Ask Sam: I’m In A Relationship… With My Phone

Relationship with phoneI don’t have to sit by the phone and wait any more; now I can take it with me while I wait for it to ring. My twitter alert sounds like a telegraph. My Facebook beeps, my Whatsapp has a different beep. My incoming ringtone is the 1970’s theme song to the television series “Wonder Woman” as a call to arms when a business call comes in.  Calls from my mother have a rotary-style ringtone symbolic of her relationship to the apparatus in question. Although, to her credit, my mother has learned to text, Viber, and Facetime, taking being a mother and the art of guilt into the 21st century. My phone wakes me up in the morning with the sound of cathedral bells ringing. All of my other “do not forget” alerts sound like a “red alert” alarm. Every time my phone chirps, beeps, or rings, my reaction has become Pavlovian. When I’m not experiencing it vibrating, lighting up, or making sounds at me, the silence concerns me, and I look at it to make sure it’s okay. What has become an extension of my hand has taken over my life.

There are days when I appreciate the immediacy of the Information Age. The ability to instantly communicate with anyone from anywhere is miraculous, but I do miss the thrill of receiving a handwritten letter. The other day I was listening to “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes, and the desperation in her voice for a letter; more innocent times for sure, pre-sexting to be certain. Poor thing was waiting weeks for an overseas letter—these days you can just click and send. In fact, thanks to my phone, I can have, in theory, a whole courtship with a man I never actually meet in person! In fact, who needs a man? If I can program Siri’s male voice to say all the things I want to hear, all those buttons and gizmos should be enough. Now that people can sext via text, or chat, or Skype, why do we ever really need to get together?

How many of us sleep with our phones just next to us? Some mornings I have awoken to find my phone still in my hand like it had replaced the security toy of my childhood.  And when the phone breaks, it’s more damaging than any breakup could be. In fact, since we’re going down this path, if we don’t need to spend time in anyone’s physical presence anymore, then what’s the harm in dating several people at once? If you’re never really with them, it’s never really cheating, is it?— Or isn’t it? I suppose as long as you call everybody “darling”, it doesn’t really matter if you send the wrong text to the wrong person.

What I can’t stand is cowardice, when people hide behind their phones. We hang up on each other, because we know we’ll never come face-to-face. The way we treat people over the phone is far more removed and callous and abrupt than how we would treat them if they were standing right in front of us. This is the part of technology that is not good for humanity. The beginning of total disregard for how we “talk” to one another.  I hate when people send stupid texts because they don’t have the balls or courtesy to pick up the phone and have a conversation, God forbid! It’s already bad enough when conversations that should be had face-to-face are done over the phone. The phone has made us great at gossip, we can instantly send smoke signals to the world with a selfie, or a photo of some celebrity acting badly, or state our current status or weigh in on a topic with our unasked for two-cents. Who cares? These are wonderful tools for the media, but culturally, it is killing the art of one-on-one, physically present  conversation.

I hate when men prematurely initiate sexting. It’s making a move too soon.  If we were in the same room, I would move his hand away and say “Sorry, I’m not ready yet.” But he seems to think that because we’re separated by a screen, it’s okay for him to send me a naked selfie and ask me to do the same.  Just because it’s not skin-to-skin doesn’t mean it’s not intimate. God, I want a condom for my phone! Is there an app for that?  There’s certainly an art to sexting.  The pen can still be mightier than the sword…but not in this case.

Although I can appreciate the skill that is required to communicate effectively with my tiny little gadget and be a part of the global community through cyberspace, nothing can ever take the place of or be as delicious as the welcomed touch of another. When you can “reach out and touch someone” and actually feel their flesh, have them next to you, look in their eyes with an intensity that is not as clear on Skype or Facetime. My phone also gives me my heart-rate, bank balance, weather, points me in the right direction, gives me access to anything and everything I could possibly want or need, except replace the intimacy and fine nuanced experience with in-the-flesh, present, face-to-face contact.

Ask Sam: My Top 10 Must Haves From The Makeup Show

Make-up show

The annual Makeup Show NYC at the Metropolitan Pavilion was packed to the hilt for two days as makeup artists, both seasoned and aspiring, muscled their way through the human traffic jam to get their hands on must-have staples and explore new products. Here were my top ten must-haves:  

Tweezerman Tweezers 

I got them in a new metallic purple. Good tweezers are a must-have for the current brow-centric looks.  


A special tape that makes lashes a snap to put on. A hypoallergenic, non-irritating, comfortable-to-wear tape adhesive that is an alternative to fighting with eyelash glues.  

Ellis Faas  

This collection I am intrigued by, as all the colors in her edited collection are found in the human body. This year I snatched up color number E305, an iridescent, greenish, creme that comes in a wand with a brush at the end similar to a lip gloss or under-eye concealer. It goes on wet, and dries down to an immovable finish within seconds. The color is iridescent like fish-scales or bugs’ wings and hard to resist! This color makes eyes look amazing. I couldn’t even wait for the people at Ellis Faas to send my office one for review—I needed it immediately. I love it!  

Naked Cosmetics Advanced Skin Cream  

It’s organic, it’s natural, it’s cruelty free. Its formula contains aloe vera, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, shea butter and other oils. It also contains a special grade of algae and manuka honey which both have healing properties. I have a very volatile skin, almost a karmic weight I must bear being in the beauty industry. Most creams, potions, lotions, primers and foundations break me out! At first I was tentative and decided I would try it the day before my dermatologist appointment. I put it on a couple of irritated spots. By the next morning they were significantly calmer. After seeing my dermatologist for a peel, I used it as my moisturizer and my skin feels amazing with no new breakouts! I bought two big tubs of it at the show. My body is also thanking me. This cream can also be used as an eyeshadow primer. It’s gentle enough to be put straight on the eyelid and under the eyes.  

Cinema Secrets Super Sealer  

The industry’s best kept secret for no-sweat beauty is Super Sealer by Cinema Secrets. It’s a sweat inhibitor for the face. If you have very oily skin, do a “Super Sealer Sandwich!”  On clean, dry skin spray the Super Sealer on your face and allow it to dry for thirty seconds or six seconds with a blow dryer on “cool”. Continue your daily makeup routine, and when finished, give your face another spray with your Super Sealer and you’ll be sweat resistant all day!  

Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner  

The 32oz bottles got entirely sold out! As artists clamored for the much-loved formula. It is antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti microbial, yet has no alcohol in it so it doesn’t strip your brushes. A favorite amongst makeup artists and a must-have for anybody who uses makeup brushes.  

Inglot’s “Freedom System”  

A makeup artist’s dream revolutionizing what a makeup artist schleps in their box. The lugging is over. Everything can now be magnetically stacked together in flat palette-style trays that are completely customizable. The only thing you’d need to bring are wipes, brushes, sponges, and mascara after this, making the days of a rolling trunk big enough to take care of the entire set of an MGM production into a small, manageable brick.  

Too Faced “Better than Sex” Mascara  

Great buildable volume. Not at all a disappointment. The hourglass shaped brush makes for very even distribution of product and va-va-voom lashes   

Marcelle “Xtension Plus” Lengthening and Curling Mascara 

Defines and lengthens. Great after applying your volumizing mascara to separate, lengthen and comb out clumps.  

NARS “Laguna” Bronzer  

For keeping and maintaining a summer glow, make sure your skin is well exfoliated. Apply a self tanner and use a tinted sunscreen, followed by a bronze-colored primer. Replace your pressed powder with “Laguna” bronzer by NARS. Adding layers of color will add depth and dimension to your skin which will make you look very beautiful and natural. You’ll be glowing for days! 

Ask Sam: American Heart Association

American Heart AssociationI’ve was asked to be a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. It will be my second Wall St 5k. I am so honored to have been asked to share my story to help raise awareness and funds to wipe out heart disease.

Why I run, my story.

Day One

After an 8-week hiatus from running due to injury, I could not wait to get going again. Ten minutes into my run, I began to feel like my heart was beating in my throat accompanied by a pulsing sensation in my left arm–similar to muscle fatigue after lifting something too heavy. When I slowed down to a brisk walk, it went away. The sensation came and went. I assumed I was just really out of shape and kept going feeling like I had no energy or wind.

Day Three

Two days later, the same thing happened on my way to the dentist. When I got there, I told my dentist about everything that had been happening to me. He wanted me to see my doctor right away. My dentist, Dr. Michael Goldberg of Manhattan Dental Health, saved my life. It was August; my general practitioner was on vacation, so I went to my local clinic. They ran tests and said I seemed to be fine, wrote it off as an anxiety attack, and gave me a prescription for Clonopin.  I expressed my concerns: my hereditary high cholesterol, the heart attacks of both of my parents, the strange sensations I was having.  But my pulse, pressure, and EKG were fine. “You’re young, you’re fit, and you’re female. You should be fine”. Just to be certain, I made an appointment with the cardiologist the next day. “Make sure you get an echo stress test.”

Day 4

At the cardiologist, he ran the same tests and still all seemed fine. He wanted me to come back the following Monday for a heart monitor (I could have been dead by then). Something just didn’t feel right, so I insisted. I had my sneakers on and I was ready to go. I wanted that echo stress test immediately! I won.  After just 12 minutes on the treadmill I reproduced the symptoms. “Ok, I do see something I don’t like. Tomorrow you will have an angiogram”

Day 5

I went to NYU Long Horn for a angiogram on the 17th of August, my birthday. They ran all the standard tests again and the all came back normal. The interventionist, Dr. Coppola said well, all the results look normal to me and I am not totally convinced by the results of your echo stress test. I think we are going to do this test, send you home with some Plavex by this afternoon and you should be fine. We will give you a local anesthetic and you can watch your heart on the monitor.

“Doctor, today is my birthday, please tell your bartender to juice me up. I want a general anesthetic. I don’t want to know a thing, and I certainly don’t want to watch my heart on the monitor because I’ll faint on your table.” He smiled and told me not to worry. I worried, I prayed, I meditated and counted backwards till I was out.

Hours later when I woke up, Dr. Coppola came in to see me. He said, “You’re an angel. In thirty years as a cardiologist, I have never seen a heart like yours. So strong. Both of your arteries were blocked. I had to put three stents in your heart immediately. It’s actually a miracle that you had this for five days and are still here. The explanation I can give is that all your years of exercise created other passageways for blood to flow, but still, amazing.”

A wave of shock washed over me. I tried to process that I was forever changed.

The good news, you’re young and strong and with this latest generation of stents you will only need Plavex for a year. But of course, you will need to take all of your other medications for your cholesterol religiously. You will also need to follow your diet carefully. You will be released tomorrow afternoon. “Tomorrow afternoon!? Doctor, please, I have to be out of here by 10am the latest.” “Samantha do you understand that you just had heart surgery? “”Yes, I do understand, and I am grateful to you for saving my life. Best birthday present ever. G-d willing maybe I’ll get another 40 years. But since I’m still here and get a second chance, I want the rest of my life to be happy and meaningful. I gave my word that I would be on set by 11am. I’m still here, so the show must go on. I promise I’ll relax; there will be someone to help dress me, do my hair, makeup etc. All I have to do is recline and relax until they need me on set. Then I sit on a sofa on set and go ‘blah, blah, blah’, promise.” “Ok, but you must take it easy.” “I promise. Thank you.”

With the help of a few more doctors and a cardio rehab program I lost some stress-related weight I had been carrying and was able to run the American Heart Association Wall street 5K just 9 months after the stents were put in. Now I don’t sweat the small stuff any more. I run 5k four times a week along with some other exercise. I follow a pescatarian, gluten-free, and casein-free diet and want to share my story to raise awareness and hopefully help others.

This is why I run, because I still can. Please join me on June 18th as I run my heart out.

Press: OMG! NYU’s Sexton Is ‘Power Hugger’ With a Tat

#JSex is ready to cuddle.

John E. Sexton, who came under fire last year as New York University’s president, is casting a warm and fuzzy image of himself through social media. In a news release issued on Wednesday, the university’s student-affairs office described him as a hug-loving chief executive who likes to sign off on his Instagram selfies “with the endearing #JSex hashtag.”

Mr. Sexton’s social-media efforts have been archived on an interactive Tumblr page labeled “John Sexton: An Interactive Guide to NYU’s Power Hugger.” There, students are encouraged to learn about his lighter side.

“NYU President John Sexton will insist that you leave traditional formalities at the door and tell you, ‘Call me John,’” the page declares. “But what do you really know about the guy, besides his beloved baseball cap and famous hugs?”

In short video clips, students can learn a lot of personal details about Mr. Sexton, who is 71.

He likes coffee-flavored ice cream, no toppings thank you very much.

His favorite Dr. Seuss book is The Sneetches.

He has one tattoo … location unknown.

Taken together, Mr. Sexton’s social-media profile may be seen as softening the image of a college president whom some faculty members have described as indifferent to professors’ concerns about a range of issues, including a large planned campus expansion in New York City. The news release issued on Wednesday is subtitled “How NYU Made Its President #Relatable.”

Reaching Out

Asked about his presence on Instagram and other sites, Mr. Sexton said in an interview that he was just reaching out to students, as he has always done.

“I’ve been pouring 100 hours a week into students for 55 years,” said Mr. Sexton, who has continued to teach throughout his presidency. “Being close with students is not a new phenomenon in my life. Any way I can try to create a community here I will use.”

New York University is an urban campus with no gates to surround it, so the university lacks some of the common community-building features of a traditional college setting. Social media, Mr. Sexton said, are one way to bring people together in such a sprawling environment.

“How do you make a huge, complex cacophony feel small to students?,” he said. “This is part of that.”

Mr. Sexton’s foray into social media began in October 2013. That was just a couple of months after the university’s board put an end to a controversial loan program that financed vacation homes for star professors and administrators, including the president. When the board declared that the program would end, it also formally announced that Mr. Sexton would retire in 2016, which was widely expected.

Mr. Sexton is not the first college president to take to social media with gusto. Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, has developed an online persona that spoofs his struggles to understand millennial culture and all things Internet.

Santa J. Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati, boasts more than 30,000 Twitter followers.

‘A Good Ploy’

Social media may help to humanize a college president, but there are dangers, too. Samantha von Sperling, an image consultant in Manhattan, said college presidents need to be careful that what they project on social media is consistent with the brand of the institution and the office they hold. It is appropriate for a president to talk about how he takes his coffee or what she likes on pizza, Ms. von Sperling said. Vague references to hidden tattoos? Not so much, she added.

“I don’t want to think about him naked, wondering where his tattoo is and what is it,” said Ms. von Sperling, an NYU graduate. “It already puts a picture in my mind that is disconcerting.”

But the general idea of Mr. Sexton’s using social media makes sense, she said.

“It is a good ploy by NYU to have the president texting and tweeting and Facebooking and making the appearance that he’s relatable,” Ms. von Sperling said. “He’s really communicating in the language that the majority of the student body communicates in.”

“Is it obvious that it is a public schmooze-fest?,” she added. “Of course it is.”

Mr. Sexton has some past experience in crossing the generational divide. He has twice appeared, for example, on The Colbert Report.

The president’s lesser-known interviews have been with students, who created a series of online videos called John Sexton in 60 Seconds. In the short segments, a student peppers the president with questions that include the philosophical and the inane. In one exchange, a student interviewer asks, “Would you rather be hated or forgotten?”

“Hated,” Mr. Sexton replies.

The 2014 NYC Cannabis Parade

Samantha Von Sperling and friends

An eclectic mix of do-gooders, leftover hippies, wannabe hippies, and pro-pot suits. There’s both politicians and musicians. Performers included Ishmael Levi, Pawz One, Immortal Technique, Mr. Cream, Redman and many others.

The legalization of marijuana both for medical and recreational use, a fight very similar to prohibition, is a hot topic in the nation. This 45-year-old parade that was started in New York City, is still going strong and is gaining support as our nation’s position on pot shifts.
This was a surprisingly well-organized and peaceful protest. I was amazed that despite the amount of cannabis being combusted in a relatively small gathering surrounded by policemen,  there was not one arrest. Perhaps New York’s Finest’s willingness to turn a blind eye to the peaceful protestors is a sign that they too feel they have more important battles to fight.
The 2014 NYC Cannabis Parade
Sponsored by The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp –
And by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation