The Geiger Counter

Matt Geiger is a Midwest Book Award Winner, a national American Book Fest Finalist, and an international Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist. He is also the winner of numerous journalism awards. His books include “Astonishing Tales!* (Your Astonishment May Vary)” and “Raised by Wolves & Other Stories.” He once won an axe-throwing competition.
Sun
12
Sep
admin's picture

All You Can Eat

When I was little, my parents used to stay up late with their friends, drinking wine and watching the fireflies zip across the dark fields below as they talked about very important, very grown up topics. I would catch snippets of their conversations from the top of the stairs or through my bedroom window.

“Iran Contra!”

“Embryo Transplant!”

“Dan Quayle… spelling bee… potato!”

I didn’t know what they were talking about, but it all sounded exotic and significant. I wished I could stay up late, through the night, to hear what they had to say.

Today, I am the age they were then, and I can assure you that if you eavesdrop on ANY adult conversation you will simply hear a groggy person with an uninteresting job listing all the foods they think they might be allergic to. That, apparently, is what passes for enlightened conversation these days.

“I can’t digest dairy,” I said to someone not long ago.

Mon
30
Aug
admin's picture

The Bear Cub...

My daughter, who is seven, recently put on a sweatshirt, pulled the hood down low over her face, and pretended to gaze vacantly into an imaginary phone in her hand, oblivious to the magnificent world around her.

“Look at me, dad,” she said in an apathetic monotone, her best impersonation of a dullard. “I’m a teenager.”

It was funny, but also a bit darkly prescient, like me lying down on the ground and joking: “Look at me, I’m dead of old age.” The next stage of your life always seems exciting, until the final one, I guess.

I often feel like I am the luckiest person on the planet, because seven is not 16, and I still have this person here by my side, for a few more years, always ready for some new adventure or lesson or story. Always eager to investigate the next mystery, as the world gradually unfolds before her.

Mon
16
Aug
admin's picture

Beyond Good & Bad

A woman won the lottery. All of her friends stopped by to congratulate her. 

“You won $10 million!” they said. “That’s great! You are so lucky.”

“Maybe,” she replied. 

Her friends, who were sure they understood far more of the world than they actually did, walked away shaking their heads, puzzled by her response.

A few months later, the woman bought her son, who was 19, a car with some of the money. It was new and shiny, and full of fancy electronic features. One day, while driving to class, the new car slid on some ice and smashed into another vehicle. The young man’s leg was badly broken. 

“You will walk with a limp for the rest of your life,” said the doctor. “Physical therapy will take many months, maybe years.” 

The woman’s friends all called to offer their condolences. 

“We’re so sorry your son was injured!” they said. “What a horrible accident! This is terrible.”

“Maybe,” the woman replied. 

Thu
15
Jul
admin's picture

The Tooth Fairy

I remember seeing a trailer 11 years ago for a movie called “The Tooth Fairy.” It was a film in which a wrestler called The Rock played an aging and jaded hockey player who went by the nickname, “The Tooth Fairy” because he knocked out so many players’ teeth. At some point, he convinces a young child not to believe in miracles and is therefore punished by the gods and forced to work as an actual tooth fairy, collecting incisors from under various pillows. 

It looked horrendous. 

“Can you imagine?!” I said to my wife at the time. “Can you imagine spending two hours watching that?!!”

The premise seemed like the laconic fever dream of a chronically uninspired writer who harbored deep contempt for the audience. It was begging for a sequel in which retired NBA superstar Karl “The Mailman” Malone was forced to put on a blue postal uniform and deliver Amazon packages because he told a kid that letter writing was a dead art. 

Fri
04
Jun
admin's picture

People Ride Horses Again

My seven-year-old daughter came home and told me she had a crush on someone at school. She added that a different classmate had a crush on her. The situation, she explained, was quite complicated.

Three days later, she walked up to me and said, “Dad, I have a question: What’s a crush?”

It was yet another reminder that life is experienced by those who do not understand it in real time. Much of the profundity and meaning in the moments we share only reveals itself later, with the lucidity of hindsight, often on a page or in a song. When things are actually happening, our most common sentiment is: “Huh?”

I like to think I sometimes enjoy little glimpses through the veil, into the true heart of what it means to be human. But these always come after the fact. I never realize how special a small moment is until it is gone, when I can look back on it and see just how immense it really was.

Mon
17
May
admin's picture

Naked Gardening

This morning, I received a list of the best and worst cities for naked gardening. Miami, FL is the best place to pull weeds in the nude. Lincoln, NE is the worst.

It took 176 years, but someone finally came up with a list on which a place in Florida is first. (Not including that old list of towns where people who can’t read are most likely to be devoured by alligators while voting for an adult film star in a gubernatorial race, obviously.) 

The naked gardening list–which was unsolicited, by the way–clearly took an enormous amount of time and effort to compile. It used a complex methodology, had a lengthy explanation, and even included some addendums in the form of a Q &A with a psychologist and a law professor. It shows just how obsessed with lists the Internet is, and how thin on list-worthy material the universe has become. It was yet another reminder that we, as a species, might be using our doctors and lawyers in ways that are not, well, optimal. 

Sat
08
May
admin's picture

The Big Picture

When you look at a photograph, you are seeing about one 60th of a second in time. That is all. I think this alone is sufficient proof of the importance of the small moments that make up our lives. 

The oldest, extant, written language is the Kish Tablet, found in modern-day Iraq. Written in Sumerian, it is 5,500 years old. Now, if any of us stumbled across it, we might notice how old it was, or how exotic the letters looked, or ponder the work that went into chiseling them into limestone. But there is one thing none of us could do: read the story it tells. Because none of us can read ancient Sumerian.

Fri
30
Apr
admin's picture

Good Day

In recent weeks, I’ve been following Australian news rather than its US counterpart. It’s more fun, as a spectator, because I’m protected by a vast ocean from the idiots who headline their stories. If those politicians and criminals (putting “and” in between two synonyms feels incorrect) want to come here and harm me and my family, we will at least have some time to prepare, thanks to the 100-hour flight. Plus, their stories–including both the fluffy ones and the serious ones–always include bonkers details delivered in absolutely straight faces by their newscasters.

“A young girl who was eaten by a shark in Dungadoo last month has now taken top honors at the regional school spelling bee, eking out a victory against two wombats and a billabong,” a man in a suit will say in the teaser, causing me to scrunch my face and glance up from my work. Wait, what??

“The extinct BongaShark has been wreaking havoc on the Outback’s feral camel population. Find out how at six!” 

Fri
23
Apr
admin's picture

Wrestling with the Truth

It’s very popular to lament the fact that we, as a species, can no longer tell fact from fiction. That we are suddenly incapable of grasping the riddle of reality. That we can no longer align the vexing Rubik’s Cube of truth. 

If you worry about this, I have good news for you: It’s not true. We were never any good at it. The truth has always been an elusive beast that wriggles and slithers and lives most of its life protected by darkness. 

I give to you Exhibit A: Sergeant Slaughter. 

He never served in the military, and while I didn’t actually check this part, I’m willing to bet he hasn’t even slaughtered anyone in his entire life. He’s not even cadet of murder, let alone a sergeant of slaughter. 

And yet that is what we called him, and what we believed him to be, when we were kids. 

Fri
16
Apr
admin's picture

Her Name in Lights

My friend died this morning.

When I learned of her death, I dug up the first words I ever wrote about her, in 2013, the first of many:

“It was the early 1950s when a young farm girl named Bonnie Bakken stood in the doorway of her parents’ home in Black Earth. Her hands on her hips, the fiercely independent young woman told her mother she was leaving the farm, the church, and Wisconsin.

She was going, she said, to see her name in lights. 

“And I did,” she reflects today with a nod, cradling a small cup of coffee and flexing her hands to counteract the arthritis that often binds them. “I saw my name in lights many times.”

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - The Geiger Counter