I think it’s about time I set this project to rest. I obviously don’t have the same drive I had back when I started this blog, and I am working on other things which are closer to my heart and are hopefully a little more directed than this turned out to be.
Make no mistake—I love and am very proud of this blog, even with all the ridiculous posts, the insane alt-texts, and the regrettable lack of discipline or rigour in my posting “schedule.” The majority of posts in this blog were made during one of the most happy and productive times of my life, and what a joy it is to be able to revisit those times. Currently, the plan is to keep the blog exactly as it is. Perhaps in the far future I will revisit this place and make some small commentary, or occasionally write some strange post, but for all intents and purposes, this blog’s time has passed and any exception is just whispers from the phantoms on the other side.
If you are interesting in hearing more from me, I am working on a weekly blog called Apologies by Cutter, where I talk through my understanding of things in a more structured way.
Thank you to all of you who came along this silly journey with me (willing or otherwise).
So between my discomfort with having such a pro-gender-binary welcoming statement, and my sincere desire to not have to type out both gentleman and gentlewoman every time I start a blog post, you have have noticed I changed my greeting. [Editor’s Note: at least it isn’t HELLO EVERBIRDY, Right?]
You may be wondering why I’m talking about Salamanca when I can’t even spell it right. Well, first you have to put your little snooty cap with that flamboyant feather right over there on the hat rack and leave your attitude at the door. Then I will tell you that this is the AMAZING and WONDERFUL Tale of the MIGHTY and BRAVE Salamenca—the Snail.
So this may be rather common in other parts of the world, but in Arizona, most of the wildlife exists because it can somehow be more brutal and angry than the heat of the summer and the desolate desert. They’re mostly prickly—think horned toads, cacti, and scorpions—maybe it’s just me, but it makes very little sense for snails to have somehow survived out in Arizona basically ever. You can imagine my surprise, then, how every time it rains heavily (5+ inches in a week is a ridiculous amount of rain for us), my backyard patio is home to somewhere around ten living snails and a few empty snail shells. This sort of rain happened around New Year’s, and on the first day of the first month of the year of our lord two-thousand seventeen, my family and I decided to enjoy a nicely constructed fire in our fireplace.
It was dark and wet. Not like I could really see anything, what with my ancestors taking too much time deliberating over what traits to accept from the offerings of the Gods and being stuck without eyes—or legs… but I could feel it. The hardground was cold beneath me, and what little warmth lay in the air was being siphoned away by the moisture left over by the rain. I had crawled to safety from the softground and foodstalks when the water started making breathing difficult—besides, who wants to eat soggy foodstalks anyway?
So I, the Great and Formidible Salamenca, Youngest of the Snail Consortium, Most Fearless of the Great Shell Knights, ventured out onto the unforgiving, unending expanse of the hardground—the inconsistently defended Territory of the Mewling Furry Deathstalkers, from whence no other Knight had yet returned. Okay, so maybe I’m not actually on the Snail Consortium, and maybe I am the only Shell Knight, but I returned from that terrible place, didn’t I? YES, Gilbert, I am looking at YOU.
Anyway, there I was, stealthily crossing that bleak wasteland, when all of a sudden something blocked my path. It was hard and rough and… vertical. While it was similar to tree bark, this surreal surface stretched for what could be hundreds or even thousands of shell-lengths in either direction! I was just as amazed as you, to find something so strange in our world—and terrified by it. Surely the Gods would only put such a thing in this world to protect us from some great evil. As I stood, paralyzed with awe, I heard the approaching battle cries of the cruel Fuzzy Beasts—the sound broke the trance I was in, and I turned around to find my quiet tunnel once again.
But before I could make it any real distance, the night exploded in a fireball of light and the strange reverberations which I felt in the ground and the air, shortly followed by a set of rhythmic tremors passing quickly left to right behind me. I withdrew into my shell until the hardground stood still. After a moment more, to check—YES GILBERT, to check if the shockwaves came from the Furry Ones—I exited the safety of my shell to dash towards my home.
Only a little way back along the very same path I originally took out of the softground, a previously-unencountered obstacle blocked my path. The Gods must have chosen to help me in my quest, for they sent me tree bark. I crawled onto it, wary of the gnashing teeth of the Deathstalkers; though before a proper exploration could be made, the bark shot up from the ground, carrying me at such blinding speed that I was sure I would be ripped apart.
The terrifying journey eventually came to an end, and quick as I could I ran off that piece of bark—only to find myself back on the softground! I then came here to tell you all of the wonders the Gods have performed for me, and to regale you with my intense heroics. OH GO ASK YOUR WIFE, GILBERT, YOU SPIRAL-HEADED GROUND-MUNCHER.
Salamenca exits, stage left.
tl;dr – I went outside on the night of New Year’s Day to get firewood from the back patio, and saw that the recent rains had driven the snails out onto the concrete again. Most of the shells were empty as far as I could tell—probably they were small playthings for the neighbourhood cats—but there was one that sort of cowered into its shell when I stepped out onto the concrete the first time. After three trips to get three different logs (a good fire-starter can start a fire with three logs, three pieces of paper, and a single match), I took a small bit of wood and put it directly in front of the snail so it could climb on top. I went back inside to start the fire, and once it was crackling satisfactorily I went outside and took the bit of wood (now with snail on top) and placed it in the grass, so it could go back to a place of food and safety. Then I told my mom about it and she told me to blog about it so I did. And now you’re reading it. And now you’re done with it, I think?
Gentlemen and Gentlewomen of the Vox Chaotica Council!
I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions. They work for some people, sure, but I’m not a huge fan—and I’d be remiss if I didn’t clearly state that part of the problem was the forced resolutions in my elementary school (each year we had to write out what our resolutions were), and mine was always Better Penmanship because I couldn’t think of anything better. And if you could see my handwriting, you’d be able to tell how well that resolution ever worked out.
Also, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t do something just for the sake of doing it. I have to be passionate about an activity to do it, or even keep interested. So the idea of just making a resolution to do anything just because it’s *adopts that awfully nasal, piercing, stereotypical sorority-girl voice* “OhmyGOD A new Year A new MEEEE!!! YAAAAAAS!” has no appeal to me. [Editor’s Note: that honestly hurt my soul to type out. I am sorry, I apologise, and freaking WOULD SOMEONE CASH IN ONE OF THESE SO THE JOKE CAN END.] Better to just take a short time of thoughtful introspection and figure out what I actually want to do every week or two, and just start taking steps towards fixing the problems I find.
Like running. I was feeling a little fat when the summer was starting (March this year. ~Thanks, Arizona~), and let me tell you, Gymtimidation is a real thing for poor old Cutter, and I don’t really fit the same lifestyle as your typical gym-goer. Nutrition is on the same level of mystically incomprehensible as most medicinal science is for me, and the point of my workouts is to stay active rather than get swole; I just want to feel good about how I look and be able to maybe do a couple pull-ups to impress the ~ladies~ (because so often what an eligible bachelorette wants is a man who can do a small number of pull-ups on command). So I took a prepaid Visa card thingie I got for Christmas and used it to buy myself a pair of running shoes.
Then I went for a very short run like a week later—literally I was outside for fifteen minutes because I was dumb and just started actually running (faster than jogging and just slower than sprinting), having not done any real physical activity in almost a full year. Fun story: evidently, aside from filling out like the Pillsbury dough boy, when your body is inactive for a while, mucus builds up in your lungs and throat. This makes breathing difficult, something hard already because running naturally makes you short of breath—and then on top of that, there’s the involuntary reaction of coughing up all that phlegm because your body is so confused why you’d subject it to such torture.
But, after nearly coughing up my lung, I got back out there. I did a solid five months of running at least three times a week—until I sprained my ankle. And alas, I am also sometimes a human, so I may or may not have gotten back into this glorious exercise routine because I may or may not have just had too much mac-n-cheese during the holidays and just laid down until the feeling passed whenever I thought about running again. Maybe.
There was probably a point to me telling you all this, but I can’t remember it (the majority of this post was written like two weeks ago, and I never do outlines or notes for myself), so… I guess that’s all for now.
So out there and make change, yeah? The world is ripe for it, friends.
tl;dr – Basically Cutter just rambles a lot about running and how he doesn’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Honestly, you can probably just skip this one and read something better.
Gentlemen and Gentlewomen of the Vox Chaotica Council!
[Editor’s Note: (spoilers) this is not a short post. It’s basically just a text post, and it can read a bit like I’m whining about my lame problems. What I’m actually going for is more of a context thing—I say what I do because you need context around the way my thoughts form and how they work.]
If all goes well, this will be a relatively short post—but we all know how much I enjoy stringing words together, especially when there’s no one to tell me to stop. Maybe it’s best then to just start with the basics.
I think a lot. Like, probably too much. Maybe it’s because I was terminally shy until age 19 and never really learned to make my voice heard; or maybe it’s because listening was always more enjoyable for someone whose words did not flow eloquently, ever; or maybe it’s because I prefer to be alone. But thinking usually makes me melancholy, and so I try and fill my plentiful alone time with things to distract me from my thoughts (hello, videogame addiction). Unfortunately, there is no easy-to-spot, singular root cause for why I get sad after wandering in my on head for a while—but often the byproduct becomes thoughts of my friends, and how I could be better for them.
[Side note: if this didn’t already exist, an apology song to all my friends would be my ideal way to communicate how I feel with my friends.]
Now, I’m sure normal humans would probably just tell their friends how they wish they were in better contact or try and meet up sometime and just talk about things. However, I am me, and in case you’re new here, the one thing I am definitely not is normal. Talking to people face to face is still a problem spot [Editor’s note: that’s putting it kindly], and forget about displaying genuine sentimentality to my friends—there are only two or three people I’m actually comfortable talking to earnestly, and even then it’s only once or twice a year that I feel safe enough to open up. In my defense, I’m sure ~normal~ people also only have a few people they really trust enough to be absolutely genuine with—and my introvert tendencies do not allow me the mental, emotional, or social stamina to build meaningful relationships by brute-forcing the appropriate number of hours (on the Scale of Cutter Videan’s Most Terrifying Circumstances, social gatherings are a 9 between 1 and BEES).
Anyway, I think I’m getting off track. *calls a crane to lift the train of thought back onto the rails* That’s better. Thinking leads me to sadness, and often that leads to me wishing I could just spill all my sentimental thoughts about my friends to them. But I never do—the emotional risk is too steep. And, contrary to common belief, just because I prefer being alone does not mean I am exempt from a constant burden of loneliness or a deep sense that I don’t really fit in anywhere, or with anyone. Barring all that, what could I even say to them—how could I possibly express the raw emotions I feel whenever I think about them? the ridiculously intricate system that weighs all my positive and negative notions about someone and finds them to be someone I am willing to devote time and energy to? the real meaning of our friendship to me? Human communication systems are too flawed yet to accurately describe the depth and intricacy of these concepts.
Okay. Let’s all take a deep breath together. In… …Out. It got pretty heavy there for a minute, yeah? We just experienced a tiny little fragment of what it’s like to be in my head. It’s always bustling in there, and this whole thread would account for maybe a couple seconds of real-time thought—jammed between four or five other ideas about the nature of the world, how attractive that girl over there is, what am I going to blog about, and how weird it is that thumbs look the way they do.
The chain of thought about being a better friend always pops up during holiday celebrations; perhaps because I’m socially bound to be social at the aforementioned holiday celebrations, and time spent with other people is perhaps the loneliest time of all for me.
So yeah, that’s all I have for you today. I’m not sure where else to go because I don’t have a fix for this problem. I wish I knew how to feel comfortable enough with myself and with other people to be absolutely genuine with them all the time. I wish I could tell my friends exactly how much each of them means to me, even if I don’t talk to them as much as I probably should. But until then, this will have to do.
Gentlewomen and Gentlemen of the Vox Chaotica Council!
If you’re just tuning in, let me situate you: my name is Cutter, and I am one of those con-founded creatives, what with his artistic in-clin-ations and *shifty eyes* Type B pers’nality. I don’t know why I went all stereotypical 1850s gold prospector on you, but as a newbie here, it’s ~imperative~ you understand how quickly my mind shifts gears—and how quirky the transmission of my mind is. First is somewhere over there, second got lost a few years back, third is actually fourth, and you have to travel to another country to find the manual describing why you shouldn’t use the setting labeled fourth.
Reeling back in, basically I like to do a bunch of creative things. For example, I’m seriously working on four separate ventures right now, not including my band (or the other small projects I’m contemplating). Let me give you a clue to the first one: you already know about it.
It’s this blog! Since 2013, I’ve been writing off and on (mostly off) when I first buckled to my curiosity and started a tumblr. If you are ever inclined to read a really long vague story about the first two times I was in love, you should definitely check out the—except I just spent the last hour combing through my old posts, and that story is actually on my secret tumblr. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will tell you that sometimes I lived there. Turns out Vox Chaotica was born out of my need to make a home for the expanded lore surrounding my music. Dreams I-V debuted there, and because you obviously missed the extensive global marketing campaign which put my little EP in the heads of millions of people [Editor’s Note: Cutter is being facetious, but realises that sarcasm rarely translates like it should through text, so now he’s explaining it to you in third person because he likes third person a bit too much. He should probably have that checked out by a professional], you can read the tiny stories I wrote for each one here while you listen to them on bandcamp.
Now it’s just become a place for me to write, because I like it. *sniffs loudly while turning his face up and left, giving you mad side-eyes which are full of pleas to accept and love him for who he is even though he’s being a royal snootypants right now*
My bandcamp, if you didn’t notice (or, shame on you, didn’t check it out), is woefully out of date. It’s been three years since I even looked at the page for anything beyond making sure Bandcamp hadn’t just deleted it from inactivity. But that will change soon. I have been busy working on music, not only with my band The Darling Sounds, but have been working on a full-length LP of a sister-genre to Labyrinths, called Sweet Nothings. Like Labyrinths, Sweet Nothings is a post-rock inspired concept album, but this time it’s a more personal album about love and loss.
But this album is different. The emotionality is different, partially because instead of exulting in the glory of bringing some of my favourite writings to life; rather, I am pouring my own raw emotion and experience into the whole project—which is considerably more intense and much darker than the surrealist storytelling of Borges. And when I say the whole project, I mean all of it. The individual instrument tracks have names to illuminate more of the abum’s story, the liner notes are going to contain other bits of writing and lyrics to help cement the mood and hint at the truth the music doesn’t tell, and, among other things, the artwork is there to set the tone form the very beginning, and my friend’s art is the perfect fit for it (she also did the cover for Haunt).
This will be out soon, and maybe now I’m employed, I’ll be able to actually post bits of the music here, rather than having to link you off to some other place to listen.
And now we’re getting into something a bit more obscure—just the way I like it! Due to the nature of this not-quite-art-project, I can’t really speak in exact specifics, but what I can tell you is I’m basically trying to put together a secret society for introverts. Think of this as a sort of modern-day Diogenes Club, except you can forget the part where everyone was forbidden to speak to each other. The idea is to create an always-open space where the quieter among us can go to escape the loud world around us. Ideally, the space would also function as a meeting-place for member collaborations (an artistic, business, intellectual, or any other project), a sounding-board for ideas, and as the least social social club the world has yet seen.
Now, you might be wondering who Mimir is, and what does his well have to do with anything like an Introvert’s Social Club? Well, because I am putting this little group together, I get to name it, and because I’m me, it’s based in Norse mythology. I know, I know, big surprise, right? It’s not going to stop me from regaling you with the mythological context for the name though, so grab your closest drinking horn and get comfortable.
Mimir was just some guy who happened to wander outside of Midgard and find a nice little place to live freaking right next to the roots of Yggdrasil, the World-Tree. He probably chose this place because of the well that just happened to be there, tapping into the waters of the earth near the base of Yggdrasil—and wouldn’t you know the waters actually make you wiser as you drink them? So Mimir keeps to himself by this well, taking drinks from it with his drinking-horn Gjallarhorn, not to be confused with Heimdallr’s sounding-horn also called Gjallarhorn. [Editor’s Note: sometimes I wonder about the ancient Norse, but usually not for very long]
Anyway, one day this one guy came by the well and was like, “Yeah, I’m Odin, All-Father, seeker of knowledge, and I hear you have a pretty nice well here full of secret magic. Let me drink from it.” And for whatever reason, Mimir felt brave enough to tell Odin, “Actually, All-Father, I own this well, and you have to give me an appropriate sacrifice to drink from the well. How about you give me your eye?” [Spoiler alert: this is how Odin lost his eye] Literally after no consideration—Odin is stone cold when it comes to keeping his title of Most Wise—the Lord of the Æsir pulled his eye from his head and handed it to Mimir, who was feeling so incredibly courageous that he literally dropped Odin’s eye to the bottom of the well.
This is actually an interesting project that I sort of aligned myself with earlier in the year (spoiler alert, last April the Lady and I decided to follow separate paths). Basically, it’s a found art/geocaching thing—the people behind Frownmail type up short letters, put them in envelopes with wax seals, and then distribute them to people (like me) to place around for the general public to find. Whenever a letter is hidden, the person hiding it is responsible for taking a picture of the letter in its location (the letter should be at least partially visible in the picture), which they send to Frownmail HQ to be posted online so people following their social media can go find them.
tl;dr – Cutter always does a lot of stuff because he likes creating. Mostly music, like his albums, but also social projects and found art things that he found randomly on the internet one day.
Gentlemen and Gentlewomen of the Vox Chaotica Council!
Seven drafts later, I begin this post. You see, I have a lot of concepts, situations, and ideas I want to talk with you about—but as the seven crumpled-up cyberspace pages in my blog’s trashcan clearly tell, the words to use have not yet revealed themselves to me. So let me instead share with you the recent joy of my trip to Portland, Oregon.
This was the first trip I’d ever taken completely on my own; I paid for it in its entirety with money I made at my job (gross), booked and reserved flights and hotels without help from anyone I knew (okay, so I did a deal through Expedia, but I’ve never talked about booking things with anyone. I still call it a win), flew, stayed and navigated the city alone, and only did what I felt like doing for the roughly five days I was there. I had plans to maybe meet up with friends, but like most half-baked schemes, those fell through. So my entire trip was me exploring a foreign locale for the first time.
As for the actual trip, there isn’t too much interesting to tell. I hit up a few of the normal touristy places, Powell’s City of Books, Voodoo Doughnut, the Lan Su Chinese Garden, and Trucker Dan from my flight there (one of the nicest people I’ve met on a plane) told me to definitely make it to Frank’s Noodle House, which was good but not my favourite (notice how Chinese food is not really on my list). But mostly I just wandered around the city, inconspicuously catching Pokémon [Is there anyone else who still plays Pokémon GO?], trying to blend in (pictured below), and confusing the Stumptown baristas.
Actually, let’s take a moment to talk about confusing Stumptown baristas. I work as a barista at a corporate coffee shop (hint: not the green straw, not the fluorescent straws), and in doing so, I have become something of a Coffee Experimenter™. And as my fellow baristas (and maybe foodies) can attest to, everyone has one drink (or food) that they use as a measuring stick for coffee shops (or restaurants)—for the longest time, I used Hot Chocolate, but now I use a cold brew cappuccino.
Yeah, that’s right. Cold. Brew. Cappuccino. Before you comment full of disgust and confusion, read the rest of this post, then read my page all about the Cutter Videan Cold Brew Cappuccino Experience. But back to Stumptown. I asked for this drink a couple times, at a couple different locations, and only once did the baristas seem interested in it. The rest of the times, the person taking my order either looked at me with ill-concealed rage or just total blank-eyed non-comprehension. I mean, I totally get it’s a weird thing to order, but I thought coffee was supposed to open your mind and boost innovative practices, not reinforce the walls we so often build for ourselves to “protect”from change. [Oooooooh Cutter’s not making any friends with this one…]
In any case, it was a pleasant surprise when that particular pair of baristas were like, “Hey, yeah! We could probably do that. Is it good? Let me know what it’s like—actually, I’ll just try one tomorrow!” So here’s to you, moustachioed glasses guy, and black-haired tattooed right arm girl from the 3rd Street Stumptown. You guys win.
And now that trainwreck of a tangent is ended, let’s get back to something pretty. The Lan Su Chinese Garden was one of my favourite places, and if you want to see come pictures, head over to this gallery of things I found pretty there. It was one of the most serene, removed spaces I’ve ever had the pleasure to find myself in. While wandering around the many chrysanthemum displays, the giant lake, and the couple traditional Chinese architectural structures inside the four walls, I felt completely at ease for the first time in a long time.
Actually, let me type at you for a little bit about this feeling. I was in a completely different city, county, state, and climate, and I felt no pressures of the world on me at all. For that hour and a half of aimless wandering around, I was as purely me as I can remember—just existing and admiring the beauty of the flora around me. This feeling is the main reason I wanted to go on this trip. And at first, I thought this bothered me because no one asked about it, but really it’s two deeper concepts: first, no one focusses on the why of a trip, and second, I was embarrassed to tell people that I mostly did nothing on my vacation because of the responses I thought I would get.
Let me unpack that a bit for you. To this day (almost exactly a month after my trip to Portland), I still haven’t really told anyone that most of my time there was spent walking around, looking at the buildings in Downtown, ocassionally reading some Borges, and just enjoying being away. I had one, singular, planned thing to do each day, and the rest of the day I just did whatever I felt like. In my conversations with friends, family, and coworkers, the only questions were where did you go? and what did you do? My closer friends asked if I had a good time and actually wanted to know more about what that meant, but as soon as I started to try and explain my favourite times were when I was simply being, my conversation parteres would glance at their phone, or their eyes would drift off somewhere indistinct, or they’d ask about some other place I’d been.
Now, before you roll your eyes so hard they pop out of your head, I realise this just sounds like me being the stereotypical whiny high-schooler saying, “Why doesn’t ~anybody~ understand me? 😥 😥 :'(” I know people can’t read my mind [please tell me everyone here knows what a bad situation reading minds is, and how terrible it would be for anyone to be able to read my mind], but it makes me sad that our culture places so much importance on the what rather than the why. It makes me sad our society believes that travelling to a place means you have to exhaust every opportunity you have there, and to cram your relaxation time with plans just so you can come back home to all your normal plans and work and friend/family obligations. I guess it mostly just makes me think whether it’s a good idea for us to all be so preoccupied with being busy and filling our time here with things that we never take the time to reflect on them and on ourselves.
Wow. Alright. What a downer, am I rite, ladeez? Oof that one hurt to type. Anyway, I had an excellent time in Portland. Definitely top five trips of all time (including my trips to England, Australia, and New Zealand).
What trips have you gone on? Why did you enjoy them? And how about that cold brew cappuccino, eh?
tl;dr – Cutter went to Portland, Oregon for five days and basically just walked around the city and ate food that sounded good. He has a bunch of pictures on his Facebook and Instagram, if you wanna see more of him and his lovely pal Timber the Tiger. Then he tanked the whole post by writing about something “meaningful” ew, gross. And that’s not even mentioning the Cold Brew Cappuccino fiasco he’s started.
*In the distance, the ring of a typewriter finishing a line echoes*
Okay, well at least I know I’m here. And sweet motha-flippin-yeesus, has it been a while since I’ve been here. There are all sorts of late fees and re-filing paperwork sheets to fill out, but at least Alan stayed around. ALAN PLEASE FINISH THE REST OF THIS PAPERWORK! LOOKING AT IT—oh you’re right here. Sorry. ALAN, LOOKING AT IT MAKES ME SAD AND YOU AREN’T DOING ANYTHING ELSE, SO TAKE CARE OF IT.
Anyway, where were we? Ah yes. I’m blogging again. And in all honesty, this could end up exactly as the last attempt went (or didn’t go), but I miss this, and there’s at least one person who misses my blog, even just a little bit. So I redesigned it, and now I think I’ll just try and do one post a week, so I’m not burning myself out from the beginning by trying to write something consistently good [we can stretch that definition, can’t we?] so often…?
So I guess hello again, and I’ll be back soon.
How are you? What are you all up to? What interesting have you been up to?
tl;dr – from the void, a man appeared, claiming he was a person you once knew when the leaves still clung to the trees and the sky was a sapphire just out of reach. he bids you welcome, and apologises for the lost time, but you still feel cautious around him because you don’t recognise those eyes, and you thought he had left his world for good.