Waking the Walker

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

Tag: Chandler Riggs

WTW Is Coming Full Circle


If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you know oh to well the show returns February 25th. And with it’s return, the undoubted departure of a well-loved character.

TWD Masthead

Spoiler Alert –

If you are not caught up with TWD, please do not read any further.

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Surviving the IN-BETWEEN Time


As of late I am feeling more and more as if I’m living in a state of limbo. A limbo caused by what I refer to as my Son’s “IN-BETWEEN” stage, the time between preparing for college and actually going to college. It’s kind of an amplified level of the tweens and in all honesty worse than the tweens.

52013676 - a solitary figure in the twilight forest

My Son wants to be independent, but at the same time, in some instances, continues to hang on to Mommies’ apron strings. He keeps me at arms length. Doesn’t want Mom involved, but needs to know she’s close by, just in case.

He’s OK with me being his alarm clock in the morning, but can’t handle when I get on him to speed things up so he doesn’t miss the bus.

He’s OK with me reminding him he needs gym clothes on gym days, but can’t stand when I remind him about college prep stuff that is due.

He’s willing to share the loft space with me, which is my office, to do his homework, but doesn’t want to hear my suggestions on how to work more efficiently.

Plus, he can get ornery when I’m at my computer for an extended period of time while he’s doing his homework. He thinks I’m spying on him, not actually working. Trust me I’m not, but it doesn’t help that he acts very suspicious more often than not.

Note, it was his decision to move his laptop from his room to the loft in an effort to combat his Internet wandering while doing homework. He felt if he were out in the open he’d be less tempted to roam.  SO, he wants me to be able to see what he’s doing, but he doesn’t want me to say anything when I catch him wandering.

Can I bang my head against a wall now?

22527628_m 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.”

Episode-1-Rick-Door-760

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 »

Can You Feel the TWD Love Today?


As the energy built for the release of “The Walking Dead” Season 7 Trailer on July 22, 2016 at the San Diego Comic Con, the TWD Fandom Community was and still is all a twitter. The countdown for the Season 7 Premiere on October 23rd has officially begun.

Trailer Tease

There are many other Fandoms out there, but I don’t think any can equal the camaraderie and love between the TWD Fans. Except maybe the Supernatural gang, but their fan base is predominately of the female gender so there is really no comparison.

Unless you’re a Walking Dead Fan, you’ll never understand the bond we all have. I have never experienced such a tight community even though we are all over the world.

My son and I recently attended our third Walker Stalker Con in Edison, NJ and it was a breath of fresh air after the rudeness we experienced in Disney World while chaperoning my Son’s school marching band last April.

Yes, fans of a zombie apocalypse show are hands down nicer and friendlier than any guest I encountered in the Magic Kingdom.

At the Con there were thousands of people, all ages and from all walks of life, who descended upon the convention center to see the stars from their favorite show, “The Walking Dead.” You have couples, families and best friends, all coming together for a weekend of everything “The Walking Dead.”

It was a TWD Love Fest indeed!

Some are cosplaying, dressed as their favorite characters, while others show their love by the t-shirt they chose to wear, or even with a tattoo or two. We gather to not just meet the stars, but to say thank you for all they do to make our viewing experience an amazing one.

We stand in line, sometimes for hours, but at no time do we complain. While we wait to see our favorite actor/actress, we discuss the show and compare our thoughts and feelings about some of the most gut wrenching episodes. We also get to know each other and often make new friends.

We are most definitely making memories that will last a lifetime.

And the stars reciprocate this love. Welcoming each fan with a handshake, a hug or both, as we come to their booth to get autographs, selfies or both. And, even a brief Meet and Greet for those whose budget is tight or have come baring gifts, which was me the past two conventions. Handing out t-shirts to promote this blog and much to my surprise, at this one, Iron E. Singleton was wearing the t-shirt I gave him at the last Con.

On a side note, please be aware that although Meet and Greets are allowed, if they get excessive, the powers that be will limit them to late in the day or cut them off all together. So please don’t abuse this fantastic opportunity. Remember these stars are giving up their weekends to come to the con. Some coming right from the set, taking red eye flights, and heading back late Sunday for an early set call on Monday. Yes, they are doing what they love, but they still deserve time off.

What an amazing feeling it is to chat with the stars about the show, your family, their family, past projects, future projects, whatever it is that you might want to discuss. For anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes, some even longer depending on the situation, it’s just you and your favorite actor/actress. This is most definitely the highlight of the convention. You cannot put a price on this.

For me though, in addition to that, I can’t put a price on this time spent just my son and me. It wasn’t until we got home Sunday night after the con that I realized how much these conventions truly mean to me. We were barely in the door and my son was on his computer, chatting with friends and playing games. I know, he’s a typical teenager, but after such an amazing weekend it would have been nice to have the camaraderie between him and I linger on, even if just for the rest of the day.

As my son gets older and slowly pulls away from me in search of his independence, these conventions become two days to have my son all to myself. These times are beyond special. Our day-to-day schedule can be so full, with the only time we have together being dinner, and even that can be filled with conversation about what needs to be tended to, so time away from home, doing what we both love, brings pure joy to my heart in more ways than I can count.

As I’ve said many times before, who knew a zombie apocalypse would help me make it through my son’s teens and allow me to get closer to him.

Walker Kills

When my Son dragged me into the apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead” back in 2013, I never thought the bond it created would be one that would be so valuable. At the time it was just something fun for the two us to do together. We would watch the show and discuss the episode. Since he reads the comics he always had/has insights that I would not pick up on. It created an open forum for discussions that sometimes would lead to subjects beyond the show. An open portal for territory we might not otherwise have discussed.

And here we are 3 years later completely immersed into the TWD Community, loving every minute of it and still going strong, if not stronger.

We are planning on heading to Georgia next Summer to do a repeat TWD Summer Road Trip, just as we did in 2014, but this time taking more time to explore. Hopefully my Son will have his license by then and can help with the driving.

Of course we will do all 3 Big Zombie Tours and include a visit to Nic and Norman’s, the restaurant opened in Senoia, AKA Woodbury, that is owned by Greg Nicotero, Norman Reedus and four additional producers. A TWD trip would not be complete without dining at this fine establishment. Who knows, we may just run into someone involved with the show?

TWD Road Trip Collage

I’m getting all a flutter just thinking about going back to Georgia. Planning this trip will bring light into the grey Winter days of January and February.

We have also decided once my Son turns 18 we will volunteer at one of the Walker Stalker Cons so we can experience things from the other side. This will take us up the end of my Son’s High School Years and usher in the next leg of his journey, College.

A journey that will most likely challenge both of us for different reasons. Let’s just hope the challenges are not of apocalyptic proportions.

I believe though, the toughest phase of the “Waking the Walker” Journey is still ahead of us. Dealing with all that’s involved in ones Junior and Senior Years of High School, plus all that goes into the process of selecting a career and college suited to get you prepared for that career, will most definitely test our stress and anxiety levels. Which in turn could pit us against each other, although I’m hoping the closeness we’ve achieved while bonding over TWD will help us sail through these years unscathed and create an even stronger bond.

Memories

The next two years will prove to be the real testing ground for my “TWD Apocalyptic Parenting Tactic.” Will it pass or fail is yet to be determined, but I can say so far it’s looking pretty good.

Why? Because I can most certainly feel the TWD LOVE, not just tonight, but every day!

 

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

Photos from my Personal Collection

http://walkerstalkercon.com/

http://atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour/

http://atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour-2/

http://atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour-3/

https://www.facebook.com/nicandnormansofficialpage/

http://www.scifiphotoguys.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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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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

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The “CHARACTERS” We Play


Cardigan Carol and Carl. Watch out walkers we're packing heat.

Cardigan Carol and Carl. Watch out walkers we’re packing heat.

During a recent conversation with one of my Sisters, we got on the subject of my son and my cosplaying escapade at the Walker Stalker Convention in Philly the end of September. My son went as Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) from “The Walking Dead” and I went as Cardigan Carol (Melissa McBride); cookie baking, cardigan wearing Carol from the back half of Season 5. Since my Sister does not watch “The Walking Dead,” I gave her a little background on the characters, particularly Carol.

Carol - Season 1

Carol – Season 1

Carol - Season 5

Carol – Season 5

Cardigan Carol, with Carl

Cardigan Carol, with Carl

Explaining Carol’s transition from abused wife in Season 1 to a butt kicking, take no names, badass woman who rescued Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company single handedly from the cannibals at Terminus. Noting once within the walls of the Alexandria Safe Zone she reverted back to the submissive, cookie and casserole baking housewife persona she once was, not because she believed it was safe to shed her badass mamma side, but for protection from the unknown. Not knowing who the people within the safe zone were and what they may or may not be capable of, she felt it best to hold back who she was at her core. Believing the old version of herself was the one the Alexandrians wanted to see. Plus, it would enable her to move around unnoticed, blending in, allowing her to be the watcher. Appearing to be just like them, not toughened by the walker world on the other side of the walls, Carol was able to fall right into place with the locals. Fortunately though, as we’ve already seen in Season 6, she has not lost any of her badass skills.

I was surprised when my Sister told me she sees me more as the badass Carol than the Cardigan Carol. Yes, I have on more than one occasion been the Momma Bear protecting my son, and even walked out of a dead-end marriage to save my sanity, but, comparing this to a character like the evolved Carol I would not. This made me ponder the “characters” we all play in our daily lives and how we see ourselves vs. how others see us. In addition, how much fictional characters may actually influence our behavior. Read the rest of this entry »

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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RESPECT


Even with a new year, some things never change. For me, it’s my struggle to wake my walker in the morning. As a matter of fact, the older he gets, the worse it gets. He is definitely cocooning in his new loft bed. In lieu of dynamite, I knew I had to find another tactic. Turns out that tactic came in the form of Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) from “The Walking Dead.” With the clock ticking away and my frustration building because my son wasn’t getting out of bed, I found myself standing at the bottom of the steps yelling “MOVE!!!!” as loud as I possibly could. After a week or so of this, I realized I sounded like Sgt. Abraham Ford from “The Walking Dead” Season Five opening episode. Once I made this connection it was all I needed to take it to the next level.

Sargent Abraham Ford

Sargent Abraham Ford

On the extremely tough mornings, I stand at my son’s bedroom door and in my best Sgt. Abraham Ford style voice and infliction I state “This is Sgt. Abraham Ford reporting for my new mission. It’s time to get up soldier. Don’t make me yell. Do I have to remind you what your job is?” By this point my son starts to groan and pleads with me to stop. The Sgt. informs him he will only stop when he gets up. He has a mission to complete and will be relentless until it is accomplished. My son gives in and gets up, slowly, but he still gets up. The Sgt. is fulfilled, his mission is completed, at least for that day.

I’ve found now that sometimes just the threat of sending in the Sgt. is enough to get my son moving. This made me wonder why a military style approach would have more impact than all the others? The only thing I could link this to was respect. In general, most military officers command respect just by their presence, so even though the Sargent in this situation is fictitious and Mom’s impersonating him, by ignoring his orders my son was being disrespectful. Granted, this could be a far fetched concept, my son could just find this so annoying it motivates him to move, but it made my mind meander to the topic of respect. Read the rest of this entry »

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