"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Archive for the ‘Middle Age’ Category

I’m Fat

Yep I cannot ignore the scale, my non-fitting clothes or my flubber any longer.  I’m fat and I am perilously close to a weight I swore I would never see again.  I have gained 25 pounds since the Hunter entered my life.  WTF

I know how it happened.  The first 6 months or so we ate, smoked pot, ate some more and trust me we weren’t noshing on carrot sticks.  I quit the gym. I ignored the creeping pounds.  The Hunter gained weight too but he has shed it effortlessly.  

Then I hit my funk – more food to fill the emptiness.  Next came the stress of moving, the Hunter’s job situation, both of us starting our own companies and that kept the scale moving up. Add in the delicious, but not healthy, meals the Hunter prepares. It’s been a perfect storm, but now it’s time to get serious.

I tried the Fasting/One Meal a Day of no-carb, high fat diet/lifestyle but that sucked.  Not for me.  

Instead I been going to the gym and over the past couple of weeks my attendance continues to improve.  I’m really out of shape, so I’m trying to be patient and not be hard on myself. My next step was to rejoin Weight Watchers after a 15 year hiatus.  My first meeting was tonight.  I’ll try a couple of meetings until I find the right group, but I need the accountability.  WW has changed a few things so I’m re-learning parts of the program.  

It sure was easy to get to this point, but it won’t be easy to correct. Once again I need patience,  action steps and kindness to myself.  

The Hunter Turns 50

Happy Bday HunterToday is a big day for the Hunter.  It’s his birthday, but I have made it a point to have celebrated throughout the month of May.  We took a fabulous road trip, which was too short, but so much fun.  We had a great dinner with his son, Nino, and Nino’s girlfriend over the weekend.  We hung out with my dear friends and spent a beautiful day on their boat.  It has been wonderful.  He is not big on presents, because he gets shy and thinks I have done too much for him already.  The trip was a present and he’ll be getting some much-wanted work clothes, but he isn’t getting that “Oh My” present.  It’s simply not one of our Love Languages.

In the midst of all this great stuff, he has a very dark cloud looming.  His mom has very advanced Alzheimer’s and over the weekend hospice has moved in for the final days.  That woman better not have the audacity to die on his birthday.  That is my most fervent hope.

The Hunter has a Love/Hate relationship with his mom (and his extended family) that really sheds a bright light on the man he is today.  His parents are immigrants.  Neither finished high school and they worked hard their entire lives.  His sister is about 8 years older than him and she went on to become quite successful financially.  But this is a family of very negative attitudes.  They constantly belittle and snipe at one another.

Apparently the Hunter was the runt of the litter — the youngest.  With an older sister and much older cousins, he was that super-active, sometimes annoying kid in the background.  He was a behavior problem at school at times.  His mother, according to the Hunter, beat him every day.  Yes, beat him.

Apparently the worse beating that really left him scarred was when she forgot to pick him up from baseball practice.  After waiting and waiting, the coach gave him a ride home.  She beat him until his sister finally interceded because “you made me look bad”.  Yes, this is the type of household he grew up in. She finally stopped when he turned 14 and grabbed the belt out of her hand…..

It’s interesting, from an armchair psychologist view, to see the child/mother dynamics of an abused child.  The Hunter tells many stories about his mother’s great cooking, meals she would make, her amazing domestic skills — she could sew pretty much anything.  He has many good memories of her, but then he has ugly ones too.

However, his parents always sided with his son’s mother, the Hunter’s Baby Momma, when Nino was young.  They never defended him, only blamed him.  Now obviously I am hearing only one side of the story, but….  hopefully you are getting a picture here.

In any case, the Hunter had to spend a very long afternoon with the family as they all paid their last respects to his mom.  The mom who beat him.  The mom who years later denied ever touching him.  The mom who never defended him and only berated him.  He is paying his respects with a family that he refuses to spend holidays with.  One that continues to belittle him and not support him.  It’s difficult and complicated. Actually, as I was wrapping up this post, he walked in with an old photo album he brought back from her house and we spent about 45 minutes looking at his childhood photos.  It was lovely and he enjoyed the memories.

But, the Hunter is worried that his mom’s death will send him spiraling into a depression — it happened before, after another death which ended up destroying his marriage.  I can’t do much for him except listen and love him.  I feel his pain and conflicted feelings.

He wants to have a family for the holidays, so I have told him that we have our children and, in the future, their children plus friends that we love.  I told him that we will create our own family.

That bitch better not die today.  It’s the Hunter’s special day, not hers.

Icebreaker

I just re-joined my Toastmaster club after a multi-year hiatus. Some of my best friendships grew out of this club and it’s great for tuning my communication skills. Anyway, I just gave the classic first speech, the Icebreaker, and realized that it makes a great post (once I discreetly filtered out a few specific details).  Here we go into the history of Maggie……

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. — Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  

Today is a momentous anniversary for me and it’s fortuitous that I am doing my Icebreaker on this special day. I’ll tell you more about this anniversary later. I believe that life should be a journey of constant growth and exploration. Oftentimes I take lessons from people of how NOT to do things, so let me explain how I have applied these lessons in my life.   

I was born and raised in North Carolina. I consider myself a Southerner although somehow I lost my drawl along my travels. My parents divorced when I was 6, and my mom went back to school. My dad, who is a great guy and I love dearly, has never been a father figure for me.  He has been merely an interested observer of my life. Between my mom’s education pursuits and impulsiveness, I lived in 9 towns in 12 years. I graduated high school at the age of 16, went to University One for a year, then University Two on the other side of the country (which I consider my Study Aboard year because a Southern girl in the Pacific Northwest is a story in itself) I ended up in our fair city at the age of 19 and sank my roots. I finally finished my communications degree at University Three.    

I met my husband when I was 19 years old. We married when I was 23 and our marriage lasted 25 years. We had two wonderful children and many happy times. Today’s anniversary is the second anniversary of my divorce becoming final. Before you assume that this is a sad day for me, please don’t. I celebrate this day because it represents an important transition in my life. You see I consider my marriage a success, but a chapter in my life that had a beginning, a middle and an end.   

I just read a quote the other day that personifies my parenting style:  There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings. I was able to take the lessons learned from my parents about what NOT to do and apply them my marriage and raising my children. These lessons were: Create roots for my children and be actively present in their lives for all their pursuits.  

Raising my kids was an incredibly busy, rewarding time of my life. Their father and I kept them close to their aunts, uncles and cousins. They grew up in a very stable, two-parent household and I am thankful they had the childhood I didn’t have. My children are perhaps my greatest success. 

My mother-in-law passed away in January 2013. Her death caused me to reflect and once again I took away several valuable lessons of how NOT to do things. I loved her dearly. She was a wonderful, smart woman, but she also sacrificed for everyone and never put her needs first.   

As I approached 50, I suddenly realized that my life is halfway over if I’m lucky or more than halfway over otherwise. It was time to get serious about living the life that I want to live. This led me to divorcing my husband because it was time for me to live my life on my own terms. My children were out of the nest. I won’t air the dirty laundry of our marriage, but suffice it to say that from the outside our marriage looked perfect, but inside it was not.   

I have been stretching myself outside my comfort level. I went to Jamaica by myself, I tried online dating (huge waste of time). I joined a hiking club, thanks in part to our fellow Toastmaster, P. This hiking club has pushed me outside my comfort zone with canoeing and hiking. Through this hiking club I met my boyfriend, The Hunter. Any man that would date me after seeing me with no makeup, sweating is the right man for me.   

For my next push outside my comfort zone experience, I am bravely moving and leaving our fair city after 30 years for a new one an hour away. Yes, by summer I will be living in a beautiful house on the water with a fruit tree. It felt like home the moment I drove up.   

This chapter of my life is amazing. I know that I am living my life on my terms. I was so incredibly flattered by the note my daughter wrote to me on her wedding day this past February. She described me as fearless. How flattering. Particularly since she’s seen me react to cockroaches. 

There you have it, Dear Readers. Quintessential Maggie in a nutshell. By the way, I got an awesome evaluation and then retreated to a nearby bar with two girlfriends and drank the afternoon away with rounds of prosecco to celebrate my anniversary. What an outstanding day!

Twistin’ the Night Away – Not

Here’s a man in evening clothes
How he got here, I don’t know, but
Man, you oughta see him go
Twistin’ the night away
He’s dancin’ with a chick in slacks
She’s movin’ up and back
Oh, man, there ain’t nothin’ like

Twistin’ the night away
They’re twistin’, twistin’
Everybody’s feelin’ great
They’re twistin’, twistin’
They’re twistin’ the night

Sam Cooke

I am not a party girl.  I was never into the club scene when I was young. Screaming small talk into somebody’s ear was never my preferred way to meet someone. Combine that with my inability to hold my liquor plus a lack of dancing skills  and you’ve got Baby in the corner (without a hunky Patrick Swazye to teach me — RIP sexy man).  Anyway, it surprises a lot of people who know me that I am not a fan of a big party. Give me a small dinner party, cocktail party and I shine, but large events are making me sigh because damn they are a lot of work.

Last night the Hunter and I went to my boss’ annual toy drive Christmas party. It’s my fourth time at this 100+ person event and I have to admit — it’s boring. A bunch of old fart country club types who do not have any tilitillating small talk, small bites of food, drinks heavy with cheap liquor and a host and hostess working like crazy. The upside was a great excuse to get dressed up and go out with the Hunter, a stunning setting, a great band (who took the longest breaks I have ever seen) and saying hi to my co-workers and some folks I use to work with (but never really liked).  I tapped out after 2-1/2 hours. It just doesn’t ring my bell. The Hunter was a great sport for going because he doesn’t like these big parties either. It was the first time he met my boss and it went well.  

I had two parties yesterday plus I hosted a business party for over 300 this week and now I can say that I am a bit of a snob when it comes to parties.  I also now realize how amazing my house parties were back in the day. The daytime party yesterday was for the girls and I was grateful that a new friend invited me. We are in the same business and I had taken her to lunch so we could get to know each other better. She reciprocated with a party invite. It was fun — her friends are not my type (sorry, but I can be snobby on my blog if I want), but everyone was fun and in great spirits. You can tell that they are all very close, which can be a tough circle to penetrate, but they were welcoming. We did that crazy gift exchange/swap where everyone gets a number and can either swipe or unwrap a gift. I love these — it brings out my evil streak. I got a fabulous candle.  

The priceless moment of that party was the unwrapping of the second gift. A woman, who is a hoot, grabs a tall rectangle box and tears the paper off the top.  It says “Rabbit”.  Every soccer mom perked up like a lion that caught scent of its prey. The look on their faces was fantastic. It was an electric wine opener, but I immediately said that I knew what I would be bringing next year…and you know I will. 

The business party is put together by a very seasoned team, so it is effortless on my part. I am the hostess and have to run it, but that’s easy when you have awesome professionals behind the scene. It’s just a long afternoon and evening. We keep it to a firm two hour cocktail party but when you give people free food and drink, I am always amazed by the gluttony that ensues. 

My next party will be my daughter’s bridal shower. That will be a measure of my diplomacy and a taste of how the wedding will play out. It’s coed and a former sister-in-law is having it at her house. The Hunter and I decided that perhaps he will stay home for this one. I think it’s the wiser course of action. My Ex is one of 3 brothers and a sister. The sister is completely cool — she was at the Engagement party, but the brothers have been childishly ignoring me and rude, so I know it could be potentially volatile since we will be on enemy territory. The Hunter and I prefer to keep the focus on the happy couple…I mean the soon-to-be newlyweds and not us. Some may call us cowards, but I prefer to think that we are being diplomatic. 

Judge Not

Don’t you look at me so smug
And say I’m going bad.
Who are you to judge me
And the life that I live?
I know that I’m not perfect
And that I don’t claim to be.
So before you point your fingers,
Be sure your hands are clean.

Bob Marley 

There is one blip on the radar with me and the Hunter these days. It’s about his pot usage (yes, Bob Marley was oh so perfect for my lead-in artist).  As I had mentioned earlier, now that the Hunter has his great new job and drug testing isn’t in the future, he has started smoking again.

While he was on the wagon, he had said that he wanted to smoke and would always smoke, however, he would limit his smoking to probably only the weekends. When we recently talked about it, he said he didn’t want to go back to smoking morning, noon and night (literally) because he didn’t want to live in that kind of zombie state.  But he is smoking almost every night and I caught him grabbing his pipe one morning to see if there was any left for a quick hit.  I was afraid that once he started, he would fall right back into the same frequency and perhaps I am right. He has admitted that I have a point.

Then you have me, Maggie, who has changed her opinion on pot-smoking. While he was a heavy, daily smoker, I didn’t say anything or judge him. At least I like to think I wasn’t judging him. I was OK that he wanted to smoke every night. I don’t think I realized how addicted he  was  is, but I knew he smoked in the morning — I didn’t know about his lunchtime toke until recently. I always told him that I preferred pot to alcohol for a daily  addiction  habit. That is true, but somewhere along the line during his sobriety, my mind changed. Let’s jump back to my past and my baggage for a moment.

My parents separated and divorced when I was 7.  My mom then went on to date men who were losers. She loved an alcoholic and her longest two relationships were with marginally abusive alcoholics.  The last one she married and I detested him from the very beginning. In any case, my first college boyfriend had a serious drinking problem and my Ex has a drinking problem, so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  I never have been a heavy drinker since alcohol sends me puking in the bushes if I get more than slightly buzzed. Add to the fact that the Ex would throw back 4-5 drinks in a two-hour span, so out of self-preservation I became the Designated Driver and sober person at all events. I have found that I don’t like to be too much out of control and I despise a hangover.

Pot is different though. Potheads never (in my experience) get aggressive.  They are relaxed and silly — just don’t give a fuck too much. I enjoy the great sex that comes from a couple of tokes. I don’t like to be too high because then I don’t feel too much in control and find myself either munching out or lost in Walmart. But I do like a toke and I did slightly miss it during the Hunter’s hiatus, however, now that it is back, I find myself not so OK with it. I have been wrestling with the question of why my change of heart?

There is another problem that relates to my change of heart also. The Hunter can tell that his smoking bothers me and he is now feeling judged. That creates a line between us. We have talked about it a couple of times. I have told him that I want him to excel at this job and that he had said that he wasn’t going to smoke as frequently as before. He has said that he hears me, but he will always smoke because he enjoys it., but he hears me about the frequency. I have said that I am afraid that he won’t be able to control himself as it pertains to frequency and that he will immediately go from zero to 70 and smoke throughout the day. Now I watch him smoke with a slight concern peeking out. Why? He smoked frequently when we met and he moved in. He has smoked for decades, so I know that this is probably outside of recreational usage.

I find him gently pushing me a bit more to join him or perhaps it’s my imagination. Menopause has already taken it’s toll on my memory, so I tend to abstain during the week although if it’s been a stressful day, I will take a hit. I don’t like to get really high, but a light buzz is pleasant. Plus sex on pot is awesome.

In any case, I have to come to terms and accept the Hunter for who he is. He has never hidden any part of himself from me and I knew this about him from the get-go.  On Thanksgiving, he got up and decided to make a quick run to BassPro to pick up some ammo.  I didn’t fuss or pitch a fit even though part of me was thinking, “Seriously? Are you trying to see if you can piss me off?” While he was gone, I realized that he had made a subtle shift and was reacting to my cranky persona. He has been testing me and the BassPro run was a perfect example. I have been slightly judgy about the pot.  I got a bit cranky this week as I worked my ass off preparing for Thanksgiving. I have been lapsing back into my former bourgeois self who wants the perfect holiday, the “right” lifestyle — whatever that is. I was a bit judgy in my former life. The Hunter was only reacting to the energy and signals I was sending. He even said in one conversation that he knew one day I would end up judging him for his pot usage. I had changed my tune and the Hunter wasn’t digging this new song. How I had this revelation in the middle of Thanksgiving morning food prep is a miracle in itself.

In any case, he returned.  I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a big hug. I told him that I was sorry.  I told him that it wasn’t fair of me to change my mind about his pot-smoking. We went into this relationship with me being OK with it, so I need to let go and realize that he can handle it and it’s OK.  I told him I just want him to excel at his new job and would hate to have that ruin it., but he is a grown man and it’s for him to deal with.  He wrapped his arms around me and murmured words of love in Spanish into my ear.  The day was brilliant and we were so happy.

I am still thinking about this.  I have discovered that the Hunter responds best to unconditional love and I suddenly had put conditions on my love. It was a subtle shift, but I saw a change in him immediately. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what was bothering me.  I saw him teasing a bit harder, a slight lessening in true, loving affection. It is similiar to ripples in the water. You don’t know the current under the water, but you see evidence of the change on the surface.

This weekend of separation is good for us.  I need a little space so I can think about this. Am I truly OK with the pot?  Interestingly I think I am learning more about myself in all of this. We all have our short-comings, vices, issues, baggage from our childhood and past relationships, but when you love someone I think you need to accept it simply as part and parcel of who they are. If it is a deal breaker, then leave because changing a 48-year-old man (or a 51-year-old woman) is simply not going to happen unless he (or she) truly wants it. The Hunter is a complex man (aren’t we all complex creatures?), but he comes home every night, he is kind and thoughtful to me, he listens to me and is my biggest fan and supports me 110% unconditionally.  He treats me better than any man has ever treated me and loves me deeply. He deserves better, so I am glad I apologized and I will strive to be a better partner by not bring so judgy and controlling — yes, I think my judgemental thoughts are a control issue on my part. I need to let go and let someone else drive for a change. We can discuss that in a future post.

Pack It Up

You guys are the pits of the world!

Oh, this is no place for me
Burnin’ down the interbelt, from jacuzzi to jacuzzi
It’s all right for you man
Gettin’ smashed, gettin’ suntanned
But i know my place
Where’s my suitcase?

Pack it up or throw it away
What i can’t carry, bury
Oh you remember me, i remember you
But that was a long, long time ago
When i was passin’ through

The Pretenders

I have been meaning to write about our AirBnB hostess, but life has been interfering with my writing. That’s a good thing. You will be getting a surge of posts over the next couple of days because life has gotten quite interesting, but first let’s reflect on P, our recent hostess. You can read about our road trip here.

We sat down with P on Sunday morning. I wanted to thank her and catch up. P was one of my competitors back in the day. She even won a great job I was vying for one time. P is more than 10 years older than me. Her life has been very interesting. She lived overseas for several years, had 3 kids, divorced as they exited the house, re-married a college sweetheart and now they have a blended family of 6 grown children with one granddaughter.

During the recession, she fared poorly and decided to leave the rat race. P said why stay when she wasn’t making any money, so she moved to a smaller city and was able to kick ass and take names while enjoying a better quality of life. Interestingly I have been looking at the same city as a potential option as well.

Now she lives in the woods on a river. She and her husband built their dream house. It has a couple of small cabins that they rent out or use for overflow family. She dotes on her granddaughter. She is happy — it radiates from her. And I am happy for her. I went to a cocktail party this week and ran into her former posse. They all waxed lyrical on her new house,her life and admitted envy.

I am intrigued and pleased when a woman older than me (she was 56) takes off, refuses to accept the norm and carves out a new life for herself. Another girlfriend at the same age (56) has suddenly moved out West with her fiancé. I will miss her tremendously, but I admire the gumption. I guess my 56th birthday could be an interesting year — I certainly have the role models for it!

Against the Wind

Against the wind
We were runnin’ against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin’
Against the wind

And the years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home
And I guess I lost my way
There were oh so many roads
I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or even how much I owed
Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time
Breaking all of the rules that would bend
I began to find myself searchin’
Searchin’ for shelter again and again
Against the wind
A little something against the wind
I found myself seeking shelter against the wind

Bob Seger

This past week was a tough one for me and it has left me feeling exhausted and unsettled. What caused this? The whirling dervish known as my lovely, highly successful daughter coming to town. I love my daughter with all my heart and I am so proud of her I could burst….but…..she is a force to be reckoned with as any high-performing person of any gender can be.

The week began with unscheduled meetings that knocked my work flow and schedule completely off course. Then add in a stopped up kitchen sink the morning of her arrival and my adrenaline was flowing strongly. My daughter, let’s call her Taz – short for Tasmanian Devil (LOL) – was in town for four days. The purpose of her visit was to see her wedding venue for the first time, select a hotel for the out-of-town guests and buy a wedding dress. Really the dress was the most important item on the agenda. In addition to all this, she was meeting the Hunter for the first time and staying with us for two nights. The visit went really well but I was drained at the end. Let’s run through this and I’ll try to explain my emotional turmoil because since her departure I have been working through my feelings because I have felt unsettled and worn out.

It has dawned on me that preparing for my daughter’s wedding means that I am ….OLD. Yes, I am no longer as young as I want to think. That sucks. It’s not my wedding. It’s not my big day. I am only a checkbook and honored guest. It’s a strange transition. I also see Taz rushing into adulthood with the same conventional approach that I had – get married, have kids, settle into a professional, upper-middle class life. I want to scream,” STOP, WAIT! YOU CAN TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH,” but when I have gently suggested different paths (eloping perhaps so they can use the wedding money differently), such suggestions are abruptly halted with no discussion. I have had to realize that this is her life and she has always learned life’s lessons the hard way no matter how much both her parents have tried to guide her otherwise. That is just how she is wired, so I have to let her be. Ugh.

One thing I know for sure is that she loves me (and I her) and that I understand her perhaps better than anyone else other than her fiancé. I am always her go-to person when she needs to really talk  through things.  My venue selection was perfect. She had only seen it on a FaceTime tour prior to booking it (top venues are scarce here, so it had to be snatched up ASAP). My bridal shop appointments were well-chosen and planned which gave her the necessary variety to make an informed selection. She was able to say yes to a dress on her last day with me. Hallelujah!! My suggestions on rehearsal dinner venues (we were scouting for the MIL) and hotels were excellent and well-received. My Ex’s suggestions were not on point.  More on that later.   I was on my A game, but sometimes it wasn’t enough. At one point we were frazzled with one another and she asked me what was wrong. I replied that I simply felt like I couldn’t keep up with her. Who can? This 25-year-old woman is in her fourth year of medical school. She is planning a wedding at the same time she is: 1) moving in with the fiancé 2) doing two out-of-state rotations with other medical schools 3) working 10+ hour shifts during these rotations and 4) applying and interviewing for surgical residencies across the country. Who can keep up with that?

I had to put all of my work on hold so I could focus on her. She needed 100% of my time because we were cramming so much into so little time. That caused me stress because I was needed at work. I only had her for 2-1/2 days and then her dad gets her over the weekend to relax and play. That’s fine, I understand why this has to be. He did join us at the venue and that is a whole post to itself. Hilarious and frustrating.

This post is just a broad overview of the visit and my feelings. I was exhausted when we would arrive home. The Hunter made dinner for us and they have gotten acquainted. I’ll write more about that as well. It’s funny I realized yesterday when talking to a girlfriend that perhaps what left me so unsettled was the thought that I am being drug back into the upper middle-class mother role that I am fighting to leave behind. I spent thousands this week between a second payment on the venue, down payment on the wedding dress, lunches for Taz and two of her bridesmaids. That’s money I really didn’t have readily available because I am waiting for some payments on a completed project that has now gone into collections (another ranting post). I have upcoming engagement parties, bridal showers, all the trappings of a conventional wedding on the horizon plus her graduation and potential relocation to a new city in the late Spring and it seems like stress to me, not joy. I will get my mindset adjusted, I just need time.

Her stress level is so unbelievably high right now. I can’t imagine dealing with all that she is dealing with. She is really great at identifying her priorities, delegating and refusing to sweat the small stuff. I am learning from her, which is wonderful when our children do things better than we do. I am so happy that she has found the love of her life and he adores her – she is so incredibly lucky. I don’t think she realizes how lucky she really is. Smart, successful, great guy – she has it all right now. But I look to the future when they have children and the burn-out begins. How will their relationship handle those normal struggles and stresses of day-to-day life? I have to let go and let my beautiful daughter live her life. But I cannot allow her stress to continue to ooze into my life.

There will be so much more to write about as this wedding approaches. The former friends from my marriage are all an integral part of her childhood so they are invited. My Ex is his usual annoying, controlling self, but as I watch my daughter deal with him, I am learning what I did wrong with him and how to perhaps better handle him. The Hunter is watching from the sidelines with interest and wisely little advice, only support. God, I love this man. Yes, a soap opera is forming just when I thought I was exiting Stage Left.

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