SUNDAY ROUTINE: How an up-and-coming writer spends her Sundays

With apologies to The New York Times’ “Sunday Routine” series. Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t apologize.


A freelancer who works from her haphazardly decorated basement, Ms. Donato grew up attending various suburban public schools. “Most of them are so quaint, you wouldn’t even have heard of them,” she laughs. In her youth, she spent Friday nights at a coffeehouse/bookstore that sold single clove cigarettes, honing her German-language skills for her career as a comparative literature professor (which didn’t quite work out). Ms. Donato lives in Denver with her husband, M, a teacher, and their daughter, 15, who is into heavy metal. – SUSANNA DONATO

LAZY, HAZY Sundays are for luxuriating, so I wake up without an alarm, anytime between 4 and 9 a.m. I’m usually sore from hunching over the computer all week, and hungover from last night’s excessive exuberance about having a day off.
MODERN RITUAL To work out my aches and pains, I lie in bed with my phone and hit “refresh” on Facebook, hoping something interesting will appear, while M watches YouTube videos that vaguely irritate me. Whoever gets up to pee first has to make the coffee. We enjoy drinking whatever tastes OK and is on sale. I like a few prunes with mine. Because they’re full of iron.
ANTICIPATION Just as the sun blinds me so I can no longer see my phone screen, I realize my day isn’t nearly as free as I thought it was, LOL! When my daughter’s bedroom door creaks open, it’s thrilling. Will she be cheerful and hilarious? Will she be in a sullen fog? Will I spend the day codependently trying to solve the problems that I wheedle out of her, and which later she will wish intensely she had never mentioned to me? This routine sets the tone for the day.
SETTING INTENTIONS I rise, ideally without knocking over the stack of books I meant to read instead of playing Juice Jam. Having goals is at the core of our family values. Most weeks, I intend to change the sheets. I’m perimenopausal, so I frequently sweat quite a bit at night.

ipad holder
The “thingy” Ms. Donato made from a clothes hanger to hold her iPad 2 so she can use a $15 to app to pretend she has a second computer screen. “Thank God for Google!” she chuckles. “I was on a frantic deadline, swearing profusely because I needed to look between two documents, and some whiz kid had posted a how-to for this bad boy! It adds to the je ne sais quoi of my office décor.”

FRESH If it’s been a couple days, I take a shower. I haven’t shaved my legs in several months, but I don’t think M has noticed. #blessed
CASUAL My weekday style could be described as “machine-washable,” and on Sundays, I try to bring it down a notch: a pair of Target capris that are a size too big, my slippers, and beneath it all, something indulgent just for me, like the sports bra I bought ten years ago.
COMPENSATING M usually works half a day on Sundays – that teaching salary doesn’t earn itself! Around 1 p.m., my kid remembers a bunch of errands she needs to run. My favorite retailers are the clearance sections of Nordstrom Rack, Target and JC Penney. In the car, we listen to the radio and discuss social issues, like the presidential campaign, how cute that dog is, and why we can’t help liking Taylor Swift despite ourselves. Sometimes we go to Starbucks, and I buy her a 500-calorie sugary drink to make up for being preoccupied all the time.
MUSEUM LOYALISTS We love every kind of museum. We’re longtime members of the Museum of Contemporary Art – in fact, my husband has a BFA in sculpture. Midafternoon, we realize we don’t have time to go this weekend, either. Anyway, Denver has gotten so popular that parking is a massive pain in the ass, so whatever.
HEARTBEAT OF THE FAMILY By the time we get home, it’s nearly dark. I rush to walk our miniature schnauzer. He lunges on the leash and does this high-pitched bark, and he poops three or four times in 30 minutes. I’ve had schnauzers since I was a kid. I guess you could say high-strung terriers are a family tradition.
“LIKE BARBARIANS” I get snippy when I realize the day is, like, fucking over, and our house is a total mess. M cooks, because when my blood sugar is low I only want popcorn or pizza. One of our rituals is to ask, “Should we eat at the table, or like barbarians?” We set up TV trays that I can’t even pretend are ironic and watch recorded episodes of “Masterpiece Theater” and “The Amazing Race.” The thing on Tivo where you can skip the whole commercial break has been greeted with excitement at our house, except that it’s not available on any of the shows we watch, and we all feel faintly resentful because we can’t afford a Viking River Cruise. I forget my morning vow to stick to water and have a nice glass of whatever is in the house with dinner.
ROLE-PLAYING Sometimes our daughter gets sick of us and goes upstairs to watch teenage zombie shows on her phone. Then M and I might squeeze in an episode of TV-MA. We’re watching “Deadwood” right now. Afterward, we do a kind of role-playing we call “Deadwood talking.” (I’m blushing.) We drink whiskey and call everything “cocksucker.” Sometimes we cackle hysterically at ourselves.
QUIET TIME M falls asleep with his glasses on around 9:30. I wind down until about 10 with some reading or worrying. Before I fall asleep, I renew my weekly vow to exercise, call a cleaning lady, avoid sugar and not drink. Who knows? Maybe this is the week I’ll do one of those things.

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