Yup, you heard it here first!
I’ve got “reader’s tan”. It’s like “farmer’s tan,” but totally different.
I’m going to take complete credit for making up the name (and I am NOT googling it first to find out how many other millions of people already coined the term, it’s more fun this way).
What is “reader’s tan?”
I’m so glad you asked! “Reader’s tan” is the uneven tan one gets on one’s hands when one spends a lot of time in the sun reading a book (or an electronic simulacrum of such). The tan is the most prominent on the skin on the tops of the hands that fills the triangular area bounded by the thumb, the wrist, and the index finger. This lovely photo that I borrowed (I use the term loosely) from the Beaverton, OR City Library beautifully illustrates what I’m talking about (the anatomy if not the tan itself).
Why am I so excited about this?
Well, for one thing, it means I’m reading. See, I used to be this avid reader that tore through books at an alarming rate, especially during my first pregnancy when I milked my condition to the hilt to get in lots of relaxation time.
Then I had my first child.
It was like I’d flipped a switch somewhere – my reading bug beat it. I mean, yes, it’s not like I had a lot of free time on my hands… except, well really, I did! Especially at first when G was spending most of his hours napping (albeit on me). But instead of hitting my beloved books, I went to TV, or to staring idly into space, or blessedly to sleep on occasion.
G turned 2 earlier this year, and only in the last few weeks have I picked up my Kindle and started reading again. I’ve read fourteen books in four weeks. Not like fourteen John Updike novels or anything, just pure escapist whodunits. Still, I’m getting a little reading whiplash… feeling guilty that there MUST be something more constructive I could do with my time.
But back to the tan…
The second reason that I’m so excited about the tan is that, until recently I’d developed quite the phobia to sun. I’m using the word “phobia” totally inaccurately – I’m pretty sure there’s no true mental pathology present. But it is true that at some point I’d transitioned from a sun-loving summer girl into a sun-fearing mess.
I’m pretty fair-skinned. I burn easily (now, at least, I didn’t as a child, go fig). My skin is also sensitive, so I’m always on the lookout for the latest and greatest sunblock that won’t make me break out all over. And when I’m not looking for sunblock, I’m looking for clothes to cover my bare skin so that I can avoid the sunblock, but stay cool enough not to overheat. And when I’m not busy either looking for sunblock or for sun-blocking clothes, I’m staying indoors because it’s just so much easier than going out and being paranoid about the sun. I joke with friends about being a hermit, and I often send M to play with G outdoors (after coating G in sunblock, natch) so I don’t have to deal. Ok, maybe there is some pathology there after all…
What’s changed recently is that I’m preggo with Nipper (our temporary name as we aren’t going to learn the gender ahead of the birth), and a blood test recently showed that I have a Vitamin D level of 19. Normal range? 30-80. Now part of this is that we just went through winter, when sun exposure is naturally low. However, 19 indicates a pretty bad deficiency even with that in mind. Low Vitamin D in pregnancy is associated with all sorts of not great stuff, and it’s associated with not great stuff even if one isn’t pregnant. So… enter Vitamin D supplements, and mandatory time in the sun. Seriously, my midwife CNP gave me very distinct instrux for getting out in the sun at different times of the day.
So I went in the sun. And it was a bit like coming home. Just a lovely sense of “rightness” to getting out there and eating lunch, or taking a walk, with as little clothing on as the weather (and my modesty) allows. I wear a hat, and sunscreen on my face, but I leave the rest of my skin alone and just make sure my exposure time is reasonable. No sunburns yet! And amazingly, no fear! I really don’t know to what I should attribute my new sense of well-being in the sun, my lack of fear. Did I really just need an excuse from a medical professional? I guess since I really don’t know what was causing the fear to begin with (I assume it’s fear of skin cancer, but that doesn’t seem to really account for it) it’s hard to know. Maybe it was just a phase. Like not writing in my blog for a really long time. 😉
Here’s to reading and figuring out how to love the sun again. My “reader’s tan” hands are my own little weird trophy.
Do you have “reader’s tan,” or some crazy fear that’s kept you from doing something you love recently? Let me know!