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Karen Paul
Writing at the still point of the turning world.
Recent Activity
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Just One of Those Days Everyone has one of those days. The day when the alarm fails, or the subway fails, or you’ve run out of food for breakfast, or the dog throws up or the kid throws up or you throw up and there’s a mess to deal with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2018 at Dwelling in Possibility
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I’ve developed a different relationship to place ever since my husband died. I no longer covet beautiful places of my own, as I did for so many years as we built our home. I now appreciate the evanescent beauty of different scapes – city, beach, mountains – but feel unmoored... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2018 at Dwelling in Possibility
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When I was a kid, long before I could drive myself, I would be terrified to see the gas gauge in a car move towards “E.” Even though we lived in New York City, I imagined the sputtering car dying on a roadside in the desert, with no civilization or... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2018 at Dwelling in Possibility
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I The Neon Widow My energy is returning, 19 months in, molecule by molecule, and I am starting to say yes to more evening activities, whether dinner with a friend, a party, or a work-related or political event. But I am reminded, each time, that every encounter also depletes that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2018 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Dear Friends and Family, It has now been one year and seven months since my husband died. Many things have changed and shifted in our family’s day-to-day life, and I thought I’d fill you in on a few and how the year unfurled. January We’re still in shock. We’re in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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I visited the Sylvia Plath exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery recently with a friend who’s a journalist. We both were struck by the description of how Plath – a writer whose brilliance, tragedy and mental illness loomed large for both of us in our own adolescences and fed our... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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The first time I heard the trope was when my mother died, suddenly, from lung cancer, 13 years ago. “It’s not a club anyone wants to belong to.” That was for sure. I didn’t enjoy being 41 years old, with three children, nine-and-under, and suddenly without my mother. She was... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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The Republican-sponsored tax plan has been on mind of late, for both professional and personal reasons. Professionally, I’m concerned about its implications for philanthropy. In my many years of working with donors, even during the Great Recession, I’ve found people to be exceedingly generous, and concerned about their ability to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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About the second year being harder than the first. Even though I know in my heart that you can’t outrun grief, that it’s always going to catch you and force you to wade through its waters, and that experiencing and living through your grief is the only way to move... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Three weeks ago, I tripped on a step on my way to back-to-school night. Not one but two ankles rolled, and I wound up spraining them both. I could barely walk back to my car. As I lay on the street outside the restaurant where it happened, waiting for my... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Over the past couple of days, I have had several conversations with people about the sadness that comes with being the friend of someone who has died. I mean, a really close friend. A friend whose heart is ripped open and shredded by the loss of a person who had... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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There aren’t a lot of things you can say that stop people in their tracks anymore. We’ve become a more open society where we talk about many more things with great casualness, including sex, sexuality, gender, body parts, bodily functions and our emotional lives. We have also become much coarser... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Welcome to the 21st Century My husband and I met through a mutual friend who was taking me out because I was new to the city. He showed up at my door, with the man who was to become my husband, and the rest, as it is said, is history.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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My daughter was born into a home that had been wracked with loss and sadness. Our second child, our baby boy, had been born a year earlier with lungs that didn’t work; he died in our arms when he was five days old. I knew from that moment on that... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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It is May 28. Each day, since May 18, I have been experiencing the slow, drawn-out countdown to the one-year anniversary of my husband’s death. It is a stressful and sad time, one in which I've been feeling the sadness physically. Muscle memory. I am spacey, unsteady on my feet.... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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It’s still hard. And I’m hard on myself, convinced that, as Superwoman, I should be able to push through all the hard with relative ease. But the truth is, I can’t. We are now just about 11 months in. Eleven months since my husband died, and one year and 11... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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It’s time to change my name. I’m reverting to what is called, in our sexist society, my “maiden” name, fair maiden that I am. It’s actually my father’s name, and his father’s name, and so on. My children and I will no longer share a last name. Their response? “It’s... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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There’s an almost-full moon tonight, which means that most of my friends who are celebrating Passover, starting tomorrow night with the first Seder, are cleaning out their cupboards and refrigerators and ovens and taking out their second set of dishes to celebrate the feast of freedom. I did a different... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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April is poetry month, and so I’ve been digging into my favorite collections, looking for solace, inspiration and hope. I’m finding poetry to be the most calming form of reading; concise, profound, and able to burrow right into the nugget of my heart and soul. Last night I had the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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The Winds of March The old adage that March comes in like a lion has held a special place in my heart for the past 19 years. Nineteen years ago, on March 5, my son, Ari, was born. This is one of the “firsts” in my year of firsts that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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I Fate One of the things I’ve learned this year is how much I still have to learn. That’s one of the residual lessons of terminal illness – you think you’ve got this living thing down pretty well, and then boom! Your world is turned upside down and you realize... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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I am often asked how I'm doing, now 7+ months out from my husband’s death; 19+ months out from the day he collapsed from a seizure caused by a lethal brain tumor and our lives were turned upside down. I never mind the question, and I always try to answer... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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Six months ago, close to 300 people wandered through our house over the course of three days, paying shiva visits after the death of my husband. Each night, we had at least 50 people or so joining us for the shiva minyan, an evening service in which we prayed collectively,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2017 at Dwelling in Possibility
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“Code switching: the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation.” I’ve been aware of code switching since I was the white girl in the hood, and had to learn the vernacular of my mostly black peers, which differed greatly from my parents’ conversations... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility
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I wore my husband’s old leather bomber jacket today. It had never occurred to me to take it out of the coat closet and try it on, but yesterday, a friend came by to help me sort out some legalistic estate memos that I was having trouble understanding, and when... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2016 at Dwelling in Possibility