Last week Albuquerqueans responded en masse to a Mary McCormick interview on the Chelsea Lately show. The issue at hand? Whether McCormick dissed Albuquerque. She did, but then she later apologizedfor it on the radio, so I think most folks are cool with that.


I’m actually more interested in what Chelsea Handler had to say about Albuquerque. She called our fair city f*ck*ng bor-ing.


I've been thinking about this quite a bit since then.


(Confession: until Masshole’s post about this last week, I had never seen Chelsea Lately and the only awareness I had of Chelsea Handler was as an author - while browsing the Kindle best seller list, I had noticed the title "Are you there Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" was a clever riff on the Judy Blume classic.)


The kind of work I do makes me a member of the "creative class" according to Richard Florida's criteria, but since I'm not part of the demographic that watches Chelsea Lately, I'm tragically unhip. That's ok. Someone's got to read the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America and the UCLA Law Review.


For the sake of argument, let us assume that most of the folks I interact with through my work are members of the creative class - predominantly NBIC science geeks, cultural commentators, writers or academics. Several are artists, but oddly enough, I know more artists in Albuquerque than anywhere else.


Since I work outside of Albuquerque in a city with far more marble than adobe, and since my work requires meeting a lot of different people from all over the country and we spend a fair amount of time conversing about stuff, in the course of a week I’ll have numerous conversations about life in Albuquerque.

These responses fall belong to two camps: fascination or abject horror.


1. Fascination. These are the people who fantasize about living in our city. Maybe they've visited once or twice, maybe they like the multiculturalism of our city, maybe they are outdoorsy and long to be in close proximity to the Sandia Mountains, or maybe they just suffer from SAD. In any case - these are the ones who say to me: "Albuquerque and DC?" You are so lucky!

2. Abject horror. The folks who respond to my living situation with the proverbial deer in the headlights look. They say things like, "Albuquerque? I'm so sorry. But at least you have a life in DC."


As my friends know, I've never been bored in my life! I've been blessed with a fertile imagination and a constantly nourished repository of knowledge that keeps me busy thinking all the time. So the idea that any place could be boring is hard to comprehend. It is as exotic a thought to me as a yearning for haggis.


For more than 15 years I’ve been walking the same stretch of bosque trail. Each time I walk it, there is something new to discover. I’ve yet to find this part of our city boring.


But perhaps boring refers to manmade artifacts, not nature. Maybe I'm just not using the word in the same way as Chelsea Handler. Or even the general public.


So I started thinking about different meanings of boring.


Is "boring" the inability to stay interested in something? Is it a feeling of being alienated from the world? Or perhaps the feeling of being forced to do something that you are not interested in doing? (Like watch your Uncle Gerald's slide show of the annual Elk's Convention). Maybe it is a lack of understanding – call it limited knowledge – of what is around you.


I’m no expert in human psychology, but based on my experience, I’d be willing to bet that people who do not get bored easily probably have a healthy amount of curiosity about the world. Not surprisingly, the experts agree.


Did you know that psychologists have developed a Boredom Proneness Scale? (And Albuquerque doesn't even appear in it once?)


And did you know that people who are prone to boredom are also more likely to deal with procrastination and narcissism? And there's even some evidence of a connection between social networks, boredom, and sex addiction?


And of course, those noble thinkers from my profession have had a few things to say about boredom, defined by Heidegger as a mood in which one becomes acutely aware of time.


It is even possible that our tendency to boredom might be driven by our genes, though perhaps more so for women than men, according to this study. Given this, we might want to lighten up on Chelsea.



I'm bored...


Whatever shall I do now?

Views: 1095

Tags: boring, chelsea_handler

Comment by Barelas Babe on February 22, 2010 at 8:54pm
Apologies for the weird formatting and line breaks. Ning has upgraded its platform and we're still working out the bugs.
Comment by Krista on February 22, 2010 at 9:09pm
In my mean-spirited opinion--keep them out! Save our gorgeous city for those who actually appreciate it. :0)
Comment by Greg on February 22, 2010 at 9:52pm
I have lived in Albuquerque for 5 years. In my opinion, one cannot really appreciate New Mexico without living here. In comparison to living here, visiting doesn't compare.
Comment by NxDLamb on February 23, 2010 at 9:04am
Albuquerque boring? I think it really does depends on what type of person you are and what you consider exciting. Being born and raised here, 30+ years, I personally find it boring. Grew up in south valley, went to school downtown/ center of the city. Spent lots of time at my grandmothers home in Barelas. I've lived in every quadrant of the city, I have never been able to find something or area of town that suits me. From what i've noticed from a lot of transplants, is that they love the simplicity of living here. They love what ABQ has to offer as far as outdoor activity too, The Sandias, the Bosque and Tingley Beach, the numerous hikng trails, i mean the list goes on and on. But what if your a self proclaimed Big City Kid like myself? In which none of the above appeal to you? Do you just pick up and leave?
Comment by FitzerMan on February 23, 2010 at 9:22am
I was at a party in DC a few years ago, hopelessly out of my element (an engagement party for the ex-ambassador to China's son? How the hell did I get there?). My wife and I were attempting some small talk with some of the other guests, most of whom were much older than us. The conversations were fine until the question of where we were from came up. Then it went something like this-

Us: We're from New Mexico.
Them: Really? (pause) Santa Fe?
Us: No, Albuquerque, actually.
Them: Oh. (stunned silence) (blank look) (mumbled comment about getting a drink) (hurried exit.)

Bottom line: nobody thinks about us, nobody understands us. The people in the bubble cities (DC, LA, NY) have no interest and are sort of horrified by the idea that people live fulfilling lives in the "flyover states" that don't revolve around whatever it is they think is most important (fame, politics, etc). And now, because of Albuquerque's growing role as a movie set, these people with very different ideas about what makes a place interesting are spending time here and an inevitable culture clash is playing out.
Comment by Mary Schmidt on February 23, 2010 at 9:23am
(FYI - the link above to the apology is broken.)

I've watched Chelsea several times. She can be mildly entertaining - but her entire shtick is outrageous, rapid-fire statements designed to insult pretty much anything and everything - which some confuse with actual wit. Gets boring pretty quickly.

I tried to watch McCormack's show a couple of times (hey, it's filmed in my favorite city!) but found it - well - boring.

Thanks for the analysis of boredom in general and the links - studies have also found a little boredom is good for creativity. I also believe that if you're bored in New Mexico you'll be bored anywhere. (Where else could I have been snowshoeing on Sunday within 35 minutes of my cozy, affordable house which is also walking distance to Trader Joe's...and - ahem - the Apple store?)

To be fair to the actors and actresses who have taken hits for dissing us - they work killer hours and don't get much free time to simply live here.
Comment by Scrymgeour on February 23, 2010 at 9:26am
I have always thought that being bored was a reflection of the person not the place. Our family always said there is no difference between being "bored" and being "boring". I think if you can't find something to do than you are not trying. (For the record have lived in some truly bland places, like very rural Nevada and North Dakota). My two cents...
Comment by Mary Schmidt on February 23, 2010 at 9:27am
P.S. I also believe you can't truly appreciate the state or the city if you've never lived anywhere else. I was born in NM and couldn't wait to get out at the age of 16.

I love the big city stuff too - and lived in several, so now I can really appreciate life here (and I can visit the big city of choice a couple of times a year just for fun.)
Comment by FitzerMan on February 23, 2010 at 9:29am
Plus, the fact that there's literally nowhere to eat besides Applebee's and the only thing we do for fun is hang out at the Walmart- Well, it takes some getting used to.
Comment by Masshole in Fringecrest on February 23, 2010 at 9:46am
I can only assume you are joking, FitzerMan? Or using literally incorrectly, at the very least. If you are having trouble finding non-chains in which to dine, may I suggest this group?


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