The Shard, The Tissue, An Affair

When a poet lands in San Francisco, even our romantic Victorian city may not be enough to make a love affair last. Today’s podcast is from Vietnamese-American author Andrew Lam, who was also the web editor of New America Media for many years.

In 2005, he published his first book, Perfume Dreams. He is also the author of the book Birds of Paradise, about the Vietnamese immigrant community in the Bay Area. He is working on a fourth book tentatively titled Stories From the Edge of the Sea, a collection of stories about love and loss. Many of the stories are based in San Francisco and Vietnam, both places in which the seaside plays a prominent role: geographically, thematically, and metaphorically.

Today’s story is a more literary departure from our regular storytelling approach, but we think all San Franciscans listening may find a bit of themselves within this piece.

You can find this piece excerpted in Andrew’s new collection of stories. You can also find a transcript of “The Shard, The Tissue, an Affair” below. To submit your own story, please email us your pitch at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

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Photo by Tara Ramroop
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When fellow women are your first line of defense on Muni

In these #MeToo times, it’s inspiring to see women speaking up for themselves and standing up, sometimes literally, for one another. Here’s Muni rider Teresa with a disturbing but empowering commuter tale from the 1-California.

I take the 1 home from work every day around 6 p.m.

I’m usually pretty aware of my surroundings, but I had a particularly rough day at work, so I had my headphones in and I was seriously zoning out.

As I’m almost falling asleep, I hear this particularly loud voice above my music, and it starts to wake me up. I take off my headphones to find the source of the angry voice.

I looked toward the front of the bus and quickly realized that a man was yelling something at a woman. I listened a little harder, and I start hearing what he’s saying to her. I’m not going to repeat it, but it was some horrible stuff.

I’m no stranger to catcalling or street harassment, but this was on another level.

This is something that I can’t stand for. Any time I see some asshole intimidating a woman on the street or on Muni, I have to step in. It’s gotten me into a lot trouble, but I cannot just walk away. Most of the time, I’m the only one. I’ve never been helped when some dude is harassing me, and there are very few times when I’ve seen another person step in.

So, I put my phone in my backpack and zip it up thinking “OK, here we go again.” And my brain starts running through all the possible scenarios: “What if he attacks me? Does he have a weapon? What if he goes after someone else?”

As I’m about to get up and confront him, another woman pushes past me, walks directly up to the woman being harassed, and simply says “Do you feel safe?”

At this point, the woman at the front of the bus is shaking so hard she can’t even speak. So the other woman put her hand on the lady’s shoulder and said “Come to the back of the bus with me, we can sit together.”

As the two women are walking to the back of the bus, that guy gets up and tries to follow them, yelling vile comments the whole time. But as he’s trying to get to them, a few other women stand up, and they block his path. Then, I got up and stood with them. And before I knew it there were six or seven women creating this barrier.

That man looked at us, yelled one last shitty thing, and got off at the next stop. Because he realized there was no way he could win against all of us.

Immediately after he leaves, the woman he was harassing bursts into tears. He had been following her for 10 blocks. She didn’t know what to do, so she got on the bus. She was five months pregnant. We all just listened to her and after she stopped crying, she thanked us. The woman who came to her rescue sat down next to me. My stop was the next one. As I left, the only thing I could do was look at her and say thank you. After I got off the bus, I started crying. I was sad because we have to deal with situations like this ALL the time, but I was crying happy tears because, for once, I felt like I wasn’t alone, and I felt how powerful we are when we stand together.

Props to these women for being the first and only line of defense during this scary encounter.

Got other important news for your fellow riders? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox, muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, is always open!

Pic by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

When your Muni driver starts giving you life advice

How many times have you gotten stuck in the tunnel with nothing to do but stare at your shoes? One Muni driver took the opportunity to chat up her riders with some life advice, and one of her riders actually took some notes to share with the rest of us.

Rider Anna (@annapickard on Twitter) reports, “A Muni driver just made my day. She was talking all the way through the tunnel we were stuck in with life advice. So I started writing it down.”

Amongst the driver’s #realtalk: Read more

Meet Irene Tu, Muni celebrity

Comedian Irene Tu was a Muni celebrity last year and turned her friends into last-minute paparazzo to chase that fame. As it were, chasing fame isn’t easy when your vehicle is a Muni bus.

Irene is a Chicago-born, San Francisco-based stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. In 2017, the San Francisco Chronicle singled her out as an “artist on the brink of fame,” on the heels of being named one of the “Bay Area’s 11 Best Stand Up Comedians” (SFist) and one of 20 “Women to Watch” (KQED). Irene hosts several popular shows in the Bay Area: Man Haters, The Mission Position, and Millennials Ruin Everything (they do). You can follow her @irene_tu and find her on irenetu.com.

If you enjoyed the Muni Diaries podcast, please share our podcast and rate it in iTunes so people can find it!

Listen to her story here:
iTunes
Google
Download

If you like what you’ve heard on the Muni Diaries podcast, please share our podcast and rate it on iTunes so other people can find it too!

Photo by Right Angle Images

Bay Area storytelling all stars rally for benefit show

Want to see your favorite Muni Diaries Live alum perform all in one show? In just a few weeks, you’ll get to do exactly that at the book benefit show for storyteller Joyce Lee. Many of you might know Joyce from Oakland’s Tourettes Without Regrets, NPR’s Snap Judgment, and of course, at our own Muni Diaries Live.

We first fell in love with her storytelling at Tourettes when she performed the poem, Mad Love (one memorable line: “I’m only as. crazy as my love is and my love check your Facebook every fucking day”). Here she is at Muni Diaries Live with a story of how her very strict mom takes on Muni.

Joyce’s husband unexpectedly passed away earlier this year, and the storytelling community is showing up in a big way: by getting together for a benefit show, cohosted by Tourrettes’ ringmaster Jamie DeWolf, celebrating Joyce and the release of her first book. All storytellers will donate proceeds directly to Joyce. The lineup has many familiar names and promises to be a great evening:

“My Soul is a Witness”: A night of performances celebrating Joyce Lee

Tickets
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8
Skyhigh Odditorium
1255 26th Street, between Poplar and Union Streets near Peralta St.
Oakland, CA

 

Video: How to get toned arms while commuting on BART

No more excuses about why you can’t make it to the gym. This BART rider brought a set of weights on the train and, putting us weekend warriors all to shame, started doing a serious arm workout at a time when most of us are zoned out. Thanks @brian.cardinale on Instagram for sending this inspiration.

We like to say that public transit is our shared living room. Lately, it’s proven to be our kitchen (like this woman prepping her dinner veggie on Muni) and, now, even our gym. Seen any other inspired uses of commute time? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Our email inbox muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com is always open!

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