Monday, August 15, 2016

Age Is SO Not Appropriate



As of last week, I am officially closer to 60 than I am to 50. This is different from when I turned 36, looking at 40, and had a serious discussion with my friend as to whether or not we should still be wearing mini skirts. We now had daughters and certainly didn't want to look as though we were trying to compete with them. (Really? They were 10 at the time, so unless we were planning on rocking some jeans from Limited Too...) Yes, this is different from when I turned 46, looking at 50, and came to realize that my every six weeks hair cut would now have to include a color. This is different because I am 56 looking at 60 and 60 is SERIOUS BUSINESS. 60 is grown up time. 60 is if you want to do it, stop talking about it and move your ass time.

The problem is there are days I can't remember what it was I said I wanted to do. Was it watercolors? No, it couldn't be based on what I brought home from the Paint While You Drink Wine party place. Is it an ocean with clouds above or a blue sky with snow capped mountains below? Who the hell knows or gives a shit? Horseback riding! That was it! Ahh, but these knees. Along with skiing, fencing, and salsa dancing, it ain't gonna happen. Those are what I call my Christopher Columbus dreams, in other words, that ship has sailed.

I went for a physical. For those who haven't tried it lately, finding a primary doctor is sort of like getting a private visit with the pope. You have to apply, you have to have the right insurance, you then have to wait 6 months. That is so they can run the background check on you and see what kind of shenanigans you are up to on Facebook. Then, when the 12 year old nurse filling out your intake form asks you how many alcoholic drinks you have per week and you answer "4," because wine is good for your heart and doesn't count, she may look at you and say "Really? I don't think so. According to Facebook, you had 7 Saturday night alone, at Bonefish." 

When I finally made it into the inner sanctum, my doctor took one look at me and said, "Your thryoid looks full, let me feel it," and after she pokes around says, "Oh no, you just have a very full neck, it's just your anatomy." So...thanks. When I was younger my doctors all looked old and wise, able to protect me from the hideous diseases that may try to penetrate my young glowing skin. This doctor looks like Miley Cyrus. How can this child have PATIENTS? I think I saw her mother in the lobby waiting to drive her to a playdate when she was done with appointments. Also, she's pregnant. She radiates health and new life as she tells me she is starting me on a cholesterol drug and by the way, was I doing any kind of exercise? I may want to incorporate exercise into my daily routine, she says. Does riding a spin bike every day for 45 minutes count? Because that is what I do and I am thrilled that my efforts are paying off.

So off I go with my prescription for Lipitor, a BMI formula and a goal weight. And I feel OLD. Because as I'm driving to CVS I realize I am never going to be a young intern at a New York City publishing company. I am never going to law school to become a ruthless, albeit fair, Tory Burch briefcase carrying, divorce attorney. I'm probably never going to be the owner of my own woman's magazine. I'm never again going to wear a bikini, or my Steve Madden black stilettos with a dress that hits me mid thigh, which I rocked just a few short years ago. I'm entering a new phase of life and frankly, physically it sucks.

PHYSICALLY. What can I tell you, I don't see an upside, BUT...Mentally? There is some good news. Mentally, for me, it's a whole new ball game. Because though I do feel slightly panicked when I look in the mirror and see one more wrinkle and one less eyebrow hair, I look at the rest of my life and feel a sense of contentment.

This hit home for me on a recent vacation to Canada. (Super nice place but they have yet to discover grapefruit vodka. They have blueberry vodka? I would love to know if you or someone you know actually drinks blueberry vodka!) Anyway, when I was younger and I went on vacation I always wanted to stay.  “Wouldn’t it be great, “ I would think, “To live here on Wai Kiki Beach,” or “Here in the mountains,” or  “In this little Italian village,” you get the idea. And yes, it probably would. But now, though I enjoy seeing new places and eating the food and trying local wines (because who drinks blueberry vodka?) I am always ready to go home.

It’s not because my stuff is here, though I do miss my Wilfa coffeemaker immensely. It’s because, finally, I have found my peaceful place. I am happy here. I no longer look ahead to where do I want to live next, how much more of a house can I buy, how much more stuff can I get? I no longer worry about keeping up with the Joneses, and yes I’m sorry and embarrassed to say I was one of those people.  I don’t worry about finding a new, better place because to me, there is no better place. I am happy with what I have, where I am and who I’m with.


I enjoy my children immensely. When I’m with them I think, “These are good people.” The kind of people I would want to be around, even if they weren’t mine. I enjoy my writing, and look forward to the characters who have yet to introduce themselves to me. Sure, I wish I looked younger. Sure I wish I could stop the clock ticking away on my face and body, but would I trade that for the peace and contentment I now have come to cherish?

Uhm...I know you want me to say “Of course not," but give me a minute...I’m thinking…




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Ex-Wife New Life: living life newly single at 50 while overcoming the pain of divorce and moving on. Visit us @ http://facebook.com/ex.wife.new.life  or www.amykoko.com

Monday, July 25, 2016

YOU GOT GAME...JUST GOTTA FIND IT



When I was interviewing divorce attorneys, I actually had one say to me, "No matter who you hire, the divorce game is a tough one." "Wow," I thought. "Divorce GAME. That doesn't sound too bad. Maybe this won't be as horrible as I think." Because, when I think of game, I think of Candy Crush and Scrabble on my iPad, both activities that I enjoy immensely and spend an inordinate amount of time on. So sure, BRING IT.

I hired an attorney and the "game" began. Looking back at it now, I don't think I would call it a game exactly, more like a gut blowing, agonizing, pain filled torture that makes childbirth look like a 30 minute Zumba session. (Which btw I did once and nearly broke my ankle, but given the choice between the two I will take Zumba every time.) I would sometimes speak in tongues, or find myself on the floor of my closet giggling to myself while cutting old photos of us into little pieces. I cried in the grocery store, at my kid's school conferences and once at the table at Esca, a fabulous restaurant in NYC, where the waiter insisted on getting me a new plate of linguini with clams as he thought THAT was the reason for my misery.

"Madam, your food is not as you like?"

SNIFF SNIFF "No it's fine, really.

"Chef has been adding way too much pepper, I will get you a new plate immediately!"

Happily, I was able to eat each delicious clam wrapped in a forkful of linguini with just the right amount of pepper, between sobs. In fact, that meal is the one bright spot I remember from that time.

So no, game is not really how I would describe it. There is one good thing about divorce however, and that is...it ends. Finally, mercifully, thankfully, it is over. And guess what—life goes on.

So, here we are five years later— it has been five years since my ex and I sat in the judges chambers and each answered "YES" when he asked "Have you done all you can to save your marriage?" before he signed the decree making us an ex-couple. Yes, we did all we could do, meaning I begged, I pleaded, I bought new underwear, I got a facelift. After all of that, my ex looked at me one day and said, "After what I did, how could I ever really come home?" And so he didn't. I didn't really go into all of that with the judge, who totally freaked me out because as you know I have a huge phobia about going to jail ever since I saw Midnight Express in college. I was just waiting for him to look at me and say, "Hmmm...maybe a little jail time will straighten you out." So, I felt great relief but also unbearable sadness when he signed the decree, looked at us and said "Good luck to you both."

Now, here's what I need you to know: From that point on my life has been more than I ever thought it could be, because once you go through divorce and you are no longer one half of a couple, you become a WHOLE person. And that person will start to reveal to you who she is and what she wants, and it will come through loud and clear if you are ready to listen. And you can't be ready if you are holding on to regrets, anger, what ifs, how could hes. So let it go...and listen.

For me, I listened and found myself taking college courses in creative writing. Was I the oldest one in the class? Sure. Did anyone want to be my partner for the group writing exercise? No. But I loved it and I poured my whole experience out in words. I took a memoir class. Most kids turned in a 5 page essay about their high school years, mine was more like  a War and Peace size "THE STORY OF AMY KOKO." I think the kids found it riveting.

The point is, I found writing and I truly believe it saved me from becoming one of those divorcees who five years later when you run into them in Publix and ask "How are you?" replies "My ex husband is a dick." Uhm...DONT BE THAT PERSON! Dig deep and see what's in there. You know what came out of me? A blog, a book and now another book on the way.  I host retreats for women who want to write their way through divorce because I know there is light at the end of the tunnel! The words don't stop! I highly recommend sitting down at your computer, at your desk with a paper and pen, or even with the notes section on your smart phone and putting down words. You will be amazed at what appears.

If it's not words perhaps its drawing. Maybe it's cooking. Maybe it's going back to school to follow the dream you put on hold when your first child was born. Remember? You meant to get back to it, now is your time. Maybe it's painting, playing an instrument, becoming a nuclear physicist (that was my second choice.) Whatever it is, do it. Yes, divorce is sad, its heart breaking, it's an ending. It is also a beginning. Dig deep. Listen. Get whole.










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Monday, July 11, 2016

Writing Your Way Through Divorce




Ever since my book came out, I have had many women (okay, 3) ask me, “When did you know you were ready to change your life, you know, go in a whole new direction?” What? I had NO IDEA.  That decision was made for me when my husband told me he had decided to make other plans for the rest of his life. At 48 I thought things were pretty much set, we would become empty nesters, do a big vacation once a year and then maybe buy a condo with pool access.

Not so fast.

When I first began my journey through divorce, I kept to a very tight schedule. I would wake up and wonder how I was going to make it through the day without breaking down in front of my kids, my lawn guy, the checkout girl at Publix who for some reason always insists on asking me if I have exciting plans for the weekend, my neighbors, my Pilates instructor…well, you get the idea. Once I got that out of the way, I would get my kids off to school, do my errands, pick kids up from school, serve them dinner and wait for night to fall and for them to say goodnight because then it was MY time.

This was the time I would open a bottle of Pinot, pour myself a nice big glass, and sit in front of my lap top, where I would write my nightly letter to my STBX formatted as below

TO: email address
FROM: YOUR WIFE
SUBJ: You mother fu---r I HATE YOU
Date: Today

And I would write, and write and write, the anger and venom flying from my fingers. Once I was spent, I would hit SEND. I did this for a few months until his attorney spoke to my attorney, who spoke to me (even being reprimanded cost me money) and told me to stop it asap, because it was bordering on harassment, it would not cast me in a good light with the judge and it was really freaking weird.

I continued the letters, but I stopped hitting send. After a time, I looked forward to this nightly ritual and the letters became less and less hateful and more and more cleansing. In fact, some of them brought happy tears to my eyes as I recalled moments from the past where we had been a couple, a family, whole. I found writing these letters that would never be sent left me feeling lighter, and if not happier, then at least accepting and hopeful for my future as I ventured into it as a single woman.

These letters led me to my blogs on Huffington Post Divorce, First Wives Social Network, BlogHer, and More.com, among others, which then led me to writing my book: There’s Been A Change Of Plans – A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents In Midlife” which then led me to where I am now…

It’s time for me to give back. That is, to connect with other women going through this gut wrenching, life changing experience and help them get their experience down in their own words. Whether the plan is to share it with others (NOT your ex), shoot for publication (like I did) or just get thoughts, feelings and emotions down on paper, writing can be a way of working through your divorce by organizing your thoughts, putting them down on paper, and then moving on!  

This past year my colleague and I have designed a series of online workshops and a weekend retreat we call Writing Your Way Through Divorce.  The goal is to not only teach you how to use writing as a tool to get your feelings unstuck, but also provide the support and structure to help you write with clarity and confidence and end up with a piece of writing you will be proud of.  

We’ve been there, we’ve done it. You can, too.
And, if you come to the weekend retreat, there WILL be bagels. So keep that in mind.


To find out more about my Writing Your Way Through Divorce online workshop and the next weekend retreat coming up in September, please visit my website www.amykoko.com   



Ex-Wife New Life: living life newly single at 50 while overcoming the pain of divorce and moving on. Visit us @ http://facebook.com/ex.wife.new.life

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Oh, The Places I've BIN



A few years ago, when M and I moved into our house, we rented (and by WE, I mean M) a storage unit for the things we (and by WE, I mean ME) just could not part with, but weren't sure we had room for. This included an arts and crafts table in case I DID ever get the urge to glue a bunch of tile shards onto plates again, a Mt. Everest sized pile of fake rattan patio furniture, and bins and bins of photos and momentos from the last 40 years of our lives. M was able to pile it all into the storage unit and I was able to rest comfortably knowing these prized possessions were safe in an air conditioned environment not far from my home. Mission accomplished.

It turns out, M and I had different ideas about how to use a storage unit. M's idea is to rent it for a short amount of time, until I can figure out what to do with the wall of plastic bins filled with my kids drawings from kindergarten. My idea is to keep it as a shrine, a monument to my life as a mother where my kids and their kids after them can come to visit after I'm gone, pay their respects and look through photographs of me at different points of my life, each generation passing the bill down to the next, the goal being me not having to deal with those bins ever again. Ever.

Unfortunately, this weekend, our two different perspectives collided when M brought home roughly 23 bins for me to you know, "just go through and get rid of stuff but keep the things you want." Okay, these ARE the things I want, hence the saving of them in bins. Am I the only one who gets this concept? But fine, I thought, it will be fun to look at all those hand turkeys and little milk carton log cabins made every year in honor of Lincoln's birthday.

So, I began and became completely engrossed in my children's past. I found adorable things including a book made by my youngest daughter entitled "ALL ABOUT MOMMY" What do YOU make of this found on page one?

MY MOMMY LIKES quiet
MY MOMMY DOESN'T LIKE darkness

Uhm...( I kept that out for her next therapy session.)

Anyway I was plowing through having a great time, shedding an occasional tear when I came upon my high school yearbook or what I THOUGHT was my high school yearbook. When I opened it I saw it was  my ex's, easy mistake since we attended the same school. And I began to leaf through it and a note written on the cover page caught my eye and stopped me dead in my tracks...

              It's been nice getting to know you. Best of luck and have a great summer!
                                                                        Amy

OMG, the sheer and utter innocence of those words that I had written after we had flirted with each other in the halls for just those last few weeks before school ended. They took my breath away. Who would have imagined that 30 years after I wrote those words, we would be signing a divorce decree, ending our marriage, though our lives will be ever entwined with the four children we brought into the world together. What young and innocent pleasure we took in each other and Oh what anguish and pain we brought into each other's lives at the end.

From "have a great summer" to "I do." From a tiny apartment on Ft. Bragg to a first home with a new baby girl. To the next home bursting at the seams with four children and a 150 pound dog, friends coming and going, parties in the basement that I am only NOW hearing about. From "have a great summer" to, "I'm leaving" and then to the ambushing delivery of papers with  KOKO vs. KOKO. emblazoned across the top. From "have a great summer" to The End.

All is well now. My ex and I have healed and are in a good place, watching our children turn into adults. We are proud, they are good people. People I would like even if they weren't mine. To think it all started in a high school hallway, he leaning against a locker as I walked by in a shirt with a big poodle on it that for some reason caught his eye.

We had a good run, that's for sure. Now back to the bins and a big number 8 made of cheerios. Yup, that goes into the keep pile. I certainly can't be expected to part with that now, can I?

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

YOGAtta Be Kidding Me

I love you guys, I know you are trying to help, but if you want to help, bring me an almond brioche from Cassis bakery. Treat me to a month of unlimited Netflix, or better yet Amazon Prime with unlimited video streaming. Take me to get a crunchy tuna bowl at Fresh Kitchen, but...when I tell you I am stressed out, STOP TELLING ME TO DO YOGA!

Now, I was born stressed out. I was on a tranquilizer at the age of two because of the fact that I had to stay up all night trying to solve the world's problems. My poor young parents were like, "Please GOd just let her shut the fuck up and go to sleep, PLEASE!" When that didn't work, they took me to the pediatrician and back then, before there was an FDA I guess, pediatricians were allowed to prescribe little baby ambiens for infants. So, I was okay for a few years until Kindergarten hit, but that's another story...one that I haven't quite gotten to the bottom of yet, though my therapist thinks we are getting really close. Really, really close. So...that's good.

Anyway,  when I say I'm stressed out, it can be for a myriad of reasons, anything from they are out of Belgian Endive at Publix, to my 24 year old daughter is holding open houses by herself in domiciles that look like the Breaking Bad motor home, or I just noticed a weird mole on my back that looks like a Skittle. In other words, I am always stressed about something.

When I was REALLY stressed, during my divorce, I read book after book on how to deal with it and you know, take it down a notch. "Try Yoga," they said. "It really works," they said. Okay, I tried it. I put on some yoga pants and one of those braless mini tops and went to my first yoga class. No one told me you had to bring your own mat, so I ended up using one that someone had left behind weeks ago, after they came to the realization that a Cosmo and a sushi roll would be a lot more calming then sitting on the floor next to a bunch of people with sweaty feet.

So, we begin. We begin by breathing in, breathing out. Okay, I think...I can do this. And then we do our first pose, which I don't remember the name of it but I do remember trying to put my foot up by my ear. It was then I noticed my toenail cuticles looked like old, peeling bathroom caulk. I thought back to when I last had a pedicure. It was before the whole divorce thing began. I then thought about my alimony, and wondered how much money I would have to put aside each month to afford the pedicure with the hot wax treatment and what could I do without, in order to afford this luxury. Generic coffee beans? Frozen mini chicken pot pies? Has it come to this now?

Then I thought, maybe I could get my daughter to paint my toenails since no one is really touching my feet anyway, but this is Florida and they still need to  look nice in my Target flip flops and it's really hard for me to reach them. And then I thought, my poor children. It will be up to them to care for me, take me out for ice cream once a week, reset my iPad password every other day when I forget it. The years will pass and eventually I will fall getting out of the bathtub...it's bound to happen, these Florida tile floors are so slippery.

And then, before I knew it the class was over and I was so worked up and panic stricken, I left the mat on the floor with my big sweaty butt print on it and nearly ran to my car, so anxious was I to get home and see what could be done with my toenails after I stopped at Walmart for a big rubber bathmat.

So, please, yoga may work for you but for me? I will take puff pastry filled with marizpan and powdered sugar during a House of Cards binge every time. Now THAT is Zen.



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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Surviving the Pomp Under These Circumstances

This past weekend, my youngest son graduated from college. The youngest of four, he is the only one who took the traditional college route of a four year degree complete with the cap, the gown, the diploma and the 3 hour ceremony in the blinding Florida sun. Luckily for us this was the FIRST year that his small private school decided to hold the event OUTDOORS and I have to say, what a great idea! Florida is lovely this time of year and who doesn't love sitting in the middle of a field, on metal bleachers in your new Kenneth Cole outlet dress as the sun gets ever higher in the sky, the temperature steadily rises, and the possibility of melanoma gets greater with each passing moment.

Seriously, for me this made all the worry, the angst,  and even that one late night phone call from the sheriff's office, worth it. My boy graduated college and I was beyond proud. At one point son said to me, "I don't know if I want to walk mom, I can just have them send me the diploma" to which I replied, "Oh, you're walking. YOU ARE WALKING, and if I have to fucking crawl there on my hands and knees I will be there to see it, " so...you know, I set the stage for a fun day.

As excited as I was for this glorious experience, I was concerned about two major issues that the weekend involved. One was the full body Spanx. My ex was hosting a dinner the Friday night before the event at a lovely 5 star restaurant and FINALLY I had the chance to wear that black dress I bought in NYC 3 years ago along with the full body spanx I bought to go with it. Things should be okay,  as long as the 3 tiny snaps that hold the thing together at my crotch didn't come apart causing the whole apparatus to fly up and hit me in the face during the soup course. If I walked very slowly, and sat down very gently....should be okay.

Second? This would be the first time since my divorce that my ex, my children and my in-laws whom I miss dearly would all be together in one room, at one table in fact. Add in M and my ex's partner, an elegant, lovely woman with great hair and it could be somewhat awkward. Yet, I was not about to miss it— could we come together as a family to celebrate a moment of complete and utter joy? Could we sit together at a table and enjoy each other's company while celebrating the success of the son we brought into this world? Was there any way I could wear the dress without the full body Spanx? (No, there wasn't.) This was what was going through my mind as we began the three hour drive on Friday afternoon.

After a longer trip than we anticipated due to traffic and a stop at Burger King where I really wanted to try their new grilled hot dogs, (a decision I lived to regret later that evening) M, myself, my two daughters and one boyfriend that I love, arrived at the hotel where we were all staying. We walked in and there they were...my family. There was my mother in law who has known  me since I was 16. Who came and stayed with me when my 5 year old daughter had 3rd degree burns on her legs and feet after I dropped a pot of hot chicken soup as she was passing by the stove. Every day she accompanied me to the doctor where she would hold her as they scraped off the burned skin and bandaged her up, as I cried on a chair nearby. We have shared ups, downs and a thousand cups of coffee.

My father in law who taught my kids how to fish and patiently baited hooks for hours as they sat next to him swinging their little feet back and forth. My sister in law, who I grew up with, both of us 16 when we met. Now we are both mothers and have shared the joy and heartbreak that comes with that job. And of course, there was my ex. I haven't seen him in over a year and didn't know what to expect, how I would feel. Our eyes met and I felt happy. I felt proud. We looked at each other and both said, "WE DID IT!" as we high fived each other. It was a moment I will always remember.

That night M and I arrived a few moments late to the dinner as we had to park a few blocks away and I had to walk like a geisha in order to keep the spanx intact. When I arrived, there were two seats left and I took the one next to my ex. I had him on one side and M on the other! You know the weird part? It felt RIGHT. I had the man I now loved on my left, and the man whom I had shared a life with and brought 4 children into the world with on my right. My kids were scattered around the table, talking, laughing, so proud of their little brother, enjoying the moment of seeing their parents together in happy times. There was a time I thought that it would never be possible, but here we were. We all shared stories about the graduate, and though I did get a bit melancholy, I felt truly happy and really blessed.

Not to mention, the Spanx stayed where it was supposed to at least until we got back to the room, where I sat down on the bed and it let loose with a sudden fury as if to say, "PLEASE, NO MAS! NO MAS!"  All the worry had been for nothing. The night had been a success and as I drifted off to sleep, I let these words wash over me...WE DID IT.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie and...Why Am I In The Kitchen?




Okay, here is the question: Why is it I can remember every episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show from 1963 but cannot for the life of me remember why I walked into my kitchen? I can still remember the tune to "Hazel," (Major crush on Mr. B, by the way.)  Yet, I am literally standing in here, staring at my coffeemaker as it stares back at me like, "Dude. What the hell?"  I go down my mental list, am I thirsty? No. Am I hungry? Nooo, but as long as I'm in the kitchen...As I walk away with a handful of pita chips it occurs to me...this is why women gain weight after menopause. We don't remember why we are in the kitchen, but what the hell, as long as we walked all the way in here...just a little nosh.

All this has nothing to do with what I am writing about today. What I wanted to talk about today is a fun experience I recently had. I went to a major league baseball game and it was awesome...plus I gained somewhere in the neighborhood of five pounds. They have tacos now. Tacos. At a baseball game.

So, my son calls me and says "Would you and M like to go to the game, dad gave me his tickets and he can't go,"  and I'm like "Sure." The day arrives and  son and girlfriend pick us up. As we drive away, I think, "Shoot I meant to bring binoculars," because I think baseball players have the cutest butts of all the athletes and I wanted to get a good look. Also, I wore tennis shoes because I knew that the walk from the parking lot to the stadium, puts the 3 day breast cancer walk to shame.  But wait, what? My son is turning into a parking lot that is about six inches away from the front door of the stadium. He takes out a pass and the guard waves him through as if we are the Presidential Motorcade. WTF?

Then we walk up to the gate, show our tickets and make our way into the stadium. We begin to make our way to the seats and we are not walking up into the stands, we are walking DOWN towards the field. We keep going further and further down until finally my son waves us into a row. A row that is like six feet from home plate. As I go to sit down I notice that my ex's name is on the seats! There is a little silver plaque with this name on it! Plus, not only did I not need binoculars, I had to ask several players, "Do you mind? You're standing on my foot," as they took a few practice swings before getting up to bat.

Okay, what am I getting at, you are probably asking. Three things: 1. Menopause sucks, but I can't remember why 2. Hazel put up with a lot of stuff from Mr. B. when she should have just quit and filed for unemployment, and 3. Eating tacos while staring at baseball players butts makes for a pretty nice afternoon.








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