Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: Andrew Lincoln

Here We Go Again


They say history repeats itself until the lessons we need to learn are learned.

Personally, I believe this is true. Generally because we don’t either consciously acknowledge there is a lesson to be learned in the first place. Or, we refuse to change the behavior that triggered the problem, even when we know it will help.

I see this too often with my Son for both reasons. And, sometimes because he just won’t listen to Mom’s suggestion as to how to remedy the problem that has arisen, which could sort of fall into the “refusing to change behavior.”

This is the very reason I find myself repeating similar themes periodically. It is a vicious cycle.

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We just went through this during the last marking period. My Son, with permission from his teacher, chose to use his personal copy of the book they were reading in English. Early on though, there were some red flags. Red flags signaling it might be best to also get one of the school’s versions of the book to at least keep at home as back up and reference.

The night of the first assignment related to the book, my Son forgot his copy of the book in his locker. Why? He had taken it to school earlier to get approval to use and decided to store it his locker. His locker can become the black hole, so “storing” anything in it is never a good idea.

Next came poor communication between him and his teacher. Freaked out about forgetting the book, my Son emailed the teacher. Now I did not see her response, but based on what my Son stated, he only needed to track down a bio on the writer and he would be fine.

Note, while waiting for the teacher’s response, I suggested my Son look for a free copy of the book online because the book was no longer under copyright. He declined for more ridiculous reasons then I care to include, but when he got a response from the teacher, he was content with what the teacher told him and felt it wasn’t necessary.

Add to this, had he checked the teachers website, as I also suggested, he would have discovered that he most certainly needed more than a bio. Plus, there was a link to not only a pdf of the book, but also an audio copy.

Needless to say, when he took the test the next day, he was not prepared and did poorly, which lead to the end of the world drama I wrote about last month.

Fast forward to the end of the marking period and a shaky English grade looming in the wings. Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with Sudden and Unexpected Change


OK, so I may not have awaken from a coma to discover that the dead are roaming the earth in search of fresh meat, but when you go to the ER thinking your stomach and back pain is due to a side effect from a medication and find out it’s a renal infarction which is very rare, and, you need to be admitted to the hospital to have more tests run to find out what caused this, your world is most definitely turned upside down, just as Rick Grime’s (Andrew Lincoln) was when he awoke in “The Walking Dead.”

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After waiting for 3 hours to be seen, and then a battery tests, I was told at 1:30 AM what my diagnosis was and that I was being admitted. I began to panic. My son was home sound asleep, having gone to bed thinking his Mom would be home at some point during the night. My first thought was, what if my son doesn’t wake up on time and misses the bus?

Plus, he will freak out when he realizes Mom is not home.

This was all deja vu from 2009 when I landed in the hospital for a week with pneumonia with sepsis. My Son was in elementary school and this was most definitely a scary time for him. Thank goodness one of my sisters could come and stay with him so as not to disrupt his routine.

As a teen he could stay by himself, but on the first morning I needed to get someone to stop at the house to be sure he’s up and doesn’t miss the bus. Plus tell him what’s going on. Read the rest of this entry »

Staying Sane in a World Gone Mad


I’m quite sure I’m not the only one that has experienced the feeling that some days just one more stressful situation could be the tipping point that puts us over the edge. It is most certainly a test of our metal and those with a sensitive constitution may crack at the first sign of trouble. To be honest it may not even take that much for some, especially those suffering with mental health issues.

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So, if the normal day-to-day is all it takes to crack the mentally unstable, what happens in an apocalypse?  Would their illness actually help them because now the world is as mad as they are? Or, would they be the first to fall?

What about those who are strong, and grounded in reality? Would they be the survivors and leaders? Or, could this be the very thing that pushes them to join the ranks of the unstable?

Please understand I don’t stay awake thinking about these things, but when it seems some days the world we live in is on the brink of going over the edge it’s hard to not wonder.

Plus, as a fan of “The Walking Dead” the subject of “how would you react should a zombie apocalypse strike?” has come up in conversation, and although I would hope that I would stand strong, using my wits and common sense, especially to protect my son, I could just as easily crumble under the weight of the challenge.

You really don’t know until you are faced with a challenge how you will react.

With that said, not having any re-life examples of a zombie apocalypse to call upon, thank goodness, one can turn to the characters in “The Walking Dead.” Comparing those of “sound mind,” with those on “the fringes of reality,” to see how they react when confronted with the fall of the World as we know it.

The obvious character to zero in on is Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), not only is this his story, but he was not awake to see the World fall. In a coma at the start of the apocalypse, he awakens to find the dead roaming the streets and none of his loved ones anywhere to be found.

As a Sheriff, his observation skills are a huge asset. He sees things others wouldn’t and is convinced his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs), are alive, it’s just a matter of where.

His quest to find his family leads him deep into the rabbit hole that is the world of “The Walking Dead.”

Episode-1-Rick-Door-760 Read the rest of this entry »

Will The Golden Rule Help You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?


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I recently came back from the “Magic Kingdom” and I can say, compared to my visit when my Son was 7, my experience was far from magical. This was not at the fault of the staff in the Magic Kingdom. To be honest, I feel for these poor people who try daily to create the “magical experience” Walt Disney wanted for all his guests, but our met with rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful guests, who are only concerned with their own gratification.

On any given day, we all experience the slow decay of common decency and respect for our fellow man, which in itself is a sad reflection of society overall. I had not however anticipated being confronted by this in a place that’s sole purpose is to bring joy and light heartedness to all who walk through the gates. If only Tinkerbell sprinkled “Remember the Golden Rule Fairy Dust” over everyone as they entered the Magic Kingdom’s gates. People were more courteous to each other going through security at the airport than in the Magic Kingdom.

It is this experience that made me start to wonder what type of personality would fair best in an apocalypse. The “it’s all about me” mentality that the bulk of society has become or, the one who is considerate of his fellow man and is conscious of the other persons needs as well as their own.

Needless to say I started to compare the characters of “The Walking Dead.” The first ones that came to mind were Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Meryl Dixon (Michael Rooker).

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Rick Grimes, Sheriff, Father and Friend, has tried hard to always consider the groups needs in addition to his families. He has had moments when he has made some bad decisions, especially this last season, but at the core of his decisions he is always looking at what’s best for the group. He is not of the “it’s all about me” mentality, which is why he has become the leader. He believes by working together they can find a way to survive the hellish world of the zombie apocalypse that has become their new reality.

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Meryl Dixon, on the other hand, (no pun intended) was the complete opposite of Rick. He was definitely an “all about me” kind of guy. Helping his fellow man was the furthest thing from his mind, unless it would benefit him in some way. In the apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead” this behavior became amplified and he made more enemies than friends. He often toyed with his brother Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) emotions, playing the “we’re family” card, but his sole purpose was to try to gain an ally in whatever scheme he was running at the time. He was not actually looking out for his brother. He was the walking, talking epitome of the classic self-absorbed; I only care about my needs, the hell with everyone else mentality.

Although, in the end, he did have a bit of an epiphany and made an effort to reconcile his actions by letting Michonne (Danai Gurira) go and going after the Governor (David Morrissey), guns a blazing. Had he not burnt every bridge he crossed and joined forces with his brother and the rest of Rick’s group, they may have been able to put an end to the Governor’s merciless reign, but by going it alone, he had no chance of winning this battle. In the end, he was not a hero, just a sad pathetic loner abandoned by everyone.

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Another great comparison would be Gleen Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Nicholas (Michael Traynor). Glenn has always looked out for his fellow man, even risking his life for the benefit of the group. He is the supreme example of living your life by the Golden Rule, which certainly isn’t easy in a world gone mad, with not only walking dead out to get you, but many of the living. Now that he has a wife and a baby on the way, he will do whatever it takes to keep them safe, to include putting himself very much in harms way.

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Nicholas, much like Meryl, was an “it’s all about me” kind of guy, but he hid it well. To the people of Alexandria, he came off as a strong, courageous young man who risked his life going out into the world of walkers on runs for supplies. The truth was revealed when Glenn accompanied Nicholas, Aiden (Daniel Bonjour), Noah (Tyler James Williams), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) on a run in search of solar panel components. Glenn had already seen how unprepared he and Aiden were for the world outside the walls, but this run proved that at Nicholas’ core he was a coward, who only thought of his own safety.

In the end, his actions not only got Noah killed, but the lack of skill on he and Aiden’s part got Aiden killed and Tara seriously injured. Eugene, who admitted to be a coward, was more effective on this run than Nicholas. Add to it, Nicholas tried to cover it up by blaming Glenn for Aiden’s death.

The friction between Glenn and Nicholas escalated to a knock down drag out brawl, in which Glenn could have taken Nicholas’ life, but that is not who Glenn is. By saving Nicholas, he gave him a chance to redeem himself and it appeared he was on the road to redemption when he his true color came shining through.

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After a mission to lure a hoard of walkers away from Alexandria went awry, Glenn and Nicholas found themselves trapped in an alley on a dumpster. Instead of working with Glenn to seek a way out, Nichols took his own life and in doing so Glenn went toppling down off the dumpster with Nicholas.

Fortunately Nicholas fell on top of Glenn which shielded Glenn from the hungry walkers long enough for Glenn to shimmy his way under the dumpster until the walkers dispersed wondering after whatever noise caught there attention.

There is one character however that unlike Nicholas has shown that the horrific world of the zombie apocalypse can actually turn the corner and become a productive and positive contribution to the community. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) was a coward to the nth degree when Rick and company came upon him. Hiding in his chapel, where he locked himself in and his parishioners out. Listening to their cries as the walkers tore them apart.

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Yes, a man of the cloth who was more concerned about himself than to come to aid of his followers.

Rick suspected something was up with him, but, he did help Michonne, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Judith escape the chapel when a small hoard of walkers descended upon the chapel because of his stupidity, so, it was hard to leave him behind when the gang set off for Atlanta after Beth.

Fast forward to the present Season and we find Father Gabriel learning to fight and defending the community and it’s inhabitants. The crumbling world around him has converted him into a man who not only preaches about the Golden Rule, but also lives it.

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So, in the end it’s pretty obvious, that no matter what the circumstances, the person who takes into consideration the needs of those around them, in addition to their own, will fair much better than the “it’s all about me” type.

As the Golden Rule states, do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. These are some serious life-saving words to live by, now and in an apocalypse.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2016. All rights reserved.

TWD Photos Courtesy of AMC

The Consequences of a Bad Decision


As a writer (yet-to-be published, produced, or paid) discussing the storyline of a TV show, movie or book is one of my favorite things to do. I love to hear writers, directors, producers, and actors talk about their craft, about bringing characters to life and the path those characters take or could take along the way.

Turns out my son has inherited this gene and although for many years has fought the writing thing, I found out recently that he now considers English not only a favorite subject, but one of his better ones, plus, lists writing as a top skill. You can only imagine what joy this brought to me when I heard those words.

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My son’s imagination is like no other I have come across. His ideas go far and wide and I have always told him to write them down because one day his mind will be cluttered with so much real world crap he may forget these brilliant sparks of creativity. He has yet to do this with all of his ideas, but he has over the years kept a file on game ideas, which all evolve from a storyline, so he’s got that much going for himself.

Needless to say, him and I can get into some serious discussions about story lines and characters, especially when it comes to “The Walking Dead.” Since he has read the graphic novels the show is based on, he often gets very excited when things play out according to the book or when a new character from the book is introduced. I saw a lot this over the past season, especially the closer we got to the season finale.

Whether you have read the books or not, if you are an avid fan of the show, you are aware of the notorious barbwire wrapped bat wielding villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Moragn) (evil personified) and the anticipation of his arrival on the show was making book readers in particular salivate.

I myself was dreading it because along with his arrival brings the departure of a beloved character in an extremely brutal way. The key question was whether the writers of the show would stay true to the book or deviate, which is often the case. And, how on earth would they show this horrific scene (barbwire covered bat connects to victims head multiple times) on regular TV?

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My son and I had many speculative discussions leading up to the season finale, each with our own ideas about where the writers may take the story. My son believing they will stay true to the books, and me feeling stronger that they would switch things up. Turns out they ended the show on a cliffhanger, so we will have to wait till Season Seven to see who became Negan’s first victim, but, we both feel that the cliffhanger did not detract from the brilliant story telling in this finale. (Note, we are in the minority here.) Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Peace in Being Alone


Kind of ironic that in the month we celebrate “love” I’ve been pondering the ever-present fact that in the not-so-distant future I will be alone. I mean really alone, just me at home. These thoughts were triggered while writing last month’s post when I touched on the subject of the inevitable day when my son will leave home for college.

Pondering being alone

I have been single the whole time I’ve been raising my son, but I always had the company of my son. Plus my Mother on weekends, and one of my sisters, who helped care for my Mom the last two years before she ended up in a nursing home in December of 2015. So, being single never really bothered me.

Add to that, between home and work I didn’t have the time for much of a social life or to dedicate to nurturing a romantic relationship. My life was full and I was content.

In reality, the idea of being alone began to wander through my mind after my Mother’s passing last April, but it really only hit home with my son turning 16 and the serious discussion of college.

To be honest, I’m actually OK with it. There’s a certain sense of peace I get with this solitude. Which is probably a good thing, considering I’m pursuing the profession of writer. A lot of alone time required when writing.

Vacation

Read the rest of this entry »

Walking Among the Walkers


With the end of the regular football/marching band season the beginning of this month, I’ve been thinking about how valuable the experience of chaperoning 260 teenagers really is, particularly for a single Mom. I have truly been “walking among the walkers” for weeks now, and will continue to as long as the playoffs go. The funny thing is, I have for the most part gone unnoticed, kind of like when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Glenn Rhee (Steven Yuen) from “The Walking Dead” cover themselves in “walker guts” so they can go unnoticed in a horde of walkers in hopes of getting to a vehicle so they can escape the overridden city of Atlanta. Carol (Melissa McBride) does the same thing so she can mingle with walkers to get into Terminus in order to free Rick and his gang in the Season Five opener. The stunt worked in both cases and for the most part works for me too.Glenn and Rick, walker guts

Granted, I’m not covered in “sweaty teenager stink” but because these kids hormone riddled brains keep them stuck in their own worlds, they are oblivious to parent chaperones standing right next to them. That is until you catch them saying or doing something inappropriate and you make yourself visible, then, all it takes is the look and they know they’re being watched. At least when they become aware of your presence, they don’t chase you down and try to make you dinner like a walker would.

Remaining anonymous aids me in getting into the psyche of the teenage “aka walker” brain and reminds me I was once a walker too and I would never want to go back to High School. It’s allowed me to step outside of my role as my son’s Mother and try to look with empathy at the plight of a high school student. The world today is vastly different than my high school years and there are plenty more pressures put on kids today. Not just from the teachers but from parents, like me. Teen Horde

Read the rest of this entry »

SUMMER SAFE ZONE?


OK, my son’s freshman year of high school came to a close June 15th and I should be thrilled that we have made it through somewhat unscathed. The operative word here is “somewhat.”

Granted, being his freshmen year in high school, I anticipated more challenges then his middle school years, so I was “somewhat” prepared. Besides the standard concerns of a larger work load, adjusting to a bigger school meant more ground to cover between classes, which was at the top of the list. For all of you who have been following my blog, you’re well aware that my son is not always good about plotting a plan, which in this case was mandatory. Fortunately, with the help of his guidance counselor, he figured out the right routes and when to make locker stops to eliminate the tardy to class issue that popped up early in the year.

Another fear was marching band. Could he handle the intense pre-school summer camp and football games every Friday night for two months, plus playoffs? Could I too? There were some adjustments to make with my work schedule in order to pull off the early arrival time each week, but, my son and I made it through camp and football/parade season like we had done this all in a past life. He didn’t even complain and actually had fun. I breathed a little sigh of relief.

red flagUnfortunately, it was a bit too early to let my guard down. As the year progressed, history began to repeat itself in the academic area, which is what disturbs me and is curbing my enthusiasm for the end of my son’s freshman year. It’s obvious he isn’t learning from his past mistakes. As he did all through middle school, he started the new school year with gusto, excited to get back to school and new challenges, but by mid-year, red flags began to appear. There were missed assignments, an occasional poor test/assignment grade and zoning out in class, as noted in e-mails from his teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, some subjects he’s breezed right through: History, English, German, Band and believe it or not Gym, he’s stayed consistently in the A department, but, in Engineering, Math, and even Science, his grades have bounced up and down, to include almost failing engineering and having some failing test grades in math. By the end of the second and third marking periods, he pulled his final grade up and made honor roll, but, just the fact that he got to this point is very alarming to me. Especially the Math troubles. Math was always his thing. After he missed a week of school due to the flu in eighth grade, he did have a few issues with algebra 1, but by the end of the year, he seemed to be back on track. This year it’s a different story, as of now, he’s teetering on a “C” as a final grade in math. He’s not happy and neither am I. Particularly when his new interest is computer programming. Can’t be a programer without a mind for math.
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I would love to blame this on the virtual gaming world my son loves so much, but, since the issue isn’t across the board, I know it’s more than that. Needless to say, he’s had to hustle to get really good grades on the last couple math quizzes and tests in order to help pull his grade up, but, now everything is hinging on his final exam. With that in mind, I’ve amped up my ammo and brought in a tutor. Not just for final exam prep, but for the summer. He’s not getting off that easy, I’m well aware of the threat of idle minds over the summer and the damage that can be done. Makes the walkers on “The Walking Dead” look like hordes of roaming intellectuals. Because of this, I’m extremely concerned about what the summer will do to my semi-de-zompified teenage son’s brain. Any advances he did make over his freshman year could be overridden much too quickly if his mind is left to vegetate in the gaming world he thinks he’s going to spend his summer vacation in. Read the rest of this entry »

Apocalyptic Hygiene


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Mother Nature’s Shower

Considering how heavy the past couple months posts have been I just couldn’t resist lightening things up a bit this month.  What better than apocalyptic hygiene to serve that purpose? The opportunities to thoroughly bathe are far and few between when living in an apocalyptic world on the run from zombies and humans who just might want to cook you for dinner. Something we take for granted is a luxury in this world.

Bearded Rick

Bearded Rick

This was extremely evident as Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) band of survivors in “The Walking Dead” finally landed in the Alexandria safe zone. Although they may be having trouble settling in and assimilating there, they certainly were thrilled to have hot, running water and toiletries. Upon arriving in Alexandria, all but Daryl didn’t waste any time taking advantage of the opportunity to shower, brush their teeth and in Rick’s case, shave. (Definitely like the clean shaven Rick better than the bearded one. Love that chiseled jaw line.)

Clean Shaven Rick

Clean Shaven Rick

If you think about it, I’m sure the humans don’t smell much better than the rotting corpses roaming the lands. Something tells me if this show could be viewed in smell-o-vision it would not be as popular. That’s real sweat on the actors from the ever oppressive Georgia summer heat. After 10 hours in that heat I’m quite sure their deodorant isn’t working that great any more. If we could actually smell how ripe all the survivors are, I would think we would all be turned off. In addition, I don’t think the female fan base Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rick have would be quite as large as it is. Let’s face it, there is nothing sexy about an stinky, unbathed man, especially one that hasn’t bathed in days, weeks, or months. There is absolutely nothing appealing about running your fingers through greasy, uncombed hair. Could you actually run your fingers through greasy, uncombed hair?

Sweaty Survivors

Sweaty Survivors

Considering all the life threatening situations the characters of TWD face, thinking about their hygiene may seem like a trivial thing, but there are days I feel like my fifteen year old son believes he is living in apocalyptic conditions and his life would be threatened if he paused to take a shower. Getting him in the shower is as much a challenge as getting him out of bed in the morning. You’d think I’m making him donate an organ or a limb. Once he’s in though, I can’t get him out, and he uses up the hot water.  There is no happy medium with him. Read the rest of this entry »

Give It Your All


“The average person puts about 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes its hat off to those who put more than 50% of their capacity into their work, and the world stands on it’s head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.” – Andrew Carnegie

Besides the weekly task of waking my walker and battle to cut back on video game/electronic use, I also struggle with trying to impress upon my son the importance of not just showing up. The importance of giving your all, not just enough to get by.  This is a huge frustration for me because I can see my son’s potential. Potential just wasting away with each passing marking period. The issue has been getting progressively worse since middle school, and with his freshman year in high school it has come to a head.

Snoozing TeenHis grades are see-sawing and he’s carrying a “C” in his engineering elective class. A class I figured he’d ace because it’s hands on and he loves building stuff.  At first I thought the “C” was an indication that maybe engineering really isn’t his thing, even with his Lego junky disposition. Since he was a toddler, he has been building sets well above his age level. Engineering just seemed like the perfect fit. How could I be so wrong? It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to speak with his engineering teacher that I found out it was nothing like that. My son does get the material, he just doesn’t give it his all and it’s not that he doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing, he does. The bottom line, he’s become academically lazy. He starts out with gusto, but fizzles out three quarters of the way through. His follow-through has become a follow-stop.

A habit that is getting increasingly worse as he gets older and one I believe has occurred because in his elementary days he was never really challenged and didn’t have to work hard to get good grades. He never really learned how to “Give it his all.” because he didn’t really have to. When he hit middle school, more was expected of him, and at times there was evidence of more effort, but in general, he found a way to just get by, even though his teachers and myself told him this will come back to bite him in high school. He needed to pick up his game and change his habits before he got to high school, otherwise he will fall behind and end up playing catch-up.

Now, all our predictions are coming true. Although he may still be getting A’s and B’s in his academic classes, he’s had more and more poor test grades, especially in math, which used to be one of his top subjects.  Eventually this will trickle into his final grade if he doesn’t wake up soon. He is actually getting help with math after school so he can get caught up. His mid-term exam was horrible. This is a first and a major red flag, not just for me, but for him, because he thought he did fine on the exam.
Read the rest of this entry »

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