The Trouble with Sunday

There’s a Boomtown Rats song called “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Except for the title, it’s mostly irrelevant to my point here, but the song was written after band member Bob Geldof  heard a story about a teenager who open fired on a playground in California in 1979, killing two adults and injuring eight children. The shooter showed no remorse and when asked why she did it, she replied, “I don’t like Mondays. It livens things up.”

Except for the shooting part, the sentiment is familiar. I don’t like Sundays.

Emily Dickinson wrote:

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the heft
Of cathedral tunes.

My dis-ease with Sunday starts with the light. Depression runs in my family. My grandmother used to say that 4:00 pm was the loneliest time of day. My mom echoed that sentiment many times and I remember so often walking into our house in the late afternoon, just before dinner. I could practically feel my mother’s edginess. The light was just so and felt ominous in a way that made me want to run through the house and turn on all the lamps and lights and turn on the TV. I came home once from a friend’s house after school in the winter and the entire house was dark except for the kitchen where my mom was making dinner. I remember going into the den and putting on the Pink Panther and wondering if all kids’ houses were dark and sad like this.

Indeed, the feeling was intensified on Sundays.

This started ages ago, probably in middle school. There was a particularly tough year when Monday meant school and school meant facing a group of girls who made it their mission to spend recess lobbing various taunts my way, among other things. Once after lunch and recess I had been reduced to a quivering mass of jelly and the teacher dragged me into the lounge, demanded to know why I was crying. I stammered out the cruel things they’d said and in the end she dismissed me and told me to “quit crying” and  just “stay away from them.” I was eleven.

Weekends were a safe haven for a weird kid like me. I was a strange kid – too sensitive, entirely too bookish (who reads Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the sixth grade?), awkwardly shy.  Sundays were the last buffer between me and five days of self-conscious preteen angst. Friday I could read until I got tired. Saturday we did house chores or went on errands and then ate pizza and watched TV. Sunday mornings were fun – walk to the bakery for butter kuchen with my dad, watch the first part of Star Trek before church, then lazy afternoons. But by 4:00 or so, my stomach would start to churn. As daylight slipped away morning grew closer as did yet another confrontation. Another embarrassing encounter. (This was also the year I dropped behind in math.)

Later, Mondays also meant swim meets, and while I was a very good swimmer, I was still incredibly self-conscious about a) being in a swimsuit and b) people watching me swim.  By the time I got to college, the panic of late Sundays had slightly abated, but our campus was pretty bleak Sunday nights. I wasn’t in a sorority and their house meetings were Sunday evenings which meant my roommates were always gone, as were the contents of most of the dorms. I busied myself with TV or laundry but that little uneasy feeling never quite went away.

This still happens to me. Husband says often when I’m wandering around at 3:30 Sunday afternoons, “You have trouble with Sundays.” I do. In my family this is called being “out of sorts.” So I get out of sorts on Sundays. At my old job, Mondays were the leap into corporate life with a completely dysfunctional team. Indeed, I probably spent three months crying either before work or after. Sometimes both.

These days, I suspect I’m still looking for my niche in my working life. Still looking for my tribe. Someday I’ll be a full time freelance writer, but until then, I distract myself with TV and laundry. Maybe my aversion to Sundays is just a habit at this point and by being aware of it, I’ve loosened it’s grip.



  1. do you read denise levertov’s poems?
    i can totally relate to your words. thank you. my “out of sorts” happens every year in the 3rd quarter. my dream is to be focused more on freelance writing, too. not helping–the fact that my colleagues’ works are being published by literary magazines now, and i am left sulking and missing out on these chances due to work and masters. i told a colleague when we were riding the public train (here in Manila) this afternoon, “my esteem is crawling on these tracks.”

    i’m hoping you find your niche soon. 🙂

  2. You are a brilliant writer. Truly. I think that my grandmother was out-of-sorts everyday around 4 pm, as that is when she would grab a small glass of clear liquid and a bunch of ice cubes that rattled around in her hand. By 5 pm, she seemed better. 😉

    I don’t like winter. That is when I am out-of-sorts. While I ski and participate in all sorts of activities to keep myself occupied, the truth is I’m not wholly present; I’m a summer girl. Thank you for sharing.

  3. We call it “out of sorts” in my family too.

    Have you ever read “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aron? I was the same kind of kid as you and it gave me some comfort and understanding. I was always being told I was “too sensitive” to the point I felt it was a terrible “fault”. Keep writing, it is a wonderful way to use the “sensitive” gift.

  4. I think we grew up in the same household. So reminiscent of life then and now. You are a brilliant writer and your words were like me talking to myself in a mirror because it was so similar to Sundays at our house. Bless you 🙂

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