Even though I wouldn't say I like my commute--the first 70 miles isn't too bad, it's the 70 miles coming back in traffic that's less than fabulous--I do love one aspect of it:
When I'm at home, I don't watch the news. I catch the headlines online, and quickly flip through our local newspaper to make sure I'm up-to-date on who's doing what. But otherwise, I don't have time.
In the car, though, I have time. Lots of time. Lots of uninterrupted time. Even though Addie is in the car, once she hears Neal Conan's voice she knows it's time for her nap. It's positively Pavlovian.
And so I listen.
I listen to all the local correspondents who report for OPB.
I listen to Robin Young on Here and Now, and find her voice so relaxing I don't even care that the interstate bridge is up.
I catch bits of Terry Gross talking on Fresh Air, amazed at her uncanny ability to interview people.
When NPR reports on Supreme Court decisions, I hang on Nina Totenberg's every word. That woman is brilliant. And funny.
In the afternoon, I get some world thought and culture from Marco Werman and PRI's The World. Never in a million years would I search for and find music that was recorded in South America or Western Africa, but thanks to Marco, I hear just exactly that kind of music in my car on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
I listen to Neal Conan on Talk of the Nation, and get a little thrill every time Ted Koppel or Bob Woodward are on as guests. I love listening to those guys. So smart.
Of course, the charisma of Neal and Ted and Bob notwithstanding, Talk of the Nation doesn't always grab my interest. There's a lot of talk about the Middle East and the Arab Spring and Gaddafi (for obvious reasons), and that's all well and good, but I get tired of hearing about the Middle East. Don't get me wrong, but the region as a whole doesn't have the greatest track record on human rights. I alternate between being angry, depressed, and wholly pessimistic about their future.
So then I listen to podcasts. This American Life gets regular airtime in my car, as does Planet Money and Radiolab. There are lots of really well done podcasts. I just don't have enough time in my car to listen to them all.
I listen, and I learn, and sometimes I wish someone was in the car with me so I could talk about what I'm hearing. Sometimes I'll come home and talk to Jason about a report I heard. Occasionally, I'll relay infromation from that day's commute to my students. Most of the time though, the information just gets folded into the other ingredients that feed my brain.
Even though I wish my commute was shorter, the fact that I get to spend the time with Neal and Robin and Ira and Terry and Marco and a host of others makes it rather enjoyable.