Adventures in Commuting, Other People Writing About It Edition:
It turns out that I qualify as a megacommuter, since my average commute now is around an hour (a bit more going in, occasionally a bit less going out), and my previous commute was a solid 90 minutes. While it has its downsides, that I take to be obvious, I have found it to be pretty conducive to my way of life, for some of the reasons John Lanchester discusses in the Guardian.
Namely, a long commute is ideal for introverts. I have a guaranteed hour and the beginning and end of my day in which to prepare for/recover from all the stress of teaching, office hours, meetings and the rest. In the mornings I can devote some mental energy to planning out class sessions; in the evenings I can reflect on how the day went. Music, which I otherwise don't get very much time to listen to anymore, features prominently in both. And... that's it. Driving is a low-intensity but requires constant attention, so higher mental processes are forbidden as a rule (no 'worrying about things'). My phone, which would otherwise be a source of distraction, is positively forbidden. The route itself takes on a comforting monotony: it takes so long to get to the Circle, so long to get to the Junction, so long to get to Harlem, so long to the toll; on the drive in, traffic backs up right below where planes come into O'Hare at regular intervals; sometimes I will see how many I can watch before I have to move on. All in all, a quite peaceful and beneficial part to my day...
...as long as the commute doesn't extend beyond 90 minutes.