Tag Archives: Weather

Do the Sun Dance…?

The sun came out!! šŸ˜€

Last week, I wrote a super depressing post about how the Vancouver weather is dragging down my days.

I apologize if reading my post made you even more depressed. But that’s truly what I felt that day. I mean, within the history of man, as far as my junior school Korean history is concerned, people did things, do the rain dance, pray to the gods or whatever, to bring rain to end drought. I really don’t recall the same kind of ritual being done to stop the rain, clear away the clouds and bring out the sun.

But I guess my deep sigh from last week must have had some non-scientific impact on the weather, because it was beautifully sunny today! I actually saw blue in the sky ALL DAY!

In addition to expressing my joy in all caps, I figured I’d share some of the improvements I’ve been able to make in terms of decorating my placeĀ and bring the mood of the blog back up from the last post.

So, as a means to defeat my super low attitude, I’ve decided to turn to the well documented method of ‘cheering up’ calledĀ retail therapy (you should try it, it’s amazing… but do it responsibly). Being in the ‘poor PhD student’ and ‘I just came back from Europe’ mode, I tried not to buy anything for myself that I didn’t absolutely need (well, not technically true, but “absolutely” is all relative). But as one of the retail therapy principles have it (I am just gonna make it a principle if it isn’t already one), you need to learn to spend money on yourself, on things that make you happy in order for the therapy to work. So last Thursday, I convinced a super awesome friend of mine to go to IKEA with me.

There, I equipped myself with a table lampĀ ($17), along with many other household “essentials” that I lived without but am more happy with, and … a bench.

Yes, I know, I know.

Who needs a bench, right? But no judging please. I’m simply following the abovementioned principle of retail therapy.

Now my place looks awesomely bright and lively, like this… now if I can just get a super lively duvet cover… hmmp!:

The little table lamp on the bench is actually hooked up to a programmable light timer I got for $14 at the Canadian Tire. I have it set up so that it turns on at 5:30am in the morning every weekdays, just when I am supposed to wake up and start my day with Yoga.

The first day I tried the lamp system, I ended up snoozing my alarm for three hours because, I think, the 7 watt frosted light bulb I got from IKEA was producing super soft light.

That day, I really didn’t have much of a productive day. Everything I had planned to do was delayed by three hours, and I didn’t have much energy to zip through and make up for the time lost in sleeping. So I went and got myself a 40 watt clear light bulb to give this wake-up light system another go.

And so far it seems to be doing the trick for me. I did manage to wake up super early in the morning, without feeling like I want to snooze the alarm and go back to bed. This is kind of incredible given the fact that, when I was riding the bus to meet my friend en route to IKEA, more than half the people sitting on the bus (and it was a pretty full bus as well) were dozing off, which I only blame the weather for (of course, there are other variants such as midterms etc, but you know…).

Anywho, so far I am very happy with the set-up I have. Like a diligentĀ Ā researcher, I am actually keeping track of the times I am spending on different tasks so that I can figure out whether waking up early is significantly impacting my productivity throughout the day. So far, I think it is. šŸ™‚

Suriving the Vancouver Weather

You open your eyes and fool yourself that the only reason it’s dark in your room is because of your curtains. You toss and turn for a while, then finally decide that taking a shower will wake you up and help you start your day. You freshen up, walk outside, and find the usual overcast sky with no room for blue in the sky. Everyone in the hallway makes squeaky noises as they walk down the hallways to their office/lab/class, but no one is really energetically talking. You navigate through the low energy hallway lounging/walking people scattered throughout your journey to your office. You sit down in front of your office computer, tackle your inbox, fool around on Facebook or the like, and finally tell yourself that it’s time for you to get some real work done. Then you realize that as soon as you attempt to start anything productive, you’re dozing off. That’s even when you got your share of 8 hours of sleep last night and even took a nap yesterday on top of it — i.e., more than plenty of sleep to keep you going.

The forever darkness of the Vancouver sky have created the perfect cool temperature for your skin, depressing silence among your labmates, and lack of sunshine for your eyes, such that your visual, haptic, and auditory sensory requirements to fall asleep are satisfied more hours during the day than you’d like.

It’s rainy. It’s gloomy. It’s always overcast and gray everyday.

It’s Vancouver in its true colour.

When I first moved to Vancouver, my focus in surviving the Vancouver weather had more to do with staying dry than anything else.I kept forgetting to carry an umbrella with me when I walk out the door, or forgetting to wear boots to keep my feet dry for the day.

Now that I’ve been in Vancouver for a while, staying dry is no longer an issue. I seem to be always equipped with high heel boots or high heel something to keep my feet dry even when I walk through puddles of water or perpetually wet and muddy grassy area. I have an umbrella at my office, in my purse, and at home, so I am never short of an umbrella when I need one.

Even if I happen to forget my umbrella and end up getting rained on, I no longer care too much, say ‘meh~’, and continue walking.

I no longer check the weather forecast the night before, or the morning of. It almost seems as though my daily assumption for the weather forecast as ‘overcast, high chance of precipitation, chilly enough for you to be wearing a coat and a scarf’ is just as good as output of highly sophisticated weather forecast algorithms from the weather stations.

Yes, Vancouver is one of the top handful of best cities to live in. And yes, Vancouver summers are great. But when it comes to the rainy season, which makes up more than half of the year in my opinion, Vancouver can require you to have quite a unique impact on you. And that includes some super powerful impact weather can have on your mental state of things. Some people told me that more people in Vancouver are taking antidepressants than any other major cities in Canada or something along the lines (I don’t have stats, but I am sure I can look it up). And apparently there is something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that can be characterized by the type of daily life I’ve described in the first paragraph of this post: you want to sleep all the time, you’re tired all the time, and you feel irritable, depressed, or sad everyday.

So, I’ve noticed that this year’s rain is really hitting me hard than it really used to. Mind you, I love the rain, and I am the kind of person who would sing ‘Singing in the Rain’ when walking down the street stepping on puddles and such. I’ve been having a hard time waking up, and I’ve been napping much more than I have been before (I don’t usually take naps). My productivity have been suffering because of my lack of energy I think.

I am an early morning kind of person and used to really enjoy waking up at 5:30 or 6:00am in the morning during the summer to read the newspaper before starting my day. Hence, the fact that I struggle in the morning has really been affecting my morning productivity as well as my energy level in general. Totally unsatisfied by my daily output, I think it’s time that I do something about it, and beat this unfortunate cycle of overcast weather and overcast daily fatigues/dissatisfaction.

I think the first thing I am going to do is install some super bright lights in my residence and fool my brain to think it’s beautifully sunny outside. I’ve been totally wanting to get a commercial wake-up light that turns on the light gradually starting half an hour before you are supposed to wake up, so that it’s kinda like the sun is coming up when it’s time for you to wake up. But being a poor grad student, I don’t think I can afford to get the commercial solution. So I think I am going to equip myself with an arduino, a lamp from the Craig’s list or something, and make a wake-up light for myself. And I’m trying out a new morning routine to include indoor exercise as soon as I wake up at 6am, such that I counterbalance my stress level in the morning.

We’ll see what happens. But I am determined to beat this tragic phenomenon, and use this as an excuse to decorate/revamp my residence.

Has anyone found a good ‘fight Vancouver gloominess’ solution? If so, please do share. Meanwhile, I am going to try very hard not to fall asleep after I post this… yawn~~!!