Posted by: fullandbye | July 17, 2004

diminishing daylight

These past few weeks have been really strange.

Wednesday sailing with Mo, Michelle, Anna and Casey made me realize just how much of a hangup I have about leaving the Northwest. I am a little apprehensive about my employment prospects. On the one hand, I would give anything to teach at a large research university, but there is really only one in the seattle area, and it does not look as though they will need a humor scholar anytime soon. Besides, this has corner of the country has never been a hotspot for folklorists (and this is a crying shame, I would LOVE to do an ethnography or oral history of fishermens terminal). So I am asking myself more and more, “how the hell do I wind up here?”

I digress.

I went to Canada for the weekend last weekend. I spent Thursday night in Vancouver, which was really nice. Then I caught a plane to Calgary and headed straight for the grounds of the Calgary stampede.

The stampede was fun, I saw the second rodeo of my life, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the grounds and looking at really impressive heavy horses. Shires, Percherons, Clydesdales, and Belgians were all out in force. They are really beautiful. I especially like the Shires. I had no cowboy hat (and I was the ONLY one without) so I wore my pirate bandana to keep cool. This led to a lengthy and memorable conversation with some cowboys about pirates vs. cowboys. Oh, the conversations that extroverts are liable to have when their clothing is strange…

In the evening I went to the Chuckwagon races (yes, they are as ridiculous as one can imagine) and an enormous and over the top pageant about Calgary. Very cute. It is really amazing to think that my great grandfather was one of the first people to settle in this city of one million people. Yet, I feel none of the sentimentality that I feel when I go to Israel, and none of the history that I felt on my shoulders in southern Germany. Strange how memory, sentiment, and identity are manifested.

Standing outside the hotel, my Mother turns to me and says “Raz, I have some bad news. I am not sure how to tell you, so I am just going to tell you. Stephen Tabet commited suicide last week.”

How to describe Stephen (pronounced Steven)? He did his MPH with my mother at the UW, and they both worked in corrections for a long time. He was instrumental in creating protocol for dealing with AIDs patients in public health environments. Although he was a phenomenal physician, he lived by the quote (I think it might be Salk’s quote) “First the patient, second the patient, third the patient, fourth the patient, fifth the patient, and then maybe comes science”. Of course, I never knew him professionally. But his skill as a physician and policy consultant is legendary.

No, I knew him as uncle Stephen, and he remains one of the kindest, most beautiful, warm and wonderful people it has ever been my blessing to consider as a friend. He was always there for my mother and her sons.

This has been the year of angels dying. First Jim Clowes, and now Stephen. So much sorrow. My friend Sasha was diagnosed with cancer just a few weeks ago. The diagnosis was really early, and the odds are very good that she will be just fine, but with the record of this year I am still a little worried.

I am trying to figure out the precise day when I first heard of Jim’s cancer. I believe it was Friday the 15th of August 2003. I am going to mark this coming August 15th “The end of the year of tragedies” and declare a moratorium on tragedies for the coming year at least. Something must be done.

The drive back from Calgary was exceptionally beautiful. Especially bivouacking in Big Sky country and having a bear (I think) come nearby in the middle of the night.

I have been sorta antisocial (by my standards in any case) since coming back from Canada. I wonder why this is.
Perhaps it is partially brought about by my sadness at the diminishing daylight. I always am really saddened when the solstice is passed.

Life is still beautiful. I think I need to witness a sunrise. Tomorrow I watch the sunrise. I will go to my mother’s currently vacant house and watch the sunrise.

Any takers?



  1. I second the motion for a moratorium on tragedies.
    Hey Raz,
    How’d that gazpacho work out for you?

  2. Re: I second the motion for a moratorium on tragedies.
    The test run got eaten less than two hours after it was made.
    I think this is a good sign.

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