M. A. Simonetti


In Uncategorized on January 6, 2011 at 11:50 pm

People have called me “crazy”.  They also like to use the term “eccentric” when they’re not trying to hurt my feelings because apparently I’m too nice to be called that.  Nice or not, I’m not crazy.  I think very few things are crazy.  My normal range lately has increased to hold a stretch of things.  It used to be much smaller and just to give you an example, I’ll admit that I used to have bursts of panic just riding the bus to work a few years back.  The people that I came in contact with on the local transportation were enough.  Their weird twitches and loud outbursts gave me chills.  But, I’m proud to say that after moving to Astoria, I no longer think anything is out of the ordinary.  Even though I continually hear that word muttered softly around me, absolutely nothing is crazy anymore.

Take the other day, for instance.  I was on the subway and there’s this guy who gets on the R train real early at around 7:30 or so.  I only see him when I’m feeling extra productive and want to go in to work before everyone else does.  Now, when this guy boards the train he’s always wearing this huge orange jump suit.  The thing is two sizes too big.  He has this backpack strapped to his shoulders like he’s going off to flight school or something.  But, what really gets me is that he has these huge headphones on, which have the text THUNDER79 imprinted on each side.  They kind of hold his thick black glasses in place while he rides.  Everyone thinks this man is crazy but if you ask me, this is just his morning routine.

The real kicker is when the train starts to pull off.  When those doors close he walks to the center pole, leans back and hangs on with his full weight dangling by his arms.  The train rolls and rides and he’s there swaying to some music which I imagine is a hard rock or heavy metal.  It’s like he’s jumping out of a plane, parachuting to some unknown land.  It’s the same every morning.  In response to this harmless poll dancing I hear the usual whispering, “He’s crazy!” or “Just look at him…” from the other people around me who’s normal range does not seem to include his presence.

People call this mad.  People consider this lunacy.  But you know what?  I’m still not considering this.  You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to just jump out of a plane and fly.  Sure, it would help if I had a jump suit and a book bag on, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking it.  Now, I suppose a lot of people all over the place think things like this.  They want to do the crazy dance in the middle of a crowd, but refrain.  They have a deep desire to just let out a primal scream in the silence of a church, but don’t.  There are also people that do want to do these things and they do them without ever thinking twice.  They are the people that strap on the bag and the jumpsuit and ride the poles.  They risk their reputation.  Others however want to climb mountains in the face of death or even consider jumping off buildings and sometimes even do.

Now the latter involves risking your life and because it does this, it wrestles the borderline of crazy.  It’s especially questionable when the action is done in order to purposefully end your life.  I really don’t know if I could jump off something so high.  I once jumped off a low bridge into some really deep water on a dare and got scared shitless.  It’s a pretty big deal for me, at least.  But I really think that for some people this is much easier.  The other day as I was walking back from my lunch break, I was a partial witness to such a phenomenon.

Around one o’clock or so, I turned down my street in Chelsea and saw a crowd standing at the corner.  I was too exhausted to see what was going on so I continued back to my office, went up the one flight of stairs and took my seat at the computer.  As I sat there doing my thing, people by the dozens were coming back from lunch with a single, common story.  That crowd was there for a reason; apparently some man was standing on the ledge of a window, outside his office.  Not only was he threatening to commit suicide, but he was also holding a co-worker hostage.  First, he threw a plant as well as a file cabinet out the window.  Then he decided to throw himself out along with someone that I don’t think he liked very much.  The police brought out the negotiator and the air mattress was laid out just in case he jumped.  I don’t think he ever did.  From what I heard, it seems like he just kind of hung out there until someone took him down.

Not that I’ve ever considered suicide or anything like that, but I kind of understand the guy.  All it takes is one extremely bad day at work and it could potentially send you to the ledge.  I know for sure we’ve all had those.  Work is filled with hardships either brought on personally or by crappy co-workers and menacing bosses.  We’ve all wanted to throw someone out the window.  He probably got carried away after the plant, the file cabinet and thought, “Hey…why not just myself.”

Like I mentioned before, this situation is on the borderline of crazy.  Even the man on the train may seem a bit strange and pushing it.  But, I can’t be totally certain.  These people are living in the madness.  They are facing it head on and are not shying away like some weak wind.  They confront confusion and fear without ever thinking twice about it.  Sure people say that those who commit suicide are running away from problems, but I think in this case the guy just wanted to stir things up a little…but who knows!

So what if I have my doubts about what’s normal?  I can be certain about one thing though.  I know for sure what is absolutely ridiculous, absolutely intolerable.  What it boils down to, is living in fear and not confronting it.  It also includes being satisfied with the known and forgetting about ever wanting to understand the unknowable.  Even living in the past or in the future totally kills the Astoria and this is unacceptable, just plain absurd.  Living without Astoria is just not living.

I know people who do not choose it.  I have this one cousin whom I love dearly but he chooses not to live in the Astoria.  He sits at home in the same house he grew up in.  Afraid to leave the house, he lives in collected memories and dwells only on his regrets.  Never leaving his own neighborhood, he has no desire to explore, to know anything else but his four corners of the world.  Or take for instance my one friend Christina who sits inside as a 20 something knitting and reading her days away.  She can’t handle anything out of her routine so she never changes a thing or rearranges her schedule even if something really great comes along.  Satisfied with only being in her comfort zone, she’s aged 50 years wondering what things would be like if she ever did anything different.

Astoria is a choice.  It’s out there if we want it and if we don’t want it, then we can just sit around, hiding from things which frighten us and waiting for the things that we do want.  If we want to, we can just live in a house collecting memories.  We can refuse to fight if danger or despair comes our way.  But we can also avoid danger at all costs, even if it means locking ourselves in, bolting doors and securing the windows.  Living in Astoria is a tough choice and one that maybe makes no sense at all.

But once again, I am certain that a life without Astoria is what’s crazy.  I picture it and cringe.  It’s like eating different foods which all taste bland or listening to the same song over and over.  If I didn’t embrace the madness I’d probably be in a locked up in a room somewhere biting my nails till I was surrounded by sharp shreds of worry.  Work would be just too much handle because the people would be too much to bear.  The guys which I’ve dated would just creep me out so much that I’d given up by now and the family next store which sits outside on their couch, watching tv would just be too strange.  I wouldn’t be able to go to work.  I wouldn’t be able to go out with friends.  I certainly wouldn’t be able to even go home.

When I look back at that day at work when the suicide almost happened, I think everyone was living in Astoria.  We were sitting around either gossiping about the event or gasping in horror because work was just way too boring.  The diverting conversations continued and my co-worker Alisha said something which I’ve thought about for a while now.

She said, “Every so often, you just have to do something in your life that doesn’t make any sense.”

I responded, “Yeah, well that guy probably thought suicide made sense at the time…”

“No, but really…no sense at all.”

I rolled my eyes at Alisha and then turned around to my other co-worker Ben, “And so what are you doing about this Julian?”

Ben said, “I get tattoos…and I keep getting them.  I don’t know why.”

“And you Alisha?” I asked.

“It’s enough that I come to this place every day.”

And enough is right.  Sometimes, just waking up in the morning is all the Astoria you need.


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