Chi2TN Southern Ways Tennessee

Southern Ways: Vol. 1

January 7, 2015

Well, I’ve been an official “southerner” for a little over a week and my goodness have I learned (and picked up) a lot already. It’s almost scary. But like a good kind of scary, in that my heart feels calm and genuinely happy, even with the cultural shock 😉 

Things I’ve learned.
People absolutely move at a slower pace here. This means walking, talking, driving, ordering food, explaining a situation, giving directions, did I say driving?? Whew! Lots of slow drivers and lots of really bad, slow drivers. I’ve definitely been able to put my Chicagoan defensive driving skills to good use here. (Which totally makes me feel like I’m in a real-life episode of Knight Rider, all badass and stuff.) (Well, real-life minus the talking car… which pretty much just leaves David Hasselhoff, making this situation way less cool…. unless you’re into that kinda thing.) (I might be kinda into it.) 

You cannot buy any alcohol on Sundays (Chicagoans must be a bunch of alcoholics or something, I don’t know) and you cannot find wine ANYWHERE. They do not sell wine in grocery stores, gas stations, Walgreens/CVS – I’m telling you, you cannot find or buy wine unless you go to a liquor store… BUT- beer can be found just about anywhere. Apparently they consider wine to be more like the hard stuff, who knew. I wonder if this is why so many southerners make their own whiskey? Easy access??

You will, hands down, get to know not only your neighbors but also the person who works at Kroger. And when I say “get to know” I mean you KNOW them. Because when they ask you “Paper or Plastic” and you answer? They’ll respond with their LIFE STORY. (Which you know I love.) I’m serious. Amber, from Walgreens? Her Grandma is now in my nightly prayers and I mean that with complete sincerity.

I still haven’t mastered saying “y’all” in one smooth syllable – mine still sounds forced like “ya-uh-ul” (it’s not pretty) and I honestly don’t know if I ever will get into saying that. I think I’m a “you guys” til the day I die. (Chicago represent!) I’m also still having a hard time understanding some of the real southern accents but it’s only been a week so cut me some slack, will ya?  Not to say I haven’t started to pick up some of these southern ways though…
Things I’ve picked up / found myself saying.
“Bless her heart”
“Oh Lord” 
“My goodness.” 
Example: “That old man keeps driving over the center line, my goodness! At least he’s only driving 27 mph, bless his heart. Oh Lord, keep us safe!”
The truly scary part of this is the fact that this stuff is just coming out of my mouth… I don’t even think about it, I just say it and then Christian and I look at each other with wide eyes and I usually shake my head and say something like, “Oh, Lord… it’s happening.” (Bless my heart.)

Can I get a witness?!

In all seriousness though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m linking up today with Anne for Wednesday Wishes and I have to say, I’m wishing for the south to stay just the way it is and that it continues to welcome me in the way it has. (Which is slow, of course.) 😉

*photo taken at one of my new favorite writing spots, the Eighth and Roast coffee shop

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  • Jae

    Hahaha! This was a good read, Emily! I know I've never lived anywhere near the US, but I think I get why Southern folks are more into beers than wine (or any liquor for that matter). I can't quite put it, but you get the drift (I hope!).

  • I grew up in TN…isn't the Sunday rule so funny? And I still don't understand why walgreens can carry beer, but not wine. SO weird.

  • Oh honey…. I'm a Chicago native and lived in Missouri for 5 1/2 years. Which isn't the "real" south (although they think they are…) but it's a WHOLE other world down there. I definitely learned that I'm not a southern girl at all. Chicago and the north all the way! But I did find myself saying "yall" sometimes and even. ::gasp:: "Soda" instead of "pop!"

  • I just laughed hysterically at this lol!! You're becoming quite the southern belle! I may be biased but I love everything about the south – the slow lifestyles, the slow talkers, and just the general slow. As time goes on, you'll pick up more and more phrases. Eeeek we need to come see ya'll!!

  • Haha, love it! This is so very accurate!

  • This is just too precious! I love it….I'm a Texas girl but I visited Nashville a few years back and absolutely loved it. When you start saying things like "I'm "fixin" to go to the store then you know you have really acclimated! Haha

  • Haha I love this. When we were there in the fall, I couldn't believe the (lack of?) driving skills! I was the "crazy Chicago driver" and would get so angry having to pass everyone. I think I need to calm down a bit on the road, bless my heart 🙂

  • hahaha All of these are so true! A lot of my family are from the south and we have heard the same things come out of their mouths. They are VERY friendly and will tell you all about themselves when you ask them any question. lol I always thought visiting them was so refreshing coming from fast, crazy city life.


  • Haha! I haven't inherited any Southern tendencies, thank goodness…I prefer my Northern ways. 🙂

    But seriously…the SLOWWWWWNESS drives me CRAZY! Especially at the movie theatre….I order a popcorn and it's like they are sleepwalking to the popcorn machine! Grrrr.

    I think they just recently passed or are passing a wine in grocery stores law. It was turned down the first time, but brought back into legislation. 🙂

  • I love the South. Love, love, love it. My best friend from high school moved to South Carolina two years ago and her family was getting their couches reupholstered once they got there. For about 6 months, the guy kept telling them, "If not by Friday, you'll have them Monday." Such a different pace! Haha.

  • Hahah this post is too cute. I'm Canadian and am constantly saying "y'all", it just has a nice ring to it lol

  • mark a.

    the south has its charm and part of it is the more relaxed way of life! thanks for sharing!

  • Can I come visit you? 🙂

  • Hahaha I picked up 'bless her heart' from my great aunt – she didn't even live in the 'technical' south, she was in Delaware! I definitely have seen these on my travels and stays in the south. It's part of the charm, for sure – the slower pace, the real manners of the people, and chivalry still being alive and well there! 🙂
    PS – I will also never master the saying of 'y'all' properly…it just sounds bizarre coming from me. I can, however, use the Irish 'ye' instead!! 😉

  • Slow is good. =) I can't wait to hear about what phrases you pick up next.

  • Welcome home 😉 I love that you are appreciating and noticing how different the South is! I love hearing stories at Kroger too! Bless her heart… As far as driving goes, I road with a friend from CA one time and I literally thought I was going to die. She drove like a manic. I think it was normal for her, but I'm so used to the slow pace of the South! I love it!!

  • My aunt and uncle lived in Tennessee for a few years and she tells the funniest stories of trying to understand what people were saying there. I love that you're already fitting in, except for the driving and the wine! Haha…two things this California girl would go crazy with! 🙂

  • And just another post I can refer people to when I say "This is why I love Emily!" (I feel I should add a Bless her Heart here). All of the statements in parenthesis had me laughing. I will say that the Midwesterners have it going on (Milwaukee included) bc you guys sell liquor and alcohol in GROCERY STORES. Who knew???? Not in NY. Nope….you can only get beer and Smirnoff like drinks at a grocery store. The good hard stuff? Liquor store only. I'll try to keep Amber in my prayers tonight too. Along with the lady I met at the eye dr yesterday who opened her greeting to me with "My husband is in a nursing home for Alzheimer's. Early onset at 56. He's 78 now. Was voted best looking back in the day. You should see hime now (shakes her head sadly)." Hmmm….how does one respond? Did I mention we do not know each other? The things people will tell strangers….

  • I was just in Tennessee and Kentucky over the holidays and it is pretty crazy the difference in culture. I love it but also missed the north (Although it was colder in Tennessee then it was in NY while I was there.. )


  • This made me laugh! I walk a fine Missouri line myself between being a Northerner and being a Southerner. I like my cornbread sweet, my tea sweeter and soda is the only word for my diet coke 🙂
    I love all of the little differences that each region has!

  • Your posts always make me smile. I love the sound of Tennessee…minus the no wine thing. 🙂

  • haha- I moved from Ohio to Charlotte in 2007 and everything is so true- 🙂 MUCH slower pace … and I still have never said "y'all' so you have time! Hope it's going well!! xo

  • ha! I do 🙂 So glad you enjoyed this one, Jae!

  • So crazy. We were at Costco and I asked where all of their wine was and the girl looked at me like I was crazy and said, "That's illegal for us to sell" – I laughed because I thought she was kidding. Turns out she was NOT 😉 We really do love it here though… plus, I'm drinking more water now 🙂

  • You did?!! I don't think I knew that! (And yes, I am so confused with the whole beer/wine thing.)

  • haha!! 🙂 It will be interesting to see how I settle in these next few years 😉

  • You know what's hilarious is that after I wrote this, I immediately thought of you and wondered, Hmm.. I wonder what Kelly will have to say about all of this. HA! 🙂 I really do love the slowness of it all… such a different and welcomed pace.. it will just take a little while for me to get into that groove. I can't wait for you and Hunter to come visit TN!!

  • haha!! Oh no… I hope that never comes out of my mouth. It's really interesting to see some of our friends who have always lived here not have a southern accent at all, and then other friends who moved here 10 years ago totally have one!

  • YES!!! hahah. See, I knew you would understand. Christian has told me at LEAST four times now, "Em… just remember. You can't have road rage here. People carry guns."

  • I don't think I'll be able to kick my Chicago ways either! haha.

  • It IS so refreshing!! 🙂 I'm wondering how it will feel to go back to Chicago in a few months… I feel another blog post coming! 😉

  • I believe 2016 is when wine will be available in grocery stores. My friends mom brought me a whole case from Trader Joe's when she came to visit! haha

  • BAHAHAHA! (Okay, but RIGHT?!) I laughed when the lady working at Costco told us that because I honestly thought she was joking. It's crazy. We went to the liquor store and I pretty much just stocked up for the winter 😉

  • It's really interesting, Ash – some of our friends have picked up these things and then others (who are born and raised TN) don't have them at all. Perhaps it's a pick and choose… in which case I'll choose not to become a TN driver 😉

    (Well fingers crossed for that law to pass!!!!)

  • haha! It really is. I love it already, I just need to teach myself how to slow down. One of my goals for 2015 😉

  • ha! 😉 I know, I can't wait to discover more of them.

  • Is y'all also a Canadian thing?! I feel like it's kind of like rolling your R's… you either have it or you don't. (I don't.)

  • I am definitely a fan of the relaxed way of life 🙂 Thanks for reading, Mark!

  • haha, of course!! 🙂

  • Oh I could totally hear you saying 'ye' and 'bless her heart'. You have such a nice speaking voice though – you could say anything and it would be lovely.

  • Ahoy Kate

    You are such a good writer, Emily! I think that so often when I read your posts, and this one is no exception 🙂 You describe the south so well! I always love it when I get on a plane to Tennessee and hear all the southern accents and all the words that come with them. It warms my heart 🙂

  • Ha!! I love that you and christian looked at each other and shook your heads and said "it's happening"! Priceless! People do like to tell their life stories. I can picture your face in my mind when you say "y'all" lol! Love you and this blog! Sounds like you are settling in though so that's good! 🙂

  • Slow IS good – I feel like this is how I was meant to live! haha!

  • hahaha! I've had quite a few people make similar comments when riding with me in the car… I don't know if I'll be able to slow down in that way, we shall see 😉

  • Yeah those are the only two things I'm having a hard time with, wine and driving. I'm praying for some changes over here haha 😉

  • aww!!! Anne! haha, this made my day. Crazy that it's the same thing in NY! I'm glad you understand though. I will have to share more instances with you via text. You know, real time 😉

  • TN is freezing right now! But I hear the winters only last until end of Feb, so I'm thinking I will be okay. haha

  • Okay so you would do just fine down here!! 🙂

  • Definitely minus the no wine thing, Tami! Fortunately the rest of it makes it all worth it.

  • I know quite a few Floridians who are more southern than TN-ers and even GA-ers! eh hem, Ashley from The Grits Blog! 😉

  • haha! Thank you, Nelle! 🙂

  • oh PTL. So even more of a reason to stay! 😉

  • Kate! oh my gosh, this is just the sweetest from you. TN has already warmed my heart too 🙂

  • I mean- what else can ya say?!! haha! Thanks for this sweet note, Faith! xo

  • Sarah

    I have a lot of TN relatives and those sayings are all spot on! Lots and lots and lots of y'alls!

  • Dance With A Dolly

    I've always wanted to move down south but don't know if my NY hustling ways could handle the slowness. Although it would be a good lesson in patience for me.

  • Welcome to the South!! In regards to wine…check out Kroger! Great selection and prices! And not sure where you are living, but some areas in the South will let you buy on Sunday! No Sunday liquor rules are not always true!

  • haha! Well maybe that means I'll fit in here soon enough! 😉

  • I know what you mean… I do think there are some Chicagoan parts I'll keep, I can't help it. (The driving thing… I just cannot do the whole UNDER the speed limit, gah!)

  • Thanks, lady!! 🙂 We're in Nashville and they are definitely a No Sunday kinda town 😉 ha!

  • XD I can only laugh… the South is a special place, that's for sure. It's pretty awesome. 🙂 With Daniel being from PA, we're still discovering cultural differences that blow our minds. It is hilarious how the southern drawl has creeped into Daniel's words–he'll say something and then we'll both laugh at how southern it came out. And now that we've moved to NC, people here don't have the same drawl as in WV! So it's like a whole different level of southern even I have to get used to!

  • Liz

    This is so funny!! Love it 🙂 We don't have alcohol sales here on Sunday either. I didn't realize Chicago sold alcohol on Sundays!! I went to college just hours south of where I live, and it was such a difference…KY/OH/IN border. Soooo different. I can just hear the southern drawl. I always loved visiting SC, GA, etc. I would definitely move that direction (TN, NC, SC, GA) if the opportunity ever presented itself! Can't wait to keep reading more!! xoxo

  • Alexandra Mayhew

    I love hearing Southern accents and expressions! I'm English so they sound rather exotic 😀

  • Suheiry @

    I'm an East Coast girl, and I lived in GA for a short time, so I completely get you. 10 years later, I still say "Oh, my goodness" all. the. time.

    P.S. I love your new blog design!

  • Oh darn! Haha. Hopefully it will become a Sunday kinda town soon! And I love Nashville! Lived there one summer during an internship! There is so much to see and do! Hope you enjoy your new home, and can't wait to read along as you make the transition!

  • haha!! I can only imagine the levels of southernness… a bit terrifying for this newbie. ha!

  • It's funny- I moved to Chicago around the time I was 21 so I don't think I realized that (most) other states didn't sell alcohol on Sundays. And I mean, truly- it's ONE DAY. I think we'll all live haha 😉 I am loving the south thus far, Liz!! 🙂

  • haha! Oh gosh, I've never heard that one! I'm going to remember that when my own accent starts to turn southern…. I'm exotic sounding!! 😉

  • (ps- Alexandra, do you have a blog? If so, please leave the address here in the comments, I'd love to stop by and say hello!)

  • LOVE IT!!! Oh my goodness… it's like I've just *always* said it now, haha! (And thank you. I had some spare time and a creative burst last night) 🙂

  • Alexandra Mayhew

    I do darling, I do. It's and we already follow each other on Twitter 😀 XX

  • We moved to TN 2 years ago from Atlanta. The drivers here are slow and crazy!! I have seen more people run red lights in the past 2 years then I ever did living in Atlanta. I asked my husband if red lights we optional up here, because I feel like that is info I need know. And the whole wine thing threw me off too. You have to get it from a liquor store. Anything over a certain percent can't be sold in a grocery store. It is very inconvenient 🙁

  • haha! Yes, it's so true. Although I hear a new law is about to be passed that will now allow wine in grocery stores… so I guess I'll stick around 😉

  • I love this 🙂 welcome to the south.
    I moved from Indianapolis to Mississippi 7 years ago for college and just never left. 🙂 I love it here. I hope you learn to love it as well. It took me a little, but slowing down ended up being such a blessing. One thing I love about the south is that there is a particular genuineness in people that was difficult to find in people back home. I miss Indiana a lot, but I've learned to love it here. 🙂

  • Thanks, Renee! 🙂 I am originally from Indy! Spent almost 9 years in Chicago but Indiana will always be "home" – although I have quickly settled down in TN, I love the south too. Still learning that whole "slowing down" bit but understand that may take some time 😉

  • oh that is so cool! what part of Indy? I grew up in beech grove for 18 years ❤️ miss it everyday….even the snow haha

  • Zionsville 🙂 Indiana is a special place! I never realize how flat it was until I visit home ha!

  • Thats so neat! I have a few friends that I knew through cross-country and track from Zionsville 🙂 Small world.