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February 21-27, 2007

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Ask Sydney

This advice column is penned by a Sonoma County resident and our new weekly sage. Go ahead! Ask her anything.

Dear Sydney, for the first time in our eight-and-a-half year relationship, my boyfriend told me (during a fight) that I wasn't trying hard enough in bed. I'm totally crushed, and even though we have since made up, I still don't want to touch him. I thought we had a good sex life. Seriously. I was happy with it. How am I supposed to get over this. Do I just pretend it never happened? Try to jazz it up a little? What the fuck?--Jilted

Dear Jilted: This is the first time in eight-and-a-half years that he has said something about your sex life to hurt your feelings? Not bad, but it sounds like he blew your clean streak in a moment of frustration and anger. It's possible, now that your argument is over, that he wishes he hadn't said it, and maybe he didn't even mean it in the first place. Maybe he was just in the throes of an "I'm an unsatisfied horny dude" funk. Chances are, if you feel pretty good about your sex life, that he does, too. Tell him that he hurt your feelings, and that you want to discuss the situation further now that you aren't arguing anymore. Find out what he meant when he said you weren't trying hard enough. That's a pretty pathetic thing to say to someone you care about, so if he's going to bother saying it at all, he better explain himself. Maybe there's something he wants from you, but he's been afraid to ask, or maybe he's just a dick. You'll have to probe the situation further before you come to any big conclusions about it. Just don't pretend it didn't happen. There are some things that one does not forget easily, and sexual slights are definitely up there in the realm of the unforgettable.

Dear Sydney, does it seem like people are more freaked out about the end of the world than they used to be? It seems like everywhere I go, someone is making a bad joke about global warming or predicting a killer earthquake or saying that Californian is going to fall into the ocean or moaning that it doesn't really matter because we're all going to get cancer anyway. It's depressing is what it is, and to be perfectly honest, I'm starting to feel a little bit more neurotic. What am I supposed to do? Not reading the paper just isn't enough anymore.--Freaking Out

Dear Freaking: Humans have been predicting doom, death and destruction since we became evolved enough to wield clubs, and, for the most part, we've been right. Life can be alarmingly short and painful. But despite pestilence, war and despair, the human race has yet to disappear altogether. Actually, life on this planet has greatly improved. Living before the invention of anesthetic, purified water and the Internet just wasn't that much fun.

But despite these improvements, things haven't been quite the same ever since the new millennium. True, the earth didn't end as predicted on the stroke of midnight, but that doesn't mean it still won't. There seems to be this sense that we are living on borrowed time, and that no amount of stocking up on toilet paper and batteries is going to help. Add to this the general discord caused by the fact that we are at war, and it's no wonder that you feel as if you are surrounded by naysayers. You probably are.

But what can a person do about it? We live on a chunk of spinning rock that's suspended in space, and consequently, we could be annihilated at any moment by a mammoth meteor shower, just like the dinosaurs. Even under the best of circumstances, this fact alone is enough to make even the most stable among us feel a little insecure. So don't read the paper; don't participate in any jokes about global warming, you'll only encourage them. Once a day, try to find the time to sit with your eyes closed and listen to one of your favorite songs. Also, though death is still inevitable, it might make you feel better to buy a Prius--this seems to be working for everybody else.

Dear Sydney, do you believe in the concept of soul mates? I'm wondering how you would even define what a soul mate is. There was a time when I thought I knew, but I'm not so sure anymore. Maybe I've been looking for something that doesn't even exist.--Disillusioned

Dear Disillusioned: The official definition of "soul mate" is a person with whom one has a strong affinity. An affinity is a natural liking or attraction for someone. That's all. So, sure, I believe in soul mates! But dictionary definitions aside, who we consider to be soul-mate material is entirely open to personal interpretation. Life is far too unpredictable to be able to nail down love. Love moves elusively, and demands an outstanding level of commitment, and it is this commitment more than anything else that creates the sort of connection people so often desperately want.

Whether or not your own personal version of a soul mate exists is dependent on your list of expectations, as well as a host of other things, such as luck, personal fortitude and patience, to name just a few. The longer the list, the more stringent your expectations; the more damaged your heart, then the more difficult it will be. So while you shouldn't give up searching, you might want to reconsider your definitions. Our experiences shape our understanding of things, so why not accept that your vision of what a soul mate should be might need to shift as well?

No question too big, too small or too off-the-wall. Ask Sydney.