Dante’s Seven Circles of Sunburn Hell

Right now, I am pretending to work on my dissertation prospectus. It’s not just for the usual procrastinating reasons, either. Kids, I got badly sunburned this weekend, and I am MISERABLE. In high school, I got made fun of all.the.time for being a pale white girl. What can I say, Irish girls without red hair are all going to look pasty instead of porcelain. We just don’t have enough melanin to look bored and expensively tanned. It’s been a good 10+ years since I felt the need to go fry out in the sun, and this last experience has cured me from ever wanting to be anything but pasty white.

The Chancellor ran an awesome race with obstacles this weekend, and I came along to spectate. We both (wrongly) assumed that I would have a pavilion to sit in, grandstands, areas with shades (and therefore, I did not think to bring sunscreen for myself). Boy, we could not be more wrong. Towards the end of the afternoon (and far too late), I found myself sitting under an underpass reading a doctoral exam book. That evening, I was bright red.

Yesterday, I had meetings galore and some gatherings with friends up in my school town. My best friend J could not stop giggling about how burnt I looked, and one of my colleagues cracked a (super clever, I’ll admit) joke about my appearance. My dissertation director had the good grace to pretend I was not anything but my usual-looking self. My friend S threatened to laugh, but my misery was palpable enough to earn compassion. Last night, I could not sleep because I itched so bad. I’d take a picture to show you, but I’m practically naked right so I can keep slathering on aloe. I do, however, have a somewhat analogous picture for you. If you are at all into True Blood, then you will remember this saucy lady:

About the only family-friend picture of our friend Lilith that I could find...

About the only family-friendly picture of our friend Lilith that I could find…

I feel like being sunburned is an endless loop of pain and discomfort. Allow me to introduce you to Dante’s seven circles of hell for people foolish enough to get as sunburned as I am:

Circle 7: Day 1–you feel slightly pink, and a few hours later realize that you are SUNBURNED. Your skin is burned and itchy, rather inconvenient with your clothes rubbing against all your burns.

Circle 6: Still Day 1–you start to feel feverish, and your teeth chatter, because your skin is not able to process temperature. You slather aloe before bed and sleep heavily.

Circle 5: Day 2–after gingerly showering and layering more aloe, you get dressed and go about your life until you realize that blisters on your forehead are popping and oozing. While you’re in a meeting. Charming.

Circle 4: Still Day 2–layer on more aloe and then spend the entire night awake because your shoulders are too burnt to let you sleep.

Circle 3: Day 3–your forehead blisters have popped and are scabbing, leaving your forehead crusty and discomfitingly discolored. Your scalp is now peeling, leaving dandruff-like flakes everywhere. Still red. More aloe.

Circle 2: Still Day 3–it is a delightfully cool day, and so you open the windows to breeze over your body. That is, until a child wanders into the yard and risks seeing your near-naked body. You shimmy under the covers and pray fervently until she disappears and then you shut the curtains.

Circle 1: Did I not mention you *also* have a nasty cough and pulled a muscle in your foot on top of it?


So there it is. My foolishness summed up, and the annoying consequences. I am starting to feel a little better, I promise. The burn on my upper chest has mellowed from a deep maroon to a dark pink, which is highly promising. But it’s not enough to get me out of the house or into some clothes.

And if Samantha asks, NO you do NOT WANT A  CHEMICAL PEEL.

Okay, my face actually looks pretty similar to Samantha's right now.

Okay, my face actually looks pretty similar to Samantha’s right now.


1 Comment

Filed under Friendship, Life and Living, State of mind

One response to “Dante’s Seven Circles of Sunburn Hell

  1. Anon

    Ohhhh no! I bet you are having a Hazel-whimpering good time of it. I vote that we shorten this phenomenon to saying that one has a Hazel sunburn.

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