Around Sunset in the Graveyard

So, this is a hippie story. It takes place in the early 70s when Freddy Beach was still recovering from the Strax Affair which made the University of New Brunswick one of the most newsworthy campuses in the country for demonstrations and student unrest. You can read about that here, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with this hippie story.

This story takes place in a graveyard right in the heart of downtown Freddy Beach. 

I had hair at that time. In fact, it was almost down to my ass. I was a hippie. I wore beads. I had a leather vest with a peace sign painted on it. The peace sign glowed under black lights. I did drugs, mostly LSD, called acid at the time. My roommates and friends did acid as well. When we did acid outside in the summer and fall, it was in the Old Burial Ground, so-called because the first burial was in 1787. That’s a long time ago. Old.

We used to do hits of acid while sitting in a group of four or five people in this area:

Image 1

We talked to the people buried here and sometimes they talked to us. Well, not to me. But some of the members of the group engaged in long conversations with the long deceased. I was mostly quiet when I was on acid, you know, just grooving out on the dinosaurs and elephants parading in front of me. 

One member of the group was a hippie witch named Miska. Miska never sat with us. Instead, she lay down in one of the tombs; in fact, this one:

Image 2

At that time the cover stone was broken and whatever remains had been inside were long gone. After Miska dropped her hit of acid, she climbed into the tomb and lay down with her hands across her chest. She said that this made her one of the dead and made it possible for her to go on adventures with the dead people in the graveyard. She never told us anything about those adventures. We didn’t ask. 

One day, about a half hour before sunset, we were sitting in our favorite graveyard spot with one or two people talking to people long since deceased (not me though, I was watching dinosaurs) and Miska was in her tomb with her hands across her chest having adventures with the dead. We were all doing our thing when a couple passed by us on the sidewalk, right where it curves:

Image 3

Now, the spot where they walked was a fair distance from the tomb where Miska consorted with the dead, but it was still light enough to give a clear view of the tomb. 

I stopped watching extinct animals and elephants and looked at the couple. They seemed nice, probably in their late teens. They smiled as they approached us. We smiled back. Everybody  was smiling and it was one of those moments when everybody was happy and smiling at each other. 

It was around that moment that the male of the couple turned his head towards the tomb where Miska lay. And it was at that exact moment that Miska stopped gallivanting with the dead and sat straight up with her hands across her chest and her eyes wide open. And Miska had very wide eyes surrounded by black eye shadow. And she had very long, very black hair. And she was wearing a black dress. The suddenness of her unexpected movement could be very disturbing if you weren’t used to her. 

The male walker wasn’t used to her. In fact, I don’t think he’d ever seen anything like her before, at least, judging by his reaction. He screamed. It wasn’t even a man scream, it was a high pitched anti-man scream. And then he started running. He ran down the side walk, out the gates, across the street parallel to the graveyard (without even looking for traffic), up the street across from the graveyard and out of site. 

His girlfriend stood there watching him run away, leaving her at the mercy of whatever horror he deemed Miska to be. I seem to recall her making several faces, none of them approving of her boyfriend’s behavior until, after he was clean out of sight, she shrugged. She looked at us and one of the girls with us invited her over and gave her a hit of acid. 

We tripped out in the graveyard well into dark and her boyfriend never came back. 



Day…who cares…I did the 31 day photo challenge

And I’m glad I did it.

At times it was a real pain in the ass. You know, living life and still trying to get that one (or more) picture. Going to work, teaching writing workshops, spending time with friends, writing, taking pictures…and a whole bunch of other shit…like…life.

This was one of the most emotionally charged periods of my life. In fact, I even had a satori. And I picked a path from it. It’s a path that’s going to mean a lot of changes in my life. But, I’m an army brat. I’m used to that.

I’ve been going through my collection of books and trying to price them for a flea market sale. I’ve priced one of them at five million dollars. I think I’ll keep that one. And the one I priced at three million dollars.

Satori or not. There’re some things you just can’t shed. Because they’re you. And they’re everything you are now.

So, I think I’ll hang on to those ones.

We are so much from what we read.

And this is why I’m going to get back to my writing. As a writer, you are what you write. I’ve always known that. But I needed a break from that, and now the break is over. It’s even worse than the photo challenge. It’s writing every day for…maybe a year, or two, or three…whatever it takes to do it…and finish it. Back to life with words and coffee.

These are things we have to deal with if we’re going to be artists…and I mean that in the largest of senses. I met a hippie guy on one of my hippie tours back when I had hair down to my ass, and he said, “My life is a continous work of art.” I forget what kind of acid I was on that day, but I thought that was a pretty damn cool approach to life. And it really didn’t matter that he was saying that shit just to get chicks…he inadvertently made sense.

Each day, our lives are a work of art. It’s a massive canvas, a block of rock, a sentence on fire….and we are the engineers, the artists…the architects of our lives. Whatever we decide to do, to say, or to be on each of those days…is who and what we are each moment of that day. It’s everything we’ve ever been rolled up into a daily decision.

This holds interesting possibilities for the future. It means we can plan to be who and what we want to be, if only for a week ahead…that can turn into months, into years, into a lifetime. Here’s what I’m doing…

I’m going to decide what I’m going to decide on for the next week…and put that decision in my scheduler. Each decision will be something I’ve been putting off, or never thought I could do, or a risk, a dare to myself. It’s going to be all those people I’ve been in the past taunting me and saying, “Yeah, sure, Biff.”

Right, fox?

“What dimension did you just slip into, Biff?” said the fox.

But we’ll just ignore the fox for now. So, both of you, if you’re ever in Freddie Beach and you see some bald guy doing crazy things with a fox keeping a close eye on him…that won’t be me. I won’t be doing crazy things…I’ll be building the next me. And the next. And the next. One planned decision at a time.

You know…I hate winter. I really do. It’s cold, dark, slippery, wet…and full of this stuff you have to shovel, wipe off your car, keep off your camera lens and try to run through without breaking a leg. So…I’m going to make a month long decision right now. I’m going to do this photo challenge thing again…

in February.

After the challenge this one was with relatively mild weather…I’m sure February will be one of the biggest challenges of my life. Snow. I hate snow.

But I just made today’s decision, and once you’ve been satori’d, there’s no backing out.

Now, about that picture that you were guessing at. No, it’s not a giant mushroom even though it sure as hell looks like one. Here’s a clearer picture…

Tree by Church

It’s a tree on a church yard. Wood workers use these to make bowls. It’s called something like “knurl.” Something like that. The picture’s mis-focused, but I was getting snow and sleet and rain my lens.

(By the way, that hippie guy didn’t get laid. He got really high and started raving about the Americans in Vietnam bringing world peace. I don’t know what dimension he’d slipped into, but everyone quietly wandered back to their tents and left him out there ranting around the campfire.)