What Suicide Has Not Taught Me

Last weekend marked one year since I have seen my friend. In a few days, it will be one year since he took his own life. I prefer to remember the first date.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve replayed the last time I saw Justin. We were at a friend’s family cabin on the lake. At the end of the night, we walked back toward the house together, up too many dark and uneven stairs. Justin walked in front of me, a flashlight in one hand and his cell phone in the other, walking sideways to make sure I didn’t fall. We parted ways when we got back to the house. I don’t remember why I had to leave before everyone got up the next morning. But I remember hearing “Good night, Liz” for the last time.

I often think of that night as an appropriate, if not perfect, way to remember my friend. And I always acknowledge how cliche that is. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that a shocking number of cliches hold true in the wake of such loss.

Justin was perpetually holding a flashlight in front of me. He was the first person I saw when I went through the darkest time of my life a few years ago. He was often the only person I had the strength to see. He regularly dropped what he was doing to go along with me on some ridiculous errand, if for no other reason than to tell me I was being ridiculous. He was the strong one.

Justin genuinely loved our group of friends, collectively and individually. We knew how important we were to him. And I believe he knew how much we needed him here. In another moment of another day, maybe everything in him would have reminded him of that. But there was a moment in which something told him otherwise.

I cannot fathom the gravity of that moment, nor the depth of that darkness.

I have certainly tried. In the process, I have blamed myself, I’ve blamed others, and I have occasionally allowed myself to be angry with him. I fulfilled all those cliches; I questioned what I could have done differently, what text message I could have sent, which nights I could have left work a little earlier. And a year later, I am still trying to figure out how to move forward. I’m still trying to decide what to do with his screen name on my Playstation network that reminds me it has been a year since he logged on.

I’ve also realized that he will always be one of my best friends, just suspended at 26 years old. When I’m 40 and probably consumed by my career, with a family or a lot of cats, he will still be my friend. I’m still trying to process that.

Through that process, there have been times I’ve cursed social media. As someone who has studied it and appreciates its importance, I can also admit that I occasionally find it insufferable. I’ve tried hard not to begrudge people their grieving processes, but mourning in the digital age is a fascinating thing. What are we really seeking? Support? Attention? Validation? I am a very private person, especially in my pain. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the support. I just haven’t wanted the attention. Maybe it makes me feel stronger or superior to internalize everything. Or maybe broadcasting my grief gives it some kind of credence I don’t care for it to have.

I write this as recent headlines have turned a spotlight on the things with which I’ve been struggling. This week, I have been bombarded with tweets, wall posts, and editorials about what people believe suicide is and is not. I have been told that it is not to be romanticized. It is not to be glorified as an escape. It is also not to be viewed as a selfish act. I’ve been told it’s a result of a disease, and something that “healthy” people simply cannot understand. I’ve seen the term “suicide survivor” used to describe someone who has lost someone close to them. I’ve heard the statistics. I’ve been told to recognize the warning signs and to get help for my loved ones and to write down these phone numbers.

There are a lot of people who appear to have this figured out.

I suppose I should be inspired. I find myself, however, somewhere between frustrated, resentful and a little embarrassed. Should I, a “suicide survivor” myself, have a stance on whether or not suicide is selfish? Should I have had some kind of an epiphany by now? Am I hopelessly cynical for not finding encouragement in these comment sections?

As deeply as it has impacted me, I can’t bring myself to make broad generalizations or accept others’ explanations of suicide. I have no answers. I don’t know if it’s a selfish act, or if I am selfish for occasionally feeling abandoned. I don’t know if it speaks to the fragile human condition or if it’s a product of our society.

I only know that it breaks your heart.

Weekend at Bernie’s 2: Boulevard of Broken Dreams

It’s been a hectic week and we were slightly delayed in getting the second installment uploaded (read: listenable). Though I did notice that the unedited file we were working on was downloaded a few times before I had the chance to take it down. So somewhere out there, someone is listening to about 45 minutes worth of Dave laughing, me yelling at Dave for laughing, a few obscenities, and a lot of “We can edit that out.” I’m not sure if I should say I’m sorry or you’re welcome. So enjoy.
But if you’ve been dying to hear how we’re coping with the loss of Zack Greinke, or how Dave fared in his quest to outrun the sausages, check out Episode 2 of Weekend at Bernie’s: Boulevard of Broken Dreams below.


Download the mp3 here

Liz and Zack

Side note: We’re still working out the bugs of hosting this thing and making it easier to subscribe to and listen every week. In the meantime, thank you for checking back here for new episodes. Oh hey, while you’re here, do you follow @BernieRadio on Twitter?

Brat and Italian

Liz and Dave
Hosts of Weekend at Bernie’s

Weekend at Bernie’s – The Podcast

Earlier this summer, my brother-in-law and I took our frequent conversations about Brewers baseball and made them into an hour-long weekly radio show. After the All Star break, however, we decided to record our show and make it available every week via podcast.
So, here it is… the first podcasted edition of Weekend at Bernie’s. The first few minutes of the show will introduce what we’re all about, but below is a rough breakdown of what you can find in this episode.
Please leave us some feedback! Follow us on Twitter @BernieRadio to weigh in on current Brewers or MLB news, or e-mail us at daveandliz903@gmail.com to let us know what we should be talking about on the show.
Give it a listen and let us know what you think!
Thanks,
Dave and Liz
Hosts of Weekend at Bernie’s



Download the mp3 here

:00 Introduction
3:46 Weekly Recap
7:10 K-Rod v. Ax-Man
10:55 Recap continued
23:26 Do we even have an MVP this week?
29:00 Never Surrender
33:32 Greinke and how to make Matt Cain money
43:10 Who else is on the chopping block?
46:11 The return of Luc
47:45 Liz’s Tailgate Tip – Grill all the things!
51:09 MLB News/Ben Sheets still plays baseball?
54:26 The week ahead
59:00 Operation Smoked Sausage
1:04:46 Strange Bobbleheads

Buy the shirt that inspired the name.

Battered and Brewed

I’ve been making a conscious effort to dial down the baseball-related commentary on Facebook, as I realize most of my friends care about the Milwaukee Brewers about as much as I care whether they went to the gym that day (hint: not at all). And while I’ve been tweeting my frustrations on occasion, there are still some things to cover.

My last entry was composed in the afterglow of Ryan Braun’s exoneration. The last two months of baseball have been interesting at best and brutally frustrating at worst. The May 31st game against the Dodgers (which capped off an inexplicable four-game sweep of the team with the best record in baseball) represented what would have been Braun’s first game back had the suspension been upheld. There has been a lot to curse this season, but I am still celebrating the fact that Braun went into June with fourteen homeruns and a 1.003 OPS.

I’m no statistician, but I think that means when you factor in his slugging percentage, he was on base 103% of the time.

Always the pragmatist, I had a backup plan had Brauny missed the first part of the season. One option was to enthusiastically throw my support behind Taylor Green. Admittedly, I didn’t have a lot of reasoning behind this. I was at the game in which he got his first major league hit in 2011, he politely laughed at my joke at Brewers On-Deck, he’s Canadian, and I like to see the new guys get a shot. Green has been getting plenty of playing time lately. Unfortunately, it has come as a direct result of a staggering number of our starters finding their way to the disabled list. Recently, that list has grown to include my second favorite Brewer of 2012, Jonathan Lucroy. I had high hopes (and big plans for a custom t-shirt) for Lucroy this season.
And then his wife dropped a suitcase on his hand.
I realized the guys who have managed to avoid a stay on the disabled list must be starting to feel like the kids from Final Destination. It’s coming. And nobody’s ligaments are safe.

But I’m not ready to call the season a disappointment or throw in the proverbial towel. I knew last October was going to be hard to follow. I knew that I would miss Prince and there would be holes in the bullpen. The injury bug was unpredictable and yes, it has been strange and frustrating. At times, I’ve been fairly certain we’ve entered some kind of Twilight Zone/Bizarro World version of baseball where Corey Hart plays first base, George Kottaras has more homeruns than Nyjer Morgan, and Dale Sveum coaches the Cubs.

For the remainder of the season, I will continue to cringe every time someone tries to leg out an infield hit or steal a base. But I’d rather know in June that it’s going to be an uphill battle than have things unexpectedly unravel in August. Maybe I am keeping my expectations a little lower than usual. But as we’ve heard on every Brewers Live postgame show, there’s a lot of baseball left to play.

I have yet to see a win at Miller Park this season. But here are some of the things I have done:
-Experienced the fascinating economic system of trying to buy tickets in the parking lot on Opening Day
-Made “Greinke Twinkies”
-Ran into Yovani Gallardo and Chris Narveson at a craps table in St. Louis
-Spent a lot of time thinking about Secret Stadium Sauce
-Sat here.
-Submitted a lot of All-Star ballots.
Turns out “Win a Night in Ryan Braun’s Suite” didn’t mean what I thought it did. Oh well.

Oh! Written in the Stars!

As I write this, the Milwaukee Brewers are only a few minutes away from Game 1 of the NLCS (as I post this, it’s a few hours until Game 6). And I’m kind of freaking out.
This season has been a little emotional for me. I started the season 800 miles away from Milwaukee. I listened to Ueck call as many of the games as possible, but it was almost May before I finally got a visual on Ryan Braun a Brewers game. I practically missed more of the season than Zack Greinke.

Life happened, as it inevitably does, and I ended up back in Wisconsin for the rest of the summer. As a result, I threw myself into baseball. I went to more games this season than I have in my 24 years collectively. I was there for Casey’s 3-homer game, Prince’s 471 ft. bomb, Rickie’s injury, Brauny’s slip-up around third, Rickie’s return to the lineup, and Robin Yount going into Beast Mode. I met Greinke (he was not nearly as excited as I was). But more importantly, I was there when the Brewers earned their spot in a League Championship Series for the first time in almost three decades. And honestly, when that confetti fell, I may or may not have teared up a little. Well, admittedly I also got a little emoshe when Craig Counsell got a standing ovation on his bobble head day… so it may not take that much.

Regardless of what happens in this series, whether it takes four games or seven, it has been an incredible year. This is my team. Braun and Fielder are my Yount and Molitor. And this is my home.

So thank you, Milwaukee. Thank you for making the last few months a little easier. Most of all, thank you to everyone who drove me to Miller Park this season. And if the season ends today, I will look forward to seeing you all on opening day.

That goes for you too, Prince.

The Highlight Reel:

TBS captured my very serious 10th inning face.
Playoff Face

Sport Snacks: Wisconsin Egg Rolls

According to my Ryan Braun calendar, it’s March! You know, that month between football and baseball. But if you have been watching Hot Stove reports since December, you’re probably as ready for spring as I am.

And nothing says “It’s baseball season in Wisconsin” like deep-fried bratwurst. I submitted this recipe to the Miller Park “Create a Concession Contest”, and while I was beat out by sausage on a stick and gravy-covered french fries (whatevs), I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe it can go on your Opening Weekend party menu. Or make them ahead of time, throw them in the cooler, and warm ‘em up on your tailgate grill.

Mini Wisconsin Egg Rolls

Mini Wisconsin Egg Rolls

12 wonton wrappers
8 oz (or two sausages removed from casing) beer-flavored bratwurst
1 ¼ cups sauerkraut (with or without caraway seeds)
¼ cup finely minced onion
¼ cup finely minced apple
2 tsp. white sugar
Oil for frying
Spicy mustard for dipping

Combine sauerkraut with onion and apple. Simmer for 30 minutes. Onions and apples should be tender and translucent.

While the sauerkraut is simmering, in a separate pan break up bratwurst and cook over medium heat until completely browned. Drain off excess grease.

Combine sauerkraut mixture and bratwurst, add sugar. Cook together for 15 minutes over low heat.

Fill wonton wrappers with 1 tablespoon of bratwurst and sauerkraut.
To fold mini egg rolls, lay out wrapper with bottom corner facing you. Fold bottom corner over the mixture, followed by the outside corners. Brush sides and top corner with water, and roll upward to seal the roll.

Fry at 350° for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown on each side.
Place on paper towel to drain. Serve with your favorite Wisconsin mustard for dipping!

Wisconsin Egg Rolls

Notes: These rolls can be assembled in advance and fried from frozen. This recipe makes approx. one dozen mini egg rolls. To make larger rolls, use 2 tablespoons of filling and an egg roll wrapper. Pairs well with a Spotted Cow or Miller Lite.