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: 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.