Blue Monday is upon us, with its dubious distinction of being “the most depressing day of the year.” Any device that offers to light up gloomy January days is enticing and, with impeccable timing, the Dyson Lightcycle floor light has arrived, boasting that it can relieve eye strain and simulate optimal daylight quality based on where you live.
Me, I’d be happy with a flashlight on a stick, given that I live and work from home in a rent-controlled cave and abuse my peepers with a noxious mix of 72 hours of TV per week, 18 hours of laptop time a day and a disgusting refusal to change my contacts often enough.
Before lighting up, I venture onto the Dyson website to unearth its secrets. First, I discover that THIS LAMP COSTS TWELVE-HUNDRED DOLLARS. At that price, it better buy me flowers and do the two days’ worth of dishes in the sink (there is a bargain desktop version for $ 800). However, it does provide continuous light for 60 years, promising to beam happily until well after my death. The eye-strain reduction claim is down to something called “1000 lux brightness,” plus glare protection and low optical flicker. Slide-touch dimming adjusts the brightness and colour, or it can optimize automatically, taking into account how much sunlight you’re getting and the time of day. It even adjusts as you age, boosting the brightness when your eyes begin to rot into dust.
Even so, I’m skeptical. Just how wonderful could this glorified floor lamp be?
Day 1: I set up the lamp by my ignominious work-from-home spot on the couch. I tap it and laser-bright, blueish LEDs sear my eyes. “Arrrgh!” I cry out to my boyfriend. “Come in here!” He gracefully moves his finger along the touch-sensor until the lamp emits warm butter-yellow tones. “OK, that is kinda chic,” I mutter, settling into the pool of light and opening my computer. Many a day my boyfriend would come home to find me sitting in the dark, lit only by my laptop screen. No more!
Day 2: I head to the couch and the lamp senses my motion and switches on, thrilling to my presence like a kitten eager for wet food. Good morning to you, too! I feel nurtured, aglow. I’d forgotten how nice it is to, you know, see. I also dig the automatic shut-off, as we don’t need another hundy on our stroke-inducing hydro bill. I churn out two assignments — powered by the lamp? Potentially.
Day 3: The lamp is gone! I discover that my heathen boyfriend has moved it into his music room. “It’ll be good in here,” he informs me. “It will help me do my work.” I hold out my hand and the lamp turns on obligingly. “Have you heard what this lamp can do?” my boyfriend asks: the 1,000 lux! The feature-filled app! My eyes narrow. Of course I know all this, this is my lamp, not his lamp. “You have to return it to my couch tomorrow!” I hiss. I already miss its golden glow. How am I supposed to get any work done today?
Day 4: The lamp has been returned to its rightful place — illuminating me like an angel. I adjust the vertical support and swivel the horizontal arm, aiming it at the cushion I have begun referring to as my office. The arm seems to be a little loose; I complain to the BF about the cheap black plastic. “Don’t talk about the lamp that way,” he snaps. What bond did they forge in the music room, I wonder. Am I … jealous?
Day 5: PMS necessitates a couch nap. The lamp naps with me, kindly turning off as I slumber, only rousing itself into service when I stir. Back to work, the shining spotlight propels me into writing 600 pristine words in record time, while my phone charges in its USB port.
In the evening, I notice that the boyfriend has suddenly taken up reading again, migrating from his usual spot to sit under the lamp. Is that … War and Peace? “It’s just really cosy here,” he says, switching to the white-light Study mode. I sit at the other end of the couch, shrouded in darkness.
Day 6: I come home to find the BF sitting under the lamp. Again. He cleverly deflects my taunts by asking how long it’s been since I changed my contacts, so I begrudgingly switch to my glasses. Staring at screens all day can leave my eyes dry and sore, but today I find I can skip the eye drops. Is the lamp actually improving my eye health? Sorcery!
Day 7: The boyfriend asks if we can recycle the lamp’s gigantic box. “No,” I say. “We have to return it.” His face falls. I placate him with a generous offer to loan the lamp to the music room for the weekend. But first, I crank it to the ultra-intense light blast setting and squeeze in a lux fix.
Day 8: With the lamp vacationing in the music room, the living room looks dull and sort of hideous. Missing it, I fire up its app. “We will now pair with your device,” it informs me, like some kind of Cronenbergian symbiote. This reveals many new features, such as the Away setting (it turns on and off randomly to simulate someone being home) and Sleep mode, which deactivates the motion sensor and defaults to a softer light to help you get ready for bed. I tap the lamp on and off from the couch via the app. On. Off. On. Off. Truly, this is the future.
Day 9: Boyfriend is on the couch with the lamp. Again. I stride over (“that’s my spot”) to churn out some ad copy before lunch. I fiddle around on the app until I find the perfect light for productivity: playful and sprightly yet patient and kind. Whenever the lamp turns off due to my sluglike stillness, I wave a hand above my head to reactivate it, as nonchalant as a lord summoning more grapes.
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Day 10: Tonight we take the next step in our relationship: moving the lamp to the bedroom. I start a new contract tomorrow and want the lamp to ease me into the 9-to-5 with its Wakeup mode. It turns on 30 minutes before you get up, simulating the rising sun and reducing those third-alarm-snooze scaries.
Day 11: My eyes snap open at 6:50, and I await the light like a small child on Christmas morning. 6:58. 6:59. 7:00! And … nothing happens. Did I not set it correctly? Ugh. I tap the app, activating the Relax setting to start the morning — which happens to be our anniversary — right. “Four years, booboo,” I whisper into the boyfriend’s shoulder. “May we stay together forever.” Just me, him — and the lamp.