I have those “weird-in-a-fun-way” friends. A couple of them were joking back and forth yesterday, and one of them said, ” What if, every time you yawn, a ghost puts his dick in your mouth?” That reminded me of a story…
Once upon a time, I was living with this married couple. Yeah,it was like that, although I was mostly only fooling around with her. But that’s another story altogether. They’d moved to Indiana a few months before me, and drawn by the appeal of there being anywhere but here, I followed along.
My girl had a rich uncle who rented them a really cool old two bedroom,two-story, and I had my own large room connected to theirs. It was just a mattress on the floor and a dresser, but it was fine. I mostly slept with them anyway,so,whatever.
The house was nice, but the upper floor and stairs creaked like a motherfucker. You literally could not take a step on those stairs without it reverberating through the whole house, which was pretty annoying when you were trying to sleep while everyone else was up and about. And if you heard the stairs creaking like that when you were the only person in the house, well, old houses creak. And if you heard the disembodied voice of a man whispering in your ear in the middle of the night, it was probably just the neighbors. Or the wind.
I kept getting woken up when I slept in their room by a voice. Specifically, a man’s voice, laughing and talking really loudly. They had this wrap around porch balcony deal off their bedroom, and they kept the doors open so the night air could get in, and we all just figured that someone outside was being noisy, and I’m a light sleeper. So I mostly just started going back to my mattress on the floor at night in hopes of getting some actual sleep, which I did. For a while.
One night, the three of us were downstairs playing video games. It was pretty late. Their toddler had been asleep for hours, and we were all getting pretty tired, but my girl’s husband and I were right at the end of Super Mario Bros., so we stayed up, and she went to bed. We finished our game maybe twenty minutes later, and I went on up to bed while he stayed downstairs to play another game.
*Creak,creak,creak!* up the stairs I went, and straight to my room, where I pretty much face-planted into the mattress, exhausted.
There was no way to sleep through those fucking creaking stairs, and the baby didn’t. As soon as I closed my eyes and started drifting off, she started screaming her head off. Generally, I tried to be a good little helper with the baby. I changed diapers, and fed her and since my room was closer, if she woke up, I’d go and see about her, but that night, I just could NOT make myself get up. I lay there,listening to her crying for like a whole minute, just trying to gather up the energy to crawl off my mattress. No dice.
A few seconds later, my girl came stomping through the door that connected her room to mine, and flitted by my bed in a huff. I watched her until she left my line of vision, but I didn’t have the energy to move or say anything. So I lay there and waited for her to come back by and bitch at me for not getting up. I could hear her in the baby’s room, soothing her back to sleep, and then a few minutes later, she walked back through my room.
She stopped a few feet from the foot of my bed, and I was on my side, pretending to be asleep, having little interest in starting a midnight argument over what my duties were and weren’t as the live-in side piece. She stood there for a couple of minutes, and I figured she was debating over whether or not to wake me up and yell at me, so I said nothing, and waited quietly for her to go away like the thunderstorm she was. I was hardly surprised when she called me at work the next day to tell me we “had to talk”, which of course meant that the next time she saw me, she was going to bitch for twenty minutes, IF I was lucky and kept quiet during her tirade.
The thing that I loved and hated about her was that she ALWAYS spoke her mind. Always. So when I went to the diner where she waited tables after work to get free food along with my ass-chewing,I was pleasantly surprised and mildly befuddled when I asked her what she wanted to talk about, and she just brushed it off, saying it was no big deal. Nothing was EVER “no big deal” to her, but I wasn’t about to question the gods of fortune when they gave me the opportunity of a free cheeseburger WITHOUT the ass chewing. In so many ways, I really am just a typical dude, except that I have a vagina and pretty spectacular pair of tits.
Weeks went by, and I’d all but forgotten those events, until the day we decided to take a two hour road trip to Louisville. She was driving with me sitting beside her, and hubs and baby in the back, and I was complaining about hearing weird noises and talking again. My girl went quiet for a second, and then she said, ” Yeah, I used to be able to make excuses for all that weird shit, but after the other week, I can barely sleep at night.”
Her husband, who was generally a pretty laid back and quiet guy, scolded, ” SHUT UP about that! I TOLD you not to say anything!” Normally,if either of us ” silly women” even hinted that we thought the weird noises in our house were of supernatural origin,he would have a field day, mocking us and teasing us about being big scaredy-cat girls. The fact that he was actually angry this time was pretty telling.
They argued back and forth for a few minutes, with her claiming that I deserved to know, and him asking what good it would do for me to hear it, until I finally forced her to just fucking tell me already.If old age and dementia claim all of my mind, this conversation will be one of the last things to go:
Her: You know that night we were playing Mario, and I went to be first, and then the baby started crying?
Me: Yes, and you got mad at me because I didn’t get up and go get the baby right away.
Her: I wasn’t mad that you didn’t get up to get the baby; I was mad because I thought you and (husband) were in your bed fooling around, and not only were you both cheating on me with me right there awake and watching, but you didn’t even stop to check on the baby.
Me: Yeah,no. That didn’t happen.
Her: (exasperated) I know that NOW. That’s just what I thought before I went into your room and actually saw the guy in bed with you. THEN I thought you were cheating on me with some random dude you’d snuck into the house.
Me: (Internally pissing my pants) No one will ever sneak up those stairs.
Her: Yeah, I know. I was awake when you came up, and I watched you and some tall, skinny guy walk into your room and lay down in the bed, and I thought it was you and (husband). Then when I got a good look at him, I realized he didn’t look anything like (husband). He had black hair, and dark eyes, and he stared at me like he hated me. Scared the hell out of me, so I left to go see about the baby, and when I came back, he was gone, and I knew he couldn’t have gotten past me on those rickety stairs without me hearing him. I looked all over the top floor after I left your room, and he’d just…disappeared.
I never saw the guy, but the voice that had been waking me up for months only got louder, and I’ll never know if it was just my paranoid imagination that made it seem like the voice had gotten closer, until I could occasionally feel the huff of warm breath in my ear.I moved out shortly thereafter, much to their profound unhappiness. I’d been ready to end things with them for a couple of months, and having the boogey man for a bunk mate was just another reason to go.
I wouldn’t say that I was traumatized by all that weird shit. I mean, it was scary at the time, but not exactly “Amityville Horror” level by any stretch. Clearly, if that ghost/demon/spirit was trying to seduce me, he did NOT bring his A game. After a few months, I pretty much just relegated it into the category of an interesting story that I occasionally like to tell to freak people out.
But my weird friends’ conversation reminded me of it, and so then I did five whole seconds of internet searching, where I picked the most reliable and interesting news source I could find on the subject. That’s right, Buzzfeed. It’s actually really funny and informative…
I’d like to know more, and maybe I’ll do a follow up one of these days, but it’s 5pm, and I’m thinking Arby’s right about now. I would, however, LOVE to hear your ghost stories. I find that shit fascinating.
I’m trying to get out of the habit of blogging more than once a day, especially when I’m SUPPOSED to be writing gay porn for some anthology thingie that I’m trying to get into. But goldurnit, some facts are just too interesting not to share, especially when there are hilarious photos to go along with it….
I learned something today: some people get off on trees. It’s called dendrophilia, and well, I think that’s fucking fascinating.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m NOT making fun. Anything done by one consenting adult and their inanimate object of choice is fine by me. If you’re not hurting anyone and/or getting arrested for public indecency and/or trespassing, rock on. I doubt very much that the trees care one way or the other.
Wikipedia doesn’t have much to say on the subject…
And when Wikipedia draws a blank, well, you’re pretty much screwed, information wise. I did find some boring ass religious treatise that referred to the worship of various pagan symbols as phallic symbols, and how that only proves that all y’all pagans are going straight to HADES for being fucking perverts. *YAWN* Ain’t nobody tryna hear all that. I could probably find more if I was willing to do more than ten minutes of research, but sadly, I have a short attention span. I’d LOVE to hear from ACTUAL dendrophiles and get the scoop, but until then, I guess I’ll just have to giggle over the silly pics I found instead…
It’s become kind of a standard in the erotica world these days. A dominant alpha male teaching some young thing the pleasures of submission, only to find true love. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still like reading it. I incorporate a tiny bit of it into my sex scenes occasionally, so I can totally see the appeal on a completely visceral level. Bondage porn is actually some of my favorite kind. Just, as a lifestyle choice, it’s not really something I can ever see myself doing.
For one thing, I’m neither submissive or dominant. I neither want to be tied up, or do the tying. In a world of alphas and betas, I’m an omega who totally gets off on the vanilla shit as easily as the hardcore stuff. It’s probably just laziness on my part, or the fact that it’s just crazy easy for me to have multiple orgasms from the missionary position alone, which requires little to no effort on my part.
All that being said, I had a ridiculously good time scanning the interwebs for bondage photos. I got lost in a world of Velma from Scooby Doo being tied up and sullied in various interesting ways. Maybe I just have a Velma fetish. A thick girl, with glasses and a smart mouth? Yes, please!
No silly post today, just me, in bed at 7am, thinking about all the shit I write that few will ever read. I’m actually fine with that, believe it or not. When I was younger, I harbored the delusion that ONE day, I would find my place and my people, who would validate my unique weirdness , and we’d all frolic together, like that little bee girl in the Blind Melon video. And, I have, sort of, but the older I get, the more I realize that it’s not even about that.
Even the people who get you won’t get everything. The true test of friendship is when you go off the map, and the ones who love you try to follow,even though the trail you’re leading them down seems dubious, at best. The true test of yourself is in how far you’re willing to keep going down that trail as the ones who are willing to follow drop down to the single digits.
But I digress .
Why DO so many people hate erotica? I think partly, it’s because a lot of the writing is utter crap. The plot, if there is one at all, pretty much revolves around boring, non-dimensional characters trying to find love and/or mind blowing orgasms in spite of some contrived obstacles and a villain who really could have been efficiently dealt with from the beginning, if only the heroes of the story had shown any amount of foresight whatsoever. But then, all of that seems to be true of most of the things we consider entertainment. It goes deeper.
LOT’S of people are really uncomfortable about sex. Sex isn’t the be all and end all, necessarily, but God damn. It baffles me that so many adults, who are presumably having sex and liking it, just cannot bring themselves to talk about it, let alone read about it.
Here’s why that bothers me- a lot of my friends have reached the stage in life where they’ve been with their significant others for a while, and I’m hearing countless complaints about their lack of connection with their partners. The sex is mediocre, if there IS still sex at all. Many of them are having affairs, or have had in the past, and it’s not because they stopped loving their partners. In fact, it’s usually the opposite; they feel compelled to seek the fulfillment that they’re not receiving at home, due to, I think, two main things-lack of communication and lack of good sex, and those two things are irrevocably intertwined.
And this is the part where someone cries foul, because my words hit them below the belt, and they feel compelled to cry, “sex isn’t everything!!!” No, it isn’t, but it’s more important than most people give it credit for. If it wasn’t the whole gay marriage issue wouldn’t even be a thing .
The truth is, no one really gives a damn whether two men or women, or however they identify, want to cohabitate and build a life together, but the very IDEA that one guy might stick his dick in another guy’s ass, and that they both may actually LIKE it, is really just more than some people can handle. And heaven forbid that some woman might leave her husband because the lesbian next door eats pussy when he won’t. That’s just a recipe for total anarchy. Because of this, most major religions revolve around telling us when, where, and who we can fuck.
I don’t blame religion, or God, though. Religion just gives some people refuge from their own accountability, even though, again, that’s not even what it’s about, and the most cowardly of those try to force their fear-based ideologies on others. I truly believe that if there is a God, he’s really not that concerned over your curiosity about how having a dick in your ass might feel. There are, after all, far more pressing things to deal with.
So, don’t go blaming God for the shit you don’t want to deal with. A truly loving parent understands that the only way for his children to mature into proper adults is to make their own way through trial and error. Your friends and family might not get it, but they have their own rows to hoe. Don’t let their shit become your shit.
And ya know, sexual awkenings aren’t for everyone. Some people just truly aren’t interested in sex one way or the other, and that’s okay too. Just, if you feel like there’s more to this sex thing than you know, explore it. When your inner prude throws up a big wall of NOPE!, don’t be afraid to climb that rickety bitch and see what’s on the other side. As long as everyone is a consenting adult, then there truly can be no wrong there.
I won’t even try to speak for the entire female population on this subject, so I can only tell you what the deal is with ME. The first gay porn I ever watched was a sex tape a friend of mine had made of himself and a smokin’ hot Marine going at it in the shower. A lot of people would find that awkward and strange, watching a video of your BFF banging some dude, but that’s just how it was with us. He could’ve flopped his dick out on the kitchen table and asked me to give him a critique and we would’ve just laughed about it.
It’s been twenty years, I don’t even remember how the subject of him having a sex tape came up. I’m guessing that we were probably at least a tiny bit drunk, and I probably made some off hand comment that was essentially, ” How weird would it be to be watching porn and come across a video of your friend getting down and dirty? lol”….Which my shameless, lovely, and most likely equally drunken friend would have totally viewed as a gauntlet thrown.
It was educational, to say the least. At twenty, gay sex was as foreign to me as hieroglyphs. I was a product of a very conservative family in a very small town, and if anyone was gay, they certainly didn’t speak of it in mixed company, let alone go into lurid details about it…which of course made me INSANELY curious about the subject. My friend was more than happy to provide explicit details, but figured visuals aids were probably the best way to learn.
Now, bear in mind, this was back in the days where it took half a lifetime for modems to dial in to the internet, and then you had to pay for that slow shit by the minute. Downloading a decent porn video took at LEAST half an hour, and GIFS weren’t even a thing, so we pretty much had to rely on videos. And let me tell you, from a woman’s perspective, straight porn from the 80’s that’s geared towards men is about as sexy as watching your grandpa eat a sandwich.
Not so much. THIS on the other hand….
Watching two attractive people have sex that they both seemed to actually enjoy equally was something of an epiphany for me, and I’ve been hooked ever since. So much so that even as straight porn has entered into a sort of Renaissance era, where the female orgasm actually plays a part in at least a few porn vids here and there, I have to admit, that as nice as it is to finally see, gay porn still tends to be my go to. BECAUSE, for every hot video of some guy doing his level best to get his lady friend to scream his name in a good way, there are THOUSANDS of videos full of guys pounding away on some poor woman who looks like she’s balancing her check book the whole time. Gay porn is almost always a win-win.
And for those assholes out there who are saying, ” Yeah, but you’re getting all hot and bothered over someone who in reality wouldn’t look at you twice.” WELL, guess what? Odds are, so are you. 🙂
And oh yeah, read my dirty smut book. It’s awesome, and packed full of gay sex. Yeah, I went there.
I LOVE dirty books, and have been in love with dirty books since I was sixteen. I’ve always loved to read, since I was three years old and I sat in my grandfather’s lap and forced him to teach me every word in ” Peter Rabbit”. The problem is, that as I got older, I always wanted to read the things I wasn’t supposed to.
I was the kid who was ALWAYS reading. When everyone else was playing Pac-man, or riding their bikes, or shooting each other with their BB guns…whatever the hell normal kids did, I was up in a tree, reading. The reason I was up in a tree,instead of molding away in some dusty corner,was because I could hide from the kids with the BB guns, while taking in the minimum requirement of “fresh air” that adults were always forcing on me. Had I actually been allowed to do what I wanted, I would’ve stayed in my corner reading until I emerged from the darkness like Gollum from the depths of the Misty Mountains, eyes bulging and blinded by the smallest hint of natural light. Yeah, I’m a total geek.
My mother totally enabled my reading habit, being kind of a geek herself, but like any good mother of a seven year old, she tried to steer me towards appropriate books like” Little House on the Prairie” and ” The Secret Garden”. And, I was fine with those, until my dad bought us one of those fancy hard back book sets of classic literature. He’d bought them so I could read ” Tom Sawyer” and ” Little Women”, and I DID read those, but the set also included the entire works of Edgar Allan Poe. Once you’ve read a story about a guy who kills an old man because of his creepy glass eye, there’s really no going back to that place of innocence and happy endings on the frontier. My poor mother.
After that, I was totally consumed by horror and fantasy for a long time. By the time I was eleven, I’d read every Stephen King book that I could get my hands on. The man practically raised me, and I’ll admit, that I was not-QUITE-Annie-Wilkes obsessed with him throughout my teenage years.
So then, when my tenth grade teacher told us that we could write a book report on ANY book we wanted, you can imagine my fan gurl excitement….FINALLY, I would get to show my sheltered fellow classmates what they were missing out on! I was just CERTAIN that I was about to turn everyone’s life around for the better…until she added, ” EXCEPT Stephen King.”
I was crushed, I mean, What.The.Actual.Hell? English teachers are supposed to be the rebels! They’re the ones that stand up for all of us bookworms. They form the Dead Poets Society and encourage us to read banned books while reminding us that it’s the nerds who rule the world!
Only not so much, apparently. I tried reasoning with her, to no avail. I TRIED explaining that there was more to Stephen King than just genetically modified killer dogs and child-eating spiders, but she would not be moved. In the end, I just ended up going with writing on a novel by a then lesser known author, Richard Bachman. (That’s Stephen King’s pseudonym, y’all. It was ” The Long Walk”, and the joke’s on her, because they teach that shit in some college courses.)
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, what in the hell does a horror obsessed teenage dork have to do with word porn? Well, that’s where it started for me. It just totally pissed me off that anyone would discount ANY book without at least having read it first. The very idea that ANY book could be banned was enough to send my naive little mind into a fit of rage.
So like any good teenager, I decided to stage my own little rebellion in the form of reading literally everything I wasn’t supposed to-every forbidden book I could get my hands on. My favorites were the paperback bodice rippers, and I spent most of my meager check-out girl paycheck on every new book the grocery store got in. If a chick was in danger of getting her dress torn right off her body by a pirate,knight,cowboy, or morally bankrupt millionaire, then by golly, you could count me in. I shamelessly consumed every one I could find.
As an innocent teen, I had no shame over my sexual curiosity. The actual shame didn’t kick in until after I started college, and then it was less of a morality/sexuality thing and more of an issue of intellectual snobbery. “REAL” intellects didn’t read such “misogynistic crap”, because it taught women to be subordinate to men, not to mention that the overall writing in general was just sub-standard, at best,and not worthy of being grouped in with “REAL” literature. I’ll admit, that for a little while, I denied myself the indulgence of mindless entertainment out of sheer determination to prove that I was just as smart as the other bloodless bibliophiles.
What I discovered was that I WAS actually pretty smart, and talented. My writing professors loved me because I was able to comprehend complex and abstract themes, and I was able to translate that into something that they felt was worth reading. Every time someone complimented me on my unique and inappropriately humorous writing style, I felt like I’d found my place in the world. When I won an essay contest by explaining why vultures are actually the heroes in A Canticle for Leibowitz, that was the first time that I really said to myself, ” THIS. This right here is what I want to do with my life.
And then nearly twenty years went by of my publishing….
Okay, not NOTHING. I wrote some articles here and there, did some technical stuff that probably three people will read, ever, and I filled up 500 notebooks with a lot of boring bullshit that will never see the light of day, unless I die suddenly and tragically, and my Mom pulls some John Kennedy Toole crap on me. In the event of that happening, advanced warning, don’t waste your money, unless you just LIKE reading shitty poems about the angst of a twenty-something white girl who just can’t get her shit together for no obvious reason.
I THOUGHT that I had to push for something deeper. I THOUGHT that there was no point in writing anything if I couldn’t produce the next To Kill a Mockingbird. It took me twenty wasted years to get over my own self-imposed limitations and realize that I was never going to write the next great novel, because quite frankly, writing about the tragic state of the world just bores the hell out of me, unless those tragedies revolve around two ( or three, or seven…) people getting it on and possibly slaying some demons on the side.
When it finally occurred to me that I’m just a basic bitch who needs to write garbage, it also occurred to me that I wasn’t alone in that. Then, Amazon created this amazing format for people all over the world to self-publish, and basic bitches like myself were crawling out of the woodwork to tell their stories. Not only wasn’t I alone in my need for mindless entertainment, but I realized that there are THOUSANDS of us, and regardless of what the critics and intellectuals of the world may think, we need this outlet. In my middle years, I have finally come to the conclusion that ALL of it matters. Every story teaches something, even the smutty ones.
I’ve always been pretty sexually liberated. In truth, I’ve always been a bit on the slutty side, and I truly like sex, and am down for pretty much whatever. Even as I write this, I can actually feel people balking at that admission, because even in an age where pretty much all of civilized society in general accepts that two consenting adults have the right to do whatever the hell they want behind closed doors, inhibitions are still very much a thing. Just because you know you HAVE the right to act on whatever mutually consensual adult thing you’re into, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve found the courage to act on it, and well, this makes me sad.
A lot of people tend to criticize romance novels, because they give people “bad” ideas about what sex and relationships are really about. To that I say, who the heck are you to tell someone else what kind of fetishes they’re allowed to have? Allow me to answer for you; you’re not, no matter how good your intentions are.
Quite frankly, on a personal note, I’m not even remotely into the whole ” emotionally stunted alpha male” persona that seems to dominate erotica novels these days. Even if he was the sexiest man on the planet, there’s no WAY I could ever fall in love with some guy who flat out told me that he lacked the ability to love, and was only good for sex. I mean, I’d probably sleep with him, sure. I might even let him tie me up now and again, but he would be firmly relegated to the “friends with benefits” category until such time as he completed a few intensive psycho therapy sessions. Renee has NO time for man children with mommy issues, no matter how many cool toys they have.
That being said, I have several good friends who do very well writing that very thing, and you know what, good for them. They found the thing that works for them, and it just so happens that they’ve found a bunch of people who are into the exact same thing. And, ya know, I get it- you spend twenty odd years married to the same guy who, while he might be a pretty decent husband in most respects, can’t make a solid decision about anything to save his life and is pretty much a one-trick pony in the bedroom. In our attempts to escape day to day monotony, we often seek a fantasy that has no foundation in reality, and that’s totally fine. I think most adults are perfectly capable of discerning fiction from truth, and drawing a line, and if they’re not, well it wasn’t the book they were reading that created the problem in the first place.
In short, don’t be ashamed of the weird shit you’re in to. Own that weird shit. Embrace it,and use it to find your happy place. And while you’re at it, stop trying to tell others what their happy place should look like.
My current happy place is in MMF romance. That’s right, ROMANCE, as in an actual relationship between two men and one woman. I tried to write a short, smutty piece, and ended up discovering what I think is a pretty sweet little love story about some werewolves who are just trying to live, normal, happy lives. Of course, what kind of boring ass story would THAT be? There are obstacles, and smut, and more obstacles and shenanigans in between. I like it; it’s the story that I wanted to read, but couldn’t seem to find anywhere.
So, check it out, if you like. I think it’s pretty dang awesome, but even if you don’t, that’s okay. Keep looking, find what speaks to you. If Pride and Prejudice is your smut level, well, that’s okay, too. You do you. If you’re like me, and there’s pretty much no such thing as TOO much sex, WELL then…
A not-shitty cover is under construction. 🙂
I love ancient mythology. I’m one of the people who actually READS Wikipedia. Those ancient gods really got up to some freaky shit, and I’ve become totally obsessed with integrating those stories into modern times. In my world, they’re ALL real, but they’ve all been busy for centuries, fighting over what their places should be in the human realm. Some of them want to help us, some of them want to enslave us, and some of them just can’t keep it in their pants. *cough* ZEUS *cough,cough*.
Fertility goddesses have been around since there were people. Why? Because sex is fucking magical, that’s why.
A love triangle should be a sexual position, not a plot device. It’s just a way to contrive drama, that really, more often than not, kind of makes you hate the main character just a little bit. I just want to reach into the book, grab the heroine by the shirt, and growl, ” Look, sister, we ALL know you don’t give a crap about that other guy who’s helping you out while your true love, who’s a total douche bag, btw, tries to figure his shit out.” I almost always side with that poor third wheel who really could do SO much better than some fickle bitch who’s just using him to temporarily make herself feel better.
Do I think it’s possible for someone to love more than one person at once? Absolutely. In fact, I’d wager that it’s more common than faithful monogamy, although no one seems to want to admit it. I can’t EVEN tell you how many of my married friends are fucking someone else. ( Seriously, I can’t. I’ve been sworn to secrecy.) A LOT of married, middle-aged couples fuck around on each other, some knowingly, some not. Open relationships and multiple partner relationships are on the rise, and I think that’s a good thing.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that they couldn’t be in that kind of relationship, because they’d be too jealous. It’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly a better alternative than screwing around and lying about it. Personally, I don’t think there’s one way to love, and I think that no matter what kind of love you choose, it should begin by being true to yourself. I KNOW, cliche, right? But seriously, all of that false morality and keeping up of appearances just leads to lies, secrecy, heartbreak, and novels with terrible plots.