It has been awhile since I updated this blog. A lot has happen since, and what better place to update then being in the comfort of the University library. I’m going to try my best to summarize lately what has happened, so bare with me. Grammar police do your best, this blog will have many grammatical errors, since everything I write will be nothing but stream of consciousness–liberate from the constraints of grammar and other writing technicality.
Chapter 1: Finding Janet
During last Christmas, I was in my car alone, making a simple prayer to God asking him to heal me and wash away all my worthless anxiety. I asked him to allow me to focus on my passion, my goals, and most importantly myself. A couple of weeks later, I stumbled upon a girl name Janet on the internet, specifically Angry Asian Man. It was a video of her on youtube, in which she was at the hospital after her leukemia has relapse.
I became intrigued about her condition, and decided to follow up on her story. I found her blog and realized that she was a gifted writer from the Bay who just graduated from UCLA. The more I delve into her blog, the more I realized that the both of us share a lot of things in common. I felt that I knew her for a very long time, as if two old friends are finally back to rekindle their lost relationship.
However, weeks after discovering her–she posted a desperate plea video that deeply impacted me. At the time when I saw it, it only generated about 100 views. She was crying out to the world begging her supporters to sign up as potential marrow matches. When I saw it, the first thing that went through my head is “damn…this girl is really desperate. Desperate to a point that she is posting this video online. I mean no one on the internet is going to do anything about it since she doesn’t have much youtube subscribers. I have to do something about it.” I thought with the 670 subscribers that I have on youtube, I can help spread the word to my viewers by making a video response to Janet. The video served as not only an announcement to my viewers but also a personal oath to myself. I only had one thing in my mind: to save Janet’s life.
That week, I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to host a bone marrow drive but I didn’t know how to even began. I spent many hours that week phoning, and emailing other people on campus about how to host an event, granted I have never table for anything before in my life. I was lost and helpless but through prayer, God was there to walk along side with me. He push me through and gave me all the right signs to host a drive for Janet. I phoned AADP and got the thumbs up. The drive date was approved. UC Davis will host two drives in honor of Janet.
Chapter 2: Spreading the word
Once that the drive was approved by AADP, I knew I needed to spread the word. The hardest thing about “spreading the word” was that I was simply a “nobody” at UC Davis. I didn’t have a lot of friends nor do I know a lot of organizations on campus. I was just a simple student, a number in the University.
The first person I turned to was a friend of mine from the Asian American Association club. I asked her to spread the word about the bone marrow drive that I was hosting. However, I knew that wasn’t enough. I needed to form a group, an entourage per se. I needed muscle. So I turned to Lambda, an asian fraternity. The truth is, I really couldn’t relate to Frat (at the time of course). However, I was desperate and I really wanted to save this girl’s life. A stranger’s life. So I gave Lambda a chance and phone them.
I contacted Cao, a member of Lambda, ask him if he would like to join me in my journey of spreading the word to many students about Janet’s story. To my surprise, it turns out that Lambda was also in the process of hosting a drive too. I suggested him that we should worked together; that we can get more work done if we were cohesive. His frat brothers was going to take care of the flyers, I was going to take care of the publicity. They turned out to be very passionate and nice guys. I pushed forward.
Within the course of three days, I covered around 5 major health and asian organizations about the drive. I spent hours refining my presentation, my composure, and most importantly my state of mind. This was God acting through me. And this was me embracing his energy.
Words spread fast, and many social media wanted to interview me about my effort in saving this girl. NPR, Enterprise, OneVietnam, DavisPatch, and many others reached out to me. Not going to lie, I was excited about the media attention. However, I prayed to God that day to not let this get over my head. That may I continue to be humble and focus on my objective–to save Janet’s life and that’s it.
I was ready.
Chapter 3: Hosting the Drive on Davis
Draped in my green army overcoat, brown horn rim glasses, jeans, and pair of old converse–I was ready to do a little activism work. Not going to lie, I was really nervous about the drive. I was afraid that if no one shows up, all my effort of publicizing the event on campus was going to be for nothing.
I met Nittu that day, a member of AADP. She went over with me about the logistics of today’s agenda. We moved fast and began to grab as much people as we can. Wednesday was a slow day, we’ve only managed to gathered 80 people that day.
Thursday was a different story. After coming back from my NPR interview, I rushed over to the scene to see how the drive was happening on campus. I was surprised. There was a lot of people chanting, “Save Janet’s life, sign up!” I spoke to some of the volunteers and they said that they’ve gotten quite a few to sign up. I was happy.
Someone whispered into my ear, “hey…that’s Janet’s brother, Jeff.” I was scared. I wanted to talk to him but I was afraid of approaching him. I knew he was going through a tough time and I didn’t want to be the kind of person who was all up his face about his reaction to his sister’s condition. So instead, I approached him nonchalantly and introduced myself to him.
Everything went well. Jeff and I talked for nearly an hour and I’ve learned a lot about him and his family. He told me that everything that is happening on campus seems very surreal at the moment. He doesn’t want to view as the “kid brother of a dying sister.” I told him I understand. I didn’t want to strain our conversation by talking about his sister, instead I switched our conversation about UC Davis instead. “what classes are you taking? how do you like Davis? what do you do for fun?” You know, all that small talk stuff.
The drive was over and we bid our farewell. I walked to my car, took a deep breath, and pat myself on the back. “You did good Vincent. You did good. Maybe one day you’ll meet Janet,” I said.
Chapter 4: The Calm after the Storm
After the drive, life at Davis return back to its original state. As Ezra Pound once wrote, “the apparition of these faces on the crowd, petals on the wet, black bough.” Everybody was everybody, nobody was nobody. I, myself, was back in class reading unimportant books and listening to lectures that has no real help for me after college.
With papers and midterms piling on my end, my thought about Janet became only stronger. “How is she? What is she up to? Did she learn about my effort here at Davis?” I was glad that I was able to help her out but I was a bit sadden that I wasn’t able to catch her attention. I guess you can say that I was a little envious of Victor Kim, Wong Fu, and Kevjumba. Janet took notice of them but not a small time youtuber like myself. Oh wells, my effort was not in vain. All I wanted was to help Janet. I couldn’t help but wonder if these youtube celebrities are only helping Janet as a way of building their image. Making them appear more than just entertainers but also a philantropist. I know its wrong for me to think like that…but I couldn’t help it.
I was no longer seen as the “Vincent the Boy who Hosted the Drive” but rather “Vincent, your typical UC Davis Student”. Life was back to normal and I was just living it through day by day. I spent most nights hanging out with friends, hitting the bars and clubs. I was just living up the single life, doing what guys normally do. Getting drunk with the guys and hitting on mediocre attractive superficial college girls. Though as fun as that may seem…I felt like something was still missing from me. It was short-lived and I knew this wasn’t something God had planned for me. So I took a break from it and declined any more short-lived fun.
Later that week, Bonnie contacted me seeing if I was interested in visiting Janet. That moment, I had the biggest smile ever. I was finally going to meet Janet! I couldn’t held it in. I phoned up my friend and told her that I was going to meet Janet. Its funny how I excited I was. She was kind of a celebrity to me. I told myself that I was going to keep my cool and not fangirl when I see her for the first time. I put on my favorite clothing and drove over to Pleasanton.
Chapter 5: A Gift from God
Bonnie, Michael, and I rendezvous at Amador High School for another bone marrow drive. It was the second drive that I’ve been a part of. Being here at Janet’s High School was a step away from finally meeting her. I was excited yet nervous at the same time. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “this was Janet’s school. This was where she lived, breathed, made friends, and studied.” That day I met her teachers and her friends, and they all share stories about their experience with Janet. Yet, I find it very funny that I have met everyone that was a part of Janet’s life but, yet, not Janet herself.
After the drive was done, I turned to Bonnie and looked at her. She knew that I wanted to meet Janet in person. I didn’t have to say anything to her. My eager eyes was enough for anyone to read me. I wanted to meet this girl. I’ve done a lot in her honor. The least that anyone can do is allow me to meet her. Whether it be 5 minutes or 5 seconds…just let me say at least a good “hello” to her.
We waited by the high school for an hour, still no sign of Janet. Janet hasn’t called Bonnie nor responded to her text. Where is she? I began to lose hope. I figured I might as well just packed and head back up to Davis. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
Bonnie received a phone call from Janet. Lunch is confirmed. We are going to have lunch with Janet and her friends. I was overwhelmed with joy, yet, I concealed it. “Let’s go,” Bonnie said.
We finally arrived at Janet’s place. Her friend came out of her house one by one. Its as if God is teasing me with all these other people before finally revealing Janet to me. “Where is Janet?” I thought.
And there she was. Standing at only 5’2”, petite, skinny, wearing a black cardigan, jeans, a beanie, and two little black boots. I was nervous. I stood behind Michael’s towering 7’2” height and peeked from the corner. She saw me, and smiled back. I timidly wave at her. “What should I say? Should I run up to her and give her a hug?” I thought.
We drove over to a a Mom and Pop mexican restaurant and had lunch there. I sat next to Janet in hopes of getting to know her a little better. Honestly, I didn’t know what to say her. All I could think of was mentioning about stupid things like the decor of the restaurant or whether she prefers tacos or burritos. It was dumb. But an ice breaker nonetheless.
Bonnie and Michael left, and it was only Janet, her friends, and me. We all went over to Chabot Lake and spent the afternoon walking around the beautiful route. The whole time, I was cautious of whether Janet was going to faint. I mean, I’ve never hung out with a leukemia patient before so I guess I was just concern that Janet was going to run out of breath during our walk. However, little did I know…Janet was a much stronger woman than I anticipated.
The whole gang (including myself) went over to Tully’s coffee and spent the evening conversing over coffee and tea. Here, I learned about Janet’s life at UCLA and her fun times with her roommate. Out of all Janet’s gang, I thought Juan was the most hilarious guy I’ve met since. His cold dark humor was something I’ve grown attracted to. He was cynical but at the same time a down to earth kinda guy.
The gang left later that evening and it was only just us two, Janet and I. We drove over to Berkeley and spent the night watching “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. The whole time I thought, I can’t believe I’m spending time with this girl. The girl who have caught so much attention on the internet. The girl who was a celebrity in my book. However, all that began to dissipate and to me…Janet was just a normal girl. A normal, yet…kind spirited beautiful girl.
She rest her head on my shoulder and I rest mine against her.
After the movie, we spent the entire morning together sitting in the car and exchange stories. We had our first kiss. It was all happening so fast. But it felt right. I was falling for her and she was falling for me.
That date later turned into many date later that week. Janet was no longer just a girl with leukemia. Instead, Janet became much more than that. She was my angel. She was my guardian angel. If anything, I needed her more than she needed me. She was strength, my peace, and I have never felt so happy in the long time. I felt protected just being in her presence.
I know what I’m getting myself into. Dating a girl with cancer is not easy. There will be times when I will have to face the darkest hour with Janet. There will be times when Janet will be sick and I will have to be there for her. There are sacrifice to make, trials to be face, and pain to be endure. But then again, what relationships don’t have these elements? Whether she has cancer or not, relationships require work in order for the two to mature. To me, it was worth it.
Meeting Janet changed a lot of perspective in me. I was done living the single life. I am done going out to the clubs, and having meaningless relationships with other girls. I wanted real moments with someone. I wanted someone who I can be my comfortable self…without having to try hard to impress them. I wanted to be love and love someone back. Janet provides that.
I realized that ever since I met Janet, a part of me has matured dramatically. I no longer care about how she looks, nor the superficiality that most guys are accustom to. Instead, I was falling for Janet that can only be measure skin deep. With my time with Janet, I have never laughed, cried, or argued so much within the short amount of time. I have never fought so hard, nor pursue a girl as I do with Janet. I have never been so confused yet so sure that she was the one. Whatever the case may be. I am at peace. I am happy. And most importantly, I am bless. Janet is a Gift from God. Thank you.
“A woman’s heart should be so close to God’s that a man must seek Him to find her.” – Elisabeth Elliot