Chapter 69 – September 25, 2012

You can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Remember that saying? Well, in this case, it’s true. If you have traumatic brain injury, you can have all the tools in the world. A car, a power chair, lifts, etc., but if you don’t have the desire to improve, you’ll never get better. It depends on what level you want to end up. Some people are happy being in a wheelchair watching TV. But I want to get back to where I was. It’s a good thing I had a background training. I worked hard every moment to get better. You gotta be like that.

Well the results from the EEG are in. I do have a brain, and it seems to work just fine. It’s amazing what they can see. They saw I had brain surgery twice. They could see where I had the bleed. They wanted to check for seizure. They noticed some activity, but they’re not sure if they’re seizures or what. You know, they don’t know everything. So I continue to take my anti-seizure medicine, and do therapy, and get better. There was an article a friend of mine sent me. It was about a woman who had traumatic brain injury. It took her 6 years to get better. So you gotta be patient.

Let’s see, what else happened this week? Oh! I took possession of our new car. My parents got a new car that will take me in my wheelchair. We got it cause I almost crushed my mother while transferring. I basically fell down. So to save anyone from getting hurt, we got the car. As I get better, I could always sell it later. Remember, don’t get hung up on the tools. My friend here will include a photo of the car. It’s big but it works real good. Oh, yeah, my friend here asked me what I called the car. I call it The BEAST. The other thing I’ve been doing a lot is painting. I paint every day. It’s been very fun, and very therapeutic. It’s good for my hands. I highly recommend it.

Also check out my new project this is a link below to info related to it. I’m pretty excited about it.
https://mypointofviewproject.wordpress.com/

That’s it for TBI. Let’s talk about some stories. Back in the early 80’s I worked for a famous fashion photographer. One of our jobs took us to Africa. We were working for French Vogue and we were shooting in Togo Africa. Well, getting off the plane, the fashion editor said to me, “Get our stuff, we’ll be by the pool having drinks.” I thought, great, this is going to be a fun trip. Well, when I went in for the bags, none of our stuff came out. Everyone had gone. I was standing there alone when all of a sudden, a guy came over with a machine gun. He said, “Sir, are you ready for your bags?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “OK.” He described the bags that he had. They were ours. He said, “OK,” he said, “Come with me.” So I went with him. We got in a Jeep. Drove out of the airport, across the runway to the other side of the airport. I was thinking, this isn’t good. Anyway, we got to the other side of the airport, he said to me, “Go in there.” and “there” was a bunker that I was to go into. So I went in there. Inside the bunker was like something out of a movie. I walked in, the room was very dark. There was a chair in the middle of the room. I sat in the chair, and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw an old guy on a bench wearing clothes that were even older than him. He was shaking. He looked really scared. And then a light came on. There was one single bare light over a long table. The table was perpendicular to me, starting left to right. The bare bulb hanging from the ceiling had a lampshade over it. Once again, it was like a scene from a movie. There was a guy who was obviously the authoritative figure. He was sitting in the middle of the table under the light. The guy looked like Idi Amin’s twin. He had lots of ribbons and stars. There was some guy whispering into his ear. There were lots of guys with machine guns standing around. I thought, great, this is gonna be fun. And then the guy said to me in perfect Oxford English, “Is this your stuff?” And they brought out all of our equipment and clothes. I said, “Yeah, that’s our stuff.” He said, “What are you doing here?” I said, “Oh, we’re doing a fashion shoot for French Vogue.” He hesitated, looked at me, looked at the stuff, said, “OK, someone will help you back to the hotel with your stuff. But stay around the hotel and if you photograph the president’s palace you might get shot. Have a nice stay.” That was nothing compared to the rest of the trip. While we were there, there was a military coup, and an emergency evacuation, a garbage bag full of pot, etc., etc. Never a dull moment.

The next story takes place in Paris, France. I used to shoot all the time for a fashion magazine that came out weekly. I loved shooting with them. I used to shoot at least once every two weeks with them. I would always have to meet with them to discuss the shoot. I would leave my house, go down Rue du Seine, have a coffee at my favorite cafe, go across Pont Neuf. Go through the Louvre, cross Rue de Rivoli and go to the magazine. Not a bad commute. It was a nice walk. I loved going there. The production team, you know, the girls that put the shoot together, they were real cool. I used to hang out there all the time. I would go to their office, sit around a big table and look at the production board. It had my name, the name of the shoot, the fashion editor, the models, the hair and makeup, etc., etc. We would think of girls to use and make up to use, and then we’d talk about restaurants, eating. It was nice. OK, I went on a bit of a tangent there. I guess, I long for the good old days.

Well, that’s it for now. I will say one thing. It’s an interesting observation. It seems as I’ve become more and more aware of my body, I get more depressed. It’s kind of a drag. You know, this has been going on for three years. I joke about it, but it’s tough. I am getting better. Like my friend says, I just gotta suck it up. The other thing is, my voice keeps cracking. I just tell everybody I’m going through puberty again. Talk to you next week. Love, B. Nice

Chapter 68 – September 18, 2012

Suck it up. Suck it up. That’s my profound word for the week. You see, a guy I knew from the hospital I went to came by the other day. He was interested in photography so I gave him some pointers and some tips. He has a good eye. I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong with him but he has traumatic brain injury like myself. He has a difficult time communicating. He can’t really speak. He has a small device on him about the size of an iPhone. He’ll press a button and the device will say, “Hello” or “I’ll have a coffee.” It’s basically a communication device. The one thing he can do is sing. He can sing what he has to say. Apparently speaking and singing are two different parts of the brain. So, when I started complaining, he sang to me, “Suck it up.” I thought that was amusing. The last time I was told to suck it up was when I was in the ICU (intensive care unit). Then I had to get an MRI done and I didn’t want to do it. I hate those things. A friend of mine is a nurse said to me, “Brian, it’s really important you have this MRI done. You have to suck it up.” I said, “All right. I’ll suck it up and do it.” Well, on my way into the MRI, a small child came out of the MRI as I was going in. I thought, well, if he can do it, I can do it. I don’t know how little kids do it.

This week has been a real busy week for me. First of all, I had to get an EEG done on my brain. It’s basically a bunch of wires they put on your head and you’ve got to carry a little monitor over your shoulder for 24 hours. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass, and you look like an alien, but it’s important to get it done. My new neurologist wanted that. I’ve yet to see the results, but no one has called to say you have no brain. So no news is good news right now. I see the neurologist next week. The other thing that happened was I got my new car. It’s basically a car that will take you in a wheelchair. It’s called an MV1. It’s made by Ford and it’ll give me a little more freedom. I can go with my friend here to have a coffee. Get out of the house. I will say it’s amazing how expensive it is. It seems anything medical is expensive. I got a wheelchair the other day. A power chair. Hell, the thing is so expensive you could trade it in for a new car. Just an observation.

I was going through my old blogs the other day and I noticed that I have made some improvements. They are slow. Very slow, but I keep moving forward. I did it because I was really depressed about my progress. It seems like I’m not getting better, but remember where you were. That’s what I do, and that’s what I did. I looked back to a year ago. It made me feel better. Hell, when I was in ICU I was almost dead. So I say, I’m better now.

Let’s tell some stories. I am doing this blog to try and help people that have traumatic brain injury, I’ve gone through a lot and a lot’s happened to me. I truly believe all these things got me ready for what I’m going through.

I worked for a certain English fashion magazine all the time. I worked with one specific editor all the time as well. We worked together so much she even gave me a theme song. It was a song done by Crowded House. The song was entitled, “Everywhere you go you take the weather with you” and I guess it was true. Every time I worked with her we had bad weather. It was crazy. One time we were on the east coast of America and shooting when a fog bank rolled in. It was the Spring. I was driving the minivan around thinking what on earth am I going to do? It’s horrible out. Just give me a nice house with porches. I can make it work. But there was no budget for a nice house with porches. I was driving around when I saw the perfect house. I went up, knocked on the door. No one was there. I looked in. It was obviously boarded up for the Winter. I thought, well, there’s no one here. Perfect. Let’s shoot here, ha ha. So I spent the rest of the day shooting at the house. Thank God nobody came home. But then, as I’m about to finish, the neighbor came over. She said, “Oh, how interesting. What are you doing.” She said this in a very thick English accent. I said, “I’m shooting for a new English magazine and a friend of a friend got me permission to shoot here.” I basically talked my way around that one. Then she said, “Oh, well why don’t you pop on over for some tea and crackers.” Well who can resist tea and crackers so I went over. We sat down, had a chat. I was there for about an hour. You know, just small talk. I got in my van and drove back to the hotel. The people that owned the house are probably thinking, “What the hell happened?”

I used to love working with that editor. It was fun. One of the last shoots we did I remember her talking to a priest. She was trying to explain why it’s OK to have a topless girl leaning against his wall in Santa Fe. Never a dull moment.

The following story took place in Paris, France. I had a really good friend who had a restaurant near Notre Dame. At the end of the night we would always go there to have dinner, close the place down, break out the music, break out the cavados (apple liqueur), and party. Well, after a few hours and a few bottles, we thought it’d be fun to go out, so my friend got his Czechoslovakian jeep (a 4 wheel drive monster), and we all piled in. It had no roof and it was raining. My friend said, “No problem.” He ran inside, got a bunch of garbage bags and we put them on. they worked pretty good. Well, he started driving and he thought it would be fun to go down the steps near the river. But he proceeded to go down the steps in the jeep I was in the back and I thought, This is not a good idea. So I jumped out. Well, they proceeded down the steps and along the quay. And I thought, “The bastard made it.” Then, they started to go up the steps on the other side. I thought, well, I gotta catch them. so I started running down the middle of the street in my plastic bag in the rain. I ran by some police that were guarding the prime minister’s house. I stopped running. Walked past them, said, “Good evening. They looked at me with their machine guns ready. they said good evening, so I just walked past them and continued. Then, when I was at a safe distance from them, I continued running until I caught up with my friends in the jeep. We all went to a local night club and danced until the sun came up. The scariest part about this story is this was a typical night for me when I lived in Paris. No wonder why I have traumatic brain injury.

My friend here will include some cartoons from the past.  Have a good week everybody.

Oh, yeah, I want to tell, one more story. Remember a few blogs back I told you I ran across America in 1979. It was a 12 man relay team. We made the Guinness book of world records. Anyway, at about 2 am I was running through he desert all by myself with my baton and flashlight. You see the van would drive down the road 2 miles and wait for you. Anyway, I was running i9n the middle of the road through the desert when all of a sudden a wolf/wild dog tried to bite me and then another one tried to bite me. all of a sudden I was surrounded by a pack of wild dogs. I didn’t know what to do, but every time I pointed my baton at a dog, he would cower and run away. I thought to myself, hell, they think the baton is a weapon. So I was running int he middle of the road pointing my baton and screaming. Well, the guy was next to run saw me coming out of the dark. He was freaking out. He said, what are you screaming for? I said, there’s wild wolves out here. No one believed me because I like telling stories. But it was true. I was surrounded by wolves. Well I gave the baton tot he next guy. I said,, holy shit good luck. That was crazy. and everyone who got back into the van said “Oh B nice is just telling another story. You know the boy that cried wolf. Typical.” The last vision I have of the next runner is him sprinting trying to keep up with the van crying and saying, “Don’t leave me here. Don’t leave me here.” The boy that cried wolf. Little do you people know, all my stories are true. Love, B. Nice

Chapter 67 – September 11, 2012

Hey, check out the date above. I want to dedicate this blog to someone I knew in the Twin Towers. I won’t go into details, but I will tell you, he was a cool guy. If I could, I’d raise a pint of ale to ya.

Hi everybody, you know every time September 11 comes around you see pictures of falling buildings, wrecked fire trucks, people covered in white ash, total death and destruction, but I have a good story.

September 11, 2001, I was out surfing in Montauk. It was a beautiful day. Just like today. There was a north wind, a Bermuda low, hurricane pushing up a great hurricane swell. It was ideal conditions for surfing big waves. You see, a lot of people from a certain agency in the Twin Towers called into work and said they wouldn’t be there. They basically played hooky that day because of the waves. It’s a good thing they did because their lives were saved because of the big waves.

That’s enough about that. Let’s go back to traumatic brain injury. You know, we go through life avoiding holes. I’ve fallen into a huge hole. I need lots of help getting out. It’s a bit of a cliche, but I am in a big hole. First thing you have to do is save yourself, and then you need a point person to help you get up and start your climb out. Friends and family are so important.You know what I’m going to tell a few stories instead. I got side tracked and forgot what I was going to say. I started thinking about the above paragraph too much. Let’s tell a few stories.They are going to be random stories.

The following story takes place in Paris. When I was living in Paris, I would often go to the movies by myself. The movies were often on the Champs Elysees. Anyway, I was walking to the movie. I turned around and saw a group of soccer hooligans, and I looked in front and there was another group of soccer hooligans, and then I looked to my right and there was some riot police in a van. One of the policemen was walking out with a riot shield and a baton. I said to him, “What’s going on?” He looked at me, put down his plexiglass visor and he said, in a very thick french accent, “Get out of here. There’s going to be trouble.” I thought, Oh my God, I gotta get out of here.So I ducked into a cafe. It was a typical tourist cafe on the Champs Elysees. It had an outdoor cafe, but it was walled in with glass. I sat down and ordered coffee. The two groups met. The riot police came out. So I jumped up, ran to the bar, ordered a beer, sat down at my table and watched a full on riot occur. Very entertaining and better than any movie you could go see.

The following story took place during a photographic shoot in Santa Barbara, California, USA. The day before our shooting, there was a series of small earthquakes. Our location van driver wouldn’t shut up about them. He kept going on and on about earthquakes. (A location van is where they do all the hair and makeup, catering, wardrobe. It’s basically a mobile studio.) Anyway, on that morning we were shooting and he would go on and on about the earthquakes. Every time I’d go in to get a coffee, he’d be chatting about the earthquakes. I shot all morning. Worked hard. We had lunch and I had to listen to him talk about earthquakes. I was in my car trying to catch a few ZZZz and I couldn’t sleep because I heard him talking about earthquakes. It was driving me nuts, so I got my assistants. We all stood on the back bumper and the back ladder. On the count of 3 we all jumped up and down on the bumper and the ladder. We really got the location van rocking and rolling. I threw down a few stands and lights to make it a little more dramatic. Well, the results were perfect. The van driver, the one who was going on and on about earthquakes, he screamed, “Oh, my God! an earthquake, everyone get out of the van quick, stay away from the building. Get into open space.” Everyone, I mean everyone came piling out of the van. I was crying I was laughing so hard. One of the models even managed to call her boyfriend. She said, “We’re right in the middle of an earthquake.” It was very funny, but I never did get coffee for the rest of the day.

Let’s talk about the mask. My friend here reminded me. We never did talk about the mask. (See a few blogs back.) When I was in Australia, I would often go to a certain store to buy primitive artwork. I used to collect primitive art, but I would always collect like baskets, books, kitchen stuff, you know everyday stuff.  But one day, I walked into this store and I saw a mask I really liked. Something about it really appealed to me. Well, anyway, I bought the mask, brought it home and hung it on the wall. The first night I had the mask my wife at the time and I went to bed. I was sleeping in a deep sleep when I had the most bizarre dream. I dreamed something was circling my apartment outside. Some energy that would go from window to window trying to get in, faster and faster. It was outside. Then it was inside and was making a noise like Whooosh whoosh. It would get closer and closer to me. It was very intense, and as it got closer to me I had a nightmare of slaughtered kangaroos. Everything was red. I woke up screaming. I looked over and my wife was screaming. She was having the same nightmare. How bizarre was that? Well, I went into the kitchen, got some tequila. I was looking at the mask when all of a sudden one of the pieces of the mask fell off. I thought, OK, that’s it. I put the mask in the bag it came in and put it outside. The next morning I brought the mask back. The guy I bought it from said, “Yeah, no problem, I’ll take it back. I understand.” I said, “By the way, what was with this mask anyway?” He said, “The history of it was that when they brought it out once a year and they used it during a ceremony where they would slaughter animals and have a big party.” I thought, “OK, thank you. Bye.” I never went back there.

I’ve gotta go. A friend of mine is coming. She’s a creative director. I ‘m gonna give her some fake bugs to put on the art director’s shoulder. I can’t be there. I can’t be a photographer, you know, do the fashion thing, but I can be there in spirit. See you next week. Oh, yeah, my friend here will include some drawings. By for now. See you next week.  Love, B. Nice

Chapter 66 – September 4, 2012

Hi everybody. It’s a bit of a cliche but I say nothing worthwhile is easy. You gotta take one day at a time. That’s how I live my life right now. I get done with my day and I think of what I’m gonna do tomorrow. I got to pull out my soapbox right now. You guys out there listen. Have your kids listen. I said it before, but I’m gonna say it again: You guys cannot, I repeat, cannot talk on the phone or text while driving. If you saw what I saw, you would freak out. It was horrible. Remember what I said before. You’re one glance away from death at any point while driving and talking on the phone. OK, that’s it. I’ll put away my soapbox now. That’s all I have to say about that.

If you’re lying there with traumatic brain injury, it’s good to have a great imagination. It’ll get you through the tough stuff. You know, imagine yourself in your favorite spot. Just use your imagination. It helped me a lot.

I had a good week this week. It was the closing of my show (see a few blogs back). We had a big party and I saw a lot of my friends that couldn’t make it to the opening. It was a great day. I sold a lot of work, but I probably broke even. Like I said before, it’s not about money. It’s about photography. You see, you gotta do what you love. You gotta be distracted to make it through this stuff. Then, have a great friend, like my friend here. Having great friends is really important. I had a friend visit from the west coast. That was great. I had some friends stop over. That was also great. It was a good week. I guess I don’t personally notice this, but I do have improvements. Like, I’m better at walking with assistance. I’m better at speaking. Just little things, but I still get jealous when I see someone go running by. I wish I could run again. Someday. Who knows? But for the moment, I just keep working hard. Hell, everything I do is like an Olympic event. You know, like rolling over in bed is a huge accomplishment. Sitting up in my wheelchair is a big accomplishment. Anyway, I didn’t want to bore you any further. Just work real hard. Never give up. Always move forward.

Now I’m gonna tell a couple of stories. I guess I’ll confess to a few things I did. I’m not really proud of them, but I feel better confessing to it. Ha! You know what I noticed. I notice that doing this blog does help other people, but it’s been helping me. When I have a hard time I think about what I’m going to talk about. It gets me through the rough times. Just an observation.

OK, now I’m gonna talk about some location photographic shoots. The following stories are confessions.

I was doing a lingerie shoot in a loft in NYC. The owner of the loft was a woman in her mid 40’s. Attractive woman. Very business like. Anyway, I was shooting and she said to us, “I’m going out for some breakfast. You guys are cool. Just shoot anywhere you want, but do not, I repeat, do not use my bedroom. It’s personal space and off limits to photo shoots.” And then she left. So, I was curious. She seemed adamant about not shooting in her room. The more I thought about it, the more curious I got so I stopped shooting, went down to her room and noticed it had beautiful light. Not only did it have beautiful light, but it had a gorgeous old bed. Well, I gotta shoot here, I mean come on. I’m doing a lingerie shoot. So I double checked to make sure she left and I got the whole crew to come  quickly down and shoot in her room. I got the model to stand by the bed, but it wasn’t quite right. The bed had to move slightly, so I had my assistants move the bed. Well, the minute they moved it, I heard kerplunk. First 2 D batteries rolled out and then a big dildo or vibrator or whatever you call it rolled out as well. I was laughing then thought, Oh shit, we better get out of here. And I said to my assistant, pick that up and put it back. He said no way man. I’m not touching that thing. I said come on, just put it back together and put it back. Well, he looked at me and the other assistant, he said, all right, I’ll be right back. He came back from the kitchen wearing some playtex gloves and he put it back together put it back in place where he thought it was, and we got the hell out of there. The woman came back just as we left. Thank god we left. She looked different to me.

The next photoshoot I’m gonna talk about happened in Miami. We were shooting in a beautiful home, a little tacky, but beautiful. Anyway, the woman who lived there was what you might say was obsessive compulsive. Her pens were neatly in a tray by the phone. Her pencils were not only neat, but they were stacked by the phone. All her plates were perfectly stacked in a line. All her CD’s were alphabetized. Her coffee table books were stacked perfectly. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The woman must have stayed up half the night arranging her apartment. Anyway, it drove me a little crazy. The place was freakishly set up. The producer kept going on and on how we had to leave everything as we found it. Well, by the third day, I was going nuts so what did I do? I rearrange all the CD’s. I mixed them all up, I put the pencils in with the pens. I rearrange all of her plates and glasses. I re-did all of her towels for her. Ha Ha ha ha. You get the idea. I had fun. She’s probably in some institution right now.

I’ll tell another story. This one’s kind of short, but I still feel guilty. I was on a photo shoot in a house. It was in Connecticut. It was a great house, and an even better stereo system. I was shooting with these lights. They are kind of like movie lights. There was just enough power to use these lights. Anyway, I had one of these lights plugged in by the stereo. When we were finished at the end of the day, I helped my assistant with the lights. I still don’t know what the hell happened. I unplugged one of the lights. Lo and behold, there was a huge bolt of lightening that just fried his whole stereo. It smelled like burnt rubber. and there was a loud bang. I think I could have been killed. Anyway, the stereo was toast. We got the hell out of there. Sorry about that, my friend the producer. You know who you are. Yeah, it was me.

Well, that’s it for now as far as the confessions go. I have a few more, but I’ll save them for later. I’ll say one thing about traumatic brain injury. I notice that as I’ve become more alert and aware, I realize how messed up I am. It’s kind of like a catch 22 situation. You’re almost better off not knowing anything. It’s bizarre and crazy.  For example, I’m really aware of my body and how messed up I am. I got a lot of work to do, but I’m ready to do it. Like I said before, it’s my job to get better. A friend of mine came to the closing. He’s also in a wheelchair and also a traumatic brain injury person. A damn tree when through his body. Anyway, he’s doing good. I’m proud of him. We had similar journeys. We travelled far but we’ve got a lot more to do. I’ll talk to you guys next week.  My friend here will do a few more scans for you. I used to keep a journal. You know, where I’ve been, what I do. The journals were in cartoon form. I can’t draw like that now, but I’ll share what I did with you. Talk to you next week. Love, B. Nice