Once upon a time, I decided to do some light decorating and ordered a print from the astounding and relevant artist Jennifer Cox. When it arrived, I put it in a frame, and I placed it on my desk.
So that’s basically what happened, with a few key details edited out. Following is the full story (melodramatically rendered in present tense), which provides an excellent example of how my Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder works.
I find the artwork while browsing around on Etsy and note that it comes in three different sizes. I print out black-and-white copies of each size and tape them to various walls a) to see if the design will go with the rest of the décor around my apartment, and b) to determine which size will be the most aesthetically pleasing. I also print out copies of a different illustration by the same artist, because while I’m not buying it right at this moment, I might eventually, and I need to make sure the two pieces will complement each other.
After an epic internal struggle, I settle on the 5 x 7 size and make the purchase.
The print arrives at my office. I open the package and prop the print on my desk to see if I want to keep it there instead of taking it home — after all, Thoth is associated with Hermes, who is associated with Mercury, which is the ruling planet of notaries, and most of my notary stuff stays at my day job. I finally decide it would look better in the apartment, where I remember I have a cool, multicolored picture frame. I locate the frame that afternoon, take it apart, dust it and rinse it off, wash the glass separately, towel it all off vigorously and let it air-dry overnight (don’t want any errant water droplets ruining everything).
The following morning, I reassemble the frame and insert the print, and then spend forty-five minutes rearranging the tchotchkes on my writing desk to properly fit it in. (I want it next to my St. Expedite statue, but then I would have to move a regular jar candle to a space between two seven-day candles, which is unacceptable.) So I finally get everything set exactly, and it looks great! Except…
The yellow and green corners are at the top of the frame, and while the yellow doesn’t look bad, the green clashes with Thoth’s nemes. Granted, this could be easily remedied by turning the frame upside down so that the red and blue corners are up top, but (and here’s the crux of the matter), whoever designed the frame intended for the yellow and green corners to be at the top, and therefore turning it upside down might destroy the universe. WE CAN’T TAKE THAT CHANCE.
I make it about a day and a half before I can’t stand it anymore and run to the drugstore down the street to pick up a plain, black frame. So now Thoth is on display again, just with no extra embellishments to distract the eye or drive me insane. All is well. Except…
The new frame is black metal, and all the other frames in my living room are black wood. I try to accept this, guys; I really, really do. But a few days later I cave and take the print and both of the frames to work with me, thinking that this whole situation would be a lot easier to resolve if all I had to do was find a hobbit to help me get rid of a damn ring.
So I’m up at the office the next day, and the first thing I notice is that the multicolored frame looks pretty awesome with the David Cowles caricatures across from my desk. I take Thoth out of the metal frame and put him back in the wooden one, and… ye Gods but that green corner is going to give me a seizure.
I know what has to be done.
Gritting my teeth, I pull Thoth out of the frame one final time, rotate the frame so that the red and blue corners are at the top, and put everything back together. The universe in fact does not explode, which is a pleasant surprise, but also, the color combo is now pretty much perfect. You know the relief that overwhelms you when you dislodge a popcorn kernel from between your teeth? It feels just like that, except the popcorn dislodged from my frontal lobe.
There is a brief moment of panic when I realize that the Thoth print plus the Erté Queen of the Night greeting card next to my computer might equal an unbalanced number of framed items, but I only have to spend about fifteen minutes repeatedly removing and replacing each piece individually before I decide both can stay.
So… yeah. That’s what it’s like in my head. No-brainer, throw-away tasks turn into millstones: One second I’m trying to choose a picture frame, and the next I’m in Ancient Greek hell, pushing an uncooperative boulder up a hill. The upside is that I know OCPD is just a vestige of my treated panic disorder, and if the worst thing that happens to me on any given day is that I compulsively move a doodad across a shelf in half-centimeter intervals versus endure eight to ten hours of anxiety attacks, then I’m probably doing okay. I may have to tell myself over and over that I am okay, but the reality is I really am, regardless of anything I can’t control, or that isn’t in order, or that gets reshuffled against my wishes.
I am okay.
PS: Shortly after I wrote this, a tech guy walked into my office with a new computer (my last one pulled an Old Yeller and had to be taken out behind the barn), and the first thing he said was, “I’m going to have to move some of this stuff on your desk.” I screamed internally for only a couple of beats before replying: “Oh, that’s fine, move anything you need to. It’s not a big deal.”
And it’s not a big deal. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a big deal.
Say it with me, guys.
It’s not a big deal.
It’s not a big deal.
It’s not a big deal.