By MARNI EPSTEIN-MERVISECHO PARK — For the last the last nine months, I’ve spent mornings with my friends Audie Cornish, David Green, and Renee Montagne. Each morning we chat about the day’s news and banter about insightful social commentary. Me, the sunrise, a warm cup of coffee … and NPR in my mint green Fiat. See, every morning, the even cadence of NPR accompanies me on my commute from Echo Park to my job as editor at a real estate startup, Agent Ace, in Santa Monica. The station is a reverse lullaby of sorts, the comfort and familiarity of Morning Edition’s anchors slowly beckons me awake in the dreary darkness, before sunrise.
It’s an hour to Santa Monica, like clockwork, so a couple of weeks into my commute I had had enough of the same three songs rotating on all of L.A.’s radio stations. I made a commitment, instead, to make my listening easy and fun. I left the car radio on one station. I had to just embrace that that all of my cocktail banter would now begin with, “I just heard on NPR…”
To beat the worst of traffic, my mornings begin at 5:30 a.m.
I hop on the 101-South at Glendale Boulevard. Then keep as far right as possible getting on the the 110-South because, no matter how long people have driven in Los Angeles, it still seems they’re not aware that the Wilshire Boulevard exit lane is also a through lane for the 110. Bad drivers dart in and out of lanes trying to get to the freeway’s main artery on the left – brake lights flare, tires screech. Do not get sucked in. Stay right.
Getting onto the westbound 10 is relatively a breeze. Then, you crawl. It’s generally monotony, although occasionally something will grab your attention, like when the smoke plumes of Geoffrey Palmer’s latest Mediterranean creation filled the downtown sky one morning last December. For the most part, though, the 13 miles on the 10 is just a game of chess. Which lane will move infinitesimally faster than the next?
Going home is worse. Some days it seems as though I might be better off walking to Echo Park. Going east averages 1.5 hours – and 2 hours was not unheard of. Thursdays are the worst, and for no particular reason.
The fact is, there’s no good way across the city. It is too broad and too packed. Wilshire, Pico, Olympic, Venice – I’ve done them all. Venice up La Brea, onto Highland and then east on Beverly will keep you moving. But, trust me, it won’t get you to Echo Park any faster than sitting on the eastbound 10.
The best tip I have is to simply to acknowledge that your commute will be what it will be. Pick your favorite album, podcast, or radio station, and soak it all in. There’s an ease and a mindlessness to just heading in a straight line and rocking out; then just hope that your employer, like mine, embraces telecommuting.
Marni Epstein-Mervis an architecture and real estate journalist, Editor at Agent Ace, and a resident of Echo Park. She is also pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation.
How do you get around? The Eastsider is seeking first-person submissions from Eastsiders about their regular commute – whether it be by car, bus, bike , on-foot, skateboard, etc, – and tips for fellow L.A. travelers. Send your idea to [email protected].