A Parisian Leafy Mess, Redux


Must Be An Existentialist Tagger

© Karin Lynn Bates Snyder

Photo taken November 7, 2010 at the corner near the Boulevard de la Villette and Avenue Jean Jaurès, below Métro Jaurès, Line 2 (19th arr.)

This is the post that just cannot seem to get written! It’s for a good cause, however. I am successfully, so far, participating in NaNoWriMo for the third year, writing fiction, on target with word counts, and HEY. We may get a novel out of me, yet! *knock on wood, and spitting FTOU! like my Greek friend taught me to do when writing things that tempt the fates to toy with the hubris of humanity*

Anyway, I have been working away at this post for about a week now, adding in bits here and there.

Here’s what’s been on my mind in that time.

Just over a year ago, I posted this piece: A Writer’s Altar, a Parisian Leafy Mess, and Dog Poo. Today I am sitting here, wondering how it is that a year has passed since that last leafy time, and what the heck have I accomplished in these past months?

Well, thanks to this blog, I now have a lot more friends to explore Paris with. I’ve worked on my writing skills. I’ve tried to fall more “in like” with this city (it is mostly working, thanks to this blog, I have to say).

As I re-read that opening section in the blog dated November 3, 2009, however, there is a lot that has not changed, except that it is a year later. I don’t know if that disappoints me, or challenges me, or what.  I’m not sure what to think about that right now, but in this imaginary conversation I am having with myself in my head, it goes something like this:

Self 1: So what you are saying is that some things are really different for you, especially in terms of having people to do things with in the city, because of this blog.

Self 2: Yes, that is what I am saying, Self 1.

Self 1: But what you are also saying is that, de facto, there is also a lot that has not changed from those opening paragraphs of the blog from just over a year ago, and this is not really a good thing.

Self 2: That is indeed what I am saying. Important stuff that I had hoped would have changed by now has not changed one iota.

Self 1: Hmmmmmm. I see. Well. Huh. Not sure what to say about that. That kind of sucks.

Self 2: Yup. It kind of does.


So there you go. An excerpt of one of the conversations inside of my head. Yeah, you should be glad you are not me, too, haha. A lack of change is often a fact of life, though, isn’t it.  Especially when you feel that you need change, you need to move forward. You know, kind of like the whole saying about how “The more things change, the more they stay the same?

(Ooooohhhh — check it. In looking for the origins of the proverb — yeah, that’s the way I roll — I discovered the French versionplus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It says that the source is “an epigram by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in the January 1849 issue of his journal Les Guêpes [“The Wasps”].” Uhhh, yeah. I have no idea, either, but putting that here sure makes this post seem intellectual and all, doesn’t it?)

In the spirit of things changing, but not changing, I’d like to revisit one of the hallmarks of this blog: The View Out My Dining Area Window

It is once again a Parisian Leafy Mess:


Outside my window.


One thing is different in this photo compared to last year. The Le Relais clothing donation bins are gone.


And lately, my camera has also been taking extremely blurry photos when using the zoom. More than usual. I hope it is not going on the fritz.

This photo is different from last year’s, too. There is no barrier near the Wallace fountain (the green thing to the left of the phone booths in the photo up there. More info here on Wikipedia).

There was a crew this afternoon who came to clean up the leafy mess, not unlike the year before.


One thing that was different from last year was that I recently walked along the Canal Saint Martin, but this time from the République end of things going up the canal, and I had some company with me. A blog reader was in town and she and I got together to go up the canal from south to north, the opposite direction from that first time I went there on my own. The fall leaves made this a very pretty time to go up the canal, even if it was cool, cloudy, and a little rainy.


This bridge rotates to let boats through. To see photos of how this happens, check out the pictures in my November 2010 Set on Flickr. DSCN0613

The lock in the photo above is the one across from the famous Hôtel du Nord. The hotel is famous as it appeared in a classic French film called Hôtel du Nord in 1938. This is the hotel today, along with its website (it’s cute, and shares more of the history of the place. Click on the shoe with the Union Jack for the English language page).


Here is me, with the leaves.


And one more of the canal, with the changing leaves.


Not far from the area, off a side street from the Quai de Jemmapes, is the Hôpital Saint Louis.


The interior garden in the old section of the hospital is really a gorgeous, quiet oasis in the city. I had been hoping for some time to visit it, and finally got a chance to do so just over a week ago.


I know that “change is the only constant.” I know that gradually, incrementally, things can and do change. Sometimes they change abruptly, and suddenly, too, as in a breakthrough. Or sometimes as a tragedy. Things change. Sometimes all we have to do is wait, just like when the seasons change from spring to summer, fall to winter. Sometimes, though, the change that happens, just like the seasons, is repetitive, and we are hard pressed to find the differences between this year and the last. That’s a bit of where I feel my life is right now.

Still, I am over 25,000 words into a craptastic novel! I have written over 25,000 words of fiction in 15 days. I hope for another 25,000 words in the next 15! That’s nothing to sneeze at.

How about you? Have things changed for you, or are they still the same compared to this time last year? How do you feel about it?

I hope that this week finds you well, and that life is going as you wish.

Over and out.


(an alien parisienne)

Categories: Blog Friends, Karin Brain Miscellany, Life in Paris, NaNoWriMo, Paris Beauty, Paris Places | Tags: , , , , ,

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32 thoughts on “A Parisian Leafy Mess, Redux

  1. I wonder who the Blogger friend is ?? As maybe it is the same blogger friend I went to Canal Saint Martin with . No not Leesa but Leesa was with us. We went the opposite way to you .. and ended up at the Republic ..! Oh I am really missing the walks and the company 😦 ..

    Well some things have changed since this time last year .. i am a little bit more outgoing .. but still lacking confidence (Is that possible) to have the two together ?? Anyway that is how it feels to me. Also I am procrasting too long .. I need to find my French class ..

    Anyway Karin .. I hope you are well .. I love this post 🙂 xx

    • Hi Anne! 🙂 It’s a supersecret supersly blogger friend, who wishes to be anonymous. I will say this: the person does not keep a blog, had never been to the canal before, and has been to Paris before, so it’s perhaps possible you have met. But the person keeps a low profile, so I am not sure if you would have.

      Yeah, the first time I walked the canal, I traveled from north to south, but I did not even know that République was there! I was that unaware of Paris. And I also thought République was really far away. That was before I realized how small Paris really is.

      I think it is totally possible to be outgoing and not feeling confident all at the same time! 🙂 What is wonderful, though, is that it seems you have been doing a lot of growing in the past year. That’s wonderful. 🙂

      I am glad you liked the post, Anne, and I hope you feel that you were along for the walk. 🙂 Take care!

  2. Hi Karin…well one thing that has changed since a year ago was that I returned to Paris and met up with you and MJ…

    love the shots of the leaves…I love fall…

    hope you are well ..sounds like you are keeping busy…next time I have to do that stroll along the canal…

    take care mon ami!

    • Hello, Deb!

      True, true! And one change is that I met you both, too! The fall leaves were pretty that day. It’s been very wet and rainy here, though, so while the fall colors have been nice, we have not had that cool crispness that can come with fall. Rather a soggy mess, kind of like a bowl of cornflakes that has sat too long, lol.

      Come back and I’ll make sure you get a stroll up the canal. 🙂 You take care, too!

  3. Another day, another blog Karin! Hey, I’ll change something for you. Do you want to be one of my first interviewees for a new Paris blog I’m starting? I know, I’ve only got about 10, but hey, I’m a blogaholic, which is better than other types I guess.

    • Hi Sab! Methinks you are a blogaholic. 😀 Thing is, I probably have just about as many as you, but they are not all active, and scattered here and there, a couple of them are set to “private” or had been anonymous, lol. It’s easy to have a lot of blogs! I get it.

      Sure you can interview me. Maybe I should ask what kind of blog it is first, hahaha. Seriously, though, I would be happy to be interviewed, so shoot me an email or go to the Contact Me! page/form here and send me a note through that.

      • Cool! In fact, my new blog will be devoted to female American Parisian bloggers, because in my heart of hearts that’s what I want to be when I grow up.

        No, seriously, it’s here, with no content as of yet, and it’s to highlight anyone or anything interesting to do with the French capital that people can follow up on practically immediately. In your case it’ll introduce people to you and let them discover your blog and what you choose to tell us about your life here.

        Have fun with the last of the leaves!

  4. Carole

    The Parisian leafy mess looks so purty! Your photos look fine to me. Quite a contrast with the bright shining sun out this way. Love the photo of you and the leaves! You have such a charming smile.

    Things sure have changed a lot from last year and even from last week! 🙂

    The minute I read your “the more things change . . . ” line I instantly thought of it in French and wondered why you didn’t write it in French.

    “Existentialist Tagger” LOL! Always something fascinating to see in Paris. Thanks for taking us along with you!

    • Hi Carole! The leaves were really just so attractive that day, don’t you think? Fall leaves do photograph well, for sure. I’m glad the photos look fine. I’ve been observing how clear some of the images are from DSLR cameras, and I really just think I’m starting to have camera-envy, but for certain my camera is doing okay. (Still trying to express gratitude for what I already have, which is so very much compared to some.)

      I really did not know the expression in French to be able to use it, ha! I mean, when I ran into it, I realized the French version was familiar, but I really was not aware that the origin was actually French.

      I’m glad you liked the “Existentialist Tagger” thing, heheheh! That tag still cracks me up. 😀

      Take care, Carole!

    • P.S. Thank you for saying I have a charming smile, BTW. That made me make a charming smile! 🙂

  5. ::le sigh:: Wishing I were there to see the leaves in Paris :;le sigh:: ::le sigh:: Unfortunately, what has not changed since this time last year is I have still not made it back to Paris again!!! And now you have me thinking about where things have gone since this time last year…

    • Hi Armchair Parisian/BJ! It’s nice to see your cool userpic/icon/profile pic here again! I would love to see what kind of lovely photos you would take of the fall leaves in Paris. I hope sometime you can make a trip here in the fall. I hope you have a chance to visit in *every* season! 🙂 The leaves outside the window are now almost gone. I’ll have to take some more pictures of the nearly-naked trees.

      I’m glad that you started thinking of where things have gone in the past year. What is it about autumn that makes people so reflective, eh?

      I hope you get to return to Paris soon. 🙂

  6. Dianne

    Dear Karen Love,love,love the leaf photos!! Missing Paris! Last year at this time I was working with my sister on our trip to France which happened last month..now also seeing a few leaves fall here in SoCal and deciding on a return trip somehow..knowing I must be at the current tasks for months on end to reach that goal in 2011. Please continue to share your lovely pictures and descriptions..Dianne

    • Hello Dianne! I am so glad that you liked the photos of the leaves. I’m glad that they came out as well as they did!

      It’s interesting to compare the similarities and differences from one autumn to the next, how last year you were planning the trip that has now completed. I hope, like I wrote the others that have commented about wanting to return, that you are able to, too. In the meantime, I will do my best to give you photos and descriptions. 🙂

      Take care, Dianne.

  7. Hmmm, one thing that’s changed for me from this time last year is I got engaged to an American babe. And next year when you ask me what’s new, I’ll tell you I married her. 😉

    • Hello, dear Paris Paul P,

      I hope so, I really do. 🙂 It would be nice to look back a year from now and see this particular change.

      See you in the living room.

  8. I love going back through my blog and looking back a year or two to see what what going on. I admire your commitment to the NaNoWriMo! I just discovered Canal Saint Martin last year. It is a beautiful area.

    • Hi Andi! Yeah, I think it is a good practice every so often to go back, look, and see what was there one, two, three, more years ago. Very soon, postings I wrote (elsewhere) are going to go back five years — no wait. Six! Yikes. I need to go check some of those out.

      I’m glad you discovered the canal. It is one of my favorite walks and areas!

      Take care, Andi!

  9. I actually need to *stop* looking back all the time. It’s my birthday! It’s my Paris birthday! It’s my blogoversary! It’s Thanksgiving! It’s the New Year! There are like a million occasions I think to evaluate what’s happened in the past year. Thinking maybe I should just keep going forward. That’s the new goal 🙂

    I wanted 2010 to be a kick-ass year, not only because I want every year to be kick-ass, but also because I wanted to start the DECADE off right.

    Um, it’s definitely been an interesting year. Things have definitely changed. Good and bad. But hey, that’s how it rolls. I’ve seen the change in you over the year, if it helps. It’s been great getting to know you online and off this year. Hey, that’s new, right? And pretty cool. Hang in there!

    • Hello there, Sion!

      It took me long enough to come back here and comment back to you, but I finally made it. Illness and NaNoWriMo have made the past several days really challenging, but I am glad to say I saw on doc on Saturday, got all medicated up, and I started to renew on my NaNo writing by going first person in the middle of everything, lol. Nothing like a little point-of-view change to shake things up. I don’t know if I will stick with it, but I got some good expository/background stuff written about a lot of the major characters, so if I decide to do anything with this piece I will have some good stuff written out.

      I have to do about 2,700 wpd between now and Tuesday, though. Eeek.

      Only Forward. I know another blogger whose motto is just that, and it is a good motto to follow. It’s tempting to get stuck in analysis of the past, for sure. Sometimes I think it is necessary for evaluative purposes, but in *small* doses, for sure. ONLY FORWARD.

      Thanks for letting me know you have seen change in the space of a year in me. That does help to know. Often we are too close to ourselves to really view the ways in which we have stretched and grown, so it helps when others say, “Hey! I’ve *seen* the change!” and it helps me realize, “Yes, indeed, things have moved forward.”

      Hope all is well, Sion, and that we get to reconnect soon. We need to have another writers pow-wow soon, I think! I would like to know more about your process in writing, and I know I’d love to share what I learned, too.

      Be well!

  10. Lovely post, Karin. Your tone felt/feels bittersweet to me, along with your intelligence and insight.

    I think you and I could average out our change or lack of it in the past year and come to some sort of satisfying middle ground. I’ve had a roller coaster of life events in recent months and long for an extended period of stability and quiet (and maybe NaNo next year!). It won’t be soon, though (heading to the U.S. for Christmas, then England, then back to Sydney mid-March for a while), but after that we’re determined to at least try to make some changes — for me a year in which ‘nothing much changed’ would be a huge and welcome change. I know you get this …

    In the meantime, take care and will be in touch about a possible rendez-vous with you and your fiance 🙂 And good on you and well done on your 25K words.

    the bride from Oz (currently on honeymoon in my other favourite city)

    • Hi Carolyn!

      Like I wrote to Sion up there, it took me a bit to get to recommenting here. I’m finally around, though, and want to thank you so much for your input here.

      This time of year always makes me bittersweet. My youngest turned 5 on November 7. That was bittersweet. Fall always makes me very reflective, too.

      I do *indeed* understand how a year where nothing has changed would be a welcome thing! I really do. After upheaval there is a definite need for some calm, some middle ground, and honestly, I know that is what the past couple of years have been for me: a chance to settle down from what had been some very frenetic and exhausting years. Ones that took a real toll. But I guess I must be a little recovered from all of the upheaval to want to see evidence of some growth, and positive movement forward. Sometimes stability, while much-needed, can start to feel like stagnation. I have been feeling the stagnation more, and want to see some more prosperity and direction in my life. But I do really, really understand this:

      for me a year in which ‘nothing much changed’ would be a huge and welcome change.

      I hope that for you, Carolyn!

      I hope you come back soon to read this, for yes, I would like to connect with you when you are here! (Note to self: send you a note via email, too!!). Said fiancé leaves for New Mexico on the 14th of December, just so you know, but no, I am not going with him. Long story that may or may not be addressed here; we’ll see. Have to think about that one, lol. I’m open and honest, but then, well, you know. Sometimes some things are just better left shared face to face, so if I see you, I can do that. I hope it works out.

      Be well, and thank you for your lovely comment, Carolyn!

  11. Hello Karin,
    Its taken me a little while to catch up here but I am glad you finished your post, I enjoyed playing spot the difference!

    Seriously though, it is good that you have identified on things that have been achieved over the last year. Try and focus on these rather than the things that haven’t changed. Also, for the things that haven’t changed, are these really things that are in your control? If not, forget about them and focus on something else.

    I can’t believe the last year has gone by so quickly and that the leaves have come and gone and once again we are struck by a cold spell. Nothing has happened to me in the last year and at the same time everything has. It is amazing how time can go by so quickly and very scary indeed!

    Take care and good luck with the writing.

    • Hey Piglet!

      And now it has taken me a while to reply to you, but here I am with a recomment as well.

      I’m glad you had fun playing spot the difference. 🙂

      You bring up a really good point with this:

      Also, for the things that haven’t changed, are these really things that are in your control? If not, forget about them and focus on something else.

      Not a whole lot, it’s true. So you are right: setting those things to the side is what’s needed.

      Can you believe we are now in the grips of WINTER? What a difference a few days make! Brrrrrr.

      Thank you for the tweets about finishing NaNo. I need to get on the stick and post here, now. Soon. 🙂

      Take care of yourself and the Wee Piglet, eh? See you over at your place!

  12. As you have probably gathered, I almost never comment on stuff I read on blogs and websites. In any event I would just like to add that there is only one thing I know for sure about change. Tomorrow will be a lot like today.

    By the way you look great in your pictures, or at least the one picture you were in.

    Much love,

    • Hi Jim! Indeed, I have gathered that you almost never comment on stuff, so I feel really honored you did here. 🙂 I know you don’t like smiley faces much, but I have to say my grin is for real real right now, reading your comment. Thank you.

      Tomorrow will be a lot like today.

      Yes. I think you are right!!

      Thanks for letting me know I look good in the pics — I saw some recently of you, too, I think on some of C. Fite’s Facebook photos, and you and Katherine both look wonderful as well. 🙂

      I was just in the cave of NaNoWriMo for the month of November, and have not been to friends’ blogs for almost the entire past month. I have peeked in on yours, however, and hope to be by to read more thoroughly and comment soon.

      Much love back (and to K, too!),

  13. Bonjour Madame!
    I hope that you write a book! Please let us know on your blog once you are published. I am sure it is possible! Bonne chance et courage!

    • Hi Jake! Good to see you back! I hope things are going well for you. You’re probably wrapping up a semester at school, aren’t you. I need to check in on your blog — like I’ve been writing, I totally set blog-visiting to the side. I know, I keep writing that, but I think it’s because I feel a little guilty and unhappy about that! 🙂 I enjoy people’s writing online, yours included. I hope to be by soon.

      Well, I hope I write a book, too. It would be an interesting experience, I think. And yes, possible. Probable? Wellllll, I know that the odds are not great, but that hard work, perseverance, and hitting that serendipitous place of having the right book at the right time is key.

      Thank you for the good wishes for it, though. I know I’ll need them. 🙂

      Take care, Jake, and see you again soon!

  14. It has again been to long since I took the time to read your posts. Sorry! As you say time passes! … changing or not, to the better or not, to the worse or not. But the autumn leaves are always there, each year and the song is also there for ever: “… Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle, Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi…”.
    At least, we have met; soon time again I hope!

    • Hi Peter! Good to see you. 🙂

      Yes, indeed, time passes. I like the lyrics you put there: les souvenirs et les regrets aussi. Et voilà — those pretty much say it all!! And yes, at least we have met, and I hope again soon, too. Maybe after all the snow clears, lol! What a snow we had yesterday!

      Take care, Peter.

  15. I just sat down with a warm cup of coffee, and enjoyed your post, calmly and with proper time.

    Change… too little is boring, too much overwhelming. You are a very reflective a person. Something that draws me to people. Change does take place, in you. You become more of what you long to be. Maybe not as quickly as you’d wish, but then again patience is one of life’s most precious skills. Learning it is far from funny, yet when we realize it has been done, we can be proud of ourselves.

    Ask yourself daily “am I doing what I like?” If so, you are changing and you are doing the right thing.

    Sweet hugs from me!

    • Hi Susa! So nice to see you here! Thank you for stopping by, even on this now-getting-really-old post, lol. I need to “get on the stick” and write a new post, for sure.

      Yes, autumn and winter are very “interior” months, and I tend to be a navel-gazer, as they say, as it is! True. I’m glad that attracts you, though. It is so true what you write about too little change being boring and too much overwhelming. It’s hard — maybe impossible? — to find that steady rate of change that keeps us both interested and sane. 🙂

      It’s true, too, that only in hindsight can we see what has been done and be proud.

      Thank you for your own reflection in your comments. I really like it when people can respond in like kind in what they have to share in a comment! I know that other people read and benefit from them, too.

      Thank you for the hugs, and here are some back for you, too. 🙂

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