How we treat ourselves

In a few weeks, I have to travel for work. For a very brief period of time, I must be in NYC and Baltimore, Maryland. This will be my first flight since the pandemic started.

I used to travel all the time. But I moved, and my work changed, and then the world changed, and here we are.

I have lost the passwords to all my various club accounts. I no longer keep a bag packed with all my electronics and toiletries. I no longer have a “travel laptop” or a “travel coat.” But once upon a time, I was a mid-level business traveler. It was part of my routine.

Another thing I used to have, which I no longer do, is an assistant. Their job was to do the things I am not good at but at which they thrived. One of those things was booking my travel. I would be contacted by an organization that wanted me to work wth them in some way, and my assistant would walk them through our process for that and then either book travel and submit for reimbursement or arrange for them to book my travel. Lots of moving pieces, and I am not good at moving pieces.

We had a document that is called a “rider.” It laid out my expectations and what the sponsoring organization could expect. For example, I expected them to book me in a 2.5-star hotel or better. (This came about after one too many times of being put up on somebody’s couch their dog was used to having to himself, or once, in the “guest house,” which was a shed in their backyard and no bathroom.)

Here’s the thing: Other people always booked better accommodations for me than I would have booked myself. The flights my assistant picked for me were better flights than I would have picked myself. Left to my own devices, I would try to people please and squeeze one more meeting into the day while on the road, but my assistant would say demure and reply, “I’m sorry, but in order for Hugh to give your organization the best possible experience, we must draw boundaries around his time.”

Other people would take better care of me than I would take care of myself. And I noticed I cared for others better than I cared for myself.

Growing up, we had towels and dishes that were too nice for us to use. We saved them for when other people came. I have dishes I love to eat but are a bit involved, so I only cook them for others.

But I deserve the good towels. I deserve the food I love. I am worthy of it. And so are you.

My life is always better when I treat myself as if I were someone I care about.

Five things I thought were beautiful

I miss the ocean bigtime. We are 2.5 hours from the Gulf of Mexico, but there are none of the crashing waves there I knew on the Atlantic coast. So I felt a bit nostalgic looking at the seascapes of Ray Collins.

The past seems so distant, like a foreign land where they speak an unknown language. Black and white photos often emphasize that otherness – the past even “looks” different. But they were like us and wanted the same things we do: Security, hope, love. These colorized photos of families – mostly migrant workers – from the early 1940s really drive this home.

Autonomous Design Group is a UK-based “design collective using art for liberation, against capitalism and authoritarianism.” They have high-resolution images that support progressive causes that are free to download, or you can buy merch like stickers and posters. It reminds me somewhat of the work done by Amplifier here in the US.

“The best camera is always the one you have with you.” These winning images from the 2022 iPhone Photography Awards show the truth of that proverb.

School districts across the US are censoring books that don’t fit into a very strict vision of the world. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank or Maus threaten their power and control, so they want them banned. But they won’t win. We won’t let them.

So it made me really happy to learn that the Brooklyn Public Library is joining the fight. From their website:

“For a limited time, individuals ages 13-21 can apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to our full eBook collection as well as our learning databases. To apply, email booksunbanned@bklynlib”

Call for volunteers

I’m trialing a new newsletter platform called Sendstack. It is similar to Substack but has much better privacy policies and has no spyware or trackers in the emails. The platform is in the soft open phase, and if it works, it has many of the features I would love to have in a newsletter publishing platform. I’ve been invited to join.

I’m hesitant to jump headlong into a new, untested platform with as large a list as I have, so I decided to create a test newsletter. Some things you only learn by doing them. The short version is that over the next six weeks or so, I will send a series of newsletters where I try to do various things, report on how it’s going, and outline my reflections on the platform. In other words, you get to be the test audience.

If this sounds interesting, you are the sort of nerd I am looking for. If it doesn’t, no hard feelings. I intend this to be a short-term project and will delete the list when it’s over. You can sign up here if you want to help me trial this new platform.


  1. Rose Eileen Cearley August 22, 2022 at 11:31 am

    The migrant workers link takes me to the Ray Collins seascapes photos

  2. Rose Eileen Cearley August 22, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Now I don’t see a link for the migrant workers photos at all; is that correct?

  3. This essay and your recent writing are connecting with this new cookbook I just got: Good Enough by Leanne Brown. She writes in a different context than you, and cooks different things, but y’all are saying similar things:

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