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Karma Cleanser 

Will it come back to bite you?

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I have a question about contemporary etiquette. I was invited to a holiday party and decided to attend, RSVPing by phone hours beforehand.

At the party, someone stole the selection of imported beer I brought. No one would tell me what brand of radiator fluid was used to sweeten the two sick beers I was able to scrounge out of the cooler with the scowling plaid-shirted lady sitting on it.

Later, noticing I had been drugged or gassed with something, I started mumbling under my breath about the situation, cursing the wait 'til whatever had screwed me had worn off so I could drive home.

After several people had introduced themselves to me as the same person and I was temporarily blinded by a flash and at the same time orally assaulted by what I hope was a rolled napkin, I managed to walk outside and drive home unimpaired. My problem is should I send a thank-you note for the party by e-mail or is a letter required to be socially correct?

-- Dazed and Confused

Goodness. We'll resist saying that you deserve the abuse for not having the courtesy to RSVP sooner. Instead, we suggest that you do send the host a note -- e-mail or otherwise -- listing your grievances and asking for an explanation. Who was throwing this party anyway, the Duke lacrosse team?

Dear Karma Cleanser:

This has been a not-so-great year for me. In fact, I think that 2006 is the worst year of my life yet. I turned 28 last January and on the day after my birthday, there was a fire in my apartment building. My unit wasn't burned, thankfully, but the smoke damage meant that I had to move out. Later, the building was condemned.

I was sleeping on my best friend's couch. Then he found out that he had cancer and asked if I could find somewhere else to stay. The spring and summer went by without anything big happening, but then my company abruptly shut down and everyone was fired. I'm starting 2007 broke and single, with no job and having to depend on friends for a place to stay. How can I set my karma straight to make this year better than the last?

-- Crystal Ball

Sounds like you're going through a classic astrological Saturn Return. (Google it for details.) The good news: You're turning 29 this month, which means a whole new set of challenges and opportunities. This bumpy slide into 30 happens to everyone. It may sound trite, but hang in there. As your best friend might point out, at least you don't have cancer.

Been bad?

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