Anthony Bourdain: I am certain of nothing

I know that I know nothing

Me: (handing her a pack) Pick a toothbrush.
Woman: (picks one) Wait…where are all the others?
Me: In use.
Her: Do you label the toothbrushes?
Me: I’ve got enough to deal with – you all have to remember which toothbrush is yours.

Made some Soleier the other day. It’s a pickled hard-boiled egg and I did it because of Anthony Bourdain’s Cologne episode of Parts Unknown, where he eats it in a bar.

Gymgirl had never seen any episodes of Parts Unknown, but, when Alison was trying to get pregnant, she and I watched a ton of episodes. In some way, we were trapped at home but it was our escape. When she got sick, we saw a few episodes here and there.

So I put on the Cologne and Senegal episodes for the Gymgirl; Alison worked a lot in Senegal and I think she woulda loved watching it.

In the Senegal episode, towards the end, Bourdain said that he had a tatoo that read paraphrase of a Greek/Latin phrase I’ve always liked, scio me nihil scire: I know that I know nothing.

He said, I am certain of nothing.

Don’t think it’s any major surprise to anyone, but I spent most of the time after Alison passed trying to think of ways to end my life with two major goals: (a) ensure my son got the maximum amount of money but only when he was old enough to use it responsibly, and (b) ensure he would not be the one to find my body.

I’m ok now, in case you’re worried.

Dispassionately speaking, those two things kept my mind racing for days…weeks? Months? I’m not sure. Was drinking a lot. Spent my time in the company of strangers trying to forget things.

Eventually, I sobered up, both literally and figuratively. Without getting too into it, essentially bureaucracy saved my life: There were certain things I was waiting for in order to accomplish goal but by the time I got what I needed, I was already feeling less depressed and more just normal, heart-breaking, sadness.

But there were many nights when I was pretty cloudy and thought about just ending it all. But those two things and my OCD kept me from making that final cut.

Me:  Do you ever daydream about, like, a fancy car?
Friend: Sure, I guess.
Me: That’s how I think about dying. I dream about it. It’s not real, per se, it’s just something I think about.
Him: Do you think you’d ever do it?
Me: No. But I think about it.

I wouldn’t be here if not for the kid. Alison was always worried because I often had bouts of depression.

Alison: Wouldn’t you stay just to keep me company?
Me: It’s never as easy as that.
Alison: Why can’t it be?

Ah, if only everyone could stay in the world because someone wanted them, desperately, to stay.

But suicidal depression doesn’t make a lotta sense, especially to the suicidally depressed. Even at my worst, I was pretty high-functioning; I knew suicidal people that weren’t even close. Bourdain was clearly high-functioning.

Two years ago, told you that I had two other atomic bombs in my life besides Alison and the cancer. My father was dying of cancer too; that I eventually told you.

My So-Called Thermonuclear Life

But the third was that one of my favorite cousins tried to kill himself in the middle of everything happening with my dad and Alison.

I remember getting that call and thinking that my life was as insane as it could ever be.

He survived, though. Alison and my dad didn’t. But that doesn’t make suicide any less dangerous. It’s as deadly as cancer because it kills you just the same.

Just snap outta it.

I’ve said that before to people that were suidically depressed, before I knew any better. It puts the blame on them – they’re doing this to themselves. But, as I said, that’s not how depression works.

No normal person wakes up dreaming of ways to end their lives. It’s the opposite of normal.

I know I’m not normal. Perhaps that’s part of why I don’t think I’d ever do it.  Because I know I’m not ok.

Never met Bourdain but I like to think that it was a momentary – and awful – lapse of reason that made him end his life. He had a kid and I doubt that, if he was thinking clearly, he’d ever hurt his daughter like that. Maybe in that last moment, he had some clarity and wanted to stay.

Then again, I’m certain of nothing. Except that I love Alison and her boy.  If only love was enough for things like this.

As long as the boy is here, I’ll stay to keep him company. He shocked me with this conversation today and made me cry.

Me:  (absentmindedly) I miss your mama.
Boy: (nodding) I miss mama too.

Think Bourdain’s daughter’s name is Ariane. Always thought that was such a pretty name.

Location: Last week, Bermuda
Mood: tired
Music: I’m sick of sitting ’round here
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Wedding stuff in Jerz

And some eating in Queens


Anthony Bourdain’s death really rattled me. Been trying to think of a way to write about it and started and stopped some entries a dozen times.

Thought I had something and then a suicide of a friend-of-a-(good)friend in New Jersey rocked me. That deserves a lot more than a quick sentence here but it’s not my story to tell

Man, suicide’s such crazy thing: It just transfers agonizing pain from one person to others.


Speaking of pain and New Jersey, when Alison and I got hitched, we had alla these wedding gifts from our friends and family.

They were mainly for a house in the suburbs that we’ll never see – flatware, chinaware, crock pots, etc. My tiny Manhattan pad couldn’t house alla it so it stayed with relatives out in Jerz.

This past weekend, Gymgirl’s brother got hitched in NJ. Coincidentally, the place where the wedding took place was only 30 minutes from Alison’s parent’s house.

So I reluctantly rang up her mom to finally deal with all those wedding gifts and she hauled alla it back to her place. That must have sucked for her. It sucked for me putting it into my whip.

Now I’ve got things like serving dishes and crystal serving bowls that I have no idea what to do with.

Cause they were for a life that never happened and remind me that it never will. F__k.


Interestingly, the wedding was the first time I’d met Gymgirl’s family. I’d met her older brother during that ER trip a few months back but not the rest.

Her other brother was the one getting hitched. I think I’d gotten out most of my grief at Alison’s family’s house. But I did have to step outside a bit just to get my head on straight.

Otherwise, the wedding was nice and different enough from mine that I didn’t get too messed up, mentally.

The next day, the Gymgirl and I returned the car I’d borrowed from my family to Queens and also picked up the kid. Although before we did that, we went to that food court in Flushing I’d gone to before.

Wish I had pics of everything but I was too out of it to take them.

Not been sleeping well the past week. Everything’s fuzzy again.

Location: two floors up showing an apartment with the kid
Mood: tired
Music: No tomorrow without a yesterday
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Graduating

Enriching our lives

Bought a new car seat for the boy earlier today.

I remember how excited Alison was when the infant car seat arrived.

My random screaming out of obscenities continues, unabated.

The boy “graduated” from his school earlier this week. Two, actually. One was an art class, the other a music class. But really, they were a way to socialize him with kids his age. That was the goal, anywho. Along the way, I met these women that became the Mother’s Group that I talk to almost every day. In that sense, it socialized us both.

Friend: This is it, a first graduation!
Me: Whoa – well, let’s hope it’s the first of many.

If you live in Manhattan north of 42nd Street and are looking to start your kid off in some program, check out Rutgers Preschool and Eastside Westside Music Together. Amazing programs with amazing people.

Gymgirl: (watching TV) I’m pretty impressed that you figured that part out.
Me: (dismissively) Of course, I’m ridonk brilliant.
Her: Eh, you’re alright.

Speaking of graduating, not only did the Gymgirl graduate as well, she also started a new job recently so, after she got her first paycheck, she took me out to eat Korean BBQ in Korea Town at place called Jongro. A boy could get spoiled like this.

Went to that place years ago with my college buddies.

Leigh’s husband wrote me to tell me that he thought The Gymgirl sounded like an amazing person. It’s a lot for someone to deal with people like us that are saddled with such grief. I agree.

Although I feel I enrich her life in my own inimitable way.

Gymgirl: I need to post on social media that I graduated. What did you post when you graduated?
Me: I didn’t have the internet back then.
Her: (laughing) Good god, you have to put that in your blog.

Location: yesterday, wandering the parks in the heat
Mood: same?
Music: We pass the waiting with a warm meal
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Father’s Day 2018: Hands on my back

Trip to Chinatown

My Father’s Day was spent with the Gymgirl taking me to dim sum in Chinatown but the lines were out the door. So she bought me two lunches back-to-back. Soup dumplings at Joe’s Ginger and then Pho Bang on Mott Street. Was gonna stop by to see my buddy Rain but we had to get the kid.

The thing about the Gymgirl is that’s she’s so young, she never really thought about how she might raise a kid. But I’m pleasantly surprised that she and Alison woulda seen eye-to-eye on a lotta things.

Yesterday was the first Father’s Day I remember since everything went down last year. Don’t even remember if I saw my dad last year. Was in such a haze of grief, exhaustion, and alcohol.

After the Gymgirl left to see her own dad, I went shopping with the boy. He wasn’t feeling well so he just sat on the sidewalk and refused to move. Thought that was kinda frustratingly amusing. My dad woulda thought so too.

I always sigh when I think of things like that. Did it again just now.

God, I loved my father. He was difficult, but I think all fathers have to be a little difficult. Alison always told me, “Remember that we’re gonna be their parents, not their friends. At least, not for a really long time.”

When the boy sat down on the street, I tried to reason with him but ultimately had to start walking away for him to get up. Sometimes you gotta do that.

As for me, this lady named Mignon McLaughlin once said that, The past is to our back. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.

Don’t believe in much of anything these days. But in my head, Alison and my father are behind me, with a hand gently on my back in support.

I try to raise my son as they woulda hoped and wanted me to, which isn’t that hard because we all saw the world the same way.

That’s why I loved them so.

Location: yesterday, wandering Chinatown in the heat
Mood: pensive
Music: always thinking of you but I can’t think of the right words to say
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Take your chances as they come

Waiting and hoping

Me: Where were we?
Gymgirl: I was talking about you.
Me: That I’m the best thing that ever happened to you?
Her: Why would I say that?
Me: Because it’s the truth!

Drunkenly met the most beautiful girl at a bar, once.

I was walking in, she was walking out. She was also drunk and happened to be on a date. I was heading out to talk to one girl after spending the night with another.

Called the girl walking in my Ship-in-the-Night girl. After a while, I knew her name was Alison, but – long after we started dating – still teased her that the girl I met that night wasn’t her.

Not so much because I didn’t think that she was that girl, but because I wondered if she was my girl; if I were her fella.

If we were each other’s person.

Then, one September day, we told each other that we didn’t wanna be with anyone else.

Alison: You’ve finally accepted that I’m your Ship-in-the-Night Girl, huh?
Me: (nodding) Yes.

That was a great day. Probably one of the happiest days of my life.

A good friend of mine was given an opportunity to start his own gym and asked me my thoughts.

Told him, honestly, that he owed it to his future self to take his chances as they come.

I mean, that’s the thing with every facet of life, yeah? You’re presented with an opportunity and you have to decide whether to stay with the devil you know or push all that doubt to the side of your mouth,  shut up, and take your chances.

When Alison met me that night, my business was failing. A family friend stole most of my money. Was drinking and womanizing way too much.

And yet she saw something in me that made her take a chance on me.

She believed me when I told her I was looking for her all those years. While it was the truth, I can see how that might be a hard thing to accept with a fella like me.

I admit that in my sleepless nights, I worried she’d wake up one day and realize she’d made a terrible mistake.

But she never did.

She’s been gone only a year and I’m already in another relationship. Can’t express how guilty that makes me feel. But she’d want what was best for me and the boy.

And Alison knew I loved her and only her. That’s all that really matters to me.

That’s not entirely true: I want the kid to know I loved his mamma completely.

Did everything I could to save her for us. Life f___d us anyway.

The Gymgirl left this story a while ago. Suppose in the simplest terms, she and I both thought that it was too early for us to be in relationship. She had school and life going on and I had…well, you know what I had going on.

But I can’t be a hypocrite and tell my buddy, and everyone else, to take their chances as they come and not do it myself.

You see, the Gymgirl sees my broken self and thinks I might be something or someone great. Or nearabouts. And I think she’s something great also.

So we both take our chances. And we wait and hope.

Me: I think we should give this another try.
Her: I don’t know, Logan.
Me: You can’t leave me. I’m perfect.
Her: (laughs, rolls eyes)

Location: my usual spot, wondering
Mood: cautious
Music: I’m beyond your peripheral vision
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Waiting for the ding

Memorial Day Weekend 2018


In the movie, Say Anything, even people that’ve never seen the film know that stupid scene where Lloyd holds that boombox over his head in the rain. Always thought that was idiotic when I was a kid and still do.

But the part I liked, and remembered, the most is at the very end where Loyd and Diane, who hates to fly, are on the airplane. Loyd goes:

All right, high level airline safety tips: If anything happens, it usually happens in the first five minutes of the flight, right?

And he says that smoking sign dings at around five minutes so they have to wait for the ding. The last two minutes of the film are them waiting for that ding.

Man, I’m so old, I remember smoking on a plane. And check out the hat the girl wears in the scene on the bottom.

But, to paraphase my sister, getting old is a gift. Not everyone gets to grow old.

On that note, May’s almost over, and the days I feared/hated the most in May are past.

Did some projects on the 24th to keep my head busy and made it through the day drinking only a little, relatively speaking. The Gymgirl helped.

It was still kind of a blur. That type of pain is like looking at the sun; you can’t do it for long otherwise it’ll damage you permanently.

Friday and Saturday were both better; on Friday, went to the gym and then introduced some of them to my fave dive bar in the Upper West Side.

On Saturday, met up with some people from my old gym out in Queens for a BBQ.

Why we all left the gym is a long story for another time but in a nutshell, it was because of the gym owner, albeit for slightly different reasons. It was good to see them all. Had a long talk with one of them about the nature of god and whether or not s/he even exists.

Him: I think, if anything, I’m agnostic right now.
Me: I think that’s where I am too. If there is god, he wants nothing to do with me and I, him.

Sunday, I was supposed to have dinner plans with a friend but he bailed on me because he got a better offer, which is another story for another time.

Him: It’s not that big a deal.
Me: No, you don’t get to piss on me and tell me it’s rain.

So I sent out a random Facebook event invite telling a handful of people that I was going to go downtown to get some all-you-can-eat sushi and if anyone was free, they should join me.

Called it: You have about 90 minutes to decide.

Surprisingly, both my coach and two students from the old gym – one of whom was at the BBQ – showed up and we ended up having a great time.

Me: Goddammit, wait until the first batch comes in before you order more food.
Gee: This is not my first rodeo, Logan! I know what I’m capable of when it comes to all-you-can-eat! (food comes, we demolish it) Oh, look at that, now we need to order more food.
Me: I’m sorry, you’re right. I never shoulda doubted you.

Took the train back with one of them and we were talking about our lives.

It all felt surprising normal.

Got out of the subway and went home. The Gymgirl was on a hike and the kid was away at my mom’s so I sat down on my white couch and poured myself a glass of rum and thought about everything. Old Memorial Days and such.

After I’m done writing this, probably gonna go see some other friends and pick up the kid from my mom’s.

Wrote once about Renata Adler who said that, Fear is forward. No one is afraid of yesterday.

I’m already thinking of May of next year and feel a slight twinge of anxiety over it, even now.

Love is such a strange thing: It’s like a coin with love on one side and grief on the reverse. You don’t get one without the other.

Whatever you think you know of my grief, lemme tell you, you have no idea.

Was waiting so long for a year to pass since Alison died. For no real reason. Somehow, it marked something for me.

That’s not true. I know what it meant: I wasn’t sure I’d make it this far. And now I have and feel I can breathe again.

Just a little bit. Man, thank goodness for alla the good souls.

DING


Location: Chinatown, shortly
Mood: weird
Music: How long ’til my soul gets it right?
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How did you sleep?

Alison made for the world

There’s a train track that passes under 149th Street between Roosevelt and 41st Avenues in Queens.

When I was a fat kid, another boy once told me that he would kill me.

Don’t remember why; do remember that I believed him.

I was terrified. To the point that I seriously contemplated hurling myself in front of that train to avoid that.

Remembered wondering what I should wear. How odd.

Suppose all bullied kids have had similar thoughts. It’s unbearably sad to me when I hear of one going through with it. And yet depression and suicide have made regular appearances in my life, not just with me but with those close to me.

Never had the nerve to make that final cut. A good thing.

The oddest thing about Alison’s passing is that, since at least March, I’ve gone in the opposite direction.

I’m terrified about getting injured or, even worse, dying. Need to survive to take care of the boy. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before – the need to survive – not even for Alison when we were deliriously in love.

Alison used to tell me alla time that she loved me like a fat kid loves cake. That always made me laugh.

Alison loved me. But she didn’t need me. Didn’t want her to.

(When Alison was pregnant and before the cancer)
Her: What if I need you?
Me: You don’t. I don’t want you to. You need to take care of the kid. A boy needs his mama.

And he still does. But she’s not here. Wish she was with ever atom in my body but she’s not.

I am, though. Man, I was supposed to be the backup if everything went to hell. Everything went to hell.

Now I’m it cause this kid needs me. Like, he literally cannot survive without me.

Nuthin – no one – has ever truly needed me before like he does now.

I’ve never felt such a heavy and awesome responsibility before. It’s terrifying, really. It’s as terrifying to me as that bully that threatened to kill me.

Yet, each morning, I push all of it to the side of my mouth.

Each morning, it’s the same: I wake up to the sound of him on the baby monitor: Papa! Daddy! Papa!

Each morning, I wish he was calling for her.

And each morning I get up, stagger to his door, take a deep breath, and straighten up. I smile my widest smile and say in the happiest, most awake voice I can muster as I open his door:

Good morning! How did you sleep?!

Him: (laughs) Papa! Daddy! (jumps up and down furiously in the bed, laughing)

And I think: God, I love this little person that Alison made for the world.

I love him like a fat kid loves cake. More, even.

Location: insomniaville
Mood: terrified
Music: I can barely define the shape of this moment in time
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No harm

Halfway(ish) through May

The pastor from Vision Church stopped by my neighborhood.

Me: I’m always surprised anyone ever wants to do anything with me. I’m a whirlpool of sadness, I think.
Him: People care about you. You should let them.

We went out for a cup of coffee that I promptly spilled onto the neighboring table with an older Italian couple.

Me: Well, looks like the clumsy is still working. Sorry about that.
Italian gentleman: That’s a fine. No harm.
Me: You’re Italian. My wife was Italian.

The pastor invited me to a concert and I told him that the last concert I went to was a Coldplay concert. Told him that concerts were much more her thing than mine.

Speaking of things, I didn’t feel up to going out with people on Saturday – Alison’s birthday – but I had several people, including my mother-in-law, contact me to tell me to get out of the house.

And the Gymgirl came by and insisted we do something so I found myself walking with her down Amsterdam Avenue.

We ended up at a restaurant that Alison liked called Hi-Life. Grabbed a seat outside under the awning where I had mixed rum-drinks while she had some red wine and split a burger. The Gymgirl nabbed the check afterward.

We went back to my place but not before stopping by a wine shop where she bought a bottle of red and a bottle of white.

I recalled that it was almost exactly a decade ago that Alison and I shared a glass of red wine, back when I called her Heartgirl.

The Gymgirl and I opened the red when we got back.

Her: We should watch something funny.
Me: Have you ever seen Brian Regan? I saw him live with Alison once, years ago.
Her: Let’s do it.

After a while I felt a bit better and we demolished a rack of ribs that I made. My intermittent fasting diet went out the window.

It wasn’t until midnight that I felt a sigh of relief. As if I accomplished something.

Like I said, everything that should be happy is sad instead.

Her: (pouring the last of the wine) I liked this.
Me: It was pretty good. It wasn’t rum, but it wasn’t bad. (pause) I miss her.
Her: (nodding) I know. I’m sorry. (lifting up her glass) To Alison. Happy Birthday, Alison.
Me: Happy Birthday, Alison.
Her: (nods, leans in and kisses me on my cheek)

Location: Almost half-way through May
Mood: not great, not terrible
Music: How wonderful life is while you’re in the world
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Happy Birthday, Alison

I would only do this for you

Alison woulda been 39 tomorrow.

A friend of my sister’s dropped by yesterday with gifts for the kid – an owl plush toy, and a children’s book – plus a gift for me: Rum.

Her: I didn’t know her but I wish I did. She sounded like an amazing person. I hope you don’t find it strange that I show up here as a stranger.

And I spoke to an old friend I’ve not spoken to in ages.

Him: I met this girl. I’m selling everything and moving outta the city to be with her. I  wouldn’t have imagined doing something like this before but then I thought of you and Alison.

In their own ways, they apologized for reducing the sum of Alison’s life to a life lesson or story.

But I told them not to apologize and related a quote I like from Margaret Atwood: In the end, we all become stories.

All I have left of her are a handful of pictures, two videos, and these stories in my head. And the boy, of course.

In honor of her birthday, let me tell you a silly story. It’s for me, really. To put it out into the aether and make it real again, if only for a bit.

She disliked beets. But I loved them.

Her: You like beets?
Me: As my buddy would say: Nothing beats beets.
Her: (rolls eyes)

So I came home one day to find her wearing gloves and covered in beet juice. When I saw her, she pretended that I caught her in the middle of a murder (we loved Dexter, you see). She wanted to surprise me with some roasted beets and dried beet chips.

In any case, I asked her if I could take a picture of her and she resisted. She hated having her picture taken. But I insisted. And I asked that she recreate the scream as well. She did.

She disliked all those things: The beets. The pictures. The recreation. But she did them all because I asked. Because she loved me so much.

It’s an amazing thing to be loved so much by someone you love so much.

Dammit, I wish I insisted on more pictures and videos. We never think we’ll need things like pictures and videos until it’s too late.

I f__king hate that I only have two videos of her. It guts me.

For her birthday, do me a favor?

Take a picture – or even better, take a video – of someone you love that loves you as much as she loved me. As much as I loved her.

As for me, I drink. I cry. I drink some more. I’ll be going to a party with friends and drinking myself silly.

And I try to forget that I had someone that loved me so deeply and so much that I loved so deeply and so much.

Her: Why do you want to take a picture?
Me: Because I want to remember it.
Her: I look terrible. I spent this whole time cooking.
Me: You look beautiful. Please?
Her: Fiiiiiine.
Me: Can you recreate that scream?
Her: (laughing) OK. But only for you. I would only do this for you.

Location: in front of pictures and rum
Mood: gutted
Music: you lose something you can’t replace
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Armagnac and owls with friends

Interacting with people again

1975 Armanac de Montal

There are people that I’ve not spoken to now in years. After everything went down with Alison, I kinda just dropped off the radar, save for this blog.

But a little while ago, I met up with my friends around the way and had some 1975 Armagnac de Montal.

Me: What’s the occasion?
Him: Just good to see you again.

And KG Betty wrote me to ask if I was gone from her life. Called her this weekend to tell her I wasn’t.

Me: I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’ve just been dealing with alla this stuff.
KG Betty: I know. It’s nice hearing your voice again. How are you?

The problem is that so little means anything to me these days, beyond the boy. It’s hard to muster the energy it takes to be part of society in any meaningful way.

Yet, I’m trying to come back however I can. Had dinner with my friends Kathy and Ricky at Nickle and Dinner to thank them for everything they did for Alison. Had a beer with an owl on it.

Hitachino Nest

Spoke to Gradgirl recently as well.

Me: Are you alright?
Gradgirl: Yeah.
Me: Should I stop asking?
Her: It doesn’t matter. I’ll keep lying.

And I saw my sister-in-law the other day at her new home in New Jersey to fix her WiFi network and grab lunch. Went with her for her closing earlier this year, just for moral support.

SIL: You should stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Me: I don’t think I feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry that she’s not here.

It’s weird interacting with people these days for any reason beyond child-rearing. Feel like I’m putting on a show alla time. But I suppose it’s a lotta, Fake it till you make it.

Did see the Gymgirl the other day, though. She invited me to a work/school thingy. We’re trying a few things out.

Gymgirl: Who was that?
Me: The Gradgirl. She’s in town for a bit.
Her: Are you going to see her?
Me: Why would I do that?
Her: Didn’t you say you like to make out with her?
Me: But I already have.
Her: Oh, that’s a good response. (holding up hand) That deserves a high five.

Location: still in my hellish week
Mood: weird
Music: And how the days have flown too few & fast
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