Mario Villalobos

Summer 2020


  • Journal

School starts today, and I’m not ready for it. I’m not ready for any of this. But I’m hopeful that things will turn out okay this year, that we will all stay healthy and have some sort of return to normalcy. I saw one of my very favorite students yesterday and all of my anxieties about starting the school year faded away, so this could be okay. Or we could have a breakout and have school shut down indefinitely. Positive thoughts.

A co-worker found this spider in a trash can outside, and he went out of his way to find me to show me. I think this shot turned out a lot better than I imagined, but I still wish the spider was turned the other way so I could take a photo of its eyes. But I love how the web turned out. These small creatures are both beautiful and gross, and I have a weird attraction to that feeling. Is there a word for that? Add that to my vocabulary list.


  • Journal

The staff returned yesterday, and they’re back again today. School starts tomorrow, and I’m not ready for this. Why has time ceased to have any meaning during this pandemic? I had a dream last night where I was back at USC, and I went into Doheny Library. Dozens of students sat by the tables studying and more browsed the stacks. I waited in line to speak to one of the librarians. “I’m an alumni,” I said after I told him I didn’t have a library card. He looked at me quizzically. I did the math in my head and said, “I graduated twelve years ago.” “I’m sorry,” he said. “The library is only for students right now.” I looked around again and felt stupid. I had forgotten all about the coronavirus, and for a moment, I lived blissfully unaware of it.

These next couple of months are going to drain me psychically and physically, and I’m not ready for any of it. I still have so much work to do, and again, I’m not ready for any of this. I’m not ready for the emails and the phone calls and the text messages. People tell me I should be grateful they need me so much. Job security, they say. And to them I say, fuck that.

The Waxing Crescent Moon


  • Journal

Checked in with the moon last night, and I immediately felt a peace I hadn’t felt for a while. Life had been overwhelmed by work and by my own laziness and unmotivated attitude. I stopped studying Japanese and playing my guitar and working out and reading books and even writing in my notebook. I’ve only wanted to distract myself with video games and television, with alcohol and comfort food.

I’m two months into this blog, and I don’t know where I’m going with it. The plan wasn’t to write every day, but here I am, writing every day. This has been my one constant this summer and now summer ends soon. School starts on Wednesday. All the staff return today. I’m behind on a few projects. I’m not ready for any of this. But regardless of how I feel, the lunar phases will continue like it always has, and I must, too.


  • Journal

I finally finished The Last of Us Part II, and I loved it. That seems to be an unpopular opinion about this game, but I don’t care. It was a great game, one I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Humans are contradictory, hypocritical, and selfish, but we’re also kind, loving, and selfless. The world isn’t black and white, and sometimes there isn’t a clean way to view the world. For generations we’ve praised slave owners and murderers as heroes, yet we railed against others who were better than them. The rationale being since they’re on “our” team, then they’re okay, and since the other person is on “their” team, they’re not. Moral absolutism is a myth, and cancel culture is getting out of hand. But we’re also all on the same team. We’re humans.

I honestly don’t know where I’m going this. These are just thoughts and notes I’d like to remember later.


  • Journal

School starts next week, and I’m both eager to see the kids but anxious at the same time. I’m not ready for the staff to return, but I’ll be happy to get back into some sort of rhythm again. For the past week, I’ve been playing The Last of Us Part II every chance I could get, and I’ve been having a lot of fun. I was even playing it for a bit just now, and for a moment, I completely forgot that the coronavirus was a thing. I was invested in another world and with other people. I wonder if there’s a word for that, this disassociation from one reality and into another one. I think that’s the perfect definition for insanity?


  • Journal

After helping a co-worker with a computer request, I stepped out of the building and saw a shadow in my periphery. I looked down and saw this beautiful praying mantis standing still on the cement sidewalk. My heart stopped then grew with excitement. I sprinted to my office, grabbed my camera, switched lenses, and then sprinted back hoping she was still there. I felt so happy when I found her again in the same spot. I lied down on the dirty ground and began taking a series of photos of her. She let me get close to her, and she even turned her face to the left and to the right to ensure I got both of her good sides.

I’m having so much fun with macro photography that it might be saving my life, in all honesty. What makes me a bit sad, though, is the fact that I know I don’t have the discipline to go out there and shoot every day. I can try, and maybe that trying will reap more rewards than anything else. Here’s hoping.


  • Journal

Went on my first walk of the week yesterday on the prowl for a praying mantis, but I found this beautiful ladybug instead. I like how serendipitous life can feel sometimes, how the universe gives you something you didn’t expect but realized you needed all along. I needed to go on that walk yesterday. I needed to take my time on the creek bank and to go slowly as I scanned the world around me. I found those two ducks from last week in the same spot and took more photos of them. One of them didn’t look well, so I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with it. Maybe she’s pregnant? I’m not sure. I also found nature at its gnarliest:

I asked a friend what was happening and she said it looked like a fly eating a mayfly, and I said, “cool!”

I hope to find a praying mantis soon. For now, that’s my bucket shot, and that has given my life a meaning I need right now.


  • Journal

As I sit down to write this, there’s an active and loud thunderstorm outside, and it sounds beautiful. The lightning lights up my window every few seconds and then the crackle of thunder roars in the distance. I love thunderstorms. I love how powerful they feel. If the world ends, that’s how I would like it to be: loud and powerful.

Every now and then, I have the urge to burn bridges. To live with a clean slate. To start fresh. I had another one of those urges during this mini-vacation, but I didn’t act on it. Not yet, at least. I’m caught between my impulsive nature and my desire for a more rational mindset, and I think this conflict is what hurts me the most. It’s why I feel depressed a lot, I think, why I can’t control my anger sometimes, and in turn, my mouth. I say things I wish I never said, but once they’re out in the open, I can’t take them back. I can’t rewind time and start again. Life is not a video game, no matter how much I wish it were sometimes. I don’t know what to do about my nature, but at least I can listen to the rain fall and watch the sky light up with electricity.


  • Journal

Death Valley recorded 130°F temperatures over the weekend. It wasn’t as hot here yesterday, but it was hot nonetheless. I spent the day inside in my air conditioned home and played video games, vegged out on lots of food, and otherwise spent life lazily. I’m doing the same today. I want to turn off all the devices I own that send me notifications because too many people from work are contacting me for help. I’ll be back tomorrow. Chill out.

One of my favorite things recently has been spending time in Lightroom editing my photos. My photos are nothing to cry home about, but I love tweaking this setting and adjusting that curve until I come away with something I think looks good. It’s an art form, a new way to express my creativity, and I love it. Now to ignore my depression because it’s kicking in and I don’t like it when it does.


  • Journal

I played The Last of Us Part II last night after eating half a dozen vegan burritos and downing four amber ales. In the game, I killed dogs sent to kill me and then their owners as I searched house after house for supplies and clues to where my friend went. I flashed back two years and spent time with my mentor and realized this was all his fault. His death is on him. The world is messy. It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. Life has radicalized me against those who think this way.

I haven’t worked on my book in weeks, and I wonder if I even want to be an author. I haven’t gone for a walk in a few days. Trying to take one good photo a day is burning me out, so now I take pictures of my TV, a screen I look at for hours a day. For many days, my life is my TV, and is there nothing more American than that? I don’t go to work today or tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I spend them indoors illuminated by the blue light of my OLED god.

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