It's the 1st of August today, and I have a good deep tan, very brown, well toasted, dark enough to pass for a Maori, a Polynesian, or perhaps even a Tahitian. I'm quite pleased with the result.

We didn't get enough rain in July and that meant more sunny days than usual and that helped in getting a good deep tan. I didn't burn, without sunblock, and that helped, too. After a certain level of darkness changes no longer seemed dramatic as at the outset of tanning; I wonder if tanning tapers off or it just seems so. Or, perhaps, once darkened, the skin is more resistant; melanin deposit, which accounts for the dark pigment in the skin, shields ultraviolet rays, so it has been said, and perhaps slows darkening. I observed, too, that if the sky continued to be cludy for days, the tan begins to fade and it fades much more quickly than I had expected.

Some days I sat in the sun all day except for a brief lunch break, at least seven hours, and I finished eighteen books so far on all kinds of subjects -- mostly scholarly, critical, and historical. It must be the reading posture; the face is not getting as dark as the rest of the body nor as quickly.

Getting a tan, I learned, too, is addictive. There is always more to go and there is never enough. I have become alert to the weather forecast; and I look up at the sky with much anticipation every morning and begin to plan my day's activities accordingly. I wait anxiously for the bright sky and worry a great deal about wasting the sun on a sunny day if I have anything else to do in the house or out. If the day promises to be sunny and bright, I drop everything and read, and plan on writing after dark. On a sunny day, I start out with the very first sunny spot in the morning and linger until the very last sunny spot finally vanishes from the garden. I am even beginning to tolerate the discomfort of sweating in the sun on a hot muggy day reasoning that every minute counts. Of late I have been sitting out even on a overcast day if the sun comes out occasionally because the time it is out makes worthwhile the wait under the sunless sky, and the tingling sensation on the skin when the sun comes out bright is so delicious. That's obsession.

Obsession changes behavior. I spent one sunny week in New York and missed the toasting in the garden. But I found myself consciously walking on the sunny side of the street whereas I used to choose the shady side to avoid the sun; and I stand in the sun waiting for a bus instead of seeking out a shady spot, even a sliver of shadow cast by a pole. For a lunch snack, I now go outside and look for a sunniest table to sit down rather than stay in the air-conditioned interior as I did previously. I never liked to sweat and still don't; and yet for deeptan sweating has become a worthy cause. Strange how we change.

Obsession like this underlies avid collectors' collecting habit, whatever it is that the collector collects. They would change plans, travel miles, spend sleepless nights, and expend more than they can afford to add a desired item to the collection. It occurs to me, too, that falling in love is also like this -- falling in love as opposed to being in love which is free of this sense of pursuit.

Sometimes, as in collecting a set, there is a point of completion in collecting; in many cases there is no termination. Getting a deeptan is also an open-ended obsession. It's never enough; there's always more to go. This underlies, now I understand, the psychology of avid sunbathers who flock to beaches in summer and fly in winter to sunny South or else frequent tanning salons in winter and prompt some of them even to eagerly seek nude beaches. I must say I am not quite ready for any of them.

It was a beautiful day today with a blue sky and bright sun, and I sat out all day. The forecast is that it will the same kind of day tomorrow. But I've decided that I had enough of browning. I'm happy with the bronze look. But I am discovering that the investment of time and effort is beginning to be overwhelming even though I never sit idly in the sun and get much reading done. The regimen is restricting freedom. There are other things I want to do and I want to do them whenever I feel like doing.

T. Kaori Kitao,1 August 1998

On 13 August the sun was bright and I could not help it. I sat in the sun and read all day -- six hours. I had a book to read; the truth is I wanted to be darker.

Way into November, whenever it was sunny I went out to sit and read in the sun as much as I could to absorb whatever sun there was. The tan is quickly fading but I want to keep as much of it as possible over the winter.

Kitao, 12.01.98

sorry no pix for now

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