Day 5: Accountability

I could feel the cracks showing today. My goal for this week was to just start: start working out, start writing, and start getting my life back together. I’m not sure what that means; it’s one of those things where I’ll know it when I see it. For the most part, I’ve been doing okay. But nobody knows that. Nobody really knows what I do every day. I don’t really know what my friends or family do every day. We are all a collection of little moments built up over a period of time, and that’s something we can control. Except, the only person keeping me accountable to all that I do is me, and that’s a responsibility I must honor fully.

I didn’t want to work out today. A few months without exercising meant my body was not ready for the beatings I’ve been giving it this week. I woke up sore. It hurt to walk. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to move. I wanted to lie in bed and watch Netflix. I wanted to browse the web mindlessly and forget about all that’s bothering me. I wanted to procrastinate and go out somewhere, eat shitty food, and maybe — maybe — run into her. But I couldn’t do that anymore. Not when I need a job. Not when I need to lose a few more pounds. Not when all that I want and need is out there for the taking.

I’m writing all this down publicly because I need to know that there are eyes out there watching me. That I’m not alone in this. I need to know, 10-, 20-, 30- years from now, when I’m feeling low and sad, that I embarked on this journey toward a better me, that I didn’t know what was ahead or what waited before me, that I overcame whatever obstacles life threw in my way, and that I became the man I could always feel was there watching me my whole life but never thought I could become. I know I could fail. I know that so much. It feels like I’ve been here before. It feels like I’m Sisyphus, doomed to always carry that boulder up the mountain only to watch it roll down again. Except… this time I don’t feel alone. This time it feels like I have angels watching over me who believe in me and believe that I can achieve anything. I have a duty to them — but mostly to myself — to do what I know I can do. I just have to keep myself accountable to my actions, day in and day out, and make sure I don’t deviate from my journey.

Easier said than done.

Day 4: Demand better for yourself

A few weeks ago, I quit my job. I had this job for a little over two years, and like most jobs, it had its ups and downs. It’s also where I met her, and we also had our ups and down. For most of the time I’ve lived in Montana, all I’ve known have been that job and her. Now they’re both gone. A part of me wants to cheer and scream that this is a great opportunity to just start over. I have this clean slate to work with and the possibilities to design and live a new life are endless. But the other part of me wants to cry and scream that I have to start over. Again.

Two weeks after moving to Montana, I found the job. Before that I lived in San Diego with my mom. Except for a few brief months as an enumerator for the Census in 2010, I was unemployed for four years. From August 2008 — a few months after graduating from USC — to April 2012, I had no job. Thankfully the few months as an enumerator provided a source of income I desperately needed, and after the job ended, it helped me get accepted for unemployment benefits, which helped pay my monthly student loan payments. I was able to keep busy during those four years, creating habits and routines that resulted in reading hundreds of books, finishing my first novel, and losing over 70 pounds of fat. But it also made me hate job searching. I hate applying for jobs so much, and now I have to do it again.

Last week I interviewed for a job that paid a few dollars more than my last job, but instead of working 40 hours a week, I would work only 24. I thought I nailed the application, and when I received the call to setup the interview, I was ecstatic. Maybe this time around my job search would end quickly. I interviewed with my potential future bosses, and afterwards, I felt like the interview went well. I don’t like selling myself for some reason, but I felt like I sold myself enough for them to hire me. I waited a whole week before finding out today that they were “unable to offer [me] employment at this time.” Back to the drawing board.

I quit my job because I hated it. I couldn’t stand the thought of going back there, and during the few months I was out in nature, in forests fighting fires, and on mountains camping out, all I could feel was happiness and joy. That is what someone should feel at their job. Not hate and agony. So I quit, hoping it’ll force me to demand better for myself. I want to become a personal trainer and be my own boss. I want to earn my EMT license so I can become a fire line EMT next year and earn even more money. And I want to rewrite my damn novel (or write a new one) and convince someone to pay me money for it.

But I have to start believing that I deserve more than I think I do. And that’s the real struggle.

Day 3: Not looking back

I miss my friend. I found myself daydreaming about her. I imagined her walking up to my front door and knocking on it. When I went to run some errands today, I found myself scanning all the cars in view in hopes that she may be there on the road with me. At the Walmart parking lot, I scanned to see if her car was maybe parked outside. Inside, I hoped to run into her. Same thing at Safeway. The parking lot. Inside. Nothing. She wasn’t there. I have to learn that I may never see her again. That I may never hear from her again. That’s the way life works sometimes. It sucks, but it is what it is.

Moving on is hard. One thing that helps are distractions. Focus your mind on something else. During my errands, I stopped by the Starbucks inside Safeway and bought a pumpkin spice frappuccino. I brought my laptop with me because I thought that maybe I’d slow down, stop, and maybe get some work done. I did. I didn’t work for long, but I was able to finally clear my OmniFocus Inbox, which was getting long and potentially unwieldy. I created a few new projects that I hope will help me in the future. At Walmart I bought a few frames for my pictures and my Holstee Manifesto poster. Tomorrow I’m even considering going back to Walmart and buying a lego set or two, something to keep me busy and provide a fun decor for my bland, minimalist studio apartment. We’ll see.

I can’t look back, though. Distractions are nice, but I have to live with my memories of not only her but of everything else I’ve lived and gone through. I haven’t craved a drink for three days, but I may crave one tomorrow. I’ve worked out for three days straight, but the excitement of starting again may wane tomorrow. Even this blog can potentially die tomorrow and sit abandoned on the internet forever. I have to take each new day in stride. Each day is a new possibility to work at becoming the man I want to be. I want to be a published author. I want to be healthy and fit and look good naked. I want to be happy, and I want to find a girl that can help me get there. None of this is easy, but none of this is impossible, either. I can do all this. Maybe not all at once, but if I do a little bit every day, if I continuously improve on myself and my habits, then maybe I’ll get there eventually.

Maybe. We’ll see.

Day 2: Be better

I went to WalMart today. My friend Sam works here, and I ran into him. A few days ago I wrote a Facebook status update where I bemoaned my loss of my best friend — the friend that cut me out — and Sam referenced this status update when we ran into each other. He told me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I told him I shouldn’t drink anymore because then stuff like that post happen. That and ruining great friendships.

I’ve been told before that I’m too hard on myself. I should “get a life”, someone once told me. So, recently, around the beginning of summer, I eased up on a few things. I began to allow more unhealthy foods into my diet since I’ve been cutting them out for so long. Simply, stuff not Paleo approved. I began eating a lot of fast food. With the increase in fast food came the increase in alcohol consumption. My best friend at the time — yes, her — saw me without my shirt on and told me I was too skinny. Lets put on a few pounds, I thought. So I did. And I didn’t stop for a while. In the past two months, I gained over 10 lbs. That’s unacceptable. I used to work out regularly, as well. I’ve completed both Insanity and the first volume of Insanity: the Asylum. I stopped that, too. Finally, I stopped packing my days with work. For a while there I was transcribing the Great Gatsby by hand. I stopped doing even that. And as a so-called writer, I didn’t write.

Today I worked out again. I did the Plyometric Cardio Circuit from Insanity. Guess what? I felt great. I felt so good that I’m going to keep working out for as long as I physically can. If I could point to one habit change that can improve my life the most, it’s the habit of working out. I love sweating — and with Insanity you sweat a lot — and the act of sweating releases endorphins, which makes you feel amazing. I did and still do feel amazing.

Being better can’t happen overnight. Being better is a slow process, a continuous process that requires dedication and hard work. I don’t know if my ego and perfectionism can ever move aside to let me feel like I’ve gotten there, but if I just focus on the journey, on the moment to moment happiness that living a truly honest and hard fought life brings, then maybe, one day, I’ll believe that I am at my best.

I’m just not there yet.

Day 1: So it begins

Hi, my name is Mario Villalobos, and I’m flawed. Super flawed. Undeniably flawed. I’ve made and will make many mistakes as I live my life in this tiny sliver of time. I’m supposed to be a writer, but I don’t really write all that much. I finished my first novel last year but it’s a huge mess, and I’m confident it’ll never see the light of day. I’m planning to rewrite it, though, but that plan is still lurking unfinished in an OmniFocus project. I’m also a wildland firefighter whose third year has just ended. It was fun.

I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, but I don’t like who I turn to when I drink. The things I do after drinking — things that seem and feel right to do at the time — are the mistakes that have cost me friendships, relationships with people I’m always going to miss. My memories of them will always be tainted with a tinge of regret. Always, and that will never change. It saddens me.

I have trouble moving on. How many people find it easy to move on? What’s their secret, I wonder. Our time is so short and limited, and the thought of never again spending time with someone I used to care about hurts. I wish I could express that pain more clearly, but… I’m supposed to be a writer. Ha. It simply hurts that I can’t see them anymore, that they cut me out of their lives and are themselves moving on. But I have to. I have to.

I’ve always wanted to write a blog, and I started (and stopped) a few over the past decade or so (oh yeah, I’m 28 years old), but none of them stuck, obviously. And when Twitter and Facebook started, they became convenient vehicles for me to express myself that negated my (then) need for a blog. But there’s something about a blog that always appealed to me and also frightened me. I always thought I wasn’t important enough to write so personally to an audience beyond just myself. That’s my goal, though, one I hope to see through.

My purpose of this blog is to move on. I’m not sure what that means, exactly. In one sense, to move on from the people who no longer want anything to do with me. In another sense… I don’t like who I’ve become recently. Something changed this year. Maybe it’s been growing for a while, but it definitely manifested this year. I became someone I don’t like. There’s always the possibility that I didn’t become this person but instead have always been this person. If that’s true, then I need to change. How?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?