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Ironing out clutter isn't in the cards

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By MARLENE SOKOL, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published July 19, 2002

I found the iron.

Rummaging through the bathroom vanity in search of conditioner, I found the iron.

There it was, its cord tangled up with the many appliances that beat the Florida out of my hair.

For weeks my husband had asked what became of the iron. I'd respond with an angry glance, then a profane variation of "How should I know?"

Allowing it to remain lost was an act almost of feminism. By definition, a Carrollwood housewife is not a true feminist. But not ironing felt vaguely defiant and self-affirming.

I come by my non-ironing naturally. Mom was ironing the day John F. Kennedy died. It was the only time I saw her cry. It was the last time I saw her iron.

We were rumpled but fairly content with our lives, groomed to cut corners instead of pie crust.

I grew into the anti-Martha Stewart. Never hosted Thanksgiving in my life. I don't save recipes, except for mixed drinks.

I laugh at other people's homes with their bare surfaces and clear countertops.

We have a "puzzle room." Used to be a library, until the kids' puzzles consumed it, inch by inch. I wish I could say the puzzles were stacked neatly in their boxes. Instead, they teeter on top of toys that have long since passed their prime.

Our guest bedroom has a "yearbook corner" where I stash photographs and correspondence for my one yearly act of volunteerism. As with the puzzle room, yearbook materials are layered over assorted other junk.

The garage is a graveyard of broken lawn mowers, exercise bikes and microwave ovens, dressed with discarded slipcovers and boxes of clothes long intended for Goodwill. Once I heard a loud rustling noise under the boxes. I never investigated, just closed the door behind me.

When the refrigerator gets so dirty I can't stand it, I buy a new one.

Do real people keep warranties? I do. I just have no idea where they are. On a good day I can find my health insurance cards. Or get the companies to send me replacements.

Some day I might organize my home videos. But I hope that day never comes. It will mean that I lost my job and there are no good movies on television. For both to occur simultaneously would be unbearable.

Summer is when most of us vow to get a grip on our clutter.

We tell ourselves we have so much free time. No homework to worry about, business slowing to a crawl. We pledge, if not to perfect our lives, to tame the madness, clear a path to sanity.

But the heat saps our energy, and the rain becomes an excuse. Party invitations go unanswered, and still nobody cleans under the beds.

I found the iron. Found it and used it. My pants look so nice, I want to celebrate.

With a daiquiri, if I can find the blender.

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