When Cupid Shoots and Misses

It can be tough when you walk into Meijer just the day after Christmas and you’re hit with a flood of red and pink Valentines Day paraphernalia. Instantly you are reminded that for the third year in a row you have no significant other to celebrate with. Perusing the mall, overhearing conversations and walking through the halls of MSU’s buildings all seem to scream “Love is in the air!” But for you, your air is clouded with dread and annoyance.
The coveted chocolates and flowers your roommate always seems to get? You can be sure they will not be coming your way. And plans for a fancy dinner and movie night? Not this year. Let’s face it: You’re single, and there could not be a worse time to feel so alone.
However, amidst the Cupid-craze many single college students are starting to view Valentines Day as a holiday to get together with friends and do something fun and outside of the mundane everyday routine. Having no significant other or swanky date lined up is no excuse to sit at home on the 14th – unless of course, you are sitting at home with your other fabulous single friends making the best out of your holiday.
[candyhearts]Check out some fun and inexpensive ways to have fun, spend time with the ones closest to you and to feel a little love on the most sentimental day of the year. You will never view being single the same way again.

Singles Stick Together
For Danielle Brimmeier, a junior psychology student, spending Valentines Day with her other single friends is the best way to avoid feeling alone and depressed about your love life.
“It used to really bother me if I was ever single on Valentine’s Day, especially if I had a boyfriend for it the previous year because the day is so focused on having a significant other,” Brimmeier says. “It can really make a person feel bad about not having a boyfriend or girlfriend. It can hurt some girls to see other girls receiving typical Valentine’s Day gifts and talking about what they have planned with their boyfriend.” [rhi]
To help avoid this disappointment, try making plans with your other single friends and focus more on the friendships you DO have rather than the exclusive relationships you do not. You are more likely to enjoy yourself and your time on Valentine’s Day if you are with people who are not so focused on the lovey-dovey and intimate aspects of the holiday.
Try throwing a finger food and cocktail party at your apartment and tell everyone to dress up for the occasion. Or even better, make the dress code strictly red or pink. Keeping the get together upbeat and fun will have all your guests in high spirits.

Night on the Town
MSU students really are fortunate to go to school in a place as great as East Lansing. The amount of businesses in and around campus and East Lansing that cater to students’ needs are a refreshing addition to an already impressive Spartan experience.
Kelsey Morley, a marketing sophomore student, said that Grand River Avenue is packed with fun things to do, especially when you spend most of your nights stuck in your dorm studying – or wasting time on Facebook.
“There are so many restaurants that feature various types of food and drinks and are all accessible by CATA, that it is impossible to not get out and have fun with your friends,” Morley said. “Every time my girlfriends and I head out for the day or night, it turns into an adventure because we always discover something new and exciting.”
If you’re a sushi-lover, try Ai Fusion Sushi and Grill on Grand River next to Hobby Lobby. In just the last year they renovated the front portion of their restaurant to accommodate for private parties in sectioned-off rooms. The best part is that the floor underneath the tables has been dug out to duplicate the Japanese experience of dining while sitting on the floor. The food is tasty and reasonably priced. [dan]
Or if you are more of the artsy type and want to channel your inner creativity, a trip to Playing Picasso in the Frandor Plaza may do the trick. A paint-your-own pottery studio, you can walk in, select your piece of pottery – they have everything from serving platters, toothbrush holders, frames and travel mugs – paint it to your liking and then come back in a few days to pick up the finished product once it’s been glazed and fired in the oven. The final results look incredible regardless of artistic ability, and they make great gifts for everyone.
Is dancing and music more your scene? Try out any of the popular East Lansing bars – Ricks never fails and the basement of Harpers looks great after their renovations last summer – or venture into Lansing to see what they have to offer. “My girlfriends and I have been talking about going to Spiral for Valentine’s Day, and since Spiral is a gay bar, it is a perfect place to go to just dance and have fun unbothered by guys,” Brimmeier said.

Back to the Basics
Since Valentine’s Day this year falls on a Saturday rather than a school night, for those who have hometowns close to MSU, going home could be the perfect getaway for the holiday. Sometimes with all the commercialism surrounding Valentine’s Day, it is easy to forget why we celebrate the 14th of February in the first place. Showing your love and support for your family just by spending time with them is the best gift you could give and is something your parents and siblings will treasure for years.
“It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when I plan out my Valentine’s Day,´ said Iowa State junior and accounting major Kyle Roggensack, “but spending the night or day with your family and doing something as simple as playing board games and having dinner together, is a refreshing change from the normally anticipated Valentine’s Day activities.¨
There are tons of games out there that are fun for all members of the family. Roggensack said Apples to Apples is one of his family’s favorites since his 7-year-old brother can join in on the fun, but old-time favorites like Monopoly and Scrabble, and newer games like Mad Gab and Would You Rather are exciting options as well.
Even better, if your mom or dad is single, why not take them out on a special date since they might be feeling just as single as you do? And if that is not the case and you are a single girl looking for a little love, you can always do what one anonymous sassy single chick suggested to me: Call up your main man (a.k.a Daddy) and ask for a little T.L.C.
“When all else fails, calling home and giving a little ‘Daaadddddyyyy! But, but, but you’re the only man in my life!’ usually elicits chocolate, jewelery and nicer gifts.”

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Resolution Solutions

Lose weight, quit smoking, get organized; you tell yourself the same thing every year.
Except by February you weighed more than you did in November, you still find yourself shivering in the cold trying to light a smoke against the windshield, and all those bills and paperwork collecting dust on the fridge? Forget it. They are not going anywhere.
It is an odd tradition, this self-proposed deal to do something better for yourself, others or society as a whole. Yet creating New Year’s Resolutions is nothing new to the world today. The yearly tradition has dated as far back as 153 B.C., when a mythical king of early Rome called Janus – Janus, January, get it? – was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces Janus was able to reflect on the past and look forward to the future and eventually came to represent the ancient symbol for resolutions. With that, the tradition of creating a change for the new year was born and practiced all around the world. [dull]
However, Janus apparently only looked forward to the near future. In a study done by professor John C. Norcross at the University of Scranton, it was found that 71 percent of participants kept their resolutions for only two weeks and 64 percent stayed true to their resolutions for just the month of January. Within three months, only 50 percent of participants had succeeded in sticking to their resolutions.
Not very impressive numbers if you ask me.
“Life gets crazy and then you never keep your resolution,” said Sarah Dull, a MSU Athletic Communications intern. “A resolution is something you really want to change and if you don’t want to change it bad enough then chances are you won’t do it.”
Setting and pursuing resolutions wholeheartedly is one strategy to making sure you do not become a part of the 50 percent who give up on their promises by April. And if you do not think there is anything you need to change in your life then it’s OK to be an individualist and go resolution-free next year.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” Dull said. “I think New Year’s resolutions should be boycotted and we can all just look forward to Lent.”
But she did say that if we as a world could set a unified resolution for a better society it would be for everyone to do their part in saving the environment. “It could really help and make a difference.”
[disco]Katie Koerner, a senior journalism student, agreed that if New Year’s Resolutions were made on a larger scale everyone could benefit as opposed to people making individual goals they know they’re likely to stray from.
“Government changes or policies that would result in free health care for everyone; now that would be beneficial to the nation,” Koerner said. The 21-year-old said that since high school she has been making the same resolutions to either work out more, lose weight or try to eat healthy – all of the usual resolutions that cause January gym memberships to skyrocket. Yet, by February she is back to her old ways.
“It can be hard, especially when you get busy, to stick to your resolution,” she said. “You either forget about it, or skip a day or two and then by the time you know it you’re not even following your resolution.”
Some experts recommend tweaking your lifestyle in order to fix this problem of tapering off in your routine. For most people, resolutions are made in order to promote a healthy or beneficial lifestyle change, so if losing five pounds by Valentine’s Day is what you plan to do, maybe going for a mile run before work every morning will be the sacrifice you have to make. On the same hand, setting realistic goals will also make success more likely since unattainable goals can be discouraging and almost always result in failure.
For example, choosing to lose 45 pounds by Valentines Day so you can land that special date is probably a perfect route to take if you are looking to let yourself down.
“My resolutions usually involve eating healthier, losing weight, not procrastinating, or finding the right guy; basically so I can feel better about myself,” sophomore premedical student Elise Craig said. With a smile on her face she explained how her efforts to eat healthy usually end up devoured – by the end of January – along with all of the food in her kitchen. [rhi]
“When it comes to resolutions that have to do with dieting, losing weight and what not, many people can’t keep their resolutions,” Craig said. “It gets too hard and people fall back into their bad habits without enough will power.”
Using a chart to mark your success or journey as you progress through your resolution can help you stick to your plan and occasionally rewarding yourself along the way can keep you from going crazy. A reward like treating yourself to your favorite restaurant after being smoke-free for four weeks is a proactive way to help you keep you resolution longer.
“People keep their resolutions because they want to make a serious change in their life, a change that will make them more attractive or fix a habit they’ve always hated. It’s basically like trying to improve yourself and using a certain day to be the starting marker; a clean slate kind of thing,” Craig said.
While she hopes her resolutions last at least until May this year, Craig also added that not only is the new year a clean slate for people to start fresh, but it is a time for positive changes to be made in society. Her idea of a perfect nation-wide resolution?
“Never vote a Republican into office again.”

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Here for the Holidays

Dear Lou Anna,
In the excitement buzzing around campus with the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, I cannot wait to go home and spend time with my family. But, I got thinking…what happens to the students who cannot afford to, or simply do not want to, head home for the holidays?
I remember so long ago being a freshman athlete at Central Michigan University. I also remember how terrible it was to have to pack up my life to move in with someone over winter break because the dorms closed when most students went home. As an athlete whose sport required her to be on campus during the break, I found myself without a home for close to three weeks. The solution to this problem? Sleeping on the couch at an upperclassman’s apartment and living out of a few duffel bags. What a Merry Christmas that was.
I decided to do some investigating. Was Christmas at MSU as depressing as it was at Central? I thought optimistically that maybe MSU would give students a little more flexibility in holiday housing options. I heard that Butterfield Hall, in the Brody neighborhood, offers students who need or want to stay on campus during the holidays a place to stay through the grapevine. [rhi]
“I’m sorry. The Butterfield guest house is closed this year.” That was the first thing I was told when I called the Residence Life office. Apparently an 18-month renovation project is in the works for the guest house, but what I found odd was what came next.
“We’re not even sure if it will ever be opening again either.”
So why the renovations Lou Anna? Where do students turn when they face dilemmas similar to the one that I ran into as a freshman?
I think of how great MSU is and the endless options students face when they pick their classes, majors, roommates and even food choices at meal times. But what I don’t understand is why something so monumental, like a roof over someone’s head, isn’t considered when students need it the most.
I took my questions to the next obvious place, and a place I frequent: the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS). MSU has anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 International Students each semester. You cannot honestly tell me they all go home for four weeks in December.
So, I called. And I asked, “If I am a freshman student at MSU, living in the dorms, and I can’t afford to go home over Christmas, AND the Butterfield guest house is closed, AND I don’t feel like paying $60 a night to stay in the Kellogg Center, what are my options?”
[lights]You know what I got? A very honest, “You have no options.”
The student office secretary told me that students need to find their own housing over the break if they need to stay on campus. Most students usually set up house at the friend’s place off campus. The OISS even sends out a reminder e-mail to freshmen to let them know when they are being kicked out of their dorms – which they are paying dearly for, might I add – so students can prepare for alternative housing.
But why should students who pay quite a lot to live here be so inconvenienced and stressed out about who will take them in over Christmas, Lou Anna? Isn’t studying for finals, preparing for graduation in some cases, holding down a job or internship and having to spend the holidays without family enough on someone’s plate?
Next call: Brad Ledingham, the resident director at Butterfield Hall.
He had the same answers as the woman at residence life to whom I first spoke. “The guest house is being renovated, the house may not even open again, alternative housing is offered at the Kellogg Center,” yada yada yada.
Now, I was intrigued by the Kellogg Center option. I began to think there was hope for students wishing to have a Green and White Christmas. Ledingham explained that in lieu of the guest house being closed this season, students can go to the Kellogg Center, where sharing a room will run you $35.00 a night and a single can cost close to $60.00.
“Last year the guest house was full,” Ledingham said. “Even on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day people stayed there. Either they couldn’t go home, or they had a job that required them to stay here; either way people used the guest house.” [brad]
If so many people depend on the services offered at the guest house, why would renovations for the place be scheduled during the holiday season, and why would the building be closed following the renovations? It just don’t add up for me.
I called my friend on the diving team, Danielle Williams. She is an international student herself, so I figured maybe she had run into the same problem I did as a freshman at CMU.
“Were you allowed to stay in the dorms over Christmas Break?” I asked.
She told me that the week prior to school starting in the spring semester was when she and her teammates were allowed back into the dorm rooms. But of course there was a catch.
“I think that athletics had to pay for us to move in early, and it was close to $200 per day,” Williams said.
What student on campus has $200 per day to fork over in exchange for access to their dorm? A week alone at this rate would be $1400. That is double the rent that I pay for my two-bedroom, off-campus apartment. Need to stay in the dorms for two weeks? Better have $2800 in the bank because that is how much it will cost you. Even aside from this cost to stay in the dorms, $60 a night at the Kellogg Center is a little outrageous as well. A week alone would cost $420.
Now Lou Anna, I understand that there are probably liability issues, and then there’s the question of where students will eat if they do stay in the dorms over the holiday, but aren’t these things that can be accounted for if someone put in enough time and effort to do so? A lot of people work and travel over Christmas break and even on Christmas day itself, so why should the dorms shut down business? If it is a matter of not having resident assistants available, why are they even necessary? Can’t 18-year-olds be trusted to live safely on their own in the dorms? They’re allowed to do so over Thanksgiving and Spring breaks. What other housing option could make you sign a 9-month contract minus a random month in the middle?
I have so many questions, and not enough answers. And I’m not even one of the many MSU students sticking around campus for a green and white Christmas. Your students are being put out of their homes, Lou Anna. Hope you can see that from Cowles House this holiday season.

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Strip Club Fitness

“Please don’t wear any lotions. You’ll need to wear shorts so your legs are bare, and high heels are introduced during week four,” were some of the instructions explained to me over the phone.
Senioritis. That is where it all started.
By just the third day of class it hit me hard. I knew I would need to find something around East Lansing to keep me from going crazy. I thought that a gym membership would be the answer. But the thought of running on a treadmill like a hamster stuck on a wheel had me feeling trapped and bored out of my mind, which is why one day when walking down M.A.C. Avenue, Pin Up Pole Dancing caught my eye.
It may have been the hot pink curtains in the windows of 303 M.A.C. Ave. that stopped me dead in my tracks. Or it could have been the fact that I had read about the business-savvy Megan Dolby, a senior MSU student and a successful entrepreneur in the newspaper, but 10 minutes and one phone call later I was enrolled in a six-week beginner course with 11 other females after the same thing as I was. [rhi]
The first day of class was like the first day of college; I didn’t know what to expect. I sat cross-legged on the studio floor and waited for a bunch of Barbie look-a-likes to stroll in to show off their moves. I wondered what on earth those 13-foot metal poles would have in store for me and even worse if they would cause me any embarrassment. I silently applauded myself for getting into a situation 100 percent outside of my comfort zone.
“Pole dancing is a form of art, a form of dancing,” our teacher said as she demonstrated a move called “The Princess.” With grace and ease she threw her body around the pole while describing the movements and muscles we would need to utilize in order to successfully do the skill ourselves.
As she walked away from the pole to her spot at the front of the room, 12 sets of wide eyes looked back and forth from her to the three poles gleaming in front of us.
Was she crazy?
We may have thought she was, but 23-year-old Dolby knew what she was doing. In a sense, she is much like the students who enroll in her classes, eager to find a unique approach to feeling good and staying fit.
“I hate the gym,” said Nichole Ouderkirk, when I asked her why she took the class. As a member of a meet-up group that tries different activities together like cardio salsa, Ouderkirk and her girlfriends took a private lesson at the studio to give pole dancing a shot.
“I liked Megan’s attitude, and the fitness aspect was a huge thing for me,” she said. Immediately, Ouderkirk was hooked and decided to try out the whole six-week course.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, she’s a 39-year-old mom of three.
“Suddenly you’re not Nichole anymore: you’re Mike’s wife or Katelyn’s mom,” Ouderkirk said. “You lose your identity, and for me this class was a way to get it back. It was a way to get back in touch with the fun side of me.”
And that is exactly what Dolby set out to accomplish when she envisioned her own pole dancing studio. As an ex-gymnast and accomplished dancer herself, Dolby wanted to combine her interest in business and her ability to teach to create a successful dance studio. In January of 2008, after over a year of planning and designing, classes were officially opened to the public.
“There’s a purpose behind this. There are not a lot of fun activities around here in East Lansing for women. Here they can have fun, get toned, be sexy and meet other women,” Dolby said.
Have fun? Check. Get toned? Check. Feel sexy? Double check.
After week one, not only were my arms feeling stronger, but I had a new found confidence about myself and a new appreciation for the art of pole dancing, instead of the take-off-your-clothes-for-money aspect that is so frequently associated with the activity.
By week three we were learning tougher skills in succession like “The Venus” and the “Hurkey Swing,” and I decided to look around the studio to sneak a peak at the others’ progress. Already I could tell that they too were improving while becoming stronger and more confident. I felt so proud of not only myself but everyone else. We were a small but mighty team of 12 determined pole dancers, all in this together, all helping one another to have a fabulous experience.
Who needed a treadmill after all?
“For women who are my age, going to the gym is like going to a meat market,” Ouderkirk said. “We want to go to stay fit but the gym is a distracting environment. With the intimacy of a smaller group, I get more out of it.”
Dolby designed the classes while keeping size in mind, adding that the class structure makes women more comfortable.
“All the classes offered are intimate, and the regularity, the identification that women make when taking the class, allow the women to feel close with one another,” she said. She jokes that it is the women in the class who will understand your jokes and what you are talking about when it comes to anything to do with pole dancing.
And what is fitness without a little fun?
However, not all women view the experience as liberating or positive for how society views females and their sexuality.
English professor Jyotsna Singh, who teaches Introduction to Women Studies at MSU, says fitness and exercise are very important for everyone’s health, and more power to women who pursue fitness. However, she said she believes the connotations associated with pole dancing may have a downside.
“Given the negative associations of pole dancing with the total sexual objectification of women, I am not sure it achieves the goal of making women feel powerful and beautiful,” Singh said. “How about swimming, gymnastics, biking or the many other ways of enjoying exercise, rather than clambering up and down a pole?”
While pole dancing is certainly not for everyone – and Singh does support a woman’s personal decision to choose whatever forms of fitness she finds of interest – the classes offered at Dolby’s studio are the perfect fit for the female looking to try something new.
For me, the fit could not have been better. I had a blast during week four when we were required to go through class in high heels (but not wedges because that is cheating), and during our last class session I was excited (and a little nervous) to be able to invite my closest girlfriend and fiancé to our class “recital,” where I performed my entire routine and everything I had learned in front of them.
But the best part was underneath all of the fun, I had become stronger as a woman both physically and mentally, and had made some pretty great friendships along the way.
“I really do enjoy seeing people succeed in the class because if they weren’t, that’s a reflection on my teaching. It’s encouraging and inspiring to see the improvements people make,” Dolby said.
For further inspiration, Dolby can anticipate the majority of her students coming back to re-enroll because of the benefits they experienced the first time through.
“I have high blood pressure and my female doctor told me that pole dancing would be a great way to improve health-wise. I’ve noticed my upper body strength has improved, and I am a lot stronger now,” Ouderkirk said.
The real kicker here? Since taking the class, Ouderkirk has stopped taking her blood pressure medication. “I’d like to get my own pole and take this seriously so I can stay fit. This is exercise, that’s all it is.”
As for me, I’ve been longing to embrace those scary 13-foot poles again and to get back in the studio to learn some new tricks. I would hate for that senioritis to set back in.

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