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?
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.
Whatever shall I do now?