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WWWBT 11 – Wake up, Clara!

Depression is the flaw of love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and the depression is the mechanism of that despair. When it comes, it degrades one’s self and ultimately eclipses the capacity to give or receive affection. It is the aloneness within us made manifest, and it destroys not only connection to others but also the ability to be peacefully alone with oneself. Love, though is not prophylactic against depression, is what cushions the mind and protects it from itself. (Andrew Solomon)


Some time ago, I bought a white board and two markers. To write myself encouraging phrases from Steve Jobs and the others, and… You see where I’m going? No? Too bad, because I don’t feel like giving too many explanations today. Still, you know what’s on my board these days? A question mark! Like this: ? What am I asking? Whom am I asking? Why am I asking? It there anything to be asked at all? Does anybody have the answer? And no, it cannot be 42!


Today I died a little. It’s nothing new for me, it just happened too sudden, I had no warnings and for a moment, the thought of dying for more than a little was present again. Wearing a red dress and smelling of Channel’s Allure, it strutted around, intimidating any other thought that had not succumbed to its suffocating scent.

I had an incredibly stressful day in the office, one of those days when you want to go to your manager and ask for a raise for having to deal with idiots. Some people are either playing stupid, or they are plain stupid, I don’t know what’s worse.

And I’m not sure it was the frustration of their stupidity, or my lack of compassion and understanding, but I felt I needed to leave the office. Come home, go up to the gym and die on the treadmill. You see, there are also good ways to die. Metaphorically speaking, don’t start being melodramatic here!


Every time I enter my apartment, I expect to see him in his armchair. With his glass of scotch, reading or listening to Placebo. I haven’t listened to Placebo since he left. Today, I’m running up that hill… ( And I don’t know if it was the music, the music, his not being here, the music, but I started feeling it growing. Like a cocoon, like a cell multiplying, like a living organism growing inside of me, taking over… The breathing stopped. Time stopped. I wasn’t peacefully alone with myself anymore.

It’s so easy to give up sometimes.

Luca, where are you?

The voices… All talking in the same time. Can’t stop them. Make them stop!


They stopped. Somehow. Maybe it was the sleep that stopped them. Whatever it was, thank you! It’s quiet again.

And then I see the board. It says, Wake up, Clara! Nobody can save you!

And in the low, right corner, with very small letters, it says But you.


(or the Adventure of the Little Boy and the Young Lady in the Elevator)


The little boy enters the elevator alone.

His curly, black hair is perfectly framing his little, round face, and only his little black eyes seem to want to say something. But they keep quiet. In frustration.

He’s looking at the young lady in the elevator, and, his mouth agape, as if wanting to utter the unthinkable, he pushes the last button. The young lady is looking at him, wondering what his story is. Does he have a story? He must have a story, anyone entering the elevator and pushing the last button must have a story! And then, why is he riding the elevator alone? Why has he pushed the last button, the one no one has pushed in a long time?…

She stays in her corner, her arms crossed at her chest, flipping an imaginary coin whether she should talk to the little boy or not.

‘If it’s tail, I’ll tell you my story’, says the little boy, as if reading her mind, as if literally seeing that coin flipping in the mind of the young lady.

‘It’s tail’, lies the young lady.

‘Oh’, sighs the little boy. He sits on the floor, against the wall on the right of the door and seems to be ready to start telling his story.

‘It’s a story about frustration, you know?’, he says.

‘I thought you were supposed to leave your frustration outside the elevator. Wasn’t this the rule?’

He is silent for a moment.

‘Yeah, but I want to take it to the Top! And leave it there, so that no one can find it! No one should be frustrated. It’s a very frustrating feeling.’

She smiles a little, but then she gets back to being serious and impenetrable, like a lady. Besides, there should be no exchange of emotions in the elevator. It said so on the sign above the mirror.

‘Will you come with me to the Top?’

The little boys looks up to her, with a big “please” in his eyes, and she knows she is going with him to the Top. She knew it even before she had entered the elevator. She knew it ever since she had woken up that morning. It might have been the dream. Who knows? Who cares? She’s here now, with him, they’re going to the Top, to get rid of the frustration, and she decides this is going to be the adventure of her life! The biggest one! The one she won’t get to tell to her grandchildren.

‘We have a long way to go, why don’t you start telling me your story? It was a tail, after all.’

She feels like sitting on the floor too, but she is a lady, it would be inappropriate. She just changes her weight from the left foot to the right.

‘Do you want a candy?’, she asks him with a yellow voice. The yellow voice was the emotionless one when offering a candy. She would stick to the rules. It was for the best.

‘No, thanks, I have bad teeth’, he lies. Candies would always remind him of his father. He would give him candies when he wanted him to leave him alone.

‘So? The story?’

‘Well, there’s not much to tell, you know? I’m only five. I’m going to the Top. That’s pretty much it.’

‘Where did you get that frustration from?’

‘If you didn’t come with me to the Top, I’d think you are a cop. My father was a cop. He never had time for me. He used to give me candies.’

He bends his head, and she could feel his sadness. Not his frustration, though. She knows he has it with him, but it’s not palpable, as if it died when he got it in the elevator.

‘You know? We can always stop here. Or here. No need to go to the Top.’

He seems to be thinking of something, he can’t hear her. And she knows he will never tell her. She also knows that he’s decided to go to the Top. She knows there’s nothing for him to go back to. If someone wants to go to the Top after only five years… What could she do? What anyone could do? She is only happy she’s there for him.

It’s a long way to the Top!

WWBT10 – why amoebae don’t go to CF and what Mercedes and cheese have in common

My living room is warmed up by a beautiful carpet – it’s white, with a huge red flower spreading its petals towards all four corners. It’s warm and alive, because if you’re patient, sometimes, you can feel the red flower sighing.
I rolled the carpet and put it in a corner, it needs to be cleaned, and now my living room seems distant, cold, the French window gets reflected in the shiny tiles of the floor, and it’s as if I can open that reflected French window and walk down in an alternative reality, where there has never been Luca and his leaving me.
Yesterday I managed to go back to CF. After almost more than three months. Of course today I can barely flex my legs or sit down. And it was scary. My going back. I can see myself paralyzed in a corner, waiting for the class to start, barely breathing, prepared for that moment when my heart, tired of all the madness, would give up and stop. And yes, I was there, and I met old friends, and we hugged, and I was happy to see them, but I’m not sure I’ll be going back, though. I mean not as much as I used to go, regularly. I feel tired, as if my body is taking some kind of revenge, making me lie motionless in my/his leather armchair for hours. As if I’m trying to melt in the black leather, disintegrate into millions of cells, looking for his epithelial that must have remained prisoners there, and absorb them, like an amoeba… This amoeba can’t find that passion that used to wake me up at 5 a.m. Not anymore. It’s a void which has become my routine, a lack of vitality which seems to govern my every day counting of hours.
‘Ok, this amoeba will get dressed in a minute and go out! Now!’
Rona looks over my shoulders and sniffs.
‘Let’s go for that breakfast! It’s getting late!’
She’s on a crusade to get me out of my low moods, and most of the time I would crawl in a corner, in a fetus position, and close my eyes and phase her out until she would give up and leave me alone.
But this weekend I don’t want to be an amoeba anymore.
We drive downtown and have a French breakfast on a terrace of a nice restaurant, by the lake. There’s so much light I could use two pairs of sunglasses.
We chitchat for a while, but then she gets a phone call and I get to look at the other people on the terrace. It’s a healthy habit, if you ask me. The young blond woman carefully picking up crumbs from the white table cloth, the annoying curly toddler who keeps kicking the table with his feet till the water in the glass spills and spatters on his father’s nice, Saturday suit. The French guy, luminous and full of life, reading Camus and keeping his latte cup in his left hand, with his little finger pointing up, like a precious primadonna. I had heard him ordering his ‘omelette’, that’s how I knew he was French.
This is a very nice place, and it feels literally far away from the city, though it’s not, as if the towers, and the traffic, and the noise, and the dust had vanished, and there’s nothing else but the bright lake, the blue sky, the French guy and his ‘omelette’, my cheese and Rona’s telephone conversation.
‘So, how’s your cheese?’
It seems she has ended her phone call. Her words reach me in slow motion, as if travelling through a high density liquid, like honey. Would they taste sweet to my ears if so? Is cheese a sweet word? I wonder what my left ear thinks. The right one is a little impaired, so it cannot be a reliable witness.
I don’t utter anything; I just cut another small piece with my fork, and put it in my mouth. It tastes a little sour, but it has an interesting consistency, almost aristocratic. Now, that’s an interesting thought.
‘Do you remember how I always say that Mercedes have that aristocratic…. attitude?’
Of course I can understand her bewilderment; she looks at me as if I’m eating a Mercedes.
‘That’s how this cheese tastes like. I mean, I don’t know how an aristocratic taste should taste like, it’s just a feeling.’
She finally swallows her bite, thank God she hasn’t choked, I saw the Heimlich maneuver only in the movies. On the other hand, it would have been a very pertinent reason to address a few words to the French guy, wouldn’t it? Asking for help… Shall I bewilder her one more time? I’m like the thunder here, cannot be as spontaneous and witty two times in a row.

The Sumida

Originally posted on Icebox:

River, river, river (lifelong familiarity with a language lures us into hearing onomatopoeia). We look out on the Sumida River where it goes past the southern end of Tokyo’s Taito ward, and are just a couple of hundred meters upstream from the confluence with the Kanda (which I once lived alongside in Nakano ward).

A river—or any body of water for that matter—is a view that you can wholly rely on to be different every day. The color, texture, play of light on, speed of flow, traffic on, even the apparent width of a river change like the weather, like the mood of a creature you’ve been staring at for too long. In other words, a river is one of the most iron-bound promises against boredom, a lifetime guarantee of (at least) subtle surprises.

the grasses
bend forward

In anticipation
the gulls bob and wheel
at the mouth of…

View original 14 more words


I miss the smell of fresh rain

Which would blue your eyes and soften your lips.

I miss the words you used to whisper

And would pour into my ears like crazy drops of rain which forgot how to fly.

I miss the silence in between the smiles

Which would light up the days and turn nights into a riddle for the Hatter.

I miss being Alice

When chasing white rabbits was like a brunch with soft roses turning into music.

WWWBT 9 – learning to breathe again or let’s talk about healthy infatuations

Tchaikovsky – piano concerto no.1. The Tomcat is as puzzled as anyone who would be so unfortunate to enter my place at this time at night.

Tomcat climbs the armchair, finds a comfy place in my lap, leans his head to my right arm and put his left paw on my left hand, all restless from typing at the computer. He doesn’t seem to mind the restlessness. Just wants to be sure he’s the master, he controls the hand!

iConcerts now. Jimmy Hendrix, 1970, at Isle of Wight Festival, last live performance. Never been a proper fan, but he’s one of the best guitarists, so I enjoy his part after Tchaikovsky like a spread of peanut butter on a hamburger. No, I’m not being fair, it’s an interesting combination, more like the one Yoshiki used in X Japan’s concerts. Yes, I’m the Woman with a bloody Tomcat, and, at 4o, I’ve developed the craziest infatuation for this guy, as if I were 14! Everything is revolving around Yoshiki (spelled Yosh’ki, it’s important!) these days, his band, X Japan, and Hide, his dead guitarist. You don’t know who X Japan is? Google it, people, I don’t have time for this, I have to finish my laundry.

It’s been I don’t know how many months, or weeks, or even seconds since he left. Who cares anymore? I’ve learnt to breathe again so… We’re fine. Me, and the Tomcat, and… Me, I’m fine. As Lara would say ‘you and your other personalities will have to move your butts out of that bed and go to work! They’ll fire you! All of you!’ As if I didn’t know it!

Ok, I’ll admit it, I died a little. I know, it sounds like a drama queen, but I am a drama queen. And you know it, so let’s move on!

When my first boyfriend left me, one million years ago, I used to think he had died. I could cope better with his being dead, than his being with another woman. I bet lots of women and girls do the same. No? Oh… I was under the impression I wasn’t the only one with exaggerate emotional problems.

- You’re not, but you know something? ….

And she doesn’t finish her phrase, she’s just handing me a beer and sits on the floor in front of my writing table.

Lara looks tired, I know she has some problems in the office and she’s kind enough not to talk about them tonight. It’s my first night breathing, so we need to celebrate.

- Have you heard from him?

I look at her with the same stare I’d look at an erupting volcano, and its lava coming straight to me. Yeap, it’s coming, I’m not gonna make it, I had a nice life, save the cat!

- Come on, you need to talk about him!

The beer is cold and I can talk about him.

- No.

There! I’ve talked about him!

- How was the trip to Frankfurt?

The beer is cold…

- Cold!

I was in Frankfurt last week. Usually, I pick a seat at the aisle, but somehow, this time I ended up at the window. And I usually fly at night. This time it was a day flight. And I swear I could see whales in the cloud sea below. That cloud sea I always feel like jumping into, or swimming, or floating on small cloud pillows like the Princess in Jack and the Beanstalk. Cloud waves shining like gold, then turning into red flames burning along the tales of the whales. The gigantic tales splash the cloud waves which explode into millions of rays of red light, which then burst like soap bubbles and end up in a still, glassy surface and I can almost spot a curious eye, and I remember THE LIFE OF PI, or CAST AWAY, and I feel this inexplicable urge, since I’m claustrophobic and the slight idea of diving can suffocate me, this urge of looking into a whale eye. A wise, and curious whale…

- You know what I don’t understand?

Her voice is weak, as if traveling through fog, from very far away… I stop writing and I look at her, she’s not the volcano anymore, thank God the cat is safe, I survived as well, and I can act normal, interacting visually, though the words got stuck behind the iris, but she understands my silence and continues:

- You didn’t even love him! So why the drama?

I didn’t see this coming. I don’t have time to duck so I receive the strike in my open chest. My heart skips a bit, as the song would say, I blink, I wake up…

- But of course, what’s love got to do with this?

I resume my typing, the cat sleeps in the rocking chair and tomorrow is another day. Maybe I should go back to CF. I wonder how the CF guy is. Now, that was a healthy infatuation! And I could use some healthy stuff back in my life.


Silence was spinning around

the flickering flame of the small candle.

And the tea tasted like your kiss

I never felt.

Only by closing my eyes

can I answer unuttered questions

with the violet eyes

of my endless thoughts.

I’ll walk the line

only if you pave it with scores

to sing so loud

the Moon will start dancing.

WWWBT 8 – Where Luca disappears into thin air and the WWBT goes to the beach

He’s sitting in the car. He has lifted the back door of his big Chevrolet – gosh, that car is huge! – and he just sits there, in the open boot, his legs crossed under him, with his cool sunglasses, and his cool hat, and his blonde, thick hair gathered in a pony tail, and his yellow sleeveless shirt, and I remember him flying on that board, pulled by his kite, and he’s so sexy I could cry with the same tears one should share over a breathtaking sunset. Or sunrise.

I stop on the concrete pavement to get the sand off my feet and I could feel (oh, whom am I kidding, I’m imagining things) his gaze on my back, on the big hole in the red dress which reveals my back, full of freckles and missing a good, wet kiss…  It’s a nice beach dress, crazy red and soft fabric. I then do what I know best: walk to my car, open the door, hop in and drive away. Third time is a winner, I’m thinking, though I know for sure I’ll only look at him from behind my sunglasses and then dream of him while I’m doing the dishes.

I could tell you about Joburg, if there were anything to say about it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it felt … interesting to be in Africa, and I wish I could have felt it like Meryl Streep in OUT OF AFRICA. If only there was a nice Robert Redford-look-like guy in Hilton. Kidding.

The driver who waited for me at the airport was supposed to have a red tie, and we were told to be careful, and I know I have faith in humanity and so far, so good; the guy who approached me knew my name and everything, but his tie was black, with red hearts.

Apart from the Lion Park, the rest of the African adventure can be summarized very easily:

- hotel

- gym

- office

- food court

- wine

I know that maybe you would have anticipated something like…

He looked at me while sipping from his glass of white wine. He’s in his early 50s, slim, probably tall, business suit, visiting South Africa, busy with his daily meetings, hoping to wind out in the evening. I’m on my way to the gym and somehow I know I’ll be seeing him there later on.

And bla-bla-bla, sorry to disappoint you, there was no guy, just a lot of meetings and running, nice food and, ok, the Lion Park. Driving through sleeping lions, petting some cubs, so indifferent and mighty important in their little universe that, for a moment, I wanted to be one of them, laughing at the meerkats, and I swear they laughed back, something like, ha, ha, who’s funnier?… The light green fields, the sky, far up and everywhere above us, a few puffy clouds and a serene peace I hadn’t felt in a long time. Coming from the ground I was walking on, infiltrating through my soles, up my feet, giggling with my knees, breezing out around the pelvic region, scared to get to my heart, eventually surrendering, embracing the myocardium strongly, like a long waited hug, like two lovers who haven’t seen each other in a long time and… I knew, back there and then, that something had happened to Luca. I couldn’t do anything, of course, there were still more than 24 hours before I was to go home and I promised myself I’d  try not to think of anything related to him.

Ok, I called him! He did not pick up.

I texted him, then in the evening, when I was back in the hotel room, I emailed him. No reply.

Last night in Joburg. I went down to the hotel bar, it was better to stay away from the computer. Or telephone.

My colleague, Dean, is also here. I don’t fancy him too much on a regular basis, but tonight is better than nothing.


Dean looks at me, smiles, points me to the chair next to him. I sit down and order a beer. I’m so puzzled by Luca’s silence that… Oh, I don’t want to be melodramatic here! It’s my last evening in Joburg, eventually the hotel could be anywhere in the world, so, let me have that beer, think I’m in London and tomorrow I’m invited to have dinner with the Queen!




Back in Dubai I realize Luca has moved out. He’s not in the apartment, his things are gone, the socks and the tooth brush, and whatever else he had here, no good bye note, nothing. I don’t know how I feel about it. I flip a coin and decide to go to the beach. Where the flying surfer makes me forget for a moment that I should be sad and suffer. I’m not sad. I don’t have time for suffering. So what if he left? He didn’t even have the courtesy to say good bye, or ‘see you on the other side’, or whatever. So what?

Ok, we met afterwards in the gym, once, and he couldn’t even look into my eyes. He said he had some things to figure out and he needed to concentrate on the things that are important to him. It was not the first time I wasn’t on someone’s priority list, so I just smiled and walked away.

And I kept coming back to the beach, the young surfer was a nice picture I used to imprint on my retina and then play it behind my close eyelids.

WWWBT 7 – Where WWBT has to go to Joburg and Luca is grumpy because of this


(where Luca ‘played’ again with my text)

When it comes to my writing, my phrases are short and – it seems to me at least – sometimes lacking colour; at least on the blog, that is. But when I’m chatting online with a guy I like… You should see our conversations – now they ARE colourful – in EVERY sense of the word! Like a game that I win by a walkover! Sophie 44, cute guy 2. Translation: for every word he types, I type at least 22. Incredible! A small victory perhaps, but to me so much more. Literary snobbery? Maybe; but I’m good with it. At least for now.

But if I am so articulate in that context, then what’s so complicated about arranging my thoughts coherently in the blog? They run all the time, like trains (on time!) but without brakes, morphing into neat little phrases, like boxcars shunted into a railway siding, ready for their next literary journey.

I have just found out that I have to go to Johannesburg on business. Now I’m trying to find the right words with which to give Luca the big news.

He’s almost catatonic in the black armchair. I stand in front of him. He’s so incredibly attractive, I could cry. He hasn’t trimmed his beard for days. His face reminds me of a dense forest, pierced only by twin shafts of light from an unseen sun, the light behind his bright blue eyes. What is it with me and blue-eyed men? The Freudian experts would say it’s because of my father. I would happily shoot them all; even though I’m a pacifist! My opinion? I think it’s all wrapped up in my memories of Tony; my first boyfriend. He was the smartest bastard I’ve ever known, and before he’d started drinking, and not giving a damn about himself, he was also the most beautiful man in the world! But back to Luca…

I wish I could do something to get him out of this depression. The only time he gets up from that damn armchair is when Lara comes by and he wants to impress her with his cooking.

‘I have to go to Johannesburg’. A bolt from the blue; no mercy.

‘What do you mean; you have to go to Johannesburg?’

All of a sudden, he seems alive. If he had shaved, I might have seen him blushing. I can almost sense his heartbeat increasing as he’s drunk what seems like a dozen Red Bulls. And, for the first time in a long time, he looks me in the eyes with an expression I can only read as genuine interest. I hold my breath in that second; any real interest from him would only trigger an existential panic – that fear of fear itself, lying dormant somewhere inside me, but always lurking, ready to erupt and ruin the moment, motivated by nothing more profound than its own intrinsic spitefulness, conspiring to rob me of the experience of genuine happiness. God how I hate it! How I hate myself, because it’s a part of me. My dark Siamese twin.  Love and hate. Inextricably entwined forever.

Perhaps his reaction is simply the anticipation of a week of solitude; though honestly our living together doesn’t seem to yield too much in the way of benefit for either of us. Most of the time he remains mute and I deliberately ignore him, our communication taking on the qualities of something seen through fogged lenses – partial, incomplete, hinting at a whole greater than the visible: you don’t talk to me, I don’t talk to you, you don’t look at me, I try not to look at you, you cook only stuff you know I cannot eat, I go out and eat with Darren. And so on, and so forth.

I had to tell him about my business trip, though, and I have to admit, it was a little bit of a blow below the belt. He had told me once that he couldn’t sleep alone in the house, and I had promised him I would never leave him alone. A pretty childish deal on reflection, looking back on it now I wonder why I wasn’t stronger then, why did I feel the need to placate him by making an agreement that I would inevitably break in the future?

Nevertheless, he knows my job requires a lot of travelling, and, given his typical indifference, I would have assumed my leaving would have left him unmoved. So why does he seem so irrationally nervous?

He stands up, goes to the kitchen and pours himself a glass of Johnny Walker.

‘You want some?’ he asks curtly.


We drink in silence.

‘When are you leaving?’

‘On the 12th.’

‘So… the day after tomorrow.’



He finishes his drink and pours himself another. I refuse his offer of a second. I need to stay sober. Weirdly it feels like we’re negotiating a life and death issue, and I am unsure why. Such a drama over a business trip to South Africa! Is it real or imagined? Perhaps it’s only what the black crow of doubt that has darkened my days lately wants me to believe.

‘For how long?’ He asks, sounding only vaguely interested.

‘One week.’

Suddenly, I don’t feel like continuing the conversation, why do I owe him any sort of explanation?  He just needs to deal with it…or get the hell out!

I browse the news feeds on Facebook, and turn on the chat, hoping the CF guy is online. He isn’t. I log out, call Darren and invite him for some Thai food at Ibn Battuta.

As I leave for the mall Luca is back in the armchair, sipping his third JW and breathing heavily. I don’t need this. This man is NOT important to me!


The food court is not very busy and we find an empty table with light blue chairs. Darren is relaxed as always, and we each order our favourite dishes: mine is the green curry chicken, his is the red. We talk about our jobs, which we love to do, but I must appear distracted.

‘What’s wrong? You had a fight with Luca?’ Darren asks.

‘I told him about my trip to South Africa.’


‘He’s a big boy, he can take care of himself!’


I find his repeated ‘ohs’ annoyingly tedious. I change tack and ask him more about his project. He launches into a detailed description encompassing the construction site, electrical amplifiers, cables, project leaders who don’t make it to the morning meetings on time, crazy drivers who would make 175 km in just over an hour – a whole different level of tedious –  but it does the trick; helping me unwind, forget and, hopefully, setting me up for a good night’s sleep.

My catch-ups with Darren are always fun, we hold each other in mutual, although unspoken, high regard. Thankfully his fiancée is comfortable with the time we spend together.  Darren and I have common interests and often talk about running or trance music. I have been trying to persuade him to come with me to London, for the ABGT 050, knowing in advance that he won’t.

My phone rings. It’s Luca. I mute it; don’t really want to talk with him right now. But Darren’s expression, something like: ‘come on, cut the crap, just talk to the man’, makes me relent.


‘Come home!’

Luca’s voice is calm, devoid of emotion.

I finish my food, excuse myself and go home. Why? An hour before I wouldn’t have given a shit if I never saw Luca again. He could have turned up dead in a gutter and I wouldn’t have cared. What is this power he has over me? Why am I so weak around him? Damn him!

Darren hates me for leaving early, of course. He likes to linger after the meal, have an ice-cream, talk about that lady in HR who drives him crazy! But I know he’ll get over it. He always does…and so do I.


There’s a twinkling star

Far away

And everyone knows it’ll die someday

And I’ll still see its twinkling long time after that.


That’s pretty much the same with my missing you:

It’s still painful

Though I should really mind my own business

And look after the stars in the sky.

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