First off, I’d like to start this post with a giant Happy Birthday to ME today, for making it to the ripe old age of 40, in spite of all the trouble my cystic fibrosis lungs have been giving me lately. It was a fantastic birthday weekend. My sister and mother drove in to visit, as did one of my dearest friends. Friday night was spent with my favorite karaoke family at Beef O’Bradys in Fort Mill, singing and laughing. This is me we’re talking about…of course the night ended in tears. But they were good tears. Thank you, TRY. Saturday night was spent at Empire I in Rock Hill, where I host trivia with Carnival of Knowledge. Once again, there was karaoke. Or as DJ Paco called it, “Kerrioke”. So much mayhem in just two days. I am extremely humbled by all of the love and grateful to have shared this special occasion with you all. Thanks for being mine.
My husband unfortunately had to work that evening. He got home around 2:00am and woke me up. We crept out of the house, leaving our family and guests behind, and embarked on a spontaneous adventure. We drove to Atlanta, Georgia, arriving around 6:15am, for the first ever Walker Stalkers Convention. We parked in a nearby garage and napped for almost an hour. Then we changed clothes and freshened up in the car, walked to a local CVS for bottle juice, water, and mini-cereal boxes for breakfast. And then we headed into the Americasmart Convention Center to pick up our Press Passes. Yes, G and I took on the roles of members of the Media on behalf of ConventionScene.com! We were tasked with doing interviews, taking photos, and writing a review of the convention for their website.
On our way into the convention, we bumped into Sean Clark in one of the breezeways. He was very cool, talked for a minute, posed for a picture, took out his cell phone and followed me on Twitter. Tired as we were, at that moment we knew we were in for an exciting day. Naturally, the first two hours were spent with me fangirling hardcore. After talking with one of the event volunteers, we found ourselves first in line to meet Norman Reedus. This was a stroke of luck as all of his photo-ops had been sold out and his schedule for the day had just been changed and he would be leaving by lunchtime.
When I approached Reedus, I was already beginning to have an asthma attack. I know my hands were shaking. And, as G said, my intelligence quotient bottoms out when I am near celebrities. My voice jumps up two octaves and I ramble incoherently and almost as fast as the Matchbox Car guy from those 80s commercials. As soon as Reedus looked up at me, he began to smile. He reached out and took my hand, guiding me the last few steps to the front of his autograph table. He then held my arm for a moment and even giggled and called me “Sweetie” as I began to experience verbal vomit. He took my Walkers t-shirt and started to sign it. As he signed it, I realized I had mere seconds left with him. So, I began to give him as much information about me as possible. He looked up at me, surprised, when I mentioned the CF, chest tube, potential surgery this week and my birthday. He smiled so big and wished me a “Happy Birthday” and said, “Aww hon, come here” and pulled me in and held me for what felt like forever. See…I’m rambling again. I can’t even.
After we left Norman’s table, G had to find someplace for me to sit and collect myself. I was physically shaking. G of course, delighted in all of this and began mocking me, singing, “…and she jizzed in her pants.” He then told me that my arm still smelled like Norman. I started going on about his shoulders and his hands and his muscles and his smile and….that’s when G walked away.
From there we headed over to meet Melissa McBride, one of my personal heroes. As soon as I walked up and started to tell her my name, she knew who I was. “I can’t believe you came!” she said, reaching out for the first of numerous hugs. She was the absolute sweetest person ever. We talked for a few minutes. She asked if I “felt like shit?” and I laughed and told her yes. Again she said, “I’m so glad you made it.” She personalized my Walker shirt and wished me a Happy Birthday. By the time we finished hugging again, she asked her staff for a kleenex, “I’m just going to try to keep this from rolling down my face.” I love her. I love her so much.
After that, I was a mess. I asked G to find something for me to eat and a place to sit down for a while. We navigated the Americasmart and found a food court in the mall across the street. On our way there, we were passed in a hallway by a small group of people. At the center of the group was Steven Yeun. G didn’t see him and kept walking. I hesitated and called out, “Steven?” He stopped, “Yeah?” Cue the incoherent babbling. One of his handlers noticed G’s Media badge as he prepped his camera. “Who are you with?” she asked. “I’m with her,” he replied, pointing at me. I lost the ability to form a normal sentence as I tried to ask Steven for either a photo or an autograph or both. As I searched my bag frantically for a sharpie, Steven took my iphone from my other hand, opened up the photo app, put his arm around me and said, “Come here. Smile.” And he took a self portrait of us and handed me back my phone. I was dumbfounded. He then draped my Walker shirt on his thigh and signed it. He handed it back to me with the sharpie, smiled, and kept on walking like a man on a mission. I wanted to call after him and tell him thanks. But the best I could come up with was “Don’t Die!” Seriously. Don’t Die. That was officially my “I carried a watermelon” moment.
The remainder of the day was spent hopping into and out of lines, taking photographs and conducting interviews for ConventionScene. We spent a good long while hanging out with Giancarlo Esposito, after I mentioned to him that my daughter and I were extras in his film Gospel Hill. He was so genuine and such a wonderful story teller. And, he’s one of those people who will put his hands on you as he speaks. Loved him. He took one of my cards and wrote G’s name on the back, telling him, “Next time I’m in Fort Mill I will be in touch.” So awesome.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Judith O’Dea, “Barbara” from the original Night of the Living Dead. She was incredible. We spent a few minutes with Zach Galligan of Gremlins and Hatchet III fame. He doesn’t age, I swear. So handsome! Travis Love remembered me from XCON and Twitter. Daniel T. May was a total doll. Sarah Wayne Callies shared with me that she had done a movie where she played the mother of a boy with cystic fibrosis. We talked for a good little bit. She was beautiful. I got to say hello to Moe Moseley and thank him for his recent WBP interview. And I finally got to meet Tracey Gurney of TAG Graphics. She’s pretty bad ass. Go buy her stuff!
Greg Nicotero asked me how he should personalize my Walker shirt. I said make it out to SuperKerri. He sat back and looked at me. “SuperKerri? I should just take it at face value that you are super and there’s no one like you?” My reply, “Well, how’s this? I was born with cystic fibrosis, told I wouldn’t see 12, turn 40 tomorrow, have a chest tube in right now, have had numerous surgeries since September and am going back in on Tuesday for more, and we drove 4 hours to come here anyway.” He stared at me and then smiled so big. “You ARE super.” After he signed my shirt, he got up and posed for 2 pics and then hugged me and sincerely wished me well. He even took one of my WBP cards.
I know I’m probably leaving a lot out. But my mind is in 100 places right now, trying to get the article done, writing this post, getting ready for dinner, and packing for tomorrow. I just wanted to share what I could for the time being.
Here is the link for the article on ConventionScene.com
If the link doesn’t work, let me know and I will just copy/paste the article into a blog post here. Thanks so much to ConventionScene for the opportunity and to Walker Stalker Con for putting on a fantastic show. And especially to G for being the greatest husband ever. Happy Birthday, indeed.