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Heart transplant

CL's new, Northern-born editor-in-chief traces her love affair with Atlanta

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Technically, I'm a Yankee. I was born in Massachusetts and grew up in Connecticut, where I indulged in such pastimes as cross-country skiing and pronouncing the word "both" like bowl-th. In 1994, my parents announced over dinner to my three sisters and I that we'd be moving to Atlanta. As in, Georgia. I was devastated.

I was 13. I finally had a legitimate group of friends. I hated biscuits. But like so many families that relocated to the Atlanta area in the mid to late '90s, my dad's company had decided to move its headquarters from New York City to booming metro Atlanta. One college-age sister stayed behind and continues to live in New Hampshire, cheering for the Pats and the Red Sox and shoveling snow. (Sucker.) The rest of us headed south to discover subdivisions and 400 percent humidity.

We landed in Marietta. Around the corner from my house was a Blockbuster Music that had a Creative Loafing rack. This wasn't a thing they had in my small Connecticut town. I remember poring over the CD reviews, artist profiles, and music listings with my new best friend Anne, devising plans to get downtown for shows. Years later, while a student at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism, I scored a summer internship with Creative Loafing. I didn't know it at the time, but commuting to Atlanta twice a week for three months to enter event listings would eventually change my life.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm the boss now. (Although that's part of it.) I'm saying that because in journalism you learn by doing and, perhaps more importantly, you learn from watching those around you. And I have watched some of the best.

I joined the Loaf in 2006 as events editor, a job (or at least an interview) snagged in part because of that internship. Ken Edelstein was editor. Mara Shalhoup was in the throes of writing her mind-blowing Black Mafia Family series. Food critic Besha Rodell and photographer Joeff Davis had just joined the staff. My desk was directly across from one John Sugg. The paper was more than 120 pages. We published online once a week.

I had returned to Atlanta after many years of living in Athens, Ga., and one spent abroad. I was different and so was the city. The local art and food scenes had begun to carve out new identities. Energy had started to build around this thing called the Atlanta Beltline. At the same time, the paper shrank to half its size and we moved to publishing online daily. We started blogs. Our parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Working at Creative Loafing, particularly during a time of unprecedented upheaval in the journalism industry and flux for the city, I grew to know and love Atlanta in a way I never would have anticipated as a teenager. I became enamored with its quirks, its uncanny ability to reinvent itself, and Creative Loafing's role in discussing all of it. I might have even changed my mind about biscuits at some point.

Despite, or maybe because of, the turmoil I've experienced at this publication over the last six-plus years, I feel confident in saying that Creative Loafing isn't going anywhere. It's a part of this city because of its legacy of outstanding journalism and because you read it. Even when it pisses you off, you tell us about it, and then continue reading. (That is, if our online commenters are any indication. Love you guys!) And that's the beauty of it. Creative Loafing is a conversation. A place where we can work through the challenges facing Atlanta and celebrate her successes together. It's the staff's voice as much as yours, the reader, because Atlanta is the sum of its parts in ways that other major cities are not. You don't move to New York because you can help shape it; you go there hoping it will help shape you. In Atlanta, it's different. In Atlanta, we are creating the city in which we want to live.

As Creative Loafing's new editor, I'll work to channel the best parts of all the brilliant people I've had the pleasure and honor of working with over the years, both at this publication and in the local community. I plan on holding the city to the same high standards I hold for myself and those I work with.

When I moved here 18 years ago, I was protective of my identity as a Northerner. "Y'all" wasn't part of my vocabulary. When I said Coke, I was being beverage specific. Thank goodness people can change. It's good to be an Atlantan.

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