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Week 8

Sleepless nights and free-book withdrawal.

by Fran LoBiondo

Fran LoBiondoI’m growing fearful in my unending, suffocating isolation. I cannot sleep through the night. I try to take long breaths, in and out and relax my muscles from stem to stern.

Sometimes thoughts of housecleaning come to me, horrid pictures of dusty vents, moldy showers and neglected surfaces.

Sick, huh? Not happy memories of family vacations in the mountains or at the beach. Not of good times having dinner with friends. Just guilt-riven pictures of bad housecleaning, worse than the truth.

Am I going bonkers, losing the plot, out of my tree?

It’s something to think about on a sleepless night.

I really think they should not have closed the library as an “unnecessary” enterprise. I rely on book and CD loans from the library to keep me sane. I have run out. I’ve read all of the books that I started and stopped because they were deadly boring. I have a used book of short stories by Eudora Welty I read when absolutely necessary. I’ve taken to buying books from Walmart. They are discounted, but not free, and it chafes my … wallet to buy and not borrow.

I have friends who buy books from a bookstore and stack them on a shelf, never to be read again. Then they pack them up in boxes and move them from house to house—even unread college textbooks that get more out of-date each year.

Is that insane?

I have never had books taking up space in my house because I have enough clutter. When I finish a book, it goes back to the library. If I get a new book as a gift, I’ll read it (or not) and donate it to the library for a book sale.

Then I can use my decluttered space for papers, old clothes and ancient essentials, until one day I sweep it all into the recycling bin. And on it goes.

And another thing: When the parks open and we can walk in the woods, do we still have to walk six feet apart? If I want to see the beauty of nature alone, it’s not the same as walking with my child, who has trouble with such airy concepts as social distancing—or pronouns. It’s hard to explain.

He wears a mask willingly, only because we forgot his mask once and therefore could not go into the Mays Landing Target, one of his favorite places. We couldn’t go into any store, in fact, without a mask. And Greg kept up a running patter:

“Where we going, Mommy? Mommy, let’s go to Target.”

There was a store selling “do-it-yourself” masks, and I asked a woman walking her baby to go in and buy two. She did, and I thanked her profusely.

This is what they called a do-it-yourself mask—a plush chamois dust rag with two rubber bands. I fumbled with the chamois. It did not fit over my face, and never would it fit Greg’s, but I soldiered on, trying to attach the rubber bands that would presumably keep the rag on. Just when I was ready to start to crying in frustration, a young woman walked up and gave me two regulation masks in a package.

She smiled broadly and said, “I’m a nurse, so I have extras.”

“No, you’re an angel,” I said, and then I did start crying, in relief.

At that point we were about a half mile from the Target store (it’s a big shopping center), taking the sidewalk and not walking through the parking lot, with Greg repeating “Where we going? Where we going? Go to Target?”

“Yes, Greg! We’re going to Target! Thanks be to God!”

He smiled and picked up the pace. We walked every aisle of that store, buying available groceries, and stopping for an hour so Greg could peruse the kids’ reading books to see what word they would use for the letter X—xylophone or X-Ray?

It’s a continuing fascination for him. It never gets old.

Back at home, we dived back into the malaise that is our life in this cursed coronavirus pandemic.

One good thing about it is Therese is bored, so she’s making full dinners on Sundays: Roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetables and biscuits.

I’m awed. I have never been able to cook a decent roast without it coming out as dry as shoe leather, so if you want roast beef or pork, you have order it out. Or wait till Sunday.


Life Sentences