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Karen Paul-Stern
Writing at the still point of the turning world.
Recent Activity
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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“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
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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