Tag Archives: childhood memories

Road or Air?

Road trips. Yeah, I just laughed out loud at the memories. If I were an author, I could write children’s novels on the subject using my family’s experiences and adventures. As a family, we took many road trips especially in the younger years–even when Marcia was in a car seat. I don’t know how my parents survived.

My extended family circle is big. I am extremely blessed. When my Dad felt led by the Lord to move West (Colorado) for work, my parents made every effort to make certain that we kept in touch with all three sides of the family. Because of this, road trips took different directions: one year, we would go northeast states in a loop, squeezing in as many family/friends as we could in the short period of vacation time; the next vacation, we would go in the opposite direction doing the same pattern. Road trips also gave an opportunity to visit historical places and other tourism specialties in different cities.

In our suburban, there was this unwritten form of conduct for the seating. Because Melissa and I didn’t get carsick, we were always smashed in the backseat. Melissa’s long legs could only handle so much of the no leg room and for myself, my pet-peeve was not being able to hear the music. Literally the example: No one is talking, so I ask, “Can we turn up the music, please?” Mom turns up the volume. As I have now broke the silence, now everyone is talking or bickering between the middle/backseat–Mom turns down the music. Unfortunately, the only music we never wanted to ask to be turned up was Dad’s oldies. I finally learned to appreciate them (before I went deaf.)

Now, the backseat was responsible for getting the snacks, packed lunch or Dad’s Diet Pepsi from the cooler. Being efficient packers, the cooler always landed in the farthest back of the trunk, in which one had to unbuckle their seat belt to practically climb over the pillows and duffle bags to get in the box. Somehow, someone upfront was always hungry when the backseat persons were sleeping. The middle seat was responsible for the trash bag. I am not sure why this was a big deal, but most of the seat bickering was based on the trash bag, or the fact that they had controls for the air vents, their windows rolled down and they had the best seats when we played the Alphabet game (of course, Dad driving had the best seat of us all!)

When we started traveling by plane, I liked the convenience of getting to our destination quicker and always tried to act more mature when we sisters got to sit by ourselves apart from Mom and Dad. The only real code of conduct our family has for air travel is that we get to the airport a prompt two hours early to check in our luggage and get through security. Traveling the air was a breeze, until this time my ticket officially labeled me as a disabled passenger.

The disabled label does not have any real grasp on my mentality…it used to irritate me significantly, but now it is something that I have come to acknowledge. My disabilities are not always visible, which is why no one fully understands the amount of physical pains, pressures and problems that my body endures. I don’t blog about this subject–even though it is one of the biggest physical challenges I daily encounter–but to understand the significance of my fear for this flight, you must understand that like any other area in my body in which the tumors destroy the nerves–there is disaster in waiting. In this instance, it is my bowels. I have little to no control of them or their patterns. I often feel controlled in fear of having accidents; no 26-year-old should be having accidents, but it has happened. It’s humiliating.

So as I started preparing for the flight to Colorado, I felt fear take a strong grip over me and I asked a few close friends to join 1me in prayer about this–I needed peace. Our flight out left at 7am, so in code, we arrived to the airport around 5:15am for check-in and security. We checked in our two suitcases, as well as my walker. I was then pushed through security and only stood (Mom holding one of my arms to keep me balanced) when they performed the security pat-down. Passing the requirements, we headed to our gate.

You can tell that it was our first time traveling in this manner, because when we arrived at our gate, we said our thank you to the girl who pushed my chair and then she left to go help another wheeled chair passenger. When they joined us, Mom and I saw the lady tip the employee. As she left, I looked at Mom and she asked exactly what I was thinking: “Were we supposed to tip her?” We looked in our wallets and resolved to use what few dollars we had to tip any others that help in such a manner. ūüôā

Being a disabled passenger flying Southwest airlines is sort of like having First-class seating. I was wheeled to the plane door, then helped to the seats…Mom and I decided just to sit the first row. There is a first time for everything. Still nervous for the flight, Mom gives me reassurance prep-talk and soon the plane is running down the airstrip. I remember take-off. Then sleep found me. We landed in Denver and I was one of the first few of the plane, once again pushed in a wheel chair to baggage claim, although this time they buckled me in…which I found quite hilarious! It made sense, however, once we rode on the concourse terminal train. I have never felt so much freedom at the sight of my walker waiting for me at baggage claim!

In both my flights, I had to completely surrender myself and trust in God’s protection. It was NOT easy! But I saw answered prayer; I lived answered prayer. On the last day of meeting friends, I had the chance to see my interpreter from CCU. We were discussing this flight story and I told her that I had been challenged by the experience. How often it is that I say the simple phrase, “I’m praying for you.” Then I forget or say it once quickly, then get busy and move on with life.

It humbles me to know that I have prayer warriors who daily lift up my name to God; they present my personal, detailed requests…as well as the need for comfort and strength. Prayer in my life, as of late, has seemed to be an unwritten code of conduct–very formal, lacking zeal. Like the Disciples (Luke 11:1-4), I often in question say, “Teach me to pray.” And I know He will answer.

The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.

Soren Kierkegaard

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Under the Heavens

Yesterday at breakfast, Megan and I started discussing some of the different college courses we had taken during our years of studies. Old college days have been in thought since this weekend marked Marcia’s college graduation. Our “baby sister” now a college graduate! ūüôā

In the course of our breakfast chat, Megan and I discussed our science classes. I had taken Environmental Science (being a Business major, this was the easiest to comprehend–bonus, the shortest labs!) and Megan had taken a course from her college that was equivalent in study to my Environmental class. We both concluded that the study of rocks was not our keen interest. We ventured to other areas of nature…the oceans and heavens, and it made me think back to the last summer I lived at home (San Luis Valley), before permanently moving to Denver that Fall to finish school and work.

IMG_4951 Cosmos.

To cap off my Gen-Eds, I took several online courses from Red Rocks Community College. Besides my Humanities curriculum and online discussions, my next favorite that summer was Astronomy. Being in the science department, this also meant labs. But I didn’t mind the labs. From my parents backyard, on clear evenings with little or no moon, the heavens sparkled!! I could spend hours gazing at the stars, trying to find constellations in my Dad’s telescope or drawing the phases of the moon. One couldn’t do that living in Denver.

Growing up, we sisters would take blankets out on clear summer evenings and lay out on the grass. We would talk about life–funny stories, the little insignificantly seeming things that back then got on our nerves, fears or dreams–and stare up at the sky. I remember feeling so small…one can’t even see the whole expanse of the sky without turning your head. I know the ocean is deep, unmeasurable, but the heavens are unfathomable.

il_570xN.592181820_c2f2 Northern Lights Show.

Once in junior high, I was getting ready for bed. On summer evenings, it was typical of us to leave our windows open as to get a cool breeze and hear the outside voices of nature (my poeticness version of saying, “Hear the cows chewing the grassy fields and mooing distress-fully.”) I was closing the curtains half-way when I noticed the sky was glowing red. My first thought, “Jesus is returning!” and went into an excited panic moment. Then realized it was not, but couldn’t put my finger on what I was seeing. Still in an excited panic state, I ran downstairs (yes, I literally used to run down the stairs), and yelled, “The sky is red!!” My Chicken Little moment. Dad looked out the study-room window, but the corner of the roof blocked his view of the red, making my Chicken Little situation all the more realistic. But I persisted that he go outside. When we did, the sky was aglow! Northern Lights…right out my bedroom window. Unfathomable.

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    and turns deep darkness into the morning
    and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name.

Amos 5:8, ESV

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When You Give

In the second grade, I was in Mrs. Brumfield’s class. There are a few special memories I think of when remembering Mrs. Brumfield and her class: She always wore bright red lipstick and because she used my personal book, Abel’s Island, to¬†read to the class for our afternoon reading time, I have a smudge of that red lipstick in the front cover of my book. It still remains one of my favorite children novels.¬†Our circular building held classrooms divided like a pie and our door faced the playground–I especially liked the monkey bars, so much that I gave my palms blisters; but once my name was written on the chalkboard and I had to stay in from recess.

Mrs. Brumfield’s favorite type of animals were pigs. We even made “pigs” using pantyhose stuffed with pillow cotton and after we tied off the curly tail, we hot-glued on felt ears and sewed buttons for the eyes. My pig has pink ears and purple buttoned eyes…and it is in my special box. On our birthday, we got to make a chart using pictures from home to tell the class a bit about our favorite things and about our family. A family member was invited to attend and sit with us up front, but because neither mom nor dad could attend mine, Mrs. Brumfield allowed my best friend at the time, Stephanie, to sit with me.

At the end of the day, there were two dismissal bells for the bus shifts. Because I left on the second bell, this allowed me ten extra minutes of reading time…as we always ended the day with quiet reading in our own “corners or desks areas.” Being a book nerd from an early age, I took this time seriously and never wanted to leave class at the second bell if I was in mid-sentence. And Mrs. Brumfield gave us a take home assignment, but it was “fun” homework: when it was our turn, we took home a large Ziplock bag containing a book, entry log, and a stuffed animal of a mouse in overalls holding by Velcro–a chocolate chip cookie. Our assignment was to log our different activities of what we did with our new pal. Mom tried to find a few educational activities. ūüôā The hardest part was keeping track of the cookie! The book:

if_you_give_a_mouse_cookie

If you have read either this book or¬†the other,¬†If You Give a Moose a Muffin, the overall concept of the story is the same: you give and they keep asking for more–eventually circulating back around to what was initially given.

Recently, my parents went on an extended weekend vacation back to Colorado. It was not initially the reason why we set the Lifeline for use, but it was planned to have that established before their trip for safety reasons. My weekend was not much different from others. I had a few appointments already set, tasks I needed to accomplish and had some sister chat times. I carried out my days like usual routine–my own breakfasts and lunches. Several ladies from my parent’s Sunday school class signed up to deliver hot meals for my dinners. I cannot tell you how much that was appreciated!! A few ladies contacted me just to see how I was doing and if I needed anything. Genuine kindness.

Mom did ask a girl from town around my age to come in the evenings to spend the night (mainly for my Lifeline factor), but also to help take out trash, clean Muffy’s kitty litter, help with dishes and anything else I might need. We decided this was best in their absence–she came in around 10pm and left in the mid-mornings for her other duties and jobs. It worked nicely and since the Olympics were still being covered in Primetime, I usually was in the basement at the end of the day relaxing and working on a friend’s late Christmas present while watching the Games.

I really cherished the weekend, but also saw how much I possibly take for granted within my family all the extra help they give so selflessly. Miriam would ask if I needed help with anything else before going to bed herself and unless it was something I just couldn’t do, like unbutton my new sweater so I could wear it the next day, I didn’t initially ask for much assistance. Maybe it was embarrassment, maybe pride. Maybe I am used to my family seeing me struggle, like when I try to pick up medicines that have fallen to the floor, and they just come to the rescue without my asking. Or often, maybe I am just tired of asking for people to give their time and help–as I turn more dependent, I am becoming stubborn and wanting to still do things on my own. How do I balance between the two? It is something I am still in process of learning.

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Until the New Year

Typical middle school years are normally the worst for most people, but for myself, it was the best three years. I enjoyed all my classes, excelled playing my flute in band,¬†secured amazing friends (a few I still keep in contact with to this day), blossomed from buck teeth and huge glasses to fancy braces and better shaped lenses, let my hair grow long and curled it every morning (yes…days of self-discipline!) and got involved with a few “behind the scene” jobs for Student Council during my eighth grade year since I was a library aid¬†and often had the time to help. (Yes, LIBRARY AID! And I gave good book recommendations!) ūüôā

It was in my eighth grade year that I took Algebra I. Besides English class after lunch–no one could make diagramming sentences or Sherlock Holmes more interesting than Mr. Peoples–Algebra was my favorite class!¬†It made sense…your equations had to balance. Simple. Then freshman year of high school I took Geometry. What a nightmare; I have never been a shapes and dimension person, although I¬†thrived in Algebra II/Trigonometry. Maybe I am just odd, but none-the-less, first year¬†Algebra¬†was the best.

Our teacher, Mrs.¬†Elderidge, sat next to her over-head projector and faced the class when she began to teach or helped us work out our homework questions. I had only just failed one hearing test, so hearing loss was not a huge issue at the time, but this set up in¬†a classroom is¬†ideal for deaf people! I only had a handful of teachers in high school who taught the same–I really probably should have started interpreters for my classes even then.

Teachers can have a great sense of humor. I heard this comment a few times in high school, but it was Mrs. Elderidge who said it first in my memory. Scenario: Last day¬†of school¬†before¬†Christmas break and everyone (students)¬†is anxious to¬†go home and enjoy¬†days of sleeping in, skiing, and no homework. I don’t even know how teachers got their classrooms to concentrate! Anyway, we are in¬†Algebra¬†class¬†and¬†had just finished grading our previous day’s assignments,¬†then start to¬†load¬†our backpacks. Mrs. Elderidge, in¬†ever-cheerful spirits, pipes¬†in, “Good job, everyone! No more homework for the rest of the year!” Our class gives a “Yay” with clapping hands, totally forgetting the obvious fact that we would be returning to school on January 3rd. Mrs. Elderidge brought us back to reality and then the dismissal bell rings.

After our relatives left this morning, I started scrambling around to see how¬†much I could finish before the end of the day…something with the non-stop reminder from the world that it will be a last day of 2013, tomorrow is starting over–the time factor, the ticking¬†clock.¬†“It’s the end of the year, I have to finish everything and start new!”¬†was the first mind-set…then I scratched all those plans and just acted as if it were a typical day. I think I accomplished more in doing so, but there was moment where I thought of eighth grade Algebra: I paid an¬†online¬†bill–“Yay! No more bills for the rest of the year!” I had a little laugh in memory of being brought back to reality.

Tomorrow is a new day of a new year, but that fact will not stop¬†life from being lived in the moment just as we are at this present time. I think the season of the new year is special, because it gives us a chance to reflect back on the year past–the blessings and the hardships, the old friends and new friends, the expected and the un-expected.

Thank you for being part of my journey.

Happy New Year!

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Mel’s Twelve Memories of Christmas

Today is December 12th. It is not a significant date for me personally, but it does remind me of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I am sure you all have heard this melody. One of my favorite versions of this song is actually an ice skating performance by Olympic medalist, Scott Hamilton. I was obviously too young to remember watching this on television, but Mom taped to VHS the 1990 Disney’s Christmas on Ice performance that year. We watched it probably every year growing up, as ice skating was a something our family enjoyed…not only watching during the Winter Olympics, but also trying our own talents on the frozen pond out in the field. Let’s just say, I never¬†landed that “Double Triple Axel.” ūüėČ

Pulling out the Christmas DVDs and VHS tapes last week, I found this recording. Exciting! Even better is that captions played too. I was shocked! In watching some of the performances, I got to travelling down memory lane and complied some of my favorite Christmas memories:

12. Caroling: Whether it was with the youth group (the van rides were memories in themselves), my family (we sang at the nursing home), or friends in Denver (we went around the neighborhood, to the fire station, and¬†then sang at the town square by the lighted tree¬†in Arvada)–singing carols and giving¬†baskets of fruit was something I always looked forward to each year.

11. Family ski trips¬†at Wolf Creek: It’s true–

DSCN5611

10. Handel’s Messiah: Last December, we attended a performance at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. It was just the orchestra and¬†the four soloists: a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone. Beautiful. If you’ve never listened to the entire oratorio,¬†I recommend¬†it.

9. Coming home¬†for Christmas breaks¬†in college and on Christmas Eve (post-grad): The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” took somewhat a¬†literal¬†meaning.

8. Calling the grandparents: It was really sad when my hearing no longer permitted me to¬†talk to my grandparents at the same time as my family. (I had to call separate using the internet captel.)¬†But that won’t be the case this year!!

7. I am not sure where the tradition started, but after the Christmas Eve service, we drove around town to see Christmas lights, then came home to watch¬†Jim Henson’s Muppet Christmas Carol. When it finished, we sang Christmas carols by the lighted tree.

6. The gingerbread candle family: When I was about 7 or 8, Mom purchased a candle making kit and we made gingerbread candles for Christmas. (You would not believe how many years the gingerbread scent lasted!) Since there were four of us sisters, we each took a different mold structure and when they were set as candles, we painted them. Best part is that Mom still has the candles and sets them out each year.

IMG_7345

Guess which one is mine–

5. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith: It was the most anticipated album of the season!

4. Community performance of the Nutcracker held at Adams State College: It took place every other year and was always very well done! The youngest ballerinas in training made¬†the cutest mice…how could the Mouse King be intimidating¬†after being associated with them?

3. Decorating my room with Marcia: Sharing a room meant sharing the fun in decorating for the holiday. When we finished, we liked to fall asleep with the Christmas lights twinkling throughout the room.

2. Dad’s French toast: Christmas brunch! Bonus, we got¬†“cutie”-sized oranges¬†in our stockings.

1. “The Little Drummer Boy,” Whiteheart version: 1993. Pure rock, drums…best ever.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories?

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I’m still here.

This morning was dark, rainy and grey. And the coffee had coffee grinds at the bottom of the pot. I sat at the table just sort 0f staring out the window. Even two cups of coffee¬†wasn’t helping much in getting me awake, not that it works that instant anyway.¬†Mornings are my favorite time of day: my typical routine usually means getting breakfast, than enjoying coffee with my morning readings. But this morning my mind was just wandering. Then I thought of something funny in terms of my cups of coffee and lack of writing blog posts this week–in a name: Cryin’ Bryan Dern.

I can’t speak for my sisters, but if someone asked me what our favorite pastime was while growing up, I would place listening to Adventures in Odyssey as the number one candidate.¬†In the summers, we could¬†spend hours listening to¬†episodes on cassette tape while coloring or doing crafts; Mom would eventually tell us “One more episode then you need to go outside.”¬†During the school year, we would listen to the episodes at 6pm over the radio.¬†It was always when Mom was cooking¬†dinner;¬†when she used the hand¬†mixer (yes, the old-school kind) it¬†would make the radio have bad static (it already did anyway.) Buzzz…”Mom!!!!!!!”¬†Poor Mom–even if it was an episode we had heard before,¬†the static confusion¬†seemed¬†like a traumatic event¬†and would result in this unanimous outcry.

I had a few favorite episodes, but one that stands out in my mind..that I thought of this morning…is titled, “Top This!” In the episode, there are two story lines:¬†Courtney’s cousin comes to Odyssey to visit for a few weeks. The¬†two cousins, who have a history of competition against each other, embark on an unintentional¬†“race” to see who can make the most money in fundraisers for church youth camp. Losing focus on the real reason for the fundraisers, Mr. Allen helps Courtney learn to not focus on¬†her own winning, but¬†being humble¬†towards her cousin and supporting her when she “wins” just by letting her win.

The second story line involves the outspoken radio host, Cryin’ Bryan Dern. The Odyssey 105 is in need of votes in order to save the station. Bryan Dern sets up this gig in which he takes over the studio and¬†turns the Odyssey 105 into a 24-hour Polka station. As soon as the public¬†hears about¬†Dern “taking the Odyssey 105 station hostage,” the votes begin to pour in–even though it is all fake. It is during this time, Dern has some of the best quotes. And I thought¬†of a few this morning that made me laugh.

Over the course of his 95 hours on the air, Dern gives away countless amounts of Polka cd’s while he¬†starts to get annoyed with the music himself. By the end, with his coffee enthusiasm long gone (in his 25th hour on the air, he already had gone with 30 cups of coffee), Dern¬†goes on to have a moment of silence for a caller’s sick hamster named “Binky;”¬†thinks that Polka music needs something–like, words; and eventually¬†gives¬†up the whole gig altogether when he can no longer think or see straight.¬†I am not as crazy as¬†Dern, but for some odd reason, his question over the air in his final hours– “Whaddaya wanna do?”–somewhat reflected how I felt this week about writing blog posts.

It is not that I’ve had nothing–my week¬†was full¬†of typical tasks that most often¬†I overdid myself. It is as if this “normal routine,” without¬†any doctor appointments or major health slides, has left me with a sense of¬†urgency: to do it all, before anything comes up again.¬†In reality, that attitude will only last me like Bryan Dern’s 95 hours on the air, because¬†there is no foundation if I stand¬†on my own.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”¬†~Proverbs 19:21 ESV

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Homecoming: thoughts of heaven

This weekend was Homecoming Weekend for the university in town. Although it meant nothing to me (besides a fun parade and getting pumpkin chai with my sister afterwards), there were many class reunions during the weekend where the alumni had returned to their Alma Mater to celebrate their years of attendance and also seeing the vision of the school continue through the current students. This year was also special as it was the coronation of the new university President.

Homecoming is coming home. Ok, so maybe college is not home…nor your high school, but when you are saying “homecoming,” it is the welcoming back notion. I have to admit though, when I was in college, my term for “coming home” literally meant calling Mom and saying, “I am coming home.” Home. My mind has been thinking about this word…I think I started when we took a little weekend road trip to Toledo.

After my mom remarried, we moved to Toledo. I was about a year and a half old or so. We moved to Colorado¬†a few months after I turned six years old; my first memories of a “home” were from there.¬†As we visited¬†a few weeks ago, I¬†realized that all my memories of Toledo were of places,¬†such as the tunnel you¬†walked through under the main road to get to the¬†zoo; the Bob Evans we passed to get to our house; the house itself (I can still see the inside); the church we attended (but when we actually attended church I noted how much smaller the sanctuary was compared to my five-year¬†old mind);¬†MacQueens¬†Produce Farm and a really¬†awesome ice cream place¬†by¬†car¬†lot (which I¬†finally got the name: Jan’s.) I remember things like my classroom¬†at school, getting red tokens for lunch when you wanted pizza, learning¬†the alphabet, and being Mother Goose in the end of the school year play. I¬†remember singing a¬†Honey Tree song for church and playing in the turtle sandbox or eating orange pushups. But what I don’t place is people’s faces. I only remember them through pictures.

All that changed in Colorado. We moved in the summer,¬†meaning I started a brand new school that¬†Fall. The kids in my class were the peers I attended the rest of my school years with, graduating together¬†and continuing to keep in touch here and there¬†(thank you¬†Facebook.)¬†Home was no longer just things or places…it involved¬†people from town, school and church. Home, physically, was¬†the house…a place¬†where¬†I could be myself, protected from the world. In the bigger¬†picture, Colorado was home. I still consider it home. It is my Alma Mater.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe God moved me here for a purpose…especially in¬†the¬†area¬†concerning my health. I now have friends, live closer to my extended family,¬†a “home” church I have attended since the move and many open doors for my paintings. So why doesn’t it feel like home? Time may¬†play a part in¬†it:¬†we lived in Colorado for almost twenty years (seventeen to be exact).¬†Whatever the cause, I think it¬†fits into the season of the soul..this¬†current road I travel, with thankfulness.

Home brings thoughts¬†of heaven. As my body continues to decline, [yet¬†I am¬†still becoming all that God has planned for me in this life]¬†there are¬†times when I¬†do honestly question God in aspect, “I don’t know how much more of this I can handle.” Maybe I am using thoughts of¬†heaven as an easy way out of this worldly suffering. Heaven is joy…and I look forward to that Homecoming. There will be nothing like it in comparison. But here, in the now, I should not be praying centered around myself, but God. It is only then that this temporary home (my body) will find strength in thanksgiving, even in the suffering:

Man-centered prayers tend to ask, ‚ÄúHow can God help me with my problems?‚ÄĚ while God-centered prayers consider, ‚ÄúWhat is God doing in this? How can I join in God‚Äôs purposes here?‚ÄĚ This changes not only what we pray for, but also the way we¬†pray.

Tim Challies. “Persevere in Prayer.”

Philippians 4:4-7

~Mel ūüôā

*http://www.challies.com/articles/persevere-in-prayer?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=5575&utm_campaign=Four-hourly_2013-10-02+12%3a15

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