Unpaid interns are not protected by civil rights legislation in the U.S. because they aren’t compensated and are therefore not “employees” under the law. They have no recourse if they are sexually harassed or discriminated against because of race, age, sex, disability etcetera.
I’m looking for current or former interns willing to tell their stories for an article I’m writing about this important issue. You are welcome to speak anonymously.
Please send me a message if you or someone you know can help!
When I walk home alone late at night, it’s dark, except for the white lights of the street lamps. Before I turn the corner, I pull my keys from my purse, hold them between my knuckles. I walk a little faster. I watch the street, checking for eyes. I look behind me. I gallop up the stairs. Sometimes my hands shake when I twist the key in the lock, because I am so eager to open the door, to be inside and safe.
When I moved to New York, I never expected that I would feel more scared here than I ever did in West Philly. The reason is simple: in Philly, strangers often asked me for money. Here, they catcall. They whisper. They taunt. They yell and lean over. Their eyes dart down and up again.
I don’t think that all or even most of them have dangerous or creepy intentions. I think that they don’t understand—or choose not to understand—what it feels like to be a woman, walking alone late at night, confronted by a stranger who makes it explicitly clear that to him, you are a sexual object.
They don’t know what goes through my head when I come across a deserted block. When a man I don’t know follows me. When I hear my footsteps echoed. A thousand what ifs.
It makes my stomach turn over and yet I’m silent, keep walking, don’t turn around. Sometimes I look at them, straight, but I stay quiet. What would I say?
When the dawn snaps
I curl my toes like paws, and
I see your wrist dripping
over the steering wheel,
see the evening that
we stood by the shoulder
weeping over oil,
and I think about your mother’s
crested mouth, mad for
the attic she spent days in,
writing letters in little boxes. and
your sister’s white face. your father
at the table.
you were mad about endings,
and crouched every night against me
with your nails digging
half-moons in your hands.
your bed was caked with smoke,
though you never did,
striding in suits over
All your Christmas presents
arrived in boxes that I unpeeled
knowing the smell of smoke would
pillow out, faintly.
You had ten gold studs in one ear.
You always listened to me and my
child-ideas like they were Presidential addresses,
a tumble of things I wanted to change and see and find.
You told me about your mother.
You grew up standing at a stove,
spoon in hand.
You taught me how to cook,
mushrooms swelled with sherry,
lobster soaked in beer. I stood
over the stove and cracked open
cans. Everything worth having
takes time, you said. You
could sizzle bacon for hours.
You gave me shark soup
and a fishing rod and
a crooked wink.
Later there were nights
under Western porch lights,
when you got cowboy boots and
three dogs and a pick-up truck. A white
house in a town of one hundred people
at the foot of infinite black pines.
You went West because that’s where
the grandchildren were, scattered over
Montana mountains and Dakota hills.
But you were a Pennsylvania girl, like
me. I went once,
played with the babies, saw the grave of
Calamity Jane, thought that I couldn’t
have felt more out of place if
we were underwater.
I grew up, and I forgot to call you.
I didn’t call you. At first it was absentmindedness
and the greedy tornado of adolescence,
and then it was anger. That anger
looks shrunken and reckless this morning.
There were Christmas cards
but the gifts stopped because the money was gone
and the smoke choked you off. Maybe you wanted to,
I don’t know,
but you never came East again.
I miss the church bells that used
to break my dreams open.
I used to spend hours at the sill,
sleeping until the hours
broke into backwards days.
S would mop up rings of tea from the
table while we talked
and sometimes I sat on her stairs cold and waiting
and pictured days that used to
break on this spire,
before I slept in its embrace.
Days with elbows
propped inside sills,
the boys’ shouts when birds got trapped
in the rafters,
black hats and buckled boots in the yard.
Those days and mine are drifted, now.
S is there still,
among the spires, pale and striding.
The bells keep breaking, some
other girl waking up in my bed.
a friend of mine is moving to the philadelphia area (just as i’m about to leave it) and asked me for recommendations of things to do in the city, the best restaurants, concert venues, etc. figured i’d post the little guide i made up for her, of a few of my favorite things in philly— it might help someone else too! i just want everyone to know where to get mexican thai tacos.
Places to see & things to do:
Mutter Museum- medical oddities. Not for the queasy. But awesome.
Franklin Institute- where you can feel claustrophobic in a giant heart model
Art Museum- obvious but so worth it if you haven’t been
Barnes Foundation- haven’t been but have heard it is great
Independence Hall- get your history on
Union Transfer- for larger concerts
Kung Fu Necktie- for smaller acts
Italian Market- go on a Saturday, get a cannoli at Isgro, and a sandwich at Paesano’s
Philadelphia Zoo- I will never be too old for the zoo. Lions and a polar bear!
Elfreth’s Alley- cute, colorful historical buildings
First Fridays- Old City art galleries open and serve wine first Friday of the month
First Unitarian Church- sweaty basement concerts (sometimes upstairs sitting concerts)
Kimmel Center- students can get discount rates to see the orchestra
Punk Rock Flea Market
Penn Museum- lots of mummies
Night Market- a monthly summer event with food trucks and music. GO to this!
Eastern State Penitentiary- for a terrifying haunted house trip on Halloween
Christ Church Burial Ground
Food & Drink:
Jim’s Steaks- for cheesesteaks, wit whiz
Rita’s Water Ice- pronounced “wooder”
Paesano’s- the best sandwich you’ve ever had. I promise
Reading Terminal Market- very important stop, get a pumple cake or Bassett’s ice cream
PYT- burgers and alcoholic milkshakes
Pub & Kitchen- great bar, great tasty British-inspired food
The Dandelion- they have Pimm’s pitchers! Yum. British gastro-pub.
Koch’s Deli- really good hoagies
Vedge- amazing vegetarian restaurant. You never knew carrots could taste this good.
Hop Sing Laundromat- super hip speakeasy
Federal Donuts- also known as Fed Nuts. fried chicken and donuts.
Franklin Fountain- get served ice cream by people in antique paper hats
Barbuzzo- one of my favorite restaurants and the home of the caramel budino
Sweetbox Cupcakes- delicious, a food truck and a store
Cucina Zapata- favorite food truck, with Thai Mexican food and bubble tea
4th Street Deli- best cookies.
Magpie Pie Boutique- adorable pie shop, get pie fries.
Sabrina’s- for brunch of enormous proportions
A few neighborhoods/ places to know and pronounce:
there is no 14th Street. 14th street = Broad Street
Schuylkill is pronounced Skoo-kill
Old City- like it sounds, the oldest part of town. Fun shopping and bars here
West Philly (encompasses a bunch of smaller neighborhoods)/ University City- everything west of the Schuylkill, where Penn, Drexel, Clark Park are
Center City- the middle box that goes from the Schuylkill to South Street to Spring Garden to the Delaware River
Rittenhouse- a park and shopping. Fancy area. Also has a nice farmers’ market
Northern Liberties (NoLibs)- gentrifying hipster-ish neighborhood.
How to find stuff to do in Philly/ events/ concerts etc:
Swollen Fox concert listings *now merged with XPN- the complete concert listing for the city
Uwishunu- blog of mostly food events
beginning of an attempt at a short story
She hated buses. The grunting shifts, the slimy squeak of sliding doors, the wires with too many fingerprints, pulling, snagging, yanking down for stops. Trains had a smoothness that soothed. It was always that the bus, hesitating, jerking and yet without restraints, made her sick. The train lulled and mocked her worry over schedules by propelling her into sleep. But trains had their own unpleasantness. They conjured memories of a boy who’d vanished in New York.
The bus seats were furred in blue, the bus dotted with yellow poles and a broken red dial at the front that flashed pieces of street names. To her it seemed to be winking with the knowledge of its uselessness. The weight in her pocket was a cold shuffle of tokens and coins. She took one out and felt it warm in her palm. She wondered at its little silver and gold face, its antiquity. It did not seem to belong in her hot hands in a world of crossed satellite signals and people blinking at their lovers on screens, smiling across oceans without even marveling. Where did it? She’d watched a video of the New York subway when it first opened, 1910, a grainy trolley shuttling through a shaky corridor, and the people in tall hats gathering around it on the platform; in the film they seemed to scuttle whole yards at once; there was no blurring, only bouncing from one spot to the next. Tokens belonged then, where they’d begun.
The city moved around her; the bus made a westward trajectory, leaping past storefronts and gutters in gulps between stops. Louise studied the brown water under the Chestnut Street bridge as they slid over it; the river was wide and dark; despite the sun it was little more than a muddy, eddied mirror. Whatever its depths were, she couldn’t guess—though she’d swam in it once, in the summer, years ago, miles from here. Where the water was clearer.
The bus was grinding to a stop (having carved a route past the columns of the train station and dozens of blocks of students roaming, coughing, laughing) and she rose, feeling the heft of inertia on her body as the force pulled her backward, resisting the tires’ insistence. A pause as she let herself hang from the pole, one-handed grip and then the pavement under her feet and the bus trundling on. She looked up and began to walk, taking buildings’ eaves as cues. Maps irritated her; they were a tangle of red nets cast over dotted lines. They meant nothing but squinting. And she’d rather find her own way than pore over paper.
She walked. She looked at each person passing her, studying, seizing their faces with her gaze, wanting to know who they were and why. Then a snag: a face she knew—though changed, blurred—but still the same. She stopped, a name stuck to her tongue. It cartwheeled out before she could check its progress with a second thought: “Esther?”
The face slid toward the sound, a flitting of pupils and a quick tightening in the lips, the brows quizzical but softly so. Esther’s hair clouded around her head like bronze floss, looped in sunstorm whorls, a nest. Some kind of corona. And the eyes, green and too wide, like a lizard’s or a seer’s, two round bulbs stuck in shallow sockets. Louise had not seen Esther since high school.
“Oh hey… Louise. What’s up?” Esther’s words were woozy—looped syllables that fumbled against each other, a slow churn of noises. Louise noticed, now, the delicate spindles of red crawling up Esther’s eyeballs like bloody webs. The yellowness in them. The dull flush of her mouth.
“Not much. How’re you?”
“I’m fine.” Esther squinted in the sun.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. Do you still live in Virginia?”
“No…” Esther paused, watching the sidewalk. “I moved back a few months ago. What about you?” She looked at Louise closely now, peering, and Louise felt herself flinching, an itch to run, to measure her safety by the blocks she could put between herself and this question. What about her? What about the time since she’d left school that had elapsed in leaps and skips, bouncing from one season to the next without any remembered indication of the blurred days in the middle? What could she say for the time and herself, except that they were both silent, marred, lost? She spent Saturday afternoons counting the oily fingerprints on bus wires on the way to the only place she felt uninterrupted. How often she wished she could stop heaving distance between herself and living, life, the present tense; instead she craved the solace of memory, of dissected pasts and the untangled lines of lives that were complete.
“Oh, I’ve been back here for a while, I guess.” Louise thought she might choke. She found an excuse to get away within the close of five more minutes of stilted exchange, thinking that in Esther’s eyes was an accusation—or a wily triumph. They were both fallen, then; Esther’s half smile, uncoiling, seemed to wink.
Finding the gate and sliding it open, Louise followed the gravel path to the nook of stream where a birch shot white limbs skyward. She sat, cautious, cross-legged, on the grass. “I’m sorry, Mom.” She said it aloud, but hadn’t meant to. There was no one around—the place was as noiseless as any city niche could hope to be; it contained just a rustling, and somewhere far off, a hum. But she was late, and startled still by her encounter with Esther, and the silence breathed taut and eerie around her.
In the spring, does nudge into the yard. The fawns are not afraid of me, standing there with an outstretched grasp. Deer old enough to remember the gunshots of autumn will run. The mothers’ legs tremble at the first sign of broken grass blades, but fawns, alone, will stay. You could touch them, I think, if you tried.
I’ve always loved them, for their grace and speed, for their blinking, liquid eyes. I drew pictures of deer as a child, four straight lines for legs and white crayon baubles for spots.
The does’ retreat in Valley Forge is Mount Joy, and so was mine, once. Mount Joy is a hot hilltop in the summer, ringed in cannons and asphalt paths nicked into the slope. You could lay in one of its round meadows and drink yellow sunlight with your head back. There are deer everywhere among the birches.
I’ve never seen a deer on Mount Misery, which slants sharply into a stream, clear and cold and banked in silver leaves, a place I have played since childhood. When I go there now I still slip off my shoes, leave them by the path, wade into the water, feel moss slick beneath my feet. Emerge with mud between my toes. Mount Misery used to be Mount Sorrow—but I’ve never heard a story about the name that I believed.
One year we got a Christmas card: my cousin had killed his first deer. A picture of a boy and his rifle fell out; he was twelve. They were proud, they wrote. In the photograph, he curled his fingers around the barrel, crouched beside the body, beaming. Don’t look at the blood blooming in its side. Look at its teeth and its ears and its warm black nose.
I almost hit a deer once. I was driving at dusk on a coiled road bracketed by dark pines when I had to stop. Do deer fear cars or revere them? I think it is a moment of pure blindness. Would you run if you fell under sudden lights?
Can I judge a boy with a gun, when I have never handled a trigger and never sat in the woods with an animal’s life hanging in the air before me? At least, for a moment, someone considered that fact, of life. You could be haunted by loudness in the woods. You could remember it and keep it with you and think, when you go home to your kitchen, a boy’s life is not like a deer’s. But a deer’s is its own small marvel, while it lasts.
I’ve been told more than once that I should keep a dream diary. I have vivid, strange, surreal, sometimes awful, rarely lucid, dreams, that meld the fantastic with the everyday. So, here’s last night’s.
I was staying in a wooden and metal frame house with a two story high glass panel window, a place I had never seen before. It looked a little like the mountain house my aunt built in South Dakota years ago. The house seemed elevated far above the ground. As I sat staring at the window, a giant eagle, twenty feet tall, smashed through the glass like a truck pummeling through a storefront. Other, smaller eagles crashed through the window at different square panes. At first, I watched this without being afraid, but then the eagles’ cold yellow eyes were peering at me and i could feel the air from outside rushing in. I ran out of the house.
I found myself on a tram, like at a theme park, with low metal cars, on a green hillside. Almost like a child’s train ride. The sky was yellow. We went to a classroom with a chalkboard. A girl who I had never seen before asked me to do equations on the board. I couldn’t solve the problems and then I remembered what natural logs were and suddenly saw an e, written in white chalk.
The night ended with me and three of my friends in an Italian restaurant.