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Karma Cleanser 

Will it come back to bite you?

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I have been having an ongoing dispute with one of my neighbors for months now, and I need some advice on how to end it. This woman is probably 80 years old and she has lived in our neighborhood for decades. She has watched the area go through many transitions, and the neighborhood is changing again as folks like myself buy up formerly run-down houses to remodel them. Five houses on our street have sold in the past year and almost all of the new owners want to rid the area of the hobos and crack addicts that still stalk our streets after dark.

My elderly neighbor was nice to me at first. Then, for no apparent reason, she decided not to like me. She complained about the new dog fence in my backyard and left a note in my mailbox saying that she would call the cops if my guests parked on the street in front of her house. Someone threw a brick through one of my home's windows while I was at work. I don't know for sure that my neighbor had anything to do with it but it was on the side of the house that faces hers. Later, someone stole my Weed Wacker from behind my house -- and then used it to slice through a bundle of wires going into my basement.

I can't help but think my neighbor was somehow involved. I feel like I've done a lot to build good karma in the neighborhood so I don't understand why so much bad karma is coming my way.

-- Dream House or Nightmare?

We receive a fair number of letters here at Karma Central from folks coping with the unwanted consequences of moving into a transitioning neighborhood. These pioneers often wonder why they're being punished with bad things befalling their fixer-uppers, but we prefer to see the equation differently. To willfully move into an area undergoing rapid change -- racial, social, spiritual, whatever -- is to invite volatility into your life. As the neighborhood changes, so will you, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Be careful not to convict your surly old neighbor of crimes you didn't see her commit. Even with age, wisdom does not always come, and consider how jarring it must be for her to watch her once-familiar world morph into something new entirely. Your only weapon is kindness.

Dear Karma Cleanser:

In response to "Ditched, Not Hitched," the woman whose friend "Katey" gave her the unwanted update on how great her ex-boyfriend is doing: I don't think the problem here is the boyfriend at all. The problem is Katey, who sounds like exactly the type of friend who lives to share devastating news and then play shoulder for crying on.

"Not Hitched" needs to learn and "ditch" her big-mouthed friend before it happens again.

-- Papa Knows Best

Don't kill the messenger! Well, maybe just rough her up a little and see what happens.

Been bad?

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