How a 29-year-old MFA Student with an Anxiety Disorder Spends Her Sundays

Inspired by the Sunday Routine column in The New York Times.

Shayna is a 29-year-old adjunct instructor and graduate student. Her personal essays have received the attention of five Twitter followers. For Ms. Goodman, Sundays are a day for self-flagellation and extreme insecurity about her career, her body, and her ability to manage her finances.

Sunday routine

IN WHAT WAY DID I SHAME MYSELF LAST NIGHT? I like to wake up early Sunday mornings to get a head start on my hangover-fueled panic. Most mornings, I have the vague feeling that I shamed myself in some way while out the night before. Maybe I had a few glasses of wine and, at 29, this is the equivalent of several Long Island Iced Teas. I like to wake while it’s still dark outside at 5 or 6 a.m. My boyfriend will be sleeping soundly like everything is fine. But it isn’t! This time of morning, the fear is especially acute. We live in Brooklyn, but I often hear a loud cawing from outside the bedroom window. Probably a bird trying to mate. This bird is so horny and honestly, it’s disrespectful to me and my schedule. I have to pee, I need water, Advil, and comfort, but there is something frightening about actually getting out of bed. So I stay put and check all my social media accounts. My eyes will adjust to the harsh electronic glow of my iPhone as I begin to make a mental list of all the things I might have said the night before that were embarrassing. Then I wonder: Is there enough money in my bank account to get me through the week? Am I fat? How many people are mad at me? Is it embarrassing that I’ve gone back to school to try to be a writer? Is everyone laughing at me?

Sunday routine

TWO ADVIL When the sun is coming up, I will finally go to the bathroom, take two Advil, and chug a glass of lukewarm tap water. I will crawl back into bed and try to go back to sleep with the aid of a silk leopard print eye mask I purchased with the last $20 in my checking account. As I lay still, waiting for sleep, there is a Selena Gomez song stuck in my head. I don’t know what it’s called but the lyrics go, “Whose gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning. Whose gonna rock you when the sun won’t let you sleep?” I’d like to know why my boyfriend is so busy with his sleeping that he can’t walk me through the dark side of my morning. I poke him and he turns over.

BAGEL TIME Breakfast is usually at noon when I rise from my second sleep, groggy and irritable. It has to be fast because I have to begin my writing practice. Right now I am obsessed with telling my boyfriend that I need to make time for my “writing practice.” To accommodate this delusion, he sometimes goes to the bagel place down the street to get us breakfast. I ask him to get me a scooped out, whole-wheat bagel with no cream cheese and lox. “Are you sure that’s what you want?’ he asks. I say I’m not sure about anything. When he comes back with the bagels — one dry, scooped out punishment, one warm everything with chive cream cheese — I try to eat his.

APPROPRIATIONIST MEDITATION In the middle of the week, I usually book a yoga class on Classpass for Sunday afternoon. This is retribution for eating the bagel. Classpass charges you lots of money when you cancel last minute, which I almost always want to do. I might call the studio and try to switch the time. The woman usually tells me, “I’m so sorry but there’s no way to change it in our system.” This enrages me. The nerve! I am probably still in a bad mood when I show up at the studio and find a room full of Park Slope women practicing some appropriationist Sanskrit chanting.

Sunday routine

SHOPPING After yoga, I might plan to go home to begin my regular writing practice. Or I might feel drawn to the boutique few blocks away from my apartment. There I fall victim to the sales associates who work on commission and are only too eager to fetch me something that is new in and “super cute.” After hours — literally hours — of trying on different jumpsuits that are “not quite what I was looking for,” meaning way too expensive, I will probably leave without buying anything, and suspect that the sales associates are talking about me.

WRITING MORE SHOPPING I have a busy week ahead. I teach a class at Hunter, for which I am paid $3400 a semester. There are signs around the school that say, “Your professors are paid starvation wages.” Luckily I am only starving in some kind of spiritual sense. I have lesson plans and my own homework to do. But I might take an hour break from my five minutes of work to just “look into” buying new leggings. I like to read the customer reviews and channel all of my anxieties into this decision about the leggings.


GUESS WHY I’M MAD Around 7 p.m., I’m probably thinking, fuck. Shit. I didn’t do any work today. The week is about to begin and I haven’t done shit. Sometimes my boyfriend will go out to live his life. When he returns I want to tell him to leave our apartment and give me space. I also want him to cradle me in his arms and give me words of affirmation. But instead of doing either of these things I might breathe heavily and hope he can just intuit what I need.

Sunday routineGARBAGE NIGHT Sunday nights are garbage nights in more way than one. I often forget to take out something that needs to go in the trash and this is disproportionately upsetting.

GREAT BRITISH BAKEOFF ESCAPE I get into bed at 11 p.m. and then it’s lights out right away. Just kidding! These days I am binge watching The Great British Baking Show. The pasty, homely faces of the contestants provide a perfect escape. Images of something called Eaton Mess and a blackberry caramel torte numb and comfort me as I drift off to sleep at 2 a.m. ready for professional help. And another week!

Shayna Goodman

Shayna Goodman is a native New Yorker and a MFA candidate in creative writing at Hunter College. Her work has been published in Salon and The Forward.

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