Mario Villalobos


The Weekend Is Here

So I’m still trying to get my life back on track again. Fire season seems to do that. I know it does it and I know to expect it, but it’s still very tough to steer the ship back to where it used to be. I’ll get there.

Tomorrow I will finally have a day off in almost 4 weeks. It’s been a long time coming and I can’t wait to sleep in and finally go grocery shopping, but I wished to be out firefighting this weekend. It won’t happen. My crew looks like they will demobilize this weekend, giving me zero chance to fight with them.

I still haven’t added all my past entries on my blog. It’s been a long week. I will do that this weekend for sure. It’ll be good to do that then since I only have ten days left on this year. Holy shit you guys. I’m going to make it to a full year of daily entries. So much has happened that I don’t even know where to begin.

Good thing I don’t have to since I’ll have a few future entries to reminisce on that. What’s really on my mind is the fact that I don’t want to spend my money on anything. I’m wishy-washy about it. There are so many things I wouldn’t mind having, but at the same time, I feel like I have enough. I also haven’t received all my firefighting money yet, so my thoughts might change once it does. I also have to wait until my school checks stabilize, and I can get my budget back on track.

So I removed Apple Music from my Apple devices and am going back to buying music. I didn’t like it. I don’t like streaming music. I like owning it. I wrote about this already, but just thought I’d mention it again, if anybody was curious.

I have a lot of work ahead of me still.

Exhausted but Still Ticking

So I still haven’t added my entries to my blog. I’ll do it soon. Tomorrow is Friday, which means I may have a chance this weekend to do it, only if I’m not allowed to go back to firefighting this weekend. I haven’t had a day off since August 2nd, but who cares, right? I’m making money.

I felt better today, but still very very tired. I took it easy, today, though, and nobody seemed to notice. I did my job when it was required of me to do it, but I did the absolute minimum. I have a running list of teachers who need my help, but I, for the most part, ignored it. I checked off a few teachers, but it was hardly a dent.

I totally don’t care about hitting 500 words an entry anymore. I have 11 more days before I close the books on this blog, and I can’t wait. I love writing and I love journalling but I hate blogging. Especially daily blogging. I get less joy out of it than if I wrote in my moleskine. Sorry to be a debbie-downer.

I’m growing my beard out. I haven’t shaved in almost 4 weeks, and I really really missed having a beard. I missed scratching it and petting it and the way I look with it. I’ve been thinking of simply growing it out as far as I could, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach that. We’ll see.

I’ve been making plans in my head for what to do with all this money coming in, but for the most part, I don’t really want to spend it on anything extravagant. There’s kitchen supplies and a new TV and books and a few electronics, but all that stuff can wait for now, I feel. Who knows. Maybe I’ll feel different when all my money comes in.

I’m behind on TV and New Yorker issues and my Instapaper queue is filled to the brim. I love fire season.

Not Feeling Good

Today was awful because I woke up with a runny nose, and I drank two Cold Smokes, which caused me to take a nap for about 2-3 hours just now, and I really didn’t want to write this entry, but here I am writing what I can.

It looks like I have less than 2 weeks before I’m done with all these entries. I have nothing planned for the end other than finishing. I don’t think I’m going to do this for another year. I’m going to write in my moleskine journal as often as possible, but I won’t be bound by word count or consistency. At least not daily consistency.

Today was the first day of school, and god dammit, I didn’t feel good for it. I was so irritated with everyone by the end that it came out during my interactions with people. At least I think so, nobody seemed to have any conflict with me. I think they knew I wasn’t feeling any good.

It’s almost 10, and I don’t know how much sleep I’ll get. I’m not that tired right now, so we’ll see.

I still haven’t posted the last three weeks’ worth of entries. Ugh. I have to do that soon.

Settling Down

School starts tomorrow, and I’m totally not ready for that.

Work the past two days has been very, very busy, which is good because it’s already almost Wednesday, and I’m still getting paid. I haven’t had a day off since August 2nd, which was the last weekend I had to myself, too. That means I’ve been earning money since then, which is pretty fantastic once you start thinking about it. And nothing below $17.80 an hour, to boot.

We have a lot of new faces at work, and yesterday we had this meeting in the cafeteria with everyone employed by the school, and we were all introduced to one another. All the work I did before leaving to firefight is paying off because it has made my days this week a little bit easier. A lot of the work I’ve had to do has been little things that add up because everyone has needed my help for something. I still need to do a few more big things tomorrow and maybe Thursday, but I think (hope?) that by Friday things will start to slow down. At least by next week I should have my routine back… again, I hope.

I’m still writing this entry in Day One because the thought of adding all the entries I’ve written since August 4th is making me procrastinate. It’s not an easy task, something i can accomplish in a few minutes. I hope by the weekend things start to settle down and my routine will return. I at least cleaned my house a bit today. No more expired food in the fridge, clean dishes, and everything put back in its place. Even my firefighting gear.

I miss firefighting.

Working Through It

One of the saddest things about the end of fire season is the hard crash that comes from the monotony of a slower routine. Firefighting has a predictable and somewhat harsh routine: wake up early, sleep deprived, and exhausted, have a few minutes to brush teeth and put boots on, attend briefing, have breakfast, and finally go to the fire, catching up with micro-naps here and there. Then there’s the long hike into the fire, the few hours of work before lunch, lunch time, a few more hours of work, and the long hike out of the fire. Then dinner. Sprinkled in-between all of that, though, is the fact that you’re doing something you love with people who love it just as much as you do. These people are also all so different, and you learn so much from them and them from you, and there’s a camaraderie that builds up so quickly and feels like it’s lasted so long that when it’s over, there’s no way to replace it.

Time seems to work. This is my fourth fire season, so I know that time works, but I also know that I’ve fallen into a depression after each fire season, too. I drink more, I eat more, I try my hardest to be more social in an attempt to recreate the social life of firefighters while out on a fire, but it hasn’t worked. I’m going to give myself tonight to drink and sleep and feel what I feel, but I can’t let it linger forever. I’m even going to try to come back and fight fires during the weekends, but that’s not guaranteed in stone or anything.

I just miss it. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and I forgot to mention how beautiful Montana is, even when it’s on fire. The best part of all of this is being able to see places a lot of people have never seen before. God, I need to go hiking again.


I’m back home.

My 2015 fire season is over, and I go back to work tomorrow. Back to the daily grind. It sucks that I have to leave my fire family now when there’s so much more work to be done, but I have a good job that I can’t abandon for a few weeks of work and fun.

School starts on Wednesday, and there’s still a lot of shit yet to be done. People have told me this first week of school is super stressful, so we’ll see what happens.

I’ve already had a couple of beers, and I’m tired. Tomorrow I’ll edit and post all the entries I’ve written since going on fires almost 3 weeks ago. It should be fun reading through them again. I know I didn’t write super long entries, but it should hopefully trigger some awesome memories.

This was a great summer. I really loved it, and it made me so proud to be a firefighter.

T Minus 1 Day

The penultimate day of my 2015 fire season is over, and it went well. We did a bit more than yesterday because the weather was a bit better. Cold, but better. The lightning storm from last night didn’t do much damage on the reservation, which was good, and the rain actually helped our fire a lot. The section my squad was in charge of had a few big smokes but very few overall smokes. We easily spent our time and took out all the troublesome heat from my section. The higher-ups were impressed with all of our work, so that’s something we’re all proud of.

Tomorrow will be my last day, and I’m not too sure what we’ll be doing there. There’s still a lot of heat in the interior, and it looks like the line around our division has been secured really well, so I don’t know. It’s been fun.

One more day and my 2015 season is done. I don’t know how to feel about that. For one thing, I’m happy to be coming back home and getting back into my routine. I’ve also enjoyed all the new friendships I’ve made that may or may not extend into my personal life outside of fire. But on the other hand, I’m going to miss all the work still left to do this fire season, and I’m going to miss all my fire friends. They’re really a second family, and I’m going to miss that.

I’m sure I’ll have some more words to say about this tomorrow. In the meantime, good night everyone.

T Minus 2 Days

Today was a slow day, and I think we all needed that. Our old crew boss is taking the next few days off to get her kids ready for the upcoming school year, so we got a new crew boss today, and he’s much more laid back than she was. So we sat around for most of the day.

We couldn’t do much without water, and our resources are so extended that we probably won’t get any skidgine’s for awhile. So we opened the spots as best as we could and we tried to dry mop them, but dammit, we couldn’t. They were just too hot. In fact, they were so hot, the deeper we dug, the softer the dirt became, and once we hit that soft dirt, we could see it boiling. There’s nothing like seeing dirt boil.

So we sat around, talked, goofed around, watched the storm roll in and pass us and then hit Ronan with 45 MPH winds and hail and lightning, and then bumped out and drove off the hill, just in case that storm decided to do something stupid over us.

And now I’m home, tired, washed, and ready for bed. 17 days to go.

Shit Rolls Downhill

T-Minus 3 more days.

It’s hard being the boss sometimes. You’re held responsible for everyone’s actions, and when shit goes wrong, you’re the one who’s blamed. Shit rolls downhill, and the overhead of my overhead was in charge of the western side of the fire, which is what we were working on, and if our ineptitude caused the fire to spread any farther, he would’ve been to blame. So of course I understand why he was hard on us, since we are ultimately the ones doing the work, but damn… it’s hard being the boss.

It’s especially hard when you have an inept fucking fuck of a worker who wanders off god knows where with his headphones in his ears and fucking trees torching below him. Thankfully, I was able to pawn him off to someone else, so that made my life a little easier.

Orders have been unclear and messy the past few days, and communication sucks up there. For many of us, we’ve been fighting fires for over 2 and a half weeks with one day off, and we’re all tired, beat up, and complacent. I know I am. I’m fucking tired. But I have 3 more days before I have to get back to work. I honestly can’t wait.


Well, I’m home.

We didn’t demobilize or anything. We were just given the opportunity to go home at night and come back in the morning, which is an idea I’m in love with. Today was good up until the end, when communications got tangled and one set of orders were given with one squad and another set with another squad. I was given an order to take my squad to the south western edge of the fire and watch the green for any possible spot fires. I did that. I bumped into the crew that was already there, a crew from Illinois, and their crew boss briefed me on what they were seeing and possible outcomes.

Down toward the bottom of our hill, a few people had been using drip torches to try and burn out all the green in the interior, since we’ve had no good black on this fire so far. Toward the end of our shift, the winds started blowing uphill, which concerned the Illinois crew boss. I listened, and I spread out my squad in that troubled area. I was told my whole crew was coming up with us so we wouldn’t have to be so extended. I waited 45 minutes or so and nobody showed up. Our crew boss trainee, a guy I like, was about a mile north of us, waiting for us to tie in with him. So when we waited, he waited, too. I called him on the radio, and he told me to come over to him. My area was still a question mark, but I ran into the division boss and he told me everything looked clear and we were good to go. We did. Our crew boss trainee told us to grid the green on our way back to him, which made no sense because we had already done that hours before and there was no active fire behavior in our area. Begrudgingly, we did.

It all pissed me off. I’m still a trainee but I’ve had zero trainers in my squad. I’m not 100% sure what I’m doing. I’m learning, for sure, learning really fast, but damn, this whole fire has been a clusterfuck.

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