Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adios 2008

It's 10:30 p.m., Dec. 31, 2008. Randi is asleep on our couch, Stella is asleep in her crib. I am awake at my keyboard, but would just as happily be asleep too. Not that New Year's Eve wasn't eventful. It was, just in all the wrong ways.

Today was the day the removal of the lead paint finally took place in our apartment. To make a long story short we had noticed chips when we first moved in to our new place. I had them sent to a lab, and they had lead content. We argued back and forth with our building and building manager about how they were going to do the job, and finally they assured me the people doing the work were all EPA certified.

So I was happy, at least for a little while. Today they showed up. The main contractor, Nick, explained that it is a very small job, so they won't be using the chemical paint solvent to remove the area in question. The main area we were concerned about was a small area of peeling and chipping paint on our bedroom door. I said okay. So the workers scraped it off, and sealed it.

Now, Randi had laid out a checklist of things I was supposed to do. I was supposed to take photos of them doing the work, so we can document whether it was being done right or not. I forgot to. I was not supposed to let them dry scrape, because it makes lead dust. I didn't do that either. She called me out on it, and rightfully so. All that arguing with the building was for nothing. Because dry scraping is the one thing you should never do. Yes, the job looks all nice and tidy, but I can't help worrying about lead dust in the air from the work.

The work was done, and we mopped. The workers mopped. And when Randi got home she mopped the entire apartment again. I wiped down the wall of our bedroom, and the area around where the work was done. We turned on our air filter in that area to cleanse the air of particles. We had removed all of Stella's toys and changed all her bed sheets and removed her play mat to the car before the work was done. So I know we did a lot, but we didn't do everything, and it was all my fault. I know the floors are clean, I know her toys are clean, I know her bed and our bed, where she nurses, are clean. I know this, but still I worry tonight, about the air, about what she breathes in. I go out of 2008 feeling like I let Stella, Randi and myself down. Because I did.

It's hard, being a dad. I know it's hard being a mom, maybe harder. But this is a stressful life, always concerned about things that can happen. Knowing that I could have and should have done more. It's been the most intense year of my life. No other year even comes close.

In 2000 I ran out of money and couldn't go outside for several months. That was intense, but this is worse.

In 1995 I was in between jobs and my only source of income for several months came from the insurance money from when I wrecked my car. This is much, much worse.

Sometimes the pressure puts me and Randi at odds, putting it mildly. We got into a terrible argument today about the paint issue, or rather we would have argued about it except I agreed with her. I blew it, and now we can't relax.

I wish this could be more upbeat, but it hasn't been a real upbeat several days around here. Stella's lead level currently is quite low, and we hope and pray it stays that way. Those are my wishes for the coming year. That and world peace.


Martin said...

You try so hard and do such a good job for your sweet baby and wife. Deeply sincerely, happy new year.

And good luck with those motherfuckers and the lead paint. Kisses to Stella.

Randi Skaggs said...

You're a wonderful father and husband, darling Dave. It's been super stressful lately and it's a wonder we've remembered to get dressed each and every day.

May 2009 be just as intense as 2008, but only in good ways!

Holly said...

Thank you so much for giving us a window into your life this past year, Dave. It's been a real gift to read about your experiences and insights and lessons learned along the way.

I wish you and the Brooklyn Baby Family the most wonderful of new years!

Kellygirlnyc said...

Happy New Year! You rock. You are doing the best that you can, and educating the rest of us along the way. I know it's no consolation, but just to share a quickie, my best friend who lives back in MN lived in an apartment in Superior, Wisconsin when she was pregnant and once she gave birth to her oldest daughter. During routine testing (I think at probably 12 months) her daughter was found to have a lead level of 29 (!!!) because of the paint in the apartment. Her decision was to move, not only because this discovery created a war between she and her landlord (who said that she was not responsible for fixing the problem because the lease was signed with a lead paint waiver because at the time she moved in my friend had no children), but most importantly because her child's health was her biggest concern. Her daughter was closely monitored, and even without "treatment" (ketosis? I think...) her lead level lowered to normal levels. She's now 7 with no developmental or emotional problems or delays. She was exposed for a long time and had obviously increased levels to no detrimental effect.

I guess I wanted to tell you to show a little perspective, but to also tell you to go easy on yourself. You're the best and you're doing the best that you can. Again, you rock. :)

David Serchuk said...

Hi Guys,
Wow, what a great bunch of responses. I am humbled and thankful.

I wish you a happy New Year's too, and to all the members of your family. I hope that next time there is a Centre event we get to meet up!

Wow, a comment from the BBM herself! You are a delight, and the love of my life. I love you and together we are working our tails off to build a good life for the BBB. You are an inspiration.

I wish you and Mike also a happy, happy 2009. We don't see you guys enough, and when we do it is always a great pleasure. I very much look forward to showing you all the BBB in person, and soon.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for that story. Believe it or not it makes me feel about 1000 times better. I know that there are things that can be done even when there is lead in the system, but to hear that it cleared up so much just from changing scenes is a great relief. You are a good friend, and your story makes me feel so good on this New Year's Day. Thank you and I can't wait to see you and Letham in 2009.

And for all, may your hangovers today be a small price to pay for the fun that you had last night. And if you're not hung over better still!


Anonymous said...

I just moved to Massachusetts - I found out that it's the LAW that children under the age of 7 must live in a certified lead-free home or apartment and that it's the landlord's responsibility to get the certification. Move here!

David Serchuk said...

Hi Anon,
Thanks for the tip. I like Mass., but it's even colder up there and I would have to quit my job. And, hopefully, we also got the problem sorted. Finger's crossed!