Fourteen Again Blog

February 26, 2010

Take the hill…

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 5:30 pm

Do you remember about a year or so ago you mounted a sled and took to the hill in the park across the street?  Remember when it dawned on you that you couldn’t steer it and you were headed straight for the trees?  I’ll never forget the amount of fear we felt.  It was blinding and paralyzing.  I remember the heart pounding and the panic.  I think there may have even been a scream.  The pain from the impact lasted about a week.  The bruises faded pretty quickly but the fear lasted much longer. 

Very soon you will have a chance to go sledding down the hill again.  You won’t go because you will feel that blinding fear in your chest again.  You’ll stay in wondering why all your friends flat left you.  And that will be the life you create. 



You take that sled and you run as hard as you can for that hill and you go.  You figure out how to steer it or you figure out how to bail out of it if it goes wrong.  Dh whatever it takes but get your ass on that sled.  If you don’t do it you will be afraid all your life.  You will never take a chance you will never spread your wings. 

 Are you listening?  You will regret it for the rest of your life.

It took me a very long time to zero in on why I’ve spent my life like this and it always comes down to being afraid of pain.  Pain is only temporary because we’ve lived though a lot of it.  Money will be lost and found, you will make mistakes, you will hurt but you will get over all of it – if you only have the courage to take the chances. 

Take the hill.


February 25, 2010

From the Desk of Tony Stark…

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 6:17 pm

Fourteen Again has made take a look back at years I hated.   Was in 9th grade that year.   At a school which is now gone-Parson Junior HIgh School.   I remember not wanting to get up in morning and couldn’t wait to get the days over.   I did ok in school.   However, I thought the teachers weren’t very good.   Looking back now, they had a tough scary bunch to attempt to teach.
Recently there was a reunion of everyone from those days.   Funny those that hung out with each other back in school all hung out with each other at the reunion.
The best part of the reunion was meeting up with Sammy, Carmine, Lisa, Lisa and Joeseph.   By virtue of reuniting with them, I partnered with them and got my kids fitness book: Little Joe Fitness published.   Please go to to find out more about that.   Feel free to order a copy of the comic book too. just a buck($1).

SInce that reunion a few months ago, I befriended Tom, who’s bog this is.   Looking back to 14…I’m not on the cusp of 40 (3/21/70 -date of birth), I’m looking at my success’ and failure’s.
My greatest success, is the fact that at the age of 14, I declared I was going to compete in the Ironman Triathlon, which got complete on 8/29/08, in Lousville, KY.   My next Ironman Race is 8/29/10 in Canada.   I’m so happy and thrilled to have fulfilled my dream and can be an icon for dream fulfillment to others.   Even my junior high classmates.

Leaving a comment has been fun.
See you all soon!

Joel IRONMAN Matalon

But you probably won’t listen anyway….

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 6:11 pm

I think the most important advice I would give to myself at 14 years old would be that your sense of self comes, not from others (including your parents) but from yourself.   Take the time and effort to really think about your strengths and weaknesses, and value yourself for those. 

You will never be able to measure up to what you think are the opinion of others.  Work hard to make the circumstances in which you find yourself work for you.  Happiness (and maybe it is contentment that is even more important and valuable) will come from that effort and your belief in yourself. 

 Now, I am quite aware that at 14 I would, in my own infinite wisdom, believe that I, as my old self, didn’t have a clue.  But I do believe at this time in my life that  there is some wisdom that comes with age and experience.  

Jane (from somewhere in her ’60’s)

Above all, don’t panic!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 5:56 pm

Dear Me, But Me 18 Years Ago: 

First of all, don’t panic.  Not everything works out, but it could be worse…  
Some advice you should’ve followed:  Stay true to your instincts.  Don’t be so patient with everybody.  Don’t be so polite with everybody. (Do be kind.)  Enjoy the things you enjoy and go tell everyone else to go screw themselves.
Learn to speak French.  Learn to play the piano.  You’ll regret not being able to do these things.  Look into this Internet thing, it’s gonna be huge.
Have a drink now so it won’t be such a  huge thing later.  Same thing with a fuck.
The New York Mets will break your heart.  It’s probably good for you in the long run. 
Some things are on the right path:  Keep reading, keep singing, keep eating.  Keep being you.  (Just not all the time.)
 Take up writing at an earlier age. 
Take some time to learn about and thank the people who will pass on as you get older.  You’ll thank me later. 
Work harder, but if you get the chance to go to places you love, don’t miss it.  Don’t ever turn down an adventure of any sorts!  Enjoy life. 
And above all, don’t panic. 
Good luck (’cause way too much of it’s luck), yours, 32 Year Old Me 

For the Uncomfortable and Depressed, your time is coming…

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 5:52 pm

Dear Uncomfortable and Depressed Self,

      It’s me now 37 years old and I just want to say, “Boys will be Boys”.  Do not worry about how you look. You are beautiful just the way you are. These same boys from the hood that do not like you now will come around wanting to be with you and you can say, “Ha, Ha, it is too late, I transformed into a beautiful woman and you are a ugly man and I do not like you anymore”. I know being fourteen is hard right now and your friends’ think you are weird because you have not French kissed a boy yet but continue to just be yourself. Continue to play kickball and roller skate and jump rope.  Don’t let your friends push you in a direction that you are not ready to take. It is hard fitting in with your friends now but eventually you will find your own way with good friends to match. Eventually you will loose touch with your “friends” and you will meet new friends from High School, College, and throughout your life experiences. They all will accept you for being yourself.

      You are pretty dark skin black sistah with a good head on your shoulders. It is not the end of the world if these boys do not think you are pretty. You are not too skinny and eventually, you will have some “junk in your trunk” that will make the boys turn their heads. I know you are jealous of your younger sister and girlfriends for developing early. I know the boys are saying, “Look at your sister, What happened to you?” You are already a beautiful young girl who will become an even more beautiful woman. You are not ugly because you are dark skin, skinny, with no ass.

      Take your time and stop being so depressed all the time. Just be yourself and don’t let anyone tell you who you should be. You will find your own path. Don’t listen to your friends all the time. They are not always right. Keep being you. You do not have to hang out and drink Private Stock beer if you do not want to. So keep on reading Judy Blume books like Forever and Sweet Valley High series because there is a world outside of Red Hook where eventually you will get to see one day and experience. You will get to travel outside of New York City and go to countries like Africa and London and experience life outside of Brooklyn. You will get to meet friends outside your race and that one friend will introduce you to your husband. You will be married to a man who adores you and think you are beautiful a dark skin sistah from Red Hook Brooklyn.

Your Friend at age 37

February 12, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane To Age Fourteen by Stan Friedland

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 5:22 pm

ADMIN NOTE:  This is a vey special contribution by a friend and mentor (and my High School Prinicipal), Stan Friedland.  He was quite an inspiration to me many years ago and I’m happy that not only are we in contact today, but that he took the time to add his recollections to the collective body of Fourteen Again.  Thanks, doc!

My 14th year was spent in the last half of 1945 and the first half of 1946. I was living in the Pride of Judea Children’s Home, which was an orphanage located in the East New York section of Brooklyn, New York. Like most kids there, I had one parent still living, my mother, but she had developed Multiple Sclerosis when I was four and my elder brother and I had been placed in another orphanage, followed by an abusive foster home, from which we had run away. We then were placed in this orphanage when I was nine (1940) and I lived here until 1947, when I turned sixteen.

In early 1945, right after his 17th birthday, my brother Bernie, three and one half years older than me, joined the Navy and left the Pride (as we called it). This was the first time in my life that we had ever been apart and I remember being quite ambivalent about it. We had a close and loving relationship and we had been through a lot together. My mother, a magnificent woman, had made no bones about drumming into the both of us that he was to watch out for me and I was to listen to him. Our father had died a young man when I was just four and Bernie had been my main male presence in all areas, and an excellent one as well. While I always was able to handle myself without real need for his protection, nonetheless, he had given me his love, his attention, the occasional discipline when I got out of line and the continued prodding to do well in school because that’s what “would make Mom happy!’ Since we both revered our mother, that had to be our priority agenda; we could have fun, but we had to stay out of trouble and I had to continue to do well in school.

The school part had its own irony. Bernie didn’t like school, or at least the academic aspects of it. He was a terrific craftsman and could do anything with his hands. He was more than content when the Pride, as was its custom, evaluated each of its children in their eighth grade and then sent him off to a vocational high school to learn a trade. He was a casual student until it came to projects. If he liked that work, he’d produce an extraordinary, high quality project that would knock your socks off. But, in subjects such as English, History, Math and the like, he’d be content to do just enough to earn C’s. Fortunately for me, I had a reverse set of skills and interests. I was disinterested in crafts, and could barely bang in a nail successfully. But, at the end of my eighth grade, I won the medal as the outstanding scholar in my graduating class, which lit up my mom’s face with a great smile, especially when I presented her with that medal. Of course, I was sent to an academic high school where I even made the Honors sections in English and Social Studies. I was on course to be the first one from my entire family lineage ever to go to college. It was the major source of happiness for my mom and that fueled my drive each and every day.

As one readily can conclude, my brother and I idolized our mother. We saw her each Sunday for a two hour visit. Her “home” was the Jewish Sanitarium (spelled that way) For Chronic Diseases; an ugly name for an ugly place. We’d always find a way to get there for our weekly visit, usually with an aunt or uncle, or else through any other adult whom we would press into service because we couldn’t go otherwise. We made damn sure that never happened because our mom lived for those visits, and, quite frankly, so did we.

So, here was July, 1945, my 14th birthday and I was in the middle of my first ever year without the presence of my brother. Since the war was over in Europe and the Japanese were about to surrender in the Pacific, my brother, a late entry into the Navy, would be among the first to be discharged, but that would not be until the early part of 1946.  Then, he’d be going to live with our favorite aunt, who regrettably, had room in her apartment only for him. As I remember, I didn’t seem to mind. As I said earlier, I looked at our year apart and though I had missed him because of our close and loving relationship, I realized that I had wanted to be on my own. Everyone does at some stage and age. Given my rocky background, I knew that I was more than “tough enough” to handle any problem or situation. And I had several that year.

Athleticism was one of the main currencies of our orphanage, as it is in most social or school settings. I was a standout athlete in virtually every sport we played and especially in basketball, our most popular pastime. But, I was also small for my age during most of my childhood, even earning the nickname of “PeeWee”, which stuck with me even after I had my main growth spurt (during, of course, my 14th year) and shot up some six to eight inches. In fact, when my brother did come home from the Navy, after not seeing me for about a half year, we both were startled to find that “my big brother” was no longer my “big” brother. He had left me when he was half a head taller and now, I was half a head higher than he! We both laughed quite a bit at this reversal because neither he nor I had realized it was taking place.

But, during that year, the rivalries that I had on the ball field with several kids were spilling over into some hot-tempered confrontations. We all took our games seriously and we all tended to be sore losers. Since I usually came out the winner on the field, that result didn’t rest easily with some of the kids. And I had not one, or two but three of my toughest fights that year. Frankly, I never liked fighting and I tried to avoid them in whatever honorable way possible. I wasn’t nearly as good a fighter as I was an athlete, mainly because of my size, but I never sidestepped a fight either. In the past, my brother, sometimes unbeknownst to me, would head off my impending fights, despite my protests. But now, I was on my own and so be it. I lost my first fight to probably the toughest kid in my age group. He was a husky kid with a sharp temper & he simply used his weight to get me in a tight headlock (funny how you remember such things a million years later). He even yelled, “I’m not letting you go until you say, I give up.” I think I said, “Go fuck yourself” and on we went until one of the Supervisors came by and broke us up. Only a week later, we got into it again, but this time, I stayed out of his reach and landed some great punches that bloodied his face and the kids there quickly broke it up so he could get some medical care. Why did I feel so good? You’re darn right. Best feeling in the world; “macho-macho mannnn!”

The last fight was a humdinger as well. I used to walk to my high school, Thomas Jefferson, which was about 15 blocks away, whenever the weather permitted. On this day, I was walking with my best friend, Allen, a good athlete, but so thin that we called him, “Kid Candle; one blow and he’s out.” Along comes a kid from the neighborhood, also on his way to Jeff, who had been bullying Allen. He started taunting the two of us and I knew that he and I were on course for a collision. And collide we did. But, since we both didn’t want to be late for school, we didn’t grapple; we just started to box each other, all the while moving in the direction of school. And we boxed the entire route! We ended up at school a comical mess! We both were bleeding, our clothes were wet and dirty and we were thoroughly exhausted. We both had gotten our licks in, but given the way we looked and felt, we both had lost! We had two options; to turn around and go home, or, go to the school nurse. I wasn’t about to return to my orphanage in this condition and he had a sharp-tongued mother. Neither of us hesitated and we both went to the nurse. When she asked what had happened, I quickly said that we had had a hot touch football game that had gotten a little too physical. He quickly nodded in assent and we were able to get patched up and cleaned up enough to return to class. We both appreciated that ending and we became “almost friends” from that point on.

When I turned 14 in July of 1945, I already had been at Jefferson for one semester because I had been in the RA (Rapid Advance) Program in elementary school, which had enabled me to skip forward one semester. I’d do so again in high school, so that I wound up one year ahead, something I wouldn’t recommend for most boys, especially today. As stated before, I was small for my age, so that when I tried out for the JayVee basketball team at a school that was perennially a powerhouse, I quickly was cut. But, I also had great skills as a diver and I quickly made the school swim team and was always in contention with the other diver for the number one spot. But, I never had had any coaching and diving requires it if one is to improve. Alas, our coach had been a distance swimmer and he was not even going to try to find the funds needed to bring in a diving coach. So, my good potential went nowhere and my promising skills never really matured. But, I did enjoy the experience. Competitive diving is like doing a solo number on stage. The silence is deafening as the diver takes his mark. I’ll always remember the sound of the water lapping up against the pool against the thick silence of the room. Then the fullest focus on my approach; for me, a five-stepper; hit the board and go up, not out, execute, arch, point those toes and make as clean an entry as possible. Really quite exacting, quite demanding and loaded with pressure because you only get one try per dive. I occasionally did well, but most of the time I only picked up paltry points for my team. However, it was nice to read my name in the school newspaper and winning two letters was indeed thrilling as well.

As you can see, fourteen was a coming of age year for me and a very important one at that. Those early adolescent years are “linkage” years which then segue into that all important bridge into “older adolescence”. If those links are sound, they propel you forward with a healthy momentum into your next age-stage year. My being on my own for the first time and my handling those challenges well did much for my self confidence, a vital ingredient in growing healthy self-esteem. It really didn’t matter that I lived in an orphanage, or that my brother lived elsewhere. I still had him nearby; I still had my mother nearby; I’d see them both every week for my needed “fix”. But, I was learning to fly solo and that’s what I did that year for the very first time. It felt good!

Footnote: I thoroughly enjoyed my trip down memory lane. It’s so much better this second time around. And fourteen is such a great place to visit!


February 10, 2010

You’re on the right road, just drive…

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 7:25 pm

This isn’t going to be the letter you think it will be with life changing advice, because believe it or not you happen to love your life in the future. But you should expect some advice that you may not think is necessary or important but in a few years you’ll find you’re wrong.
By now you’re probably living on the 3rd floor of Sanford dorm room in a tiny bare room that you’ll come to love and eventually miss once it’s gone. Get out of it! Stop spending every free second you have doing homework and reading books in there. Go out, sit outside, enjoy your friends and stop thinking you have to get your homework done earlier than required in order to be a good student. You’ll make new friends as you grow older, but then the friends you have now will be scattered all over and have their own new friends and you’ll wonder why it happens like that. For now, enjoy the mini world you guys have created and just live.
Second, go home more. You live away from your family and you’ll miss them one day. Even your brother. I know you think he’s nerdy and geeky but one day you’ll see why and love that about him. Your parents miss you and trust me, you worry them alot and the worst hasn’t happened yet. Let them worry, let them call, and let them visit whenever they want. If not for them, this life you love wouldn’t be happening. I know you hate to talk on the phone to your grandparents, no one knows that better. Feels like it will never end right? Just do it. I go to pick up the phone now and call maw maw before it hits me there won’t be another voice talking back to me. Write her more letters too. You’ll see one day that she cherishes them and you’ll wish you wrote one everyday.
Third, you’ve already met the person that changes your life and influences you the most. Listen to everything she says to you, it all comes from somewhere and she’s crazy because she has so much to share but not many listen. She wants you to listen and fight back. Sometimes you’ll cry, sometimes you’ll get kicked out of the ballet and sometimes you’ll want to put her in your pocket and never let her leave you, just remember to fight. You’ll see what I mean. Stop thinking you’ll have her forever, she’s just like everyone else in your life. And start believing in ghosts…
Fourth, save money!!!! Not so you can shop and buy cool things, but so I can stop worrying now. I think I spend half my day worrying about money and I’d really appreciate it if you could change that for me!
Fifth, don’t start partying too much. It won’t change your life and you will wake up hungover too many mornings and waste too many days feeling like crap. You won’t make any important and long lasting relationships out of it. Listen to a certain few friends because they believe in you more than you will. You’ll find one day that staying in with a few friends is far better than being at a bar with many.
Now for a few small things…
1. Learn how to do things around your apartment by yourself – hang pictures, build things, fix broken things…friends can’t always do it for you.
2. Don’t move to Washington Heights or Inwood. You’ll save a lot of money and stress.
3. Let your brother teach you how to drive a stick in the parking lot of his high school. don’t get frustrated and don’t get mad at home for getting frustrated.
4. Stop stretching your feet and hopefully we can avoid surgery.
Lastly, and the one I think you should listen to above all else – stop worrying about everything. Stop waiting for the next shoe to drop. Stop waiting for something bad to come. Stop trying to plan everything out. Live day to day or week to week but try not to plan 6 months from now. Things will happen naturally and you’ll enjoy it much more then. You won’t be disappointed when something goes wrong and you’ll be surprised when they go right. Don’t ruin the good stuff by waiting for the bad stuff. You are on the right road and will all the right things to get where you want to be. I don’t need to tell you to make a different decision or take a certain job because you’ll end up in the right place so all you need to do now is sit back and enjoy how you get there.
No one knows you better,

A lyric perhaps…

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 7:24 pm
Today is not what it will be
Tomorrow will come and you will see
Years of friends and love will come
Lots of travel, experiences and fun
Today is not what it will be
Soon you’ll find what you seek
No more pain, wounds will heal
Becoming the woman you were meant to be
Today is not what it will be
The future is bright, strength is key
Many men will come and go
When it is right you will know
Enjoy each day and in every way
Your future is bright, listen to what I say
Today is definitely not what it will be

Hang On…

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 7:22 pm
Hang on….I know you don’t think you’ll make it…..just hang on….You will find yourself stronger soon and be able to come out of your closet and tell….Finally free you will be.  You will save many lives from the torture you endured.  He will be punished.  Hang on…You family Will fall apart like he always said….but hang on….you will survive….your family will survive.  You will never have to face him again.  Let the police and psychiatrists take care of him now…and the other prisoners in the jail.  Hang on…don’t hurt yourself again trying to take away your pain….you will survive and thrive. 
I always thought that God was punishing us…but actually he was making us into the strongest, most caring loving person I know.  There is nothing on this Earth that could ever hurt us, we will know we will always survive….because we lived our first 18 years in hell…so now God will show us heaven on Earth.  You will find true love, travel, friendship, and how to nurture your own family.  Just hang on….It is coming soon.
Hang on…I am hoping the nightmares go away soon….hang on.

A thousand kisses of Light

Filed under: Uncategorized — fourteenagain @ 7:20 pm

From his Magnificence,

Don’t worry about what your parents think.  You’re going to divorce them in two years anyway so does it really matter?  Don’t try to please them or make them happy and if you can try to start ignoring them.  You know how they perpetually say, ‘You never listen!’, but in actuality you hear every single thing they say, consider, and think about it?  Stop doing that; they are crazy and though you probably are too, they are crazier and are therefore more likely incorrect… at least that’s what the judge is going to rule in two years.  More on that in two years. 

Anthony Henley, while a great friend is not the most important person in your world and he is moving at the end of this school year; sorry.  Find more friends so the loss isn’t so crushing. 

Keep reading; it’s the greatest source of enjoyment you will ever find.  Sex while terribly fun, is not; the greatest source of enjoyment you will ever find, that is.  You may not know it now but in a few years you are going to realize that you are such a hoe bag because you are trying to find the love that your parents deprive you.  Stop; you’re not going to find it. 

Keep your confidence and total disregard for other people’s feelings; you’re in Southern California with a bunch of rich bitches; Irvine, California even.  How much do their feelings which you don’t care about really matter anyway? 

You’re pretty much on track and doing every thing you’re supposed to be doing anyway, but be aware that doing 3,000 push ups a night and not 3,000 crunches a night is probably going to do you better (due to your metabolism) in a few years anyway.  Oh, and stretch more.  You’re nowhere near as flexible as you think you are or will be even if you are a guy so… prep for that and stop being an anorexic compulsive exerciser; it’s not healthy, you don’t really enjoy and food is so delicious right now. 

And dressing as a crayon; it’s not as cute as you think it is, is way too much effort, and psychobabble bullshit aside it really doesn’t amount you any more control over your life than you’ve deluded yourself it does.  All in all, you should know that yes you are as good looking as you think you are, and none of these people matter or will matter in a few years (except for Jenna, which you pretty much know and have decided anyway), and you are indeed going to end up in NYC, though if you can, suffer it and go to Ailey after SAB instead of AMDA… you’ll know what I mean in 3 years.  And if you think you hate your brother now… just wait until you turn 22… I’m not kidding. 

And start modeling now!  While you are going to get more beautiful in different ways, you’ll never be as pleased with your beauty as you are now.

And remember to be kind; it doesn’t happen that often (and frankly really isn’t going to) and probably won’t make your life any easier, but it might make the world a better place.  Oh and all of your friends don’t like you, they are just afraid of you.  Think about that one; for 12 hours.  Now go eat something- it might help the ulcer.

A thousand kisses of Light,


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