Chris always jokes that if you want to know what’s going on in my life, all you have to do is look at the magazines on the coffee table. And that is pretty accurate, as my choice in periodicals evolve in line with the changes in my life. In the early, post-university days of my relationship with Chris, I clung to the ideals of Bust and Adbusters (or, if I was feeling particularly evolved, The Utne Reader and Ms) while still low-browing it enough to laugh over the pages of Vice. I hadn’t given up Rolling Stone in those days, still needing to know what critics thought of Bjork’s most recent theatrical ambient music-making methodology or which Grateful Dead album had just been liberated from the vaults. Chris knew that he could make me happy by bringing home the latest issue of Details and a chocolate bar.
We got engaged in July, 2000 on our one-year anniversary, and since we were in no real rush to set a date, I put a one-year hold on wedding plans. So by September of that year, you could barely see the Busts for the Wedding Bells, and although I tried not to shift my focus from Ms to Mrs, Conde Nast Bride, that epic tome of all things nuptially-conventional, took up all the space in my magazine rack for months on end.
Design and home magazines started cycling in as Chris and I began the slow process of swapping our university-era hand-me downs for cheap furniture and thrifted accessories that were ‘ours.’ As milk crates and futons gave way to Ikea bookcases and… newer futons, we walked the convention-hall floors of massive interior design and home shows, imagining that our future would be clad in mid-century modern repros and white uber-shag rugs. We spent hours sitting side by side on the couch we wanted to replace, picking ridiculously expensive pieces out of the pages of ridiculously unrealistic spreads, arguing over why the grey wool couch would look better the chocolate brown wool couch if we were going to paint the walls turquoise.
And then, one day in 2004, a stick turned blue and the universe changed.
We had been trying (or at least, not NOT trying) for about 6 months, and as every prospective parent knows, in that surreal time, imaginations go wild. I would daydream snapshots of my husband holding our dream child on his shoulders as we walked to the park; I envisioned peaceful moments holding an infant in my arms as we were bathed in the late afternoon’s amber light; and I thought of exactly how I would let Chris know that we were going to become parents – I would leave the clue to my current preoccupation on the coffee table. He would come home from work, sit on the couch and see a Martha Stewart Baby magazine fanned on top of the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. It would be perfect.
Except, of course, that the only thing I was capable of doing after I saw the two lines, was freaking out. I somehow managed a) not to have a cigarette, even though it was the first thing I wanted and the last thing I could have, and b) not to call Chris, knowing that this was something I wanted to share in person. But all thoughts of a dreamy staged message went completely out the window. I could not focus my thoughts enough to even make it across the road to the corner store where I could buy a Martha Stewart Baby magazine, so I basically paced our apartment for an hour until Chris opened the door and I practically screamed our news at him.
But Omniliving Media need not worry that I missed the opportunity. I hated the pregnancy magazines, focusing mainly as they did on what one should wear and how one should stay fit while pregnant, and discovered that I had a more spiritual, organic side to me. My sister introduced me to Ina May Gaskin and Mothering magazine, and I could feel my consciousness shift. Or maybe it was the baby, settling heavy on my bladder.
Growing and birthing and raising a child and then two children have forced a happy change in my priorities, and if you look at the magazines on my table today, you can still pretty much see where I’m at. Mothering still arrives every month, and so does Martha Stewart Living and sometimes Brain Child or Vegetarian Times and Better Homes and Gardens and for a few, brief months Chatelaine (sorry, but once you trade Onstad for Eckler, you’ve lost me), but there is also Toronto Life magazine because I feel deeply rooted to my city and like to fuck up their child-free, snobby demographic, and Rolling Stone still appears when somebody I love is on the cover, and Bust pissed me off large and lost me this year, but Ready Made is very cool. I like to shake things up with People magazine every now and then, and my inlaws bring over Macleans and National Geographic, and when I have a coffee in my hand and a sunny back porch, I cherish these moments dedicated to reading a magazine and am happily an equal-opportunity time waster.
And me and Chris still like to pick out our favorite designs in Dwell magazine, and we imagine our future in an off-the-grid, glass-fronted pre-fab on a lake somewhere, and as we sit on our grey wool couches in our living room with the turquoise walls, we’re quite sure we’ll be there one day.