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.
Fri
16
Apr
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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.”

Fri
19
Mar
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The Hu

Sometime around 1162 AD, a child named Temuchin was born near Lake Baikal in what is now Mongolia. When he was 14, he stalked his older half-brother brother and killed him with an arrow, for which he was, I love the way one text puts it, “scolded” by his mother. Times were different, I suspect.

Later in life, he would go by a different name which has many spellings. They are Chinggis, Chingis, Jenghiz, Jinghis and Genghis. Genghis Khan. 

Fri
05
Mar
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Falling

We used to sleep high up in the trees, nestled among fragrant branches in the cool night air. Each evening we would ascend, far above the leopards and lions that so often devoured us below. 

But with slumber comes paralysis. With paralysis comes the very real possibility of falling from the tree. With falling from the tree comes the near certainty of death on the ground. 

Sometimes, just as wakefulness left us, our minds would start to detach from our bodies for the evening, our muscles would relax, and we would start to fall from our branches. When that happened, our brains would send an emergency signal to our bodies, a jolt of neurological energy that would make us shudder and wake up just enough to prevent a deadly plunge. 

That, according to some scientists, is why so many of us experience the sensation of falling just as we drift into sleep. That is why we sometimes wake, as if shocked, just as we begin losing consciousness. 

Mon
01
Feb
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A Little Wobble

This morning, I listened to an interview with Craig Harrison, a soldier in the British Army. He described a firefight in the desert, in which he and his compatriots were on the verge of being overrun and killed. “Smashed” is the word he used.

As bullets slammed into the ground, into flesh and into bone, and it looked like soon they would all be dead, he pulled out his phone and called his wife.

“I love you, you know?” he said. 

“I know,” she replied. “What’s going on? What’s that noise?”

“It’s nothing,” he said. “It’s nothing. I’ll phone you in the morning.”

“We went back on the roof,” he continued. “And yeah, we won the fight.” 

Mon
25
Jan
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Love is Like Plastic

Late last night, ensconced in the synthetic beige sarcophagus of an MRI tube, it occurred to me that love is like plastic. 

They were scanning my brain, looking for a tumor, like some foul X in the neon green sea of a space pirate’s map.  

It had begun on Christmas Eve, when I felt tipsy. Within two days, I was unable to walk without using a cane and the walls of my home for support. The world spun and spun, and it felt like the hand of some invisible god was actively holding me down as I lay in my bed, trying to smother me where I sprawled next to teacups and cracker crumbs that were making a new life for themselves among the sheets. Soon, I could only crawl. 

Thu
31
Dec
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Way of the Shadow Wolves

Did you know that Steven Seagal wrote a book? To be honest, I would have been surprised just to learn Steven Seagal read a book, let alone penned one. But he did. Sort of. He had a co-author. Someone to hold his meaty hand while crossing various linguistic streets. I’m guessing the co-author did much of the heavy lifting.

Thu
17
Dec
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Stories

I was interviewing a woman last week, when she said several things that struck me, like fists of gentle profundity. She was talking about 2020, but unlike so many people, she was laughing. Not an insecure guffaw or an affected chuckle, but a real laugh that bubbled up again and again, in the manner of the pure white froth on a freshly poured flute of champagne. 

“Stories are like prisms,” she said. “They allow us to see different perspectives.” These stories, she added, “work their magic” upon us, time and time again. 

Fri
30
Oct
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My Thoughts on Election Day...

It’s almost Election Day, and you know what that means: Every American needs to stop what they are doing, take a moment, and reflect seriously on the weird and mysterious way Edgar Allan Poe died. 

Oct. 3, 1849 was a rainy day in Baltimore. (Of course it was raining, because how could it possibly not be?) A guy who worked for a local newspaper was walking toward a pop-up polling site when he discovered a delirious little man, dressed in filthy second-hand clothes and lying senseless in a gutter. When he got closer, he was a little surprised to learn the man was a poet and critic who was very good at writing and very bad at life. When the man asked Poe if he needed help, the author asked for Joseph E. Snodgrass, who sounds like a character in a Dickens novel but was apparently a real person and a magazine editor. 

Thu
08
Oct
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Monkey King...

We stopped at a yard sale the other day, and my daughter asked if she could get a monkey. It was teal and plastic, and its little arms were permanently curved as if holding onto a miniscule tree, or, more likely, a child’s finger. 

“How much is it?” I asked. 

“It’s seven, five,” my daughter replied.

“Seventy-five cents?” I said. “Sure.”

Times are tough right now, money is tight, the economic landscape is bleak in a Mad Max kind of way. It feels entirely reasonable to suspect that by this time next year we will be wandering the side of a desolate road, wearing trash bags pulled translucent in places and tarps dotted by tattered holes, pushing shopping cart that contains all our family’s belongings and yet are not even close to full. Hockey and football pads will be dusted off and moved from the garage to the “everyday” and “casual” sections of our wardrobes.

But 75¢? That couldn’t possibly bankrupt us. Could it?

“Yay! Thanks dad!” 

Thu
01
Oct
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Importance of In-Person Interaction

Our daughter’s desk collapsed on her the other day, pinning her to the ground in a pile of rubble consisting mostly of magic markers, erasers and books of a most considerable heft. 

We had had to fashion an office for her, when it became clear there would not be in-person classes. Desks, my wife informed me, were sold out everywhere. So, after a little thought and a lot of rummaging, we repurposed an old piece of furniture whose provenance and initial intent is a mystery to me. It looks kind of like an inebriated table, an emaciated desk or a postmodern bureau. 

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