the smell of my desperation has become a stench

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.

  • Sandra

    2008/03/31 at 11:58 am

    At least Jon didn’t hang the pictures a foot below the ceiling, which is where all of my Chinese relatives like to hang art.

  • Dawn

    2008/03/31 at 11:59 am

    looks perfect to me!!!

  • Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn

    2008/03/31 at 12:00 pm

    It looks great!

    (And I hope that it was the boob-feeling that “was so much fun”. Because, if it was cheating on a science test… I would wonder.)

  • megan

    2008/03/31 at 12:02 pm

    I love that you have so many aesthetically-pleasing framed prints/paintings/reflecting surfaces on your walls! Really puts the HUGE BLANK WALL in the kitchen/living room of my apartment to shame.

  • Karrie

    2008/03/31 at 12:02 pm

    Beautiful 🙂 I’m glad I’m not the only psycho who likes straight things. And that can flare their nostrils when irritated.

    The wall looks great.

  • abigail

    2008/03/31 at 12:02 pm

    you are my favorite.

  • Melly

    2008/03/31 at 12:04 pm has been this last week’s distraction for me. Starting from day one, it’s been such an intriguing read, sometimes in a “feels so right but has to be wrong” kind of way.

    It just keeps getting better.

  • Clara

    2008/03/31 at 12:05 pm

    Congratulations with this! I spent last Sunday just trying to hang 2 pictures, one of top of the other…I had never done this before, and just all the leveling and measuring and not hammering nails in straight … I was going mad o.0

  • shaunacon

    2008/03/31 at 12:05 pm

    Love it! I may just be making a tip to Ikea to pick up some of those mirrors.

    Glad to hear you are making progress with the OCD thing. Trust me – I know it can be hard to overcome.

    I must confess I have too stolen salt and pepper shakers from a restaurant. I just couldn’t find any I liked at the store and they were just sitting on the table begging me to take them.

  • Jill S.

    2008/03/31 at 12:05 pm

    It used to be, my husband wouldn’t let a single nail mar the walls he built with his own hand. Then we had children and they colored on the walls and said Batman did it, and he loosened up.

  • lomagirl

    2008/03/31 at 12:05 pm

    What was the fun thing? Oh! That. Yeah. I should have guessed.
    Your wall looks fine. All of the previous perfection attempts must have made you good eyeballers.

  • scargosun

    2008/03/31 at 12:06 pm

    Love the design! The mirrors add great dimension. We did something similar with pics and started the smae way you did. Put the first one up and laser the rest. I am still overwhelmed by the patience of my husband at that time.

  • Deb (Missives from Suburbia)

    2008/03/31 at 12:07 pm

    Wait… my OCD forces me to hang things immediately and overrides my compulsion to have them hanging perfectly. Maybe you can train your OCD to do the same thing?

  • Jill

    2008/03/31 at 12:08 pm

    But look how much closer the whole installment is to the right side of the wall? Ya couldn’t have at least centered it?


  • theSpectrum

    2008/03/31 at 12:09 pm

    As a fellow OCD victim, your post made me hyperventilate until I passed out at work for 20 minutes. HANGING THE WRONG WAY!? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Can you warn me next time you’re going to type something so scandalous!?

  • little brother

    2008/03/31 at 12:09 pm

    Is it just me or is the mirror in the upper right just a little higher than the one on the left…

  • Keri

    2008/03/31 at 12:10 pm

    Looks good!

    I bet you know exactly which ones are off by just millimeters and by how many, right? ;P

  • robinv

    2008/03/31 at 12:10 pm

    “why aim for perfection when approximation is so much easier?” That is my personal lifetime motto! I just wish I could get my husband to buy it!

  • SarahThe

    2008/03/31 at 12:11 pm

    With those fabulous prints, I’m not sure order or symmetry matters.

  • Workman

    2008/03/31 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve got to agree with Dawn and others. I can’t see anything wrong with how they’re hung.

    Perhaps I’ve got the opposite of OCD. What would that be? Slob’s Disorder?

  • Toni

    2008/03/31 at 12:11 pm

    I love it. Your guys did a GREAT JOB!

  • Cici

    2008/03/31 at 12:11 pm


  • val cox

    2008/03/31 at 12:12 pm

    It looks great, I love the simplicity.

    You have more restraint than I, as I could not go the second day without repositioning that lower right mirror up and the the left about a 1/4″!

  • Erika

    2008/03/31 at 12:15 pm

    My husband always says it’s easier to ask forgiveness that to get permission. I guess it makes it a little more difficult if you’re not actually sorry, but I’m sure we can still work with it.

  • J.

    2008/03/31 at 12:15 pm

    Forgive ME, but more about the ripping off of the clothes, please!!

  • Kayla

    2008/03/31 at 12:16 pm

    You are hilarious! Hearing that Jon is taking Prozac reminds me of when my Mom called me to tell me she started sneaking Prozac in my Dad’s orange juice and, “He’s so much perkier.”

    Oy! Tell Jon, “Real Men Take Prozac.”


  • Julie

    2008/03/31 at 12:17 pm

    My OCD keeps me from hanging stuff up in the first place. Or maybe it is my ADD. I can’t remember.

  • koz

    2008/03/31 at 12:18 pm

    Progress, gorgeous progress.

  • angelawd

    2008/03/31 at 12:19 pm

    It looks great, but I would always know things were out of alignment or hung the wrong way, and I would never be at peace. I don’t know how you do it.

  • Heather

    2008/03/31 at 12:22 pm

    It looks awesome. I love the layout. At least you didn’t end up with 14 useless holes in the wall… (thank you mother-in-law)

  • Cassie

    2008/03/31 at 12:22 pm

    Haha, good for you two. It looks great! I tried the parchment paper thing you guys did in the kitchen, iirc, and it worked great. But the second project – same way you did this one. By eye.

    Good job!

  • Sheila

    2008/03/31 at 12:23 pm

    Now that you are over how everything has been hung, you can start focusing on how many times you will get to clean those great mirrors that are “Leta fingerprint” height.

    It looks great!

  • Danielle

    2008/03/31 at 12:24 pm

    Those look really damn straight for no laser level!

    I’m impressed.

    Slightly jealous, but super impressed! Way to let go- Any pointers other than prozac and therapy. I’m already doing that…

  • stephanie

    2008/03/31 at 12:25 pm

    Looks simply smashing!

    But do take a look through that doorway at the pictures hanging in the next room. Is it me, or is that photo of Leta in the bottom right corner tilted a little bit to the left? (wrings hands)

  • SmallPlanetLibrarian

    2008/03/31 at 12:26 pm

    Well this is depressing.
    Your house all tidy with real artwork lined up and my study still decorated in ‘Late Computer’ (hanging computer cables, bookshelves with test equipment in Rubbermaid boxes and a printer box used to store current reading).
    Could your next picture at least have some dust in it?

  • inga

    2008/03/31 at 12:27 pm

    Heather, your blogs make me chuckle from beginning to end. I love your writing style!
    The place is LOVELY by the way! 🙂

  • Nina

    2008/03/31 at 12:28 pm

    It looks absolutely great to me. I’ve been thinking about what I could do (that would be both cheap and nice) on our dining room wall. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Amy

    2008/03/31 at 12:28 pm

    You have a very progressive marriage. I have to be out of the city, preferably out of the state when home improvement projects are attempted. Problem is in our house taking out the garbage must be considered a home improvement project.

  • firefly

    2008/03/31 at 12:28 pm

    The real test would be to re-position the prints, which would require you to move the nails … but don’t fill the old holes.

    Just hang the prints over them.

    Double dare ya.

  • Mari

    2008/03/31 at 12:30 pm

    Your living room wall looks great. Would you ever consider posting photos of your house now that it’s decorated?

  • Becky

    2008/03/31 at 12:30 pm

    Breathe girl! It looks great and it will all be ok.

    Smoke lots of pot too. Just cause.

  • jill

    2008/03/31 at 12:32 pm

    I have so much to learn from you… Seeing crooked pictures/mirrors almost always send sharp razor type pain down from my brain to my pinky toes. I guess I will try to lighten up because this looks fantastic!

    ps… two years ago I stole salt/pepper shakers from a cheap mexican restaurant and don’t feel bad either! They look great in my kitchen!

  • Amy

    2008/03/31 at 12:33 pm

    My husband and I are getting ready to buy a home. I swear I’m flying you out to Lancaster County, PA the day after we close to decorate. Love it. Love it all.

    I heart Dooce’s style.

  • Erica aka littlefirecrackr

    2008/03/31 at 12:33 pm

    It looks GREAT! I would never have known about the “WRONG WAY” photos. Congrats on a job well done and no divorce in sight.

  • bridget

    2008/03/31 at 12:34 pm

    i need to smoke pot to deal with my husabnds OCD, ADD

    how about jon?

  • MustangSally

    2008/03/31 at 12:37 pm

    but what’s up with those pictures in the other room that you can see through the doorway? They’re looking a little crooked to me :p

  • deb

    2008/03/31 at 12:37 pm

    I’m tired of depression, it sucks the big one. Maybe I should try weed.

  • Manda

    2008/03/31 at 12:37 pm

    It looks fantastic. My boyfriend has OCD and ADD so when he does a project it ends up perfect but it takes him four times as long as it would for a normal person.

  • Jessica

    2008/03/31 at 12:41 pm

    The question is, which one are you considering the third thing? 😉

  • College Mama

    2008/03/31 at 12:41 pm

    You are forgiven. Now, go and sin some more.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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