Southern Review: Chick-Fil-A Meets NYC

Address: 1000 Ave of the Americas, New York, NY 10018

On my latest quest to find a little bit of the south in the city I ventured to Chick-Fil-A. A recent addition to NYC, the fast food restaurant is conveniently located in the middle of the city.

To be honest, I’ve been avoiding the place since its opening in 2015. Mainly for two reasons – the lines have been reported to be out the door, and the idea of having an authentic southern staple in the city was unbelievable. But alas, I decided to venture out on a Friday afternoon, hoping to avoid the weekend crowds.

The verdict – It was everything I wanted and more. The line was quick, thanks to the surplus of employees who rush to take your order on iPads upon arrival. My two friends and I were easily able to find a table. And, last but not least, the food tasted just as good as it does at home in North Carolina. Without even looking at the menu I ordered the chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and signature lemonade. Read more

Southern Review: Smorgasburg and Artists & Fleas

IMG_4217This past weekend I was able to find a little bit of North Carolina in the City. Not only did I have a friend from home in town, but I was able to find a few NYC attractions that brought forth memories of the Carolinas. Where did I find all of this? In Brooklyn, of course! More specifically, Williamsburg.

Over the past two years, Brooklyn has become one of my favorite places in the New York area. I spent a summer  living in Brooklyn Heights and fell in love with the quaint quietness of it all. The streets are actually lined with trees and the buildings often don’t reach higher than several floors in height, and for a brief moment you are able to forget that you live in one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world.

I’ll spare you the rest of my Brooklyn love story, you get the picture, and get to my point – Williamsburg is home to two of my favorite gems in the city. Smorgasburg and Artists & Fleas.

Smorgasburg is a weekly food festival featuring some of the best local vendors in the area. This is the type of place where you can find a vendor devoted solely to gourmet grilled cheese, or the recent food trend/crowd favorite, ramen burgers (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – a burger squished between two buns made out of ramen noodles). Read more

Amber and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Bug


As promised, let me tell you a story about me, my apartment, and a very big bug.

You remember me mentioning that sometimes I catch my Southern showing? Well honey, this was one of those days (cue Patti LaBelle voice).

It’s no lie that we are familiar with bugs in the south. Mosquitoes and gnats are everywhere, especially in the summer, but the bugs in New York are from a different family. They are decidedly bigger, badder and of an entirely different breed. You haven’t truly lived in New York until you see your first cockroach.

The day was September 12th and it was an oddly warm fall evening for New York. Not quite hot enough for the A/C unit to be turned on, I cracked a window in my apartment to let in some fresh air. A traditional girls movie night, a friend and I set-up shop in my apartment surrounded by halal and an array of junk food from the nearby Duane Reade. The feature film of the night was “Age of Adaline.”

We were about an hour into the movie and Blake Lively had just pulled us into yet another graceful plot twist when the visitor arrived.

My vision was triggered by sudden movement on the wall to my right.

“Oh. My. Gahhh-shhh!” I whispered the statement in fear that the apartment’s latest inhabitant would hear me.

On the wall, about four feet above my bed, sat the biggest cockroach I had seen in my 20-something years of life. I don’t know how long it took me to get up from the couch but the next several minutes were a blur and slur or What do I do?!

Maybe the drama of the moment was enhanced by the darkness of the movie, but at that time the situation was life or death. My friend and I decided it would be best for me to use my Swiffer as a weapon… oh, and I would be the one to kill the bug.

My heart quickened as I climbed upon my bed to be in better reach of my opponent. What would I do if he fell to his death upon my soft yellow bed spread and favorite decorative throw pillows? I would for sure have to replace it all.

Usually when one gets closer to an issue their fears begin to dissipate as they realize the situation is no where near as big or dire as they thought. The opposite happened for me. Up close and personal, I saw that the roach was as big as I had imagined from afar – maybe even a centimeter bigger. At about two and a half inches in length, he was ready for a fight.

I became paralyzed with the exception of my legs which were now shaking due to nerves and the squishy surface of my bed below.

“You can do it! Kill it!” My friend chirped in the background. It wasn’t until the bug began to move that I too jumped into action.

With my Swiffer waving up into the air I would attempt to squish and swipe him to my right behind the bed. A brilliant plan except for the fact that as I swung in defense I closed my eyes, letting out what I imagine to be a full Serena Williams level grunt of power.

When I came back to my senses the bug was nowhere to be seen, but I was told that my plan had somewhat worked and he was now on the other side of my bedframe.

I walked around to the back of the bed with a heavy amount of dread and anticipation. The fight was not over. There the bug lay. Unmoving, unconscious, and surely not dead. I would have to finish him off.

Oh my gahsh!

Oh my gahsh!

Oh my gahsh!

The southern accent deep within me reared its head and the verbal attack was on. Sometime between my ill wishes and my friend’s kind encouragement I managed to complete the task. With pink rubber gloves and a wad of paper towels, I picked up the victim and threw him into the trash can. This must be what a near death experience feels like.

The next morning I called my super, and the exterminator arrived two days later. A pest control company visits my building once a month. They are perhaps my favorite people in New York.

Got a story of your own? Send it my way for the chance to be featured on The Urban Magnolia!

Monday Musings

7 Reasons Why I Want to Sit at the Reception Desk

Recently, my office was moved into a smaller space behind the reception desk of my organization’s office. Due to that small space actually being a conference room, we often leave the door open to feign off the feeling of cramped claustrophobia. That being said, we have the pleasure of hearing daily reception desk convos.

As a writer, this is paradise considering the conversations and the amount of shared personal information literally runs the gamut – especially on a Monday. Below are several conversations I overheard this past Monday, and some pretty darn good reasons why working at the reception desk is totally underrated.

  1. Movie Reviews – I received a full review of Zootopia. Apparently the movie has “deep undertones,” and is an adult movie in disguise. Note taken.
  2. Weekend Recaps – On average between the morning and the afternoon about five people stopped by to share full details of their weekend gallivants. My particular favorite was a spirited play by play from the office delivery man. He boisterously shared a story about watching his baby alone for the first time without his wife’s supervision. It seems that this was a trial and error experience.
  3. City Events – I learned all about the Gay Men’s Choir event held at NYU last weekend.
  4. Drunken Subway Stories – An associate in the office gave a boisterous monologue about being stuck in a drunken conversation with a friend of a friend on the subway. He does not remember the details, and fears that his feigned sobriety was blatantly apparent. Takeaway – awkward conversations are to be avoided by taking a cab.
  5. Anonymity – Often office visitors cannot see what a receptionist is doing on their computer due to their low-sitting desk behind a partition. I envy this ability.
  6. Health Advice – While sitting at the reception desk, one hears a great deal of unsolicited advice. Today’s topic was health and the importance of offsetting workouts with regular rest to prevent muscle tears. “Once you kind of tear it, it stays,” said a man with a small voice (I remained at my desk and never saw his face). The man continued on to share how he himself had torn a muscle in his knee a long time ago.
  7. Popularity – Did I mention that receptionists are often the most popular people in the office due to the array of mints and candies sitting on their desk. Yeah, it’s pretty hard to beat that.

Let that all sink in for a moment. Have a good day, lovelies!

Spring Break in the City – Somewhere in Soho

Two Hands Cafe in Soho.

IMG_4061My spring break week was ended with a beautiful day in Soho. When living in NYC it’s easy to become consumed in your own neighborhood. You have your classes, work, grocery store, and favorite coffeeshops all within walking distance. There are weeks when I look up and realize I’ve gone days without leaving the Upper West Side. Without even knowing it, your world can quickly shrink to a one mile radius when living in the city. Below are some of my favorite spots in the Soho.

  1. Two Hands Cafe – The tiny cafe is a bright oasis in the midst of a crowded city. Technically in Chinatown, the cafe is an odd find considering its Aussie vibe. Go for the avocado toast and the coffee accompanied by a tam tam cookie (it’s never too early for chocolate). I recommend the Outback Cap pictured to the right. IMG_4055
  2. McNally Jackson Books – The bookstore is right in the middle of Soho and offers every book imaginable. The store also offers an in-house Self Publishing Department. An “Espresso Book Machine” sits in the middle of the store.
  3. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe – My favorite bookstore in Soho, Housing Works Bookstore Cafe is unique. The store/cafe is a nonprofit and all proceeds go directly to the Housing Works organization. All the books and records are resale and the store boasts a wide range of titles both new and old. Go for the beautiful library-like atmosphere and the rich literary history. IMG_4057
  4. Maman – Maman is possibly the most Instagram-worthy coffeeshop I’ve stepped foot in NYC. The cups are decorated in an array of light blue patterns and the decor is what I would call country chic.
  5. Sel Rrose – After a recommendation from North of the Park, I joined several of my graduate school classmates at the classic bar located on Delancey Street. I could not think of a better place for a Friday happy hour. The old-school decor, marble bar, and bartender sporting handcrafted leather suspenders completed the experience. The bar is known for its $1 oysters and array of uncommon cocktails.


What Season Is It Anyway?

I would like to formally issue a retraction of my earlier statement in which I declared that it is not spring in New York. I was horribly wrong. It is summer. Just check the temperature in my tiny studio apartment. The thermostat currently reads 85 degrees (that is about 29 degrees Celsius for all of my friends outside the States). Yeah, let that sink in for a second.

At this exact moment I am flat on my back on the floor of my apartment fighting off heat!

Okay so that is a little dramatic, but I am currently wearing my pink monkey pajama shorts and an old college t-shirt as if it is the middle of July in the Carolinas. I’m even slightly glistening (in case you didn’t know already, Southern girls don’t sweat).

At this point, Non-New Yorkers might ask the seemingly logical question of why I do not simply turn on the air conditioning. Well one side-effect of living the classic New York lifestyle in the cute little walkup apartment is the waving away the rights to control your own air and heat. Your super has all the power when it comes to this aspect of your life. Want it warmer? Shoot him a text and he’ll reply in about 3ish business days. Want it cooler? Well, try sending three more messages. I actually suggest saving your super’s number in your phone. And don’t be coy. It’s not that kind of relationship.

At this point, the New Yorker might ask the more logical question of my I do not simply open my windows. The reason – bugs. I am terribly, horribly, undeniably scared of bugs. That fear has intensified since moving to New York. I wish I had a more rational reason.


I am afraid that if I open my windows – especially while I am sleeping – that a bug will crawl in. Anyone else have that fear?

They say everything is bigger in New York (actually, that might be Texas), but no one ever said that the bugs were bigger too. Laugh now but just wait until you experience it for yourself. Look out for the full NYC bug story to come.

So, what season is it for you? Comment below 🙂

The Atlantic Agrees with Y’all


Y’all heard it right – The Atlantic approves of the work “y’all.” Be still my [Southern English lovin’] heart! It’s only a matter of time before I start throwing the word into all my grad school papers.

Check out the original article here.

The verdict according to The Atlantic:

There are no distinct second-person plural pronouns in modern standard English. “Ye” once served that purpose; a good look at the King James version of the Bible can give a sense of the usage.

Seeing as I do not plan to start using “Ye” in my everyday vocabulary, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. In celebration, I will sprinkle “y’all” into all of my emails and sentences for the rest of the day. Dare to join me?

Cheers, y’all!

Spring Break in the City Continued…


The rain has let up and the the universe has promised New York City two days sans precipitation. I like to imagine that the local meteorologist struck some kind of deal with the weather gods. The only compromise made was that the days would be overcast and cloudy. I’ll take it. 

In celebration I took to Riverside Park this afternoon. The park overlooks the Hudson River and a strip of blurred buildings that I have been told represent New Jersey (I hear strange stories of people who actually commute from this far off land).*

The park is also more famously known for its appearance in Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’ long awaited kiss. Side note – there should be a statue erected in their honor considering the fact their characters singlehandedly proved that online dating in the city does not always end in a strange bar in Hell’s Kitchen. I digress.

The point is that as I walked through the park I noted a number of welcomed similarities to my Southern home:

  1. The waterside – Walking through Riverside is much like walking along the beaches of South Carolina. The dark, slow moving currents draw you into a trance and make you forget how far you have walked. Before you know it you’re a mile away from where you started.
  2. The canopy of trees – Riverside is one of the few places you can go (other than Central Park) if you want to see trees. They arc together framing the gravel sidewalk. This reminds me a little of the willow lined streets of Charleston.
  3. The slow moving families – Stepping into the park is like stepping back into the South. The pace is slow and the atmosphere full of diverse families. Children gather to watch the dogs run freely off their leash.

Feeling homesick yet? I encourage you to take a walk in Riverside. Also, tell me your favorite places to stroll and reflect. Comment below, lovelies!

*Disclaimer – Any signs of sarcasm found in this post can be attributed to the embarrassing number of Gilmore Girls episodes I have watched thus far on my break. 

Long Live the Local Bookshop

One of my favorite things to do since moving to the city is checking out various independent bookstores (I studied English Literature and Creative Writing so give me a pass for my sudden nerdiness). While some people eat local, choosing to support restaurants that source all of their food and ingredients locally, I choose to read local, bypassing the major bookstore chains.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Barnes & Noble and will forever be a discount card holder, but I also see the importance in supporting local stores with the same valiant goal of sharing great literature and encouraging reading in various communities. To say I’m slightly obsessed with Meg Ryan and “You’ve Got Mail,” would be an understatement.  


Some of my favorite local NYC bookstores are listed below along with their accompanying bookshop vibes.

Westsider Rare & Used Books Inc. (Upper West Side) – The store is a true gem for serious book lovers. Although tiny, one could spend hours searching through the sky high shelves. This is the type of store where you make friends with the fellow book lover standing to your left. He gives you 10 book suggestions and you leave smiling with a copy of Middlemarch, a novel you never intended to buy.

Book Culture (Upper West Side) – Book Culture has three locations on the UWS. My favorite is the 112th Street location on the outskirts of Columbia. With two floors, readers can find anything ranging from their favorite literary magazine to a trendy backpack. The location offers academic books as well, a convenience for students.

BookCourt (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn) – Go to BookCourt for the diverse array of offerings and the great number of readings. I discovered my favorite memoir while at a reading two years ago (My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff)

Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Green, Brooklyn) – Greenlight is everything you imagined in your quaint neighborhood bookstore. Go for the friendly atmosphere and diverse selection. The store also hosts a number of readings and events with popular authors. Most recently, Helen Oyeyemi, the author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.


Do you have a favorite bookstore in the city or reading suggestions? Comment below and send them my way!

Spring Break in the City

There is nothing quite like spring in New York. No, I’m serious, there is nothing like it. The weather fluctuates from 70 degrees and sunny, to 45 and rainy in a matter of 24 hours. It is currently March and I don’t know what confuses me more – the lack of ability to pick out an appropriate outfit or the stubborn claims by New York natives that the season has changed. I watched in shock and awe as a girl walked past me in flip flops and a tank top last week.

I don’t know about you, but the Southerner in me refuses to put away her woollen coat until the temperature remains at a balmy 70 degrees for at least a week.

As I mentioned before, I am a graduate student. And with graduate school comes perks such as spring break. I get to pretend like I’m still in college and yell obnoxious things like, “Spring Break 2K16! while the rest of my friends sit at work behind immobile desks and subdued cubicles.

Earlier in the year I decided that I would stay put in the city because what could possibly be better than traipsing around the city without responsibility in the spring? I was wrong. Not about the benefits of staying in the city for the break, but about the idea that I would be frolicing down the streets of New York… dare I say in a sundress (please refer to the weather report below).


It is currently pouring outside and I just finished a shift at my part-time job. Getting pretty wild! 😉

Check out my alternative spring break playlist and stay tuned for more of my “Spring Break in the City” updates this week!