Jayme Marsh Summer 2019 Blog
by Jayme Marsh, September 8, 2019
It always starts and ends with bread. For me, anyway. I came to Kendall this past January looking for ways to incorporate baking bread into my life and for excuses to bake all day, every day. This summer especially has served as a formative catalyst in my practice as a baker. I accepted a position as a bread baker at Floriole Cafe & Bakery, and have been covered in flour ever since. Between classes and early mornings at the bakery, I found that I rarely had time to bake at home any more, unless it was chocolate chip cookies or a desperate tea cake at midnight. In fact, my precious and beloved sourdough starter that had just turned one year old got lost in the chaos and started growing mold in the back of my refrigerator.
As ridiculous as it sounds, I really was heartbroken when my starter died. When I killed my starter as a result of my focus in life shifting, I began to really think about what it means to fail. Failure might first feel like a betrayal, then more like embarrassment, then maybe, eventually, it just feels like change. And it seems like this summer was freckled with little failures, little changes. I started a job baking bread — a job which I thought I would excel at (“I’ve baked bread a million times! I love bread!”), but didn’t. Little failure. I took a chocolates class (in the Chicago summer…), and struggled and cried and failed a little bit, too. I made promises to friends and to myself that I would do things and be certain places, but there are only 24 hours in a day. Little failure. I took a sugar class and shattered the same showpiece 3 times in a row. Medium-sized failure.
I started to wonder what exactly it was that I was failing at, and why I conceptualized it as a failure in the first place. I was failing at perfection, at exceptionalism. In my defense, though, I was excelling at learning, growing, staying sharp and focused and driven. I was excelling at change. Not always gracefully, but still. My time at Kendall, especially this summer, has humbled the perfectionist in me and encouraged the student in me, to stay curious and accepting of change.
Yesterday, I baked bread at work and decided I wanted to bake at home too, without a recipe. Without a standard to compare it to. Today I’m baking a loaf of bread without measuring anything, without judging the outcome. It’s a practice in growing change, tending to the knowledge I have and using it, but not judging myself for what I don’t already know. And funnily enough, even without my control, the bread turned out just fine.