Chapter 60 – July 24, 2012

Brian, do you believe in God?  This guy is the most resilient patient I’ve ever seen.  You are so brave. Oh, you’re that guy that Dr. Steig worked on.  What an amazing operation.  Let me shake your hand.  Good job. You’re my new hero.  They gave you a 5% chance of making it off the table alive.  What’s going to be your legacy?  That is going to be my legacy.  All of the above are things I heard from doctors, friends, family, nurses.  They were all happy I pulled through.  The fact I pulled through and my daughter, that will be my legacy.

Sometimes you go to the beach and the ocean is full of rip currents.  Being a surfer, I love rip currents.  If you’re a swimmer, they can be a real drag.  The point is, it depends how you look at something.  There’s always a positive and negative to everything.  As a surfer, I love rip currents because they would bring me out back to the waves real quick.  As a swimmer, as long as you don’t fight it, you could work with it.  But, if you work against it it could take your life.  So, once again, it all depends on how you look at it.  This is how I live my life now.  There’s definitely a negative side, but believe it or not, there’s a positive side as well.  You just have to search for it.

I used to be a negative person.  Always looking at the negative side of things.  Now I try to do the opposite.  And it is like a form of therapy.  You gotta stay positive.  Go with the flow.

OK, I’ll get off of my soap box now and tell you a few things I thought of while I was on my back.

I was in Hawaii on a commercial photographic job.  I was walking back to the minivan with my two assistants.  Our arms were filled with equipment.  My first assistant said, open in a very deep voice, and the door slowly opened.  I thought, how cool is that?  A voice activated door.  Perfect.  We got in the van and in a deep voice he said “Close.” And the door closed.  I was really excited about it for some reason.  The next day, when we were finished, we were once again walking back to the minivan.  I said to my assistant, “Let me do it.  Let me say open.  Let me open the door.”  I stood there and said, “Open” in a deep voice.  Nothing happened.  I said Open again, nothing happened.  The first assistant said, “You sound like a 10 year old girl.  You gotta be a real man like me.  It’s programed for a manly voice like me.  You gotta be manly like me. Try again.”  So I said, “Open” in a voice Pavorotti would have been proud of.  And the door opened!  Once again, once we were inside, I deeply said, Close, and it closed.  Well, this went on for a couple of days, and then one day I said, Open in a deep voice and I looked over.  The guys, my assistants were crying they were laughing so hard.  The first assistant pulled out a clicker that he had in his pocket.  He’d been pressing open or close all week.  There was no voice activated door.  The bastards got me.  I was pissed.  The thing that really got me bummed out was there was no voice activated door, so if there’s anyone out there with a connection to GMC, let’s produce this idea, get it done, and then we can be the ones laughing at them.

While we’re talking about assistant, I’m going to tell you another story.  I had one guy I worked with who was skinny, skinny like you can’t believe, and yet, he ate like an elephant.  I had clients who would ask me if I was bringing him because they had to increase their food budget.  Well, anyway, we were at a job in a japanese restaurant, me and the crew and this assistant.  We had just gotten done shooting.  We had a good meal.  It was a good crew.  The client asked for the check and the waiter said, OK, but you still have one item to come out.  She, the client, looked confused.  Just then, I saw it. It was a humongous boat complete with masts, sails, and it took 2 people to roll it out.  It had sushi all over the deck.  I thought, that can’t be for us, that’s for 8 people.  The client said, oh no, that’s not ours, and my assistant said, no, it’s mine!  And he ate the whole thing.  I still say he has a tapeworm.

Another story happened in New Guinea.  I was on an editorial shoot.  We were on a boat along the coast.  Anyway, we were all drinking at the end of the day, and I did a few things I’m not proud of.  1. I drank way too much beer.  2. I threw the aluminum cans into the ocean, and 3. I decided it would be a good idea to show the model how to fire a 9 mm handgun.  These are all bad ideas when you’re really drunk.  So, anyway, the girl with our guide decides to use the cans in the water as target practice.  Well, after a few rounds she actually hit a can.  She was so excited she started jumping up and down and saying I hit it, I hit it.  Well I sure was jumping up and down.  She was waving her hands back and forth, and in one of her hands was a 9 mm gun.  She almost shot my head off.  The gun was under my chin.  Well, I sobered up pretty quick and after checking my shorts we went home to the hotel.

Well, that’s over now.  I have many more stories to tell.  I think it’s good for me to tell them.  It’s kind of like therapy for me.  I’ll see you next week.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 59 – July 17, 2012

Windsurfing, long boarding, running, tennis, tae kwon do, snow skiing, water skiing, cross-country skiing, biking, hiking, you get the idea.  I was a very active person.  Now, I sit in a wheelchair and stare at a tree.  It’s hard.  It’s really difficult to be so active and turn to a wheelchair.  I guess the only thing worse is I have an aide with me all the time.  I have someone bathe me, feed me, take me to therapy, dress me.  Everything.  That’s really torturous.  But, like I said before, I’m forever hopeful I’ll get better.  And I am getting better.  Just the other day in therapy, I walked for half an hour.  Mind you, it was with my Up and Go, which is kind of like a walker, but I did walk.  I felt like I ran a marathon.  I was so tired.  I think I’m still tired.

Hey, my sister had a fundraiser at her Theraputic Riding Center.  It was an amazing event.  It went really well.  I’m still amazed that she broke ground on the Theraputic Riding Center 2 days after I got injured.  It’s kind of ironic that she’s doing a therapy center and I got injured.  So ironic.  I hope she doesn’t start a cancer research center.  Anyway, her site is:  www.myfeettakewings.org  If you want to check it out.  I’ll probably start therapy there when I’m a little more stable.

I just want to mention something.  You know, you get all this stuff like a walker, a power chair, a bed, a shower chair, when you have traumatic brain injury.  Sometimes you look at the stuff and think, Man, I’m messed up.  You gotta look at all these items as tools to get you better.  Like I said before, don’t get hung up on the tools.  It’s not forever.  Like I said before, the only constant in life is change.  So you’ll get some other tools later.  That’s all I’m gonna say about that.  Oh, one other thing.  Make sure you buy quality stuff.  Don’t go cheap.

OK, now I have a few more fashion photography confessions, things I’m not proud of and I still feel guilty about.  Remember, I’ve been lying on my back for a long time thinking about things.

The first situation I want to talk about took place in the caribbean.  I was on a fashion shoot for a British fashion magazine.  I was assigned to do a swimwear story.  I decided to shoot on some sandbars that came out at low tide.  Well, on the way out there, one of the models was wearing the outfit to be shot in.  She looked great.  The young kid driving the small boat couldn’t take his eyes off of her.  He kept staring at her.  He was maybe 15 or so.  Anyway, we get out to the sandbar and we were about to start working.  The model and the stylist were talking to each other.  The model yelled out to the kid in the boat, “Hey You, in the boat, reach into my purse and get my chicken cutlets.”  Chicken cutlet is a term given to breast enhancers.  It’s a term the girls use.  The kid reached into her purse and pulled out her chicken cutlets.  He held them up in the air and looked mortified.  She said, yeah, that’s it.  Bring them over here please.  Well, he did.  She put them in and we continued on shooting.  Well, on the way back to the hotel at the end of the day, the boy didn’t even look at the girl.  I think he was crying.  I think we shattered all his dreams.

The next story took place in New York City.  We were shooting in a beautiful loft in Manhattan.  I was working with a client I worked for maybe once a year.  They had a producer that they used all the time.  She and I were like an old married couple.  One minute we loved each other.  The next minute we hated each other.  Anyway, there was a lot of real nice art in this apartment.  We were told Do Not Touch Anything unless we talk to the head housekeeper.  The housekeeper and the producer kept going on and on about how valuable a certain vase was.  It was on the mantel and by all means we were not to touch it.  She kept bugging me about it over and over.  So what did I do?  I took a photo of it, gave the photo to my assistant.  Give him some money and I said, go to chinatown, get a vase that looks like this, a real cheap one, but as close as possible in look to this one.  Well, he did.  He went to chinatown, got the vase came back and we replaced the valuable one with the fake one.  I hid the valuable one and continued shooting.  At the end of the day, the producer said something to once again annoy me.  Well, I leaned against the mantel, leaned my face on my hand and acted like a real prima donna New York photographer (very well I might add), and then I yelled at her, waved my hands about knocking the vase over.  I tried to catch it and fumbled with it, and it fell to the floor and shattered.  She freaked.  She started screaming at me, and then she started crying and then the housekeeper came out she was from Vietnam.  She looked at me and the broken vase and she started screaming something in vietnamese.  I thought she was going to kill me.  And then, she started crying.  Everyone was freaking out. I said, no no.  It’s a joke.  I was joking.  They didn’t think it was funny.  I got everyone to calm down, and then my assistant comes out with the valuable vase and said, where do you want me to put this vase?  The housekeeper looked at me and said, “What did he say?” and she started crying again.  I still feel guilty.

OK, here’s the last one.  This story, we’ll even give it a name, and remember, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  We’ll call this story, “Scarlet and her Beaver.”  I think you can guess where I’m going with this.  Anyway, I was in St. Lucia on a beauty shoot for a British magazine.  I had to do a skin shot and a double page.  The girl I was using had great skin and a great body, so I decided to do a nude double page spread.  It was going to be very tasteful and arty.  She had no problem with it, but she said I’ll only do it if I face down on my belly.  I said OK, no problem.  So we started shooting.  Well, the editor said can you go up on your side love?  And the model said, no way.  And the editor said, don’t worry, we’ll strategically place the gutter and your arms so you won’t see anything.  It will be very tasteful.  Don’t worry.  Don’t worry HA!  Fast forward to New York, a couple months later.  I get a phone call from the owner of a certain modeling agency.  He was furious.  He said, you idiot, we could have shot for playboy and got a lot more money.  I didn’t know what the hell  he was talking about so I ran out and bought the magazine.  Well, I opened to my spread and sure enough, there was Scarlet and her Beaver.  On the left side of the spread were her legs and her beaver, and on the right were Scarlet and her 2 friends.  There was nothing strategically placed as promised.  Man, did I get in trouble.  It’s always the photographer’s fault.  Anyway, when Scarlet and I see each other, we still laugh about the shot.  I learned something about a shoot.  Never turn in film you don’t want them to show.  And I also learned that Scarlet gave her beaver a nice haircut.

See you all next week.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 58 – July 10, 2012

When you have Traumatic Brain Injury, you spend a lot of time just sitting there, thinking.  Remember, don’t think too much.  Anyway, I was in my parent’s house sitting on the back patio when I noticed my little black puppy sitting in the garden.  He was about 30 feet from me.  I kept calling his name over and over again.  He just sat there.  I called him again and again.  He just sat there.  I threw a toy at him.  He just sat there.  Then I realized, it was my parent’s black onyx sculpture of a cat.  I had been yelling at a black sculpture for 20 minutes.  I felt stupid.  I felt even more stupid when I looked over and saw my dog looking at me like, you young idiot.  I’m right here!

I would like to start out with a story.  There’s a moral to this story.  Anyway, I was in the British Virgin Islands on a family vacation.  This is when I was young.  I wanted to go on a dive and they only had the afternoon of the next day to do a dive.  We went down to the dive center and they only had one dive available.  The dive available was a wreck dive.  Wreck of the Rhone.  It was 100 feet or so.  I had my dive license and I got certified in a swimming pool, 30 feet max.  I figured, eh, what’s the difference?  30 feet, 100 feet.  Big deal, so I signed up for it.  I was way underqualified to go on this dive, plus I was alone.

The dive center said I needed to have a partner so they paired me up with a dive instructor.  I was to go with him.  We got to the site, took a small boat to the location.  It was real choppy, real windy.  Everyone was really anxious to go in.  The dive instructor yelled out, “All right, everyone get in.  The guy at the back of the boat by the engine, you go first.”  He pointed at me.  I was nervous.  And he said, “Wait, hey you, wait for me when you get in.”  It was all a bit disorganized.  Anyway, like the young idiot I was, I forgot to fill up my bouyancy vest and then I grabbed the weight belt next to me which belonged to probably a 300 pound man.  He yelled at me, “Hurry up!”  I just jumped in.  Next thing you know, there were bubbles all around me.  My ears were killing me.  So I held my nose to clear my ears (mind you this all happened in seconds).  Then my eyes started killing me.  The glass of the mask was against my face.  It hurt so much.  So what did I do?  Being the young idiot I was, I ripped off my mask.  Then I hit the bottom, 110 feet.  So, there I sat, 110 feet, no mask, thinking, OK, I’m dead.  But I didn’t panic.  I held my nose and breathed out what little breath I had.  I took a little air from the tank. It was ok and then I took another.  Then I opened my eyes and looked around for my mask.  I found it eventually.  I put the mask on, cleared it, and then saw the instructor coming down the anchorline.  He grabbed me by the shoulders and he looked at me.  He gave me the universal, are you crazy?  We did the rest of the dive together.  Everyone kind of kept their distance from me.  Later, when I got on the boat, everyone was whispering and looking at me funny.  The dive instructor said, “Listen, you have mask-squeeze.  Your eyes look kind of funny.  I’m going to show you your eyes. Don’t freak out, but your eyes are bulging and there’s a little bruising.”  Then, he said, “If you wake up in the morning and you have problems with your eyesight, I suggest you go to a doctor.”  Well, the next morning I woke up and as I was brushing my teeth, I noticed my eyes were black and blue and read and there was no white.  And to top it off, I looked like the actor, Marty Feldman.  My eyes were bulging and sticking out.  I looked like a goldfish from hell.  I had bruising all around my face from the mask.  Well, after my mom freaked out, I decided to go out that night of course.  Remember, I was only about 16.  So I went out wearing some Ray Ban sunglasses.  You know, I was 16.  I wanted to meet some girls.  You know what it’s like.  Anyway, every time I talked to a girl, she would say, “It’s night.  What’s with the sunglasses?”  I would take them off and of course they would run away.  I looked like the demon child from hell.  So, to summarize, the moral of the story is:  Don’t panic.  Stay cool even if you look like a demon child from hell.

Forever hopeful.  Like my little black dog who sits under my wheelchair.  He’s forever hopeful I’ll try the hangersteak cooked medium rare in butter.  He’s forever hopeful.  I’m forever hopeful.  When you have Traumatic Brain Injury, you have to be hopeful.  Remember, a few blogs ago I was hopeful to just walk over and get some water.  That’s all.  Well, guess what!  I had my first glass of water the other day.  It only took me 3 years, but I did it.  Now, the next thing I’m working on is walking over there to get it.  I’m working on walking right now.  It’s not easy, and it’s a lot of work, but I have a new physical therapist who is really cool.  He’s like a coach.  He keeps pushing me and it’s what I need right now.  I’m using a device called an Up and Go.  It helps you learn how to walk.  It also helps me do exercises that will help me walk.  It’s a really cool device.  Expensive, but cool.  I also ordered a power chair.  I keep calling it my electric chair, but I think that’s something different.  Anyway, I’ll use the power chair until I can walk.  I also am looking at a car that takes a power chair.  It’s a cool car.  Just made for those in a wheelchair.

OK, now I’m going to make a couple more fashion confessions.  They are things I’ve always felt guilty about.  They are things that happened on fashion shoots.  Things I’m not proud of.

The first situation took place in the Bahamas.  I was working with a young girl.  She was great, but she was very new.  Anyway, I had to get a shot of a girl jumping off of a dock into the water.  The dock I chose was pretty high, but I said to the model, “The ladder’s right there.”  Anyway, the whole time I was talking to her she looked really nervous.  I just figured, you know, she was new, so she was a bit jittery.  Well, I backed up and said, “OK, now run and jump and act like you’re having a great time.”  She ran and she jumped and she went right to the bottom.  After a minute or so, I looked at my assistant and looked at the bottom, and said Holy Shit!  I threw everything down.  He did too, my assistant and we jumped in.  We swam to the bottom and brought her up and to the ladder.  I said, “Are you all right?”  She said, “I am now, thank you.”  I said to her, “What happened?”  She said, “I can’t swim.”  I thought, my god, I’ve got to go back to flipping burgers.  This is crazy.  I said, “Why did you jump off?”  She said, “I just wanted to do a good job.”  I felt bad.  We took the rest of the afternoon off.  P.S. The shot was great.

The other situation took place in Bermuda.  I used to love to do watershots.  You know, underwater, in the surf, in the rain, etc.  Well, anyway, I had to do a swimwear story.  There wasn’t much to the location and I wanted to do something different so I looked around.  I noticed the waves were big that day, and they were crashing on the beach.  It was really cool, so I had the model stand in the impact zone.  I directed her to look relaxed as possible.  She was all into it.  The shots were working out great.  Then it happened.  A freak wave came.  I thought Oh my God.  A giant wave just hit her.  It knocked her down.  Her little string bikini which was a retro suit from the 70’s exploded.  Her bottoms blew off and went to the left, and her top went to the right.  She went ass over tea kettle flying through the air.  She got washed up naked at my feet.  All I could do was look up to the sky and say thank you God.  There is a God after all.  Well, she was pissed.  The rest of the afternoon were all shots on the beach.  All the shots were wet, sandy, angry, sultry with an emphasis on angry.

That’s it for now.  Remember when you’re lying on your back for hours, it’s good to remember things.  See you next week.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 57 – July 3, 2012

When you have traumatic brain injury, and when you’re doing your therapy, you’ll have one thing to do.  Your job is to get better.  That’s what my neurologist said.  My neurologist, she said, you have one thing to do.  You have a job and that’s get better.  Some people go to work 9 to 5.  I go to work 9 to 5.  I do my therapy.  One part of therapy is avoid stress.  It’s so important not to be stressed out.  I mentioned before in the previous chapter my child got sick.  I’ll tell you.  There’s nothing worse than seeing your child going through medical trauma.  I was in the same emergency room a month earlier.  I remember being there and lying in the bed like my child was.  I remembered how important it was to have someone hold your hand, and emphasize everything will be all right.  So I held her little hand and I would remind her that everything will work out all right.  And it did.

All right, now I’m going to go off on a tangent.  Let’s tell a story.  Remember when you’re lying in bed, and your sad, it’s good to remember stories.  Anyway, here’s a story from the past:

I was on a photoshoot where we had to recreate a party scene.  I had a lot of male models and a lot of female models.  We had a big white tent on the beach in Miami.  I told everyone just to talk and party like they normally would.  Anyway, I happened to be going out with one of the girls at the time so I booked her for the shoot.  It was kind of a working vacation.  Anyway, it was funny.  I looked over and one of the male models was working her.  I didn’t say anything, but I directed him to keep talking to her.  It was a little uncomfortable but funny to watch.  He kept getting cheesier and cheesier.  I walked over to talk to them.  We were all talking and he said to her, “Do you have a boyfriend?”  and she said “Yeah.” He said, “What does he do?”  She said, “He’s a photographer.”  And he said, “Where’s he based?”  She said, “New York,” and he said, “Where’s he now?” and she pointed at me and said, “He’s right there.”  The guy looked like a deer in the headlights.  He said, “Oh man, you guys.  That’s not cool.”  Well, I started laughing but he had a slight nervous laughter.

Another story took place in Australia.  I was doing a commercial photography shoot.  We were all in my apartment in Bonda.  One girl was getting her hair done at the end of my table.  The other girl was getting her make up done at the other end of the table.  They both had their backs to each other.  Anyway, after a few cups of coffee, the hairdresser asked the model he was working on some questions.  You know, like, how you doing, where you living now? Are you still going out with your boyfriend?  That sort of thing.  He said, “How is your boyfriend anyway?” And she said, “Oh, I dumped his sorry ass a while ago,” and the hairdresser said, “Really, what happened?”  She said, ” I caught him fooling around with some bitch who came into town a little while ago.  Some sleezy model.” And the guy said, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.  Do you know who it was?” and she said, “Yup,” and she pointed at the other girl.  The girl sitting across from her had a big smile on her face as she was getting her eyes done.  I thought, Oh, man, this is going to be a long day.  And I have to do doubles.  They were pretty professional about it all.  I was still nervous cause I lived on the eighth floor.

I’ll talk to you next week everybody.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 56 – June 29, 2012

A friend of mine is in the military.  Part of his training involved this.  He was put in a small black box, kind of like a coffin.  They played loud music.  He was also waterboarded on several occasions.  It’s basically part of your training to see if you can put up with the stress that might be involved.  My life has been extremely stressful.  I feel like my friend in the black box.  You see, my daughter had an asthma attack.  It was pretty bad.  She had never had asthma before.  Anyway, we got her to the hospital and got her medical care just in time.  Luckily my aide is also a nurse.  It was good luck.  We probably saved her life.  It could have happened anytime, anywhere.  Anyway, I’m glad she’s safe now.  I’m supposed to avoid stress, ha ha ha ha.  This is a pretty good test.  My friend said when he got in the black box the worst part about it was they never told him how long he would be in there.  That’s how I feel right now.  How long will all of this go on.  Man, I need a vacation.

Remember I told you I’m painting with my father.  Well, we got some pieces framed and it looks great.  It’s kind of almost modernist looking.  It looks like a piece you would find in a modernist show.  Very cool.  Hey, that reminds me of something.  I once lived in Paris.  I was dating a girl who was the granddaughter of a great artist.  A french impressionist.  Anyway, while we were dating we would go to the cafe, get seated with all the locals, have a coffee, talk politics, art, you know, Parissien stuff.  Anyway, we had a great time, but then one day we broke up.  I went up to the same cafe, the same waiter looked at me and put me up front with the tourists.  He served me an american coffee and over-charged me.  I’ll never forget that.  Pretty funny though.

I’m pretty tired cause I just got back from the hospital.  I was seeing my daughter.  She’s doing good.  I’m going to sign off now.  Here’s some examples of some work I’ve been doing.  See you next week.  Love, B. Nice

P.S. I remember hearing this in a cafe in Paris.  It is said, with heavy french accent,  “Some people are more dangerous than a monkey with a box of razor blades.”  Pretty funny.

P.P.S. And that’s an insult to the monkey!