In response to The New York Times article “650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.”
589. “What’s Your Sunday Routine?”
Sundays are holy. Sundays are sacred. Sundays are my favorite days.
Friends call me disciplined. My family talks about my routines. But to me, I just find life easier when organized, as in, there are a series of qualities I like and that I seek out and cultivate, and they all add up to being this grandiose thing that makes me nervous when called it (disciplined? how? me?). I like, for example, to cut up my days into hour increments, and then into thirty minute chunks, and sometimes into fifteen minute bits; in a planner, I’ll draw a line, dash a 12-noon in the middle, and then 6s on either side, then a 9 and a 3 in the middle, and then divide those fourths into further thirds. These are my working hours. I also like to wake up early. I enjoy the sun. The AM is quiet in New York. In my bedroom, in the neighborhood, and even in the subway, where passengers plug their ears with music or cover their mouths with coffee, on a humming train, and try not to spill on the bunch of shoulders and elbows on all sides, quietly. Lastly, to add a third element, I enjoy, rather, absolutely must finish what I started. In no way can I leave something unfinished, half done. All projects that begin end. For me. Else they risk floating around my head and taking up brain power, or transforming into ghosts that haunt me. This makes it hard to put down a bad book, or to push through a writers block wherein I feel the project can’t go anywhere because to me it is finished, but no work is ever finished, yet instead of sending it out to find a home in a magazine, it sleeps, “complete,” and alone, because I’m afraid of undertaking the next series of steps: package the unsolicited submission, edit the piece again, send, send, send, wait, wait, wait… Waiting can’t be finished, so I hate starting something that’ll make me wait. I move on. The work week ends eventually anyway.
And I land on the one day where none of that matters. Not schedules. Not projects. Not planning. And today it happens to be that day. Sunday.
Sundays are days I wish lasted for ever. I never, though with rare exception, make plans on Sunday. It is my one day to just be, to just walk around, sometimes to walk about. In the summer I walked around Brooklyn, and into Coney Island. In the fall, on Sunday, I read for hours on my back, under the plants in my room. Sometimes a friend would grill on Sunday. Sometimes family was in town. Sundays are never dull, no matter how still you are. The magic of the everyday happens on every Sunday. It’s worth getting emotional about, because Sundays don’t last forever, no matter how calm they are.
And maybe the greatest gift of all is, no matter how wonderful Sundays are, and no matter how long I dread the end of the weekend, a Sunday has never left me hungover on Monday. I always get to work on time the next day; truly I am refreshed through Sundays, and on Mondays land on my feet.
Sundays are solitary, or else shared with someone who can share in solitude. Sundays are days to stick thoughts to the wall, days to make collages out of free daily newspapers. On Sundays I read past journal entries. On Sundays I open my shoe box with the notes and photographs from all those years ago. Sundays are days to watch the birds, days to play old music you know by heart. Sundays always feed you left overs, or brunch, or new food, or something, but never an empty plate, never just one.
How do you spend your Sundays? I don’t remember having Sundays be so important, not to me or anyone, or maybe they always were, and yet here they are and always have been, and there is no time to care much about the details or spelling…only write essays…only avoid fretting about the unknown, about the future, about what the hell to do after graduation…always with the same questions, but. not. on. Sunday.