Month: April 2008

  • the 'ghost' is back


    I live in a 'haunted' house.  It's not really haunted, because we're the ones who built it.  As far as we know, no one has died on this spot for over a hundred years.  This has all been wild forest and pasture land up until now, and there is no evidence this rocky ridge was ever part of a settlement of any kind, including Native American.
    But as long as we've lived here, weird things have happened.  Long after construction was over we heard workboots moving around, as if the walls weren't up yet.  We hear radios and tv's on in other rooms and go to turn them off, and find silence.  I have heard glass very definitely shatter on two occassions, but thorough and repeated searches never revealed anything having broken, except the second time I found a glass shard innocently laying on my clean stove, no other glass in sight.  It matched my glassware at the time, which was a puzzle because none was broken, although in the time since they've all cracked and have been thrown away.  Even the dog raised his head and growled one afternoon at heavy footsteps coming down the stairs behind me while I was laying on the couch.  The dog's hair stood on end, and his eyes were fixed on something as the footsteps stopped midway.  I told him it was nothing, go back to sleep, and he did.
    The girls and I often felt like someone was hanging around, and it set our nerves off.  We learned to leave tv's on for the static, which seemed to make the feeling cease.  We'd leave the tv on all day and mute it.  Sometimes I would come home to an empty house while they were at school and have a scary experience.  One time, as I unlocked the door and opened it to come in, I heard every door in the house slam real hard, one by one, in quick succession, as if someone were racing around slamming all the doors.  It ended upstairs.  I was terrified and wouldn't go in for awhile, and sat in my car.  When I got my nerve back up, I stepped in and grabbed a long handle broom and very quietly crept through the house, keys and purse in hand in case I'd want to run back out.  Not one door was shut.  I used the broomstick to push the doors all the way open to make sure no one was behind them, and went through every room in the house, every closet, the whole basement, every bathroom.  ALL the doors were open, even the closets.  The house was quiet.  Nothing was there.  I turned on the tv and said, Ok, I'm home!
    Over the years at other times that we've each been home alone, we've all heard footsteps coming around the deck and automatically went to the door to open it and see who was there.  No one.  One of the girls heard 'me' typing down here and thought I had come home, and came out of her room to look over the banister and say hi.  I wasn't home, and the desk was quiet, the computer was off.  We have all heard people talking in the next room, what sounds like music or a game on tv or radio, a door open like someone walked into the house (but the door remained closed).  We've also smelled hot wires and searched the house several times feeling walls for hot spots and coming up empty.  I could go on and on, because we've lived here nearly 15 years.
    I decided this was one of several things, perhaps all of them, who knows.  1- the girls and I were causing poltergeist activity.  I was remarried, the girls were step sisters, and goodness knows we were all a little tense getting used to one another.  2- one of more of us has a 'shadow', someone on the 'other side' or some other dimension which feels compelled to hang around with that person.  3- we had a pan-dimensional being on our hands who was very attracted to static, and always seemed to settled down once we provided it.  4- we built this house on an ancient rocky mountainside that attracts a lot of lightning activity, and, according to some paranormal theories, is able to 'record' events and replay them.
    Over the years we got so used to the weird stuff happening that we'd just say "It's the ghost" and go on.  Nothing ever bothered us, we never really felt threatened.
    As the kids got older and started going to work, the activity level changed somewhat.  My oldest would come into the driveway thinking Dad was standing around outside in the dark, and come in to find him watching tv.  This 'shadow' showed up several times waiting for her to come home from work.  When the youngest moved out, a lot of the activity slowed down, although some of it was definitely still happening.  When the oldest moved out a few months later, it seemed like all the activity ceased completely, and when I asked her a few weeks later whether the new place she lived had any activity, she said the little dog would go nuts about something upstairs for no reason.  Her bedroom was upstairs.  (She has recently moved again, can't wait to hear if it went with her again.)
    I've had a very quiet 9 months.  No weird noises, no weird feelings.
    My youngest moved back in this last weekend.  Over the last couple of days the noises have started up again, even though she might be gone to work or college or hanging out with friends.  From my bathroom after a shower I thought I heard someone in the kitchen putting things on the counter and moving around.  Came out to find no one but me here.  While I'm on the computer with the headphones on, I hear someone come in the door and walk across the house.  No one but me here.  Today I feel very strongly like I should be turning on the tv, which I haven't done in months now, not being a daytime tv watcher.
    I think my oldest daughter has a shadow person, and I think my youngest attracts a sort of tempest activity or produces it in combination with me.  I also think some of the things we do around here replay themselves whenever the tension in the house rises.
    My oldest has said in the past that she thinks the house misses us when we are gone and leave it empty and quiet, but my 9 months of empty nest were wonderfully quiet with just me here and my husband at work, so I don't think that's it.
    If we ever sell this house, the next family is going to run screaming.

  • don't tell me I'm broken

    from my private blog on May 23, 2007
    My psychologist wanted me to read anything I could find by Tony Attwood until our next visit, so I found The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome at the library a couple of days ago.  They say the guy is brilliant, and yes, he's a good writer, but it's such a drag having to go over stuff that I must have intentionally blocked out, and now I'm having all these miserable flashbacks from my childhood.
    But here is a brief summary he wrote.

    From my clinical experience I consider that children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome have a different, not defective, way of thinking. The person usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection with a different set of priorities than would be expected with other people. There is also a different perception of situations and sensory experiences. The overriding priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others. The person values being creative rather than co-operative. The person with Asperger’s syndrome may perceive errors that are not apparent to others, giving considerable attention to detail, rather than noticing the ‘big picture’. The person is usually renowned for being direct, speaking their mind and being honest and determined and having a strong sense of social justice. The person may actively seek and enjoy solitude, be a loyal friend and have a distinct sense of humour. However, the person with Asperger’s Syndrome can have difficulty with the management and expression of emotions. Children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome may have levels of anxiety, sadness or anger that indicate a secondary mood disorder. There may also be problems expressing the degree of love and affection expected by others. Fortunately, we now have successful psychological treatment programs to help manage and express emotions.

    That's such a nice little nutshell.  Now, let's see how I'd summarize the rest of the world, from my point of view as a child, now expressed through my adult ability to verbalize these feelings.

    People of any age or size who pick on children who are different from them are greedy for power over others, selfish in their desires to force the world to conform to their own whims, and intolerant of any deviation from the way they believe the world should work.  They have no imagination beyond the stupid little boxes their brains are contained in.  Their obsessions with 'normal' and 'fixing' what's 'wrong' with other people show a lack of anything better to do in their own lives, and their inability to think about the consequences of their own actions beyond the next five minutes are mind bogglingly gauche.  People who think pink is the greatest and yak on their phones all day have something wrong with them.  People who are cruel to animals and little kids have something wrong with them.  People who lie to their loved ones and self medicate have something wrong with them.  People who go to elaborate lengths to get even with other people over trivial emotional issues have something wrong with them.  So don't tell me I'm broken and need to be fixed.  I live in a world of skewed humanity that I loathe to acknowledge, and I ache to escape it and find people who don't expect me to physically respond with a smile and a hug every time a holiday dictates that it's time to love each other.  The horrors of having to constantly self monitor and never relax while I am surrounded by people who frown at every move I make are enough to make me want to run away from everyone for the rest of my life, and I can never tell anyone everything that is in my head because they're too dumb to understand that I'm not the crazy one, they are.

    Please forgive me, on top of having Asperger's, I was raised by a mother with a very twisted form of Munchausen, and ignored by relatives who neither saw the truth of what was going on nor helped me survive it in any way.  Teachers tried to get my parents to get me to a psychologist from kindergarten on up through high school, but I NEVER got help of any kind.  Never.  I survived my childhood because I was able to believe I was the one who was ok, it was everyone else who had something wrong with them.  And that's actually one of the typical Asperger survival mechanisms, according to Tony Attwood.

    So if I seem bitter, it was those last two lines.  "There may also be problems expressing the degree of love and affection expected by others. Fortunately, we now have successful psychological treatment programs to help manage and express emotions."

    That and being picked on and bullied in school all my life.  Whatever this crap is about girls being less inclined to be diagnosed than boys because they are more capable of hiding and blending socially is just that-- a load of crap.  My weirdness was so blaringly obvious that nearly every teacher I had either asked me how my home life was or tried to personally encourage my mother to get me to a professional.  I attracted bullies and mean kids like a wasp trap attracts wasps.  These are true incidences.  A girl in middle school dumped stewed tomatoes off her lunch tray all over my white blouse and then tore my blouse grabbing me when I didn't respond.  A gang of tough girls chased me around the school yard and almost right onto my bus the last day before Christmas vacation.  A boy in high school broke my nose and glasses with a 90 mph dodgeball hit to my head.  Want me to go on?  The list gets pretty long.  And if anyone says any of it was coincidence or just bad timing or whatnot, I NEVER saw another kid go through any of the stuff on that list that I went through.  Not once.  I saw bad things happen to other kids, yes, but not with the consistency and maliciousness of what I went through.  Did my mom care?  I stopped bothering to even tell her.  Her response to ~any~ problem I had was to poke some more nasty junk down my throat.  Sometimes I threw up, sometimes I got fevers, one time I finally figured out I was being poisoned after I broke out in a very sore head to toe rash (that didn't itch at all but hurt terribly) and had to think fast how to make my mom believe I was swallowing those special pills she had to special order through a chiropractor's wife (it was a toxic metal), 2 pills 3 times a day for two weeks.  After one week, I really felt like if I took even one more pill I would die.  I was 14, I was diagnostically considered to have a cognitive disability but no one was aware of it at the time, but I knew my mom was killing me and that if I confronted her about it, it would get worse, she would find someone to help hold me down and force me to swallow those pills.

    I'm a big advocate of not 'fixing' the neuro-diverse.  Help, yeah, that's fine.  Not fix.  You wanna cure me, you're gonna hafta cut out parts of my brain.  If I survived emotionally intact (and I've tested out as 'emotionally healthy'), it's because I wasn't obsessed with my emotions to begin with.  If I don't like feeling something, I don't dwell on it.  I walk off and get involved with something else in my head.  For me, that is a functional survival mechanism.  They say Asperger's Syndrome is probably going to turn out to be one of the most common neuro-diverse diagnoses in the world.  Well, maybe that's how humans survived millenia of really tough times.  Maybe Asperger's is an adaptation to harsh and destructive social environments, because humans have been through wars and conflicts and government upheavals since civilization began.  People like me don't die of ennui and depression.  We survive it.

    Ok, enough of that.  I sound so aggressive, don't I?  ha. 

    That post was written during my first month with a psychologist.  He has been very helpful with several things since then, all of them involving how to better socially interact.

    One thing I learned which was very helpful was that aspies are easy to 'lead'.  When my doctor referred me to a neurologist for further investigation into occipital neuralgia, I came away frustrated that she completely bypassed my main complaint and tossed a prescription sample at me after only 5 minutes of quick questioning.  My psychologist helped me break it down, and I can see now that I feel compelled to answer questions, no matter how off track they get, which can quickly make me look wishy-washy and like I'm trying to fish something out of the doctor.  I realized I have been misinterpreted like this many times by other doctors, bosses, teachers, friends, and just about anybody I have to fill a form out for.  I am unable to keep my focus on what I need because the other person interrupts me with a question, and next thing you know, we are meandering around a little forest of misunderstanding because I don't understand the dynamics of social interaction and why they are doing this.

    I would never have been able to see this if it had not been laid out for me by my psychologist.  After that visit with him, I was able to go back to my referring doctor and explain what happened and what my psychologist said, and asked my doctor if she would mind just handling my stuff herself.  She was also disappointed in the neurologist for not spending more time with me getting pertinent information.

    As aspies, it is important to learn things like this so that we can bring up our quality of interaction with everyone around us, especially professionals who are supposed to be helping us.  I'm learning to tell people I have Asperger's.  I noticed my dentist responded immediately by switching to blue gloves and lowering the light, which actually helped a great deal.  I never would have thought that would have made a difference if I hadn't been made aware that I go into sensory overload from smells and light and noise.

    The bitterness I went through last year is nearly over.  I'm much more comfortable now with people.  I am able to handle interaction without becoming defensive, and if someone misunderstands me I am able to laugh about it and quickly correct it before it becomes a problem.  That's a tall order for someone who is supposed to be having the 'defect', but I'm in a position to intellectually understand that I have that defect, self assess, run diagnostics, and find solutions to the problem.  My psychologist seems amazed that it's possible to be on both sides of the fence like this at one time.

    I'm working really hard on learning how to be more social.  No offense to anyone, but I really don't like it.  I like people fine as long as I have a remote control in my hand, but I can't turn people down or switch channels in Walmart.  I can't mute that annoying beep beep at the registers or stop people from asking how I am.  I really don't want to kill anyone, but screaming children and ring tones push a big red hate button in me, and I have nothing to stop that sensory overload unless I'm wasted on a load of vicodin and muscle relaxers.  I'm afraid anti-depressants are counter-intuitive with me, doctors pull me off those real quick.

    I think it's great that kids can get help like this much earlier in their lives nowadays.  I wonder sometimes how different my life might be right now if I'd gotten the help I needed when I was young.  Some people are more kind and patient when they understand I'm challenged with too much going on in my head all at once and having to navigate through it just to interact with them.  I would have appreciated having more kindness and patience in my life as a child.

  • A Long Dusty Road


    About 20 years ago, in my mid 20's, I was destroying myself with alcohol and starvation.  I didn't see it that way, most people don't at that age.  At that age we are indestructible, wacked back and forth with self love and self hate, dreaming big dreams and not having a clue how to reach them.
    I reached an event horizon and sucked myself right into the black hole of my soul.  I've been bad places, seen bad things.  Somehow I tripped gaily through like a lamb through a slaughter house, oblivious to the horrors around me.  I had no feelings about it.
    I hung out with a drug lord in Phoenix back then.  He was underground, on the run from California, establishing new territory for a new purple marijuana cross that was all the rage on the coast while he covered as a pizza delivery boy.  Basically ripping the rug out from under the local drug lords, getting ready to move big shipments cross country.  Offered me a run, I turned it down.  He was 17, slick and professional.  They were all young.
    I never dealt, never bought.  Compared to other people, I barely used.  I did love alcohol, though.  And I was this kid's friend.  I hung out with his girlfriend.  He could trust me because I didn't care.  I didn't take sides, didn't care about money, had no other friends.  Autism may actually be what kept me alive through that, I don't know.
    Rode with him one day to a part of town I hadn't been.  It's actually a huge city, sprawled over 50 miles in every direction, some of it nice, some of it crap.  I loved it out there, gorgeous sky.  Had a good job in a 4-story hospital.  Used to watch the sunrise from an empty construction area.  About the only thing I really ripped off was toilet paper.  I wasn't into needles and that crap.  I had free run of the place, being on the overnight stat housekeeping crew, which was small.  I cleaned up after dead bodies, births, surgeries, and really contagious stuff, and I saw everything from gunshot wounds to crazy people walking out the doors in their little night gowns.  I walked freely through the guts of the hospital, the lab and records and the morgue.
    A nurse once thought it would be funny to sprinkle trail mix all over a hallway and call a stat cleanup.  I don't put up with crap.  Showed my boss and he nearly got her fired.  You sneer down on the people mopping up the blood and puke, you get what's coming.  You don't trivialize 'stat' in any way, shape, or form.  Stat is sacred.
    Another nurse failed to tell me the stat cleanup in the ER was after a family of lice.  I got a 4-story hospital locked down over that one after I heard a secretary joking on the phone about having to check them in at midnight.  By 4 a.m. I'd been all over that hospital, including labor and delivery, and that was considered serious contagion.  I mean, who wants to go have a baby and then find out the hospital has been locked down because some idiot nurse didn't consider an entire family ~*dripping*~ with body lice worthy of telling a housekeeper to gown out for precautions.  I even asked if there was a precaution on the room before I stripped and disinfected it.  I could have been covered in lice and eggs for hours just from rolling the sheets up and throwing them into a regular hamper, which also got laundry locked down, big time.  My boss tracked that nurse down, as well.  You could say MY boss pretty much ran that hospital when errors were made.
    A charge nurse on the second floor once called me to clean up a glass breakage.  I arrived to find mercury beads strung out all over the room and into the carpeted hallway.  I put everything down in the middle of the hall and left it in everyone's way so they'd be forced to walk way around that room.  I found her and asked if the breakage was the blood pressure gauge, which was the old fashioned kind on the wall.  Yes, that was it.  I asked her if any of it got onto her clothing, or whoever it broke around.  She didn't know, had no clue if a patient had been in the room.  I asked who all walked into that room since the breakage, because the mercury was obviously strung out into the hallway, and then I asked her if any beds had been rolled in or out of the area through that hallway.  She got snotty with me, got in my face about how she didn't have time for this, who was *I* to be questioning *her*, etc.  I just smiled and called my boss.  Boy, did she get reamed.  Mercury poisoning is no joke, particularly in a hospital, and that stuff was ~everywhere~.  We even had to throw our shoes and clothes away.  I went home in scrubs and footies.  A special clean up crew in biohazard suits locked the floor down and cleaned EVERYTHING.  Think about this the next time you go visit someone in a hospital and see little kids running around touching everything.  Smile at the housekeepers.  They are doing excellent jobs.
    I'm not against nurses.  I'm not saying nurses are inherently bad or stupid or negligent.  But I am saying don't take your housekeepers for granted.  Some of us just might be saving a few lives ourselves.  You never know.
    Anyway, I hung out with a drug lord, but I was pretty 'clean'.  My only love was alcohol and the occasional brandy bong.  I was young and pretty, but I didn't care.  I never dated, except for one guy who bugged me to no end, but it took him forever to get anywhere with me.  Somewhere in my recent past I'd had a very scary ex-husband and a child he'd abused.  Dropped the kid at my mom's house and just drove to Phoenix for a 3 month vacation from having to deal.  I just couldn't face it.
    Back to the story.  Rode out with this kid one day to a different part of town.  Went into a guy's house.  Heard that guy tell my guy that if such and such didn't happen, they would cut off his hand.  Everyone around us looked at me to see if I reacted.  I just smiled back, never flinched.  I had butchered plenty of animals growing up, I cleaned up after blood and gore and death in the hospital, just hearing someone threaten to cut off a hand was nothing to me.
    I realize now that guy took me with him to witness, in the event they had killed him.  He trusted only me for that.  I would have been the one going back with his body to tell his girlfriend and call his parents.  Guess the alliance worked out.
    Lamb through a slaughter house, oblivious.  Autistic.
    And I was like that.  If I felt something I didn't want to deal with, I could cast it off.  If I felt any guilt or anguish or fear, I could walk away from it.  I was Mr. Spock.  I felt nothing, cared about nothing (except obvious breaches in protocol, like the mercury spill).  I felt no love, no need, no sympathy.  I turned completely off.
    At the end of that summer, I was suddenly ready to come home.  Something was wrong, I didn't know what.  I just knew I had to get home.  Quit my job, left my key, never said goodbye to anyone.  I made it from Phoenix to my mom's house in MO in 23 hours flat.  The highway patrol in New Mexico never caught me, and truckers blocked them off so they couldn't.  I flew like the bats of hell were after me, slapping myself hard to stay awake, screaming to stay awake, freezing myself with the windows open and nearly falling asleep doing 90 through the night.
    By the time I got home I could no longer move.  My fingers wouldn't unbend.  I could barely walk to the house.  I couldn't turn the knob, so I had to knock.  When they opened the door, I fell in.
    I spent a week in bed in a deep fever and sweats, writhing in nightmares.  I had liver poisoning, setting off my first lupus flareup.  My dad is Mennonite, my mom is a health store nut, no one ever took me to a doctor.  I don't know how I lived.  I remember the haze, the series of dreams, the visions.  I remember a week went by without food or coherent conversation.  I remember God.
    I was on a dusty road, leaving a house.  I had a robe, a staff, and a little pouch.  I was setting off on a journey.  As I shut the door and turned to the road, a figure appeared.  I didn't see a face.  He instructed me to follow the road and collect the treasures for my pouch.  He said I would know them when I see them.  Then he vanished, and I turned and started walking.
    I walked a long, long way.  The road was dusty, and uninteresting.  I walked and walked and walked.  As I walked I felt heavy, tired, discontent.  I ached.  I thought, if I just take off the part that is making it hard, I can enjoy the walk.  So I peeled off some skin and tossed it to a bush.  I took off a fingertip and tossed it off the side of the road.  I slowly peeled more skin, and each time I did, I felt better, lighter, unencumbered.  The road slowly curved around, and still I walked and walked.  But it got easier and easier, because I kept picking parts of myself off and tossing them away.
    Finally the road curved back to where I was heading back the direction I had come, and it still stretched off a great distance.  Walking was becoming so tedious that I thought I shall have to pick off more, and I did.  It was amazing how much I could pick off and throw away so I wouldn't have to feel hot and tired and thirsty, or sad and lonely.
    After what seemed like days and days of walking, I arrived to a huge gulf, like a deep rip in the earth.  It was dark, and the sky was dark, and the other side was black.  I knew I had to cross it.  But how?  Who could cross something like that?  I looked over the edge, there was no way to climb down.  It was much too far to jump.  But I had been instructed to follow the road.
    I was nearly to give up, standing there feeling angry at how ridiculous this was.  Then I heard a Laugh.  It creeped me out, and even though I had no skin left, I could feel where the hairs would have been going up in goosebumps.  A big face floated up out of the depths of the gorge, looking at me with hard mocking eyes, laughing at me.  He said he would help me over.  I said No, you'll eat me.  He laughed at my fear.  He said he was the only way I could get across, and I said No, you'll pull me down in there.  He laughed and floated his face very close to me at the edge, and as he got closer his face turned into my face, and I cried out and fell down in despair, because I knew then that I had destroyed myself, that I had brought this chasm into my life, and that there was no escape.
    The despair was horrible.  I couldn't escape it.  The face laughed and laughed, and I cried and cried.  Should I just throw myself off now?  I could see no way out.  Is this the end?
    Then the figure appeared next to me.  I still couldn't see his face.  He was very stern.  He said I told you to follow the road.  I wept with my head down and said I followed the road, but I can't follow it any more because it's broken, and there is no way across.  He said I gave you a pouch to put treasures in.  Show me the treasures you have found.  I wept and held out my empty pouch.  I said I saw no treasures.  He said What about the pretty rock?  You saw a pretty rock.  I said Yes, but it was just a rock.  I felt so terrible that I had not picked up that pretty rock to show him.  I realized I had seen other nice things along the way, and that I had nothing to show for my journey.  He stood there by me for awhile, silent while I wept and wept.  When I was nearly wept out, I asked him How do I go on?  What do I do now?  Tell me and I will do it.
    He said You must go back the way you came.  You must find all the pieces you threw away and put them back on.  You cannot go on until you have them all back.  I said Ok, and in great gloom and sadness turned back to retrace my steps.  I could see now I was only a skeleton.  I had no flesh left.  I looked back and the figure was gone, but so was the laughing face.
    The walk back was even longer than the walk forward.  I had to stop and search every bush, every rock, every part of the sides of the road for flakes of skin and pieces of fingers and all the other tiny little bits I'd torn off.  I tried to make them go back on my skeleton, but they were dried up, useless, unable to cling into place.  I put the shriveled pieces into my pouch and kept searching for more.
    After a very very long time, what felt like weeks, I arrived back at the door I'd first left, still a skeleton in a robe.  The figure appeared.  He asked if I had found every piece.  I was very miserable and not sure, some of the pieces were so small and dried up I could have missed some.  He told me to give him the pouch.  It looked pathetic, a small pouch full of dried up flakes of skin.  How could that ever cover my body again?  They looked too small to ever be able to be usable.  I dreaded what he would say.  I handed him the pouch and looked away, feeling miserable.
    He told me to shut my eyes, so I did.  He blew on me, and said Open your eyes.  All the skin and little bits were back in place, looking like they first had, and my robe was white.  And now I could see his face.  He had very stern but kind and loving eyes (I still can't tell this part without crying) and told me to start again.  I was to follow the road and collect the treasures I saw.  And I had a new command.  Never again mutilate myself so that I couldn't feel something.  Then he turned and went through a white door that appeared, and I was left with the road.
    The rest of the vision went by quickly, as if I were seeing the future.  I saw myself gathering pretty stones and flowers, and my pouch growing large.  I saw myself happy and having a picnic with others by the side of the road when we got hungry.  I saw sadness and grief come over me and pass through, and I saw myself sing again.  I saw that I could feel every little breeze on my arms, and feel every blessed pain in my legs.
    And when I reached the gorge, it was just a crack across the road.
    I stepped over it.
    And I woke up.  My fever was gone.  I got out of bed and ate some food, and have spent the next 20 years of my life following the road.

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