OK, so my dreams of love don't usually involve a Corona, but still...
The other night, I had a bizarre dream. I should elucidate: I had a series of dreams stringing together bizarre circumstances with seemingly real interactions and people that I know. My dreams are usually similar, featuring my coworkers, friends and family at places they’ve never been, doing things they’d never do that seem average and ordinary at the time. In “The Interpretation of Dreams“, Freud said that dreams were “wish fulfillment”, and represent our mind’s attempt to make sense of feelings we repress in waking hours. Freud made most of it about sex though, as in, a dream about the fear of snakes isn’t really about fearing snakes but fear of penises and men. Maybe, but if you had a bad experience with a snake, and then saw one on TV, you’d likely dream about it later because you still had “snakes on the brain”. Still, the other night my sleeping brain put together a series of thoughts from my waking life and made them into a dream from which I can draw one conclusion: I am definitely ready to be in a relationship.
Let me break it down for you. In this dream, I was going to a family wedding, one of those multi-car caravan deals where you drive all night, pack into hotel rooms, attend the wedding the next day and then drive home when its over. My family is good for the communal traveling thing, and I remembered that fact recently when I booked a cruise on the same line we used for my family reunion in 2009. Perhaps my 3-to-a-stateroom flashbacks at the travel agent caused me to dream about a family vacation. Whatever. Anyway, in the dream I shared a room with one of the bridesmaids for the wedding, who had to wake up early the next morning for pictures, so I went to the hotel bar while she slept. And in the bar I met a man.
My Dream Man was actually someone I know, a red-haired college classmate named Nathan. I don’t remember the real Nathan’s last name, but it’s something Irish like Reilly or Shannon, and I recognized him in my dream. Now that I think about it, I’m not really sure his name is Nathan at all, as I don’t keep in touch with him and probably saw him and his wife at our 10th class reunion in 2005. The only reason I’m thinking so much about the guy now is because he popped up unexpectedly in my dreams, even though I haven’t given him a passing thought in years. Maybe seeing red-haired, befreckled Blake Griffin win the NBA Slam Dunk contest shook loose the memory of another ginger. Mind you, “Nathan Reilly” bears very little resemblance to a half-Haitian basketball player, but the brain mixes things up and sorts things out when we sleep. I don’t take this dream to mean that I’ve got a crush on Blake Griffin, or on the real Nathan Reilly, because that would be too literal. I’d just watched Griffin on TV, read about him on Twitter, and he got mixed up in my mental detritus and turned into someone I actually know. Guess I prefer Jung to Freud.
Anyway, back to the dream. Nathan Reilly and I recognized each other at the hotel bar, and we chatted a little but we could never finish our conversation because I kept getting distracted by my family, or by ordering a drink, or by the music playing in the background. Growing tired of my lagging attentions, Nathan Reilly asked me to step onto the bar’s terrace for a chat. During my conversation with Nathan, I had the sense that someone was really paying attention to me, not sexual attention, but a kind of scrutiny that was oddly intimate. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced someone’s undivided attention, but I have in both real life and dream life, and it can be very disconcerting. If you’re not ready for it, if you’re afraid of having someone look at you and really see you, you’ll have an anxiety attack. But if you sit on your edges and accept that really getting to know someone means really letting them in, its an incredible feeling. So I opened myself up to Nathan’s intense gaze and let myself look back at him with complete honesty. Then I let him touch my chin, my least favorite body part because it shows the effects of my age, my fluctuating weight, and errant hair removal. But instead of bracing for him to insult of my incipient turkey waddle, I accepted his touch. And in my dream I experienced the exhilaration, the warmth and joy of falling in love.
Dream Deltra called a bunch of people from college – roommates, best girlfriends in New York – to tell them about falling in love with Dream Nathan: “remember that guy?” “yeah, I can’t believe it”. I was giddy and silly, and in the dream I was up all night talking to and kissing Nathan and telling all of my friends about it and got no sleep before the dream wedding. Real Deltra awoke to an onslaught of sensations that I haven’t experienced in years. My dreaming brain had made emotional connections that I’ve been denying from myself, and denying that I wanted, for a long time. I didn’t wake up feeling confused, trying to figure out what my convoluted dreams really mean. Instead I woke up feeling hopeful that my forty winks fantasies revealed in me an openness to love I thought had been ruined by self-doubt, rejection and relationship baggage.
You’ve got to realize what a big deal this is. My dreams are always “real”, as in, I see and experience things as they’re happening instead of watching a movie of myself doing things. In the past I’ve had dreams of boyfriends and husbands, but I never actually see who they are: faces are out of focus and they never have names, even though I know they exist in the dream world. Maybe I knew their names and actually saw them in my dream, but I never consciously retained the information. It was like my sub-conscious didn’t believe in my conscious desire for a mate, so it never made manifest a man for me to dream about. Or if I dreamed about a relationship with a man, it was rooted in the logic of knowing about him rather than the emotion of feeling any way about him.
So today, my fully-conscious mind is holding onto the promise of falling in love and recapturing the emotional tumble I felt in slumber. No, I’m not trying to contact that guy Nathan from college, or looking for some lanky carrot-top or even a man with the first initial “N” in the misguided belief that I’m psychic. Rather, I’m going to do what I did in the dream – pay attention, open my heart and perhaps meet someone at a wedding!
Black Twitter – and various other social media contingents – are up in arms about David Aldridge‘s opinion piece for CNN in which he calls NBA All-Star Weekend “Black Thanksgiving.” I’m never one to say people are too sensitive about race, but in this case I’m going to go ahead and say it. Stop being so sensitive, actually read the piece, and think about all you know about American basketball culture. The man likens the beauty and grace of basketball to the intricacies of jazz music, which is a beautiful thing in concept and in writing. After you read Aldridge’s piece, you must come back to this blog and agree with my contention that ASW is less like Black Thanksgiving and more like Black Christmas.
Check it: he biggest NBA stars are Black, which supports the (perhaps fallacious) belief that most fans of the sport and the league are African-American. The NBA League Pass commercial on my cable system has nary a White or Brown face in it, all Black players telling you to pay to watch them play, wherever they play. All the players on the Eastern Conference All Star Team – and the coach too – are Black, and most of the White guys on the West Coast team aren’t American. I’m just saying. It’s true that plenty of non-Black Americans love basketball. However, since advertisers started using hip-hop to sell Sprite and Michael Jordan sneakers, Black culture and basketball became irrevocably linked. No matter how many Black people there are saying “well, I’m Black and I don’t like the sport,” and no matter how many Asians say, “Basketball isn’t Black; I like it. And what about Yao Ming?”, you can’t deny that the fame of Black basketball stars has been used to promote various products – including the NBA itself – using the markers of Black culture: our music, our cities, our style, our swag…they’re all fair game in the NBA. To wit, a T-Mobile commercial featuring Barkley, Wade, Drake, YouTube, texting and some hip-hop remixing…if that’s not derivative of Black culture, then show me what is. Meanwhile the NFL has become synonymous with patriotism, apple pie and “American values” that denigrate nipple-slips and seemingly promote pro-life values.
Basketball is also egalitarian – no complicated equipment needed, just a ball and some sneakers and you can play. Remember the movie “Hoop Dreams“? You CAN be a Black kid from the ghetto and make it into fame and fortune if you’re talented and know how to manage your money. Pistons Rafer Alston – from my hometown AND my high school alma mater – was a big streetball star before he made it to the pros. Granted he’s not a superstar, but he’s still on somebody’s roster at 34, and millions of young men would want and so few get. So more than tennis or golf (with their high-priced lessons and country club fees) and football (with expensive equipment and high insurance rates), basketball can be played by the poor and the wealthy equally, so African-Americans have, historically, gravitated to the game. And even though we’ve got the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods (kinda), the biggest sports heroes for “Black America” will always be basketball players – Russell, Dr J., Magic, Jordan, Abdul Jabbar, Kobe, Shaq, Allen. (Yeah, I’m a Celtics fan!)
But back to my original point, which is that everyone needs to calm the fuck down about likening ASW to “Black Thanksgiving.” It’s actually more like Christmas, or a trip to Oprah, with a gift for everyone involved in basketball culture and the energy of the weekend. I lived in LA for 2 years, and went back to visit during All-Star Weekend another year, so I know from whence I speak. I’ve seen ballers and former ballers in the airport, getting whisked into restaurants and past velvet ropes at places all around the city. Not for nothing, but the sight of 5 or 6 well-dressed Black men in impeccably tailored suits is a sight to behold, and if you want to behold that vision in concentrated form, go to All-Star Weekend. Merry Christmas to me, and every other woman (and man) who likes a tall, dark drink of water!
Now, if you’re the kind of woman who follows the tall, dark and handsome around the country just to get a whiff, then All-Star Weekend is THE place for you to act out your wildest groupie dreams. Everyone in the League is at AWS, whether they’re playing or not, and former players are covering the festivities for the media. And Los Angeles is sunny and warm and better than any big football town for strutting your scantily clad goodies all around town. If you’re auditioning for the role of NBA Jumpoff or NBA Side-Piece, you can shoot your fish in a barrel this weekend. Happy Birthday Baby Jesus, in the name of skanky hos and wanna-be Basketball Wives everywhere!
All-Star Weekend is about star players, but also about the stars who follow the game. Common (my future ex-husband and wanna be baby daddy) played in the celebrity tourney last night, along with Trey Songz and Nick Cannon, while Michael Bivens of New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe fame covered the game for NBA.com. Master P (hip-hop and basketball impresario) has played in the past, and the celeb shoot-out is attended by former ballers and Black superstars from all walks of life. I’m sure that Jay and Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Spike Lee – possibly even POTUS if the Middle East doesn’t implode – could be sitting courtside before Monday comes. If you’re a star fucker, celebrity blogger, gossip columnist or wanna-be-glitterati, get thee near the Staples Center during All-Star Weekend and bask in the glow of stardom. Happy Holidays!
For the men, if you’re not a baller, but make good money and clock in at over 6′ 3″, you can get some good runoff at All-Star Weekend. I’m not saying that every woman in town is all about jocking some NBA player, but a bunch of them are. If you play your cards right, buy enough drinks, and embellish the truth about how bad knees dashed your pro-ball dreams, you, my tall brother, will pull in significant tail around the All-Star festivities. Seasons Greetings to the not-too-picky men that just want to touch a weave and get laid.
Then there are the non-sexual benefits to All-Star Weekend. If you’re a fan of the game, you can watch great basketball games and feats of athletic prowess for a few days straight. Actually, there are no other games this weekend, but even if there were, you can see the best in the league play on the court at the same time, and that is indeed a beautiful thing. Plus, the NBA has a great philanthropy arm – NBA Cares – that promotes community service all year but also concentrates their activity through the All-Star Day of Service every year. In 2011, ASW players and coaches will give financial support and elbow grease to three organizations in the Los Angeles community. Indeed this weekend, as well as throughout the year, the NBA will be doing it for the kids, supporting education, health and youth development in under-served communities where their fans live. Whether you believe in Kwanzaa or not, that work is Ujima through and through.
Christmas or Thanksgiving, you have to agree that the game of basketball is linked with Black culture, or what we’ve accepted or co-opted as Black popular culture in America. So pardon me as I switch on NBA TV and figure out where in Harlem I can find the largest concentration of my people watching tonight’s game so I can talk smack and pick up a brother or two.
So, I’ve been doing a fair amount of complaining about the men I’m dating, or trying to date, or seeking out for the express purpose of dating. To be honest, I’m pretty excited about being healthy and rational and looking for a companion. Yet a part of me is a little afraid about embarking on a relationship while carrying the baggage of bipolar. It was OK when I thought I was just a little depressed and the behavior I now know as mania could be shrugged off as “free-spirited behavior.” Now, with multiple rounds of medication and weeks in the mental hospital under my belt, I wonder how to work my mental health background into the dating picture.
If you’ve been reading the “Dating While Bipolar” series, you know that I went in on a date that behaved as though he had Aspergers syndrome – basically, I thought it would be a good idea for him to prepare dates for his (apparent) clinical lack of social skills. You see, my theory was this: in dating, you have to manage expectations, prepare people for what they’re gonna get, especially when you meet them online and have limited information at best. And when you plan a date online, sight unseen, you’re managing expectations for the DATE, not for a RELATIONSHIP, so you should mention stuff that will become obvious when you meet someone for the first time. Like your inability to look someone in the eye when you talk to them, if you actually talk to them during the date. In my head – and on this blog – I’ve likened the brain disorder to having a physical disability, or having a third arm growing out of your chest, in that Asperger’s is going to make itself known even if you don’t mention it. But what about my brain disorder? Isn’t that what bipolar is? We mental illness advocates talk a very big game about emotional disorders being physical in nature, diseases that you live with even though there’s no cure. Isn’t that the same as Asperger’s? Honestly my disease reveals itself whenever I meet new people, but that revelation is inside my head rather than on my sleeve. It’s like if I had diabetes: it would come up, or make manifest on the outside, if it came up. If it didn’t, why mention the disease if nobody can tell?
Yeah, yeah, that last statement made me feel a little icky too. Another thing the mentally ill do is say, “it would be so much easier if people could see my disease on the outside, then they’d know I had a disease instead of some personality shortcoming.” So why am I talking out of both sides of my mouth? Well, I am bipolar. . .Seriously, though, I’m not manic or depressed most of the time, because I’m healthy and I know how to live a (mostly) happy, average life. But if I had another disease like, say the Asperger’s that I think afflicts Eggbert, it would be evident more of the time, perhaps less manageable to “average” and, therefore, more prone to disclosure. What I mean to say is this: if someone has a personality disorder that’s pretty evident upon meeting them, mentioning it before you met someone for the first time would stop them from thinking that you’re an asshole for ignoring them. If I was in the throes of mania, I’d date you, drink too much, laugh too loud, suggest we go to a sex club and…wait, I’ve done that. And I actually wasn’t dating (as in, looking for a potential long-term mate); I was responding to “Casual Encounters” on Craigslist, not exploring the dimensions of long-term compatibility (or some such shit) on eHarmony. The guys I met during my full-blown nuttiness probably didn’t care about relating to me emotionally as long as they could stick their tongues down my throat, or anywhere else they wanted to stick it. In that instance, a sexually-transmitted disease or inability to orgasm would’ve been appropriate to disclose. She what I’m getting at here?
Right, so I should wait until after I get to know someone before disclosing my bipolar disorder. Riiight. So when is “get to know someone” over? 10 dates? After sex? Before you meet the parents? When it comes up? What if it never comes up? Actually, I can see marrying someone before mental illness just “comes up”:
My 2012 Husband: “Baby, can you pass the beer nuts?”
2012 Me: “Speaking of nuts, let me tell you about those 2 weeks I spent in the psych ward back in ’09…”
Bad example, but if I manage my disease well, behave like a regular person and keep myself out of inpatient, my bipolar would be virtually undetectable. OK, there will be questions about the medications on my bedside table, but only if you get to my bedside. Basically I’m prepared to hold onto this nugget of information until it becomes necessary, like when I start dating someone exclusively, after “I Love You” but before “I think this relationship is going to be really serious.” Not that I’ve ever made it to that last milestone, but I’m thinking that it comes at some point when people start sharing everything, start asking about family histories, and start going to the bathroom with the door open. You know, intimacy and stuff.
Or I could just use my real name for this blog and tell people to Google me…would take a lot less effort.
Control, alt, humiliate...
Internet dating is all about the over-promise. If all the online matchmaking companies told the truth, they’d broadcast all of the social rejects, losers, undesirables and just-plain-weirdos that show up on their sites, and they’d say “Here’s your last for mating, you desperate cow.” By showing photo montages of happy couples, and promising first encounters, the Eharmony’s and the Match.com’s of the world are telling you, “Dating is just as easy a pressing a button..see how these people did it?”
Meeting people online is hard work, or rather sifting through the people you don’t want to meet, and the ones that should be meeting with a shrink once a week, is hard work. Then why do it? For someone like me, who has been out of the game for a number of years, dating is like a muscle that needs to be flexed. In the same way that you can’t run a 10K without training, or at least stretching out a bit, you can’t jump headlong into a relationship without warming up the witty banter, emotional tolerance and sharing. Also, internet dating is great fodder for this blog!
“Don’t just leave them hanging!”
Anyway, I’ve learned a lot about men, and a lot about myself, “meeting” all kinds of men online. Trust me when I say that there are thousands of people that you need to leave behind. However, I think I can give you ladies (and a few of you gentlemen) the benefit of my ridiculous experiences in case you find yourself about to meet someone for the first time in 3-D. First, be prepared for a lot of dumbassness, no matter how un-dumbass you portray yourself. I tend to lead off my dating profile with my multiple degrees, global travel, and my salary if I can. It’s not my intention to be snobbish, just to weed out the people who’d be intimidated by certain facts of my life. However, although I portray the image of a wealthy, well-traveled snob, I get responses of the vein below which have been lifted directly from my inbox.
“You have as much juice in your lips as Nicki Minaj has in her ass.”
Uh, thanks for the “compliment”, which I suppose juicy lips is supposed to be. I’m utterly flattered, grossed out and turned off, all at the same time. Here’s another one.
“Your to pretty to be boring.”
I know men think this way, that they could never be bored with a woman they found really attractive. But I have way more going for me than the way I look and my lips, like knowing the correct uses for “your” and “to”. I’m gonna need a man who’s all about loving the grammar AND loving my looks. Is that a lot to ask?
Then there are pictures. Men who take photos of their cars, their motorcycles or (yes I’ve seen it), their speedometer need not apply. What in the
Yes, I took this picture from an actual person's internet dating profile. No, I'm not going out with him.
world can I learn about you by knowing that your car goes up to 140 MPH? (By the way, dude, all cars these days are marked to go that fast, so you’re nothing special.) And, by the way, the speedometer reading in the picture is 80 MPH, so let’s hope you weren’t driving while playing shutterbug. Actually, keep on driving and snapping pics: natural selection is a motherfucka.
Pictures worth a thousand words, all of them no.
Right, so to get to the dumb shit that men say when meeting you online, you have to get past their picture. Here are a few types of photos that you’re bound to run into. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Mr I Might Shank Your Mama: This dude is mean-mugging all up in his main profile picture. Actually, he’s posted from 5 to 10 photos that look like they were taken while staring down an inmate in the prison yard. I know, some women like thugs and roughnecks and all manner of ‘hood masculine posturings. But the number of females attracted by some dumb-looking scowl is probably the same number caught by a man sucking his teeth and yelling “hey gal” from a moving car. If any single men are reading this, or any women who care about single men, please remember this: smiling is good. It conveys happiness, joy, mirth. It shows that you are capable of experiencing a positive emotion and, on at least one occasion, have actually enjoyed something. Potential enjoyment, my friends, is the desired outcome of dating and relationships. Otherwise, we’d just be alone. Anyway, look for the guy who’s smiling, or at least not frowning.
Mr. NO-lympus: Shirt off, flexing like he’s some kind of athlete or body builder, though he’s not cut or ripped, and the only curls he does involve bottles of beer. This is the kind of guy who’s 40 lbs overweight but wears Under Armour to the club, as though all the spandex would somehow carve his flabby upper arms into a pair of guns. As someone who could also stand to lose some weight, I have nothing against the pleasingly plump, though I’m not posting bikini pictures of myself all over the internet, thinking I look like Halle Berry. All I’m saying is that people should know their strengths, play their position, and not try to be something they aren’t. (For more on this kind of internet dater, see also “I’m shirtless at the computer and I have a webcam”)
Objects in this Bathroom Mirror are More Attached than they Appear: So, you have to close your bathroom door to get a photo of yourself? Or, better yet, a picture of you in the bathroom at some public place (the black and white checkered tile and wall-mounted foaming anti-bacterial soap dispenser are pretty obvious). I’m looking a the man in the mirror and I’m asking him to change his stupid-ass ways and come clean. If you’re taking a photo on your bathroom mirror you must be hiding from someone. Either it’s your mother, your kids, or your woman. Even if you’re not, you look a little janky with the flash from your phone camera reflecting against the glass. Get a friend to take a picture with THEIR camera phone and use that. Or go to a photo booth. If you don’t, I’m not even going to give you a second glance.
AWOL – these are the dudes with no pic, who I simply don’t trust. OK, so everyone isn’t as open as I am about the whole dating scene, but in 2011 there’s really nothing to be ashamed of, so the only folks without pictures are prohibitively ugly, or cheating. I have a friend who thought guys she met on Yahoo personals were just being private by withholding their photos. I wonder why all the men she met on the site were married… Lookit, if someone you know finds you on a dating site, there’s no reason to be embarrassed. Hell, they’re on it too, so you can commiserate and swear each other to secrecy.
Seriously, though, I’m gonna keep on with this internet thing. There are some honest people out there. Actually, someone confessed to being shorter than me because I said in my profile that I wanted total honesty. Not a bad start, I thought. Then he canceled our date, confessing that by “I’m divorced” he really meant “I’m going through a divorce”, which is code for “I have no idea which way is up, I’m sleeping in a place where my kids don’t live, and I’m barely holding it together enough to leave the house, let alone go on a date.” Guess that means I’m back to the virtual trolling. If you see me out there, just give me a shout and promise never, ever to speak of it again.