I was sitting in bed on Monday when the mail came.Whop
, was the sound of mail falling through the slot in our front door and onto the floor.
"Oh, good, the mail is here!"WHOOMMPP
"ACK! Did someone mail us a brick?! Geez!"
I slowly got out of bed, fought back an urge to vomit, and made my way to the front door.
No, dear reader, we were not sent a brick, or an early Christmas fruitcake from a well meaning relative. No, it was the December issue of Martha Stewart Living.
I was excited, it arrived much earlier than any other issue since moving here, but goodness it was a good thing the Big O wasn't playing nearby--he could have been hit by it and knocked out.
I have been an admirer of this magazine since I was a sophomore in college, when Miss Nemesis, my roommate, got herself a subscription. She was kind enough to let me peruse it each month, oh-ing and ah-ing at the beautiful photographs of delicious food and amazing crafts. During our time together I believe Nem. and I actually attempted some of the crafts and maybe even some of the recipes with pretty good success. But sadly (for me), Nem. left me and the Martha subscription ended.
I would look at issues in line at Macey's or at the Provo library and wonder if I should just get my own subscription. I loved the magazine. Reading it gave me pleasure. Even if I didn't attempt the crafts or the recipes, or take any of Martha's sage advice on dusting and proper laundry folding, I still enjoyed it. But I was torn. This magazine was mocked slightly within my major
. The head of my department would use it as an insult when looking at my spread: "These look very Martha Stewart-y, Lady Steed" he would say with derision in his voice. I was so hurt. I loved Martha. I thought the magazine was designed beautifully and to have someone say my stuff looked like it would normally be a compliment, but coming from him it was clearly not a compliment.
I learned later that he respected the magazine, just wanted more from his students.
During my junior year I was able to take a trip to Manhattan with the other students in my program. We were supposed to be interviewing to get internships for the coming summer, but I just went because I wanted to go to Manhattan and visit all the studios of great graphic designers and magazines, specifically Martha Stewart Living studios.
It was an amazing place. Sparkly, beautiful. I wanted to work there.
But this did not happen. I was married. Had a baby, graduated. A mama with an unused BFA.
But, one of my friends did an internship there and after graduation went on to work there. I was slightly jealous, but happy for her because she felt the same way as I did about Martha Stewart Living.
She still works there now. I've watched her name move up the ranks from 'Assistant Art Director' to her current title of 'Senior Associate Art Director' which is just one below the top of the Art Department list, Deputy Art Director. I'm very proud of her.
After buying single issues off the newsstands--usually October, November and December--for a year or two, I decided it would be more cost effective to just get a subscription. I believe my first issue was January 2003. I am still a subscriber, and will be through August 2008.
That's a lot of Martha.
I have saved every issue and buy old issues at library sales whenever I can. Once or twice I have thought about tossing my old issues, but I can't. I go back and look at them often for recipes, craft ideas and other inspirations.
I have watched the magazine go from thick, packed with advertising, to painfully skinny after advertisers pulled their support during Ms. Stewart's tax debacle. The quality of the magazine throughout always remained excellent. If you are ever looking for a particular article, contact me--chances are I have it and can copy it out for you.
In the beginning, my love for the magazine was something I was ever so slightly afraid to tell people about. I'd be at some Enrichment meeting and some one would bring up the current issue, about how great the cover image was and how they wish they could make something like that. Then I'd say, "I have that one if you want to come over and look at it." Everyone in the group would stop and stare at me for a moment. "You have a subscription?" "Um, yeah, I've been subscribing for about two years now." "Really?" For whatever reason people had a hard time believing that I was a subscriber. "Yes, I love it."
I am no longer afraid to express my love of Martha. I love to see people's look of shock when I tell them I've been subscribing since 2003. What I love even more is when women, after hearing about all my stockpiled issues, approach me later, alone, away form the group, to ask if they can come and look at my old issues. Apparently liking Martha is something a little bit shameful. But lets get back to this December 2006 issue. It's thick. The advertising pages are more than plentiful--it's almost as bad as some of those fashion magazines. So obviously things are good for the magazine. However, lately, I have found my interest waning.
When you've been a subscriber for as long as I have, you notice when photos get reused, which ideas have been done before and you start noticing the focus of the magazine shifting. For example, this year in the features section it seems like there are more spreads devoted to people giving dinner parties. Spread after spread of foodstuffs and happy people. This is all well and good and exceedingly pretty but what I want is less pics of people enjoying great food in a gorgeous setting, and more spreads on collectibles, crafts and decorating.
Sometimes it also feels like they are straining for ideas for the feature spreads. For example,
Dec 2002 feature spread on Pomegranates, yum! Dec 2006 feature spread on Oysters! Um...gross. Really, how many people actually like oysters?! and do they really need 4 spreads worth? Sure, it's beautifully photographed and well designed but the whole thing makes my stomach turn; oysters are not actually pretty no matter how well photographed.
Another thing that bugs me is how much more of the magazine is devoted to alcohol. There is now a monthly column on wine. Since I don't drink this is wasted on me. I find it annoying. I'd rather have a column on collectibles (they used to do this and I miss it, it was really fun).
So, Martha my dear, we seem to be having a little falling out. You have become a little bit boring. I am thinking about ending my subscription, except that I have yet to find another monthly publication that thrills me as much as you used to. This year has been a disappointment, but perhaps that is because it's been a year of reflecting on the past, as this is your fifteenth year (congrats). But Martha, we are on shifting sands; next year better be an improvement or I'm taking my little reading eyes elsewhere.