The I in the Photo

Indira Ganesan, Grove Street, 2013
Indira Ganesan, Grove Street, 2013

This is the view across the street from Buvette, a cafe on Grove Street in the Village. It is a romantic view, especially that winter afternoon earlier this month as I drank a perfect cappuccino and waited for a friend. There is something about a cafe in a city when I am travelling that cleans my slate. It is as if I can step away from my placid life and be someone capable of anything, making a meaningful life out of art and life. I am so comfortable turning in at ten, or even earlier, after a day of teaching or puttering about, cleaning, making plans for the future, that I wonder at myself. I subscribe to Vogue, yet dress like Walter Mitty.

Can one make a dramatic turn in a life, or is one doomed to remain who one has become? Can I dress in bolder colors, wear beads and gems? Live in the present, a friend implored, and though my work involves sketching the past and the might-have-beens, I want to take this good advice to heart. What do I have right now? The sound of my brother on the phone with a friend from his college days; the kitchen smells of my mother and niece making pancakes, the voices of my sister-in-law and father conversing, and me, at the dining table, a stretch of space, a clean slate, goosebumps.

The new book will be a continuation, beginning again with news of a pregnancy. I have created a storyboard on Pinterest. It is about gardens, color, women and dreams. It is a kettle of water placed on a flame. Soon, I will pour a cup.

Near Year’s End: An Accounting

Indira Ganesan, Sunrise from Cessna, 2013
Indira Ganesan, Sunrise from Cessna, 2013

A quick, unstylish, and somewhat ungrammatical run-down of my past year:

2013 began with dancing in a roomful of relatives on New Year’s Eve to gangnam style.

A new job at Emerson brought me four classes and fifty-five students, a three hour commute, and more fun than I could have predicted.

I began to visit the local animal shelter and became a “pet socializer” which meant I played with kittens two hours a day a few times a week.

This led to fostering a family of four  kittens and  a mama cat. I dived head-first into a sea of cat-related websites, debating food choices and toys, scratchers and treats. I found an über stylish cat waste option that was not in my horizon, but acquired three mod litterboxes that fullfilled my designer dreams. Three kittens got adopted, and one and her mom are at home with me.

Mourning my yoga practice and sangha, I attended a three-day yoga weekend workshop hoping to kickstart my practice.  The sum of my non-workshop days of actually practicing yoga equalled, let’s say, seven. It is extraordinarily easy not to practice. This makes me sad, obviously.

I planted my second garden with a few new specimen’s: jupiter’s beard; delphiniums; and three small roses from the deeply discounted section of my local garden center.

What I am really supposed to be doing is working on a new novel. I came up with five possible titles to, all variations on the word “garden.” It is a sequel to the one that is out, because I cannot bear to part with the characters just yet. .

I applied for three grants, and three jobs. My third year at the FAWC residency has begun, making me wonder where I will live next autumn. This line of thought inevitably makes me wonder why I don’t abscond to Paris; why I don’t have a degree from Oxford; and why my new books are not stocked in bookstores.

The fall brought unexpected sorrow with the passing of a dear friend, and an aunt and uncle.

Soon after, I hit a deer in an accident that has me anticipating accidents everywhere on the road. My Emerson students were so sympathetic that they prevented me from being a wreck.

In an effort to change the energy, I cut my hair. It did not leave me looking French.

Random House became Random House/Penguin and asked for haiku written for City Harvest. I contributed nine, stopping when they quickly reached their goal of 2K.

The best part of the year was seeing As Sweet As Honey with a gorgeous cover. An edition in India soon appeared, and this fall, Vintage brought out not only the paperback but reissued my last novel, Inheritance, as well. I gave eighteen readings in eighteen cities in eleven months, and can do eighteen more.

Thank you, readers, for reading this blog, and posting comments. May the new year be joyeous.

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Roses, Today

Indira Ganesan, Provincetown Garden Tour, 2013
Indira Ganesan, Provincetown Garden Tour, 2013

A friend said he never met a muffin he didn’t like, and I tend to agree.  Today, I wanted to use up condensed milk, so I googled and found this recipe.  As I mixed, I decided to substitute cocoa powder for shredded chocolate.  Not a great move.  Even worse was that As I scooped the batter into the tins, wondering why it seemed so thick, I realized I forgot to the condensed milk.  So I scooped the tin’s contents back into the bowl, added milk, and got them in the oven.  The result was okay: edible certainly, and possibly more enjoyable if I  top them with something.  Muffins with corrected mistakes.

I am thinking about how seeking perfection is not always possible or advisable.  Once a friend invited me to see Mikhail Baryshnikov dance in–was it Giselle?  This was in ’77? ’78?  Back when he could leap like no one else.  I didn’t go, but now, thirty-six later, I will see him in a play, but he won’t be dancing.  My editor once told me that if I wait for the perfect time to go to a museum, I will never go to the museum.

I am going to attend a memorial for my dear friend, and though I am glad I am going, I cannot help wish that I had simply bought airplane tickets to see her alive these past two years.  I kept waiting for a good week, but in retrospect, every free week was a good week.