Suddenly, she doesn't want to die. She has no real reason not to, no sudden revelation, except that it's equally pointless to die as not to die. Why doesn't she die? She lives because she's meant to live, because she's already alive and it's comparatively easy to stay that way. She lives because, even though she doesn't know what it is, there must be a reason why she's here in the first place. She lives because either she's not as brave as all the dead girls who've gone before her, or she's actually braver - it's hard to tell.
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The subjects range from the pastoral (sniffing of the butt of a melon to tell if it's ripe. and almost romantically lush descriptions of lightening storms sweeping across fields on summer nights) to elaborations on the value of man's having a life of his own, apart from whatever life he has with his family, a private life that no one knows anything about, "a place he can be himself without concern of disappointment or rejection".
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Tell me about your day, your routine, and what you did at the drugstore when the dumb little girl charged you five cents instead of five dollars. Did you speak up? Are you all so lily-white? The harder it gets to be safe and secure, to trust, to find love and understanding-the more you feel entitled, allowed, even encouraged, to cheat, to lie, to steal, and then later, even to kill. That you're just beginning to feel it now only means you have been lucky for too long.
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Every family has a story that it tells itself, that it passes on to the children and grandchildren. The story grows over the years, mutates, some parts are sharpened, others dropped, and there is often debate about what really happened. But even with these different sides of the same story, there is still agreement that this is the family story. And in the absence of other narratives, it becomes the flagpole that the family hangs its identity from.
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I think about how truly interesting and odd it is that when a woman marries, traditionally she loses her name, becoming absorbed by the husband's family name - she is in effect lost, evaporated from all records under her maiden name. I finally understand the anger behind feminism - the idea that as a woman you are property to be conveyed between your father and your husband, but never an individual who exists independently. And on the flip side, it is also one of the few ways one can legitimately get lost - no one questions it.
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The weird thing about having your birthday on a school day is that by the time you get to be ten, or eleven for sure, no one at school knows it's your birthday anymore. It's not like when you're little and your mom brings cupcakes for the whole class. But even though no one knows, you walk around like it's supposed to be a national holiday. You walk around thinking that people are supposed to be nice to you, like maybe on your birthday you're ten times more breakable than on any other day. Well, it doesn't work that way. It just doesn't.
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