Saturday, April 22, 2017

SPIROCHETE—North Shore Spiral 4

Trying to find work and trying to fit into my new community, a small city where I felt out of place, I subscribed to the NorthShore News and enclosed my résumé with the payment. Merging back into the creative scene, I attended a play, Free At Last, at Presentation House where I bought a membership, and where a small installation of my drawings and photos lined the walls and were for sale. 

After meeting choreographer Anna Wyman at Presentation House, I subscribed to her vibrant Dance Theatre series performed at a North Vancouver concert hall. I submitted transparencies of South American places and faces to photo magazines. I advertised myself as a freelance proofreader in the local daily paper. I mailed and delivered carefully handwritten copies of my résumé and caught the SeaBus across Burrard Inlet to downtown Vancouver where I signed up as temp with the Kelly Girls agency.

Calls came in for freelance proofreading work with Self-Counsel Press, a large business and legal imprint of a renowned book publisher, and from Kelly Girls for a clerical position sorting Vancouver Stock Exchange trading tickets for Pitfield MacKay Ross. I accepted both and was immediately immersed in the daily dress up and commute routine. Another Kelly assignment placed me with BC Hydro, proofreading invoices, verifying data entry from keypunch cards to printouts after a big glitch in their mainframe computer. 

Summer Sun transitioned into eternal rains as the days shortened. I never travelled without an umbrella. Investment in a water resistant coat was manditory. The rolling of the SeaBus in the mornings made me nauseous, the steep walk up Lonsdale from the quay at the end of each workday became a strain. There wasn’t enough time for me to catch up on rest.

It took weeks for my things to arrive from Buenos Aires. When the boxes were delivered my heart sank. Packed in flimsy cardboard and wrapped in plastic they’d smashed open. The contents were dented, ruined or broken. Everything was sticky from salty sea air and gritty with diesel exhaust. I took out my barely-used typewriter glad to have it for résumés, notes and manuscripts. I lifted it from the cracked case but one look and my hopes were shattered. The keys were jammed and its blue body was broken. I gathered what couldn’t be salvaged and quietly tossed them into a dumpster in the alley.

Happily the pots of watercolours were undamaged and the brushes revived with gentle coaxing. My assortment of pencils and, surprisingly, most of the specialty paper was intact and usable. The reunion with my art supplies was a happy one. I made a few bucks drawing and selling pastel portraits of Quechua and Maya faces from memory, a couple of portraits of friends, greeting cards and graphite illustrations of NFL players in action. I sold a few photos, too. No major money.

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