by Julia Buckley
Remember Sisyphus, the poor sod who was doomed to push the huge boulder up an underworld mountain only to have it roll down the other side? And then he had to push it back up again? This was his fate throughout eternity. Albert Camus, in his essay "The Myth of Sisyphus," said that this was a good thing, not a punishment at all but a chance for true happiness. I have to say, though, that I know the torture of poor Sisyphus--and not just from the endless writing sessions that result merely in deleted paragraphs--I am getting ready for a child's birthday party.
Granted, the child is going to be nine, but that is the worst age for what I call the Sisyphus Syndrome. That is, wait until your mother has cleaned something (with much angst, sweat, and secret swearing), and then decide that the newly-cleaned spot is perfect for the game you wanted to play. Bring out all of the things needed for the game: swords, action figures, paper and markers for map making. Bring the smelly dog along, naturally. And don't forget some kind of crumbly snack. There! Now you have transformed your mother into Sisyphus. And this can be done with ease ALL OVER THE HOUSE!
For example, once the bathroom is clean, it is a primo time to take a bath. Leave a ring in the tub and the towels on the floor, and Mom will be forced to push her shoulder to the boulder once again. Don't forget that laundry--it's not going to leave itself on the floor. That is your task, young men.
After nine years, though, I should have learned my lesson. It's just family coming, and they know by now that I do not live in the most sparkling of castles. I should meet them at the door and say, "You're here because you love me and my children, so please reserve judgment on anything you see that might be termed slovenly." But I don't do that. I stress, and clean, and complain, and spend too much money on food that my ever-dieting family will not eat, and when the party is over I slump exhausted in a chair, viewing the new mess that I must now put away.
And after that, it's back to the writing and deleting.
Oh, Sisyphus, move over. There are plenty of us pushing with you.