Michael Battalio

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Annual Christmas E-mail

While I'm at home I get a chance to catch a random five minutes of NPR here and there during my drive to and from work. (Go ahead and laugh, I like NPR.) On Monday mornings the news features a spot during the time I usually leave the house called "This I Believe." It's a short essay written by a different person each week in which they describe what it is they find fundamental to their existence, and one doesn't often get the usual answer. On my way to work last Monday (the 18th) the segment featured a Franciscan priest. He had an intriguing statement about faith. I'll do my best to summarize:

Faith is a mystery. Our definition of faith is the opposite of what it is supposed to be. Scientists can deal with the existence of black holes and a principle that demands we not be certain of most things going on in the universe, but those with contemporary faith assert that we must know everything beyond any veil of uncertainty. People of that faith demand closure and clarity, but those who possess real faith are the ones that can accept ambiguity and paradox.
The people who know Holiness are the most humble, and those who don't know try the hardest to show that they are humble. The ones who have come to terms with the mystery are the ones that can say they honestly don't know, but the ones who haven't are the ones who pretend to know everything (remind you of anyone you know)

How amazingly astute and true all of that is. Isn't that the definition of faith, to believe when there is no proof? For the longest time, I had difficulty dealing with that. Why have reason when I shouldn't use it? Faith should serve my every need. I got past this obstacle with a metaphor. Faith and reason are the shoes on my feet. I'll get a lot further with both than I'll ever get with just one or the other alone.

Reason is what makes us human, but faith is what gives us our humanity.

I don't get much more stream of consciousness than that thankfully. Enjoy the season, appreciate the little things, and take the time to give yourself some credit for making it as far as you have.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Politics of a choir related nature

A thing I've learned in the last few months is that whenever you get
a group
of two or more people together, there will always be politics. I say
because a huge amount of it has been going on in two church choirs
I'm in. I
won't go into the one I'm in while in Starkville, but the choir I'm
in here
in Vicksburg is startling me at how much political maneuvering goes
with me
oblivious to it. I'll do my best to describe what's going on without
offending anyone if someone from the choir comes across this. At the
my choir is in full Christmas mode. That's what we are focused on,
before a packed house an hour before Christmas vigil Mass starts on
the 24th.
It's what we've always done. One of the best pieces we perform is a
in D violin duet which has always been performed by one of the best
violinists I've ever known, who attends college at the moment, and a
school aged girl who's rather good herself. It's a wonderful
and one of my favorites anyway. This year though the choir director has
arranged for his son to play instead of the college aged girl. He just
straight up told her mom that he wanted his son to play, didn't even
ask the
girl usually playing it if it was okay. Now, keep in mind that his
son is
about a decade younger than the girl he is replacing, and nothing
against the
son, but he isn't nearly as good as she is. I understand forcing
kids along
helps motivate them, but this is just the director using his power to
vicariously through his son. It isn't fair to the girl that has
always done
it. And it makes the choir sound bad if the directors son messes up
he is under so much pressure. He and the high school aged girl
practiced it
in front of the choir a few nights ago, and it was rather lacking. I
see how it can be anywhere near the level of how it has been in years
with just a week and a half of practice time left for them.
I was going to site another example from the choir, but this post is
too long
now. The lesson of this post being never take anything for granted;
(no matter how innocuous) in organizations (no matter how charitable)
always abuse their power. It is human nature. It's a sad fact of life.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Half way through college

I'm halfway through college again. After having an unpleasant
freshman year,
an unfulfilling third semester and an unequivocally depressing fourth
semester, it's finally gotten to the point where I'm enjoying
myself. This
last semester, the fastest one I've been through, I've found the most
rewarding. I've decided upon a major (for the third time) that I
think I will be happy with. I've settled upon a few reasonably
diverse and
entertaining groups of friends. And after struggling to cope with
a couple of times over, I've finally gotten to a point where I can
have a
healthy relationship; I don't have to have my girlfriend around all
the time
just so I can feel fulfilled. The latter is definitely the most
point I've come to during this last semester. All the "loves,"
crushes and
girlfriends over the past half a dozen years that I've used to fill
my lack
of self worth all seem a bit childish. Hindsight being 20/20 I can
see that
it was actually a good thing that none of them worked out. Whether
or not my
current relationship works out, I know that if it does end, it won't
end with
me slumping into a six month long depression. Knowing that things can
quickly change, but that you can change just as quickly with them is
a good
place to be in life.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

a milestone

Having turned 21 just a couple of weeks ago, and being a reasonably
literate person, I thought this would make a good blog entry. In the
last week or so I have discovered that alcohol tastes pretty good.
When I went home for Thanksgiving I decided that one afternoon when
the whole family was out of the house I would take my first drink.
Wednesday afternoon my brother and father went hunting and my mother
went to work. After they left, I sorted through the myriad of
bottles we have stashed away. (My parents don't drink, but my dad's
parents owned a liquor store, "Battalio's Beverages." Ah,
alliteration. So, we have a lot of liquor that no one ever drinks
left over from the closing of the store.) At the very back of the
shelf, I found a bottle of golden sherry. I don't know why it's
golden. It's actually red. I dug through the kitchen cabinets and
uncovered a sherry glass. (In hindsight, I have no idea how I know
that that was a sherry glass. I still don't know it's a sherry
glass. The only cue I could be taking it from would be watching a
lot of reruns of Frasier.) With bottle of sherry and glass in hand,
I marched to the front porch. I think I've described the porch
before, so here's the short version: we live in a small
neighborhood, as in very little traffic. Our front porch has a swing
off to one side that overlooks all my gardens. Every morning I drink
a cup of coffee there. It is completely relaxing. I decided a
while ago that there, by myself with no pressure and no one to see,
would be where I took my first drink. I filled the small glass, set
the bottle down, began swinging, and took a sip of the sherry. This
is now going to sound naive, even for me, but that was one of the
best moments of my life. Prior to that experience, I had no idea
what alcohol tasted like (sans church wine, which is not a very good
representative sample of what alcohol should taste like) At first
there was a slight burning sensation, but that quickly wore off,
blending into a slightly sweet, yet tart warmth that once swallowed
pervaded my entire body. I let out a long sigh. I had made it.
After six years of high school, and two and a half more of college
all the peer pressure, all the jeering, all the wanting to fit in but
failing miserably came down to a sip of that red liquid. Suddenly
all the teasing was worth it. I had made it.
No, waiting to start drinking until I turned 21 doesn't make me
better than all the people who decide, or have it decided for them,
to start drinking when they are young, sometimes very young, but it
does make me better than all the people who said I couldn't do it.

a milestone

Having turned 21 just a couple of weeks ago, and being a reasonably literate person, I thought this would make a good blog entry. In the last week or so I have discovered that alcohol tastes pretty good. When I went home for Thanksgiving I decided that one afternoon when the whole family was out of the house I would take my first drink. Wednesday afternoon my brother and father went hunting and my mother went to work. After they left, I sorted through the myriad of bottles we have stashed away. (My parents don't drink, but my dad's parents owned a liquor store, "Battalio's Beverages." Ah, alliteration. So, we have a lot of liquor that no one ever drinks left over from the closing of the store.) At the very back of the shelf, I found a bottle of golden sherry. I don't know why it's golden. It's actually red. I dug through the kitchen cabinets and uncovered a sherry glass. (In hindsight, I have no idea how I know that that was a sherry glass. I still don't know it's a sherry glass. The only cue I could be taking it from would be watching a lot of reruns of Frasier.) With bottle of sherry and glass in hand, I marched to the front porch. I think I've described the porch before, so here's the short version: we live in a small neighborhood, as in very little traffic. Our front porch has a swing off to one side that overlooks all my gardens. Every morning I drink a cup of coffee there. It is completely relaxing. I decided a while ago that there, by myself with no pressure and no one to see, would be where I took my first drink. I filled the small glass, set the bottle down, began swinging, and took a sip of the sherry. This is now going to sound naive, even for me, but that was one of the best moments of my life. Prior to that experience, I had no idea what alcohol tasted like (sans church wine, which is not a very good representative sample of what alcohol should taste like) At first there was a slight burning sensation, but that quickly wore off, blending into a slightly sweet, yet tart warmth that once swallowed pervaded my entire body. I let out a long sigh. I had made it. After six years of high school, and two and a half more of college all the peer pressure, all the jeering, all the wanting to fit in but failing miserably came down to a sip of that red liquid. Suddenly all the teasing was worth it. I had made it.
No, waiting to start drinking until I turned 21 doesn't make me better than all the people who decide, or have it decided for them, to start drinking when they are young, sometimes very young, but it does make me better than all the people who said I couldn't do it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Perhaps I should do a bit of explaining

Those of you have had nothing better to do will have noticed that
I'm no longer a physics major. Knowing how obsessed I am with that
discipline, I'm sure this is a puzzle to most of you. Allow me to
explain myself. Sure, physics is great, but what exactly am I going
to be doing with that? I'll either teach or do research. I wouldn't
mind teaching, but I want to get a doctorate which would almost force
me into teaching college--something I don't want to do. Research is
the other option, but I hate lab work. I mean I absolutely abhor it,
so research in any form or fashion is excluded. Plus, I don't like
the thought of sitting in some office all by myself somewhere working
8-5 a day five days a week. I don't like being like everyone else.
So, here I am.
Why broadcast meteorology? Isn't it obvious? Everyone who knows me
well enough to know I love physics also knows what an obsession I
have with The Weather Channel. I can watch it all day. You may also
remember last May when I got my name and a photograph I took on TWC.
I have never been so happy in my life. In short, I love weather.
It's fascinating. I chose broadcast meteorology because I love being
in front of people, and, I think everyone will agree with me, I have
quite the flair for the dramatic.
This will be the third major change of my college career, and I hope
this is the right one. And consequently, the last one. We'll see.
I'm also going to getting music, math, and communication minors. I'm
only one class short of a math minor, so I figured why not.
Communication comes with the broadcast part of meteorology. And the
music minor comes from the fact that I've taken too many piano
lessons just to quit at music now. Plus it will give me a piece of
credible proof that I'm decent at piano. So, this will all give me
another two and a half years at state. As of now, I'm only half way
done, and hopefully the last half will be the best half.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Okay, another somewhat serious post.
I have been reasonablly free of parental guidance for two years, but
I find I miss it at times. When being told what to do amounts to
being told where or what to eat for dinner or being told to go to
church, I find that welcomed. I am an indecisive person; during my
freshman year my parents would give me money, just for the heck of
it, so I was somewhat obliged to do what they thought I should.
Recently I have realized that I, quite seriously, am on my own now.
I pay for everything sans cell phone bill and car insurance, which
amounts to 750 or 800 a year, easily affordable if my parents were to
tell me they were going to quit paying for that. It's really quite
frightening. Am I ready for that? I have no idea, but I am still
okay after a year of doing it. Independence is complicated. There
is so much to manage: bills, food, shelter, etc. Granted I don't
have much more than food to deal with at the moment, but I believe
you see my point. You can mess up one thing, and you have to decide
if you pay the electric bill or the water.
There is another point I want to make. It comes back to the
"impressionability" post I had a month or so ago. In this sense I
want to think of independence as being different, standing out in the
crowd, non-conformability-in a good sense. To be specific, I want to
be able to see everyone around me as being happy, generally fulfilled
people, and see me at the same time striving to be where they are,
but independent enough to be able to say their way to happiness will
probably not be my way. I need to go about being happy my way, and
quit assuming that if I follow someone else I will end up just as
they are. That's a horribly wrong assumption that has been
demonstrated to me the hard way multiple times. The problem is I
haven't learned it. I still want to be like everyone else, even
though I know that isn't going to work for me. It all comes down to
courage really-to become independent of everyone around me. It's
scary to be independent. I'm sure everyone has realized that by
now. So how do all of you do it?

Friday, September 22, 2006

a regular blog post

How about a regular blog post for once? Nothing that requires a dose
of ibuprofen after I've finished writing it. (I've already got
another serious topic I want to talk about, but I'll save that for
next time.) Does anyone realize that we are already a third done
with the semester? How scary is that? Enough with rhetorical
questions. A lot of people say the spring semester goes by fast. I
submit that the fall one does faster, mainly because of football
season and band. I've had one Saturday so far this semester where I
haven't been doing anything, only the second one. And while this
Saturday is an away game, I'm going on Fall retreat this afternoon.
And next Saturday is, correct me if I'm wrong, fall break I believe,
so that's a Vicksburg trip for me.

Every day during the week, I finish with classes at two, so I have
three hours to kill before band. I tend to be rather useless during
that time, watching Star Trek reruns instead of doing homework. I
have recently been offered a part time position doing website stuff
for a friend I know who works in the research park. It will just be
5-10 hours a week, a perfect amount for me. I need to e-mail the guy
I'm supposed to contact. I think I'll do that before I go to lunch.

In something completely unrelated, I've had a sore throat for the
last five days, and it's really starting to tick me off. Apparently
it's some kind of virus that's like strep throat, but that isn't, and
because it's a virus and not a bacterial infection, there isn't a
thing to do about it except wait it out. Stupid modern medicine.
This disease will not keep me from having a good time on the retreat
though. It was delightful last year, and appears to be that way
again. Nothing like a bunch of Catholics worshiping Mary.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I have recently come to the conclusion that I am too impressionable
of a person. Someone can say in passing, "well, I don't even have a
tv in my room." I then wonder what is wrong with me because I watch
an hour or two of tv a day. Someone else can say, "well, I do school
work at least a few hours everyday outside of class." I then think
I'm a lazy bum because I don't do nearly that much work each day.
Someone can brag about how much they read a day, and I feel
discouraged because somedays I don't read a single paragraph.
Someone can have a part time job and it makes me feel
unaccomplished. A few years ago I was rather proud at myself that I
really didn't care what anyone thought of me. I'm not sure what has
happened since then. Again, perhaps this has something to do with my
general lack of self esteem. I have gotten better about it recently,
but I still have a long way to go. It needs to come to the point
where not only can I say to myself I read the right amount or I do
enough school work, but I can defend myself if I am questioned about
that. Right now I would defend myself if someone were to call me
lazy, but only because one is expected to defend one's self, not
because I would actually believe what I would be saying. Fighting
for self improvement is hard place to be in college.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The big question

I find when I contemplate life and seriously think about life, I tend
to just get depressed. When I live life and not contemplate my
existence, I find I'm happier, so the question is , which would I
rather be: A self examined, depressed human being or an ignorant,
content fool. I will admit that's a bit of a false dichotomy, but is
it so much of a stretch?
For example, as I'm sure everyone knows, I wasn't in the best of
moods last semester, but then I was thinking a lot about everything.
Now, I am fantastically happy, but I haven't been thinking about
anything except school. It could have something to do with the fact
I'm so busy and have no time to think. And I seriously have to
consider, do I want to think about the universe and risk unhappiness,
or do I prefer the way I am now and can live with the risk of denying
the beauty of my ability to be self-aware? To reduce it to another
dichotomy: do I want to be a person or a trained monkey? Some
people might get a chuckle out of that, but I am really torn about
this. I want to examine my life, (Is the unexamined life worth
living?) but on the other hand I would like to enjoy life at the same
time. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the examined life is
an unhappy one. I am saying that to me, right now, it is. At the
moment though, I'm leaning towards enjoying life and thinking later.
I should enjoy college. Twenty years from now I'm not going to
remember the epiphany (unless it's a really good one) I had while I
was sitting in my room reading Aristotle, but I will remember going
out and enjoying myself. However, I can't help but feel a sense of
loss if I don't explore my existence continuously.
Another good question is why am I this way? The biggest question
some people face is which bar they are going to get drunk in
tonight. I have to decide whether or not I want to be happy. To
finish this entry I will have to point out that in examining this
question right now, I'm effectively choosing to examine my life, and
it really isn't so bad if I force myself to see the utter bliss life
has to offer. Even the hopeless vastness of the human mind will have
a hard time pulling me down then.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

a celebration

Pretend this entry was written on Sunday. That's when I meant to
write it, but being home, I was too lazy to do anything.

There are three Catholic Churches in Vicksburg. One of the older
ones, St. Mary's, celebrated its centennial this weekend. St. Mary's
is the majority black church in Vicksburg, but for whatever reason my
grandparents attended that church even though it is the farthest from
my house. So, for the first twelve or thirteen years of my life I
attended that church. I have quite the connection there. I was
baptized there and I have first communion and reconciliation there.
And because of that I felt I should attend the celebratory Mass. I
was very much in for a surprise. There were thirteen priests
celebrating. Eight of those from the Jackson diocese. (In case you
are curious, 8/72 yields over a tenth of the entire Jackson diocese
there.) Mass lasted almost two hours. And if you hadn't known it
was a Roman Catholic service, you would have guessed that we were in
some amalgam of a Pentecostal and Southern Baptist church. There
were people yelling Amen during the homily. The priest was pounding
on the pulpit. And the music was a cultural awakening of sorts, a
full choir with an older woman with a spectacular voice banging on an
old, upright, out of tune piano. The word that comes to mind is
honky tonky, the piano, not the woman. The organ was a classic,
almost stereotypical sound one would expect from a Southern, small
town black church, a lot of vibrato, a sound that echoed through the
entire church. The entire experience was something I've never been
around. I'm not sure what I don't have very many memories of the
church when I was young. But I did like it, something else to make
life interesting.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm sorry

This has been a month coming, but occasionally, for brief periods of
time, I get a life. The last month was one of those times. I don't,
however, mean to imply that I won't have life again for while.
(Possibly, likely even, but I hope to prevent that.) This post will,
I hope, skim over things to fill the people in who actually pay
attention to me. As my routine solidifies, perhaps I'll have more
time to write. And I know most people spend a grand total of five
minutes updating their blogs, but I proofread. (The world would be a
much better place if we all proofread.)

The big thing happening at the moment is me trying to decide if I
really want to be a physics major. Over the last few years, I think
I've put up a good front being excited about it. The thing is
though, I'm not sure I really enjoy it as much as I should. I am
supposed to be taking three upper level physics courses, but I
decided to take only one and instead take two meteorology classes to
see how I like it. (Those of you around me know how excited I was
when I got my photo on TWC, so imagine if I were really on there.) I
don't think I could live with myself if I didn't at least give
meteorology a chance. I like it too much. So far though, I am
loving the intro to meteorology class.

I'm slightly proud of myself. I have fixed a friendship that I
thought was beyond fixing. I hope it's a sign I'm maturing. I won't
say anything else about it to spare the person I'm talking about.

After much haggling and persistence, I got a single room. I finally
talked to someone in charge about three days before I had to come up
here for band camp. It took the woman five minutes to give me a
single room. I must have called that department a dozen times before
i got anywhere. I am back in Suttle (Those of you aquatinted with
the building are cringing at the moment I'm sure.) again though.
It's my own fault. I was offered a nicer room in a nicer dorm, but I
turned it down to save $1200 a semester. I am so cheap. When I
first got into my room I was terrified of being stuck here again, but
it's not as bad as I anticipated. I think it will be okay.

I went through a week of miserable depression when I first got here.
I think it was just me readjusting to Starkville. There is something
about this town that is depressing. It's an intrinsic quality I
can't describe. And it takes me a little bit to get used to being
here again.

I am considering getting a job designing some website stuff. I don't
know if I am good enough to do it though. It's only part time, but I
will have even less free time if I do decide to take the position.
Life should be more care free at 20. I shouldn't be having to make
so many decisions. I don't want to grow up.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

second to last week of summer

Work is finally done. Can't say I miss that. I think I will return during Christmas break, and that will be my last time there. I have absolutely no intention of being in Vicksburg next summer. I would like to get some sort of internship somewhere, preferably out of the southeast as well. I need to get out and live a little.

I found out on Friday that I have a roommate. Since then, I have been scrambling to change that. I will admit it's my own fault this is happening. The housing department sent the e-mail out about it in the middle of June, but I just skimmed over it thinking that they wouldn't give me a roommate after I didn't have one last year. I figured out something was terribly wrong when I checked my account with the school. I noticed that they charged me less this semester than for the room last year. The dorm I would be moving into is nicer than the one I was in last year. Everything is nicer than sutttle, so I knew something was amiss. I checked the e-mail again, and randomly embedded in the middle of the e-mail was a guy's name. They didn't even say here is your new roommate assignment; they just stuck his name in the e-mail. My only hope, because it's so late, is that since they built the new freshman dorms, the old freshman dorms, which are nicer than the upperclassmen ones anyway, were half empty and they let upperclassmen move into them last year. I hope it is safe to assume that this will be the case again. I don't know why I'm letting this bother me so much; there's nothing more I can do about it right now. I, of course, e-mailed the department about it last week, and I called them. I was told that they now only handle housing assignments over e-mail, which is stupid. I still haven't gotten a response, and if I haven't by this afternoon I'm calling again. And hopefully I will get something a bit more of substance from them.

This weekend my family and I are supposedly going to the beach. It has been a while since I have gone on any vacation with them. This will be interesting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Last week of work

To tell you the truth, before last week I wouldn't have minded staying an extra week here at work.  I don't need $350 more dollars, but why waste the opportunity?  Right now though, I'm sick of being here.  Last week was horrible.  I helped set up a training class for some engineers.  That was way too much work.  I had to stay an hour and a half late on Friday afternoon, and I missed what could have been a very interesting experience in tango lessons.  It's ironic that one of the few times I've actually looked forward to going out is the only time I have to stay late at work.  The tragedies of responsibility.  Now that that is finished, I can wholeheartedly say that this is my last week here.  They would have to double my pay to get me to stay an extra week.


The volvo is out of commission at the moment.  One of the sensors that monitors fuel consumption is broken.  It's expensive to fix, but after that the volvo will supposedly get much better gas mileage.  So hopefully because gas is $19 a gallon the savings will add up quickly. 


I finished the pond kind of.  There is still a leak in the stream that I can't seem to find.  And the dirt around the beginning of the stream keeps settling because it's wet because there is a leak which is making it leak even more.  It's really starting to become annoying.  Oh well, something to do Saturday afternoon. 


Before this summer I was really dreading coming home, but now that it's coming to a close, this is probably one of the best summers I've had, even though I haven't really gone out and done much of anything.  I was right; I just needed to get away from it all for a while.  Let's hope my current peace of mind continues well into the upcoming year.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The week in review

This week's lesson:  a three day work week is good, even if it is hectic.  Last weekend (Saturday until Tuesday) I was in Memphis visiting a couple of friends there.  It was very enjoyable and relaxing not having to be in Vicksburg with nothing to do, even if we really didn't go and do anything amazing while I was up there.  It was nice meeting new people and generally chit chatting about nothing.  I think we might have to start making this a regular occurrence while we aren't in school, but next time they're driving four hours and spending over $50 on gas for their drive.  I will say, though, that the money for gas was easily made up for in all the free food.  Thanks again Ms. King. 


Yesterday at work I had to lead a web cast.  I've been planning it all week, all of three days.  (It really is good only having to work 24 hours but get paid for 40.)  It's the first time that I've ever had to be the one in charge of a meeting here.  It was a learning experience.  And I think it went very well, even though I was a bit long winded; I talked for an hour and a half.  But I feel really cool now, a milestone in my working life, even though I have no intention of working there after college. 


I learned how to tango last night.  I'm not very good, mostly because I'm a 20 year old white guy, but I think it'll definitely earn me some points when I tell girls I can though.  Hopefully, no one I ever tell that to will happen to have a cd of music on them.  But I do wish I had a Brazilian supermodel laying around so I could practice.  


I have less than a month of summer left, and as of the first of the month, we are half way through the year.  I'm only 20; time shouldn't be going by this quickly.  At least I only have ten work days left, and after that I will revel in having two weeks to do as I please.  I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I'm feeling anxious about something.  I'm not sure what.  Perhaps it's my upcoming visit to see Wes and Ohno in Memphis, but I don't know why I would be anxious about that.  I'm actually looking forward to breaking the routine that I've set up so far this summer.  It also could be that I'm now half way through with summer and haven't done as much as I set out to do.  (I know I've mentioned here that before.)  And that I'm really not looking forward to next semester as much as I looked forward to last semester during Christmas break, and that's probably because last semester was a let down and otherwise disaster to me.  So in this regard, I guess I really should look forward to next semester because it certainly can't be worse than what I put myself through during the spring.  All of this, though, still leaves me without an answer as to what I'm anxious about.


A few days ago I joined a friend for lunch; we eat together every Wednesday.  (Let me mention something about Jeff for context:  He has a faith to be envied if you're religious, or a faith to be mocked if you're an atheist.  He is one of the most devout people I know, Catholic or otherwise.  He's Baptist.)  To continue, as anyone who ever reads this should have figured out by now, my breakdown of sanity had a lot to do with a crisis of faith, and as remedy to this crisis, I have been collecting the opinions- on God, on religion, on faith in general- from all the people I know whose views I respect and who have widely differing opinions on just about everything.  (If you're a good friend of mine, don't be hurt if I haven't talked to you about it yet.  I can only talk to so many people at a time and keep everything straight in my head.)  My conversation with Jeff proved very helpful, as have most of the conversations I've had with people.  His reasoning for God is as follows:  the universe is too beautiful for there not to be a God.  (A wonderfully simple logic, although I might have over simplified it.)  The reasoning is very pretty, for lack of a better word, but it still isn't enough for me.  Someone remind me to talk about the anthropic principle in physics at some point.  (The truncated version:  if the universe weren't pretty, we wouldn't be here to witness it.  I should have asked Jeff about it, next time.)  Now that this post is too long, the point of all this being, my search continues unabated.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

This and that

Nothing even remotely thought provoking today, just some little
pieces of stuff that's been going on the last couple of weeks. I
have finally started to work out, and I still hate it. Here's hoping
something worthwhile comes of it. For Father's Day, I told my dad I
was going to start and finish laying new flooring in the biggest room
upstairs. That has been a big project and a lot more work than I
thought it would be. I have finally gotten around to redesigning the
pond; another big project. And lastly, I'm starting to go through my
address book and calling people to see how they are, so if you know
me reasonably well, and I have your number, be expecting a call. Oh,
and I'm going through and calling all the good looking girls first,
so if you're ugly, a guy or both it might be a few weeks. So, be
patient. Anyway, besides just either being lazy or occasionally
doing other things, I'm really starting to enjoy the summer. Life
ain't too bad.

Monday, June 19, 2006

...and I certainly would like to think of myself as a virtuous man.

Before anyone even reads this, yes I know the whining is getting old.
My problem is that I don't have any self esteem when it comes to
women. I've been myself, or at least what I think is my true self,
with every girl I've ever cared about, and it wasn't good enough for
them. I've also never asked a girl out first and she said yes, and
yes, I know I've complained about this specific thing before here.
But I'm just making the point, again I think, that I have no self
esteem for a good reason, not just randomly. This lack of self
esteem would be not a problem if I was okay by myself and happy
single, which I was not okay about at all last semester. (Hence the
depression.) I also think I've said this: it's funny how quickly
one becomes accustomed to being with someone and how hard it is to
get used to only being with yourself again. I think I'm finally
beyond the latter. (Hence the lack of depression the last couple
months.) A lot of the difficulty in getting passed the depression
was that I had forced myself into a competition of relationship
status, not just with all of my exes, but with every other couple I
was in contact with. I wanted what they had, mostly because I had
just had it too and really wanted it back. Also because I thought I
was at my happiest with someone. I am now finding out that isn't
necessarily the case. And I think for everyone that this realization
is a matter of time, a long time in my case. I can finally say I'm
very much okay now. My patience finally has paid off. You see (the
now reoccurring closing cliche) patience is a virtue, and I certainly
would like to think of myself as a virtuous man.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Beside the word gullible in the dictionary there is a picture of me

I will have a busy weekend this weekend yet not as busy as last.
Last week and this week, both pianists from the church have been out
of town, so I was "elected" to play for both Sunday morning Masses.
Consequently, I had two different choirs with two completely
different styles and two completely different sets of music to play.
To top that all off, I had to play for a funeral Saturday morning,
and earlier that morning, I had to play the national anthem on
saxophone for the city swim tournament. I think I should tattoo the
word "gullible" across my forehead. The only good result of my
busyness was that I haven't been bored at all (except at work) for
the last two weeks. That, I do believe, needs to continue. It's a
good feeling to get through a day and realize you've not only just
made 70 bucks at work, but you've helped your brother with algebra,
practiced the piano for a couple of hours, spent some time in the
garden and gone on a very relaxing bike ride. The feeling of
accomplishment is a good thing. And I'll risk being cliché again;
humanity would be better off if we all felt that way more often. I
need to quit with posting clichés all the time. Oh, and I now have
a $200.00 iPod paperweight.

Monday, May 29, 2006

random bits of info from my life

I had thought about taking up swimming this summer, but my dad has
just about convinced me to lift weights again. It won't be something
I'll look forward to, but rather something to hopefully take up time
and make me feel better about myself. I must admit though that when
I was doing it last summer I absolutely hated it. I'm really not
built to exercise that much, and I'm too lazy. Then again, I really
don't want to be underweight for the entire time in my life that I'm
attempting to pick up women, so I suppose I should try to gain all
the weight back. I ended up gaining 15 lbs. last summer, but I lost
it all when I got back to State. However, at the end of last summer,
I did feel pretty good about myself, and I dare say I looked a lot
better as well. Either way, I need to make up my mind; I'm only home
two more months or so.

My iPod is broken again, and this time the warranty is up. So this
time I'm going to have to replace it with my own money. I've learned
a good lesson from all my electronics troubles with Apple in the last
six months: when buying from Apple, buy the extended warranty. I
think though that I'll wait for the new iPods to come out. The sixth
generation iPod is supposed to have a touch screen control instead of
the click wheel, so while expensive it will be cool.

My period of relaxation is over. I start work tomorrow at eight
thirty. Two months of probable boredom begins then. Great.

Friday, May 26, 2006


This happened a while ago, but I need something good to talk about.
I went to confession a few weeks ago. I talked to a priest whom I
will inevitably never see again. I'm glad I did though. He had some
good advice. I told him about my problems with faith and with my
general lack of self confidence at the moment; both of which stem
from my lack of a girlfriend [read as: lack of affirmation of self,
(there's a word for it, but I forget what it is)]. (Yes, I know lack
of a girlfriend is a childish reason, but that's the point of this
entry.) I will admit I felt kind of gypped from the encounter,
mostly because it was so short, and I got a lot out of the little bit
he did talk. But here's the gist of the thing: He told me it was
about time to let go of my ex from fall semester, and I really have
no choice but to agree with him. We dated three months (me and the
ex, not me and the priest), and it ended about six months ago. (At
the moment every time she pops into my mind I try to come up with a
song that gets stuck in your head really easily, because let's face
it, I'm sure by now I have analyzed any and all possibilities
concerning it, so no use just obsessing on it.) He also said that I
should figure out who I am before I try to be with someone else.
That I believe is the key piece of information concerning my
depression and quite frankly horrible semester I just got out of. I
need to figure out who I am. That will fix a great many things once
I do figure it out. I believe myself to be well on my way at the
moment, and consequently, I haven't had a badly depressing day since
I've been home. I have finally realized what I have done with both
of my ex-es; I let caring for them cover up my lack of concern for
myself. That's really unhealthy, even more unhealthy than just not
caring for one's self. I have such low self esteem, not just with
women but in general, that I try and find other more worthwhile
people to care about so I don't have to think about myself. I truly
think it's time for that to end, and that is what this summer is
going to be about.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

summer begins

I have to say that one of my favorite things to do while I'm home and
not working is to sit on the porch swing, right after I get up (and
while no one else is home), with a cup of my mom's fantastic coffee
and admire my garden. I do a lot of thinking there, and at this
point in my life, it is my favorite place in the entire world. If I
never got tired of sitting, I would never leave. I haven't even been
home an entire two full days yet, but I've already spent about four
hours there. I'm typing this post there in fact. The coffee is
starting to get cold though.

Now that the semester (and the wedding [that I played cello in, not
my wedding, although...]) is over, I am finding time to genuinely
think about things. The first conclusion I have reached in the last
couple of days is that I can't just forget last semester (Actually, I
suppose it's now two semesters ago, fall semester.); I have to have
memories to replace all the stuff about fall semester I wish to
forget. Spring semester was not a semester I wish to remember either
though (I dare to say it is something I wish to remember even less.),
so I don't really have any fond memories with which to come back to
every time my mind begins to dwell on things I'd like to forget
(Well, I suppose forget is a strong word. It's part of who I am, so
perhaps a better phrase for right here is to leave alone for the time
being.) So, having figured that out, I'm now going to try to make
myself a few good memories I can take away from this summer and bring
with me next fall semester. The question now becomes how. I think
the best thing to do is to call up some friends I haven't talked to
in a while, especially ones I know are in the same town as I am, and
go and do something. (Those of you who know me know I hate cliches,
but an idle mind is the devil's workshop.) I also think it is time
to renew my interest in some hobbies that I was almost obsessed with
before college yet dropped afterwards; painting jumps out in my
mind. Those are now my goals for the next two months. And we'll
just see how they go.

And with that, it's 12:30; I'm hungry.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Weather Channel

My life is now fulfilled. My picture and name is on weather.com.
It's the daily weather pic for May 12, 2006. And if you watch TWC
from 3 till 5 this afternoon, the 12th, you'll get to see my picture
and name on national television. What a way to end the semester.
The picture was taken from my seventh floor room in Suttle on
Wednesday during exams. Life is good.

Friday, April 21, 2006

For times gone by

I'm feeling really nostalgic this evening. Maybe it's because it's
another Friday night, and I'm in my room, alone, again. Maybe it's
because I only have three more weeks before this semester is all
over, and I really haven't enjoyed this semester at all. As a matter
of fact, I've hated this semester, even more so than the two
semesters of my freshman year here. The last four months, in my
eyes, have been a waste of my life. Sure, my grades will end up
where I want them to be; I somehow always manage it despite how far
behind I am in something. But college life should be about a whole
lot more than grades. Really, all of life should be about a whole
lot more than work. Unfortunately, I don't know what that whole lot
more should be. It seems that other people have figured it out, and
that's why they like being here (Here as in alive. Not that I don't
want to live; it's just that I'm not enjoying it.). I, however,
haven't the slightest idea as to what it is I want out of life. I've
been thinking about it the entire semester, and I'm nowhere closer to
an answer than I was before. I really want something amazing to
happen in my life, and it's getting to the point where I need
something, anything to happen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the Good life?

What is the good life?  That is something I've been asking myself lately, although, not directly.  I read a poem in English class earlier today.  (I must admit, if I weren't so terrified by the professor's tests, and if the class were only a fifty minute class instead of 75, I would seriously enjoy it and want to take a class by the same teacher again.)  The poem is by Ben Jonson and called "Inviting a Friend to Supper."  Read it if you get the chance or the desire.  Ignoring all the political stuff in the poem, it describes what the speaker thinks would be the good life:  food, friends, intellectual conversation and so forth.  This has led me to thinking since I got out of class this morning.  I know I'm not happy where I am (by am I don't mean just physical location of my body, but I include that in the word 'am' as well), and I suppose I have a bit of knowledge as to why, namely, I don't do anything worthwhile.  Which leads me to thinking, "What is worthwhile?"  And that leads back to "What is the good life?"  The good life is not a superficial, and usually hypocritical, belief in a deity.  The good life is not sex or drugs or drinking (even though that's what society tells us it is, and I will be the first to admit; it's hard to ignore society).  The good life is not wealth and figuring out how we can be lazy for the rest of the life (that is confusing the easy life with the good life).  The good life is advancing yourself and bringing others along with you as you go.  By advancing I mean not just intellectually, physically or spiritually, but they are terrifically important.  By advancing I mean living up to principles you set for yourself, not ones God or government sets up for you to believe.  I also certainly don't mean to set goals like write a to do list each day; then once you've done that for x number of years, you've led a good life and can die in peace.  I mean the good life is living to the set of values your find honorable and worthy of a sentient human being, i.e. yourself.  What those individual values are is a matter of the individual.  I know, however, that finding those values begins with questioning all the physical and spiritual and intellectual, questioning society, questioning the easy life.  We even need (especially so) to question ourselves, because being fallible predestines us to being wrong just as often as we are right, if not just as often then more so.  The good life is living up to lofty standards you place on yourself and being able, when it's all over, to step back and say, "Yeah, I got it right."  That, of course, is under the assumption that you will be wiser when you die than you are now so you can realize whether or not you got it right.   As for the now, it's worth our time to quit being lazy or getting drunk or high to figure out in what ways we can be more virtuous people.  

All of that is the best answer I have for anything at the moment.  Work with me here I'm struggling with it just as everyone else.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Some results of not thinking...

I think I've figured out why people do drugs and why some religions
make their members take drugs to meet with "God". I have been sick
over the weekend, and have been taking Ny Quil. (As a side note,
that stuff tastes awful. One dose is 30 mL, two tablespoons; that's
a lot. You'd think they could concentrate it so it wouldn't be so
much, but no. The first night I took it I decided to off it in one
big gulp, not realizing what a mistake that would be. You know that
uncontrollable shiver one has when you're cold; that's what happened
when I drank it. My body was racked with spasms of utter horror.
You can't just pour a liquid down your throat; you're mouth has to
close to get all of the air out, and in that two seconds of sheer
terror before I forced myself into swallowing, I almost spewed the Ny
Quil across my room. Afterwards, I almost threw it up. That's how
bad it is.) Let me say that Ny Quil is very potent stuff. I took
some Saturday night, and all day Sunday I was groggy. However, in my
drug induced stupor, I kept having what I thought were amazing ideas
and thoughts about life and religion and love, et cetera, et cetera,
ideas that I was proud of myself for having. But now, the things I
can remember from yesterday are absolutely inane, things I wouldn't
even attempt to transcribe here. So that leads me to think that if
an over the counter cold remedy can put me in such a state that I
have insane thoughts, thoughts which I think are better than sliced
bread at the time, I wonder what a true hallucinogenic would do to
someone. Mind you, having gone through this, I honestly don't want
to ever take an illicit drug, partly because they aren't regulated,
so you have no idea what is actually in it. But mostly because I
don't even want to imagine the loss of control of one's self that
taking a drug whose sole purpose was to make you loose yourself would
Anyway, out of a 48 hour weekend, I slept almost 30 hours of it, but
I'm still tired right now; however, I have class in a bit. At least
I feel better today.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Some results of thinking...

God (or whatever or whomever you wish to place faith in) does not give you what you want.  He (or She or It or They as the case may be) also does not give you what you need.  He gives you something much more valuable than any of that.  He gives us the ability to get what we need all on our own.  He is also generous enough to give us the ability to get what we want as well.  Instead of whining about what is wrong in our lives to whomever it is you happen to have a belief in, we all have in us the ability to go and get it ourselves; it's always there.  We just can't see it.  It's the finding what makes us happy that makes life interesting.  I'll admit that sometimes not having anything to be happy about and not seeing where the happiness could come from is really unnerving and upsetting, obviously.  I should know; I'm going though a very difficult one of those periods right now.  Since I am in one of those periods right now, the only solace I have is that I can be happy all on my own; I just need to get there.  The big question is how.  And that is the beauty of the journey, or so I keep telling myself.

Friday, March 03, 2006

What am I doing?

I am having a hard time with life in general. I am questioning
everything. Physics as a major, grades (as in why are they important
to me), happiness, control, of myself and of other's control on me.
LIfe, it's purpose, what I want to do, where I want to go, and other
things I can't seem to define into words. I feel as if I am on the
cusp of an epiphany, but I don't know what it is. And I don't know
if I will even get there.
As kind of a way to organize all the random things I ponder about,
which I do a lot of now, as in hours at a time, I am finding small
issues I can question, because I am having a hard time defining the
big questions it is I want to answer. It's all such a jumble in my

I am so lonely all of a sudden. I don't know what is going on. I
don't have anything to look forward to, next week is another week of
school, and then another and another. Summer I will inevitably be
home alone with nothing to do, only to come back and start a new
school year here with nothing to do. I need something interesting to
happen in my life. I'm tired of just existing.

Monday, January 23, 2006

My punishment...

I understand that a university wants to graduate a well-rounded
student, and that's why we have core classes that have nothing to do
with our major. I don't mind that. That makes sense in the long
run. I want to be a well-rounded student. But why must they make it
all so painful? I wouldn't mind a literature class where we read a
work in class and then write a short essay about it, an essay where a
misplaced comma won't drop the grade a whole letter, an essay where I
don't have to regurgitate the opinion of the teacher or an old, dead
writer. I would enjoy lit then, but the way lit is taught to people
who aren't majoring in a language is, in short, punishment. I should
not have to spend more time reading out of my lit book per night than
I should be working on, say physics (my major), homework. I should
not have to worry more about a class that has nothing to do with my
major than with a class that is my major. That's stupid. That's
punishment. That's teaching me to resent having to take lit again.
That's teaching me to make faces of disgust whenever the word
literature is mentioned. There must be a better way to make us the
perfect, well-rounded student.
Thank you. I feel better now. I just finished reading the
Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. It took an hour and a half to
carefully read it. It was great, can't you tell.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I'm not bored at home? What is going on here?

So, as of a few days ago, I only have two more weeks to be home
to relax until I have to go back to school. I'm not ready to go back
yet, but I will be soon I think, once all of my friends are gone
again. I had a pleasant-ish surprise last Saturday night. A good
friend of mine from high school has come into town, from Notre Dame,
to attend a wedding. He and another friend who is in the Air Force
and stationed in England have come over the last couple of nights,
and we have played Risk, which I'm sure to some sounds boring, but
that's the way we are. I'm finally having a game board thing this
Saturday at my house. I'm rather excited about that, which I'm sure
sounds pathetic to some people, but that's the way I am. It will be
the first time in a year and half that enough people will be in town
to have one. I'm looking forward to that. Nothing else is really
going on. I'll post an entry about what's been going on at work
On a completely different note, this whole being single business
I'm still not quite used to again. It's funny how one can so quickly
become accustomed to dating someone, but when it's over it takes a
long time to go back to how you were before. Or maybe it's just that
way with guys. Perhaps in a month or something I'll be ready to
start looking for a new girlfriend again. I already have one in mind
I'd like to ask out, but I don't think I'm ready. Or could it be I
don't want to be rejected twice in the span of a month and a half. I
think it might be the latter, which leads me to an interesting thing
to whine about. I think I mention it too because I have been
pondering it over for a while now. I have never asked out a girl and
she said yes. Every single girl I've dated (okay, all two of them,
but saying every single girl makes it sound like a lot, and it makes
me feel better) has asked me out. And it makes me wonder because it
isn't as if I have only asked out three or four girls. Over the
years, I've probably asked out over a dozen. One would think that at
least one would say yes to if nothing else, get a free dinner and
movie out of me. Maybe all guys have this kind of luck, or maybe I
haven't asked out enough girls, or maybe it's just me. I can't help
but wonder and depress myself about it.
You know, why do I even write any of this on a blog? I have no
idea, the only person, apparently, that reads this is my ex-
girlfriend, besides that no one that I really care about, or to be
more specific, cares about me actually reads this. So why? I think
admitting it to yourself is a good form of therapy.

2003-2016 Michael Battalio (michael[at]battalio.com)