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Teaching them

One of my brothers lives with my father. He has always lived with my parents, though I have no idea why he decided to do so. He’s fifty-three and was born profoundly deaf due to my mother getting German Measles when she was pregnant with him. He’s been wearing hearing aides since he was a baby, and my parents made sure he went to a regular public school so he could learn to live with hearing people. The school system he was enrolled in offered individual assistance for him so he didn’t fall behind in his classes. He’s lived a pretty normal life, went to college, worked retail jobs, got his degree, and has been working in the government for many many years. He maintains relationships with lots of friends–hearing and deaf–and participates in all kinds of activities. He helps arrange and run racquetball tournaments for both deaf leagues and hearing leagues. He travels, stays in hotels alone, drives daily to work, works among his colleagues, goes to a gym, sees his doctors…etc etc. He’s a pretty smart person, though sometimes his communication skills lag a bit. Most people deal with it pretty well, and so does he.

But he’s never had a romantic relationship that we’re aware of, though he has tons of friends. He’s never wanted to go away for any long period of time, never wanted to move out, and often relied on my mother to do things for him. Things he could do–though they might take some extra effort from him–but for whatever reason he chose not to do them. My mother did the things for him out of love, I’m sure. My brother helped (and still helps) take care of their current house and the property it sits on. He would cook occasionally and would stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things when my mother asked. He’s terrible at cleaning, but he takes good care of their dog. Now that Mom is gone, he handles the majority of the bills at the house, does all the taxes for him and my father, and he helps my father with most of the technology in the house.

There are times that he lets things slide that normally my mother would have handled. He and my father, living together like bachelors in their house now, often overlook things because they don’t want to deal with them. I have tried very hard to stay out of my mother’s role, because I do not want to be her. I don’t want to follow them around and make sure things get done, or be called upon when they don’t want to handle things. When things fall by the wayside, they scramble to handle them but it seems to be okay the majority of the time. One of the last issues I have struggled to step out of is their dog. I hate to see their dog suffer because they aren’t staying on top of things, or because they aren’t paying her enough attention. She was really my mother’s dog, her companion and her shadow, especially during Mom’s cancer. My father doesn’t pay the dog too much mind, and his memory is pretty shitty. I often worry that he lets her out into the yard and then forgets about her. It has only happened once or twice since my mother’s death, and neither time did she suffer too much discomfort before I discovered the lapse. Fortunately, their dog barks hysterically if she wants to get back in the house, so there have been times when I hear her barking and I call my dad to remind him she’s outside.

We are all heading to the wedding next weekend. It’s being held less than 30 minutes from our home(s), but it’s an evening wedding. It starts right before dinnertime and we need to be there early enough to get parking and walk to the venue. That means our dogs will all need to have someone come in to feed them and let them out after dinner. Hub and I have been talking about this for weeks, and we finally interviewed a couple of dog-sitters from Rover.com. We’ve used dog-sitters before, but we didn’t really like their service as they were ONLY drop-in and they would only promise to stop in on the dogs in a two hour window. So we interviewed a couple of people and found someone who will come in and stay with our dogs for the whole evening. They have a pretty active evening routine (including dinner), so we figured we’d pay the person to stay the whole evening. It’s not terribly expensive and we’re over-protective owners, so we went ahead and hired someone.

I said nothing to my brother or my father about their dog. They’re grown men, they take care of their dog, they knew the wedding was coming up for six months. If they were concerned about their dog, they should have done something. And I didn’t want to put my nose into their life and ask or suggest they make arrangements. It sounds petty, but I don’t want to be their mother or their wife. GROWN ADULTS.

Hub and I decided to have the dog-sitter come in once before the wedding so the dogs would have a chance to get to know the sitter. We hired her for a drop-in visit (30 minutes) to let the dogs out and play with them while we were out for a longer-than-normal dinner with my family. We all drove together to the restaurant, so when we got home, the sitter was still at our house (dinner didn’t take as long as we expected). Immediately my brother wanted to know who was at our house when he saw the car parked in front of our garage. So I told him we were trying out a dog-sitter in advance of the wedding. He sort of frowned and started to ask me questions, but I only said we’d met her a few weeks prior and then we went home.

Two days later–this is now ten days before the wedding–my brother sends me a message via googletalk to ask me how the dog-sitter had worked out. I said she was good, the dogs seemed to like her (but they like everyone!), so we were set for the wedding. His next question was, “Can she handle three dogs?” Because he hadn’t made any arrangements and he figured he would just leave his dog at my house and so he’d be all set without having to do anything! Again, I felt petty, but I don’t want him thinking that he’ll just let us always handle things and he’ll tag on. I told him that it wasn’t appropriate for our sitter to take care of his dog when she hadn’t met the dog. This was exactly why we had interviewed people in our house to see them with our dogs, and then did a trial-run before the wedding. Also, his dog is not the easiest to handle, especially when she’s in OUR house versus their house. And I told him all of that. I said he needed to find his own sitter, who would come to his house and take care of his dog. So he said there was no time left (TEN DAYS), and so he’d just have to come home early from the wedding to take care of his dog. Guilt and manipulation…because he hadn’t bothered to do the responsible thing for his dog and his plans. Six  months they’ve known about the exact time and date for the wedding.

I felt badly. I had guilt so built up that I didn’t sleep that night thinking about it. I knew he was mad at me, but I didn’t want to teach him that if he didn’t do what he was supposed to, I would clean up after him. I didn’t want him to think that he could let things slide because he figured I would step in. Teaching people how to treat you is important, and I was teaching him to treat me like his sister, not his mother.

TWO DAYS LATER he asked me to help him get a dog-sitter. I had already given him the Rover.com website, so I didn’t understand why he needed my help. He opened the app on his iPad and through every step he asked for my input. HE’S A COMPUTER PERSON. He’s been in IT in the government for probably 25 years…why the hell did he need me to stand over him to help him with an app that I’ve NEVER EVEN USED. Hub and I were using the Rover.com website, not the app, so I’d never seen the app before. *sigh* We contacted several people, set up two for interviews, then he wanted me to be there at the interviews. As it turns out, the first person who came the very next night was the person he hired because the second person flaked out on us.

So he’s got his dog-sitter. We’ve got our dog-sitter. I persist in teaching him and my father that I am not their mother or wife, and that I am not going to step in and take care of things for them. I persist in reminding myself that I am teaching them to be independent human beings, capable of handling their lives. Obviously, if they seriously need me, I am there for them. But these simple, every-day things? They need to learn to handle their business like adults. And if they don’t handle their business, they are going to have to deal with their consequences.

Still, I feel petty and mean. And guilty. And I resent my brother’s attempt at manipulating and guilting me into doing what he wanted. The sooner he learns that he needs to handle things on his own, the better our sibling relationship will be. I hope.

In preparation for the wedding, I am getting my hair color fixed on Tuesday. I have my fingers crossed it goes well, because I’m not sure I could get it fixed again in between now and the wedding. I also have PT for my impinged (and frozen!) shoulder along with a neurology appointment this week.

And then I see a psychic medium on Friday. Should be an interesting experience and I’m not entirely sure I believe in them. I hope to report back on all the goings-on next week.

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Ironically formal

I have two younger cousins (in their 30s) who are my uncle’s daughters. My mother’s brother’s daughters. We have always called them “The Girls” for as long as they’ve been living. I don’t know why, but so it is. It’s not anti-feminist, it’s just their nickname, so take it as such.

Ten years ago, the older of The Girls got married. She and her mother decided that the wedding was to be a formal “black and white” wedding. I’d never had to shop for a formal dress before (except my wedding dress, which I ended up having custom-made by a seamstress which ended up being cheaper than buying from a shop and was roughly $500 without the material), so I started ordering lots of dresses to try on. At that point, finding a formal gown locally in my size was not possible, so I shopped the web. I tried on dress after dress, shipping to and from, ordering my size/a size up/a size down because sizing SUCKS. And remember, it had to be black, because this was a black and white wedding and for sure I wasn’t wearing white!

I finally found a dress I loved for the most part, that I got on sale at a great price. A formal plus-size gown, black with sparkly shoulder straps, on sale for less than $100. Nearly unheard of! The bad news was, the dress was sleeveless and there was more decolletage than I had wanted. So I turned to my mother, who crocheted a pair of flutter sleeves in delicate black yarn along with a matching “modesty panel” to cover the excess cleavage. She sewed everything in for me and after getting my ‘do did, off we went to the wedding. I got a ton of compliments on the dress and the hair, but honestly I have no idea if there were any pictures of me in it. I remember one picture of the “table” where we were sitting, but I was sitting so you can’t really see much of the dress. (I still have the dress in the back of my closet but I haven’t looked at it in YEARS.)

Now, as I’ve said, there’s an upcoming formal wedding for the younger of The Girls. I shopped again, though this time it was mostly looking and not so much ordering. I have a better idea of what I like to wear and what looks good on me, thanks to past experience (plus I’ve had to buy another gown for my brother’s wedding since then). And I also know to watch for sales if I find something I like, so I don’t pay through the nose for a dress I’ll likely never wear again. (So depressing…money wasted…). I looked and looked and kept going back to the same dress over and over again. I was worried, though, because my aunt had let slip that the wedding colors were supposed to be purple and white (though my aunt is wearing black and I think so is the matron of honor?!?!) and the dress I wanted was purple. I didn’t want to upset anyone (my aunt) by wearing the wedding colors when I knew what the colors were…like I wanted to be a part of the wedding or something. So I ended up asking the older of The Girls (and the matron of honor) if she thought it would be a problem if I wore this dark eggplant-y purple and she said no it was fine.

So I ordered the dress (at 40% off!) and when it arrived, I was pleased at the shape and fit of it, as well as the color. It’s sort of rosettes on lace with some very small amounts of sequins. It’s pretty gorgeous, if I do say so myself!

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Obv this is not the plus-size version…

Of course, the length was too long because I’m short and long dresses are almost always LONG. I knew I’d have to have the dress hemmed, so I was prepared for that. I also had suspected that the short sleeves were going to look and feel slightly awkward just because of their odd length (they are even worse looking on big arms). What I wasn’t prepared for was that the rounded neckline was going to feel so high (you can’t see it but the back has a nice, low, vee-neck which is very flattering!). After searching for new black pumps that I could walk in (so we’d have the right length when hemming), it was off to the seamstress for alterations. I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry when the lovely woman told me the back of the dress was the right length but the front was too long (cuz I got me some booty)…I did neither and she went about her business measuring the length to the right spot. Then she asked what else I wanted done…

I asked to have the sleeves cut off and the front neckline lowered.

Iiiiii-rony!

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2017 in anxiety, family, mom

 

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Finding connections

I wasn’t sure what to do this year about mother’s day. Last year I sent Hub off to his mother’s house without me, and I spent part of the day with my brother and his then wife (now ex-wife). I talked with T about this on Friday, because I feel some guilt about not going to my mother-in-law’s to be with her, but I just am not ready yet this year. I know she understands–as does Hub–but I am at heart a people-pleaser, and so the guilt sat heavy with me. In the end, though, I couldn’t make myself go.

My father had mentioned to me Friday evening that he was going to go to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave and he asked if I wanted to go. I didn’t answer him at that point, but Sunday morning when I saw him, he brought it up again. He said he knew it made me feel “uncomfortable”, but he wanted to make the offer for me to join him. I tried to be gentle in responding when I said to him, “I don’t feel uncomfortable about going, but the truth is, I don’t feel a connection to Mom there. I don’t feel it to Nana and Papa, either…it doesn’t work that way for me.” (my grandparents are buried in the plots next to my mother). For real, I feel more of a connection to my mother in her “den” closet, where she had a bunch of books stashed on a bookshelf…gardening, trees, cookbooks…I stumbled on them at one point and ended up crying. Because that’s my mother. The cemetery is just a marker for her physical body’s last resting place, but it has no history for me with her. My father only said OK and that he was okay to go alone, which I had to trust was true.

Somewhere around ten a.m., I texted my brother (the one with the ex-wife) to see what he was doing that afternoon. He said “nothing”, so I asked if he wanted to do something. What I really wanted to do was go back to the nursery where Mom and I used to go all the time, and where he and I went after she died. I also offered up the opportunity for him to come to my house to help me bake peanut butter cookies, which he (and my other brother) scarf up as fast as I can make them. His response was a preference to go to the garden center, so in some corner of my mind I knew it was the right thing to do. Even Hub said as much when I told him my plans for the afternoon while he was with his mother…he said my mom would be happy to know I was spending time there with my brother.

So after lunch, my brother and I set out for the nursery, which is about 20 minutes away. We talked a lot in the car about how he’s been doing with his depression and his medication, as well as some other health issues he’s dealing with. But once at the nursery, we talked about plants. We walked around the big place for about two hours–which leaves me exhausted and in pain today unfortunately–just chattering and touching plants and gagging over the high prices. We bought absolutely nothing, but it was worth the time and energy and pain, because it felt right. This brother and I, we have always been the closest of the siblings–with the exception of his married life where he withdrew from the whole family…and even then I tried to stay in touch with him as much as it was possible–so this connection felt good to renew. I know he’s struggling with his depression and his newly single life and his desire for a partner and…well, lots of stuff. And part of today was to remind him that he’s not alone. Doing that for my mom and for him made the day work for me.

I miss my mother so terribly. Every day. I feel like my identity without her has been lost. I don’t know how to get it back…yet. I’m still searching, and maybe someday I’ll find my purpose again.

I described (to T and a friend) the run-up to mother’s day as “being poked with a cattle prod when you’re already on fire”…and it’s true. That’s so much how I felt with all the television commercials and the holiday displays in all the stores and the radio commercials and facebook and instagram and on and on. I worry that it will always feel this way, this painful, this sad, this lost. Living without my mom has changed my life and changed me at my core. I don’t know how to adjust to that, or that adjustment is even possible. Somehow, I have to find a way forward. Last night I watched Bad Moms on television while Hub was still at his mother’s. There’s a point in the movie where Mila Kunis is talking to her movie daughter and she basically says, “I know you can make it through this because I’m your mother and I know what you’re made of.” It was such a dumb, funny, stupid, crazy movie, but that scene and those words (which I can’t remember exactly) really hit me hard. I know my mother believed in me and believed in my strength and my ability to persist. I hope I can find a way to continue to make her proud in that aspect as I try to find my way.


 

As a minor update, I finished all my bactrim pills successfully. I don’t know how much I feel better, but so far it seems the smell is gone, so I take that as success. I wasn’t too much more itchy the last day and half, so that was good. My stomach isn’t entirely back to normal yet, but I know the bactrim stays in your system for several days following the last pill. So hopefully another couple of days and my stomach will be better.

 

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Bactrim blues

So I’ve taken six pills so far for what my doctor diagnosed as a sinus infection.  I wanted to make note of what has been happening with the bactrim, at least for my future reference. Here’s what my historical experience prepared me for:

Upon getting my ABs, I come home and go look up my blog post from when I had to take these particular ABs, and I apparently have nausea, bad taste in my mouth, and dry mouth (editing to add, and dry/itchy eyes near to the end of the course of ABs) to look forward to for ten days at least. Two pills a day over ten days.

I’m definitely getting a lot of heartburn/acid reflux. My appetite is nil and the nausea is there for sure. My stomach hurts almost all the time, but that could also be from the acid reflux/heartburn. What is also a bit distressing is that last night before dinner (after the 4th pill at 9:30am that morning), I had a really bad hot flush on my face and ear, and I had anxiety. I’m not sure if the anxiety came from the hot flush or from the ABs. So I took another pill this morning at about the same time as yesterday…and tonight the hot flush started again before dinner. I didn’t even wait this time, I just got a cold pack and put it on my face until I was pretty well frozen. I didn’t get the anxiety, but I also stopped the hot flush early on, so maybe I stopped the anxiety before it started.

There’s no discernible change in the smell issue, yet. I’ve been trying to use different essential oils to distract myself from the smell (I just realized I had some good oils downstairs I could use…brown sugar and vanilla!), but it doesn’t last long.

Last night we invited my father over for dinner since my brother (the one that lives with him) is out of town for several days. Then tonight we went out for burgers with him and my other brother. Tomorrow Dad’s going to the grocery store with us in the morning, basically because he’s tired of being stuck in the house alone. He and I talked about how hard it is to be alone in the house all the time (while his house-mate is out of town), and I told him how concerned I am about being alone when Hub goes away. I told him I might end up sleeping there at night and he said if I did then they would be able to help me with the dogs in the early morning hours. I said I’d let him know. I’ve been going out for walks every day and when I get to his house, I call him to tell him to send his dog into the yard with us…sometimes he comes out to chat at that point. It’s hard because I used to do this to go hang out with Mom…and it’s not as easy to find things to talk about with Dad all the time. But I’m trying t keep up with the walking outside, so if he wants to chat with me he’ll have the opportunity.

I’m really tired of feeling so crappy. I want to regain my energy. I want to move forward.

 

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Paying homage and giving back

I know I’ve talked about these bears and dolls before…

I’ve been making them for almost a year–maybe closer to 10 months–so that I could donate them to our local police department for children in trauma situations. I had stopped making them for a few months because of my pain and health issues, but last month I finished up a few more bears so that I had an even number of dolls-to-bears ratio to donate. I then returned extra yarn I had to force myself to stop waiting on doing the donation by trying to convince myself that I just need to finish up those couple of skeins (I literally had enough yarn to probably make another 10 or 15 bears).

So last week, Hub and I put all 30 stuffed toys into the mini-van and set out for our local police station. When we finally found it (who hides a police station? Yeesh…we had to ask a random sheriff we spotted near the court house for directions), we gathered the three big bags and went into the station.

I’ve never been in a police station before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turns out, the station is actually on the newer side and seemed modern but dark. There were two women behind a huge, thick glass window and I went up to talk through the little speaker. The woman I was talking to seem surprised at my explanation, then rushed to say she didn’t have any tax deductible donation slips. Once she was convinced that this wasn’t about that, she made her way through a series of doors to join us in the lobby to take the bags. She seemed really pleased and said that most people try to bring in used toys or toys without tags (so they wouldn’t be sure if they were new) and that was a health risk, so they can’t take those. But since these were hand-made and obviously new, she gathered up the bags from us and told us how nice this was of us, and that she was going to take them straight to the administration offices.

We thanked her for her time, asked her to pass along how appreciative we are of the officers who take care of our community, then we left. She never asked for my name or anything else. I wanted to make this donation in honor of my mother, so that part made me happy. But I was sad to bring closure to that project. I’m not sure if I’d do it again with those particular patterns, as they are more tedious than I can handle these days.

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Hub took me for ice cream at a local shop in our downtown historic area, then we went home. The next day was the anniversary of the day my mother died. In honor of her on that day, I ate cheetos and chocolate marshmallow ice cream I’d made for her that she didn’t get to finish. Those were two things she ate a lot of in the last couple of years of her life. (I didn’t eat them together, of course!)

I’m glad to have done a little something to give back to my community. It’ll be odd if I happen across a child holding one of the toys, but no matter what I hope it helps someone somewhere.

 

 
 

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One year.

I love you, Mom.

Every moment, even the difficult ones, were a blessing for me because they were spent with you.

I mark this day in honor of a woman whose life mattered.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who loved her family beyond what words can express. It was immeasurable.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who is loved beyond her time on this earth.

I mark this day in honor of a woman who was generous, intelligent, compassionate, and downright amazing.

I mark this day in my heart and soul, like a tattoo that can never be removed.

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March not better

I thought February was bad. March has been worse.

I’m feeling so shitty, I can’t even. Period. I spend much of my days fighting the nausea and the fatigue…I’m exhausted before I get going. And now…and now, my imbalance is back in a big way. I’m struggling to walk without falling over, and I’m back to touching walls and handrails and tables and whatever in order to keep myself stable. This is a huge slide backward for me, as I haven’t had this kind of imbalance in quite some time.

I went back to the doctor AGAIN because I’m still exhausted and I’m still nauseated. She told me I was acting better this time versus the last visit, but she’s still thinking I have a virus that I need to just “wait out”. She sent me for more blood work (ANA, rheumatoid arthritis, lyme, iron, b12), but everything came back normal. My b12 is a tad on the low side for my history but still in the normal range. I’ve ordered my b12 sublingual pills and will start them ASAP. Maybe it’s that, maybe it’s stress and grief, maybe it’s something else. I have no idea and apparently neither does my doctor. She said to drink more water and walk outside for 20-30 minutes a day. She says dehydration can cause nausea–and maybe it can–but my drinking habits haven’t altered much. Except now I feel like shit and so I don’t want to do anything, including drink. If I go walk outside my allergies will get worse and I’ll have more breathing trouble and more snot and more post-nasal drip and more nausea. The doctor didn’t care for that and told me to do it anyway, that being outside and walking will make me feel better and get rid of my fatigue. I’m not eating much because I’m so nauseated all the time. I rush through eating what I can before I feel like I can’t put anything else in my mouth at both lunch and dinner, then I leave my dishes in the sink and go back to the couch.

I spend most of my days on the couch, barely even bothering to look at my computer. I try to stay upright, but I’m so exhausted all the time that I end up stretched out and wishing that the day was just over. I don’t know why I wish for that because at this point tomorrow will be much of the same. I feel like I’m sliding into this despair of thinking that I’ll never feel better. That it will always be like this. I am trying to push past the exhaustion and do stuff–I did three loads of laundry on Sunday–in the hopes that if I ignore what’s going on it will go away. But by the time I do anything, I feel this crushing fatigue again and I end up on the couch. Or in bed.

Sleeping is a negatory. I try to sleep but it doesn’t work, and when I wake up in the morning I can hardly haul myself out of bed. I don’t feel rested or refreshed or like I even closed my eyes. I want to cry but I’m too fucking tired to cry.

I was supposed to go see my massage therapist on the 14th but our local snow canceled that appointment. I was also scheduled to go tomorrow morning, but I literally got an email at 9:30pm saying she’s sick and has to cancel. And for sure I’m grateful because I do NOT want to get sick and it sounds like she has the flu, but I’m so disappointed. For one thing, I was hoping some trigger point release would help with my imbalance and nausea (hoping, though not confident)…for another thing, getting onto her schedule is a bitch and even though I rushed I struggled to get back onto her calendar. It’ll be two weeks before I can get back in to see her, which might not be horrible because if she DOES have the flu I wouldn’t want to be back in her “hands” too soon. But it’s hard to miss appointment after appointment when I’m feeling so poorly. Hub tried to send me a link to a list of massage therapists in the area, but none of them do trigger point AND it’s hard to just find a new massage therapist. It’s like a mental therapist…you have a relationship built up. It’s not so easy to walk into someone’s space and get naked and let them rub you for an hour.

I see T on Friday, which is the day after the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. Just happens to be how it worked out. Considering how things are going at the moment, it’s going to be a long, sobby appointment.

I can’t stand this constant nausea. Every time I swallow I feel sick. Every time I move I’m wobbly and off balance and that makes the nausea worse. If I didn’t have the dogs, I’d be in bed all day. I gave thought to going back to bed after lunch today because Butthead had peed and pooped after HER lunch so I knew she’d be okay for a while, but I didn’t want to give in. I’ve been in that place where I didn’t get out of bed for weeks (with my prilosec fever) and that’s a bad road to head down. It only makes me weaker and makes me feel worse.

Hub’s birthday dinner with his family is this coming weekend. I don’t know how I’m going to go…by 3pm, I’m so exhausted I can barely sit at our kitchen table for dinner, how am I going to get out and go to a restaurant and be “on” for his family? For hours… We didn’t go out on his birthday because I couldn’t get up the energy. We didn’t go donate the dolls and bears I crocheted to the police station because I didn’t have the energy to leave the house.

I don’t know what to do now. I don’t know what path to take. I don’t know how to do anything right now.

 

 

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