Back in 1989 my family went on a car trip to Oklahoma to visit my grandparents. It was Christmas break and I was 5. We were in the same station wagon that would later claim my thumb’s life.


The road trip took several days and it was fucking miserable. I was car sick for the entire time. And my sister had her birthday in the car. Which I’m sure was great for her.


When we got to my grandparents farm there was snow on the ground. I had never seen snow before. And I’ve only seen it once since.


Basically this.


We had a snowball fight at one point. It was pretty pathetic, scraping up handfuls of snow to hurl ineffectually towards each other.


I have a picture of us bundled up. Oklahoma looks cold and depressing in the photo. I was never warm. Not even inside, in front of the fire.


My grandparents had this heavy red blanket. It must have weight 30 or 40 pounds. I couldn’t move it by myself. But lying under it felt amazing. Like a full body hug. They make weighted blankets for autistic people. I keep thinking about making myself one.


They fill them with rice, beans, rocks, or plastic filler. I think I would need rocks. I like a lot of weight.



I didn’t like my grandparents. Or their farm. Or Oklahoma. They were mean and strict. And they ate weird food. They had a few cats. But they were old and sickly and boring. You couldn’t pet them and they didn’t play.


One day I was inside with my grandmother. Everyone else had gone outside. The cold seemed to affect me more than everyone else. It still does.


My grandmother gave her cat some medicine and left the room. I sat there, watching the cat eat around the medicine. The cat finished her treat and left the medicine on the floor. I sat there staring at it.


It was beautiful. It was a clear red gel cap. It was lying in a pool of sunlight. It looked like a jewel. Like a little garnet sparkling on that tile floor.


I dare you to not want to eat this.


I picked it up and played with it. I watched the sun shine through it and leave a glowing red shadow on my palm. It was mesmerizing.


It looks exactly like a garnet.


I started to wonder what it tasted like. It was so pretty. It had to taste amazing. Like magic, or rainbows, or at the very least like a gusher. By the way, don’t Google ‘red gusher’ with safe search off.


And disturbingly like a gusher.


I could hear my grandmother somewhere in the house. I took a deep breath and bit into it. It tasted acrid and bitter. Like earwax.


But it was medicine, and medicine was good for you. Besides, it was so pretty. How could something so pretty be bad for you?


So I ate the whole thing. I never told anyone that I had eaten it. It was one of the many random, pointless secrets I kept as a child.


In retrospect, I’m lucky it didn’t make me sick. I am exactly the type of child that people make warning labels for. It’s lucky I don’t find blue to be an appetizing color or I would have poisoned myself with Windex or windshield wiper fluid long ago.


Tastes like stomach pump.


23 thoughts on “1989

  1. Love this snippet of your girlhood. I find that a heavy blanket is very comforting, almost a necessity to relax. Do you know Temple Grandin? I learned in her bio that when she was living on her aunt’s cattle ranch, she watched how the cattle calmed down as they were herded into these special holding crates. The sides are moved in toward the animal to immobilize it. Grandin lives with autism, and was inspired to manufacture her own “squeeze machine” that she used to calm herself when life was overwhelming. Of course she got herself into hot water at school for using the :perverted sex toy”. 🙄

    • I do know her and have heard of that. They are also called hugging machines. I would love to have one but they are more expensive and complicated than a weighted blanket. My mother thinks that I have Autism/Asperger’s but my therapist and I are not convinced.

      • In the last few years, I’ve come to suspect that I may be closer to Asperger’s on the Autism spectrum than “normal”. When I read stories like Grandin’s, I recognize bits of myself, but perhaps that’s just my humanity, more than my personality. Labeling can be a blessing/curse.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I swallowed this plastic jewel before because it looked so pretty so it had to taste like it right?! Ha. Nearly choked

  3. I feel better about eating that candy I found on the ground when I was eight and no, it was not wrapped. And you are not alone – when they first introduced Lemon Joy dish soap there were warnings in several languages not to eat it….but it’s so yellow I bet it tastes like sunshine…

  4. Holy crap! They should really not make medicine pretty. Once when I was little I took the bottle of pretty pink bubble gum tasting gas medicine and hid in my room and drank the whole thing. How can we resist?

  5. Hahaha I have been away for far too long. Love the mention of pointless childhood secrets– I have had oh so many of those.

    Speaking of things I have: A mad craving for gushers. It’s distracting me from typing properlyhjdknfsm,x

    • I told my brother this story yesterday because he doesn’t read my blog and he could not stop laughing. I can’t believe I never told anyone. I actually bought some fruit chews yesterday after writing this.

  6. I’ve been going to physical therapy for this wonky shoulder and the other day they finished off the session by giving me a “Game Ready” treatment. They put this neoprene type thing on me that covered my shoulder, right breast and went about halfway down my back and arm. It got strapped on so it was snug, and then they hooked it up to the machine, which pumped it full of ice-water. What I didn’t know was that every time the ice water got pumped in, the whole thing tightened up like a blood pressure cuff. For an instant, I was alarmed (would I be able to breathe?) But suddenly, I felt very calm and safe – it was like a gigantic, heavy hug – and I loved it. I didn’t even mind that my entire right quadrant was becoming hypothermic (and my right breast has never been perkier).

    I’m wondering if a weighted blanket would work in the same way – I need frequent hugs right now (even if they are not real).

    • I hear that. Unless I am dating someone (hahaha) I literally never get hugged or touched in any way by anyone. And sometimes I really want to be. Weighted blankets are easy to make. Or you could buy a really thick heavy one, but the weighted ones work better. I think that is going to be my project this weekend. Let me know if you decide to go that route and if you like it.

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