When Sloan called, our three-year, scorch-the-earth relationship had been in the rearview 18 months. I’d high-tailed out of Chicago with nothing but the clothes on my back, a hotel bible and an iPod with a broken screen, that only seemed to shuffle between Huey Lewis & the News songs. Spent two weeks kicking in my old college roommate’s toolshed in Seattle. Once clean, I caught a Greyhound to Tucson to work construction for my half brother. Met Alison, a nice PhD candidate in sociology, at my book club. After a few months dating, I shacked up with her and her precocious nine-year-old, who I thought was just swell. Everything was just swell. And then the phone rang.

“Hey, KD. It’s your favorite model-turned-actress.”

“How’d you get this number?” I asked.

Alison, still asleep, didn’t seem to stir. 2:37 a.m. on the digital clock. I took the portable phone into the bathroom.

“I’m just leaving this party at the Chateau Marmont and I’ve been thinking of you a lot.”

“Again,” I said, “how did you get my girlfriend’s home phone number?”

“I don’t remember, but my thumbs been hovering over the ‘call’ button for a couple months. I’m in a limo. My limo. I’m feeling strong right now, so I thought I’d reach out and touch you”


“I have to go. Please don’t ever contact me again.” I hung up and went back to sleep.

Continue reading ‘Sloan, the middle child’

“Is this a one-night-stand?” she asked, as I was putting on my cowboy boots, sitting on the side of her mattress, which sat on the floor of her barely furnished sublet.

If you have to ask, then that means, yes.

“It doesn’t have to be,” I say, “I don’t have anywhere to be until this afternoon.”

We’d met at a reading I’d organized the night before, called ‘The one who got away.” I’d read a story about impotence, the first week of college, and watching girls you liked turn harlot. Fiona said she’d been moved, which meant she was either lonely, depressed, crazy or all of the above.

We walked to a taco stand and got tacos, which I offered to pay for, but Fiona demurred. “You don’t have to pay to prove you’re a gentleman.”

We sat by the river and ate, in dehydrated silence. Despite not showering or brushing her teeth, she smelled lovely, which is more than I could say for myself.

As we prepared to decouple, she gave me her email address. “Phones are for people in a hurry,” she said. She wasn’t joking, so I didn’t laugh, but she did smile and I smiled back. I’ll never write you.

A few days later, I emailed to invite her to my next reading night, “The one who stuck around,” where I planned to read a story about the girl who gave me crabs.

Continue reading ‘Fiona, the groupie’

Hilde had been an alternate reality crush when I was at undergrad in Chicago. She was an exchange student from Hamburg – who, in my daydreams where I imagined myself a wealthy, successful adult – I thought maybe I had a chance with. She was out of my league, but we were friends nonetheless, with similar interests in literature classes, Paul Simon albums and coffee shops.

After graduating, we lost touch for quite a while. But a couple years back I received an email that said she wanted to be online “friends.” I threw my smartphone against the wall out of excitement. The screen shattered. For a year or so, we exchanged the occasional message, which turned into me planning an impromptu trip to visit her in London, where she was working as a TV producer for an art program.

She looked better than I remembered, as her online photos did her little justice. Zero signs of aging, more intense of a gaze. She had no idea that the trip was specifically to visit her. I’d told her I’d been planning a trip for a while, to catch some theater, visit some old friends, reclaim a little of my youth (which, technically speaking, was all true).

We met for lunch near her office the day after I’d arrived. She was 15 minutes late, giving me ample time to sweat every little detail. I went over a list of conversation topics in my head to the point where they were no longer interesting to me. I also had half a bottle of Beaujolais to myself. When I stood to greet her, I knocked over my glass of red wine, somehow getting it all over me and all over the white tablecloth. That, it turned out, was the high point of our date.

Continue reading ‘Hilde, the holy grail’

“Am I doing it right?” I asked, knowing I was doing it completely wrong.

Greta looked over at my pile and acted mock horrified, eyes spread wide. “Wow. You mutilated that one. That’s, like, all stem now. Completely unsellable.”


“It’s ok. I won’t tell Micah,” she said. She slid closer and took the next giant stalk of weed from my pile. Her bar shoulder brushed against my arm and sent a warm shiver. “You’ve got to carefully focus just on the leaves surrounding the bud, without hurting the actual bud. Think of it like you’re undressing a woman. Take her clothes off one at a time. You try to rip them all off at once, you’re libel to take a boob off with them.”

“Like a woman. Ok. I can do that,” I said. “And for the record, I’ve never so much as left a bruise on anybody’s boob.”

Continue reading ‘Greta, the green thumb’

I was wrong about everything but the trip. Roxanne should have come with me., But now I was here in Paris, in the stabby February cold, wrong for all the right reasons. I camped out in a rental apartment in my old stomping grounds in the 18th. I looked for old drinking buddies. No one was a around. Artemis had decamped to Buenos Aires. Zoe was married to some Swiss banker and probably spent her days chasing after her 3-year-old twins. Jean-Luc was spending the winter on assignment in Dubai. And Gorgeous George, God bless his soul – no one knew where he was. Clean fallen off the face of the earth.

I was alone to wander the streets at night. Deliberate over whether I wanted to spend money on a North African hooker, wasting hours on the Internet, using my cell phone to send what felt like appropriate photos to Roxanne. Avenues blessed by a soft blanket of snow. Pre-schoolers on a field trip, clutching each other by their mittens. A shot of every drink I had.

At no point did she write back.

Continue reading ‘Roxanne, The Last Gasp’

Lara, the altar


I didn’t end up in Houston for its extracurricular charms. After 18 months trudging the Canadian tar sands, I wanted to be somewhere warm and vague. I had in mind to offset my carbon footprint by volunteering with a non-profit restoring avian habitats. I wanted karmic validation. What I got was Lara.

Three weeks in Houston and I was wiped. I stopped in a Neartown dive after work, my jumpsuit upper tied at my waist and splattered with petroleum globules that might as well have come from North Alberta.

So I here I was. Full circle. No release. Lara behind the bar.

Her gaze was stone, her skin was pearl and her clothes were black. Her tank top revealed an inch of the sides of both her breasts bridged by an indecipherable logo. From her neck hung a raven’s talon on a silver chain.

Continue reading ‘Lara, the altar’

I sat down next to Kim on an F-train out of Boerum Hill on purpose. I’d noticed her reading Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together on the platform, and I found myself stalking her impulsively. She seemed new to the city, or maybe a tourist, the way her eyes wandered across the mostly empty train, taking note of the ads for hack lawyers and language schools, the grab bag of old and new Brooklynites. She wasn’t hardened to the terrible reality of New York, that there are too many people to give a fuck about any of them.

As I sat down, I pulled out my notebook, and started writing haiku, specifically about who I thought Kim might be.

Out of town woman

Never feels like a tourist

She lives where she is Continue reading ‘Kim, the diverted’

(via .)

First it was that god damn dos equis guy. My girlfriend said I should be flattered, but what does she know? I’d prefer these advertisers pay some kind of royalties to offset my drinking costs. Ah, well. I rather like this one, anyways.

(via . )

She wanted me to kiss her that first night, when she gave me a ride back from the Country Night at the Wheel Club.  She called two days later and asked if I might want to hike up the mountain with her. On that walk, and the subsequent trip to Farrell’s ice cream parlour, she brought up her ex-boyfriend a couple times more than I was comfortable with. Not long, drawn out stories. Just queasy little references, like, ‘Oh, I used to date a writer. He never published, either,” and “My ex-boyfriend used to go running in those fivefinger shoes.” I didn’t think much of it, though. I was enamored. And lonely.

Continue reading ‘Brett, the timepiece’

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in 12 step programs. A couple tours it was court-ordered. A couple others, I felt really serious about drying myself. Not forever, I had not misconceptions about that, but just for a while and going to meetings helps focus me during bouts with sobriety. A few other times, I’ve come to meetings out of sheer morbid curiosity. I’ll see a mismatched, informal collection of folks, making small talk or smoking cigarettes in front of church, and if I have time, I’ll amble in to take a folding chair near the back. The stories you hear at AA or NA meetings are remarkable, told in hindsight, you’ll get raw tales of humanity at it’s most self-destructive. As long as you have a darker sense of humor, that is. Listening to clear-eyed, deeply personal dissections of relationships ruined, jobs fucked up beyond belief, people hurt or maimed, kids that hate their parents, forgiveness that never comes is just damn interesting.

Continue reading ‘digression: the rooms’

I’ve been considering replacing this blog with a picture blog, highlighting pictures of beautiful women, reading books. While I continue to chew on my book, is that something readers would appreciate? Here are some examples.

(via 1 2 3 4)

A reader, who should remain anonymous, sent this letter simply to share with me, but I, being the voyeur that I am, felt it too raw not to publish. I was especially touched by writer’s profound awareness of her situation. How no resolution will come. And how much that hurts. Enjoy.

letter to a black holeDear ex-boyfriend,

Happy birthday.  I wish I could send this to you.  I miss you.  I have been dating… a lot actually and every one of them makes me miss you.  They all are missing something… and I think I know what it is.  They are not you.  They are either not as funny, not as smart, or don’t have a beard, or don’t know our inside jokes.  I know this is totally unfair to them.  How are they supposed to make up for the comparison to a 3 year relationship?  I don’t know, I think that I will never be able to let any of them in.  I don’t know that I want to.  I wish I could forget about you.. I wish that so many things did not remind me of you.  I went to the baseball game and I swear I turned around and thought that you would be next to me.  How sad is that?  How stupid am I?  Every time I think of you I hate myself a little more.  I am planning on leaving Michigan to get away from our memories.  I cannot take it.  I can’t stand only being 10 minutes away from you.  I cringe every time I come to your city.  I cringe when I see photos of you.  I cringe when I have to do things that I thought we would be doing together.  I hate being there and you are not.  I cannot wait to get out of here.  I hope it will ease the memories if I am not constantly around the things that we did together.  Sometimes I hate hearing songs that remind me of us.  I have to skip a lot of songs on my ipod.  The one that you gave me.  Even when I hear new bands or songs I think man I wish I could tell you about this band, I think you would like them.

Continue reading ‘letter to a black hole’

knox“How can you eat that shit? You know it’s filled with dried pig anuses and cow ankle fat, right?” She’s referring to the pepperoni stick I’m chewing on.

Bozeman was disappearing behind us. I’d found a cassette of Springsteen’s Nebraska at the last Texaco. The close-to-setting sun was painting the sky a sentimental color. I should have felt great. But then Stella had to come in and ruin the moment.

3561491454_20c3accdbc“How can I eat it?” I say. “One bite at at time, like anything else.”

“You don’t think about where it comes from at all?”

I take a melodramatic breath and look over at her. “I only eat jerky when I go on road trips. But, I ALWAYS eat jerky when I go on road trips. And no, I try not to think about where my food came from, really ever.”

“Well don’t think you’re going to be kissing me with your pepperoni breath.”

“I’ll pick up some gum next time we refill. Will you kiss me then?” I said.

“Depends on the flavor.” She says, in a way where I couldn’t tell if she was kidding or not. Jesus, I thought, only 1200 more miles to Chicago. Continue reading ‘Stella, the worst road trip ever’

mailboxHey Knox,

I recently got a text from an out-of-town-fuck-buddy, who says shes going to be in my city  next weekend. Normally, I’d be really excited about seeing her, but I just got serious with someone else, and I don’t think it’d be appropriate to hang out with the out-of-towner, who is going to have some obvious expectations. I don’t know whether I should cop to the fact that I’m seeing somebody, or if I should just avoid her outright. Any thoughts?

Continue reading ‘ask Knox: booty call conflict’

knox8The door cracks quietly, as she lets herself out. It’s 5 AM.

Photo by http://photos.mcvmcv.netI doze for another six hours. When I awake, my head throbs. The summer heat in my basement apartment is already unbearable. I limp to the kitchen, pull a bottle of vodka out of the freezer and try to recall last nights bender.

It started at an old colleagues book release party. Well, to be honest, it started in this very kitchen, hours before the party, with the first half of this very bottle of vodka, listening to ‘Diz and Getz’ on repeat. I arrived at the party already drunk, but in a classy, jolly way, not belligerent. I don’t recall any outbursts, or disapproving looks. In fact, I believe I might have been in fine form.

Continue reading ‘Andrea, the clean slate’

As many of you may have noticed, I haven’t been updating the site with any regularity over the past few weeks. knoxWell to answer many of your concerned questions all at once, no, I am not dead. Emotionally, maybe, but physically, I am still very much alive.

Continue reading ‘site news: hiatus’

knox8Bernadette hated my guts growing up.  I suppose I can see why.  I did break up with her just before our Fall Seventh Grade Activity Night/dance.  In my defense, I was only 12 – and besides, I was really, really high on acid at the time and she just wouldn’t stop talking.  Everything in me said that I was in no place to cater to someone else’s emotional needs because, after all, I was way too fucked up – in the moment and otherwise.  I had to take action, and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

3525736181_a56e70c254I’m not sure what a “normal” reaction to breakup is when you’re a 12-year-old girl, but I do know hers was pretty fucking weird.  She and a few friends got on the Internet and researched voodoo rituals, particularly voodoo dolls, and they created a little Knox doll that, I heard, was abused in untold ways.
I don’t think much of Santeria when practiced by adolescent white girls in a small, American city north of, say, Jackson, MI.  Still. . . there’s something unnerving about a gaggle of one’s peers trying to castrate him through supernatural means.  Just thinking about it made me uneasy.  I had a couple of terrible dreams, too – somewhat of an adolescent reverse-wet dream.

Walking past them in the hallways, they’d snicker among themselves and I’d feel creeped out.  Even hurt.  But most of all, I was annoyed.  I mean, c’mon—we only “went out” for a few weeks.  We kissed in the back of a YMCA van.  She was a terrible kisser, which made me mostly uninterested in whatever else she was bad at, and besides, her mom looked like Michael Jackson, from the cover of Thriller.   I don’t deserve this shit, damnit.

Much to their—and I suspect many others’—chagrin, the voodoo rituals didn’t work on my man parts.  It sure would have made adolescence easier if they had.  And I often get to wondering what my life would have been like if I lacked the ability to please a woman.  Certainly, you wouldn’t be reading this now.
Continue reading ‘Bernadette, the witch doctor’

knoxI was teaching creative writing, part-time, at a private high school down in Palo Alto. The gig felt pretty humiliating. Here I was – in my mind, one of the premier literary voices of my generation – reduced to helping the children of privilege express their petty, overwrought dissatisfactions with life or, alternately, craft an admissions essay to the earn them a spot at one of our nation’s elite universities. Needless to say, I drank often.

lillyLilly didn’t seem much different from the rest of my students. At least, at first. She was small, introverted and seemed to harbor an inordinate amount of undirected rage. Midway through the year, though, she turned in an assignment on future goals entitled, “Why My Life Sucks.” When I started to read it, I thought, ‘here we go, again.’ The story however, wasn’t about adolescent melancholia, but was supposedly written in MY voice, about my own dissatisfaction with life.

Continue reading ‘Lilly, the pupil’

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