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Exasperation – state of being irritated or extremely annoyed

I was irritated and extremely annoyed with how my life had been one big exercise in Lowered Expectations. Everything I ever did to improve my lot in life had produced less than ideal results. We left Vancouver, BC for the “city” of Windsor, Ontario so my spouse could get a cheaper and faster second university degree. Then I found out there were no jobs there. We had to cobble together an income from self-employment, student loans, and cash infusions from our parents. I enrolled in a disappointing 2-year community college program, after which I lucked into a remote job completely unrelated to my education about a month after graduation. As soon as I found out the job was permanent, I demanded that we move to a place where the job prospects were better for my spouse with two bachelor’s degrees.

Over almost two years, the prospects there were no better. The culture was not supportive of a 50 year-old trying to make a career change. The town was boring. Where we could afford to live meant that I was trapped in an uninteresting neighbourhood where you had to drive to get to public transit. We couldn’t afford to visit anywhere or do anything fun because we only had one income that barely kept us housed and fed. After 18 months of fighting a system that was not worth it, we gave up on that town.

I absolutely didn’t want to make another move to “well, that will have to do”. I wanted to live somewhere where I didn’t want to die. And a culture-less, mid-sized city with an over-inflated sense of its importance is not conducive to promoting my will to live. It needed to be somewhere we both could thrive, because I was exasperated with always prioritizing my spouse’s career and prospects over my well-being. I was weary of always being the one expected to make the sacrifice.

I was tired of always exhibiting resting exasperated face.

Then came Ottawa, Ontario, a city I was told was The Town Where Fun Forgot. That’s not been my experience at all. Ottawa, while a little uptight at first glance, is full of weird and wonderful people who really go all out to live.

I did comedy for the first time here and it remains a staple in my life.

I met some gorgeous and wonderful individuals who have worked to restore my faith in humanity.

At the deepest depths of the pandemic, it was my new friends here who reached out as often as my old friends from there.

There are things I find annoying, sure, and I haven’t completely retired my resting exasperated face. But this is the best place I’ve been since Vancouver. It’s a real city most of the time. I’ve met people and experienced things here that have changed my life and clarified what I want for my future.

I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t made it this far in Ottawa. I need a job, need to make some real changes in my lifestyle, yet I feel like Ottawa is the place that there’s at least an outside chance that will happen for me if I put in the effort. That’s a big change from everywhere I’ve been, including Vancouver.

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