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Insomnia has always been a problem for me. When I was a boy, I went through a phase of telling myself stories, not in a whisper but very softly, aloud. These stories were all about how great my life would be when, for no particular reason, I became very rich and had a lot of friends. At the very end of this period - the only part I remember - the fantasy came to involve a very large house, something between a "mansion" and a "palace." My friends came to live with me and we basically hung out in various rooms, talking mostly. We would take day trips to interesting destinations. It was all rather Genji, although of course I didn't know anything about Prince Genji at the time. (And there were no boring ceremonials or bans or "unlucky directions." We did as we pleased.)

I can't remember these stories very well now, because I never shook the feeling that what I was doing was very embarrassing, and that I would wear a permanent brand of ridicule on my forehead if anybody ever found out about my secret stories. And forgetting them kept them fresh. I remembered only enough to improve the next night's embroidery. Toward the end, I was old enough to sense that it was dissatisfaction with my actual life that was fueling this wish-fulfillment, and that dawning recognition took the charm out of the enterprise. When I look back on it, what comes back strongest is the embarrassment that I felt, even alone in the dark.

Whether these tales prefigured the effort that I would make, as an adult, to be a genial host and a good cook is open to question; they very well may have determined it. But real life lacks the frictionless ease of fantasy: in my tales, there may have been many quiet servants, or food and drink may have appeared on their own - I simply don't remember which. Grown up, I found the tension between hosting a party and serving it, too, increasingly unbearable. This was a problem even before health issues dictated our current retrenchment.

But I may have found my palace after all. I can't say that every day of blogging is better than the one before; that's anything but true. There's nothing worse than the silence that follows a few busy days - an inevitability that I hope to get used to. Nevertheless, this blog is my palace, and all my friends have palaces of their own as well, and - what fulfills my boyhood dreams beyond imagining - I have met friends whom I never could have invented. Discretion precludes my appending a list of names, but I can assure you that if you and I have had a halfway-sustained email exchange since we virtually met, then I'm including you in the picture.

Now go to sleep.


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anyone who has had the pleasure would testify that frictionless is one of the most juste ways of describing dinner with RJ.

Oh what a lovely post. And your palace is exquisite.

Now where's my drink?

When can I move in?


So lovely. Never be embarassed of such dreams.

Palaces of the mind: often preferable, both for the practicality of not requiring upkeep and for the ability we develop to appreciate that which is truly rare in real life, measured against our dreams.

We hope that there never will be any tension here at the virtual party between hosting and serving. And, what a party it is, always reflecting that "kind of undistracted energy that achieves results with grace."

That being said and all, I still want my drink.

Beautiful, eloquent post. Proof that the insomniacal mind is the loveliest palace of all. Up with insomnia!

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