Mario Villalobos


September 2022

Clean Air

  • Journal

Earlier this year, I learned that I had allergies.

In fact, I have had allergies for years, but I just didn’t know it. All those times where I felt like peeling my face off? Allergies. All those times where my nose would not stop running? Allergies. All those times where my throat closed tight and I had trouble breathing? Allergies. I didn’t know they were allergies because they felt like a regular sickness, just slightly… different.

And the way I found out I had allergies was silly. I was at work, and I started to feel “sick.” I told my friend about it, letting her know that I was probably going to go home early, and she nonchalantly asked me, “Maybe you have allergies?” I told her my symptoms, and she nodded and said, “Yep, sounds like you have allergies. I have allergies, too. Claritin helps.” Claritin, huh? Fortunately, she had some, so she gave me a tablet of it—those kinds that dissolve quickly in your mouth—and within a few minutes, I started to feel so much better.

Turned out, I had allergies all along, and some over the counter medicine cured me right up.

Fast forward to the summer. It was the middle of fire season, and the smoke was terrible. The photo above isn’t of the lunar eclipse that happened earlier this week. No, I took this photo back in September, and the moon looked red because of all the fire smoke in the air. The fire smoke helped me take a cool picture of the moon—one of my favorite subjects—but it didn’t help with my breathing.

Neither did Claritin or any other allergy medicine.

The air was so bad that I could taste it, and all it did was bring unneeded stress to my already stressed life. So, like I usually do, I started talking to a friend about it. I mentioned to her that I was thinking of buying an air purifier, and I wanted to know her opinion. She is a nurse, and she said that yes, an air purifier would definitely help. No more needed to be said.

I bought the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Air Purifier with an extra filter, and I’ve had it running non-stop in my home since September. Fire season has long been over, but the utility of this device has more than paid for itself. My home simply feels fresh every time I come home from work, and I can literally breathe easy as I go through my day. I feel safe with this device always filtering the air and pumping out clean air. I know that’s silly, but I do.

If I could marry it, I would definitely marry—okay, now it’s getting silly. But having something I like that brings actual value to my life makes me feel like the only proper response to it is to be silly.

And I feel silly. Enough to dance like nobody’s watching.

A Picture of Leaves

  • Notes

It’s getting colder. It was down to the teens this morning, and I had to let my car run for a bit to warm up and defrost the windows. This is one of my favorite times of year, this in-between time, this transition from one season to the next.

I took this photo this morning with my iPhone 13 Pro. I was intrigued by the new Macro mode, but I hadn’t really tested it out. When I saw these leaves on my walk, though, I thought, why not? I couldn’t get as close to the leaves as I could with my regular Fuji XF80mm macro lens, but I still like that I have this “mode” on me at all times. It’s nice.

I also shot some ProRes video this morning of the frost on the grass. I shot it because of how the ground seemed to sparkle like diamonds. I’ve yet to review the footage, but I’m excited about all this power at my disposable on a phone. Amazing times, huh?

  • Notes

A photo I couldn’t quite fit into last week’s journal entry. I’m itching to go back out there but the weather has been bleh lately.

  • Notes
  • Notes

Life has been all over the place the last few weeks, but thankfully, things seem to be slowing down. I took this photo of the moon last week, and I wish I could explain why the moon comforts me so much, but I can’t find the words.

  • Notes

I took this last summer, a week after I purchased my macro lens. I remember following this little guy for a while because he wouldn’t stay still long enough for a photo. I had so much fun doing so that I really miss the vibrancy of life that winter seems to lack.

  • Notes


I hope to keep posting my love of leaves without shame in the years to come.

  • Notes

I’ve been feeling directionless lately, like a boat adrift at sea, but every time I look up at the moon, I feel comforted. Phenology, or paying attention to nature’s rhythms, is a word I learned last year, and it, like the moon, has become my lodestar in troubled times.

  • Notes
Close up

All bark and no bite makes Mario a nice young man you might want to introduce to your parents one day.

  • Notes

A photo of the big dipper I took with my iPhone. My iPhone. This was my first attempt at astrophotography, and I’m really happy with how it came out. It was freezing out, though, so I didn’t take more. It made the whole world sparkle like diamonds this morning, though.

Page 1 of 3