With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Matthew Vollmer makes a mean spaghetti sauce. Wishes he could skateboard. Regrets giving up on the piano. Dislikes olives. Is happy to report that he is no longer obsessed with the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. And hopes you check out his most recent book, Permanent Exhibit, a collection of short essays that first appeared as status updates on social media.
For many years — the majority of my life, in fact — acknowledging death’s inevitability exerted little psychological pressure on me. I had no fear of passing, as they say, from this world into the next, or, assuming no next world exists, simply entering oblivion.
I believed, even as a child, that I was being raised up in the right way to live. My family attended the local Seventh-Day Adventist church every Saturday. I sang songs about David and Goliath, and I belted out that I was “too young to march in the infantry” or to “ride in the cavalry” or to “shoot the artillery,” but not too young to serve “in the Lord’s army.”
My grandmother always said that if she ever lost her mind, I should put a pillow over her head — meaning she wanted me to press a pillow against her face until she suffocated, thus sparing her whatever indignities she imagined people who lost their minds were forced to endure.