To The End, To Failure, To You & Me

We filed in, the last visitors in uniform of the day. There is no good news on this floor of the hospital; people here often aren’t going home. Family members stand teary-eyed and solemn, holding vigil over their loved ones as they slip loose these earthly... read more


On May 5th, 2015, the City of Springfield Fire Department was dispatched to its five thousand one hundred and twenty eighth call for the year. For run #5128, Engine Company #1, C-shift was toned out for a “fire in a house” call at approximately 7:50am. The... read more

Thank You, Anonymously

The note with my handwritten name on the envelope arrived at the firehouse, an event unusual enough. We rarely receive personal mail there outside of the obligatory thank-you note from grade school kids after a tour or event. The hand writing caught my eye, as I did... read more

Do It All Over, Again

“Your story isn’t calm. The road has been chaotic at times, filled with detours and rain and loss so sudden and soon. Sometimes, the bliss was so elevated your heart could hardly hold it. Sometimes it was maddening to have, and then to lose. You learn soon... read more

Ring Of Fire

The tones came in as they would any other: “House fire, xxx East xxx Street for Engine 7, Engine 10, Truck 6, Truck 10, Rescue 1, Battalion 1, Battalion 8, Air 8″, and we loaded up on the rig, ready to roll to an unknown; these kinds of calls happen with a... read more

Thaw & Light

O, Wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?  – Percy Shelley I’ve always loved the winter. It’s cold and stark and you can, to quote Wyeth, feel the bone structure of the landscape. Growing up in Southern California, it meant that the... read more

Cover Me Up

“Heart on the run/keeps a hand on the gun/You can’t trust anyone.” – Jason Isbell Where do we go when we need support and love as our hearts collapse and we can’t lift ourselves up alone? The faithful go to church, the introvert turns to... read more

To Love, Again

Slowly entering the crowded hospital elevator with a glass vase of roses in each hand, I could hear the barely audible sighs of the nurses and techs for whom these weren’t intended. “9th floor, please,” murmured over a grin to the wide eyed lady in... read more

On Purpose

“Don’t outsource your mission.” These words could be from a military unit commander or the fire department chain of command, but instead they were issued by the local gym owner as a mandate as we seek our purpose in this life. The workout was set up... read more

Calibrated In A Time Of Chaos

“Wherever You Are, Be There” -This, as as seen on a bumper sticker on the back of a hybrid, while its disheveled driver swerved erratically as he talked on his phone and angrily jabbed a cigarette towards the front windshield. Wherever it was he was, it... read more


Dark, cold and crazy. Three words to describe standing in front of the auto shop, dropping off the car at o’dark thirty and preparing to run in to work. It’s one thing to do a couple miles on a trail in the middle of the day, another to be on the nasty... read more

From The Foundation Up

One thing about dangling over the precipice and staring down: you can achieve some real clarity in moments while your brain is scrambling to find a way to survive the fall. I don’t really have the inclination to hang off of a rock cliff to develop direction, so... read more

Heads Up

“STOP STARING AT THE FLOOR, ULI! HEADS UP!” This, shouted at the gym as I attempted some weird squat-thrust-back-jerk-heaving maneuver. After years of attendance here, you’d think I know better, but….you’d be, well, wrong. If you lift... read more

Language, Please

“If Only I’d….” There’s an old British adage out there, apparently, that says something like “tomorrow will never be as good as yesterday was.” If that is NOT a British adage, then it should be. That way of looking at life has... read more

And I Ain’t Got Wings…

On one side of the kitchen table, a Lieutenant and the ladder truck driver play backgammon. Over in the recliners the Captain and two other firefighters are engrossed in a show with a marble-mouthed gold miner up in Alaska. There’s a firefighter holed up in the... read more

Go With The Grain

“I just want to help” Every firefighter, every service member among us, has uttered those words at one time or another. So when she told me she was moving to a new house, my first reaction was to try and help, but we weren’t there anymore. Firemen... read more

To Be Alive, Again

“I feel like I just came alive.”  Those were the first words spoken as our young patient was brought back from dancing perilously close to death from an overdose. These were followed up, somewhat amusingly, by: “Am I in the Matrix?”, and the... read more

Hi There, Been Awhile

This is the first essay I’ve written for Half Past Awesome in far too long. I walked away from the concept because I’d lost my own way and direction. Writing is a passion that allows me to convey the trainwreck of words in my brain slightly more lucidly,... read more

Farewell, Sir.

When the phone call arrives from my mother on a weekday morning, the news is seldom good. “Uli, it’s Mom….” her voice trailing off, with a muted sob. “What is it Ma? What’s going on?”  “Well, the news is bad; Grandpa... read more

A Note Of Thanks

“Do you know what a soldier is, young man? He’s the chap who makes it possible for civilised folk to despise war.” – Allan Massie Since the concept was introduced by President Wilson in 1919 and made official in 1938, November 11th has held a... read more

Rust & Redemption

Another in a long line of disappointments made this a Monday worthy of any number of cliches about Mondays. When we have troubles, they seem to compound rapidly and that uncomfortable sense of dancing in quicksand quickly tightens it’s grip with each misstep... read more

Monotypes In A Time Of Stereo

When the mood strikes, there is little more appealing to me than a basket full of garlic chicken wings; it’s a decision once made that I regret well into the next day, when vampires and humans alike keep a minimum six foot radius away, the thrill of the parmesan... read more