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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 120

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, Episode 120

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Time is so out of whack these days. I can’t recall if it were yesterday or a month ago, I made a spectacular trek out of the neighborhood. I had heard through the grapevine that Clorox wipes were available at a grocery store near Gramercy Park. Leaving my dog at home, I geared up with mask and gloves for the expedition. I had only seen newsreels of how quiet New York was and may have only seen ten people in all on my journey back and forth. Once there, I raced to the back of the store hunting down the precious wipes. Nothing was on the shelf. Bare.  So, it wouldn’t be a complete waste, I bought some exotic food items unavailable at my local bodega and went to the front of the store to inquire as to why they gave me false hope re the wipes. Apparently, I didn’t know the rules, the secret code, or the handshake—the cashier told me I had to ask at the manager’s booth and only one per customer. I was thrilled but felt suddenly like I was in East Berlin getting my monthly ration of kasha.

 

The mix up of time also produces strange improprieties. Buying an actual ticket, I watched a live comedy benefit fora local candidate. One of the comedians performed from inside a parked car; apparently the car being the only privacy available to her. Cool. She could have been on a space shuttle the way her hair seemed to float around her head. Usually on a zoom, you see thumbnails of the other participants but on this one, the zoom meister kept revealing the audience on a rotating basis, probably looking for smiley faces to help nurture the comedians along.  It was fun seeing people in their smelly t shirts dribbling food down their fronts while seemingly enjoying the stand-up comics. I, for one, donned my usual lampshade disguise so as not to be recognized. I can’t fake laughter. The rotation, however, worked well giving us all a sense of community, that was until a latecomer showed up, naked in a bathtub, apparently enjoying watching and being watched. Ah, decency out the window.

I have had two therapy sessions during these early months. Since I wasn’t able to find the Mayor’s Office of Loneliness on line, I thought it best to speak to a pro on occasion just to stay on top of the burgeoning madness. I liked the woman a great deal, though I was concerned at her concern over my PayPal account. At this juncture, I require speaking to someone without money issues, as they are one of my major roadblocks. Still, it was good to know that everything I’m feeling is normal and that the stretch of unknown time ahead of me is being felt by one and all. I mean I know its spring because it’s so green and the mice are spending more time outside my apartment. But other than that, I have little sense of time except when the 7 pm bells ring out for the essential workers.

I wish I still menstruated. Women are blessed with a natural internal calendar and depending on one’s regularity, can count on misery every 28 days with pre-bloating a week before. The chocolate stash empties out and you know where you are. Can any old sun dial top that?

 

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Written by nancykoan

May 26, 2020 at 12:06 am

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, episode 622

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Chronicles of Covid, episode 622 (memorial day)

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Some days I wake up so crabby that even my dog stays away (till she needs feeding). This day started out in such a manner. i don’t know if it’s a follow up from nightmares, but I believe they do affect the rest of my waking dream state. I had read that astrologically this was a period of reviewing past relationships, live and dead, and that they will come in different ways.

I seem to be stuck on one ex in particular and it always leaves me feeling empty, guilty and full of remorse. In last night’s dream, I found myself moving from an abode. It was very specific what with unscrewing little door plates and keeping the hardware, wrapping up glass figurines, and other similar minutiae. While  packing up one small box, I found a tiny ring and said to my friend to give to my ex when she would next see him. Her advice was sharp and quick. “No, don’t.” As if I might need it for someone else? The abruptness of her response woke me up and all over again I felt a sense of missing in action… my heart primarily.

The Sunday morning news show did little to life my spirits.  I hope that all those enjoying this holiday weekend aren’t being too careless. It’s understandable that folks want to run and play but this urgent need to go to shopping malls eludes me. At this point, I, like every dog I ‘ve ever lived with, would just be happy enough to go for a ride in a car with my head hanging out the rolled down window.

Nostalgia naturally is playing a big role in this moment. My sister and I are most comfortable when speaking about our childhood days and she reminds me of toys we loved. There was one tin comic book rack that I mused about and she insisted it had been hers first. How many times do you have to remind an older sibling that everything was theirs  first by order of birth. Still, I had inherited it and now it is long gone. With that theme we moved on to Winky Dink. I recalled the little star fellow and the kit that came with the brand. It was some type of film that you could put right on the television screen and draw on. How fun. Except that once I remembering drawing with heavy crayons, having forgotten to put up the Winky Dink screen first. It must have been really hard for my mother to wash off.

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In honor of Memorial Day Weekend, I went on e-bay and found a slightly battered Winky Dink and bid on it. This is madness, of course, but if I win, I’ll send it to my sister on her next birthday. That is, after trying it on a flat  screen television. I want to see how Stephen Colbert looks with a bright Winky star on his head.

So along with fallen soldiers, today I am mourning the people who died from Covid 19.  My wonderful pharmacist Ali with the heart of gold and Bill Wolf, a friend, film critic and teacher. Good-bye little Winky Dinks… you were  and are loved.

 

 

Written by nancykoan

May 24, 2020 at 9:39 pm

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, Episode 421

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, Episode 421

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There are many wonderful things to enjoy during this pandemic. Stretch waist bands for one. I have never worn one style of pants as often in my life. These K Mart, side striped step in pants have proved a god send, what with too little exercise, IBS and fluid retention from late night taco chips. It’s so easy to go right from sleepwear to day wear and sometimes it’s one in the same.

Darling, the young woman I share my life with, had an appointment at the vet today. We went out and as. soon as she made her daily contribution to the sidewalk (yes, I scooped), she refused to walk another step. She has a sixth sense, this little schnoodle How did she know? Did she read my email? I carried her over to the vet’s office where she shook like a leaf until she was taken in, blood tested and brought out again. She was so relieved that the ordeal was over that she ran jauntily up the street where for a reward, I stopped and bought her chicken bone broth. For me, the cheap stuff is ok, but for her, organic bone broth without sodium.

Dogs are funny during Covid. They know things are strange and they try and conform accordingly, but when they catch a whiff of a passing dog, they can’t help but want to get socially undistanced. So, it’s up to the parent to fathom the expression in the eyes of the other dog’s masked owner. Do they think it’s safe? Are they too frightened to engage?  If the other human is indifferent or more likely on the mobile, I let the dogs decide.  Their dance doesn’t take very long as many New York dogs are fixed.

After zooming a writing class from Sundance and a talk back with activist filmmaker Fisher Stevens through the Woodstock Film Festival site, it was time to manage a pre- fabbed food kit that would invariably be too salty. But how do you suck the salt out of food in a microwave? Adding a potato doesn’t help.

Several glasses of budget filtered water later, it felt like time to make a call. One of the great things about Covid is that heroes are not in short supply. At seven we bang for the essential workers, but one of the news shows turned me on to someone I just had to meet. Pat ‘Mother Blues’ Cohen (no relation) was found in North Carolina singing the most incredible blues outside of the senior home where her brother was sequestered. This incredible woman traveled an hour by car to provide entertainment through the windows to these folks who are truly isolated and especially for her baby brother.

I found her number through a service that helps older blues singers and there we were, talking about her career, life as a card dealer in Atlantic City, singing on Bourbon Street before surviving Katrina and now giving pleasure to a smaller but equally thrilled audience. I guessed she was a Taurus when she talked about her fascination with studying online catalogs and dreaming of the ideal home where she could house all her treasures. I also have way too much stuff in a small space and study Wayfair likes it’s the Torah.

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photo courtesy of Music Maker Relief Foundation

I wrote a song for a film I hope to finish someday that I’d love to hear her sing. She’s got the chops so who knows what might happen when life goes back to something more recognizable than this moment. I’m keeping this hero’s number just in case.

Written by nancykoan

May 23, 2020 at 1:34 am

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CHRONICLES of COVID, episode 367

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Chronicles of Covid, episode 367CHRONICLES OF COVID Episode 367

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Clearly my goal of doing one of these revelatory reports every day during isolation has gone asunder, what with the more pressing obligation of avoiding noticing my weight gain while at the same time, making sure I have plenty of Panda’s Australian licorice (both noir and strawberry) in stock.

So why do I feel compelled to write today? I’m certainly not bored, what with not one, but two zoom classes on how to perform Shakespeare for your dog. I’ve also mastered the art of making Rice Crispies soak up the milk really fast so that the white stuff doesn’t spill out of the bowl while eating in bed (did I mention that it’s so quiet you can actually hear the snap, crackle and pop?) And best … I even made it through a birthday without the usual fanfare of insisting my friends show up for what I often think of as the Last Supper.  I’m learning to become my best friend.

All in all, a successful week or whatever we call this stretch of endless days. I’m feeling so good about myself that I defended Donald Trump’s refusal to wear a mask. Clearly, he does not want to create more tan lines on his face and we all know how hard it is to get Maybelline’s Sunkiss Glow off a N95.

So, with renewed spirit I took a walk. My mask was one of my looser ones; having stretched out the ear elastic I had to bobby pin it to my hood. Luckily, in my neighborhood most people wear their pajamas on the street until about 330 pm, so I wasn’t the least embarrassed.

It was windy on the east river and when I got far enough away from other potential disease carriers, I lifted the side of my mask and let some of that good New York air into my nasal fortress. Ah it was nice.

I noticed one fellow in the baseball field doing an exercise with two long strands of black rubber. He shook it endlessly until it looked like a dancing infinity symbol and I was impressed with his strength, despite having skinny white arms.

Taking a rest, I sat on a bench for 20 minutes unfriending people I disagreed with on Facebook and then decided to meditate before I’d have no friends left. The British voice on the meditation told me to appreciate this time by slowly looking at the sky and noticing everything slowly. An opportunity was being afforded all of us to see things anew. With those thoughts I started back home when I spotted a tiny rose bush. I bent down, adjusted my mask and breathed in the little pink bud. To my delight, it smelled like a real flower. I don’t know when I smelled such an aroma last other than at Bed Bath and Beyond. This was how flowers always used to smell before they were harvested by the slave trade. Just to be certain I wasn’t hallucinating; I took another whiff and and then tightened up my mask. I really needed that rose scent.

 

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My lesson for the day was twofold. Always try to remember to look up at the sky and just as important, brush the teeth before going out for a walk with a mask. The exhales can be quite rough, but only your best friend will tell you the truth.

Written by nancykoan

May 20, 2020 at 6:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chronicles of Covid, Episode 42

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20200424_140918Chronicles of Covid, Episode. 42

Day 135, feels like 2030

Blue today, blue Friday. Grey morning riding on the heels of nightmares. Most of my dreams involve dead friends. Are they trying to tell me something? I’m wondering if it has something to do with forgiveness…forgive myself for not having lived enough in the world on offer for so long, now that the offerings are so different, so internal. Even dreaming about old ex-friends who are still alive and with Whom, if I were a forgiving type, I would call and say “what was that fight about anyway?”

I had a thrill yesterday. Being poetry month, the radio was giving prompts for a poem. I dashed one off to the tune of “after this is over, what is the first thing you would want to hear?” A producer emailed me that she liked mine so with Shakespeare on my shoulder, I imagined the red carpet of my radio poetry debut and all the joys that would follow. What if they read it aloud? It was really meant for my therapist.

I didn’t hear the live radio as I must have been foraging for balsamic vinegar… but email said I had made the LIST. Alas, too late to start a poetry career  and besides, I had tried it once with the Unbearables, a rough and tumble group of lovable refugees from the normative. Mike Golden died this year, he had inched me in to the group. I’m glad he’s missing this messy time… he never ever would have worn a mask unless he was in the getaway car.

Earth Day came and I hugged my dog who was peeing next to a tree. No pee. Then she went up to a guy sitting on a bench  reading with a muffin and looked like she would pee on his long leg. He was such a gentlemen. He suggested that he had often been mistaken for a tree and wasn’t bothered in the least. Now that’s what I call humanity and nature in synch.

Note to self: Please  don’t forgive the US neglect of the Native Americans, esp. the Navajo Nation at this time/don’t  forgive the jerks trying to abolish abortion rights as non-essential/ and don’t forgive the potential damage to the working poor with the re-opening of American life

Written by nancykoan

April 25, 2020 at 1:01 am

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, #37

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Chronicles of Covid. #37

Day 37, feels like 400

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LOW HUNG FRUIT

I’ve demoted my bras to the bottom drawer.

Swing hi, swing lo.

The mascara’s run dry,

Say good bye, say good bye.

The tooth paste must stay,

but the hair, what can I say?

I’ve grown accustomed to this look,

Locked in but free, to be to be to be.

A version of Me!

Written by nancykoan

April 13, 2020 at 10:18 pm

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COVID CHRONICLES, day 35

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DAY 35, FEELS LIKE 2054

Another day in resilience. On a Passover zoom seder last night, a lovely fellow from Namibia ended our conversation by suggesting that I try and not be too angry. He’s right of course. Anger does nothing for one’s immune system. But still, how can it be ignored…all the greed and betrayals by those at the helm. Spring, a time of renewal has been turned into a death march.  Even with meditation, listening to the newly discovered bird chirping and internet tai chi classes, I remain angry.

I wonder why life has been so devalued in this country. It didn’t just start with the epidemic. Just ask Black Lives Matter. And people thrown in prison for years. And guns, and lack of education and inefficient health care. Why don’t we care for each other and fight for life affirming legislation…for everyone? When did the American dream become defined by money, power and fame?

I hear the ambulance sirens and I think of Germany ’41, imagining it’s a neighbor caught by the Gestapo, saddened but relieved it’s not me, this time.

My new therapist said it was ok to feel anger, that I’m part of a large group feeling this kind of anger, even hate at this time.  I don’t want to hate. I’ve spent a fortune on vitamins and don’t care to dilute their power with hate. But I am reflecting and re-evaluating and it’s good to know I’m not alone in this.

There is richness in this time. We’re temporarily free to jump off the capital choo choo and muse on other things. And if there’s meaning in everything, that life is not haphazard, then I look for meaning also in this.

The tenth plague which finally pushes Pharaoh to give the Israelites their freedom was a doozy. Slaying of the first-born son. Horrific. This is the story of Passover and the exodus to a promised land, a new way of living. We are making cruel sacrifices every day. Is that what it will take for our country to wake up and learn to care for each other. Can we get through that narrow place to freedom? And if so, can we get there fast…it seems like it’s been 40 years already

Written by nancykoan

April 10, 2020 at 3:52 am

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CHRONICLES OF COVID, day 36

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darlingforcovidarticleCHRONICLES OF COVID

DAY 36, FEELS LIKE 1057

I heard it’s a good thing that before going to sleep at night, to think of five things one is grateful for. So now, I try and apply this dictum to the middle of the day when after waiting 20 minutes in line for a quart of milk at the local bodega and even longer for a prescription, I am ready to pull my hair out and face mask off.  Between not seeing well over the mask that is causing the kind of steam you pay for at a Russian bath and fumbling with my latex gloves as I try and push my pin code at the counter, I’m exhausted and in need of inspiration.

I always start my list with my favorite and dependable. I am grateful for Hugh Grant, Yes, still and always. No question about that.

For number two,  I’m grateful for my dog’s presence in my hunkered down, despite the fear that when this mess is all over, FEMA will have to break down my door to move out my 300 pound self and my soon-to-be 95 pound toy schnoodle.  Darling is eating like there is no tomorrow…does she know something?  Her 10:45 pm new habit is to stand in front of me, turning her little fuzzy head in the direction of the kitchen area. If I’m ignoring her because MSNBC has my full attention, she starts to whimper and prances over to her food mat and starts clanging the metal dish like a prisoner behind bars.  Annoying, but I am still grateful for her little warm body and the reminder of the beauty and power of nature.

At 7PM I am grateful that I hung my Woodstock Chimes on my fire escape so many years ago. When the church bells ring out and the neighbors start applauding, I too can join the reverie, banging my chimes in gratitude to the medical and emergency service community. Woodstock lives!

Number four is for friends near and far who think of me and reach out, some even sending a care package.  One generous heart had the good sense to send Pennsylvania chocolate peanut butter filled Easter eggs along with the special potato chip that put my hometown on the map, at least the map that all junk food aficionados keep close to their heart.  She also made me a mask that fits more like a bikini bottom. I love the cheery spring pattern mixed ever so interestingly with an abundance of string ties, giving it a slight bondage look, clearly appropriate for these times.

Finally, I’m grateful for the past. If I hadn’t lived before this moment, I would never believe that such a thing as sexy slow dancing, and meeting up with friends at a French cafe and overdosing on popcorn at a double feature at the Film Forum were possible.  I know that there is a reality beyond this moment because I lived it, remember it with fondness and believe in my well-trodden heart that it will return. Perhaps when it comes, there will be a new level of appreciation because of this moment we’re stuck in now. Go figure.

 

 

Written by nancykoan

April 10, 2020 at 2:48 am

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GREED … a film about our times

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At first glance, seeing GREED, a film with the fabulous British comedian Steve Coogan wouldn’t seem like the perfect way to honor International Women’s Day. This story about a super successful garment billionaire, Sir Richard McCreadie, arranging for his 60th birthday bash in Mykonos, doesn’t scream feminism. But as the backstory as related through the official biographer Nick, (David Mitchell) seeps through, we see a pattern of bullying and verbal abuse that might make even Harvey Weinstein shudder.

Mr. Coogan, borrowing chicklets from Mr. Ed, is unhappy with everyone who’s been hired to make his Gladiator themed fantasy real. From the Bulgarian carpenters to the Greek chef, no one can do it fast enough and right according to his garish standards. On top of the pressure of getting rock stars to attend, and retired lions to roar, he must contend with a group of Syrian refugees encamped on the beach, potentially ruining the vista for him and his soon to arrive guests.

Nick reviews Richard’s life from boarding school truant to early London High Street rogue. Richard employed magic as a kid to steal money from fellow students and uses a different kind of manipulation to pay the least amount for the most. Once he discovers the cheap Asian labor market, exploitation of the system is simply part of doing business. He would pay the lowest price for garments …the factory managers then had to adjust to break even, and the workers, the real ones to suffer, got babkas. In this case, all the seamstresses are women. They start out poor and get even poorer as McCreadie and his lot buy and sell fashion shops, hiding their wealth in Monaco, as they sit on their shiny yachts.

Ex-wife (a very good Isla Fisher), a young girlfriend (Shanina Shaik), and a looking a little too young to be his mum, Shirley Henderson, fill out some of the pre party planning. Originally Ms. Fisher’s husband, Sasha Baron Cohen, was to play McCreadie. As it is ‘loosely’ based on Topshop’s Sir Philip Green, perhaps it was a smart move to make it less potentially anti-semitic with Steve Coogan.

One character, Amanda, (Dinita Gohil), a Sri Lankan living in the UK, seems most uncomfortable with her assistant job and all the doings. Her attempts at smoothing over the injustices Richard throws at the Syrians seem a little fuzzy, and not in keeping with the anger she must be harboring for the way her boss conducted business in her home country. I understood her anguish; I just didn’t feel it, so it is a bit surprising when the story gives her a revolutionary moment. Still, it is needed to balance out the roars.

The party ultimately flops, but the family fashion business go on making fortunes. Why would anyone get off the gravy train even without the rakish conductor?

The real politics came at the film’s end where statistics are scrolled on the screen showing the great disparity between the world’s working poor and the 24 percent who own it all. In fashion, it is mostly women who are trying to raise children with hope while working as basically slave labor for the industry. Women have made great strides, but the US still can’t vote for one for President and women continue to get less money than men for equal work.

Greed is a real peek into the lives of the rich and sometimes desperate, but not nearly as desperate as the people who work for them. The rich can leave their yachts behind and  buy a canoe. But the poor cannot and the refugees are still swimming, sometimes drowning, until someone says “enough”.

Director Michael Winterbottom has worked with Mr. Coogan before in seven other projects including the wonderful The Trip, A Cock and Bull Story and 24  Hour Party People. Hopefully there will be an eighth.

Some of the dialogue moved so quickly that I must see the film again to get all the jokes. Clever move guys.

Written by nancykoan

March 6, 2020 at 2:18 am

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Sorry We Missed You

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Ken Loach never fails to bring truth to fiction. He and screenwriter Paul Laverty’s Sorry We Missed You tells the story of an average Newcastle family working extra hard at keeping it together following financial losses in 2008 and now in a world moving faster and faster.

Ricky (Kris Hitchen) interviews for an Amazon type delivery job where he’s bs’d by the manager (Russ Brewster) with the promise of being his own boss, working with the company and not for it. The bad bit is he has to buy his own moving vehicle and is warned about fines for minor indiscretions and losses. Still he’s not dissuaded. Having run out of contracting jobs, he jumps at the opportunity, even convincing his care giver wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) to sell her car so that he can purchase the expensive truck for the job.

Delivery is hard and frustrating work, leaving less and less time for family life, eating and sleep. Abbie’s got a heart of gold taking generous care of elders forgotten by their own families, but it’s also too much work for her; getting home to her latch key kids only after their microwaved dinners. Every time we hear the urgent ring of cell phones, it seems that life is interrupted, and not in a good way.

As their work schedule heats up, family life suffers. Their eldest (Rhys Stone) goes through normal rebellions, but shocks his parents when he’s suspended from school.  This is greatly painful for the family and his sensitive younger sister, Katie Procter. This is not a violent, sluggish family; these are good people who only want the best for their kids and are frustrated how to give it to them while also working so many hours, that there is little time and energy left for intimacy and discipline. But they don’t give up. That’s what makes it so particularly hard to watch their efforts and see the futility of a capitalist system that leaves very little space for breathing.

All the actors are wonderful and the script is often as funny as it is touching and raw. After getting beaten up by thugs, Ricky and Abbie and find themselves at the emergency clinic waiting hours for care. I have lived in the UK once after being bitten by a dog, (not his fault), I too had to spend almost 12 hours before receiving a tetanus shot.

What this film so elegantly achieves is showing the ways the first world has failed. When the exploitation of labor and schedule demands is so great that the nuclear family sinks under its weight, system choices must be revisited. As inequities grow, the non-violent nature cannot be sustained under the pressure.

 

The film opens in NYC at the Film Forum on March 4.

Written by nancykoan

February 12, 2020 at 5:06 am

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