Tandem X Visuals

I walk towards the homeless encampment carefully. Which is to say, as if it’s not there.

I’m not aiming for the people who live here, I’m aiming for the redwoods that shelter them: three colossal Giving Trees that provide protect the optionless people who have pitched tents beneath their boughs.

The camp is active. I hear the soft shuffling of feet. Bob Marley’s voice sings “we jammin we jammin we jammin we jammin” out of a tinny stereo. But I don’t see any faces, so I assume no one sees mine. I walk past once, looking for the least obtrusive…

We’ve all seen it. If you are capable of growing babies in your body and also desire to work outside the home, you’ve probably felt it: the bias against birthing people in the workplace. Are they as committed? Do they really dare imagine their “real family” is more important than us, their work family? Is the kind of person who might need to take a few months off after pushing another person into the world really capable of leading a successful team for several years?

Even in the rainbow wonderland of Silicon Valley, with its weapons-grade optimism and culture-shifting apps…

Supplements to help you de-stress while democracy fails

Simple illustration of a person sitting anxiously inside a pill bottle, 5 capsules on the ground outside it.
Credit: nadia_bormotova/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The current political mood eerily mimics the lead-up to every bad thing you ever read about in 10th-grade history. Despite this, you’ve managed to convince your parents that the Covid-19 vaccine will not contain a microchip allowing Bill Gates to track their mall walks. You donated more money than you can afford to the Black Lives Matter movement. You’ve contacted your senators to plead for mercy for the immigrant children still being cleaved from their parents and held in camps at the border. …

We may be physically isolating, but we’re completely overindulging in online communication

A bubble in space, containing a person sitting in a field by mountains, surrounded by mail/heart notification icons.
Illustration: Randi Pace

“We need to get off our screens.” This is the first line I wrote in a journal on a camping trip to Grover Hot Springs in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The note was scribbled hastily, almost desperately. Isaac Newton invented calculus during a plague, and similarly, I returned from the mountains with this Eureka gemstone. I’ll take my Nobel over Zoom, thanks.

Perhaps the reason this simple thought struck me as a grand epiphany in the moment was that getting off screens wasn’t actually the intention of the trip. This was no digital detox (a term I’ve always despised). …

The social media app offers more than dopamine hits

Photo: Prateek Katyal/Unsplash

Back in May, Instagram began to test something radical on its platform, undercutting what many considered its most critical component: the “likes.” The beta test was limited to Canada and six other countries, but last Friday, despite waves of protest from users, Instagram announced it was expanding the change to the United States as well.

In this new version of the world’s favorite image-sharing platform, you (the poster) can still see how many “likes” your post has generated and who gave you those “likes.” …

There’s no one else to blame when you’re your own boss

Illustration: Adrienne Lobl

Last year, I got laid off. I had been working for a toy and hardware startup, and the whole vertical was floundering in the wake of Toys “R” Us committing public suicide. Instead of diving back into the industry’s murky waters, I decided to expand my universe, rise to the challenge of my Facebook feed’s motivational quotes, and sell my sales, writing, and admin skills out in parceled pieces—I “went freelance.”

To prepare for this self-starting, self-directed career shift, I read many articles on how to deal with what, behind the Bohemian glamour, it lacked: consistent paychecks, HR departments, and…

Bots got me a coveted Yosemite reservation—should I feel guilty?

Photo: Getty Images

“How did you get this site?” I ask the man sitting across from me at a picnic table in Yosemite Valley’s North Pines Campground. It’s Memorial Day weekend. I estimate this site has been sold out since 8:01 a.m. on November 25, 2018, approximately one minute after it became available online.

This man — a friend of a friend — had generously extended an invitation for me to join their group on the trip, and of course, I said yes. This is one of the hardest-to-get campground reservations in the United States.

I’m thankful. I’m impressed. …

Introducing your guides to inner peace

Illustration by Aaron Alvarez

Beyond the publicity and crowds of Burning Man, a series of smaller weekend-long EDM festivals have become a common feature along the spine of California. Some boast free yoga classes under redwood boughs and come-one-come-all “squish tents,” while others advertise technicolor-forest escapes and high-budget art installations. With a title that could double as a Neil Gaiman novel (Northern Nights, Lightning in a Bottle, Stilldream, Nocturnal Wonderland), and a soundtrack of teeth-numbing bass, they all have a common mission: to bring the world together under a banner of ecstasy-fueled “oneness.”

Considering heading to one of these Dionysian weekends of self-discovery? …

We all want the solitude of wilderness. What happens when we have to share it?

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Last year, I made a resolution to go outside more.

Like most millenials, I am riding the cultural tide of reconnecting to nature. Perhaps it’s because I spend most of my day, staring at a computer screen — that’s what work is now. Or, perhaps it’s because I’m afraid that I might never afford a house with a proper backyard, and I’m part of the last generation that played outside. Either way, the itch to reconnect to something less polished than a Marie Kondo living…

We are witnessing two migrations. One is a continuation of the California dream. The other no one talks about, though it affects nearly everyone I know.

I’m driving down the 101 toward San Francisco International Airport. A gray blanket of fog pours over the hills in the distance, smothering what would be a luminous California sunset. Eleanor is sitting next to me in the passenger seat taking deep breaths. She does not like to fly.

I hesitate, then finally ask what’s on my mind, cutting the air between us. “I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but since this is the last time we’ll be hanging out for a while, I feel like we have drifted over the last year. Is there something I…

Diana Helmuth

Author: “How to Suffer Outside.” Post-modern cupcake rambling about California, Culture, Nature, Travel & Startups. dianahelmuth.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store