Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I've Moved Back.

It took seven years.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it's slightly more hollow not having Josh here.  If any of you can direct me to Josh's plaque (pictured below), I'd be thankful.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I fucking hate this time of year now. I used to love it. Purgatory? No. Not prison either. More like a sound proof room from which I find myself screaming. And no one can hear. I know I'm not the only one screaming. How many cells are there?

How does one continue to face the prospect of never again seeing the person who always knew how to pry the door open enough to hear the bellows?

I don't talk to anyone anymore like I was able to talk to Josh. He knew more of my secrets than even my best friends. He cared. He didn't judge. He shared his secrets, too. I only teased about judging. It made us both laugh.

Now I don't get to call him and convince him to come over, or be irritated that he doesn't show up until midnight. Or figure out how to cook something he would actually eat. No more japes about sculpted meat or re-congealed cheese... Five eggs and eight pieces of turkey bacon for breakfast, followed promptly by too much Mountain Dew, or for a time, cranberry juice and 7-up. Not Sprite. I don't get to watch him watching t.v. or hear his cackle and wheeze when I crack a completely off color and probably unbelievably rude joke. Probably at his expense. And he loved it. We both did.

I really need to talk to him right now. He'd know what to do.

At least I get to escape this year. Wish I could come back and share it with him. But I can't.

I fucking hate this time of year.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I've thought about Josh all weekend knowing his Birthday was coming.

It was around his birthday in 2008 that Josh finally called me after almost a year of not hearing from or seeing him.

My wife and I had sent him a card for his B-day.

We talked about hum drum stuff and his concerns for his college degree.

I really wanted to set a date for him to meet my son, but I didn't want to put a lot of pressure on Josh.

Still now, and after I found out he died, I wish I had.

I miss you Josh.

Thinking of you always...

Happy Birthday

I just wanted to let you know that Emily and I treated yesterday like a holiday. We told the kids about you, and thought about you a lot.

Wish you were still here.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Josh

We love you, Josh.

To the rest of the Westhaver clan, my thoughts have been with you the last few weeks. I can't even imagine how hard this time of year is for you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

all hail king of spain!

just home from life of riley's, where every table along the window side of the room was filled, overflowing, with theater folk come tonight to toast josh's memory. even more people than that, several who were at the theater working xmas carol tonight, said they were not going to make it to the bar, but would be raising a glass to him when they got home.

sitting at the table i thought josh would have liked this. actors, tech folk, directors, from so many different places in portland, sitting together and gabbing. remembering shows with old old friends, and some folks meeting each other for the first time. josh would have liked that. our smiling and being together.

god i'm sad. and somehow 'glad' to know others are too. not glad for the sadness or for his loss, but that there's a place to say so. and by saying so just try to mean, to say, how much he meant to me. i'm still not sure how to go on without him. and yet i'm certain he would say that i absolutely can figure out how to go on without him here. because he's nearby, somehow. just not 'here' here.

mysterious. and fragile. this way of tuning in and feeling his presence.
i am grateful for all the loving smiling and honest sadness in that room tonight.
blessed be.
I miss you Josh.

I was sitting on the couch when the call came. I had planed to see Josh at the hospital one more time with my wife and son but it wasn’t meant to be.

Erin’s voice choked back tears as she told me “Josh is gone. He’s gone.” I thanked her and hung up the phone as fast as I could. My heart broke for a second time. The first happened when I saw him in the intensive care unit the night before. I let out a loud wail and burst into tears. My 6th month old son smiled, as he must have thought I was doing some new wacky face he hadn’t seen before. I held him and cried.

Now it’s been a whole year today. There hasn’t been one day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought about Josh. I have a dream almost monthly where we meet and talk. But I’ve just shut down my emotions when it comes to our dear friend. I hadn’t realized until this moment but I’ve been especially bitter this last year, like I’m in a permanent foul mood. Josh’s death brought me down more than I realized.

I really have so much to be thankful for, I truly do. I know Josh would never want me to be so sad. He’d want thoughts of him to bring joy, happiness and love. He’d want me… and you to cherish our memories of him, even if there was some sort of unfinished business; he would want us to be happy.

I’ve been avoiding most things “Josh” this last year and that’s just not a good thing.

But this sad anniversary has put things in perspective and so I’ve resolved to be more positive this next year for Josh’s memory and for my sake. It’s Josh absence that hurts not all the amazing recollections I have of him. It’s time to share more of them.

In this spirit I just set my itunes to Moxey Früvous. I haven’t listened to them in a long time. It feels good.

You were the best of us Josh.

One Gargantuan Beer

I wrote a very short tribute to our friend at my own blog.

The last time I saw him, we drank copious amounts of Mac & Jack's on a patio in Portland, and then washed it all down the next day at the Portland brew fest. One of my favorite days ever, and that was before he died. Now, that day is an indispensable memory.

I do wonder whether another Mac & Jack's will pass my lips without bringing on the sort of sorrow I can't currently elude.

for dear josh

every day i pass this door on my way to my dressing room.
tonight i'll bring flowers.

my heart's salute to all who are thinking of him today.
i miss him so much i stop in my tracks and get lost in it. then remember to keep walking.
one breath at a time.

i heard someone say once that grieving is praising.
josh, you are missed. you are loved.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Honoring Josh - Part II

Well, we had our big Halloween party last night. I always do a Day of the Dead altar as part of the festivities. There are some corn offerings, a paper mache painted skull, a cookie skull and other meaningful items. In the front is a wax aroma warmer, with the fabulous Ginger Pumpkin scent. I prefer to do the altar outside as we have a fairly spacious backyard with lots of trees. I was so happy I was able to have pictures of many of our friends and relatives as it wasn't raining this year!

We had a really wonderful time...Swinebread was able to bring Swinebread Jr.: who had a great time with our friend Becca, "The Big Cheese"!

We also did a quick ritual where we burned some herbs: Calendula (for Healing), Rosemary (for Remembrance), Wheat (for the Harvest), and Rose Petals (for the End of Summer and Remembrance). You can see some of the herbs that didn't quite make it into the fire on the bottom part of the fire pit.

I also had each guest bring carry out a votive candle to place on the altar anywhere of their choosing. Swinebread of course placed his right next to Josh's picture. Here's another photo of the altar with all the votives. I think it would be something Josh would have enjoyed sharing with us.

and some final thoughts to leave with you:

To catch the edge of night,
Walking between Sun and shadow,
Is to find the place where reality
Leaves off and magic begins.
In a time that is not a time,
Go softly, go slowly, and
Hope to catch a glimpse of
That which lies beyond

-Elizabeth Barrette

Saturday, October 31, 2009

UP Halloween

I think I posted this picture already, but this is a great memory for me- Josh dressed up as Hazen for Halloween. Megan had a big party at her house and all the drama geeks were there. Good times. I think Hazen is dressed as Alice Cooper and Jim and Nathan are Hanz and Franz (obviously). I miss all of you very much.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Honoring Josh

I just wanted to let everyone one I will have Josh's picture on my Day of the Dead (AKA Dia de Los Muertos) altar during the Halloween weekend. Teasethedog graciously lent his permission for me to have a copy of his favorite picture of Josh (see previous post). Once the festivities are concluded, I will make another post complete with pictures.

Although my altar won't be a completely traditional Ofrenda, I will be decorating Sugar Skulls as part of the observance. I always leave the altar up until All Soul's Day on November 2nd.

Although there wasn't a post in September, I certainly was thinking about him during this Autumn season. Like everyone I'm sure, I was busy with a new full time job, and the whirlwind of school activities that parents like me often endure during the Fall. Best wishes to all and much love to Josh's family.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Favorite Picture of Josh

I don't know where the high-res version of this photo is (I'll find it eventually), but this about sums everything up for me.

Taken at Takhlakh lake during a camping trip. I'll write the full story another time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Picture For You, Mark

A fond memory from me too, much the same as yours. Same vest, although by this point in the Mac and Jack's, the hat was off.

A Birthday Party...

So Swinebread, Shannanani, and myself had a little birthday get together for Josh this last Saturday night (08/08/09). We went to the Kennedy school to have dinner and see a movie. On behalf of Josh we enjoyed a couple of pitchers of McMinniman's Ruby (his favorite for those of you who might not know). It was a very nice evening. Josh would have enjoyed it.

It would have been nice to invite others along, but we couldn't think of anyone else we had contact info for. :(

Here is a picture of what i think Josh might have looked like at his b-day dinner...

Granted his hair probably would have been shorter.

Happy birthday Josh. We love and miss you...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Midnight On Sunday

It's more than a birthday. It's two birthdays in a manner of thinking. My friend had his proper birthday, then living only until December, and my wife escaped the clutches of death to survive him and bring me the constant gift that is my every day since.

Happy birthday, and thank you for everything, my dear friend. You cannot be missed more, and will never be missed less.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I’ve been avoiding posting… I’ve been going into a mild state of denial when it comes to Josh’s death. If I don’t post about him, if I don’t read about him, if I don’t think about him, then I might believe he’s still out there for a second, a sweet second where he’s still making that big laugh or helping somebody out with a big grin on his face.

I find I avoid listening to Moxy Früvous, They Might Be Giants and Sarcastic Mannequins now (three of my favorite bands). The songs from these groups are just too tied up in memories of Josh. Things like a long 24-hour trip up to Vancouver Canada where Josh and I discovered the Sarcastic Mannequins in a crazy dive called the Cruel Elephant. I always kinda felt that SM was “our” soundtrack. When it comes to TMBG, they take me right back to the house on Denver Street. Joseph had introduced both Josh and I to their music a few years earlier, but it was in that house where many a wild party was had that Josh and I played and played our They Might Be Giants CDs. When it comes to Moxy well… I introduced Josh to their music but Moxy just feels like Josh. I don’t really know how else to describe it. I remember Josh letting out a really huge laugh on “…and now I work at the Pizza Pizza” during the King of Spain song the first time he heard it. From that time on he was an immense fan. When I think of I think of Moxy… I think of Josh and vice versa.

I, like all of you, have had dreams of Josh. My subconscious won’t keep away from what my waking self tries to forget. That I miss Josh…. He was in theater, rehearsing for some musical. It was interesting because the theater was an amalgamation of the various spaces I have seen him in over the years. Many friends surrounded him but he was the star of the show of course.

August is a hard time because it was this month last year that I talked to Josh for the last time… via phone. He’d been avoiding me but still I sent him a birthday card. He called me up and we talked about my son. I really wanted him to see my little boy… but just like the months before he called Josh avoided me until his death.

Heavy Random thoughts as Josh’s Birthday approaches….


Saturday, July 4, 2009

It hits home

Finally, after almost seven months, I feel as if I can write. Thus far I've been observing from afar - not wanting Josh's death to be real, but knowing full well that it is. Football season finished up, baseball season started, and no Josh was there for me to talk sports with. No Josh was there for me to pester to come play poker. No Josh would be there again to laugh and smile the way I so cherish.

In the hospital, I work with my share of the dying. I see the families and friends gather around, saying phrases that seem comforting, but that have little reality. Many people live in denial. Up until now, I have been one of them.

Then came the dream. . .

I was in some type of living room with Josh. We were laughing, having fun, doing the silly things that I much remember doing with him when just hanging out. Another person entered the room, and as I talked with the person, I realized that even though he was still smiling, Josh had quit speaking. The person who had entered the room didn't even to seem to notice Josh. I engaged the new visitor for a while and then it hit me. Looking directly at Josh I said, "He can't see you can he?" To which Josh simply shook his head no. I don't remember what happened next, but eventually as I started to rouse from my sleep, the dream fading, I distinctly remember thinking, "I'll come back here again, because it's someplace where Josh is truly happy."

I've been to that room another time or two in my sleep since then. Josh remains his jovial self, unfazed by death. For that I am glad.

Josh, I miss you buddy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

june 11th

dear josh,
i remember. i love you. summer's almost here.
and to your family:
i remember. i love you. summer's almost here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Josh Comics

NOTE: I started this post several months ago but I only recently was able to get back to it and finish it up.

I went and saw the Watchmen movie a few weeks ago and I thought it was a good film for the most part. I read the comic several times since it was first published, so I‘m familiar with the story. Needless to say, whether you liked the movie or not check out the comic for sure. Anyway, I’ve been sad because I can’t discuss the film version with Josh. I’d really like to know what he would have though about it. What he would have enjoyed and what he would have been critical of. I know Josh had read Watchmen, recognized its importance, and even owned a copy of the graphic novel for a while (he might have got it from me in fact) so I would have greatly valued his opinion.

Whenever I think about the Watchmen, Josh, strangely, is one the parts of my life that I think of. I remember being at Hollywood Lights at some point when Josh and I were discussing it. Eventually someone in the office asked us what Watchmen was and Josh tried to explain it. He said something like it was the “most important superhero comic ever written,” aping my words from earlier in the conversation. The response by the asker was kinda ho-hum, but I have always remembered the conversation, Josh and Watchmen are permanently fused in brain.

All of this pondering got me thinking about Josh and comic books in general. Josh enjoyed a good graphic story now and again but he was by no means the comic book freak that I am. Still, he collected X-men, Spiderman, and G.I. Joe comics when he was a kid in the 1980s. I still recall the first time I spent the night at his parents' house with me eagerly going through his collection and discussing the finer points of Kraven’s Last Hunt or the Longshot miniseries.

We were both collecting comics for a time in college but I actually quit before Josh did and he got caught up in the buying frenzy during the whole speculation boom and bust. I believe the crappy stories and gimmick, foil-laser covers of that period soured Josh on comic books somewhat and he became a much more discriminating reader. He only read what he considered to be quality stories from then on.

I was away from Oregon for a while in the 1990s but when I returned, I got back into comics again. Josh had completely forgotten about them and was eagerly pursuing his new addiction, Magic Cards. I was buying as many comics and trade paperbacks with my tiny budget as possible and I’d run as much of it by Josh as I could. He was receptive but he didn’t really like superheroes anymore so I stopped giving him those types of comics to read. Many of the titles I introduced him to were still on his shelf when he passed away. It brings me some comfort to know that Josh enjoyed these stories, stories I brought to him as a giddy comic book geek.

I know you all are missing Josh an awful lot just like I am, and sadly there is nothing we can do about it. But there are ways to get closer to the memory of him, to tap into the wonderfulness that was Josh. This blog is part of that and exploring some of the things that Josh enjoyed is another part. I know comics and comics are something Josh and I shared in common so that’s a part of Josh I wanted to contribute to all of you with this post. Here are some titles that Josh enjoyed.

Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore–

I was looking for a replacement for Love and Rockets and started picking up this title because of the female, lead characters Francine and “Katchoo." It turned out to be a little too melodramatic for me but Josh really liked it. I ended up giving him my all my trades and Josh went on to buy more. Strangers In Paradise is famous for appealing to woman because of its realistic depiction of female relationships and nontraditional storytelling. If you can’t bring yourself to read any of the sci-fi, fantasy, stuff on this list than SIP is the title for you. Strangers In Paradise is cute, funny, honest, and relatable. On a sad note, Josh was wrapped up in school and didn’t get around the reading the end of the series. It’s currently collected in to six manga sized volumes.

Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis with art by Darick Robertson-

Spider Jerusalem is the definitive gonzo journalist in "Thee" cyberpunk future to end all cyberpunk futures. Black humor wrapped up with political protest abounds in Transmetropolitan. Somebody’s gotta expose the slimy underbelly of the transhuman cesspool we’re gonna call home one day while giving a giant middle finger to the futuristic “me generation.” Josh had a bit of the of the rabble-rouser/anarchist spirit about him and I think that’s why he enjoyed this comic… or maybe it was simply Spider’s twofaced cat that smoked. I gave Josh an action figure of Spider Jerusalem for his birthday long ago. It used to sit on his desk at Hollywood Lights. I don’t know what became of it but I’d pick up that figure on the collectors market as it now reminds me of Josh.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud –
This is a bible of sorts on how comics work and what’s going on in your brain while you’re reading them. It’s very interesting especially for folks that are into theory. Some of the points made by McCloud in this title have been very controversial in the art community, but it’s a title that absolutely makes you think. That’s something that Josh greatly appreciated. McCloud showed (this was originally published in 1993) that comics could be so much more than what people have assumed they were. We’re only starting to realize the possibilities. Another aspect that makes Understanding Comics so great is that it uses the comic format to make its points. It is informative and entertaining all at the same time.

The Filth by Grant Morrison art by Chris Weston –

Man… how do I describe The Filth… hmmm this is simply impossible for me to do. Here’s a rundown from a booklist via
The story opens when sad, middle-aged Greg Feely, whose only companions are a dying cat and porn videos, learns he is actually Ned Slade, top agent of the Hand, an organization dedicated to maintaining the social status quo by eliminating unhealthy variations--biological, technological, or sexual. As another agent observes, the Hand "wipes the arse of the world": the likes of Spartacus Hughes, an artificially grown personality who occupies various bodies; Anders Klimakks, an amnesiac porn star with super pheromones; and Max Thunderstone, a sociopath with drug-induced superpowers. Greg-Ned constantly struggles to reconcile his two wildly contradictory personalities. The Dan-Dare-meets-William-Burroughs epic encompasses such standard Morrison themes as nanotechnology, the absurdity of superheroics, a wide range of sexual expression, and, above all, conspiracy theories. Chris Weston's straightforward but imaginative art makes the wildly outrageous story convincing if not always comprehensible. Not everybody's kettle, but ideal for fans of "challenging" comics and sf.

Oh and here’s the last part of comment on from someone that liked the The Filth:
P.S. Do not let your children read this, it is quite possibly the most all-around offensive comic I have ever read. There is lots of sex, violence, swearing, and even drug use.

I bought this as Christmas present for Josh one year…

Preacher by Garth Ennis art by Steve Dillion -

Another title that I enjoyed and Josh really loved. Preacher is an irreverent take on religion (among other things) through the crazy modern-western adventures of Jessie Custer, a small town Texas preacher whose soul has been fused with that of an Angelic/Demonic crossbreed. There are all kinds of lusciously freaky characters in Preacher like the Saint of Killers, the ghost of John Wayne, the Irish Vampire Cassidy, Arseface, the Cyclops-like Lorrie Bobbs, and Herr Starr (the leader of a DaVinci code conspiracy). Traditional cowboy values collide with modern feminist anger in a nine-volume set that’s really about the search for God… because you see, God has abdicated his position in heaven and Jessie is pissed off just enough to find out WTF is going on and he ain’t gonna let anything stop him… Special note, Preacher also craps on all sides of the culture war that we have just been through and that alone makes it a must read.

ElfQuest by Wendy and Richard Pini -

When it comes to ElfQuest I get pretty sad. You see, Josh really loved this fantasy epic, so much so that he at one time had many different versions of these comics, and now it’s been announced that this series is will be made into a major motion picture. It pains me greatly, even more than Josh not seeing Watchmen, is the fact that Josh will never see the Elfquest film. Wendy and Richard Pini created Elfquest back in 1978 as a multipart story that concerns the survival of various tribes of Elves on a world with two Moons. Primitive humans and ugly trolls are just some of the troubles that the elves must deal with. ElfQuest is a sweet, sensual, magical, adventure that really reminds me a lot of Josh. If you want something imaginative and fanciful, but with hidden depth that sucks you into it’s sprawling plot, Elfquest is the comic for you. Plus, it has some nice reversals of gender stereotypes that were refreshingly ahead of its time.

Starman by James Robinson and Tony Harris -

This is sort of a special mention on my part. Starman is a series I really think Josh would have liked. I did give him the first three volumes to read, and he enjoyed them, but I misplaced the rest of books for a while and thus Josh never got to read the bulk of the Starman comics. This title is one of the few modern Superhero comics that I can really endorse. It’s actually an interesting revival of a long established DC Comics character. Jack Knight is the son of Ted Knight, the original Starman, but he is reluctant to take up the family business of superheroics and so he runs a collector/antique shop instead, that is until his father’s old nemesis, the Mist, comes back and kills his bother. Jack struggles with his bothers death while trying to fight the good fight that he never wanted. Jack has many adventures and various past iterations of heroes that have called themselves Starman are respectfully explored. This is one of the few times that DC Comics’ vast universe of history is an asset as the writer, James Robinson, spins amazing tales that touch on all aspects/versions of the character both great and small. Ultimately, Starman is about loss, family, and struggling with inner demons while trying save those things that make life worth living. Of course it’s all wrapped in superhero tropes but somehow Robnison makes it all so fresh and exciting you almost think he’d invented the superhero genre… he didn’t of course but he does reinvent it, and in a very good way because it’s about something.

Most of all, the character of Jack Knight simply reminds me of Josh. His love of his bother, his need to collect, his failed romances, his search for self-worth, his push to fight the good fight, his battles with self doubt, and his goatee (although its not nearly as long as Josh’s was) all hark back to our dear friend. If you are missing some of those delightful personality quirks that made Josh Josh, Starman IMHO is the place to get a tiny sweet taste of what we loved about him so much.