Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Tuesday
Sep182012

More Evidence Of An As Yet Undiagnosed Mental Disorder

I've been wanting to introduce you to some friends of mine for a while. We've been hanging out for many years now. Like, since before my kids were born.

We met in 2007, I think it was, Serge and my first year in Utah. We've been together ever since. The couple and I have, anyway. I'm not sure Serge has developed the same kind of relationship.

This couple is beautiful. The perfect couple, really. The kind of couple that makes everything you do in your shitty relationship pale in comparison to the love and light they radiate.

Well, here, see for yourself, I have a picture of them sitting right here on my desk:



Aren't they stunning? Stunning! I would address them by name but I don't know their names. I don't know who they are, as a matter of fact, yet here they are on my desk. No picture of Serge, not even one of Violet or Henry. Just this couple. This picture of strangers has been in my home for five years. FIVE YEARS. Most recently it's been on the desk in my bedroom, the desk on which my computer sits, the desk where I'm currently sitting, gazing at my perfect friends and typing to you.

They came with the frame which was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law, I think. It's been so long ago I can't even remember for sure but I think she sent the frame as a gift in 2007. It's a beautiful frame, no? I love silver and planned to insert some pictures of Serge and me, maybe some from the day we got married. Wouldn't that be nice? In the meantime I set the frame on a bookshelf. You know, for just a few days until I chose the right photos and got them developed...

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and, well, you get the idea. And still, the frame sat in my home. We moved twice in Utah and each time I'd carefully pack up the couple and their Colgate smiles, spotless skin and expressions that seemed increasingly supercilious then promptly set them on a shelf in each new house. They made the cross-country trip to Pennsylvania with us and I unpacked and displayed them on our new bookshelf, vowing anew that I'd get photos developed immediately. Maybe now that I have two children and millions of photos just languishing on my hard drive I'd use the frame to house two beautiful photos of my babies!

So I took the frame up to my room and set it on my nightstand where I would remember the new plan. Recently I decided I would use a small corner of my bedroom as my "office" and dragged a desk in to get the ball rolling. And then, you guessed it, the frame ended up on the desk as a part of the reorganization.

Yesterday, after hours of laboring over my keyboard under the smug attitudes of these two obviously superior human, beings I realized I've been looking at these impossibly happy motherfuckers for five years. Five years of carrying around photos of two strangers. And not just carrying around, prominently displaying photos of two faultless, exquisite strangers. Sure this particular brand of crazy was infused with the best of intentions but the whole thing reeks of what? I don't know... Laziness on an epic scale, right? Or maybe not laziness, just more evidence of an as yet undiagnosed mental disorder?

After mulling around the fact that I've carried around and displayed photos of strangers for five years instead of just spending an hour putting some photos in the goddamned thing I realized that I do this, or something similar, all the time.

For example, say there is a task I have to do, something seemingly simple like calling the company I have health insurance with to clarify my coverage. I might procrastinate for a couple days. Maybe a week later I'll remember that I need to make the call but now it's become A Thing. That's right. Capital A, capital T. A Thing. For some reason the fact that I need to make the call makes me edgy. Guilt? Fear? I don't know. So I don't make the call. The more I procrastinate the more I dread making the call. Weeks go by and I don't get it done. And a mental issue is born.

This happens all the time. Say I need to mail a letter but I don't have a stamp. I tell myself to stop at the post office and buy stamps but I put it off for whatever reason and, before long, purchasing a book of stamps is as insurmountable as climbing Kilimanjaro. Like, I couldn't purchase a book of stamps at gunpoint, the mental stigma is so huge.

This mental illness, it is a fickle bitch. I can spend a day Getting Shit Done. Paying bills, making difficult calls, sorting out household issues but the one small thing (returning my old landlord's phone calling telling her that, yes, I did in fact pay the water bill in June) completely exceeds my abilities and, upon procrastination, accomplishment of said task becomes as elusive as the Chupacabra.

And so it was with the frame. The more I reminded myself that I really should pick out some photos and help the frame reach its full frame potential the less I was able to actually complete the task.

So here I sit, in my room typing to you as this uncomfortably attractive pair smiles at me like a couple of loons. Wars have been fought, couples have married and divorced, people have started and graduated college, I've birthed two children in the span that I've spent with these two. Hell, one or both of the people pictured in the frame may even be dead.

I am incapable of moving forward but unable to throw away this thing that has tortured me as efficiently as waterboarding. I suppose when I'm old and alone, in some stinky retirement home my kids have thrown me in, I'll be laying on my bed next to this fucking frame. No photos of children or grandchildren, just me and these two photogenic bastards.

Do you do this? Are there simple things that you just can't bring yourself to do for whatever reason? Is there something that you've put off doing for so long you now feel incapable of accomplishing? Is it just me? It's probably just me.

Reader Comments (40)

This happens to me when I have to RSVP for something. Anything-wedding, birthday party, call back dr. appt to confirm. And it doesn't matter if I am confirming YES or NO. I CAN"T do it. I have no idea why. I usually end up doing it the day of or the day after the requested RSVP date, and never doing it for DR. appts and sometimes they are like "you did not confirm!" which makes it really annoying because then I have to wait. i also have this year 3 "no show" fee bills for when I did not cancel appointments. that I knew way ahead of time I had to cancel.
Blah.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

OMG!! The exact same thing happens to me all the time. It's always good to know that I'm not the only crazy one :)

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen S

Oh my gosh! I do the exact thing! Bless your heart for posting this, I thought I was the only one!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrsLeyk

Is the little spot in the middle for a photo of a sister-wife or something?

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYotko

I'll buy a book I HAVE TO HAVE right away. I'll set the book on my nightstand and never read it. It will sit there and gather dust, day after day. I'll see it right before bed and it'll give me anxiety that I haven't read it. I do the same with the damn daily newspaper. I let a month stack up on my desk and then the anxiety gets too much and I'll skim through quickly and throw them in the recycle bin just to get them out of my eyesight. Apparently reading the old school way is something, in theory, I want to do, but I don't do it. I much prefer wasting time on the internet.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWendy P.

I have a frame from the Grand Canyon my daughter and I bought to put on the fridge. There is sits with a beautiful family enjoying the Canyon. We never did print any photos so we leave it there - the picture of the Canyon is great. We just tell people we met friends there and this is their picture. Glad there are other procrastinators out there

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Kelly

Whoa, you just totally described my procrastination process PERFECTLY! It stressed me out reading it because I relate so well to it (and I have some life insurance docs that I've reviewed and signed and now just need to scan and send back to the company...only it's been over a week and I can't get it done!).

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I do this often. Right now, I have an 2 emails and a phone call I've been meaning to return since like...June. And because I'm so embarrassed at the length of time it's taken, I'll make up excuses ("Oh, I sent it but my email must have eaten it") that make me sound even worse because it's obvious I'm making up excuses. And these things - I think about them EVERY DAY and can't bring myself to do them.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat

I'm the exact same way! We have an apartment in another country that, obviously, we need to keep on top of. There's been a City taxation bill that I have had to sort out for... I'm gonna say two years? It's more than A Thing. It's becoming A Problem. My husband (rightly) refuses to deal with it (he has an INCREDIBLY tough period of work and this was something that I said I would take care of...) We both have weekly reminders on our phones/computers. But still? I ignore it. (The excuse is that it's all in another language and the time difference! Ugh! How can I sort out a bill in Dutch in the middle of the night?!) As you say, some days all I'm doing to sorting out annoying shit all while juggling two kids, one sick, one screaming and making dinner all at the same time. But this one thing...

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

YES. I'm about to make an interstate move. Next week. Do I have movers? Ummm....

Also this: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I do this kind of thing ALL THE TIME. Like right now I need to make a very important phone call to take care of something that will end up costing a lot of money if I don't, but I keep putting it off. Raging perfectionism makes it worse. I spent literally months writing thank you cards after I got married, but then got this brilliant idea to put a CD of songs played at our reception in with the cards, and doing that and trying to make labels took so long I actually re-wrote most of the cards to accommodate my apologies for them being so late. Then I didn't have enough stamps, and I didn't want to mail just some of them and not others, so I just ... didn't mail any of them. We've moved three times since then and I just keep moving that stack of thank you cards with us. Maybe I'll mail them on our fifth anniversary.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth B

me to a tee. i have SO many Things these days. it's awfully stressful to go through life like this.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjoie

Huh. Are you referring to my inability to call some anonymous people at PayPal because I bought a pair of Doc. Martens online, but what I received was an envelope from China with a plastic shower cap in it, that I am apparently willing to live with--even with the knowledge that I paid $37.99 for a shower cap that would generally be a freebie with a hotel room or hospital stay? That kind of procrastination INTO A THING? Yeah, I know about that.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Oh I know that couple, she is a closet alcoholic and he is into autonepiophilia!!!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSaffron

I do this often with alot of things!
I tell myself "Just do it !How long would it take?"
Now I am looking at picture frames with people like you have in your frame but you know what I tell people....they are my relatives :)

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindi

ALL THE TIME! I'm so glad I'm not alone. I'm currently procrastinating refinancing my car. For 2 months now I've put it off, because damn I don't want to sign papers and deal with the hassle. Even saving money doesn't motivate me.....

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I do similar stuff ALL THE TIME. Which reminds me that I have zero excuse to not go to the post office today. So, thanks.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Ditto. ALL The Time. Everyday try to slay one of them. Rarely succeed. They become larger monsters everyday perpetuating guilt and stress while I imagine all of my "with it" friends that have completed these things that are so onerous! More guilt more stress!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLecia

I do this ALL the time. Last year I had a form to claim back £40 from the vet insurance. One question was "When did your pet first show symptoms of this illness". I couldn't remember. All I had to do was call the vet and ask them to look at their records, but I could not do it. It became such a huge issue that eventually I threw it away and never claimed back the money.
I'm so glad it's not just me!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

looks like you are in good company! I don't buy picture frames unless they are gifts withe recipient's photo placed in it before I give it. I have this idea that most people don't really have the time or inclination to want to look at photos of themselves sitting around on their shelves unless the photo depicts that person on a trip or doing something ( a memory). Maybe you can get over to a bridal shop and get your photo taken with Serge in his pinstripe suit...frame it! You can HAVE my gown if you want. I will ship it free, with a frame. Have the kids sitting on the train with the dogs around, house in the background? I don't know. Until then, the couple will suffice as a nice memory of a good laugh that you gave your readers and a symbol of staged perfection,the lasting freshness of your marriage vows and affirmation of the fact that you have a special wedding gift which awaits completion. You really ought to submit this post to Brides Magazine. I loved it! Happy to read your posts again Monica since I finally got home from rehab and was able to afford TV and Internet with the money I am saving from having to pay for a car, insurance, gas, etc! Work will just have to WAIT! :)

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Anything that involves me picking up the phone to call someone, i will put off until the very last second until i'm sick to stomach and then i find a way to email them.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercharity

I used to be like this with everything, now it's mostly just with returning phone calls. But, from years of experience, it's a very stressful way to be in University...when every project and paper and lab gets turned into a ....BIG HUGE THING!!!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

you just described my husband to a T. The worst for him is writing cards to people. I sit down and bang out a heartfelt sentimental card in a minute. It takes him nearly a year to write his piece.
Seriously- this happened with a wedding card.
And he says it the same way, "Now it's become a thing."

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne

Yes--to all of this. Thank you once again for making me feel slightly less crazy & alone in my neurotic ways.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather M

I'm sitting here in front of the computer instead of writing my wedding thank you notes. I got married 2.5 months ago, and according to Emily Post, I have THREE months before I become a horribly rude person. But I JUST CAN'T seem to get them done. Every. Single. Day... for the last two and a half months... I have thought about writing them. I now image all of the complaining being done by people about how they haven't received their card yet. What am I going to do now??? Probably go make myself a martini and read facebook. ;)

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

I also got edgy reading this because it describes me so well.

I was sitting here reading blogs to put off one of those things that has become A THING.

It's because we're all overloaded. The world is going too fast. There's too much, too much!

Ok, I'm going to read ONE MORE blog and then I'll get started on the thing.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline

Yes - all the time, but the one I feel the guiltiest about is our dog Ramon. He was killed by a car in front of my son just over two years ago. His vet was so compassionate and terrific and we had the dog cremated. All's I have to do is go pick up his ashes but I just can't. I waited so long because I didn't want to face that he was really gone and then I was too embarassed, like they were going to think I was a cold hearted bitch for never coming back to get him. And not it has been so long and I feel like such an ass (and am afraid to called because what if they got tired of waiting and threw him out??) I really want his ashes but put it off for so long I am afraid to even call and check. And the worst part is every time I drive pass the vets office I give a little beep to say hi to Ramon. Yes, total mental illness and I am so ashamed - but still won't go get him!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLove bug

so does this mean the frame even survived the fire?!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanni

You're not the only one - I am also quite lazy about these sorts of things. I get a lot of crap from friends for not having more personal photos or trinkets or decorations in my house. It's not that I don't have the time, it's just that I don't care that much. Although I would like to have more hard copies of some of my photos, especially the wedding pictures.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpostmormongirl

I do it too, all the time. Every 2 or 3 years I stop for a day, and do a million of things I procrastinated until then; but as that "glorious" day ends, everything go back to procrastination again. We had a similar frame at home, that followed us empty in our three changes of apartments in ten years. I always wanted to put some pictures of us first, and then of the babies in it, but last week, when we finally decided to stop procrastinating, my husband tried to open it and it fell from his hands, and the glass broke. Now our frame is in the garbage, empty as the day we bought it. :D I wasn't even sad, but almost relieved I'd say.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSerena from Italy

This is the story of my life. You wouldn't believe the lengths I've gone to in order to avoid The Things.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

This happens to me all the time! As a result, it took me 3 months to send my insurance agent our home security certificate so we could get a discount on insurance. I curse our annoying shower head every day even though it would be so easy to switch it out. I stare at the possible water stain on the wall under our sink thinking, if that's a water stain, I should call a plumber. I've meant to collect the wedding things I saved in a shadow box for display, but instead they sit there in a shoebox in our office closet, silently mocking me every day. But my procrastination paralyzes me. Thank you for writing this! It makes me feel so much better about My Things.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

We have had a Flat Stanley visiting us for two years! Enough said.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

You're going to miss those two when they're gone. :)

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersherewin

I can't seem to get the three big bags of clothing to the Salvation Army. Mom passed away more than six years ago, and it took me two or three years to go through her clothes; the rest of the stuff in the bag is stuff of mine that I'll never wear again. And this is going to be the second time that I have left the nativity set up all year. I pick roses from the garden and then procrastinate about throwing them out, even when they are long past their prime. I walk right by dust and dirt and clutter. :-( And I have at least one phone call and a couple of other things on my list that are in grave danger of becoming "a thing."

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanis

This was your funniest post ever. You just described my life. Too many "Things" to even give examples, but have a similar frame story. Framed photo of our dog, but the photo is not centered and half of her head is cut off. The frame/photo continues to be displayed on our office desk 8 years later.

September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSaffoula

Just take it one step at a time.

Step 1. Open up the frame. With your right hand remove each photo and carefully drop them into a trash bag held in your left hand. Tie three knots in the bag. Carefully and deliberately take the trash bag outside, then lock the door.

Step 2. You are free of those evil villains. Now you can decide which pictures go into the frame.

September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

Let me venture to say that the real problem is that these frames are circular, which means *that much* extra work to cut out circular photos. If I had that on my to-do list, I would be taking it to the grave.

September 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersherewin

You're not going to believe this, but I had the exact same couple sitting in a crystal frame on my bookshelf for two years. I called them Jack and Mindy. They're a hard habit to break.

September 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkimtisha

DO NOT EVEN on the languishing photos on the hard drive. I can whine and cry and snivel with my husband about those poor photos and lack of baby albums for over an hour BUT CAN'T SEEM TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!?!? What!???!

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

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