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Karen Paul-Stern
Writing at the still point of the turning world.
Recent Activity
I have been spending a lot of time in my kitchen in recent months, preparing meals constantly for my husband whose hunger, due to the steroids he’s taking for his cancer, is a beast that cannot be tamed. Combine that with having two teen athletes, whose need for fuel rivals... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
Twenty years ago today our young family stood in front of our beloved congregation and named our four-month-old son in the presence of friends, community, and Torah. He was named in memory of my husband’s grandfather, and it was our hope that our son would be as beloved in the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
I was invited to a very fun neighborhood pre-Halloween party last weekend. It was an adults-only, come-in-costume party, with loads of decorations, a full bar and two fire pits. It was around the corner from my house. Of course I couldn't attend, as I can't really leave my house at... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
Last year my husband and I watched “The Theory of Everything,” a biopic about famed physicist Stephen Hawking. It has always been challenging for us to find movies and television shows that reel us both in; I usually veer to the character-driven, weepy dramas (read: Downton Abbey) and he’s more... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
For the past four months, our lives have been reduced to nothing but waiting. Waiting to see if my husband would live after his initial seizure. Waiting for him to come out of his medically induced coma. Waiting to see if his cognitive skills were intact. Waiting to heal from... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
I had an errand to run yesterday morning on Capitol Hill, which offered me the rare Saturday morning opportunity to wander through Eastern Market, a fabulous farmers/flea/artisan market area that has been an institution in DC life for decades. I had been looking forward to my market run all week.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
Yesterday, for the first time in three months, I made a challah for Shabbat. I brought out the long neglected bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast, along with the oil and eggs. I measured, cracked, kneaded. Using my beloved Kitchen Aid, I splotched all the ingredients into one bowl, watching... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
During this summer of my husband’s illness, I have developed my own list of physical manifestations of my state of mind. Every morning I wake up with an aching muscle in my neck, which makes craning and turning my head a chore. I also seem to be perpetually on the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
It’s been a rough summer. Illness has kept my husband, and by extension, me, mostly indoors, at first in a hospital for a month, and now at home, more or less immobilized by the unfortunate trifecta of shoulder surgery, blood clots and cancer. And yet there is joy. There are... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
They’re piling up high these days. Those ubiquitous clear plastic tubs with their blue lids, replacing all the old Chinese take-out containers of yesteryear, not to mention the few original Tupperware items I still owned. The side chair in my dining room has a pile so high it’s almost toppling... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
In my little urban-enough corner of suburbia, most of my neighbors are weekend horticultural warriors. They’re out there, every Saturday and Sunday, in their front and back yards, arrayed with hats and rain boots, pulling weeds, checking soil levels, and planting flowers in the fall that will bloom in the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
My husband has been diagnosed with brain cancer. He is now home from a horrible month-long stay in the hospital, mending from a massive shoulder “incident” that was caused by a seizure that was caused by the malignant tumor. We are on the precipice of starting his treatments. We have... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
As some who will read this know, I have been catapulted into the world of illness over the past month, caring for my husband who became ill quite suddenly at the beginning of June. While we don’t have an absolute diagnosis as I write this, we’re fairly certain it will... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
When I was a kid, I loved making things for my parents for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Every year in school we’d have special arts and crafts projects designed for us to bring home for these special days. Painted flower pots. Glittery cards. Festive ceramic jewelry. Dixie mesh (remember... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
“Hey, white girl.” The portentous words followed me most of my childhood. It was never good. Whether it was the girls on the morning line to our elementary school classrooms, ready to talk about how I was the ugliest white girl they’d ever seen, or the girls on the B44,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. This time of year – late winter – is always hard for me. The bone-chilling cold nestles into my soul and make me want to lie fallow for weeks at a time. The endless dark mornings and early nights feel... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
I was one of those lucky children who contracted no typical childhood diseases. The only one I caught was the already-rare scarlet fever, and fortunately, it was a mild case, as scarlet fever in its extreme form can be devastating. I don’t know why I never got chicken pox (and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
It has been 10 years since my mother died. There is no marker for this moment, no prayer that is intoned, no cards that arrive from others to let me know that they, too, are thinking about it. In fact, I know that no one else alive is thinking about... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility
I just came back from a long business trip to Israel last week, and have begun to catch up on my reading. As I skimmed through weeks of magazines and newspapers, I was overwhelmed by the sadness I felt around Ferugson and the fiery explosion of what feels like a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility
A number of years ago, early into my professional life but not so early that I was a novice, I had a phone conversation with a powerful man in our community. He treated me horribly on the phone, talking down to me, almost yelling, and making me feel as though... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility
Tonight and tomorrow, Jews around the world will be fasting, praying, and delving deep to understand their deepest selves, their motivations, their innermost desires and their wish to improve and move into a new year with a refreshed sense of personal duty, dedication to community and hope for the future.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility
I had a Bad Mother moment late last spring. My youngest son’s baseball game was almost over. His team had taken a big lead in the beginning of the game, but the other team persevered and closed the gap until his team slipped to having only a one-run lead going... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility
Blues Several years ago, I took my children on a tour of NBC studios in New York. Each one got a souvenir. My youngest son, 9 or 10 at the time, took home a soft plush pillow in the shape of the NBC peacock logo. He loved that pillow, to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility
The leaves on the dogwoods are always the first to go. Early August, you start to see the brilliant red burst out on the trees, and you know that it’s soon going to be over. Kids start coming home from a long summer at camp, with bites and scratches and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility
Each day, the news changes. Each day, it gets worse. The tiny sliver of land – contested for millennia – that is known as Israel is under siege. I remember when I was a little girl, my mother would challenge me to try to find Israel on my huge round... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2014 at Dwelling in Possibility