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.