2014

2 Jan

It’s 2014 and I’m back in New York.

Took a 7 month break from the blog while taking a sketch writing intensive, improv class, getting a job with OSF for the School Visit Program, going to visit my parents in Olympia, returning to Ashland for a month of rehearsals followed by 7 weeks of touring to different schools performing and teaching, Christmas with my sister and family in Georgia and finally returning to New York, where I spent New Years Eve with some good friends and good food and now it’s 2014.

Shit!

A year went by in a flash.

January 12th, 2013, Jon and I moved into our Brooklyn apartment. Now we are ready to sign the lease for another year and start from where we left off when we left the city in September. It’s odd to leave in the summer and come back in the winter.

I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the city again. The advantages I have this year are: I already (sort of) know how to get around without getting lost, I am able to return to my nannying job, and I’m continuing my education with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre. Next week I start work, improv and a sketch writing class.

I’m ready to get back in the swing of things, and keep moving towards my goals.

I’m also working on clarifying exactly what my goals are, and putting in place a system to achieve them. Anyone see that article floating around facebook? I dig it.

So professional stuff aside, this year I really want to focus on talking less, and listening more.

What about you? Any resolutions? Any systems in place?

XO,

Mandie

 

 

Viceless!

30 Jun

Hi!

What’s new?

I have a confession.

I’ve been hatching a plan and telling a few friends, but I’m putting it on the internet which makes it real, right?

Well, at least it makes me a little more afraid to back out/quit.

I’ve decided that while I am taking my classes this summer, I am going to take on another challenge. That challenge is temporarily giving up my vices.

WHAT?! IS SHE INSANE?!

Maybe. Hopefully insanely awesome.

This is completely and totally inspired by the amazing Jessica over at Becoming a Badass. If you don’t know who that is, you need to check her out stat. She is creating her own life coaching business and has taken on a three month viceless challenge on top of it. She is about a month and a half in and has been chronicling her journey on her blog and I have been reading along getting totally psyched for her.

Psyched enough to think…maybe I can do it too?

So wait a minute Mandie, what do you mean viceless?

I mean that starting tomorrow, July 1st (my classes start a week from tomorrow but I’m giving myself a week’s head start so not to totally overload my system) through July 27th, my last day of class, I will no longer:

  • Consume alcohol, white sugar, white flour, coffee/caffeine in excess or artificial sweeteners
  • Eat while watching TV
  • Watch more than an hour of TV/one movie per day (I would give up TV all together but I realized that since I’m taking sketch writing, watching some TV will actually be useful.)
  • And I’m going to write in my journal every day

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Chili’s vices include napping, napping, and more napping.

Wait a minute Mandie, why the hell are you doing this?

Well, basically I want to see what happens! Jessica puts it much more eloquently than me, but I’ve noticed that in times of discomfort, change, stress, or even awesome progress, my fears tend to creep in and I start to heavily lean on my vices. That’s when I end up watching hours of Mad Men and eating M&M’s in bed.  And then I let myself sleep in and skip an audition. And then I do it again. And then I feel guilty, which makes me beat myself up, and then I reach for more M&M’s, and then nothing happens but a cycle of guilt and regret! All the while all those goals I set for myself sit gathering dust while I’m fearfully burrowing further and further into my comfort zone.

So what if all those safety nets are gone? What would happen?

From what I’ve seen with Jessica’s journey, she has become more productive, and felt less guilt.

That sounds nice!

What if all the time I spend feeling guilty, was spent in other places? What if I had to figure out how to comfort myself without my go-to things?

We’re about to find out.

On top of journaling daily, I’m going to be writing some updates on how I’m doing/feeling here.

If Jessica can commit to 3 months, I can commit to 4 weeks.

So wish me luck, and lets see what happens!

xo,

Mandie

Are you a writer?

26 Jun

I got asked if I was a writer twice yesterday, by strangers.

Of course at the present moment I’m in the middle of a quarter life, who am I? what am I supposed to do? kind of existential crisis, so the suggestion of a purpose is riddled with significance and meaning.

Am I a writer? I don’t know.

I write this blog, infrequently. I write in my journal daily, mostly lists of things I need to do or think I should be doing. Random observations.

But a writer?

Not so sure about that.

So I’m going to see! I’m taking sketch writing at The People’s Improv Theatre July 8-27. I’m kind of freaked out because I’ve never written a sketch in my life. I wrote a terrible ten minute play for a class once and a few children’s shows in high school, and that’s it.

Why did I sign up for the class then?

Well, I’ve been looking at the people I am the most inspired by and seeing what they have in common. Just to name a few:

  • Mindy Kaling

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  • Lena Dunham

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  • Kristen Wiig

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  • Amy Poehler

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  • Tina Fey

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Hmm…What do all these ladies have in common besides being awesomely talented? They write their own material. They created their own opportunities.

I feel like the universe has been not-so-subtley telling me that I need to create work for myself, instead of waiting to be discovered in an EPA (Equity Principal Audition). I’ve always loved directing ( I got really into it at the end of college) and I like the IDEA of being a writer, but I have no idea if I have any skill set other than journaling and list making.

At any rate, I am inspired and committed to making my own work happen here in New York. I’m tired of waiting around and I want to do the projects I want to do with the people I want to do them with! So I’m putting myself out there and taking a sketch writing class. Maybe I will be terrible, maybe I will be great! I will have no idea until I try. Regardless, I will be in a new environment, with some awesome people, who will hopefully be up for some collaboration.

Yay for zeroing in on some goals.

That’s all for now. Still trying to write weekly. Hopefully that happens soon.

 

XO,

Mandie

 

Oops I Fell Off the Internet

1 Jun

Remember that time I had a blog?

Me too.

Let’s just jump right back in, shall we?

I’ve been busy! All of a sudden it is summer time in New York. Guys, it’s hot. Like, really hot out. My friend Chase lives in LA and has been taunting me with his warm weather all winter. Well, now summer had arrived in New York and it is no joke! Of course I’m never satisfied.

So since I last wrote my parents came for a visit! There was so much I wanted to show them and of course it went by way too quickly. Some of our highlights were:

  • seeing a show at UCB
  • going to Sleep No More (on mothers day!)
  • seeing Alan Cumming in Macbeth
  • Shopping/browsing Mario Batali’s Eataly
  • and a whole lot of good food and sightseeing

Ironically enough, right after we got our tickets to Sleep No More I spotted an audition listing on Playbill.com! So I saw the show with my parents, and then a week later I was back in the space auditioning.

For those who don’t know, Sleep No More is an interactive theatrical experience. They have several floors of this old hotel that they have completely transformed into their version of Macbeth. There is A TON of stuff going on at once, and as audience members you basically get to run around and try to piece it all together. The show is almost entirely non verbal so the storyline is shown through movement and dance. You get to spend about three hours in the hotel going up and down the stairs, looking in rooms, following the actors around and experiencing the incredibly detailed world that has been created. Did I mention you are wearing a mask? It’s a total voyeur’s dream. The actors repeat their “track” several times, so you get the opportunity to try and see everything. However it is so detailed there is NO WAY you could see it all in one night and I’m already dying to go back!

The audition was a movement audition and was So. Much. Fun. It was basically a big viewpoints workshop and they made “cuts” (meaning they let people go from the audition) and I was one of the people who got to stay till the end! That was exciting for me, and then of course I got my hopes up, and nothing came from it. That was pretty disappointing.

Shortly after the audition I had a talk with Jessica. I expressed to her my frustration with the auditioning process. I often feel like I’m on a total roller coaster, emotions going up or down. My day is made or broken by how an audition went, and I can’t stop checking my phone and email after a “good” audition or callback, only to be disappointed when I don’t hear anything.

Jessica said some key things that really helped put everything in perspective. (Have I mentioned she’s awesome? Check her out on facebook and her blog. That girl is going places, and helping others do the same!) She talked about practicing non-attachment. Not that I’m not invested in what I’m doing, but to strive to be less attached to the outcome. The idea is to only care about doing my best. She says that the key to emotional freedom is living in the present moment, and being grateful for the experience. I can enjoy my audition in the moment and be thankful for the experience, and then set the audition free and not dwell on it any longer.

She then compared it to something I believe in which is the Law of Attraction. I believe that what you put into the world comes back to you. If you continue to work hard and do good in your life, it will come back to you. She pointed out that I don’t knew where I’m supposed to end up on my journey here in New York, in life even. I cannot control the outcome, but what I can control is the work I put in. The auditions I go to, the classes I take, the practice I put in, the shows I go to see, the people I support, etc. etc. etc. There is an endless amount of things I can be doing to put my energy into the field I love so much, theatre. I am so lucky to be living in New York City living my high school dream of being an actor. I can find things to be thankful for every day here, and that’s the best feeling! It’s amazing how easy it is to turn your mind set around. Positive thinking is a powerful tool! I’m going to try and keep up the momentum.

That’s all for now. I am setting the goal for myself of blogging once a week. I hope to stick to that goal, not only to keep my friends informed, but as a way to remember this incredible time in my life.

Exciting stuff!

Mandie

UCB

4 Apr

Head shots are here!

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If you like what you see, here is my photographer’s website. His name is Sam Khan and he was amazing. Made me feel totally comfortable and worked with me to make sure I had many options to work with that I loved. I’m excited to start bringing them to auditions and agents!

MandieJenson1-E-File-NoName

Over the weekend I completed Improv 101 at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre. It was so much fun and I’m definitely signing up for the next level. I’m honestly pretty surprised with myself, because the whole reason I decided to take improv was because it TERRIFIED me and I hate being put on the spot. I assumed I would struggle through the class and leave feeling like I did something that was “good for me” and that I would never touch improv again with a ten foot pole. Well, it was uncomfortable, it was good for me, and I’m also SO excited to continue!

For my 201 class, I want to write about each individual session after it happens because I learned so much in each 3 hour class but have already forgotten some of the specifics. I’d love a written log I can go back to and reflect on. I haven’t signed up for 201 yet, but will be doing so soon so stay tuned!

My 101 class met Tu-Th from 3:30-6:30 for four weeks and culminated with a show for friends and family as our “final.” The whole class was such a blast. I loved meeting all the different types of people an improv class draws in. I assumed everyone would be an actor but we actually had a variety of different types of people in the class which I loved. In college I lived with a business major and dated a musician, so I have always loved socializing outside my field.

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My class post-show. Clearly we had no fun at all. 

Each class built on things we had worked on in the previous class, and we were constantly up on our feet putting the new concepts into practice. I loved that there wasn’t a lot of down time and we learned through doing. I can easily over-intellectualize things so this was especially helpful to get out of my own way.

All in all it was a great time and I wish I had written about each individual class as it happened. Will definitely be doing that with 201! What I can say is that I learned a lot and already feel a freedom and a trust in myself that I haven’t felt before. Hooray.

I should have known I would love taking UCB classes because the women I admire the most are hilarious improvers themselves:

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Amy Poehler. One of the founders of UCB. Have you seen Parks and Rec? If you haven’t, run and watch it now!

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Lucille Ball. One of the funny women pioneers!

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Kristen Wiig. Awesome and hilarious.

These three ladies are just a few of my heroes, what about you?

Who are your heroes and why?

The Liebster Award

18 Mar

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Just found out I was nominated for “The Liebster Award” by Stephanie over at Theater Lovin’. Check her out! The Liebster Award is a blogger-to-blogger award in which one blogger nominates other bloggers who have under 200 followers and who he or she believes deserves some recognition for their blog. Those who are nominated and choose to participate must post 11 facts about themselves, answer the 11 questions from the nominator, create their own set of 11 questions for their nominations, and then choose 11 blogs to nominate.

Thanks Stephanie! This looks like fun! Here goes. First, 11 facts about me:

  1. I took ballet for 14 years, age 5-21 with a couple of years off in high school.
  2. I can fit a dollar’s worth of dimes in my bellybutton. Yep. I’ve tested it.
  3. This summer I started training for a half marathon, and got up to running ten miles. Since Moving to NYC, I haven’t gone on a single run. Bad Mandie!
  4. I went to college in Idaho. Go Vandals!
  5. I eat meat but I HATE cooking it and hardly ever prepare it for myself.
  6. I love to bake!
  7. I play guitar.
  8. I’m pretty shy. I’ve gotten better since I was a kid, but it’s still hard for me to “put myself out there” to people.
  9. I am a chocolate freak. if it’s not chocolate, I probably won’t consider it dessert.
  10. I have the worst sense of direction ever. It’s embarrassing.
  11. I’m still figuring out “what I want to be when I grow up,” and I’ve realized that most adults are still doing the same thing!

Questions from Theater Lovin‘:

1. If you could travel to one place right this instant (teleportation style), where would it be?

It’s a toss up between my parent’s house in Olympia, Washington, and my friend Chase’s house in Los Angeles. I haven’t been to either place in over a year and I’m really missing the west coast!

2. What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

I had a breakfast quesadilla! A tortilla with peanut butter, banana and chia seeds, YUM. My standard breakfast is oatmeal with banana, peanut butter and chia seeds. I know what I like. :)

3. Biggest pet peeve?

I hate the sound of ice scraping together. It makes my teeth hurt! Along those same lines, when people bite popsicles with their teeth! AH! I get goosebumps all over and it just freaks me out!

4. If you could nominate one celebrity to be president, who would it be?

I think Tom Hanks would be a good president. I don’t really know why, but everyone loves Tom Hanks, right?

5. Favorite book?

That is such a hard question for me! Favorite movie is equally hard. I can never choose just one! Some recent faves are: Bossypants by Tina Fey, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Room by Emma Donahue, Faithful Place by Tana French and I’m currently reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

6. Is there anything that you wish you knew how to do?

TONS of things. I wish I knew how to juggle. I wish I could do acrobatic “tricks”, really anything done in the circus, I wish I could do. My “special skills” section of my resume is seriously lacking..

7. Nickname(s)?

Well, technically Mandie is a nickname for Amanda. Other than that I occasionally get Mandalou, Mandiecakes, Minty (Ari!) and Jon calls me schmoobles, which I realize is kind of gross. :)

8. Favorite pizza topping?

Mushrooms!

9. Favorite Broadway (or movie) soundtrack?

Broadway soundtrack is the original cast of Into the Woods, Movie soundtrack is the Away We Go soundtrack

10. What fruits would your perfect smoothie include?

I’m a purist. I love classic strawberry banana. Maybe some mango and peach if I’m feeling frisky.

11. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An actor! That has always been a dream, although I definitely imagined the life of an actress very differently when I was a kid. I still love it though!

Also, I VERY briefly wanted to be a lawyer.  My best friend in the third grade and I were going to start our own law firm, J&O Associates. I’m pretty sure I drew a picture of us as lawyers at one point. However, once I actually realized what being a lawyer meant, I switched back to actor.

My Turn! Questions for my nominees…

  1. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  2. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
  3. Describe your dream home.
  4. Who is one of your heroes?
  5. Favorite movie?
  6. iPhone or android?
  7. What would your last meal be?
  8. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
  9. Favorite cocktail?
  10. What is your favorite memory?
  11. If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

Now I get to nominate some people! My nominees are…

1. Frugal Portland

2. Ari’s Menu

3. Magic Wands and Wooden Spoons

Thanks again, Stephanie! This was fun!

Lately

12 Mar

A lot of things have been happening that haven’t made it on the blog.

Since I last wrote I:

  • Went on my first commercial audition
  • Met with a commercial print agent
  • Auditioned for a show Julie Taymor is directing (WHAT?)
  • Ate at Katz’s Deli

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  • Started Upright Citizens Brigade Classes
  • Saw “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” on Broadway

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  • Got new head shots taken (will post them as soon as I get the good ones back!)
  • Had margaritas and tacos with my favorite ginger and a dear friend from Ashland!

 

 

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sooo grainy, thanks dim lighting.

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This delicious grapefruit margarita gave me a big ol’ headache. Oh alcohol, you hurt me so. 

  • Enjoyed several delicious dinners prepared by Jon and a few prepared by me.

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Dinner prepared by Jon

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Dinner prepared by me. Clearly I’m the true gourmet..

  • Had a fun date day at the Met

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  • Enjoyed the company of our new houseguest Loki! (He is staying with us while his Dad, our friend Fajer, is on a teaching job in Abu Dhabi)

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“Hey girl..”

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Loki and Chili are totally becoming besties. When they aren’t chasing each other…

  • AND battled another cold. Moving to a big city is tough on the old immune system!

That’s a lot of stuff! I want to go into more detail about a few things, but I will save that for my next post.

 

That’s all for now,

Mandie

That’s so gay..

8 Mar

This video is awesome. Ash Beckham recently spoke in Boulder about not using the word “gay” pejoratively (as in, “This homework assignment is so gay”). Check it out.

Recharging

26 Feb

If you have 19 minutes, watch this TED talk with Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

This lady is awesome!

I have always considered myself an introvert, but I didn’t really understand what it meant. This TED talk really clarified a lot for me!

I learned that essentially, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is how they gain their energy. Extroverts gain their energy from others. Any social situation helps fuel their energy and they feed off of the interaction. It “recharges” them. Introverts are exactly the opposite. They need alone time to “recharge” and any time they are around a lot of people an introvert is exerting energy. This is not to say that introverts hate socializing or that extroverts never like to be alone, but after a night of socializing and introvert needs to go home and recharge, whereas an extrovert might feel they NEED to be around people after spending a night on their own.

How this relates to me right here right now? I am so tired! Every morning I wake up singing “Today I Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything” and I’m starting to realize why.

 

Oh Bruno Mars, you understand me. 

 

New York is so amazing and it has so many things to offer. However, it has been a COMPLETE change from the small town of Ashland, Oregon. Even in Ashland the amount of social interaction on a daily basis left me feeling the need to go home and recharge, and I did. My schedule allowed me time to charge my introvert batteries. Since I got to New York, I have been go go going to auditions, plays, meeting up with old friends, etc. I hit the Equity auditions especially hard when I first got here and after a week of auditioning every day I felt like I needed a week to recover! Being constantly surrounded by people just sapped me of all my energy.

I guess I just need to find the balance between the time that I am “expelling” energy vs. when I am “recharging” so I don’t burn out and spend three days “recharging” in bed watching Survivor re runs with the cat. (That’s a totally hypothetical scenario by the way…)

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The hardest working cat in show business.

I’ve been working really hard on some career goals with Jessica and I’ve made some major steps in the right direction. I’ve signed up for some classes (Upright Citizans Brigade! Can’t wait to share my experiences!), workshops with casting directors, I’ve reached out to many agents in town and I’m working on some new pieces. She also encouraged me to put a little fun in the mix. Something to do in the city that’s just for me. I think this could couple with my need to recharge. I want to find a new book to read that is totally for pleasure. I got in the habit of reading a lot in Ashland and I haven’t picked up a good book in a while. Maybe I will find a coffee shop in Williamsburg and take a book there this weekend. Or go on a walk by myself. There are as many things for an introvert to do in the city as there are for an extrovert! I just have to make them a priority.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Take a quiz to find out here!

What do you do to recharge?

That’s all for now,

Mandie

Money!!!

22 Feb

Today I want to talk a little bit about money. My favorite topic. And by that I mean my least favorite topic. I already talked a little bit about my dilemma in finding a job while pursuing my career in theatre, and I wanted to expand on that a little bit.

As actors, we are constantly faced with the scenario of being unemployed. The majority of America has one job that they go to every day and unless the quit, get fired or are laid off, that job does not have an impending expiration date. For actors, we are employed from date X to date Y, and then have to hunt down something else, normally while we are still working the current job. Did I mention we have to be creative and free while working these jobs? Yikes!

I’m learning more and more that to be a successful working actor you have to be a GREAT multi-tasker and compartmentalizer (<—not a word, but I’ m using it.) You have to wear a lot of hats. Your business hat. Your artist hat. Your networking hat. The list goes on. We all strive for balance in our lives, in different ways. For me, I’m looking for the balance between theatre work, paying the bills work (which hopefully is the theatre work?) and play.

So what do you do when you’re between theatre jobs?

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Have a martini like Arabella Rittenhouse. Then look at my list. 

1. Look into unemployment options.

Unemployment is not glamorous. It does not make you feel great about your worth as a human. However, as my life coach Jessica told me (did I mention she is awesome and you can check our her facebook page here?), if you qualify for unemployment, you worked for that money. You EARNED it, and you are in a unique opportunity to have money to live on while you pursue your career. Cause that’s why you signed up for the arts. To make it a career.

2. Find a job that plays to your strengths.

Are you great at selling things on craigslist? Are you super organized? Can you walk 12 dogs at a time without freaking out like I would? If you live in a major city like me, there is a demand for just about EVERYTHING. Chances are you will be able to find a job that goes along with your strengths. For me, I am a strong teacher and have a lot of experience working with kids. I can look for jobs that go along with those strengths. A lot of actors are naturally comfortable working with the public, which opens up a wide range of options. Look for jobs that align with your strengths, and they probably also align with your interests, therefore making work feel a little less like, well..work!

3. Flexibility is key.

You want to go to those auditions! You want to take that tap class! You want to be able to TAKE that acting job when it comes! Don’t lock yourself into something that won’t give you the flexibility to pursue your #1 priority. This is why a lot of actors work at restaurants. But that’s not the only option! I realized very quickly that me and the restaurant industry are not best friends. I respect anyone who can make it work for them! It’s just not my thing. I recently found the website Task Rabbit which is a website where people post different tasks they need done. This is as small as “I need dog food purchased and delivered to my home” to as large as a company needing people to work a business event. Once you are hired by Task Rabbit, you bid on these tasks, posting how much you would like to be paid for the task and then the person who posted the task chooses the best bids and you do the task! Easy! And since you are in control of the bidding, you make your own schedule entirely.

Whatever job you find, make sure it allows you the flexibility to keep your art your priority. I’m still on the look out for other options!

4. Trust your gut.

No matter what you choose, stay true to who you are. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel good and doesn’t make you happy, it’s probably not the right thing for you. Not to say that work is all fun, but if all you are getting out of job is money and stress, chances are you could find something else that will make you happier. After all, this job isn’t your priority. It should fit in to your life and help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself, not get in the way.

That’s all for now!

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