Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jumping the Fence

Now that I've had two days alone with Scott, (which, with our work schedules translates into roughly 4 hours awake together), it's time for me to go back to Indiana. My suitcase is never unpacked. I so thoroughly detest the job of unpacking that I tend to pull out what I need in between trips and ignore the rest. I've wondered what it would be like to be one of those people who empties her suitcase and puts everything away the very evening she comes home.

What I'm noticing is that, in the past year, I've approached a very obvious fence. On one side, my side, there is a pasture dotted with hopeful little flowers. Each radiates a well-meaning message of what might be possible one day.

"Candy, you can learn to unpack your suitcase within a reasonable amount of time. Keep trying!"


"One day you'll have enough discipline not to leave empty water bottles on the floorboard of your car."


"Someday you won't even be tempted to respond to road rage. You won't follow a guy in a truck, pull into a parking lot beside him and ask him if he feels more like a big man now that he's flipped you off. You'll have the good sense to let it go."

On this side of the fence, where I've always lived, I'm trying to find a way to jump it. Leaving behind the vocal little flowers. Because not only are their rapid-fire messages oddly unhelpful, but frankly I'm not in love with their tone. It's a steady broadcast of "You're not good enough now, but you might be a little less despicable if you do this: ________." A thousand tiny A.M. radio stations trying to push their late night end-of-the-world theories, in between commercials for herb supplements and powerful emergency flashlights. I'm tired of it.

Almost immediately after I began taking care of very old people, my perspective changed for the better. I naively thought it was a permanent, glorious thing, this thankfulness just to be able to walk across the room, eat spicy food, get in and out of the bathtub, breathe without a tank of oxygen. I was determined to fully recognize life as the big delicious Cinnabon that it is, and to savor every last gooey morsel. And to stop freaking out with anxiety.

But the perspective gradually recalibrated, and here I am, the same fretting shithead I've always been. I'm just as petty, just as short-tempered, just as fearful (even more so after seeing all the frailties that old age brings if you're lucky enough to march in that parade), and find it just as difficult to be kind to people who irritate me. And my shitheadedness is made worse by the weariness that accumulates from listening to my Inner Weasel chew my ass nonstop.

I just want a different take on things. To see what the plants over the fence have to say, and to hear messages from big robust tulips like "You don't have to make that bed. You're just getting back into it anyway."

Isn't middle age the time to find a little self-acceptance? To at least reduce the list called "Things I Detest About Myself?"

I'd like to know: What have you started to accept about yourself? And did it just fall away subtly or did you somehow tear it off fast like a Band-Aid? What are you more satisfied with than you used to be?


  • At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think making peace with myself is neither subtle nor jerking off a Band-Aid, but a combination of the two.

    I think I have to let it loosen up in a hot tub over several days until enough it falls away that I know that the pain of tearing away the last part will be tolereable.

  • At 10:34 PM, Blogger E. said…

    Well, Socrates said "know thyself," and he's always been good enough for me. I used to aspire to unpack my suitcase the day I return from a trip. But over time, realizing that this will never actually happen, I've set a more realistic goal: I get one day to unpack the suitcase for each day I was gone. (And we can just make that suitcases, 'cause once you have kids, you're suddenly unpacking a whole lot more shit). This works pretty well, except for that annual month-long east coast journey. But that's just the way it goes...

  • At 10:34 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    That was perfect, Scott.

    How come you can't say deep stuff like that when I'm home? Not that I don't also like the part of you that beats on the bedroom door and says "A man has his needs!"

  • At 10:38 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    E., I feel relief just reading that plan. That gives me a full week to get unpacked when I get home! Which is still much faster than usual.

    The stuff that comes with kids would do me in. I can barely keep up with picking up the catnip mouse every, oh, 6 months or so. Hankie doesn't play so much at 20 years old.

    Your east coast journey doesn't count. Because it's the beach. So no unpacking rules should apply at all when you get home.

  • At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have no idea - I am a mess and it's just the way I am. I hate neat freaks because it just means they are triple up tight
    and I can say 'so be it' (With three kids and now just two labs the shit is piled high) but you know what I am a good, fun mom and can cook - so there.

    Oh, I get rage too - (if you mess with my kids) look out softball fans on the other team.. cause Momma is a hot headed fan!! Did you hear that UMP you are blind..

    Otherwise I am really a nice person
    and try to see the good in everyone.
    It's the ying yang of life. So keep that suitcase filled with dirty clothes.
    You write like nobody else can and make people laugh.. :)
    So what.? Life is way to short to care about the little stuff.


  • At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ditto on the unpacking. Actually, there are some totebags that have been partially unpacked for years in my closet. I get ready for the next trip and then see that this particular totebag or that particular totebag has stuff in it, so I either search for an empty totebag or combine two into one and then use the empty. And old purses....I keep meaning to go through them and toss out the contents so that I can get rid of them or maybe reuse them. But I usually just stick with one purse for years until it is frayed and broken, then slowly move the needed contents on to another, leaving the old partially filled and on a shelf in the closet. I've gotten a bit better about suitcases because if I don't finally unpack them, they sit in the middle of my bedroom floor and I trip over them. But I never get them unpacked promptly.

    As for one thing that I have finally come to accept about myself, I guess that would have to be my body/appearance. I used to pick apart every little thing that I hated about myself and obsess about it. I'd wish that I was skinnier, prettier, shaplier, had better hair, had better skin, prettier name it. There was nothing I liked about my outward appearance to the world. Then, after having three kids, I REALLY felt like crap about my body. But, I have somehow come to accept that being healthy is more important than being supermodel material. And I actually came to believe that my husband really does love me, even though I am not perfect. Yes, there are things that I will work on improving, like losing a few pounds and improving muscle tone, but that is just because I feel better when I am in shape. But I try not to beat myself up too much in the meantime. Even after I lose the weight (if I lose it) and get back some muscle tone, I will still come nowhere near looking like a model. But that's OK. Most of the time. I'm not *always* content with it.

    Of course, the flaws within my inner-being are harder for me to deal with. For some reason, I seem to believe that these should be easier to change, even though many of these things are hard-wired into me and the answer isn't as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and doing some crunches every night. And I beat myself up for not being able to change these things with a snap of my fingers.

    But Candy, you really are an awesome chick and I wish that you could see yourself as I see you. You'd be quite impressed! :-)

  • At 6:16 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    "I'm a mess and it's just the way I am." I love that, Kel. I'm tattooing it on my forehead.

  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis, having just read your comment and Kel's, I feel less like a freak, and more like the member of a sisterhood. Your intense detail about your purses had me laughing until I wheezed. I have the same exact purse thing in my closet. Just a few things in each one, and then they get passed over for active duty. Like soldiers with flat feet.

  • At 6:21 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Seriously, you should write like an entire chapter on the philosophy of the purse.

    Oh, and the "inner" flaws? Yeah, WAY more complex. So frustrating I could scream. And usually do.

  • At 9:48 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    I've blogged about this a couple of times--the fact that some people have a flesh-ripping-weasel of a conscience, while others appear to be blithely indifferent to any personal flaws they have.

    I suffered under the same delusion--that age or maturity or experience or whatever would bring a life infused with peace-of-mind (having never experienced it, that phrase is as abstract as the notion of infinity.)

    One's loyal friends will say, "You're OK, or you're too hard on yourself, or we love you just the way you are." All of which we appreciate, but secretly suspect that our instincts about ourself is correct; petty thing that we are.

    So we listen to the good sense of those who care, while the toys in our attic bobble around--screeching and screaming at each other chaotically.

    I often think that those close to us, those whose emotional bias does not allow them to pierce the imposter's patina of normalcy we affect--if they could see contents of our mind represented, like the interior of a drawing room--would run shrieking from that room.

    Sometimes I have the feeling that I would like to leave the room myself. I have always viewed the search for self as a mixed bag; it is a curious personal assortment of advancing and withdrawal--of confrontation and retreat. As in Frances Thompson's poem...

    I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
    I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
    I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
    I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

    Up vistaed hopes I sped;
    And shot, precipitated,

    Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
    From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

    But with unhurrying chase,
    And unperturbèd pace,

    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

    They beat -- and a voice beat
    More instant than the Feet --

    "All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

  • At 10:29 AM, Blogger Tony from the Bronx said…

    Funny, I never really thought of you as a "fretting shithead." I might have been distracted by all those awards you won and all the banquets I had to go to see you pick up another damn statuette (“Minerva reclining at the foot of Helicon” The Omicron Omicron Omigod Prize to Outstanding Female Role Model of the Year --Under 35 Division”). Had I known you were a fretting shithead I wouldn’t have bothered to wear my Countess Mara tie.

    But I don’t think you were. Not really. I’d have noticed.

    PS I really don’t know what you need to pack to go back to Indiana. Can’t you just pick up the basics at the local Citgo station?

  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    "So we listen to the good sense of those who care, while the toys in our attic bobble around--screeching and screaming at each other chaotically.

    I often think that those close to us, those whose emotional bias does not allow them to pierce the imposter's patina of normalcy we affect--if they could see contents of our mind represented, like the interior of a drawing room--would run shrieking from that room."

    Wow. I ate this up like a stack of blueberry pancakes. Excellent.

    And thanks for reminding me that that poem exists. I haven't read it in a long, long time.

  • At 10:55 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…


    (“Minerva reclining at the foot of Helicon” The Omicron Omicron Omigod Prize to Outstanding Female Role Model of the Year --Under 35 Division”).

    HAAAA! First of all, Tony, as you recall, at one of those banquets, you and I spent the entire time skewering every speck of the pomp and circumstance, AFTER we thoroughly critiqued the foodstuffs in front of us. Right down to the salad topped with strawberries. Now THAT was fun.

    Also, please remember that the statuette I took home was FOR "Fretting Shithead of the Year."

  • At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh. My. Gosh.

    You have no idea how utterly relieved I am that your purses suffer the same fate as mine. I thought I was some sort of freak. According to every other woman I know, it is extremely odd that I don't change purses more frequently. I had begun to feel like the Jeffrey Dahmer of the purse world. Like my closet was the secret freezer where I hid the leftovers of my handbags until I have the motivation to finish them off.

  • At 11:34 PM, Blogger Steve B said…

    My biggest achievement has been to start letting other people's shit be THEIR shit. Realizing that I am that responsible for their attitude.

    I used to run around thinking I had to "fix" things if someone was pissed off, at me, at anything.

    Now, I realize that, most of thie time, you make a CHOICE to be pissed off, and especially, to STAY pissed off about something.

    There is great freedom in realizing that some people really are just flaming assholes, and nothing you'll ever do will be "good enough." And that it's not your job to be good enough for someone else. Be good enough for you, and you'll attract the kind of people that/who appreciate it/you for who/what you are.

    Your crisis does not have to become MY defining moment. Not my job to rescue from yourself, dude, cuz fact is, I got more than enough stuff to worry about on my own to keep me busy.

  • At 11:35 PM, Blogger Steve B said…

    There's supposed to be a "not" responsible in that second sentence.

  • At 11:56 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis, thank you for drawing a comparison between Dahmer and your purses. It was superb.
    It was a good idea for us to marry into the same family.

  • At 11:59 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Steve B, I drank that comment down like a powerful high-protein shake.

    If I could soak in your attitude, my life would be 3 notches upward. Also, I like your style better than Tony Robbins'.

  • At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know what? As I was drifting off to sleep last night, the thought came to me that my comment may have been in extremely poor taste. I am glad to see this morning that you haven't excommunicated me. :-)

  • At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Still working hard to realize that life won't end if I don't sweep up the cat hair or clean the bathrooms or wash the sheets.

    I unpack my suitcase as soon as I get home.

    I would love to wait.

  • At 8:19 PM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    That's a hard one. A really hard one. hmm...

  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger JBelle said…

    oh yeah. fine. i come over here for love and friendship. solace and comfort. and now YOU want to know what I like about myself. that's just great, Candy. juuuust great.

    okay, i'll be back. It's gonna take some time to dredge up an answer.

  • At 9:52 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis, this happens to be one of the summer cottages of Extremely Poor Taste. Welcome!

  • At 10:02 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Take your time, JBelle. But I'd love to hear what you dredge up.

  • At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sometimes I get it right. But not very often. When I do it's because I've had the time to think, "if you were the person that you want to be, what would you do at this moment?" Then I think about it for a minute and I do it. If I could go on like this for more than, say, an hour at a time I'd be in a much better place. It's likely that people who get it together for hours and days like this become really irritating and say things like, "give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself." So we kill them. Sometimes I wonder if we really like to be around people who are mostly satisfied with themselves and their fellow men.

    And I'm coming to grips with the reality that I may, in fact, never really look like Angelina Jolie. Which is a pretty big disappointment.

  • At 10:28 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    We have no other CHOICE but to kill people like those. They've suckled on outer space pods as infants and grow up into overly cheerful people who clap their hands when the new Fingerhut catalog arrives.

    Also, Angelina Jolie is a fish-mouthed, veiny-armed, plasticized mannequin who has partnered with a man with a room temperature I.Q. Mark her off your list of pretty.

  • At 11:09 AM, Blogger JBelle said…

    I like that I can have strong opinions, even be opinionated, but not judge people. I like that I respect Mormons and Muslims alike. I like that for me, people can be Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent and I still find them interesting and thoughtful and that sitting next to them at dinner is a wonderful proposition. I like that I don't need to embrace nor disdain anyone to be a neighbor to them; I like that to me most people are doing the very best that they can and struggle a little bit everyday doing it.

    I was not always like this and certainly was not raised to be like this. But I'm like this now. And it feels peaceful. Each day is another chance and it's all for me! I don't have to share my chance with anyone. Unless I want to. Unless I want to....


  • At 11:12 AM, Blogger JBelle said…

    (And so you know, I have one very large suitcase still packed from India in January, sitting in my bedroom. My husband stumbles over it every night as he gets in to bed. It certainl would never do for ME to be burdened by that damn thing.) ( I have to unpack it and repack it in the next two weeks. Seems soon enough.)

  • At 11:20 AM, Blogger JBelle said…

    (While I'm coming clean, you all should also know that I change handbags frequently; several times a week. All handbags are kept in their protective bags they come with and stored in big wicker and rattan drawers that I keep in my daughters' bedroom. They are coded by type and stored accordingly. I have purchased these handbags on four different continents. If I get voted out of the group over the handbags, I certainly understand. It wouldn't be the first time I was voted off the island because I didn't measure up.) (I just want to be honest about everything.)

  • At 11:20 AM, Blogger JBelle said…

    God, I'm absolutely exhausted.

  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    "Also, Angelina Jolie is a fish-mouthed, veiny-armed, plasticized mannequin who has partnered with a man with a room temperature I.Q. Mark her off your list of pretty."

    I LOVE you for this.

    And as far as acceptance, I've accepted that I'm always going to have that damn weasel ripping my flesh, rather like that Greek god thingie and his eagle whatever. But it still won't get me to pick up my dirty socks any faster. I can't brain now, I has teh dumb.

  • At 12:16 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    JBelle, I would be thrilled to sit next to you at dinner.

    But first things first:

    Futuresis and I must come to your house and go to your very organized purses at AT LEAST put some wadded up kleenexes, old ticket stubs, half-rolls of Rolaids, old stiff pieces of gum, and outdated coupons inside. It's simply a matter of principle. You understand. :)

    I'd love to see that purse collection. Displays of such organization make me shiver with happiness, and I think "I can do that! I can go home and DO that!"

    Which is my own foul lie to myself.

  • At 12:19 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    And of COURSE you're exhausted, JBelle. That was a lotta coming clean! You're still on the island, big time!

    "Purses From Four Continents" would be a great title.

  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Mel, my weasel isn't going anywhere either. I've also learned that it cannot be reasoned with. Just bitten back.

    On the Angelina thing: for the life of me, I cannot see the attraction. Neither can any of my male friends, except for one gay man I know who thinks she is a goddess. Yes, she has a giant set of pink slug lips and big boobs, both important criteria for Hollywood elite sex-bombs.

    But when I look at her, I don't think "pretty." I think "vacant." And when I see her significant other, I think "Oh please. Don't speak. Because it's going to be painfully stupid."

    Now that I've sounded like an uppity bitch, I will say that there are many actors/actresses I think ARE good looking, smart, etc. But that's a secret for my secret lair where I keep my secret full-sized posters and whisper secrets to my secret imaginary movie star friends.

    One word: Keanu.


  • At 1:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Keanu mouthing Shakespeare.

    Now that is TOTALLY like, hawt.


  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Boy, this one really hit a home run in terms of comments. I think you are serving a therapeutic function for lots of us.

    We really like to hear that other people are having struggles--like our own.

    Well, most of us will take the therapy any way we can get it. Keep up the cathartic stuff. It gives me hope.

  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry, I know it's therapeutic for me to hear all this. I get tired of feeling as though I live in a little remote birdhouse way out back. It's so, SO helpful to hear what comes out of the other birdhouses. And what goes on inside them.

  • At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I like your birdhouse metaphor, Candy. It's like therapy on the cheep.

  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Good. Then you won't mind getting my bill.

  • At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Scott, Cheep shot, but cool. Jbell, I want to be with you and Candy at that are way to interesting. Candy, I'm so scared that I haven't jumped any fences yet, but maybe I have...I'll think about it. Love you, Anita

  • At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just can't get over it. I wish I had legs that long. But if Brad Pitt is part of the deal then I'm out. I'm thinking Christopher Walken would be a better choice. Although he's like sixty three. By they way, why the hell is it so hard to get people to write a damned creative writing paper?

  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Yes, Christopher Walken would be a better choice than Brad Pitt. So would a coconut.

    The reason I can't get MY students to write a creative writing paper is usually something like all their creativity coming out their thumbs. While texting.

  • At 9:49 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Anita, you've definitely jumped a fence or two...I've been a witness.

  • At 11:58 PM, Blogger Miss B said…

    i used to be compulsive about how i looked, acted, how my house looked, what i was "supposed" to do... 10 years later, a little prozac, and a lot of therapy, and i realize, i'm still compulsive. i'm just "too busy" to be AS compulsive. and i am learning to become "not involved" in other people's drama. i find the humor in the daily stupidity... that usually keeps me from stepping in front of a train... *grin*

  • At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We need 50 comments. Let's keep this going!

  • At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Once we hit 50 comments then we will get a new Candy post!!!!!

  • At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Commenting just for commenting's sake is juvenile.

  • At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


  • At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very juvenile.

  • At 5:43 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Yeah! I'm number 50.

  • At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh Candy-your fans are waiting!!!

    We know you are busy but we are desperate!

  • At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OK....I just did a lot of reading there, so I'll try to remember everything I was thinking as I read.

    Mel--as I read your post, I recalled the story "Flowers for Algernon." Don't remember who wrote it. But I love how you ended your post! And I still need to get over to your website to order cards. I remind myself of that every night. Along with about a dozen other things that I forget every day and then mean to do. And this is one of those things I really hate about myself. Why can't I remember important things when it is daytime?

    And Jbelle--I agree with Candy. That purse collection of yours fascinates me, just from reading about it. However, unlike Candy, I would not feel inspired if I saw it. I think I would feel like a big, fat, failure and come back to my house and apologize to my purses for being stuck with such a louse of a mistress. In any case, I have a truckload of wrinkled up receipts, expired hand sanitizer (who would have thought that could happen?), and some library cards from various cities in Arizona that desperately want to shack-up with Candy's old gum, coupons, and Kleenex wads in some new digs. We'll be visiting....

    Candy--I let out a shout of laughter when I read what you wrote about the coconut being a better choice of a partner than Brad Pitt! I wholeheartedly agree. I never saw what all the fuss was/is over him. And as I read "The Rainbow Fish" to the kids yesterday, all I could see was Angelina Jolie staring out at me from the pages. How did I miss that before? And actually, now that I think of it, wasn't she one of the voices in "A Shark's Tale" or some animated movie with a name like that? I'm too tired to look for it now, but I think we have it. I'll have to check.

  • At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Also, Candy, is that secret lair the one where you burn incense to that Floam statue you made of Ross Perot?

  • At 9:55 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis, that wasn't a statue of Ross Perot. It WAS Ross Perot.

    Gather up that expired hand sanitizer. We gotta find JBelle's purses.

    Miss B., Finding humor in the daily stupidity is the saving grace. I agree. Also, I rode the Prozac buggy for a few years. I think I saw you there. :)

  • At 9:56 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Belle, you're so good to me. Honestly, you know I probably wouldn't still be writing if not for you and about 2 other people over the years.

    I probably won't get a new post up until I get back to Feenix. Things are exhausting here.

  • At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ahhhh. You're at the homestead. Channeling the healing energy of dolphins your way. If it doesn't reach you in time, try Little Debbies. I hear they resonate at the same frequency.

  • At 10:29 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Ana, I totally go into a self-destructo sugar binge every time I'm here. If I put a glucose testing strip into a drop of my blood right now, it would catch fire.
    Time to get back to Feenix and eat salmon and veggies.

  • At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Or huge chocolate chip cookies!!!! I saw those dudes and they were incredible looking!

  • At 10:46 PM, Blogger JBelle said…

    You put that groady old hand sanitizer down right*this*minute.

  • At 10:50 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    It's too late, JBelle. We've got you cornered. Back. Away. From. The. Purses.

  • At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Now we have hit 60-a Candy post is coming for sure!

  • At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Pssst! Candy! Quick! I've got the lid off the wicker chest and I'm removing the protective plastic....get the hand sanitizer and tissue wads!

  • At 9:55 PM, Blogger JBelle said…

    Jesus Mary and Joseph!

  • At 9:27 AM, Blogger Tony from the Bronx said…

    You're right--it's hopeless. Once we hit a certain age, we're locked in. Stop smoking? Lose weight? Be kind to the in-laws? Nope--best we can do is remember the immortal words of Popeye: "I yam what I yam and that's all I yam." Words to live by. (Any wonder Olive Oyl was stuck on the big lug?)

  • At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tony- so you're saying Olive Oyl was an enabler? I guess that means Sweet Pea will be scarred for life.


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