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You’ll notice I avoided calling this post something like, “My Morning Commute.” Something about the word commute just turns me off. It sounds middle-aged. Zapped of all life and creativity. Not what I’m going for for. Probably not what anyone is going for, actually.

Let me back track a bit. With my new job (which is great) comes a lengthy drive to and from Greenwood every morning. Now sure, this drive will shorten itself drastically once I move downtown this summer. But until I get to live the hip, urban, twenty-something apartment life I deserve, the drive from Hamilton County down to the South Side remains a fixture in my day.

I don’t know about you, but driving in rush hour traffic (really, any traffic… it’s a problem) freaks the crap out of me. Talk about high blood pressure. Shooting the gap* between two oversized load trucks is not exactly a relaxing start to the day. Not at all. It took me a few weeks of holding my breath and death-gripping my steering wheel to realize, wow, there is probably something I can do to make this better.

And low and behold, there is something. And that, is podcasts. Yes, podcasts. There are so many of them! And they’re all pretty much free. Maybe I’m late to the game on this (I usually am), but I feel like I’ve made some miraculous discovery. I actually look forward to my drive now because I get to listen to something fresh, interesting, and in my opinion, worth my time.

If my awe and wonder is not enough to convince you, here are a few more reasons why podcasts are awesome:

- You can always learn something new if you want to.

- It’s a mental escape, almost more so than listening to music.

- It gets your creative brain thinking about new ideas, stories, people, places, relationships, everything.

- They are only a minor commitment. Thirty minutes, an hour, boom – you’re done. If nothing else, you’ve completed something today.

Because I know you’re curious, here’s what I’ve been listening to lately:

This American Life

This American Life

I think everyone probably knows about This American Life at this point. But if you don’t, it’s not too late for you. Every week, this show focuses on a particular theme. This week’s, for example, was “There’s No Place Like Home,” in which the producers delved into stories of people who are working to preserve or create a comforting, meaningful sense of place in the towns and cities where they live. In each episode, there’s always great variety, and the stories are usually very poignant and unique. If nothing else, they get you thinking. Plus, something about Ira Glass’s voice (the Executive Producer) just sucks you right in. It’s magnetic. Subscribe.

All Songs Considered

All Songs Considered

I hope you didn’t think I could write a blog post on podcasts without mentioning NPR once or twice (…it’ll happen twice, just so we’re clear). I like this podcast because it mixes commentary with both clips and full-length versions of songs, so it’s a nice variety ย of stuff, especially coming home in the evenings when I feel more like blaring some music. Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve been totally out of the music scene. Not really following any new bands, and not really caring. This show, however, makes tracking new artists relatively easy. Of course, not all of the selections will be to your liking. But a lot of it, if not most, is really good and likely stuff you’ve (or at least that I’ve) never heard before. A few favorites I’ve found - Dog Trumpet, Lowell, and Royal Teeth.

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Another NPR selection. This one, however, is less about music and more about TV, movies, celebrities, trends … things like that. I’ve only listened to two of these so I can’t say too much about it yet. One of the details I do enjoy about the show is that at the conclusion of every episode, the producers go around and say one thing that’s making them happy this week, which always functions as some sort of suggestion for fun things to go see or do.

Anatomy of a Movie

Anatomy of a Movie

Not for the weak of heart. This podcast can be long. Almost two hours long, actually. So yeah, there’s a lot you can probably skip over, but there’s also a lot you’ll want to listen to, carefully. If you’re into movies like I am, you’ll be frustrated that you can’t actually join in on this Socratic-like dissection of different movies, their actors, writers, sets, anything and everything else you can think of. I really enjoyed the discussion on Her and am looking forward to listening to one of their old episodes on Gravity. Browse all episodes here.

Freakonomics Radio

Freakonomics Radio

This is another I’ve only just started listening to, but so far, it’s great. It’s a nice break for me, because I definitely don’t think like an economist ever. Like, at all. And it shows me an analytical side of things that I often overlook too quickly. I’m a total faker though, because I haven’t read this book yet and it’s been out forever. Maybe I’ll get the audiobook, and that will just feel like one giant podcast? In the meantime, I’ll keep listening to episodes like “Are We Ready to Legalize Drugs” and “Reasons to Not Be Ugly”.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones? Share your thoughts and thanks for reading!

*This, however, is a great start to any day.