I was sitting in a club, about ten years ago, where my friend David, was playing guitar with a fellow musician, Lynda, whom he had recently met. Lynda’s friend came along, Joan, and over the loud rhythmic noises emanating from the stage, she and I struck up a conversation. It was difficult to hear her – “what”, i kept saying – but I was able to catch her very dry vermouth-like humor, recognize Joan’s smarts and the way she kind of forced me to respond with wise quips.
And I liked her tattoos.
I had never really schmoozed with a woman like that. We ultimately fell in love and dated for seven years. That’s my shelf life, and pretty much her’s for relationships. But that’s not the point really. What is? Well it’s the fact I’d met someone who is a ‘warrior’. And we became friends.
Joan Ruzsa is focused. She is tunnel-vision focus so much so that if a boulder or a person gets in her way she goes around them, or through them. Joan is unbend-able, until she decides she wants to bend. Seven years of therapy school, ultimately graduating as a therapist helped her with that. But mostly, this 46 year-old purveyor of truth is the only person I had ever met whom I wanted to write a script about. I never did but that’s not because her light has faded in my eyes. No, not at all, but simply because I come up with a zillion ideas and only implement one or two of them.
What would the script be about? It would include an entire scene with dim lighting showing Joan on the phone in her office at Rittenhouse (where she is the CEO), a non-profit mandated to help guys on the ‘inside’ – in jail, and educate the public on the cruel reality of incarceration and the possibility of alternative forms of justice. She would be talking with a ‘lifer’ in a penitentiary somewhere in Ontario. She would be counselling him on how to deal with his depression, or ways and means she could help gather documentation to use for his next trial, or what to say to his mom when she calls him again and cries the entire phone call.
Joan is an activist. She is the same decent, loving, curious, funny, serious person I met at that club whom I could barely here, who fights the fight with bare fists and does so graciously, with class and charisma. She climbs walls in her spare time and is now learning how to use her bread maker and make vegan donuts. Joan is bubbling over with growth and she gives an enormous shit about our world and the most vulnerable.