Stepping into this morning’s light, it’s the same as yesterday’s but not. My heart breaks open, knowing that, someday, I’ll have to go away. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Who will come and comfort me? Who will come and comfort you after I go?
This post is for subscribers
Since May 21, 1996, I’ve marketed myself as an independent, freelance writer/editor, collaborating with some amazing clients. To them, as always and again, many thanks for trusting me.
It’s true, from time to time, I did my own work. Not enough, however.
After twenty-seven (27) years it’s time to reconfigure.
Going forward I’ll be focusing more on my work that has laid dormant or ignored too long.
This is my path. Not to walk it is unconscianable.
This Place Called Home
This place called home has shifted over the decades. Growing up the first several years, home was a Cape Cod-type bungalow, built just after WWII, in a suburb of New York City – commuting distance. The large tract of land behind our home was an old orchard farm. The barn still stood, slowly falling into disrepair. But, the apple trees! Oh, those acres of Granny Smith apple trees were magnificent!
Those trees had, obviously, been tended, pruned, and nurtured. The branches were smooth, easy to climb. The apples were tart/sweet, brilliant, sap green, and always in abundance. I used to climb those trees as the Granny Smiths ripened, perfuming the air with their plump greenness. The pruning created upward, smaller branches where some of the best fruit was.
Sitting among the apples, dangling my legs over smooth branches, crunching baby teeth into sun-warmed flesh that puckered my lips – was there anything better than that those days?
Social Media Fanfare Winner…Ten Years Later
Social Media Fanfare Winner Shares Her Telework Tips
Social media has changed the way we interact with friends, family, and yes, even coworkers. As part of Telework Week 2012, Telework Exchange launched a Social Media Fanfare contest, to find the ultimate telework fan.
We sorted through hundreds of tweets, likes, posts, and tips on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to pick the top fan who actively posted on Telework Week’s social media platforms. Read more below about her telework experiences as well as some of her favorite things about teleworking. Congratulations to our Telework Week 2012 Ultimate Fan.
Jessan Dunn Otis
Teleworking isn’t anything new to our Telework Week Ultimate Fan, Jessan Dunn Otis. A teleworker since May 1996, Jessan finds she can accomplish more when working from home. Not only is she more productive, but telework allows her to spend more time with her family and friends while still being able to manage her work schedule.
An independent freelance writer, editor, consultant, and mentor who works in the Providence, Rhode Island area, Jessan says telework helps her be more accessible to her local, national and international clients since she can spend more time working, and less time commuting. “[I have] a very short commute (approximately 12-14 steps),” she says. Technology tools such as her laptop computer, phone, and voice-over-Internet Protocol services help her stay connected.
Jessan knows work/life balance is key when teleworking. She takes breaks from her work schedule to go for a walk, sit in the sun, run errands, and enjoy lunch every day with her husband. “Celebrating 2nd day of #TeleworkWeek by going 4 a well-earned walk. Enough ‘time on task’ 4 now. Join me? #PVD #RI pic.twitter.com/w6rgzYtf,” she tweeted during Telework Week.
But for this full-time teleworker, Telework Week is not a once-in-a-while thing. “Alas (for some), #TeleworkWeek comes to an end today. For those of us who’ve been teleworking a long time … #DanceOn…! Cheers!” she tweeted.
Jessan can be contacted at:
P.S. Ten years later Jessan’s still teleworking, now referred to as remote working. This piece was slightly edited in October, 2022.
As when you touch yourself for the first
time inside and out
Or when you have left without saying goodbye
for the last time and you do not know it yet
Like walking into a dark room where everything
is known and you are excited that
something alive and beautiful will brush
Or I am the long tree whose branches
move gently wild from the wind
and leave marks on your face
that you will remember when you dream
and you will go back to stare for days
until your eyes ache
Like arms that nobody who has ever loved you
has had before or has held you more strong
than you will ever be held again
And you will weep because you know that
that is true.
(c) Jessan Dunn (DeCredico) Otis – 1985/1987 – CQ, California State Poetry Quarterly, Spring-Summer 1987, Volume 14, Number 1, p.11.
The 5 Ws + HOW
Sit down and begin to pull together a business plan, mission statement, professional introductory email, business-related text messages, informative YouTube clip, making the choice for your business’ name; and you’re faced with three truths:
* writing isn’t as easy as it appears
* everything matters
* it’s not only what you think you want to say; but, to whom, what, where, when, why and how
While any of the aforementioned endeavors can employ many mediums – i.e. video, film, radio, TV and so on – it’s likely that, at some stage, writing is crucial to the process of creating your message. Brainstorming. Whiteboards. Drafting. Formulating. Editing. Proofreading. Final content.
With that in mind, recall the first time you were under deadline and staring at a blank piece of paper or that flashing indicator on an empty screen. Dwelling too long on that memory might cause cold sweats and elevated heart rate. However, recalling that visceral experience can, also, be today’s lesson.
What your body was telling you is that you’re invested in doing the work and hitting that target with your best shot.
To convey your message always takes planning and planning equals time – whether the amount of time is an hour, day, a week or, even, years.
Because you’re invested in doing the work and hitting that deadline with your best work, everything matters. Do not edit your ideas and impulses. Be fearless. Be ridiculous. Be silly. Be serious. Be thorough. Eventually, you’ll reduce your information to become the most accurate, clear, concise, creative and effective, according to your goals, intentions and audience.
Finally, the content of and medium for your message must take into consideration the 5 Ws + HOW.
* WHO – To whom are you conveying your message? Who’s your audience?
* WHAT – What do you want them to know or learn or feel or do?
* WHERE – In what context/where are they receiving your message?
* WHEN – When are they receiving your message?
* WHY – Why are they receiving your message?
* HOW – How do you want them to respond or what do you want them to do after receiving your message?
When you’ve answered the above questions, begin to refine and repeat until you hit your target. Remember, this process requires regular reviews, readjustments, refreshing, and repeating.
Sometimes life fools you.
#Rise_and_Shine Welcome to #Monday, September 5, 2022
Sometimes you think you know your life. Sometimes life fools you.
Yesterday afternoon, while traveling only a very short distance, my SweetMan and I were going to pick up a specific kind of clam rake that someone we’d never met was offering for free on our local Nextdoor site.
Thing is, Al had not been feeling too good the past few days. He’s had severe motion sickness all his life. With birthdays, unbidden it comes and goes often, causing him to sit, quietly, and make no sudden movements. But, he really wanted *that* clam rake!
We arrived at Jim and Jane’s. The clam rake was perfect! Instant kinship. Jim and Al hit it off – lots of shared interests. Jane was sunning on their deck. Jim and Al went inside to continue to talk. I joined Jane on the deck. Good conversation.
Eventually, Jim and Al came outside. Al wasn’t looking too good. Longer story short: after they joined Jane and me on the deck, Al grayed, broke a cold sweat, collasped, passed out, and vomited.
Jane called 911. Jim helped me bring Al to an upright position so he wouldn’t aspirate his vomit. By the time Warwick Rescue arrived, Al was sitting squat on the deck, phasing in and out.
Time was approximately 2 PM.
I arrived at Kent County Hospital Emergency, just after they brought in Al. I had to wait until they processed him to get the okay to see him.
Doctors. Information exchanged. “Tell me what happened.” more than once. All the while I’m watching to see his color come back – he had looked like library paste sitting on that deck.
Chest x-ray. Off for a ct scan. Back in #22. Color looking better. Speech more coherent. Waiting for blood work tests to come back. Talking with each other. Laughing. Relaxing.
Shift change. Two new doctors come in. “We think it’s better that you stay overnight for observation.” I raised my hand. “Do I have a vote in this?” Al said, “Okay.”
Once in a while I had stepped outside to breathe the (now) late afternoon/early evening air and to exhale.
When Al got supper, part of which we shared as I sat on the edge of his bed, I felt he was in good hands; and, although he doesn’t like hospitals, it was okay for me to kiss him and leave.
Time was approximately 7:15 PM.
On my way home last night, I stopped to thank Jane and Jim for their kindness. They offered me an adult libation, just a shot. I accepted.
All things being good and equal, once everything is okay today, I’ll go back to Kent County Hospital later and bring my SweetMan home.
Sometimes you think you know your life. Sometimes you don’t. Just as well, sometimes.
(posted to Facebook, Monday, September 5, 2022 at approximately 6:44AM)
“Tell her your story. She will listen.”
People have told me their stories since I was a girl. I listened.
Over time, doing walking errands in the city, complete strangers would stop me and begin to tell something they wanted me to know. I listened as long as I could before I had to contine on my way.
Eventually, I began to believe there was an invisible (to me), neon light on my forehead that flashed erratically announcing: “Tell her your story. She will listen.”
Thing is: folks have been telling their stories to each other for millions of years. In a cave. Around a fire. Most likely to indicate where food could be found – an important imperative; or, what areas to avoid because of imminent danger. Perhaps, eventually, expressing more abstract sentiments, like respect or hate or love.
It’s important to share our stories with each other – our universal, human common denominators. To bear witness and to tell about our joys, losses, failures, challenges, successes; and, even a ridiculous recounting.
Sometimes, when you share a deep, long-silent experience, memory, or desire with another person, it can change you and your listener. The burden of your story is brought out and into the light, no longer tucked away in a dark place. It takes courage. You trust you’re telling someone who will not judge, who will understand and empathsize. In the telling and the listening a weight is given up and a recognition that “Ah ha, I know what you’re talking about, I’ve had the same experience, too!”
By telling, you can, also, share a story in a way that reveals just how silly we can be, making complete nincompoops of ourselves (often in public) that elicits a similar, response: “Me, too!” Laughter is a healing thing.
Imagine, if you will, for just a moment, that you’re sitting around an open fire, with millions of stars dancing in the blue-black night sky. What story do you want to tell?
There Is A Woman
There is a woman
lovely in her bones
She does not see.
Jessan Dunn Otis (c) 2022
Washed In The Water
I’ve been washed in the water
Baptised into another life
You restore my soul
You rejuvenate my spirit
You lead me to still places, even
in the presence of turmoil and
As safe harbor in a storm
Let me drop anchor and hold strong
against torment-tossed winds
I’ve been washed in the water
Welcome me back when all this is done.
Jessan Dunn Otis (c) 2022
What do you leave for this world?
What’s the legacy you leave for this world when your time on this earth as a breathing, living human being is done?
Did you love enough? Were you kind enough? Did you give it your best effort each day? Did you, in James Taylor’s song, “…shower the people you love with love…”? Did you overcome your fears? Did you give all to what you do best? Did you take care of yourself (not selfsih), so you could better take care of those who needed it? Did you hold the door for the one behind you? Did you give a stranger a hug when they needed it? Are you grateful for the gifts you’ve been give – like waking up each day to give it your best, again?
Or, did you give up, give over, slip down that slippery slope of anxiety, selfishness, hate, bigotry, and loathing? Did you tell a story about someone or something when you only knew less than half the whole story? Did you knee-jerk respond to someone you care for when a moment to step back would have stopped the words that you can never take back? Did you forget that your life is worth living?
It’s always a matter of deciding to do this rather than that. To say, or not say, something. It’s always a choice. Every day, it’s always a choice.
What’s your legacy?
What’s your pain point?
PAIN POINT: Your site needs clear, concise, compelling content/copy to tell your unique story.
SOLUTION: Contact me. I’ve been creating original content, collaterals, and/or readables since May, 1996, as a freelance, independent, strategic writer, for individuals and businesses with well-funded projects.
Send an email. JessanDunnOtis[at]gmail[.]com.
Let’s have a conversation. (401)301-0638.
I look forward to earning your trust and collaborating with you.
GREAT AUNT JESSIE – poem
, or we don’t talk to the ones
know and survive
It is past time
to call you back again
The old ones are dead
Like water bright
in the eye
The brush of memory is too wide
And the surface is shimmered and wrong
Long afternoons listening
to the old woman about
her old women
The algae of remembering obscures
Again and again.
Jessan Dunn (DeCredico) Otis © 1985
Welcome to Rhode Island Writer’s Harvest
Welcome to Rhode Island Writer’s Harvest (RIWH). This initiative was launched on May 21, 2021. This CALL TO ACTION is an open invitation to all Rhode Island writers (all genres), readers, and supporters. Please follow the link below to read, review, and join me in this community of Rhode Island writers and those who want to give back to help end hunger in Rhode Island. Thank you to Steve Maciel and Billy Shore – many blessings.
Jessan Dunn Otis
Rhode Island Writer’s Harvest (RIWH)
Walk with love…
Welcome to #Sunday, July 31, 2022 / Walk with beauty. Walk with peace. Walk with joy. Walk with happiness. Walk with grace. Walk with foregiveness. Walk with humility. Walk in this world with your whole self – each day. Walk with love. Amen.
“The more I think I know,…
“The more I think I know, the more I know what I don’t know.”
#PUSH – Persist Until Something Happens
If you feel you’ve hit a brick wall, if everyone is telling you you’re being foolish and will never succeed, if you believe your dream is unattainable, if you think you’re the only person in the world that’s ever been [____fill in this blank___], if you can’t find your joy anymore, if the curb looks up to you, if you think you’re too young, if you think you’re too old, if all you seem to be getting is failure, if anyone has ever called you stupid, fat, and/or ugly, if you simply can’t go another step; repeat after me, like a mantra: #PUSH.
This is just to say… For ARO
This is just to say I’ve left you a bouquet of wildflowers, fresh-picked from our garden, on the table in front of the couch where you, often, sit. You are sleeping. The sun’s up and so am I and the birds and other living things. Continue to breathe easy in the room across the hall. https://pic.twitter.com/is3Bgi1j2O
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This was originally posted on @Twitter on June 22, 2022.
The long grass moves
The breeze blows
One opposite of the other
I know where that rabbit is and goes.
June 1, 2022 – Talking to myself… #essay
This is me, talking to myself: How can you call yourself a writer if you don’t write?
Me replying to me: You mean writing inside my head doesn’t count?!
Sort of; but, not really. Where’s the proof?
Okay! Okay! I’ll put it down on paper/print. Better?
It’s a start. Now what?
Everything worth doing is worth practicing. Like any activity, writing takes practice. It doesn’t much matter what form the writing takes – be it prose, poetry, opinion piece, an article, a letter, a journal entry, etc. The thing is the writing of it. Getting it out of your head and putting it down in some form. If nothing else, it’s talkin’ to yourself, through writing.
Does anyone else have to read it?
Nope, not necessarily. Your choice.
If noone else reads it, does it still have value?
So, what you’re saying is that you’re re-committing to “putting it down”, no matter what, in whatever form, on a regular basis – yes?
Yes. I promise.
I’ve got my eyes on you; and, look forward to what comes next.
Thanks. Me, too.
ALL ARTISTS ARE ENTREPRENEURS
As part of an all day arts education festival, organized by Dr. Emma Kell, I was honored to give a live presentation titled: ALL ARTISTS ARE ENTREPRENEURS, on Saturday, April 24, 2021. To follow is that presentation, focus for it, and background information.
Thank you, Emma and All – in gratitude.
Silence and Solitude – Life Lessons
I learned to sit, in silence and solitude, at the end of my street, on Narragansett Bay, looking out and way, when I was young and questioned everything.
When the world was too much with me, I went to that place.
As I celebrated more birthdays I went less and less; and, finally, moved away to begin another part of my life.
Recently, I visited that street, again. I walked to the end of the street and looked out. The place I used to sit is no longer there. Nevertheless, I can bring it all back, as if it was the day before yesterday.
It’s come to my attentions that sitting in silence and solitude is, frequently, questioned, invaded and/or under suspicion in this society. Some folks just have to come up to you, say anything, and break that embrace of peace in which you were sitting. I don’t know why.
The long life lessons I learned as a young girl, sitting for hours sometimes, were to feel, with my entire spirit, to listen with an acutely tuned ear to the patterns of life and nature; and, most important, to stay open and be patient. I did not know then (only learned years later), I would come into the writing life and what lessons I already knew about feeling, listening, staying open, and patience.
I still question everything. I still create and/or find places where I can sit, in silence and solitude, and look out and away.
Where and how did you learn your life lessons?
Stay safe. Take care of yourself and each other.
photo credit: Jessan Dunn Otis (c) 2021
The First Bird
The first bird sings high
Sequins flicker in deep blue
I sit writing this
(c) 2021 – Jessan Dunn Otis, Writer
The World Needs You
The world needs you today.
Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with others. Be gentle with all things, great and small. Be gentle with Mother Earth.
In addition, be fierce in your passions.
Those two things – gentle and fierce – may appear a contradiction. They are not.
The world needs your gentle ferocity.
Do what you were meant to do.
Photo credit: Jessan Dunn Otis, Writer
Sunday, April 4, 2021
As the first bird is heard, the half Worm Moon continues to head West, and the sun rises, again, in the East, I celebrate each hand or eye that ever loved me.
There are invisible blessings, if one can hear and see and feel and remember.
“Remember this day forever.” DJT, January 6, 2021
“If one does not shine a light on hate, fear, prejudice, bullying, intimidation, abuse, bigotry and all of that ilk, one is culpable for allowing those to continue, as a metastasized cancer.”
Posted and pinned to my Twitter profile on February 13, 2021.
What say you, please?
To the women who sing – written by Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer
This is dedicated to the women who sing.
This has been a long time coming. I’ve composed and re-composed this piece for years as I would sit, in silence; or, when doing mundane things.
Music has been in my life for as long as I can remember. First, there were lullabys, sung by my mother, Helen Smith Dunn. As I grew, when she sang in church and I was rib-high, her rich contralto vibrated against my ear.
Eventually, I learned to play the violin. After days and years of practice, I became the second violin in the Rhode Island State Youth Orchestra. In addition, I joined the chorus in junior and senior high school. I have my mother’s deep, rich contralto voice. I’m forever grateful for that.
There are many women who sing and I know and love their songs. You may know them, too. These women who sing have voices that rise up, challenge, comfort, give solace, as only the human voice can do. Gracias a la vida.
Then, there are the women who sing because of how they live, how they give of themselves over and over again. They are the neighborhood community leaders, the mothers (even if they have no children of their own), the Aunties, the elders (Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers). They are our friends. These are the women who laugh together, dance together, love together, share together, support each other. I have had and continue to have such profoundly beautiful and strong women in my life. I’m forever grateful for that.
There are the women about whom history refers to as “Anon.” (Anonymous). Often, these women are cited in writings that have come to us through hundreds of years of human history. Their names are forgotten or have been erased. But, what they’re attributed to contributing to our shared human history survives. I’m forever grateful for that.
I’ve, often, dropped to my knees as I came to learn and understand how women have survived – actually survived and endured – for eons. Women have been raped, killed, beaten, mutilated, emotionally abused, spiritually tortured, denigrated (publicly and privately), referred to as sluts, whores, pussies, dykes, mother fuckers and more. What we do to each other out of fear and hate and bullying.
Finally, to all the women who believe you have no voice – you do. Your empowerment is the fact that you are a woman. Through you, through me comes the next generation. What’s more powerful than that?
To all the girls who are becoming women, do not be afraid. Explore. Challenge. Think. Create. Don’t take “No, you can’t.” as a satisfactory response to anything. Listen to your heart. Find and follow your path. I’ll tell you, right now, it won’t be easy. Life isn’t, always, easy. But, you have one life to live – live it.
*Dedicated in Gratitude, Love and Memory to my mother, Helen Smith Dunn (1912-1980); and to my sisters – Barbara Dunn Blossom, Tacy Dunn San Antonio and Genevieve Dunn (1955-2013).
Wednesday Prayer ~ June 3, 2020 ~ by Jessan Dunn Otis, Writer
“Begin each day with gratitude – for your life, for the sun, for the rain, for your breath.
Begin each day with love – for your life, for the sun, for the rain, for your breath, for yourself, for each other.” @JessanDunnOtis 6.3.2020 (c)
Fear and hope in the time of a global pandemic
In these times of profound uncertainty, there’s an undercurrent of two parallel emotions.
The first emotion is fear: fear of catching and dying from COVID19; fear of not working; fear of homeschooling your children; fear of increased domestic violence; fear of sliding into suicide; and more.
The second emotion is hope: hope that you’re doing all you need to do not to succumb to the coronavirus; hope that your spouse, relative, friend, or acquaintance will survive this virus; hope that, when a vaccine is found, you’ll still have a job to go back to; hope that this tragic, global pandemic nightmare will end sooner rather than later.
Fears are stories we tell ourselves. Hope lives in the heart. Which one do you nurture?
Please, stay safe. Carry on.
“I stand alone.” ~ Jessan Dunn Otis ~ #poem
I stand alone.
I stand alone.
Splattered by a bolt of sun.
@JessanDunnOtis (c) 9.7.18
Open Letter /3/
“Open Letter /3/” by Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you’re a leader.” John Quincy Adams
My tolerance for the present administration in Washington, D.C., has come to an end.
The major players in this administration, after more than enough time in office, have shown themselves to be two-faced, triple-talking, bigoted, smear-happy, opportunistic, money-grubbing, throwers of red herrings; and, masters and mistresses of chaos and confusion.
It continues, ad naseum. Day after day. Week after week. Tweet after Tweet. (Using the Twitter account of a former private citizen, who is no longer a private citizen since swearing in day January, 2016.)
Words matter. Actions matter. Words and actions reflect the character of a person. The words and actions of the major players of this administration become more transparent, self-revealing, disturbing and profoundly embarrassing. Undignified. Rude. Petty. Insulting international leaders, long-standing allies, while insulting then complimenting and admiring other leaders of less than applaudable character who torture or murder their own citizens and systematically squelch and incarcerate any whisper of dissent against their own government.
This is some kind of surreal madness. A world turned topsy-turvy. Up is down. Truth isn’t truth. What was stated one day is mocked and denied the next day.
Does this administration believe that enough folks will forget a couple of years from now and be duped again? Do the folks who voted this administration into office continue to believe that these elected officials are making decisions based on their best interest or their own?
How long can the duplicitousness of this administration continue? How many more lies? How many more insults, slurs and misogynistic, racist, bigoted barbs to be shot out and then denied and/or spun away?
I, for one, have had more than enough. Have you, dear Reader, had enough of this, too? If you answered “Yes.”, my next questions to you are: What are you doing today? What are you going to do the next opportunity you have to stand up and speak out for what you believe?
Finally, I have never liked bullies. I am decidedly uncomfortable with inflated, self-centered personalities. Those three attributes in one person who is the President of the United States is chagrining, disheartening and, ironically, motivating.
It is my goal that Donald J. Trump be a one-term President.
This is the last in a series of three (3) “Open Letters”.
Sailing With My Father – #poem
Sailing With My Father
Historically a quiet man with an
extraordinarily dry wit
When sailing your quietude
became fierce, sailing on
The hand with a piece of shrapnel
from a war on the tiller, holding
Face turned windward, eyes
noting obstacles, checking
cat tail direction
The rush of wind caught to
fill the sails
We were happy.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dedicated, in Love and Memory, to my father, Mahlon Hendrickson Dunn, Jr., 1914-1992 / Until we meet again.
© Jessan Dunn Otis, August 6, 2018
Open Letter /2/
Open Letter /2/
To write that we are living in interesting times is an understatement. To sit back and witness the proliferation of slurs, insults and innuendos and to say nothing is a relinquishment of one’s essential right as a citizen.
I’ve witnessed many changes in administrations over decades. I am hard-pressed to recall such venomous, vitriolic and smarmy behavior as I’ve seen throughout the past two + years. Stooping to the most despicable displays of bullying, consistent strategies of distraction, while slipping in another barb at that one, another demeaning comment about this one. No side of the aisle is truly exempt in this.
However, this behavior does not stop. It rolls across our television screens. Is repeated and reprinted, re-interpreted and propounds itself all over social media – day in, day out.
Our democracy is founded on a few, essential principles – one being that all [people] are created equal. Another principle is that we all have certain, inalienable rights.
Just those two principles are enough to remind me that the founders intended to form a civil society – unlike any other society.
Where did that civility go? How did that lack of civility bring us to this quagmire of dirty, pathetic, embarrassing harangues and hissy fits? Is this your interpretation of democracy?
We, the people, don’t have to agree. In fact, we can be almost diametrically opposed on one or more issues. Neverthemore, when we, as a country, cannot accept and agree to simple, civil discourse, we’re all in very deep trouble. When we, as a people, can only live in the narrow, bigoted, opposition condition of them v. us, you v. me, then I say: “Stop. Enough. Step back. Take a deep breath. Clear your head of distracting noises. Begin, again.”
When the pendulum swings to its apex, it must, in time, swing the other way.
My concern in all this is, if we don’t re-establish a more civil national conversation, we will continue to run and stumble (not walk) down this path of insults, embarrassment, contention, lies and destructive behavior.
Is this what we, the people, want? Is this what you want? Is this your vision of what civil discourse and democracy is?
This is the second in a series of three (3) “Open Letter” posts.
Weeding With My Mother – poem
Weeding With My Mother
I learned to weed a garden
squatting next to my mother
Once I began to learn what was wanted
and what was unwanted
The rest was easy
Get my hands dirty
Smell the earth
Make clean spaces
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dedicated with Love and Memory to Helen Constance Smith Dunn ~ 1912-1980 / Until we meet again.
© Jessan Dunn Otis, June 30, 2018
The beauty of this place
The beauty of this place
Sweet, salted sea air Pine and palm Sugar sand and St. George Island – sand dollar, shark tooth “TomTom, how you doin’?” “I’m doin’ alright.” Tillie Miller Bridge between here and Tiki – Plump, Gulf shrimp and Apalach oysters Hickory smoked chicken and ribs (no rub) and sunfried jellyfish
Seagulls Sea terns Great blue herons Dolphins spyhop and blow every now and then Distant light on Dog Island in a 2:20 AM blueblacknight
Sopchoppy Eastpoint Panacea Alligator Point
A few days back Julie and Artie left, again, having returned from leaving once before and we all walked this beach, beyond the pine tree point, further than any of us had gone before – sea-silvered driftwood, beheaded brown pelican in the brambles of sea grass and pine needles Warming sun Cool, hard-packed, low tide sugar sand under bare feet Sassy leaping pine-stained, sepia rivulets
The laughing gull has returned each morning, greeting and reclaiming its territory and, more than likely, calling out “Sea urchin!” to the others that, eventually, return — glide, drift, rise and drop, land Eat, stay — then, again, depart — leaving this length of calm, shallow bay to terns, herons and egrets to forage
The beauty of this place is as intricately delicate as the silent glideflight of eleven brown pelicans in singular formation, skimming the shallow wave crests – moving from east to west – becoming, eventually, a pulsing line disappearing into the horizon
The beauty of this place
The red smirch of Crystal hot sauce spilled at the edge of a previous high tide line, scattered with Apalachicola oyster shells from our early evening appetizers, has been consumed by the storm-driven, rough chop of last night’s rain, wind and the approaching full moon Wind out of the Southeast, breaking diagonal crests of gunmetal gray and the red buoy strains on its chains as the tide shifts and the channel churns
There is violence in the beauty of this place, too – ships lost, lives swallowed whole, coyotes grab dogs, alligators grab anything
Waves meet land and visibly reverberate back into water, again –
making unmaking remaking
A broken buoy drifts Freed until it’s caught on low tide sea grass before this tide turns The sun breaches darkening, layered afternoon storm clouds to the West, while brilliantly illuminating the etched, white sandbar over there
Burble of language bounces inside my ear – “Hey! How you doin’?” heard so often it becomes as familiar and unnoticed as the wave and the air and this light
The beauty of this place is as much a mystery to me as you
Bert and Kathy, Hattie and Zack – come and met and gone Orange and onion salad, frittatas made and shared Al and Sandy, Sharon and Larry, Scotty, Doug, Gen and Ted Sun-warmed, woman laughing with Pat — LaVerne with her easy, flashing Apalach smile Kim and Tony and oystering all Monday morning across from St. Vincent because the rip was too chopped
Three brilliant, crested egrets graze along this shore, dolphins pass and blow and continue on, as heedless of us as the swarm of terns that rise and twist and glide away to feed further down on this storm-tossed, driven gloss
WOYS, Oyster Radio, 100.5 FM, plays softly as the shrouded sun journeys further West The playful pinwheel whirls and chatters, stick jammed between the weathered 1st and 2nd boards of that well-worn picnic table Just outside this open window, burlap oyster bag flaps
Steelwater, forbidding wind along this coast of Carrabelle Another invisible finger whips this water, etching new (yet ancient) patterns
Tide turns, distant sandbar, barrier beach revealed Unseen fish school as flocks follow and feed, far off
Damp, salted air Thin, singular electric line that leads from shore to dock light Whisper of wave and wind
The beauty of this place
No matter where I go nor what I do, the beauty of this place will taste like home as salt is in my tears
The apparent void dissolved The horizon I can never reach will always draw me in, seeming to want to go further than my eye can see, when the greatest daring starts within
The beauty of this place…
~ ~ ~
Dedicated to: Suzanne Creamer, Stephine McDowell, Marlene Moore, Jennifer Moro, Albert Otis, Jennifer Pickett, C.J.(Joe)Pouncey, Sassy, Judi Rundel
~ ~ ~
HoHum RV Park/Carrabelle, Florida/January-February, 2004
(c)Jessan Dunn Otis / 2004-2017
Open Letter /1/
Open Letter /1/
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you’re a leader.” John Quincy Adams
I unequivocally stand up and speak out to recent egregious events, actions and words put forth by America’s leaders.
The United States of America, as an ideal, is greater than all Americans combined. However, our history is splattered with blood, violence and death. That history splattered, yet again, on the streets of Charlottesville most recently.
Throughout our history there have been lies, deceptions, cover-ups, atrocities in the name of “science”, lynchings, and slurs. The “rule of law” has become almost unrecognizable. Rampant, thinly-disguised discrimination from our “discovery”: based on race, sex, color, religion, sexual preference, income, education, place of residence, national origin, occupation, attire, hairstyle, etc., has been/continues to be the norm. The lists go on.
If we continue to make the choice to hate, demean, insult, disrespect and attack each other, at home and abroad, based on whatever characteristics we want to use for our own agendas, this is the America we’ll continue to create and this is the America from which others will move away, distrust and attack.
I’ll have none of it.
This is not my America. Hate is not my choice. The values of the present administration and other leaders are not my values.
Each morning I wake up grateful for another day. Nevertheless, when I look in the mirror of the America that’s been created today, much of what I see is self-serving hubris, pandering, hissy fits, policies inarticulately blurted out in 140 characters from a bogus Twitter account, some of the worst “positioning” to sustain and accrue more apparent and presumed “power” (while not offending too many people); and, making absolutely certain that “the base” is kept re-invigorated and juiced up with rallying cries of political promises that cannot be kept. Neither predominant political party is exempt.
This is not my America.
We can agree to disagree on many points, with respect. But, when our “leaders” persist in appealing to the basest human emotions of fear and hate, bullying anyone and everyone who disagrees or gets in their way, our American mirror must reflect what’s there, be seen clearly, no flinching and called out.
For my part, I re-affirm to treat others as I wish to be treated. I resolve to listen and respond with respect, even if we passionately disagree. I stand firm on the side of tolerance, understanding, empathy, compassion, social justice, non-violence, equality, ethical and individual responsibility, respecting our Constitution; and, my right to question authority.
Is this what we, the people, accept?
This is the first in a series of three (3) “Open Letter” posts.
Think of all the things you’ve done to “make money”. That, in itself, is a ridiculous concept. We don’t “make money”, the government does. We, you and I, earn money.
I started earning money as a girl – granted an allowance for accomplishing certain chores. Chores done, allowance paid. No chores done, no allowance. Some chores completed, partial payment.
At 19 I landed my first “adult” job as a clerk-typist at a social service in Providence, Rhode Island. Paid weekly. Still living at home with my parents in Warwick, RI. Within a few months I fledged myself. Time to go out on my own. One room apartment on the East Side, shared bath, no parking. Independent. Earning money. Paying my own bills.
Some time later I began to see and understand better about what money, as a thing, did to folks. The earning of it, who had more of it, who had less of it and how those two conditions stratified and segregated people from and against each other. Judgements. “Better than” because one had more money. “Less than” because of having not so much money.
This is nothing to say about how the getting of that money perverted folks – what one did to get more, as if the flash and bling and apparent “power” that all that money was had made a person, somehow, superior or more influential, ultimately.
I still earn money and appreciate what it allows me to do – support a household, buy food, purchase something beautiful, share it to support a charitable cause or new initiative. There are times, however, when I think about the earlier tradition of barter – I have something you want, you have something I want, we determine a fair value, make the deal and each of us walks away satisfied and happy. Simple. Neverthemore, in most Westernized societies, barter has faded and it’s the dollar that rules.
Next time you think about money, think about what it really is – a coin or a decorated piece of paper – and, what it takes to earn it, how the having or not having it creates false and devastating divisions between us (as people and as nations); and, what’s the true value and human cost of “earning money”.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
(c) 6/8/ 2017
written by: Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer
Happy Birthday ~ poem
Can you remember;
or, is it only a story
told and told until it becomes
what you believe is your reality
That day you mysteriously passed
from one realm into the next,
having floated in that seawomb
Yelping, speechless, totally dependent –
one year later a celebration of one year
passed; and, on and on until there are
Some I’ve known have come and gone so fast
it took my breath away and, to this day,
their sudden loss is felt
Others stayed for many years, celebration
after celebration until, finally, all the
vital parts slowed down, faded, failing, slipping
Loved short or long (some unknown, but
told of or heard on the evening news) It is
the way we all must go — from flesh to flesh
and dust to dust, we do not know the number
of our days
(In this dark, still night I think about these things)
The coming in
The going out
It is the Spirit that survives, lives on
Only for a moment or two (however short
or long that is) does Spirit take body and is
Leaders and the Strategy of Distraction – essay
There are a lot of things that can distract us these days. Should “leaders” fall into that grouping?
More than a few “leaders” employ the strategy of distraction, tossing out red herrings willy-nilly and expecting the populace to follow.
I’m not falling for it. Listening with a long memory of “leaders” who have come before, the art of the strategy of distraction is one that is particularly dishonest, disingenuous and demeaning.
When asked a direct question, give a direct answer. Simple enough.
We certainly live in interesting times. Leaders need to lead forthrightly, without talking down to the populace nor intentionally and/or unintentionally employing their particular spin on the strategy of distraction.
I am a writer
Let’s begin by understanding one thing – I wasn’t always a writer. After all, once I accomplished the required rudiments of beginning to become a human being – i.e. sitting up, eating human food, beginning to learn language, walking and all – I was just a little girl, growing up.
Somewhere along the way, however, I learned that words have meaning – often, deep meanings. That speaking the right word can either encourage or profoundly discourage myself and others; and, unfortunately, that words can be used as weapons.
Some time later I, also, learned to write words. Sometimes they were “funny words”, like “sword” (that I learned how to spell by emphasizing the “sw” sound and, then, adding the remaining “…ord”). I have a long and growing list of “funny words”. Another one might be “ghabberflasted” (intentionally flipped ’round for memorability, emphasis, and humor).
Eventually, I began to, somewhat, “eat” words – rolling them over in my mouth for pronunciation, “digesting” the deeper meanings, learning the human history of words. I think, at that point, I was hooked; but, didn’t consciously realize it yet. I was on the path to becoming a writer; whether a public writer or a private writer didn’t matter.
Subsequently, the unconscious became conscious as I wrote more. I thought, as a returned undergraduate, I would major in English and, then, earn a J.D. in law to, eventually, specialize in international law, with sitting on the World Court as my goal.
Halfway through my undergraduate degree (I went back as a sophomore), what can only be called a phenomenological occurrence happened. My World Court goal took a one-week hiatus. I talked with two writers and two lawyers that I knew and respected. At the end of one week, I decided to go into writing not law; and, didn’t know it was poetry until I wrote more.
The rest of this story is my continuing history as a writer – earning my graduate degree, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island) with the concentration in poetry. Sending out submissions, receiving acceptances, being published in various literary journals; and, eventually, teaching at the college level for eight (8) years. From time to time I continue to be invited to be a Guest Lecturer and Visiting Artist. These days I’m, also, invited to be a presenter based on my adventures as a woman-owned entrepreneur.
When my teaching gigs ended, I began to develop my skills, expertise, and acumen as a commercial, independent, strategic freelance writer and editor. I had come to understand that the world wide web, hence the internet, is founded on and completely driven by words. That was in May, 1996. I became a bootstrapped, solopreneur founding Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer.
At this time, poetry continues to be the foundation and inspriation I have as a writer. Thankfully, poetry continues to flow. Clients continue to reach out to me when they feel that my experience, expertise, and skills best match their well-funded projects.
Finally, the following quote by Mark Twain are the words upon which my logo was created:
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
…and, that answers the question (more or less) how and why I became a writer.
Enjoy this day you make/are given.
The Cambridge Poem
T H E C A M B R I D G E P O E M ~ #poetry
Commencement Address – Class of 1990 – The Cambridge School, Weston, MA
Give your regards when you go to the reunion and at the dinner,
say that you were thinking about them They’ll, eventually, recall
your name; you went to the movies with that one, felt the weight
of their life when they sat next to you – they never said a word
All of you are rising friends: one used to play the piano, one once
wrote a play, one even seemed awakened enough to photograph the
fields as the unencumbered with tutored minds and unrehearsed passions
Meet them at the door, they’ve brought the souvenirs of time; a seashell
from the Pacific, the nose of a marble saint, and from the field
a spent casing divulged from the flower bed
Face a rising world bearing its gifts in its hands, kiss your incidental
dreams – rise, move away, take others
Give your regards to the well-protected; you knew them, you went
to school together There’s something to bury when you begin
to move away When you are ready and rich in your wish for the
world, you have a new race to start
From the heart of this darkened quadrangle, I hear the library
hum, an immense chorus of writers murmur inside their books along
the unlit, alphabetical shelves; each one stitched into their
own private coat, (you will have to write your own) together forming
a continuous, enormous breath of language
I picture a figure in the act of reading, shoes on the desk, head tilted
into the wind, a person in two worlds, holding the nape of their neck
as another’s life saturates the page; or, in the middle of a thesis,
moving from paragraph to verse, touring endless rooms (you will have to write your own)
I hear the voice of my mother and father reading and inside their
voices lay other, distant sounds
I see us reading ourselves away from ourselves, straining in circles of
light to find more light until the line of words becomes a trail
that we follow across a page and you will have to listen hard to
hear the voices going away (and, you will have to write your own).
© 1990 Jessan Dunn (DeCredico) Otis
All We Are Are Our Stories
All We Are Are Our Stories
I’ve been told that the first human sound I ever heard was, most likely, laughter; as my mother looked over the drape, surrounded by a bevy of student nurses, and asked, “Over hand or feather stitch?” as Dr. Vorsick repaired her episiotomy.
This is where my story began. Since then, looking back, there’s no way I could have predicted nor anticipated the journey from then to now – just as well, I suspect.
All posts are my own, unless I invite someone to share their stories – with the exception, of course, of “Comments”. All credit where credit is due will be made.
There is only one primary and permanent guideline: play nice with the other children. This site/blog is open to all and any comments, opinions, and points of view. However, if what you write is inflammatory, bigoted, narrow-minded and/or hateful, I will delete it.
That rather unpleasant matter aside, I look forward to telling stories, sharing stories, listening to stories, and learning more as we all journey through this thing called Life.
What say you, please?
The Day – for ARO
The day the universe brought us into our life, together,
was some kind of miracle, saving us
unexpected, but not (perhaps) unbidden
When we meet someone for the first time
we’re strangers to each other
Strangers no more, forever.
Jessan Dunn Otis (c) 2023