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: Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

In Manhattan, when it’s time for an old building to make way for a new one, dynamite is used to implode the building. There is an explosion, everything collapses, the rubble is cleared and a big hole in the ground is made to pour concrete into, in order to lay a new foundation. In other words, before one can build a new skyscraper one must get to bedrock in order to rebuild.

Everything in life has its cycles. There is always life, death and renewal. Nothing is permanent. The seasons turn, markets fluctuate, we get older. We gain, we lose, things change. The power to survive is often dependent upon our ability to adapt and evolve.

My clients will tell you that I am a master at pruning and reorganizing closets. This skill stems from traveling as a nomad. Traveling light with no attachments or clutter makes this a little easier. My foundation lives inside me.

When I was a kid, each spring my mother would go through every thread of my drawers and closets with me. Things that were worn to death or I had outgrown were put to rest. (Repurposing started when I discovered the delight of shopping my mother’s closets.) So this talent of being able to let go and get rid of things was born. It’s a comforting notion that all things, even our favorite little black dress, or what we were wearing when we got our first kiss, can live in one’s memory. Our thoughts and memories, just like buildings and closets can be vaporized, reorganized and make way for better, new improved thoughts. The ever elusive future being where new memories can live after they are created in the present.

Life is like experimenting in the kitchen. Like a soufflé, it rises in the warmth of the oven, all golden, fluffy, light, rich and delicious. Then, boom! The whole thing collapses. All your hard work for nothing. Suddenly everything is burnt, inedible. The kitchen is in smoke, you’re up to your tits in flour and béchamel sauce. You clean the kitchen, buy new eggs and start again.

Sometimes life strips away everything through circumstance, disaster or both. It can feel like the end but perhaps it could be seen as cosmic dynamite leaving a gaping hole in which to build a new life. Packing only what we need, discarding everything else which is just baggage hindering us from moving forward. Just leave. Start over. Pitch a new tent. The new tent could be wonderful. Perhaps a chic Moroccan style pleasure den with silk carpets and lots of pillows. A silver tray with an endless supply of dates, fresh figs and nuts, Mint tea and a hookah, maybe even a mountain of glistening muscles to fan me with feathers. Why not? I can have anything I want in my imaginary tent. Everything we manage to achieve is first conceived in our minds.

Whether it’s your closet or your home or your whole life, we can apply the same principle: evaluate, clean, organize and make space for the new. If we can dream that the new things can be great, maybe they will be.

Occasionally, in our emotional foolishness, we try to cling to what is familiar, even when the entity is dead, the feeling gone, the damage beyond repair. We torture ourselves in bizarre and damaging acts because we are frightened of facing the unknown. What a waste of the precious time allotted in life. Mourning the dead is part of the process. We just have to make sure we don’t spend our whole life in a subterranean emotional abyss.

Bring on the bulldozers! Welcome construction crew, architects, engineers, interior designers, project managers and organizational coaches! I’m grateful for the accessibility ramps that will allow my titanium reinforced heart to enter a new life with the coming of spring. A clearing to plant new seeds. A greenhouse for all those New Year’s resolutions to come to fruition.

The law of nature is that one cycle must end before a new one can start.  We can’t rush or stall the process. Nature has its own sense of rhythm.  We just need to move with it. More complex than any tango but like the ebb and flow of the tide, dictated by the moon who also has her cycle. Primordial yet unstoppable. It’s powerful to let go and move on to the next chapter of whatever will be. It is ours to build, something shiny and new.

Ask Sam: These Days We Need Knights

www.t2conline.comRecently a reporter for Fox News asked me to weigh in on the question, “Why don’t men make an effort?”

The short answer is that we have stopped educating them. We have ceased imparting at an early age for men to value women as treasures and they no longer treat us as such. Women seem to tolerate and even accept lack luster treatment. The result is men have no reason to make an effort, because we have accepted their absence of chivalry.

I travel extensively and in other parts of the world, chivalry is alive and well. It has nothing to do with expecting sexual favors in return. As I write this I am in South America, a strong hold for chivalry and machismo.This week, several of my male friends took me out, picked me up, dropped me off and never let me pay. They opened all the doors. They relayed my order to waiters for me at restaurants, carried my luggage and reiterated to me that I am a princess and deserve to be treated as such. These men happen to be gay. They didn’t expect anything in return. It’s simply how they were educated to treat women in their company.

I agree the women’s movement in the US may have helped kill chivalry. One could argue that when we stood up and said, “We can do it,” we were punished by being treated not as equals but as men.

We could have had our cake and eaten it, but instead we burned our bras. We sent the wrong message. When coaching my male clients, I tell them open the door. I find that if I stand aside at doors and don’t move, men get the hint and open the door.  We will only get respect when we demand it. Men if you would like to learn more contact my office for an appointment www.socialimage.com

Gestures say, “I respect and value you, even if you are a high powered executive that makes three times my salary. I am the man and it is my duty, my honor, my pleasure to take care of you at this moment. Men’s chief complaint is that women are so quick to open the door or whip out their credit card, they feel slightly stripped of their opportunities to shine in a woman’s company.  Men like building and conquering things, weather it’s skyscrapers, industry or our affections.

Women have become bitter and untrusting because they aren’t treated well or dare I say taken care of. Women still warmly await Prince Charming.  But how many frogs must we kiss? As much as it pains me, I don’t think men in America will ever get their sense of chivalry back unless we make a collective stand for it within our culture. It must be taught at home and in school. We need older men to set the example and coach the younger ones.

The decline in chivalry is our own fault, but if we want to reverse this social malady, it will take time and collective effort. I believe this ailment is reversible.

Ask Sam: Style Still Counts

“I like New York in June. How about you?”asks the romantic Cole Porter tune.

I like it just fine thanks. Happy to finally thaw out from the winter. Was it the abnormally tough, cold and Sandy wind blown year? The non-existent spring? Have we simply lost our sense of romance? I’m hoping that the warm weather restores our sense of play.

Spring in New York has always been a lovely time of year. It recalls romantic comedies with well dressed people saying clever things on a bench in Central Park or a roof top somewhere and friendly, good natured tongue in cheek flirtations in the work place as office romances bloom like tulips. The darkness lifts and our hearts warm like dewy crocuses in the morning sun. Ah spring! But not this year it seems. Perhaps we simply have not had the time to warm up to the idea, resulting in our approach being as abrupt as the summer heat.

Recently, when asked for directions by a tourist from the middle of nowhere, I welcomed her to NY and asked how she liked it here. “It’s not like in the movies.” She drawled. Her sneakers, baggy T-shirt, ill fitting shorts and left over from the 70′s feathered do certainly not adding to the panorama. Sadly I had to agree.

A friend told me a story of the most effective, most original pick up he had ever seen. He was at a large “U” shaped bar. Next to him sat a man who had caught the eye of a woman on the other side of the bar. On a napkin he drew a tic tac toe board with an “x” in the middle. He wrote, “Your move” next to it, tipped the bartender and had him send it over. It worked like a charm!  Originality, a sense of humor, style in your physical presentation and delivery, matter.

If successful in seduction what’s going to happen between the sheets is the inevitable end result. If you’re lucky, that too will be interesting and enjoyable, but the game of getting there is what juicy stories, and movies are made of. The challenge, the game of wits, the flirting, the anticipation….that’s the aphrodisiac. I’m sorry but a text that reads, “Hey” simply doesn’t do it for me.

A client of mine recently expressed that as a young man, courting was pretty lack luster, especially when the pursued parties seem to prefer to text than speak. Sadly, they are missing all the good stuff. Engaging in complete sentences, the sparkling of the eyes, body language and the intonation of voice. Sigh.

Please, men of New York, do not give up! Take back the joy of the dance, reclaim romanticism.  Suit up to win and come get us!  Rescue us from predictability. Surprise us, make our hearts flutter again. Come on, sweep us off our feet, I dare you!….. ladies,
now that I’ve rattled the cages get ready!

I’m not asking you to whip out your plume and write us a sonnet, but style still counts.