I found Buzzsaw out of my perfectionistic first-year obligation to join every club on campus. From the start, I felt like a child processing the world, captivated by what I had never seen. The pitch doc was full of topics I had never heard of. The casual profanity shocked me. And the editors, clustered at the front of Williams 323, related to one another in overlapping and eager voices. They seemed so comfortable with themselves and with each other, so at peace in their shared noise.
Still out of perfectionism—and in spite of my meager knowledge of InDesign—I volunteered to design the magazines as then-layout editor, Bree, neared graduation. From the inside, Buzzsaw disoriented me even more. The Bogart basement, affectionately known as the Buzzcave, felt delirious and unhinged. Discarded memorabilia, weird posters, old magazines and scrawled jokes that depended on contexts long-forgotten cluttered every corner of the room, a stale-aired final resting place for whatever found its way inside. Editors interacted chaotically; their sentences half-formed as one person intuited another’s tired thoughts. It felt as though at least five conversations took place at once, usually at unwittingly high volumes. No one could really describe to me what was going on. It was Mateo who finally told me that there weren’t really any rules, and I almost passed out on the spot. Buzzsaw seemed loud, brash, impulsive, and unafraid. It seemed like my complete opposite.
When I could no longer cling to Bree for dear life, I struggled to understand this club and this publication, both of which resist order. My job as layout editor was to maintain enough order to manage production and create a magazine, and I instinctively wanted to impose rules in order to make that happen. But over time, by not yielding to me, Buzzsaw taught me to do something I had never done—yield to my surroundings. Find my footing by accepting that my footing was, and always would be, a little unsure.
Contradictory to its outward brashness, Buzzsaw, in my experience, required some zen. Being part of Buzzsaw means feeling safe enough to trust a lack of clarity and an aversion to hierarchy, to trust that every lateral move is a step toward the right issue. Once I stopped resisting Buzzsaw’s inertia, I saw that it is not the vortex of chaos I thought it was. Buzzsaw is a neurotic and complex creature, publicly unapologetic and privately questioning. Every cycle, our writers, artists, and editors ask, “Are we doing this right? Should we do this? Am I doing a terrible job? Fuck it, I am doing the job I can do! I hope this is enough… Is this enough?” And that questioning is the source, I think, of Buzzsaw’s noise—not chaos, but a collision of productive worry. The vibrant, unwieldy joy of people feeling tired together, talking too loud without realizing it, losing the thread of one conversation inside of another, bonded by their shared uncertainty and dedication to trying anyway. The peace of shared unknowing. Because at its best, Buzzsaw is not only a platform for outspoken voices, but a cohort of people who have been yoked together by that nervous urgency to speak, and who stay together because they help one another speak more clearly.
I have been lucky to find such a cohort. I never thought I would interact with people as warmly and comfortably as those first editors interacted. But Buzzsaw, and the people who make it up, gave me that sense of warmth and comfort. I still miss Bree, Kimberly and Isabel, with whom I am so lucky to have shared space and conversation. Julia continues to impress me with her stellar work ethic and forthright nature, and I will miss being bound by our shared perfectionism. I will miss sharing wavelengths with Rachael, with whom I could always exchange overwhelmed glances when things got particularly chaotic. I will miss Adam’s veneer of perplexing personal questions, underneath which was a friend who quietly kept me company as I laid out the magazine for hours at a time. Kevin is my kindred spirit in cautious pessimism and analysis, and I will miss his musings. Audra is my companion in anxiety and a true supporter, and perhaps the advantage to graduating so abruptly is that I don’t have to be here without the compassion, humor, and beauty they have infused into my Buzzsaw experience. These people vocally loved, valued and supported me, and they have given me more than I ever imagined I could receive from my odd and truncated time at IC. I am thankful every day for Buzzsaw, which has been one of the most unexpected joys of my tidy life, and one I will dearly miss.
Thank you for letting me make these magazines, even though I’m not qualified (I like to think that they got a little better in quality every time). Keep reading and writing and thinking and creating, and I hope that in Buzzsaw you can find an unexpected home for your spirit and your work.