The Trouble with Sunday

Beating the Sunday Blues

Jeff Harris
Here's how a recent Sunday of mine went down: I woke up at 10, having pushed on through to closing time with my friends the night before. I arose, pulled on my favorite jeans, put on some coffee, and took my dog, Monty, around the block, grabbing a croissant on the way at the corner bakery. Back at my pretty one-bedroom in a big old brownstone, I spread myself Cleopatra-style across the couch with a mug of black coffee and turned on Meet the Press. I laughed along with Tim Russert and Doris Kearns Goodwin as they compared George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln. Politics is a worthy pursuit, I thought. I felt edified. Whole.

Then Big Tim was done and the croissant was gone and the coffee kicked in. And I looked around me and thought, Fuck.

Sunday. The day of reckoning.

Weekdays go pretty much on autopilot, powered along by work, dinners out, and NBC's Thursday-night lineup. Saturday fills up quickly with paying the bills and picking up the dry-cleaning, seeing what's new at Banana Republic and fighting the masses at Whole Foods. Guzzling Starbucks, you sprint around until you giddily check off the last thing on the to-do list. Then it's time to hop in the shower, girl up, and claim the week's reward. The only problem is that Saturday night's Technicolor diversions—the snazzy tops, the highlighted cheekbones, the fruity cocktails—are followed by grayscale Sunday morning, your first chance all week to pause and reflect. Downtime spins the type A girl into a tizzy; add the fact that the streets are quiet, the stores are closed, and last night's fourth gin and tonic has left you feeling like there's a swizzle stick trying to bore its way into your forehead, and you've got the recipe for a nervous breakdown.

My mother loved Sundays. For her, the day was devoted—much like Monday through Saturday—to the kids, the house, the husband. Her weekly reckoning was the original version, with The Almighty. She'd put on a skirt and blouse and usher her considerable, grumpy brood into a pew at Holy Angels Church. By midday, our souls were cleansed, we had a dozen pastries from the local bakery, and the meat sauce was burbling on the stove. Mom had a structure to her Sunday and absolution for her failings. Me? I have a wasteland of expectations and insecurities to be dwelled upon if I let myself—if I've failed to concoct a day's worth of activities to keep me diverted.

So what can I do to beat back the dread? I could meet my little sister for brunch, or draw a tub and have an at-home spa day. I could grab the 18 pounds of newsprint that make up the Sunday paper and attempt the self-esteem-crushing crossword therein. Should I take a liver-cleansing jog in the park, or check out that Murakami show I really don't care about? Am I just dangling a bunch of shiny plans in front of myself—look over here! a tennis date!—so I won't see what's right in front of me? Myself, my life?

I take a few belly breaths—not quite a Bloody Mary and a Xanax, but it'll do. I say to myself, You know those Mondays when you wake up and wish you could stay home, be lazy, and have an all-day Wes Anderson filmfest while the world races through its frantic rounds? Do that now. Make Sunday the oasis, not the bane, of your week.

Then I look around my cozy place, which I decorated—and pay for—myself. I note that I'm great at my job, and that I give a slice of every paycheck to charity. I remind myself that I love my family, even if I don't call as often as I should; that I'm good to my sisters; that I have friends who love me and suitors who think I'm smart and funny and sexy as all get-out. Then I don't call any of them. I just sit quietly and enjoy the silence.

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