With the acquisition of a studio has come the realisation that soon, I will have NO TIME. I already fill my days to overflowing, and somehow, starting a business has to be squeezed in. So, rather than opening a business bank account or rejiggering my financials spreadsheet, I’ve turned my attention these past few weeks to a couple of projects that have been hanging over my head for, well, a few years now. You might imagine that I’ve finally learned hard plastering or re-grouted the bathroom, but no, I haven’t. The projects I’m talking about are of the kind so inconsequential that unless I tackle them now, they’ll never be done. Which is what I said when I first started them.
One of these projects is the result of hoarding too many magazines. Our move between Ohio and Australia was punctuated by a few restful months on Cape Cod. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to go through my magazines when we were packing up the Oberlin house, so they made the trip east. Why are magazines so heavy? I don’t think you could find a heavier box than a box of MSL back issues.
At first, I imagined a few hours here and there, tearing out articles and recipes that I couldn’t live without. Soon, however, I found myself putting in full eight-hour days working on the project: tearing out, cutting down, categorising. Had I known, I’d have offered Mia a summer internship. I was imagining a cloth-bound binder from here, but quickly saw that my collection would require multiple, cheaper binders. Weeks past, and I was still not done. If you’ve tried, you’ll know that a page from Martha Stewart Living doesn’t easily fit into a letter- or A4-sized plastic pocket, nor does a recipe torn from the NYT Magazine. In the end, I packed the torn-out clippings without pockets or binders, with the idea that I’d finish the project in Australia.
Which is where I am now. Eighteen months later, with boxes of heavyweight plastic pockets at hand, I recommenced the project. Sometimes, I couldn’t work out what I’d intended to save: surely not the recipe for roast pork crackling? But I trimmed and filed and sorted. The first binder “Thanksgiving, Autumn and Fall” sits nicely on the shelf. Slowly though, doubts developed. Where were the Christmas clippings? And what about the Mason jar pin cushion project? Surely I kept that? It was only as I made my way toward the bottom on the pile that it finally dawned on me: the desserts are missing. Either there is another box, as yet unpacked, or it is lost. I cannot tell you how despairing I find this fact, although I keep this to myself.
I have my fingers crossed that when our storage unit is emptied this afternoon and delivered to my studio, I’ll find the box containing Isaac’s unpublished manuscript and the one containing the best of Martha’s desserts and holiday extravaganzas, 1994-2004, as torn out by me.
For all you lucky ones with your Martha archive intact, Maitreya’s Marthadex is an invaluable public service.