Saturday, December 3, 2011

762. Finally Moving On

If you've ever wondered why my blogs are numbered, it's because I've literally written this many blogs since I first started in 2005 (and many more for other sites). This blog, my blogger blog, starts at 701. The previous ones were on my myspace.

Anyway, here's your last chance to read all the embarrassing stuff I wrote when I was crazy after coming home from war. January 1, 2012, I will finally delete my myspace. You laugh, but blogging changed my life. I needed writing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

761. Dario's Guest Blog for the USMC!

You can see the post on the Marines official blog here!

Why Do We Celebrate Today? (The Marine Corps Birthday)

It’s likely been happening all day that some of my friends on Facebook have looked at my page and become confused. It’s not his birthday, is it? Dario’s born in December right? Christmas isn’t it? How could I forget that?

This is a scene that has been happening all morning and will continue happening all day as we Marines take over the web, the airwaves, and a significant portion of all telephone communications to wish our brothers and sisters a “Happy birthday.”

Yes, this is a scene that is playing out all over America, and all over the world. Two old salty gunnys from Brooklyn are probably sitting in a park today, wearing scarlet and gold jackets, their Marine tattoos wrinkled underneath, and reminiscing on celebrating the Marine Corps’ Birthday in the chilled landscape of Korea.

A World War II Marine is in D.C. today with his wife, shrinking in stature underneath the epic Iwo Jima Memorial, the giant statue commemorating the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi during that famous battle, our national colors flapping in the November breeze. Hand in hand, she’ll kiss him on the cheek and say, “Happy birthday, love.”

Vietnam Marines are at their local VFW hall, motorcycles parked outside, mugs raised, trying not to spill too much beer on their beards as their birthday celebrations continue on.

Younger Marines, veterans of the recent wars, are tweeting their love for their Corps and texting their buddies, “Hey, bro. Thanks for watching my back.”

And a lieutenant in Helmand province, Afghanistan, today is concluding his patrol brief by saying to his platoon, “Let’s make this happen. Happy birthday, Marines.” They’ll lock and load and continue the fight. They’ll carry our honor on this day.

So why do we do this? Why do we celebrate with such fervency the day the Corps was born by an act of the Second Continental Congress? Why does this date linger in our minds?

It’s because of our camaraderie. It’s because of the forged bonds of hardship. It’s because we are not as lean and not as mean, but still Marines. It’s because of that lieutenant and his platoon. We do it for those of us who are no longer here to raise their glasses in celebration, and our friends who will die tomorrow. Maybe we do it because, even at 236-years-old, we’re happy to report that our Corps still lives on, as powerful, professional, and determined to protect freedom as ever.

And we’ll be here until there is no enemy anymore. Just peace.

Semper Fidelis,

Dario “D-Boh” DiBattista

Iraq War Veteran
Corporal, USMCR 2001 – 2007

All photos below courtesy of LCpl Michael McMaugh, 1st Marine Division Combat Camera

RIP Gunnery Sergeant Fontecchio (above image)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

760. That Kind of Blog

Well, years later from first getting into this whole writing thing, I would hope I'd be past these self-aggrandizing and self-absorbed kind of blog posts; but I do think it's important for a writer to bare their soul from time to time. And there's some things I just need to share tonight. It's not for you as much as it is for myself; but maybe you can relate to my problems, too? Maybe you'll be comforted by me talking about my failures and sadness? (Yes, dear reader, it's that kind of post.) Either way, you've been warned about this blogs' content.

Here we go:

It's a Saturday night, 11:18 pm, I'm all alone. And for the first time in half a decade that really bothers me. I've felt the tinge of a possible depression building up for quite a while now. I feel like it's being exacerbated by the fact I'm 27, almost 28, and no one I want wants to be with me. Rejection's an old hat I wear with comfort, unfortunately. But every now and then -- like every half a decade -- someone new comes along and makes me feel like I'm possibly worth a damn. The kind of woman whose smile becomes my purpose for living. And when she gives it to me, well, shit, it all suddenly makes sense. Damn, Dario. If you can make this angel smile, then you're doing something right, man!

And around these rare women, I feel like all the struggles, all the mistakes, all of my faith in something better, have been paid for and rewarded. But then she pulls away from me -- disinterested, tenuous, afraid of getting too close, and maybe with some other boy. And I feel like the fist of karma has punched me again. How long will I pay for my past actions?

How long until my penance has been paid and I can be happy?

I've struggled forever it seems. Maybe I'm a masochist. Maybe I'm not fated for a positive life. Maybe everything I've built my life around has been a big fucking farce, because I thought my dreams would lead me to a different place.

Sometimes I just wish it was always black. At least then, I'd always know what to expect.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

759. End Radio Silence

Somewhere in spring 2010, for the first time, writing wasn't fun for me anymore. I had just invested much of my soul in telling the macabre story of a dedicated female mortician, and suddenly, I didn't have anything left. My friend and mentor Cathy Alter told me the obvious then: "Dario, just take a break if you need it."

So that's where I've been. I've done that twice before. This is my third time. If you're reading this at all, I'm going to guess that you actually do care about my writing career, so I'll keep going...

It's been a tough couple months for me, despite my successes. I've got a couple small pieces coming out in various journals soon, etc., but my goal has always been book publication. Unfortunately, nothing less will ever satisfy me. And it seems -- for reasons I'll never understand -- the more I publish, the more I get exposure in the media, the more I make a name for myself and build up my CV, the farther away that dream becomes, which is mystifying.

I suppose I could blame a million different factors -- the economy, the rapidly changing writer's marketplace, my agent, etc. -- but I do need to absorb most of the blame for not meeting my goal yet. Sometimes that's a spiritual process more than anything. I've got the degree and I've got the tools, but how much longer can I keep doing this? How much longer can I seek success in an industry that by all practical accounts is rapidly shrinking and failing horribly? Am I masochist? Do I really believe in what I have to say?

These are the questions I've been asking myself the past few months. And I guess, in reality, all that matters is the last question.

And I'm happy to answer it with, yes, I do.

Thanks again for reading.

Much love,


758. Monotony


Through my headphones, the sticks are clacking
against a metal rim. Above,
the black and white clock tries to measure
a thing which cannot be measured;
and the pull-cords of a fan, tap together
under the apathetic blade spin.
Through the window,
the smoking man’s dog’s tail
wags like a retarded metronome;
patio blinds sway as a perturbed pendulum;
eyes cast glances but nothing gets seen.

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2011. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

757. Hey, Kid, Welcome Back from Fallujah -- Here's 70% of Your Education for Free

Recent landmark legislation and proposed policy directives such a President Obama’s “jobs initiatives for veterans” and the yearly overhauls to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, have certainly gone a long way in helping our millions of returning war veterans. No doubt, though, in the current political climate of debt crisis talks and reduced national credit scores, a certain segment of the population will bemoan all the attention on veterans. Maybe rightfully so.

Or is it?

When I tell random people of the educational benefits I’m receiving from serving as a Reservist during wartime, I almost always get the same response: “Gee, that must be nice.”

I kindly remind them of donning a gas mask and hiding underground from Saddam’s surface-to-surface missiles in Kuwait in 2003, or about dodging mortars and snipers in Fallujah a year later for a second tour, or racing through IEDs on the Syrian border of Iraq, and that tends to silence them or change their minds.

But whether the overall benefit is fair or not isn’t the point, though. Imagine, as a civilian, you took a full-time job that promised you two weeks of vacation a year, and then despite your diligent work ethic or your numerous instances of recognition and personal awards, they reduced those 14 days by 70%. I bet you’d be pretty upset, yes?

Everyone who joins the military is promised money for college as a condition of their honorable service. It’s a benefit – again, whether fair or not – that we as a nation have decided is necessary to entice an all-volunteer force. And I think anyone can appreciate and understand this comparison about benefits between the military and civilian workplaces.

It’s what was promised, and promises are supposed to be upheld. And our leaders have made the new promise as a result of these new wars, these unconventional wars that have dragged on for almost a decade and caused Reservists to deploy at unprecedented rates, that “no soldier should be left behind.”

But is this really the case as far as Reservists go? Let me take you to a conversation I overheard in my current higher education classroom.

Air Force veteran to another student: “I was supposed to deploy once, but I got pregnant and didn’t have to go.”

Student: “Oh, that probably would’ve been very scary.”

Air Force Veteran: “Yeah, but I didn’t have to go any other time because of that, and now I’m here getting my education for free.”

I didn’t say anything; just sat in my seat and shook my head. Here is this other veteran bragging about how she didn’t have to deploy, but at all state institutions of higher learning she gets 100% tuition and fees covered under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill – and I only get 70%, no matter if I’m attending just a community college.

Overseas, as a Reservist, I was attached to the 3rd Battalion Seventh Marine Regiment, which is recognized as one of the baddest, roughest, and most elite units in the Marine Corps. My civil affairs team even acted as a security detachment for their battalion commander. One of the Marines from that deployment, Corporal Dunham, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after jumping on a grenade to save his brethren – the first time for a Marine since Vietnam. 70% college tuition reimbursement is what I get for my Combat Action Ribbon and Certificate of Commendation from that time.

And if you were to suppose that my experiences as a Reservist weren’t typical of our “weekend warriors,” you would be wrong. Many Reservists fulfill critical jobs – civil affairs, military police, infantry forces – that are often almost continuously deployed and put in just as much harm as the full-time warriors, with whom, they work alongside. At times during these wars, Reservists have made up almost 50% of the entire forces deployed into a combat zone.

Why wouldn’t we give these combat veterans (that’s the key distinction I’m making here – “Combat”) the same benefit we’ve given the active forces? Historically, it’s been quantifiable that for every one dollar our nation invests in educating our veterans, seven dollars are returned to national economy. And no one’s taken the time yet to measure the other unintended benefits that can be granted by giving our traumatized and mentally unhealthy veterans a chance to attend college as – among many other reasons – a temporary buffer to reintegrating into the civilian work world too quickly. My college experiences after war have certainly helped me get mentally well again, and given me the time recoup, even now as I prepare for the workforce one day.

No doubt, the times are lean, the wars are unpopular, and the average American is rubbing their foreheads raw with anxiety and worry for the future. But we owe our vets, including all Reservists who’ve seen combat, regardless. It’s the commitment we’ve made to them. It’s the promise we’ve made to them.

Me, waiting on more equitable education incentives for Reservists.

All written content ©Dario DiBattista 2011. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Monday, July 18, 2011

756. Things I didn't Think I Would Ever Need Ten Years Ago That I Need A Lot of Now

It's no secret that my ten year reunion is coming up fast (fall 2011 -- class of '01, baby!). And well, that's pretty gnarly I guess, but, like anyone else, I can't help myself from assessing my overall life ten years later as compared to when I was a wee chap of just 17-years-old.

So, anyway, here's my list of things I didn't think I would ever need a lot of, that I need a lot of now. Maybe you'd like to add some items, too?

1. Dollars. Yep, like most of us twenty-somethings, I'm discovering that college costs continue to rise and the opportunities for making as much or more money as our parents, aren't really there anymore. Add onto that a bleak economic outlook and reality, and well, damn -- I really miss those cheap school meals (yum... cafeteria cheese). I'm staying in college so I never have to pay back my loans. That's a good idea, right?

Flashback: anyone else remember when premium gas cost a buck fifty? Gee-bus. Now we get excited about $3.68 regular gas.

2. 15. As in 15 hours of exercise a week -- and that's not even enough to actually lose weight. I just ran a half marathon and I'm still about 20 pounds above my ideal weight(which is 45 pounds over my high school weight!). I miss not doing anything physical for several weeks and only having to do a sit up or two in the morning for a few days to get back in shape. I also miss eating an entire pot of macaroni a day.

Flashback: Gym class. I wish an hour of activity was still mandatory in my day.

3. 23.04 gigabytes of music on my I-tunes. I remember when I used to get high and just go to the Double T Diner and listen to the same three songs over and over again. Not that I ever used drugs much or do at all now, I'm just saying. Moreover, I used to have one mix cassette tape -- the Best of Allman Bros, Skynyrd, and ol' Led Zeppelin -- that I listened to in my '73 Ford Maverick all summer long. Some of you used to make fun of me I bet. I still have the Mav :-) (And no, it doesn't work. Weren't you listening? I'm broke, san. Need an engine. Donations?)

Flashback: Remember finally being able to park in the senior lot instead of Ebenezer?

4. 21, or the average number of gifts I have to buy a year for weddings, house-warming parties, nieces and nephews, other people's kids, master's graduations, etc. I like helping people out and being generous when I can, but my part-time adjunct position that I was rewarded with in exchange for my 60,000 dollars worth of college education, only pays about 14K a year (not complaining, simply stating facts). I don't know how many more crappy poems I can write, frame, and disguise as gifts.

Roses are red. Please stop having kids.
Violets are blue. Divorce is expensive; don't get married.

Flashback: When buying your friend some cookies or an ice cream bar from the vending machines meant more than a gift card to Home Depot or a toaster oven.

5. 1,000,000 seconds. The number of seconds thus far I've been doubled-over in laughter when remembering that I graduated from high school with a 1.88 GPA, but now I teach college. Ha ha, suckers. Well, maybe I'm the sucker. I bet you all had fun vacations while I was sitting in summer school.

And here's a photo of my going away party for the Marines in May 2001!!!

(Perry Hall High School Alumni, all.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

755. Best Letter Ever

On May 26th, I talked to high-schoolers. This is some of the feedback I got.


Dear Mr. Dario,

My name is "John Doe" and I'm an alcoholic. Psych, I'm kidding. I was forced to type you a thank you letter by my mean English teacher. Not that I didn't want to because you were funny and informing. By the way, my English teacher picks on me.

You presenting was very informing because you're very inspiring plus I like your beard. And also, my teacher is mean and she beats up on me and makes me cry -- this is all mentally, never physically. Also, you should add me on X-Box live if you play Call of Duty. My name is ... and I'm going into the big leagues.

P.S. You got balls, my friend, for going into the Marines :-)

Love your random audience member,

"John Doe"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

754. My Personal Essay for The Washingtonian

This is just a snippet. To read the entire article please click the blog headline! And please consider donating to the Anderson-Snyder memorial which is linked to at the end of the story. Semper Fi.

...On a Wednesday night, I finished my shift at the restaurant a little early. That was good—it meant more time for drinking. I stopped at a coworker’s apartment to toss back shots of Jack Daniel’s. Sufficiently buzzed, I drove to the Treehouse, a bar near where I was living in the Baltimore suburbs.

The bartender stood in an opposite corner of the bar chatting with a pretty girl. On the TV above him, a story flashed about a Marine who had died. I tried to read the captions, but my mind was hazy and my eyes were tired. About a year had passed since I’d come home from Iraq in 2004.

The bartender came over without a newly poured beer. He stared at me, rubbing his palms. “Hey, Dario,” he said. “This woman over here just had her husband killed in Iraq. Could you . . . .” He didn’t need to finish.

“What’s her name?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

I took the long path toward her, curving around the length of the bar. I stepped beside her and she looked at me, confused. A few of her friends were with her; they watched me, too.

“Hey,” I said. “I’m a lance corporal in the Marines. I heard about your loss. I’m here for you.” She closed her eyes. Then she dropped her head into my chest and hugged me. I had no idea what I should do.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

The Marine Corps is small. There are only a few degrees of separation between any two people who wear the olive-drab green. There was a chance I knew her husband.

“Victoria Anderson,” she said. “My husband was Lance Corporal Norm Anderson...”

Monday, May 23, 2011

753. Ode to the Education Connection Girl

Ode to the Education Connection Girl

You make me want to better myself –
go online, take a test,
sit in PJs in my closed-door room,
trace triangles with Pythagoras,
measure meter and homecoming with Homer.

I’d go to your restaurant with my AA degree
and a million dollars more
*over a lifetime
and tip you well.

Would you sing to me then?
Could we get connected?

I’d use my degree in audio engineering
to turn your siren’s voice into platinum.

All written content ©Dario DiBattista 2011. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

752. Answering Hater Mail

I'm not really this petty. But, given that the dude who wrote this comment is a former Gunnery Sergeant, and I don't have to take his crap anymore (now that I'm not in the service anymore), I just had to post this open letter.

From: Anonymous, a comment left on the link to my Washington Post op-ed on the "Marines" official facebook page.

"This story is really disapointing. Did anyone read this before sharing the link? I really expected better from a major publication, let alone someone trained in writing. The story starts with teasers that are not referenced anywhere else... in the story and then rambles on and on. I sure agree with supporting and celebrating the military victory but am disapointed to see a Marine join the ranks of the mainstream media with misdirecting headlines and marginal writing."

RE: Your comments about my article on the "Marines" facebook page.

Hey Gunny, I'm not a member of the mainstream media -- I'm a freelance writer. It's like a being a contractor for the military; you're not in the service you just provide a skill they need. They called me and asked me to write this piece.

Also, for the record, I didn't get to pick the headline.

As far as your "teasers" that you mention not being carried over, you'll notice if you will, that my story begins with big news related to bin Laden (and me listening to it on the AM radio and reacting) and ends with other big news about bin Laden (and me listening to it on the AM radio and reacting). It's called a narrative arc with a circular structure.

But thank you for your feedback. Next article I write, I'll be sure to beat the audience over the head and write more simply so it's easier to understand.

Sorry to disappoint you.

Semper Fi,

Dario "D-Boh" DiBattista
USMCR Corporal 2001 - 2007

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

751. Check Out My Op-Ed for The Washington Post!

(Click the blog headline to read the entire story!)

...When the news came of bin Laden’s death, I felt numb at first. Rather than exult, I could only mourn my friends and the other Americans who lost their lives. My roommate — my best friend and another Marine veteran — suggested we do a shot to celebrate bin Laden’s killing.

We had only imported alcohol on hand, so we chose a couple of ounces of rum from Puerto Rico instead of French liqueurs or vodkas. We continued watching the news: the slips in verbiage that confused “Obama” and “Osama”; the bold, galvanizing speech of the commander in chief; the crowds gathering on the streets of New York and at the gates of the White House. I knew, despite living in Towson, that I had to be at the president’s home, too.

I raced down I-295 in my Lincoln and scanned the different AM stations. Yes, he is dead. Shot in the head. SEAL Team 6. A good and historic day.

I parked several blocks from the White House and could hear the cheers reverberating. I saw cars zipping through the cross streets, honking their horns, sometimes a passenger’s hand holding the American flag out the window.

The scene outside the White House felt like a big hug. It didn’t matter that I had come alone; I was here with a thousand of my fellow Americans. And we were wild with patriotism, even cheering the cops who were trying to corral us away from the fence...


All content ©Dario DiBattista 2011. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

750. Watching AMC after Coming Home from Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Watching AMC after Coming Home from Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Travis Bickle, I feel you: deadbeat Marine
just returned from ‘Nam,
can’t sleep because of the dreams,
but you still need a job.

Like you, my parents don’t know my career
is a falsification of time;
37 rejections so far, I’ve sold
not one word of my rhyme.

We policed the third world but scum
lives on our own welcome mats:
pimps and publishers,
drug-dealers and Democrats.

I will pull up and push up,
calligraph and fist pump;
until, like you,
I’m ready, too.

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2011. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Friday, April 1, 2011

749. Even When You're Not Here

I can feel your hand woven into mine,
I can see your regal face so fine,
I can stare into your wide-eyed gaze,
I can smell your scent that stays,

Even when you’re not here, on my pillow,
Even when you’re not here, on my chest,
Even when you’re not here, right beside me,
Even when you’re not here, though it's best.

I can feel your chest rise and fall,
I can see your cryptic smile,
I can watch your peaceful closed eyes,
I can smell tomorrow morning’s lies,

Even when you’re not here, on my pillow,
Even when you’re not here, on my chest,
Even when you’re not here, right beside me,
Even when you’re not here, though it’s best.

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2011. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

748. Was I Satisfied at Central Connecticut State University?

This came in the mail the other day: a survey of my undergraduate collegiate experience at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). I think it will be more fun to answer some of the questions on here.

1. How satisfied are you with your experience at CCSU?

Somewhat Satisfied

3. Which of the following co-curricular activities did you do while at CCSU (Check all that apply)?

Student Club or Organization
Residence Hall Staff
Other non-classroom activity; please specify: 1) Going with underage musicians to a local blues bar, getting them drunk, and playing sweet rock and roll and blues. 2.) Karaoke, every Friday.

6. What do you wish you could have changed about your experience at CCSU?

Fewer girls from Connecticut or New England (no offense, my RA loves). In fact, almost every girl there should have been brought in out-of-state from the South, or Mexico. Also, if maybe somehow, CCSU could have merged with Yale, became a satellite campus, and disqualified the majority of the student body from attending – that would have been cool.

15. How satisfied are you with your CCSU preparation for your current job?

Well, given that I deal with demanding customers at a restaurant (because my degree in political science is mostly worthless here in Maryland where no one’s ever heard of CCSU), my two years of experience as a resident assistant with petulant and uncouth freshmen at CCSU prepared me very well for being humiliated and treated like shit on a daily basis. Thanks, CCSU!

Monday, February 14, 2011

747. Top Ten Ways You Know You're a Writer

I’ve wanted to start doing lists of top 10s and top 5s forever now. Might as well start here. And the list:

10. You blog more than you jog.

9. You have a favorite pen, which you use until it runs out of ink. If you lose said pen before it gets used, you’re genuinely upset. When it runs out of ink, you’re also genuinely upset.

8. You know that a workshop has nothing to do with Tech Ed or a home improvement project

7. The fact I didn’t use a period in number 8 is driving you nuts.

6. The fact I just used a cliché is also annoying you.

5. Though you really do support and love them, you also secretly hate every other writer on the planet, especially the ones more successful than you.

4. You spend tens of thousands of dollars on an MA or MFA program, knowing that it is unlikely you will ever make that money back with pure writing.

3. A byline in the New Yorker would be just as glorious of day as the day your first child was (or will be) born.

2. Walking through a dark alley is “interesting”; writer’s block is “scary”.

1. You read this entire blog to learn more things about yourself that you already know.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

746. A Scene from College

This will be available to own for free on soon. Thank you for your patience.



All content ©Dario DiBattista 2010. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

745. New Year's Eve

(mostly unedited from my journal)

Why am I up at 3:13 am when I know I will be woken up at nine? Why won't I cut ties with the memories that haunt my thoughts so I can sleep? I've been ready to give my life over to something or someone else three times. The first: I fucked up. The second: I wanted to love her but she just used me for comfort instead, ditching me when inconvenient. The third is my love for writing. I've sacrificed everything for this craft and passion.

But here I am, writing words in a journal just before a New Year when everything is good but still, something is missing.

I'm not sure what it is, so I draw my pen further along each line on the page, left to right -- racing -- for the period that will bring a necessary pause in thought so I can think about something else inane to say.

I guess all I have to say is this: If you have something you love, claim it; hold it against your heart and feel it pulse against you. Don't be like me and hold the real truth and real emotions inside. You've got to fight for love; it digs in its heels when pushed. No one can erase what is real.

Anyone who says otherwise preaches obfuscation and wants you to burn.