Definitely when you get handed roles like Joel in 'The Last of Us,' that's something that will change your life, and I learned so much from that role.
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Definitely when you get handed roles like Joel in ‘The Last of Us,’ that’s something that will change your life, and I learned so much from that role.

-Troy Baker

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We also have to consider the many different kinds of rape we have learned about over the past few years as conservative politicians blunder through trying to explain their stances on sexual violence and abortion. For instance, Indiana treasurer Richard Mourdock, running for the US Senate in 2012, said, in a debate, "I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I realized that life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins int hat horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen." I've been obsessing over these words, and trying to understand how someone who purports to believe in God can also believe that anything born of rape is God-intended. Just as there are many different kinds of rape, there are many different kinds of God. I am also reminded that women, more often than not, are the recipient of God's intentions and must also bear the burdens of these intentions. Mourdock is certainly not alone in offering up opinions about rape. Former Missouri representative Todd Akin believes in "legitimate rape" and the oxymoronic "forcible rape," not to be confused with all that illegitimate rape going on. Ron Paul believes in the existence of "honest rape," but turns a blind eye to the dishonest rapes out there. Former Wisconsin State representative Roger Rivard believes some girls, "they rape so easy." Lest you think these new definitions of rape are only the purview of men, failed Senate candidate Linda McMahon of Connecticut has introduced us to the idea of "emergency rape." Given this bizarre array of new rape definitions, it is hard to reconcile the belief that women are rising when there is still so much in our cultural climate working to hold women down. We can, I suppose, take comfort in knowing that none of these people is in a position of power anymore.

-Roxanne Gay

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There’s all this pressure in our society to be beautiful, to be strong, to be sexy. So we spend our time and money on trying to become these things. We put on the high heels, the suits, the makeup, the mask. Then, we feel more awkward than confident, so we drink away our anxieties. That doesn’t make us look any sexier – it just makes us stop caring about how we look.Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is sexy. Everyone is strong. It’s lunacy. We’re all running around trying to become something that we already are.You know what’s really sexy? A person who’s 100% comfortable with themselves. And you know what’s really funny? It is just as time consuming and difficult to learn to accept yourself as it is to pretend to be someone else. The only difference is – with self acceptance, one day, it’s not hard anymore. One day, you feel like your sexiest, strongest self just rolling out of bed in the morning.You’re either going to spend the little time you have in your life on trying to know yourself or trying to hide yourself. The choice is yours. You can’t do both.And you know what’s really amazing about choosing self-love? You’ll be setting an example for all the people around you and all the kids of the coming generation. You’ll be part of a revolution to take back the precious moments of our lives out of the hands of shame-inducing advertisers and back into the hands and hearts of real people like you, like me, like all of us.I know you’ve dreamt about changing the world. So this is your chance. Learn to love yourself, accept yourself, and unleash your strongest, sexiest self. It’s in there. You just have to believe it.

-Vironika Tugaleva

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Now, my dear little girl, you have come to an age when the inward life develops and when some people (and on the whole those who have most of a destiny) find that all is not a bed of roses. Among other things there will be waves of terrible sadness, which last sometimes for days; irritation, insensibility, etc., etc., which taken together form a melancholy. Now, painful as it is, this is sent to us for an enlightenment. It always passes off, and we learn about life from it, and we ought to learn a great many good things if we react on it right. (For instance, you learn how good a thing your home is, and your country, and your brothers, and you may learn to be more considerate of other people, who, you now learn, may have their inner weaknesses and sufferings, too.) Many persons take a kind of sickly delight in hugging it; and some sentimental ones may even be proud of it, as showing a fine sorrowful kind of sensibility. Such persons make a regular habit of the luxury of woe. That is the worst possible reaction on it. It is usually a sort of disease, when we get it strong, arising from the organism having generated some poison in the blood; and we mustn't submit to it an hour longer than we can help, but jump at every chance to attend to anything cheerful or comic or take part in anything active that will divert us from our mean, pining inward state of feeling. When it passes off, as I said, we know more than we did before. And we must try to make it last as short as time as possible. The worst of it often is that, while we are in it, we don't want to get out of it. We hate it, and yet we prefer staying in it—that is a part of the disease. If we find ourselves like that, we must make something ourselves to some hard work, make ourselves sweat, etc.; and that is the good way of reacting that makes of us a valuable character. The disease makes you think of yourself all the time; and the way out of it is to keep as busy as we can thinking of things and of other people—no matter what's the matter with our self.

-William James

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The phone rang. It was a familiar voice.It was Alan Greenspan. Paul O'Neill had tried to stay in touch with people who had served under Gerald Ford, and he'd been reasonably conscientious about it. Alan Greenspan was the exception. In his case, the effort was constant and purposeful. When Greenspan was the chairman of Ford's Council of Economic Advisers, and O'Neill was number two at OMB, they had become a kind of team. Never social so much. They never talked about families or outside interests. It was all about ideas: Medicare financing or block grants - a concept that O'Neill basically invented to balance federal power and local autonomy - or what was really happening in the economy. It became clear that they thought well together. President Ford used to have them talk about various issues while he listened. After a while, each knew how the other's mind worked, the way married couples do.In the past fifteen years, they'd made a point of meeting every few months. It could be in New York, or Washington, or Pittsburgh. They talked about everything, just as always. Greenspan, O'Neill told a friend, "doesn't have many people who don't want something from him, who will talk straight to him. So that's what we do together - straight talk."O'Neill felt some straight talk coming in."Paul, I'll be blunt. We really need you down here," Greenspan said. "There is a real chance to make lasting changes. We could be a team at the key moment, to do the things we've always talked about."The jocular tone was gone. This was a serious discussion. They digressed into some things they'd "always talked about," especially reforming Medicare and Social Security. For Paul and Alan, the possibility of such bold reinventions bordered on fantasy, but fantasy made real."We have an extraordinary opportunity," Alan said. Paul noticed that he seemed oddly anxious. "Paul, your presence will be an enormous asset in the creation of sensible policy."Sensible policy. This was akin to prayer from Greenspan. O'Neill, not expecting such conviction from his old friend, said little. After a while, he just thanked Alan. He said he always respected his counsel. He said he was thinking hard about it, and he'd call as soon as he decided what to do.The receiver returned to its cradle. He thought about Greenspan. They were young men together in the capital. Alan stayed, became the most noteworthy Federal Reserve Bank chairman in modern history and, arguably the most powerful public official of the past two decades. O'Neill left, led a corporate army, made a fortune, and learned lessons - about how to think and act, about the importance of outcomes - that you can't ever learn in a government.But, he supposed, he'd missed some things. There were always trade-offs. Talking to Alan reminded him of that. Alan and his wife, Andrea Mitchell, White House correspondent for NBC news, lived a fine life. They weren't wealthy like Paul and Nancy. But Alan led a life of highest purpose, a life guided by inquiry.Paul O'Neill picked up the telephone receiver, punched the keypad."It's me," he said, always his opening.He started going into the details of his trip to New York from Washington, but he's not much of a phone talker - Nancy knew that - and the small talk trailed off."I think I'm going to have to do this."She was quiet. "You know what I think," she said.She knew him too well, maybe. How bullheaded he can be, once he decides what's right. How he had loved these last few years as a sovereign, his own man. How badly he was suited to politics, as it was being played. And then there was that other problem: she'd almost always been right about what was best for him."Whatever, Paul. I'm behind you. If you don't do this, I guess you'll always regret it."But it was clearly about what he wanted, what he needed.Paul thanked her. Though somehow a thank-you didn't seem appropriate.And then he realized she was crying.

-Ron Suskind

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Closing The CycleOne always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through. Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters - whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents' house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened. You can tell yourself you won't take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister, everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. What has passed will not return: we cannot for ever be children, late adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor towards our parents, lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who has gone away and has not the least intention of coming back.Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away. That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home. Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts - and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood. Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the "ideal moment." Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back. Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person - nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need. This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life. Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

-Paulo Coelho

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I would be unfair to myself if I said I did not try. I did, even if desultorily. But desire is a curious thing. If it does not exist it does not exist and there is nothing you can do to conjure it up. Worse still, as I discovered, when desire begins to sink, like a capsizing ship it takes down a lot with it. In our case it took down the conversation, the laughter, the sharing, the concern, the dreams and nearly - the most important thing, the most important thing - and nearly the affection too. Soon my sinking desire had taken everything else down with it to the floor of the sea, and only affection remained like the bobbing hand of a drowning man, poised perilously between life and death. More than once she tried to seize the moment and open up the issue. She did it with a hard face and a soft face; she did it when I was idling on the terrace and when I was in the thick of my works; first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We need to talk.Yes.Do you want to talk?Sure.What's happening?I don't know.Is there someone else?No.Is it something I did?Oh no.Then what the hell's happening?I don't know.Is there anything you want to talk to me about?I don't know.What do you mean you don't know?I don't know.What do you mean you don't know?I don't know. That's what I mean - I don't know.Toc toc toc. All the while I tried to save that bobbing hand - of affection - from vanishing. I felt somehow that if it drowned there would not be a single pointer on the wide stormy surface to show me where our great love had once stood. That bobbing hand of affection was a marker, a buoy, holding out the hope that one day we could salvage the sunken ship. If it drowned, our coordinates would be completely lost and we would not know where to even begin looking. Even in my weird state, it was an image of such desolation that it made my heart lurch wildly. *** For a long time, with her immense pride in herself - in us - she did not turn to anyone for help. Not friends, not family. For simply too long she imagined this was a passing phase, but then, as the weeks rolled by, through slow accretion the awful truth began to settle on her. By then she had run through all the plays of a relationship: withdrawal, sulking, anger, seduction, inquisition, affection, threat. Logic, love, lust.Now the epitaph was beginning to creep up on her. Acceptance. 

-Tarun J.

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Dear Neil Armstrong,I write this to you as she sleeps down the hall. I need answers I think only you might have. When you were a boy, and space was simple science fiction, when flying was merely a daydream between periods of History and Physics, when gifts of moon dust to the one you loved could only be wrapped in your imagination.. Before the world knew your name; before it was a destination in the sky.. What was the moon like from your back yard?Your arm, strong warm and wrapped under her hair both of you gazing up from your back porch summers before your distant journey. But upon landing on the moon, as the earth rose over the sea of tranquility, did you look for her? What was it like to see our planet, and know that everything, all you could be, all you could ever love and long for.. was just floating before you. Did you write her name in the dirt when the cameras weren't looking? Surrounding both your initials with a heart for alien life to study millions of years from now? What was it like to love something so distant? What words did you use to bring the moon back to her? And what did you promise in the moons ear, about that girl back home? Can you, teach me, how to fall from the sky?I ask you this, not because I doubt your feat, I just want to know what it's like to go somewhere no man had ever been, just to find that she wasn't there. To realize your moon walk could never compare to the steps that led to her. I now know that the flight home means more. Every July I think of you. I imagine the summer of 1969, how lonely she must have felt while you were gone.. You never went back to the moon. And I believe that's because it dosen't take rockets to get you where you belong. I see that in this woman down the hall, sometimes she seems so much further. But I'm ready for whatever steps I must take to get to her.I have seem SO MANY skies.. but the moon, well, it always looks the same. So I gotta say, Neil, that rock you landed on, has got NOTHING on the rock she's landed on. You walked around, took samples and left.. She's built a fire cleaned up the place and I hope she decides to stay.. because on this rock.. we can breath.Mr. Armstrong, I don't have much, many times have I been upside down with trauma, but with these empty hands, comes a heart that is often more full than the moon. She's becoming my world, pulling me into orbit, and I now know that I may never find life outside of hers. I want to give her EVERYTHING I don't have yet.. So YES, for her, I would go to the moon and back.... But not without her. We'd claim the moon for each other, with flags made from sheets down the hall. And I'd risk it ALL to kiss her under the light of the earth, the brightness of home... but I can do all of that and more right here, where she is..And when we gaze up, her arms around ME, I will NOT promise her gifts of moon dust, or flights of fancy. Instead I will gladly give her all the earth she wants, in return for all the earth she is. The sound of her heart beat and laughter, and all the time it takes to return to fall from the sky,down the hall, and right into love.God, I'd do it every day, if I could just land next to her.One small step for man, but she's one giant leap for my kind.

-Mike McGee

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A few years ago I spent Christmas and New Years alone. No family. No friends. No gifts. A little tree with some lights on it. A small Christmas dinner (in a can). Far from home but with a lot of good memories of it. I didn't feel too sad because I knew things would change for the better because I knew I would change them for the better. It was all up to me, not fate, or luck (although understand that those are big players in this game too). If I didn't like where I was at that moment I couldn't feel sorry myself and blame someone else, play the victim. I was the one who put myself there and I knew I was the one that had to change. So I did. See, misery is never very far away from us (it lurks around every dark corner) but neither is joy. You've got to roll with that black horse when it visits, ride that bitch out if you can but you've got to enjoy the hell out of the other too, when it chances to come your way. Above all, you've got to recognize joy when it shows up to dance with you and, sorry, that's not nearly as easy as it sounds. You've got to fight tooth and nail in this life to try and be as happy as you can with the circumstances you've been given. You've got to fight with every inch of your being for that and grit your teeth and stick out your chin while you're doing it too because although without a doubt it's the right fight to be in, it's going to be hard sometimes. So hard that maybe you'll be blind to everything else. Along the way however, always remember one thing: even though there are people out there in the world who will take the heart right out of you...there are those who will put it right back in again (let them). Learn to recognize who they are because that's something really worth knowing. But it's up to you in the end. It's up to you to embrace the wonders in this life and to deny the darkness (and there are plenty of both). Be strong, be brave, be kind, be noble and above all, slay your dragons and keep on moving. Don't stop. And finally, even if happiness forgets you for a little while, never completely forget about it. It's there waiting for the other to pass. Even in your darkest hour don't ever doubt that for a second.

-Noel James

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You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. Do you think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.

-Michael Crichton

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You scared the shit out of me last night, so forgive me if I don't want to hear fine as an answer."I rubbed my eyes, hoping it would keep the burning tears away. The warm water of the shower had finally calmed the tears, but the thought of Noah walking away brought them back. "What do you want to hear? That I'm exhausted? Terrified? Confused? That all I want to do is rest my head on your chest and sleep for hours, but that's not going to happen because you're leaving me?""Yes," he said quickly, then just as quick said, "No. Everything but the last part." He paused. "Echo, how could you think I would leave you? How can you doubt how I feel?""Because," I said as I felt the familiar twisting in my stomach. "You saw me lose it. You saw me almost go insane."The muscles in his shoulders visibly tensed. "I watched you battle against the worst memory of your life and I watched you win. Make no mistake, Echo. I battled right beside you. You need to find some trust in me ... in us."Noah inhaled and slowly let the air out. His stance softened and so did his voice. "If you're scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don't walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here's the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that, too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I'll try.

-Katie McGarry

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There is unmistakable proof that abusers do get together in order to share children, abuse more children, and even learn from each other. As more cases have come into the public eye in recent years, this has become increasingly obvious. More and more of this type of abuse is coming to light.I definitely think it is the word ritual which causes people to question, to feel uncomfortable, or even just disbelieve. It seems almost incredible that such things would happen, but too many of us know exactly how bad the lives of many children are. A great deal of child pornography shows children being abused in a ritualised setting, and many have now come forward to share their experiences, but there is a still tendency to say it just couldn't happen.Why not?Why, given what we now know about paedophiles and about what they do to children? Would they have limits? It was all done to me and I have enough experiences to write many more books than this one, but this will have to do for now. I've tried to make sense of it and I've tried to tell you my story in a way that will, hopefully, let you understand how it was done, and how they managed to get away with it, but I haven't told you a big part of it yet. I haven't told you what happened that finally ended it all for me.There was something else.When I was eight, someone else came into my life and made a huge difference to what was happening and how things would turn out. I didn't know it then, but I see the whole picture now.Something I have often wondered is whether Andrew was there while I was being abused. Lots of people hide their faces, and there were often masks worn, so he certainly could have been. I have no evidence one way or another though, so I will leave it to the reader to decide whether it would seem in a paedophile's character to watch abuse continue when it has been masterminded by him. But I do know that it wasn't just me who he abused - I know that because I saw it.Andrew was away a lot with the Army until I was at high school, then he left that position. He was instrumental both in my abuse and in setting the scene, but when I was eight, something happened which would distract him and which would, at times, take his attention from me. My mother very kindly provided him with a new victim - my little sister.

-Laurie Matthew

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You hand fits in mine like its made to be but bear this in mind it was meant to be and im joining up the dots with the freckles on you cheeks and it all makes sense to me. I know you've never loved the crinkles by your eyes when you smile you've never loved your stomach or your thighs and the dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine but I love them endlessly.I won't let these little things slip out of my mouth but if i do its you oh its you they add up to and Im in love with you and all your little thing. You can't go to bed without a cup of tea and maybe thats the reason that you talk in you sleep and all those conversations are the secrets that I keep though it makes no sense to me. I know you've never loved the sound of your voice on tape you never want to know how much you weigh you still have to squeeze into to your jeans but you're perfect to me. I won't let these little things slip out of my mouth but if its true its you its these they add up to and Im in love with you and all you little things. You'll never love yourself half as much as I love you and you'll never treat yourself right darlin' but I want you to if I let you know I'm here for you then maybe you'll love yourself like I love you ohhhhh. And I've just let these little things slip out of my mouth cause its you oh its you its you they add up to and Im in love with you and all your little things I wont let these little things slip out of my mouth but if its true its you its you they add up to and im in love with you and all your little things.

-One Direction

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He slouches,' DeeDee contributes.'True--he needs to work on his posture,' Thelma says.'You guys,' I say.'I'm serious,' Thelma says. 'What if you get married? Don't you want to go to fancy dinners with him and be proud?''You guys. We are not getting married!''I love his eyes,' Jolene says. 'If your kids get his blue eyes and your dark hair--wouldn't that be fabulous?''The thing is,' Thelma says, 'and yes, I know, this is the tricky part--but I'm thinking Bliss has to actually talk to him. Am I right? Before they have their brood of brown-haired, blue-eyed children?'I swat her. "I'm not having Mitchell's children!''I'm sorry--what?' Thelma says.Jolene is shaking her head and pressing back laughter. Her expressing says, Shhh, you crazy girl!But I don't care. If they're going to embarrass me, then I'll embarrass them right back. 'I said'--I raise my voice--'I am not having Mitchell Truman's children!'Jolene turns beet red, and she and DeeDee dissolve into mad giggles.'Um, Bliss?' Thelma says. Her gaze travels upward to someone behind me. The way she sucks on her lip makes me nervous.'Okaaay, I think maybe I won't turn around,' I announce.A person of the male persuasion clears his throat.'Definitely not turning around,' I say. My cheeks are burning. It's freaky and alarming how much heat is radiating from one little me.'If you change your mind, we might be able to work something out,' the person of the male persuasion says.'About the children?' DeeDee asks. 'Or the turning around?''DeeDee!' Jolene says.'Both,' says the male-persuasion person.I shrink in my chair, but I raise my hand over my head and wave.'Um, hi,' I say to the person behind me whom I'm still not looking at. 'I'm Bliss.'Warm fingers clasp my own.'Pleased to meet you,' says the male-persuasion person. 'I'm Mitchell.''Hi, Mitchell.' I try to pull my hand from his grasp, but he won't let go. 'Um, bye now!'I tug harder. No luck. Thelma, DeeDee, and Jolene are close to peeing their pants.Fine. I twist around and give Mitchell the quickest of glances. His expressions is amused, and I grow even hotter.He squeezes my hand, then lets go. 'Just keep me in the loop if you do decide to bear my children. I'm happy to help out.' With that, he stride jauntily to the food line.Once he's gone, we lost it. Peals of laughter resound from our table, and the others in the cafeteria look at us funny. We laugh harder.'Did you see!' Thelma gasps. 'Did you see how proud he was?''You improve his posture!' Jolene says.'I'm so glad, since that was my deepest desire,' I say. 'Oh my God, I'm going to have to quit school and become a nun.''I can't believe you waved at him,' DeeDee says.'Your hand was like a little periscope,' Jolene says. 'Or, no--like a white surrender flag.''It was a surrender flag. I was surrendering myself to abject humiliation.''Oh, please,' Thelma says, pulling me into a sideways hug. 'Think of it this way: Now you've officially talked to him.

-Lauren Myracle

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