Decisions, Decisions…

I’ve been struggling with a lot of decisions lately…  I suppose it’s that time in my life.  I’m soon to graduate from community college, with prospects for a great job, but doubts and uncertainties are making for some interesting conversations with myself!  I have a lot on my mind and my plate, from balancing school and work, to eventually trying to find my own place and possibly upgrade my car before it decides to take a turn for the worse (the darn thing is approaching 20!).  Add to this my insatiable yearning for travel, and no plans for the international variety this year, and you can imagine  my mindset.

That being said, I’m coming up with contingency plans and trying to find opportunities to take advantage of in case things don’t pan out as originally mapped out.

In spirit of this, here’s a poem I wrote after open mic at the college this evening, which proved to be very inspirational and eye-opening.  It’s aptly called “Decisions, Decisions…”

Decisions, Decisions…

It’s difficult, isn’t it, to find one’s place in the world.
Carried on by daring dreams, quashed by comfortable conditions.
A young man must decide his path in life, or so we’ve been told.
He yearns to see it all.  Do it all.
But can he?  Will he?
Only he can decide.

A Hot Summer’s Day – A Short Story

Prompt:  Take a road map, close your eyes, and point to it at random.  Have a character drive or walk through the nearest town and stop in at a bank, shop or restaurant.  Study the surrounding area on the map if you like.  Invent the details.  Or:  Write about a place you can’t return to.

“A Hot Summer’s Day” – A Short Story
by Luke A. Bunker
• • •
I had woken up this morning in a cheap, dank hotel room whose owner apparently hadn’t seen fit to outfit with a full set of blinds.  Unable to sleep much past 6:04 (the red numbers threw a cantankerous glare on the opposing wall and, subsequently, on my day), I decided it was time to hop back onto Interstate 10 from the town I was staying in near San Antonio and seek refuge in another place, determined to drive as long as my gas tank would take me.
About 6 hours of being baked by an unforgiving sun later, I pulled off the freeway into a small town called Crowley, dust flying at my heels and heat waves emanating off the concrete ahead of me.  In the heart of Southern Louisiana, Wikipedia told me, Crowley was known for two things – rice and crawfish farming.  Oh, boy…
I stopped at Sal’s Service Station (the neon sign was still emitting light, even at this time of the afternoon, its three S’s glowing red on a yellow background) and filled my Yukon with unleaded gas.  Since they didn’t take credit cards at the pump (and, really, why would they?), I walked inside and spoke with Sal himself, who said, “It’s a hot one today.”  I responded in the affirmative, grabbed a Diet Coke, and was soon on my way to finding sustenance.
Rosa’s Eatery was calling my name.  It was around 1:00 by this time, their parking lot was full, and older gentlemen could be seen rubbing their bellies and emitting eponymous laughs as they clapped their hands to their friends’ backs before heading elsewhere for the afternoon.  I rolled into a diagonal space directly in front of the establishment, not even bothering to lock-beep-lock-beep my car, and opened the creaky wooden door to the aromas of fried chicken, collared greens, mashed potatoes and well, pretty much the stereotypical smell of all things fried.  “Breakfast All Day” adorned yet another neon sign, this time indoors, flashing intermittently and promising 100% Fullness Guaranteed.
A 20-something girl who went by the name of Tammy Sue was hostess that afternoon, and she, like Sal, commented on the heat and seated me at a Formica booth in the corner, across from two grey-haired women who were no doubt gossiping about the men who had just left.  I placed an order for coffee (cappuccinos and other perks were nowhere listed on the menu) and activated my cell phone’s power button to check in on the day’s events back home.  To my utter disbelief, I saw nothing but five empty bars and a nice big “R” next to the digital clock; this was at the very least the seventh time on this journey to “self-discovery” that I was not connected to the non-peripheral world.  Which, to be honest, was fine with me.
As I put my phone away, a woman of a certain age, flaming curly red hair tied up into a bun straight from the fifties and a yellow dress camouflaged by a red-and-white polka dot apron entered my space bubble with a highly-annunciated, boisterous “How the heck are ya this mornin’, sir?”  I checked my watch to verify the time-space continuum, and responded, “I’m fine.  How are you?”  I instantly regretted my politeness (thanks, mother) and sat listening to her talk about how her neighbor had shot her dog yesterday afternoon after it chewed on one of his prize-winning petunias and, my, you never know what’s going to happen in these parts these days, what with the degradation of the Bible, and thank Jesus I still have my cats to love on!
I proceeded to order an omelette, since it was “still morning” and all, and soaked in the gossipy women’s banter, the kitschy yet oh-so-typical diner décor on the walls, and the feeling you get when you’re clogging your arteries in small-town America.  I finished my meal, left a twenty on the table, and like many times before, left the eatery and heaved myself up into my conveyance and was on my way to another place, another time, another memory…  The road to self-discovery was one fraught with the unknown, and I was only somewhat eager to see what lay ahead of me after Crowley  that hot June afternoon.

Intelligence (Poem)

Writing Prompt:
Abstraction + verb + place
Attire
Summarize an action

Each of these five items were listed independently on the board, and each member of the class added one or two items to each list, with no real coherence because the above task was not yet given.  After we had made the list as a class, the instructor had us use the list to make a short, three-line poem with an abstraction, verb and place in the first line, attire in the second, and the summary of an action in the third.  Given the amazing things that some people came up with (you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!), I think I might do this exercise more often.

So, because of the nature of the task, we all had some input into each others’ poems last evening, so this is really by Luke Bunker, et al.  🙂

Intelligence

Intelligence interrogates within the mind,
Its yellow cap and army fatigues
Unfurling a kite and playing a game.

"What Do You See, Luke Bunker?"

I am finally back in the writing mood!!  I think the Creative Writing class I’m enrolled in this spring has helped get me back to my creative roots.  I hope to create and share more of my writing this spring, and so far am off to a great start with several prompts that I enjoyed.

The following poem is inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem, “Salut au Monde!” and one of our prompts at last evening’s class was to answer the question, “What do you hear?” or “What do you see?”

“What do you see, Luke Bunker?”

What do you see, Luke Bunker?
I see the proud displays of chocolate-makers throughout the city.
I smell the dank and dirt of a place where being clean seems to be an afterthought.
I feel the intensity of sun rays beating on my weary body.
I hear the chatter of men and women going on about their daily lives.
I taste the world’s worst and most expensive coffee in a place where it feels just right.
I am alive in this moment.

Can anyone guess what place I’m referring to??  First person who gets it right gets a virtual cookie!

Short Story: "Charlie & His Chocolate Catastrophe"

Our writing prompt this week for the Creative Writing Club I belong to was writing a story using lots of c’s.  So, without further ado, here is the story of Charlie and his chocolate catastrophe!

Charlie & His Chocolate Catastrophe

A Short Story by Luke A. Bunker

Heaven. On. Earth.  –  A Russell Stover Factory Outlet
in Montrose, Colorado.
A collection of crumbly chocolate cascaded off its cream-colored shelves and crashed cacophonously onto the clumsy Charlie Cunningham in the chocolate factory outside Cocoa Falls, California.  Charlie’s cousin Cherry came by to help him and cared for him until he recovered, offering him cocoa and cookies.  But what do you think Charlie did?  Charlie started to choke on the crunchy chunky chocolate-chip cookies!  So Cherry took him to the crumby clinic across town to be checked out.  Turns out Charlie was now allergic to chocolate – how catastrophic!
Melancholy, Cherry took Charlie to a counselor named Cassandra, who tried to coax him into consuming chocolate alternatives.  Charlie cried and cried…  No more Cadbury?  No more milk chocolate?  No more dark chocolate?  No more cocoa-roasted cashews?  No more chocolate chip cookies or cocoa from his Keurig?  Charlie was so, so sad and could be found crying in a corner in his Craftsman-style compound on Country Club Circle.

He quickly found he couldn’t even look at his town’s name anymore, so he contacted his mother – Connie in Connecticut – and asked if he could move there this coming quarter.  She said, “Of course!  Come up to Cascade and cook for your Mother [for Charlie loved to cook] and help her run the store!”

So, Charlie called the Cocoa Falls Commutation Travel Company, booked a plane ticket on Continental Airlines with a cross-country stop in Columbus, said goodbye to Cherry, and checked in his Coach luggage and used his credit card miles to board first class.

When Charlie came into view in Cascade, his cherished mother Connie came up in her coffee-colored Cadillac, helped him with his luggage, and handed him a cappuccino.  What was in this cappuccino?  You guessed it – chocolate!!

Creative Writing Club + Getting More Involved

Last week, I attended my first Creative Writing Club meeting, and it was great!  After going to the Open Mic night a couple weeks ago (which I really enjoyed and gave me great hope and belief in people and keeping arts alive at DCCC and in Dodge City), they said they had a creative writing club that meets on Fridays at 1, so I decided to do it!

Jane, the creative writing instructor @ DC3 and the quasi-meeting-leader, is quite awesome and seems like a very nice, caring and creative person who really listens to people and is an excellent critique-r.  You don’t get all of that in one person very often.  And the students (around 5-6 total, including another adult) who came to the meeting are all very unique and interesting – we have a juggler who is very positive and happy-go-lucky but really came out with a very thought-provoking poem, a deeply gifted – and perhaps troubled? – writer who I stupidly pre-judged because everything seemed a little too over-the-top until I got to know her better, a fellow NaNoWriMo competitor!!, and others…

I guess the whole point of this post is to say that I am really glad I’m getting more involved with school/life activities and getting to know people with similar interests.  It’s also encouraging to see all of these adults/professors in their out-of-school environments (like in Quiz Bowl, which I am a happy member of after skipping out – why?!? – in high school) and to see that they are awesome, dedicated, full people.  I really look forward to getting to know these people better while at the same time cultivating my likes, hobbies and passions!

Back to the writing club, this week’s prompt is “contrasting the light and the dark.”  I want light and dark to be a couple that is falling apart but come back to each other after all and stay in love.  It’s not as easy as I thought it would be, and I’m not uber-into poetry like some of the other people in the club, but I am committed to making it work!

NaNoWriMo Update + Excerpt

3,660 words and counting!  I have kind of, by this point, given up on the goal of completing this novel in 30 days.  I suppose part of me always knew I wouldn’t reach it.  But you know what?  I’m OK with that.  My goal for years has been to write a novel, and I am accomplishing that dream right now.  So what if it’s not done in 30 days?  No one’s saying it has to be (other than the good folks at NaNoWriMo, that is!!).  And I’d rather have a good work than a rushed one.  With that being said, here is the latest excerpt from my novel, a scene which takes place after the candidate finds out just what his campaign manager has been up to all along.

Enjoy!

            The candidate and his campaign manager met in Locke’s study at his residence in upstate New York.  It was snowing outside; the flakes painting a white blanket across the barren landscape of his country farm.
            Locke looked out the window with his back towards his campaign manager, the sunlight brightly shining on his front.
“Do you think we’ve gone too far, Harley?” asked Locke as he turned around and sat down.
            “Of course not,” replied Lanser.  “We’ve only done what’s necessary to keep you in the race.  You know that just as well as I do.”
            “Did we really need to do this?  I mean, the more I think about it, the more it weighs on my mind…  It’s just not sitting well with me,” said Locke with an obvious air of unease.
            “I understand that you’re uncomfortable with this, but what did you want me to do?  Did you want me to just sit on the sidelines while you were being attacked?  You hired me to get the job done, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” said Lanser defensively.
            “You don’t get it!” exclaimed Locke as he began getting out of his seat to stand up and face Lanser.  “There’s a line!  This is not what we do!
            Locke’s crescendo-ing voice left an impression in the room, and perhaps even on Lanser.
In defeat, Locke finished, “This is what we said¸ this is what we told people, we would never do…”
Locke sat down in his brown leather executive chair with a deep sigh as he placed his elbows on the table, his head in his hands, and his trust in his gut.  He rubbed his temples out of exasperation and uncertainty.
“Lanser, you’re dismissed,” said Locke as he paused and looked up from his current position at his lifelong friend and adviser, a mere shell of the man and person he used to be.  “Permanently.”

NaNoWriMo Update

Ten minutes until the stroke of midnight on Day 2, I was struck with inspiration about “first times.”  (Get your mind out of the gutter right this minute!!)  As such, rather than going to bed because I knew this challenge wasn’t going to complete itself, I sat down on the floor of my kitchen with my Mini (because my computer was charging in the dining room and I just hate interrupting charges) and set to work.

Even though it’s around 10-15 minutes into Day 3, I will go ahead and put the total at the end of Day 2 at 2,320 words!  It’s not nearly where I should have been by the end of today, but considering I am going to school full-time and working part-time (and being a social media and tech addict FULL-time), I don’t think that’s too bad.  😉

To another day of writing!!
Luke

1,690 words and on target! + Excerpt from Novel

DAY 1: I have officially met my word count goal for the day, with 1,690 words, beating the NaNoWriMo goal by just 23 words.  I feel fairly accomplished, although I feel I don’t have a very good outline or idea of where I want my story to go.  However, I guess that can come later; write now, it’s all about the writing!  Yay for accomplishing goals!!
Excerpt:
10:20 a.m. | Locke for President Headquarters, New York, NY
“Mr. Lanser?  You have a Mr. Seymour who’s here to see you.” Harley Lanser’s secretary phoned into his office.
            Harley Lanser made a deep sigh, cleared a few papers off his desk, gulped down the few remaining swallows of bourbon in his Tiffany tumbler, and initiated the speaker.
            “Send him in.”
            A few seconds later, a bookish-looking man in his thirties, attired in a dress shirt and tasteful argyle sweater vest, armed with a brown leather briefcase with a tan trench coat on his arm, walked into the vast office of the Locke for President campaign manager’s office.
            Seymour made a few steps forward, shifted his coat and briefcase to his left hand, and extended his other to Lanser with a genuine smile on his face.  When Lanser didn’t stand up and reciprocate, Seymour’s face turned slightly sour as he took a seat in front of Lanser’s desk.
“What’s it gonna take?”  Harley broke the awkward-for-Seymour silence.
“Excuse me, sir?  I’m not sure I follow,” said Seymour.       
            “Bill, let’s not mince words here,” Harley said briskly.  “The candidate” – as Harley tended to speak of Locke when trying to distance him or speak of him in non-personal tones – “is willing to make some, ah, concessions, to keep this story of yours under wraps.  Both the candidate and I, and I’m sure you do as well, understand the consequences this could have for the campaign.  As such…”
            “Mr. Lanser, with all due respect,” Seymour interrupted, “this story is going to go to press with or without Mr. Locke’s consent.  Legal has looked over this story a dozen times, all of the sources have check out, and to be frank, I’m here purely as a courtesy to you.”

Today is the day!!!

Well, today is the day that I will begin writing my first novel! OK, supposed to be starting my first novel. 🙂

I look forward to this challenge, which I know will be a real challenge with school and work – as well as photo processing! – thrown in the mix.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will stick with my first story idea… Now I’m thinking something more along the lines of international business mixed with a little espionage.

Happy November!
Luke

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