In “Sunday Funday,” L.A. people share their ideal Sundays to help us all freshen up our weekends.
It’s understandable why Roxane Gay prefers to keep her Sundays laid-back.
The bicoastal, bestselling author has a new book slated for release next year. She’s also the podcast host of “The Roxane Gay Agenda,” founder of the Audacious Book Club and its accompanying newsletter, contributing opinion writer for several publications, and the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in media, culture and feminist studies at Rutgers University, where she teaches writing. And even with all of that on her plate, she still makes time to regularly tweet to her nearly 900,000 followers.
“Our lives are very busy, and we often have a lot of evening obligations in addition to our full-time jobs,” Gay says, referring to herself and her wife, Debbie Millman, who is an author, artist and host of the long-running podcast “Design Matters” — hence someone who also has a jam-packed schedule.
“So Sunday is for relaxing and doing what we want,” says Gay, who splits her time between L.A. and New York City. “Sometimes we plan in advance, but mostly Sundays are for no planning and just being a bit spontaneous.”
Freeing up her Sunday schedule is a recent boundary set by Gay — though she admits that she usually still squeezes in some work — as it helps her “prepare for the week ahead and wind down from the week that just ended.”
As an Omaha, Neb., native who’s lived in L.A. for more than half a decade, Gay encourages new Angelenos to face the reality of what some may describe as headache-inducing traffic and not let it deter them from exploring the sprawling city.
“So many people limit where they go and how they spend their time and who they’ll spend their time with based on the freeways,” Gay says. “And I think that because I’m from the Midwest, distance and the amount of time it will take to get somewhere does not intimidate me in any way. So I am open to going anywhere for any reason, and I think that’s a really great way to approach L.A. so that you can have a better experience in this city.”
She adds, “There’s so much more beyond our neighborhoods, and I think it’s worth taking the time to explore even though there are the expected frustrations of traffic.”
Sundays are usually when Gay gets to bounce around L.A. to try new experiences and revisit favorite places. Here’s a rundown of how she would spend her ideal Sunday. This breakdown has been edited for length and clarity.
The first thing I do when I wake up on a Sunday is read. I generally read on my Kindle for about an hour. Then I’ll do crossword puzzles or play the Spelling Bee game from the New York Times while lying in bed.
Next, I’ll go to Starbucks with my puppy. His name is Maximus Toretto Blueberry, which was inspired by Debbie’s favorite poem, “Maximus, to Himself,” written by Charles Olson, and my favorite character from the “Fast and Furious” franchise, Dominic Toretto.
We’ll drive there and use the drive-through to order a grande nonfat mocha latte for me and a grande iced latte for Debbie. Then we’ll swing by Randy’s Donuts on the Westside. I only get one thing there: Debbie gets a chocolate doughnut, and I get the iced glazed doughnut.
By this time we’re hungry, so we’ll go to Salt’s Cure in Hollywood. Sometimes we’ll invite friends. The restaurant has a really small menu, and you can’t modify it. You get what you get. Shut up and enjoy it — and not in a rude way — just more like this is the food that we like to cook and eat the food as we prepare it. They have really good sausage and also oatmeal griddle cakes. That’s what I love.
I’m not a big drinker. I will drink mimosas sometimes and they’re nice, but it’s not like my go-to beverage. I prefer iced tea or diet Pepsi.
After brunch, I might go to one of my favorite bookstores in L.A. I love to go to Skylight Books, Book Soup and the Last Bookstore. These are all great stores that are beautifully curated. They are also interesting physical spaces with wonderful staff.
Afterward, I’ll stop by a museum or one of L.A.’s many excellent galleries. I really love Roberts Projects, which is on the west side of West Adams. I also like the Broad museum in downtown L.A., Nino Mier Gallery, Night Gallery, Susanne Vielmetter and others. They always have really interesting work and artists.
By the evening, my wife and I are ready to hang out and just relax. The TV is usually on. I love “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix. The contestants are always really sweet and the foods they make can be interesting. It’s very British and just very pleasant. I love baking because it’s very precise and relaxing. It’s a way of having a focused task that’s not entirely consuming, but it requires your attention nonetheless. I love to bake bread, cookies, cupcakes and cakes because I taught myself how to cake decorate during the pandemic.
Then we’ll start thinking about what we might want for dinner. An ideal Sunday meal for me would be roast chicken. I’ve been doing a lot of sheet pan dishes lately, which is fun because it’s like one pan and done, or two pans depending on what you’re making.
I love going to the movies. I love IPIC Theaters in Westwood, even though it’s really far away from where I live. The seats are super comfortable and you can order beverages at your seat. It’s really nice, and the theater is small so it’s really intimate, and it’s just a great vibe.
Once we’re back home, I’ll spend time writing in my living room on the couch while watching TV. I could spend anywhere from an hour to five or six hours writing, but it just depends on if I have the creative je ne sais quoi — the sort of inspiration and motivation. I’ll spend time writing whatever is most past due.
Debbie is also into relaxing on Sundays, but she’ll often use that time to prepare for her podcast, “Design Matters.” If her guest has written a book that’s coming out, or she’ll read through their catalog, she’ll start to sketch out the arc of the interview or she’ll do some of her artwork because she’s an artist. It just depends.
I start winding down around 12:30 or 1 a.m. by doing some reading or crossword puzzles for about an hour and a half. Generally, I’ll go to sleep around 2:30 a.m.
On Mondays, I teach so I am up pretty early — usually around 8 a.m. So if I need to finish preparing for class, I make sure I have my plan and lecture ready. On Mondays, I have to hit the ground running.