Mario Villalobos

Notes for December 9th, 2022

  • Notes

There’s a good-sized snow mound on one side of the playground at school, a mound created by the plow truck driver. The kids have loved playing on it during recess for the past week, but after speaking to a few of the teachers, I’ve learned that they’re the only ones happy about it. “I hate the snow mound,” one of the teachers told me. And I hate winter.

Here are some notes from today, this 9th day of December, 2022:


Yes, I will always post screenshots of my phone whenever I manage to sleep for over nine hours. The last time I slept this long was over two weeks ago, so needless to say, I have felt really good today. Once I returned to work last week, I’ve been averaging about 7 hours and 45 minutes of sleep, which isn’t bad, but I would love an extra hour. Where to find it?

I found the courage to finally quit intermittent fasting. I started this maybe 4 or 5 years ago with the intention of both trying to lose a bit of weight and to quit snacking late at night. I succeeded in the latter, failed with the former. I’m not super overweight or anything, but I do want to keep an eye on it. Over the last 4 or 5 years, I grew used to eating at set times, so much so that I think I screwed up my metabolism or something. Sure, it could be my body changing because I’m getting older, but no matter how hard I worked out and how little I ate, I still managed to gain weight. It got pretty bad during COVID, where I gained maybe 5-8 pounds over my “average,” weight I have not been able to lose since.

So I decided to eat breakfast every day this week, snack a bit in the afternoon, and have a smaller-ish dinner at night. And you know what? After the first few mornings hating the feel of food in the morning, I’ve grown accustomed to it, and today, for the first time, I was eager to eat breakfast. I’m not sure what this will do to my weight yet, but I can already tell the difference with my workouts. I’m working out harder and longer, and my body feels stronger. These changes have been great, and I’m looking forward to see how my health changes in the coming weeks and months.


One thing I have found the time to do this week is reading more books. I finished both Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi and Slow Horses by Mick Herron. Both were fun reads, both gave me that old, familiar writing energy I used to have a lot when I was younger but have lost over the last decade or so.

Writing used to be fun. In high school, back when I was first learning that I liked to write, I had fun writing my stories. They were heavily inspired by the stories I loved: action movies, crime thrillers, murder mysteries, stuff like that. I got into film school by writing stories like these for my portfolio. At film school, I had the most fun when I wrote these types of stories, scenes inspired by movies like Le Cercle Rouge and Heat. At some point, though, I lost that. I started to take things seriously. I started writing more “serious” stuff, stuff that would win awards, would win Oscars or whatever. I took myself too seriously and my writing suffered, I think. And it has suffered ever since.

Earlier this year, I wrote a silly short story in my notebook that reminded me a lot of what I used to write. It was this stupid idea of this guy who invented a way of synthesizing people’s memories into pills, and he got addicted to these pills because whenever he took them, he would be this other person for a while and that helped him forget who he was. He could be a 16 year old girl at her prom or a 29 year ball player hitting the game-winning home run at the World Series. He would be anyone but himself. And I dunno, I had fun writing this story, and it wasn’t something I had written in over a decade. My stuff had all been about heavy drama and shit like that, and the weight of trying to write something that I can sell to a “serious” publisher became too much for me.

So I stopped writing. And because I stopped, I stopped reading, too. At least reading fun and enjoyable fiction. Instead I focused on non-fiction stuff that was all about optimizing my life in some way, to be a “better” person, a “smarter” person. All that stupid bullshit.

But then I read Kaiju Preservation Society and Slow Horses this week, both on the same day—Slow Horses in the morning, Kaiju Preservation Society in the afternoon—and I remembered why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. Because writing was fun. Writing an action hero who was tougher than Nathan Drake or a thief better than Neil McCauley. That was all fun to me, and goddammit, I miss that shit. And you know? Nobody gives a shit if I write serious fiction or whatever, because honestly, nobody gives a shit about me, right? And what I mean by that is I’m an unknown. I’ve never been published, so who cares?

I did for so long, and now I don’t care. I want to write whatever the fuck I want to write.


A big reason why I was able to read so much (to me) this week was because I made some changes to try and curtail some of my bad habits. For weeks now I’ve been using Apple’s Screen Time and Focus modes to help me curb my social media usage. In a way, it worked, but only with Facebook and Instagram, surprisingly. I set a limit of 10 minutes on both of these apps, and that has been more than enough for me. I never reach it! Once I get the 5 minute left notification, I stop using those apps and move on. It used to be 20 minutes, but that included Mastodon and, but these last two apps have been awful to my attention and focus, so I deleted them from my phone. I’ll admit, I had that twitch to check my phone for the first few days, but once I grew used to not having them on my phone, I started to feel better. But still not where I wanted to be.

So I set another limit, and that was on Reeder, my RSS reader of choice. I set a limit of 30 minutes on that, and I made the decision to only check it once throughout the day. The evening is what I chose. After work, after my workout, before dinner. 30 minutes has been more than enough for me to check my feeds for the day. I would add anything I wanted to read later into GoodLinks, and when I can, I would read those later. I again felt that twitch to check Reeder earlier this week, but by Wednesday, that twitch disappeared. Instead, I would pick up one of my two books and read that instead. And again, surprisingly, I have loved this change. It has given me more time and focus to read, and with this rediscovered writing energy, I hope more time and focus to write, too.

But not yet. I’m not quite there yet. What needs to change? I’m not sure. My focus is on a lot of things right now: trying to find another hour of sleep, changing my eating habits and trying to eat better, working out more and working out harder, reading more books, and now trying to write more, too. So, I have a lot on my mind right now. If I can somehow figure out to do and fit all this into my life?

Oh man… that would be great.