Birthday Blues: Another Year Older

I have had a really hard time putting this post together, but I knew I had to. I wanted to do this for myself, and maybe to the few others out there who are not doing so well handling an upcoming birthday, a milestone, another day older and all the responsibilities and faded memories that come along with it. 

I wanted to put up some baby pictures of myself in spite of my birthday, which is today, and sure enough, as I had expected it to be, the process of digging through 20 plus year-old photos was entirely too overwhelming.

My family has managed to keep just about every photograph they ever took of our family, which is a lot. Between the sappy music I should have avoided playing and the crushing nostalgia of my childhood, I just about broke down.

I am 25 years-old today. And like you, like everyone and everything on this planet, I am only getting older. All of those memories seem entirely too far away- almost like they never happened- perhaps, just a very long movie of which I can only remember bits and pieces. 

I really do not know how I got here, and how I got here so damn quick. I guess I should know how to act like a 25 year-old because I had years to practice and prepare, but I feel the same as I always have; constantly searching for joy, looking for adventures, and digging for new emotions, which could be considered more childlike than anything.

Happy birthday to anyone who shares my birthday with me! Let us do our best today to stay happy and look toward the future with as much optimism as we had in our teens. I guess that is all we can really wish for ourselves.

“The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”

-Oscar Wilde

Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we’ve grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it’s not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing.

-Jerry Seinfeld

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”

-Lucille Ball

The Wannabe Rich Girl Epidemic: It’s Here & It’s Happening

I am not ashamed to admit that I do watch reality television. I have been way behind on my E! show Mrs. Eastwood and Company, so after Twilight was over I caught myself up.

The show is based on actor Clint Eastwood’s wife Dina, and her two young daughters (one is the birth daughter of Titanic actress Francis Fisher) and their crazy Hollywood life. When Francesca (the adopted-of-sorts daughter) was asked to chainsaw a $100,000 Birkin Bag by her photographer boyfriend, Tyler Smith, (to send out a message of waste and greed associated with high fashion), it got all types of juices flowing in this head of mine.

This “reality show” was wildly down-to-earth. There were many valuable lessons in this particular episode. For example, when poor child turned super famous actor’s wife, Dina, explained that that one bag was some people’s (the average persons) salary for four years, or that it could support all the starving children in Malaysia for a year, I had to vent.

E! girls, Dina (blue), Morgan (middle) and Francesca

I mixed my last vodka cocktail, put the ceiling fan on high, (the reaction of vent blogging makes me hot and anxious), and decided that the last blog post before I turn 25 years-old, an age that will most likely throw me a nasty reality check, will be on the materialistic and superficial.

When does it stop? I mean, the constant Facebook uploads of mall purchases, excuse me, department store purchases; of boxes and bags and receipts and mirrors shots of name brands, of prices, of a wad of green bills stacked up with some pretentious “C.R.E.A.M.” related caption.

Do not get me wrong. When I buy a new dress I am the first person to snap a picture. I love the feeling of being feminine, and if I have not mentioned it before, I am a makeup addict. I love to shop for new eyeshadows and lipsticks, but I do not need to take a picture of the Nars box and post it on Facebook, Twitter and send a mass e-mail out to my entire contact book.

  • If you have earned it because you work, or… save, then good for you. When the occasion calls for you to dress up, you are going to get that $50 dollar dress and make it work. You do not need some frilly $300 dollar one-night cocktail dress because the consignment shop had more options. Although, if you wanted to splurge and buy the cute BCBG number you will go ahead and do so because you worked for it. Throw in some matching heels and a clutch to boot. You have a sense of damn reality. The days when mom and dad fronted your ‘going out apparel’ are over.

I am so sick and tired of the whole name brand thing. Your clothes should reflect your personality. Wait, maybe that explains why every stuck up chica this side of New York City has a hard on for $1,200 Christian Louboutin heels they will only wear to the local bar. Blah. 

  • You are a traveler, an avid sports fan, a total foodie, a young adult with… bills! You have more important and practical things to do with your money. How could a girl without some socialite background try to ever pull one over on people via Facebook that they actually have everything; handbags and heels and a car that my parent’s could not afford after working their entire blue collar lives. What a slap in the face.

Am I being a jealous hater? You could say so. Honestly, in all serious honesty, with every respect to the concept of honesty… I just cannot fathom the thought processes of the people I call my “Facebook Friends,” of the young, ditzy girls I see during a regular mall visit with five bags too many from some unpronounceable store packed with the totally unnecessary.

So uh, want to go to the diner?

I feel that my eyes are stained every time I check my social networks. I witness, on a daily basis, a total disregard for living life. People, young like I was, are wasting the best years of their lives trying to prove what they have to others, all the while trying to somehow prove themselves to…. well, themselves.

You’re a rich girl, and you’ve gone too far. Cause you know it don’t matter anyway. You can rely on the old man’s money. You can rely on the old man’s money. It’s a bitch girl, but it’s gone too far. Cause you know it don’t matter anyway. Say money, money won’t get you too far, get you too far.

Birthday Week Kick-Off: Weekend Mash-Up

Happy Monday, my friends. I am aiming to post a bit more than usual this week because Friday is my birthday and I have been in a great mood… regardless of this Bonnaroo cold I caught!

I am that girl who celebrates seven days before the clock strikes midnight on her day of birth, and when the exact time (1:28 a.m.) comes, I am usually up toasting to my existence. I used to do this because I was simply excited about birthdays; the party that came with celebrating M-E. 

Now, I toast for a less self-indulgent reason; a congratulatory glass of champagne at the marker of one more year for the record books… a journey into the ongoing discovery of self. A long while it has taken for me to accept all the things in my life; the hardships, who I am, and what my mission here on earth entails. So celebrating a week in advance for making it through another calendar on this beautiful planet and having grown wiser- for the most part- is totally acceptable in my book. 

On that note, I want to start out light and sweet. I call it: the Weekend Mash-Up! Stay tuned until the end (or you can skip right to it), because I have a question that you may have the answer to!

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Friday I ventured to New York City for some business I had to take care of regarding my stint on Spike TV’S Ink Master. I cannot discuss anything at all, but I can say that I will be making my first television appearance ever in the near future.

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The city was beautiful. The sun was warm and the breeze was flowing; smelling of street meat, cab exhaust and all the various pieces of eclectic culture that make NYC what it is. My friend Chris came along for the journey via train to Midtown East. We stopped for a fajita lunch at Tequilaville on Vanderbilt and 42nd Street, adjacent to Grand Central and took in all the bustle and busyness of the city with open arms. I guess you can say we were both suffering from severe suburb-fluenza. If you have not been to the city, plan your trip now. I recommend autumn as the best time of the year to visit.

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Saturday I took care of those things called errands and responsibilities before I went up to spend time with the boys. I talked them (minus Alex) into doing a “melty-crayon thing” that I discovered on a young girl’s Tumblr blog. Upon further research, I found that it was a popular arts and crafts project.

You will need:

  • A foam posterboard (white or black)
  • At least a 64-pack of crayons
  • A glue gun (with no less than 2 sticks of glue)
  • A hair dryer
Line the crayons up with the “Crayola” showing (it just looks prettier and more uniform.) I suppose you could take the label off, but that seems awfully tedious. Once the crayons are lined up in the color order you prefer, glue a line down the backside and stick it on with the point facing the bottom of the posterboard. Once you are done gluing, simply take the hairdryer and turn that sucker on high. Watch the wax melt! My friends just let theirs drip straight down but I started to mesh the colors together by holding the hairdryer sideways and heating the crayon that had already melted. So mine looks a bit more watercolor-esque. Enjoy!
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Sunday was Father’s Day and I spent the afternoon with my family; eating, drinking wine and remaniscing. I have the best childhood to look back on, and I love when my older sister, Christina (Tina), is over to help me fill in the blanks.

Playing Auntie Sarah. Go ahead and cop the new ‘do, I’ll allow it.
I bought my dad a fantastic little birdhouse with two suets. He is totally into birds. In his defense, he is: a.) a dad and b.) we have a great variety of birds in our neighborbood, (Orioles, woodpeckers, finches, etc.). Thanks for the bird-ducation daddy-o!
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After the frenzy of family had ended, I parked my behind in front of the computer to attempt a finish at my latest Gathering of the Vibes article. I am working on an piece on organ donation.
*Gathering of the Vibes is a music and arts festival that honors the music of the Grateful Dead with four days of tunes and fun, and while be taking place in my hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut, again this year.
Former Grateful Dead bassist, Phil Lesh (Furthur, Phil Lesh & Friends) received a liver transplant in 1998 due to a severe Hepatitis C infection which resulted in his involvement in many organ donor organizations, including his own: The Unbroken Chain Foundation.  Lesh gave a lecture about it at a past Vibes festival, and now I am taking on the responsibilty of covering a similar story, bringing awareness to a local fire department who is helping with organ donors in participation with organizations such as Donate Life.
The article is geared around the sacrifice and courage of those willing to donate, and the bravery and patience of those in need of a transplant.
If you or someone you know is a donor, or has received a transplant, and want to be part of an article that will be read by thousands in good light, please e-mail me at sarahmastroni@yahoo.com and let me know if you would be willing to tell your story briefly.
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What did you do this weekend?

What should I do to celebrate my birthday on Friday? I typically do a Japanese hibachi dinner and drinks, but I am thinking it is time for something new this year. 

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Happy Father’s Day, to my wonderful dad!

Bonnaroo: A Music Lover’s Paradise

Two full days later and your girl Sarah is still lingering in the epicenter of Tropical Storm Bonnaroo. I have festi-fever and the Tennessee sun could not sweat it out of me. The five of us successfully survived a tiring 19-hour RV ride down from Connecticut to Tennessee, an extended weekend of debauchery, little sleep, a very hot Southern sun and the inevitable 19-hour trip back to reality.

I met up with friends from home (check out Zoë’s blog here), and randomly bumped into a friend from home… three times. But when it comes to setting up camp at Bonnaroo, there is nothing like the RV community, where a triangle of motor homes joined forces for the good of festival fun. The people directly across from us were mainly from Miami but some from Cincinnati. They had all met up together in Ohio and drove down together. The third group in our Roo triangle was from Northern Virginia. For four days we all drank, laughed, exchanged stories together and saw one another in rather unpleasant, vulnerable but overall hilarious states.

Jonny and our RV neighbor, Brendan (I called him Ashton) relaxing with a guitar

For music lovers, this particular festival was a divine way to get it all done in one shot. Sure, the bill included heavy-hitters like Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Phish, but it also brought in some hugely popular names like ?uestlove, Alice Cooper, Ludacris, The Beach Boys and The Roots. To be honest with you, even, I heard more about late night sets from dubstep favorite, Skrillex, than I did about a lot of the bigger bands. The crowd for Radiohead, Phish and RHCP were divided evenly, thousands upon thousands of people gathered in an enormous field- blowing bubbles, throwing glowsticks, hula-hooping and swaying to every beat of every guitar wail, drum beat and vocal throughout the night.

I was relieved to see that the other tents which hosted smaller yet beloved bands like City and Colour, Alabama Shakes and The Joy Formidable were packed to the brim, people pouring out with hands up in the name of truly rockin’ tunes. love new alternative rock. Part of the reason I bought my ticket to Bonnaroo at exactly noon the day they were sold was so I could say I saw Foster the People, Two Door Cinema Club, Santigold, and Young the Giant one thousand miles from home. Bravo, Bonnaroo, for giving the younger folk a chance to embrace both their hipster and hippie ways. You surely did it best!

Myself (far right) Zoë (center) and Tatia at the Temper Trap

That being said. The schedule was overwhelming. 

“I need to see Dumpstaphunk again,” I say.

“Well, I really want to see Umphrey’s McGee,” says Friend A.

“Skrillex or Alice Cooper?”  We all debate.

“Okay, so you are going to see the Shins? I will meet you after, Young the Giant is playing the same time,” I repeated throughout the day.

“I don’t care to see the Avett Brothers or Bon Iver,” Friend B says.

“We finally agree on something!” I said with relief. 

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Alex (far left) Sean (middle) and Jonny at the main entrance before Radiohead

I was walking down to find one of the many portapotty communities on the second day, and where an enlarged poster of the concert schedule was nailed up on a bulletin, some hipster with a sharpie wrote across it, ‘Just Go With It.’

Everyone was trying to peer through it, fingers drawing lines from time to artist name with squinted eyes. I gave it some thought, a lot of thought actually. There were a bunch of bands besides the obvious headlining acts that I wanted to see, no doubt. But the Sharpie Hipster was right. I could not allow myself to get all worked up over keeping track of time. The walk from our RV to Centeroo was about 10-15 minutes, and with all the eye candy, people-watching, glowy-trippy-noisy-funky decorations to look at, including the weird light up rooster clock tower that danced with neon lights and a ferris wheels of color-wonders, I could not guarantee my ass a spot at any one place at the first strum of any one rockstar’s guitar.

From then on, I went with it. Making myself aware of the bands I truly wanted to see with no real frenzy-induced takeoff, I decided to do what my friends- and body- left room for me to do. This is what I suggest to all prospective Bonnarooers….

Just go with it

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The sun was shining all weekend with the exception of Sunday. I was a bit hungover but managed to freshen up (via baby wipes and Red Bull) and headed down to the main stage to see the Beach Boys. Holy heavens above, I am glad I did. It was such an experience. They sang like they would have done 20 years ago. Mike Love wore this super colorful beach shirt (as expected) which added to the authenticity of their name. The best part of that afternoon was Surfin’ U.S.A. Why? Because as soon as the first chorus came around, the sun poked through the clouds. It was almost in a sense- magical.

I was in such a delightful mood that I reversed my “No, thanks!” to friend Sean’s prior request to see Kenny Rogers. I loved it! I was totally blown away by the response he got by Bonnaroo-ers. There were a lot of people there to see him, and he was very charismatic  to the large crowd. I got to see him again when Phish called him on stage with them to sing “The Gambler.” Totally amazing, let me tell you.

Myself, Sean and Mallory from Alabama at Foster the People

When Phish’s set was over and the rain steadily drizzled on the 80,000 Bonnaroo-ers exiting Centeroo and packing up their cars alike, the reality of life set back in. Bonnaroo was in fact a dream.

The beginning of Phish. Lots of lights!

I sat up with Alex and drove through the night, being greeted by “welcome to” signs for hours, watching the highway change slightly in the dark with each twist and turn that was showing me almost nothing of where I was, but was beautiful in its own right.

More than the music, it was the experience, as most Roo Vets will tell you before you even get there. Renting an RV and traveling that distance is in fact life-changing. I played with my phone 99 percent less than normal, I was all right with embracing dirt and sweat, I forgot my worries at home and learned lessons on how to live carefree, simple, grateful and was thrown back into perspective from people my age around the country.

I hope you all get the opportunity to experience something like Bonnaroo in your lives.

 I found a great sense of joy in bonding with friends and strangers, and with every adventure like this I take, I learn that life is what you make of it, not what you have.