Why Go Out?

A lecture on attempting to quit people and stay home:

Why go out? Because if what we want more than anything is to attain self-confidence, health, energy, and peace of mind, we should stay in. We could be like little Buddhas, meditating and masturbating and watching TV. And we could imagine ourselves to be brilliant, and kind, and good lecturers, and good listeners, and utterly loving – and there’d be no way to prove it otherwise.

Escape From the Holy Shtetl

A young woman’s attempt to flee from the most religiously conservative community in America, and to take her daughter with her:

The critical battleground in the War Between the Grunwalds would prove to be niddah, or “separation,” i.e., when the menstruating female is considered “impure” and kept apart from her husband. “It isn’t just your period,” Gitty says. After a woman stops bleeding, she has to wear white underwear for seven days, checking constantly to see if there’s any discharge. Should spotting occur, the woman takes her underwear to a special rabbi who examines the color, shape, and density of the stain. It is he who divines when it is safe for the woman to immerse herself in the mikvah (ritual bath) and be reunited with her husband.

This Is My Brain on Chantix

Chantix is a pill that decreases the pleasurable effects of cigarettes. It also causes hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and waking nightmares:

A week into my Chantix usage, I started to feel as if the city landscape had imperceptibly shifted around me. Mundane details began to strike me as having deep, hidden significance. The neon arch above McDonald’s: The lights blinked on and off in some sort of pattern, and I needed to crack the code.

The Case of Theresa Schiavo

On Terri Schiavo, “persistent vegetative state,” and life or death decisions:

Imagine it. You are in your early twenties. You are watching a movie, say on Lifetime, in which someone has a feeding tube. You pick up the empty chip bowl. “No tubes for me,” you say as you get up to fill it. What are the chances you have given this even a passing thought?

I Dream of Diane

Living with grief and gult in the aftermath of the worst car accident in Westchester County in 75 years:

For 1.7 miles, Diane, 36, drove a minivan stuffed with kids the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway, finally colliding head-on with an SUV. Diane hadn’t even braked. Passing drivers said she stared straight ahead, her expression serene and oblivious, her hands at ten and two on the steering wheel. Eight people died, including Diane, their daughter, their three nieces, and all three people in the oncoming SUV. Toxicology reports later established Diane’s blood alcohol level at .19 percent, more than twice the legal limit. On the way home from a weekend camping trip, Danny’s wife appeared to have guzzled ten shots worth of alcohol and, the report said, smoked marijuana within the hour.

A Brevard Woman Disappeared, but Never Left Home

The call to the sheriff's office came on Nov. 18, 2010, just before noon. The townhouse, deputies learned, had belonged to a woman named Kathryn Norris, and the 1987 silver Chevy Nova was registered to her, too. She had used a normal amount of electricity in July 2009 and much less in August and none after that. She had paid her mortgage in August and then stopped. Her head was on the floor and her feet were on the seat. The corpse, deputies wrote in their report, was wearing a dress.