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January 3, 2000 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need

BG2K: Advice for a New Millenni///

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January the Third, 1900 A.D.
   Miss Breakup Girl of New York, New York
   An Advice column Most Extra-Ordinary
   heralding the DAWNING CENTURY
and the Glorious Events and Social Interactions that will no doubt take place therein.

Aw, kidding. (You know the Studio Apartment of Justice -- much like the contraptions that saved the world in Independence Day -- runs on a Mac.)

So yes. We made it into the new millennium. (BG even -- finally -- made plans.)

Now what will we make of it?

Well, why did we make such a big deal in the first place? In his most recent book, Questioning the Millennium, Stephen Jay Gould writes: "So here we are, engulfed in a millennial madness utterly unrelated to anything performed by the earth and moon in all their natural rotations and revolutions."
Why the "madness?"

Well, duh, we like numbers. Especially nice big round ones. We like it when things come out even. (Which renders the whole "When does the millennium actually start?" debate somewhat beside the point.) As Gould notes: "Pop culture may already declare clear victory for the millennium, which will occur at the beginning of the year 2000 because most people feel it so." From the "big round numbers are cool" standpoint, 2001 is a space odyssey, not a millennium. Anyway, so you'll have two big parties; get over it.

So stockpiling canned goods may already be a thing of the past [century], but how about banking good will? Vacuum-packing will power? That's right: making resolutions. Hey, it's a whole new millennium: these better be good. Let's hope our resolve lasts as long as our surplus of freeze-dried rations ("During a disaster -- your food doesn't need to taste like a disaster!")

Perhaps some of mine will inspire you?

  • Administrative: I will always put the right number of Ns in "millennium."
  • Attitude: I will quit thinking about how, when I was 9, my calculations revealed that I'd be "really old" in the year 2000.
  • Activities: This winter, I will snowboard.

And here are some starter suggestions for you.

Thing is, simply clenching your fists and saying, "This year I will get into shape!" over and over will not get you to the gym (though it will work your forearms). A recent study by John Norcross at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania suggests that nearly half the people who create a course of action along with a resolution do stay on track (as opposed to the only 4% who said sheer will actually worked). Moral: the way to keep a pledge is to make a plan. Gonna meet someone this year? How? Gonna be more loving? When? Gonna snowboard? Where? ("Somewhere over my dead body." -- Breakup Mom.)

Above all, let's resolve not to get too backlashily jaded about that nice big round number. Because if we say it's meaningful, then it is -- what harm is done? How bad would it really be if we started demanding an end to things like loneliness, disrespect, and self-fulfilling prophecies by saying things like, "Maybe back in the twentieth century, but not now!?"



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