My visual, audio and literary stuff is free here, but my hold-in-your-hands books, prints, and CDs cost real money. If you want to buy something tactile from me, contact me at stujenks at gmail dot com, or message me on Facebook. If you simply want to look and read for free, that's fine too, but don't hesitate to send me your sofa change. My snail mail address is P.O. Box 161, Tucson, Arizona 85702. Keep those cards and letters coming. And sofa change too. Love and light, Stu.
Heading out tonight to shoot, equipped with battery-powered Christmas lights and with my grandmother Nannie's mirror. Wish me luck. I always go with some plan, that I tend to throw away once I'm in the space. Hope plan B works out, but you never know. I have high standards for my stock photography work. If it's crap, you won't see it here.
Also, I'll be talking more about politics on my blog.
One of the unspoken rules of being a working artist or musician or writer, who isn't rich to begin with, is to not to speak your political mind because a good 1/3 of our customers are conservative folk, that we don't want to insult, so they don't then buy our work. Well, screw that. There is too much going on in 2016 for me to keep quiet any longer.
Arizona is in play this election. Polls show Thump is only up by four points in Arizona, a Republican Goldwater state, mind you. Senator McCain might lose his re-election bid to a very competent Democratic woman. And a narcissistic businessman with orange hair wants to be the king of America.
No matter what any of the talking heads on TV says, there are really no undecided voters out there. It's all about turnout. If progressive people of colors, forward-thinking women, hopeful young people, and liberal and moderate white folk don't show up at the polls in November, Donald Trump just might win. If however we show up in force, it will be a landslide of biblical proportion. Ann Kirkpatrick will send John McCain back to Sedona, and we might actually get the U.S. Senate back in Democratic hands. (Sadly, due to gerrymandering, the U.S. House is pretty hopeless, but who knows. Maybe.)
So vote, ye moderates and liberals. The other side, those conservative white folks out there? They will show up, no matter how much they dislike Trump. They will vote for him. We need to vote for our side.
And if you hate or distrust Hillary Clinton and are a progressive, you need to get over that, hold your nose, and think of the greater good.
Three words, people.
The Supreme Court.
I frankly don't want to see one of the guys from Duck Dynasty on the Court. Or freaking Chris Christie either. Abortion needs to stay legal, Obamacare need to not be overturned, and voting rights needs to be restored, just to name a few important issues.
Politics may be athletics for ugly people, but policies matter. Laws matter. The Social Contract matters.
So here endeth my political message for today. If you disagree with me, fine. Just don't be a jerk and type troll shit back to me. It's not polite.
Wish me luck tonight. Hopefully I'll get some good images that I can make a little coin with, and that will make y'all smile.
I'll listen to what the land and the sky says to me, and I'll bring those voices back home.
Below is a very kind review by David Moyer of my first novel "Step Zero." Book four of this series, "Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service" will be coming out in early July of 2016. "Step Zero" is now available at a new low price of $1.99 on the Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks. Book two, "Air & Gravity" is now $2.99. Book three, "Balthazar & Zeeba" is also $1.99.
Start at the beginning is what I say.
"I wasn't sure at first if a book heavily influenced by and full of references to the 12 step program would be to my liking, but to my surprise, it added to, rather than detracting from the story. Stu Jenks has written a great adventure story that takes place in a very plausible future, and he has made it very intimate by bringing you all of the characters in the first person. I felt that I knew and empathized with his characters, even those I didn't like. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the sequel." - David Moyer.
The last thing I wanted to do was get into a fight with my Mom, words like 'Stop being such a god damned martyr!' and 'Quit trying to control how Dad is dying, will you?' flying out of my mouth.
Bottom Line: Mom is scared. She's not the asshole. I'm the asshole.
While I was yelling at Mom, Pamela was in with Dad, quietly singing to him.
Now, the fight is over. Pamela’s on the front porch swing. Mom’s at the kitchen sink, crying. I feel like shit.
I go into see Dad, who hasn't been awake since yesterday.
"Dad, I'm sorry," I say to the unconscious man, "I'm trying to get along with your wife, but it is hard. I'm trying. Really, I am. Again, I'm so sorry, Dad."
I go out to the kitchen.
"Mom, I'm sorry."
"Just leave me alone, OK?" she says through tears.
I touch her shoulder. She cowers away. I remove my hand and take a step back.
"I'm really sorry, Mom."
She doesn't say anything, just turns and walks away.
I couldn't feel any guiltier for yelling at Mom. I've been keeping my powder dry for the last month, ever since I arrived to be with Dad as he dies, to be part of this odd makeshift hospice group of my mother, my sister and me. But the keg finally blew tonight.
I go out on the porch and talk with Pamela for a while. She suggests I yell at her instead. I know she’s trying to help. It doesn’t. I don't yell at her.
A couple of hours pass.
It's quiet at the river house now. Mom has gone into the bedroom to lay beside her husband. I'm back out with my sister on the front porch. We're making small talk now, smoking cigarettes.
Then Mary comes out to the porch.
"He's gone" she says, "It was so beautiful. He just stopped breathing. So quiet. So peaceful."
"Are you sure?" I say.
My first thought is pure selfishness. Oh, Dad, not tonight. Don't die tonight. Not after I've had a big fight with your wife. Now who is trying to control how Dad dies?
We all go into the bedroom. Not much different than other times, but it appears Dad isn't breathing at all. I place my hand under his nose and feel some air coming out.
"Mom, I think he's still breathing."
"He's gone," she says.
I bend down closer to him and realize that his skin is beginning to change color. I ask for a mirror and put it under his nose. Nothing. He's getting paler. I know he’s dead.
“Remember, Stu, what you said? That we need to open the window to let the soul out?” Mom says.
“I’ll do it,” says Pamela.
I said this Window/Soul thing over a dozen years ago. It was just a bit of conversation. I think I was reading about Navajo Spirituality at the time. I don't really think Dad's soul will get trapped in this house, but I say nothing as Pamela opens one of the windows. Then I open a window just to go along. I'm in shock right now. Dad's dead. My father is dead.
Mom says it's time to dress Stuart. I've been dreading this moment since the day Mom told me that she wanted Pamela and I to help her dress Stuart in his favorite shirt and khaki pants after he dies. I thought it would be difficult to manhandle the old man, both physically and emotionally. But after being such a jerk tonight, I'm going along with whatever Mom says.
Pamela is at Dad's head. Mary and I are on either side. We take off his nightshirt and make him naked. We grab his pants and pull them on him. We have to pull hard to get them to his waist.
It all feels completely right. We are performing a ritual that has been done for centuries: The dressing of a dead loved one for his passage to the other side.
Pamela holds Stuart's head. We pull him up into a seated position and we put on his favorite plaid Dockers shirt, the one with the turquoise checks. We gently lay him back down. Mom buckles his belt. I'm standing next to Dad holding his hand. It’s cold and slack. A lifeless hand but still my Daddy's hand. Mom leaves the room to call the minister, the nurse and the undertakers. Pamela stays a bit longer then she leaves too.
Then it’s just Dad and I.
I whisper to his body.
"I'm so sorry Dad about getting into a fight with Mom. I'm so so sorry. If I could go back in time…” I can't talk through my tears.
Scott, the priest at St. Mary's Whitechapel is the first to arrive. The nurse and her husband are next. The undertakers have to come from Richmond, so it'll be an hour plus before they get here. It's after midnight now. Dad died a little after 11. Everyone is on the screened-in porch making small talk. I was there for a minute or two but it felt a little disrespectful somehow. I kept thinking my father is dead in the other room and we're talking about the weather? I seem to be going back into Dad's bedroom a lot, holding his hand, watching him change color from red to pink to white. I can't help but wonder if he's really dead. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that Dad is truly gone. I hold his cold hand again. The undertakers will soon be here. I'll only have a few more opportunities to touch my father.
I want to hold his hand forever.
I'm in the kitchen getting a soda when the nurse comes up and says, “Stu, are you planning on being in the room when they take your Dad out on a stretcher?”
“I might,” I say.
“I would really suggest you not be there for that. All you'll remember is seeing him put into the bag. That memory will overshadow all the rest. You may want to go upstairs or go outside when they do that.”
Pamela walks in on the conversation and gets the gist.
“I’ll go up stairs,” she says.
“I'm going out to the pier,” I say.
The next hour is so weird. More small talk on the porch, but I can't hang there. I drift back to the bedroom to hold Dad's hand, outside to have a smoke, back to his bedside. At one point, the nurse's husband comes up and talks with me. I don't have a clue what he said.
Finally at around 1:30 a.m., a black hearse comes up the drive and two men enter our kitchen. One is a very skinny man, in a huge black suit that fits him about like a tent. Next to him is large fat man with a small black suit that fits him like a child's hand-me-down that’s two sizes too small. Wait a minute. They seem to have on the exact same size black jacket, the one-size-fits-all-undertaker's-jacket. When did I enter a David Lynch movie? When will the midget appear? Is Dali going to walk through that door?
The skinny man holds his hands together in that earnest creepy sort of way. The fat one just stands there. They talk with the nurse and Mom for a bit then they go outside to the hearse to get the stretcher. I take this as my time to exit stage right and head for the pier. I grab the cordless phone as I leave the house.
Out on the pier, I call Annie to tell her that Dad's dead. I already talked with her earlier about the big fight with Mom. Annie's trying to help me not feel so guilty about it all. God bless her, but her words give me little comfort.
“I feel so guilty about the fight,” I say. “I wish Dad had died tomorrow instead."
“I know, sweetie,” she says.
I talk with Annie a bit more, saying I'll call her tomorrow. I also ask her if she will call Len and Virginia, my mother's sister and brother-in-law in Tucson. “That would be great,” I add. “And check on plane tickets for you and Len to come to the funeral. You are coming, aren't you?"
"Of course," she says.
"I really need you, honey."
I'm back at the house now. The undertakers are gone. So are the nurse and her husband. Scott the priest is still here. Pamela is nowhere to be seen. I tell Mom I'm going back to the pier. So glad Scott is here. Mom loves Scott. She seems OK, considering she’s lost the love of her life.
I walk the couple of hundred feet to the pier again, this time wrapped in my Dad's old Marine Corps blanket along with the phone. I call Michael and tell him about Dad's dying. He's great as ever. We talk for half an hour then I hang up and put the phone down.
I've barely noticed the weather these past few hours but I sure do now. The wind has really picked up. Must be a storm in the Bay or a front moving in. The river is choppy. The wind howls.
I begin to talk to my Dad. The wind swallows my words. I'm sitting on a step at the far end of the pier, looking out into the dark Rappahannock River.
“Dad, I'm so sorry,” I say to the wind.
“I'm really sorry about yelling at Mom. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. Please.” I just keep crying. I don't speak for a while. I just cry.
Then I feel a presence. I don't trust it at first, but then I know it's him. It's Stuart.
Dad then sits down beside me on the steps of the pier and put his arm around me. I could feel the light pressure of his hand on my shoulder. And I swear to God I hear him speak.
I was just at a Starbuck's buying an Egg Nog Latte, when a homeless woman came in and asked the clerk, "Do you have anything for just a dollar?"
I'm not struggling like her obviously, but as my father used to say, "It's not what you make but what you spend." And having my own business, Fezziwig Press, costs money and my little company isn't making enough money right now.
So I'm doing an Amanda Fucking Palmer thing. If I don't ask, you don't know to give.
Fezziwig Press and I have been struggling financially for the last year or so. Namely, I'm not quite breaking even, still a few hundred dollars in the red each month, even with my part time counseling gig and all. I'm making some sales with image rights, book sales, music sales, etc, but not like I did five to ten years ago. So I'm putting out the artistic begging bowl. And I'm giving shit away.
The Transpersonal Papers (1861-2010) was released in 2011. Cost a boat load to produce but I only sold seven ebook copies. (Thank you to the seven, by the way.) So I'm offering it today, to you all, for free.
If you like The Transpersonal Papers, or the StuBlog, or my work, I ask that you give a little money to my Paypal account. My log-in is my email address, stujenks at gmail dot com, spelled like you normally would type it. Donate to my Paypal, or buy some books, or send money to P.O.Box 161, Tucson, AZ 85702. Whatever you like. No expectations, but if I don't ask, you don't know. And of course, if you don't give, that's perfectly all right too. We're all tight these days, don't I know. Or you just might not like my stuff that much. It's all good, as the kids say. Except for my ever-shrinking savings account.
I hope you enjoy the photographs and the stories in this book. Perhaps someday I'll have enough money to print it as a large coffee table book, like it was originally envisioned. Perhaps not, but you can have it right now for free. Enjoy.