Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Roommates Want To Sublet Apartment

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two roommates, but both of them took off after the illness started spreading in our town. We live in Brooklyn. Now that a lot of time has passed and they are staying with their parents, they want to sublet their rooms so that they will not have so many bills. I am nervous about this. I can’t afford to pay for the whole apartment, but I don't want to bring unknown people into what is currently a coronavirus-free space. I want to make them get tested before they move in if I have to take them. I’m not sure how that works, though. I don’t think there are any laws on this yet. But do you think it’s worth asking? -- Testing

DEAR TESTING: Appeal to your roommates’ humanity. Point out that they left the city in order to flee the virus. Even though it exists everywhere, it is concentrated in New York City, and even more specifically in Brooklyn. Ask them to require any potential new roommates to get tested before being allowed to move in. Though it is not easy to get tested, there are testing sites being set up in the city. Research where these people can get tested, and share that information with your roommates. Further, speak to your landlord about any requirements that the building may have put in place to keep you all safe. You may find backup right there.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My birthday is coming up, and I’m feeling kind of sad. I usually host a big party, but I wonder if I can do anything at all this year. I live by myself and feel nervous about hosting a party. I think the rules say that we can have up to 10 people together as long as we practice social distancing. But my gut says that’s a bad idea. How can I make sure that people will stay far enough away from one another? -- Birthday Celebration

DEAR BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: First, be happy and grateful that you are reaching another year. As you know, tomorrow is not promised. That said, be creative and find your joy. Yes, you can host a gathering of 10 people, but is the space big enough for everybody to practice safe distancing the whole time? I doubt it. It’s not worth it to put your friends and loved ones -- and yourself -- in harm’s way just to have an in-person party.

Instead, consider using technology -- like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or another video streaming service -- to connect to friends remotely. You can plan a party where people serve themselves treats and where you all get to talk to each other and share stories and love from a distance. Ask your friends to write you notes that they send via email or text. Use social media to host a virtual party. You can have fun and engage with your loved ones safely. You just have to decide that you will adjust to life as it is now and celebrate accordingly.

(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.)