We’re all about comics here at Panels on Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical four-color realm – be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
While being fascinated by numbers and lists, I’m kind of tired of all those year-end summaries and countdowns. I appreciate the work done by writers, but eventually they always end up being subjective, never relate to me and result in angry comments (see the recent “Best Comics of the ’00s” list by AV Club and all the criticism it generated). However, my fascination is stronger and there’s a reason why I do all those 6-Pack lists here at PoP! three days before the end of the year (and decade) and you must be pondering: “Where is PoP!’s summary of the year/decade?!” Well, we still have 3 days for that… In the meantime, I’d like to pay farewell to the first decade of the millennium from a personal standpoint (“Do it on your own inactive blog!” I hear a far voice calling, not paying attention).
Among all, this decade – how come no one came up with a decent nickname to these years, anyway? “’00s” sounds bad – was awful. Not just because of the terrorism formerly known to the west world as far away nightmare, suddenly coming close and bringing on more war and death. Not even the financial disaster swapping the whole world towards the end of the decade, ignoring the glimmer of hope carried by one new leader with the greatest crown of all, still working on his uncertain strategic plan. No, my cause of depression, the catalyst to all my problems was one personal tragedy: The death of my father.
Scarcely two months after the World Trade Center attack my dad passed away. He was 50 years old. My little brother and I were close to him, especially since the passing of my mother less than 10 years earlier, and we knew everything about his problems – mostly the health ones – so it was just a matter of time, retrospectively. A month earlier my dad’s condition deteriorated and he was sent to the hospital by his doctor. Five days later he was released, supposedly in a better condition, but for some reason he didn’t seem right. However, the morning after he was back on his feet. I was less than a year in the army back then, only 19 years old and recently moved to a new base with fewer restrictions due to my crises at home. So a month after my dad was released from the hospital, I asked and was released early, after two days not being home, so I could aide my dad. Shortly after my return he said he feel bad and wanted to see his doctor. It seemed that I didn’t know much of what went on recently, because doctor was angry about my father letting his already dire state go down further. She said he must admit himself to the hospital immediately. After much thought my dad cried and decided to do what the doctor says. I had a car at the time so I took him to the hospital, accompanied by my brother. Upon checking in, he seemed to be disconnected and was half asleep. He didn’t reply to anything I said. Meanwhile, I contacted my commander and told him I’ll need at least one day off. After being with my father for a few hours and him still not waking up, I left him a note explaining what’s going on and added that my brother and I will be back in the morning.
Two or three hours later my brother was already asleep while I stayed awake and watched TV. A phone from the hospital told me we need to come immediately because our father needed us. From what I gathered – rather it was a miscommunication or something else – he woke up and caused some trouble to the night shift crew. I woke up my brother and we drove to the hospital. I was tired and pissed off but was relieved that my father is awake. When we got to his floor the night nurse stared at us with a weird look when we asked her what happened. She started mumbling something, but my brother and I already understood. He freaked out and started crying, but I was on my own. I ran to my dad’s room and saw he’s not there. The doctor who talked to me on the phone came in and apologized, saying my father got into critical situation and attempts to revive him failed. I was accompanied to a nearby room to see his body. My brother, who calmed down a bit, came in and started crying again, then ran out. When he snapped out of it eventually, he called my uncle. I stayed in the room for long moments, staring at the empty body that used to be my father, checking it. Then I started crying for awhile. I think it was the last time I’ve cried for almost 6 years. When that night was over my brother and I went to sleep only after we forced ourselves.
Our first thoughts, knowing that from then on we’re completely alone in life – now that we were not in the hospital or with our uncle and his wife – were not pure thoughts, I must admit. When you think there are not enough options for you in life, there’s only one possible choice, right? When the funeral and shiv’ah ended and we had support from relatives and others, when we found we actually have options to move on from this point, there was hope. Unfortunately, one thing led to another, which led to another thing and these hopes are long gone. Even the hopes that came after.
Although I finished my army service quite successfully and thanks to staying in service I think me and my brother survived, citizen life seemed much more complicated. Eventually I found a job, one I hated and got stuck in for about three years. Sadly, trying to move on and up turned out to be worse and I only put myself in bad situations from which I still suffer, in a way. Over a year ago I’ve found a job in the same field I’ve been stuck in earlier. This one, though, is very different and generally I’m thankful for having it, mainly since the state my life been in before finding that job. Back in April I got the chance to improve my conditions and paycheck, so that can’t be bad, right? Covering this corner, now I’m dealing with non-critical (unless not taken care of for the long run) health problems and there’s even that bachelor thing that starts wearing the form of an itch on my nape as I’m getting closer to 30.
Of course I’ve mentioned it a lot in the last two years and a half (almost three), but I also lost my beloved dog, Sean. He was 14 and before my father died, he was very close to him. If you don’t believe a pet can be part of a family nor have feelings as humans, you should’ve seen Sean the night my dad passed away. He may not have understood what we said, but he knew right away and fell into depression for many days. Remember that I said I haven’t cried for couple of years after my father died? The next time was when Sean died. Perhaps blaming finances as the reason for why I don’t have a dog since, is just a subconscious way to hide my refusal to replace a family member with a new one.
Although it’s basically inside the longbox, I can’t do this without mentioning Panels on Pages. I had my reservations on some aspects this little project of ours deals with, but I made peace with them. Lee, the Jasons and the others had to deal with my sometimes negative point of view, but we made it through. I would’ve apologized to them and anyone I’ve been to what seems like a jerk, but there’s a big chance it’ll happen again. The Interwebz ruined me. Anyway, what started as a suggestion by one WUMBer and Wizard freelancer to his fellows during an email exchange over a year ago came to life in early March and almost 10 months later we’re bigger than I imagined we’ll be at this point, and we keep on growing. Before I fall into worse clichés, I must thank not only my fellow founders, later recruitments, the ones who didn’t stay with us and our friends – but especially our readers, followers and forum members. Either you came with us from WUMB, real life contacts or completely new – our work would not have been worth nothing without your support. Yep. Can’t get worse cliché than this one…
So with that, my eyes on the next decade are filled with hope and anticipation, yet I’m ready for the bad stuff too. Scratch that; even when I’m ready for those things I’m struck by surprise when they occur. Let’s just say… I’m somewhat optimistic. Skepticism is so out, anyhow.