#iamhappy

I didn’t know the little boy, only of him, through his grandma and pictures on Facebook. He was the most photogenic child I swear I’d ever seen and that’s going some, coming from a mother as captivated by the beauty of her own children as I’ve always been, though I know I’m quiet about it……..

Sam Lee’s grandmother was my mother’s first cousin. Mom’s favorite on her mother’s side. Marlys, Sam’s great-grandma, actually, was one of the happiest, kindest women I ever knew. One of the strong women who’ve touched my life. She was unfailingly glad to see us when she visited, as if we were something special, and to her, we were simply a very blessed, happy fact of life. I suppose it’s no wonder, then, that her great-grandson would inherit her amazing outlook and carry it further.

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG is an aggressive, terminal form of brain cancer and before we go any further I’m going to tell you that Sam Lee died from it.

Yeah.

I thought I might lose a few of you right there.

But those of you who stayed must know I have a moral of the story, so thanks.

It’s brave of you.

Honestly, in my own life I’ve had way too many of those, “I don’t know what I’d do if that happened to me,” scenarios actually happen to me or someone in my immediate family. Therefore, reading about the heartbreak of letting go of and losing a small child would be hard to bear. I wasn’t going to. I “liked” one post about him on Facebook and offered up prayers and love for his family and intended to move on.

But – there was Marlys. She just kept smiling and going on with her life in faith and in love – with her daughter, her granddaughter and her Sam.

I was kind of captivated.

So I stayed connected a little by liking the page We Love Sam Lee. On the page I learned about Sam’s mom, Erin, his dad, Michael and his twin sisters, Mae and Ada. About their journey.

Erin writes their story beautifully so I won’t paraphrase. I’m going to copy and paste:

“The reality

On July 26, 2013, our two-year old son, Sam was diagnosed with an aggressive, terminal brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). It didn’t take long for us to learn that funding for the research and treatment of childhood cancers is bad. Really bad. For every dollar raised by the American Cancer Society, only a penny goes toward battling childhood cancer. Pharmaceutical companies fund about 60% of new drugs to treat adult cancers, but they rarely fund drugs for childhood cancers because they are not profitable. The lack of funding means there are few drugs being developed or approved for children. In the last 20 years, only one drug has been approved by the FDA to treat childhood cancer.

The best medical treatment doctors could offer would only give us a short amount of time with Sam: typically 9-12 months. We decided to spend it making memories with him and his twin sisters, Ada and Mae.

The turning point

Soon after the diagnosis, a friend started an online fundraising campaign to help our family take some special trips with Sam. The average gift was about $25, but these small acts of kindness added up in a big way. Through the generosity of family, friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers we were able to take 16 priceless trips with Sam and our girls, traveling more than 30,000 miles together.

We were so grateful and inspired to see this outpouring of support. And we were even more surprised to see the big impact even small donations could make. So we decided to use this discovery to make our mark in the fight against childhood cancer by creating With Purpose.”
Just to be clear, I am not stumping for funding for childhood cancer or anything else at this time. I simply wanted to give you a snapshot of a family who decided to say yes to Life and truly live and enjoy and be happy in the moment. This little boy, from the age of two, travelled with his parents and his baby sisters, on trips of a lifetime.

His lifetime.

They went on 16 trips and inspired countless people to give not just of their time and money but their hearts and souls as well. Their strength and joy was always – and still is – evident in the photos and stories posted on Facebook. Their pain and sorrow I didn’t know because I was a spectator and allowed to keep a distance.

Sam died earlier this year. He was five.

I did cry then because I am a mom and a grandmother and weeping and praying were all I could do to begin my own healing process and send love to Sam’s parents and sisters.

Erin shared a moment – one of the last she had with her little boy – in which she asked him what she could do, right then and there, to make him happy. He looked at her, “surprised (she) had asked and said, ‘I am happy, Mom.’”

Which is, of course, that Moral Of The Story I was talking about.

It’s what I aspire to. What I wish for all of us.

To live in the moment, loving ourselves and those around us. This is how Sam (and Erin and Michael and Marlys and Ada and Mae) inspired me.

So, yes. I say yes. I am.

Happy.

#I am happy. Sam Lee

I am happy.

If you are so inspired, I invite you to check out the With Purpose Facebook page.

 

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Still

I heard a song on the radio the other day that took me back. I don’t hear this one very often and it reminds me of a very specific time in my life – and, honestly – more often than not I’ve turned the song off. It’s long and sad and I’m usually just pissed off by the end of the first verse – still.

That’s the name of the song.

Still.

Lionel Ritchie.

For many that information alone would be enough to change the station. This time, however, I didn’t. I wasn’t even tempted. In fact, the song was over before I remembered that I don’t like to listen to it. I realized in that moment, I’d forgiven myself for something.

It’s not that I haven’t reached the self-forgiveness point in my life before, but normally it’s a more gradual realization. This one felt momentous.  Though, Jesus, it took long enough.

Seriously. I’m pretty sure I heard Jesus say, “It took long enough.”

Still came out when I was 18, I think. Toward the end of the Lionel Ritchie/Commodores years. I’ve always made fun of Lionel in a Kenny Rogers/Michael Bolton manner. He was sort of the best of the King of the lounge singer hit parade. Which is pretty nervy of me to say, considering that the wealth of the three above mentioned men due to their musical success could feed several small countries for years. The truth is, at one time or another, I’ve loved at least some of the music from all of them. To the point that Mark used to play Bolton CD’s to a Barry White end, if you know what I mean…..

It worked really well.

In fact, I suppose we could have named our son, Matthew, Michael Bolton, had we been so inclined.

If you know what I mean…..

I went to college at Weber State in Ogden, Utah. I went there because it got me away from Casper, Wyoming, where I spent four of the most difficult years of my life. I wanted to reinvent myself at Weber. Be more assertive, reach out to people and make friends – and I was successful.

To an extent.

I didn’t know, then, about healing the pain. I didn’t know just how traumatic the move from New York and what I’d been through in Casper was. The loss of having my friends and family in my life on a daily basis, the bullying (four years worth) that happened in Casper caused me to sort of implode. I was walking wounded for a long time, including the school year I spent in Utah. The success I cultivated and achieved there, I turned around and in fear, sabotaged.

It’s that simple and looking back at what went on from that perspective, seems such a forgivable thing. Yet it’s taken me 36 years to realize that young girl was doing the best she could, and under her circumstances, did very well. If I could tell her anything, what I’d say, as I wrapped her up in my arms, is contained in the last line of Lionel Ritchie’s song, which, in the moment, driving in my car last week, lifted a decades old burden from my heart.

I do love you.

Still.

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50+ Shades of Gray Steel Wool

I found two serious gray hairs on the same day I used my AARP discount card for the first time.

How did that make me feel?

Well, I won’t go right to “good.” But I did okay. I plucked the hairs, of course. More because of their location than anything else. I mean, they were the wiry, iron gray, steel wool variety and in the temple area, so even had I wanted to leave them, they were impractical as they stood straight out to the side while everything else was gathered back in a pony tail.

Bitches had to go.

And where do they come from? I mean, hand to God, they were five inches long and of a texture and variety that has never graced the head of a person without at least some Mediterranean or Eastern European heritage. Had they been my color hairs I’d have happily welcomed a head full. However, they were loners and literally appeared overnight. Overnight, people.

I had a talk with myself, reminding us both that we are of an age where gray hair is likely to appear on a regular basis, so it’s time to get ourselves A. Used to it or B. To the salon.

My appointment is next Wednesday with my regular colorist at Toni & Guy.

All of this took place while I was getting ready to take Mark out for his birthday supper. He loves Outback, so that’s where we were going. As we were walking up to the restaurant, funny man grinned at me.

“You’re buying, right?”
I nodded – obviously I was buying, though it’s completely symbolic because we have a joint account where our paychecks are deposited and our money mingles for the 13 or so seconds it lives with us before being called upon to pay a bill. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

“So,” Mark continued. “You brought your wallet?”
                                                                “Of course.”
“Sooooo, you brought your AARP card?”
                                                                                        “I suppose,” I answered, not following him at all. “I’m sure it’s in there. Why?”
“Well, we get a 15% discount here with our cards.”
“Oh. No. I’m not doing that.”
“We get a discount.”
“I don’t do that.”
“Get a discount?”
“Use that card.”
“That’s stupid.”
“You’re stupid.”
“Lorie.”
“Mark.”
“Listen, you’re kidding right? It’s fifteen percent. That’s considerable.”
“I agree. You use your card.”
“It’s my birthday.”
                                                                                                                        “Okay.”
“I’m not paying.”
<sigh>
“I found two real life gray hairs today.”
“Perfect way to celebrate.”
“I was kidding when I said you’re stupid, but just keep going in that direction. You may change my mind.”
“I didn’t bring my wallet.”
<sigh>

I paid. And used the stupid AARP card. I’m pretty sure the 15% wasn’t worth my last youthful illusion. Between you and me, I took it out of my wallet. Mark can sacrifice the last vestiges of his belief that it’s still 1978, but I’m not down with that. I’m still a kid.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s 4:00 p.m. and you know what that means.

Yep.

Party time.

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Random Hump-Day Thoughts……

It’s Wednesday.

Glenn Frey is still dead. It wasn’t some big, nasty, stupid joke. I’m still sad. He was the third thing I thought of this morning at 3:30 when I woke up and my brain kicked in. I’d have given him more thought but it was 3:30 and I knew that if I didn’t shut things down I would be up for the day. So I drifted back to sleep with the tune of Tequila Sunrise playing in my head.

Someone posted a picture of the Kardashians on Facebook the day after Glenn died with a caption that said something like, Dear Universe: Stop taking the musicians from my youth. Take these instead. Not funny, but I get it. You always wonder why the good ones are taken and the – well – you know….. are left. But really, if you don’t like them, just change the channel, don’t wish them dead. Even the Kardashians serve a purpose.

I don’t know what it is, so don’t ask me……

Who else thinks wearing colored contacts is like wearing butt enhancing jeans or guys wearing heels? The truth is gonna come out – or off – eventually. It changes who you are – which is a person’s prerogative but it’s your eyes. Am I overreacting?

I’m a week and three days into a six week training period for a half marathon I’ve (sort of) committed to running with Kimmy and Matti (Bodington). The first week everything hurt in a way I didn’t know existed. I truly thought my joints would just crumble into dust. I took the first three days off into the second week because my body said so.

I started whining at one point.

Mark said, “Maybe try some glucosamine and condroitin.” I said, “How about I try tequila and beer.” Mark said, “No. You decided to lay off the liquor to do this. You can have your five ounces of Cabernet with dinner, though.” I said, “Well, isn’t that just fine for you to say, missy boy, lucky duck, with your hurt back and dumb injured heel.” Mark said, “That and my lack of stupid.” I said, “What’s that supposed to mean?” Mark said, “It means I’d have told Kimmy no a year ago when, at the end of the last race she asked you if you wanted to do the race with them this year.” I said, “I totally thought she’d forget.” Mark, looking at me with pity, said, “Honey. This is one of our offspring. How many times do they forget anything we want them to forget?” “Never,” I whispered. Mark patted my shoulder softly, so as not to hurt me further because I tend to forget he’s my friend when the pain is too much. “Come on,” he said. “I’ll run you a hot tubby.” “That’s right you will,” I told him. “And next time shut me up.” He rolled his eyes and muttered something that sounded like, “cause that’ll ever happen.”

Hot flash update. Still having them. Hate everyone from God on down during certain ones. I have a sugar low during some and still others bring on a brief panic attack that literally stops any forward movement. I was freezing all day long last Friday. Decided about four o’clock to take a nice warm bath with lavender oil. Put my icy toe in the water and the rest of me went up in flames so hot I had to lay face down, naked as the day I was born, on the bathroom tile and pant till the steam went away.

Mark put the winter, flannel sheets on the bed because he thought they’d “be a better option” for the woman who sweats then freezes then sweats then freezes.

“You can just sleep naked on these, hon,” he said. “You’ll be cooler that way.”

It’s not that he doesn’t understand that this is a from the inside out heating issue. He’s been trying to get me to sleep naked for 30 years, saw an opportunity and took a chance. I walked out of the room at that point in our discussion because I felt my vagina start to heat up and not in a good way. In case it was one of the “hate everything that lives” flashes I didn’t want to be in arms reach of anyone I actually care about. After it was over I stomped back.

“I will never sleep naked so stop asking,” I said. “It’s a texture thing for me and you know it! I dress in layers for everything!”
“Yes I do know,” Mark said. “Now, so do the neighbors.”
Whatever. And wipe that smirk off your face. You are not the sane one in this relationship. I am calm. I am pragmatic. I am no nonsense. I am down to earth.”
“Yes, all of you are.”
Do not make fun of me.
“I swear I’m not,” he said. “It’s just the hormones – ”
“Or fucking lack thereof! Whose idea was this? What kind of sick joke is it that women go through this? And do you know what else? I bought a frigging Vogue the other day expressly to read an article about a so called “female viagra.” Wow, I thought. It’s about time. I waded through all the 12-year-olds wearing incredibly ugly clothes, found the article on page 1080, got two sentences in and you know what? It’s for pre-menopausal women. Seriously? What the hell do they need it for? Till I hit the big M, sex was always on my mind. I still think about it if someone reminds me! I mean, you – when you remind me, I think of sex but I got all excited thinking there was something that would restore that all the damn time thing! Not that I don’t love it. I still do. I love sex. You know that. We have sex all the time and I like it. Super a lot! I just, you know, think – female viagra – a good thing……..” <sigh>

God is not a woman.

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I Like Intelligent Conversation….. Or Funemployment: Week Two

I have a lot of conversations with myself. Some of them are in different voices. If I’m feeling particularly emphatic about something I tend to speak in an English accent that I imagine sounds a lot like Emma Thompson in a Jane Austen movie. If I’m fighting with myself, it becomes southern. Sometimes it’s Scarlett O’Hara southern, other (drunk) times it comes out more like Larry The Cable Guy.

I have conversations with other people in my head. People I haven’t seen in a hundred years, people I just met, people I encountered while walking down the aisle in Target, people in line at Panda Express. The latter conversation is usually very judgmental even though I eat there now and then. I mean, who doesn’t need a good plate of salt?

Do other people do this stuff? Am I abnormal? Is it crazy to have something random remind one of the short girl who sat in front of you in Sophomore Lit and have a dialogue in your head about what you’d say to her if you somehow ran into her? I mean I’m over what a bitch she was and how shabbily she treated me and after all, her punishment was going through life shaped like an olive on toothpicks and being branded a slut from grade six. But I don’t care. I’ve forgiven the whore.

I digress.

I had a whole conversation with myself yesterday regarding the state of the union address.

Me: It’s the last one for President Obama and I do appreciate what a good man he is and what a good job he’s done in the face of incredible opposition and under the microscope of a right wing bunch of crazies. I should watch.
Myself: How many have you watched since he’s been in office?
Me: Well – none – but –
Myself: “But” nothing. I think we can proudly say we’ve never willingly watched a state of the union address in. our. life. Let’s keep it that way.
Me: I guess I can read about it tomorrow.
Myself: As usual.
Me: In “The Skimm.”
Myself: Duh.

I had a mental conversation with the guy who waited on my mother and me at The Good Egg this morning at breakfast. We were seated in a booth by the front door where it was loud and the light was glaring. This made it difficult for Mom both to see and hear, due to advancing cataracts (“They have to ripen, Lorie Ann, before I can have them removed.” “God, Mom, that is a disgusting term. ‘Ripen?’ It makes them sound like food. Who thinks this shit up?”). The hearing difficulty is because she doesn’t yet have hearing aids (“Mom, when are you going to break down and get a hearing aid so you can participate in our entire conversation?” “Yes, the car broke down, Lorie Ann. I had it towed and it’s fixed now. Why do we have to keep having this same conversation? I could have driven if you didn’t want to!”).

Our waiter who was humming some stupid melody as if he was the happy to be there, kept kind of floating by us before finally flitting over and taking our order. Not that I mind if people hum and are happy, but it was contrived and he wasn’t like super nice, so I knew his heart wasn’t in it. But I would never say anything to him such as shut the hell up will you? I haven’t had my coffee yet and trust me when I say you’re taking your life into your hands. Even though it crossed my mind to the point that it was written in neon on the mental billboard behind my eyelids. You don’t say stuff like that to someone who has control over your food from kitchen to table. You don’t piss them off.

Unless you’re my mother.

And to be fair, she wasn’t trying to piss him off. She just couldn’t hear well over the people waiting either to be seated or pay their bill and the glare from the outside light bothered her eyes.

“Let’s move,” she said.
“Let’s wait till the waiter comes back and check with him,” I countered. “I’m sure it’s fine, I just want him to know where to take the food. It’ll just be a minute.”
Mom saw another waiter walk by and because she never does what I say anymore than my children do, she decided we had to go NOW.
“Miss,” she said.
The waiter looked over.
“We’re moving to that booth.”
The waiter nodded.
So we did – just as our waiter came out with our food. He looked very annoyed so I mouthed an apology just to keep his drool off my omelette. He set our food down with a tight little smile, and made a show of bringing us all new silverware and water glasses and water. The rest of the meal went off without a hitch, except for the concert, so between bites of food and conversation with Mom, I was talking to musical boy in my head.

Me: Stop singing.
Waiter: Lalalalala
Me: Jesus! Stop singing! It’s not a tune. It’s not even an unconscious ditty one hums when one is doing odd choresathomeinprivate! It’s annoying as hell and you sound stupid.
Waiter: Dumdedumdum (no lie)
Me: <Sigh>

The woman who took our payment when we left called my mother sweetheart and I gave her a half-hour lecture in my head. It’s apparent to me and all who just witnessed you referring to a woman older than yourself as “sweetheart,” that you do not have much self-confidence. When in a business setting or any setting for that matter, where one is not referring to a small child one knows well, it is wildly inappropriate to call another by a pet name. You are lucky singing boy poured enough coffee down my throat. Otherwise I’d have to punch you in the forehead. Honey……… was only the beginning.

Is it just me? Am I the only one who does this? It’s not always when I’m irritated. Sometimes I’m simply cleaning or driving and things will pop in my head and they need to be discussed. If I’m alone, what choice do I have? Even now, as I sit here with a stomach ache brought on by eating pizza and ice cream for supper, I feel compelled to talk about it.

Me: Why am I so stupid?
Myself: You love pizza. And ice cream.
Me: I know, but this happens every time!
Myself: Because you are sensitive to gluten and lactose intolerant.
Me: Shut up, okay?
Myself: Fine but you know I’m right.
Me: That doesn’t stop my stomach from hurting.
Myself: Tums?
Me: Yes please.
Myself: I hope you’ve learned your lesson this time.
Me: Eff off, whore.                                                                                                                   
    Myself: Woah! Hey, it’s not like I’m the mean girl in high school English.
Me: No you’re not. She’d have eaten all the pizza and ice cream so there wasn’t any left for me.
Myself: Bitch.
Me: Right?

Funemployment – Week Two…….. I really need a job……..

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F – Unemployment

Funemployment. Noun. Meaning a period of time when one is not engaged in gainful employment and is having fun with that.

F-Unemployment. Verb. The active disliking of unemployment due to the stress of applying for the $139.00 per week unemployment insurance you’re going to get because you live in effing Arizona instead of one of the Cadillac states, i.e. New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, et al. Wading through the 500 job listings for the half dozen that will fit your needs/skills/pay grade and doesn’t end in the word, “Mart.” I really and truly have nothing against said stores – and willingly shop in them – but know myself well enough to realize I’d end up fired and probably in jail seven minutes and 30 seconds out of training. I’ve put up with a lot of crap from the retail world over the years but am pretty sure I’d have to assault anyone who got pissed because I didn’t know where the bullets are kept and why we don’t carry “Trump for President” bumper stickers. Add to that we gave our dog away today because he’s not really our dog but Matthew can’t have him in Colorado, so we’ve had him for a year till new arrangements could be made and today they finally were and it was sudden and my heart is heavy and sad and so is my mom’s and do you know there’s just not a damn thing on television worth watching that will distract me and relax me and I can’t drink because I just don’t trust myself not to sink down into the world of raging out of work alcoholics?

One week in and can you guess which describes me?

And seriously, if one more person asks me how many interviews I’ve had I’ll say something mean and snarky I picked up on a scroll through Facebook from my friend Joanna who is really nice but posts only stuff from a site called Something Something Bitch…….. I don’t remember the whole name but lemme tell you, it’s like they’re inside my head. Mostly because they use a lot of gratuitous profanity and that’s my favorite kind.

It’s not that there’s not opportunity. It’s not that I won’t find a job. Even if I just find a stop gap job. I’m okay with that. And honestly, I’m okay that I’m not with Solstice any longer. Great company but I like to shake it up and moving on is somewhat exciting. It’s like being at the top of a roller coaster and starting down when you’re not at all sure there’s a bottom to that thing with rails to shoot you back up on the other side. You know….. You’re just not sure if it’s equipped.

Then you start to wonder if you are – equipped that is.

I am. I know I am. Really. I just miss my damn dog.

Eff it. Where’s the tequila?

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New Retail Rules For 2016

Christmas is over, New Year is a memory – and for the record it’s “New Year,” not “New Years.” There’s only one at a time – and it’s time for my annual (or whenever) list of Retail Rules.

You’re welcome.

#1. When one walks into a store where the service is excellent, the employees friendly to a fault and present on the sales floor en force, know that they know their sh*t. If you are there to steal, they spotted you before you entered with your oversized parka (it’s Arizona in early November, honey – median temp is 80) and empty Macy’s shopping bag.

Solstice Associate: Well aren’t you full of faith and hope, going out and about with your down coat that has Minnesota written all over it?
“Customer:” I’m from San Francisco. It’s cold all the time there, so I always have my coat with me just in case.
Solstice Associate: You get that you’re currently in Phoenix, right? And – it snows in San Francisco?

“Customer” left.

Those same employees mentioned above know the money shuffle game as well.

Customer: I’d like to buy a cleaning kit.
Me (handing said item to gentleman): Here you go.
Customer: How much?
Me: $9.28 with tax.
Customer hands me a $50, I ring it and proceed to make change.
Customer: Wait. What was the change amount?
Me: 28 cents.
Customer: I have that.
Me (laying out $41 on the counter): Okay.
Customer pockets the $41 then hesitates: Wait. Just give me the $50 back and I’ll give you $9.28.
Me: Then I need the $41 back.
Customer: That’s mine.
Me: Not if you want your $50 back and still want my cleaning kit.
Customer puts $.28 on the counter: Now can I have my $50 back.
Me: Dude, this game is older than my dead grandfather (sorry Grampa). My next set of numbers will include 911 if you do not turn around and leave.
He left.

I love being a bad ass.

 
#2. If it is made obvious by Every. Single. Store. Closing their doors and throwing the lock that mall shopping hours are over, do not assume that the people employed in one of said stores are okay with you throwing yourself in between slowly closing doors – or in my case sliding under a moving and could crush you metal gate (are you out of your mind?) – to be the one exception to the Sorry, We’re Closed thing.

Customer: Excuse me, miss? Can I just look around quickly.
Me…….. Startled as hell because, didn’tIjustputthedoordownhowthehelldidshegetinhere? Speechless.
(Yes. It can happen.)
Customer: Oh. Wait. Do you only sell sunglasses?
Me: Nodded.
Customer: No prescriptions?
Me: Shook my head.
Customer: Oh. Then I guess I don’t need to look.
Me……. Honestly. Not a word as I walked back to the gate and turned the key to raise it and let her out.

 
#3. Whatever you do, if you’re a district manager, don’t call the store manager on December 1 and tell her you’re closing her store as of December 27th because the mall cancelled the lease to expand its food court. Honestly, it’s nice that it has nothing to do with her business acumen and somewhat reassuring that there was simply nothing that she could have done to prevent the closure. Bottom line – she’s still unemployed. It can bring on a tequila drunk she is simply too old for, causing dehydration, puffy eyes and an enormous headache.

#solongsolstice #itsbeenreal

Coming at you next time……. Funemployment? Or F – Unemployment. You decide.

 

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