The following entries are meditations on the experience of what one may call, "a canceled life". They explore a transformation of a being into a perceived non-being, the terror of a call-out, the effects of being publicly shamed, the day-to-day of disgrace, my shame of doing things I've done, my anger at being accused of doing things I did not do, and the existential confusion of it all.

This writing is not only something I do to cope with the constant haunting of a single saga in my life (which is described in "The Details" section), but it's something I hope others in similar situations can find helpful. There is no intended order, I just add them as I write them.

“What’s it like to be you right now?”, a friend asked over coffee, January 2018. I know people wondered, but until then, nobody had directly asked. I appreciated the question. I missed being spoken to like I had something, even if that something was insider knowledge of a peculiar and undesirable existence.

“Not even I know”, I told her. Then I rambled on for a couple hours, wired. I was right in the thick of it, a wavering blade of shot nerves. When I imagine myself back in that moment, there at the coffee shop, I see my head, gray and stretched out, floating above shirt and pants stuffed with newspaper. It’s not me; I’ve been replaced by a scarecrow. A junkie scarecrow who’s paranoid of leaving the house lest he gets blown away or punched. I pity that poor thing, it was a thing with a situation, nothing more. But here was someone sitting across from this thing in a coffee shop, and she wanted to talk to the thing about the situation. It was all I could think about, and when someone invites me to talk about it, I just let them have it. There’s a helplessness to it, I’m overcome by talk. I see this in others who have gone through some fresh shit, it’s the trademark talking style of the traumatized. Seems sane until the subject is breached, then words will shoot out in ceaseless ribbons attempting to cover everything you’ve been thinking about this thing you do nothing but think about. I can float over myself while the talking is happening, see me going on like a nut, eyes bugging out, I’m such a baby, look at you/me, fidgety idiot. What’s it like to be a skinny midget baby? What’s it like to be erased to the delight of an angry mob of people who want to make the world a better place, sent to rot in nowhere with a belly full of their sins? What’s it like to not be you anymore?

I was a non-being, but different than dead, I could feel so acutely everything that constitutes life: blood flow, heart beat, brain activity, pain, and hunger - although I was not eating, and my shit was strained and sad, resembling old beef jerky links. This is the shit of a scarecrow, haunted and gaunt, a wet noodle big baby who was losing his mind trying to figure out how to beat being beaten.

The last time I was a person was when I was at a roadside motel deep in Maryland, May 2017. I was a man in a shirt, I still vividly remember the shirt’s smell, which was worn by a friend who worked at a pizzeria.

Whenever I’m facing a deadline, I find a roadside motel, just far enough away from familiarity, weird, cheap, not too nasty to be uncomfortable, but nasty enough not to be too comfortable. Preferred environment.

I turned off my phone to concentrate, and I sat down/paced to write a play about internet pornography, a taxidermy ram, and a virus that makes men speak in nothing but the most vulgar obscenities. Another piece contributing to my cultivated artistic persona of a sex/death driven, unhinged creep. An art that too often leaks into my own trunks. I wrote late into the night, buzzing on Adderall.

When I woke up the next morning, turned on my phone, I read of a drama that was written while I slept, a re-authoring of my being. It was a melodrama about justice, the antagonist was a scarecrow with my name, who had done things I have not done, who was called things that I was not, who was charged with vague accusations of badness, sprinkled with horseshit and sealed with a deathly kiss from the english language: “Abuser”.

In the play, the scarecrow is brought to a party, and with only the best intentions, the party-goers beat the stuffing out of it, set it on fire, piss on the flames and puke on the piss-ash forever. The end. This wasn’t a play about resolution. This is a ritual of comeuppance performed for the sake of the community because they say this scarecrow skidmark is POWERFUL, has the voodoo and must be stopped! They call this effigy by my name, but this can’t be me, I’ve never been powerful, pathetic maybe, powerful no, and now more pathetic than ever, publicly. Through the magic of melodramatic storytelling, they transfer my name over to a totem of abuse, circling it while chanting Ric is this thing, Ric is this thing, and the more they say it, the more they believe it, and the more they believe it, the more I can see myself in the scarecrow. The repetition has bonded us, and at this point, my life and the life of that lifeless thing is the same.

So no, I do not know what it is like to be me anymore, but I know what it’s like to be not me, and above all else, it is weird. It is a sublime feat of existential hocus pocus. How stunning to discover so intimately the frailty between individual and identity, how uncanny to be lifted out of your body, have it stuffed with straw, and set on fire as you hover over it like its ghost.

When it can be done with such ease, this is power.

December, 2019. Another roadside motel. Instead of somewhere in Maryland, I look out the window to a snow-filled parking lot in Niagara Falls, New York.

The nightmares have started to come back since I started writing. For the first 16 months, there were scarecrow nightmares nearly every night. I would dream of his horrible life and wake up devastated remembering that his life is mine; I would dream of my wonderful life and wake up devastated remembering that my life was not mine. Terrible days, often started with a good cry.

Last night it was a Christmas sale at an art gallery that looked like a JCPenney. Robin was sitting naked on a glass display case, wearing a blank yellow mask like in a photoshoot we once took in her room. From the side of the mask I saw massive scarring, very Friday the 13th. This is why she is wearing the mask (hockey mask now) I realized. She had been hurt, she was covering it. Did someone do this to her or did she do this to herself, I wondered. I had to get out of there before she saw me and caused a scene, I was panicking. She glanced over at me slowly, as though she had always known I would be standing there. I froze in fear, but instead of sounding an alarm, she slowly slid her ass off the back end of the glass counter as if to show it off, her asshole was bright purple.

Same night different dream, I looked at an apartment with my girlfriend, Miriam, and learned that Dana had previously lived there. I looked in the bedroom that used to be hers, there was an unfinished scarf hanging on the wall. I look closer - it is made of hair. I followed it as it extended into rooms within rooms, then down to the basement where a Mexican family was living under the stairs. I couldn’t find my way back, I wanted Miriam. The house caught on fire and I knew I would be blamed for it. I fled the city, alone, now an arsonist as well.

The night before, a dream of a woman I know named “Peppers” coming into my ambiguous place of employment and saying to me very loudly, “Should we tell your boss who you really are?”

I told her she looked old.

“What if I told you I was sick and dying? Would that make you happy?”, she said. I shot back, “No, dying wouldn’t make you a better person.”

Good response for a dream. I don’t hate Peppers, or anyone else who hates me for that matter. She’s just a grump in the universe. I worked with her for a couple years. She was a tough lesbian who always seemed to have a cold. I wasn’t the type of person she liked, I didn’t have much use to her until my skeleton was re-assembled from the ashes and covered in shame gold.

The canceled are not actually worthless. When I was made a nobody, I was suddenly useful to a whole crew to whom I was never useful to before: Abuser Bling for the victim set, a bourgeois gem worn by those too fortunate to have been really abused. Your Lil Abuser(™). From flesh and blood, to a soft target of bones in a hard, unbreathable shell of gold, metamorphosis: Abuser Superstar.

Soon, the Superstar was abusing everyone, including Peppers, because she said so. The abuse: I sent her an aggressive work-related email. I don’t remember such an email, but if I did send it, I would love to read it. I would love everyone to read it. I would love everyone to see the abuses I've been accused of, watch them as a live audience seated in front of my alleged tyrannies as they happened or didn't happen, and tell me whether I am so terrible that I should be writing desperately in a motel in Niagara Falls that won’t get warm enough, dead of winter, dying to make it all better; searching for a way to be reunited with my body and name again.

Too late. I am the solid gold Scarecrow Superstar, I have ALS and Parkinson’s and AIDS, I’m the worst and that’s the only way I’ll be useful to anyone now. I am worthless to myself, only valuable to those who call me worthless. Am I supposed to say "I'm sorry", or “you’re welcome”?

Earlier tonight I woke up to a woman screaming from outside the motel. It was a genuine horror scream, “Somebody help me, help me!” It didn’t sound like it was coming from the grounds of the motel, but somewhere out in the street. I turned off the lights to open the curtain and didn’t see anything. I went outside, absolute silence.

I wondered if I could have dreamed it. Niagara Falls is a post-apocalyptic toxic frightscape, but I don’t think terrible murders happen right here on the empty boulevard. Then I remembered the girl who got her face set on fire at a nearby Tim Hortons. Her ex-boyfriend threw gasoline over her head and lit a match to it. During the trial she said that she stood there drenched in gasoline as he lit a match, she didn’t run because she didn’t think he was really going to do it. But he did, and now he’s spending his life behind bars, as she lives her life behind a face that bears the reminder of a single, violent moment so extreme she couldn’t imagine it could really happen. This is horror, the sounds of a woman screaming, a scream that says “nothing will be the same”, these are the sounds made beyond a feeling of hurt, an alarm sounding, the sacred sounds and words only to be used when in great danger. Run. Horror does worse than hurt. Help. It’s not horror if you still have as much or as little of yourself as you’ve always had. Hurt is not horror, conflict not abuse. Yet here I am holding the match as the house burns down, Gold Bones on the run. All I want is Miriam, but I had to leave her behind because I knew they would blame me for it. Once you are accused, you are guilty of everything.

Alone I walk frozen sidewalk-less streets for food, towards the nearby KFC. Among the darkness and the cold, I have never felt so much salvation for reaching the doors of a KFC, but this door was being held shut by a homeless man, grasping the handles and leaning his weight back to keep me out in the cold. Is he trying to tell me they are closed? No, the employees start yelling at him from behind the counter to get away from the door. I can’t hear them, I only stare at his face through the glass, I look into his eyes. If I am being wronged by these eyes, I cannot blame the person behind them, because there is none. Where can we say: this person isn’t responsible because something is wrong here, when does responsibility begin, and excuses end? Maybe he grew up in a violent household, maybe he was abused as a child, his mother dressed him in mini-skirts and made him watch her fuck men for money, made him cross-eyed. If I think about it too much, I start believing that nobody is ever responsible for any crime (but that's what the guilty say). The person didn’t do it, it was the lack of person. Punish the lack of person by putting the person back in the eyes.

The employees start angrily toward the door, I don’t want any midnight action at the KFC, so I just turned and walked away. I got dinner fit for a ghost at a gas station instead: hard-boiled eggs in plastic, microwave pot-pie and some other crap. On the way back to the motel, I see the homeless guy walking in my direction - presumably on his way from being kicked out of the KFC. It was as if we were the only two people out in Niagara Falls that night.

“Merry Christmas. Be safe!” He says to me.

“Merry Christmas to you too.”