Goodnight, Fouad

That’s what friends are for

I’ve known this fella Fouad Youssef, for well over a dozen years. You’re literally looking at the best picture I have of him with me because someone else took it.

He had the distinction of meeting every women I was ever somewhat serious with – every single one.

This was happenstance; you see, he was the bouncer at Solas and saw both the people I brought there and the people I met there.

Was literally there every weekend for years and spent countless special nights there. He was the one that flipped me upside down in this entry here over a decade ago.

We talked a lot over those dozen years. About his life and mine.

Man, did he love his kids. Don’t think we ever talked without him bringing them up once he had them. His eyes lit up when I showed him my boy.

Him: Being a father, a parent. That’s everything.
Me: I get it now. It’s amazing.
Him: (reaching for his phone to show me pictures)

He died yesterday. He was the person I mentioned here. Fucking cancer.  He was just a bit older than me. His kids are so young.

Our mutual friend, KF – who also lost his love to cancer – and I both agree that at least he’s at peace now. It was awful what the cancer did to him. What it does to people. KF sent me a picture and I had to sit down to catch my breath.

I’m at an age where I say goodbye to people and it’s forever – in the infinite time/space sense of “forever.”

All goodbyes are sad, but the forever ones just gut you.

Fouad wasn’t a close friend but he was someone like Leigh – someone that I saw often and happily. He was part of the fabric of my regular life.

And that piece of fabric is now gone. You notice when there’s a chunk of fabric missing from anything. I’m missing all these major chunks and feel as if my life is in tatters.

I feel emptier knowing that he’s not in this world. No man is an island and all that.

It hit me a lot harder than I thought it would, mainly because I knew what his family was going through. I relived it.

I felt so terribly sad and lonely at that moment that I called a few people to chat but got no answer.

Suppose that’s how grief works. You call out but never get an answer.

Him: You’ll be ok, Logan.
Me: How do you know?
Him: (shrugging) Because you’re always ok. You’re tough.
Me: I don’t know if that’s true. But thanks for always listening.
Him: Of course. That’s what friends are for.

Location: Last night, with friends ignoring monsters with foolishness, like trying to spot it
Mood: gutted again
Music: Please say honestly, you won’t give up on me

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That’s because I am

Extremely positive thoughts

It’s funny; every time I go through a bad breakup, I feel the need to be social but not serious.

After my last breakup, I always only hung out with women where I knew nothing could happen. Suppose it’s something related to what Caligirl said.

I’m not quite ready to actively date right now, because I know what dating’s like and what I’m like.

Him: Why don’t you turn it on?
Me: When most people turn it on, it’s like trying to drink out of a garden hose. When I turn it on, it’s like trying to drink out of a fire hose. It’s just my nature .
Him: What’s wrong with that?
Me: My rule was always to try and leave people better off having met me than not. That was a lotta people. But not everyone. I don’t like having to tell someone that I’m not their fella. I didn’t like hurting people. Plus, it’s shit out there.

What I’m more interested in is being part of society again: Dinner parties, art exhibits, ridic crazy parties with RE Mike, etc.

To this end, I rang up two women that I just barely knew.

Me: I want you know that I always have two rules for my female social friends: (a) I will never hit on you and (b) I will try to help you out with any dude you’re interested in when we’re out and about. I’ve never broken those two rules, ever.
Faye: Those rules sound great! I am newly single as of a week ago so I just want friends

There was another girl that we’ll call Anne just turned 21 that’s a gym buddy of mine so I took her out for drinks.

We all ended up at Solas with some of my buddies until late at night and then moved to a hooka bar where I refused to have any hooka.

Me: My dad just died from lung cancer so, no. (thinking) Man, I’m a downer out and about. Let’s drink.

While I didn’t hit on either of them, my friends – one in particular – had no such problem.

Him: (hands her his phone) Faye, why don’t you go and punch your number and name into it and I’ll give you a ring one of these days.
Faye: (laughs, does so)

Faye and Anne came back to mine. I offered for Anne to stay over.

Me: Your safe as houses here if you wanna crash. You’d get brekkie and a toothbrush.
Her: You’re great! But I think I can get back ok.
Me: Then I’ll walk you to the subway.

After she left, Faye and I sat on the stoop and chatted as she waited for a car.

Her: Thanks for inviting me out. I had a great time. You and your friends are fun.
Me: Thanks. We try.

I gave her a hug and walked the five steps into my apartment. I remember sitting on that stoop with another girl 20 years ago but that’s a story for another time.

I haven’t really been alone for … well over a decade? Maybe longer than that.

I’m kinda looking forward to being single and social. And being a dad to this awesome kid.

My life’s on repeat, although, there are some nuanced changes.

Somehow, I always survive… even when I don’t wanna.

Which is not to say that there aren’t some unexpected pleasantries here and there.

Her: What are your thoughts on nerdy but hot brunettes?
Me: I have extremely positive thoughts on nerdy but hot brunettes.
Her: Oh, I always thought you were into blondes. My friend thinks you’re cute.
Me: Well, that’s because I am.


On a completely different note, this was in both the Men’s and Women’s bathrooms of where we went.

No one could figure out how this would work.

Location: the DMV…all day
Mood: okay
Music: nobody ever did it like me

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Every dozen years or so

Captain RedStar

I’m always surprised who reads my blog. But I’m realizing that people don’t fully know that these entries tend to lag my real life.

Mouse and I are seeing each other regularly but things are still decidedly complicated.

Which leads to this conversation, as my buddy thought I was upset with her:

Pac: Mouse is coming. Don’t be a b___h.
Me: What am I, nine? It’s fine. Plus, you know I always like to see her.

We were heading out to crash an acquaintance’s birthday party. He had it at the Bohemian Beer Garden – which I last went to almost exactly a dozen years ago with two friends, one of whom I’ll tell you about below.

Bought two pitchers of beer for $40. You don’t get that in Manhattan.

I should go there every dozen years or so. It’s a fun time.

Afterward, we stopped by the SVL Bar for some killer Greek food because we were in Astoria, which is known for it’s Greek food.

Cashier: Do you eat a lot?
Me: Uh, yeah.
Her: Then you should get the party platter.
Me: Done. (later) It’s on me, fellas. Just eat.

Then we went to another bar where Mouse bought drinks for us and we saw the Shevchenko vs Carmouche fight.

It was midnight when we called it.

Me: Are you coming by mine afterward for a drink?
Her: (thinking) Yes.
Me: You know I’m crazy about you and I’m gonna make a pass at you, right?
Her: Yes.
Me: OK.

I met Kirk Akahoshi in real life and on LiveJournal ages ago, when he was still Captain Redstar.

He’s the fella in the black. He’s younger than me. I was…33/34 in that pic?

He moved out to Cali a while ago, started a business, met a nice girlie, and got hitched.

He also got Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. Which is horrifying enough so I’ll stop here, lest I cheapen the whole matter.

But I’ve been following him and another good friend of mine that ALSO has Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.

Man, cancer hits anyone, anywhere, any age. Don’t think you’re safe, man. You’re not. No one’s safe.

It’s all just shitty luck and tears.

I’ll tell you about my other friend in a bit; still processing it all.

In the meanwhile, if you have a buck to spare, consider shooting it Kirk’s way.

Location: this past weekend, Brighton Beach
Mood: hard to describe
Music: If you make it all wrong, then I’ll make it all right

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The 9th Step

I think that’s who you really are

Me: You met me at a strange and awful time in my life.
Her: You keep saying that.
Me: In some ways you never met me. Who I actually am. You only ever met me all f____d-up.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a 12-Step program where Step 9 is apologizing to all the people that you’ve wronged.

In some ways, since the 4th of July, I’ve been trying to do something like that.

People that grow up with zero friends seem to fall into two camps: The ones that learn to do ok by themselves or the ones desperate for companionship.

I’m definitely  more the former than latter. All the times that I said that I set Alison apart, the obvious question is how did I treat everyone else?

For better or worse, most people I’ve met in life were/are disposable.

There’s something about being social and glib that there’s always another interaction around the way, another new relationship just with a wink and a smile.

I’m better than most at shallow relationships; slightly more than half of the people I dated between 33 and 35 are still on good terms with me.

After Alison died, I went into full pickup mode and met a number of women. A total of zero are friendly with me. Well, one still kinda talks to me.

Don’t remember much of that time except the pain, guilt, and insomnia. Everything hurt. Everything was agony. Women and alcohol were a great salve. But somewhere along the line, I think I was just awful to everyone.

It’s hard to be nice to people when you’re in agony. And I hid it so well that I suppose that people kinda forgot that I was clinging onto life.

It sounds like I’m making excuses for myself and perhaps I am, to an extent, but I’m also just trying to let you know maybe why I was as I was.

I contacted about six people, including my brother and sister-in-law whom I stopped interacting with for various reasons; only my brother and sister-in-law responded.

Well, they responded and so did Mouse. But not the way I’d hoped.

Mouse: No. (shakes head) I think that’s who you really are, Logan.

Location: home, alone with the boy
Mood: thoughtful
Music: I need direction to perfection, no no no no, help me out

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It’s gonna be ok

Suddenly, everything’s different

Him: Another drink?
Me: Thanks, but I can’t. Got an early morning tomorrow.
Him: I thought the kid was away.
Me: He is. I’m in court tomorrow morning.

Sorry for the lack of posts.

Took on some work a little while ago and it all came to a head this past week regarding three court cases; and I’m only a lawyer in one of them. In the other, I wear my other professional hat, and in yet another, I’m the petitioner, representing myself.

Been almost five years since I was last in court.

Submitted my legal memorandum to one client this past Wednesday after working on it for several months. Then, that same day, met up with another client in court downtown and happened to have my own case in the same courtroom with the same judge.

Turns out that there were several errors in my paperwork – not in any of the others. I suppose, when you’re your own lawyer, you’re less exacting.

That’s what I tell myself.

Guessing that the weight of what was going on must have shown on my face. Cause this stern judge admonished me for the errors and then looked at my ashen face and brightened a bit (only a bit) and said, “It’ll be ok, counselor. It’s gonna be ok.”

Then he signed my OSC and suddenly a lot of things were different in my life. And different for the boy. All with the stroke of a pen.

The judge also signed an order for my client, who’s also a good friend of mine. The path of his life just changed along with mine. And we walked out of the courtroom different men than the ones who walked in a few hours earlier.

Buddy: Thanks, I’m not sure I woulda done this if you didn’t help.
Me: Well, I wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t do it, so…same. Thanks.

Afterward, we met up with my buddy Pac…and Mouse, for some Vietnamese food.

Me: (getting up) Can we talk for a sec?
Mouse: (hesitates) OK.
Me: (privately) Thanks for coming. It really means a lot to me.
Her: I didn’t come just for you, they’re my friends too.
Me: I know. (nodding) I’m still glad you came.

Afterward…

Pac: Is lunch on you, Logan?
Me: (thinking) Well, considering the three of you are the only people I consider that I actually mentor, sure.
Him: I was only kidding!
Me: It’s fine. (taking out wallet) I want to do it.

The picture way above is with my buddy from around the way. He’s a writer and he and I talked about the craft. It felt almost normal.

And the drink was in the hotel I once stayed at with Alison when it was called Nylo but it’s now The Arthouse Hotel.

Everything changes around here. Sometimes I hate that. Sometimes, that’s for the best.

Suppose time will tell which is which with this massive change I made in our lives.

Location: home, telling someone that I’m sorry
Mood: hopeful
Music: more than worth it

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More Random Conversations

Clearly, a better choice

Saw Mouse three times this past week including over the blackout we had over the weekend. More on that later, I suppose.

Nuthin’s changed so you’re not missing much.

Me: More food or alcohol?
Her: Alcohol.
Me: Done.

Continuing from my last post, friends I’ve not seen in ages have been reappearing in my life. The Professor, for example, was in town to give a lecture.

Me: You’re taking forever to finish your drink.
Him: I drink 5cc’s of liquor every five minutes.
Me: I see. Well, afterwards, we can discuss how the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman, nor truly an empire.
Him: That was an interesting non sequitor.
Me: (shrugging) No more so than your drinking my rum at a rate of 5cc’s per five minutes.

Been hanging out with some new friends as well. A buddy of mine has a very different take on dating than I do:

Him: Your rules are insane, man.
Me: Everyone has criteria.
Him: (shrugging) Not me. I figure one outta seven will be attractive enough to date but when it comes to ______ everything goes. When I had my own apartment, I’d just meet someone, go back to my place and ________, _______, and _______. Afterward, I might ________ but sometimes I just ________ ________ or she’ll ________. Either way, she’d ______ or _____ and I’d just _____ and it’d be fine. Although there was this one time this woman and I _______ and she ______. The next day, my buddy was like what’s that on your ______ and it was her ________.  (laughing) That was crazy.
Me: (standing up) OK, you need to stand in the middle of my pad and not touch anything. My kid lives here. I need to burn everything you *did* touch and then take a shower. And you should get checked out.
Him: Eh, I’m fine. Probably.
Me: (walking to the bathroom) I’m going to take a shower now. Don’t. Touch. Anything. I’m serious.

But some of the best moments in my entire life have also been happening lately and I’m always excited to see what else in store for the two of us.

Me: When you grow up, do you want to be like papa?
Him: No, I wanna be a pirate.
Me: Clearly, that’s a better choice.
Him: Then I wanna be a monkey.
Me: (nodding) Again, better choice.

Great song; weird video. Not sure if I like it but Asian dude’s the lead so I gotta support.

Location: earlier, the Oculus
Mood: rested, almost ready
Music: I’m right back where I started

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Very different conversations

A little every day

Been seeing a ton of people lately. The fog in my head that’s been around for the past several months has lifted – mainly cause I’ve gotten some sleep. Like, real sleep.

So I wanna get things done.

Not everything’s been good. For example we had a small leak in my building that has turned into a major, major headache.

Him: You see this brick here?
Me: Yeah.
Him: (punches it, brick moves) Yeah, that shouldn’t do that.

The cost to fix is gonna wipe out my savings. Ah, the joys of homeownership.

On a happier note, spoke to an old buddy of mine, who was a lifelong New Yorker that somehow met and married a girl he met down south. Then, he up and left not that long ago to be with her.

Me: What’s life like in Virginia?
Him: It’s great. We’ve got 200 acres here.
Me: That’s insane. Don’t you miss New York at all?
Him: The New York I knew and loved is long gone. I had to leave. There wasn’t anything for me any more.
Me: So what are your days like?
Him: Usually in bed by 9PM or so, up by 6AM.
Me: And you’re surrounded by chickens?
Him: Surrounded. Oh, we have two emu.
Me: Who the f___k are you?!
Him: (laughs)

He says the key to a happy marriage is to miss each other a little every day. I get that.

More ghosts from my past came to visit. Kinda.

Her: I need to crash someplace. Is your son around?
Me: No…and no.
Her: What? Why not?
Me: Because, my life’s complicated enough and you would just complicate things more.
Her: (sighs) It’s you that makes things complicated, Logan.

Also saw RE Mike again.

Now that he knows I’m out-and-about again, he’s been sending me these really insane invites again, like old times, except we both have kids now.

I’ve actually only gone to a few things with him recently but the one I enjoyed most was a quiet drink and dinner with him and his infant son downtown.

We don’t really have that many serious conversations between us cause that’s not the nature of our relationship, save for when our fathers died.

Him: I just came from a buddy’s funeral. He…look, I need to know if you’re thinking of hurting yourself.
Me: Me? (laughing) I’m afraid to cross the street these days because I don’t wanna risk leaving the boy alone. (shaking head) No. I’m not. Honest.
Him: (sighing) Good. I couldn’t handle if I had to go to another friend’s funeral.
Me: I’m sorry, man. Sometimes people go through some dark things and come out the other side. Sometime they don’t. I’m sorry. (motioning to his son) They’re worth sticking around for.
Him: Yeah. (smiling at son) They are.

Location: in the middle
Mood: good? It’s been so long since I’ve been good I forgot what it’s like
Music: How did we get into this mess? Got so aggressive

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It’s time

There is a chance

The boy was at my mother-in-law’s for the 4th of July. As I said in the last entry, my 4th was awful. That’s because I spent it cleaning out Alison’s closet and wardrobe.

You see, I finally got some sleep the other day and I woke up knowing I had to do it.

When my dad died, my mom, to her credit, spent a solid month cleaning out alla his stuff. Everything.

Like I said, women are simply emotionally stronger than most men.

But I let Alison’s closet and wardrobe sit there.

Man, Alison was a wiz at maximizing space; everything was jam-packed but perfectly organized.

The past two years, I cleaned things here and there but never really did what my mom did and just cleaned it out.

Mentioned alla this to my MIL when I saw her. She always says the right thing.

Her: I’m glad. Save a few special things, and then put everything else into two garbage bags and donate it. Alison would have wanted you to do that.
Me: I know. If the roles were reversed, I’d want her to do it too.
Her:  Yes. (gently) Clean out her things, Logan. It’s time.
Me: (nodding)

It was excruciating. However bad you think it was, it was worse.

Ended up dropping off seven bags worth of things at the local Goodwill. Screamed at no one about that many times.

Took until after midnight but once it was all done, I felt different. Better.

There’s never any closure but I think all the reminders of her everywhere added to my underlying sadness and complicated things.

I also put away her pictures, although they’re still out in the boy’s room, where they should be.

It’s a start.

Him: People got to know you through your blog, and her as well. It’s clear to everyone that you loved her and always will love her. Some of what you wrote was like poetry. (thinking) But I’m glad you talked to your MIL. She’s the only person that can give you any real advice.
Me: Yeah. (thinking) It’s like a million years ago and like yesterday.
Him: (nodding) It’s good. You did the right thing (cleaning out Alison’s closet).

I saw Mouse briefly the other day when some friends got together for AYCE Korean food and some axe throwing.

She’s quite good at it. Wanted to tell her about the closet and wardrobe but it didn’t feel right.

Afterward, she and I decided to get some dessert and coffee together.

There was so much I wanted to say to her, but she handed me one of her headphone earbuds and we just listened to music on the ride over.

Dunno what the future holds for us, if anything, but I’d be lying if I said wasn’t happy to see her.

Me: It’s no excuse, but you met me at a weird and awful time in my life. 
Her: I know, Logan. But… (shakes head)
Me: No chance at all?
Her: (laughing) Like a moonshot chance.
Me: I’ll take that. (later) So, there is a chance.

Suppose you’ll have to read her blog to find details, if any. After all, it’s how I get most of my info about her these days.

Speaking of music, my brother sent me some song suggestions the other day, before I wrote my last entry.

Interestingly, one of the songs he said I should listen to was Be the One by Dua Lipa, and the lyrics actually work well with the story about The Taming of the Shrew, which I found interesting.

Maybe that’s just me.

Location: an emptier home
Mood: hopeful
Music: just another chance

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Butterfly or man?

Unexpected places

Him: Are you alive, Logan?
Me: Biologically? Yes. I respirate, ambulate, defecate, urinate, and – occasionally – fornicate. But everything’s a copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy again. (looking at my hand) And my goddamn hands won’t stop shaking.

This fella named Zhuangzi once wrote that he had a dream that he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man.

For the rest of his life, he wondered if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly, or whether he was a butterfly, dreaming he was a man.

Between that story and the that line about everything being a copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy is how I’d describe functioning recently.

I use “functioning” loosely. Dunno what real and what’s for sale.

The last two months have been rough but the last week has been absolutely surreal. I’ll tell you about what I can when I can.

However, some things are clearer in my head than they’ve been in a while, which I think is probably a good thing.

I once said that all of your life’s problems can be divided up into health, wealth, and relationships.

If one goes south, you’re a wreck. Two, you need to stop everything and right the ship. Three…you need help.

All three came down on me in the past 10 days in unexpected ways. Very unexpected ways.

But help comes from unexpected places too.

Fiction

Him: Here. (hands me cash)
Me: That’s a lot more than the gig required. Honestly, the kid coulda handled it himself. (thinking) If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying give me some pity scratch.
Him: (slight smile)That doesn’t sound like me. But I do think I owe you like $5K.
Me: That you earned. (thinking) Someone’s been breaking into alla my accounts. Is it you?
Him: I’m old school. You know I don’t do tech. (shaking head) I’m a businessman now. For everything you think of me…. Look, we were kids. I’m sorry.
Me: A chick I met at a party once told me that I hurt people and I laughed and said, “If I’m honest, how can I hurt anyone?” But I get it now. Everyone’s sorry for the awful things they do to others. I know I am. (laughing) You know, at this point in time, you may be the only friend that knows who I really am and stuck around?
Him: What’re you saying?
Me: I’m saying I  hope this isn’t a long con, man. I’m rough. I need sleep. I need scratch. I just wanna forget everyone and everything but the boy.
Him: You already got fucked by the world. For what it’s worth, I betrayed you when you were up. You have rules? I have fucking rules too. I don’t kick a man when he’s down. And you – friend – are the most down motherfucker I know. Like you said, it’s all just time and chance. We’re not kids anymore, hustling nickels and dimes. (sighing) Keep the money. Get some sleep, Logan.

/Fiction

Location: nightmareland, still
Mood: so exhausted
Music: It couldn’t be a dream, cause too real it all seems

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Die Berlingirl 2

That went well

One of the reasons I was ok with Berlingirl meeting the boy was because of what ABFF told me the day before.

In any case, Berlingirl came back once with her boyfriend while Alison was sick but with my schedule and Alison, I couldn’t meet up with her.

Whenever I meet up with anyone I dated, I use it as a chance to get feedback on what I did wrong and what I did right.

Me: I have to ask you: As a foreigner, meeting a complete stranger, and going to his basement apartment – which, let’s face it, was pretty sketch back then – weren’t you scared at all?
Berlingirl: (laughing) Definitely! I remember we were watching an action film and it was a bit scary for me. I told you that and…you were so sweet! You turned it off and we just talked.

I’ve no contact with anyone I was in a serious relationship with – I’m neither a psychopath nor a narcissist – but I’m oddly very proud that several people I casually dated remain friendly with me.

Me: Did I ever tell you that immediately after I met you, I met another German dancer?
Her: (laughs) There’re a lot of us.
Me: I honestly don’t remember if we dated or not.

She had her own questions.

Her: What’s going on with you and Maus?

I told her what I was willing to say.

Her: Well, there’s no relationship if there’s no communication. (sympathetically) I’m sorry everything’s like this.
Me: I’ll survive. It’s what I do. (later) I’m glad you came to visit us, Berlingirl.
Her: (nodding) Me too. I’ll be back.

Also taken 12 years ago

With all this in mind, I gave another female friend of mine a ring. We dated as well, in a manner of speaking.

Me: It’s me. (thinking) I was wondering if you wanted to meet the boy.
Her: (long pause) No, Logan. It’s fine. It’s not a big deal anymore.
Me: (nodding on the phone) I figured. I just wanted to offer. And to say that I’m sorry…for a lotta things.
Her: Why? As you always said, things are they way they are. We accept them or we don’t. Anyway, I have to go, Logan. I’m cooking dinner for my boyfriend.
Me: Of course, I…
Her: (click)
Me: (nodding) That went well…

I deleted her number. It’s for the best. There’s zero point in trying to communicate with anyone that doesn’t want to hear from you. That’s how stalkers are made.

The next day, the boy asked about Maus and then said:

Him: I liked your friend. She was nice.
Me: I liked her too, kiddo!
Him: Will she come back?
Me: (nodding) One day. Always be the kind of person people want to hang out with. And then, hopefully, they’ll visit someday.
Him: OK, papa. Can I have dessert?

The insomnia’s not as bad but it’s still not great. I’m sleeping in my own bed again.

Again, “sleep” is a relative term.

Location: my bed with the grey sheets
Mood: sad
Music: Every single night, I find it harder to sleep

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