Thursday, January 24, 2019

Fascinating Question, Fun Game

I was just lamenting, in email, the ways in which my life is not analogous to Mimi Thorisson's. I've been vaguely obsessed by the idea of going to one of her cooking weeks in Medoc, for years. There's one that's all about drinking wine - no joke. She doesn't even try to make it seem "pairing-oriented", just about getting one's wine-on at 10am. I appreciate her honesty.

She's also 40-something with 8-ish kids (many of which she's birthed), 100 dogs and a kitchen with a massive hearth. She looks twenty-something with the figure of a sexy elf and her house has bones, people. Like, it saw action in the second world war and the first world war and the revolution.

Effectively, I read her cookbook when I want to feel bad about being me, I mean, be aspirational.

So my smart friend, replied to my envy-laden email, with something to the effect that I don't like children, I don't like taking care of anything living, I don't like to leave the house in bad weather (and let's face it, Medoc ain't known for its sun) and I can't stand having my photo posted unless I'm in control / may choose from 100 versions of my profile, but then I'm also too lazy to go through this process.

And I was like, OMG. That is beyond true. Even if that woman is living the dream (her husband is Icelandic in a hot way), she has to deal with more children and dogs - even if she has lots of help - than I could possibly get with. Even more than you could get with. Be real. Can you imagine how many creatures are touching the walls in that chalet?!? I'd be losing my shit.

Then my friend asked me to consider, if I could twitch my nose and have all the money I would ever need and more, how would I actually change my life. That's a strangely fascinating question. And it's not that hard to answer.

Here's what I came up with:
  • I'd quit my job. Not because I don't love many aspects of my career (and I do) - and not because I don't love having a job to go to, with so many amazing friends and colleagues - but it's a vortex of stress by anyone's standards and it's probably the most implicated factor in my pain condition challenges.
  • I'd buy a couple of apartments out of Toronto - one as a base in Europe, the warm and sunny part, one in Mtl. I'd have them renovated perfectly but I'd have money to throw at those renos. I'd have people for that shit! Of course, I would keep my TO home. There are few more fab places to live between June and October than Toronto.
  • I'd give fun gifts to everyone I know or to people I hear about who need some TLC. You tired? Have a week in Barbados. Wanna see Easter Island before you die? Check. Is there a cashmere sweater you can't walk away from? No need to. Wanna eat the best meal ever? So do I! Note - I'm adequately selfish to do this on my own terms. Peeps aren't going to bamboozle me.
  • I'd give money to all sorts of causes - including chronic pain researchers and those who work to make the world safer for everyone.
  • I'd have an entire room dedicated to the best yarn - like my own shop (and I'd give yarn away to those who need it which, let's face it, is everyone!) - and I'd have a super-modern spinning wheel that's utterly chic and I'd have my own alpacas on a farm that sends me the roving and photos of my cute alpacas and when I chose I would visit them.
  • I'd have in-home saunas everywhere - the custom kind.
  • I'd have a housekeeper and chef and body work therapist of choice, onsite at whenever I need them, but they wouldn't be in my space or cause me anxiety. (I'm pretty sure you can buy this, somehow.)
  • I'd go to health spas whenever I felt like it. The kind in Germany that double as fancy spas.
  • I'd have a good wine cellar. I'd fully give into my snobisme du vin. There would only be "weekend" wine. (Hell, there's only weekend wine now. This is a no-brainer.)
  • I'd travel first class. Everywhere. Not business class. Not private plane. I want first class and I regret to tell you that it's because I'm so small-minded that I LOVE to be the first on and the first off and to be sure that there are no double-bookings of my seat and to have access to the washroom that 800 people with a cold aren't also eligible to use. And to have glasses and dishware that isn't plastic. And to be able to use the fancy lounge at the international airports. And to get ice cream mid-flight. OMG - and I'd book the first 3 rows of non-first class so that I'd be sure no babies would be allowed anywhere near me. (And then I'd give the seats away to those who had been overbooked on the flight - as long as they don't have small kids. Sorry people with babies on a plane. I'm not your friend. But if you want a good bottle of wine...)
  • I'd start a couple of "foundations" aka Kristin-funded projects that are enjoyable and that improve the world (IMO): One would be a bra-fitting and sourcing outfit (pun intended) where those who need gorgeous bras but can't afford them could go to learn more about fit, and/or gain access to good products. I'd have one rule - everyone gets matching sets and I would ensure that my fave vendors got tons of press (Broad, I'm looking at you.) The other would be a medical cannabis network wherein I could use my years of experience (and I'm not overstating it when I say that I know more about this topic than just about anyone else I've ever met), both cannabis- and pain-related, to give people actual, discrete and detailed info that may improve their lives. Cannabis doctors are a bizarrely uninformed lot and I am a bizarrely data-oriented pain-haver. I've got charts.
  • I'd run knitting retreats for people with chronic pain, teaching them how to knit ergonomically and with a yogic/meditative philosophy. There would be sheep on hand (but in a barn!). There would also be indoor pets (that are perfectly clean at all times) for people to cozy up next to that would be walked magically, and not by me.
But never mind me. I'd love to know what you would do to change your current life if, all of a sudden, you were financially all set. You get to choose! No rules! Please come up with some fun tales because I'm in the mood to imagine.


  1. Well, I spend too much time thinking about the "budget" version of this.
    - And I shall have the farm in the mountains, with a cascading stream and several large furry dogs.
    - And I shall have horses and someone to take care of them except when I want to ride or pet them.
    - And I shall have lots of room to have people stay with me frequently.
    - And I shall travel extensively, definitely first class, and when I go, I will go for months at a time to one location and really get to immerse myself and *know* that location and not just see the highlights, but the little out of the way things.
    - Lots of charitable giving, both public and private. LOTS. That's fun.
    - I shall share your bodywork person, and someone to come in and clean. I'll cook for myself, thank you.
    - You can keep all the wine. I want a cheese cellar and a proper vegetable cellar, and a place to make sauerkraut.
    - I think that means a cow or three. Good. Someone to take care of aforementioned cows.
    - I shall plant my own vegetable garden, but someone could come in and maintain it.
    - I would like a seamstress to make all the beautiful clothes that I imagine up.
    ... probably enough for now.... :D

    1. OK, all versions are good because they express our distinct desires! But I tried to go extra high-brow given that it is my fantasy, and all :-)

      The cascading stream is particularly appealing. I completely agree about going to new places for a long period to immerse. Rich people can do that!! Definitely - how did I forget the gardener!??! Well done.

    2. I suppose my super duper rich ideal is to live like a rich person on their hobby farm. :D But I'll take the hobby farm and weed my own tomatoes, if I can just get to the farm!!!

    3. What I love is that you are so flexible! :-) On reconsideration, I need a hobby farm. Why am I going to someone else's alpaca barn??

  2. I'm not answering the question you've asked, because I'm feeling contrary today. But if you were ever in the mood I'd love to hear your thoughts on medical MMJ vs. opiods for mitigation of chronic pain. My curiousity isn't solely due to the joy of seeing you write on any topic; I have a doctor who has little concern about my long term use of Percocet, but is convinced MMJ is the devil. Of course, I completely understand if it's not something you want to get into detail about in a public space; much like posting one's bra size attracts certain creepers, posting about pain control can be... problematic.

    1. I support contrarianism. Who am I to tell you what to do?? :-)

      And you ask a fascinating question - one about which I have SO many thoughts, I scarcely know where to begin. For now, I feel we should take that convo offline. Email me.

      But in brief - for those interested in the precis (and recognizing that this in NO way counts as medical advice of any sort) - neurochemistry is bizarrely complex and person-specific. Actually, I think it's more like person type-specific because I believe there are categories to be drawn. I'm not an expert in all kinds of pain. I'm pretty up on centrally sensitized chronic pain, however. Depending on the root cause of one's pain, opioids may be more or less useful as a long-term treatment for pain management. I'll detour here to say that short-term use of opioids is a likelihood for many, not just chronic, pain havers so let's not dwell on that cohort right now.

      One must consider a multiplicity of factors re: the user in question (what other treatments are available, what drugs tend to work for that person, is there any tendency in that person to overuse drugs or alcohol in order to "get high" etc.) This works both ways. One must consider these variables in terms of medical cannabis when using it for long term pain control - though cannabis is not physically addicting and THC and CBD are collaborative, but distinct substances...

      There's no one answer, but in the most general terms - and leaving aside any personal bias - one is much more likely to manage pain effectively in the long term with medical cannabis vs percocet.

      For starters, percocet fucks with sleep quality (delta waves) which is a real issue for most chronic pain havers. It can also cause mild to serious digestive issues and, of course, it can slow down the respiratory system dangerously if overused. So it has the potential to cause some serious harm in the long-run. Also, opioids can produce dependency and a need for dose increases in some over time (leading to the whole "overuse" issue)- note I'm not speaking of addiction, though that too is possible in some but by no means most.

      Recent studies show no long-term cognitive impairment for adults and elderly people when using cannabis regularly (CBD OR THC) - everyone's biggest concern, it would seem. It only improves digestion for most and it will never stop one's breathing. In some, it can produce psychological dependency and I wouldn't recommend it for that cohort but, frankly, that group is likely gonna have to take opioids in lieu, which may produce the same outcome with bigger stakes). It may make you fat if you overeat (which can cause health challenges, theoretically). Opioids can also make some people gain weight. It distracts some but, in my personal experience, not the ones using it for pain. Much as those on opioids aren't taking it to get high - but to block pain - those who use cannabis for pain will often relay that they really don't get high. In many, pain eats that side-effect. It should not be used on growing brains (neither should opioids, given the option) or on people who find it causes anxiety or paranoia. That's a potential negative side effect of cannabis - though rarely a factor for people who use CBD only. Moreover, as a plant-based treatment, cannabis provides benefits above and beyond its cannabidiol ratios because of clinically observable synergies provided by terpenes and other organic compounds to be found within it.

      Arguably the "best" outcome is one in which the person requires no medicine to manage pain because there is no pain. But if my doctor preferred to prescribe percocet, (even when I showed an interest in pursuing medical cannabis) because she felt a substance (that's considered to be so safe that it's actually now legal) is somehow evil or unsavoury, I'd likely get a second opinion.

    2. Thanks for the prĂ©cis; I’ll definitely email you.

      I’m about to start a clinical trial, so I’m hopeful that I’ll end up pain free at the end of it. But I’ve been down this road so many times before... so I’m definitely thinking about what my options are long term.

      I find it wryly amusing that my doctor dislikes cannabis because it offers symptom relief without treating the underlying issue. But it’s not like Percocet is out there curing autoimmune disorders...

    3. Oh, I would love to learn more about that trial. Def email! And I am giving you all the pain-free vibes!

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  4. Hi, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this post. It was funny.
    Keep on posting!

  5. Oooooh. This IS a fun game. I play this when I get stuck in long meetings - a rarity, luckily.

    ** I buy a largish stone cottage in the Scottish Highlands at the edge of a loch. I can juuuust make out the nearest (perfect, friendly but nonintrusive) neighbor across the water. There a few sheep to give my Shetland Sheepdog something to herd (pretty lazily). Oh and I somehow have perfect, high speed internet.

    ** On the 2nd floor, I have a wonderful cozy library. With a fireplace and a ladder. Because naturally. There's also a large window for watching storms blow in across the loch, while I sip whiskey and toast my toes, with dogs at my side. Down the hall is my dream bathroom with an even deeper, longer clawfoot bathtub than I have IRL. With a hyper-realistic electric fireplace and window overlooking the forest. And a huge separate shower with plants, a natural pebble floor. For those times I want to wash my hair without doing bathtub yoga. Basically, I would only leave this room to adjourn to the library.

    **Or to sit in my garden, bordered by 20 foot evergreen hedges and within that, mounds of hydrangeas and rhodies. And lots of tumbling cottage perennials: lupine, rose willow herb, iris, daisies, mother of the evening, phlox, delphinium. I have the most comfy, huge, automatically rocking hammock that always sits in perfect dappled shade. And there's definitely a gardener. Because my vision far exceeds my skill and stamina. Behind a hedge of holly and winterberry, there's a little guest cottage, its existence a secret known only to the family friends I truly like.

    ** I get to this perfect bolthole via private plane. I also have a private train car, because I'm pretty over flying at this point. No children are allowed are allowed on my private transport. Just like my house IRL. =o)

    ** I have a vegetarian chef. And a massage therapist who rocks at myofascial release. I loan them out for free to people in pain who can't afford them.

    ** For the dreary months of Jan/Feb, I head on my private plane, dogs and spouse in tow, to my Mediterranean stucco villa in the foothills of New Mexico. The 5-acres surrounding me are magically free of rattlesnakes, scorpions, reptiles and anything icky. I enjoy my Talevera tile and beautiful xeriscaped gardens of blooming desert shrubs and plume grasses - from total shade, of course.

    ** I set up an animal charity, but not your usual kind. Oh, no. It is staffed with barracuda lawyers and its sole purpose is to go after animal abusers by financially ruining them with civil lawsuits. Since criminal statutes are so weak and ineffective at making these people pay, why not use good old American litigiousness on the side of the angels. I think I shall call it Avenging Angels for Animals.

  6. You are EXCELLENT at this! The private rail car is genius. I should have thought of that. And the idea that you would use your money to banish scary bugs in the desert is like a public service. I would move next door. And go at it on the peeps mean to animals. You've got your priorities straight :-)

    1. Perfect. You can restrain some of my more over the top English Country decor choices. There's a fine line between floral print sofas and the need for an intervention.

  7. I love this! Mimi Thorisson is otherwordly. If I had all those kids, I'd be doing time! My two push me perilously close some days.

    My dream life is neighbourless, with lofty ceilings and classic English decor. There's a heated indoor pool and enough land to throw the kids out to run off steam without having to worry about pervs and wierdos.

    There are staff, in a Downton Abbey kinda way, and, like Hearth, horses and folk to look after them.

    All this would be close to a world class dance teacher for the boy, and we'd have a climbing wall for the girl.

    I don't want much! ;-) But think of the time I'd have for doing good in the world and fun stuff!