Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Can't Decide How to Spend Birthday

DEAR HARRIETTE: My birthday is coming up, and I am torn about what I should do. My friends from college want me to come back and celebrate with them, my boyfriend wants me to visit him for the weekend and my friends from home want me to stay at home so I can celebrate with them. Ideally, I would love to see all of these people on my birthday or that weekend, but I know how unrealistic that is. Is there any way I could make a decision that hurts the fewest number of people? I’m not sure what I want to do, so any advice on how I should weigh the pros and cons of each situation would be much appreciated! -- Birthday Plan Problems, Sarasota, Florida

DEAR BIRTHDAY PLAN PROBLEMS: Sit back and think about what you would most like to do for your birthday -- and with whom. Next, analyze if it’s possible for any of your friends to come together so that you can be with some or all of them. Talk to your boyfriend and tell him your dilemma and your desire to celebrate with everyone. Ask him to come to wherever you will be.

If not everyone can travel to be together, choose where you want to go for your birthday, and tell the others that you will make a plan to see them in the near future. Do not discuss every detail with all of your friends, as that will get them too involved and lead to unmanaged expectations.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college student who still lives in the dorms on campus. My roommate just got sick, and I am worried I am going to get sick. I have a ton of exams next week and cannot afford to catch anything. I have done all the proper precautions, like taking vitamin C drinks and washing my hands constantly.

I feel bad for my roommate and try to help her as much as I can, but I try to stay out of the room as much as possible. Whenever I come home, there are always tissues all over the room. I know that she can’t help being ill, but I think she could be a little more considerate and try to keep her dirty tissues in one place so the sickness is not being spread around even more. Should I bring this up to her now while she is sick, or just forget about it and deal with the dirty tissues? -- Tissue-Monster Roommate, Cambridge, Massachusetts

DEAR TISSUE-MONSTER ROOMMATE: You should speak to your roommate immediately. Ask her to put her tissues in a closed garbage can or bag right after use. Tell her how sorry you are that she is sick and that you are working overtime not to get sick yourself. Ask her to support the health of your room by keeping it as tidy as possible. Be kind and acknowledge that you know she doesn’t feel well. Point out that this year there are record numbers of people getting the flu and other illnesses. Ask her to help you by not spreading her germs.

You should keep up with your preventive regimen, especially keeping your hands and surfaces clean, not touching your face or mouth and keeping your home tidy.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)