Keep Getting Happier Until You’re Dead

The good news about having been lonely and desperate and insecure in high school is that college is a liberating, exciting experience, where you will be surrounded by likeminded companions who are filled, like you, with the searing, visionary intensity of youth.

The good news about having been a neurotic, unstable mess with horrifying attachment issues in college is that being a twenty-something is a time for setting out into the world, starting to build yourself a life worth living, beginning seriously to ramify: a time to explore and, simultaneously, to put down a root or two.

The good news about having spent your twenties lost, confused, and heartbroken, with no idea of who you’re supposed to be or what you’re supposed to be doing, is that turning thirty is a huge relief, because you suddenly find that you don’t care terribly much about the right way to do things anymore because you’ve started to figure out what makes you happy and what makes you wish you were dead, and have started to learn to avoid the second and do the first.

I can’t think of anything bad about my thirties so far. Today I’m thirty-one, and that seems completely unspecial. Which, trust me, is just fine.

I’ll Cry If I Want To

I’m working on a post about how being gay is thoroughly unspecial, too, but it’s not done yet. It’s going to be offensive enough when I’m finished revising it, so there’s no way I’m going to release it into the wild before it’s had time to cool. I know I just mixed my metaphors — like, what am I doing exactly, baking chocolate chip mackerel? — but I don’t care, I’m thirty-one and that sort of thing doesn’t bother me anymore. Even comma splices don’t bother me all that much anymore.

Besides, it’s my birthday and I don’t have to post anything if I don’t want to. To be perfectly honest, I was supposed to write a post last night, but instead I went drinking with my buddies, because they asked me to.

Two Visitations

Speaking of things in the wild: on the way home from the bar last night I saw a grownup deer and two baby deer spiriting their way through the back roads of western Worcester. I stopped the car and sat there. One of the babies startled at a noise I couldn’t hear and nearly fell over; then the whole family vanished into the darkness of a quiet lawn. God!

Then, speaking of visitations, a bat found its way into our house. I didn’t think I was scared of bats, but it turns out that when a bat is zooming around my living room, even if I’m aghast in admiration of the coolheadedness of this thing — the way it banks around my living room as if were navigating some spacious midnight cave with all the time in the world, while my roommate and I hoot and holler — I really, really don’t want the thing to touch me, not any part of me and especially not my face, so maybe I am scared of bats after all. I ran and got a laundry basket, but my roommate just opened the door and let the thing out. I spent all night dreaming of sprawling spiders and looming shadows.


There is something special about today, actually: it marks three weeks of no prozac. That’s special because the doc told me two years ago that it would take three weeks to kick in. So maybe after three weeks it’s pretty much out of my system.

I’m hoping to write a piece about that, too — what it’s like to need antidepressants and not believe in them, what it’s like to believe in antidepressants but not want them, what I learned and built out of fifteen years of unmedicated desolation, how the two years on meds compared, and what I hope to learn and build now that that time is, maybe, over. That one won’t be done for some time.

But I feel very good indeed.

Thank You

I’m very grateful for all of y’all’s prayers and encouragement. Not just for those of you who have sent special wishes and prayers for my birthday (aw!), or those who have been praying specially for me since I started talking about being off the meds (special thanks and may God bless and reward you!), but to all of you who read this thing and respond, or even just read it.

I like writing, but writing is hard. Some people might be strong enough to keep writing even when nobody is telling them that what they’re doing is important. I doubt I’m that strong, but I don’t have to find out, because so many of you are there, buoying me up and helping me to keep going.

Thank you.

12 Comments on “Keep Getting Happier Until You’re Dead”

  1. Joseph says:

    Happy Birthday, Joey! Thanks as always for being such a trailblazer for those of us who are still trying to extricate themselves from those horrifying attachment issues. So glad to hear it has gotten better – gives me hope 🙂

  2. Albert says:

    Happy birthday my friend. God bless you.

  3. Bradley says:

    Hey Joey!
    Happy Birthday man. Please know that you have been in my prayers of late, and that I am very grateful to you for this blog. God Bless bro!

  4. Jason says:

    Zoological theophany?

  5. Shannon says:

    Happy Birthday, Joseph!!! You are my hero and role model. I wish there were more people in the world like you. Thank you for being you!

  6. richard says:

    Augustine of Hippo was right all along: Our hearts are restless till they rest in You.

  7. Melissa H-K says:

    Chocolate chip mackerel comma splices. Yum! Great on pizza! 😉

  8. Tara S says:

    I think the thirties will have been about the almost unbearably weary process of dismantling, clearing up, and building a functional and healthy superstructure for daily life.

    I mean…HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 😀

  9. Rosemary says:

    What you’re doing is awfully important, especially the first reflection on getting happier – it is HIlarious!! And I can so relate. I cannot wait to read what you write at 41. I will be holding my breath b/c the 30’s (i’m 36) HAVE proven to be particularly liberating and hellish in their own special way. The attachment issues came back to bite me (again), but. . . whatever. . . 30 doesn’t care quite as much. 🙂

  10. Joanna says:

    Totally agree about getting happier. For me the 20’s were about finding myself married when I thought I never could be. So far my 30’s are about having the baby I thought I never could have and then finding that the big ‘What the Hell is a woman anyway? and Why the Hell aren’t you at work like a real person?!?’ question hit me square in the face. I will probably spend the rest of the decade ducking round corners every time I see a feminist coming my way! lol! You’re right, there’s nothing special about being gay. It just means that you haven’t got a clue who on earth you are or what you’re meant to be doing or what it’s all about anyway – just like the rest of us! lol! Maybe our 40’s will be about finding out that we don’t give a damn and we’re just glad to be alive (you know, like the first decade of our lives).

  11. Miriam Nansubuga says:

    Dear Joseph,

    I hope you had a nice birthday. I have not visited your blog in a while but just know that I was dying to visit the entire time. I am one of those that read and don’t comment but I read and visit regularly all the same. You have helped me understand so many things even things I did not realize I needed to understand. So thank you and God bless you.

    Yes, we get happier in our 30s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *