The Rain of Shame

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife #52EssaysNextWave2019 10/52

I took a different route home the other day.  It was a beautiful, clear, sunny afternoon.  I actually enjoyed the ride for once.  Usually, I’m all up in serious bumper-to-bumper traffic and I was able to notice the still-green hills, the fields and open spaces.   This tranquility made me think of the ride the night before…

I was driving home late on one of the busier Bay Area freeways and, although there was virtually no traffic at that hour, I found myself stressing out big time.  It seemed that, at every exit, there was something that I saw that made me feel the heat of shame.    The majority of the memories that assaulted me were negative and violent, the fight where he took the keys out the ignition and left me stranded, the time I used my last dollars to pay to have his car towed when it broke down, the time where I waited for the police to arrest him and they never showed up because, as they put it, I was the 68th person in line, the time he took the phone from my hand and practically left a moving vehicle, and the times I had to “trap” him in order to serve him papers, the times that..

This rain of shame is akin to PTSD, it really does hit in waves and it is so overwhelming, it is hot, and sometimes it hurts.    I move twenty steps backward, I start calling myself names like SonsaTontaPendeja with rage, I am taken back to that point where I was helpless and had completely lost my power.   It really does hurt to go back to that dark place.  Sometimes it lasts days, sometimes it lasts hours, and this time, thankfully, it lasted minutes.   Somehow, InnerChingona brought me back from that dark side.

What do I do to calm myself?  Pray.  Listen to songs that I can sing to.  Pray.  Think about how far I have come.  Pray.  Thank GodJesusVirgenOfG that I have a great familia, friends, work projects, and, most days, peace.

I always wonder why these rains of shame still hit, maybe it’s to remind me that light always comes after dark, that, in the long run, I am the one who has always had the power within me, even if InnerChingona has to get all up in my face to make her point.

Sadly, we cannot stop the rain of shame, but thinking about the good in our lives may bring us back from that place where we beat ourselves up for every single decision that wasn’t smart, healthy or positive.

Embrace the rain.  Clean and calming.  Clearing out all of your shame and fear. I try to remember that I am not the mistakes that I have made or, more important, I am not responsible for the stupidass mistakes of others.  That, and keeping things moving forward, no matter how slow or how far you move.

 

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Love Your Lonjas (or Not)

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave #9/52

Had a hilarious conversation this morning with a woman in a taquería this morning.  I love talking to these women, 90% Spanish, 10% English, 100% Funny, sharp-witted, they miss nothing, and tell it like it is.  This particular woman asked me if I wanted my ‘taco de papa con todo’.  When I asked her what “everything” was, she said ‘salsa, crema, and queso fresco’.   I tell her that I want very little sour cream and cheese.

Instead of getting an answer like “ok” in regular restaurants;  I get this CLASSIC response from this señora:  “Anda peleada con la leche?” which literally translates into ‘are you fighting with milk?” (dairy).   Just like that I answered, “ no, con la leche no;  ando peleada con la lonja” (I’m fighting with my lonja/spare tire, roll of fat, love handles, etc.).  This lady then LAUGHS and tells me “tuvo buena esa” (good one) LOL.

As I thought about this exchange throughout the day, I smiled because these señoras are super-sharp and whenever you can make them laugh, the perks are extra food, extra salsa, etc. as your plate is handed to you.

I also thought about how mexicanas and Latinas in general all know what it’s like to have a lonja, to battle that muffin top, to know intellectually that you must ditch carbs, sal, dairy, carne, sugar, you name it, but to know that culturally, our food is amongst the most satisfying cuisine ever.  While you know you should stick to a salad,  it is really difficult to say no to señoras like our mothers, abuelas, tías, comadres, friends who cook, and the señoras in taquerías, when they have a plate of Mexican food in your face.  And know that you WILL be teased if you try to eat better.  Like me this afternoon, for not having sour cream or cheese, or asking for frijoles de olla/whole beans versus refritos!

Aside from the funny reaction, I think that, deep down, this señora respected me for letting her know that my struggle with la lonja is real and know that others will respect you for trying to deal with your own lonja because they ‘get it’.  No need to go into a taquería or restaurant insulting the crew for the amount of fat and/or calories are in the carnitas, why is lard used for the refried beans, deep-fried chicharrones and the like;  these folks are just doing their job, making great food.

It’s up to you (and maybe your doctor) to deal with any nutritional issues, weight-loss plans and to know that there are enough Mexican food options that are healthier and CAN be enjoyed.  I have a friend who orders a veggie burrito without the tortilla.  I laughed at first but then, when I saw how the plate looked, with all of the filling, beans, rice, onions, avocado, tomatoes, and salsa on the outside:  it looked really good.

Plus, you can always drink more water, walk a little longer, run a little faster, lift a heavier weight, etc. when you overdo it.  A lonja does not disappear overnight.  Some of us hate our lonjas, some of us love them, and most of us, simply learn to live with them.

The journey is trying to stay on that road to the #NoLonjaZone.

 

 

One Step At A Time

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave 8/52

So blessed to have a full life.  The past 6 weeks, however, have taken their toll on the little time that I spend on myself, to get myself in order.   While I have no regrets on things that I’ve taken on:  taking Interpreting classes, taking care of my lil nieces on weekends, trying to make a lot happen with not enough staff, etc.  I noticed that my attitude was not right:  impatient, tired, irritable, tired, overworked, tired.

While I don’t want to stop doing what I do, I do know that I want to work smarter, not harder;  to take time for myself as I strive to complete life goals; to admit when I’m tired/burnt out instead of acting like I should handle it all asi nada mas, to make my self-care a daily part of my life. As I work my way out of the quemada/burn-out zone, I decided that, no, I didn’t have to follow ALL of the tips I find on taking care of myself all at once, so I decided that I would try to handle ONE of them within the next month.

In no particular order, here are 3 self-care tips that I’d like to learn more about:

Don’t Give Up The Time You Set Aside
No matter what your profession, you should keep boundaries to preserve your work-life balance. Blocking time on your calendar to decompress is only half the battle: actually utilizing that time for personal care is the other. Hold yourself accountable to keeping the time you set aside for yourself. If you slip, then learn from the moment, reset and restart. – Tracy Avin, MBL Benefits Consulting >>It could be walking for 20 minutes a day to writing in my journal to drinking water, algo es algo.

Leverage Your Commute Time To Decompress
As much as we all want to carve out time for ourselves, the reality is we often get pulled in a different direction given the demands of our everyday lives. One thing I can always count on in my day is commute time. Instead of driving, I take the bus and use the time to relax by reading or listening to music. Our Microsoft CFO, Amy Hood, openly talks about how she takes the bus and does this, too. – Rakhi Voria, Microsoft >>One of the reasons I love taking the train so much,  I don’t have to deal with the traffic mess — Iately, it’s been watching YouTube and taking naps LOL

Follow The Two-Minute Rule
David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done, explains the two-minute rule. It simply states that if a task takes less than two minutes, then do it straight away. This eliminates procrastination, which reduces stress and allows you to stay organized, which grants you time to decompress at the end of the day. Practicing this rule will surely provide you with personal balance. – Dane Matheson, Sourcebits  >>This is one I will try ASAP, I want to see how much more I can get done in one day!

I guess I’m tired of being tired.  Ready to learn how to make positive changes.  It all starts with one step.

Signs

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave  7/52

Yesterday I was a mess.  I was in a state of overwhelm.  It didn’t help that I woke up with remnants of a migraine, late, and rushing around.   Part of my morning routine is to turn off all of the lights and I always look out of the kitchen window.  It’s like my way of saying hello to the universe as I wake up.  The first thing I saw was Mama’s tree, covered in pink blossoms, her ‘popcorn’ tree she used to call it.  I took this as a sign that she was with me that second.

As I posted this picture on my social media, here were my thoughts:  I’m “off” this morning. This pic of Mama’s tree will help put things into perspective today. How this señora willed herself to wake up and be grateful for a new day, no matter how she felt, astounds me and propels my stressed-running-late-negative-ass forward to make this an important day. Thanks for the signs Mama. #MargaretLivesInMe

Regular readers know that my mother was left partially paralyzed from a stroke thus, for the most part, she was confined to the house and dependent upon us to drive her wherever she wanted to go.  Sad, because one of the joys of Mama’s life was to pick up her keys and take off driving in her car, her “me” time.  I remember she was a morning person and would wake up in a good place – she needed that positivity to deal with her family of night owls, morning people we are not.

So later in the day, I was still not right and was stressed going back and forth trying to decide on taking a class or not, I then saw another sign from Margaret:

Whenever I’m struggling, I always see pennies in random places, this one was on the seat on BART. Sign from Mama that I’m doing the right thing. It may have taken me 3 weeks to decide but I showed up to yet another Interpreting Drills class and talked my way in. I got called on a lot in class (maybe she was testing me LOL). Happy to know that my sense of aventada-ness is alive and well – fell on my face as much as I nailed it. With my crazyass life, these classes keep me focused . This next month, especially, will test my stamina and my time-management skills. No pain, no gain, no guts, no glory. I will handle this :).

I’m learning to pay attention to the signs when I see them.  Mama was reminding me that my goals are important, that they do matter, and that no one else but me can take care of my business.

DO NOT BE AFRAID to get back on your wagon for your health, for your truth, for your career or for your life goals. DO IT FOR YOURSELF – don’t let yourself down. Late or not, show up for you!

My Ordinary Day

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife   #52EssaysNextWave2019   6/52

Ordinary Days. For years and years, I ran from these days, too square, too much of a routine, too mundane for my busy life.  All I knew, or wanted to know, was moving fast, planning one event bigger than the next, moving from one town to another and another.   I always had something to do, somewhere to go, moving, moving, moving.  No time in my life for ordinary days.

Don’t get me wrong, it was (and is) exciting and a lot of fun.

But there came a time where I had to be there for Mama and for my family.  In 2014, Mama was walking her last journey on this earth.   I rarely left home, I helped my familia to take care of Mama and I was the one who kept the house up and kept everyone on schedule.  I super-surprised myself by being the one to move Mama when needed and to help change and dress her.  I remember one time I made her laugh when I pulled out a splinter from her finger como si nada.   Mama laughed because she never expected this from me, I was her miedosa daughter, scared of everything.  However, at the time, her comfort took precedence over EVERYTHING in my life.

I went right back to work a couple of days after her funeral and something had profoundly changed in me.  At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was different.   I was exhausted from weeks of caring for my mother, out of it, way off of my work-routine, and, I sensed that I was barely getting through the day, I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore.

One thing I knew.  I got great comfort from the schedule that I made, week after week, for my family.  I knew exactly who would be at the house and when.   I was very happy that my family had agreed to keep the schedule going so that we could be there to take care of our father.    It was as if this simple, mundane, activity was keeping me on point so that I could get myself up out of bed every day to make it to work, to handle my everyday survival.  Day after day, I’d see members of the Torres5 doing what had to be done, and, some days, I’d see the same profoundly sad face that I wore on a daily basis.  I didn’t feel so alone.

Our sadness eventually lifted, as if we had all been in a fog.  Our household started feeling like home again.   It took a little longer for me to become accustomed to living back at home and, once I got into work and events again, I found that I was “back” and having fun again working it.

What shocked me was that I was starting to really look forward to ordinary days, days where I could just be, somewhere where I could breathe and recharge, where I could do cool things like laundry (my task yesterday) to organizing our spare room (which I did this morning).  OMG, my years of living my personal life on such a regimented schedule, was actually working for me!

The one thing that kept me from enjoying ordinary days was my lack of commitment to anything other than work.  Once I committed to our basic family schedule, it seemed as if more possibilities opened up, I started spending more time with friends, working out, writing, reading, and doing things that I loved, things that were, dare I say it, boring, mundane, routine, ordinary, and at the same time, glorious!  On the days I’m not “on the schedule”, I’m able to do “me” things and, truth be told, there’s no place I’d rather be.

My life might have been very different had I embraced the ordinary years ago.   Especially as I’m now convinced that this is where my true peace, joy, and happiness reside, inside of my ordinary days.

Now, it’s all about work hard and handle my business, so that I can enjoy my next “ordinary day”!

Rainy Day…Music Day

 

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife

5/52 #52EssaysNextWave2019

It’s raining outside.

Rainy days and nights are perfect for listening to music.   In fact, this is what I’m doing as I wait out this California storm.  Looking out of the window, watching the cars go by, watching the colors and reflections of the stoplights, store lights, car lights, watching the raindrops on the window change colors as this all happens…all to the sounds of music that I love.

Took me back to when we had records and would make a conscious decision to listen to music.  All of us Torres5 had a record player in our rooms and a stack of records that always made it onto that turntable.  You would go thru the box of 45 records, mine were kept in a couple of shoeboxes; or go thru our vinyl albums, check out the covers to see if there was a song you wanted to hear, reject the records that you knew were going to scratch or skip LOL and, of course, someone would have to be “dj” and physically put the 45 or LP onto the turntable and get the needle into the correct groove/song that we all wanted to listen to.   And listen we would, for hours on end.

I don’t know that many people take that kind of time to enjoy music anymore, kind of makes me sad that our little ones may never know that kind of fun – the fun of reading album liner notes, looking at the face of an artist/singer as you listen to their music that you “know” s/he is singing just for you, laying on your bed daydreaming, sometimes looking out of the window, sometimes not, sometimes with the lights on, others with the lights off , letting the music take you away to another place, freeing you from life’s problems, helping you think about your next move, helping you recover from a broken heart.   Or falling asleep hearing that unmistakable click over and over telling you that the record/album has ended.

Radio, iTunes, mp3s, Pandora, Spotify can bring us all of the music we need and, I can get the same enjoyment blasting my music on the commute, a long drive, train rides and in my headphones but I do miss those days when we actually took time out of our day specifically to listen to music.   In my case, I loved to sing along (and still do) to great songs.  One of the reasons I’ve loved working in the radio industry is precisely because, in certain moments, concerts and station events specifically, you’re able to see the power of music and the joy listening to music brings to our listeners.  There’s no way that I’m the only one who loves music listening days (and nights).

In my family, we cannot listen to music at night, because we always want to hear the next song and we get no sleep LOL  And now I’ve decided that I am going to break out our vinyl and show our TorresBabies what it’s all about 🙂  I think that they will love it.

Here are some of the songs that we Torres5 listened to a LOT, so much so, that I associate the songs with said sibling and, believe me, there are thousands more songs in both English and Spanish, but I decided to go with the first song that popped into my head.

Here’s one that brother Mikey always loved and I wonder if he still sings it at his gigs today (probably):

Hollywood Swinging/Kool and the Gang

 

When I hear any Santana song, my thoughts automatically go to my brother Martin, who loves, “the number one Chicano in the world” as he puts it.

Incident At Neshabur/Santana

 

This album holds the record for never leaving the turntable for MONTHS and months.  We TorresSisters know every single song on all of the Heatwave albums because Kiki wouldn’t let us take the record off :).  But no one like sister Kiki to sing these songs and she would work the high notes too.

Mind Blowing Decisions/Heatwave

 

As Christy is the youngest, she had to listen to whatever we wanted and was, many times, the one who we assigned to be ‘dj’ to change the records LOL.   This is one of her absolute favorite songs and, by that time, it was likely on CD.

Kiss From A Rose/Seal

 

Most of the vinyl I bought back in the day was Tejano and the mighty Latin Breed was the first Tejano band I remember hearing.  I can safely say that I was one of the first of the Torres5 to really get into musica Tejana – now we love it and everyone always thinks we’re from there 🙂  Still love tejano music and the Latin Breed never gets old.

De Que Te Quejas Mi Amor/Latin Breed

In 2019 Hay Comida En Casa

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When I first saw this ‘advice’ on my social media, I had to laugh because who hasn’t heard this in one language or another?  “We have food at home”, I know that I heard this many times come out of Mama’s mouth.  Then later, as I was going through my receipts and bills, I thought of this again and really thought about it:  a big chunk of my receipts, and I always have a mountain of receipts, were for a coffee here, un McDonalds alla, and on and on.  Not only did I need to rethink my food spending, I could probably save a good chunk of money and live a healthier life by taking advantage of the fact that “hay comida en casa“.

Something clicked in me in that instant, and I decided that, yes, I had complete control of everything that goes into my mouth.  I also cook for Dad a lot as well.   We could both benefit from eating healthier and, what if something happened to either of us?  Something that would make a doctor tell us “this is it, if you continue eating this or that, you will die”.   I had heard of a friend’s wife being told something similar, that she would have to change her eating habits that second or she would die.

I noticed that I had begun to eat emotionally.   I remember going home after an emotional day and chowing down.  I didn’t even enjoy it.  Then there was the day where I had gotten it into my head that I needed to have chocolate every day, bought a candy bar, which I didn’t really even want, and ate it, so unsatisfying.   And THEN, because truth does not lie, I saw a picture of myself and I look like I swallowed a giant ball, lonjas for days.

After seeing the picture, I realized that I hadn’t felt healthy for a couple of weeks.  That something had really been on my mind bothering me during this time, didn’t think “I should call someone and talk this out”, no, it was “I need to make some guacamole”.   I hadn’t been checking on myself lately.  Taking care of myself had become a battle with my sick ‘woe is me, no one checks on me either’ mind.   My lack of self-care was showing (literally) and, after I realized it, it was ‘ON’.  That day, I even wrote in my journal, “this is IT, there has to be another way”.  I started listing the things that I could do in that moment to save my life.

I had a list of about 5 or 6 things that would need to be handled immediately.  I decided that I needed to brown bag it with real food, not jusgueria junk food,  drink water, SLEEP more, rest when I needed to, think about the real food that I liked to eat so that I would have more of it at the house,  choose better foods for Dad as well.  I also felt that I had to be much smarter about my commute which was tearing my patience and rest to shreds.   If I could tackle these necessary things, I might feel better and have time to do more of what I really wanted to do.

The first night of “taking care of myself” saw immediate results, I slept better than ever, the aches and pains, both physical and emotional, suddenly felt more manageable.   Taking leftovers, oranges, apples, bananas, water, etc, to eat was actually really satisfying and, while I did ‘need’ a piece of chocolate that first week, it was nowhere near the desperation that I had felt the week before.   And surprise, how productive was I?  I got soooo much done that I amazed myself.

The takeaway from this post is that, if you don’t take care of yourself emotionally, it WILL catch up with you physically.  Look at your emotional health before spending money on that huge meal or shiny new toy — you’ll end up with a bigass lonja and a lot less money in your bank account.  I want more for myself in 2019 and, like all new endeavors, it will take time to get there.  I’m ready.

 

 

The Angry Man, the Baby Girl, the Rain, and Me

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave2019  3/52

It’s rainy, everyone trying to stay dry.

I get onto the light rail train and a homeless gentleman is blocking my way and I’m half-in, half-out of the door. The man is furious because I ask him to move, he starts yelling and, in my defense,  other passengers yelled back to him. I was all squished into a corner and he didn’t move and, necia yo, neither did I.  I didn’t feel like arguing with him or anyone at that point.

I decided to let God deal with him until he wanted to get off of the train.  There happened to be a lady with 2 cute baby girls in front of him.  The woman asked him if this was his stop, and he proceeds to yell at them to move.  The woman had a lil one in a stroller and a tiny one standing near her.  When the man started yelling, the lil girl walks out of the train.   If the other passengers were angry when the man yelled at me, it was straight-up bedlam when he yelled at this family and when we saw the little girl, afraid, walking out of the train to let him pass.  Everyone went in to keep the doors from closing on this lil bebita so she wouldn’t be separated from her mom.

This man got angry because, according to him, no one cared about him or his things.  I used to be very rude to these folks until my sister told me one day,  ‘you know, people who are on the street aren’t all bad, mad or crazy, even though having no food or roof on your head can make you seem like you’re crazy‘.  I tried to have compassion because, you never know, it could be me on hard times.

What got me was, that this man wanted things his way a huevo… at the expense of this cute lil bebita, who in her little pea coat and Mary Jane shoes, could not hurt him.   He just wanted his way.  Kind of reminded me of 45 and the children in the cages, government shutdown, 45’s temper tantrum because he did not get his way, people suffering for some madness the HE created.  It was obvious that this man on the light rail felt the same way, especially as he kept yelling racist remarks and cussing at us as he walked off of the train completely enraged.

I was so happy to see that people did the right thing working together to protect this child and her family, and these were people of many colors who jumped in to help.  I saw more good people than bad on this day.  Gives me hope.  Hope that people are united by doing good for others instead of tearing them apart.

God bless those bebitas and their mother.  God bless that angry man. God bless our country.

Reading Into 2019

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Excited with my first reading list for 2019.

I used to have a designated reading corner in every house I lived in. However, it’s been harder now that I’m at the Ranch.  Plus, at some point, those books did eventually make the move to any or all of the following locations:

1. My purse or bag
2. The bathroom
3. The bedroom

When I noticed that my phone started taking over and I was starting to click into articles, etc., I decided it was time to think about how I read. I love having a book in my hand, I love going through the pages, if there are pictures, I spend time checking out the pictures and, as square as it may sound, I really love physically opening and closing the book, like I’m going in and out of another world.

I can do Kindle, or read sometimes off of my smartphone,  but it’s not the same, it feels like I do when I’m chisme-scrolling through social media, email, etc.  It’s easy to click things, dismiss them, or worse, forget about them as you chisme-scroll.  It becomes more difficult to lose myself in Kindle/Phone and I really do love to lose myself in a good book.

Yesterday, my family celebrated Christmas (on 3KingsDay) and my lil niece was very excited about a ‘chapter book’ that she had received as a gift. I loooove that she likes to read and looks forward to it.  My goal has become to expose my lil ones to reading, to going to the library, book fairs, book sales, you name it.  I have seen folks checking out something like 40 or 50 books at a time for their children, I don’t know if I’d go that far but it would be fun to go for it if my littles wanted to do it.

I remember always checking books out from the library even as a little girl.  I’m still a library girl at heart and tend to go straight to the ‘new’ book section as it is a big section and I always find something.    I had a goal once to read all Latino authors from A to Z;  I think I got to the G’s and got off track, I should revisit that goal.

Either way, I have decided that, no matter how busy life gets, that I will go through 2019 with a ‘libro’ in my hand.   I’m searching for a place to create a reading corner, for now it’s in my Jeep, where I spend the majority of my time and I almost finished “An Unlikely Journey” by Julian Castro over the weekend in the peace and quiet of the car.   Highly recommend this book especially if you grew up as I did:   culture, both of them,  front and center, activists as mentors, student activities, and working with and for your community.

Doesn’t matter where you open a book, or how you open that book, whatever and wherever works.  Just read.

 

QueQUE? Celebrating A Solas

It was December 31st.  I was sitting at home and feeling hesitant and excited at the same time.

I had decided that I wanted to spend my New Year’s Eve alone and found what I wrote over the weekend:

I want to spend New Year’s Eve alone, I do not feel like fake sentiment, I do not feel like hearing the noise of ringing in another year. Don’t get me wrong, I feel grateful to see another year, and admit that I’m not as jodida at the end of this year as I had been in other years. However, I feel the need to rejoice and celebrate in complete silence, in a very quiet way. I do not want to babysit anyone, to ensure that everyone is having a fun time, I want to be still with myself, my thoughts.

Celebrating alone is not something that I have really ever done, I’ve never admitted that I wanted to be by myself for once, who would believe it?  After all, my family’s holiday has always been New Year’s Eve, always with a huge party/dance, ever since I can remember.  I’ve always been involved in some event or another all up in the mix from start to finish.  I think that the last time I stayed home on New Year’s Eve was when I was packing up my place in Denver, getting ready to come back to California.  I was so busy, I didn’t think about it.

This time, however, I felt the true need to recharge, not only was I burnt-out physically, I was burnt-out spiritually.   The thought of being able to stay home and not have to be “on” felt almost like I was going to go out, party and throw down shots, that’s how exciting it was for me.

When the clock struck midnight, I was watching a movie and lounging in the recliner in my clean, quiet, house and I even whispered “Happy New Year” to myself.  Relaxed, rested, rejoicing in the promise of what 2019 will bring and thanking GodJesusVirgenOfG that my family understood my need to celebrate a solas and to start thinking about how I want to spend this new year.

Sometimes you have to shake things up to get yourself back on track.  Worked for me.

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