The Walk Cycle

About one month after writing my last blog post, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, I had to be my father’s advocate, driver and appointment scheduler. My checkpoint, however important, was now unimportant. Unlike plans, life can be inflexible.

I drove out to my hometown from NYC every few days to take my father to doctor appointments and chemotherapy sessions. There was no way I could work on my game. I couldn’t focus on anything so complicated as C# and Unity. My dad was my priority. He was strong at first, but soon side effects of the chemotherapy started to affect his health. He ended up in the ICU with an e.coli infection that put him in a very grave condition.

Working on a game during this time was totally out of the question, but I could write and draw. At his bedside, I animated the above walk cycle on my laptop and iPad. The character is my dad as an 11 year old with a container of water on his head called a tinaca. Before plastic, tinacas were made of clay. My dad said the clay would keep the water cold all day. He told me how refreshing it was to drink this water. All things change and tinacas were eventually mass produced out of cheap plastic which would slowly turn the water warm and stale.

My father told me how he and his brothers used to play pranks on each other. Onetime, a brother broke a clay tinaca while my dad had it on his head, completely soaking him. His mom was furious when she found out. They regularly tested my grandmother’s patience, as boys do.

I asked him to tell me his earliest memory. He said it was traveling to Cubulco Church in Tactic, Alata Verapaz, Guatemala. He would have been about five. He remembered crossing a river and seeing the long underwear my grandfather wore. I asked for whatever details I could think of. I learned more about my father in two weeks than I had in the past twenty years.

The chemotherapy shrunk my father’s tumor and stopped it from growing. The treatment which almost killed him, saved his life. As of this writing, his tumor is not causing any trouble. He has another checkup in three months and we hope for the best. Whoever the timeless being is that precariously balances our universe on the tip of their finger, I thank them for sparing my father.

This experience started me on a new path. I haven’t given up on my game, but I do feel a sense of urgency to tell stories faster. This feeling motivates me. I have a strong desire to tell a story based in our home country of Guatemala during an idealized time that maybe never existed.

Depending on when you read this, you will see a work in progress or finished product. Since my distribution will be a website I make, I doubt the story will ever fully be complete. I will add and improve it whenever I want. I am coding the website; nothing exotic. HTML and a page of CSS. I use a tiny bit of JavaScript for the UI dashboard. I’m calling my web comic: Where’s Gretel?.

My mom used to say, “uno pone, Dios despone”. This roughly translates to “one makes plans, God unmakes plans”. Regardless of what the future holds, I can expect the unexpected to play a major role.


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