Posted on | October 27, 2014 | 7 Comments
This past weekend, Banks and I went to Athens, Georgia, for an anniversary party. I’d never been to Athens, but I’d heard it was a lot like Chapel Hill (my alma mater), so I felt pretty sure I’d like it just fine.
We stopped for pictures at Sanford Stadium. We drove miles in circles looking for parking. We smelled the distinct smell of bleach covered vomit.
Yes… this was almost exactly like Chapel Hill. Except, you know, bigger. A lot bigger.
And the town was fun; a lot of fun. But I’m not here to write a travel review. I’m here because we stayed up until 3am on Saturday night and then had an early lunch at a taco restaurant, all cozied up under a big screen tv watching the Falcons epic loss without sound. I’m here because we drank way too much beer and had a “few” shots, and danced like we were still in college. I’m here because I almost lost my voice just from shouting over loud music, and my legs and back ache from wandering the streets in high-ish heeled boots.
I’m here writing because it hit me this weekend like a ton of bricks… or maybe a ton of fairy dust or rose petals or whatever love smacks you in the face with when it shows you just how much you adore the person you’re semi-tied to. Suddenly, reliving my college days with Banks made me desperately want to rewind time, to intertwine fingers with him on a walk down Franklin Street at 2 in the morning when we’re both still wrinkle free in the pristine bodies of our younger selves. I wanted to race sleds down the hill with him at age eight, wanted to have him beside me at the Beach Club in Orlando, wanted every single memory of my whole life thus far to have an addendum… a careted insert of Banks on the sidelines. I wanted him seated by me in Mrs. Trail’s creative writing class in high school, wanted him to be the one sliding a corsage on my wrist at semi-formal dances, wanted well… him. More of him. More time to share with this incredible person who just somehow gets me in a way I don’t think I’ve ever been gotten in the past.
Yes, I realize this is an epic love post to trump all love posts, but honestly … I don’t know how else to say it. This weekend it suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t had enough time with this man… that I don’t think I’ll ever have enough time with him.
And when you’re me and you feel that way about someone else?
That’s a pretty poetic thing.
Posted on | October 14, 2014 | 2 Comments
I didn’t sleep well last night, and as anyone who suffers through anxiety knows, sleeplessness makes it worse. So when I woke up this morning to thunderstorms and tornado watches, I have to admit the thought occurred to me to stay home with J safely tucked beneath my wing, riding out the storm together in the presumed safety of our home.
I thought about it so much that I actually emailed my assistant and asked her to reschedule my morning appointments. I thought about it so seriously that I stayed in bed until almost 7:30, weighing the pros and cons of just calling in “storm” to work and keeping my most precious person in my sight.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting it is this: The absolute MOST important lesson you can learn as a parent is how to let go. And it’s a lesson I struggle with almost daily. My natural tendency is to cling. I don’t much like that about myself, but the fact of the matter is, if there’s a literal or figurative ship going down, I’m the crazy lady with her fingernails deeply embedded in the caulking of the deck and I will be damned if I’m letting go. I may not be a stage five, but I’m a solid three on the crazy clinger scale.
So you can see how it might have been difficult to pull up to the trailer-esque classroom at my son’s school and allow his teacher to pry him from my grip. You can see how I might have been a little crazy-eyed when I pasted on a smile and motioned for her to come closer… I’m honestly surprised that she did.
I waved to my kid with this crazy-woman smile and waited for him to step through the door before I turned my attention to the teacher.
“You. Have. A. Tornado. Plan.”
It was more of an order than a question, sort of spiraling out of the pit of my crazy in a terrifyingly high pitched voice, but she smiled in the serene way that all Montessori teachers seem to have, as if they load up on medical marijuana pre-seven am just to deal with our little angels. With a nod, she confirmed that they did, in fact, have a tornado plan, and that the teachers and children were very familiar with that plan.
It was the only thing I could do.
I unclenched my fist and watched the door close behind my child as the storm clouds gathered overhead, and then I pulled away, leaving him behind as I headed to the office.
Sometimes I wonder if learning to let go is the ONLY thing we have to learn as parents.
Posted on | October 13, 2014 | 8 Comments
Some time on Saturday morning or maybe late Friday night, I started to just feel … off. You know what I mean? That feeling like something is wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it? I thought it might just be because I was missing my kid but when he returned on Saturday, the feeling remained.
I woke up this morning with a catch in my throat and my eyes on the verge of tears and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. Was it returning to work after a long weekend trip? Was it because Banks and I argued? Was it because my son was whiny or my dog was whiny or was it just that the sky was gray and foreboding? I plodded through the morning with my normal mantra of “Get dressed, J. Put your shoes on, J. Brush your teeth, J. Put your shoes on. PUT YOUR SHOES ON, J” and still the feeling hovered.
When I got to work and turned on my computer the date flashed up at me and it all made sense.
It seems that no matter where I go or what I do, October 13th will always haunt me.
The first year after my divorce, I cried on my anniversary over the loss of my husband but I was sure that by the second year it would all be different. And it was. I still cried, more from the exhaustion of single parenting and the overwhelming sense of loneliness. When the third year rolled around, I was deliriously enthralled with Banks and deep in the honeymoon phase of our relationship. October 13th was just another day.
And now, it seems, I have reached the fourth year. Officially. I’ve almost been divorced as long as I was married. But though it seems it shouldn’t matter any more that on this day, seven years ago, I was surrounded with friends and family on the day of my wedding… somehow it still does.
I can’t, in all honesty, say that I am sad to no longer be married to my ex-husband. I can’t say that I wish he were still here, still a part of my life. Because the God’s honest truth is that I don’t. I’m happy to no longer share a home with him, to no longer share my heart and mind and soul with him.
But the thing about divorce is this: it sort of feels like one big epic F- on a report card. Like I can’t pass “Marriage 101.” Like I’m flawed in some seriously major way that makes me unlovable, un-manageable, and yes … un-marriable. Though last year this day rolled off of me with the weightless wonder of new love, this year it weighs so heavy on my heart that it feels unbearable. I feel unbearable.
I failed at marriage. Failed at being able to salvage the friendship we once had, the love we thought we had… the life I thought we’d build together. And though I don’t want it back, not for all the diamonds in the world, the loss of it feels overwhelming.
Because if I failed at being married once, who’s to say I won’t fail again? As my relationship with Banks deepens and grows and evolves into something bigger and more and amazing… who’s to say that the weight of my insecurities won’t drown this man I love, won’t swallow him whole with my sheer doubt of my own existence. Who’s to say that second time’s the charm, that THIS time it’s right, that I won’t fail again. It seems the closer I get to Banks, the more terrified I become and I wonder if maybe I’m just too broken, just too scarred, just too much of a failure to ever make it work again.
This year, October 13th weighs so heavy on my heart.
Posted on | September 10, 2014 | No Comments
I still remember hearing the news, that Jack Donaldson had died in a strange and terrifying accident on a rainy September night. I didn’t know Jack. I didn’t know his mother Anna. And yet, when I heard the news, I felt compelled to fall to my knees and pray like I’d never prayed before for comfort for the family of four that was now heart-achingly missing one member. He was twelve years old. He was only twelve years old.
Throughout the past three years, I’ve kept up with the Donaldson’s story through Anna’s blog and through facebook. Though I’ve never met her, I’ve felt so connected to her and her family that when I heard she was releasing a book about her Jack, I pre-ordered it and insisted my friends do the same because she felt… like family.
And then Rare Bird arrived on my Kindle.
This a book to cherish.
These are words to wind around and through your heart again and again until you bleed with the sheer cutting wisdom and love. Because this is a book so full of love that it spills out and around the virtual pages until you can barely see through the tears. I never before realized how much tears taste like love. This book has moved me in ways I can’t begin to describe because though it is a book about a mother’s grief… it is more. It is a book about a mother’s hope… a mother’s love… a mother’s heart. This is a love story from a mother to her two children and it is hauntingly beautiful. When I was barely half way through, I pulled my son from his bed and snuggled with him to read the rest. When I dropped him off at school this morning, I didn’t care if I was embarrassing him when I hugged him close and kissed the softness of his cheek. Because I am his mother and I love him with a ferocity.
Anna loves her son with a ferocity.
Anna loves her God with a ferocity.
And this book reconciles her loss of one and her belief in another in a way that is timeless and breathtaking. And yes sad. And yes also brilliantly honest and real.
This is a book about love and it is the most devastating of love stories. I can not tell you that you won’t cry… because you will. I can not tell you that you won’t be afraid and broken alongside this mother, because you will. But you will also be filled with so much love that you will absolutely not be able to keep it from exploding out of you into the world. Because even in her grief, this is first and foremost a book about love. And I am honored that Anna shared her love of her son with the world… because it inspires me to love better, to love bigger, to let go and to remember that we just don’t know how long we have to love these precious gifts. And so we should love them the best and the biggest while we can. Anna’s thoughts on life after life… the inexplicable life that comes after the biggest hurt of all… are healing in a way I never knew I needed to be healed. There is a God. Even when we think there isn’t. Even when we hurt so big that there is nothing safe from our pain. There is a God.
And he loves us. And he loves Anna. And Jack. And Tim. And most especially Margaret.
I don’t really do book reviews. I don’t go into the words or the story or how the author chooses to put things in writing… there are professionals who can break and parse and tell you all of that. What I know is my heart… and my heart loves this book. So if you want to know what love tastes like, go read this book, inhale the love Anna has for her children, and then share it with the world… the way she has.
Posted on | September 5, 2014 | 22 Comments
So… rationally, I believe I’m okay. Irrationally, I am thinking through a plan of action in the off chance that Dr. Google is correct and I should avoid going into any light of any kind, ever.
On Tuesday, I spent the day on a military base with 40 of my favorite people. During the morning, I went to pull my hair up off my neck and felt something strange. I rubbed on it, pushed it, pulled it, and did everything short of try to pop it like a pimple and when I realized it was out of place, I began asking everyone else to do the same. It was decidedly a lump, though some called it a horn of pure meanness, and I decided I’d call my doctor the next day. While waiting for my 2:30 appointment on Wednesday, I googled possible scenarios… you know “Death and lumps,” and “swollen lymph nodes that equal total annihilation of life.” Just reasonable stuff. I became convinced that I had about six hours left to live which would just get me in to the doctor in time for her to sadly announce that if only I’d gotten there sooner there would have been a course of treatment.
In all seriousness, I wasn’t that worried. It was just a swollen lymph node. They’re pretty common when you’re sick.
Only I wasn’t sick.
So I went in and my doctor ran her hand over my neck and I saw the surprise in her eyes as she felt it again. And again. And a third time.
Then she sat down and asked me a string of questions about how long it had been there, if it hurt, and if there were anything I’d done that could have caused it.
With an apologetic smile, she told me she was sending me for an ultrasound.
“It’s non-invasive,” she smiled. “It’ll just give us a look at what’s going on, just in case. I don’t want you to worry, but I had a woman come in once with swollen lymphnodes and it was lymphoma.”
You know it’s a party when the doctor talks cancer.
So I went the next day for my ultrasound, still convinced it was nothing or everything, depending on the moment. The technician was kind and when I left, gave me the impression that everything was probably fine… though she didn’t give me results. I felt good. I felt like I had worried for nothing and went home and snuggled my child without a care in the world.
This morning, I felt better than I had all week. I was all smiles and jokes… I was going to live and that’s pretty great, right?
My phone rang at 9:00 am.
My doctor’s office was referring me to a general surgeon.
“The ultrasound showed enlargement… and things…” the nurse sort of stuttered as if she didn’t really know what the ultrasound showed, she was just reading a message left by the physician. “If you don’t hear from the surgeon by Tuesday, call us back, though, and we’ll get you in.”
And just like that, everything fell apart.
Rationally, I know I’m fine.
If only I lived in a rational world.
Posted on | August 28, 2014 | 4 Comments
Should I go the Woody Allen route and announce that “Love is too weak a word for what I feel — I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F’s, yes I have to invent, of course I do, don’t you think I do?” Maybe the sappy (and incorrect) “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” from Love Story? Or perhaps echo the old stand by Pride and Predjudice with the gloriously unrealistic Mr. Darcy’s startling proclamation that Elizabeth has “bewitched him body and soul” and he loves her. Books and movies seem to focus entirely too much time on the falling in love and not enough just on the BEING in love, you know? But love isn’t just about the falling; in fact… I dare say that’s not even the best part. The best part comes after the fall, when you’re knee deep in the mud and muck of BEING in love. Me? I’m full on in love… the REAL kind. Where the movie leaves off and you think they just ride off into the sunset forever but really they go home and someone has to do the dishes after dinner and someone else forgot to pick up milk at the store. Being in love is the day to day drudgery and gloriousness that comes long after the butterflies of a first date… it’s the moments that still take your breath away even in the midst of all the moments when you’re too busy to notice just how good you have it.
Of course, BEING in love isn’t the stuff of movies…. Falling in love is more delirious; more suited for romance. Falling in love is an epic anthem played by a symphony while you run through a field of daffodils clutching your beloved’s hand. Falling in love is… decidedly easy, if we’re being honest. But BEING in love? Being in love is a horse of a different color.
Being in love is rolling your eyes because he forgot to pick up yellow table cloths at the dollar store, but loving him for spending $23 there anyway on random things for your son’s birthday party. Being in love is sometimes getting up early enough to make breakfast and sometimes shrugging and saying “no” because you don’t have to DO things to love someone. You don’t have to cook or clean or anything else… but sometimes you do. Sometimes I do. But I do it not because it’s my duty or my job to please him. I do it not because a woman is SUPPOSED to do those things for a man… I do it because it makes him happy. And making him happy makes me so happy that it really feels like a selfish act.
Sometimes we fight. Sometimes I get so mad at him that I think my head will fly off my neck, orbit the Earth and then explode in a mushroom cloud of anger at his door step. Sometimes I hurt his feelings and sometimes he hurts mine. But when that happens, our love means saying sorry… and BEING sorry. Because it hurts to hurt the person you love.
Sometimes he drives me bat shit crazy… But sometimes? He brings me the centerpiece off a work lunch table. Sometimes he calls just to say “hi.” Sometimes he grabs my hand and wraps his fingers into mine with a ferocious gentleness that makes me smile so big my cheeks nearly split. Sometimes he is mostly perfect. Sometimes I am nearly there myself. And sometimes… maybe more of the time… we are both individual disasters.
But we love each other. And although we are totally imperfect individuals, I think we’re totally perfect together. Because when we’re together we work hard at being more for each other… more than just two imperfect people. I guess… if falling in love is Drew Barrymore standing on the pitcher’s mound while Michael Vartan walks purposely toward her for a kiss, being in love is the couple they don’t show. The one sitting in the stands with their two kids fighting over who gets which end of the hotdog while they, the parents take that one moment to glance up at each other and the father presses his knee slightly against hers… and she knows.
He loves her. She loves him.
And that is all that matters.
Posted on | August 27, 2014 | 4 Comments
I have a confession to make…
If I don’t wear mascara, I look like a rabid albino monkey.
There. I said it. ::breathes sigh of relief:: I mean, I hate that it’s true. I hate that having reddish blonde eye lashes means my eyes sort of sink back into my head without artificial accents, but it’s the truth. And it’s awful. Especially on days like today, when I can’t find my make up bag to save my ever loving life.
I know that I had it yesterday.
I know that I had eye lashes on my face yesterday, which means that I screwed my mouth sideways and squinted into a mirror and put the mascara on just so, and gave myself those lashes.
So where is it today?
And that’s sort of how my morning has gone. It’s been one missing thing after another. At one point, I couldn’t even find J because he was hiding under the dining room table. It took him making a ghostly “whoooooooo” sound for me to even locate him and that, my friends, is just sad. He’s five. He’s not exactly an expert hider. Traditional games of hide and seek usually take only a few minutes because he will do something like crawl under the covers of the bed, creating a lump of covers and then announce “YOU’LL NEVER FIND ME HERE!” as though I a) can’t see; and b) can’t hear.
So it was a morning of losing things…my mind, my mascara, my child. And when I finally got to work it felt like such an epic achievement that I wanted to just reward myself by turning around and going home again. Instead, I made a pot of coffee, basically mainlined the entire thing, and found myself seated at my desk and somewhat caffeinated enough to work. On my first trip to the bathroom, I stepped out of the stall and did a Dowager Countess of Grantham double take. Honestly. If I hadn’t just peed, it would have scared the pee out of me. I actually didn’t even recognize my own reflection. THAT’S how important mascara is, people.
Sigh. My mind is gone. My coffee is now gone. My mascara is gone and thus my eyes are gone.
I look like a rabid, albino monkey… and it’s only Wednesday.
Please send make up. STAT.
Posted on | August 26, 2014 | No Comments
A couple of months ago, another attorney in town sent me an email, asking if I’d participate in a charity flag football game to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. Of course I said yes, because how do you even say no to that? Plus, I’d played flag football in the past… in high school and even in college. I knew what I was doing. I would just put on my running clothes and run around while people throw me a ball on occasion, right?
Um… no. See also: Dear God what was I thinking.
First of all, I’m old now. The last time I played a team sport other than beer pong or corn hole, I was in my VERY early twenties. So even though I fancy myself to be in pretty decent shape, my shape tends more toward round than lean. Last night was the first practice I could attend. I got out there in my workout outfit, strapped my flags around my waist and thought “Yeah. I’ve got this.” I can catch. I can throw a little. I can run. That’s football, right?
And then practice started.
Honest to God, I couldn’t even do half of the “warm up” stretches because they looked like something out of a Crossfitter’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. They were all spider monkeying around and raising legs to shoulders. The only way my legs will ever reach my shoulder is if I amputate one and have to carry it some place.
Things didn’t improve once we started the actual drills.
I got hit in the nipples more times than a hooker in a dunk booth.
The very first time a pass came my way (from our head coach who, oh by the way PLAYED COLLEGE FOOTBALL), I thought my entire boob was going to swell up, jump off my chest and say “Eff this, I’m out of here.”
It was like an hour long session of how many times can a football bounce off Law Momma. I think I caught the ball all of twice in a one hour practice.
The game is promo-ed as Blondes vs. Brunettes so it sounded fun. But if I was thinking it would just be a cute way to get a little exercise, raise a little money for charity, and maybe meet some new friends… I WAS WRONG. Some of these girls can ball. (And some of them need better sports bras…I’m looking at you, bouncy blonde.) And there are actual plays and stuff. Like we’re some kind of athletes.
It’s all very stressful. And will be played during halftime of a college football game here in Macon. With people watching.
I’m not quite sure what I got myself into with this….. BUT… if you’d like to donate to a worthy cause and support me making an ass out of myself, I’m happy to have the help! Click HERE to donate to my shame and I promise to name one of my (many) bruises in your honor.
Posted on | August 25, 2014 | 1 Comment
When I first started this blog, J was just shy of five months old. He didn’t speak. He didn’t have verbalized thoughts and emotions. He didn’t know or care what I wrote here about him and about our lives together.
On Friday, my little five month old turned five years old.
A whole hand.
A jazz hand, as Jana’s boy said.
And at five, he cares entirely too much about what I write about him and say about him. He cares so much about what people think of him, how he is perceived, how he can make sure he isn’t embarrassed. And I wish I could say that I have no idea where he got all of that, but I know it was passed down to him in the blood we share.
You guys… it breaks me. It cuts and shatters my heart that he cares so very, very much about such silly, silly things.
For his birthday, one of my co-workers gave him a Batman costume and he LOVES it. He put it on yesterday afternoon and came running in to where Banks and I were sitting to show it off. Unfortunately, I was just about to head to the grocery store and he really didn’t want to take off the costume. So, I told him he could wear it.
Because OBVIOUSLY he could wear it.
It was awesome and adorable.
He happily climbed into the car and buckled in and we drove to Publix. When we got there, he happily got out of the car and proudly walked across the parking lot, dressed as Batman.
The first couple coming out of the store smiled at him and the guy said “Alright, yeah! Batman!”
And my son visibly crumbled.
The guy said nothing wrong but all of a sudden, J was fully aware of what he was wearing and that no one else was wearing it. It was like this stranger handed him the forbidden fruit and suddenly J believed there was something wrong with him… just the way he was.
We cut the trip short because he was on the verge of tears, asking me why I’d let him wear that out in public, why I’d let him be embarrassed like that.
And he’s five.
As I tucked him back into his carseat and we headed home, I realized that my son is not just mine, he is also his. And what I choose to write about MY son, is also and always about HIM, too.
I will often be a source of embarrassment for my child without meaning to be. I will probably be a source of embarrassment for him because I’m full on trying to be.
But I will never let this space become an embarrassment for my son.
He’s five…. not five months and from here on out, the words I say may be used against him, even when I don’t mean them to be. I want to be real and honest and tell you about what we struggle with in my house… but it’s also his house. And sometimes even when we wish it wouldn’t…
Sometimes the truth hurts.
So there will be bouts of silence here while we struggle to come to grips with our new reality of reading and school and life with each other and Banks. There will be bouts of silence when I long to write about how we are struggling… but his life is now more than just mine to share… and it’s up to him, not me, what face he chooses to show the world.
Posted on | August 14, 2014 | 4 Comments
This morning, my son made himself toast with butter for breakfast. He made it all by himself and my GOD I want to be thinking of that milestone and celebrating that milestone and being the mom who is so caught up in the amazing intricacies of my son’s life that I can’t be bothered with the world outside.
But I am bothered by the world outside.
And honestly, if you’re not? If you’re not bothered by the world outside the four walls of your space then maybe you and I should have a little talk.
Last week, the Leadership class that I’m a part of had a “Race Relations” day. We did a lot of listening about the history of racial tension in our own town and a lot of talking about things that maybe don’t get talked about enough. Things like “Driving While Black.” Things like the clash within the Black community over Rap and Hip Hop culture. Things like knowing people aren’t somehow thinking less of you because your skin pigment is different than theirs.
At one point, one of the young black men in my class stood and asked an honest question. He asked how many of us, how many of us on the other side of the room… the white side of the room, hear a joke with the “n” word in it and laugh. And how many of us say to the joke teller it is wrong.
My gut reaction was one of denial. I NEVER laugh at those jokes, I announced, horrified that someone would ever do so. But as the week has passed, I’ve thought of the times some of the older generation in my family have said that word. I thought of the times I’d held my tongue because of the “respect your elders” that has been drilled into me. I thought about the times I’d turned a blind eye and blind ear to the racial comments, racist undertones, and just plain wrong assumptions that are made around me on a daily basis.
And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me want to weep, not for myself… not for the Black community… but weep for the world I am handing to my son. A world where Ferguson, Missouri exists. A world where members of the White community immediately roll their eyes and say “We don’t know the WHOLE story, though do we?” Should the WHOLE story matter, at least in this case? In the grand scheme of things, does it matter if words were exchanged or even if violence was exchanged, when the end result is an 18 year old on his knees with his hands raised, and a police officer still shooting him? Am I handing my son a world where my Black friends are scared to pull over when a police officer is behind them because they just don’t know what he or she might do to them? Am I really sending him out into a world where White privilege is so prevalent, so overwhelming, that the White people don’t notice it and the Black and Hispanic communities can’t avoid it.
I want to focus on the fact that my son made himself toast this morning.
I want desperately to focus on the fact that he made that damn toast.
But what a disservice I would do to my heart, to my brothers and sisters in the Black community, to my brothers and sisters in Ferguson, Missouri and around the world who wake up every day knowing that THEY might be harmed for no reason… for being young… for being black… for being disrespectful or too respectful or maybe just for BEING. What a disservice I would be doing if I focused on toast, while the world around me weeps over or ignores another example of how far we still have to come.
Forty some years ago, a lone Black man stood at a podium and made a speech that should have changed the world. He stood and spoke words that should have stirred hearts for decades, for centuries even.
“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”
One hundred years. Will it be that long before another change comes? There is a shameful condition being dramatized right now… today… in Ferguson Missouri. In your town. Maybe even in your neighborhood. And it’s been forty years since that speech was made.
It will STILL be here in forty more years, if we turn our eyes away from Ferguson, Missouri, from Trayvon Martin, from the immigrants in Texas, from the poverty and the abject humiliation that so many of our brothers and sisters face every day. We are all one, are we not? One nation, indivisible.
Indivisible. Not Invisible.
Seeing. Not blind.
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