my sunday contradiction of a life

925f9833e7a03e51a1452110_aa240_l I didn’t feel anxious when I woke up this morning. Not when I came downstairs in my sweats to turn up the heat, or when I turned on the coffee machine. I didn’t feel anxious when I defrosted blueberry pancakes and waffles for the sprouts, or when I went upstairs to cut Abigail out of her duct tape diaper. There wasn’t a hint of anxiety when I read to them about Oliva and the missing toy, or when we read from my own childhood book, the one I’d saved, Dooly and the Snortsnoot. There were no jittery feelings as I wiped noses, theirs or mine, when we sorted toys and put on Chapstick. Everyone’s sleeping. And now alone, in my living room with the sounds of a bedtime CD I once got at a baby shower piped in through their bedroom monitor, I’m feeling an ache.

I don’t leave this couch lately. I almost wrote "sofa," but sadly, it’s really a couch. A middle America, beat-to-shit couch. Our tree looks nice and makes me happy. It’s warm and sweet and reminds me of home. I of course know they exist, but it’s hard to imagine that "bad people" have decorated trees with gingerbread men drawings hanging on the fridge. I once met a guy at a cafe who, that very night, called to ask me over to watch a movie. "That’s not a date," I said. "Come on. Don’t be so rigid." The word "rigid" made me think of "frigid," which made me feel the need to prove something. "No," I said, "I’m not coming to your apartment. I don’t even know you." He responded with one of the most brilliant lines I’ve ever heard: "Come on Klein, nothing bad’s going to happen. I’m Jewish, and I went to sleepaway camp. What more do you need to know?" I think I weighed more than he did, so I wasn’t afraid that he’d physically out-power me. Just the same, I didn’t go to his apartment. I wonder if there are other simple "tells" where you just know you can trust someone. Not fool-proof trust, but "go-to" trust. Like, you’re going to trust a female pre-school teacher.

I can feel my teeth, all woolly. Mostly I feel hungover, as if I’m single, in my New York apartment, detesting the idea of Sunday. The obligation of it– even on the day of rest.  It used to feel like I had to on Sundays. Quarters for laundry, more detergent, a new bra, something cultural. I felt obligated to take advantage of the city, to look up "goings on about town" and to not just circle them, but to actually do them, take a subway to a random parade. I spent a lot of moments alone with my camera, ushering off to off off broadway productions. I forced myself out, to get out of my head. But here, there’s no forcing. I sit on the sad couch and complain that my KNEES HURT because I’ve been sitting cross-legged for too many days. I feel like I should be grabbing a scarf and wedging my way into heeled boots, heading to a crowded corner diner for hangover eggs, well-done fries instead of hash browns, strong coffee, and warm, tired, so what do you want to do today conversation. But when I had those moments, mostly, I wasn’t savoring them. I would eat my eggs thinking, "this is probably torture for him. I bet he can’t wait to go home and run his own errands." And I hated that, the separation of his and hers, separate, healthy, different to-do lists. HATED that. It made me feel lonlier than being alone ever did. I don’t do things half-way.

Anyone who wasn’t willing to be all or nothing with me got nothing. I don’t know that I’m all that different these days. I understand, intellectually, a place for our own space, our own private moments, but emotionally, I don’t believe in the distance and want everything to be ours. But then we get down to practical matters, and I don’t want to compromise. So there you have it. My Sunday contradiction of a life.



  1. You need a couple of rousing rounds of the Barenaked Ladies' "Chanukah Oh Chanukah." It'll perk ya right up. Happy Chanukah to you, Phil & the sprouts!

  2. "Come on Klein, nothing bad's going to happen. I'm Jewish, and I went to sleepaway camp. What more do you need to know?"

    Off topic, but that would make a great line for your show at some point. Original, not cheesy, but clever.

  3. I'm missing something -what do you mean about the "bad people" and the gingerbread men drawings?!

    Otherwise, I know what you mean!

  4. I think the holidays tend to make us feel like we should be somewhere else (with family, in a different city, or living out a movie scene..)

    Speaking of holidays, do you happen to have a good latkes recipe? I tried one today, but the latkes kept falling apart..

  5. Myeah, I feel guilty if I've done nothing during my weekends. No errands, no visits, no cleaning, nothing from my to-do list checked off. I'm able to counter this guilt a bit by listing a lot of "must see DVDs" on my to-do list, it tricks my brain into not feeling guilty when I hang on my couch watching DVDs all day.

    On trust: we have a lady in the office who is superduper nice, I always describe her as "preschool teacher nice". One of my coworker absolutely loathes her, he thinks she's suspicious as "nobody can be that nice without being up to someting sneeky". I guess it's a matter of perspective…

  6. It's late so it is possible that I read this whole thing wrong. But on the off chance that I read it right… It's nice to know there's another person out there who wants everything from one person, but when they get everything they want nothing, atleast not from that person. Thanks SK

  7. "Anyone who wasn't willing to be all or nothing with me got nothing. I don't know that I'm all that different these days."

    I love this. So well said, and so true of me also.

  8. I liked this post. It was so random, which is precisely the way I feel when I get Sunday afternoons to myself. I'm unbalanced in the polarity of work and rest. I can't enjoy being lazy unless I've accomplished a lot beforehand. Otherwise, if I lie around for too long, I get depressed and start thinking about everything in my life that isn't right.

    So sundays are a combination of cleaning, cooking, ironing and only after that's done, watching a movie while lying in bed eating something very wrong. Yes, I eat in bed…often.

    Kim: I'm like your co-worker. I'm usually suspicious of people that are always overly kind. It may be genuine, but I tend to suspect something else is at play.

  9. Love it…simply.

    not sure where it came from or where it went or what it means really but it's such a perfect example of your writing…i just like being in the moment of the story while i'm reading it…and I LOLed in the office at "cut abigail out of her duct tape diaper"

    and while im being lazy to help counter actthe guilt i do "brainstorming" and think out things i have been planning to do…every detail…so that when it comes to it at least it's all figured out and i just have to execute…a lot of the things weighing on my mind are things i need to think about or figure out and get back to someone so that's a great way of getting something done without really doing anything

  10. "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" … read it, and pay special attention to the "men going to their caves" part.

  11. My condolences about the couch. I have been sitting on only sofas since the mid-90's. Divine!

  12. Ms. Klein, it has to be said: I don't know that there's anything more evocative than the way you think. It's awesome when you write these train of thought posts, where it just seems to flow and you let us follow your brain, ride right along with you. Stephanie Klein, I like watching you move.

  13. I, too, have a couch, so I feel your pain.

    Re: the all or nothing relationship thing – have you ever noticed how you only want the "all" when they give you nothing, but when they give you all, what you really want is nothing? Or is that just me? I heard once that this conundrum is a symptom of severe commitment phobia, but I reject that label.

    Thanks for sharing about your achey-knee Sunday. It makes me feel better about my own pjs-and-LifeTime-reruns day. My brain is rotting, but that's okay.

  14. If my couch weren't covered in randomness because of the renovation, that's exactly where I'd be. There's no shame in a bit of couch time.

  15. Wow. I totally forgot about that feeling…the HATED feeling of not wanting your errands to be separate. Not wanting Sunday to come…. the heaviness of the Sunday breakfast where you knew there was so much to do before Monday rolled around… it truly sucked. I can't believe I forgot about that feeling, and it wasn't but several years ago that it was any every-Sunday-feeling. AND how happy I am to now realize those feelings are behind me. Thank you. Thank you so much for that reminder. :) ~Jeanette

  16. Hi Stephanie, Happy Chanukah, don't get any wax on your carpet (or the beans) that will just stress you out. We always manage to get melted wax on the dining rm. table. Hope you & your sweet girl are feeling better today.

  17. Biggest waste of time. Kept on waiting for you to get to a point, but nope…just seemed to make one pointless remark after another.

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