Shiny Epi People

Dana Bernson, MPH on government epi, grief, joy, and candy corn

November 06, 2021 Lisa Bodnar Season 2 Episode 51
Shiny Epi People
Dana Bernson, MPH on government epi, grief, joy, and candy corn
Show Notes Transcript

Today you'll hear from Dana Bernson, MPH, Epidemiologist and Director of Special Analytic Projects within the Office of Population Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She tells me about her position in state government and what she finds so fulfilling about it. Dana also generously shares the story of her first husband's passing, leaving her a widow at age 29. We discuss joy and grief, her pandemic elopement, as well as being a Nashville hot chicken sandwich, her unabashed love of candy corn, the band Creed (it's a no for her!), "We Found Love in a Homeless Place", and more!

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Lisa Bodnar:

When you get up at night, what's the first app you open on your phone?

Dana Bernson:

So I have a very strict no technology in the bed policy. So when I get into bed, I put my phone on do not disturb and I turn it over and I don't have it until my alarm goes off in the morning.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay, well also do not disturb, put it over there, but if I'm up in the middle of night it's the first thing I do.

              Hello, Shiny Epi friends. Welcome back to Shiny Epi People. That's the name of the show. And I'm Lisa Bodnar, I'm the host of the show. I'm thrilled that you're back. And if this is your first time, then welcome. Really happy that you're here. I'm so happy to be here. If you would like to financially support the show, even for as little as $1 a month, please go to my Patreon, which is that patreon.com/shinyepipeople. Thank you to the new patrons. Thank you to the old patrons. Thank you if you just listen and don't subscribe. Tell your friends about the show, that helps me a lot.

              Of course, you can find us on social media at Shiny Epi People on Twitter and on Instagram. I just hit 4,000 followers on Twitter this week. Woo. And I'm too trying hard to increase my Instagram following. So I only have a 10th of what I have on Twitter. So come on over and follow. Thank you so much for all of the kind messages that I received after my note at the beginning of the last episode that said that I was moving from weekly to every other week. It really made me feel good. And past couple of weeks, I've felt much less stressed and I knew that this was the right choice. So thank you.

              Okay, before I start today, something really quick. So as you know, we sometimes discuss intimate details of our lives on this show. We're pretty vulnerable. And today's no exception. I was thinking about why in my guest and I don't mind being this vulnerable on a public platform, especially in front of colleagues. And I just assumed that it was only because we don't carry shame associated with these feelings or these life events. But I realize that there's more to it. I was listening to Glennon Doyle's podcast, We Can Do Hard Things, which if you don't listen to you should try it out. If you like this show, you probably would like hers. And they describe the show as they're there to help each other carry the hard things in life so we can all live a little bit lighter and braver, freer and less alone. And so you can see why this resonates with me.

              Anyway, they talk about parenting, anxiety, addiction, sex, depression, gender identity. They hit it all. And something on a recent episode that really struck me, I wanted to share it with you. It was on their episode called Passion, Praise and Getting Personal. And they were discussing how they feel about sharing so many personal things on their show. And Glennon Doyle's sister, Amanda, said this, "I think what's so interesting is that so many people have said to me, 'My God, I can't believe you're getting so personal. You're such a deeply private person and you're sharing all this stuff.' And I realized I'm sharing this because I don't feel like any of this is personal. Infidelity, eating disorders, overwhelm. It's like I get that they involved really intimate details of my life.

              "But I think it's that I truly believe that none of this is personal, that all of this is just something that's happening in me and around me, that's also something happening in and around everyone else. I don't have the personal protection or shame around it because I think I place it in the context of what we're all living in. And so therefore I don't feel the need to protect it. It feels like a reflection that people are thinking that the things that happen to them and the things that are happening inside them are them. And therefore you have to somehow not show what happened to you and what happens in you because somehow that makes you a certain kind of person. And I just wish people would be able to have the freedom from that because we can't control what happens to us. And it's not a poor reflection on us what happens to us and what is going on inside of us. And all we can do is to separate those things so that we cannot feel like we're constantly carrying this heavy burden as if it were ours to carry."

              On today's episode, Dana Bernson, who's an epidemiologist and the director of special analytic projects within the Office of Population Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, shares her story. Dana's story includes becoming a widow at age 29, after her first husband John's passing due to cancer. Years later, remarrying in John's parents', her first in-laws', backyard and becoming a mother. Of course, she also shares the ins and outs of her job working in state government, which she loves, and as an epidemiologist with an MPH degree from Boston University. Dana is funny and intelligent and confident, and I am so grateful that she shared so openly with us. I hope you enjoy this chat.

Dana Bernson:

How are you?

Lisa Bodnar:

I'm good. It's so nice to meet you.

Dana Bernson:

You too. It's such an honor.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh, don't be silly. It's my pleasure. I feel like I've been following you on social media for a long time.

Dana Bernson:

It's funny how the world works now, right?

Lisa Bodnar:

So Dana, one of the reasons that I wanted to talk with you is you are an epidemiologist who does not work in academia. And we need to hear more from great folks like you, and that you can have a really fulfilling career when you stop your training at an MPH. What do you do in your job?

Dana Bernson:

In my current role, I am the director of special analytic projects at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. And that is a decidedly vague title. When my unit was created, I'm not sure exactly how we came up with the name, but it is what stuck. And I oversee a team of epidemiologists and research assistants, and we really oversee the department's response to pressing public health concerns that need specific analytic attention. So we're a little bit unique in that the way a lot of health departments are structured is that they're very topic specific bureaus and offices and units. So there's maternal and child health, and substance addiction, environmental health, things like that. And my unit is not topic specific. Where we come in is providing advanced analytic data visualization skills to any topic that is deemed a public health priority.

              So it's a pretty unique position in that we get to learn a little bit about a lot of different topics, which is one of the things I like best about my job. We are constantly having to get up to speed very quickly on different subject areas once we are called in, so to speak, to help. And so when my unit was formed, we were formed really specifically looking at the opioid overdose crisis in Massachusetts. We were initially brought into would help develop predictive models to better understand in real time what was going on. So at the time, we were looking at data from four or five years ago, which is really irrelevant in the middle of a public health crisis. But for a number of reasons, death certificate data tends to lag behind. And so we were brought in to try to understand of cases that were at our medical examiner's office pending a final cause of death determination, how many of those would be opioid related overdose deaths?

              And so we created a model to do these estimates, which is actually still used now. Every quarter the state updates those statistics and we tend to have in the country some of the most up data. And then after dipping our feet into the water with that work, we were tapped to lead a very large project, which is still going on and is still the flagship program in my unit, which is something that's now called the Public Health Data Warehouse. And it is a really unique data resource that we have in Massachusetts. We've brought together data from across over two dozen state government programs. So a number of those are within the Department of Public Health, but also a number of them are outside of the Department of Public Health. So I work really closely with our state government partners in a lot of other jurisdictions. And the goal was to bring together health and social determinants of data to better understand pressing public health challenges.

Lisa Bodnar:

What are some examples of those types of data sets?

Dana Bernson:

Yeah, so at the Department of Public Health, we have some traditional like our substance addiction treatment program data, our prescription monitoring program data, which has scheduled two through five prescriptions, so it's prescriptions that have the risk of abuse or dependence. We have our birth data, our death data, so our standard surveillance data sets. And then externally to put that social determinants of health lens on things, we have information from our Department of Transitional Assistance, which has our food stamp program. We have information from our Department of Housing and Community Development of family homelessness, from our Department of Veterans Affairs, so that we can look at veterans status. So really think thinking of not just the traditional public health data sets, but a lot of these other really important contextual pieces of information.

Lisa Bodnar:

And you can link them across-

Dana Bernson:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

You can?

Dana Bernson:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh my gosh.

Dana Bernson:

It is a longitudinally linked data set at an individual level.

Lisa Bodnar:

This is crazy. This doesn't happen.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. It doesn't happen. It's a model for other states and jurisdictions. We do individually link and we use another nice thing that we have in Massachusetts, we have a really robust all payer claims database, any pharmacy, medical or dental claim in the state is in this one database. And since Massachusetts has really high rates of insurance coverage, almost everyone in the population is in that data set. It's about 98% of Massachusetts is in that data set. So we actually use that as our master key and we link the other data sets to identifiers in that what we call our master spine dataset. And so the whole data set is essentially a census of the population. And so we do the work to do the linkage, everything ends up being de-identified.

              The data that we host is not an identified data, set people get back a random ID number. But we are able to then really see how people are interacting with our public health and public welfare systems and really getting a better picture of what is going on. We've been able to do just projects that really no one's been able to do before. And even some of the things we've done that people think are really basic, take four or five data sets to be able to put together. And so to be able to do that is really exciting.

Lisa Bodnar:

Wow. That's incredible.

Dana Bernson:

Yeah. It's a really unique resource and I like to talk about it as much as I can, because I really do think it's something that should be replicated everywhere. I want every state to have something similar so that I can talk to other people about how to do this.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah. And I want your data. So let's talk after.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. And we actually have developed a really robust public private partnership model, which is another one of the highlights of my job is that I actually get to work with external partners every single day. And that's something I absolutely love. I get to dip my toes in the academia waters without having to fully commit to that. So we realized early on that we had more data than we could analyze in house. We are seeking projects that directly align with our goals and priorities. We've been lucky that we've been able to find lots of groups that have interests that do align very closely with our interests as well. We've obviously worked closely with a lot of our partners right here in Massachusetts, but we've also worked with teams from across the country.

Lisa Bodnar:

It's a level of leadership and research experience that typically someone with a PhD would have. Do you feel like you're basically functioning like someone with a PhD?

Dana Bernson:

Yeah, we joke all the time that I should get a PhD just based on my practical experience, that it feels like that should be enough. And it has just been on the job learning, which is another way to do things. And I had early on thought about going back and going down that route. And I just really like the practical work that I do, and I really like the cycle that we actually see. I have seen a project create results that have led to policy change and we are now evaluating the policy. And I've seen that whole circle in real time in a couple of years. And you just can't get that anywhere else. That sense of urgency just is something that I think is a little bit unique and something I really appreciate about this work.

              And the longer I put it off, the more I was like, "I don't even think I really need to do this. I feel like I've gotten a lot of really good experience just actually doing the work." And I think one of the things about government work is you sometimes just have to do the work. Because we don't always have the resources in§ the way that people think of resources. We have been lucky that in Massachusetts we've had administrations that have been really supportive of the work we do and really interested in data driven responses. So I think of that as a resource in a way that some people might not. But to me, that is a huge resource.

Lisa Bodnar:

Absolutely.

Dana Bernson:

But a lot of times, it's just you are given something to do and you have to figure out how to do it. This whole project was born out of legislation. So the Department of Public Health was tasked with collecting data to understand the opioid crisis. It was something that we call an unfunded mandate. So we were mandated to do something without giving money to do it. So we got to figure out how to do that.

Lisa Bodnar:

Had to be so creative, I would imagine.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. And we were lucky that we were at a time and a place where there was a lot of interest in moving in the direction that we were moving in. And it was something that we had been trying to build some ground support for before this legislation actually was passed. So we had some of the stepping stones in place to get us where we needed to go, but we still did have to be really creative. And to top it all off, we owed our first report to the legislature a year after the legislation was passed. So we had to collect all of the data, link it, analyze it, build a new system to house it, because now we're talking about many millions of records, it was big data like we had not used before. So we actually had to build out a whole new computing environment, figure out the legal mechanism with which to share and link all of this data, do all of the work and write a report in a year.

Lisa Bodnar:

Wow. And normally that's like a five year R01.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. Exactly. So you do just get creative and have to think on your feet a lot and just make decisions and also be willing and understand that you will make decisions that aren't always good decisions. In doing some of our analysis, we were a little hamstrung in what we wanted to do because of the way we chose to set up the data to just make things as smooth as possible. And so I think you have to be very willing to be flexible and to do things one way and admit when that way is not the best way and think again and go back to the drawing board, which is something that we do a lot.

Lisa Bodnar:

How cool. I'm so glad that you talked about this because I never would've guessed that a position like this is available and moving up with an MPH. Just to clarify, you do have PhDs that work at the health department. There are people with PhDs, just so if someone was going to get a PhD, this is an option.

Dana Bernson:

Absolutely. Yeah, we do have a number of PhDs at the department in a number of different roles. I think my group is hopefully going to be hiring for a PhD level position soon as well.

Lisa Bodnar:

Nice.

Dana Bernson:

So yes, there are absolutely positions that are PhD appropriate as well. And I think that is one of interesting things too about working in the department. There is really a wide range. We have a lot of people who are pre MPH who are thinking about that. We have a lot of MPHs and then we do have PhD. So you do have sort of that full range of experience in public health.

Lisa Bodnar:

So if we could switch gears a bit, you've spoken pretty publicly that your husband, your first husband, passed away when you were only 29 and that he had cancer. And this was maybe six years ago. Would you be willing to tell us a little bit about him? Or is that too much?

Dana Bernson:

No, absolutely. Absolutely. My first husband, John, he and I actually met when I was 20 years old. So I was very young. We met at a bar, not even a very nice bar in Boston. It is closed just since we have met there, but it was always one of our jokes is that it was not one of the finest establishments. And dated for a long time. We got married in 2012. And then in 2014 he was diagnosed with a really rare form of cancer. We were really lucky to be in Boston and to be in a place where he could get the very best care possible. He had an absolutely incredible care team and we know that everything that could have been done was done for him. But unfortunately his cancer was just resistant to treatment. And so after about a year of treatment, it did metastasize to his brain and spinal cord. And so he died in 2015. And so, yes, I was unexpectedly left widowed at 29. Which is a really young age to have gone through such a major loss.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yes.

Dana Bernson:

And it is something that I don't like to talk about, but do talk about because I think it's really important. There are, I think, a lot of people who go through really tragic things and have to go through grief and nobody ever talks about it. And so that experience has just made me really want to be open about it. I do a lot of advocacy work around cancer now. I volunteer for the American Cancer Society and their Cancer Action Network and do a lot of work also on the political side trying to get legislation passed to help cancer patients and survivors. So it's something that I now do to funnel my anger with everything that happened to us into something better.

Lisa Bodnar:

Please accept my sympathy.

Dana Bernson:

Of course.

Lisa Bodnar:

Grief is something that people I think generally feel uncomfortable with. I wish we talked about grief more. I think we need to normalize talking about grief.

Dana Bernson:

And I think the more you talk about it, the more you do realize what other things you might be grieving. If that makes sense? I think really big losses obviously shine a actually huge spotlight on it. But the more that you feel those feelings, you realize that there are other things that you probably are grieving in some way too and maybe haven't put the time and effort into actually going through the grief. Going through grief is really hard and it's uncomfortable and it's terrible. And I am definitely someone who has a natural inclination to compartmentalize and to just put it in a box over here and come to it when I need to, but not focusing on it, so to speak. And with John's loss, I really had to change that. Because there just wasn't a compartment big enough to ever hold all of that basically.

Lisa Bodnar:

Wow.

Dana Bernson:

And so realizing that you do have to confront your feelings. And doing so for me with the help of a thoughtful therapist was the best way to get that done, and not doing it on my own was definitely the right path for me. And is something that I do think is worth everyone thinking about. I know in listening to the show it's a pro therapy environment. So I will put another plug in for that being a really good way to go through grief. And it is complicated and it is different for everyone and it is surprising at times and it's been six years and most days I am fine and some days I still break down about it and I don't always know which days those are going to be for.

Lisa Bodnar:

Right. Yeah, our recovery is not linear.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. There are some obvious triggers. But there are certain days where you have some flooding memory and it feels like you're doing it all over again. And so I think having now the skillset to work through those days is really helpful and really important.

Lisa Bodnar:

Were there things that happened before your first husband's passing that you maybe could have grieved but didn't, and that grieving your husband's passing taught you that getting it out is actually healthier than keeping it bottled inside? Do you know what I mean?

Dana Bernson:

Yes. I would say 100%. I would say 100%. I think from just another personal perspective, I would say my parents divorce. My parents got divorced when I was in middle school and it was something that I never really dealt with. And that is something that is like grief. And for me, it was actually a good thing. My parents getting divorced was a good thing for me. I am pro that happening. But there were certain things about family and expectations that you do lose and that I don't think I had ever really thought through. And it took me from middle school until I was 30 to figure all of that out. So it can take some time, but that was definitely something that once I had this new toolbox for dealing with big life events and losses in different ways that you can go back and figure out and just feel better about now and feel like I don't have that baggage anymore. And it's baggage I'm not sure I realized I had.

Lisa Bodnar:

Can you talk about joy in your life now?

Dana Bernson:

At least I feel like I feel more joy now and differently, and an appreciation that maybe I wouldn't have had before. I am recently out of a very joyful experience.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yes, tell us.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. I had a baby 16 weeks ago.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh my gosh. It was only 16 weeks?

Dana Bernson:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh jeez. I contacted you at such a terrible time.

Dana Bernson:

No, it was actually perfect to be honest. I needed this type of distraction through all of that. So yes, I am a very new mother. And it was a joyful experience that also involved some grief. My daughter was born six weeks early. Which was a really scary situation. I developed preeclampsia and she was in the NICU for two weeks and that was something that was really hard and stressful and brought me back to being in the hospital with my first husband and it was definitely a challenging time. But the joy of being a new mother really outweighed all of that fear and anxiety and all of that. And we are all very lucky.

              She actually did really well. And she is now home and happy and healthy and growing. And now we get to do just the joy part of it.

Lisa Bodnar:

So you eloped.

Dana Bernson:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

In the pandemic.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. It's been a busy couple of years. Yes. We were supposed to get married in April and we were actually planning a city hall ceremony. And then we just decided not to put it on hold. So we had a marriage license that was counting down the days on which it was still valid. And so we just decided that to go through that again didn't seem worth it. And so our next door neighbor has officiated a number of weddings for friends and family, and so I sent her a text saying, "This might be the craziest thing I'm going to ask you as a neighbor, but how would you feel about marrying us?" And she said, "Absolutely." To wrap it up nicely, we actually did the ceremony at my first in-laws' backyard. So my first husband, John's parents, I'm still very close with their family. My husband now, Rob, is very close with them as well. And so they offered to let us use is their backyard to do it. So it was actually a really beautiful pandemic elopement that I'm glad we did and didn't wait.

Lisa Bodnar:

What a hard thing for them to do. Obviously, must be very healing for them at the same time, but talk about grief, right?

Dana Bernson:

Yes. Yeah.

Lisa Bodnar:

Their dream was not to see Dana marrying someone else in the backyard.

Dana Bernson:

Yes, exactly. But they have been the absolute most gracious and loving people and I've always said whoever came next had to get along with them basically. It was a non-negotiable for me. We have this third family now that is really important to us and will always be with us. And I consider really lucky to have that. Not everyone gets a third family that they really love and we have one.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh, what a gift. And you are to them.

Dana Bernson:

Okay. I need a little Kleenex. I'm sorry.

Lisa Bodnar:

No, there are no apologies. I'm always willing to let the feelings fly.

              Could we talk about fun stuff?

Dana Bernson:

Yes. Absolutely.

Lisa Bodnar:

Dana, if you were a kind of sandwich, what kind would you be?

Dana Bernson:

I would be a Nashville hot chicken sandwich.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay. I have no idea what that is.

Dana Bernson:

Nashville hot chicken is very hot chicken, basically. It's very spicy. And I feel like I am kind of a lot. I am known for being loud and I feel like a spicy sandwich is very loud. And it's definitely a love it or hate it thing. And I feel like that is very much me.

Lisa Bodnar:

I relate to your sandwich very deeply.

Dana Bernson:

I have people who definitely like me and people who definitely don't, and I am good with that. But I feel like it's just this aggressive in your face sandwich. And I feel like that is me.

Lisa Bodnar:

So my favorite question now to ask people, is there anything that you are embarrassed to admit that you like?

Dana Bernson:

I feel like I should be very embarrassed about my unabashed love of candy corn, because I love it.

Lisa Bodnar:

That is not shameful. I love candy corn too.

Dana Bernson:

And the whole internet seems to think it is worst thing in the world. And I feel like I have to shame eat it by myself and not let anyone know how delicious I think it is. Because apparently most of the world thinks it is absolutely disgusting. It's delicious.

Lisa Bodnar:

I like to eat from the top one layer.

Dana Bernson:

Me too. Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

I love doing that.

Dana Bernson:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

It kind of pops off in your mouth one by one.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. Well, you're making me feel very validated because I feel like everything I see is a lot of hatred towards candy corn. I was like, "I guess I just should like this by myself then."

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah, I don't even mind when it gets hard.

Dana Bernson:

Oh me neither. I will eat it in any state.

Lisa Bodnar:

Dana, is there a popular TV show or movie you refuse to watch?

Dana Bernson:

Harry Potter. I will not read them. I will not read the books and I will not watch the movies basically just out a principle at this point. I just hadn't done it and now it's been so long and people talk so highly of them that I feel like it's just not going to be as good as people say they are. So now I'm just very firm in that I will not read them and I will not watch them. And a lot of people, every time I tell someone this they're like, "But no, you just have to. You just have to do it."

Lisa Bodnar:

Right. JK rowing is trash right now.

Dana Bernson:

So hopefully this is going to be a good thing now. But usually when I tell people about this just are aghast and can't believe that I have made it without reading or watching any of them.

Lisa Bodnar:

Mine is the movie Jerry Maguire.

Dana Bernson:

Ooh.

Lisa Bodnar:

I don't like Tom Cruise first of all.

Dana Bernson:

That's fair.

Lisa Bodnar:

I think the whole, "Show me the money.", thing. I hated it the moment that I heard it. And I hate the fact that it perpetuates. I hate the whole... Do you know the line in that where it's Renee Zellweger, right?

Dana Bernson:

Yeah.

Lisa Bodnar:

Where she says like, "You complete me." And I hate everything about that. Jerry Maguire does not complete anyone. I hate that. Whatever.

Dana Bernson:

I think that's a totally reasonable take.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay. Thank you. What's one of the best compliments you've ever received?

Dana Bernson:

Oh, wow. That is a good question. I actually think that the best compliment I ever got was multiple people telling me how good of a caregiver I was to John. It made me feel really good to know that I was there for him and honoring him as much as I could. And I think that having people I know tell me how good I was at doing that was really nice. Because it's not an easy thing to do or something that you feel like you should be complimented for. Because it feels like you're just supposed to do it. But I think hearing that is probably the nicest thing that I take the most pride in.

Lisa Bodnar:

I'm glad people said that to you. I'm sure it was true. And I'm really glad that you got to hear that.

              If you could control the weather, what would the weather be over your house?

Dana Bernson:

It would be 75 to 82 degrees and sunny all day every single day if I could control the weather.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah. Do you like the heat?

Dana Bernson:

I do. I would prefer extreme heat to cold any day.

Lisa Bodnar:

Me too.

Dana Bernson:

I won't complain when it's in the nineties. I would rather that than be cold. Living in Boston is very stupid for someone who would choose that weather. Yeah. I'm definitely a warm weather person. If I could throw out my winter jacket and boots and never see them again, I would be so happy.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah. I really feel the same way. Okay, so when you wake up at night... Your daughter's still waking up at night, I would assume.

Dana Bernson:

She is actually sleeping through the night.

Lisa Bodnar:

Whoa.

Dana Bernson:

I know. She weaned her own night feeds.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh my gosh.

Dana Bernson:

And then we switched her... We kept moving her bedtime back earlier and earlier and she just went with it.

Lisa Bodnar:

She's four months old.

Dana Bernson:

Yeah.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh my God. My children were up every night until they were one.

Dana Bernson:

Yeah, literally I was asking my pediatrician, I was like, "Is it weird that she just naps in her crib by herself for two hours? Should I be holding her more or something?" And he was like, "Shut up." He was like, "No." he was like, "You have no idea how many people wish that they had that situation." I think it's just cause she started on the NICU. She got used to a schedule and maybe not the most comfortable situation. So now she's totally happy taking two hour naps in her crib and sleeping through the night.

Lisa Bodnar:

I'm going to list a few things and you tell me yes or no.

Dana Bernson:

Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

Inflatable yard decorations.

Dana Bernson:

No.

Lisa Bodnar:

The band Creed.

Dana Bernson:

No. That is an era and a specific style that is just a hard no for me.

Lisa Bodnar:

I couldn't wait to ask someone that. The Sound of Music.

Dana Bernson:

No. I'm not a big musical person in general.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay. The hills are alive, but not in your life. It's fine.

              Three inches of snow on a Saturday.

Dana Bernson:

No. But yes it's between it on a Saturday or during the week. If I have to choose when the snow is coming, I prefer weekend snow for sure. Because it does not impact my commute.

Lisa Bodnar:

Ranch on pizza.

Dana Bernson:

No. I won't judge people-

Lisa Bodnar:

Have all of your answers been no so far, Dana? It's okay.

Dana Bernson:

I am fine with other people doing it, but it's not for me. I'm a pizza purist. I'm an Italian girl from New York so I am very specific with pizza, and ranch does not belong.

Lisa Bodnar:

NFL football.

Dana Bernson:

Yes. And it's actually one of the thing is that I want to give up because it's so problematic.

Lisa Bodnar:

I know, it's so problematic.

Dana Bernson:

I still really enjoy it. And I watch the Patriots game every Sunday. So it's one of those, at this point, very guilty pleasure situations because I know I shouldn't like it but I can't stop.

Lisa Bodnar:

 I'm in a fantasy football league with a bunch of epi people this fall and most of us know nothing about the NFL, but it's been really fun.

Dana Bernson:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

And I hate so many things about the NFL, but you know what? The fantasy football's been great.

Dana Bernson:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

Can't help it. I can't help it.

              Dana, you are the easiest person to talk to.

Dana Bernson:

Well thank you.

Lisa Bodnar:

I could talk to you for hours. You're so strong and delightful.

Dana Bernson:

Thank you. This was fun.

Lisa Bodnar:

I was a little worried about asking you to talk about him. I didn't want to make things hard.

Dana Bernson:

No, you have to keep talking about them otherwise they disappear basically. So it's important to me that people hear his name and know things about him so that he doesn't just become a very vague memory.

Lisa Bodnar:

Is there something goofy about him you still laugh about?

Dana Bernson:

Yes, definitely. One of the goofy things was his mishearing lyrics. Still there's certain songs that when I hear them now I still giggle when I hear it. My favorite one was there's the Rihanna song that's, "We found love in a..." I can only think of the way that he says it.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah, "We found love in a hopeless place."

Dana Bernson:

A hopeless place.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay, yeah.

Dana Bernson:

And he thought it was, "Homeless place." And would always sing it that way. Now every time I hear that song anywhere I stop and giggle a little bit. And there's a few songs like that that now every single time, I'm just like, "Oh my God." That like brings me back immediately and makes me laugh.

Lisa Bodnar:

I'm going to think of it now. From now on, you've also ruined the song for me. Thank you.

Dana Bernson:

Yes, sorry. You're only going to hear a homeless place from now on.