This week, we hear from my wife Rachel. This is the view from the wife of a Big Year birder. Always understanding, not always happy about it. Big shout out to Rachel's blog. If you like art, crafting and laughing, it's kind of the mecca for that stuff.
|Rachel's blog header.|
My sister Jenna predicted last January that "bird" would become a "four letter word" by the following January around these here parts. She wasn't entirely wrong.
For those of you who don't know me - I am Rachel, the non-birding half of the marriage to Paul Riss. The Missus Punk Rock Big Year as it were.
There are some ideas that in abstract seem fine. Great even. Snow shoeing across the Arctic, climbing a mountain, fighting a bear - unless you are the dummy left at home while the only other person responsible for helping get shit done in the house - is off doing these things .
When Paul approached me in 2010 with his Punk Rock Big Year idea, admittedly that was one of them. "That sounds awesome babe, do it"! Cut to four months in and I am alone on Mother's Day with two flu riddled children who are doing their very best to leave no surface (myself included) un-barfed on. Not so much. I mean Mother's Day, big deal right? Except it is a big deal. I cranked out two kids at once people, much to the ruination of a perfectly good set of boobs and a mostly intact psyche. And nope I don't expect a medal or a round of applause every time I enter a room (although that would be nice), but I sure as shit expect a day off. Same scenario on my birthday, minus the barf, but I am certain someone, somewhere in my house made a gross mess that I had to clean up, by myself, again. This was pretty much the scenario for much of 2011.
To be fair to Paul, I didn't really understand what a Big Year would mean. We had just moved to the country - to a completely gutted house (as in no walls gutted) so I was a bit distracted. I may have even
thought "great, it will get him out of my hair so I can get stuff done around here without having to discuss it first". I was focused on short-term gain, my bad. By the end of January last year most of the renovations were done and the walls were painted, lights installed. I imagine I had a moment of clarity. A "WAIT A MINUTE, WTF"!? moment after being left alone, in the country, in the winter, with two three year olds and no drivers license, for the fourth weekend in a row. By then it was a dollar short and a day late to object, Paul's Big Year had begun.
I would never, ever say no to something Paul was passionate about doing. I fully believe life is way too short to sit around wishing and waiting to do something great. This was a big deal to him and his whole heart was in it. I fully supported him in his efforts to make this documentary. I didn't however promise to be nice about it 100% of the time... or even 50% of the time.
Doing this year also meant that a camera was around more than I am comfortable with. I am not a fan of reality T.V, nor am I a fan of appearing like a shrieking harpy on film. Let's face it, it is way more interesting to watch the wife come unwound when her husband announces "they've spotted a blappity blah blah blah bird 10 hours or so north of here" on a Saturday - when she already has plans, than a smiling doe eyed agreeable "yes dear" wife. Bottom line - I don't feel like being the asshole of the film. I do however have a feeling that a few moments of "WHO THE HELL CARES!?! AND STOP THINKING ABOUT YOUR NEXT BLOG POST WHILE WE ARE HAVING A CONVERSATION! I CAN TOTALLY TELL WHEN YOU ARE DOING THAT FYI"! may have slipped on through.
It wasn't all yelling and hateful thoughts (really! ask him). Luckily for our marriage there were also moments of feeling very happy when Paul would find a "lifer" (is that the right term, or is that only a jail thing)? And many many moments of being incredibly proud of him. He made this work, he stuck to it, he found people to help him make it happen and he got to meet so many wonderful people (Margret Atwood - what??), and new friends along the way that it was hard not to be. Getting to see a rough cut of the trailer was rather heart swelling as well, it was the first time perhaps I actually got why he is doing this. It is odd to be fiercely proud and extraordinarily angry at someone all at the same time. No less confusing for Paul I am sure. I whole heartedly encouraged him to drive to Ohio to meet Kenn and Kim Kaufman, I knew what a big deal it was and I really did mean it when I said "of course go". I also meant it when I called him mid trip crying and threatening divorce if he left me alone with sick kids one more time this year. He called my bluff and left for Nicaragua one week later.
I was actually hesitant to write this post. My opinion on the whole event is much much different than most I am sure. I did however feel that it would offer some closure on what was really a rather hard year on myself and my family. Was it a good idea to do this in the middle of a move to a new house, new town and a complete life shift? Probably not. Would I agree to a part 2. for 2012? Hells no. Am I happy he did it? Very.
I am assured that post production and promotion this year will be of minimal upset to my life and schedule. I am also assured that the next planned documentary will not start until 2013. It has been promised that I can pick where we go on vacation this year, and that it won't be a vacation cleverly disguised as a birding trip (he has been known to trick me in the past). I am not sure I believe him 100%, perhaps I should get something in writing, or, tattooed on whatever patch of skin is left after this documentary wraps up.
Much love, much support, do it again and I will leave your ass. Xo.