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Falling in Love… Decision, Discovery or Conversion?

In love

So I wanted to announce to my friends and family about the new love in my life. I have been keeping it “in the closet” so to speak because I have met someone whom I would never have given a second look, in a matter of words, and yet here it is.

There are adults find that they are attracted to the same-sex well into late adulthood. Gay and straight people will both be the first to ask the question almost verbatim.  How can you be straight your entire life and in your 40’s or 50’s decide, discover or convert to being gay?

I can remember when I made the decision, discovery or conversion. I was young. I knew for a fact that I was gay around the age of 15 maybe 16 years old. I remember clearly having crushes on my female teachers. I was definitely in awe of the prettiest girls in my class as well.

In the seventies being gay wasn’t what is today. It wasn’t acceptable to be attracted to the same-sex. I did what everybody did, I went out on dates with boys my age and tried to fit in, even though I wasn’t sure it felt right. You see, at the age of fourteen, boys were charged with testosterone and very aggressive. That scared me because of my past experiences with the men in my life and the trauma they bestowed on me as a result of their behavior.

I had gay male friends and they would take me to gay bars where I felt safe from the men, and the women, whom I didn’t find attractive were not aggressive, like my young straight male counterparts. It wasn’t until I met the one woman whom I found so desirable that I wanted to share my most intimate moments with her and the final conclusion was in. I was definitely gay. Final answer. Her name was… we will call her Jezebel. She, in my eyes was the spitting image of Jodie Foster.

Jezebel was not only visually attractive, she was gentle. We didn’t just jump into a bed. We went out on dates. We talked on the phone. Jezebel lived two hours away, so in those days, the seventies, we even wrote letters. Real letters that had to be delivered by the postman and it wasn’t instant like it is today. We had to wait days for the letter after knowing that it was on the way. Anticipation was such an enchanting part of this process.

Jezebel and I didn’t get very far, but I was an official Lesbian now. This was the beginning of my venture into romance. How I would form and develop my ideas regarding Love and relationships had its introduction and I was off to find the love of my life.

Then the time came again. I would meet and immediately move in with…we will call her Delilah. “What do lesbians do on the second date?” Rent a U-Haul, yes it’s true. This relationship was full of passion and fury. We were from opposite sides of the track. Delilah was a Sorority girl and I was a High School dropout. I was unaware that it would never work as I obsessed about the future we would never have.

Delilah graduated from college and left me alone in the very college town in which we met and played. The pain was excruciating for me. I didn’t want to be gay anymore.

The question plagued me to the point where I went out and met a man. I met the father of my daughter. A onetime decision to change everything, did change the game, but not everything. I would use that one romp in the sack to judge whether I was more comfortable where I had been for so long at this point in my life or if I really was different.

Without regret, I returned to the gay bars and social gatherings that would land me with that special woman who would be my life partner.

I entered into the real deal finally and got involved in my first long term, committed relationship with a woman. I am not going to name names at this point as I have run out of fictional characters that best describe the women I have fallen for.

This relationship would last for less than seven years.  After we broke up I often wondered if I was really gay. I asked myself this question, not so much because, maybe  I wasn’t really attracted to women, but because I actually wondered if I was happy with the “lifestyle,” and I say that because we are talking about the eighties. It still wasn’t very acceptable. Yes there were friends and neighbors that knew about us and while they didn’t burn any crosses in my yard, still they weren’t quite convinced that they would be okay if their children or siblings were gay. Much less if their spouse suddenly discovered, decided or converted to gay.

I ignored these thoughts as I returned to the local places I went to meet up with other gay women and hopefully again, meet that Love of my life.

Once again I would take a bite of the apple. Okay, we can call her Eve. Eve and I had a very strong attraction to one another. Once again I was out of my league. I was a Barber, she was an executive. Opposite sides of the tracks in every way, but we had Love. Right?

So maybe there is something to the seven year itch because just short of seven years, I left her.

The question plagued me once again. I didn’t act on it, because why would I do that? My return to the lesbian world was working out so well for me. Let me return.

I wouldn’t get involved again for many years. While I continued to go to the gay bar every week end and socialize with mostly lesbians, I just wasn’t feeling it with anyone that I had met.

Then I met # 3. Oh my! She was the one. Except for one thing. She was already with someone. Two years would pass as I adored #3. The day came when she was single. She had split up with her girlfriend of ten years. You don’t have be a genius to guess that yes, we hooked up. But once again, we made it one year.

That was 2008 and I have been single since. Not because I am scorned. Mainly because shortly after that I began my journey as a caregiver to my parents. A full time job plus some hours. I’ve been a bit unavailable for romance and the such.

My mother passed away in 2014 and I moved to Montgomery County, Maryland Last year with my dad to get closer to family.

Time here in Maryland has been lonelier than my Florida home where my life long friends remain. As my family members relieve me of my duty with dad a couple of nights a week, I didn’t know where to go or how to meet new people. I tried the online dating site thing, but man it’s really creepy out there. So I settled to just walk across the street to the local Beer and Wing place to play pool and hang out with some regulars that I enjoy talking to. Every Monday and Thursday you will find me there engaged in some beers, good talk and billiards.

About six months ago I was taken back by a man who looked so familiar to me. I could tell that he gave me a second look too. I couldn’t help how insistent the feeling that I knew him from somewhere was and I struck up a conversation with him.

As we talked he told me his name was Mike. He grew up here in Maryland. I went to Elementary school here as well and so we began our decent into the past.

Mike and I both attended Montrose Elementary school. When he told me his last name I almost fell out of my chair. Mike was my fifth grade boyfriend. He was my first boyfriend.

He kissed me for the first time on the cheek in front of the 7-11 on the corner of Rockville Pike and Randolph Road. He kissed me on the cheek and then ran away leaving me alone there on the corner. I must have stood there holding my cheek for an hour before I went home that day.

We had a good laugh at the memories of our childhood matters of the heart. Mike had given me promise ring and it was so big that it only fit on my big toe, and so I wore it there.

We smiled as we went through the stages of love as ten year old kids. It started out with him throwing notes to me from the doorway of my classroom. We weren’t in the same class so that was the only way to get my attention. It was the typical 5th grade romantic note. “Will you go steady with me?” Check the box for yes or no.

The answer was always no. But Mike kept throwing the same note. The girls in class encouraged me to give him a chance as they would have jumped at the chance to be Mike’s girl.

Finally I gave in and he took me to see the “Fiddler on the Roof” for our first date. That was followed up with a Slurpee and bubble gum.

Another thing I want to say about Mike is that I was no where ready for dating. The truama that I had experienced as a result of negative experiences had lasting and physical effects on me. One effect was that my hands were peeling all the time. Like a shedding snake, the skin just kept peeling. The doctor kept telling my mom it was the result of stress.

I was ashamed of them and when Mike insisted that we hold hands I was honest with him and showed him my hands. He said he didn’t mind, but I still wouldn’t let him. He was so gentle and caring that he surprised me one day with a glove. It was a glove that I could wear so we could hold hands. Eventually we held hands bare handed. Somehow, magically or through love and affection, the peeling stopped.

Mike and I spent hours that night laughing at the past. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet every Monday night.

Each meeting we learned more about one another. We discussed who we had became and how we wound up here. While we would occasionally refer to the past, we mostly talked about now.  He explained how he had moved to California with his dad just before my parents moved to Florida and we lost touch. He lived there for most of his life but had come back to care for his mom, who has Alzheimer’s. We had much to talk about in that respect. He too gets relief from his duty with his mom from family to get out and join the world. He too lives walking distance to the Beer and Wing pub where we met again.

As the months passed we would spend quite a bit of time at the Pub across the street and gradually he began to visit me at home after dad went to bed. To keep things quiet we usually hang out in my room like teenagers. We watch movies and talk for hours. Sometimes the laughter wakes Dad and he will yell across the apartment “Who’s here?”

“It’s just my TV.” I answer to him. Just like a teenager.

As you may know where this story is leading, yes the moment came when Mike kissed me. He didn’t just grab me and kiss me. As we talked somehow our hands connected and we clasped hands naturally almost as though we had always done so. When we kissed it was synchronized. We met halfway. It was so mutual. When he left that night I was like a school girl. I couldn’t wait to see him again.

The most amazing thing was that I found myself fantasizing about Mike. About him and I.

Mike visits me three to four nights a week. We are official now. I made the conversion the same exact way I did the first time. Mike was gentle and understanding. He guided me with his patience and friendship. I fell in love with him. WOW! Did I just say that? I did.

Now I can’t tell you how far this will go as I plan to move south in August. We are talking about a union, but we are both very committed to the quality of life for our loved ones and that is a priority for the both of us.

So this is my second coming out. I wanted to tell this story because when I became involved with a woman it was not like I hid it. I would bring my girlfriend home and just “in your face” slapped everyone with the news. This time around I was bashful. Even afraid of the questions that would arise from such a lifestyle change. I didn’t want to explain anything, because I really couldn’t. I still can’t. All I know is that I want the world to know how happy I have been for the last few months. That I’m in love again and it’s amazing. It’s so new and adventurous. I’m in this “unknown” that is reaching me in ways that I don’t recognize.

My hope is that my loved ones understand. As funny as that may sound. I know that my family and friends have known me in one way, as I knew myself and how comfortable that was for us all. But now a change has occurred and I want everyone to be as comfortable with it as I am.

I will keep you all up to date as Mike and I progress and grow. I think it’s important to keep this conversation going, because it’s not everyday that a 54 year old gets to start a new.

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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Push The Stress Deep: PTSD Part II

jesus-healing-blind-man

In part one of PTSD, I was open about how my early childhood trauma affected me and I allowed myself to share how some of the self inflicted thoughts would return to haunt my existence.

This time I’m going to get very personal and intimate about the effects that early trauma had on me.

It was my skin that I became afraid of. Moles, freckles, scars or any other abnormality that we develop over a lifetime.

This started when I was young. First it was doctors. I didn’t like anyone looking into my mouth, eyes or taking blood and urine samples for inspecting under a microscope.

I didn’t want anyone looking inside or even at me.

As life went on my skin began to change. Moles began to appear, either that or I began to notice them for the first time. These imperfections would rule my thinking for years. Once I noticed a mole, freckle or broken blood vessel I would go insane with thoughts of guilt. I always felt like my insides were seeping out to tell on me.

I would spend days inspecting the new mark on my body and most of the time was spent on trying to hide the imperfections. Clothing was usually the method. It got so bad that I came to be know as “the nun” because I was covering every inch of my body possible.

Long sleeves, pants, scarves and hats with veils. While everyone thought I was making some sort of fashion statement and admired my style the most difficult part of this coping mechanism was that it actually made people look at me longer.

Amazing how what we resist persists.

As I grew older I began to shed the clothing and coverings but deep down I still dreaded anyone looking at my imperfections. But things could happen. For example someone once cut my hair so short that it exposed a strawberry birthmark on my nape. When I saw that for the first time in the mirror I lost my mind for weeks. What was this mark exposing? Why so large? I dealt with the panic until my hair grew out and then I never let it be exposed again.

Since I was a Barber and saw this marking on many others, I began to collect data on these individuals to try and discover what was wrong with me. When I say collecting data that means that I would question them to try and identify what we had in common to be burdened with this identifying mark.

I can say that in the “years” of collecting data regarding a strawberry birthmark, I found nothing that gave me any clue as to what this imperfection meant.

There was one day when I was finally getting comfortable with exposing some skin. I had driven from Orlando to Tampa so that my sister and I could take the girls to the beach for the day. Yes a bathing suit in public. I felt safe for a moment.

Then after driving for 2 hours my sister informed me that she had invited her best friend to join us. WHAT? Her friend was married to a dermatologist. The reaction went something like this…

Ramona: “I’m not going.”

Sister: “Why.”

Ramona: “You know I don’t show my skin to anyone and now you’ve invited a woman who is married to a dermatologist and she knows what to look for.”

Sister: “Her husband is a dermatologist not her.”

Ramona: “Yeah but I bet her husband comes home and tells her all the things he sees at work and she knows what to look for.”

Sister: “That is so ridiculous. You drove all this way.”

Ramona: “Bye.”

I had to listen to my daughter cry all the way back to Orlando. There was nothing I could do to console her because I was so absorbed in my sick thinking that the result was that she missed out on a day at the beach in exchange for my silence.

I can remember feeling so helpless to this disorder and how my daughter was paying the price that day. I hated that feeling!

I went to my therapist the following week and reluctantly shared the story with her. She showed me a picture of a tree with a doll propped up against it. “What do you see in this picture?” She asked me.

I looked at the picture. I didn’t really see the doll, or the tree for that matter. I saw a knot in the bark which looked to me like a mole. I threw the picture back at her in a fury. I was insulted at what I thought she was insinuating.

I ranted and raved about how she tricked me, while she quickly ran into the room of another therapist and brought her in to assist her with me.

It was then that I began to work on this issue. The shame of abuse and the constant surveillance that I grew up under had manifested into being ashamed of myself. While the work was the scariest task I had ever taken on it was the most freeing.

I would discuss the methods we used but it was so long ago that I believe the methods have been updated and probably are more effective and efficient.

You’ll be happy to know that not only did I go to the dermatologist in April and let him look at my “imperfections,” I actually let him burn off a pre-cancerous spot.

PTSD shows up in many forms. That is my point. It’s not just someone being violent or picking off innocent people from the top of a water tower.

It is mostly missed unless it is shared. It can be subtle and unrecognized, even by the one suffering.

So I say to those who haven’t shared their crippling fears to anyone, that sharing them is the beginning. It is only when we let these things we have been stuffing for a lifetime seep out that we can release the toxic shame and guilt that eats at us as well as effects the ones we love.

My life would be very lonely and reclusive had I never trusted someone who had the ability to help me.

It’s not about bravery, it’s about the desire to be happy and in exchange sharing that happiness with the ones we love who don’t understand the constant pushing them away without explanation.

group-hug

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Push the Stress Deep: PTSD Part I

.panic_disorder

Push the Stress Deep. Post traumatic stress, AKA PTSD is known but not well understood in my opinion.

We hear of soldiers that return from war, survivors from kidnapping and domestic abuse victims than can all be considered to have this disorder. What does it mean? How does it show up.

In my “Push the stress deep” series I will share how post traumatic stress appeared for me because I feel it is important to understand this disorder as we are caught up in our social media that seems to only brag of wonderful lives and events that never show us as marred or defective in anyway.

One of the first impacts that abuse had for me was trust. I didn’t trust anything man made. Elevators, bridges, bungee cords, airplanes and fast moving cars.

Of course I had to cross bridges, ride elevators and get on planes but the entire time I was in a state of panic. To look at me you would think that I was in line to be executed because my rapid heartbeat, sweating and shaking would give me away. No one really questioned it either. It was just Ramona being weird.

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You see I recognized in my perception that many people rode elevators, crossed bridges and got on planes without incident, but that wasn’t my mistrust. My mistrust was that the plane was safe as long as I wasn’t on it. I totally trusted a plane with my daughter on it alone or even if I was with her because God would look after her, but not me.

It was God in my mind that was targeting me. If something bad was going to happen, it was going to be me.

I nearly drowned when I was four, I was nearly killed in the Miami riots and I was kidnapped while passed out drunk in a car parked in front of a bar. I escaped all these near death experiences but I never felt safe again.

While I have undergone much therapy it took forever to shake the fear that I was riding on borrowed time. Sometimes I felt like I could cheat God from removing me from this earth by not getting on the plane, staying on routes that wouldn’t force me over a bridge and taking the stairs.

I wasted much of my time in panic attacks and looking back I realize what a waste it was and how harmful it was to my health to spend so much time in “fight or flight” mode.

Many of these fears have subsided as I have gotten healthier but last month I drove to New York City and I took the back roads to miss any major bridges. I did however have to drive through the Holland Tunnel which wasn’t so bad. I felt so brave that I decided to take the short way home and go for the bridge but I chickened out at the last minute and rerouted with my GPS to go the back way halfway home.

I got off the freeway and thought I would miss any major bridge. I was wrong. About a half an hour off the highway I hit a major bridge. I am 53 years old and as I approached this bridge my heart began to race, my hands were shaking so bad that I could hardly hang on to the steering wheel and for the first time in a very long time I was loosing control over myself. I prayed to God the entire crossing to keep this bridge in tact until I reached the other side. Once I crossed it I was forced to pull my car over in order to get myself together and calm.
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You see PTSD is treatable but some trauma never leaves you. While you may not have the luxury to avoid all the stimuli that causes it to reappear, through recognizing it you can survive. In the past I would have driven 500 miles out of my way rather than cross the bridge. So I have grown and that is important.

For all of you that have experienced stress that has traumatized you for life I advise you to get help. Through professional help and exercises learned in therapy I no longer have to live on the edge of death.

Please join me again as I will talk more about PTSD and some of the personal impact it has had on me

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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To Sue or not to Sue

As the campaign for the presidency climbs closer to the white house, there is one issue that is being tossed around that really bugs me.

Candidates are taking sides as to whether victims of mass shootings should have the right to sue the manufacturers of guns.

Hmmm? Well let me ask these questions…

Should Nissan be sued if a woman drives her car into the ocean with her kids inside?

Should ford be sued if a woman purposely drives her car into a crowd and plows down innocent people?

Should Bic be sued if I accidently wash and dry a lighter left in a pocket which ignites in the dryer and sets my laundry room ablaze?

Can I sue Budweiser if someone breaks a bottle on the bar and cuts me with it in a bar room brawl?

Can I sue the builders of the Brooklyn bridge if someone I love jumps off?

I can go on and on with these examples.

Think about it. Who is really responsible? The law makers that allow the sale of the assault rifles that can kill many victims in just minutes or the manufacturer?

In my opinion this shouldn’t even be a question for the candidates. The question should really be what are any of these candidates going to do about the growing mental health problem that we ignore in this country. As we shut down programs for the mentally ill, which leaves a lapse in the ability to even put them on a list that prevents them from buying a gun because the program doesn’t exist.

Let’s get serious.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The Caregiver Wish List

History has markers that breaks up time by historical events. An example would be the most commonly known, BC and AD.

Most of us don’t use those particular markers of time on a daily basis and so we all have our own markers that we use to carve out chunks of time in life in which change came, growth was inspired and it all became part of our personal collection of memories that make up our lives.

I think it starts in college. There is BC, Before College and AD, After Degree.
Before marriage and after marriage.
Before children and after children.
Before retirement and then…AD.

Today I present BC, Before Caregiving.

I know a few people that are caregivers, who are also privy to the term of before and after caregiving. They, like myself have a marker that carves out the time in their experience here as a caregiver. Much like the other markers that we utilize to separate portions of our lives along with big events that change us.

I have so far carved out 4 years of my life as a caregiver. Everyone can agree on the major adjustments that take place when you sign up for this role. I want to show how some of the simplest things can be absent in the life of a caregiver. Nevertheless, very appreciated.

So I thought about a wish list for myself that could expose just how the simplest of desires can be so important.

#1. Sleep naked.

#2. Take a shower without a cell phone.

#3. Fall asleep on the couch for as long as I want.

#4. Travel outside the coverage area.
I’m not referring to my cell phone. Any caregiver knows the coverage area to be a radius around the house that you can reach that is within 10 minutes from the house should you get a call to return.

#5. Wake up to a pot of coffee ready for me to drink.

#6. Take my time shopping.
When I go to the store, whether I’m looking for a pair of shoes for myself or something I need for the kitchen, I run in, pick something that works quick and run home. I would love to stroll through a store and really touch, feel and experience my purchase.

#7. Make plans for leisure with the assurance that nothing will change it.

#8. Turn the music on full blast anytime I want,  and dance.

#9. Sleep in.

#10. Cry when I feel like it.

When I am done with this mission be aware that I may be spending time doing these very things before I take on the next project of my life, ME.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Nazi in Me

I recently began to cohabitate with a good friend of mine and while I had a good notion that adults who aren’t a couple might find it difficult to live with another, at the same time I was surprised at the tension and chaos that erupted quite quickly into the project “cohabitate.”

As the “Alpha” of my household for most of my adult life I had to talk to myself for weeks before embarking on this mission. I had to tell myself that I was now going to have to accommodate more than I was used to. My new roommate has three dogs and I have two cats. I was ready for that.

My new roommate is the “Alpha” of her household as well and I thought I was ready for that.

We are both women in our fifties so I figured we were in the same place and were willing to share the experience together.

When I was a little girl I heard the stories about Nazis, but because I wasn’t seeing the written word I thought everyone was saying “Not See.”

I was horrified with the atrocities of the Nazi regime, but in my mind I told myself that they could “Not See” and so they were afraid. They were afraid of anything different encroaching on their societal norms.

Suffice it to say the within days of project “cohabitation” my new roommate, and old friend, verbally assaulted me because she thought I left some lights on and garage doors open. I didn’t like it but I backed down because I really need this to work.

On the second occasion that she felt so frustrated about the dishwasher not being full enough to run a wash cycle, she ripped into me again. That’s when I saw it…

…The Nazi.

I saw myself. I saw the me that felt everything was going wrong and it was somebody’s fault. I saw myself bullying the people who have lived with me who dared to do anything outside of my regimen. There is a perfect program that I live by and it must be observed by all that enter into my home.

I became aware that she was reflecting a very ugly picture of me. The picture of me where I could “Not See” the forest from the trees. Where my perfect way of doing things became a reason to belittle and demean anyone who did not or as I saw it, would not comply with my program “household perfect.”

The experience took me outside of myself to learn a very powerful lesson. Yes I am wonderful, generous, kind, loving and resourceful.

But there is a “Not See” that visits me when I’m tired, lonely and uneasy. It is a guest that creeps in and blinds me of all the wonderful qualities, not just in myself but in others that I care for.

So I say I’m sorry to all whom I have bullied out of my blindness and inability to see what was right in front of me…

…ME.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Doggie and the Boar

There was once a little doggie, a mutt who resembled the Jack Russell Terrier in markings as well as personality.

Now doggie had a master that loved him. Doggie was like a son to his master. Even though doggie was damaged goods due to neglect and abuse, his master accepted doggie just the way he was.

Doggie’s main obstacle was that he loved to fight wild boar. He thought it made him feel like a hunter and a provider. Due to the nature of the boar and doggie’s size, the boar always got the best of doggie. Doggie would return injured physically and mentally. Doggie’s master would nurse him back to health each time.

Finally doggie’s master began to restrain his furry friend. Doggie hated this because he wanted to fight the boar. It didn’t matter where his master took him, doggie would always find a boar. So now his master never let him out of his sight in fear that one day the boar would kill his best friend in life.

Doggie began to act out by scratching at his masters legs and arms. Even drawing blood at times in an attempt to get out and fight the boar. When his request went ignored by his master he escalated the behavior to biting his master and howling at the door constantly. Doggie would cry and wail for hours.

One day the master thought about his options. He was sure that if he opened that door, doggie would surely give his life to the boar and the boar would gladly take it. The master didn’t want to give up on his friend but he realized that his friend was a hostage. The master contemplated his choices as he grappled with things like morality and responsibility. Why didn’t doggie find enough happiness having a friend or being comfortable and safe? His master churned over and over again as to how to keep his friend and let his friend be happy.

So the master opened the door.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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