Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Brain, Child

If you haven't heard already about the end of Brain, Child, then you should click that link to read Tracy Mayor's moving and wonderful Motherlode post about it. Or you can go here to read about it from the perspective of the magazine's editors Jennifer and Stephanie. I won't waffle on and on about how, when Ben was a baby and the magazine was just starting, it was like a buoyant, feminist life raft keeping me afloat in a sea of milk and dull-wittedness and pediatricians calling me "Mommy." I probably don't need to tell you how ferocious and courageous they've been in their commitment to intelligent discourse for and among mothers. If you read it or have read it, you probably know all this already. But I will tell you this: working for them has allowed me as much grace as I've ever known in my life as a writer. It's not just that they've let me go with the flow of the weirdo shit I always write for them (Darwin? Boredom? Sure. Sure. Conjoined twins? Great.) It's that they edit so humanely, so compassionately. They have always understand, it seems to me, that it's a political act, editing. To really listen, to represent, to illuminate, you have to let voices be different from your own, and they have. I don't know what to say about this except thank you. And I worry I'll choke on everything I'll want to write for you. And you better be serious about this being a kind of commencement and not just an ending.

Some of the pieces I've written for them are here, here, here, and here. And there's one coming out in the final Summer issue. Sigh.

There's also editor Jennifer Niesslein's book Practically Perfect in Every Way, which is not the magazine, I know, but which is such a wonderful book that you should read it if you haven't yet. It's about self help, yes, and you'll glean all kinds of interesting ideas along the way--but really, it's so much more than that. There's this way that the book ends up being about her humble, kind, lovely family--the way they take care of each other--that's much more profound than the sum of its parts. I totally loved it.

Random, compensatory girl/cat photograph.

16 comments:

  1. It's such an extraordinary loss. Tracy is a member of my writing group (i know! i snuck in. don't tell them ... shhh!) and I am so immensely grateful, DAILY, for her hugely sage editing advice and generally wise, generous input. She embodies so much of what Brain, Child was for so long. This long-time subscriber is crushed. xox

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  2. I cried when I got the word about Brain, Child. I was looking forward to getting a subscription for my sister in law, the English professor, when she gives birth in September. Alas. I always loved what was inside Brain, Child, but also got a secret giggle when a college friend, who now lives in Hungary, almost always got a letter in to the editor.

    BTW, we were in Colorado last week, and they have some of the most interesting ice dams on their roofs. I thought of you.

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  3. That is sad. At times, I grudgingly encounter useful things in other parenting magazines, but Brain, Child is the only parenting magazine I've ever looked forward to reading.

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  4. I loved loved loved Brain, Child. I loved that they teamed up with Mothers & More. I loved that I could find issues with both a new piece by you and a funny anecdote from the VP of my sorority whom I lost track of in 1992. I hope you continue to find ways to collaborate with these women, and that they find ways to keep going with each other. It's a real hole in my parenting reading. I gave up on all the others (except for my Family Fun, which keeps. on. coming. because I paid so far in advance in hopes of singlehandedly keeping Wondertime afloat).

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  5. "Your husband could do you from behind while you were bent over to sort the Tupperware drawer. And if you got pregnant and passed along your organizational skills to your offspring? Evolutionary Bingo! Reproductive success."

    OMG thank you so much for that paragraph. You almost killed me, choking on my hummus, from laughing so hard. That thought will stick with me all day :)

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  6. I saw this and was so sad. SAD. Brain Child was one of a kind.

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  7. Catherine, you're making me cry. I love you, sweets. Believe me: you won't escape our clutches that easily. Here's to future collaborations! xxoo

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  8. libramom10084:46 PM

    So nice to read these, some for the second time...sorry the mag is going away and hope your other essays will continue to find their ways to us!

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  9. Wow - I hope I am not cursing magazines by subscribing - first Wondertime, now Brain, Child. Please, please, please tell me my subscription to Chop, Chop is not causing any problems. You have pointed us to so many fantastic resources and I am grateful.

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  10. This is a magazine I never read enough of so maybe I'll seek out those back issues. But just now, reading your piece entitled "Karl Marx Never Bought Spanx" I find that your children attend (wince) private school, a line you edited in and out of the essay several times. Thank you for leaving it in! We are struggling with this decision right now and it somehow helps to catch even a glimpse of you doing the same.

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  11. This is a reminder to me that putting my money into small things that I care about is important. Skip the Grande Frappuccino and get that indie magazine. Skip the new shirt and buy a book from a small publishing company, or visit the farmer's market, or a local business. It all matters. I let my Brain, Child subscription run out - life got too busy, budgets were tight - and now I regret it.

    May I recommend Taproot? http://www.taprootmag.com/ I'm not affiliated with them at all, but they are a fledgling magazine with beauty and soul. Another thought provoking one is The Sun, http://www.thesunmagazine.org/. Thanks for reminding me that subscriptions matter. We vote with our dollars.

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    1. Anonymous2:04 AM

      Thank you for the recommendations! I'm going to try taproot. I loved how reading Brain, Child made me want to write about my experiences as well. It is such a loss! If you have any more suggestions, let 'em loose! - KSF

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  12. I am also very sad to see the end of Brain, Child. I am sure the voice of that magazine will prevail and triumph. I love The Sun. Such a beautiful magazine that isn't afraid of the darkside, just as Brain, Child was never afraid to talk about the darkside of motherhood.

    So true about their editing style. I submitted a very emotional piece to them about my miscarriage and Elizabeth Roca sent me back a personal and kind note saying it just wasn't fleshed out enough for publication. It was the nicest rejection I have received as a writer. At the same time, the way she put it, it didn't even feel like a rejection. Brain, Child is a class act and will certainly be remembered by its readers.

    Speaking of motherhood -- baby is wailing -- time to scoot

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  13. I just discovered this magazine at Whole Foods and I purchased it. I enjoyed your essay "It Gets Better"!

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  14. Dear Catherine, I "discovered" you in Wondertime and followed you to Brain, Child. Now what?? Of course I can come to your blog, and I often do...but how luxurious to have an honest to goodness paper magazine delivered to my house every so often..fabulous writing and no monthly top ten lists of how to lose that baby weight for Pete's sake. I'm still missing Wondertime and in fresh mourning for the loss of Brain, Child. Sigh.

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  15. I looked forward to and savored all of my issues of Brain, Child. It will be sorely missed as a source of exceptional writing on motherhood, as well as a chance to regularly read your work! I have to say that your last piece in Brain, Child had me in hysterics...you were SO RIGHT ON with everything!

    Where is a reader to go now?

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