Chapter 73 – October 23, 2012

Happy birthday Henry! I’d like to dedicate this week’s blog to my cousin. He was an awesome coach during my operations. When you have traumatic brain injury and you go through an operation, you really need a coach, someone to get you through the tough times.  I don’t remember much about being in the hospital during my operations. I do remember I almost died and my cousin jumping up on my chest. He basically kept me from slipping away. He also “borrowed” a janitor’s uniform to sneak into my room after hours. He and his wife were there all the time, by my side. He was a great coach. No, it’s true, he’s a real coach. He coaches soccer. The last soccer coach I saw was when I was in high school. I was a freshman. After we played a scrimmage, he said, “Nice, come over here.” He called me over. He said, “Brian, I’ve been coaching for about 25 years, and you are by far the worst soccer player I’ve ever seen, but you can run like the wind, so go see that guy over there,” and he pointed to the cross country coach. That was one moment that was to change my life.

Hi everybody. Welcome to another beautiful week in paradise. Well, I just would like to benchmark where I am and what’s been going on. I have to practice what I preach. Man, I gotta be patient. Having this traumatic brain injury is tough. Recovery is tough. Like I said before, I seem to be more aware of my surroundings and my body. It’s slow, but I’m getting better. My eyesight is getting better. And my feeling is getting better. Just the other day I rolled over onto my stomach, and I tried to do a cobra pose, it’s a yoga pose, and it stretches out my back. I did it. It felt weird because I haven’t been on my stomach for like two years, but I did it. Scared the hell out of me, so I rolled back onto my back. I try to do this every day after my midday nap. My mother always looks at me with calm as I try to do my cobra, really freaking out inside. It’s weird. Not much else to really talk about other than the fact that I do painting with my father. I think I get more paint on me than the canvas, but it’s good exercise. It’s great to see the progression from two years ago to now. I’ve been doing almost every day the painting. (My friend was reading back to me what I wrote and she’s right, I sounded like an Italian man. My writing, she is a not so great.) I’ve been doing the painting almost every day. I do a heart for my daughter, and then I do a star, and then I do a circle.

The other day my friend came over with his wife. They took me out to lunch. It made me realize how messed up I am. I felt a bit strange cause he basically had to feed me my lunch. I felt like a baby sparrow. But it did feel good to get out of the house. I would highly advise little day trips like this. Anyway, enough about traumatic brain injury. You know I do this blog because it might help someone. I know it helps one person at least, me! ha! It helps me to write this stuff down. I like to go back and see where I was, like a year ago. Now I’m gonna tell just a few stories from the past. As I said before, I spent a little time on my back thinking about the past.

I think I mentioned before, I lived in Paris. I started working right away. I guess I got lucky. Anyway, I worked with really good people. One guy was an awesome hairdresser, but like me, he was a little kid inside. Often I would book a location van and shoot on location. The van was like a mobile studio. We would sit in the bench seat. He would say, “Get a shot of this with your polaroid camera,” and he would change his water spray bottle to jet-stream and he would say, “Get a shot of this over my shoulder.” He would bring out his spray bottle and he’d spray the people in the face. And he’d say, “Now, take the pciture,” and the results were perfect. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone getting sprayed in the face, but it looks pretty funny. This is what inspired me to do my scare polaroid book. Probably the most inspiring moment out of Paris. Pretty sad huh? That reminds me of something I used to do just before I got sick. My nephew had a machine called a fart machine. Well, I kept it in my bag of tricks. I would make my assistant put it in his back pocket, and then at the most convenient time I would activate the fart machine with a remote. The results were fantastic. My favorite time we used this was out west. We were shooting at a catholic mission. There were plenty of nuns there to torture. I think my assistant really enjoyed it. I’ll let you use your imagination.

I’m trying to think of other random stories to tell, but there are so many. My friend here reminded me about the saltwater crocodile. There isn’t much to tell. I just arrived in my room at the hotel, put down my bag. I thought to myself, oh, I have a sun deck. I went to go to the sun deck and as I was about to open the door, I noticed there was a very large saltwater crocodile on my deck. He was sunning himself. He must have been ten feet long. He was big one. Well, I stayed inside. Had a beer, turned on the news. Crocodiles don’t really freak me out. The sharks I’ve seen, those are the things that freak me out. They’re really unpredictable. I’ve scuba dived with sharks, I’ve been chased by sharks, I’ve come up on sharks on my windsurfer. They’re kind of like wild dogs. They’re curious. They’ll come up and try and give a little nibble, see what’s going on. But like bees, if you leave them alone, they’ll pretty much leave you alone.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. I’ll talk to you guys next week. Oh, yeah, I’m getting ready for another photo show. I have a few pieces to put in a local group show. It should be fun. Remember, do what you love to do. Talk to you next week. Love, B. Nice

Chapter 72 – October 16, 2012

I’d like to dedicate this week’s blog to my good friend. We’ve known each other since grade school. He’s been a great help through this tough period of my life. I’ll include a photo of him and me from the grade school days.

Hi everybody. Welcome to another day in paradise. Well, this week has been full of surprises. I met another super mom. She was in my hospital outpatient center. She had the same car that my family has. She’s been looking after her son. The poor guy’s a mess. I don’t know his condition, but after talking to her, it sounds like he’s been the same way since birth. It was something like 22 years ago. So she’s been looking after him for a long time. She knows all the ins and outs about taking care of someone in this condition. It’s good to talk to someone like that. If you can’t find someone like this, then there’s always good support groups out there.

Another thing that happened to me this week was a new mental health nurse showed up. I was wondering what happened to the last one. I guess I shouldn’t have told her my dog was talking back to me. It was all a joke. I was just kidding. I hope she didn’t take me seriously. Anyway, the new one is pretty cool. She said it’s normal for me to be a little depressed. She said, “Let’s review why you may be unhappy. What’s happened in the past 3 years?” I said, “Well, I had a brain bleed. I was rushed to the ER. I had an emergency brain operation. Two other operations. And then another operation. Then, went to see my daughter and wife far away. My wife sued me for divorce. I had another brain bleed. I had a brain operation. My daughter taken from me. All the houses are gone. Everything I owned is gone. I’m 50 and living with my parents. I had a series of seizures. Four of them. I went to the ER. My dog died. I’ve been through the rehabilitation 3 times. I’ve been on my back for 3 years. Other than that, everything’s great! That’s why I might be a little sad.” Anyway, she pointed out that there are 2 reasons to be depressed. One is medical. You know, like your brain might be physically damaged. And the other is just plain old sadness from events. I guess I have the latter. Anyway, she’s real cool. It helps a lot.

OK, let’s talk about the past a bit. You know, when I get a little sad or to get me through the tough times, I just remember things from the past.

I remember this one time I was living in Paris. I went to one of many dinner parties I was to go to. I was sitting next to a girl, just started making small talk with her. I said to her, “What are you doing this weekend?” She said, “I’m going to London, to a party. I’m going to take Daddy’s jet and go over to London. What are you doing this weekend?” I said, “Me? I’m doing my laundry.” That separation of classes reminds me of another story. I was in New Guinea on a photo shoot. We were invited to a house to go for a swim. When we pulled up to the house, the first thing I noticed was there was a very tall fence all around the house. There was razor wire at the top of the fence. I thought, oh what a charming place. The owner of the house came out, she was huge. A big lady. Pasty white. She had 2 small children under her arms. They were equally pasty white. She said, “Would you like some tea and biscuits while you go for a swim.” I said, “Sure.” Then she went back into the house with her strange children. I went over to go for a swim. I said to our driver, “Hey come on in for a swim.” he said, “Thank you but no, I can’t go in there, their dogs will attack me.” I said, “Come on. No Way.” He said, “Yeah, those dogs are trained to attack anyone that’s not white.” I said, “Get out of here.” He said, “No, look,” and he walked over to the fence. The dogs came running out of the house as he approached the fence. They jumped up and tried to attack him. I freaked out. He got back in the car and said, “Now you go over.” “No fucking way!” He said, “No really go over.” So I went up to the fence and the dogs sat down and whimpered and then got up. They were gentle and happy to see me. I thought, this place is like the land that time forgot. Well, I went for a quick swim and went back to the hotel. I bought our driver a beer there. It was all very strange. But now I know what colonialism means.

I want to share with you guys why I love to travel so much. My parents were pretty much hippies in the day. My dad’s an artist and my mom’s a school teacher. Well, they took me out of school at the age of 11. They took my sister out of school as well. The reason why we left school was because we took a boat to England, lived there for a while. Lived in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, India, New Guinea, and stayed a long time in Australia. I went to school in France and Australia. We then went to New Zealand, Hawaii, and back to America. I guess I got the travel bug from this time of my life. My sister, I think she doesn’t like to travel. All this traveling happened when she was really young. To me it was like a big adventure. Anyway, I just thought I’d share that with you. There’s lots of stories from this time of my life. But that’s a whole other story.

This came to me out of the blue. My friend here was reading to me what I was saying. I wanted to include the following for this week:  Remember I talked about the fact that I ran across America. It was me and 11 other guys. We did a continuous relay across America. Anyway, a couple of things from this trip where triggered by the above stories.

I remember I was running through east St. Louis at 3:00 in the morning. I don’t know if you’ve ever run through east St. Louis at 3:00 in the morning, but it’s kind of scary. We had a police escort. She was equally scary. I think she was a he. Anyway, this she/male was there to protect me. I was running down the middle of the street. People were throwing shit at me, like beer cans, rocks, sticks. anything they could get a hold of. They were yelling at me. I thought what’s the big deal why is everyone yelling at me? At one point, I looked at myself in a store window I realize now why people were yelling at me. You see, my school sweats were all white. They had the word RIT in big block letters. They looked like KKK. My sweats were also all white with a big white hood. Another time I was running at about 4:00 in the morning. I was in Appalachia. The van was waiting for me about 2 miles down the road. It was dark and this pick up truck pulled up behind me. It was like  something out of the movies. He had no lights on. Scared the hell out of me. pulled up behind me then pulled up next to me. He greeted me with a smile and a double barrelled shot gun cradled in his arm. It was pointing right at me. “We’re just running across America.” He said, “Well, we’re out hunting squirrels,” and he pulled away. I told everyone in the van. They just dismissed me. no one ever believes me but it’s all true. One more story and then I’ll call it quits. On the same run, we had a back up car. Well, the back up car needed some gas so I went to the gas station with the car and filled it up and went inside to pay for the gas. I got in line. Well, there was a guy trying to get in the front door so I opened it for him. I looked down, and in his waistband was a nickel plated revolver. I think he was about to rob the place. I looked at him, the gun and I looked over his shoulder. There was a squad car parked in an alley. I looked at him and the gun again, looked at the police car. The guy I was holding the door open for looked at what I was looking at. He saw the police car, closed his jacket and got in his car and left. I was a bit dazed and confused. I left too. Once again, no one believed me. I should have showed them my shorts. Then they would have believed me. OK, one more story

This happened when I was an assistant photographer. This story takes place in Acapulco, Mexico. We were on a photo shoot in Acapulco. They gave us 5 days to do a 4 page spread. This is when the magazines had a lot of money and a lot of time. Anyway, when we were in town, we met a guy who had an awesome house. He said, why don’t you come over for dinner after you’re done with your photo shoot. We all said cool. We’ll come over for dinner. Well, the house was unreal. We had dinner outside. He was a great host, he and his high class hooker from Dallas. They were very gracious. Well, after dinner, we all went for a swim. We were ripped on tequila. We all thought it would be fun to jump in the pool naked. The pool was blue and gold. At the end of the pool were Greek columns with flames out of the top. The scene was like something out of the roman emperor Caligula’s house. It was all a bit surreal. On top of it, we were served champagne and other things by the high class hooker. I thought, well, it’s time to go home now. Oh, yeah, this is after one of the girls fell down the stairs naked and laughing. But on our way home, there were 2 cops in a squad car. They were sleeping. You know what that means? The Big Sleep. It was all surreal.

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

P.S. Remind me to tell you guys about Cancun. I had a huge sub water crocodile on my sundeck. Not good if you have a small child. Luckily, this was a long time ago. Remember, everything I say is true. They were all things that happened to me. No wonder why I have traumatic brain injury.

Chapter 71 – October 9, 2012

Well, it’s official. My private life has gone from bad country song to full on daytime soap opera drama. Never a dull moment. Remember, time + tragedy = comedy, sometimes.

Hi everybody! Well, another week goes by. I was reading my previous blog and I realized it is good to look back and see what happened. It’s good to see where you were then, and where you are now. Because of this thought, I’m going to benchmark where I am now and how I feel. I feel like shit. I’m in a wheelchair, still, but I can walk with the assistance of 2 people. I can feed myself, very carefully. My vision is still double and shaky, but it is getting better. I still have difficulty talking. I was talking to my assistant the other day. She totally misunderstood me. I was talking about something and to her it sounded like I said, “I’ve done a couple of porn videos.” Man, I guess I got a ways to go to get better. Anyway, it’s good to keep a diary. I’m still haunted by the videos I made, but I do see a progress. I’m getting better, but it’s slow. So slow. Remember, be patient.

The County Nurse came by today. They stop by every once in a while to check up on me. When you have a traumatic brain injury, it’s good to try and get a traumatic brain injury waiver. You can only do this if you’re on Medicare. If you’re going through what I went through, you will understand what I’m talking about. The waiver will bring you so many more benefits. Ask your County Nurse about this. It really helps me. The other thing I’ve done is sign up for my local gym. It’s a wellness center. Good for strength building.

The other thing that happened this week was I went to my local church with my family. They were blessing the animals so I thought it would be appropriate I went. I got to see 2 of my good friends from grade school. One of them is sitting right in front of me. It was good. And my other friends came over to talk about my next fundraiser. The other project I’m working on is a coast to coast trip. I will include the link. Check it out.

https://mypointofviewproject.wordpress.com/

I can’t remember what I was going to talk about with a TBI, so I’ll go on to tell a few stories about things that happened in the past. You know, I always say your photograph, the picture you take is only as strong as your weakest element. For example, if the clothes suck, the picture sucks. If the make-up is weak, the picture is weak. You know, it’s rare that everything comes together and you get a great picture. There are so many elements involved.  (See, my speech needs work. My friend here said, “There’s elephants involved?!”) Anyway, back to my story. One of the many elements are the people involved. You know like the art director, the photographer, the model, etc., etc. Everyone works hard to get the perfect picture. You know, I’ve been lying on my back for quite some time. I never really expressed my appreciation but I really appreciate the hard work that the producers do, and the hair & makeup, etc. They all work really hard. I used to tease people a lot. For example, one time this producer left her balcony door open so I thought it would be good to get my assistants together and fill her entire room with full plastic glasses of water. She had to drink her way to the bathroom. And if that wasn’t enough, my assistant thought it would be really funny to put her entire mini-bar under her bed. Oh yeah, we also put all of her balcony furniture on her bed, and took a picture of all of us on her bed at the cafe table. We got in trouble because when she checked out, her mini-bar bill was $600. Something like that. Anyway, I just wanted to say the producers get a lot of grief but work really hard. I just want to say a couple of things because I haven’t said them in a while. “What? This is it for breakfast? What do I look like a bird? Salmon again? You can’t be serious. I’ve changed my room. Again.”

Another person that’s really important on the shoot is the hairdresser. Hair is really difficult. It can make or break your photo. It’s hard to find a good hairdresser. One guy I knew was a really good hairdresser. You’d never know it by looking at him. The guy looked like a linebacker for the Giants. Anyway, he was from East London. One day he called me up and in a thick East London accent he said, “Brian, I’m shooting fucking dogs today.” I said, “Come on, man. The girls can’t be that bad.” He said, “No man, I’m shooting f-u-c-king dogs. Real dogs. I’ve got to do the hair on the lot of them. I’ve had it. I’m going back to London. This is bullshit. I’m a good hairdresser. Now I’m doing dogs.” He was upset for some reason. The guy was a great hairdresser, but the last vision I have of him is him throwing down a girl I was dating onto the dance floor and biting her foot. The guy was a wild man. I had to convince her not to call the police. She was really going to call the cops on him. It was all a bit much. Good party though.

Well, that’s it for this week. My friend here will include some cartoon images from the past. I hope you have a good week. I’ll get back to work. Love, B. Nice

Chapter 70 – October 2, 2012

Hi everybody. Hope you had a good week. Mine started out a bit bizarre. I have a health assistant. He reads me my old blogs from a year ago to see how far I’ve come. It’s very helpful to me. But then he said, “Hey, let’s do a video of you with your iPad.” I thought, well, that’s a good idea. I’ll do a video once a week. Well, I did a video with my iPad, and then I watched it. That was a big mistake. Holy shit. I can’t believe how devastatingly handsome I am. Just kidding. I can’t believe how much I’ve aged. You have to remember, I haven’t looked at myself in like 2 years. I also noticed how messed up I am. I guess it’s a good marker. I must have been really messed up right after the 2nd operation. I kept this in mind when I talked to my other aide. I said to her, “Man, I must have been really messed up after I came home after the 2nd operation.” She said I was in bad shape. She couldn’t believe they sent me home. Anyway, I’m getting better one day at a time.

The other thing that happened to me this week was the owner, the guy that made the Up and Go, he stopped by for a tune-up. It’s pretty cool, the Up and Go. It teaches me how to walk again. It’s all a bit boring, but I literally had to learn how to like lift my knees up, where to plant my foot. It’s very monotonous and full of small moves, but it’s necessary to learn how to walk. We take for granted. Just being able to walk across the room is a miracle.

The other cool thing that happened to me was I sat up! My friend came by. He was going to take me out to lunch. He woke me up from my nap. I looked over, saw him and just sat up. I sat up and I went “Holy shit! I’m sitting up!” and then I fell down. Remember, never think too much.

I would like to include a link to my new project coming up. Remember, you gotta have distractions when you’re like this. This next project coming up will be a good distraction. I have a good friend helping me put it together. It should be fun and hopefully you’ll follow it. Here’s the link.

https://mypointofviewproject.wordpress.com/

That’s about it for my TBI statements. Let’s tell a few stories.

People often ask me, “What’s the worst shoot you ever had?” I immediately think of the time I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was shooting a very long commercial job. By day 4 we had accumulated a lot of film. My assistant had all the film in FedEx boxes lined up against her wall. Well the maid, in her infinite wisdom, threw out all of the FedEx boxes. I came back from a day’s shooting and got a frantic message from my assistant. We met down at the front desk. I arrived at the front desk and my assistant, she was white faced and looked rather stunned. The manager was dismissing her and saying “Just wait a moment please.” I rarely lose my temper, but I started screaming at him, “Where’s your fucking dumpster you idiot?!” That’s what I said, and that’s being polite. But we found the dumpster and we went through all the trash. It had been compressed by the compressor. But we found all the boxes and we took the film out. It was all done just in time because the town dump truck just arrived. Thank God we got the film out. Anyway, we sent the film to the lab and about 80% came out OK. We had to reshoot some things, but a lot was saved.

That was the worst shoot, but the best one was in the south of France. I was staying at a spa. They believed in rejuvenation through grapes. There was lots and lots of good wine and lots of good food. It was a great shoot.

Speaking of wine, you know, I don’t drink anymore, but there’s a few reasons. I’m going to explain why it’s not good to drink it in excessive amounts. You know, I’ve been on my back for a long time reflecting on my life. Drinking was a big part of my life. Here’s a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t drink. I’ll make it kind of short. One good reason not to drink is, you wind up bringing the wrong girl home at the end of the night. Another reason why you shouldn’t drink is that you sometimes puke on the window of your friendly neighborhood restaurant, and then you get arrested if you try to drive. You do stupid things like try to 4 wheel drive in a gravel pit, late at night. Or you throw paint on a sign, late at night. Oh yeah, once again, you bring the wrong girl home, late at night. You try to get out of handcuffs. You end up in bar fights. You bring the wrong girl home at the end of the night. You watch your roommate jump over a skunk and call it a kitty cat. You bring the wrong girl home at night. You go swimming in the ocean late at night. There are so many things I can think of, but the point is, don’t drink in excessive amounts, and think twice before you do anything.

The last thing I’d like to talk about is Nightmare Travel Stories. I used to travel almost every week. My job took me to some amazing places. But I had to deal with traveling all the time. There were numerous occasions I would get to the airport for an international flight. I’d get there and I’d have no passport. One time, I heard my name being called out by an Italian cab driver “Breeeaannn De Niche, Breeeaannn De Niche” I’ve got so many stories. But that’ll do for now. I’ll talk to you guys next week. My friend here will include some random cartoons I did in the day. Love, B. Nice