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80 Comments
  • lance_reynald
    November 19, 2007

    three people, spread far but always there for me…
    patient with me.
    they endure my fears, speak reasonably, nurture me when I need and level with me when I’m being ridiculous.
    they are all writers, and in words, kindness and friendship they have never failed me.
    Susan, Alex and Jules; hardly a day goes by when I don’t get some help from one if not all three.
    and I am forever in their debt for it.

  • troutbum70
    November 19, 2007

    I have been fortunate to have a few dear friends. Friends that have stood by me right, wrong or whatever. One has been with me since birth, his mother was a nurse in the delivery room when I was born and he was in the womb. He has always been there. From births and deaths to marriage and divorce. He is more my brother than my own flesh and blood. If everyone is blessed with half the friend that I have been blessed with you are all very very lucky.

  • Nathalie
    November 19, 2007

    Nobody. I keep my crying private.
    Not necessarily a good idea, of course, but there you go. I’m a real hedgehog.
    I do have a lovely mother and plenty of good friends who would, I am certain, be glad to help (and I am counting my husband in there) or just provided tissues, hugs and chocolate but I don’t like to burden people with my little miseries. The worst complaint they are likely to hear from me is that I am tired.

  • porochista
    November 19, 2007

    i can’t believe i did a whole interview with you guys without mentioning my real #1: my greyhound. (i mean, my boyfriend, right? i always tell him he’s my #1, but then sometimes mischieviously add my greyhound is my #0.5). but i actually even dedicated my book to my dog Kingsley–quite the crazy dog lady over here. Kingsley is an old angelic man (12 years old, ancient!), patient, sweet, loyal, never a bullshitter. which why i am so grateful you put up that grey rescue link, Susan! awesome. i’ve been working with them for 6 years or so. . .

  • Betsy
    November 19, 2007

    Yeah, I keep the list short. My husband, my best friend NIna. I don’t like to bother people… I grew up with a crier and learned to keep it inside (wasn’t that a song – Don’t Cry Out Loud – learn how to hide your feelings – what? That is an insane message…)
    Porochista, I am absolutely loving that cover.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 19, 2007

    Porochista, you are rocking my world!

  • Silvia
    November 19, 2007

    I’ll have to agree with Nathalie on this one: no one. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing but when I’m down my best friend is a blank piece of paper to write my grief on. It always listents and it never answers back. I do have loads of lovely friends and it’s good to know that if something big happens and I really need them, they’ll be there for me.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 19, 2007

    I spent most of my life like this, and I’m only realizing now that there’s been a change in the past few years.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 19, 2007

    That’s a rare friendship, Michael.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 19, 2007

    Awww. Aw, that is so sweet, you. xo

  • David_Niall_Wilson
    November 19, 2007

    Hmmm

    I rant. I gripe. I scream and throw fits….

    But if I cry, I generally do that alone. My experience (and I admit, I’m jaded by long years of bad relationships and failed trusts) is that when you open yourself up too far to almost anyone, they will move their shoulder and let you flop.

    Generally, I am the shoulder others cry on…and I have learned to let that sort of emotion out without relying on anyone else for support. I try not to bottle anything too potent up inside…and when things are overwhelming, I pick myself up, brush off the dust, and move on.

    The love of my life, Trish, has been a rock for me, and has never once let me down when I needed her, but I am the sort not to push limits on something like that…even though she has surprised me several times by being what no one else in my life ever (honestly) was.

    Another tough question.

    David

  • Heather Fowler
    November 19, 2007

    I have to admit being rather a tears harlot–first, I want to talk to my best friends (4 ladies)–
    from all, I get comfort, but one is particularly good at saying the honest, pull-up your bootstraps and STFU-but-I-love-you-bunches-don’t forget. One, will fly with whatever dream is crashing and point to pretty features of that dream making me not feel completely crazy for having had it in the first place–and giving gentle love. One will exhibit the sort of quite strength and sweetness that makes me feel lucky, yes, overlucky that she even tolerates me, saintly as she most of the time is… One will tell me what’s happening with her life, which is no doubt a made for TV movie writer’s would love to have a view on since there is always something wild and fantastically surreal going on in her house. With her, I play the thankful game (morbid? a bit. wanna play?) You start with the bad situation–“Although, this #$#hole’s brother broke my heart and I feel like an idiot, I’m thankful I don’t have leprosy and live in a small hut without running water.” Example 2: “Although I did get another few rejections today that make me want to curl up and die, I’m thankful that I never had a toe chopped off in some weird forest incident where blood gushed out and a bear came and mauled me and then I was disfigured AND had a permanent limp.” Ha!
    If this game doesn’t work, i.e. soul-deep misery, I will talk to my mother. Truthfully, this doesn’t always make things feel better, but if I’ve told it to my mother, it’s like telling it to the deepest part of the universe where you know whatever was said has been deposited somewhere permanent… And then I go talk to myself… My strongest ally would be like a net combo of these things and chocolate and crisp air and music that makes my heart smile and reading and painting and writing and loving and playing with my children.

    Much love, xo,
    H

  • Kimberly
    November 19, 2007

    Two kind gentlemen: Samuel Adams and Jonathan Daniels. 🙂

    I have had a lovely assortment of supportive friends come and go over the years, some who I would even consider close, but very few get to see me really, truly in the deep darks. In fact, there’s only one person in the world who gets that awesome task. She’s been my friend for the past 18 years and seen me through some serious crap, as I have with her. She’s one of those totally “normal” people (a.k.a. non-artist, hubby, kids, stable job), who constantly helps me keep things in perspective when life’s roof feels like it’s caving in.

    But to be perfectly honest, my strongest ally in times of great woe, is myself. External support is constantly rallying around me with cries of “You can do it!” but until I believe it myself, it’s all just stuff and nonsense.

  • DarylDarko
    November 19, 2007

    in this human realm? i cry alone. but i am speaking very figuratively here. i don’t cry about my difficulties. i cry when my heart breaks. when something triggers the love mechanism in my heart; usually tragic scenes in movies, literature, music, the news, i can cry very easily and i actually long for this to happen. i know these breakdowns reflect my own inner condition; they are my pain too, but i suffer them alone. when i really need someone to cry to/with i have a couple of dolls that i pray/talk to.

  • DarylDarko
    November 19, 2007

    how do i get a photo portrait?

  • Kimberly
    November 19, 2007

    Addendum: you know, that kind of self-reliance came from my parents, whose mantra to their children was always “There’s nothing you can’t do.” There was never that “if you apply yourself” caveat, it was just this ridiculous belief in us that we could do anything. ANYTHING. And they always, always supported our choices – no matter how seemingly (and sometimes actually) insane. So in a way – even though they are not the first people on my emotional-crisis speed dial – their gift constantly strengthens me.

  • Erin
    November 19, 2007

    I’m like a barometer when it comes to reading other people’s emotions – even before they are showing them, I know something’s brewing. It’s a gift, or a curse, or something. I would never wish an emotional holocaust on anyone, but it does make me happy to be the soggy shoulder. As for me, I don’t cry. And it’s not that I refuse to cry – I tried once. I was sad and craving the attention of my closest friend who tends to be very unsypathetic unless she feels there is legitimate reason to coo and stroke. Obviously, I’d need to whip up some tears if I was going to receive the sympathy I desired. So I made whimpering moans, interjected with sporadic wails, but no tears came. After a humiliating (and dry) 45 seconds, I stopped mid-moan and we watched Terminator 2 instead.

  • Alexander_Chee
    November 19, 2007

    Thanks, Lance.

    I basically turn to me first, then my family—my sister, brother and mother—and then there’s my friends Zac and Anston. Zac and my sister usually remind me that I always go through these freakouts, and then everything is fine—when it’s work related.

    Meanwhile, though, hooray for Porochista!!!

  • jonathan evison
    November 19, 2007

    . . . i find that i can most easily overcome grief or desperation by taking a walk in the woods with a tall bottle of beer and my dogs (unless my beagle dave decides to run off, in which case my grief is apt to turn quickly into a different sort of exasperation) . . . i cry a lot, but its usually out of gratituude in some guise . . . i just sort of whine on people’sshoulders, i guess…

  • KaytieMLee
    November 19, 2007

    I don’t easily give up. My husband has excellent shoulders for crying on when I’m forced to give up, which is lucky for me. He is also quite confident of my success. His faith in me is amazing.

    And yeah, nothing like a dog to provide unconditional comfort!

  • Doug
    November 19, 2007

    i don’t like to be embraced when i’m crying b/c i hyperventilate and need to move around a lot. i don’t want to snot all over someone’s sweater. i usually only cry to my mother, but only while i’m on the phone with her. and it’s usually when i reach the last page of a novel or memoir that really gets to me. she says, “i wish i read it so that i could comfort you, but i have no idea what you’re talking about.” examples: a million little pieces, extremely loud and incredibly close, i am not myself these days, the road. i prefer to cry alone, on my bed. if a movie or play has the potential to make me cry i will see it alone. i saw INTO THE WILD alone. and CRASH. i will see SPRING AWAKENING on broadway alone. i have cried in the presence of my father, and those are very special moments. rare ones. i go to him with the really deep stuff. i usually cry on my bed. i cry a lot. when i’m ready to give up i get fetal, cry, nap, wake up, snap out of it….and keep treading.

  • ErikaRae
    November 19, 2007

    I’ve had a lot of friends make themselves available for this role. Scott, my husband, is at the top of the list. The truth is, though, I never truly find release. I tend to cry alone.

    Maybe I don’t want to bother anyone. Maybe I’m too proud. Maybe I just know it won’t really help. I was raised in the Evangelical church and maybe somewhere along the way I got tired of purging my soul to those around me. One of many things from which I am still recovering from my church days. Church – youth group, specifically – often felt like group therapy. Somewhere along the way I stopped wanting to participate. A few years ago, I think I maxed out my own pain tolerance level. When I recovered enough to breathe, I did some things – learned to fight, went skydiving, travelled alone, made some mistakes…things I had to do and confront on my own. Not particularly healthy in its entirety, I suppose, but it’s where I am.

    I still go through the motions – seek out an ear to listen when I need to talk when I really need it. I suppose there is some catharsis there – but pain…in the end it’s up to me to deal with it. Consequently, on the outside I seem pretty together. Happy, even. Of course…I am a gemini. I keep one side of me pretty well hidden in the shadows.

    Why does this question seem so intrinsically connected with last week’s for me?

  • ErikaRae
    November 19, 2007

    Ah yes, Terminator. Many a woman’s solace in a desperate time. Ha!

    Love it.

  • ErikaRae
    November 19, 2007

    It’s only not spooky if the dolls don’t have eyes that open and close. Haha. (In all seriousness, though, maybe I should try this…)

  • ErikaRae
    November 19, 2007

    I hear you, sistah.

  • ErikaRae
    November 19, 2007

    You are so lucky, Lance.

    Looking forward to your interview on Wednesday…

  • Carolyn_Burns_Bass
    November 19, 2007

    “Who is your shoulder to cry on, your strongest ally when you’re about to give up?”

    You mean after we’ve ranted, raged, and accused the universe of being against us, right?

    I know it’s trite, but my husband is my rock. He’s watched me melt into a puddle of goo and then scooped me up and poured me back into myself. He’s also been there to vent the air from my inflated head so that I could come down off the ceiling.

  • Heather_Fowler
    November 19, 2007

    P.S. I guess I was remiss to mention my husband. Add telling him about almost everything right before consulting the girl-power group–and I should also mention that I usually tell him what I want him to say, too–lest he go off on a rage rampage. Like: “Tell me everything will be okay” or “Tell me I’m having a freak-out,” or “Tell me that editor/agent is smoking crack”–and it is a relief he does this. 🙂 But then, sometimes just the company and the heat when I feel lost/greiving is the best thing he does. 🙂 Okay, I am guilty no longer. I added the missing link. xo, H

  • robinslick
    November 19, 2007

    No one.

    And therein lies the problem.

  • EkEkEkEk07
    November 19, 2007

    i prefer to cry alone. once i calm down i call on my mother. i do not like to cry in front of people. i go to movies and plays alone if i know they will work me up. i bury my head in my pillow when i cry if a book moves me. i tend to open my mouth really wide and stop breathing. it’s very dramatic, which is why i don’t like other people to be around. i don’t want to be heard. i don’t want to slobber all over someone. i have always brought heavy things to my father, and he has seen my cry the most. i go to him because he won’t cry with me, like mother does. i don’t like to make other people cry. i don’t like to see my mother cry. i cried on stage twice. i cried when i did equus. alan watches his father get on the bus, and sees his fear. he says, “it’s like there was a hole in my tummy. a hole, right here. and the air was getting in.” i cried then. it doesn’t take a lot of skill, i’m not bragging. you just have to feel what you’re saying. and be in the moment and blah blah blah. i just got chills thinking of it. when i’m about give up…i cry, lie down and curl up, nap, snap out of it, call mother if need be b/c she’ll tell me to calm down, and move on with life.

  • Robert Westfield
    November 19, 2007

    Nice timing. My grandmother, one of my favorite people on the planet, passed away last week after a fall, hip surgery, a massive heart attack and pneumonia (all in five days). There were lots of family members to cry with as well as good friends who had met my fabulous grandmother, but I couldn’t have gotten through last week without my brother and cousin. I was asked to write and deliver the eulogy and had no idea how I would get through it. Every time I tried to read it alone I would burst into sobs. So my brother and cousin came up onto the dais with me and stood on either side. In the two moments when I began to break, they leaned in and whispered a hilarious non-sequitur. A strange technique but it worked.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 19, 2007

    Guys, I just got in. I’ll be around tomorrow. xo

  • AlexisAhrens
    November 19, 2007

    My mother, strangely enough, has been my strongest ally in any of my moments of hopeless self-doubt or heartbroken regret or say, a really bad paper cut. I say ‘strangely enough’ not because it’s strange for her to support me. She is truly my best friend. What is strange is that I have cried so much in her presence, and she is not a cryer at all. She can fall down a flight of stairs and brush it off like it was a stubbed toe, while my eyes well up over the stubbed toe. I’ve had many sobbing, swollen-faced dark nights of the soul, while she hangs out mainly in pure light. And it’s not an act, either. She really is that happy. And she really does have that high of a pain threshold. I think she must wonder how she created me. She must puzzle at how the world affects me so deeply and intensely. And yet, she never makes me feel less-than. In my 40 years of crying, she has never once told me to “buck-up” and turn off the waterworks. She always listens, always loving, always with a perspective that brings me such comfort and strength. I am blessed.

  • daryl
    November 20, 2007

    Their eyes are painted open. That is a little creepier if you think about it. Like they never get to sleep. Always watching after me…

  • billie
    November 20, 2007

    I too tend to cry alone, although in the past few years I do sometimes cry (literally) on my husband’s shoulder. I’ve also cried in the barn with my horses, who, interestingly, all have their own unique ways of responding. Salina, my 25-year old mare, responds exactly like a mother would. My primary riding horse, Keil Bay, consoles with his muzzle on my shoulder and cheek. The pony merely looks alarmed, though with a tiny bit of concern. And the youngest horse, Cody, is like the teddy bear in the herd. He will snuggle right up and give a horsy hug.

  • Bernita
    November 20, 2007

    I tend to cry alone.
    Usually, I’m the shoulder.

  • Ric Marion
    November 20, 2007

    I tend not to cry – in the context here. I cry at everything else – weddings, sappy shows, overwhelmed with emotion by the family. Been a long time since I’ve lost it over events in my life. Wife is the one who watches over me, knows when to hug, when to push me back into the fight.

  • Juliet
    November 20, 2007

    I am honoured to have some of the best friends a person could be in relationship with. Often, life doesn’t get to the moment of complete breakdown simply because they are in my corner.
    Since much of the work I do involves being the shoulder, I absolutely cherish those who can be “bigger” than me without panicking about it.
    My Dad, my friend Diana and Lance, in particular, are there 24-7 to remind me that it is okay to touch the edges of agony, to find something beautiful in even the darkest pain and to never lose sight of hope. They’ve never asked me to feel better so that they can feel okay—the just let me grieve and bawl and generally feel sorry for myself.
    When that is done, they’re the first with a witty comment, a song, something of beauty, or just a long hug to get me on my feet again.
    Because they know the difference between when to hug and when I just need a good kick in the ass, they are the first I turn to when my world grows dim.

  • Aurelio
    November 20, 2007

    If I know you, chances are I’ll eventually cry on you – but I cry at the drop of a hat (and always carry tissues.)

    When Marsha got her braces, I cried.

    It’s embarrassing, especially for a guy. It’s an automatic reaction. I used to hate it, but…

    As some of you may recall from an earlier LitPark post, my mother died when I was quite young. Due to weird family circumstances and a step-mom who forbade us ever talking of our real mother at home, I literally lost all memory of her. As an adult, I went in search of those memories, by visiting relatives and other family members to talk about my mother.

    One thing I discovered: my mother cried at the drop of a hat.

    It makes me cry right now just thinking about it – how knowing that about her changed my whole perspective on this affliction. Now I cry proudly. It was her gift.

  • A.S. King
    November 20, 2007

    I don’t cry much.
    When I do, my husband is the one I cry on. He’s been my shoulder for 20 years, even though in most cases, he has no idea what I’m crying about.
    I guess that’s the point of unconditional love, eh?

  • Jordan
    November 20, 2007

    It’s probably kind of cheesy to say this, but as my friends often accuse me of being a “cave-dweller” which is to say I don’t reach out for help when in need often enough, there is really only one person I can always turn to. I met him nearly 12 years ago and married him 8 years ago. I have told him that even though he is older than me he will have to outlive me. No argument.

  • Erin
    November 20, 2007

    tired of purging your soul? ha! so many parallels – i love us!

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I have been one of those shoulders to cry on today, which is one reason why I’m just now getting over here. I don’t think I’m an especially good shoulder because I’m not much of a crier myself. I’m a suck-it-up, show-some-courage military brat. So when people are sad, I’m inclined to try to fix things. I’m one hell of a trouble shooter. So, for example, with my friend today, as she’s crying, all kinds of flags and solutions are going off in my head, and now she’s all hooked up with people and medications and a place for her kid to go for the day (my house) and so on. But I just don’t think I’m so great at simply comforting and staying in the moment. I know how to provide all the tender and comforting things sexually, I’m pretty good at that, and that’s also the best way for me to receive comfort, but, you know, it’s a little limiting when that’s your best mode of communication.

    Okay, on that wholly inappropriate note, let me dive in and see what’s here. (Also, I’m baking something for my kids (and the friend’s kid), so if I disappear for a while, that’s where I’ve gone.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I’ve met that awesome person, and if you have to only have one to turn to, he’s a good one.

    Put your cute picture in the box, Jordan!

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I don’t usually know why I’m crying, either. So it’s never anything I can explain to someone.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    That is the sweetest thing about you crying for Marcia Brady. I’m going to remember that forever.

    That’s so sad that you weren’t allowed to talk about your mom after she died. xox

  • troutbum70
    November 20, 2007

    I’m a suck it up and deal person too. I always want to find a solution for whatever the problem is. I’ve never been good at dealing with others pain. I feel uncomfortable and rigid when people just want to cry and be comforted. I’m working on it but it is still hard. Tell me what is wrong and I will fix it for you. When I should just hug and say everything will be alright.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Those are good friends who just stay there with you while you cry and they don’t try to talk you out of it.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Me, too. I’m more apt to cry when I read a book or see the football players come out of the tunnel on a must-win game.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Interesting, how many cry alone or not at all here. I wonder if there’s a correlation between that and being a writer/artist.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Wow, I love hearing about the horses.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Great story. I need to stop my habit of getting people to buck up. Especially my kids.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Robert, so great to see you hear. That sounds like a movie scene with the whispering non-sequiturs. Your grandmother must have been awfully great to have left all of you so emotional.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Aw. I think it’s a great honor and a great act of intimacy when someone lets you see them all snotty and puffy eyed.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I think bitching and sharing panic attacks is as close I usually get to crying. When I cry, I tend to tell people to go away, and then when they do, I’m like, Hey, don’t you love me? Why are you leaving?

  • EkEkEkEk07
    November 20, 2007

    this was my first response that i didn’t think went through. EkEkEkEk07 and Doug are the same.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    If someone can handle both the crying and the raging, they’re usually keepers.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I like the way you connected the two questions. Fascinating, all of this.

  • Erin
    November 20, 2007

    I think that’s called borderline personality disorder. okay, i’m kidding!

    sort of.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    That’s so interesting to me. There’s something so very male about this response, and it would make an interesting book, or chapter within a book. Your answer along with EkEkEkEk07’s paints a picture I hadn’t seen before.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I didn’t realize until I read your answer that crying has something to do with failing, giving up, being defeated for me, too.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Walks and dogs are great for evening things out. I agree.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I like that. Half of surviving the downs is remembering how they looked the last many times. If every time I felt hopeless I just remembered that’s part of how I get sad, then it wouldn’t be so scary.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Ha! That’s a great story. I used to cry every five or ten years, not even the instinct to cry in between, so I know what you mean.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Eek. Well, I’m freaked out. I think you’re due to put some dolls into whatever you’re writing these days.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Even crazier than telling your kids you can do anything if you apply yourself is that some kids, like Kimberly, are going to prove them right.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Ah, a good reminder that you’re stronger when you have many go-to people and they’re not all the same type.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    This tells me a whole lot about you, DNW. Makes sense.

  • Heather_Fowler
    November 20, 2007

    Susan, I am so with you and Carolyn here! Oh, I just stabbed, shot, and maimed you? But you knew it was in love, right? Wait, seriously though, I’m a delicate flower. I’m crying. Ouch. Give comfort, okay? Stat! hey, what’s taking so long on that comfort angle? LOL!

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Not a lot of reaching out, you writers. So interesting to me.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Wait till midnight when her interview goes live. Then you will love more than the cover!

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    I try to work on this too, but it’s hard. My favorite thing is to take it out on the soccer field. And when I’m mad, everyone’s like, wow, Sue’s playing really great today, must be her period.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Ha! I’ve always referred to it as being a pain in the ass.

  • SusanHenderson
    November 20, 2007

    Ha ha. Sorry about that. Don’t want to give you a split personality complex by talking to you as if you’re two people.

  • Aimee
    November 20, 2007

    Totally late here…I’m finding recently that if I completely break down I can count on Aaron (SO). But, I tend to vent about small unimportant things with my Mother and a very good friend. The big stuff, like death, I deal with fully on my own. I’m sure this is some sort of mental problem. But I find it very difficult to share my sadness with others. I like to pretend there is no sadness.

  • aimeepalooza
    November 20, 2007

    I am still Aimee and now I am trying to see if my picture pops in instead of the mysterious blue man.

  • ErikaRae
    November 20, 2007

    Ha!

    I love writers…

  • Kimberly
    November 20, 2007

    HA! (and I say again… HA!)

    I think I just might start to cry after a response so kind… But my own shoulders are too tight, so I’ll save it up until I can afford a massage. Crying on your own shoulder causes a neck-crimp sumptin’ fierce!

    And may I ask… what other kind of answers did you expect from a group of people who, just a few weeks ago, metioned agoraphobia as their primary communal fear??? 🙂

  • Shelley
    November 21, 2007

    Martha my love keeps me directed, lets me know if I’m wrong, and is always there to catch me when I cry.

  • frank
    November 23, 2007

    I rely on my wife, cause she’s the only person I can rely on presently. Otherwise I cowboy up and just handle it.