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Karen Paul-Stern
Writing at the still point of the turning world.
Recent Activity
It was a dark and stormy night. No, wait, that was last time. Over two years ago. This time, it was a hot and humid late afternoon. We were once again on the Tel Aviv port. Two years ago, it was with someone with whom I was just becoming friends.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Today is July 18. One month ago, my husband died. One year ago, I wrote an essay on how he was the plant whisperer in our home, tending to our legions of plants, both indoors and out, and how I hoped to try to continue his legacy. One of those... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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My dining table looks like the center of my heart right now – filled to the rim with sweet things everywhere you turn. That’s shiva in America; people are asked to bring “nourishing” food (at least at my synagogue) and voila! I have more cakes and cookies and brownies and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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The journey is over for my husband – he died yesterday, June 18, after struggling for a year and 15 days with a fatal brain tumor. I don’t like the word “battling”, although many of our beloveds are using it and I harbor them no ill will, but a battle... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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“Broadcast News” is one of my all-time favorite movies. At the time it was released, in the late 1980s, I had no idea that I would meet and marry a journalist two years later; I simply loved the crisp, biting dialogue and the triangulated love story between the handsome but... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Several weeks ago I dropped my phone as I was rushing to get to work. The protective cover didn’t shatter into a million shards, but rather, since I dropped it on concrete, its face is now pocked by what looks like miniature bullet-holes. Of course I ordered a new phone... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Over the past several weeks, in addition to taking care of my own terminally ill husband, I’ve attended the funeral of the 20-year-old son of friends, learned of the death of one of my college apartment-mates, and learned of another acquaintance with brain cancer. My 50s sure haven’t been fabulous... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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We’re all familiar with the acronym DWI – Driving While Intoxicated. Or even DUI – Driving Under the Influence. After this past week, with a cold that forced me to slow down to a near-stop, I can safely add a new set of initials to the lexicon: CWS. Caregiving While... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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One year ago, I was preparing to leave for a week-long stay at a writer’s colony. It was the first time I had been accepted into such a rarefied and lovely place, where all I was expected to do was to be present and write. It took me 12 hours... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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This whole past week I have been preparing to meet someone new. I’ve been thinking about what I want to say, how I want to present myself, how I want to tell them my story. I’ve been thinking about what I will wear, whether I will choose to show up... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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When you have your first (and second and third) child, you tend to get advice from every corner. First, from the hundreds of child rearing books you’ve already read. “Let them sleep.” “Wake them up.” “Feed them on demand.” “Feed them on a schedule.” “Feed them only organic mush.” “Feed... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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A few weeks before my husband and I got married, nearly 25 years ago, I was having a twitchy day. It was a muggy Sunday in the waning days of summer, we didn’t have any plans, and I hadn’t yet gotten used to my then-fiance’s definition of a good weekend,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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For 20 years, I’ve been adjusting my work life to meet the needs of my family. Since my oldest son was born, and I returned to work on a part-time schedule, I have: Worked a 4-day week, worked a 3-day week, left a staff position and became self-employed, missed meetings,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Our family has lost all control of our lives, each of us in our own way. Terminal illness will do that to you. It becomes an ongoing moment of clarity – nothing matters except the needs in front of your face, the relationships you have built, and the love you... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
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I’ve been having a hard time concentrating on a blog post in recent weeks, as I’ve been taking my husband to multiple tests and appointments, balanced against an intensifying workload of my own. I have a lot of ideas, all of which have been recorded in a notes app on... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2015 at Dwelling in Possibility
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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