The Large Rock


The other day, my husband and I hiked (and I use that term lightly–it’s probably more of a walk) to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The path curves around the mountain and allows for the best views through the canyon. Leaves fell around us from wind and age, orange and red flurries. We went past the old Concrete Jungle, where people used to be able to go and spray paint pictures and words and expressions of Logan. Now security cameras watch every move. The water from First Dam reflected the sky, all dark trees and orange sunset.

Since the sun started to tuck behind the mountains, we headed back to our car. On the way down the short switchback, we came across two men rummaging through rocks. One man held a large rock in his hand, speckled and worn.

I felt strange. We decided to hurry past them and not draw too much attention. What if the men planned to bash our heads with the rock? And also, why is that our first thought?

The man stopped us and said, “I’m collecting rocks that look like this.”

“Wow,” we said. “You’ll probably find a lot.”

We kept walking, and quickly, and I pictured the rock hurtling through the air to bash the back of my head. My husband said he pictured the same thing.

But the rock never flew. And we made it safely to our car.

Maybe some people really do just like to search for big rocks when it’s almost completely dark outside. Maybe. We all have our stuff.

And we all know Helicon West’s stuff is writing and reading and joining together for stories just like this–no definitive ending, but instead one that leaves reader’s wondering.


A Thought Circle

Today is Columbus Day. And on this day about seven years ago, a fortune cookie told me something spectacular would happen. I remember sitting in my room and waiting for something spectacular to burst through my door. And when nothing came, I thought to myself, “Maybe fortune cookies are wrong.”

Speaking of fortune cookies, this morning I climbed into my husband’s car, only to find that I sat on one of the packaged crunchy cookies. I said, “Oh, so you ate Chinese food recently?” (A bit of backstory: I don’t see my husband very often. He works 10-8 every day, and most of the time he is in Layton, so it’s more like an 8:30-9 shift each day. So yes, it’s completely normal for me to not know what he’s eaten. And yes, we are trying to find him a new job.) He told me that he didn’t eat Chinese food, but actually, a guy he worked with gave him the fortune cookie and said, “I know how much you love these.” My husband said that they have never talked about fortune cookies. Ever.

Which makes me wonder, what do people remember about me when they see me? Something true or not true?

Which makes me think about history, of course. What really happened?

Which brings us back to Columbus, in a way.

But if you really want to be a part of history, what better way than to write? And to share your writing? So thank you, Columbus, for discovering America. If you had not done so, we would not have Helicon West tomorrow, and that makes these days spectacular. So maybe my fortune cookie was just a couple years behind.

Join us tomorrow! The program will be just as splendid as ever!


A Pretty Time

Last weekend my husband and I went to Zion’s to try some hikes. I’d just ordered Teva’s and I was pretty excited about that. We were prepared to pay the $30+ to get into the park, but a ranger told us that day was free. It was a miracle.

We went up to the Narrows, a hike I’ve never done. Everyone talks about how great it is, so we thought we’d give it a shot.

Well, the canyon was beautiful. The red rock shined in sun shadow, green plants grew from the walls, some upside down and some with vines hanging. The trail is mostly through a river, so we sloshed our way through. We sat on a large boulder to take a break, and watched others take the trail. Some held hands to cross the river, some looked for smooth spots and all around us the canyon towered.

And people are so NICE, when they’re hiking, have you noticed? We could all say hi to each other and laugh when my Teva’s caught on underwater rocks and I’d flail my arms like a ceiling fan. The people told me to protect my toes.

So anyway, nature is beautiful, you are beautiful, and the featured readers at Helicon West next Thursday are certainly beautiful. Their words will speak to your soul, and they’ll light you up like the same shadowy sunlight I enjoyed in the wild.


A New Kind of Home


Logan, Utah has the best group of writers ever. I’ve seen it in all different forms–Helicon West (of course), the writing department on campus, the Cache Valley Writing Center, etc.

I’ve known for a while that we have the greatest people in this area, but last night that sentiment was reaffirmed. A group of us gathered at a fire pit to roast s’mores and read our writing, and a storm came rolling in.

Really, thunder boomed it’s very loudest, there was lightning in the distance, and all our various fliers advertising all things writing flew away in the huge gusts of wind.

Did we give up? Did we say, screw it, let’s all go home?

No. We went inside a random dorm building.

The whole group came inside, regardless of the lack of s’mores, and the strange venue, and we read our writing and enjoyed each other’s company.

Because writing bonds people. The writing community here gives you a place that feels like a new kind of home. A place where everyone collaborates and cheers for each other and maybe we even snap instead of clap. Depends on the day.

So Helicon West isn’t this week, but next week we will be excited to see new faces in the Logan library. Come and feel the good feelings for yourself.

:’) All the cheesiness in one post. But you know you needed to hear it.

Pen Pals


Today at about 11 am, I sat in my Folklore class to discuss humanity (in a general sense).

As my professor began to make a very important point, the pen she held flew right out of her hand and landed on the floor in front of her. She looked at her hand and looked at the floor. We all chortled a bit, because, you know, humans do funny things sometimes.

A boy sitting in the front row laughed the loudest though, and decided to throw his pen on the ground for good measure. (Was it for good measure? Was it to make the professor feel better? Did the professor feel embarrassed in the first place? Where did we come from? Why are we here?)

So the professor and the boy leaned down at the same time and picked up their thrown pens.

While this was mostly just a strange event, it lead me to ponder on the way humans might throw their pen in the ring, if you will. Because here we are, on the brink of the first Helicon West this Fall semester, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we all threw our pens in the ring? If we all came and listened and laughed and learned together?

Tomorrow at 7, at the Bluebird Cafe.

Great, I’ll see you there! *Throws pen on the ground.*



Into the West

For the first time in my college career, I wore a hat today. I looked up several different ways to wear fedoras on Pinterest, and ended up going for the “I literally just woke up this way” look, where I put my hair up and leave some curled pieces down, and then gently place the hat on top.

I took the hat off.

I put the hat back on.

I said to myself, “I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of women fails, when we forsake our style and break all bonds of individualism, but it is not this day. An hour of cynics and shattered self esteem, when the judgment of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day!”

More or less.

I said to myself, “Wear the hat, you coward.”

And so I did. I ignored the stares of people at the shuttle stop. I ignored the glowers of everyone on campus. I said to myself, “Wear this hat like you’re proud of it. Wear it like you own it.”*

I walked down the long sidewalk on the Quad, strong and confident, and when I’d almost reached the safety of Ray B. West, where students are encouraged to be unique and proud, my beautiful friend Millie said, “Abi is now my fashion icon.”

The moral of the story is not self confidence! It is not how to get a boosted ego! But it is about trying something new.

And so, my friends, come with me this year to Helicon West where you will feel inspired, welcomed, and refreshed. And you might make a friend or two.

helicon west launch


Join the authors for a Helicon West Book Launch Party

on Thursday, September 8, 2016

7:00 PM

at the Bluebird Restaurant, Third Floor

19 North Main Street, Logan, Utah.

There will be a short reading and a panel discussion (with audience participation) about the value of literary projects such as this one, followed by an open microphone and book signing.

No restaurant service will be offered at the party, but we will have cups for BYOB drinks. Light refreshments and Caffe Ibis coffee will be served. (We hope many of you will order dinner before the event to show your support for the historic Bluebird Restaurant.) Book Launch event is free, open to the public, and uncensored.

Can’t wait to see you there! Maybe I’ll even wear my hat again? Who knows? Either way you’ll find me enjoying myself at this wondrous event.


*I understand that I may sound a bit like I have the beginning signs of Schizophrenia. For your reassurance, this post has been dramatized.