Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love and money

Last year, I ran into a financial dilemma while waiting to receive a check.

Long story short: I had to pay a $200 bill. If I paid the bill in the absence of the aforementioned check, I'd have all of maybe $5 left in my account. That's a very abbreviated version, but you get the idea.

My boyfriend offered to lend me $200 to pay my bill -- assuming I paid him back as soon as The Check came through. That way, I'd have a financial cushion in case of an emergency.

I seriously contemplated the offer. But ultimately, I refused the loan.

I don't regret it.

I remembered the experience after finding this online advice column. A woman wants to know if she should lend her boyfriend money. The response from readers is an overwhelming NO.

Among the comments: "Business and pleasure should never mix."

From an outsider's perspective, it's easy to understand why you shouldn't combine finance and romance. But sometimes, direct involvement in a relationship makes us believe a partner's trust transcends the potential pitfalls of loaning and borrowing money.

What do you think? Is it ever OK to loan your significant other money? Does being married or unmarried make a difference?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday power anthem

Because sometimes, you just need some Spice Girls. Have a great week, everybody!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cook for me, honey

I'm in love with an arugula-obsessed mystery man.

I've long fantasized about finding a partner with an affinity for gourmet cooking. My expectations are probably unrealistic. I hint at dishes that require elaborate preparation and ingredients not available on the local supermarket scene.

My fantasy becomes a problem when reality hits. And by "reality," I mean the fact that my boyfriend's cooking repertoire generally consists of Hamburger Helper.

Which brings me to Thursday night. I worked until 7:30 p.m. and had to do some "American Idol" blogging at 8 p.m. Dinner plans were nonexistent. I threw a minor hissy fit.

My boyfriend offered to make me Hamburger Helper.

It's nice to have at least one specialty dish in your arsenal of talents. Need help? There are still a few spots left in Dinner Divas' Feb. 2 cooking class, which will teach you how to cook a romantic meal for two. The class is at 6 p.m. and cost is $30.

In retrospect, I shouldn't have rejected the Hamburger Helper on Thursday. After all, any offer to cook is a leap of faith. It's scary when success depends on dubious measurements and oven times.

And while my arugula-obsessed fantasy man might put good food on the table, he hardly promises good conversation.

Pass the Hamburger Helper, please.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Long-distance marriages

Some people say that at the earliest stages of a romance, a long-distance setup can actually strengthen a relationship.

You build an identity outside your partner. You define your relationship by things other than physical pleasure. You learn the ins and outs of Skype.

But what about a long-distance marriage?

I couldn't resist clicking on this article, "I moved 7 hours away from my husband."

Short summary: The writer moved hours away from her husband to achieve her career goals. And yes, she's still married.

The idea seemed odd at first, but then I realized I know at least three couples who have had long-distance marriages. Not to mention all my friends with military ties -- although military separations are distinctly different from the example I just described.

So...if you're married, would you accept a dream job seven hours away if your spouse couldn't join you on the big adventure? Would you even apply for a job seven hours away?

I'm not entirely opposed to the idea, but I think you need to make the decision with a long-term plan in mind.

I mean, you can't live apart forever, right? Wrong?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Renewing your vows

Amid news that Seal and Heidi Klum are separating, one writer asks a valid question: "Do vow renewals always mean divorce?"

The answer is no, of course.

But I can't hear the phrase "vow renewal" without thinking about Vicki Gunvalson, a "Real Housewives of Orange County" cast member who renewed her vows in an elaborate on-camera ceremony.

Shortly after that, her marriage ended.

I agree with the writer's assertion that renewing your vows can sometimes be "a last-ditch effort to save a failing relationship."

Nonetheless, it seems like the ceremonies have become much more common in recent years. I've heard of people renewing their vows after being married for less than five years.

Is that a bad thing? No...unless you're renewing your vows annually, in ways that rival the fanciness of your wedding.

If that's the case, I'd argue you're defining your relationship by ceremonies, rather than the values those ceremonies are designed to represent.

What do you think about vow renewal ceremonies?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flexible flirting

Anyone already thinking about Valentine's Day? Yeah, me neither.

OK, you caught me. Of course I'm thinking about Valentine's Day. At least I'm not alone in prematurely obsessing. Some of my female Facebook friends have already posted updates about their plans.

I'm not sure if those updates reflect reality or a bragging method, but still...it's time for my first Valentine's post of the season.

What's your reaction to the phrase "yoga for lovers"?

There's actually a purpose behind the question. Art of Yoga in Columbus will host a yoga for lovers/Valentine partner workshop on Feb. 12.

You can spend an "afternoon exploring the blessings of intimacy & love through the practice of partner yoga & Thai Yoga Massage."

It might be the most creative option, but it's certainly not the only couples-oriented activity that will surface in February. I've also heard about local cooking classes for couples and even a Valentine's relay race for couples. (I'll blog about those activities soon, I promise.)

If you're in a relationship, do these ideas intrigue you? And how hard would it be to convince your partner to attend the aforementioned yoga event?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday power anthem

Today's power anthem has real-life significance. I finally have an iPhone. I've spent the last few years navigating moderately old-school telephone technology.

My old phone -- aka: Paul -- served its purpose, but it also had few features beyond its limited texting capacity. I hadn't set a date for upgrading until last weekend.

After two consecutive days of phone-inspired frustration -- some of which involved my job -- I hit my breaking point. I went to the store, examined my options, exercised for an hour and returned to make my purchase.


I'm now exploring the new technology -- rather blindly, in fact. So if you have any tips, please send them my way.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Awful First Dates

My colleague Katie recommended I write a blog post about this book, "Awful First Dates: Hysterical, True, and Heartbreakingly Bad."

Great idea.

Fortunately, I've avoided the unbearable first dates that likely dominate this book. Sure, not every first date has been paradise.

While I can cite many memories of conversation lulls and general awkwardness, those dates also involved guys who were kind enough to buy me dinner and listen to me tell stories that were likely too long and involved for a first encounter.

There are certainly exceptions...but when it comes to discussing awful dates, the responsibility often rests with two people. Even if that's hard to admit.

Weigh in: How do you define an awful first date? Does a lack of chemistry alone warrant that definition, or does the offense need to be more severe?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why I love Chipotle

Need evidence that you're passionate about something? Try to explain why you love it.

In some cases, the answer will come quickly: a succinct chain of flowery nouns and adjectives. And in other cases, you'll hate yourself for being speechless.

In the latter scenario, you're really in love.

The thought crossed my mind when I embarked on a road trip Tuesday night to the grand opening of Chipotle in Auburn (346 W. Magnolia Ave., shown above). I've long praised Chipotle as the "best restaurant ever."

But as I attempted to explain my stance Tuesday, I realized the memories I've associated with the restaurant over the years have had an impact that rivals its food.

Make no mistake: Chipotle is delicious, as illustrated by the crowd of people who attended the Auburn location Tuesday night.

If you're reading this from outside Columbus, I'll note that I live about 45 minutes away from Auburn. I was so intent on going to the restaurant on opening night that I started my journey right after work.

And by "right after work," I mean 8 p.m.

In the rain. Alone. With a poor sense of direction. And an incorrect address for the restaurant.

Not to mention the fact that "breaking news" happened midway through my drive and I had to stop to negotiate some Facebook posting.

By the time I arrived, navigated the crowd and got my food, it was 10 p.m. (Columbus time). I was also bringing food home for my friend and co-worker, Kara.

On a side note, a trucker also honked at me (and possibly gave me the finger) for driving too slowly on the ride home.

Anyway, I got home successfully. I opened my burrito (featured above...and below) and prepared to eat dinner at 11 p.m.

YUM. Before long, Kara and I started our late-night dinner. Her bowl is pictured below. Once we started eating, I forgot all the drama surrounding the journey.

In fact, we ended up talking until nearly 1 a.m. It was one of the best conversations I've had in a long time.

It wasn't the first time this has happened.

I once took a 90-minute drive with a friend solely to obtain a Chipotle burrito. I also associate the restaurant with the year my boyfriend had to go out of town on my birthday -- but returned later that night with a vegetarian burrito designed to tame my rage.

And when I came home for Christmas last year, I almost immediately ended up at a Chipotle restaurant table with my sister -- enjoying a conversation that erased the miles that normally separate us.

When you find a place that lets you savor memories like these, you should never surrender your table. And if the food tastes good, all the better.

Chipotle serves bowls, tacos, burritos and more. Average entree price is just under $7. The Auburn location is open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday power anthem

Today's power anthem is for anyone obsessed with The Fabulous Life after watching Sunday's Golden Globes. Wait...you missed the ceremony? Conveniently, I have a handy little recap available here.

Also, don't miss our Ledger-Enquirer Golden Globes photo gallery. I worked on it instead of watching the Kardashians Sunday night. Sacrifice.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lego marriage proposal

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution directed me to this awesome marriage proposal video. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Romantic getaways

Which Georgia city made Hotwire's list of the top 10 Valentine's Day deal destinations?

The correct answer is...Columbus. Kidding. OK, ready for the real answer? Savannah.

That's right. This press release bills it as a romantic destination, which makes me feel a little left out. After five years of living in Georgia, I haven't made a trip to Savannah.

Even without Savannah, our state is hardly devoid of romantic getaways. For people who live in Columbus, I think the natural tendency is to enjoy a romantic weekend in Atlanta. Hardly a bad idea, considering the abundance of nice hotels and dining options.

And call me crazy...but I actually think downtown LaGrange is pretty romantic. Don't believe me? Try this restaurant.

Weigh in, readers: What are the best romantic getaways in Georgia? I'd really appreciate your feedback on this one, as I'm thinking about eventually spinning it into a longer article.

(Oh! One more thing! Thanks for participating in my blog challenge, Sara. You rule.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Much Ado About Loving

Quick disclaimer: This blog topic seems ideal for my colleague, Sara Pauff, but I'm going to write a snippet anyway in hopes that she'll write a follow-up blog post or even a column. Game on!

Have you heard about this book, "Much Ado About Loving"? The book basically uses literary classics to deliver relationship advice.

If you're creative enough, I think you can turn anything into a relationship manual. Trust me, I've written columns about the hidden romantic undertones in Easter candy.

Nonetheless, I remember reflecting on modern relationships while taking a Jane Austen course in college. The tendency isn't too surprising. After all, that's often one of the signs of a good book: lessons that transcend time.

Have you used any literary classics as relationship manuals? Do you have a dream partner from a Jane Austen novel?

You can take it from here, Sara...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Anatomy of a half marathon

So, today is my birthday! Yes, I'm turning the big 3-0. No major meltdowns yet, so I guess I'm on the right track for success. Or extreme denial.

Anyway, in an attempt to show myself that 30 doesn't = dead, I participated in Saturday's Red Nose Half Marathon.

I'm still not sure if it was the best idea. Fun fact: I hadn't done a long distance since Thanksgiving morning, when I ran 10 miles. I quickly became aware of that fact during Saturday's race.

But I still finished the Red Nose run, thanks largely to the fact that my boyfriend came to cheer me on during the last mile. He also took the very flattering pictures that accompany this blog post.

So even if being 30 means I'm old, I can at least still run 13 miles. OK, I technically did that when I was 29. But whatever.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I'm familiar with the phrase "man-child."

I say it often in my relationship -- half out of humor, and half out of genuine concern. I don't know if my boyfriend's obsession with computer games and mac and cheese is endearing or alarming.

Which is why I clicked on this essay: "Dealbreaker: He's a man-child." An excerpt:

In movies, the man-child has Looney Tunes bedsheets, an action figure collection, and gets haircuts from his mom; a slightly more advanced version smokes a lot of weed and snickers at the word “nipples.”

In films, the solution to the man-child problem is to pair him with an uptight wet blanket who nags him until he “mans up,” gets a makeover, and marries her. I wasn’t interested in being that type of female lead.

The stance is fine, assuming you're able to differentiate between qualities that define a man-child and qualities that simply define a man. Does an obsession with video games alone mean someone's unprepared for fatherhood? Not necessarily.

Trust me, I probably wouldn't lose any sleep if my boyfriend abandoned his fascination with "Skyrim." (That's a game.)

Yet I worry that in throwing around terms like "man-child," we're seeking a level of maturity that's not only unattainable, but also kind of boring.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

LUV in the ATL

Maybe you heard Atlanta topped another list of best cities to find a date. Congratulations! Phenix City was No. 2. Just kidding.

I'll ask a question I've asked in the past: Is it "worth it" to drive from Columbus to Atlanta just to look for love?

The idea isn't outlandish. People maintain cross-country romances all the time, so 90-minute trips to see your significant other might seem like a piece of cake. Heck, you could even see your partner multiple times during an average week.

Then again, the setup isn't exactly ideal. And while some people thrive in Atlanta's packed dance clubs, other daters would rather test pickup lines when they have the home court advantage.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The gym isn't a meet market

Amid all the buzz about New Year's resolutions, I wrote this column reminding people of basic gym etiquette. Read it and obey, please.

Due to space constraints, I didn't address the topic of the gym as a potential meet market. My simple advice on looking for love at the gym? Don't do it.

Yes, I know there are exceptions. In fact, I've enjoyed many casual conversations with strangers at the gym. Yet as a general rule, I regard gym time as alone time...even if I'm in a group fitness class.

Sure, it's a slightly unreasonable goal. But I've managed to keep the gym a peaceful sanctuary where I somehow forget about my most demanding stress factors.

Let's keep it that way. And no, your treadmill grunting isn't sexy.