Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chapter 87 - January 29, 2013

Behind every great man, there's a great woman....rolling her eyes, shaking her head, crossing her arms, and tapping her foot. Hi everybody! Welcome to another week in Paradise. I'd like to dedicate this blog to my friend who's sitting right in front of me. She's typing as I dictate. I still can't really type, (nor could I type before, actually). Anyway, she's been doing this blog with me. It's been almost 3 years. You know, I always say I'm getting better, but I never really talk about what I'm getting better at. It's good to have goals. You know, a friend of mine is in the military and they have a program for their training. It's to get them through the rough stuff. It also applies to anyone going through surgery. It's basically a 4 step idea. It's something people should study before surgery and after surgery. The four steps are these: 1. Take each day step by step. In other words, get yourself through breakfast. Then get yourself through lunch. Then get yourself through dinner, etc., etc. What I mean is, break up your day. Have something to look forward to. 2. The other thing is visualize where you want to be. Have a strong vision or goal or challenges you're going to meet. 3. You know, we talk to ourselves all day long. We make comments to ourselves all the time. When you talk to yourself, talk positively. Talk to yourself in a positive way. Don't say things like, "I feel terrible," or "I have a headache." Say things like, "I feel good." or "I'm going to do this," or "I'm going to do that." Keep things positive. And the 4th thing is, breathe. Take deep breaths every once in a while. Just breathe.

You know, right now, I have a goal. I'm working towards traveling across the country taking photos. I'm going to stop and see my daughter along the way. But, you know, it's a huge challenge for me to travel like this. So my goal is to work up towards making this long journey. Right now I'm working on stepping up into my trailer. You see, I have to pull over every 4 hours or so and take a nap. Just talking like this is exhausting. So I'm working on stepping up into my trailer. You'd think that would be easy, but it is like an Olympic event for me. I'm even doing water therapy to get better at taking a step up. The other thing I'm doing is I'm taking small road trips in my special car. Right now I'm up to an hour, an hour and a half. It's to build up my endurance. But they won't let me drive for some reason...

Now that we're talking about therapy, I'd like to talk about altitude. You see, I can't go to altitude right now. That's why I'm planning on taking a southern route when I go west. I have to stay at sea level as much as possible. A friend of mine said, "How high can you go?" I replied, "I'll let you know." Anyway, I've got to stay at low altitude and I can't fly either. I'll research neurological ERs that are on my route. Always have back up, and remember, if you're in a condition like this, you'll always want an ER that has a neurological team. Many ERs have no neurological team.

Other things that are getting better, when I say I'm getting better, are I don't feel as claustrophobic as before. Before I couldn't even sleep in the dark. I would have to have a light on. I couldn't lie on my stomach. I'd freak out. Now I can lie on my stomach. It sounds boring, but I can guarantee it's a big deal when you're in a state like this.

OK, enough of the boring talk of my medical condition. Let's tell a few stories. My friend here has some scans from Nevis. I went on a great shoot to Nevis. One of the better moments was I had the afternoon off so I decided to go to the driving range and hit a few golf balls. I didn't have anything with me like clubs or stuff like that so I called the front desk. They said, "Oh, Mr. Nice, you want to go to the driving range? No problem. We'll pick you up in 10 minutes." In ten minutes a golf cart showed up with a pitcher of cold water. The golf cart and the chauffeur took me to the driving range. When I got there, it was amazing. they had an umbrella set up for me, a chair, a pitcher of water and ice, a towel, a beautiful stack of golf balls in the form of a pyramid. A full range of golf clubs, some tees. You get the idea. It was a first class driving range. Oh yeah, I had a butler as well. My view was amazing. There was a long fairway with palm trees on either side, going off into the distance, and at the end of the fairway was a volcano. The butler said, "Would you like anything sir?" I said, "Yes, actually, I'd like an extra dirty martini, 2 olives in a chilled glass." It was a great afternoon.

Now I'll tell a few random stories. When I was in college, my roommate had a friend. This guy would always hang out. He was like a piece of furniture. The guy would show up in his car which was a car that I always wanted. It was a 442 Oldsmobile Cutlass, cherry red with mag wheels. It was a convertible. Anyway, the guy would show up with a bunch of video games in his car like PacMan, Astroids, etc. He worked at a game store repairing video games. Our whole apartment was filled with video games. You know, like the ones they have in bars. Anyway, my neighbors hated me because all you heard was "hoooo hoooo hooo" the sounds of PacMan and Astroids. It sounded like a gaming arcade 24/7. We had fun though. Thank god I was a photography major.
The reason why I went back to Australia many years ago was not only to start my career as a photographer, but I went there because I loved the place. My grandfather and grandmother used to go there all the time. My grandfather would go to the middle of Australia, mine for black opals, and bring them to Hong Kong to sell. With the money he made in Hong Kong, he bought a ranch in northern Australia. He wanted to start a macadamia nut farm. I used to go there a lot. It was a great place. Anyway, one of my fondest memories was he brought me to the rain forest to pan for gold. Well, we used to always go into this specific spot. It was a stream in the rain forest. It was beautiful. Shafts of light would come down to the stream as we were panning for gold. And the shafts of light, huge butterflies, like the size of your head, could dance in the shafts of light. It was beautiful. Anyway, I went back to there as an adult. I wanted to show my wife at the time were we used to pan for gold. I couldn't believe I found the stream, but it was all dried up. There was actually no trees. No rain forest. It had been cleared as far as the eye could see. All there was was bull grass. It makes me teary eyed just to think about it.
Anyway, now there's a big dam where the rain forest used to be. Those dam forms made a huge man made lake. My friend used to take me water skiing there. The guy was crazy. He'd say, "Come on mate. Let's ski close to the shore. The water's really smooth there, but don't fall because there are ironwood trees right below the surface." The trees never rotted because they are ironwood, a really dense wood. They were like 4 feet under, but every once in a while one would be close to the surface. It was good incentive not to fall. It was fun there, but there were things like giant spiders, big poisonous snakes. I could go on and on. It was a beautiful place though. I miss it. I wish I could go back there. The stars were incredible.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. If you're like I am, keep working hard. Stay positive. Oh yeah, I wanted to say one other thing. It's so weird but I keep saying how the body wakes up, you know this has been going on for like 3 years now, but it's as if, over the past year or so, I'm waking up more and more and more. It keeps going on. But I'm definitely more aware. I keep saying it, and I've said it before, but it's amazing. I can't believe the stuff I've been through. A lot of shit. Maybe ignorance is bliss, cause I'm starting to get positively pissed off. Anyway, see you next week. Love, B. Nice

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chapter 86 - January 22, 2013

Barack Obama, our president, sent me an email (see below). He was responding to a letter I wrote him. What a cool thing to receive. It was Barack Obama's inauguration, Martin Luther King Day and it was my birthday. I had good company.

Hi everybody! Welcome to another week in Paradise. This week has been kind of tough. You know, you have ups and downs when you're like this.  I am getting better overall, but some things, like my vision, are a little upsetting. Actually, you know what? I'm going to talk about something else, because the thought of talking about my condition is kind of upsetting.

A friend of mine stopped by. He's a film producer. He and I agreed we should tape the adventure I'm going to partake in this October. It's pretty cool. We'll document my adventure as we go coast to coast (please click on the attached link). When you're like this, it's good to have something to look forward to.

I'm going to have my friend here pull out some random journals and we'll tell a few stories on what we pull out.

I'm going to tell some random stories. I would think about things when I was in the hospital. Here's a few stories. One day I was in the Caribbean and I was looking for locations. I always wore a hat and a long sleeve shirt to cover up from the sun. anyway, I was walking down to a beach carrying my Polaroid camera and all covered up from the sun. I walked down to the beach and started taking pictures. Then I stepped over someone. He was completely nude. I looked a little closer. I was on a nude beach. It didn't look so good. Here I am all covered up, walking down the beach with a Polaroid camera. Not a good look. For some reason, I was getting peculiar stares. Anyway, I got out of there pretty quick.

Another story or stories have to do with windsurfing and surfing. You know, my job was pretty stressful. I would often get rid of stress by windsurfing or surfing. It was a great way to unwind.  There's nothing like being in the open ocean on a fiberglass board. You know, we'd get up to speeds like a jet ski full on out. All good until you wipe out. It was cool cause we would come up on big sea turtles, whales, sharks. There's lots of wildlife out there!
One other story I have or stories is I had to work my ass off to pay for my dream house. It was a great house. My friend here will include some photos of the house as I was building it. She will also include some cartoons. I don't have much else to report for this week. I'm going to make this a short one. I hope you have a good week. Oh, yeah! I found out that facebook is great for your birthday. I had many birthday wishes. Thank you all so much. And Happy birthday to my friends who are having their birthdays this week. That's all for now. I'll talk to you guys next week.

P.S. I'd like to dedicate this week's blog to my mom. I know I did it before, but I'm amazed at how much work she does. You really need someone to take care of you. Hell, it's either that or a nursing home. Talk to you next week. Love, B. Nice

Oh yeah, one other thing. I was going through the books and Paris kept coming up. Man it was cold in Paris a few years ago. I guess they're going through the same thing right now. But man, I remember, I had to go to the cafe just to warm up. My friend will include some drawings from my journal.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chapter 85 - January 15, 2013

"Importation or exportation of drugs is punishable by death. Have a nice flight." That's what my boarding pass said. This is when I was taking a plane, a small plane, in Panang. In Malaysia. It was a time when I lived in Australia. It was sad because many Australians were hanged for drugs. They always had public service announcements on TV. Anyway, I went off on a bit of a tangent.

Hi everybody. Welcome to another week. I had my friend read me my previous blog and I came down a little heavy on the doctors I think. You know, they did save my life, huh. It's really not right to put them down. I just get frustrated. It's been about 3 to 4 years now. I get a little restless. I just want to be better - right now. I am getting better. It's just not fast enough. Hell, just this morning I was pulling out some stuff, and I was throwing out some old braces. You know, stuff I used before. It's a sign I'm getting better.

You know, when you're in this state, lying on your back for many years, you tend to think about things. OK, this is going to be my last public service announcement for this week. You tend to think about things, and I was thinking about my trip to Greenland. (See the previous blog about Greenland Chapter 54 - June 13, 2012). Anyway, you know, I was there for about two weeks, filming, and the more I talked to the locals, the more I realized how the Earth really is heating up. I mean, they're starting to plant gardens. It's crazy. And then I had a dream last night. Now, think about this: a small child has a temperature of what? 98.7 degrees? Well, if he heats up to what? 105? His brain starts to bake. That's just a few degrees difference. That's what's happening to our Earth right now. It's heating up a few degrees but it's a huge tipping point. I mean, come on. Look at the storms we're having. It's crazy. My friend in Australia called me. It's been over 100 degrees for a week. Here it's the middle of January and it's almost 60 degrees outside. Crazy. Anyway, sorry to bore you with all that stuff, but if you don't believe in global warming now, you're an idiot.

Sorry, I'm just a little feisty today. As if you couldn't tell. It's so bizarre. I can feel where they held my head down from surgery. I guess I have some nerve damage around my head, around my face. It's kind of like wearing a full facial motorcycle helmet that's way too small for you. Very tight and very unpleasant. I've been like this for about 3 years, but some days it's stronger than others. I may as well tell you my full condition now, cause it's a good benchmark for me to look back at. The right side of my body is still compromised, but getting better. I now have probably 75% feeling in my hands and my feet. My speaking is getting a little better, but my voice still cracks. I sound like I'm going through puberty again. Maybe I am! My vision is still shaky and double, but it seems to be getting better. Overall, there's improvement, but it's just not fast enough. I have to be patient.

My friend here went through some of my old books, my old journals. It triggered memory of a dream I had last night, except when I woke up, I thought, "Well that was a nice visit with my parents. I'm looking forward to driving home and having a quick surf before sunset." And then reality sets in. I'm gonna include some photos of the house as I was building. It was my dream house. But, you know what, nothing lasts forever. It will always be my dream house though.

You know, I think I'll tell some random stories, things that happened to me in the past. These are things I would think about as I was lying on my back in the hospital.

I used to travel to Australia first class all the time. It was great. I used to buy mileage from certain people. It was legal, but the airlines didn't honor the tickets. If they caught you buying mileage they would rip up the tickets. Well, this happened to me. I got to the airport. They said, "Oh, Mr. Nice. We've been expecting you." I said, "What? Another bottle of champagne?" They said, "No, can I see your tickets please?" I handed the ticket agent my first class tickets. She smiled and ripped them up. I kind of freaked out. She said, "these are no good. If you'd like to buy some tickets to Australia, you're more than welcome. It's $6000. Please get to the back of the line." Well, I freaked out even more. I said, I'll be right back. I called the guy who I bought the tickets from and we kind of straightened everything out. I got 2 economy tickets to Australia. I didn't have to pay anything more. It's all a whole other story.

After my first divorce, I really didn't know what to do. I thought, well, I gotta get a place to live. So I got a great loft in New York. People in my industry were starting to talk. I got a divorce from a woman. I got a loft on Christopher Street in New York. I got a roommate, a French man. You got the picture. But, no, I'm straight. It was interesting though, having a roommate, after being married. It's a little adjustment. Interesting, but actually, a big adjustment. Boy have I got some stories, but I won't go into that.

You know, after going through all this, you realize, you never know where life is going to take you. Hell, I thought I had it all worked out. But, things change I guess. And you have to adapt to the changes. We think we got it all figured out, but you never know what's around the corner. I will say this though, I strongly advise you get a disability insurance. Also, take out life insurance and make sure you do a living will. It's all a bit boring, but hell, I never thought I'd need this stuff. But, it's strongly advisable you get it all. After going through all this, I would get a disability policy that kicks in after 6 months. This will save you some money. And then have a 6 month savings cushion if you can do it. Life insurance is important. If you just get a term policy, that's good enough. And have a point person that will make decisions for you if you can't. That's very important. Research doctors at hospitals now, while you're healthy. Just be prepared, I guess. You never think it will happen to you, but you never know.

Well, that's about it for this week. I look forward to sitting in the cafe one day. You guys go out and have a coffee. Oh, yeah, that reminds me. I was out having a coffee with a friend of mine once. He's an artist. We were in Paris. We were bitching about our agents or something. He said, "Hey mate, have a look over there. I'm not going to bitch anymore." There was a girl drinking an espresso and lighting a cigarette with her feet. She had no arms at all. She was doing everything with her feet. He said, "I'm never going to bitch again." Anyway, think about that. I'll talk to you guys next week. My friend here will include some pictures from my journals and the link to my next project. Have a good one. Love, B. Nice

P.S. I want to say happy birthday to Samantha. I didn't get a chance to say happy birthday last week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chapter 84 - January 12, 2013

Happy Birthday Hudson! Greetings everybody. Welcome to another week in Paradise. Remember I told you I would run to look for locations? Well, I would windsurf as well. I found some great locations windsurfing. One time I was in St. Maarten and had the day off so I thought I'd go for a windsurf. Well, I was screaming along fully powered up, going fast through the waves when I saw another pair of windsurfers coming toward me. As they got closer and closer I realized, Oh my God, they're naked! Bits and pieces were flying everywhere. They went past me and smiled. I thought, Oh my God, I hope they don't fall. Then I looked to my right and there was a guy going down the beach walking his schlong, and just behind him was an outdoor buffet. Everyone was lined up with their plates, naked. It was all a bit too much. The only other time I saw something more mortifying was when I was at the Playboy Mansion. There were naked women in the grotto, but that's a whole other story.

You know, I used to think about things like this all the time when I was in a bad way. Or, you know, when I had to have another MRI. Get my mind off of things.

Oh yeah, I'll go back to windsurfing. Once I was in St. Bart's. I was windsurfing at the end of the runway near the airport. Anyway, I was approaching the end of the runway when I noticed everyone  got up and started running. I thought, what the hell are they running for? Then I looked over and I saw a small plane crash into the runway. It collapsed its landing gear and the propellers chewed up the runway. The plane came to a stop. The door opened, there was a moment of silence, and then all of a sudden, you heard some woman screaming. She jumped out of the plane and started saying something in Spanish and kissed the ground. Everyone else started piling out. Apparently you have to have a special license to land there. Obviously, the pilot of this plane didn't. I never did like small planes.

When I was little, my parents were on the fence. They were trying to decide if I should go on vacation with my little friend. I was in Kindergarten. My parents decided not to send me with my little friend. It's a good thing I didn't go because the whole family got wiped out. The plane crashed. But I remember going to the funeral and seeing two little coffins and two big ones. I thought to myself, my friend's in there? That's when I discovered we don't live forever. Ever since then, I've hated small planes. I've got a video of a plane we took from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas. They left the fuel cap off. It was flapping in the wind. Fuel was going everywhere. One spark and we would have been done. I got a good video of it. I'll share it with you later. Another time happened when I was building my house. The police stopped by. I thought, oh no, what have I done now. Anyway, the police stopped by and said, "Hey, do you mind if we borrow your crane?" (I was using a crane to set some of my timber.) Anyway, they needed the crane to fish a small airplane out of the trees in Montauk. You see, this is why I don't like small planes.

I guess I'll just tell some random stories. One time I was location scouting in Hawaii. I was so bored. Another house to look at. Often we would use real estate agents to look at property. Well, anyway, I was looking at this house and the woman who was a real estate agent started trying to sell the house to me. I was intrigued. I said, "This is a beautiful space. What are the taxes like?" And she started telling me about the taxes. I said, "My partner and I..." I grabbed the art director. I said, "My partner and I have a small child. What are the schools like?" Well, the art director looked at me like I was an alien. He didn't know what the hell was going on. I said, "Just go along with it." We almost bought a house together. Anyway, one other time I was location scouting we came across a really cool plantation in Hawaii. It was an old plantation. Built around the rain forest. Pretty wild to see because the plantation was shut down. It was about to be turned into a golf course. But you know what happened? Eventually, nature takes it back because the same thing happened just down the road, and the volcano took it all back, back to square one. The volcano took the whole golf course. It's kind of like me right now. I'm back to square one. Having to learn how to do everything all over again.

Remember I'm doing this blog to help people that have some sort of Traumatic Brain Injury. Did you know that one in six people are affected by some form of neurological damage. One in six. Pretty wild. I think if we don't stop texting each other in the car, that number will go up to like one in three. You guys have got to spread the word. Get people to stop driving while texting. You should see the stuff I saw. It would freak you out. Anyway, that's enough of my public service message.

I went to see my neurologist this week, cause remember, I had a seizure a few weeks back. Well, as I was listening to her talk, all I heard was, "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." Remember in Peanuts when the teacher is talking to Charlie Brown, all you hear is "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." I'm at the stage where even they don't know what to say. So it's just the same shit over and over again. So it's time to repair yourself. You know, you get to a point where you kind of have to do that. Not rely on them, but rely on yourself. I'm at that point right now. You know, no one can do it but yourself. Sorry to get deep on you, but hey, that's the way it is right now. I'm getting better. It's just a lot of work and a lot of time.

My friend here is going to include some cartoons I did in the past. I used to keep a record of my life in cartoon form. They were pretty much my journals. I hope you enjoy them. My friend here will also include a link to my next project. You know in 1979 I ran across America. It was a big challenge. It eventually landed me in the Guinness Book of World Records. Now I'm going to go back the other direction in a car and take pictures. In my state it's a big challenge as well. I guess they were both big challenges in their own way. I'll let you know more about the trip later. Have a good week. Love, B. Nice.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chapter 83 - January 3, 2013

Do you want to get married again? OK. Do you want to go to Australia? OK. Hey, it's nice here in Australia. Do you want to stay? OK. That was from my first marriage. I ended up staying there for 10 years. It was a great place to live. I loved it there. It was a great place for a young photographer to start. You know, the magazines had no money so they would do a deal with a resort. For example, I went to an island off Australia. What the magazine did was they would provide a space for free advertising in exchange for travel, accommodations, food, etc. It was a win/win situation for everyone. We got a great location and the resort got good advertising. Anyway, I was on this island and we got done eating at a local restaurant. There was an apple on a plate on a round table. There was a spotlight on the apple. It was like a shrine. It was a special apple because they normally didn't allow fresh fruit on the island. It had to clear special customs. Anyway, as we were leaving, the model, in her infinite wisdom, grabbed the apple and bit into it. Well you'd think the girl bit into a small child's arm. The whole restaurant went crazy. The rest of the shoot was so bizarre. Everywhere we went we were greeted with half hearted smiles and as we turned our backs, they'd whisper and point at us. Even more bizarre, every few hours or so, a bus of mentally challenged people would drive by, whisper and point at us. And then we went to a house to shoot. The owner of the house had a pit that went down into the darkness. He said he would go down there and because of the optics, and because the pit was so deep, he would see stars. He said, with a half hearted smile, "Do you want to come down and see?" Needless to say, it was a bizarre trip. But, you know, that's one reason why I loved working in Australia. You would go to places you would never imagine going. I went on some great location shoots.

I did some things that make me not sleep at night now. One time I was on Bondi Beach. I had to shoot swimwear. I was with one of Australia's top models. I ran into a friend who ran the local surf club. I said, "Hey mate. Let's take the girl out in one of the boats." I was such a young idiot. The boats are huge. The waves were huge. I said to her, "Do you mind going in the boat?" She said, "OK." We could have died. It was crazy. But you know, the shots were great.

Another time, I was in Sydney, around Fleet Week. They had an aircraft carrier full of sailors. I happened to be shooting that day, and I saw the aircraft carrier and I thought, what a great location. So I asked the captain if I could shoot there. And he said, yeah no problem. The captain let us use his cabin for hair and makeup. The hairdresser, his hair dryer broke, so the captain said, "No problem," and he called up some electrical technician. The guy spent hours on the hair dryer trying to get it to work. Then I looked down on his shirt. He was a nuclear technician. He worked on nuclear weapons. The guy couldn't even fix a hair dryer.

Anyway, I used to love to adapt to situations that just came up. Sometimes it worked out. Sometimes it didn't. I guess it's kind of like the way things are now. You have to learn how to adapt.

This week has kind of been a bummer. You see, I have a chest cold. It seems anytime you get something like a cold, it affects you 10 fold. It really brings you down, but, you know, you gotta stay positive. Get your mind off it. My friend here asked me if there are any stories from Aspen. I'll tell you one story. My girlfriend at the time, she came along on the photo shoot. We stayed at an amazing resort. Little did I know, my room was haunted. I don't know if you believe in this stuff, but after what happened, I can tell you, I believe in it now. She was taking a shower, and the pocket door in the bathroom slammed shut. She was washing her hair in the shower. Her legs were outside the shower and the door to the shower slammed shut on her leg. She said, "What are you doing?!" I said, "What are you talking about. I'm in here, in the other room." It freaked her out. Freaked me out too. Then I thought, it's just the wind. Then as I was going to sleep, the door to the bathroom slammed shut again. There was no wind outside. Just another day in my life. Never a dull moment.

P.S. I forgot to say I dedicate this blog to my friend in western Australia. It must be plenty hot there. High Summer and all. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi.

Talk to you guys next week. Love, B. Nice