August 27, 2002

Work for the Sake of Work

The ever-brilliant Steven DenBeste shows that I am not all alone in my middle-class-white-boy-college-student pain.

I spent my first two years at UMD in the School of Fine Arts. I earned the Bernstein-Krenzen jazz scholarship because I whooped major ass on my saxophone, which gave me a total of $1,500 over those two years. I also received a merit-based scholarship because I graduated with eXXtreme honors from Hopkins High School and got a 32 on my ACTs. I believe it fed me another $3,000 during those two years.

Last year I changed to the College of Liberal Arts under my custom-made Fiction and Non-Fiction Writing major. All scholarships immediately evaporated, never mind that of my four previous semesters at UMD, four of them were spent on the Dean’s List. I pulled straight A’s in semesters five and six. My parents were kind enough to pay for my first two years, but now I am responsible for selling my stocks and continuing to finance my (currently) debt-free education. Hopefully UMD continues to jack tuition sixteen percent every year, as I’m sick of paying income tax on my dividends, which are given to me after already being taxed as profit at the corporate level. If I ain’t have no money, I pay none taxes, ahyuk! Ya’ll canna touch me!

Disgruntled by the lack of financial recognition for my efforts, I spent a few hours this summer scouring national scholarship books for any potential source of income. I want to move Cromlech out of the backwaters of the Internet this year, and UMD plans on charging me $500 for three college credits as I do so. Alas, I am not poor, I am not hispanic, I am not black, my parents are not steel workers and I am not a female pursuing broadcast journalism. There is nothing I can do but liquidate my accounts.

But after camp I have come to expect little or no support from the outside. As Steven said, the American way is working your fucking ass off. Sometimes you get a nice return, but other times (often at camp) you just continue to get crap for a real long time. Pile after pile of steaming crap, and you just gotta keep shoveling it, because you will not allow yourself not to. You are stronger than the pile of crap and you probably smell better. You will not succumb. You will defeat the crap.

Keep in mind that the crap will not sing a nice ditty for you when the task is completed, no. Any recognition for a job well done must come from within you. So long as you anticipate no outside support, any kind gesture comes as a wonderful surprise.

When life gives you shit, make shitonade. When you are asked to take a twelve-canoe rack from the Waterfront to Trips you get two other guys, stick two canoes under the rack’s feet, shove it into the lake and climb up into the rigging to weigh the rack down as they paddle upwind to the landing. You yell like a pirate and damage your throat further, cry ‘Land ho!’ and bring the structure ashore, tilt it to the side and remove the canoes, recruit another strong man for the Strong Man Achievement and the four of you haul it onto dry land. Then you pull fourteen canoes to the side (individually, as that quickens the process), move the rack into the empty space and stack watercraft on the ten-foot structure until finished.

Total elapsed time: Thirty minutes.

You take it all in stride, because hard work is fun and makes for excellent stories.