THIS WEEK IN NYC 
 
 

Manhattan Chronicles Book Excerpts
Dream Junkies
A novel by ALEXANDRA ARES
 
From Chapter 22:  The Last Tango in Paris, the last Tango in Jail

Kitty escorted Desert Rose home, and bought some groceries for her on the way back. Back at the loft, Kitty put a kettle on the stove to make tea. The pungent smell coming from the rotten exotic foods inside the refrigerator almost knocked her down. But it wasn’t a good time to complain. Desert Rose lay on the bed to rest, and the two fluffy Persians flung themselves on top of her, begging for affection.

 “Rudy, you’re the real man of the house, the real lover,” she said mockingly to the gray cat. “If anyone gives me any shit, I will tell them to take it up with you and you are going to kick their ass.”

Kitty lay down on a reclining leather chair near the French window, gazing at the Statue of Liberty and the beautiful, downtown Manhattan skyline, happy to see Desert Rose back at her old playfulness. The room was uncomfortably cold though, and cold air always made her depressed.

“Gypsy, can you turn up the heat please?” asked Kitty. “I’m shivering here.”

“No, I can’t. That’s the warmest it gets. The American Dream’s old.”

“What do you mean?”

The heating system made an awful thumping noise. 

“That. That’s my heating beast. All the brownstones have poor heating systems. Wakes me up in the middle of the night, and I sit on that chair and stare out on the window at Ellis Island, trying to fall back to sleep.”

Kitty took a sip of tea. When she put the cup down on a small wooden table, she noticed a bottle of Prozac. She opened it, and saw it was almost empty.

“When did you start taking Prozac?” 

“Oh…about ten years ago, when I was around your age.”

“How much do you take?”

“Forty milligrams a day.”

Maybe that explained why Desert Rose always chose the most optimistic interpretations for Charlie’s lack of attention.

“That’s a lot, isn’t it?” Kitty asked, suddenly worried.

“Well, I started low, but as you go on, you have to increase the dose. The body gets used to it.”

“You’ve been depressed for ten years? It doesn’t get better with all the medication and all the therapy?”

“No, for me it’s genetic,” said Desert Rose.

Was it? Kitty wondered.

“…And you know, New York life is hard. At least half of the city is on anti-depressants. The other ones are just lucky…we believe we make our own destiny, but ninety percent is not up to us. It’s up to some enzymes in our brain.” She turned back to her cats and continued toying with them. “They’re brother and sister. Did I tell you? Rudy got Moody pregnant. He’s bad, very bad. Moody is going to have some kittens soon. Do you want one?”

“Oh, honey, I can’t take responsibility for a cat,” said Kitty. “I’m still working out my commitment issues regarding a year-long cell phone plan. By the way, I plan to get one tomorrow.” Besides, I’d rather raise a child, she thought.

Watching Desert Rose kissing her cats like a mother and a lover and a friend, Kitty’s high spirits deflated. Was this how her New York life was going to be in ten years? Alone, in a cold rented studio, with no husband, no children, no family, running  (Read more...)
 
 
Manhattan Chronicles Book Excerpts  
 
My life on Craigslist 
A novel by ALEXANDRA ARES
 
Chapter 1: Four cookies and a funeral
 
Yesterday I went on Craigslist and hired a Tarot reader to tell me whether I was in any danger of losing my job. I wasn’t       really worried because an astrologer I found on Craigslist told me there was no major movement in the area of my chart that governs work, the sixth house. Just to double check, I met with Carol the Tarot card reader, who told me “Emily, everything is going to be okay.” Today I got sacked.

This has been a bad month. All my girlfriends lost their jobs and left New York for greener pastures or just to move for a while with their folks in galaxies far, far away like Missouri, Arizona, Peru, London, and South Dakota. My boyfriend, Toby, left too.  He was a bit of a snob and a lying addict, and I always forgave him because he was a great artist, but he finally got tired of having to live according to my high moral expectations.  He moved out of my place and in with a massage therapist he’d met on Craigslist who has fewer expectations, a bigger apartment, and humongous boobs. Tob was from a “good” Connecticut family, a double major in English and Arts, and often picked on me for throwing a cliché in conversation every now and then, and mixing up the forks and knives on the rare occasions we dined with his folks. 

 Linda, my former boss, approached him after viewing his last exhibit at SVA[1] and nurtured him as a promising star. I too, told each person who entered our Lower East Side gallery that his work was the next big thing and they should rush to collect his extravagant paintings, sculptures, installations; or whatever you can call them.

  His presence still lingers in my apartment: the big garbage can painted black and white we bought from Craigslist nearly blocks access to the bedroom and I have to sneak carefully around it to dive into bed. He could have gone to Sears or Home Depot to get it, but Craigslist was right here at our blue painted fingertips. This was his “thing:” painted garbage cans of all sizes in shapes of black and white. They go for $7,000 each, but nowadays, few people buy. So, I reckon he needed his massage therapist’s steady income.

   The bastard met her using my own laptop. When I confronted him, we had a huge fight and he dragged me across the living room floor all the way to the bedroom. He was stronger than me, although he was a year younger, 25, and I did Karate for a couple of years. Biology is so unfair. He said I was crazy and there was nothing to worry about. He was just looking; all men love to just look. I fell asleep late and he was still looking on my laptop in the other room. At 4 a.m., steady whispers woke me up, and slowly I realized he was on the phone jerking off with her. I said nothing and tried to go back to sleep. I was both hurt and glad it was all over. The next day he bought me a terribly boring pair of gray shoes from Kenneth Cole. He only bought me gifts when he felt guilty or when he wanted something. This time, he wanted to buy both forgiveness and time until Abigail was going to propose to him “cohabitation” under her roof.