"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


Today marks the end of my 5th year in New York. We believe that this is the mark at which you become a real New Yorker, though I believe that being kicked by a homeless man and living with the mafia during my first year here should have designated me thus. But anyway, here's my list of integral lessons learned on the streets of New York....

(1) Sometimes public transportation can be relaxing. I've been known to take the bus sometimes rather than the train, because I can see outside and it gives me time to read.

(2) There are friendships that can survive anything--distance, time, and every kind of challenge--and come out better and stronger on the other side.

(3) A very large purse can in fact carry most of the things I used to keep in the trunk of my car. I currently have in my bag two books, a notebook, a can opener, wallet, phone, iPod, a multitude of hair accessories, and a pair of shoes.

(4) Moving to Queens is the greatest thing you can do for love.

(5) A kind and sane roommate is a necessity.

(6) No matter how many times I've been down there, and despite the fact that I worked there for three months, I will always get lost in the Financial District.

(7) Being alone does not have to equal being lonely. I have over the past five years learned how to navigate this city by myself, and how to be okay being on my own. Though there are times when it is a struggle, I know that I am not really alone, and that I have a wonderful group of friends here and all over the world, and that I can be proud of all I have done here.

(8) Though it will become commonplace to see celebrities, you will still have a running list in your head. My list includes Bebe Neuwirth, Cynthia Nixon, Brook Shields, Adam Duritz (my favorite), Pat Sajak, and the dad from the Wonder Years. I won't brag about the time I talked to an Oscar Nominee about grocery shopping. Or the time I got the phone number of one of the
contestants from the first Apprentice (while working at The Container Store).

(9) Even though you may have been flattered the first time someone on the street made a comment about your hotness, it will get old real fast (but depending how creative they are, it can still be amusing sometimes).

As said by my dear friend Nathan, God works in powerful ways. The life I have here is unlike anything I could've ever imagined for myself. At times, it is so much more difficult, but also so much more amazing.


The Usual.

I was just reading an article about flooding in England, Texas and China. It goes into significant details about the floods in England, and in Texas and the measures being undertaken to save lives and protect property. But when it gets to China, all it said was this,

In Asia, the monsoon rains produced the usual floods, landslides, evacuations and loss of life. In China alone, more than 150 people were reported to have died in the last week and 3 million were displaced across vast tracts because of the heavy rain. (emphasis added)

I was really bothered by the fact the word usual was used when talking about catastrophic weather conditions and loss of life. I do understand that this happens every year during monsoon season, but vast devastation should never be seen as an everyday occurrence. Is it just me, or is something very wrong here?



I was raised in the South, as a member of the Church of Christ, and thus I grew up with a very particular, and very conservative, view point on sex. But then I went away to college, became somewhat involved in the gay community, and began working with HIV patients, which lends itself to a very particular, and somewhat liberal, view point on sex. I remember very well how terribly weird it was to sit down at my desk, at my first real job and find a huge basket of condoms sitting next to me; my disappointment the day I learned that abstinence education does not work; my overwhelming embarrassment the first time one of my patients told me in detail about the sex she was having with her neighbor. But like so many issues, I believe that having been raised on one side and having come to live on the other has greatly increased the depth of my understanding of this issue.

There was an article in the New York Times this week about how abstinence-only education may be on its way out. This is sad for the call of many religious groups, but I can tell you, in capital letters, that IT DOES NOT WORK. Teaching children nothing about sex, other than the fact that they shouldn't have it until some point far in the future when they may be married, leads them to (a) have sex despite the fact that they have no education on how to protect themselves from disease and unwanted pregnancy; and (b) to feel such a sense of shame about anything sexual that it scars even their church-sanctioned relationships. And this is really just the case for a very small portion of Americans. In other cultures, things like gender roles, the power structure of familes, and educational opportunities influence people's thinking about sex and relationships, and their effects of the future. In many countries, these elements are in part responsible for the AIDS pandemic.

For much of the last decade, most of the funding the United Stated provides for AIDS prevention has gone to abstinence-only programs. For a time, the current administration forced the CDC to removed information from its Web site that sited the effectiveness of condoms in preventing transmission of AIDS and other STIs. Many states have started cutting funding for such programs, but the federal government continues to spend money on something that has proven ineffective and impractical time and again. The issue has now become another part of political debate in the upcoming presidential elections. And many researchers have found abstinence education to be the wrong direction to move in the future, and have stated that this is dangerous and "morally problematic", but it has persisted for many years against the better judgment of experts. Maybe now is the time to put a stop to it.


End of Sentence.

I once had an e-discussion with one of my friends about (a) whether it was appropriate to edit someone's e-mail for grammar and punctuation and then send it back to them, and (b) whether the total lack of spelling, capitalization and punctuation in an e-mail was grounds for putting a stop to a potential relationship. I am known for such silliness as using a dictionary while writing e-mails and reposting blogs 5+ times for spelling, punctuation and formatting errors. I've had people e-mail just after sending me an e-mail, to apologize for the use of "there" meaning "they're". Which is why this article was maybe the funniest thing I've read in a long time. I would like my tagline to read "Casey Burke, a social worker and sometimes writer from Brooklyn, N.Y., is really rather low maintenance."