Kelly Is Going Camping, or: The End.

This is goodbye.

No. Not really...OMG. I just pictured news of my death breaking. You're all in your pods, like in Wall-E, and my face is projected on CNN over the bio-dome for you, my loving minions family, to see. Kelly Bergin, blogger and failed writer, dead at 97. Underneath, it says: "Her last blog post was entitled How To Get Laid And PAAAAAIIIIIIIID In Your Nineties."

Yeah, I'm not going out with grace. (Or self-awareness.)

Anyway, this isn't my goodbye post...though after my upcoming trip, it very well could be.

Let's step back. Two weeks ago I found out I was awarded a VERY generous travel scholarship to go on a canoeing and camping trip in Colorado. I applied on a whim, at the advice of a friend. It's for young cancer survivors, post treatment. They fly me out there next week and we camp and float down the Colorado River for three nights.

Yes. Me. Kelly "The City" Bergin (new nickname, roll with it) camping. Paddling. Assembling tents. PEEING IN THE WOODS.

I have included a picture of the last time I attempted to camp. It was three summers ago and I never figured out how to put together my tent. Eventually, I made up some sort of ailment and went in the car to listen to Hanson.

But this time, I'll be surrounded by people way sicker than me!  I CAN'T FAKE SICKNESS, BECAUSE THEY HAVE IT TOO!

I just spoke with the generous woman who is putting the trip together. It was a semi-awkward conversation, due to the fact I have a lack of social skills and do not know when to shut up. As everything is a learning experience with me, I've included the following 'Don'ts' should you ever find yourself in this situation.


Mention you're not a morning person and so the later the (free) flight, the better.
Ask if there's cell phone service on the river.
Wonder aloud if an iPad is a good thing to pack.
Mention you sleep cuddling your computer and then let it slip that you call your computer Computie.
Ask if the male to female camper ratio is in my favor. (Ch-yeaaaa!)
Ask if your nickname on the trip can be Kelly "Dead Weight" Bergin

(I would not be surprised if my application is being reevaluated this very second.)

Yesterday I dragged Kristie (who is also known by me and others as Big Red, Ginger, Bread, Krusty, Chauffeur, Woman Bring Me French Toast!) along to go shopping with me. We went to Wal-Mart, where I found a children's guitar and chased Red around the store, singing "Shop for me, my minion!" before she threatened to drive away without me or my stuff.

We then hauled off to the camping store to get the rest of my gear. I was only in Eastern Mountain Sports for five minutes before I had a panic attack. That store is more terrifying than a Tennesse Wal-Mart after midnight.

Everyone there looked so...fit. They didn't look like they ate Easy Mac at 2 am or strained a muscle lifting a five pound weight the night before. They were beautiful and strong and BETTER THAN ME. And I was laying on a camp hammock (on sale now, guys) while Krusty shopped for the rest of my stuff.

As I lay there, wondering why I thought I could paddle down a river for TWO WHOLE DAYS IN THE SUN, I saw a camping knife for sale! You know, for...I don't know what you use them for. For camping stuff.

However, I figured if I saw a bear coming, I'll just pull out the knife and kill myself before he can get me. Smart, right?

I leave on Wednesday and I'm pretty much settled and have everything I need, though I did just insomni-shop and buy myself a battery pack and underwater case for my iPhone. (I. Need. iPhoney.)

I also got some advice on Twitter, which urged me not to bring a bra on the trip. So it's safe to say I won't be making any friends nor cancer love connections on this adventure.

But part of me is hoping that this trip will trigger my outdoorsy, non-cynical side, as I eat organic meals, hike and listen to Kumbuya played on an acoustic guitar around a campfire. (Wow, I wrote that without gagging.) They even have a luau themed dinner for one night, but if I hear Jimmy Buffet, I'm breaking out Bon Iver.

I suppose I'll have to do my best and hope that when I move to California in 46 days, I will be ready to embark on a healthier lifestyle.

Or not.

See, this is how I prefer to camp. Beer in hand.



Last week my doctor convinced herself
that I had melanoma.
So she cut some tissue out of my skin
and stitched me up in a few places, panic flashing across her face.
(I was worried. Do I get to admit that?)
(Am I safe in parentheses?) 

I waited two days for test results.
And on Friday, she called.
Caught early, pre-stage 1.
I’ll see a surgeon for more tissue excision
after I get home from Colorado in a few weeks.

It’s overwhelming, this carousel
of panicky doctors, always saying
There is something wrong with everything!
At night, I try not to wonder what it will be next.

There was no sun yesterday, so I was allowed out of my cave.
I don’t need much these days.
I don’t have much these days.
 And yesterday it was fine—
Just a crappy waterproof camera, a blistering hangover, my sister
and this dangerous, unruly sea,
Nature’s brutal reminder that there is no use in fretting
about what we cannot control.
(I needed that.)


That Time My Uncle Thought I Had Three Months To Live

My phone lit up three times as I sat in the theater next to Gen, taking in Friends With Benefits.

It was a message and a missed call from Katie: Call me ASAP. I left the theater, sure that someone had died. I had that sick feeling in my gut when you know you are about to hear bad news. (Or it could have been the bag of popcorn I ate. Or maybe the Junior Mints. Tuna sub? Beer? Probably the possible dead relative thing.)

"What's up?" I frantically screeched into the phone. Kate informed me that one of our uncles called her dad, freaking out that there was something wrong with my heart and that I had three months to live.

"I thought maybe you knew and didn't want to tell me," Katie said. I reassured her that I did not have three months to live. I had, indeed, gone to a cardiologist who noticed thickened heart valves and leakage in my valves, but it was fine. (For now. But can I have your heart?)

We laughed it off and hung up. I called my dad and told him to tell everyone I wasn't dying. And if I were, would I really be spending my last days seeing Friends With Benefits for the second time? (Well, maybe. It has a really good soundtrack and Mila Kunis Justin Timberlake is super hot!)

It got me thinking, though. If I had three months to live, what would I really do with my life?

What am I doing with my life now?

After I had cancer, I promised myself that I'd stick to my ONE LIFE! philosophy. But that philosophy was really just an excuse for irresponsible behavior. It could have applied to any young twentysomething in America. Oh, you woke up in Brooklyn in a strange apartment and you can't find your shoes? Oh well, ONE LIFE! Oh, you went to Paris with no money and now you’re in debt? ONE LIFE! You don't want to go to work because there's a Full House marathon on? That's okay, ONE LIFE!

One life. We really do only have one life. We really only may have three months, three seconds to live. I was reminded of this just last week, at a funeral for a woman so many of us loved. Shit, life is short, I thought.

I need to live better because some cannot. Some are already gone. I need to be kinder, and stronger, and more productive. Healthier. Because whether I have three or three hundred months to live, I am going to make them fucking awesome.

We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to others. After all, we only have ONE LIFE.