Music: an expression of humanity, escape, a soundtrack to life, deep passion….
Indie Vision Music is offering a free download of the new Mxpx single Calm My Craze for the next two weeks on their Bandcamp page. You have until June 7th to get the track. You can download Calm My Craze at https://indievisionmusic.bandcamp.com/track/calm-my-craze. Below is Indie Vision founder Brandon Jones’ background on the song.
Well, where do I begin? Shall I start with my first MxPx purchase of “Pokinatcha” back in 1994 and my initial fascination with this Washington based punk rock band or fast forward to the past few years? I think I’ll skip to the end 🙂
In August 2014 my wife suffered a severe stroke which literally came out of nowhere for us. She was 35 years old at the time and had no other prior health issues in her life. Charis was a healthy young woman, a gentle and loving soul that would brighten any room with her presence. This severe stroke was a set back on our journey together and really knocked me to my knees, pleading to God not to take her just yet.
She lost all communication skills upon suffering the stroke. Drs were mum on her condition and they were doing all they could. On August 6th 2014 I got the early morning wake up call no one wants to hear, “Your wife suffered a re-bleed and will require emergency brain surgery”! I was in panic mode and yet while my immediate senses were telling me that it’s over, that the worst is to come, my heart told me other wise. I knew she would make it out and I was confident in the power of prayer that she would recover from this.
The drs did remove a large portion (I mean LARGE) of her skull on her left side and put it on ice. The drs then sowed the remaining scalp over the gap and closed it up. She would live three months with NO SKULL on that side and wore a protective helmet constantly to help keep her head safe.
Charis spent the better part of 1 month in the hospital on several different floors (moving between severe and recovery). Her speech did return when she was shuffled to the recovery floor but words were scattered around and they were scrambled. It was tough for us to make sense of what she was saying and at the same time seeing the frustration in her face for our misunderstanding. She had what they called Global Aphasia (look it up) when she first had the stroke and then Fluent Aphasia once she was downstairs.
We did everything to get her back. We even made a memory board for her and got her a writing board for her to try and express her thoughts. Slowly the memories began to creep back in. Her familiarization with the family and her surroundings was nothing short of extraordinary.
We were lucky enough (thank you God) to not only have Charis with us but also were blessed (yes I CAN use that word and I WILL) this brain rehabilitation program called “Winways” in Orange, CA. A woman visited us in the recovery wing towards the end of her stay and told us about this program. I was intrigued but I think Charis had reservations about it all. Taking her to the first day of this program after being out of the hospital just a few days was a trying time. She was angry, confused, scared, and not wanting help (just at that early point). Once she was in though, it was like a whole new world for the family. This place not only let us have free admission (because of a scholarship from donors to the program) but their full staff was able to wait hand and foot on Charis, taking precious time at improving her way of life. It was like re-learning basic skills from the bottom up. They went from language skills, to math, writing, and other life applications to help her regain that sense of self. It indeed was a trying time for the two of us (and our kids) but guess what, we got through it. She made it out, ALIVE!
About 6 months later and after the Winways program had ended (in addition to like the other 5 hospital visits including the skull reattachment surgery, cranioplasty), she suffered a few minor seizures. These weren’t convulsive seizures at first and I had no idea what was happening to begin with. When your wife can’t talk but looks perfectly fine, doing her normal skills, you begin to freak out. “What is happening?” “Why can’t my wife talk and express herself?” These are thoughts running through my mind at rapid fire pace and it really is scary. We did find out that they were minor seizures which caused some Aphasia related occurances.
In June of 2015 my wife suffered the scariest thing yet (besides almost dying in the hospital the first go around), a grand mal seizure. One minute we are sitting there talking and the next minute she says she needs to lay down because she is feeling weird (skipping words and not communicating again). I thought, “oh no here we go again”. Then the bad stuff happened. I won’t go into detail so just look up Grand Mal Seizures (or Tonic Clonic Seizures as they are referred to now). This led to another few day hospital stay…….
In mid-late 2015 the band MxPx announced a special “pre-order” for their new LIVE Film of the show I had attended in July at The Observatory with Five Iron and Slick Shoes. One of the contribution levels was to have Mike and Mxpx record a special custom song dedicated to whoever you wanted. I just knew this would be the perfect thing for my wife and to cheer her up. I offered up a few pages of lyrics I wrote about our experiences and retold the whole story to Mike in an email. The lyrics didn’t end up getting used however they and our whole story were personally referenced and used for the song. On December 24th I got the finished, finalized song called “Calm My Craze” from Mike (and Tom C. their booking agent). I presented the song to Charis on Christmas and the rest is history.
I have had this song since December and felt like sharing it (and our story) with the whole world. This whole last year and a half hasn’t been easy. It’s been a trying time for the entire family and extended family. We’ve learned to cope, grow, learn, relearn, and embrace the hope that God has so rightfully placed in our lives. Sometimes in life it’s hard to see through the clouds but once they part and the sun shines through, the warmth replaces any doubt and unease.
Here we are a year and half post surgery and we have so much to look forward to. It has been almost a year since the last seizure and I get more confident each and every passing day. I am so thankful to have my beautiful wife by my side and almost back to the way she was pre-stroke. It is going to be a long road and we’re still in recovery mode but I just take each day at a time, treasuring the moments we have together. In August of 2016, it’ll be two years since the stroke/surgery and also my oldest son’s 21st birthday. That seems surreal to me.
All of us may come from different backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, belief systems, but let me tell you, the power of prayer is real and God’s undying love for mankind as is evidenced by the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross more than 2000 years ago is more than enough for me.
I know there are many of us who are believers, some who drifted from it, and maybe some who never believed to begin with. What is our purpose? What is our mission in case you forgot? It’s not to give up on the lost, the disenfranchised, the cynical, the unbelievers, the ones who’ve left. It’s to embrace our fellow men and women and tell them we love them. I may not be the best example. I rarely venture outside my little safety bubble. I get scared in public places and nervous of new encounters but my heart weighs heavy with the hope I have and I just want to share my Faith in God with the world no matter what crap I get for it, the laughs, the finger pointing, and all the head shaking. We do have a purpose. I feel my purpose has always been to share through this industry of music I was thrust into and somehow let my light shine for others. I’m not perfect, never have been. I am just a simple man who will die knowing there has always been a God looking over us and guiding us on that path we call life.
So to Mike and Mxpx I say thank you. I cherish your music as a fan and respect you guys as punk rock musicians. Things may not be as they once were but my love for your music and positive words have made a profound impact on my years of listening. Just know you guys have fans who love you and your music. We’ll never forget the past. We will all keep looking and hoping for the future.
Thanks for reading this and I hope you all enjoy a little insight into the song “Calm My Craze” by MxPx and what it means to us.