Praying for the Enemy

I spent a good part of dinner talking about a person who irritated me, who set my teeth on edge, a person whose head I wanted to smack upside until it bounced like a bobble. I was completely justified in my irritation, but that didn’t make me any more fun to be around. I was annoying myself—I can only imagine how annoying I was to everyone else who doesn’t love me as much as I love me.

Someone said, “Have you tried praying for them?”

I thought: No. Really? Maybe. Really?

I thought about praying this person got the life I thought they deserved because I was, at that moment (honestly, there have probably been way too many of these moments) auditioning for the parts of both judge and jury of the whole wide world (which is different than the World Wide Web in several ways, the most important of which is the capitalization*). I’d already elected myself the Diva of the DMV, (Too slow to merge? Afraid of changing lanes? Not signaling when you turn? Not turning your signal off after you do? No driver’s license for you! Doomed to a life of public transportation.) so judge and jury of the known universe was not exactly a stretch

I thought a little bit more. I wanted this person to know how much they irritated me and why. So, I tried it. I prayed for their life to be filled with compassion, kindness, and awareness of their effect on others. I’ve done it for a few days in a row now.

I don’t know if they’ve changed at all. I don’t know if prayer works that way— changing other people or events or things at all. What I do know is that the chip on my shoulder slipped off somewhere along the line.

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*There will be grammar. There will be Oxford commas. I cannot guarantee there will not be pop quizzes.

Stand Up.

Every day I wake up, scan the news, Twitter and Facebook and every day there are new stories of:

Every day I see the rights and lives and safety of women and people of color disregarded and crushed by white men in uniforms and white men of influence and white men with academic *futures*

Our police system is broken. Our justice system is broken. Our prison system is broken. Our education system is broken.

White non-Hispanics make up only 63% of this country, down from 80% in 1980. Folks of color are on their way to becoming the majority.  There are already more women than men here. Standing together we can fix what is broken, alone we become targets in ways we have not seen for decades.

I don’t know how this gets fixed, but I believe it can be.
And I know that answer isn’t silence.
Or protest votes.
Or looking the other way.
It is in action, not reaction.
It is standing up for what you believe in.
Standing for what is right for the world, not just for myself.
Standing for what is right, not just what is easier.
And standing up for the rights and lives of total strangers.

You must stand for something! It does not have to be grand, but it must be a positive that brings light to someone else’s darkness. – Anthony Carmona, President of Trinidad and Tobago

thirty years later…

I had to take a little time off from the “other” blog, from writing in general. I’d written about the rape. Again. It’s hard. I was going to say You don’t know what you take from us when you rape us. But, I’d be speaking to people who either don’t care – those who rape on uncontrollable instinct, who feel entitled; or to those who do care – those who rape with the intent of breaking our soul – pimps, mercenaries, warriors.

The rape I wrote about was almost thirty years ago. I think I should be over it already. But, apparently, I’m not.

It was not my first. I was in a blackout the first time and only put the pieces together afterwards. It probably wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been drunk enough to black out. But I was. It did. And I don’t remember the details. Blackouts are a mixed blessing that way.

And truthfully, the blackout is only the first time I can bear to think about. What came before are scattered puzzle pieces, each belonging to a different puzzle picture.

The rape I wrote about wasn’t even the last time I was attacked. Statistics show that once a person is raped, molested, assaulted, the chance of it happening again, rises. Here are some statistics.

Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

  • 1 in 3 American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
  • 1 in 4 college women have either been raped or suffered attempted rape.
  • 1 in 7 women will be raped by her husband.
  • 1 in 12 males students surveyed had committed acts that met the legal definition of rape. 84% said what they’d done was definitely not rape.
  • Only 16% of rapes are reported to the police.
  • Only 6% of rapists will spend a day in jail.

FAIL: The United States has the world’s highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics. It’s 4 times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England, and 20 times higher than Japan.

Survivors of sexual assault are:

Stop it, okay? Just fucking stop it.

Statistics from: RAINN.org and Coalition Educating About Sexual Endangerment (CEASE)

donuts : the great equalizer

Someday’s I’m a pancake, but as long as I flip before I burn, it’s all good.

I was driving in to the city this morning, on my way to do all kinds of good & spiritual things and getting all kinds of cranky because of road construction on the BQE, also known as New York’s perpetual construction zone. Sooner or later the construction has to wind up at your exit, today was my day, and at certain points, all three lanes merged into one.

And then that one single lane, stopped.

A wiry little construction worker, in the requisite neon orange vest and dark roadwork tan waved a SLOW sign, then flipped it to STOP. Traffic stopped, backed up, and we waited — until the man carrying two dozen Dunkin’ Donuts crossed the road –then we were waved on and all was right with the world.

I had to let it go. How can I be angry when my day is held up for the delivery of my favorite donuts to my favorite group of guys?

Mama loves a working man. I especially love road construction crews. It’s hard, hot work and as much as I’m jonesing for the chance to operate heavy machinery, I’d hate to have to do it daily. The sun beating down, rain pelting your face, soaking your clothes, hot tar fumes, breathing exhaust all day, all day, all day. Gentlemen of the road, you of Caterpillars, Pavers & Road Rollers, I salute you. If your day can be made a little lighter, a little brighter by the delivery of 24 Dunkin’ Donuts, who am I to bitch about my time? Seriously.

Dunkin Donuts can unite the world.

When I was nine years old I ran away from home. I packed my blue plastic suitcase, stuffed all my money in a red knee-sock that had long since lost its ability to stay up without use of a rubber band and walked away. After about a mile, I stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts.

I pulled forty-five cents out of the sock — enough for a Boston Creme, a cup of milked-down coffee and a dime to call my mother who promptly came and got me.

I’d gone far enough. I don’t remember what was bothering my nine year old self, what it was that prompted me to “leave home” that day, but whatever it was, Dunkin’ Donuts made it okay, at least for that day.

A properly timed Dunkin’ Donut can change your whole day.

If I hadn’t been held up in traffic, hadn’t had to wait for the well-muscled, bare-armed, gleaming with sweat heavy road construction guy carrying two dozen donuts, I would’ve been out of the car by the time this came on to WBGO’s Saturday morning Function in the Junction. Not to be missed, Willis “Gator-Tail” Jackson’s Good to the Bone. [audio:http://onlythejodi.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/15-good-to-the-bone3.mp3]

A properly timed blues saxophone can also change my whole day….

peeing on my own leg

I’ve had to let go of resentments that aren’t in my best interest. I’m not sure any resentment is ever in my best interest. What’re those sayings? Resentments are like taking poison and waiting for your enemy to die? Or like peeing on your own leg–no one feels it but you?

Two years ago I was turned down for a graduate education program, a blessing in disguise. I’ve been told my whole life that I look like a school teacher, but I do not, repeat, do not have the skills or temperament. It’s a case of wanting to want.

I want to want to be a teacher. I think I should. I shouldn’t. Really. I shouldn’t. But I forget.

I wasted a week in anger this past month trying to force the admissions office to tell me why they rejected me, two years ago. I went on a wild goose chase to a handful of different officials, each one pointing me towards someone else until I was back where I started.

I got aggressive and sarcastic.

They stopped returning my emails.

What was that all about? I’m in a graduate program for something I love.

I want control.
I’m not working, my life is in flux & the need for control rears it’s ugly head. Big time.
I think I need to know everything, need to run every show.

When I was as kid and the phone rang, I’d race to get it. Frequently, my dad beat me to it. Afterwards when I asked, he wouldn’t tell me who it’d been. He did that too, on family outings. I’d be told only to get my coat, but not where we were going. Drenched in the cold sweat of my absolute powerlessness, drowning in the fear and panic of having no control over where I was going, those trips were excruciating. It didn’t happen every time, just often enough.

I don’t know if he withheld this arbitrary information out of petty meanness or he thought it was funny, if it fed his need for control or if he was simply trying to teach me to chillax and overcome the obsessive need I had to control something, anything, everything. Probably some combo platter, but it felt mean.

I still struggle with needing to know everything & having to run the show. Really, I need to accept that I’m never even going to know most things and the “show” generally runs perfectly well without my help.

I got an email last week. Graduate applications are destroyed after that particular semester begins. I spent all that time and energy, all that anger, trying to force people to look at something that no longer exists.

Everything in life is a lesson. Everything. The best I can hope for is to get the lesson the first time so I don’t have to keep replaying the same tapes, four times, five times and on and on.

This was not my first lesson about powerlessness and resentment, but it only lasted a week, so it I’m down to the Cliff Notes versions, rather than the Encyclopedia Britannica.