Ask a kid who's struggling in math if he likes being in a mixed-level class, and he'll tell you he feels like a moron. Ask the math genius if he likes being in a mixed-level class, and he'll tell you he's sick of doing all the work during group projects. Sometimes, it's better to sort like with like.
All teenagers knew this was true. The process of growing up was nothing more than figuring out what doors hadn't yet been slammed in your face. For years, parents tell you that you can be anything, have anything, do anything. That was why she'd been so eager to grow up-until she got to adolescence and hit a big fat wall ofreality. As it turned out, she couldn't have anything she wanted. You didn't get to be pretty or smart or popular just because you wanted it. You didn't control your own destiny, you were too busy trying to fit in.
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Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.
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The brain of a person in love will show activity in the amygdala, which is associated with gut feelings, and in the nucleus accumbens, an area associated with rewarding stimuli that tends to be active in drug abusers. Or, to recap: the brain of a person in love doesn't look like the brain of someone overcome by deep emotion. It looks like the brain of a person who's been snorting coke.
There are all sorts of losses people suffer - from the small to the large. You can lose your keys, your glasses, your virginity. You can lose your head, you can lose your heart, you can lose your mind. You can relinquish your home to move into assisted living, or have a child move overseas, or see a spouse vanish into dementia. Loss is more than just death, and grief is the gray shape-shifter of emotion.
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Annie turned away, her eyes glittering. 'Here's what no one tells you,' she said. 'When you deliver a fetus, you get a death certificate, but not a birth certificate. And afterward, your milk comes in, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.' She looked up at me. 'You can't win. Either you have the baby and wear your pain on the outside, or you don't have the baby, and you keep that ache in you forever. I know I didn't do the wrong thing. But I don't feel like I did the right thing, either.
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