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Atlanta From The Sky

Every once in a while you get an idea for a gift that just blows away anything else you could have thought of. I had just such a moment for my grandmother’s 80th birthday.

Now, you have to understand three of things about my grandmother.  First, she’s a very spry 80-year old.  In fact, her idea of a good time is hopping around the Galapagos Islands or in the jump seat of a Russian MIG in a mock dog fight.  Second, she’s 2nd generation native Atlantan and she’s not shy about telling you, either.  She knows Atlanta and its history about as well as any other native you will meet.  Finally, she’s a cancer survivor.

As you can imagine, the stakes for a great gift that will mean as much as I wanted it to mean were high. After some googling, I figured it out…show her Atlanta in a way she’s never seen it before – by air!

The results were incredible! I booked with Prestige Helicopters (through Xperience Days) and the 40 minute flight with our pilot, Scott was nothing less than incredible.

I’ve laid out a video, below, and some of the best of the shots from the tour are in the gallery viewer at the top of this post:

For anyone looking for a similar experience, I highly recommend the tour and Prestige, in particular. For more details on the tour and our experience, I am glad to connect.  Just contact me through my web site.

It’s Going To Be A Long, Hot Summer In The #ATL

The summer has barely begun but if Memorial Day weekend is any indication, global warming is alive and well here in the #ATL and it’s going to be a long summer.

Just in case you’re new here or are one of my friends that hasn’t had the pleasure of experiencing a summer here in the heart of the deep south, there are three things you need to know.  Summer in Atlanta is about heat, humidity and hills.  Classically used to describe the annual Peachtree Road Race, I’ve also found those three things dictate just about every aspect of life between the months of May and August.

First, everything here revolves around the heat.  Whether you’re trying to escape it indoors or taking advantage of it poolside, daily life is pretty much about the heat. Sure, other cities have heat as well but Atlanta’s type of heat is the kind of stifling heat that permeates everything it touches no matter if its shaded or not.  All you can do is hope Georgia Power doesn’t ravage you too badly on your monthly electric bill.  Luckily, Atlanta has no shortage of pools and whether or not you have access to one is a key determinant the strength of certain friendships.

Second, no matter how progressive Atlanta gets, there’s nothing like humidity to remind you that you’re still in the Deep South.  Walking outside in Atlanta from the safe haven of air conditioning is like running smack into a brick wall of moisture.  The worst part is that the humidity brings with it bugs like you can’t imagine. My only advice here is to invest in bug spray – and plenty of it.

Finally in my little trifecta of Atlanta summery goodness is the hills.  Familiar to every runner in the city – Atlanta’s hills are famous for becoming three times their size when combined with the heat and humidity of the summer. Likewise, hills tend to dictate a lot of what you might do, otherwise.  The prime example is Piedmont Park.  Piedmont Park has plenty of space but many, many hills.  The key to finding a good place to park yourself for a picnic is easily determined by how many hills you are willing to climb.  Such is Atlanta, the hills can just as easily be a Darwinian test of convenience and solitude as they are a runner’s potential workout.

Basically this is three ways to say that Atlanta is hot as bloody hell in the summer.  I’m sure you’re all writing into Monica (Kaufman) Pearson with the scoop as I type.

Seriously though, it’s going to be a hot one.  Good luck, stay cool and I’ll see you at the Peachtree ;-)…

Pride/Tribe – Part I

When I was a teenager, finally making it to Atlanta Pride felt like the bravest thing I could possibly do. I never really had any gay friends in high school so gay pride was the one time of year I really felt any connection the gay community at all.

Flash forward 15 years, an internship with a major gay rights organization and four boyfriends and nothing much has changed. In fact, as gay pride rolled around this year on Yom Kippur, I couldn’t help but see the similarities in my relationship with the gay community and my relationship with the Jewish community.

With both, I am proud to say I am a member of a strong community with a legacy of triumph and perseverance. However, in a way, I am at odds with each of them.

Looking around Piedmont Park at the hundreds of white gay men with mussed hair, tank tops and oversized sunglasses I can’t help but think to myself – who the hell are you people?! Where once the rallying cry of gay pride was “diversity and acceptance” it now seems to be “fabulosity through conformity.”

I feel a very similar juxtaposition with the Jewish community.  Despite my family having deep-seeded roots in various congregations, I am still searching for an Atlanta-based congregation that I feel fits with my own version of myself as a Jew.

In both instances, the idea of authenticity and unique expression play an important role in the search for a place to “call my own.”

With everything going on in my life, it’s easy for me feel surrounded at the macro level. I feel enormously lucky to have made connections with an eclectic, diverse group of people from all walks of Atlanta life.  The challenge is getting down to the more basic level of community – one that most people take for granted.

For now though, I’ll leave it at this: I was walking out of Atlanta Pride, yesterday and happen to bump into a friend of mine.  It was late in the day, my Yom Kippur fast was starting to get to me and I was eager to get home to take a nap.  It was completely random but we ended up chatting about one of my groups and how he should come and speak.

Thus is my life these days – completely interconnected despite the randomness.  Now, if I can only make sense out of it I’ll be all good.

Be Irrepressible

One year ago, today I sat in my friend Amanda’s apartment in DC and decided to “bite the bullet” and move back home to Atlanta.

It was one of those “wine and empathy” kinds of nights. I had just left what was supposed to be my “post-MBA dream job” and was a little frustrated at myself and the situation for falling short of my expectations. Even though I had final-round interviews set up with a couple of firms in Atlanta later that week, I wasn’t really sure if this was the right path.

I went through a lot after that night in my friends’ apartment and not all of it was good.  There was a lot of self-doubt, a little anger and a lot of soul-searching. Luckily though, I landed more on my feet than I could have ever imagined. I ended up in a position that afforded me the chance to see what I could do, without limits.

It’s a pretty cool feeling.

This blog is about telling the next chapter in my story.  Sure, I’ll relate things from the past and readers will definitely get a heavy dose of my point of view on things. Before I completely close the previous chapter though, I do want to say something.  Things would not have turned out as good as they did without a belief that being irrepressible is a good thing.

In fact, if I’ve learned anything in the past year – it’s that irrepressible is something everyone should aspire to. People should be irrepressible about their own instincts.  They should be irrepressible about finding a better way of doing things.  They should be irrepressible in standing up for their own value regardless of some that might say otherwise.

Life is too short to live in a homogenous fantasy that says that you don’t have the right to disagree. Being irrepressible is the only true way to ensure that you are living up to your own full potential.

I now think back on that night in DC and realize it was a turning point. Sure, things won’t always go my way.  However, the experience of moving back has validated that though it might be the bravest and craziest thing you can ever be, the fight for being yourself is worth it.

SO what if I am outspoken, irrepressible and more valuable to the teams I work with because of it.  I embrace those traits even if it means I have to search harder for a place that fits with that mentality.  The rest…well, it’s just friggin’ peachy ;-).

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