Twas The Night Before Chanukah. A Poem.

Twas the night
Before Hanukkah
When all through the house
Not a creature was preparing,
Not even my spouse.

The menorah just sat,
In the cupboard all bare,
In the hopes
That some candles,
Soon would be there.

The children were complaining
At night in their beds
Hanukkah is boring,
I wish we celebrated Christmas instead.

And me in old sweatpants,
And my husband in jeans from the Gap,
Had just settled on the couch
For his nightly after-dinner nap.

When to the store I ran,
to show them that Chanukah does matter
I bucked my seatbelt,
And noticed I had gotten fatter.

Away to go Chanukah shopping,
I drove like a flash,
Tearing down that open road,
Realizing that I had cash.

The crumbs on my breast
I should have changed, that I know,
But I wanted to get there
Before it closed
With no children in tow.

When what
To my tired eyes
Should appear,
But a miniature sleigh in the window
And eight tiny reindeer.

Just a little ol me,
A quiet lone Jew,
I knew in a moment,
That corporate America had no clue.

More offensive than others,
This time of year it’s especially lame,
So I whistled
And shouted
And called
Each holiday by name.

No Rosh Hashana!
No Yom Kippur!
No Passover!
No Hannukkah!

No dreidel
No menorah
No latkes
Nor yarmulke

Not in the window
Or in the aisle
Not by the register
Or even on sale,
Not ok
Not ok
It was an epic retail fail.

As we Jews wander ’round
Saying Merry Christmas
Each time we say goodbye,
And each time we meet
Or each time we greet
The grocery store bagging guy.

You wear your green and red
And your jolly little caps
We buy you Secret Santa gifts
And Christmas cookies
And ornaments too,
Stocking stuffers, candy canes
Yet there’s nothing out there
for a kid whose a Jew.

We are the only ones on the street
without twinkling lights
On the doors
and on the roof,
No wreath
And no tree
Only our mezuzahs
as religious proof.

As I hung my head
And was turning around,
Out the door came a salesman
A young teenage boy
Came out with a bound.

Oh, ma’am!
I found some!
Hanukkah decorations in our store.
In the Jewish section
In the back,
He had found wrapping paper
Dreidels, menorahs, and candles
On a small, tiny rack.

He was so proud
Of his store
How progressive they are,
Selling napkins and tablecloths
With a giant Jewish star.

He had a broad face
And a round little belly,
That shook when he laughed
Like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump
A right jolly old elf,
I laughed when I saw the small selection
In spite of myself.

A wink of his eye
And a nod of his head,
Soon gave me to know
I had nothing to dread.

I drove quickly home
As I knew what I had to do,
I wrapped eight presents
For each child
And one for my spouse too.

We Jews may feel left out
on all the Christmas fun,
But we should still celebrate
and be merry
with our fellow chosen ones.

There is still a place for us
Near the 12 Days of Christmas and the Elf on a Shelf,
In a tiny corner of each store
And I can laugh to myself.

We are all the same,
and I know I am right,
Christians and Jews
We are buying unnecessary gifts for our families
That will one day cause a fight.

You see, the stores are the real winners
All religions spend the same,
We’ll buy whatever you are selling
Whether to celebrate eight days of oil,
or in the birth of Jesus’ name.

And so I say to my children,
with a bit of holiday glee,
Christmas is not better, with its Santa and its tree.

It’s about who comes out with the most gifts
That’s always how it ends,
You have eight nights of your holiday,
you can brag to your friends.

It’s not really about who has more fun singing carols
Or having ginger plums dancing in their head,
The important thing to celebrate
Is that capitalism is not dead.

And so I say to the members of the tribe
on this random mid-December night,
Happy Chanukah to all
And to all a goodnight.

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Colonial Day

“Red and yellow make green.”  While this is not actually true in coloring, it is completely accurate for many police officers.  I myself learned this phrase when I received a traffic ticket here in Arizona. I was dressed up as an Indian, on the way to 5th grade Colonial Day.  I then headed to our elementary school, which was located two doors down from my home.  Admittedly, I was going a tiny bit over the speed limit, and I got pulled over directly in front of my house.  While I tried to distract him with my adorable Native American outfit, he asked me for my license. In my hurry to get to school to get to my post at the soap-making stand, I forgot my purse. So, at the Officer’s request, I went into my home to retrieve it.  He then wrote me a ticket for having no license. To write up the information for the ticket, the officer used my license.  When I questioned the irony of the situation, he told me to take the ticket to court with my driver’s license and I would get it dismissed.  

You see, the cops get paid for simply writing the tickets. And, in this situation, it wouldn’t have mattered if I was dressed as a Pilgrim or an Indian.

Our country is in an uproar over police brutality, and this is good.  However, this is something any defense attorney or any minority living in this country has known about for decades.  Police abuse their power.  It is as simple as that.  They are given a badge and told that they are invincible. There is a system in place that assures them that they are correct.

Does race play an issue?  Absolutely.  But make no mistake about it: we cannot be distracted by race on this topic.  It is easy to say that the situation can be resolved by giving the police some classes in racial tolerance. It is incredibly easy to blame all of this on previous generations of racial prejudice and ignorance.

But race is not really the problem. The problem is abuse of power. The problem is injustice.

Think about it: are you mad about the accusations against Bill Cosby because he was a black guy abusing mostly white women?  No.  You are mad he abused his power as an influential entertainer. People were mad about OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony because they were murderers who were found not guilty and set free. We were not mad because they were black or white. We were mad because of injustice. We were mad that our “justice” system is anything but just.

For the same reason that I have trouble driving while there are cars on the road with reindeer ears, it is easy to distract us today.  The media can throw anything out there and make us believe it.  I walk into a store and completely forget why I’m there until I see a sign telling me what’s on sale and suddenly that’s what I buy. I end up in my driveway wondering how I forgot to buy eggs, and instead own a new set of tupperware.

An attorney friend of mine is representing the family of a man here in Arizona who was an unarmed man shot and killed by the police last week.  The police claimed he was part of a drug deal, but when he was shot, he was holding two happy meals for his kids.  Does it matter his race?  It shouldn’t.  It should matter that he was a dad who had just returned home from McDonalds, and was shot from behind at his front door.

Let’s take this anger and keep going, America.  But don’t get distracted by the red and blue lights.  Focus on the road ahead.  Police have a tough job and we are glad they are here to protect us.  But like anything that is put here to provide us safety, there can be leaks in the roof.  We need insurance so that we don’t get rained on again.

Don’t patch up those holes with masking tape.  Close them up for good.

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Chad And The Meat Tray

I have a confession: Most of the time, I completely live inside my head. I crack myself up all day long, and usually don’t feel the need to share my thoughts with anyone. Throughout my life, I have created many terms that I use in my head on a daily basis.  Most of the phrases are based on events, people or observations from my life.

Since the holiday season is approaching, it’s time you learn one of my favorites. It is called “Chad And The Meat Tray.”

The story begins on the day I graduated from college. My best girlfriends and I held a very large brunch before the ceremony for our friends and family. It was a brunch held on the lawn of the home we all shared in college, and we had several large platters of food, including trays of bagels, fruit, and cheese.  

There was also a meat tray.

We had a lot of food left over, and the party continued that night with just our friends after the ceremonies were over.  One of the people that attended the party was a bartender from our favorite college bar named Chad. Chad was a very nice fella, quite a big guy, who really didn’t have much to say.  At the end of the night, my friend whom I will call “Lottie” decided to give Chad the rest of the meat tray to take home.

Over the course of the next several weeks, we would still go to the bar where Chad worked. (Although we graduated, we stayed in East Lansing, MI for the summer. No one wanted to leave.) Chad would say hello, and for some reason, Lottie would always ask Chad “how was the meat tray?”  On multiple occasions, whenever she saw Chad, Lottie felt the need throughout the evening to bring up that damn meat tray.  When I asked her why, she said it was the only thing they had to talk about.  I finally told her that if that was all they had to discuss, she should probably just talk to someone else.

Because of this, whenever I have only one topic in common with someone, I silently call it our “Chad and the Meat Tray” topic.

And so, if we run into each other at an event this holiday season, please, listen to me. If we end up in a narrow hallway at a party or we in line together waiting for the bathroom, and both of us get nervous as to what to discuss, and one of us feels the urge to bring up that one time we saw each other at the doctor’s office, or the fact that we own the same shirt, or that we drive the same car in the same color, or that our kids have the same name spelled the same way, just nod your head instead.  I get it.  We have nothing to talk about, and that’s ok.

We are all very busy this time of the year.  And we are tired. Let’s just smile and say hello and go on about our business. I promise you I will not be offended. There is no need to talk about a moldy meat tray just to be social anymore.

Happy Holidays,

Momontour

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Family Feud

There are not many t.v. shows that our entire family can watch together. Certainly, there are very few that I watched as a child that are still on today. The one exception to that rule is “Family Feud.” The family trivia show that everyone can enjoy has been on as long as I can remember. The hosts have changed throughout the years (Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson, even Puddy from Seinfeld did a stint!), but it is now being run by Steve Harvey, who is actually a great host. The problem is, I don’t know who is writing this show anymore. I’m pretty sure it’s the staff writers from Playboy Magazine. Every question has a sexual undertone, and even the “family friendly” questions that do not involve sex always have a sexual answer in there. On a recent night I spent watching the show with my 11 year old daughter and 6 year old son, the question was, “You should never argue with a woman when she’s holding …” My answer: a grudge (not up there.) Lauren’s answer: a knife (yes.) Aidan’s answer: a gun (#1 answer.) For the remaining answers, we all guessed shoes and frying pans and even “baby”, but to no avail. The last answer that 100 people surveyed when asked the question, You should never argue with a woman when she’s holding, apparently all answered: “Your weiner/sag bag.”

Which got me to thinking: Really men? Is that your biggest fear? That a woman who may be mad at you is doing so while holding your dick? I don’t think that’s going to happen, for several obvious reasons.

But, when I analyzed it further, I wondered what you were worried we would do while we were mad and holding your manhood? Pull it? Punch it? Flick it? Squeeze it really hard?

My 13 year old son says that the worst pain in his entire life is when his younger brother punches him in the balls (i.e. SAG bag-which is a hipster expression I have never heard of) I’m sure it hurts when you get punched there. I don’t question it. I just have a lot of trouble pitying any of it.

We women are blessed with vaginas. As anyone who has had both a baby boy and a baby girl know, the girl parts are much harder to clean. From the very start, it’s already much more complicated to have lady parts. As we grow, everyone gets to giggle at our growth (or lack thereof) of our breasts. I’m pretty positive no one is able to catch a guy’s balls starting to descend from the outside of their jeans. Yeah, I know you get underarm, leg and facial hair, but guess what: we do too. And we have to shave ours the minute it starts growing. As we get older, our need to hide our hair is so intense that we allow a person to pour HOT WAX all over our bodies to make sure not one unwanted hair will grow. (This is especially goes for pubic hair, which if you are a guy, does not get shaved or waxed unless you are a swimmer. Porn stars have made it very difficult for us ladies to feel confident with any amount of pubic hair except for a nice, clean “landing strip.”) The bikini wax is just, well, the only comparison I can give is if you poured HOT WAX up your butt because that’s basically what we do too. Not one hair out of place, right ladies?

And then there’s the blood. Yes, fellas, for 8 days each month we get to worry that when we get up from a chair or couch, we have left a stain that will leave homicide teams wondering who died there. They do make adorable things to help stop the “flow,” and I’m sure you would just love to have a string hanging from your penis all day too. Sorry if you are jealous.

We get to squeeze people from our bodies after nine months of feeling the joy of it growing inside of us (joy can include: intense nausea, exhaustion, vomiting, and dramatic weight gain. Can also involve loss of waistline, self-esteem and sleep for a very long time.)

And then there’s the boobs. After they “grow up” and become “mom boobs,” they hurt like hell when you are pregnant, nursing, or even having your period. They serve no purpose except to turn men on and to feed the children. Otherwise, they mostly get in our way. They jiggle when we exercise, make us look heavy if they are too big, and require us to wear underwire bras for “support” which push wire into our ribcage all day long.

This past week I had a bad scare: a mammogram that yielded some negative findings. After that, I had to do another, more intense mammogram, followed by uncomfortable ultrasounds and some intense doctor exams. I am incredibly grateful that I do not have cancer. What it turns out to be is that I seem to have two giant bags of nerves hanging on my chest. You see, when you are a woman and you have (a) stress or (b) caffeine or (c) estrogen: all of which we have all day long, it can turn into painful cysts that literally be “hanging around” forever.

By the way, for those unaware: a mammogram is where we have to put our tender, always sore boobs into a giant machine that smooches them down into pancakes. The machine does this at least twice on each side and you must stand still and hold still even though you want to scream.

And so to those “100 people surveyed who are probably men:” do not be afraid if we are holding your “wiener/sag bag” while we are mad at you. The number one reason to not be afraid is because most women won’t be holding your penis unless she is really into you and is generally hoping it doesn’t stay flaccid for too long. Usually, if we are upset with you, the first thing we are going to drop out of our hands is the thing that makes you most happy when we are holding it.

The second reason is that if this angry woman is holding your penis and she “squeezes it a little” to make a point, I think you will be ok. Toughen that shit up, man. Even a pull or a tug is something you can deal with. If you can’t deal, just picture that woman putting your dick in a vice and cranking it down as tight as it goes and telling you to hold still and not move. She will do this at least 4 or 5 times.

That’s the kind of stuff that should freak you men out. From us women to you men, in the words of Katy Perry, “this is how we do.” (meaning, this is what we ladies do when we get a mammogram. I was trying to be all hip up in here fellas.)

Got it? So just go back to being worried about your pissed off lady holding a knife in her hand when she’s mad at you. Even a gun. Or waving your newborn child at you while she’s yelling at you for flirting with the waitress. All of these seem more realistic than her yelling at you while simultaneously holding the family jewels.

But, If, while she’s still mad at you, she then makes you lay down on the floor with your legs spread wide apart and stabs you in the balls. If you feel like the pain is going all the way in the back of your throat and you feel a burning sensation so awful that you want to scream out “Make it stop! Make it stop!”, please remember:

This is what we ladies call a pap smear.

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Analyze This

I stopped napping when I was 18 months old. My mom likes to tell me this all the time. It’s a little too late for a formal apology, but perhaps I can explain why: I can’t stop thinking. More specifically, I have an inability to relax, because I am constantly over-thinking the world around me.

I am a “that glass is neither empty or full because neither make any logical sense” kind of gal. I don’t soak up my surroundings as much as I try to figure them out. I just have way too many questions.

This week alone I wondered, if I went on “Jeopardy”, what would be my funny story for Alex Trebeck? I don’t have any idea what I would talk about since all of my witty stories seem inappropriate for t.v.

Why do restaurants think it’s fancy to serve hot coffee in glass cups? Coffee belongs in mugs, end of story.

DID she break the Internet? I don’t think she did. No one cares. Everyone is naked these days. America seems to prefer school shooters when it comes to whom they want see more of in a news cycle.

After living in a hotel for 8 days, I returned home this weekend. As I told the painters, I would rather inhale poisonous fumes than spend one more night in a hotel with 3 kids. I told the kids that it was safe to go home, even with all the dust. Then we took the kids out of the house for a break to see a movie called “Interstellar”, which turned out to be a movie about how dust will eventually kill everyone on earth.

But what it was also about was how the human race’s greed and gluttony is what will lead to our demise. While this was supposed to be an enjoyable day at the movies, I had trouble relaxing. Not because I was at a dine-in movie and ordered salad (FYI: one cannot eat salad in the dark.)

No, it was because I couldn’t stop thinking: about how much money it cost to make this elaborate movie with it’s amazing special effects and to pay the actors salaries (every single role was played by a huge star: even if the part was minor.) How many millions did they spend? (Answer: 165 million dollars) Couldn’t this money be used to cure disease, or feed the poor, or help victims of disaster? If the message is that we need to take care of the Earth by taking care of the environment, shouldn’t we start by not making movies that cost so much and probably create tons of pollution when filming? Do we really need these three hours of entertainment to cost so much money? Couldn’t a simpler movie have been made with the same message?

I know, I’m overthinking. Don’t get me started on what I put my poor 6 year old through when we saw “Big Hero 6″ earlier this week (sooo many plot points didn’t make sense to me. The message just didn’t jive with the storyline.) I am really killing their childhoods with all of this.

But at the same time, I am slowly observing all three kids starting to question the world around them. They are starting to challenge those in charge whose beliefs don’t make sense to them. Each of then are choosing to go against the grain when deciding who and what they want to be. It makes me proud.

So, even though I don’t enjoy the things around me the way lots of people do, I think it’s ok for me.
I’m happy to question it all if it will bring change to the world.

Maybe one day I will break the Internet. And I won’t have to balance a glass on my ass to do it.

I can just do it by asking why someone felt the need to do that in the first place.
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Clueless

We recently moved into a new home that, we were told, was recently updated. Now that we live there, we realize that “recent” meant the 1980s. Ah, the recent 1980s, when splatter paint wallpaper trim in the kitchen and glass block walls in the entryway were all the rage.

I love to remember the 80s: when closets were covered in full length mirrors, and every bathroom had gold plated faucets. However, just as I do not want to wear my leg-warmers and flash-dance sweatshirts anymore, it’s time to move on.

So, we are “remodeling.” Never heard of it? This is a game where you look at your own house and imagine it looking like someone else’s house. It’s just like Jane Austin’s “Emma,” (or Clueless for you youngsters. ) Take an unpopular girl and, to make yourself feel better, try to make her prettier so she’ll be really cool.

You take your house to get a makeover and a personality change, and hope it will make everything all better. However, when you remodel, even if you ultimately realize that what’s on the inside really matters, you can’t go back in your house because the toxic paint fumes may kill you. And even if you realize your house didn’t need to change it’s looks to be cool, you are still stuck living in a Days Inn for weeks because you have no floors.

So, while we are living out a really bad episode of extreme makeover: home edition, no one has whisked us away to Disneyland while we await the results. Instead, we are in a musty old hotel room with NASCAR fans making out in the hot tub near our room.

My home is in shambles, and I haven’t been able to locate either my strapless bra or Lauren’s science project.

My house is covered in plastic sheets, and I’m having nightmares that they are not actually remodeling in there. I’m scared that they are actually doing experiments on E.T. and Elliott. I have panic attacks that the men in the white face masks are not painters, but are actually scientists trying to kill an innocent little alien who just wants to phone home.

I dropped off my dogs with the vet and told them I would be back as soon as I could. I felt how Annie’s parents must have felt leaving her at the orphanage . Perhaps my dogs are there right now singing “Maybe” out the kennel window. I should have given them a locket so they know I’m coming back for them one day real soon.

Many a singer has crooned that home can be anywhere, as long as you are with the people you love. Those singers, however, have never undergone a remodel.

I’m with my children, and, as anyone who has lived with children in a hotel during school, its fantastic. They suddenly realize they need items from home all day long. Homework, certain pieces of clothing, and, in our case, scripts and cheerleading uniforms, are all “back at the house.” In all these cases, they need it NOW.

I, too, want my things. I want my hair straightener, my coffee maker and my washing machine. I also need Valium.
I want to find the mail and some clean underwear. Both are equally important.

So let’s be clear. When you are displaced from your house, it doesn’t matter that you are still surrounded by laughter and warm hugs. You cannot charge your phone with the love of your family.

Home is not where the heart is.

Home is where your shit is.

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Fantasy Island

Every single Saturday night was the same for me growing up in the ’70s and ’80. Around 6:00 p.m., I would change into my favorite cotton nightgown. I would get into my parent’s bed, with their gold satin sheets and watch them get ready to go out for a night of disco dancing with their friends. As they gussied themselves up in their disco-finery, I would begin the evening by watching “Soul Train.” For those of you from the West Coast, “Soul Train” is a show I’m sure would not be aired today because it was basically about black people boogying down some sort of an aisle to black music (also called, “The Black American Bandstand.”) Now that I think about it, it may only have aired in Detroit.

Next would come Dance Fever with Denny Tertio, a similar dance contest show but this time with white folks trying to dance like black people. My parents would usually leave to go out mid-Fever, and either a babysitter would arrive, or, as I got older, it would just be my sister and I to carry on the night alone. I would grab some sort of healthy snack, like carob raisins or Shacklee bars, and go back into my parents silky bedsheets. I would then watch an episode of the always wacky show, “The Love Boat.” Then, if I felt like freaking myself out, I would stay up really late (9 to 10 p.m.) and watch “Fantasy Island.” I would eventually fall asleep in my parents’ bed, and one of them would carry me to my own bed once they got home. Sometimes, I would wake up and find my parents and their friends still hanging out at my house until the wee hours of the night.

Flash forward to this decade. My own kids have no similar Saturday night ritual, and probably never will have one. In this decade, parents just don’t get the weekly Saturday night out. They are too busy driving their kids to activities that start in the early morning and last literally into the dark of the night. Baseball, soccer, basketball tournaments last all weekend long, when they are held locally. Otherwise, one parent is in some other state with a child on their monthly “out of state” competitions, while the other parent is at home, driving their other children around town.

Weekend meets for gymnastics, dance, cheerleading all include driving to cities at least 45 minutes away that begin at either 6 a.m. or at 6 p.m. Either way, parents are either too exhausted or not physically able to go out to dinner or to a movie, let alone dancing with buddies or hanging out partying until the wee hours of the night. When there are no tournaments, recitals, performances, rehearsals or games, parents are taking their children to 4-5 birthday parties per weekend. (Or bar/bat mitzvahs for the pre-teen crowd.)

We have simply lost the weekend. It has been handed over to our children and we are never going to get it back. Not in today’s society.

The television shows of today will never match our Saturday night line-ups. First of all, Saturday night is not primetime for new episodes of hot shows to air. In fact, shows aimed at kids are aired during the day, and re-runs play all day long, every single day of the week. Shows on Saturday nights are from being stories about a family taking a hilarious cruise full of mishaps. They are usually shows with initials that mean scary killings are being investigated (SVU, CSI, etc.) or reality shows about families exploiting their children for fame or people who call 911 for wacky reasons. The plot lines on “Love Boat” would just not exist on mainstream television today. (I mean, no one hooked up with Julie “Your Cruise Director?” No one challenged the fact that Vicki Stubing, a 12 year old girl, worked full time on that boat? Where was her schooling? Why didn’t Isaac get fired? He seemed to be a sloppy drunk most of the time he was serving those drinks. And what was it about Dr. Adam Bricker that made all the ladies swoon? Was it the large rimmed classes and short white, crisp linen shorts?)

Then there’s “Fantasy Island”: did you ever try to explain that show to one of your kids? Go ahead, try. I will help you: “So, there was a mysterious Spanish man who lived on an island and always wore a white suit. There were tons of hot ladies that lived there too, as well as a “little person” named Tattoo. Each week, some family ended up on the Island and something really scary and disturbing happened to them. Tattoo would get so excited to see the guests arrive on their seaplane, he would shimmy up a flagpole and bang a large bell and scream out, “Da Plane! Da Plane!” I have no idea what travel agent would arrange such a trip, but Mr. Roarke’s Island was always booked solid with bad people needing to be taught a lesson.

And so, I bemoan the lack of my Saturday night disco boogie evenings of my youth. My children should have been able to have the same experience. I loved it. I loved looking forward to my t.v. viewing routine all week, and to knowing that my parents had one night that they knew they were going to have fun. It is actually nice to see your parents get dressed up and go out. Especially when that means you get the house to yourself.

Saturday nights: gone to the world of competitive sports and parties. Now, I always look forward to Sunday night, which used to be the most bummer night of them all as a kid. But I love Sunday nights, because I know the insanity of the weekend is going to end. (TGIF? Um, I don’t think so. It’s TGIM. Give me Monday over Saturday anytime. Less driving)

And so, here’s to the days of the innocent racist dance contest shows and sexually uncomfortable story lines on Love Boat, followed by the mystery of the possible evil brothel being run in the middle of the Ocean by Richardo Montelban and Tattoo.

Goodbye to carob. You were really just chocolate made of even worse chemicals. Goodbye to Shaklee and the Shaklee lady in my neighborhood. I hope you and the Herbalife lady are doing well.

And finally, a special goodbye to satin sheets. “T-shirt” sheets just aren’t the same.

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