Forgive me

In sickness and in health, through the irrational demands of a wife who regularly struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder: the Armstrong marriage survived another home improvement project.

Maybe because he’s been taking Prozac, or maybe it’s because of all that HOT HOT SEX, but when I told Jon what I wanted the wall to look like, he said something like, why aim for perfection when approximation is so much easier? Which is the most romantic thing that has ever come out of his mouth, so I pushed him down on the floor and ripped off all his clothes.

We could have bought all sorts of different tools and spent hours making templates to make sure that everything lined up perfectly, but instead he held up one mirror while I stood back ten feet. And then he moved it up and down per my estimation. From there we eyed everything else armed only with a laser level, a pencil, and one sturdy hammer. And so what if one or two frames are a few centimeters out of alignment? WAIT, DID I ACTUALLY JUST WRITE THAT? Is this what therapy does to you? Turns you into a person who can walk by a crooked frame without reaching out to correct it? Why not just save a little money and smoke pot every morning?

We were originally going to print out six photos, but I realized that I had a whole bunch of illustration prints tucked away just waiting to be placed in permanent homes, so we hung the prints instead. Potential problem: we had already hammered nails into the wall to hang the frames horizontally, and three of the prints that I wanted to hang were intended to hang vertically. Solution: pretend not to notice. So three of the prints on the wall are hanging THE WRONG WAY. And I’m not kidding, just now when I wrote that my left nostril flared to the size of a grapefruit.

Is it just me, or is this post starting to feel like a painful, awkward confessional? Internet, I once cheated on a high school science test. In college I let a boy touch my boobs. Two years ago I stole salt and pepper shakers off a table at a fancy restaurant. And I have only repented for two of those things. The third thing was so much fun that it didn’t feel right to say I was sorry.

  • Tracy

    Wow. Can I just say I’m really impressed that you hung the mirrors at a level which is conducive to kid fingerprints! But, then…maybe that’s not as much of a problem when you only have one kid as opposed to 4?

  • gitz

    This comment had absolutely nothing to do with your photos… just wanted to say how freaking glad I am your book is finished because you post more :) Makes my day happy!!!!

  • Clayjack

    I’m with Lanna @#3 – here’s hoping it was the boobs. Then again, stealing can be fun, too.

  • Amy

    So, I like your OCD…Picture not straight, throw down husband and have hot sex or else something terrible will happen to someone?

    The OCD I know is…picture not straight, have to straighten or else someone I love will die…check again that picture to be sure it stayed straight, but did it really?, check again, return to worry about someone I love will die, so check again, continue obsessing even while having hot sex and then check right after…because someone will die

    I wish I could get your OCD. Or maybe your just obsessive and that is ok too, particularly with the hot sex.

    Thanks for making me smile :)

  • MarkDM

    You haven’t opened comments on your photos, so I’m just stopping by to say that the photo of the woolen mills is great. Feels very gritty.

    I like the tones you get on your photos. Even the Daily Chuck photos look arty. Cool stuff.

  • Lindsey

    I’ve only seen my husband really pissed off three times in the six years I’ve known him, and two of those were while hanging pictures. The third was something equally frustrating to his obsessive perfectionism. I have hope that we, too, can get through some future round of decorating without tears. He would probably say something similar about my frustration toward his compulsive ordering and straightening of things.

  • Anne

    And the mirrors will be a lovely “spice” to the sex you’ll have in that room. See how I worked in the S & P shakers? I’m inspired that you did that–it DOES sound like fun. I’m going to make that opportunity for myself, but from where I’m living, it’ll probably require a road trip.

    Love the way the little vista from the other room is visible, and adds to the geometric effect.

    Hooray for Jon! Better living through chemistry for all!

  • Elizabeth

    It was stealing the salt and pepper shakers that felt so good that you never repented, right?

  • Amy Martin

    I understand your frustration…. especially with hanging frames from IKEA…. when you install your own hanging hardware and get to put the little wire on the back yourself, it is near to impossible to hang the stupid things in a straight line… but looks like jon did a pretty accurate job.

  • Vi

    I hope you express gratitude to GOD/SOURCE/THE UNIVERSE every day for your husband.

    It is a rare individual that indulges us our eccentricities and loves us anyway.

  • Dangermonkey

    Congrats on shaking that tick! I can’t even go into a complete stranger’s house and resist the urge to straighten up crooked pictures. I embrace my inner crazy.

  • Shalini

    A laser level is totally cheating ;)

    I too fight the urge to go and rehang everything in the house too.

    Loved this post, as I do the estimation thing, I sometimes wish that I could be much more exacting, but I have no patience at all.

    But then I see the picture/photo/whatever start to lean… and I totally understand about the nostril flaring..

    Why do you always write what I think. You have a gift!

    I love your blog everyday!

  • Eliza

    I’m currently remodeling my house. It’d be great if you’d open up a post where people could post images of their favorite rooms, things, objects in their house. A communal style page. just a thought.I always love your style.

  • YvonneO

    Omigod. At least you used a leveler… we just eyeball everything. Well, we have used a ruler and pencil to mark out spaces between pictures but that was really high tech for us.

    Anyways, better that you have wallhangings that are hanging on the walls and not leaning against available space around your house for the last 6 years.

  • Ron

    Bravo to you both…they look awesome!

    It’s funny, my mother taught me the old “eye-balling-it” trick when I was a kid. And I swear to God…it ALWAYS works! If I do the “measuring thing” it always gets screwed up!

    Hey…and by the way, I’ve always wanted to ask you this…how the hell do you keep your house so CLEAN?? I mean, when you post the daily photo’s of Chuck…I’m always looking on the floor to see if I see any stray dog hair.


    Are you a compulsive vacumer?

    I am…

  • Tricia

    Liz (Comment 79)- Thank you for expressing the feeling that I couldn’t put into words myself. I LOVE THIS BLOG!

    I’ve been reading Dooce since 2004 and I have occasional flutters of panic when I realize that Heather might wake up one day and decide she just has better things to do than share herself with a world of strangers.

    The wall looks fantastic!

  • Scattered Mom

    Well, you know, in Canada a 12 year old can go to the local hemp shop and buy a bong, but if you want to smoke a perfectly LEGAL cigarette you have to be at least 6 meters from any sort of building/doorway/etc.

    Seems a little off if you ask me.

  • Undomestic Diva

    I just put my husband up for sale on my blog. Anyone looking for a slightly used (but in good condition) husband? Anyone?

    Perhaps I should go searching for my “Jon” now that I’m back in the market for a new model.

  • Scottsdale Girl

    THIS is why I self medicate with Bacardi ™

    that wall of frames looks absofuckinlutely perfect to me.


  • gina

    Whew. I am the same way – OCD to the Nth degree. If I see a picture crooked (whether in my home or someone else’s) I have to fix it. If something is on the wrong shelf at Walgreen’s even, it takes all my effort to not put it on the correct shelf. OCD women unite! :)

  • pogonip

    The Sweetie is downstairs putting together a mosaic floor pattern for our powder room remodel. I am wisely upstairs reading instead and tying my tongue in knots so I don’t tell him it’s 2 cm off center next time I go down and approve his efforts.

  • LeFiffre

    What, armed with ONLY a laser level? (And a NASA team?) Well, okay, I totally appreciate the sentiments even though, back in my day we did moon shots with bubble levels and duct tape. (Yeah, and I’m about Jon’s age.) First, nothing in that pic can be cm off — maybe mms, but not cms; Second, I can’t tell if any of those prints are supposed to be portrait instead of landscape, and I may be a dumbass but get point #3 before you say it; Third, it rocks that you have a Benjamin stool, too — it’s the best $19 I’ve ever spent. Mine’s also in my living room beside the Eames bent ply pieces and the Lb Kofod Larsen rocker from Ron — yeah, I’m the dude who snagged that one :-P This dumbass has a little taste too. Your living room rocks. What are you going to do when you run out of walls?

  • Angelique

    I have a 10 month old, so the first thing about that picture that I noticed: the neatly stacked magazines, etc. on that sofa table. You know, because they aren’t all over the floor.

  • Alice

    Holy crap! I’m so glad those are mirrors. When I first saw the picture, I thought you had made 4 square holes in your wall and framed them.

  • Sarah Lee

    You’re motivating me to take a look at a few too many blank walls in our home – thanks! There’s also a few walls where I was too quick to hang up simply anything when we moved into our current home (over a year ago) – and every time I walk past I know I MUST sort it out – it just won’t do!

    Well, I haven’t actually made any changes yet – but the thought’s there. In the meantime I clipped some lavender and rosemary from the herb garden and hung them in the kitchen to try and tease out the (to date non-existent) chef/aromatherapy starlet (will take a magic genie to improve upon my current staple of bake beans on toast!).

    Thanks for sharing, Sarah

  • jeana

    I’d not repent the boob thing in college either. Fuuun!!!

  • Joanna

    If you came over to my house your head would explode because I have hung some my art on the nails that were left in the wall by the person who lived here before me.

  • Laurel

    I’m pretty sure therapy is cheaper than decent weed these days. I envy your “hey man, whatever” approach, as long as it’s JUST THIS ONCE. It’s soothing to know there are more like me out there, women labeled “Crazy Lady” by contractors as their eyes glaze over at my list of perfectly reasonable demands.

  • Connie

    I don’t even want to know what goes on in your bedroom. I just don’t.

  • The Lisa Show

    “Why not just save a little money and smoke pot every morning?”

    I ask myself this ALL the time. It makes perfect sense to me.

  • melbournedreaming

    “We could have bought all sorts of different tools and spent hours making templates to make sure that everything lined up perfectly, but instead he held up one mirror while I stood back ten feet.”

    What, like ORDINARY NORMAL PEOPLE would do?!

    Over a number of years I have gradually been incorporating the Approximation Theory into my life, and goddamn if it isn’t the hugest, most orgasmic sense of relief ever to realise that there is beauty in imperfection. In fact, now I prefer it.

    Perfection is way over-rated. Ditto over-achieving. Life is not a frickin’ contest, people!

  • kim at allconsuming

    frames hung only on guesstimation?
    prints hung sideways?

    that new puppy has dawg gawn made you all crazy.

    (on a completely different note:
    1. That wall colour is serenely lovely
    2. Who/what are the prints? they look divine
    3. I am seriously in love with the artwork hanging on the other wall that’s reflected in the mirrors that you spoke about a few weeks back. In.deep.lurve)

  • SwissBarb

    Approximation sounds fun! I should get me some of it too…

  • kim at allconsuming

    just read daily style.
    As you were.

  • pinar

    Perfect!! Thanks for this post.

  • Kia

    I wish we were friends in real life (instead of just in my head?) so I could come hang out in your gorgeous house and steal all of your decorating ideas. Beautiful!

  • Leo F. Swiontek

    Amazing,it’s looking nice.One should try for their cabin too.Reflections on the mirrors is giving attractive look.

  • Anonymous

    I love that painting or photo we see in the reflection too, with all the bright colours and circles and squares.

  • Zinzy Geee

    Beautifully done, Heather.
    In any other home I might have found it to be a bit crowded looking, but in yours it seems to fit perfectly.
    I’m 100% sure that if I were to walk into your house, the first thing I’d notice would be the gorgeous frame work hanging on your walls.
    You inspired me to do just the same for my dormroom with

  • Kerry

    i think it had to be a few centimeters off to get perfect… silly how life is like that… be well

  • Anonymous

    April Fool, right?

  • Stuffed Owl

    Today’s was the cutest picture of way-cute Chuck. Does it feel wierd knowing that total strangers are downloading pictures of you dog for voyeuristic purposes?

    I joined your facebook fan club. I did the same thing for Roger Daltrey in high school. You’re up there with him!

  • C-Rah

    Seriously? That’s crooked? Your poor nostrils would be doing the tango if you walked into my house. If they had enough time before you started convulsing on the floor from all of the UNEVEN LINES. The horror. I know.

    I do like it, though!

  • filmfangirl

    I saw your photo and involuntarily exhaled an envious *sigh*. So orderly and calming, your perfectly aligned mirrors and pictures. I think I’ve been watching too much HGTV, because I also covet your modern furniture, molding, and the hardwood floors I seem to remember appearing in some of your Chuck photos. I need to go crazy on the office supplies and arts/crafts stores soon or I’ll have my own OCD freak attack!

  • Amy

    Laser leveling is exactly 37 times more precise than anything that hung in my house.
    I suffer from being both bothered by the crookedness and being wayyy too lazy to do a better job.

  • Kimmers

    This reminds me of the day my boyfriend randomly decided our condo looked empty without “stuff on the walls”… and with zero planning began randomly hanging things. Strangely enough, the only theme seemed to be “2 inches below ceiling line”. My eye twitches every time I think about it.

  • Shanna

    LOL well right side up or upside down, it wall looks great! :)

  • Denise

    Here’s one to make your other nostril swell, I never use a laser level I don’t have one, I always eye it. I do however use a pencil but I didn’t used to, I’d just pound the nail any ol’ place.

  • Lisa A.

    Stealing salt and pepper shakers is WAY more fun than letting boys touch your boobs. By far.

  • LiteralDan

    Now you know why we have nothing hanging on our walls, very much to my wife’s chagrin. It’s such an effort for me to do something as precise as this, much less deciding what should go where (that’s right, we already have lots of posters and pictures just waiting to hang…).

    Here’s a suggestion for Heather to further help deal with her anxiety: abandon the quest for perfection. It’s impossible to reach, and I find it immensely frustrating to get thisclose to it, versus going totally the other way. Think of abstract art versus photorealism. One is much less stressful than the other.

    Of course, this would mean you have to scrap all the amazing arrays of pictures already up in your house, and Jon might kill you if you suggest scrapping those. So take this for what you will!