Monday, October 22, 2012

Blogtoberfest Day #22: Know that you are connected to everything

As those of you who witnessed my contribution to yesterday's Sunday Snippets may have gathered, I did not make it out of my jammies all weekend. I had all good intentions: there was a party to attend, errands to run, things to do, sunshine to be savoured, calls to be made.

Tummy cramps were a pretty good incentive to stay snuggled in with a hot water bottle, a cup of tea and a great book. But some weekends are just like that, so I decided to go with it and gave myself permission to pike out of pretty much everything except for hanging with my husband and daughter.

I read Lilly Brett's Lola Bensky in practically one sitting. I'm not sure I could write a review that would do the book justice, but I wanted to share that passages like this made me cry:

"What do you mope about?" said Lola.

"A feeling of emptiness, a feeling of loneliness, a feeling that I'm not good enough," Janis Joplin.

"Not good enough at what?" said Lola.

"Not good enough at anything," said Janis Joplin.

Lola felt sad. She recognised something about the sadness that Janis Joplin was talking about, the loneliness Janis Joplin was talking about. It would take Lola decades to feel her own loneliness. She didn't know she was lonely. Se knew she was fat. And she knew she was hungry.

Lilly Brett really was a music journalist in London and New York in the late 1960s. The extent to which Lola's experiences matched Lilly's actual encounters is probably not the point: they feel real. Sure, they closely match what has been documented elsewhere about the offstage personalities of Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Mama Cass, Sonny and Cher, and Janis Joplin (among others). But they also take on a special poignance when viewed through the lens of a shy, serious girl who is the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

The Holocaust stories, the burdens of those who survived, make for heavy going.

But it was the inner struggles of the woman narrating that struck the deepest chord with me. The insecure, intense girl who: interviewed Jimi Hendrix whilst mentally calculated how many calories she'd eaten that day; competed with Mama Cass for the cruellest comments about her weight inflicted by her parents; invited Janis Joplin to share a moment unmasked.

I was a beautiful reminder that whoever we are and wherever we've been -- whether we've been brutalised by humanity, or witnessed artists in their ascendancy -- we're not all that far apart.

Today, as you're going about your everyday business, I invite you to take a moment to stop, breathe and really feel where you are. And know that your struggles (however small or huge or idiosyncratic or unbelievable), as well as your joys (however crazy or fleeting or majestic or domestic), are universal and eternal.


  1. Great post Kat - I will take up your invitation for today and am definitely adding that book to my 'to read list'

  2. You have such an amazing way with words, Kat. Thanks for this post and, I too, have added the book to my reading list. :)

    Feel better soon ~

  3. Love. And Lola Bensky is on my must-read list now.