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Yesterday I went to IKEA to help buy table decorations for the Ball.

Although it's been more than a decade since I last shopped there (and that was in the US, not Japan), IKEA hasn't changed a bit. The strangely named products, the large displays in the meandering showroom leading to the easy impulse purchases of the Marketplace were as familiar as if it were 1991 and Tod & I were shopping for a kitchen table.

As Anna and I wove our way towards vases and dried foliage, I delivered a monologue to her 8 month old son. "Look how happy everyone here is. They are having the best time of their lives; forgetting their cares by buying bright shiny things made by people with worse lives than their own. Someday, you might grow up to be one of these happy people. Isn't that great?"

I made him giggle and I don't know how much Nicholas understood, but the lecture worked for me; I escaped with only a potted plant (for my office) and some cookies (for my lunch).

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