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Will it come back to bite you? 

Birthdays and ex-boyfriends

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I am 38 years old. Make that 39. I celebrated my birthday this week basically alone. I moved to a new city this year and even though I brought a good friend along for the move, our friendship has suffered because we are roommates and he works different hours than me. My dog used to bring me a lot of happiness. Now, after years of vet bills and paying for a kennel when I travel for work, I am burned out on pet ownership. I love my dog, but I miss my freedom.

On my birthday this week, only one friend called me. We ate a quiet dinner at her apartment and drank some wine. Then her boyfriend came home and I left. (There are no romantic sparks there; she's just a good listener.) I briefly considered going to a bar, then thought that would only make me more sad.

Did my past karma somehow leave me in this pitiful situation? How can I fix it in time for my next birthday?

---- Paxil Smurf

Did karma put you in this prickly place? Yes, if by "karma" you mean "action," the root of the word. Maybe you never meant to be 40 and living in a strange city with a needy animal and few friends, but it's the path you chose -- even inadvertently. We're sensing a real longing for security in your letter, and a theme of looking outside of yourself for happiness. So stop looking. Real bliss is largely an internal equation. Welcome each day the way your dog greets you when you come home: gratefully, with tail wagging.

Dear Karma Cleanser:

My ex-boyfriend is a jerk. After we broke up, he posted unflattering photos of me on his MySpace page, with captions saying things like, "She's a frigid bitch" and "My ex-girlfriend, the worst lay ever."

I know I shouldn't care. But I look at his page every day. And even if I don't, my friends tell me what he has posted. It's been three months since we split. Why can't he just get over it? Please tell me that karma is going to come back and bite him in his ass -- even though he barely has one!

---- His Space, But My Face

Whoever said there's no such thing as bad press had obviously never encountered a spurned ex with a broadband connection. It makes no nevermind, though. Stop reading his page, and ask your friends to stop reporting on it. In the end, his choices reveal him to be the asshole, not you.

Been bad? karmacleanser@gmail.com.

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