And just like that, 2021 is nearly over, but we aren’t calling it done until we celebrate all of you who submitted a Muni Diaries entry this year! Despite this seemingly never-ending pandemic, you’ve tweeted your commute, sent us your stories on Facebook, and even came on our virtual podcast recording. We’re closing out the year with a vote for the best submission of the year.
We are celebrating these five submissions this year:
One of my favorite things about Muni Diaries is how naturally people share stories or “you won’t believe what happened” anecdotes. Sometimes those come in as longer write-ups or poignant images, but they’re often snack-size snapshots that sneak into our social feeds. From a reader on the Muni Diaries Facebook page:
One time I was super hungover trying to get home to the Sunset. I secretly puked in my own bag. I was only 2 stops away and didn’t feel like I could walk. I was almost there!!! (This was more than 10 years ago btw.)
I feel you, and I see you, reader. I also think this was the most polite option for all involved.
If you’ve cleared your last meal and are curious about how often this happens on Muni, listen to this podcast episode how it played out for Muni Diaries Live storyteller Kristee Ono, dig into our Muni vomit archive or come clean with a story of your own.
When we say “story,” it doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to involve vomit, but it does have to be your own experience in this funny place we call home. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag us @munidiaries on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
Educator Kelly Gregor Hartlaub had been a librarian for some time until the pandemic hit, until she was suddenly called back to frontline classroom teaching, on Zoom, for distance learning. Her first task as a Zoom teacher? Sex education. Yikes.
But that wasn’t even the hardest part. In today’s podcast episode, Kelly shares the emotional, mental, and practical challenges of distance learning, how she and fellow teachers kept going, and how an English-learning student having an especially hard time helped her in kind.
We met Kelly a few years back, and here she is in the photo above (third from left), about to dig into a delicious burrito with some of San Francisco’s bloggerati (including Burrito Justice, Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight from The San Francisco Chronicle and the Total SF project, and yours truly).
We’re always looking for stories about how San Francisco has changed and transformed you, whether it happened on Muni or off.
If you’ve been inspired by a story on our podcast or gone to one of our storytelling shows and imagined yourself on stage, we are here to help! Please email us your story idea at email@example.com, or tag us @munidiaries on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
What can history teach us about this pivotal moment as we drop most COVID-related restrictions in San Francisco? Between mask-ne treatments and socializing awkwardly, we chatted with Chris Carlsson, the director of Shaping San Francisco about his experience and his perspective on our reawakening city.
Chris is a writer, San Francisco historian, tour guide, and writer. He recently published a new book, Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes and Radical Histories. Chris has seen a few cycles of San Francisco history since the 1970s. He was involved in many activist groups in the city, including a group that modified billboards about Muni fare in the 1980s. Who knew we would still be arguing about Muni fares today.
You might think he has seen it all, but in our conversation about his new book, we found out that this historian is anything but jaded about the future of San Francisco. “The more you understand history, the more you realize there are constant moments of possibility,” he told us—and I’m inclined to believe it’s true.
Listen to his conversation with Muni Diaries here:
We are looking forward to hearing your tales about returning to life, work, and other ways that living in San Francisco means to you now. Submit your own story or photo by tagging us @munidiaries on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
I commuted on the streetcar from downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf for seven years with a dense hodgepodge of locals, tourists, 30-child field trips, and the occasional iguana named Skippy. The experience didn’t often match the old-world charm and good intentions, so complaining incessantly about the F-Market/Wharves became my theme. As a newly minted San Franciscan, it was my duty to find a bug for my bonnet and take to the internet with that rage.
But lots of strained relationships improve with time. I can hear the distinctive “whrrrrrrrrrrr honk honk” from my apartment as streetcars fly along the tracks, and can even tell the difference between the PCCs and the wooden, Milanese ones that kick like bucking broncos. I went public with my change of heart, calling it my favorite line during the TotalSF installment of Betabrand Podcast theater.
So let me acknowledge again that I’ve gotten over my attitude problem and am thrilled that the streetcars are back in commission after a long, covid-prompted hibernation. Check out these recent photos from our enthusiastic transit community, and tag us in your own happy snaps of normalcy @munidiaries on Facebook, Insta, or Twitter.
The story behind @boattramsf AKA Boat Boi, as relayed by Chris Arvin, remains a Muni Diaries Live crowd favorite. Listen for it soon on the Muni Diaries Podcast!
San Francisco is approximately 37% AAPI*, and here at Muni Diaries, we are 2/3 Asian women, the first-generation American children of immigrants, and proud of our heritage. We’ve spent more than a decade documenting life in San Francisco because we love our city. But that love letter can be harder to write in the shadow of violent crimes against Asians in San Francisco and a mass shooting targeting Asian women in Atlanta.
Like all people of color, we were hardly surprised—this is the reality of being non-white in the United States. But we were horrified for the victims, current and future. As Asian women, public transit enthusiasts, and longtime urban adventurers, we wonder how easily it could have been one of us.
Even in our tiny universe of collecting your stories on Muni, race has been a constant. We started the conversation about race on Muni Diaries in 2009 after an audience member made fun of a Chinese stereotype at our live show (henceforth named the Muni Chicken Story Incident). And we continue having these conversations with one another and within our community today.
Early in the pandemic, our Asian-American readers asked, “Do you feel that people are glaring at you on Muni?” We were almost relieved because we were experiencing the same.
The issue of race remains one of our most frequent editorial judgements in story submissions; ethnicity is often included as a descriptor when relaying a tale, even if it doesn’t add anything to the story. It usually seems unintentional, but from our perspective behind the scenes, it highlights how descriptors of “others” are noteworthy, whereas descriptors of the perceived default—white—are not.
Every incident reminds us that we can’t only be philosophically against AAPI hate, we actually have to do something about it every single day. We will continue to make Muni Diaries a fair and inclusive place to talk about our city, and we encourage you to support these San Francisco-based Asian-American organizations who are on the front lines of advocacy.