. That's the problem with taking the long view (centuries) -- sometimes one forgets. (Which is to say, historically speaking, the father south one got in the Nordic countries, the more populous they were. I wonder when the switch came?)

"besides, if they are our allies then they can speak English"

Oh, they do. But remember the resource I'm pointing to is one developed for our diplomatic corps. Both effective diplomacy and the Golden Rule would imply it would be a good thing if Americans learned the languages of peoples we ask to learn ours.
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On September 20th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC), gecko_trillam replied:
Re: Learning
hee hee! i love that quote from björk! icelandic, yes, so very unknown and ignored. i lived in finland for one year (my husband is a finn), so thanks for the link to the online language materials! i remain only on the very lowest level of communication in finnish and would really like to improve. : )
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On September 21st, 2007 02:33 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: Learning
One of my closest friends is Swedish and he's always sending me photos he takes of Uppsala and Stockholm and the surrounding landscapes, it looks beautiful and wild up there and I can't wait to visit him hopefully by next year. Admittedly he and my Finnish friend have made me a bit obsessive about all things Scandinavian, which my Swe friend is completely baffled about why I find it interesting. :) He uses me to practice his English and in the process he is teaching me a little Swedish which is a fun language, if a bit limited in usefulness (should probably concentrate my efforts on French for now) .

I would enjoy hearing what you make of it if you do move to a Nordic country. I'm not sure if you received my Last.fm response mail, but I'd be happy to pass on any good Swe music I come across to you (my friend is convinced there is no such thing, I am on a mission to prove him wrong about his country's music! ;)

Thanks you for the language link, I'm looking forward to get deeply immersed into learning it again.. this past year M's mother has been busy/unwell so I haven't wanted to bother her for tutoring, she wants to start up again now and the timing is perfect.

I like the Bjork quote, Icelandic is so unique.. as is Finnish.
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On September 19th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC), evan commented:
It's funny you write these things because they're often what I think about living in SF: that I won't be here forever, that I take it for granted, that the thing I like best is the multiculturalism. (Well, maybe also the people or the sun.) Maybe it's also because I'm from a small town.

I've read that SF described as the most "European" of American cities, but I suspect that's because people in SF like to feel like they're cultured. In talking with visitors here from other parts of the US the main trend has been surprise at how friendly people are, which is I guess what distinguishes us from LA/NY.
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On September 21st, 2007 03:52 am (UTC), nomi replied:
I kind of like taking where I live for granted to a certain degree.. I like that it feels natural to just be here and not constantly think what I must do to take advantage of the city. Europe in general feels like home to me now and if I can I'd like to spend the rest of my life here, I think the only reason I would move back to America is if one of my parents were unwell and in that case even SF might not be close enough. It is interesting you mention the friendliness of SF as Macsen commented on it and said it made him dread returning to London which has to be one of the most unfriendly cities we've experienced (if not the most), it took me years to stop taking it personal. :) It seems nearly all my friends in SF view it as a temporary residence, but maybe that is because most of them moved there for work reasons. I'm curious to find out how I feel there as American cities seem more alien to me than any European city, it creeps me out how many of the centers turn to ghost towns at night thanks to the car culture.

I guess the multiculturalism part can be said about most big cities.. I know that I would find similar levels in other places, just of a different variety. Maybe you are right that it is because we are both from small towns that we think the same about our cities, it gives us a unique perspective. :)
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On September 19th, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC), dawaioser commented:
What in the world are those glass PODS for? Are they a futuristic Danish apartment design or part of the airport terminal? They are fascinating.
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On September 21st, 2007 03:58 am (UTC), nomi replied:
They are the London Eye, a giant ferris wheel on the thames river (you can see it in full on the first photograph in this post). I've gone up once and it takes a full 30 minutes for one cycle of the wheel.. I think I remember reading it is as tall as the eiffel tower, but I might have just made that up. Sadly I lost all of my photographs from it, they were all deleted somehow and I never found any backups. Sometime I'd like to go back on a clear night. :)
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On September 19th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC), sari commented:
amazing photographs! how do you get that lovely color on them? it makes the picture alive somehow.
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On September 21st, 2007 04:03 am (UTC), nomi replied:
They were post-processed to resemble vintage photographs, with a varying degree of success, but they've mostly just reminded me how much I miss film. :)
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On September 19th, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC), atl commented:
Aw, jeez, just as I was about to be spending a lot more time in London, too.

I'm sure you'll make your own magic wherever you land next.
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On September 21st, 2007 04:05 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: timing
There is still time, we won't be going anywhere for another year or so most likely. :) What brings you to London town?
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On September 19th, 2007 10:06 pm (UTC), azalemeth commented:
Fantastic, fantastic photographs. Almost of the kind I'd expect to find in a post-card book near tourist locations in the city itself. Well done!

It may interest you to know that my father lives in London, and while I've never really been there for more than a weekend-a-fortnight throughout much of my childhood, I still feel very much at home there, nestled temporarily as one unique individual in amongst the tens of millions who are quite probably more unique than I am.

As they say, home is where the heart is!
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On September 21st, 2007 04:26 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Thank you!

Oh wow, What part of London does your father live in? Home is indeed where the heart is, although as I said to a journal friend before I leave pieces of my heart wherever I go which makes for one fractured heart! There is a lot that I will miss, but I feel my life has stagnated if I stay in one place for too long. I wonder if I can ever settle anywhere someday? We will see. :)
On September 21st, 2007 09:31 am (UTC), azalemeth replied:
He lives on a boundary street between Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, just off the Bayswater Road. The houses opposite him are the lovely Georgian £4m apiece kind that you'd associate with the phrase "Notting Hill' - he lives in a (damp, dark, ongoing battle with the landlord) basement flat that used to be the kitchens of the larger houses behind him. I really do wonder why I feel at home there - heck, I still find it difficult to cross roads in London after very nearly being run over on 2005's New Year's Eve, but it has a nice feel to the place all the same. I Saw him fortnightly from when I was two to about 14 - I'm now 18 - and it doesn't feel as alien as it probably did when I was about 7.

Which part of London do you live in? Where are you thinking of moving to?
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On September 20th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
such a beautiful post.

just thinking about the fog by kate bush made my chest hurt.

i didn't recognize the innocence mission lyrics, which might drive me crazy, so could you help me out? what song is it??

thank you so much, this might be my favorite post ever.
(Deleted comment)
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On September 20th, 2007 10:00 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: wth
oops, I should have responded to this one so you'd get the notification. see above. :)
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On September 20th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC), nomi replied:
It is Clear To You, my second favorite Innocence Mission song after Chase the Light. If you don't have it I'd be more than happy to send it your way.

.. and wow, I'm really happy you liked it so much.. 2 people defriended me over it, too much scrolling I guess? I dunno. In any case at least they weren't people I was too fussed about. :)
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On September 20th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
They're on their self-titled album , which is the first I heard of them and still my favorite.. the lyrics for You Chase the Light make me tear up every time.
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On September 27th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC), gulch commented:
Wow, what a wonderful mammoth awe-inspiring post. Sorry that London will be losing you, but I'm sure you're right to move on. I still pay plenty of visits to London, although not as many as I used to, but I'm glad not to be living there any longer - it's a wonderful crazy city, one of the greatest in the world, but just too big and too impersonal for me nowadays.

I've been in Sheffield for 8 years now and, like you, it's only in the last few years that it started feeling like home. But now it really does feel like home, I'm proud to call myself a Sheffielder and I wouldn't contemplate leaving. (Some time next year I'm planning on producing a photobook which is loosely about this topic)
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On November 6th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC), nomi replied:
It's funny, since I've posted this things have come up that will probably change my future plans so it looks like London will have me for a few years still. The reason is certain people in my immediate family moving here, but I can't say too much yet! I'm very excited. :) I have such mixed feelings about London, but despite its downsides I love a lot about it and feel like it's really become part of me. I hope you do produce a photobook about Sheffield, I like personal details about where people live.. it makes me see the place differently and understand the person better.

I do wonder how different I might feel about the U.k. if I lived in a smaller community, like the kinds I grew up in. I still struggle with feelings of alienation here at times and I haven't figured out yet if it's me, London, or Britain in general.
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On November 15th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC), klayzen commented:
thank you very much for posting these, they are an excellent selection!

I am about to move back to The City after a long time in The Country and i don't know how i'm going to adapt, so thanks for reminding me about the bits i like :)
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On December 15th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Good luck with the move! I come from a small town/country background myself and moving to London for the first time was a shock to the system, but any city is what you make of it and luckily I've managed to not let it overwhelm me. :)
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