Saturday, March 15, 2008

[DANSK] Will need Havregrynskugler

I love the wee little hours. The ones late, late in the night - some may call them early in the morning - where I feel like I might be the only one still awake. I like to putter around in my kitchen, maybe getting that bread dough ready, so I can bake fresh bread in the morning. Getting the dirty dishes over with. Checking the internet. Being.

When I worked as a waitress, I had lots of those hours. Coming home from work late, usually after midnight, I would be hard pressed to go to straight to sleep. There was always a book to be read, an old newspaper to page though, or an episode of Seinfeld to watch.

These days? The wee hours have become the ones in the morning. No, I don't get up early to knead bread - I get up early to go to work. You see, the reason for the the post-exam silence around here is this: I'm on leave from school. And I've gone and gotten myself a job where we start at around 6.30 am. Luckily, there is somehow also a certain something to those early, early morning hours too. When the light is a little grey-ish outside, and the whole world still has sleep in their eyes.

I've told you quite a number of times how I'm not quite sure being a doctor is what I really want to do. Maybe being a doctor, or finishing medical school, is not what will make my life the best it can be. Will being a doctor make me the kind of happy I believe I should be?

There are tons and tons of reasons why I don't think so. There are also a gazillion reasons why this could be a job I would love. But for the last couple of months, it's been hard to see past the "I don't think so!" reasons.

It's not the job itself. It's not the patients, the long hours, the sad stories or the stress. It's not "you've got LIFE in your hands", it's not the white clothes or the clogs. It's the way things are run and done, it's effing traditions and "that's how it's always been done so don't you come here thinking you can change it". It's the hierachy. It's the lack of space and ability to be yourself, and not being able to have an opinion and a say in how things are done. It's the lack of commitment. From everyone, including, unfortunately, oneself.

So what I am doing these days is working as an assistant to a doctor who's doing a Ph. D. project on intensive care. In time, I'll be doing my own project (a much smaller one, granted), but for now, I'm just trying to tag along and learn as much as possible about the intricate ways of research. Maybe figure out something, about me, and my future. And showing up unbearably early in the morning, without too frizzy hair. Seinfeld is still on, you know...;)

These are sweets we used to make when we were little, and yes, they aren't nothing but butter. I have no idea what got into me and M when we made a batch a couple weeks ago, but maybe we'd just both had a couple of those gruelling days and needed a little calorie-boost mixed with a good dose of nostalgia. They sure hit the spot. I'm not saying these should be eaten for breakfast, I'm just saying that if you happen to have a couple leftover in the fridge from the night before, they may be exactly what you need after an early rise and a couple hours of work. Just saying...

Ingredients, roughly:
125 g. butter, soft, but NOT melted
150-200 g. rolled oats
4-6 tablespoons sugar (if you've got vanilla infused around, use that)
3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
Extra rolled oats, for topping

Beat the butter to make sure it's good and soft. Add the oats, sugar and cocoa, incorporating it well into the butter. With your hands, roll the mixture into little bite-sized balls, and roll in a
deep dish filled with rolled oats. Put in the fridge and leave for a couple hours to get nice and cold. Indulge and eat. And remind yourself that oats are full of fiber ;)


Cathy said...

I'm glad you've managed to flip your schedule and see the charms the wee morning hours... I think that would be a really difficult transition for me! Hope you find some answers to all those pesky what-should-I-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life questions in your new job or maybe in those quiet early mornings as you munch on leftover havregrynskugler. Good luck Zarah!

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Sounds like some big questions you've got there. I'd love to be so simple and say: don't worry your pretty little head about it. Quit school and bake dammit. BUT, I have a very firm feeling that the medical profession in Denmark NEEDS people like you. We need you Zarah.

And I need me some havregrynskugler. But I've got my quota filled today. It is only 11 am, but I have already made Nigella's cherry chocolate cupcakes, would you believe?!

Su-Lin said...

That's a tough question - whether to be a doctor or not. Did you originally want to be a surgeon or a GP?

Those sweets look good though. Butter and sugar and cocoa powder (oh yes, and oats) sound like a magnificent combination.

BTW, did you buy that lovely dish at Tiger?

elarael said...

That is a Beautiful photograph! Perhaps you are really an artist?

I like the coziness of this post. Good luck with your path, what ever unfolds for you!

Stephanie said...

Hi Zarah,

As someone who has also devoted a slave of time and effort into a very long academic path for a job that's not altogether the one she wanted... and at the risk of offering unwanted advice and sounding negative, sometimes "quitting" IS the best choice! About 4 years ago, 8 years into my post-secondary career, I knew that I wanted something different--and yet for all the wrong reasons, I stayed with it.

Life isn't as long as we like to think it is. So if it's not right, I hope you can find it in you to be stronger than I was and re-direct your career, lest you, like I, end up in a job that absorbs every waking second and leaves you unsatisfied at the end of each day. Baking can only provide solace when there's time to do it!!


Julie said...

Zarah -- I get your existential angst about work. I really, really, really wish you could come back to NY for another visit. I would introduce you to my cousin, Dr. Diane Meier, who has quite literally made big changes in the medical "system" (Although I'm not sure she'd say that about herself). Example: she started the palliative care program at Mt. Sinai, where she works, teaches, etc.

You need mentors who have been creators of real and lasting change, to show you the possibilities. Then you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is really what you want.

Lotus Flower said...

The world needs trailblazers like you. Yes! I believe you are. Whatever it is, I know that being happy in what you want to do is certainly important. I am sure you'll find out soon. For the moment enjoy the morning scenery :-)


joey said...

Those little treats definitely look like they could get me through the day! :) I am so not a morning person but when I had to get up really early for work before I learned to appreciate the magic of those hours...watching the world wake up :)

Good luck on your quest to find out what path is meant for you!

Sophie said...

What a pretty picture!

Tea said...

Such hard questions! I know for me my work has changed over the years, I go in phases (this is harder when it's something like medicine where you have to train for such a long time). I do know that wherever you end up, you'll make your mark and leave things better than how you found them.

Enjoy your quiet time--and your lovely plate. That photo is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Some difficult decisions to make! Having come so far already, it seems a shame not to continue as there are so many areas of medicine to go into - for instance, the research you talked about. On the other hand, too much of life is spent working and if you don't enjoy it, maybe need to re-assess. Anyway, good luck with the thinking, don't burn any bridges, options open etc etc

Anonymous said...

Tough questions. But once you get there you are a physician, and there are many can descide what you want to do. The student part is awful, don't let that muddle your thoughts. All the best.

Zarah Maria said...

Cathy - thank you! I just need to remember that it's not an answer that's going to fall into my lap. It's a process, and it's going to take time. Patience is a virtue, right?;)

Jennie - for starters, yes, I would belive you alreday made cupcakes ;) And then thank you for the encouraging words. The medical profession needs people like me, baking cakes with lots of butter and sugar to keep the steady supply of overweight people coming to the hospitals - hee. He-he!

Su-Lin - that's the thing - I don't think I'd given it much thought whether I wanted to be either. I just like the subjects we were going to have! (now, I'm leaning more towards surgeon, or possibly anaesthesiology)
And no, the dish is from a small Japanese shop here in Copenhagen, but I've seen them in Tiger, too :)

Elarael - thank you!

Stephanie - thanks for you story. Wise words, and it's always nice to know you're not alone with these questions. Still thinking, hard, I am.

Julie - when am I expected? ;) Seriuosly, though - no doubt about needing mentors. That's just one of a thousand reasons this new job is awesome. S, my boss, is very much becoming a mentor for me, and I'm loving it. Would love to meet your cousin too. Maybe next time I'm in NY?

Lotus Flower - Thank you - and I will :)

Joey - mornings are beautiful. The slow, lazy ones, even the early hurried ones. Indeed. And thank you.

Sophie - thanks!:)

Tea - thank you for believing in me. It's sort of crazy having all my blog-friends believing in me, when we haven't even met IRL - but it's also very comforting. And boosting.

Both anons - thank you for your advice!

Gemma said...

That is a very sweet picture Zarah, very pretty!

Kevin Kossowan said...

I hate the wee little hours, but love the photo. :)

Sophie said...

We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)