Thursday, December 15, 2011

On Frustration

Over two weeks into the new month - and only a couple away from an entirely new year - and I have only two posts to boast (one of which is this one). It's a pretty downright sad way of going, and I know it. But depression and current events are pretty rough on us, and have kept my mind in a billion and two other places.

I have posts, mind you - half finished drafts hanging out in my folders, mocking me from afar. They have that little italicized word - draft - pasted on there so proudly, as if they're all pointing their curvy little fingers at me and giggling wildly about the woman who couldn't finish anything she started. About the woman who was a failure to herself, her kids, and her family. The woman who yelled at her kids behind the scenes while outwardly trying to impress upon others the idea of peaceful, gentle parenting. The woman who couldn't keep a house clean for five people, who couldn't balance a budget or find a job fast enough that could provide for all of them. The woman who, secretly, deep down, didn't want to go back to work again because despite her frustrations and depression and short temper, absolutely loved spending time with her kids and watching them grow.

I'm probably being over dramatic when I say that I feel as if everything's falling apart around me more often than not, but that's the feeling I typically have. It's a sensation that sometimes makes me feel like I can't do anything right, something that keeps me up some nights and drives me to the point of exhaustion where I fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow on other nights. It's an endless cycle of confusion that involves insomnia and oversleeping, and massive headaches that make me want to claw off my own face. Some of it is stress, some of it is attitude, and the rest of it is general bad energy that surrounds this house 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's incredibly overwhelming and anymore it leaves me living life in the moment, but not in a good way. I keep muddling my way through each day, knowing that if I can just make it through today that tomorrow might by some miracle be a little bit better. It rarely is, but luckily the days pass fast enough that I end up feeling completely unable to accomplish anything, so that feeling of dread and the sensation that I never finish anything gets to come with me to the next day and hover over my shoulder all over again.

Naturally, of course, food has been my personal savior during this trying time. The arrival of winter - at least via the first snowfall and the plummeting temperatures - probably really set me back, because the sensation of desperately needing to hibernate has left me with highly fatty cravings and the need to eat as many carbs as I can stomach. I've done fairly well most days of resisting the temptation, but I'm not perfect and I've slipped up about as many times as I've behaved. I'd like to think that semblance of neutrality has somehow afforded me at least the ability to not GAIN weight, even if I'm not losing it now, but I know how my metabolism works and unfortunately for me, any small setback usually comes back to taunt me later on. I've been trying to make better dietary decisions, but this is probably the worst time of year (followed shortly by Halloween and Valentine's Day) for trying to avoid overdosing on sweets, dyes, and unnecessary goodies.

Ah, well. We all survive it somehow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On Regrets

Have you ever been on YouTube, watching shows or clips or whatever, and you end up somewhere that confuses you? I do rather often; I'll start off on a favorite music video or something and end up watching someone lance an abscess on a cow. A rather far-fetched example, but it has happened, and in a way to me it reminds me of the seven steps to Kevin Bacon - one way or another if you're online you'll end up someplace weird if you hang out long enough.

The other day I ended up watching videos of happy couples announcing their pregnancies to family members, who more often than not ended the piece jumping for joy, screaming, and generally being super-excited. After a few, I was in tears. It was hard to watch those things, because while I felt an intense sense of appreciation for the situation, I was honestly really, really jealous. Watching their families be so, so happy for them made me long for the same reaction, and unfortunately, it's something that will never happen.

When we found out we were pregnant, regardless of the time in question, we weren't in a good place. With G we were living with six other people in a three bedroom, two bathroom house that was a bedroom short and had a dysfunctional couple sleeping on the living room floor. I was unemployed and Hubby was barely making minimum wage, working part-time at a grocery store. We had no health insurance, no savings, no place of our own and absolutely nothing to show for ourselves - in fact, we were both still in college. With A, we were in a small, leaking one bedroom apartment that we soon found out was to be torn down. We weren't much better off financially; we were both working part-time and I had to leave my job sooner than anticipated because of problems with the nerves in my right leg. Naturally, neither of our jobs offered any benefits and we were on every form of assistance we could qualify for. They weren't good situations in the least.

My mother was probably the least supportive. G was her first grandchild and A her second (fitting, as I'm her only child), but there was no celebration to be had for us. She portrayed herself as a betrayed woman whose child had let her down, and it's a feeling she's put me through more than once - something I won't forget. For Hubby's parents, G was their fourth biological grandchild, and while they were happy, they understandably weren't overjoyed (never mind the fact that we're some 1600 miles away). The fact of the matter remains that no matter what situation we're in, no matter where we live or how we're doing, no matter what we say or do, the kinds of reactions in those videos aren't something we'll ever experience.

I should be happy, by all means, that at least I have a mother to share these things with even if she isn't necessarily happy, and in laws who are supportive and helpful. I should be thankful for a lot of things but sometimes it's hard to remember that, and instead I end up observing the good fortunes of other people in areas where I can't possibly affect my life, and wonder where I went wrong.

It's nothing against anybody, when it comes right down to it; I can't possibly expect people to react to something like that in ways they aren't apt to. I can't force anybody to be more emotional about a situation or a comment or whatnot than they're going to be naturally. It is what it is.

But sometimes that's hard to remember.

Meanwhile, A has started diving into his sleep problems again. Today he woke up at 1:30 AM; I coerced him into staying in bed until about 2 AM but he was being so noisy and violent toward me (lots of scratching and yelling) that I wasn't really willing to stay in bed with him. I didn't want him to wake up G and Hubby. So out we came to the living room, and he has since dumped out two boxes of blocks, nearly woken up Hubby and G again, demanded chocolate milk, and generally tried to suck up to me. It's now nearly 4 AM. He went to bed around 9 PM, when I also passed out, so he's functioning on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep and still managing to be rather chipper. Unlike him, I'm actually in a pretty grouchy mood right now.

I can't explain his sleep disturbances. They aren't night terrors or even nightmares, as there's no waking up screaming - he just wakes up out of a dead sleep and is incredibly violent toward me until I give in. He tends to claw my face and arms, and today he actually drew blood for the first time. Usually the only other time I see this kind of reaction is right before naptime, when we're laying in bed and I'm trying to get him to actually calm down and get ready for sleep, at which point the scratching starts again. I began changing my reaction, and have been trying NOT to react to his scratching, with the positive effect being that he scratches me less and doesn't fight as long every time. He doesn't scratch Hubby at all. I don't understand why, although I can't complain; obviously I'd rather he not scratch anybody, but if he's going to scratch someone I think it's better that it's me. All the same, it's still 4 AM, I've still been up for 2 1/2 hours, and that is honestly long enough in my book.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On Regretsy and PayPal

UPDATE: PayPal made nice with Regretsy and not only refunded all of the donation money, but also made a $100 donation themselves to each and every family Regretsy was helping. Unfortunately it took a LOT of media attention, a lot of lost users, and some pretty serious ragging on PayPal to get them to acquiesce.

I don't often post about social justice and such; I've done so a couple of times in the past but unless it involves natural parenting or attachment parenting, I try to avoid making mention of mainstream things and news. It doesn't seem worth it to me; you can turn on a TV or head to one of the many news sites and find out everything you need to know. But today I am changing that for something that, to me, is a VERY big deal.

Maybe you haven't heard, but PayPal just fucked Regretsy pretty hard.

No, really, go read that and come back here, then think on it for a bit.

To summarize: April Winchell, the Queen of Awesome over at Regretsy, and her team have set up a donation system every year during the winter holidays to help out the less fortunate. This year, their goal was to help out low income children, and so they accepted donations via the "Donate" button on PayPal. They ended up getting enough money to not only buy a gift for EVERY SINGLE ONE of over 200 children, but to also send a monetary donation along with said gift for every family to use however they pleased. They used a pretty intensive vetting process, took applications, and generally ensured that the people they were helping genuinely needed their help.

Then PayPal stepped in and said this was against their ToS, and shut down the donations (and froze the account, which also contained unrelated funds).

(In case you aren't aware, there are a LOT of "shady" things you can donate to via PayPal; just last year you could donate to a woman who had a shopping addiction and of course those donations helped her buy more useless shit, and there's also a site where you can donate to a woman to help her get a breast augmentation. Among others.)

They claimed that Regretsy wasn't a legitimate non-profit charity (because the lady who needs bigger boobs obviously is), and therefore had no right to use the donate button. So Ms. Winchell decided that since she had already actually purchased all the toys she was going to give away anyway, that she would offer them up for "sale" on the site, consider the money a donation, and then ship the toys to the intended families anyway. An ingenious idea, if I do say so myself; kids would still get gifts, families would still get the money they'd been promised, and Regretsy would have completed another year of making life a little brighter for those in need.

Guess what?


They basically ripped Winchell a new one, and while on the phone with a representative, "When I asked how to close my account, he said I had to 'refund everything, write a letter saying you understood what you did WAS WRONG AND YOU WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN, and then request permission to close your account.'" (Via Regretsy, emphasis their's)


The problem is that this isn't the first time PayPal has screwed over businesses that were accepting donations for legitimate reasons. There's a list here of just a few of the times they knowingly took over something that they had no business taking over. It's eye-opening, to say the least.

So what can YOU do to help Regretsy out?

First, if you're able, close your PayPal account. There are a number of (admittedly less well known and thus less often accepted) options to pay online, with a huge list (complete with reviews) available for different countries from Screw PayPal, and a list from WebDistortions that has 17 different suggestions.

Second, go flood PayPal's Facebook page with information on what you're doing, and let them know that you're aware of what they've been up to and you don't approve (but make sure you click the option to see everyone's posts, and not just PayPal's; also keep in mind that you don't need to "like" them to post on their wall).

Third, go sign this petition, created by one Kevin Malone of Chicago, IL to tell PayPal to get their heads out of their asses and stop freezing the accounts of any large group that asks for donations without having a non-profit status.

Fourth, contact PayPal's president (Scott Thompson). Keep it short and to the point, and most of all, keep it polite. (EDIT: I have been informed that the emails I provided earlier for several other individuals at PayPal came back as undelivered. With that in mind, here are a couple of phone numbers to use! In the US, call 1-888-221-1161. Outside the US, call 1-402-935-2050 but be aware that fees may apply. I will post accurate emails as soon as I have them.)

If you're still with me, fifth, contact MSN/The Today Show, CNN, and as many local news networks as you can to let them know what PayPal is doing and what they've been up to while we've been casually looking away. Then, contact your local state representatives and Congresspeople to ask them to start pushing for regulations for companies like PayPal, and to force them to keep their hands off of other people's money as long as it's being used for legal purposes. Their ToS doesn't state that only IRS registered 501(c)(3) charities can use the Donate button, so how Regretsy (or any other organization or individual) chooses to use it is irrelevant.

The only way to stop PayPal from continuing to be as destructive as it is is to call them out and show them that we're paying attention. If you get a response from PayPal, PLEASE share it here!