The drab, gray winter sky has a way of making life seem like a
monotonous hamster-wheel of class, as you walk around shivering and
trying to stay awake while studying. There’s no reason to
feel like a depressed, heavily padded rodent. All you have to do is
mix it up a little. Here are some things to do in our sweet little
town of Ann Arbor:

Janna Hutz
Relax while knitting.
Janna Hutz
Stress vanishes through massages, rejuvenating the sorest muscles.
Janna Hutz
Feel the beat through both dance and music. (Photos by Dory Gannes and Laura Shlecter)

– You know that funny friend of yours who can cheer you up?
Well, there are people paid to be way funnier than that friend.
Otherwise known as stand-up comics, some of the best performers are
found here. Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase (314 E. Liberty St., 996-9080
www.aacomedy.com) has amazing comics perform Wednesdays through
Saturdays, all for less than a movie ticket with your student ID.
You can go to the Heidelberg (215 Main St., 663-7758) on Tuesday
nights at 10:30 for $5. One of the coolest lesser known things
about the University is how some of the biggest names in comedy
perform for free in various dorms every other Friday night, thanks
to Big Ticket Production’s Underground Comedy Live

– Doing something nice for somebody else gives you a major mood
boost. Luckily for you, the University is a hotspot for
organizations that just want to spread the love. Do Random Acts of
Kindness, also known as DORAK (www.umich.edu/~dorak), is a great
way to anonymously be nice, and the website lists random acts of
kindness you can do on your own. Service organizations, such as
Circle K (www.umcirclek.org), The Detroit Project (www.thedp.org)
or Habitat for Humanity (www.umhabitat.org), provide great ways to
volunteer. For more service organizations, check out

– Babies like to wiggle a lot, and unlike their fondness for
soiling their underwear, I think this is one tendency where we
should follow their lead. In other words, dance! Monday nights are
filled with spice when you salsa dance at the Michigan Union for $5
without any experience or a partner (www.umich.edu/~msalsa).
Sundays are a chance to learn ballroom dancing and say arrogant
things like, “I’ve been known to cha-cha or rumba when
the moment is right,” for $2 a class or $10 for the whole
semester (www.umich.edu/~umbdc). The CCRB offers dance classes in
hip-hop, Latin and ballroom for about $3 a class
(www.umich.edu/~umove). And I don’t need to tell you that
sometimes, all you need is to be alone in the privacy of your home
with some great music and dance it out. Billy Elliot and the whole
cast of “Center Stage” did it and so can you.

– If frozen dinners and the basement of the Union are your main
sources for food, do yourself a favor and give your body some major
comforting. Did you know that Monahan’s Sea Food Market in
Kerrytown (407 N. 5th Avenue, 662-5118) has incredible chowder,
served with great bread on a cold day? Thano’s Lamplighter
(421 E. Liberty St., 996-0555) is a cozy Greek place with
loukoumades, warm fried balls of dough that are surprisingly airy
and drizzled with honey; perfect for sharing with a friend during a
study break.

– There’s something so appealing about crafts …
maybe it’s the glue or the bright splotches of paint or the
shiny glass beads. Sit down for 15 minutes on a Tuesday night in
the Union’s basement for Artsbreak
(www.umich.edu/~munion/AandP ), and walk out with the satisfaction
that can only come from the excitement of using a hot-glue gun. If
you’d like to learn how to knit or you already know how and
you want to make things for a good cause, go to

– If you like the atmosphere of a small room for an intimate
concert, you’re in luck. The Blind Pig has a diverse group of
emerging rock and funk artists, among other genres (208 S. First,
www.blindpigmusic.com), while the Ark focuses on acoustic and folk
music (316 S. Main St., www.a2ark.org). The Ark also offers a free
show on the last Tuesday of every month and is hosting their 27th
annual folk festival next weekend, which includes performers like
Ani DiFranco and Emmylou Harris. If you love jazz or you like the
idea of it, both the Bird of Paradise (312 S. Main St.,
www.thebirdofparadise.com), and the Firefly Club (207 S. Ashley
St., www.fireflyclub.com) offer an alternative to your routine.

Life is too short to be bummed out about exams. Give yourself a
break to look forward to, whether it’s taking that
mini-course on bartending (www.umich.edu/~uac/mini-courses/), or
having a really good bowl of soup. It really is the little moments
you remember later.


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