Thursday, May 25, 2006

NC escape

I know it's been several weeks since my last entry--I've been at different times pretty sick, pretty busy, or pretty lazy. I've been doing a lot of cooking, a bit of visiting, and more staying up playing video games with Bob than I ever thought I was capable of. But tonight, it's time for a little bit of writing.

The internship that I have been looking forward to for six months now has finally begun. I started training this past Monday in Greensboro, North Carolina. Our days have been so full of learning and presentations and case studies that I have been mentally exhausted at the close of each day--once all the computers have been closed down, all the dinner courses finished and all the drink glasses drained, all the socializing wound down and all the people finally turning in for the night, I have been so taxed (excuse the pun) that the best I can do is to flop down on my queen-size bed and let my brain swim for just a few minutes. Not that I'm saying at all that I have not liked it--quite the contrary, I have enjoyed nearly every moment--but it's a different sort of exertion than I'm accustomed to. It's wonderful to see the concepts I've studied and memorized and been examined on over the past two years finally being put to practical use right in front of me, like someone opening up my rusty mind and pulling out tools I forgot I had amassed, and saying, "See this? Let's lube it up, you're going to need it."

But most importantly, I had a moment yesterday when I knew, I knew, that I would not lose sight of who I am (or, more appropriately, who my God is and what He makes me to be in Him), as I have, to some extent, feared would happen. Staying rooted to my values--not letting anyone tell me that I must work as hard as I can and become a millionaire in my old age, when I know that I should be storing up my treasures elsewhere--not becoming self-focused when I have been commanded to love God first and my neighbors second, and to trust that He will always be faithful to meet all my needs--these are the things that I have to hold on to. There's nothing inherently wrong with the accounting profession; the problem is with the mindset that so many people in this profession have adopted, a set of values that could easily seduce someone away from the more rewarding and important things. Jesus promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." I believe that with all my heart.

I love the other interns from my office. They're going to be such a fun crowd, and I'm really looking forward to the time we'll spend together over the summer. In fact, there have only been a couple of down sides to the whole week. The first: I miss Bob. Since we got married, we've only ever spent one night apart at once. But he dropped me off at 9:00 on Monday morning, and will pick me up around 8:00 tomorrow night. That's five days, four nights. No Bob. We've talked on the phone each day, but that's a poor substitute. He hates talking on the phone, and so I always feel kind of estranged from him when he's on the line. Still, I look forward to those conversations with him. During the day, it makes me happy just to think about him and pray for him, and know that he misses me. The second problem this week has been the food. You know, I'm used to eating very low-fat, vegetarian-friendly meals. I'm used to eating a big breakfast and a small dinner. Don't misunderstand me--the quality of the food the resort has served this week has just been wonderful. Most people would love to spend a week eating the things they have set in front of. But picky me, I have had a hard time getting the foods I know I need to keep my body from going south very quickly. It's difficult for me to start my day with nothing but a plate of fruit and six ounces of yogurt. But of course, I won't eat the bacon and sausage, nor do I need the muffins and pastries. I cannot wait to have a simple bowl of Kashi with skim milk (or maybe soy milk?). Actually, the vegetarian thing has been very easy to work around--until today. At dinner tonight, for the main course, they set a plate of steak and grilled chicken down in front of me, alongside a tower of mashed potatoes (which I don't eat) and a stalk of broccoli. I felt terrible about asking them to bring me a vegetarian meal. I should have told someone earlier in the week that I was vegetarian, and the entire situation would have been avoided. But when I saw that every meal offered plenty of vegetarian-friendly options, I decided not to trouble anyone. It was a little embarrassing, but they were so nice about it. They made me a lovely pasta dish--and of course I didn't eat much of the linguine itself, but I ate all the vegetables out of it, and it was fine. Still, I will be glad to get home and have a meal that doesn't involve buckets of butter and heavy cream and oil and white starches. My lunch on Saturday, a bowl of homemade vegetarian black bean chili, will be one of the most refreshing meals I've ever had.

When your mind is exhausted, your body thinks it's exhausted too. Until yesterday, I was unable to work up the discipline to exercise, even though I desperately needed it. Last night I ran on the treadmill, about 3.5 miles. It felt great, and it stimulated me and made me realize that, in fact, I had plenty of energy to expend. Running involves your mind a lot too, so it wasn't entirely a veg-out session. Still, it felt good to breathe rapidly and have aching muscles, and to feel perspiration on the back of my neck. My run tonight was even better. About 8:30, when it was still barely light outside, I went out to run on the golf cart trails (the resort boasts two golf courses). The weather was just wonderful, and the terrain was gorgeous. I ran up hills and down, working out my pace all the way so that I could maximize my energy. I ran by greens and lakes, alongside small streams, through woods, and even inside a tunnel below the road. There was so much silence--just the slapping of my shoes against the path. It seemed like there was so much going on, both around me and within me. Once it got fairly dark and I was mostly spent, I turned around and ran back. This time, I ploughed straight through the night--it was as if the greens and the water all disappeared, and it was just me in a tunnel of night. I knew when I was in the woods because it became pitch black, and the flora that had looked so beautiful when I passed it the first time appeared this time as caves of nothing, exuding darkness. I ran up a steep hill, and when I got to the top there was the resort, glowing like a sand castle. It was beautiful.

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