Call me a cat when I don’t pick up the phone — my family does. A dilettante when I don’t write enough. In the glimpses of myself that I get from others, I see a person in the insults and a monster in the compliments. When a man once called me “magic” I felt complicit in racism and misogyny. What he really found magical, anyway, was that we were stuck in the Ace Hotel lobby during a flash snow storm and a local DJ set, and we both worked in publishing. Proof that I’m not someone who men transcend through is that the only other time magic and me were in the same sentence was through the transitive property. But I can’t remember the phrase, the situation, the speaker — just a lingering hint of bitter reach for metaphor. A book called So You Want to Be a Wizard? said an early sign of special power was to be able to talk to trees. Of the two sycamores in front of my childhood home I liked the bigger one, so I named it King and the other Leslie. I lugged a shopping bag full of stuffed animals and library books up King’s branches, desperate to be a kid who climbed trees, not someone turned on by that cartoon seagull Scuttle… that Pepto-Bismol bath scene in Rat Race. Age would acclimate me to one-sided conversations with brick walls, mute bark. Age is an axis, anxious perpendicular avoidance, charting the old frictions gone slick. Liking every snap my envy posts to grid. Shuffling letters from my French friend drawer to drawer. Paying my credit card’s monthly minimum. Frying tofu for my love who hates it. Blanking at the end of the page.