Dan Kang

Ramblings Aboard a Moving Prison

Confined on a bus, this is where I take on the daunting task of writing with pen and paper. My handwriting is already illegible and the fact that the bus shakes so much is not helping matters.

I suppose I should explain my predicament – apparently we have opted for an alternate route in order to avoid mountainous paths covered with snow. While our destination is directly to our south, this new route has taken us far east.

I’ve done all the reading that I can do for one day. I finally finished with Pride and Prejudice; overall, I enjoyed it except Darcy’s dramatic change in disposition midway through the book (oops, spoiler alert) seemed quite unbelievable to me. The girl sitting next to me insists otherwise, and I do suppose that I should take Elizabeth’s prejudices into account as well in the narrator’s description of Darcy. Anyway, I planned on starting David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, but cowered away when my Kindle informed me that it would take me 30 hours to finish the 1000+ page book. I’m trying to learn to read faster by reading more, but at the present moment I am still quite slow of a reader. Okay, since Infinite Jest is out of the running for the time being, I’ll tackel Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Apparently, it should take me around 3 hours. I can stomach that. But that’ll be later, because I can’t continue reading right now.

It’s dark, so I can’t really enjoy the view outside besides the flashes of light of the cars passing by. Earlier, the girl next to me, actually let’s introduce her, her name is Rosa, told me that the crates next to rows of trees actually contain bees. TIL. Fun fact: Rosa bakes cookies with candy-top mushrooms that she finds herself. pretty neat. It reminded me of a story I heard of a girl at school cooking wild mushrooms that she happened to find and – surprise, surprise – getting quite sick.

I typically enjoy these bus rides, but the fact that we’re hours behind schedule is creating the feeling that I’m being kept here against my will. I can’t stop thinking about the incarceration of David Chong, a UCSD senior who was confined in a 5'x5'x10’ holding cell for 5 days without food or water because DEA agents forgot about him. Pretty frightening stuff.

Anyway, I’m quite hungry but I don’t want to reach over and take the Chipotle leftovers from earlier out of the overhead compartment just yet. The couple in front of me were feeding each other fruits earlier and it was quite adorable despite the fact that I wanted to stick my head in the gap between their seats and take a bite out of whatever fruit slice happened to be on the fork at the time. Speaking of fruit slices, Rosa gave me half of an orange that she had brought with her. It was really sweet. If I left it ambiguous whether it refers to the act of sharing or the orange itself, would people catch it? Would anyone even notice? Or maybe those who would notice would think that I couldn’t possibly have intentionally created the ambiguity. Do writers typically worry about whether anyone’s going to get their clever lines? If the writer actually didn’t intend it, should they be given credit for the cleverness? Maybe even if they weren’t consciously being clever, we could attribute to their subconscious so there’s some merit in that. Does authorial intent even matter?

I feel like writing on this bus with my chicken scratch scribbles is undoing the careful, meticulous handwriting practice I’ve done for the past two weeks or so. But let’s be real, if I wrote all of this neatly, the bus would arrive before I could even get through half of what I’ve already written. And that’s a pretty damn long time from now.

I’m not sure whether the confinement inside the bus or my hunger is making me grouchier. My arm’s getting tired and Google Maps tells me that we’re 50 minutes away from LA. I suppose I’ll eat my burrito bowl now.