Waking the Walker

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

Tag: apocalypse

Never Give In and Never Give Up


As my Son once again became Mr. Pessimist about the future of his English grade this marking period due to a bad quiz grade, I once again wondered how the Son of an optimistic Mother could become so negative. How quickly he turns to “the world is coming to an end” and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. He is willing to pack it in at the first sign of trouble.

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Not sure what kind of help he’d be in a real apocalypse.

If this was the only area I saw the defeatist attitude, I could equate it to the fact that in general, schoolwork has come fairly easy to him over the years. So when he gets a not so great grade, whether it be because he didn’t study enough, misunderstood direction or just plain hit a wall, he gets angry with himself because he prides himself on getting good grades.

Academic success is a priority to him, so one would think that this would be the best motivator ever, instead of taking on a defeatist attitude.

The truth is, he reacts this way to just about everything. Something wonky is going on with his computer, his reaction, it’s broken, it can’t be fixed; I need a new computer. When I feel he may be gaming too much and it’s interfering with not just schoolwork, but home chores, he instantly goes to, “Fine, just get rid of everything. I’ll just sit and stare at the walls.” Or, if something is lost, obviously in the house, he freaks and says it’s gone for good.

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There is no mid-way, he goes from life is fine, to it’s an apocalypse in a matter of seconds. I have to first calm him down; then, back him off of the cliff, in order for him to see the situation is not as grave as he sees it. Once I get him here, he usually resolves the issue, sometimes rather quickly, and the apocalypse is averted. 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

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

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Apocalyptic Hygiene


Mother Nature Shower

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.
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LOSS


Hershel and Beth Greene

Hershel and Beth Greene

In a month normally filled with joyous gatherings of family and friends the subject of loss seems so unfitting, but I found myself profoundly effected by the loss of Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) on “The Walking Dead” mid-season finale and to be honest, I couldn’t quite figure out why. Other characters have been killed off, including ones my son and I were quite fond of and ones that really helped to move the story line along. In particular, Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), Beth’s father. My best guess as to why her death got to me was that she, like her father, was becoming a beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak end of times world. Plus, she was just coming into her own, having grown from a shy, frighten teen, so distraught with the realities of this horrible apocalyptic world that she came close to taking her own life. Any life cut short is sad, but one with so much prospect is truly a tragedy. I realize these are fictitious characters, but, it made me wonder if there were any lessons in the grieving process that could be garnered by the loss of our favorite fictitious characters.

Before I could ponder this any further, my family was forced to deal with the sudden illness of my 94 year old mother, which landed her in the hospital and now in a skilled nursing facility for the remainder of her days. We knew for awhile that this day may come, but when you’re slapped in the face with it and no other options, it can be earth shaking. She has health issues that we thought would be what would take her from us, but some how she kept motoring along. We worked hard to keep her at home, but the reality of the situation hung large over our heads. For years we were watching who she was slowly drifting away due to the ravages of dementia, which was breaking our hearts. When pneumonia hit, along with the discovery of congestive heart failure, we knew we could no longer care for her on our own.
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The Monster Within


Recently I had a major meltdown. The yelling, throwing things, mad at the world, feeling sorry for myself kind. The kind I’m embarrassed to admit I had the day after. The kind I try hard to control, but, when the circumstances are right, like I’m stressed from the day-to-day and over-extending myself, can get the better of me, and I blow. Fortunately, the bulk of this one hit after my son was in bed and no one else was in the house. I could have buried it and pretended it didn’t happen, but I knew better. When everything builds up and pushes me over the edge, I have to face it head on. Especially when my son witnessed the beginning of the meltdown and was stunned because it came out of left field. He even said “What happened? You were fine a minute ago.” What kind of example am I setting? How can I discuss self-control with him, when I’m not exhibiting it myself?

The Monster Within

The Monster Within

I have outbursts here and there. Usually brought on by my son’s extraordinary button-pushing, but this wasn’t that at all. Those are quick and they don’t linger like this one did. This was something deeper taking over. To be honest it scared me.

The morning after the meltdown, my son told me he was genuinely concerned. He too knew this wasn’t the norm for Mom. I told him I felt like Rick from “The Walking Dead” just before he ripped Joe’s throat out with his teeth and although this actually helped to get my son out of bed faster that morning, I knew that wasn’t good. I knew the monster inside was winning and I had to get a grip. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


By the time I post this, we will be a week into summer vacation and my son’s middle school years will be a blur in my rearview mirror, so, I thought it would be the ideal time to evaluate the impact my new “TWD Apocalyptic Parenting Tactic” has had on my son and myself. This experiment, as I like to call it, really just got off the ground in January, so I’m only pooling from five months, but, knowing that summer and high school (UGHHHH!) will bring on new challenges, I figured it would be good to review what works and what doesn’t. So, here we go. Note, if you haven’t read any other posts besides this one, the next couple paragraphs won’t make much sense, but hopefully they’ll inspire you to read my previous posts.

First I’ll start with the concept, “TWD Apocalyptic Parenting Tactic.” Knowing that I have hit a nerve with my son on more than one occasion, pretty much seals this as a valid method of parenting, at least for me. Plus, having “The Walking Dead” as a bonding factor has helped our relationship grow in ways I never thought possible. As a matter of fact, my end of middle school gift to my son was a trip to the Philly Wizard World/Comic Con, where we had our picture taken with Norman Reedus, AKA, Daryl Dixon in “The Walking Dead.” Then, later in the summer, we will be road tripping to Atlanta to do the Big Zombie Tours by Atlanta Movie Tours, Inc. These are tours of areas in and around Atlanta where “The Walking Dead” is filmed. I don’t know to many 14 year old boys who would be excited to spend their summer vacation with just Mom. It’s amazing what these zombies have done for us.

Carl in AMC's "The Walking Dead"

Carl

“What Would Carl Do?” worked well at first, but, when Carl’s character became a smart aleck brat teen in the back half of season four, the last thing I wanted was my son looking to him as a role model. Carl did start to redeem himself by the end of the season, but, until I see where the writers go with him in season five, I will back off a little on this one.
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It’s a Matter of Trust


With third marking period grades in, it’s obvious my son has pulled himself up and out of the ashes of last marking periods troubling report card. Yes, even kids with gifted IQ fall off the good grade wagon, especially as the subject matter gets more challenging and they’re use to not having to put in much effort because school work always came easy. This issue has caused my son to hit the wall quite a few times in middle school. Add to this the issues of poor planning, not willing to ask for help or distractions, particularly of the electronic type. As with all kids, when my son applies himself he does quite well. The problem is getting him to apply himself when his mind keeps wandering to the world of Minecraft, Pokemon or Skylanders. His desire to live in the electronic world, whether it’s simply surfing the great wide web or playing video games, far exceeds his desire to give more than the minimal when it comes to his school work. Not that he doesn’t like school. He loves learning. His mind is a sponge. He just doesn’t want to do the work that comes with it. He wants to learn the info, process it and move on. Especially anything that involves writing. Go figure. A kid who loves to read and whose Mother loves to write, hates writing, even though he has great potential. Sorry, I’m meandering. As you can see, this subject brings me great frustration and is well worth a post unto itself.

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_9031682_an-image-of-a-three-children-mesmerized-while-playing-video-games.html'>cteconsulting / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Zombified Video Game Players

Back to the troubling grade issue. My sons poor report card lead to a complete ban of all things electronic. Mom became the keeper of his laptop, iPod Touch, wii remotes, and DS’s. (He has 3 – regular, 2D and 3D. Why? Who knows, when he went into a long dissertation about why he needed the 2DS in addition to the other two, my eyes glazed over and I began to drool like Patrick from Sponge Bob. My only response was, “Whatever, it’s your money.”) Sorry, meandering again. During this ban, he was only allowed to use his laptop for school work and when I was present. There was much whining at times, particularly during his down time. He would infer there wasn’t anything to do. At that point, I would tell him I would get rid of all his Legos, art stuff, books, guitar, African drum, board games, etc… I’m sure you get my point. My goal was to hopefully have him reconnect with the things that motivated him before video games entered his world. Note, I tried hard to keep these “brain sucking” devices out of our home. My son was 7 when he got his first game system, a DS, which in gamer years is old. The wii didn’t enter our home till he was 12 and I was hesitant because I had already seen addictive behavior rearing it’s ugly head when he played the DS. All the other devices were purchased, in the past two years, with money he saved from birthdays and Christmas. That in itself is a worthy trait, it’s just too bad the money is usually spent on electronics. Read the rest of this entry »

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