There is a film studies book on Weimar era cinema subtitled "Daydreams and Nightmares": what more fitting subtitle for the year that is, as I write this, almost history. That hesitant, leery way that Liza Minnelli sings "life is a ... ca-ba-ret old chum" in the final, chilling scene in Cabaret is exactly the tone guiding us out into the fog that lies beyond 2016.
For me the daydreams were personal. Creative projects, one of which had been years in the making, finally came to fruition. The Switch, the world's first transgender sitcom debuted on OutTV on July 25. Being a part of the writers' room in 2012-13 was one of the highlights of my life. The red carpet event in late July (Pride week) was a deep affirmation of our team's work, and for me, in a traumatic year, a rare moment of levity and balm for the soul. The same week saw a more recent solo project, a radio documentary on the medical aspect of my transition, air for the second time this year (it had debuted two months earlier on my alma mater CiTR FM where I had once hosted a music show for seven years). Inspired by these two events, my daydreams were about a life in creative harmony, making sharp, poignant social commentary and reaching many people through writing.
My other daydreams were of the good life, not in the monetary sense, but the sustainable life. Me on an organic farm, living in an earthship, getting back in touch with health and spiritual practice. The daydreams were always sunny and bright. When I arrived in Vancouver, over 21 years ago, they were what I was aiming for. The reality of this year seemed light years away from it.
No area of life in 2016, from the clinic in my hometown where I was nurtured through rebirth to friends, colleagues, family, neighbours, and others in any of my intersecting communities was untouched by shock, chaos, fear of death, gaslighting and abuse and dread about the world and the future. And violence and destruction (Nice, Orlando, Minnesota, Oakland, Aleppo, Istanbul). And the deaths of our modern heros and heroines at the exact point where we seemed to need their guidance the most. And the ascendancy of the evil and the psychopathic into positions of power, or at least, escaping justice and accountability.
By the end of this year, my trauma and that of my friends and others has made us tired and weary. Only fitting that Vancouver is having one of its rare snowy, cold winters this year. In years past, this was my cue to hibernate. Once, long ago, when I was thirteen and my biological mother was hospitalized, I retreated into a world of cartoons, old films and Christmas lights. Years later, after she passed when I was a young adult, I turned inward once again, this time taking refuge in the music I heard as a child. Still years later, during another snowy Vancouver winter, as a newly single person I once again turned inward, this time trying to plot a way forward in life. This winter, other than for thin respite provided by holiday music, I shut off the radio and computer in disgust.
At the end of this year, the way forward is foggy, the steps forward are shaky, the music has, sadly, lost its old magic. But, soon this rest period too will end and looking at the very numbers 2017 will take unparalleled courage. On that, I wish all of us godspeed.