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

Ask Sam: Pleasure

Ask Sam: Pleasure As New Yorkers we tend to complain a lot: the expense of living here, small apartments, traffic jams. But there are reasons why we live here: the magic, the energy of people connecting from all over the world.

For example, a few weeks ago I was invited by my manager to attend a party comprised of diplomats, Prince Igor, some fashion and theatre people. The outcome, a very cool party. People sang whatever they were singing on Broadway or working on. There were belly dancers and diplomats supportive of the arts. The luxury residence welcomed both artists and politicians, big money wheeler dealers and actors in between gigs. It made for lively conversations and a feeling that comes from such an eclectic mix of guests that one could only get in this town.

There is pleasure in living here and when you experience that joy, it is pure, exhilarating and intense.

Shakespeare In the Park, Midsummer Night’s Swing, free outdoor movies in Bryant Park, free concerts in Central Park; sometimes we forget how amazing this place is.

One of the greatest simple pleasures of my life is jogging around Battery Park City. It’s so beautiful there. Running alongside the water just seems to have a special effect; a cleansing of the mind.

New York has a pleasure that is all her own. Exploring a neighborhood that one is not familiar with. Sometimes it’s like walking into another world. Discovering a speakeasy on some random street. Walking up Canal Street and then going for dim sum, a foot massage and then getting lost for amusement in Chinatown. It’s fun to safari in New York when the weather is nice. The farmers’ market in Union Square. The Hamptons. Picnics in the park. Feeling the warmth of the sun on naked flesh. The joy of living in a place where there is a big bad city and lovely pristine beaches just an hour apart from each other. Brunch with friends. Getting hot and sweaty, dancing salsa to live music in the park. The best slice of pizza. Rooftop bars. (My favorite is the rooftop bar at the Peninsula Hotel with a killer power view of Midtown that allows you to look all the way down 5th Avenue.) The pleasure of making a new friend. To know that out of eight million people, two of you found each other and connected in a meaningful way. Exploring a little of the beaten path restaurants. Restaurant Week. Fashion Week. The Armory Show. Sample Sales. Theatre. Exhibits. Events of all kinds. Tar beach barbecue. When it’s a good day here, it’s a great day. It’s a city of high highs and low lows but when you are riding the wave of a high moment, whether it’s a minute or a few years, nothing feels better. The city is its own drug.

Without breaking into song, here are a few of my favorite things.

Trysts that are so passionate the world outside disappears. The perfect cup of coffee. Mojito popsicles. Watching attractive people bare their skin. Running through summer rain. A night out dancing. The guilty pleasure of a strip aerobics class. Laughing with a friend until it hurts.Wearing a favorite pair of sexy, stiletto gold sandals. Taking oneself to the movies and having your popcorn the way you like it. A perfect cocktail. A fine wine. The anticipation of an impending good time. Spending time with a person you adore. Spending free time with oneself, not having to please anyone but oneself. Making one’s home clean and wonderful with fresh flowers and luxuriating in one’s home. Taking the time to cook a special desired meal just for oneself. A tango that leaves me breathless. Learning something new. Bubbles. Playing with other people’s pets. Taking a snooze in a hammock. New sheets! A ride in a car that has a seat warmer when it’s cold. Dishing it with friends. Dark chocolate infused with chili pepper. A day at the beach.All the little moments that bring even a fleeting pleasure, they are appreciated. Sparkling like a jeweled collar, all these pleasurable incidents in this amazing life are what we can carry in our hearts.

Ask Sam: A Wine Tasting We Go

Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux Wine Tasting

I was delighted to be invited to the Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux Wine Tasting. It was a sea of attractive people drinking fabulous wine.

When presented with the various bottles of wine, I used the “Buy Wine Now!” app to record my first impressions and overall rating of each bottle I encountered. The app is a journalist’s dreams come true! After tasting each wine, I was able to look it up very easily in the app’s wine database. My first impressions were easy to log in as well as the app has key phrases typically used to describe the flavors of wine that you can highlight and use in your notes of each particular wine.

Each wine I reviewed was placed in a list and is categorized by my overall “star” rating of it.

These are some of the wines I had the pleasure of sipping on:

Château Faizeau (2013) – 4 Stars

This wine was nice; it had a fruity, tangy finish. The export manager was a very handsome Frenchman.

Château Fombrauge (2011) – 1 Star

Not a fan– all smoke

Château Greysac (2010) – 4 Stars

A great wine for the price! For $20 you can bring a totally respectable wine to dinner.

Château La Cardonne (2010) – 2 Stars

Very cherry with a little smoke.

Château La Cardonne (2013) – 4 Stars

This one was a little juicier, not as intense as its older sister but I liked it more. I think in a few years it will be more velvety and a little fuller. All in all, I liked it very much.

Château Rollan de By (2010) – 4 Stars

I’m in love! A totally respectable wine with a little more Merlot in the blend. Really easy to drink! In fact, for $30 you can hold your head up high when bringing this to a dinner party.

Château Trianon (2010) – 5 Stars

Just glorious.

Château Trianon (2013) – 4 Stars

Love it! Round balanced and a velvety smoky finish.

Château Vray Croix de Gay (2010) – 4 Stars

A very elegant wine for $65 a bottle

Château du Parc (2011) – 4 Stars

Smoky but full bodied a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc

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: Lust

LustLust, we are hard wired for it. It propels us and compels us to go after what we want. There is greed, gluttony, sexual lust, blood lust. Whether it’s to gain power, to amass wealth, to rise to fame, to hunger for an excellent steak tartare, or to consume another’s flesh in all the ways we wish to devour our lovers; our lust can transcend reality into delirious heights of ecstasy. There are all kinds of ways we lust, yet we often feel ashamed of wanting the things we desire.  Even still, we love to live vicariously through characters like Madonna, Samantha Jones, Hugh Hefner, Cleopatra, and King Solomon.

LustWe have constructed rules about governing our lust, and clouded it with guilt and shame.  I suppose on a mass scale it keeps the streets safe from carnage.  But it’s this drive that fascinates me.  How many wars have been waged, inventions created, artworks rendered, and empires built in the name of lust?

New York takes lust to Gatsby-like excess.  We are like vampires with our needs, wants, and aspirations.  We have a long and illustrious history of taking our lust to new levels. Our skyline of steel phalluses rising into the atmosphere is proof positive.

LustSome animals when stalking to feed, hunt in packs, but they also share the carcass. I prefer to hunt alone. I have never seen the logic in bringing bitter competition to the party with me. Yet lust has the power to strip us of reason. We can morph from rational people to base animals within minutes. Even seconds.

I was at a cocktail party when I met a passionate, slightly eccentric woman.  She told me she had once driven through the gates of her ex-husband’s property and then crashed through the glass into the living room. Why? To confront him out of scorn or jealous rage. As he sat there in his living room, naked, smoking a cigarette, watching her advancing, frozen in disbelief, the episode apparently metamorphosed into two days of mad, passionate sex.

LustLust can be emotionally or hormonally driven.  As a woman in her prime, I can attest to experiencing feelings like a lioness in heat.  With the impending expiration date of my eggs, it seems that my hormones are in full throttle.  Screaming “last call!” as my reproductive years begin to wane.  I’m not a whore; I’m in heat.  It’s not my fault.  It’s the hardwiring of my hormone-drunk brain.  But it seems to me we only ever hear of women’s cramps and hot flashes, or occasionally the proverbial “ticking biological clock.”  Lust is an inevitable part of natural life, yet an aspect that we guilt into the closet — choosing to cold shower our urges into submission.  How miserable.  I hate the cold.

There is a song from the musical Oklahoma sung by one of the two females leads (Ado Annie) called “I Cain’t Say No,” written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The song is endearing in its sweet, honest, helpless portrayal of a familiar inner conflict: her inability to resist the desire to receive (and give) affection in the face of being labeled the town tart.  The world often tells women they are not entitled to the same lust that men are privileged – and even applauded – to possesses.  Absurd.

LustLust, heady and intoxicating, is part of life.  Revel in it.  Embrace it.  Bask in the satiated afterglow like the tip of your e-cigarette.  Enjoy it responsibly.  We should be conscious and clear in our dalliances, rather than ashamed.  Embracing our wanton ways, although harder, is ultimately healthier.

Ask Sam: Hope and the Holidays

HopeNext to the North Pole and Santa’s headquarters lies Rockefeller Center with skaters gliding around the ice. Its magnificent tree is the epicenter of Christmas itself.  Every year, tens of thousands of people come from all over the world to gaze upon the extraordinary Christmas tree glowing in the dark, lighting up Rockefeller Plaza.  It is said that the ornament at the very top of the tree is worth about $30,000. Mass crowds are mesmerized by this holiday opulence. It is the symbol of Christmas in New York.

Holidays are filled with lights at the darkest time of the year, a shadowy period in the hearts of many, while others rejoice. If we look at the origins behind lights during the holidays they are all related: they illuminate the darkness, a ray of hope for the future, a wish for peace amidst war, prayers for miracles and maybe even to lend lightness to our souls.

Hope is what sees us through the murkiest moments of our lives.  Hope gives us the courage to find our way when we wake to find ourselves lost, “En una selva oscura.” Nobody wants to live in Dante’s “Inferno,” nor “Purgatorio” for that matter, even if we thought that Hell would be packed like an exclusive club with all the cool people “on the list” partying while Cerberus kept all the squares out.  Once we got in, the place would not live up to the hype.  Hope gives us something to cling to when all else is gone.  It is what helps keep our spirits alive so we can go another day to see how it all works out.

Hope is vital to mankind.  Once a person gives up hope it’s over.  I have seen people abandon their dreams and it kills them slowly.  The same can be said of us globally. Creative types must create. Wall Street cannot remain flaccid any longer and we must continue to hope for peace and a better world for a future worth having. If not, what’s the point?

This is a season of miracles and random acts of kindness. Let’s hope that warmth, compassion, generosity and lightness of being finds all of us this season.

As we ring in the New Year there will be more lights, wishes and more hope. It gives us a fresh start, almost a new life. I wish the energy that the New Year generates could stay with us all year around and that the twenty-four hours of peace around the world could be a constant. Wouldn’t it be great if we could maintain the same enthusiasm, so our resolute resolve to execute New Year’s resolutions would not fade with morning hangovers? I wish we all achieve our goals for 2014 and that this year fulfills our deepest yearnings for health, peace, prosperity and love to us individually, and to New York, the greatest city on earth.

Hope and happiness for 2014.

Happy New Year!