I'm not just making sentences these days. I'm making sourdough.

Perhaps someday into the future, you’ll see me on a commercial for Hinge, giving my testimony for the one dating app that served its desired purpose (for me). I met my current partner in August of 2018 using this mobile app intended for people seeking relationships. And that’s what we both got, thankfully.

It was a long road… not trying to rub it in for the enduring swiping warriors.

In the process of filling out my profile, Hinge forced me to answer a head-scratcher of a question:

“If money didn’t matter, what would you do with your time?”

At Lighthouse Writers Center in Denver, CO

The challenge went beyond filling out a simple conversation starter to really digging in order to identify my favorite pastimes. What would I want to do all day without promise nor need of money? Well, write, obviously! That’s why I quit my teaching job, and essentially that’s what I’m doing: living off my savings as I write in Denver.

But was that all I wanted to do? I considered all the ways I liked to pass my free time, observed what I choose to follow on my Instagram feed (perhaps I was peeking into worlds and industries that felt like pipe dreams), and recalled some random impulses I’ve squashed down in the name of practicality. And thus I came up with a succinct and honest answer:

“Write books. Bake amazing breads. Be a ceramic artist.”

Cerebral. Delicious. Tactile. Creative on all three accounts. I could have added dance and reading and time with loved ones, but my list felt—as Baldwin advises with writing—clean as a bone. Writing was an intellectual and emotional exercise, and it felt perfectly balanced with two artistic and tactile pastimes, including one that would keep me well-fed.

The whole exercise inspired some deep respect for a dating app that now seemed to have a bigger purpose for us all. Who are their developers? Therapists? Dumbledore? Sages or something?

Cut to November of the same year. That’s last year if you didn’t catch it. 2018.

Charlie and Lindsay in Puerto Vallarta

I booked a trip to visit my good buddy Nick down in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He and his romantic partner were also business partners in at least two ventures in town. I got a glimpse into his life and had a great chat about entrepreneurship with his partner. Her evolving goal was to teach members of her home community how easy it is to go into business within a community and industry that you know (assuming work ethic and initial investments were pre-existing realities).

Charlie, Nick and Lindsay on the beach in Puerto Vallarta

She got me thinking, “Beyond representing myself as a writer, could I be a business owner, too?”

Yeah, I know. Easy to contemplate and simplify such a conquest. I did think I had a realistic expectation of what it took. I grew up watching my grandmother and father run a family business, and then my brother with his dealership. Depending on the industry, part of me felt hard-wired to handle the constant care of one’s own business. As long as it was something that I loved. Something I would do whether I were getting paid or not.

But what industry would that be? Was I just getting swept up in the idea of my friend’s life, of being my own boss forever? Was I considering starting a business for the hell of it?

And that’s when my Hinge answer came back to me. I asked my partner:

“Do you remember me talking about baking breads on my Hinge profile?”

He responded:

“Yeah, you got me thinking I was about to be eating some good jalapeño cheddar rolls. You know carbs are my downfall.”

Aside from the thrill that he remembered my silly convo starter from months back, I got another thrill. An idea. Perhaps I could bake bread! What was stopping me now from baking delicious bread, making my own sourdough starter, churning out some unique flavor combinations, and selling to friends? I had a home now. A working oven. I had time. And most importantly, I wasn’t worried about money just yet (that’ll come… thankfully I planned for this income drought).

The moment I touched back down in Denver, I was research home bakeries. Instagram was an infinite pool of #breadporn and micro bakeries and shots of crusty sourdough crackling under a serrated knife. I attempted to make a sourdough starter, and then I killed it. I tried again, and it thrived, smelling sweetly of apples and yeast and bubbling up no problem after a feeding. And then I made my first loaf. And my second. AND THIRD!

In the past, if humans wanted to eat they had to find and make their own food. Given that fact, I’m a little embarrassed how excited I was to bake without modern baker’s yeast. Maybe that’s the wrong attitude… perhaps I got a taste of the initial excitement the first bakers must have had. Thousands of years ago. Somewhere in Egypt, they say.

The idea of baking bread didn’t come to me because I’m some sort of bread connoisseur. I once cut bread out of my diet. I joke often that I love good quality food but that my standards are also very low for what’s acceptable (blame questionable meals abroad on a backpacker’s budget…also, I hate food waste). It’s hard for me to tell whether my bread is good or not, and something tells me my standards will rise as my skills do. Works for me! I’ll always think my bread is tasty!

Loaf 10

So here I am eight months out of my teaching and traveling job trying to manifest that life I fantasized about: writing books, baking breads… and maybe the ceramics will come later (when I find a good “clay guy”). Writing continues to be gratifying and yet taxing in all ways. I just met a big deadline and have many more to go. And bread offers a perpetual challenge for improvement.

The quest for an income is still one I’m forging, but while I’m still capable of paying my bills, I have to say the fulfillment of doing what I love without fear of survival is a privilege and a rare pocket of my life that I hope to make the most of.

Loaf 9 || Tartine-style County White

I’m safely nestled in idealism and preparing myself for practicality, pursuing careers that will allow me to keep writing and baking bread and also rake in a steady income. You know, until I become the world-renowned writing baker!

If you’re in the Denver area, message me and I’ll share a loaf with you. I’m looking for beta testers. If you’re not, that’s okay. You know I’ll be writing about this new venture, too. In fact, I’m already developing a space on this website for bread. Because bread and writing and teaching and media and travel all go so well together. I sure think so. Things that give me a “rise!”

Prepare yourselves for more bread puns.