Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Sun and Me

The third Monday of July is Ocean Day, or umi-no-hi, in Japan. It's a holiday to celebrate the beginning of summer time and the ending of the rainy season where a lot of people go to a beach: thus the name ocean.

Ever since I started doing what I do, I haven't had the usual, two-days-in-a-row weekend on a regular basis. And I miss it so much. Especially lately, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the energy and the time I spend at work or for work, that I need a serious time, consequtive days, away from it. So, whatever the holiday means to the the nation, I get to have a 3-day weekend since my days off are Sundays and Tuesdays. So, yay for me! Ocean Day rocks!

Yet there is nothing "rocking" about going to a beach as far as I am concerned. Let me tell you just how little the meaning of ocean in the Ocean Day bears to me.

I have so-called sun allergy. I found that out when, in my first summer in southern California, I came out in hives and had a hard time breathing with a fever of what felt like 150 degrees after a couple of hours of being out in the sun, and was carried to the ER by a roommate. I remember the conversation I had with the doctor who looked like an Asian version of Steve Buschemi.

"You have a sun allergy."
"You are allergic to the sun."
"You might also have the solar urticaria."
".........(wtf is a solar Antarctica?)"
"Stay out of the sun."

Then he went on explaining how I shouldn't get the direct California sun on my skin, and that I might have developed the skin sensitivity while I was in Canada during my high school years (I was perfectly fine with the sun when I was little).

In my medicine-kicking, IV-fed, distorted mind, I'm thinking, " Oh my god, I'm gonna be an Asian albino kid!" (note: I was still 18 back then, and the way I perceived myself had still remained "a kid" at the time). I had seen a documentary on children who can NEVER be exposed to the sun, period. Not even to the moon light. I freaked out.

And, stay the hell out of the sun, I did. For the next 9 years of my life living in one of the sunniest places in northern America, I wore a long-sleeved shirt whenever I walked outside, politely turned down numerous invitations to day-time pool parties and beach parties , and never during the day time went to the beach 15-minute away from where I lived. Especially right after the session in ER, I was freaked out enough that I changed all my classes to evening classes the next term. I did find out later I needed not go that extreme, but I was always very careful. I still am.

I did make a poor judgment once, though. I was visiting a friend in San Diego. It was winter and the sky was hazy. It wasn't even that hot. I had sunscreen on. I felt safe enough to be outside for a walk around a nice, historical beach town with her after a lunch on a patio. And I shouldn't have. I felt a bit iffy after about a half hour, but brushed the fear off. When we decided to head back to the car, it was too late:

My friend freaking out. People looking at me concerned. Followed by another visit to an ER. A shame coming over me.

My family's visiting Egypt this summer. I will be in charge of watering the veggies and flowers in my mother's little garden. I can't help but hold a bit of resentment, I admit, but oh well. I'd rather be jealous of my family than curious enough about what an Egyptian ER looks like in Cairo.

Happy Ocean Day!

Until next time,


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