Wallflowers and Wannabes

swirlMood: Sunday Night Blues
Drinking: Liquids Only

Boy and I were invited to a fabulous party last week. The invitation caught us in a good mood, so we RSVP-ed in the affirmative.

But the big night snuck up on us much too quickly and truth is, we’re rather out of practice at these things. We sat around eating chips and watching some TiVo-ed Dexter goodness and then suddenly realized we only had half an hour until show time.

That’s where all the flinging of clothing began, and not in a fun way. Boy was at his closet, tossing ties, and I was at mine rifling through dresses.

It took me four frocks, one broken zipper, and the sad realization that I am so over my once-beloved gothy platform boots (ah, the sticky club floors we’ve danced around) — until I finally fell back on the terribly unimaginative but ever faithful little black dress.

Boy, meanwhile, had settled on silver for his neckwear, and I shoved a matching silver doodad in my hair and off we went.

As parties go, this one was a success. I’ve been to a few shindigs in my day, from the raucous hootnanny with guests puking Goldschläger onto the front lawn to stuffy old-people affairs with unpronounceable wines and gropey senior partners. This one was somewhere in the middle.

Adults (mostly) behaved like adults, meaning there was no puking into potted palms and the butt grabs were kept to a minimum (I personally witnessed just one driveby cheek pinch). But the most interesting part was simply that I had a good time.

I tend to be a wallflower at these things. Content to clutch my little glass of whatever in the shadows and watch. Once in a great while I’ll put on a little show in the limelight, especially if the party invitation said something about being my birthday.

But at this particular party, I didn’t have to hide or perform.

Boy and I and a few of our friends found a little table somewhere in the middle of things and settled in for some drinking (Boy) and some people watching (moi) and some extremely entertaining conversation.

All in all, I guess we could have stayed home in our holey jeans with our feet dangling over the armchair and had pretty much the same conversation, but there’s something much more subversive about doing it all dressed up, surrounded by strangers. (Plus, I don’t have a shiny Photo Booth at my house.)

Sometimes I wonder when I’m going to start feeling like an adult. Or, more acurately, feeling the way I always imagined adults felt. Most likely my imagination is the one at fault here, not my feelings. But at the party, sipping my amaretto sour and jangling all that jewelry, looking for all the world like a real adult, I still just felt like me.

And in my head, I’m still too young for all of this.

But the party goes on, dragging the years down with it and someday I’ll probably be 83 and wondering if I’m a real adult yet.

-Lo, whose mother always said there comes a time when a baby face is good to have.

On the Way to the Airport

kissfly_web
Mood: Hungry
Drinking: Tea

I have this thing about airports.

More accurately: I have a thing about taking people I love to the airport, leaving them there, and driving away.

You could call it a superstition, I guess. Categorize it with black cats and indoor umbrellas. I just call it a “thing”.

It goes like this:
Every time I have to drop someone off at the airport, send them back to where they came from or off on a trip without me, I worry that they won’t come back. That this time, this brief moment here at the curb, this rush of last minute reminders and double-checking of luggage, this is it. This is the last time we’ll see each other.

There’s never really time for panicky endearments. And really, at that moment, I like to keep my irrational fear to myself. So goodbyes are often perfunctory.

“See you later.” “Have a good trip.” “Call me when you get there.” “Love you.”

People do this every day. The quick drop off. The hurried goodbyes. And really, my fear is not all that irrational, because sometimes, for the tragic few, it is the last goodbye.

In the sprawl of O’Hare Airport, there’s a small parking lot with a little green sign that says “Kiss & Fly”. It’s the end of the airport train line, where you can conveniently drop off or pick up your traveler far from the congested bustle of the terminal.

I’ve always thought it was a good name, and it fits perfectly with my newest cinepoem. She’s not nearly as fanciful and melodramatic as the last cinepoem was. She’s an everyday sort of girl, just going about her business.

But! She does have something very special… a guest appearance by Boy. It’s the first time in 17 cinepoems he’s ever appeared in front of the camera. Took a lot of sweet talking to get him there, so do pay attention!

Alright. Enough explanations. It’s time to Kiss & Fly.

The YouTube version is over here, for you non-quicktime folks.

-Lo, who never whistles while she works.

Smells Like Children

kids2Mood: Measured
Drinking: Diet Coke in a Can

Last weekend, Boy and I played host to some old friends and their two little rugrats. (It’s an affectionate term, Internet!)

I guess the LeeLoo should get some credit for playing host, too. She was so very polite whilst being covered in shredded bits of Kleenex by small shrieking tots.

I think the game was “TeePee the Dog with the Smallest Bits of Tissue Possible While Giggling Hysterically at Extremely High-Pitched Levels.” She did very well, just laying there and taking it like a champ. But then she does love to lick on baby toes, so I guess the trade-off was more than adequate for her.

We had lots of fun with homemade pizza a walk to the park and small bowls of messy gelato for all. I even dug out a dusty box of coloring books and crayons from the depths of the garage. One of our small guests has a great liking for drawing dinosaurs. He also will only eat crackers and grapes.

The habits of childhood are mystifying to me. I remember having a strong aversion to liver and onions (which has followed me into adulthood), but I don’t remember much about my own toddler-sized likes and dislikes.

After all the sippy cups and ziploc baggies of crackers were stowed away and our guests had tucked themselves back into their minivan and headed east again, Boy looked at me in the blessed silence and said,
“You know, if we have some of our own, they’re not going to go away at the end of the day.”

I flopped down on the couch next to the dog and picked a bit of half-chewed tissue from her ear.
“Yeah,” I sighed.
“I know.”

It’s a topic that’s been beaten to death recently, what with another approaching birthday heralding another year in the Unused Uterus Club, as well as the way one of my very best friend’s little belly is starting to pooch out in an adorably pregnant way.

Boy’s mom wants to know, my Grandma wants to know, people I don’t even know at all want to know, “WHEN ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO START A FAMILY?”

There are so many things I want to say to that question, not the least of which is,
“None of your business!”
And also, “We already ARE a family.”
And then, “I really haven’t the faintest idea.”

At first, there were so many things we wanted to do. And we’ve done a lot of them in the last seven years. But the thing I’m beginning to realize is that you never, ever, finish your To Do List.

Visit one exotic land and you’ll discover six more that you just have to see. Finish one book and you’ll want to write two more. Settle into a little house and you’ll soon need a bigger one. The list will just go on and on, forever.

Meanwhile, in the background, behind all the hustle and everyday bustle, a clock will wind up and start ticking, at first so softly that you can’t even hear it. But the years start to spin by faster and faster and pretty soon the goddamn ticking sound is all that you can hear.

And by “you”, I mean me. Because I’m standing up here with my head cocked to the left like Captain Hook on watch for the crocodile, but Boy can’t hear a thing.

I guess if you’re lacking in ovarian capacity, a biological clock is beside the point.

So there I was on a bright Sunday afternoon, slow roasting in the sun at a playground, feeling like a barren intruder among all those self-confident breeders, a colorless island amidst a river of primary colors, watching the roommate of my bar-hopping days wrangle her children like a seasoned veteran, like a real mommy, like a woman.

And the clock was beating in time to my banging pulse.

Suddenly I was afraid.

They say you’re never really ready for it. I believe it. If I’ve learned anything in this life, it’s that you’re never really ready for anything. Not even when you’ve read all the books and done all your homework. You’re never prepared for the real thing. You’ve just gotta jump in and kick and splash and cough and swim.

One of these days, one of these days
I’m jumping in.

Until then, I’ll just let my li’l sister tell me how deep and cold the water is…

-Lo, who wants to know if she’s Auntie to a boy or a girl. What are you, Peanut?!

The Good Wife

forkyouMood: Grumpy
Drinking: Nope

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole wife thing. What it means to call yourself a wife. What it means to be one. Not so much because I’m fresh off an anniversary celebration, because I don’t really think of myself as Boy’s “wife.”

Let me shove my foot in my mouth a bit further in an effort to explain…I don’t think Boy and I have a typical all-American marriage. I mean, we’re not out there on the swingers limb or anything truly avant-garde, but I don’t wait at home crocheting doilies and watching the Bold and the Beautiful while he brings home the bacon.

Like most couples today, married or not, we both have a share in the bacon-bringing. And the cooking (him) and cleaning (me). And the budgeting (him) and scheduling (me). And all the other stuff of sharing a life. We make it work together. We are equals. Neither of us is better than or more important than or more powerful than the other.

And maybe it’s because I’m surrounded on all sides by San Francisco (yay!), but I don’t think of myself as “wife” so much as “partner.” I fear I’m making nothing but nonsense, so I’ll leave the word obsession and move on to my pet peeve of the post…

There’s a blog I’ve been reading lately which I really should probably run far away from, because it makes me all cranky and violent, but it’s like crack — conservative christian crazy crack — and I just keep going back for a fresh fix.

The woman who writes this blog is only a few years younger than me, but she lives on a faraway planet in a galaxy that’s light years from this one. Like myself, she grew up going to a conservative christian (baptist) school, but that’s all we have in common. I had fairly liberal, open-minded parents. Her parents were baptists to the core. (Her dad was a pastor. I knew him. He was a big bully.) I graduated and left that school far behind, opting instead for a state university and passport to the real world. She did the good baptist girl thing and went from baptist school to baptist college to baptist camp to baptist husband. She’s so scared of the real world, she can only peek at it through fingers and then run off and repent and bemoan the state of her “deceitful heart” all over the internet.

(Side pet peeve: Isn’t that what diaries are for? Spilling your most intimate secrets to a book with paper pages? A book nobody else gets to read? You know, the ones with the lock and key?)

She’s been writing lately about how she met her husband, and in addition to it being one of the most boring love stories of modern times, it has elements that are so weird, they are freaking my sister and I out. More than once, one of us will read the latest post and then call the other to say, “Can you believe it’s 2007 and people actually think this way?”

An example: This woman writes about her graduation from college and says, “Since I wasn’t dating anyone my senior year, I had NO IDEA what I was going to do after I graduated.” (screaming caps are hers)

I had to read that a few times over to make sure that was really what she said. I had forgotten that people in that world, the fundamentalist baptist world, actually think like that. The girls go to college for the express purpose of finding a husband. Their mothers and grandmothers and all the ladies back at the church pray every day that little Curlieque will find her mate, a good-God-fearing-christian-boy, preferably a preacher or missionary, somewhere in Bible-Believing Baptist Collegeland (the coveted MRS degree). And then she can finally fulfill her purpose for being on this earth by being a good wife, a “helpmeet” for the all-important male.

Not that there’s anything wrong with meeting your man in college and getting married, but most people go to college for a career, or at the very least, an education. How is it possible that a woman in this country can still measure her success by her marriagiability and then lose her shit before graduation because, even though she has a degree, she isn’t married, or *gasp* isn’t even dating! What — you can’t go out and get a job? You have to wait to have a husband to tell you what to do? But I digress…

The rest of her story goes on to describe her meeting her future husband while working at a christian camp and how they used to hang out at WalMart with a chaperone and how he wouldn’t talk to her until she finished her camp-prescribed Bible-memorization project and how he asked her parents’ permission to date her and told her that if her parents said no, he would never speak to her again.

It all just seems so quaint and so completely insane.

Especially when you consider that she had to be at least 21 when all of this stuff was happening. I mean, this is a girl who counts swear words in movies (The Guardian has 15), making special note of those that “take the Lord’s name in vain.” This is a woman, a nearly-30-year-old woman, who gets excited when her husband gives her 20 bucks to buy stamps for her craft projects, even though she has a full-time job (and paycheck) of her own.

I know I don’t know the whole story (although her blog seems to take care in recording every single last detail), and I know I just got back from a weekend of telling everybody who would listen to stop judging and just love each other. So — pot, kettle, and all that.

But really, it’s 2007! If your idea of a hot date is a stroll through the soulless aisles of WalMart, past the polyester sweatshop merchandise, wearing your best denim knee-length skirt, keeping at least six inches between you and your husband-to-be while a watchful chaperone dogs your every step, well, I’m sorry, but you’re a little off your nut!

I certainly don’t think everyone has to live their lives the way I would live. I have lots of friends who are all over the map with their relationships, their marriages, their lifestyles, and I’m all for lots of variety and people figuring out what works for them and what makes them happy. But come on — it’s got to be unhealthy to live a life of such repression and fear, to second guess every thought that’s not quite pure, to do things only when your husband gives you leave because “he is the spiritual head of the household”, and to beat yourself up for your imperfections by saying things like, “I’m trying to be a good wife, but it’s hard when I’m so selfish and lazy!”

The only explanation I can give for my addiction to reading this woman’s blog is that it’s like watching a Discovery channel special about an exotic tribe in a remote jungle who run about totally naked save for the gigantic clay plates stuck into their lower lips. It’s completely fascinating and utterly mystifying. I mean, I know the super-fundamentalist baptist church I went to when I was a kid still exists, and I even know who some of its current members are. But since I have removed myself so far from that world, and since I have proven myself to be such a black sheep to them that none of them would ever befriend me (unless they were trying to save me), this girl’s blog is a window inside these people’s world.

No wonder our country is in the state it’s in when there are people out there who still think the 1940s were the best of times.

So yes, this post is completely judgmental and very likely hypocritical and features a photo of forks for no good reason, but that’s what’s on my mind today, so that’s what you get. Enjoy!

-Lo, whose favorite Tori lyric used to be, “I wanna smash the faces of those beautiful boys, those Christian boys…”

Lucky Number Seven

anniversaryMood: Relaxation Overdrive
Drinking: The most delicious tea

Seven years ago, there was a blizzard in Chicago. I remember it very clearly, because that was the day I put on a white dress and walked down an aisle. Gave my solemn vow and sealed it with a kiss.

Sometimes it seems impossible that seven years could have slipped past me so quickly. Then other days it feels like I’ve lived a few lifetimes since that day.

It was a great day. A lot of fun. The blizzard, not so much fun — some people stayed home instead of braving the storm. And some of those who did head out into the snow paid for it. One carload of people from my hometown ran over a curb that was hidden by a snowdrift and ripped a hole in their undercarriage.

And my friend G actually made it to the church (on time), but his car had a little accident on his way into the parking lot and got kind of screwed up. Our limo driver was one of those people who decided to stay inside, so after the reception, we got a ride to the hotel from our best man. And we were all so hungry, we stopped at the McDonald’s oasis over the freeway for some honeymoon french fries. Romantic!

When I was a kid, my dad always used to complain about how fast time passes. I never understood, because I often thought the days crept by too slowly. But now, now I know what he meant. Seven years. And the days keep flying by.

Let’s hope that most of them are as good as today has been.

-Lo, who wouldn’t mind, sometimes, if time slowed the hands of the clock just a little bit.

Does someone need a hug?

shinyandnewMood:
Un-Valentiney
Drinking: Water

Yes, we’re back. We’ve been back for 3 days, but I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve been hibernating like a very crabby bear.

Here’s something I learned this weekend: If you’re not a hugger by nature (and I am so not!), being hugged by hundreds of people will wear your ass right out.

Not to seem ungrateful…because I’m gonna store those hugs up like solar power. I don’t think I’ll need another hug for oh, a good five years or so.

Hugging issues aside, the weekend went well. For those who haven’t been paying attention, I spoke this past weekend at a conference and a church (yes, I said church) about being a “Sunday Morning Misfit”. Basically, I was asked to speak about why I don’t go to church. Which is a fun thing to talk about, really.

So I packed my bags and dragged Boy along and we spent our weekend in northern Alabama. We were given a rousing Southern welcome (complete with lots of tasty food), and the whole experience was both exhilarating and overwhelming. I’ve never received a welcome quite like that, and I’m still a bit mystified as to how it all happened. (Especially since my celebrity status back home is decidedly less starry.)

Some people at work today who found out about it asked, “Why Alabama?” And I said, “Cuz I’m big in Alabama!” Some people are superstars only in Japan. Some people have cult fan followings in Germany. Me? I’m big in Alabama.

Nothin’ wrong with that.

I have to give big props to Boy, not only for being brave enough to go with me, but also for running the show, literally. He sat in the soundbooth and ran all the shiny bits — the videos and multimedia stuff I brought along with me (because when a girl like me gets an hour on stage, she’s gotta bring the bells and whistles). He also ran various video and still cameras to make sure all the appropriate moments were recorded for posterity.

But most of all, I knew where to look across a crowded room when I needed a moment of sanity. When I needed someone to see me who knew where I came from, who wasn’t fooled by all the hooplah and spotlights. When I needed a co-conspirator so I could raise my eyebrows and say, “This is crazy, is it not?”

I met so many people that I began calling them all the wrong names (sorry, Thomas!) and so for all of you out there reading this who met me over the weekend, please hear this: It really was lovely to meet you. And I really did appreciate your kindness and your words and yes, all those hugs.

And now, it’s back to reality. Back to the grindstone. Back to work and dog-walking and sister-visiting and cinepoem-editing (there’s a new one called Elasticine that will be here soon, very very soon) and book-finishing. Back to my life. God, how I love it!

-Lo, who thinks there’s no place like San Francisco. And San Francisco is HOME.

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with String

Mood: Lost in time
Drinking: Homemade iced tea

Home again, home again, ziggity zoo.

Boy and I returned from the lands across the sea a couple of days ago, but are still a bit confused as to the date and time. We keep waking up at 5 a.m., bright as new copper pennies. Which is really not cool unless you’re in your 70s or have some legitimate reason for waking up at the crack.

I prefer sleeping a little longer, at least until the sun has made her appearance. I’m still working on that. But it’s a small price to pay for having such amazing adventures as we have had.

Here are just a few of my new favorite things:

Favorite subway ads: Milano has amazingly weird advert posters in their subways. I’m a big fan.
Favorite new H&M model: French actress Emmanuelle Beart, who had me in awe of her extremely sexy ads all over Europe.
Favorite new tattoo artist: Laura Satana, the coolest Parisian, who has her own tattoo shop and gave me my freshest ink stain.
Favorite cemetery ever: Pere Lachaise. And no, I didn’t even bother with Jim Morrison. But I did say hi to Chopin.
Favorite pasta: Spaghetti carbonara
Favorite Italian duomo: Milano
Favorite French pastry: ZouZou’s croustillions
Favorite food in Switzerland: Everything
Favorite store mascot: Blue Dog in Zurich
Favorite cathedral: Notre Dame
Favorite Parisian neighborhood: St. Michel
Favorite bierhalle: Rheinfelder in Zurich
Favorite high-fashion shopping experience: Chanel in Paris (I bought nail polish.)
Favorite walk in Paris: Left Bank, along the Seine
Favorite scooter ride: Through the countryside just outside of Florence
Favorite foreign swear word: “Merde!”
Favorite train ride: Milano to Zurich, through the Alps
Favorite subway system: Paris’ Metro
Favorite hotel room: Domus Florentiae, Firenze
Favorite lodging: Our 7th floor flat in Paris near the Bastille
Favorite painting: Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi in Florence
Favorite awestruck moment: Seeing da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in Milan
Favorite holiday decoration: The nighttime snowflakes projected in blue and white onto a castle-like museum in Zurich
Favorite new drink: Pesca! (peach iced tea)
Favorite bookstore: Gilbert Jeune in Paris
Favorite new dress: A black one. From Paris. Of course.
Favorite airport: Zurich
Favorite traveling companion: Boy
Favorite homecoming moment: LeeLoo’s out-of-control butt wiggle dance when we picked her up at the kennel.

Obviously, it was the best vacation of all time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more recovering to do. (read: TiVo)

-Lo, who left most of her heart in Paris, but sprinkled little red bits of it elsewhere along the way.

I Love Paris in December

Mood: Enchanted
Drinking: Shortly

From where I sit, right this second, if I turn my head just to the left, like this, I can see the Eiffel Tower.

Yes, it’s true. I’m in Paris. I’m still pinching myself to make sure, and the bruises all indicate that I’m really, really here.

Boy and I are in a seventh floor flat near the Bastille. It’s all ours for the next few days. From the windows, I can see la Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame, Hotel des Invalides (where Napoleon is buried), and Sacre Couer up the hill in Montemartre. So basically, all of Paris is unfurled just below our noses.

We arrived yesterday afternoon (It’s Friday morning in Paris right now, but nearly midnight on Thursday at home.) by train from Switzerland. So far we’ve taken the Boy and Lo show to Milan, Florence, Zurich, and now gay Paris.

We met up with several friends in Florence, two of whom ran the AIDS Marathon last Sunday. Both of them finished with excellent times (that’s you, Roy and Michael!!!), and we were so very proud.

So now Boy and I are on the last leg of our European adventure, and what better place to wind it up than here, in the city of lights. I’ve got a full day of exploration waiting for me, so I’d best get dressed and get out there.

I’ll get to the finer details later…

-Lo, who’s looking forward to using the French phrase that S concocted especially for me to use when I’m out shopping and find something irresistable: “Ravissante. Je mourirai de la beaute, mais je suis trop exquisemente sophistiquee.” (Ravishing! I would die from the beauty, but I am just too exquisitely sophisticated.)

There and Back Again

Mood: Beehive Brain
Drinking: Tea

I’m on the brink of a European vacation and fairly vibrating with the excitment. I can’t concentrate on work, am completely worthless in meetings, and really just need to get on a plane and go, already. But I haven’t packed yet. And that will take awhile…

This time around, Boy and I will be visiting the lovely cities of Paris, Zurich, Florence, Milan, and wherever else we happen to stop along the way.

I’ve already got my tickets to see DaVinci’s Last Supper in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia, and one of my favorite paintings, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus at the Uffizi. I’m also hoping to come face-to-face with the Mona Lisa while in Paris.

It won’t all be museums, though. There will be lots of eating and shopping and general meandering about. I find that getting lost in a new city is one of the best ways to get to know it. And I plan on getting lost both on foot and by scooter. We’re going to be doing a lot of rail riding, as well, but I’m pretty sure we’ll stay on track with that mode of transport.

I’m hoping to get inked by Laura Satana while I’m in Paris. Boy and I got our first international tattoos while we were in Rome last year, and we want to continue the tradition on this trip. (I’m sure my mom will be happy to hear that.)

One of the best parts of this trip is that we’ll be meeting up with friends while we’re in Italy. It will be fun to see some familiar faces in a strange land. Last year, toward the end of our two-week stint, I really started to miss my friends. It’s eerie to be in a country for an extended period of time and realize that absolutely no one except your partner knows who you are.

There is so much to look forward to. I’m already inspired and I haven’t even done anything yet! I predict this trip will yield a cinepoem (or two). Meanwhile, I’ll continue to be manic and worthless. Perhaps I’ll start packing early, just to make myself feel better. It’s going to be a miracle if I can close that suitcase without sitting on it!

-Lo, who has been trying to recall those two years of college French but so far can only remember “Je m’appelle LaDonna” and that football player with Tourette’s who sat next to me with an occasional twitch.

Date of Birth

Mood: Preoccupied
Drinking: In-between drinks

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to outgrow birthdays. I blame it on my Dad. When I was growing up, he was always the first to get excited about his own birthday, even singing “Happy Birthday to Me” weeks before the big day.

I think it’s genetic. I do the same thing. When I called my Mom last week the day before my birthday and sang the birthday song to myself, I could hear her eyes rolling. “You’re as bad as your father,” she said.

But I can’t help it. There’s just something magical about my birthday, no matter how high the numbers go. You just walk the whole day with a kind of glow about you, passing strangers with a smile, half expecting them to know what day it is and to stop and offer their well wishes.

So even when the number is 73, my birthday will probably still be a big day for me. The day that’s all about me, unapologetically, all day long. This year, that day was last Friday, and I made the most of it, even dragging it out into the weekend. (I called it my birthday weekend.)

My friends didn’t disappoint. They lined up with long-distance phone calls, an extended lunch-hour shopping spree, completely unnecessary but totally appreciated gifts, and even an ear-splitting Christina Aguilera-like rendition of the birthday song, courtesy of my adorable sister.

Of course, the “birthday weekend” was made even better by the addition of a film festival, complete with a Best Female Filmmaker award that was appropriately shiny and now sits in my dining room awaiting a good polishing.

So here’s to all my friends and family, who put up with my annual birthday antics. And to Boy, who never fails to weather the event with good humor, and this year went so far as to bake me a homemade ginger cake that was quite possibly the best thing I’ve tasted all year long. Heart shapes to all of you.

-Lo, who now turns her attention to the stockpile of supplies for the upcoming European adventure. Maps? Check! Guidebooks? Check! Outlet adapter thingie? Check! Supercute Red Hat for Parisian Cafe Outing? Check!

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