WRITING FOR CONNECTION AND RELEASE

As an adoptee who was born mixed Korean, the irony of our deportation to other countries – because our look did not fit in with the Korean society – is that we did not fit in with our new adopted countries either. I dove in and embraced everything my family offered me: My new home, Cheerios, Keds, Orioles, Elvis, Big Wheels and Sesame Street! But, even from my earliest memories, I remember feeling aware that I did not look like those in my play circle. 

Outside of my family and playdates, the only unlimited influence over me were books. One of the first books I identified with shared illustrations of Native American youngsters with similar hair and skin colors. That was the first time anyone came close to resembling me so I believed I must be one of them. 

When first introducing myself to the Korean Adoptee communities as an adult, I became feverish about wanting to meet as many others like me as possible.  Anthologies helped me gorge on fellow adoptees’ stories to crack open and identify some of the heavy emotions I’d carried with me and also to connect with people who relate to those feelings.  Several anthologies of adoptees or those from biological mothers brought me to tears as they shared thoughts from deep in their hearts. 

The many Mixed Korean contributors!

The first time I entered a conference session filled with mixed Korean faces, I felt my last nerve relax as I felt present in the tribe of people who truly understand me without uttering one word. The Korean adoptee and the mixed Korean communities embrace their own tightly and the connections reassure me. As soon as I heard about a Mixed Korean anthology, I immediately submitted the first words that came rushing forth. 

Bucketlist item: To have my my writing in a book!

My initial excitement grew from the idea that my writing would be published alongside my peers on pages in a physical book! I could not wait to feel the weight of Mixed Korean: Our Stories in my hands.  I had not yet even considered how it might impact the readers’ lives the way other anthologies became turning points in mine. The editors’ began preparing us for book readings! I signed up for an early Los Angeles reading and felt so nervous that I completely skipped my introduction and just read my passage.  

Mixed Korean: Our Stories at halfkorean.com annual dinner

I worried about the sharp emotions from my pages and how they’d be received. Turns out, as soon as I’d sent the words to the editors, the negative emotions went with them. So, now, when I read them on the page I still recall the moments that caused me discomfort, but the negative emotions no longer clung to me. Writing helped release me.

Mixed Korean: Our Stories reading in San Francisco

 

I brought the anthology to another reading with fellow Korean Adoptee authors in Los Angeles and later we did another Mixed Korean reading in San Francisco at a university! I’m so humbled with each new audience and the many stories that they, in turn, share with me. It warms my heart feeling each new connection and knowing that this anthology weaved our stories together. 

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Korean Adoptee Authors at Beyond Baroque

Currently there are a few readings scheduled around the country and stay tuned, because the anthology is currently being translated into Korean!  

If you order a copy of the Mixed Korean anthology, it benefits 325Kamra – a team of DNA angels who are working to reunite families!

What about you?
Have you ever contributed to an anthology? About what topic?
Or have you written a memoir?
Are you mixed race?
Do you know your ethnic origins?
Do you have any emotions you’re tired of carrying around?
Does it help to write about it?
Do you journal – daily, weekly, monthly or when you feel like it?

#journal #mixedkorean #anthology #Adoptee #KoreanAdoptee #MyHistoryIsAMystery #notafflink #nonprofit #DNA #SeoulSearch #MakesMeWander

I’D LIKE TO BUY THE WORLD A COKE

All day, everywhere we turn we are subjected to advertisements!  Nowadays, we pay to avoid ads, but I find them amusing! Naturally, with my affinity for mind wandering, I reminisced about the most influential ad in my lifetime (to me).

I grew up singing and wholeheartedly believing that “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing.”  While I still remember the lyrics of the original 1971 Coca-Cola ad, visually, the 1977 Holiday version lingers in my mind.

At my ripe age of 7, it was a comforting, unifying beverage that hugged the whole world.  At that age, when going from my side of the block to the far side of our block seemed like visiting another planet, it was hard to imagine people from anywhere else. The Coke commercial reminded us how wide our boundaries reach yet fostered intimate international connections with just one sip. A variety of people shared and translated this soda into many languages, which was code word for

Love.

This was reinforced everywhere I went. When I was fortunate enough to travel to China, Mexico, Greece, Russia, I believe all of them had Coca-Cola, and in some countries it was safer to drink than the water.

Classic!

Refreshing and Delicious in every language!
Thanks to c7.co for the shot!

I moved a lot as a child, and I longed for the sense of community and belonging that I had to rebuild with every new school.  To me, it was a comforting thought that by drinking this beverage, I’d fit into their community with a seat at the international soda fountain.

I’m guessing a Norman Rockwell – Long time artist for Coca-Cola
For more Coca-Cola conversations, click on the photo

Now, let’s not discount the jingle…  I am a music nut and songs get glued in my head!  I remember song-lyrics or jingles better than anything I’ve been forced to memorize in school. The message was simple – sing it loud: We love Coke, Coke loves you!

Music to our mouth

Found on the Coca-Cola New Zealand Facebook page!

I tried to love Pepsi while briefly working for them yet I celebrated my kids’ milestone of their first soda with their own ice-cold glass Coca-Cola bottle.

I know part of the reason I often have a song in my head and a relentless belief in happy endings is thanks to Coca-Cola. Still working on perfect harmony…

[sip] Aaaah!

Want more? Follow my Pinterest Ad Geek board – pretty!

What was your most influential ad of your lifetime?

INTELLIGENCE DOUBLE AGENT

You may have noticed, I’ve been on the lam in recent months, not regularly reporting my wanderings.  A clandestine operation, simply referred to as trojaN horsE, occupies my time with my first assignment requiring 100% secrecy and dedication.  Now, I find myself living the life of an intelligence double agent. The success of this operation finds me balancing demands of both worlds.

Alter egos – WTF: I Watched The Fightscenes!
My favorite show ever Alias (C) Disney

This remains a delicate operation as I continue to cement my position in my known career, while offering myself as a walk-in with the competing underground agency.  No one, not even those working side-by-side with me are aware of my covert mission. I’m not sure how they’d feel knowing I am engaged in a complex dance of seduction with the other agency.

The initial message came to me one night, an innocuous yet intriguing pop-up cipher delivering no more instruction than “Click here…” On the receiving end of that hotline was an eager case officer eager to recruit me to the path of higher knowledge, exposure to intellectual missions, and, ultimately, more responsibility for my own path.

Computer Lab or Spy War Room?

We infiltrated the system quickly for a successful outcome. The case officer, my handler, managed my paperwork and requested special clearance from the Chief of Station to avoid additional testing.  My legend required some authentication while my bona fides hoped to present me as the ideal candidate.

I, too, have so many questions…
(Where was this blog when I used to watch it… letstalkalias.blogspot.com)

Opportunity and preparation crossed paths and I gained admission to the program. My daytime cover puts me face-to-face with the high-caliber professionals grooming intelligence and intellectual paths of others but at night, I glean information from the same sorts of people on master-level missions exclusive to me.

Even now, only those readers closest to me know my true identity for I don’t want a dangle reputation to jeopardize my current assignment.  For the next 18 grueling months, my attention will be focused on gathering intelligence and deciphering communications.  I will do my best to report back to you my wanderings, although I hate to admit that it will be fewer and farther between as my operations become more demanding.   I will not cut communications completely unless it becomes unsafe to have above ground dealings.

Until next time…

fighT oN!

Best spy couple: Sydney and Vaughn!
Yay fanpop.com for keeping our shows alive!

RIGHT BACK TO THAT MORNING…

Beautiful Pepperdine University memorial in Malibu, CA
Photo by We-Will-Never-Forget

The morning began its usual routine. My baby slept while I showered, my wasband drove to work. When I got out of the shower, my phone was ringing. It was my friend Sharon and I chuckled that 6am was even early for her. I barely said “Hello” when she in her excitement asked “Did you see a plane hit the World Trade Center? Turn on the TV!” I was curious and planned to keep it on while getting ready. On the TV, the cameras were fixed on the towers, the north tower in flames, and were treating it as an unfortunate, yet ordinary, plane crash.

As I turned to get dressed, out of the corner of my eye the fireball erupted from the south tower. I turned back believing my eyes must be mistaken. I didn’t even yet know the full extent of what happened, but knew it was neither normal nor good. My mind raced searching for any explanations and immediately took sides. Logic and fear battled it out in my head while my eyes remained glued to the TV and its stream of horrific images. In a valiant effort to regain control, my head became overloaded, all of the energy left my body and I fell into the chair. On the opposite side of my being, I knew I was not dreaming because I felt the rock in my stomach and felt strange comfort from the ratty rough texture of the chair holding me. Immediately people said it, too, was a plane. I remember some group discussing the odds of 2 plane crashes originating from the same airport in the same day. They, nor I, “got” what was playing out in front of us.

Pentagon Memorial photographed by mla.march.penn
Click photo for info…

When the Pentagon was wounded, in the heart of our country, my world and security unraveled. Nothing was impossible now as I witnessed America under surprise attack. I believed this could spread like a virus and dreaded the possibilities. I grieved for the world that I’d been so eager to experience through my son’s eyes as it seemed to be sucked into something sinister. I contacted my wasband who expressed concern for a co-worker returning from D.C. that morning and they didn’t know if not hearing from him was good or bad. Sharing other’s concerns, for what we hoped was an unrelated issue, allowed me to take a step back and hold onto a string of hope. My body slowly unclenched each muscle and I thankfully channeled my thoughts towards prayers for Yen.

I called my mom desperate for her to “fix things” as only moms can. She tuned in right as the south tower billowed new, grayer smoke that we assumed was another explosion. When the smoke parted revealing that the tower was gone, my eyes and emotions could not agree that it disappeared before our eyes. Shocked, my mother and I clung to each other through the line praying that everyone was evacuated safely but knowing they weren’t. The chirping of the many downed firemen’s jackets still chokes me up to this day. I hung up the phone, desperate to check on my still sleeping son, to catch a glimpse of the beauty still in this world. I feared that by opening his bedroom door, I’d unleash the wrath of this monstrous morning onto him that, thus far, I’d been able to contain to the living room. As reports of the next plane crash began, my mind instantly mapped it as related.

Through the TV screen, my eyes braced the north tower to keep it upright. My heart, saturated by pain, embraced those people who chose their best option of leaping from the floors 100 stories up. As the north tower fell, chaos and emotion blew through me as this tragic, ironic, heartfelt, twisted, yet strangely elegant, moving death closed a chapter of history. There was no turning back now, no helping, no fixing. It was done, they were gone.

Foolishly attempting to follow the logic of a terrorist, I knew they were coming to L.A. next and I did not feel right going to work, separated from my child. I never wanted to entertain the thought, but considered that if we would die today, I’d want us to be together. I was also extremely anxious at the idea of going to work in the high-rise building – the only building in the world to have Mickey Mouse on it, with his hands up inviting LAX or Burbank flights to “Come and Get Me!” Reports speculated that the enemies were targeting defining American icons such as Wall Street, the entertainment industry, Disney, baseball and apple pie. I decided that my home wasn’t even far enough away. No place offered security. I felt guilty thinking my emotions caused me to be a chicken shit but relaxed some when my boss called and said that the company announced we should stay home with family.

Many people say that west coasters didn’t feel it as much, but I know so many people who worked with, were related to, or knew people that were lost – we were not untouched. As the details spilled out, the nation-wide moments of silence and the local memorial for my ex’s co-worker Yen came and went, my mind and body constantly battled over how much I should be to feel or how much more I could possibly ache over. My mind controlled my emotions as tightly as it could, but my heart felt that it owed it to every last person that was lost, especially the heroes, and the victims’ families, to know their stories and feel the loss. Eventually I was able to survey the emotional grounds trusting my body would dictate what I could handle at one time. Each year the heartache comes rushing back.

My “best friend that I’ve met once in person” said it the best. We need to remember the unity we all felt. “We need to pull together & remember we are one. America. Not a country divided, or they have “succeeded”. Never, never, never give up. My heart will be with all that lost their lives that day & to the families still suffering their losses. Bless our country – however you choose to do so.”

Share your stories (or links) about that day or ways you’re honoring the fallen.

Pay tribute to those lost in 9-11 by living for moment and the beauty of each day and give your family an extra hug!
Photo by https://www.facebook.com/freepeoplemb

I try to hold onto the beauty that came as a result of this tragedy – the heroes, the humanity, the dreams that will be continued by family and friends. While this may not have been Yen’s exact plan for how to provide improved medical technology to his home country of Ethiopia, the people who were loved and touched by him will carry out his dream.

MY MICHELLE PHELPS PHANTASY

Every few years, people inspired by fantastic feats of athleticism, underestimated underdogs, and sensational skill dream their own Olympic dream! These dreams send herds of people signing up for gymnastics and cannonballing into the pool!

Welcome to the Olympics! What’s your dream? Everybody has one!

For me, I’m convinced that I’m Michael Phelps’ twin, Michelle, and had I not moved from Baltimore as a child, that he’d have been drafting off of me in a pool.

Fierce competition!

SIMILARITIES:

  • Birthdays – he’s June 30, I’m June 03 – mistake on my birth certificate?
  • From Baltimore and Towson
  • Competitive Swimmers – me in high school, as a senior they had to put me on Varsity

My high school swim team photo – what is that, hay in my mouth? I did swim for Poway after all.

IT’S A STRETCH:

  • He’s 6’4”, I’m 5’3 ¾”
  • I’m Asian, he’s Cauc-asian
  • He swims 200m Freestyle in 1:42:96; I take 4:00:00 – different training regime

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

OK, you non-believers, call it what you want, but the Phelps phenomenon got my butt back in the pool today after a year – or two!  After summoning all the strength from my shoulders and giving my abs fair warning, I put my toes over the edge of the pool, one foot over the water and slipped in gracefully (from what I could tell underwater).

Minimal splash or cannonball – your call.

STARTING TO SEE YOUR POINT:

  • Barely managed 100m straight – after training my son 2 weeks ago to do so
  • Innate skill to damage myself standing still – I don’t drown while swimming so fast that churning water surrounds my face, I choked when I sucked in water still holding onto the pool’s edge. I pushed off to cough underwater so nobody can hear me drowning (from what I could tell underwater)
  • Dizzy brunette – While rocking the backstroke (my edge over Michael – he hasn’t dominated that stroke!), I arched my head back, chin up to enjoy the view from under the water but returning to proper position caused some sort of whirlpool in my ear that went straight to my nausea center. I tried to swim past it and thankfully didn’t puke in the pool.

First time back felt that good.
*My cats were not harmed for this photo

STILL A WIN-WIN SITUATION:

  • Best exercise for your heart and body!
  • I love tan lines
  • Fellow swimmers – I’ll take meeting some dude with endless abs in swimming goggles over meeting some guy in beer goggles.

Loving Lochte!

What’s your Olympic fantasy? How will you fulfill it?

What?  Phelps is retiring and Nathan Adrian is half-asian and a swimmer… so am I…

Not only did he have a great year, he helped Michael win his final medal!

I CAN BLOW BUBBLES THROUGH YOUR ALIBI

[NOTE: To really understand this story, you have to start at the beginning…]

When one fish dies, one can say many things… 

But when two fish die, suddenly it goes from unfortunate circumstance to serial fish killer.

Darla – was she misunderstood or a true fish killer?
(C) Disney/Pixar

Though not a word has been said, I still stink of the crime committed. While going through the irrational emotional roller coaster that these two little fishies set me on, my family laughed at me and empathized, laughed with me and ridiculed, laughed and told me to suck it up. Now that both fish are history – silence.

Did she or didn’t she?!

Paul Jr., the bigger, heartier fish, lasted 2 days longer than Paul. His emotionless stare seemed happier that he swam the full circumference of the tank.  He bobbed around enjoying his pirate ship. We discussed getting Paul a companion, but wanted to see how this fair fish would fare first.

I tried bribing the kids with hamsters because I prefer furry and sawdust mess to fish any day.

Fish vs. Fur

We concluded that while our cats were blissfully unaware of the fish at this point, we knew that wouldn’t be the case if we had hamsters.

Sadly, Monday morning before school, Carson said “Where’s Lauren’s fish?!”  My mind immediately thought:

  • Oh Carp! The kids are joking
  • If it jumped out of the tank, the kids better find it
  • If we can’t find it, the cats better find it because I don’t want a zombie fish apocalypse

Thank you Sparky for showing me I am not alone in my zombie goldfish terror.

Quickly without much fanfare, the fish was flushed. This was becoming too familiar a scene and we still made it to work on time.

Same routine, different day.
Swim free little fishie!

I would never intentionally hurt animals. I floundered with fish ownership but it’s just not something I do well.  My family forgets that my childhood fish were thanks to my dad’s TLC.  My family has fallen silent, no last words, no condolences. Perhaps they’re suspicious that a double fishicide took place here and afraid that if they mention it that I might send them to… sleep with the fishies.

Seriously my worst nightmare!     (No, not my Dad)

 

 

R.I.P. Pauls

SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY

People say this is how it happens, but I never thought it would happen to me.  My life changed in the blink of an unblinking eye!  I went from being a loving mom to a suspect in a crime.

More special than other days, last Friday held big meaning as I’d be reuniting with my kids! After days of grandparent spoiling, they couldn’t wait for Lauren’s weekend-long birthday celebration! I drove as quickly as I could obeying all laws and speed limits.  I parked my car, leaped from the driver’s seat, and ran around the back, arms outstretched to capture both kids at once! I heard a high pitched shriek – was it my daughter eager to greet me, or my own voice screaming in horror as I coiled back from what appeared before my son?

WTF? What the Fish?!

My son stood, beaming, clenching a little clear plastic box with a shimmery flicker reflecting sunlight from within.  He stepped forward, “Mom, meet Paul and PJ (Paul Jr.)!” Goldfish – only they weren’t gold, they were black, tarnished goldfish. I held back every negative emotion and memory and got close enough to the fish to kiss my kids quickly on the cheeks.

Immediately, the voices outside my head got jumbled, “Threw balls,” signals crossed, “Colored Water,” and over-lapped, “Hit a bump!” They got more urgent, “…Big splash,” louder “On rug flipping out!” and angrier, “My new car!”

“Aaah!” I yelled! “Carefully put the fish in our car, make sure the lid is tight so they can’t escape and don’t knock them over when you close the door!”

As we put the distance of the parking lot between us and the Pauls, my knot of anxiety loosened.  I talked my daughter onto the circular swing ride 301 feet up – only to have her shoving “Rock On!” fingers into the air after the first rotation while my fingers gripped her so tightly leaving marks.

Nervous to go on the tall ride
but she dove in head first!

That ride put it in perspective for me that at 42, I could barely rationalize my fear of heights, but I could not rationalize my fear of fish, so I decided to try to work through my fear. Things didn’t go as swimmingly as hoped…

To be continued…

LOOKING FOR AN IN WITH THE OUTSIDER

Only one celebrity inspired me to write a fan letter C. Thomas Howell.  I was in 8th grade, an outcast in my new school (5th new school in 8 years), and he played an outcast high school Greaser in a little story turned big movie.

Be still my heart!
Thanks Fanpop.com for the great shot!

While it boasted a pile of heartthrobs, his heart of gold stood out. I never finished that letter but it probably went something like this:

“Dear C. Thomas,

Do you prefer Christopher or Thomas?  I wanted to tell you that I loved you in The Outsiders, and E.T.! It must be really cool being a movie star, but I love that you still take time for your horses!  I ride too! English, mostly, except when I hit the trails in my western saddle or bareback. If you’re ever in San Diego, please look me up – we have great trails!”

I settled for one-way conversation from the big screen to my heart, but was heartbroken when I didn’t hear much from him after Red Dawn!

Wolverine!
Seriously, they remade this?!

What brought this on? Yaani York’s 2012 blog that featured Letters to Celebrities!  She thought of everything you’d want to ask or bring up to smack sense into celebrities, not just adoring them as I did.  I can think of a few celebrities who need her to give it to them for real! The thing that I love most about her nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger Award in May is that she proudly calls herself a writer.  For me to get recognition from someone in a position that I’m striving for feels amazing! So Thank You, Raani, for your support, your publications and fun letters!

Ironically, 20 years after penning my letter, I stood in line at a grocery store at the next cashier over from C. Thomas Howell.  Did I talk to him? No after such a long time with a one-way conversation, I didn’t know what else to do but check out imdb.com and to see what he’s been up to and what he might be filming in my neighborhood.

We haven’t aged a day!

I was pleasantly surprised that he’s been working steadily this whole time so now I have 20 years of catching up to do!

#TheOutsiders #CThomasHowell #SEHinton #Greasers #Socs #Horses #Cowboys #TeenAgeHearthrob #celebritycrush #penpal #whatcouldvebeen

SWEETER THE SECOND TIME AROUND

WTF: Wave Two Fingers!

Are things sweeter the second time around?  Here are two arguments with two sides and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

MEN
Girl meets boy. Girl loves boy. Boy breaks up with girl. Girl gets over boy. Boy comes crawling back to girl when they’re both home for the summer…  In my case, it didn’t fly.  Now, Girl is great friends with Boy. Then, there was no chance of the romance reaching the same marks so awkwardness ensued.  The reasons we weren’t right still weren’t right.   I’ve known people who married, divorced, then were so friendly and fun they remarried, remembered why they divorced, only to do it again.  Yet, I’ve also had friends who dated someone in high school, their lives went in two different directions until years later their paths cross again when the timing was golden!

JOBS
Girl gets job. Girl loves job. Job’s corporation closes company. In a pre-emptive strike, Girl leaves job.  Now temping, Girl accepts assignment at barely-standing old job to see friends.  Again, with no chance of the job respect to ever reach the same marks, awkwardness ensued. Yet, I’ve had friends who leap from their job to another company then pinball back into first in a higher position within carefully calculated timeframes to maintain seniority and retirement.

THINGS I KNOW ARE SWEETER THE SECOND TIME

Children – While I’d heard 1 + 1 (kids) equals 11 times the work, not 2, the payoff of having two amusing offspring amazing the heck out of me was 11 times as rewarding!

Marathons – At my 2nd mile 25, instead of cursing the course creators for their never-ending finish line, I remember a distinctly jubilant moment as I ran the last 1.2 miles!

Blog Awards – While it’s an honor to be nominated, to be nominated twice is superb!  I thank Caitlin at What She Writes for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award – again!

So looooong overdue! Thank you Caitlin!
I’m working on my crazy questions but couldn’t put this off any longer!

I get a kick out of knowing people keep reading and it means a lot that they respond!  I love that people in my blogosphere share similar or creative thoughts so check out Caitlin’s blog if you like mine.

So, pipe in! I could use a second opinion!

DON’T KNOW WHETHER TO LAUGH OR CRY

A lady came in wearing a beautiful silver necklace featuring a guy with his arms out looking like he’s grabbing the chain he hangs from. I complimented her taste saying I love jewelry where it looks like someone is hanging from it.

WOW!

Why, just the day before I saw one where it looks like a gal is swinging on a swing holding onto the “chains” of the necklace.

So cute, right?! Click thru to get your own!

She politely cuts me off saying “You know it’s a crucifix, right? Jesus is not just hanging out.”

Holy cow! I tried to keep my cool and still praise how unique it looked and how modern yet still poignant it looked. I tried to use words that would evoke a positive emotional response to cover up for my ingrained gullibility that inserted my foot in my mouth. In our family, these moments were named for our blonde sibling because, well, she experienced the most of them.

This one became the all-time classic:
THE FUGITIVE MOVIE – At my wedding bridesmaid’s brunch, we ranted about the recent blockbuster The Fugitive (stop trying to calculate backwards how old I am) and the amazing inciting incident of the film that enables Harrison Ford to become a fugitive. To wow the table with my Hollywood knowledge, I shared that they actually crashed trains into busses so that it was realistic! My sister got all teary-eyed, “That’s so mean! Did they tell the conductor?!” The memory of that moment outlasted the marriage!

Outside of Dillsboro, NC you may still ride past the wreckage!
“So sad! Where did they bury the survivors?!”

One special mention moment, one year my sister wanted GUESS perfume for Christmas and I kept taunting her,
“Guess what I got you for Christmas.”
“I don’t know, what?!”
“Guess!”
“I don’t know!”
“No, really – Guess!”
“I can’t!” and so on for enough rounds until I became bored.

Guess what you can buy by clicking thru? Guess!

I will tell you one mistake I’ll never make. I NEVER ask women if they are pregnant, not even when they’re visibly pregnant. I err on the side of waiting until the baby comes and saying “I didn’t even realize you were pregnant!” I know someone who made that mistake with her boss’ non-pregnant wife – talk about a career-limiting move!

What about you? Any classic moments you’d love to never let someone forget?

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