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.



  1. I am so grooving on this snapshot of your life, as displayed on the coffee table. Maybe because I can so relate, but I'm finding it evocative and moving on what is a very grey and rainy morning here.

  2. Gawd, I had to fight the urge for a cigarette after months of not not trying too! You don't know the weight of harboring such a dark secret and the relief to find that I'm not alone. All those mags are fine and dandy, even Chatelaine (they have good recipes!) but what I long for is Sassy circa 1991 (not the fluffy fluff it turned out to be in the 00's) how does one come of age now without Sassy telling you not to shave your armpits and to sneak out of your house to go to a Jane's Addiction concert but not before colouring your hair with Kool-Aid first?!

  3. Dude, no joke, I had EVERY SINGLE issue of Sassy sitting in my parents basement until the great separation of '04 when my parents sold their house, throwing away EVERY SINGLE issue of Sassy. Me and my sister still weep over it.

  4. I hear you. My design mags were replaced with parenting magazines. Now I love my magazines trashy because I like to know that people that say up past 9:0 pm do.

  5. Auntie JennoJune 01, 2010

    Oh, Sassy, I miss you so. I was just saying to a group of friends the other day that I am who I am because of Sassy magazine. If only my 12 year old had such an influence in her life.
    And this love of magazines must of started early in our lives sis, when our Buby would bring us People, the National Enquirer, the Star, and when she was feeling particularly high brow, Vanity Fair (still one of my favs) every week.

  6. I love this walk through your periodical reading history! (And was SO a Sassy girl - and so disappointed when Jane turned out to not live up to its predecessor.)

  7. I can completely relate. We have recently purchase a 'renovator's delight' and so I am sure you can imagine the stack, not on my coffee table but on my bedside table!

  8. Glad Someone is still buying magazines out there!
    hey don't forget to pick up a copy of Canadian Family from time to time (shameless plug ;)
    our coffee table has many an issue of Chirp on it at the moment.

  9. OH MY GOD, my entire collection of Sassy's were thrown out, too. I LOVED SASSY!!

  10. feast your eyes on this ladies, just stumbled across it and sighed about a hundred times. -sigh- Off to find my old docs and Sonic Youth tapes!



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