The Dailies: Interning at Our Bodies Ourselves
by Stephanie Feuer-Beck
There is something romantic about exiting the train at Copley Square. My favorite subway musician plays a familiar jazz song amid the bustling commuter frenzy and a woman hands out copies of the Metro, calling, “Freedom! Get your free news here!” I maneuver my way through the crowds of tourists outside the majestic library.
Walking to my internship at Our Bodies Ourselves is always an adventure. Today a construction worker strikes up a conversation with me as we wait to cross Tremont Street. He remarks about the weather (humid, 80s) and asks if I am going to work. I say yes and he comments that I have “bank hours.” I laugh and as we part I realize it is a pleasure to go into work at 10 a.m.
At the office, other workers are sitting at their stations, engrossed in various tasks, but no one is too busy to say hello. My supervisor greets me and we talk about our weekends. Throughout the summer, I have been working on several tasks related to putting together the 2005 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. The publisher’s deadline is approaching rapidly, but we are confidently on schedule. I begin by searching for a photo online of the USDA food pyramid for our photo editor and recording the contact information so that we can get permission to use this material. Next, I spend quite a while reading through the chapter called Violence and Abuse to figure out where to refer to our companion website for more details on certain topics.
Next, I check the intern email account and see that several editors and revisers have responded to a letter I sent out last week. They are each entitled to a 40-word biography for the back of the book, and some have decided to change their original submissions slightly. I ask my supervisor for help and together we decide if a biography is done or needs to be sent back to the author to shorten or fix other problems. It’s funny how I recognize the names of the revisers and editors, even though I haven’t met most of them. Their biographies are interesting and inspiring: from university professors to founders of global women’s rights organizations, each woman has devoted her life to a cause.
Lunch is a time to take a break and get to know one another. Today we sit on the rooftop deck under the umbrella and discuss movies and politics, families and recipes. The traffic below is faint and we have our own plot of peace in the crowded city. When the heat gets to be too much and our minds wander back to the projects we want to complete, we proceed down the three flights to the office.
After lunch I work on formatting the chapters so that they are ready for the editors at Simon & Schuster. This involves arranging the text to be in the correct size and font. I also must space the text according to our guidelines and add page numbers. The book has 32 chapters, so I recognize that this project may take several days. Throughout the afternoon all the workers and interns take time to chat and help one another with questions. My favorite thing about this place is that we work hard, but the women are generous with contributing an idea or a laugh. Humor seeps into the office through the screens and jumps out from behind the books. Some of my best laughs this summer have been at Our Bodies Ourselves.
At the end of the day I write myself a reminder note for next time. Nearing Copley Square, everyone is on a cell phone with a briefcase trying to walk the fastest. As for me, I walk with new confidence I have gained this summer by working with supportive female role models at Our Bodies Ourselves. As I approach the train station, I can’t help but smile when a British couple asks me if I mind taking their picture in front of the library steps.
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