Closest to Me


May 23, 2013 by Katia

I blog for many reasons. Too many to name. Chief amongst them is that it brings me closest to my true self, a nearly extinct relationship that I cherish and crave.

Sometimes when 4 Year Old, Master of Emotional Extortion that he is, wants to fish for sympathy after doing something he shouldn’t have, he uses this catch phrase “I guess I should go and stay in somebody else’s home”. I’ve never realized until now that this has been my emotional reality for the better part of the last six years, which I’ve spent living “in somebody else’s skin”. While I am not sure that that entity was well defined enough to be wholeheartedly referred to as “somebody else” but it most certainly wasn’t me, since everything that defined me once had changed.

This is Me and Where I am - Joanne Fitzgerald

This is Me and Where I am – By Joanne Fitzgerald

This is a book that 4 Year Old got for his first birthday from my friend, Mary.

This book demonstrates the concept that we are all part of something larger, a Babushka-doll-like construction of concentric circles with us in the middle surrounded by our room, our house, street, neighbourhood, city, insert family where applicable and you get the picture.

Before 2007 this was me:


This was my family:


My house:


My street:


My city:

English: Tel Aviv, shore.

Tel-Aviv, shore (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

And my country:

Topographic map of Israel. Created with GMT fr...

Map of Israel.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then I moved to this country. 

A topographic map of Canada, showing elevation...

Map of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This city:

English: Panorama of Toronto. Français : Image...

Panorama of Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After a while I ended up on this street:

May 2013 059

On the left side of this house:

May 2013 060

This is now my family:

March - c 155

And I am a different Katia. Did you notice how everything got bigger once I moved? Well, I shrunk.


When I first moved I became a ghost, a neither here nor there type of being. I’d wake up at whatever time I did and immediately add 7 hours to the local time, so I could fine tune my biological watch and “correctly” place myself. For a few years I’d continue multiplying the prices of local products by four to get an idea of how much they’d cost in another, non-relevant reality. I’ve split into three, my authentic pre-immigration self, and two local beings: new immigrant Katia and Meta Katia, constantly hovering over the new immigrant one’s head, correcting her behaviours, criticizing and judging her for using the wrong English word, constantly assessing and updating the charts on her daily levels of fitting in. New immigrant me couldn’t just be, because it was ‘being’ in so many parallel, non babushka-doll-like, non overlapping circles and levels that I was no longer a monolithic coherent structure but a fragmented one. Now add new motherhood to the equation.

I could write a book with the various excuses I’ve come up with over the years for not writing. Chief amongst them in the last six years is that immigrant Katia can’t write in a language that is not her native one. Last summer 9 Month Old was born. Once he safely emerged into the world, two weeks ahead of time, part of me was probably ready to let go of fear and I started writing.

I blog because writing feels like being me.

I blog because writing brought friends who think and feel like me into my life.

I blog because every post of mine that gets published on other websites is a triumph for new immigrant Katia.

I blog because every retweet of my posts from my accomplished blogger friends and from writers I look up to such as Marinka and Jeni Marinucci brings immigrant Katia another step closer to the authentic me.

Why do you blog?

This post has been a Finish the Sentence Friday contribution. Please visit our wonderful hosts:

Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real

Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?

Dawn at Dawn’s Disaster

Kristi at Finding Ninee


61 thoughts on “Closest to Me

  1. Beautiful Katia and am so with you on blogging, because it just feels right to me, too. Thank you as always for linking up with us, too!! 🙂

  2. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    This was incredibly powerful- I am reeling from the honesty and wholeness of your emotions in this post. You have so much self-awareness, and you are so masterful and articulate when you write. I still shake my head when I remember that English is not your native tongue. You are amazing.

    • Katia says:

      🙂 And you always put a smile on my face, whether it’s with your posts or comments. Thank you so much for everything you said here, especially the last sentence, you know now how much this means to me!

  3. I adore how you incorporated the words with the photos and got smaller and things got bigger…and wow. Awesome. You make the rest of us look bad that English is our first language. Writing brought friends who think and feel like me into my life, too. Writers like you.

    • Katia says:

      My smile just got a little bigger. Thank you SO much, my friend. I have to tell you, I got the Parenting Gag Reel paperback delivered today and my husband was flipping through it. I heard him comment: this is SO true! And then I realized he was reading your post about co-sleeping with 3-year-olds.

      Thank you SO much for your words, Kristi. Reading tonight’s comments just warmed my heart.

  4. Pam says:

    This was beautiful. I’ve been reading your blog for a month or two now and I had no idea English was not your native language, btw. I love your honesty and vulnerability. I’m glad you decided to let go of the fear and started writing.

  5. flemily says:

    I love all of those reasons for your blogging as well as your honesty. And I had no idea you moved here from Israel! Wow, you have a lot to be proud of…keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Katia says:

      I am so glad you know now, I always feel a little better when people know, in case I do make a totally embarrassing Whose/who’s kind of mistake 🙂 Thank you so much, though, Emily!

  6. canigetanotherbottleofwhine says:

    Wow, for English not being your native language, you write really well. You write better than I do. This is a beautiful post, Katia. I’m always moved by your writing.

  7. Jean says:

    Girl, you are awesome. I had huge expectations when I arrived on your blog tonight and you went above and beyond, as always.

  8. Brian says:

    It must have been a huge adjustment to make a move such as that. Losing track of yourself for a time–or at least feeling like you didn’t belong–is to be expected! It’s great that you found something (blogging) to set yourself right again.

    I love reading your words, and I’d join with those who say your English is outstanding. You’re truly better than many native speakers. I suspect you have a natural talent for writing, and the language barrier could not obstruct that for long.

    • Katia says:

      I always look forward to reading your comments and I am so happy that my level of English gets an official thumbs up from you. From following your blog I know you take English seriously. 🙂

  9. So glad to have found you and to know a bit of your story. I’d also never guess you weren’t writing in your native language.

  10. Karin Kivioja-Miller says:

    A friend of mine sent me the link to your masterfully written piece! I immediately connected with so much of what you said, as I’m also an immigrant, from Finland. I haven’t followed a specific writer’s blogs before, but because I really connected with yours, I’ll make yours one I regularly read. Thank you!

    • Katia says:

      I think that I also blog for comments like this. It makes me unbelievably happy that you found some resonance in this of your own experience as well as that you should want to continue reading more. I’ll try not to disappoint!

  11. This was beautiful! So original and honest. I love how you used the pictures within your post to add to your themes. I’m in awe of the beauty of your language and the complexity of your themes, especially when I consider that this is not your first language. Whatever small errors or obstacles that you feel because of the language difference, those challenges are more than overcome by the power of these words.

    • Katia says:

      And this is so kind of you, Jessica! You have no idea how much it means to read comments like this from writers I appreciate so much. Thank you so SO much!

  12. Your post made me stop & think. It’s so easy to forget we’re all part of a larger picture. I moved across the country & I thought that was crazy. I can only imagine what moving across the world was like. Thank you for your honesty!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Bianca! You know what, it may not have been all THAT different, I’m sure that we’ve experienced a lot of the same emotions, at the knowledge we both won’t be running into any people we knew on the street, having to build new friendships from scratch etc. I’m sure there was an added layer of estrangement from moving countries but I think that basically we’ve gone through a lot of the same.

  13. Heather says:

    I feel like this is such and honest and open post. I struggle with vulnerability. You seem like such an amazing, charming, and humble person. I think this is the best FTSF there has been. I’m really enjoying your blog and I hope you find Katia again.

    • Katia says:

      Oh, wow, Heather, what do I say to that? Thank you so much, comments like that really fuel me for my next posts. I’m so proud that you think so highly of my post. I look forward to reading yours this evening while my babies allow me a bit more free time 🙂

  14. […] Closest to Me ( […]

  15. I know that everyone here is your biggest fan, but I am really your biggest fan :)! Your words are masterful and I can never read your posts before I write my own because I lose my own thoughts in the way that you craft yours. You say everything I MEAN to say only better 🙂 I am learning a great deal from you and I love your blog. Thank you for sharing your inner most (realest) self. It is a pleasure to read your words.

    • Katia says:

      This was so amazing that I had to share this with my mom, a big fan, I hope you don’t mind 😀 You have no idea how empowering it is to read a comment like that. I am so grateful that you would feel that way about my words and I am too familiar with the feeling of having someone else express exactly what I’ve been meaning to convey, I think all of us writers go through this (did you notice, I just called us writers!).

      • Wow! I am honored! We are writers because we write, right? That’s how most people get started. You really are an inspiration and I look forward to where the journey leads. You should be proud, you have so much to be proud about!

  16. Kate says:

    This is the best reason to blog ever! You are great!

  17. Dana says:

    The real Katia is the one who is brave enough and honest enough to share with those of us fortunate enough to read your blog. If only all native English speakers wrote as articulately as you do! It’s hard enough to hold onto yourself when you become a mom; I can only imagine how much more challenging it is when you move across the world. I’m glad you found that writing helps – don’t ever stop!

    • Katia says:

      There are not enough words to describe how heart-warming reading the comments has been, and what a wonderful thing to say, Dana! Thank you so much, this means the world to me.

  18. Terrye says:

    Wow, those are some deep reasons for blogging. So glad it’s helping you to reach the person you want to be!

    • Katia says:

      Well, I don’t think I started doing it for those reasons but this is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made regarding what blogging brings into my life. Thank you so much, Terrye!

  19. Considerer says:

    “immigrant Katia can’t write in a language that is not her native one.” I beg to differ.

    I love your description of the ‘Meta Katia’ – that’s such a good way of describing it – that critical voice we all hear at times.

    • Katia says:

      Oh, thank you! This is music to my ears 🙂 Yes, I thought Meta Katia was kind of funny, because she was Katia about Katia 😛 It’s always reassuring, though, to hear that we all have one of those…

  20. I enjoyed reading your post. I can identify with the drive to understand/explain the world and I applaud your act to step out of ‘pre-defined definitions’. The responses to your Post show the incredible wealth of… life enrichment that is available to those with the heart and the will and the courage to step outside of (our) limitations.

    • Katia says:

      Cool from Clark is about as cool as it gets. Thank you so much! I do agree, stepping outside of your comfort zone is very important for growth.

  21. The Waiting says:

    This is wonderful in roughly 32,746 ways ;D Your take on the life as an immigrant is so intimate and I identify with a lot of it because I lived overseas myself for a couple years.

    Blogging has made my world smaller and safer too. It gives me an incredible amount of peace knowing that there are people who understand my struggles and hopes that I share.

    • Katia says:

      Amazing, because that happens to be my favourite number! 🙂

      I haven’t thought of it that way, but I agree, it’s intimate. Interesting how some things you would never tell about yourself in real life find their way out so easily in writing. I’m so glad that some of what I described was recognizable to you and I share your feelings about blogging.

  22. Wow Katia, “Well I shrunk” was very powerful little sentence – very honest. I wonder if we’ve all been there or if its just some. I am a military wife but my husband is retired now. We do not live where we are from and for a long time because I wasn’t settled, I didn’t feel settled in so many ways. One wish I had for my child before he ever came into this world, not knowing that it would work out the it has, is that he wouldn’t be a military child that had to move everywhere. I think it just takes something out of you each time that you have to build back. Kids are resilient though. Adults I think it takes much more. Wonderful post.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Kenya. I do think that we’ve all been there to a degree. We’ve all felt like outsiders at one point or another regardless of whether we were in our country or not. I am glad that Christopher doesn’t have to move around a lot, although I tend to agree with you, kids are much more resilient than grown ups that way.

  23. Lisa W. says:

    Wow! This is a beautiful post. I love how descriptive you are and the pictures added such a wonderful touch. I never would have guessed that English was not your primary language either!

  24. Jen says:

    Well I love JUST Katia. I somehow feel I understand your pain, my mom went through what you did. She came from Israel to the US not speaking any english and was thrust into a new world. She has told me many stories about how hard it was for her. You write beautifully about the many ways that pulled you apart. I have always loved how you write, and never thought you had trouble with the language at all. You have always contributed relevant and important things, and I really am so glad you opened up! Thank you!

  25. Lance says:

    Good grief, I loved this. I feel like I really got to know you.

    Knowing why we write is as important as what we write. I believe that.

    Happy Memorial Day

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Lance! I would have loved to read your take on this topic. Maybe join us for next Finish The Sentence Friday? I am so happy you enjoyed the read.

  26. […] Katia’s post on I Am The Milk: Closest to Me […]

  27. I love the analogy of how your new home photos got bigger because you were getting smaller. I have felt that way too; especially when we moved to Jersey and left everything and everyone behind. I identify so much with why you blog. Glad to have found your blog and thank you so much for linking up to my hop Katia!

    • Katia says:

      I am so glad you can see yourself in this. Not that it makes me happy that someone else should feel that way, I just mean it from a writer’s perspective. I love your Monday blog hops, your posts are always so much fun and I’ve found so many great blogs through you, so glad I started doing this!

  28. Lindsay says:

    Absolutely beautiful – you’re an amazingly talented writer and I can’t believe English isn’t your first language!
    Hello from one Toronto mama to another. 🙂

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Toronto Mama! 🙂 I am so glad you commented on my blog, Lindsay, I just checked out yours and I’ll be looking forward to reading more!

  29. libbylives says:

    I’ve had this open in a tab for about a week and finally read it — it was a good read (duh) but I have two main reactions: I know what you mean about the you before [insert year] being one person and the subsequent you feeling like another. It’s weird isn’t it? When your identity is changed or stripped away, or even augmented; it can be so disconcerting, it merits greater contemplation. And secondly, I too had no idea (apart from your accent when speaking) that you were not native to English. This fact makes me admire your writing all the more.

  30. […] recently wrote about how immigration affected my sense of identity. Motherhood was quite similar in that it too further removed me from the me I knew, and at the same […]

  31. […] her post, Closest to me Katia writes about her experience of moving and how it made her feel smaller, says, “I blog […]

  32. […] she blogs about it to understand. This was precisely what happened as I was creating my post titled “Closest to Me” as a response to that prompt. I think that this was the first time I felt that I’ve achieved a […]

  33. Hi! I’m new and I’ve enjoyed your blog.

    I blog because I like it. It give me some stability.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me! I apologize it took so long to respond, I’m much slower these days than I was before. I completely agree. It gives me stability too and that’s a great way to put it. Another friend of mine referred to it as her “prayer and meditation”.

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