Faith After The Flood, Charlotte Magazine


A feature story for Charlotte magazine about Hurricane Matthew’s aftermath in Lumberton, N.C. 

THE LEVEE didn’t fail, but the floodwaters still fought their way through. Rapids had already torn over and under Interstate 95, when water started seeping under Angela Freeman Culler’s door.

First it was just a shallow pool, her black tennis shoes splashing around as she paced back and forth in the four-bedroom apartment she shared with her adult son, Gage, and another family. Water soaked the frayed edges of her couch and washed over the living room carpet. It rose fast, peaking at knee-high on her 5-foot-2 frame, soaking her jeans and weighing her down as she tried to find refuge—higher ground, or maybe a boat. She craved a cigarette.

Outside, she climbed onto a car’s roof to stay dry and avoid the snakes swimming around her. She felt her pulse quicken, and grabbed her chest. For two hours she waited, the stench of sewage and gasoline floating above the murky water and clinging to her clothes. She watched as her neighbors, many of them unable to swim, held tight to tires. Cars drifted down her street, Sinclair Street, dragged by the Lumber River’s currents.


Before her home started flooding, Angela didn’t even know a storm was coming. The day before, Saturday, October 8, 2016, it rained nonstop. Trees snapped and windows rattled as Hurricane Matthew’s Category One winds ripped through her low-income housing community on the southwestern side of town. Without cable or radio, Angela had missed the warnings. By Sunday, the rains settled and there was even some sun, but the historic rainfall of more than 16 inches had to drain somewhere.

It was only when the parking lot at the Holly Ridge apartments started to flood on Sunday that her neighbors murmured the word “hurricane.” Those murmurs soon turned into shouts. Lumberton was drowning.



Photo by Logan Cyrus

Cajun Contradiction: A Visit to Wu’s Cajun Seafood, Charlotte Magazine

Food, Magazine

A review I wrote about Wu’s in Charlotte for Charlotte magazine.

WHEN I WALK into Wu’s Cajun Seafood on South Boulevard, I have a lot of questions.

Red, Asian-inspired, gaudy tiles line the ceiling from the entrance to the back booth, with silver chandeliers and gold mural archways. But the menu emphasizes the restaurant’s Louisiana-style boils, from crawfish to shrimp to snow crab.


A Better Gyro: The Story of Gréco Fresh Grille, Charlotte Magazine

Food, Magazine

A look inside Greco Fresh Grille in Charlotte for Charlotte magazine.

FOR 40 MINUTES, Vasili Pahountis and his family waited in line for a chicken gyro at the Yiasou Greek Festival. They were new to Charlotte and excited to see such a vibrant Greek community, a comforting piece of their heritage in a new city. But after one bite, they decided to stick with the festival’s entertainment.

That was in 2010. Now, Gréco Fresh Grille has three locations in the Charlotte area: in Blakeney, Wesley Chapel, and Colony Place. Vasili, who most customers know simply as Bill, splits his time among the three, zipping around town in his Porsche Boxster convertible, royal blue like the Aegean Sea that surrounds his family’s home island of Karpathos, Greece.

Photo by Peter Taylor

25 Best New Restaurants in Charlotte 2017, Charlotte Magazine

Food, Magazine

Contributed to the biannual listing of Charlotte’s best new restaurants for Charlotte magazine. Here’s an excerpt from my description on Nellie’s Southern Kitchen located in Belmont, N.C.

Just as I shove an entire extra-large, crispy onion ring in my mouth, the band at Nellie’s Southern Kitchen starts playing and I hear a voice I recognize.

No, it’s not a Jonas Brothers reunion show, but given that the restaurant is owned by Kevin Jonas Sr., the father of the heartthrob musicians who grew up in this town, that isn’t a long shot. Instead, I look up, fingers still coated in grease, and see my server, Jake, gripping a microphone on stage, apron and all, as he sings the country hit “Buy Me A Boat” by Chris Janson.

Nellie’s Southern Kitchen, which opened last June, has a rooftop seating area with TVs for watching sports; modern accent pieces, including half a dozen white dove chandeliers; craft cocktails; and even some Jonas family paraphernalia in the back hallway. Although the décor is trendy, the food steers toward the timeless, giving diners Southern classics—chicken ’n’ dumplings, pulled pork, collard greens, shrimp and grits—without sacrificing the cool vibe.


Around Towns: Saluda, Charlotte Magazine



A travel feature story for Charlotte magazine’s November 2016 issue. 

SALUDA IS NOT in the foothills of the Appalachians, and its locals are quick to correct me on that. If you’re driving north from South Carolina, the town sits atop the first peak in the Blue Ridge range and is home to the steepest railroad grade in the country—or would be, if the trains were still running.

In 2001, freight trains stopped passing through Saluda. Now, the town leans on its musical traditions to build itself up as a hub for live music and local art. You might say Saluda traded in the sounds of whistling trains for strumming chords, and the people here want you to listen.


Photo by Logan Cyrus

20 Under 20, Delaware Today Magazine



This was my first feature story for Delaware Today magazine where I served as their Editorial Assistant during my senior year of college. I interviewed 20 young Delawareans after receiving nearly 200 applications.

These ambitious individuals prove that age is only a number. In areas as diverse as fashion and chess, philanthropy and sports, they’re looking to make a difference—and inspiring the rest of us.


Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli

Day of Silence at WC Speaks Volumes, The Elm


An article I wrote to commemorate the annual Day of Silence event for The Elm, Washington College’s student newspaper, during my senior year.

April 15 marked the annual Day of Silence event at Washington College and across the nation, recognizing LGBTQ+ individuals who have been bullied or harassed due to their sexual orientation. The day also doubled as a memoriam for LGBTQ+ individuals who have lost their lives.


State of the (Writer’s) Union, The Elm


A piece I wrote for Washington College’s newspaper The Elm during my senior year of college about where the humanities stands in an increasing tech-focused world.

Every year the president of the U.S. gives a status update to Congress and the American people with a State of the Union address—but now we shift the focus to the humanities nationwide and in particular, writing at Washington College.


Backpacker’s Reflection on European Migrant Crisis


Three months ago I was crossing the Croatian-Hungarian border, just like the thousands of refugees doing so every day.

I was asked where I was coming from and where I was going, & I didn’t give those questions a second thought. I was leaving Budapest, where I had just spent a dozen hours soaking in thermal baths & heading to Zagreb, where I planned to dine in the nicest restaurants because to me, Eastern Europe is the cheapest place I’ve ever been. & I’ve lived in Tanzania.

How thoughtless I feel now.

I answered those questions like a robot as just about everyone – border control, other backpackers, waiters, my mom in emails – was asking me.

Since I’ve been back from nearly six months in Europe (studying & then backpacking solo), I’ve reflected on what a privilege it is to be able to travel. It is a treat to go on vacation two states away, but it is absolute luxury to discover another country or 17.

For migrants rightfully pushing their way into Europe from war-torn Syria, there’s no answer to where are you going? There is an answer to the other one though. They’re coming from communities shattered by violence, corruption & poverty. They left behind their homes. & I thought leaving my home for not even quite six months was difficult.

A majority of the refugees are escaping the civil war in Syria. “The Syrian people have lived through war, they are very traumatized. We cannot go back to Syria, we have spent days on the road and don’t know if at the end we will have a home,” said Iman, a refugee, to VICE news.

On the border of Croatia and Hungary, the same one I crossed three months ago, refugees are being pushed around, given no real information of where to go & what comes next. Most importantly, they’re being given no real help. Croatia initially said refugees could stay for 30 days, then they closed their borders & now they are forcibly shifting all refugees into Hungary, effectively pissing of Hungary in the process & reminding thousands of refugees of an unapologetic sentiment heard all throughout Europe during this crisis – we don’t have room for you here, go somewhere else.

The US is out of the line of fire as far as worrying about Syrian refugees illegally sneaking into the country, but that doesn’t mean President Obama shouldn’t take an active role in alleviating this global crisis. The Church World Service urged Obama to “show the moral leadership that will put the United States on the right side of history,” by welcoming at least 100 thousand Syrian refugees in America as reported by Aljazeera. Accepting 100 thousand refugees is a huge increase from Obama’s promised 10 thousand (which is still a welcomed jump from the previous figure – 1,500 in the past five years), but whether Obama will agree in rolling out America’s welcome mat for such huge numbers is still a question.

Yes, the US has given the most money in aid since the Syrian civil war broke out five years ago, but right now these refugees need a home not bloody dollar bills.

Seeing the same border I recently crossed now submerged with thousands of people escaping war is humbling. I wish I could help with something more than an unorganized post, but unfortunately I spent my life savings on thermal baths & seafood pasta. I can’t change it now & I don’t know that I would, but everyday serves as a reminder that I slept on those same trains refugees are now using to flee a conflict so enduring & destructive, it has been described as hell on earth. & I slept on those trains for fun.

Such a powerful image taken by Harriet Salem of VICE news.

Such a powerful image taken by Harriet Salem of VICE news.